News & Commentary

September 9, 2019

For the first time in decades, British Airways pilots are on strike. Pilots went on a 48-hour strike that started at midnight on Sunday over a contentious pay dispute: British Airways cut pay and pension benefits for pilots during precarious years for the airline following the financial crisis, and pilots now argue they deserve a bigger share of the airline’s newfound profits. The airline has canceled over 800 flights, affecting up to 145,000 passengers per day, throwing London flights into disarray. If the union and the airline don’t reach a deal, pilots intend to go on strike again on September 27.

Southern California grocery workers are considering starting the “largest private-sector strike since 74,000 General Motors employees walked off the job in 2007.” 47,000 workers Ralphs (a grocery chain owned by Kroger) and Albertsons are negotiating new contracts for workers at 500 stores in Southern California. Workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) will begin voting next week on whether to accept the proposed contract—and if they reject the deal, they will vote on whether to authorize a strike. A grocery store strike would be a rare show of union power in an industry with low union density. Only 4.5% of retail workers are unionized, according to CNN—even fewer than the law 6.4% unionization rate for private-sector workers.

On the subject of organizing grocery store, Bloomberg reports that that the National Labor Relations Board just held that a Kroger supermarket didn’t violate the NLRA by calling the cops on a union organizer who was soliciting in the store’s parking lot. The decision overturns the NLRB’s 1999 Sandusky Mall decision and held that Kroger didn’t discriminate against union organizing, despite the fact that “the regularly allowed several charitable organizations to solicit on its property.”

The Cornell Institute of Labor Relations is hosting a conference this month on Labor and the U.S. Constitution, featuring leading labor law scholars and organizers from across the country to think creatively “about the U.S. Constitution as a source of workers’ rights.” The conference followsJanus and Epic Systems, two devastating decisions for workers’ rights issued last year.

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