Workers & Economic Inequality

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Documents Show Notorious Union-Buster Backing Kentucky’s County Right-to-Work Laws

TCF fellow and labor rights activist Moshe Marvit gives an update on the right-to-work movement that has most recently created a new organization with hidden funding sources that will support any future legislation that arises to support local or city right-to-work efforts. The anti-labor union cause is growing and getting national attention. In mid-December, an ordinance was passed in Warren County, Kentucky to permit a right-to-work law at the local level.

The plan to promote local right-to-work ordinances rests in large part on the possibility of a third party picking up the legal fees for counties. The Heritage panel that discussed this approach explained that such laws will serve an economic development function for cash-strapped counties. However, everyone knows that these laws will end up in court. And if counties risk being on the hook for hundreds of thousands or millions in legal fees that the passage of such laws will bring, then pursuing them would be too great a risk for the target counties.

Read Marvit's full articlehere.

Tags: right to work, equal pay, employment, anti-union activists

Labor at a Crossroads: Can Broadened Civil Rights Law Offer Workers a True Right to Organize?

TCF fellows Moshe Marvit and Rick Kahlenberg explain that despite small victories and continued efforts by workers, the fruitful and strong labor movement of the past may be dead. There is one loophole that they describe however, which is extending the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law, which bans employers from discrimination in the workplace based on age, sex, ethnicity, etc., can be extended to include discrimination against those wishing to organize a labor union.

Making labor organizing a civil right at the state and local level for these groups could build momentum for eventual federal civil rights legislation for all workers once a friendlier Congress comes to power. Moreover, building a movement around “labor rights as civil rights” could galvanize millennials to add worker rights to the great triumphs of “Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall,” as President Obama memorably put it.

Marvit and Kahlenberg's full article can be read here.

Tags: right to work, labor unions, civil rights act

Do Santa’s Elves a Favor: Support Their Labor Rights

TCF fellow Amy B. Dean tells how labor activists are urging U.S. brands to follow the example of European and Cambodian anti-sweatshop campaigners and raise wages as well as increase working conditions. Following 2012's tragic collapse of the factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a coalition of international labor organizations, NGO's and retailers created the Accord on Fire and Building Safety to prevent future disasters. Dean goes into detail and explains:

So far, 190 brands from 20 countries across four continents — including Fruit of the Loom, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Knights Apparel, a major supplier of college-logo apparel approved by the Collegiate Licensing Company — have signed on to the accord.

The full article from Al-Jazeera can be read here.

Tags: worker rights, labor rights, bangladesh

A Kentucky County Just Voted to Approve the First Local Right-to-Work Ordinance

The "right-to-work" ordinance has recently gained popularity by anti-union groups at the city- and county- level. This ordinance was finally recognized last week in a small Kentucky county where an affirmative preliminary approval was seen. If this law does get passed in the near future, it will begin a nation-wide fight for similar local-level "right-to-work" cases says TCF's fellow Moshe Marvit.

Promoters of the effort argue that although federal labor law generally preempts any local ordinances, Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which permits right-to-work laws in “any state or territory,” is ambiguous as to whether it applies to cities and counties. They argue that counties are subdivisions of the state, and home rule cities have been delegated authority by the state, so these entities should be included under the term “state.”

Read Marvit's full piece.

Tags: workers rights, right to work, economics, anti-union activists

Thanks to Labor Board Ruling, You Can Now Use Company Email to Organize a Union

The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") recently revolutionized the way that labor unions can organize by adding email as an approved medium of communications between members. TCF fellow Moshe Marvit says email trumps the law that bans labor unions from using company spaces such as bulletin boards, telephones, photocopiers and televisions because it does not restrict both parties from simultaneously communicating.

Recognizing the changing nature of the workplace, Liebman and Walsh explained that email was becoming the new water cooler, and that the Board fundamentally misunderstood how email systems work. In a passage that reads almost as if written by a millennial to her out of touch grandparents, the two members explained in basic terms to the Board majority the difference between emails and more traditional communication media: “If a union notice is posted on a bulletin board, the amount of space available for the employer to post its messages is reduced. If an employee is using a telephone for Section 7 or other nonwork-related purposes, that telephone line is unavailable for others to use.”

Check out the whole article here.

Tags: technology, labor unions, labor organizing, communications

Trying to Violate Federal Law, One City at a Time

December 12, 2014 COMMENTARY BY: Moshe Marvit TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Strengthening Unions

Anti-union groups have begin shifting focus from national fights to the local level. TCF fellow and labor law expert Moshe Marvit explains why this new anti-union push threatens to fundamentally disrupt federal labor policy.

Tags: right to work, labor unions, labor law, labor, anti-union activists


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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