Monday, January 31, 2005

Andy Stern and the Labor Movement

Great article on Sunday's New York Times on the challenges facing U.S. unions.  The article discusses Andy Stern's recent challenge to the AFL-CIO and the reactions to it. (The New Boss, by Matt Bai)

Here are the first couple of paragraphs:

Purple is the color of Andrew Stern's life. He wears, almost exclusively, purple shirts, purple jackets and purple caps. He carries a purple duffel bag and drinks bottled water with a purple label, emblazoned with the purple logo of the Service Employees International Union, of which Stern is president. There are union halls in America where a man could get himself hurt wearing a lilac shirt, but the S.E.I.U. is a different kind of union, rooted in the new service economy. Its members aren't truck drivers or assembly-line workers but janitors and nurses and home health care aides, roughly a third of whom are black, Asian or Latino. While the old-line industrial unions have been shrinking every year, Stern's union has been organizing low-wage workers, many of whom have never belonged to a union, at a torrid pace, to the point where the S.E.I.U. is now the largest and fastest-growing trade union in North America. Once a movement of rust brown and steel gray, Big Labor is increasingly represented, at rallies and political conventions, by a rising sea of purple.

All of this makes Andy Stern -- a charismatic 54-year-old former social-service worker -- a very powerful man in labor, and also in Democratic politics. The job of running a union in America, even the biggest union around, isn't what it once was. The age of automation and globalization, with its ''race to the bottom'' among companies searching for lower wages overseas, has savaged organized labor. Fifty years ago, a third of workers in the United States carried union cards in their wallets; now it's barely one in 10. An estimated 21 million service-industry workers have never belonged to a union, and between most employers' antipathy to unions and federal laws that discourage workers from demanding one, chances are that the vast majority of them never will.

January 31, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Lecture at Cleveland-Marshall

The 2004-2005 Employment and Labor Law Speaker Series at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law presents:

Eric M. Tucker, Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Professor Tucker will be speaking on Great Expectations Defeated? Divergence in north-American Labor and Employment Law post NAFTA.

Tuesday February 8, 2005.

January 27, 2005 in Conferences & Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Labor blog

Check out Unions-Firms-Markets, an excellent blog by Mathias bolton (a union analyst for a labor union in NYC). The blog chronicles and analyzes "the changing relationships, structures, and powers of unions, fimrs and markets in the 21st century."

An example of a recent post on union decline activities:

"Blogs on Union Decline

The topic of deunionization has been featured on a number of blogs this week. It is interesting to see this topic discussed by scholars and other folks whose primary discipline and interests are not labor or industrial relations. Here are a few:

Marginal Revolution: Why are labor unions declining?

Asymmetrical Information: Whither Labor?

80/20club: Whither Unions

Market Power: Tyler Cowen on Labor Unions"

I look forward to continue reading this blog.

January 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

DOL and AFGME

Stephen Barr (Washington Post) reporting on a recent dispute between the Department of Labor and AFGME.

Here's an update on the man-bites-dog file:

The Labor Department, which filed an unfair labor practice complaint against a federal union, has won its case.

In a recent ruling, Richard A. Pearson, an administrative law judge at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, concluded that Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees "committed an unfair labor practice by its conduct."

Labor Department Prevails in Bargaining Dispute With Local 12

January 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Human Rights Watch Report

Workers in the U.S. meat and poultry industry endure unnecessarily hazardous work conditions, and the companies employing them often use illegal tactics to crush union organizing efforts, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 175-page report, “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants,” shows how the increasing volume and speed of production coupled with close quarters, poor training and insufficient safeguards have made meat and poultry work so hazardous. On each work shift, workers make up to 30,000 hard-cutting motions with sharp knives, causing massive repetitive motion injuries and frequent lacerations. Workers often do not receive compensation for workplace injuries because companies fail to report injuries, delay and deny claims, and take reprisals against workers who file them. 

The report's author is Lance Compa, professor at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

January 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Notice and Invitation to File Amicus Curiae Briefs

Notice and Invitation to File Amicus Curiae Briefs

The Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance is currently considering an appeal regarding the appropriate framework to be utilized in analyzing reprisal and intimidation claims raised pursuant to Section 207(a) of the Congressional Accountability Act, 2 U.S.C. 1317(a). The parties to this matter are not identified due to the confidentiality provisions of the Congressional Accountability Act. See Section 416(c), 2 U.S.C. 1416(c).

Specifically, the Board is considering whether the appropriate framework to be used may be that set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973) applied in Title VII cases, or the framework applied by the Federal Labor Relations Authority in Letterkenny Army Depot and IBPO, Local 358, 35 FLRA 113 (1990).

Interested amici are invited to file briefs with the Board in Washington, D.C., which must be received on or before March 14, 2005, addressing questions regarding the appropriate standard of review as outlined below. No extensions of time will be granted for the filing of these briefs, which shall not exceed 30 pages in length without prior approval of the Board. Ten copies of the brief should be submitted to: Board of Directors, Office of Compliance, 110 2nd Street, SE, Room LA-200, Washington, D.C. 20540. Please note that, due to the requirement that mail be irradiated, first class mail and overnight package service deliveries to the Office of Compliance sometimes take several weeks. If you wish further information regarding delivery of briefs to the Office, call the Office at 202-724-9250.

The parties to the appeal pending before the Board shall be provided the opportunity to file responses to these briefs on or before March 28, 2005. The parties' response briefs may not exceed 10 pages.

Submitted briefs should address any one or all of the following issues:

1. Should a single framework be adopted for all claims raised pursuant to Section 207(a) of the Congressional Accountability Act, or should an approach be adopted by which the tribunal would look to the framework(s) applied to claims of retaliation under the laws made applicable to the Legislative Branch by the Congressional Accountability Act?

2. If the second approach set forth in question #1 is adopted, how should it apply when a Section 207(a) claim involves activity that is allegedly protected under laws to which different analytical frameworks apply, e.g., the claim asserts that retaliation or intimidation occurred because of activity allegedly protected by Section 201(a) and by Section 220(a) of the Congressional Accountability Act ?

3. If a single framework is adopted for all Section 207(a) claims, should the McDonnell Douglas, Letterkenny Army Depot, or other framework be adopted as the framework for analyzing reprisal claims raised pursuant to Section 207(a) of the Congressional Accountability Act?

4. What employment actions constitute "adverse actions" for reprisal claims under Section 207(a)?

5. If the McDonnell Douglas framework is adopted, to what extent does Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa , 539 U.S. 90 (2003) affect that framework as applied to reprisal claims under Section 207(a), specifically those that involve a mixed-motive claim?

January 24, 2005 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

OF THE OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE

January 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New LawProf Blogs

Three new blogs are now online as part of the Law Professor Blogs Network (www.lawprofessorblogs.com):

Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog
, edited by Gerry Beyer (St. Mary's)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof

, edited by Cristina Corcos (LSU)
Media Law Prof Blog
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/media_law_prof_blog

, edited by Joe Hodnicki (Cincinnati)
Law Librarian Blog
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog

These blogs combines both (1) regularly-updated permanent resources and links, and (2) daily news and information.  I hope you will check out the sites and pass along the links to your colleagues and friends in these fields.

The other law professor blogs in our network are:

AntitrustProf Blog
(since 10/18/04)

Shubha Ghosh (SUNY Buffalo) (since 11/4/04)
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog
ContractsProf Blog (Official Blog of the AALS Contracts Section)
Carol Chomsky (Minnesota)
Frank Snyder (Texas-Wesleyan)  (since 11/1/04)
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/contractsprof_blog
CrimProf Blog
Jack Chin (Arizona)
Mark Godsey (Cincinnati) (since 11/8/04)
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog
Health Law Prof Blog
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/
Betsy Malloy (Cincinnati)
Tom Mayo (SMU)

(since 10/1/04)
LaborProf Blog
Rafael Gely (Cincinnati)  (since 6/28/04)
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog

Sentencing Law & Policy Blog
Douglas Berman (Ohio State)  (since 4/15/04)
http://sentencing.typepad.com

TaxProf Blog
Paul Caron (Cincinnati)

(since 11/1/04)
http://taxprof.typepad.com
White Collar Crime Prof Blog
Peter Henning (Wayne State)
Ellen Podgor (Georgia State) 
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog

January 25, 2005 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Working Blogs

"Be careful what you blog. It could get you fired" - so counsels Todd Wallack at SFGate.Com.

"Peter Whitney said Wells Fargo dismissed him after co-workers discovered his online journal. Delta Airlines flight attendant Ellen Simonetti said she got the boot for hers. Even a staffer at Friendster, the social networking site in Mountain View that encourages users to post detailed personal information about themselves online, said she was fired for her blog. "

Beware If Your blog Is Related to Work

January 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Employee Benefits News

From the Employee Benefits Research Institute, a report on Changes in Wealth for Americans Reaching or Just Past Normal Retirement Age:

This Issue Brief provides a first step in determining how retirees now starting to retire -- those first to be affected by the shift to lump-sum payments and 401(k) asset accumulation ¾ are managing their wealth. Americans born from 1931-1941 are the focus of this study, since these Americans ranged in age from 51-61 in 1992 (at the beginning of the study period) and had reached age 61-71 by 2002 (the end of the study period). These Americans have been affected by fundamental changes in the employment-based retirement plan market, as fewer people are covered by defined benefit pension plans and more people are covered by defined contribution plans, principally the 401(k) plan.

January 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

More on religious discrimination

Professor Scott Moss (Marquette) posted the following most interesting comment in reaction to my earlier post about a recent discrimination case involving the "Church of Body Modification."

"A quirky case, but ultimately this highly questionable "religion" now has created some bad law for adherents to more genuine religions.

Though it may not be an explicit basis for the holding, the court's skepticism of the bona fide "religious" nature of the "Church of Body Modification" likely colored its holding on "accommodation duty." Now there's a precedent on the books, applicable to all religions, saying that appearance rules can trump religious commandments. Could the implications could be significant for Orthodox Jews wearing yarmulkes, etc.?"

January 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ownership Society

In his Second Inaugural Address President Bush talked about the "ownership society."  the President stated:

To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance -- preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society.

By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

Here are two interesting articles on exactly what is the "ownership society"

In Defining the Ownership Society, David Boaz of the Cato Institute argues that:

Widespread ownership of capital assets has many benefits for society: It means that property is better maintained and long-term values are higher, including environmental quality. It means that people have a greater stake in their community and thus become better citizens. It protects people from the arbitrary power of government and gives them more freedom and more confidence as citizens. It produces prosperity because markets can’t work without private property. Private retirement accounts and reduced taxes on investment would encourage more ownership for all Americans.

In How to Undermine an Ownership Society, Robert Kuttner (Business Week Online) notes, however, that:

Look at American history, from the Homestead Acts to agricultural extension services, Federal Housing Authority loans, the GI bill, pension regulation, and public subsidies to health and education. The truth is that America's ownership society is built substantially on social investment and social insurance. It's certainly not built on shifting all risks to the individual. In spite of himself, President Bush has opened a useful debate about what it really takes for America to become a secure society of owners.

January 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Union Organizing Conference at NY Law School

On January 27 and 28, 2005, New York Law School’s Labor & Employment Law Program, Justice Action Center, and Institute for Information Law & Policy will present the Next Wave Organizing Conference to examine how workers organize in the 21st Century and how new tools and techniques can be harnessed to improve organizing.

The Conference will convene students; union and other worker organizers; scholars in labor and employment law, industrial relations, economics, and political science; as well as technologists to discuss the future of worker organizing and organizing, generally. Panelists will address: What societal changes have led to next-wave organizing? Have next-wave organizers targeted new groups of workers, identified new goals for their organizing, and found new sources of leverage? How does technology help organizers, particularly organizers of low-wage workers, to increase their organizations’ leverage and how might they use technology even more effectively? Do next-wave organizations directly affect labor market outcomes, like wages, hours, and working conditions, in the way that traditional unions do? If not, should that be their goal and how can they accomplish that goal?

For a complete list of speakers click here.

January 20, 2005 in Conferences & Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Body piercing, religion and the workplace

An interesting recent case from the 1st Circuit. In Cloutier v. Costco, 390 F3d. 126 (2004), Kimberly Cloutier alleged that:

her employer, Costco Wholesale Corp. (Costco), failed to offer her a reasonable accommodation after she alerted it to a conflict between the "no facial jewelry" provision of its dress code and her religious practice as a member of the Church of Body Modification. She argues that this failure amounts to religious discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a), and the corresponding Massachusetts statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4(1A). The district court granted summary judgment for Costco, concluding that Costco reasonably accommodated Cloutier by offering to reinstate her if she either covered her facial piercing with a band-aid or replaced it with a clear retainer. We affirm the grant of summary judgment, but on a different basis. See Estades-Negroni v. Assocs. Corp. of North Am., 377 F.3d 58, 62 (1st Cir. 2004) ("We may affirm . . . on any grounds supported by the record."). We hold that Costco had no duty to accommodate Cloutier because it could not do so without undue hardship.

For some commentary on the case see, Costco Scores Big Win For Dress Codes, by Michael Mitchell.

January 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

EEOC v. Sidley Austin

The EEOC case against Sidley Austin Brown & Wood is back in track.  According to David Hechler (Law.com):

In a case the big law firms have been watching for years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Sidley Austin Brown & Wood last week, charging that the firm discriminated against 31 partners when it expelled them from its partnership.

Though EEOC lawyers emphasized in an interview that the case is about one law firm, not an industry, a law professor who is an expert on partnerships called it "an important case" that is going to have "profound implications across the world in law firms."

EEOC Action Against Sidley Signals 'New Age'

For more on this case, as well as a discussion of its broader implications see: Leonard Bierman & Rafael GelySo, you Want to Be a Partner at Sidley & Austin?, 40 Houston L. Rev. 969 (2003),

January 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Measuring employees' performance

New report from The Conference Board on increase use of HR measures:

HR Executives Will Be Looking More At People Measures To Meet Company Goals

While few companies make significant use of people measures to meet their strategic targets, a majority say that they will increase their use of these tools, according to a report released today by The Conference Board.

Eighty-four percent of the 104 human resources executives surveyed for the report predict that their use of human capital measures will rise during the next three years. Only 12 percent say they are currently using people measures to a significant degree.

“When determining how best to demonstrate achievement, human resource managers must choose from the hundreds of metrics that are currently available to track every aspect of an HR department’s endeavors to recruit, develop, and retain employees,” says Stephen Gates, Principal Researcher at The Conference Board and author of the report. “What’s imperative for the health of their businesses, however, is that these HR professionals tie these people measures more closely into their efforts to meet their companies’ overall strategic targets.”

January 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Please Take This Survey

Foundation Press LogoThompson-West LogoWest Publishing Company and Foundation Press, sponsors of this blog and our Law Professor Blogs Network, have asked that we help identify our readership through this on-line survey.  They (and we) would like to figure out the mix of professors, judges, lawyers, librarians, students, and others who read this blog.  The survey takes less than a minute to complete.  Thanks in advance for your help.

January 18, 2005 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 17, 2005

Remembering Martin Luther King

To commemorate the life of Reverend Martin Luther King here are some of his speeches on labor issues:

King03_1 * Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires, and few Negro employers. Our needs are identical with labor's needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor's demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth. AFL-CIO Convention, December 1961

* At the turn of the century women earned approximately ten cents an hour, and men were fortunate to receive twenty cents an hour. The average work week was sixty to seventy hours. During the thirties, wages were a secondary issue; to have a job at all was the difference between the agony of starvation and a flicker of life. The nation, now so vigorous, reeled and tottered almost to total collapse. The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and above all new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over our nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.  Illinois AFL-CIO Convention, October 1965

* When there is massive unemployment in the black community, it is called a social problem. But when there is massive unemployment in the white community, it is called a Depression.

We look around every day and we see thousands and millions of people making inadequate wages. Not only do they work in our hospitals, they work in our hotels, they work in our laundries, they work in domestic service, they find themselves underemployed. You see, no labor is really menial unless you're not getting adequate wages. People are always talking about menial labor. But if you're getting a good (wage) as I know that through some unions they've brought it up...that isn't menial labor. What makes it menial is the income, the wages.  Local 1199 Salute to Freedom, March 1968

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Labor

January 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

On the light side!

From Frank Snyder at ContractsProf Blog an employment law version of Bob Dylan's song "The Times Terms They Are A-Changin'."

    G                 Em                 C                 G
Now listen, you workers, pay heed to my song
        G                    Em         C                      D
The broad social forces around you are strong,
        G                  Em            C                       G
And whether for better or worse, right or wrong,
               G                        Am           D
Your employment terms need rearrangin’
      D                 D/c            G/b           D/a
So sign on the line or just go and resign,
             G         C                D     G
For the terms, they are a-changin’.

For the rest of the song see here.

January 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 14, 2005

On-Line Resource

A reminder to readers to check out Professor Ross Runkel's LawMemo.com.  Lots of great resources for labor and employment law teachers.

January 14, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

5th Annual Women and the Law Conference

Emory University’s Feminism and Legal Theory Project and Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s Women and the Law Project are co-hosting a two-day conference that seeks to gauge the effect of feminist legal theory beyond U.S. borders. As the world has become more interdependent, the focus of feminist legal theory has moved from formal equality to frameworks recognizing cultural difference, accounting for male dominance, and promoting anti-essentialism. This conference will examine how the strands of feminist legal theory spread beyond national borders and in the process are transformed.

The conference starts on Friday, February 18th at 3:00 pm, featuring our first panel, Globalization and Feminist Theory: Setting the Stage. Kathryn Abrams, Associate Dean and Herma Hill Kay Distinguished Professor of Law at U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, will then deliver Thomas Jefferson’s 2005 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture. A reception and optional dinner follow the lecture. Saturday morning activities begin with fascinating speakers on Human Rights and Feminist Theory, and Globalization and Sexuality, followed by a luncheon talk on Reproduction and Free Trade in the Americas: A New View on Labor. The conference wraps up with a look at The Spread of Feminist Legal Theory: A Comparative Perspective. Speakers include scholars and activists from across the United States, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe.

January 13, 2005 in Conferences & Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)