News & Commentary

November 6, 2015

Hannah Belitz

Hannah Belitz is a student at Harvard Law School.

Now that the UAW has negotiated a contract with General Motors, leaders are pushing members to vote yes.  Voting began late last week, and although workers at four assembly plants and a number of component plants approved the agreement, workers at two other assembly plants and one transmission plant rejected it.  Voting ends on Saturday, and while the Wall Street Journal reports that the possibility remains open that workers will reject this agreement, Politico suggests that workers are likely to approve the deal.

According to the New York Times, Boeing has reached a settlement agreement of $57 million in a class-action lawsuit challenging the retirement plans it offers workers.  The lawsuit accused Boeing of “charging excessive fees and choosing higher-cost investment offerings for workers and retirees who participate in its 401(k) retirement plan,” and was one of a series of class-action suits brought by a St. Louis lawyer pushing for more accountability in corporate retirement plans.  Eight other companies have also settled, including Ameriprise Financial, Cigna, and Kraft Foods, for a combined settlement amount of $271.5 million.

At the Washington Post, Lydia DePillis offers a primer on the recently released Trans-Pacific Partnership.  You can view the text of the agreement here, but as DePillis suggests, you should read her “TPP explainer first.”

Other TPP news includes a side agreement that obliges Vietnam to pass legislation to legalize independent unions, permit them to strike, and allow foreign labor organizations like the A.F.L.-C.I.O to offer them help.  The New York Times notes that the agreement could provide workers with more bargaining power, but its impact will “depend on how Vietnam carries out the agreement.”  Vietnam’s Constitution includes the right of workers to strike and engage in organized protests, but until now Vietnam had passed few laws to codify and protect those rights.  While a former top official praised the agreement as “a very positive step for Vietnam,” it remains to be seen to what degree the agreement will strengthen Vietnamese labor unions.

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