Sunday, June 16, 2019
Ron McCallum has been blind from birth. When he was a child, many blind people spent their lives making baskets in sheltered workshops, but Ron's mother had other ideas for her son. She insisted on treating him as normally as possible.
In this endearing memoir, Ron recounts his social awkwardness and physical mishaps, and shares his early fears that he might never manage to have a proper career, find love or become a parent. He has achieved all this and more, becoming a professor of law at a prestigious university, and chairing a committee at the United Nations.
Ron's glass is always half full. He has taken advantage of every new assistive technology and is in awe of what is now available to allow him and other blind people to realise their potential. His is a life richly lived, by a man who remains open to all people from all walks of life.
And here's a brief description of Ron from his U. Sydney bio:
Ronald C McCallum AO was the foundation Blake Dawson Waldron Professor in Industrial Law in the University of Sydney Law School. He took up this position in January 1993 and retired from this position on 30 September 2007. This Blake Dawson Waldron professorship was the first full professorship in industrial law at any Australian university. Ron is the first totally blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship in any field at any university in Australia or New Zealand. Ron McCallum was employed on a fixed-term contract as a Professor of Labour Law in Sydney Law School from 1 February 2008 until 31 December 2010. In January 2011, he was appointed to an Emeritus Professorship in Sydney Law School.
Neither of these descriptions do Ron justice, even halfway. His faculty bio somehow omits the fact that he was a longstanding and very successful dean at Sydney, and I think it's fair to say that he was the first "modern" dean of the law school in the sense that he elevated the position from that of a mostly internal administrator to an external representative of the Law School to the external world at a global level. More than that, Ron was extremely generous with his time mentoring generations of young labor academics, and one of the nicest, down-to-earth academic leaders I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Apropos of this, here's a tribute from Paul Harpur (Queensland), one of Ron's biggest fans:
Ron has had a profound impact upon those he has touched. I lost my eyesight at the age of 14 in a train accident and followed Ron’s career with interest. It was no surprise that I followed Ron into labor law. in 2003 Ron and I became friends and ever since then I have seen Ron as a hero. It is no surprise that Ron and I are both blind, both labor lawyers, both academics, and both with an interest in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Ron on formerly charring the CRPD Committee and Paul publishing on that same committee). Outside work Ron’s stories and generosity has influenced tens of thousands, and through his work on the UN CRPD Committee all persons with disabilities across the globe.
Thanks to Dennis Nolan (emeritus, South Carolina) for providing a heads-up on Ron's memoir.
UPDATE: Ron wrote to ask me to post the following:
Thank you for all of the very kind comments. I am truly humbled by your words. My life has been devoted to the teaching and practice of labour law to play my part in seeking to ensure fairness between workers and entrepreneurs. My book is titled “Born At The Right Time: A Memoir” and it comes out on 1 July in Australia and is published by Allen and Unwin. Overseas friends can purchase it through the book depository website.
Ron McCallum AO
Liz Tippett (Oregon), through The Oregon Law Lab, has created a YouTube channel to present lighthearted interviews with leading researchers on workplace law and developments. Liz hosts, and is joined by law student Jessica Brown, and other UO law students. Guests so far have included Richard Moberly (whistleblowing), Lew Maltby (employer monitoring outside of work), Charlotte Alexander (employer scheduling software), Catherine Fisk (trade secrets), Charlie Sullivan (the faithless servant doctrine), and Rick Bales (here's a link to my video on artificial intelligence in the workplace). I love Liz's idea of finding a medium in which to bring cutting-edge worklaw issues to a broader audience.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Bill Herbert writes that about the Call for Papers for the 47th annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College. The conference will be held on March 29-31, 2020. The theme of the conference will be Inequality, Collective Bargaining, and Higher Education. Proposed papers, panels, or workshops are due September6, 2019 to 2020 Abstract Dropbox.
Check out the Call for Papers link to see all of the interesting topics being solicited, both for paper presentations and interactive workshops.
Friday, June 7, 2019
Christine Neylon O'Brien & Stephanie M. Greene (both Boston College - Carroll School of Management) have just posted their new article (forthcoming 56 American Bus. L.J. # 4 (Winter 2019)) New Battles and Battlegrounds for Mandatory Arbitration after Epic, New Prime, and Lamps Plus. Here's the abstract:
The Supreme Court’s recent decisions interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) in the employment context generally prioritize arbitration over workers’ labor law rights. The majority in Epic Systems upheld mandatory individual employment arbitration agreements despite their conflict with the labor law right to act in concert. The same majority in Lamps Plus presumed that the parties intend individual arbitration absent reference to group arbitration. However, in a rare unanimous decision, the Supreme Court in New Prime exempted transportation workers from FAA coverage, even where the workers are independent contractors rather than employees. These decisions resolved some disputes about the breadth of the FAA but other questions remain unresolved. For example, do the confidentiality provisions so often associated with arbitration provisions unlawfully interfere with employees’ federal labor law rights? Are state laws on employment arbitration subject to preemption?
Some state courts and legislatures continue to seek ways to protect workers who are disadvantaged by mandatory individual arbitration provisions, and others outline procedures for arbitration even for those transportation workers who are categorically exempt under the FAA. State laws regulating employment arbitration may fail in the face of preemption arguments, as the Court’s slim conservative majority appears intent on upholding individual arbitration provisions at all costs. Nevertheless, California persists in allowing representative suits under its Private Attorney General’s Act (PAGA) and state courts continue to consider traditional contract defenses such as lack of mutual assent and unconscionability as arguments to bypass onerous arbitration provisions. The Court’s New Prime decision will reinvigorate the battle over what it means to be “engaged in interstate commerce” to qualify for the FAA’s transportation worker exemption, with workers for Uber and Lyft leading the charge as they seek to avoid mandatory individual arbitration. In contrast, businesses will undoubtedly argue that even transportation workers who are exempt under the FAA still must arbitrate under state law provisions that do not exempt transportation workers.
The authors recommend that Congress amend the FAA to exclude all workers affecting interstate commerce, and clarify the role of state law regulating employment arbitration. State legislation should provide guidance on what makes arbitration truly voluntary and fair, as well as afford employees a real choice on collective action and forum, and whether to maintain confidentiality about the dispute.
I'm glad Christine and Stephanie are continuing the good fight. I find these decisions extraordinarily depressing.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Kevin M. Barry (Quinnipiac) and Jennifer Levi (Western New England) have just posted on SSRN their article (forthcoming 35 Touro L. Rev.) The Future of Disability Rights Protections for Transgender People. Here's the abstract:
The Americans with Disabilities Act and its predecessor, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”), protect people from discrimination based on disability, but not if that disability happens to be one of three archaic medical conditions associated with transgender people: “transvestism,” “transsexualism,” and “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments.” This Article tells the story of how this transgender exclusion came to be, why a growing number of federal courts say it does not apply to gender dysphoria, a new and distinct medical diagnosis, and the future of disability rights protections for transgender people.
Monday, June 3, 2019
Special thanks to Richard Fincher (arbitrator & adjunct - Cornell ILR) for sending word (via the Employee Rights Advocacy Institute and Construction Dive) that Colorado has enacted a bill making wage theft a criminal offense. Under the Human Right to Work With Dignity Act, unscrupulous employers who intentionally withhold more than $2,000 in wages could be found guilty of felony theft.