Whispers of the Wealthy Few

While the National Archives has made clear that it won’t be able to produce all documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the end of October, Senate Republican leaders announced Friday that they will begin confirmation hearings on Sept. 4. As a result, the confirmation process will proceed without full access to some 900,000 pages of documents detailing Kavanaugh’s career and judicial record.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) recently told reporters: “Working people deserve a nominee who will extend the guarantees of the Constitution and the promises of our country to everyone who lives and works here. We don’t need another justice who only listens to the whispers of the wealthy few.”

Yet Kavanaugh has a long record of ruling against working families:

  • American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates: Handed down an opinion that his colleagues argued would allow the secretary of defense to “abolish collective bargaining altogether.”
  • Agri Processor Co. Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board: In a dissent, wrote that a company should not be ordered to bargain with a union, arguing that undocumented workers were ineligible to vote in a union election (in direct conflict with long-standing Supreme Court precedent).
  • SeaWorld of Florida LLC v. Perez: Dissented from a majority opinion upholding a safety citation against SeaWorld following the death of a trainer.
  • Venetian Casino Resort LLC v. NLRB: Overturned an NLRB decision, finding that a hotel engaged in unfair labor practices when it requested police officers issue criminal citations to union demonstrators who were legally protesting.

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Posted In: From AFL-CIO, Union Matters

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!