Today’s News & Commentary — October 13, 2015
The Wall Street Journal reports that the United Auto Workers may be abandoning its longstanding practice of pattern bargaining in the automobile industry. While the UAW is presently engaged in negotiations with Fiat Chrysler following membership rejection of the initial negotiated agreement, an official told Ford that they may push for a different wage deal in that contract. UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles also told membership that “it is imperative that you keep in mind that the [Fiat Chrysler] agreement is only a pattern and the tentative agreement reached with Ford will be UAW-Ford specific aimed at addressing concerns with the current agreement and securing gains for our membership.”
The Sacramento Bee notes that California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have expended unpaid family leave in the state. While California presently allows for up to 12 weeks off for care of sick children, parents or spouses, the proposed law would have expanded leave to also allow care of “sick siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners and parents-in-law.” Brown cited discrepancies with the Family Medical Leave Act as a reason for his veto.
As the International Association of Machinists continues to attempt to organize Boeing workers in South Carolina, they have taken advantage of a new National Labor Relations rule that allows for the electronic signing of authorization cards used to obtain a unionization election. According to The Post and Courier, workers have been able to visit a website and electronically sign, whereas they previously needed to physically sign cards. The IAM did not say how many signatures they have collected, but they are preparing for a future election petition firing.
Reuters highlights that a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will hear an appeal of a National Labor Relations Board finding that a restaurant did not have a right “to fire a waitress who posted a profane rant about her boss on Facebook and a coworker who “liked” it, in a case highlighting tensions over employee free speech in the era of social media.” The NLRB found that the employees were engaged in protected activity under federal law, and required that the workers be re-hired.
Quartz reports on how the United States has the lowest labor force participation rate since 1977, with 40% of Americans not working. It notes that for labor force participation to increase, the government will need to not only act through the Federal Reserve but also increase education and teach older workers skills necessary to succeed in the new economy.
Colorado State University Professor Raymond Hogler writes in The Hill that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is “pursuing a vendetta against organized labor.” Professor Hogler cites the forthcoming Friedrichs case as Justice Scalia’s latest attempt to degrade unionism in the United States.