Tag Archives: workers’ issues

Starbucks seeks Supreme Court protection from being ordered to rehire baristas who say they were fired for union-promoting activities

By Michael Z. Green, Texas A&M University Published 4-11-2024 by The Conversation

Starbucks workers rally and march in Seattle. Photo: Elliot Stoller/flickr/CC

What factors must a court consider when the National Labor Relations Board requests an order requiring an employer to rehire terminated workers before the completion of unfair labor practice proceedings?

That’s the central question that the Supreme Court will consider on April 23, 2024, during oral arguments in the Starbucks Corp. v. McKinney case. The global coffee shop chain is challenging the NLRB, the federal agency responsible for enforcing U.S. workers’ rights to organize, saying that the agency used the more labor-friendly of two available standards when it asked a federal court to order the company to reinstate workers at a Memphis, Tennessee, store who lost their jobs in 2022 amid a nationwide unionizing campaign.

The Conversation U.S. asked Texas A&M law professor Michael Z. Green to explain what’s behind this case and how the court’s eventual decision, expected by the end of June, could affect the right to organize unions in the United States.

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‘Absolutely Absurd’: Tennessee GOP Advances Concealed Guns for Teachers

“We should not be afraid to send our kids to school, but extremist lawmakers are hellbent on expanding the gun lobby’s guns everywhere agenda and putting our kids at risk,” said one state campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-10-2024 by Common Dreams

Moms Demand Action members protest a Tennessee bill to arm teachers on April 9, 2024. (Photo: Moms Demand Action Tennessee/Facebook)

Gun control advocates, including families of mass shooting survivors, condemned Tennessee Senate Republicans for a 26-5 vote along party lines on Tuesday to advance legislation allowing teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms in public schools.

“Since the devastating shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville last year, the [Tennessee] Legislature has had the opportunity to take meaningful action on gun safety,” said Moms Demand Action executive director Angela Ferrell-Zabala. “Instead, they have chosen to ‘debate the safety of their communities’ behind closed doors in a process that has often excluded their constituents and their own colleagues.”

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Low-Paid Immigrant Farmworkers Most at Risk From Toxic Weedkiller US Refuses to Ban

Farmworkers “should not be subjected to additional health risks due to the negligent actions of pesticide manufacturers, farm owners, and state regulatory agencies,” said one analyst.

By Julia Conley. Published 3-29-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: rawpixel/Public domain

Concerns about the safety of paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide, pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2021 to ban its use on golf courses—but the weedkiller is still permitted for agricultural use, and a new first-of-its-kind analysis shows how the EPA’s continued approval of the substance has put low-income Latino communities at disproportionate risk for health impacts.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found in a study released Wednesday that 5.3 million pounds of paraquat were sprayed over a five-year period in California, the only state with readily available figures on the herbicide.

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Over Apple’s Objections, Oregon Governor Signs Nation’s Strongest Right to Repair Law

“Oregon becomes the first state to ban ‘parts pairing,’ which let companies like Apple decide when and how you replace parts.”

By Julia Conley. Published 3-27-2024 by Common Dreams

Genius bar. Photo: Christian Rasmussen/flickr/CC

In a move that advocates said will save Oregon residents money while supporting small businesses and reducing waste of electronic devices, Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday signed the Right to Repair Act, a law that passed earlier this month despite Apple’s lobbying efforts.

The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), applauded the signing of the bill, which requires manufacturers to provide Oregonians and small repair businesses with access to the parts, tools, and information needed to fix personal electronics and household appliances.

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Biden 2025 Budget Would Offer ‘Welcome Relief,’ But Not Enough

One expert said that enacting his reforms “will begin to reverse the 40-year one-way ratchet of falling taxes for the wealthy and corporations and instead invest in workers and families.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 3-11-2024 by Common Dreams

Photto: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr/CC

On the heels of delivering the latest State of the Union speech and signing a package of funding bills, U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his budget blueprint for fiscal year 2025, a proposal praised by congressional Democrats and progressive advocates who want him to go even further.

The $7.3 trillion budget comes as the divided Congress is still sorting out funding for the current fiscal year. Given those divisions—and that the Republican House majority is already advancing its own budget resolution for the fiscal year that begins in October—the Democratic president’s plan is widely seen as a statement of priorities going into the November election.

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Florida GOP Passes ‘Vicious’ Bill Banning Mandatory Water Breaks for Workers

“We will see fatalities, because of what Florida Republicans chose to do this week,” said one workers’ rights advocate.

By Julia Conley. Published 3-8-2024 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: VideoHive

Displaying “punitive cruelty” toward Florida residents who work outdoors, the Republican-controlled state House on Friday approved a bill that would ban local governments from requiring that workplaces provide water breaks and other cooling measures.

The state Senate passed the measure on Thursday, with Republicans pushing the bill through as Miami-Dade County was scheduled to vote on local water break protections. If signed into law by the Republican governor, the proposal will preempt the county’s vote.

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At Rallies Nationwide, Low-Wage Workers Tell Political Leaders: ‘Our Votes Are Demands’

“Our government’s refusal to fully address poverty and low wages even after the worst days of Covid is not only killing our brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber. “It’s killing our public conscience.”

By Jake Johnson. Published 3-2-2024 by Common Dreams

Rev. Dr. William Barber speaks during a demonstration in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 2, 2024. (Photo: NC Poor People’s Campaign/Facebook)

Low-wage workers, faith leaders, and allies rallied in state capitals across the United States on Saturday as part of a mass mobilization of poor voters ahead of the pivotal 2024 election.

The nationwide demonstrations were organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, a multiracial movement calling on state legislators and members of the U.S. Congress to act immediately to end the “crisis of death by poverty” in the richest country in the world. Research published last year found that poverty is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States.

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60 Days Into 2024 and Millionaires Are Already Done Paying Into Social Security

“Ninety-four percent of Americans contribute to Social Security all year long, but the wealthy stop paying after their first $168,600 in wage income.”

By Jake Johnson. Published 2-29-2024 by Common Dreams

Image: Public domain

Most Americans contribute to Social Security year-round, but U.S. millionaires will stop paying into the critical program on March 2—just over two months into 2024.

That’s because Social Security’s payroll tax doesn’t apply to earned income above a certain level. For 2024, the cut-off is $168,600, and capital gains—such as stock appreciation—are not subject to the payroll levy at all. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the world’s richest man, pays nothing into Social Security because he doesn’t take a salary.

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FTC and State AGs Sue to Block Kroger-Albertsons ‘Mega Merger’

“By suing to block the Kroger-Albertsons merger, the FTC is keeping grocery bills down and workers in their jobs,” said one anti-monopoly campaigner.

By Jake Johnson. Published 2-26-2024 by Common Dreams

The Federal Trade Commission Building, Washington, DC. Photo: Adam Fagen/flickr/CC

The Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general joined forces Monday on a lawsuit aimed at blocking the supermarket giant Kroger from buying up the Albertsons grocery chain, warning the merger would hamper competition, further drive up food prices, and harm workers.

If completed, the $24.6 billion deal would mark the largest supermarket merger in U.S. history at a time when grocery chains are facing growing scrutiny for driving up prices to pad their bottom lines. A Kroger-Albertsons grocery behemoth would control more than 5,000 stores and 4,000 retail pharmacies across the country, according to the FTC.

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In ‘Direct Attack’ on Labor Movement, Amazon Backs Claim NLRB Is Unconstitutional

“So now capital, unable to hold back labor any longer, is arguing that the NLRB’s very existence is unconstitutional,” said one law professor.

By Julia Conley. Published 2-16-2024 by Common Dreams

Workers at Amazon & everywhere have a right to safety and a union Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

Amid a recent surge in unionization and other workers’ rights victories, wealthy U.S. corporations have fired union organizers, surveilled employees as they voted on forming a collective bargaining unit, and closed store locations to penalize labor leaders—but a court filing by Amazon on Thursday suggested a new tactic as the e-commerce giant seeks to dismantle the federal agency tasked with protecting employees.

Fighting accusations from prosecutors at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that Amazon illegally retaliated against warehouse workers who unionized, the company submitted a legal filing arguing that the board itself is unconstitutional.

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