News & Commentary

November 28, 2018

Graduate and postdoctoral students at Columbia University voted 1035 to 720 to approve the school’s proposed bargaining framework, paving the way for negotiations after a years-long struggle.  The university’s bargaining framework, which the administration proposed last week, includes a clause that precludes student workers from striking or conducting any other kind of work stoppage until April 2020, as well as provisions reserving for the administration the exclusive right to manage the school’s educational and research mission.  The approval of the bargaining framework narrowly avoids a school-wide strike that would have commenced just before exam period.

Furor over the General Motors layoffs continues.  Yesterday, President Donald Trump tweeted his disapproval of the company’s plan to idle plants in Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland, pointing out that the company was not shuttering its factories in China and Mexico.  Trump subsequently threatened to eliminate “subsidies” for GM, suggesting that the White House might eliminate a $7,500 federal tax credit for buyers of the company’s electric vehicles.  Meanwhile, Canadian union leaders met with Prime Minister Trudeau as GM employees in Ontario returned to work after Monday’s walkout.  Unifor president Jerry Dias vowed to fight for workers effected by the closure and called for tariffs on GM vehicles produced in Mexico, while Trudeau expressed his disappointment with the closures.

Facebook’s former Strategic Partner Manager for Global Influencers Mark Luckie is levying allegations of racial discrimination against the tech giant.  In a memo distributed to all Facebook employees shortly before leaving the company, Luckie accused Facebook of “systemic disenfranchisement of underrepresented voices[,]” noting that the company frequently removes benign content posted by black Facebook users.  Luckie also pointed to racial discrimination in the workplace and a lack of diversity among Facebook employees, calling on the company to be more inclusive in its hiring and staffing practices. In response, Facebook stated that it was working to increase employee diversity and is “going to keep doing all [it] can to be a truly inclusive company.”

Greek workers are on strike today, demanding an end to government austerity policies that have depressed wages and pensions across the country since 2010.  The nationwide strike was organized by GSEE, the country’s largest labor union, which represents both private and public sector workers.  While today’s strike is expected to bring transportation and other public services to a grinding halt, concerted action in fact began yesterday when journalists walked off the job, leading to a 24-hour media blackout.

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