News & Commentary

October 21, 2019

Lolita DePalma

Lolita De Palma is a student at Harvard Law School.

A girls’ high school soccer team in Burlington, Vermont made waves on Friday when they took off their uniform jerseys mid-game to reveal white T-shirts bearing the message “#EQUALPAY.” The crowd chanted “equal pay” in response—many wearing the #EQUALPAY jerseys the team had sold as part of a fundraising effort to diversify the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League. At least four yellow cards were issued in response since league rules bar players from wearing uniforms with slogans on them in official games. The high school team was inspired by U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team’s efforts to close the pay gap between male and female soccer players. “It’s appalling, and it’s ridiculous that that’s still a thing,” said Maggie Barlow, one of the team’s members.

Business Insider dug into why truck drivers are not striking. While many thousands of truckers had expressed interest in the “Black Smoke Matters” strike, only a few dozen actually ended up striking. The article links the failure of Black Smoke Matters to the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which undercut the Teamsters and caused a decline in truck driver wages. Without the organizational structures and protections of a union, it has been difficult for truckers to strike successfully.

The Wall Street Journal explored the feasibility of exporting the German Sozialpartnerschaft or social partnership system to the United States. Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed importing part of the German system by requiring large American companies to have labor representatives on corporate boards. While this would likely impose greater costs on firms, it could provide more security for workers. Senator Bernie Sanders has suggested incorporating another key part of the German system—sector-wide contracts. This would require significant changes to American labor law, since the National Labor Relations Act does not allow unions to negotiate contracts across multiple firms.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike continues. As Annie and Sejal reported last week, CTU is striking for better wages, limits on class sizes, more counselors in schools, and affordable housing. While CTU and the public schools resumed bargaining this weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has cancelled classes for Monday. The CTU and the public schools have come to a tentative agreement on some issues, including a charter moratorium and a pipeline for hiring more teachers of color, but progress still needs to be made on pay, staffing, enforcement mechanisms for class sizes, and the duration of the contract. This weekend, The Guardian spotlighted CTU’s strategy of “bargaining for the common good” – focusing their demands on the issues that affect the schools and city as a whole in addition to wages and benefits. Diana Morales, an SEIU Local 73 member said, “It’s not fair to kids not to have nurses, librarians, counselors. We owe them the best, and this isn’t the best.”

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