News & Commentary

October 29, 2019

Ryan Gorman

Ryan Gorman is a student at Harvard Law School.

Chicago Public School classes remain cancelled today as negotiations between the city and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) continue. The sides met for 16 hours yesterday, with talks extending into the early morning. As Tabatha noted yesterday, the city and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) reached a tentative deal over the weekend. SEIU has been bargaining on behalf of school support staff. While the city has met some of CTU’s demands, disputes over teacher prep time and class size remain. Meanwhile, President Trump visited Chicago yesterday for a fundraiser, and was greeted by demonstrators around the city. Students and striking teachers—some who started the day on the picket line—were among the protesters.

On Monday, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit voted to enforce a National Labor Relations Board decision enjoining members of the Iron Workers from inducing or encouraging employees of a neutral company to go on strike. The case, NLRB v. IAB Local 229, involved Local 229’s business agent appealing to neutral employees of another contractor to encourage a work stoppage. The Board had affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s findings that this conduct violated Section 8(b)(4)(i)(B) of the National Labor Relations Act and rejected Local 229’s constitutional challenges to that conclusion. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the Board: even when applied to “pure speech,” Section 8(b)(4)(i)(B) does not run afoul of the First Amendment. Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) v. NLRB, 341 U.S. 694 (1951), the Ninth Circuit found no reason to depart from longstanding precedent and rejected the union’s request for strict scrutiny.

Employees at Facebook are reportedly uncomfortable with the company’s policy on political ads. Over 250 of the company’s workers have signed a letter directed at Mark Zuckerberg, criticizing the company’s decision not to police the accuracy of political ads posted on the website. The letter claims that allowing this “paid civic misinformation” to run on the social network site provides politicians with a way to weaponize the company’s platform and spread falsehoods. The letter opens with the employees praising what they believe Facebook stands for, before adding the simple declaration, “This is our company.” Mike Isaac reported on the letter yesterday in the The New York Times, noting that internal worker dissent is less common at Facebook than at other tech companies such as Google and Amazon. The letter has been circulating on Facebook Workplace, the company’s internal messaging system, for the past two weeks.

Yesterday, Erin Kirkland published an article in The New York Times recounting her experience on the picket line with striking General Motors workers. Kirkland, a photographer with the paper, spent the last month in Flint, Michigan, documenting the United Auto Workers’ successful effort to extract better contract terms from General Motors. Over the weekend, Deanna had more to say on the end to the strike and new contract.

Employees of Housing Works are planning a walkout today to protest the organization’s resistance to unionization. Housing Works is a nonprofit based in New York City that provides social services to homeless and low-income individuals battling H.I.V. and AIDS. Workers at the organization have been trying to organize for nearly a year, hoping to address various grievances, such as heavy caseloads and limitations on paid time off. Housing Works has apparently refused to agree not to interfere with the organizing drive. Repeating a line that is often heard from progressive employers facing a unionization drive, Charles King, one of the organization’s founders, claimed he was not opposed to unionization in theory, but doubted that the effort would fix the issues his workers have identified.

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