News & Commentary

July 1, 2018

Martin Drake

Martin Drake is a student at Harvard Law School.

As part of the ramifications from Janus, the Supreme Court case decided this past week, as many as 80,000 Illinois healthcare workers will get a second chance to recover $32 million in union fees, the Chicago Tribune reports. The Supreme Court ordered the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week to reconsider its decision to not certify the healthcare workers’ class action suit. The question presented in the lawsuit is whether the healthcare workers, paid in Medicaid dollars, should be entitled to the money the state took out of their paychecks for “fair share” union fees between 2008 and 2014.

Efforts are underway in several major U.S. cities to protect hotel workers from harassment on the job, NPR reports. Seattle passed a law in 2016 requiring hotels to provide their housekeepers with panic buttons they can use if sexually assaulted, harassed or threatened by a guest. Chicago will enact the same requirements next month, and similar efforts are growing in California, Las Vegas, and Miami Beach. Unite Here, which represents workers in the hospitality industry, estimates that the majority of the housekeepers in their union have faced harassment on the job.

Internal documents show that a network of right-wing think tanks plan to use the Janus decision to bleed unions of their funds, the Intercept reports. A 22-state effort is planned to encourage public sector union members to withhold fees from their labor unions, while advocacy groups plan to launch campaigns to de-certify unions in certain jurisdictions. The effort is being coordinated by the State Policy Network, which leads a national network of right-wing think tanks in advancing business-friendly policies.

Sex-worker advocates filed a lawsuit this past week to overturn SESTA-FOSTA, or the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, Rolling Stone reports. Electronic Frontier Foundation filed the suit on Thursday, claiming that the law violates the First and Fifth Amendments by preventing sex-workers from using online forums for fear of criminal charges. SESTA-FOSTA makes it a crime to operate or manage a website that “promotes or facilitates prostitution.” The law is unclear on what types of speech might be held by the government as supporting prostitution, and, as a result, a multitude of websites have shut down forums and user profiles to avoid liability.

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