Today’s News & Commentary — September 28, 2018
Thousands of service industry workers across seven states will strike next week to demand union representation. The Fight for $15 and the Service Employees International Union are organizing the action, which will see workers in the food service, transportation, health care, and higher education industries walk off the job between October 2 and 4. In some battleground states, the strikers will canvas residential areas for union support. Workers interviewed by The Washington Post expressed a desire for better wages and workplace protections, and for advocacy in the workplace generally. Recent studies have shown that union representation benefits workers, including by raising wages and securing benefits like maternity leave.
Two former NFL cheerleaders who spoke anonymously to The New York Times in May about experiencing sexual harassment on the job have identified themselves. Rebecca Cummings and Allison Cassidy were among five Washington Redskins cheerleaders who detailed a 2013 trip to Costa Rica in which several cheerleaders were asked to pose topless and act as escorts for prominent male sponsors. Following that report, the Redskins conducted a three-month investigation in which it found that the women’s story was true, though “greatly exaggerated.” The team subsequently made several changes, such as adopting marginally more modest uniforms, disinviting some sponsors from a calendar shoot, and assigning a security detail of female police officers. But Cummings and Cassidy argue that the changes do little to address the culture of harassment and intimidation on the team and are calling on the Redskins to remove the executives who have fostered that culture. The two hope that by speaking on the record, they will spur the NFL to make league-wide changes and inspire other women to call out sexual harassment in their own workplaces.
The Ryanair saga continues, as airports across six countries in Europe prepare for a strike today. Cabin crew in Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, and the Netherlands will walk off the job in an effort to pressure management in the midst of contract negotiations. An estimated 250 flights will be cancelled, stranding some 40,000 passengers. Ryanair has been plagued by strikes since at least December, when the airline agreed to recognize cabin crew and pilot unions after a long organizing campaign.
A coalition of unions are calling on the Netherlands to investigate furniture giant IKEA for its labor practices. Led by UNI Global Union, an international union federation, the group alleges that IKEA has violated OECD guidelines by failing to address the anti-union conduct of some managers at stores in the United States, Ireland, and Portugal, despite repeated requests from its workers. IKEA responded that it “respect[s] and welcome[s] the free choice of [its] co-workers to seek representation through any kind of co-worker association.”