Weekend News & Commentary — January 20-21, 2018
The federal government shutdown began at 12:01am on Saturday morning. The New York Times details the percentage of employees estimated to be furloughed in each department based on the shutdown, and what happened to federal employees and programs during the last shutdown in 2013. More than 80% of the Department of Labor’s employees are expected to be furloughed. Alexia Fernández Campbell at Vox argues that if 2013’s shutdown is any indication, the real victims of the government shutdown will be poor children, military veterans, and low-wage workers.
Journalists at The Los Angeles Times voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union. The final count showed “that out of the 292 employees who cast ballots, 248 voted in favor of joining the NewsGuild, which represents 25,000 workers at news organizations across the United States.” Shortly after the vote results were revealed on Friday, The Times’s parent company announced that Ross Levinsohn, the newspaper’s publisher, would be taking an unpaid leave of absence while the newspaper looked into allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct. The Washington Post reports that union membership held steady at 10.7% of the workforce in 2017, down from a high of over 33% during WWII.
An NLRB Administrative Law Judge has approved General Counsel Peter Robb’s request to pause McDonald’s joint employer case which had been in the process of wrapping up trial. According to legal files obtained by Bloomberg Law, the NLRB and McDonald’s are now negotiating a global settlement of all pending charges against McDonald’s. The fast-food company had been charged, under joint employer rules, of being liable for harassing and retaliating against workers who took part in strikes and protests as part of the Fight for $15 movement. The lawsuit against McDonald’s is now on hold for 60 days.
U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) – who is a member of the House Ethics Committee charged with looking into recent sexual misconduct claims against House Representatives – used thousands of taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment complaint by a former aide. The New York Times reports that after the aide became involved in a serious relationship with someone else, Rep. Meehan “professed his romantic desires for her — first in person, and then in a handwritten letter — and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate.” The aide filed a complaint and left her job when life at the office became “untenable.” “Under federal law, accusers…often must wait about three months before filing an official complaint, yet they must initiate the process no later than 180 days after the offending behavior. Once the process is initiated, accusers must submit to up to 30 days of counseling and complete another 30 days of mediation.”
[The complaint] set her back financially and professionally, as she continued to pay legal costs associated with the complaint even after leaving her job in Mr. Meehan’s office and struggling to find a new one. She moved back in with her parents and ultimately decided to start a new life abroad.