Union organizers may lose the ability to reach farmworkers on their work premises. The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Cedar Point Nursery vs. Hassid to consider whether a California regulation that entitles organizers to enter agricultural property violates the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, Bloomberg Law reports. The rule allows organizers to access the property 120 days per year for three hours per day. It was created because many farmworkers are migrants who live in temporary housing and are therefore difficult to reach outside the workplace. Last year a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the regulation and denied rehearing en banc. The grant of certiorari comes during a particularly salient period for farmworker rights as employer-provided farmworker housing complexes and the communities where they are located have been among the worst hotspots of COVID-19.
Many U.S. jurisdictions’ response to COVID-19 by shutting down schools but allowing restaurants to remain open contrasts with an opposite tendency in European countries, The New York Times observes. Research increasingly suggests that schools may be open safely but that in-door restaurant dining is among the greatest contributors to the spread of COVID-19. In New York City, schools are open but most students are receiving instruction online, and schools may close again as the city approaches a 3 percent positivity rate. Meanwhile, in-door restaurant dining continues, with Mayor DeBlasio suggesting it should be “re-evaluated” but only Governor Cuomo having the power to eliminate it. By contrast, countries like France and Germany have kept schools open even as they have shut down restaurants entirely. When schools are closed, many parents cannot return to work. Further restaurant closures or restrictions would present another blow to an industry that employs twelve million Americans, two million of whom are already out of work. But without federal relief, many restaurants and bars will close anyway.
As Maxwell noted Thursday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Michigan Congressman Andy Levin have both received the support of major unions for the position of Secretary of Labor in Joe Biden’s administration. Levin has since received another endorsement for the post from the 150,000-member National Nurses United, according to Bloomberg Law. The union has joined the United Auto Workers, Communication Workers of America, and Utility Workers Union of America in expressing support for Levin. Walsh has received the support of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers. Other names mentioned for the role have included former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Labor and OnLabor Senior Contributor Sharon Block, former United States Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris, California Labor Secretary Julie Su, and Vermont Senator and former candidate for the 2016 and 2020 Democratic Presidential nominations Bernie Sanders.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and a coalition of labor and social justice groups have filed a complaint against the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that the agency has failed to protect workers from COVID-19, the Des Moines Register recounts. Iowa is among the twenty-one states that operate their own workplace safety agency, but federal law still requires that its standards be “as effective as” federal standards. The complaint alleges failure to investigate workplaces where workers credibly complained they were unsafe, especially meatpacking plants and nursing homes, as well as inadequate inspections and policies. For example, the League of United Latin American Citizens sent the agency a letter on April 1 asking for clear guidance to a pork processing plant in Marshalltown where workers were packed closely together, did not have personal protective equipment, and were working with symptoms of COVID-19. The agency declined to inspect the plant, and the next month plant worker Jose Andrade Garcia died of COVID-19.
Vermont has made hazard pay available to essential workers, but some employers are simply refusing to apply, the Burlington Free Press documents. The program distributes checks for $1,200 or $2,000 to workers in the health care, human services, and retail sectors. But major stores including Walmart, CVS, Home Depot, Costco, Target, Dollar General, Aldi, and Dollar Tree are not applying for the benefits for their employees. Walmart has indicated that it has distributed its own “special cash bonuses” for essential employees that it believes take the place of this state benefit. Since workers cannot access the money unless their employers apply for it, a group of state senators has called on the companies to fill out the application.