Today’s News & Commentary — September 13, 2017

Published September 13th, 2017 -  - 09.13.171


Yesterday, street protests erupted in numerous cities in France, including Lyon, Nantes, and Toulouse, in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform French labor law.  The proposed reforms aim to ease rules for small businesses, loosen hiring and firing restrictions, and allow individual businesses to bargain over some issues at the company level rather than follow sector-wide rules.  The unions reported that 60,000 people took to the streets, but the Paris police prefecture put the number of protesters near 24,000.  French unions have had mixed responses to Macron’s plans for reform, and the General Confederation of Labor was the only union which asked its members to protest yesterday.  Some demonstrators used this protest to criticize President Macron’s handling of other issues.

HuffPost reported on labor unions’ efforts to protect their immigrant members from deportation.  Across the country, unions have hosted “know your rights trainings,” given immigrant workers legal help, assisted with demonstrations, and made a coordinated effort to include workplace protections for immigrants in collective bargaining agreements.  These efforts demonstrate how unions have evolved on immigration issues and in some cases become “de facto immigrant rights groups.”  Read more here.

Bloomberg reports that the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and the United Steelworkers (USW) have ended their long-time partnership with Harley-Davidson Inc. citing concerns that the company is attempting to “‘systematically dismantle’ its hourly workforce.'”  In a letter to the company, Robert Martinez Jr., the president of IAM, argued that Harley-Davidson has replaced full-time workers with temporary ones, outsourced production, and contributed to the reduction of American manufacturing jobs by building factories overseas.  The unions reported that Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson’s chief executive, said that he will continue to work with the unions on staffing matters.

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