Today’s News & Commentary — September 13, 2018
On September 18, McDonald’s employees at restaurants in ten cities will go on strike for one day in an effort to force McDonald’s management to confront sexual harassment in the workplace. Walkout planning has been led by “women’s committees” at dozens of McDonald’s locations, and hundreds of employees have attended meetings. Some of the strike’s leaders include the women who filed complaints against McDonald’s for pervasive harassment with the EEOC in May. The walkout’s organizers are urging McDonald’s to mandate anti-harassment training for both employees and managers and to step up enforcement. The employees also want McDonald’s to establish a national committee to address the issue of sexual harassment at the company with members representing corporate headquarters, franchise owners, workers, and women’s groups. Calls for a more serious approach to sexual harassment are part of a broader effort to improve working conditions at the fast food chain, including the push for a $15 minimum wage and a union.
The Post and Courier in South Carolina discussed the tough choice faced by many of the state’s hourly workers in the wake of a mandatory evacuation order for Hurricane Florence. While some workers chose to leave town and miss out on pay, others have opted to stay because of fears about losing their jobs if they leave and due to the high expense of evacuation. Some employees staying local have even taken on extra hours to fill shortages or make some extra money.
Yesterday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told employers in the hospitality industry that the Department of Labor is considering rulemaking to clarify a franchise’s liability for its franchisee’s labor violations. If it pursues rulemaking, the DOL would follow the path of the NLRB, which has been working to roll back the inclusive Obama-era approach to joint employer liability and settle on a new framework through rulemaking. Acosta spoke about the advantages of rulemaking for defining the standard over other measures, such as guidance and administrative interpretations, which are easier for future administrations to reverse.
Today, New Yorkers are voting in primary elections for state races, and organized labor has been playing an influential role in the Democratic race for governor. The New York Times writes that while incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo has fought with the state’s labor unions in the past, he is counting on them this year to help him fend off progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon. For her part, Ms. Nixon has the support of the Working Families Party, a minor political party that was founded by labor unions and left-leaning community organizations and that relies on New York’s fusion voting system to cross-nominate Democrats in the general election.