Weekend News and Commentary: April 19-20
On Friday, the Seventh Circuit rejected a challenge to a Wisconsin law that prevents public sector workers from collective bargaining on issues other than base wages. In Laborers Local 236 v. Walker, Wisconsin’s “Act 10” was challenged as an unconstitutional restriction on workers’ First Amendment free association rights, as well as the right to petition the government. The Circuit court rejected the challenge, arguing that no precedent has established a “constitutional entitlement to collectively bargain with the state.” Reuters reports, and the opinion may be found here.
The New York Times discusses a major Silicon Valley antitrust lawsuit, pitting 60,000 software engineers against their former employers at Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe. The engineers allege that the companies made a pact not to hire employees from one another, and worked to systematically undermine employee advancement opportunities. Plaintiffs claim that the lost wages add up to $3 billion, and current antitrust law would triple this amount were plaintiffs successful.
Inmates at an Alabama prison have planned a prison-wide work stoppage, protesting pay and prison conditions. The organizers behind the planned stoppage at the St. Clair County Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama hope to trigger similar movements across the state. Salon reports.
The New York Times Editorial Board urges the Obama administration to improve global cooperation on labor and environmental regulations in upcoming trade deal negotiations. The upcoming negotiations include a major bilateral agreement with the EU, and the multiparty Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. Enforcing better labor standards globally, the Editorial Board argues, will both even “the playing field for American workers and improve the lives of tens of millions of workers in developing countries.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of Amazon.com Inc. workers in Germany have walked off the job this week, protesting current wage levels. Over thirty thousand workers at a shoe-manufacturing factory in Dongguan, China continue to strike as well. Bloomberg reports.