Labor Rights News Thread

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caltrek
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Dutch Court Rules Uber drivers are Employees, Not Contractors
by Molly Quell
September 13, 2021

https://www.courthousenews.com/dutch-co ... ntractors/

Introduction
The ruling from a three-judge panel in Amsterdam comes only months after a British court also concluded that Uber drivers are not independent contractors.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (Courthouse News) — Drivers for the ride-sharing app Uber are employed by the company and are not contractors, a court in Amsterdam found on Monday.

Judges at the District Court of Amsterdam sided with the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, ruling that drivers meet all of the criteria to be considered employees and should be covered by the Dutch taxi sector’s collective-bargaining agreement.

The relationship between Uber and its drivers “contains all the features of an employment contract,” the three-judge panel wrote. Uber has some 5,000 drivers in the Netherlands.

It’s the latest win for labor organizers against the San Francisco-based company. In May, the United Kingdom's highest court also found that Uber drivers are employees of the tech giant.
Last edited by caltrek on Wed Sep 22, 2021 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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California Ban on Mandatory Arbitration Clears Ninth Circuit Hurdle
by Nick Cahill
September 15, 2021

https://www.courthousenews.com/californ ... it-hurdle/

Introduction:
(Courthouse News) — The fight between business groups and California officials over mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts deepened Wednesday after a divided Ninth Circuit panel lifted a ban on a new pro-worker law.

A federal judge enjoined the state from enforcing Assembly Bill 51 last year, agreeing with the Chamber of Commerce and other employers that it was pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act. The decision was hailed by the coalition of business groups who accused California lawmakers of trying to weaken the common tool used to keep employment disputes out of the courts.

The contentious bill signed in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom bars employers from requiring applicants to waive their right to sue under state labor laws as a condition of employment. Going a step further, the bill sponsored by the California Labor Federation and Consumer Attorneys of California opened employers up to civil and criminal penalties for extreme violations.

But in a 2-1 decision Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit panel ruled the state can require all employment arbitration agreements be consensual and reversed the preliminary injunction. It found AB 51 doesn’t discriminate against arbitration agreements or nix their enforcement.
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caltrek
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Private Equity Destroyed My Job

by Shirley Smith
September 15, 2021

https://otherwords.org/private-equity-destroyed-my-job/

Extract:
(Other Words) Not long ago, I was a saleswoman and manager at Art Van Furniture, a furniture retailer that was an institution in metro Detroit for over half a century.

…in 2017… the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners bought the company out. Soon, the company I knew and loved began to vanish right in front of my eyes. Where we saw a strong company we were proud to work for, they saw something they could strip for parts.

…In Michigan, there’s a bill to mandate severance payments when companies are driven to bankruptcy, so that workers have some financial stability after losing their jobs. We also need Congress to pass the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, a bill that would make private equity executives personally liable for the decisions they make and limit their use of debt to acquire companies.

My colleagues and I went through hell. Greedy executives should never have the power to drive thriving companies into bankruptcy just so they can make a profit. I can’t fix what happened to Art Van, but I can use my voice to make sure these abusive business practices do not victimize others.

Elected leaders must take action to prevent future private equity abuses.
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caltrek
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"We Are Emptying Out Their Shelves": Nabisco Workers’ 5-Week Strike Won by Shutting Down Business as Usual
by Stephen Franklin
September 20, 2021

https://inthesetimes.com/article/nabisc ... r-mondelez

Introduction:
(In These Times) CHICAGO — His shift on the strike line over, James Walsh lingers on the sidewalk to wave his picket sign amid a deafening racket of passing truckers and drivers hammering their horns in support.

“I think we got a chance,” Walsh said last week. ​“We are emptying out their shelves,” he added optimistically.

Nearly four decades ago, Walsh went to work at what was once the world’s largest bakery, Nabisco (now a subsidiary of Mondelēz International). He was just a teenager when he got the job, which also got him a lifetime of something that has nearly disappeared across the nation — a union job with good pay and good benefits. Indeed, his union — the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) — has proven up to the challenge to keep those benefits.

A five-week strike by 1,000 of the union’s members at Mondelēz came to an end with workers approving a new, four-year contract on Saturday, September 18.

The victory is ​“huge” according to Donald Woods, president of BCTGM Local 1 in Chicago and one of the union’s negotiators. ​“The union wanted to maintain what we had — we didn’t lose nothing,” he says. He adds that, of the 893 workers who voted nationally, only 201 were against the deal.
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caltrek
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California Farm Worker Union Marching to the French Laundry after Newsom Vetoes Labor Bill
by Kim Bojorquez and Melissa Montalvo
September 23, 2021

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-go ... 52908.html

Introduction:
(Sacramento Bee) Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have allowed farm workers to vote by mail in union elections, a change the United Farm Workers pressed for after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year dealt a setback to its organizing practices.

Assembly Bill 616 would have allowed agricultural workers to select their collective bargaining representative through a ballot card election by voting at a physical location or mail or dropping off a ballot to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board office.

The UFW, which supported Newsom over the past several months has fought the campaign to recall him from office, had been planning a 260-mile march this week from Tulare County to Sacramento to advocate for the bill. The march commemorates the 1968 march labor icon Cesar Chavez carried to highlight the plight of farm workers at that time.

Instead, UFW issued a statement over Twitter saying it would redirect the march to the French Laundry restaurant in Napa County, a reference to the pricey meal Newsom had with lobbyists as he asked other Californians to avoid mixed groups and indoor settings during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Workers are now marching towards the French Laundry, hoping to finally meet with the Governor,” the message read.
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This week, one of the main unions in the entertainment industry announced they'd be calling on their members to authorize a strike after contract negotiations with some of Hollywood's biggest production companies stalled. This comes as film and TV production has ramped up following last year's COVID lockdowns, along with what workers call unstable conditions. Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi of our Planet Money podcast reports.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI, BYLINE: When 27-year-old Ben Gottlieb got back to work as a lighting technician on TV and film sets last fall, he was relieved. Production had been shut for around six months due to COVID.

BEN GOTTLIEB: Which was a very stressful time. I was on unemployment. I was living with my parents.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: But by this summer, Gottlieb says the grueling schedule that had defined his pre-pandemic working life had come back even worse.

GOTTLIEB: My longest day on that job was 19.5 hours.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Gottlieb is one of the tens of thousands of behind-the-scenes unionized crew members - including costumers, prop-makers and others - who make up the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE. A few months ago, the union was in the early stages of negotiating a new contract with the industry group that represents many Hollywood studios and streaming juggernauts, like Netflix and Amazon. That's when Gottlieb decided to post about his frustrations on Instagram. And to his surprise, within a few weeks, the post had opened up a floodgate of similar stories.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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caltrek
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Human Trafficking May Have Flourished During the Pandemic
by Amanda Perez Pintado
September 23, 2021

https://investigatemidwest.org/2021/09/ ... -pandemic/

Introduction:
(Investigate Midwest) At times, the H-2A visa program that brings non-citizen farmworkers to the U.S. has been used to facilitate human trafficking, experts and activisits said. But the number of people trafficked through the program appears to have increased.

Between 2012 and 2020, migrant workers from Mexico were recruited by companies in Illinois to construct hog and poultry enclosures under the H-2A temporary agricultural program. They came to the U.S. under the promise of well-paid jobs, but were instead forced to work across the country for hundreds of hours without pay.

If they complained, they were threatened with deportation.

That’s according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Aug. 10 by Legal Aid Chicago, Jordan & Zito LLC and Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas Ltd. on behalf of 24 agricultural construction workers.

The H-2A program provides scaffolding for the agricultural system, allowing farms to bring in enough labor to pick fruits and vegetables Americans rely on. But many workers have been trafficked by employers using the program, said experts and activists who fear the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the situation to grow.
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caltrek
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Seaboard Foods Investigation
September 30, 2021

https://investigatemidwest.org/2021/09/ ... stigation/

Introduction:
(Investigate Midwest) We spent months interviewing former and current employees of Seaboard Foods, one of the largest and most productive meat processing plants in the country. We also reviewed documents from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lawsuits and dozens of Workers’ Compensation filings.

Here are the major takeaways from the investigation.
  • Employees with serious injuries said that they were only provided first aid and that doctors’ notes suggesting time off or reduced workload were ignored. Francisco Reyes, who worked at the plant until summer 2020, said while tossing pork shoulders up an inclining conveyor belt he heard a pop in his elbow. Scans showed his elbow had a contusion and a vertebrae was fractured. A doctor recommended restricting his movements at work, but the plant wouldn’t accommodate him, Reyes said. He worked through the pain.
  • Injuries increased at the plant after the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2019 eliminated limits on how fast hog plants could run their production lines. Seaboard Foods increased its production speeds, forcing employees to work faster.
  • Workers could be subjected to a drug test prior to receiving treatment for serious injuries. A current employee who requested anonymity to protect his job said this dissuaded him from going to the nurse: He can’t close his hands because they’re inflamed from using metal hooks and knives, and he smokes marijuana so the pain doesn’t keep him awake.
Here is a related article on the same subject: https://investigatemidwest.org/2021/09/ ... e-ignored/
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caltrek
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Hollywood Production Crews May Strike Due To Unglamorously Low Wages And Long Hours
Here is a follow-up to that news item written by Maximillian Alvarez:

https://inthesetimes.com/article/hollyw ... s-artisans

Introduction:
(In These Times) Members of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. According to an announcement from the union Monday morning, 90 percent of members voted, and 98 percent of voters said yes to strike authorization. The vote could result in roughly 60,000 workers walking off the job and bring the entertainment industry to a halt. As consumers, we tend to associate the entertainment industry with acting stars, elite directors and producers, and big studio executives, but hundreds and and even thousands of workers make every production possible, and many of them are grossly underpaid, overworked, and denied basic necessities like breaks and time to sleep between shifts. Combined with the explosion of streaming services and ever-increasing demands for studio-quality productions, workers in the entertainment industry are being run into the ground, and they have reached a breaking point.

IATSE represents over 150,000 technicians, artisans, and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada. The union is composed of many different locals, not all of which are currently voting to authorize a strike.
Also in regards to that development: https://inthesetimes.com/article/iatse- ... ming-media
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Japan's Largest Labor Body Rengo Gets First Female Chief
October 6, 2021

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021 ... chief.html

Introduction:
(Kyodo News) Tokyo- Tomoko Yoshino became the first-ever female chief of Japan's largest labor organization Rengo on Wednesday after her promotion from vice president was approved at a regular convention.

Yoshino, 55, from a labor union mainly representing small and medium-sized manufacturers in Japan, will serve a two-year term, succeeding Rikio Kozu, who led the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, as Rengo is formally known, for six years.

It is the first time since the establishment of Rengo in 1989 that a woman has taken the helm of the organization that has around 7 million members.

After graduating from high school, Yoshino got a job at sewing machine maker Juki Corp. in 1984. She has served as deputy head of the Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery, and Manufacturing Workers since 2015 and as vice president of Rengo since 2015.

"I will proceed with our activities by heeding the voices of our members seriously so we can create an environment in which people can continue work without worrying even amid the spread of the coronavirus," Yoshino said.
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