News of the Month – May

May 18th, 2018

The Supreme Court has dealt an initial blow to millions of workers in the first of two major disputes this term pitting corporations against labor unions, USA Today reports. In a 5-4 decision controlled by the court’s conservative wing, the justices ruled that employers have the right to insist that labor disputes get resolved individually, rather than allowing workers to join together in class action lawsuits. Millions of workers routinely sign such arbitration agreements unknowingly, only to find out later that they are barred from collective action. About 25 million workers are affected by those contracts.

A CalMatters story about interest groups refusing to publish the results to their candidate questionnaires used to make endorsements credited NUHW for making our questionnaires — and the candidates’ answers — open to the public. “One outlier to the secrecy trend is the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which endorsed Newsom and published its questionnaire with his answers.”

A new study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute predicts that a Supreme Court decision forbidding public sector unions from collecting so-called fair share fees will drive down public sector union membership in California by about 9 percent and cost public employees $2,079 a year in income, according to the Sacramento Bee. The analysis is based on a comparison of union membership and public sector compensation in fair share states like California and in right-to-work states like Texas. It found that public sector compensation would fall about 3.6 percent if right-to-work becomes the law of the land.

Senator Bernie Sanders and a group of potential Democratic presidential contenders including Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand are introducing the Workplace Democracy Act, a major labor bill updating the 1935 National Labor Relations Act with new provisions on organizing rights and the gig economy. It would also outlaw state “right-to-work” laws, according to New York Magazine.

Around 10 million U.S. jobs ― especially service jobs such as cooks, cleaners and janitors ― are at high risk of automation within the next five to 10 years alone, according to an October 2017 analysis. The Huffington Post reports that these are jobs that have traditionally benefited from strong union support, and while unions are stepping up to address this challenge, in some places this is becoming an increasingly difficult task, especially in light of declining membership and influence.