News & Commentary

November 23, 2021

Zachary Boullt

Zachary Boullt is a student at Harvard Law School.

A majority of teachers in Northbrook School District 28 in Illinois have declared their intent to form a union. District 28 is one of the few public school districts in Illinois that is not unionized, as less than 10% of teachers in the state are not members of the Illinois Federation of Teachers or the Illinois Education Association. A strong majority of teachers signed authorization cards and filed them with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. If the unionization is approved, the 230 teachers and staff will become a part of North Suburban Teachers Union Local 1274, a local of Illinois Federation of Teachers, itself an affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO. IFT representatives cited exhaustion and struggles from the pandemic as an impetus for the teachers to organize.

The Burgerville Workers Union, the first fast-food workers union in the United States, has reached a tentative agreement with Burgerville. If ratified, the contract would be the country’s first fast-food union contract. The Burgerville Workers Union was formed in 2018 and has since conducted seven strikes, five elections, picket lines, and workplace and citywide labor actions. The tentative agreement includes free shift meals, a $1 per hour wage increase, paid holidays, the end of at-will employment, guarantees against unfair scheduling, and provisions for allowing tips. The contract now must be ratified by Burgerville Workers Union membership and Burgerville.

Labor Secretary Walsh has announced that the final rule from the Department of Labor raising the federal contractor minimum wage to $15 an hour will take effect on January 30, 2022. The rule will likely provide a wage increase for more than 300,000 workers and raises the federal contractor minimum wage from its current $10.95 rate.

Terra Field and B. Pagels-Minor, two transgender former Netflix employees, have dropped their labor complaints against Netflix for retaliation. However, Field voluntarily resigned after dropping the complaint. The two filed a complaint with the NLRB after Field was temporarily suspended and Pagels-Minor was fired amidst the controversy surrounding Dave Chapelle’s “The Closer” Netflix special, which included disparaging language from Chapelle about transgender people. Netflix claims it fired Pagels-Minor for disclosing confidential financial information about the cost of “The Closer,” which Pagels-Minor denies having done.

Food service workers at HMS Host, the largest concessionaire at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, have gone on strike. The workers, organized with UNITE HERE Local 11, are seeking raises, better health insurance, company retirement contributions, and discrimination protections. The strike comes after four years of failed contract negotiations. The HMS Host workers, numbering between 450-475, have not received a raise since 2017. The strike will shut down more than two dozen restaurants and coffee shops at the airport.

A federal judge in San Jose has ruled that Tesla Inc. and Eismann Corp. must continue to litigate their federal labor trafficking allegations. The suit was brought by 14 foreign workers hired for construction at the companies’ California manufacturing plant. The workers, who are from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia, claim that their subcontractor coerced their labor and that Tesla and Eisenmann controlled their travel to and from the manufacturing plant. The court said the workers had a plausible claim under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the California state equivalent law. However, the court has ruled that the workers’ Fair Labor Standards Act wage claims are untimely, as the minimum wage and overtime claims from 2014-2016 fall outside of the three-year statute of limitations.

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