Today’s News & Commentary — September 23, 2019
The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors continued this weekend (please see our previous coverage). Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the picket line on Sunday at an assembly plant in Detroit. Also on Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to striking General Motors workers at a Fairfax plant. Senator Bernie Sanders plans to visit the Detroit plant this Wednesday. Workers are pushing General Motors to improve wages, add more jobs at their facilities, and pay a greater share of employee health costs.
On Friday, the NLRB proposed a new rule that would classify students at private universities as students, instead of employees, even if they receive a salary from the university. If the new rule is passed, private universities would no longer be required to recognize student unions. The NLRB stated that “the basis for this proposed rule is the Board’s preliminary position, subject to revision in light of public comment that the relationship these students have with their school is predominately educational rather than economic.” The New York Times spoke to graduate-student organizers about the effect the new rule will have on union organizing on their campuses. While some union leaders are concerned that the new rule would interfere with ongoing bargaining negotiations, others were committed to continued advocacy whether or not official recognition is likely. A 60-day public comment period must pass before the Board can take a final vote on the proposed rule.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 is calling for a boycott of 57 Fred Meyer stores in Oregon. The union has accused the grocery chain of using one-on-one meetings with its employees to intimidate workers. Fred Meyer has also posted flyers asking for replacement workers in anticipation of a strike. The union has cancelled its contracts with Fred Meyer and filed a complaint with the NLRB. Kelley McAllister, Communications Director for UFCW Local 555, said, “We’ve been asking all along for dollars because our members need to eat, and they need to be able to live and cost of living has just gone up so significantly and wages just haven’t kept pace.”