Weekend News & Commentary — July 28, 2019
Democratic Presidential contender Pete Buttigieg released a labor and employment policy platform on Friday. Buttigieg’s new platform includes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, paid sick and family leave, and a series of proposals aimed at strengthening unions’ collective bargaining power and ability to organize. For example, the proposal calls for a “strong joint employer standard” that would make companies that hire contractors or license franchisees joint employers of people who work directly for company’s contractors or franchisees—allowing those workers to bargain directly with the upstream company that controls most of the terms and conditions of their employment. Buttigieg’s also proposes codifying California’s new ABC test for determining when workers are employees, who are protected by employment laws, or independent contractors, who are not. The three-pronged ABC test, announced by California’s state Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc., would extend employee status to a wide range of gig workers who are currently classified by companies like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart as independent contractors. Notably, Buttigeig’s proposal also expresses support for local experimentation with multi-employer bargaining, especially in “industries without large worksites” like domestic labor.
Since 2015, states with higher minimum wages have seen “substantially more robust” economies than in lower minimum-wage states, according to a new analysis from Bloomberg. Bloomberg found that the first states to start phasing in a $15 per hour wage saw their economies expand, increased personal income and spending, and job growth—undermining the arguments of living wage opponents who say that raising the minimum wage would lead to massive job losses.
Dallas, Texas will begin implementing its paid sick leave ordinance this August 1st — but a conservative business group is suing to stop the sick time law from going into effect, arguing that it is preempted by state law.
The National Labor Relations Board just ruled that federal labor law did not prohibit Walmart from firing and otherwise disciplining workers who participated in “intermittent” protests to raise wage and improve working conditions. In 2013, workers organizing with Our Walmart planned to travel to the company’s shareholder meeting, stopping in cities nationwide to protest Walmart along the way. Once Walmart learned about the “Ride for Respect,” it fired several employees who traveled on the bus. In 2016, an administrative law judge held that Walmart illegally retaliated against the discharged workers. This week’s ruling reverses that finding, holding instead that the protest was an intermittent strike that is not protected by federal labor law.
It’s never too early to learn about the dangers of forced arbitration — check out this explainer from Teen Vogue.