News & Commentary

October 2, 2019

Alisha Jarwala

Alisha Jarwala is a student at Harvard Law School and a member of the Labor and Employment Lab.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing college athletes to profit from endorsements—the first of its kind.  In a statement, Newsom noted, “Colleges and universities reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but block them from earning a single dollar.  That’s a bankrupt model—one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve.” The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) currently bars student athletes from earning compensation related to college sports.  The NCAA pushed back against the bill while it was in the legislature, alleging that it would be unfair to universities of different sizes, and has now stated that it will “consider next steps in California.”

Newsom also signed a bill allowing childcare providers who receive state subsidies to unionize.  The Sacramento Bee reports that the new law will allow over 40,000 workers to negotiate with the state over wages and healthcare benefits.  Bloomberg reports that the main impetus for the bill is improving wages and reducing worker turnover—backers of the bill say that employers will also benefit from the law, as employee turnover and absenteeism in childcare costs businesses $1,150 per working parent annually.  Organizers will be able to file for an election early next year. 

The Guardian reports that the Fight for $15 movement has launched an effort with Local 32BJ, a Manhattan-based union, to unionize workers at Chipotle and McDonald’s.  This is Fight for $15’s first formal effort at unionizing fast food restaurants, and the hope is that partnering with Local 32BJ will exert enough pressure on the fast food giants to not oppose unionization efforts.  Workers at Chipotle and McDonalds have reported noncompliance with New York City’s Fair Workweek Law, which requires giving workers two weeks’ advance notice of their schedule, as well as issues with sexual harassment on the job.  

An article from Vox discusses how panic buttons for hotel workers have become a symbol and important piece of the #MeToo movement—since 2017, thousands of hotel housekeepers across the country have fought for and won panic buttons to use at work.  Vox notes that these safety measures have so far been implemented at hotels where housekeepers are unionized, and workers have had to fight for them during contract negotiations.  Currently, workers at Boston’s Battery Wharf Hotel have been on strike for nearly a month—and one reason is managers’ refusal to provide housekeepers with panic buttons.  Women in the restaurant and hospitality industries have the highest rates of reported sexual harassment on the job, and advocates view the rollout of panic buttons as an important step in hotel worker safety.

Finally, a powerful series from New York magazine titled “Was It Worth It?” explores what happens to women and men after they come forward about sexual harassment in the workplace.  New York interviewed 25 individuals, whose stories date from the 1970s to the present, to “find out what happened after they spoke up and everyone else moved on.” 

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.