Today’s News & Commentary — October 2, 2017
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the consolidated cases of Murphy Oil USA, Epic Systems, and Ernst and Young today, David Freeman Engstrom penned an op-ed in the New York Times arguing for workplace class actions. He noted that as union membership and regulatory action have declined, litigation is the last remaining leveler for workers. Moreover, because individual workplace disputes often involve only small amounts of money, they are not viable unless they are aggregated.
The Los Angeles Times reported that California’s government was targeting Tesla in legislation passed earlier this month, which threatened to withhold rebates on electric vehicles unless their manufacturers were certified “as being fair and responsible in the treatment of their workers.” Although the legislation applies to all electric vehicle manufacturers, Tesla appeared to be the primary target due to its ongoing unionization battle with the UAW.
Recently, 17 Mexican workers reached a settlement with their employer, Larson Fruit. The guest workers, who are an important part of the labor force in Washington’s apple orchards, successfully reached resolution to their six-day strike, and their employer will now “address complaints ranging from a scarcity of toilet paper to verbal abuse from a supervisor.” The Seattle Times called the strike “a rare flexing of bargaining muscle by an increasingly important part of the apple-industry labor force: Foreign guest workers who come to the U.S. under temporary H-2A visas and generally have been reluctant to protest for fear of being sent back home.”
As self-employed work forces and nontraditional work contracts flourish, Europe is using a variety of measures to push for tougher protections. The New York Times reported that, across the continent, government entities ranging from city agencies to the European Commission are pursuing regulation, while individuals are pursuing claims in court.