Weekend News & Commentary — July 22-23, 2017
On Friday, fifteen civil and human rights leaders published a letter to José Muñoz, chairman of Nissan North America, urging him to allow workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi to organize through a free and fair union election. The signatories, including Vanita Gupta, formerly of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, urged Muñoz “to accord [Canton’s] workers the same dignity and respect that Nissan workers are provided everywhere else in the world.” OnLabor senior contributor Sharon Block has written about the ongoing struggle to unionize the Nissan plant workers, including allegations of unfair and unlawful treatment on the part of Nissan.
Also on Friday, Alexander Acosta addressed the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) an organization “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.” Acosta addressed (video) a number of issues including the employer/employee ‘skills gap’, and supporting efforts to reduce or eliminate occupational licensing requirements.
The Washington Post reports that Lyft is seeking to pilot self-driving cars in Boston by the end of this year. Lyft is trying to keep pace with Uber’s own self-driving car program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As the technology needed for self-driving cars is refined it is unclear what will happen to new gig economy drivers. Lyft “insisted that its human drivers will continue to play a role as Lyft ramps up its commitment to self-driving vehicles. Officials said that in the future, drivers may turn into assistants for elderly passengers, or become in-car baristas and concierges.”
On the heels of Uber firing twenty employees due to claims of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment, the New York Times looks at how non-disparagement agreements are contributing to a culture of secrecy around workplace sexual harassment, especially in the tech start-up world.