News & Commentary

December 21, 2014

Jon Weinberg

Jon Weinberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

The Hill reports that transgender employees will now be protected from public sector workplace discrimination under a re-interpretation of law by the Department of Justice.  Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that he “determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, American Airlines has “reached a joint collective-bargaining deal with the union representing 24,000 flight attendants, clearing up one big area of uncertainty as it continues its integration with US Airways.”

The decision of the National Labor Relations Board general counsel to bring charges against McDonalds as a joint employer, covered by OnLabor, has unsurprisingly divided business groups and labor organizers.  In The Washington Post, Lydia DePillis said that over the long term the potential to organize could lead to significant wage increases.  The New York Times noted that labor representatives see the decision as a major step forward in organizing the fast food industry, while business group representatives allege the board is pursuing a union agenda.

In a guest column in The New York Times, University of Nevada, Las Vegas English instructor Brittany Bronson wrote about how she works as a waitress while teaching and pursuing a doctorate in order to earn sustainable income and how the shame that comes with “survival” employment is problematic.  She said: “My perhaps naïve hope is that when I tell students I’m not only an academic, but a “survival” jobholder, I’ll make a dent in the artificial, inaccurate division society places between blue-collar work and “intelligent” work. We expect our teachers to teach us, not our servers, although in the current economy, these might be the same people.”

Also in The New York Times, David Brooks cited ways in which he feels police unions have held back police reform efforts.  He wrote: “We get mad at racism, but most government outrages have structural roots. The left doesn’t want to go after police unions because they’re unions. The right doesn’t want to because they represent law and order. Politicians of all stripes shy away because they are powerful.”

The Indiana Supreme Court has thrown out the last constitutional challenge to the state’s right-to-work law, according to WBIW. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld the law in September.

Europe’s second-biggest airline, Lufthansa, may face new pilot strikes next year after the company failed to reach an agreement in arbitration with the pilot’s union, according to Bloomberg.

The Associated Press reports that Major League Baseball and its umpires have reached an agreement on a five-year labor contract.

Conservatives are stepping up efforts to pass local labor laws that restrict unionization, traditionally the domain of states.  The New York Times reported on the work done by several groups to pass carefully crafted anti-union ordinances in Kentucky counties, noted by OnLabor, with more to follow in other states that do not have statewide right-to-work laws.

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