A rejoinder worth reading on labor markets by George Mason economist Bryan Caplan to the pseudonymous “Scott Alexander,” who writes the popular Slate Star Codex blog [Caplan first, second, third posts, all responding to this critique-of-libertarianism FAQ] If you don’t read Alexander, some of his top posts are here (especially strong on questions of medicine/health care and the way social justice language has developed into a tool of power). Also check out his recent post on the Daraprim mess and the wider failure of generic drug regulation [earlier on which].
Washington, D.C.: a pending council bill on AirBnB and similar arrangements, “backed by a large hotel workers union, would ban the rental of whole units without the owner or occupant being present, and prevent hosts from renting out more than one unit at a time. It would also create a special enforcement division within the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to conduct inspections, and empower third parties — such as neighborhood groups or housing affordability advocates — to sue for violations.” Hotel owners have their own, “less draconian” scheme to restrict AirBnB use in the popular tourism city. [Lydia DePillis, Washington Post “WonkBlog”]
Scott Walker has announced a far-reaching package of labor reforms going far beyond the cautious Republican norm, including abolishing the NLRB and transferring its power to other agencies, eliminating federal unions, making right-to-work the default federal labor law regime unless states opt out, repealing Davis-Bacon, and more. [Reason, Associated Press, Hot Air interview] Union leaders, quite understandably from their perspective, lost no time in speaking out loudly against Walker’s ideas. Why, one wonders, don’t more business people speak out as loudly against the ideas of Bernie Sanders?
Fire unions have secured laws requiring that firefighting units be deployed to mishaps at which there is no fire risk [Coyote]
In a long-feared ruling, the Obama National Labor Relations Board has ruled that a company that employs subcontractors or engages in franchising can over a wide range of situations be deemed a “joint employer” for purposes of liability for labor law violations and obligation to bargain over wages and working conditions with subcontractors’ or franchisees’ work forces. The decision imperils many of the most successful business models on the American economic scene. I’ve got a write-up at Cato observing that the ruling is likely to wreak havoc with, among many other sector, Silicon Valley and sharing-economy launches and asking “One wonders whether many of the smart New Economy people who bought into the Obama administration’s promises really knew what they were buying.”
More coverage of the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris ruling: Reuters (quotes me on the not-bright prospects for Hill action); Seyfarth Shaw; Tim Devaney, The Hill; “Good week to change name of NLRB to National Labor Resuscitation Board.” [Jonathan Segal] And, from standpoints supportive of the ruling, Al-Jazeera and Prof. Catherine Fisk/On Labor.
P.S.: At the Weekly Standard, Andrew B. Wilson notes that Obama wage/hour czar David Weil doubles as a key ideologist of the kill-outsourcing crowd.
- “6 charts that debunk the ‘gig’ economy” [R.J. Lehmann, R Street Institute]
- DOL memo: as far as we’re concerned most of those independent contractors you’re paying are actually employees, see you in court [Shar Bahmani, Squire Patton Boggs; Daniel Schwartz] “Is Your Company On The Independent Contractor Hit List?” [Richard Reibstein, Forbes]
- One big if unstated aim of Obama overtime regs: with more people punching clocks at work, there’ll be fewer with the politically unproductive “management mentality” of salaried types [earlier; related, Coyote]
- Comply with DoL’s new mandate for government contractors to disclose labor law violations, and walk right into a defamation suit [Jason Carey and Brandon Myers, Covington & Burling] “House GOP leaders call for withdrawal of ‘blacklisting rule'” [The Hill]
- Some unionists rally behind Philly ironworkers boss convicted in huge arson/extortion scheme [Philadelphia Daily News, more, earlier]
- SEIU pushing California bill to tie franchisors’ hands in dealings with franchisees, and no its goal isn’t to help the franchisees [Labor Pains]
- “Is the NLRB Planning an End Run Around the State Right to Work Laws?” [Irving Geslewitz, Much Shelist]
- As intended: union win rate rises sharply under new ambush election rule [Adam Abrahms/Epstein Becker Green, Tim McConville/National Law Review, earlier] Effect on management’s rights of speech [W$J]
- Transparency in public labor agreements is partisan issue in Pennsylvania [Charles Thompson, Harrisburg Patriot-News]
- California agricultural labor board is anything but neutral on United Farm Workers [Katy Grimes, Flash Report via Daily Caller]
- On fast food unionization, it’s just Department of Labor and SEIU, sitting in a tree [Labor Union Report; related, Josh Eidelson/Business Week]
- GOP funding riders would block “activist” NLRB from enforcing slew of new rules [The Hill]
- Depoliticizing the NLRB through administrative steps [Samuel Estreicher, Emory Law Journal via Workplace Prof]
- “In a World Where Talking to Yourself May Now Qualify as ‘Concerted’ Activity…” [Alison Loomis, Seyfarth Shaw]
A new law in New York City aims to close car washes that don’t unionize, and workers’ own wishes in the matter would appear to be irrelevant. The bill would “requir[e] car wash owners to purchase a $150,000 surety bond to operate in city limits. … [But] businesses with collective bargaining agreements with unions in place only need $30,000 coverage.” [F. Bill McMorris, Free Beacon]
- Supreme Court grants certiorari (as Cato had urged) in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, on First Amendment rights of individual public employees against unions, potentially major sequel to Harris v. Quinn (our coverage) and Knox v. SEIU (our coverage). More: Jason Bedrick, Cato;
- More First Amendment: On same day, high court says Texas can turn down Confederate-flag license plates but that town of Gilbert, Ariz. impermissibly took content into account in regulating roadside signs [Lyle Denniston; Eugene Volokh on Gilbert and earlier, and on license plates] Ilya Shapiro has a wrap-up of other end-of-term cases;
- Paging judicial-independence buffs: study finds Obama stands out for aggressive comments on pending SCOTUS cases [W$J via Jonathan Adler]
- Abercrombie v. EEOC followup (earlier): If Thomas’s dissent has the courage of its convictions, maybe it’s because he was longest-serving chairman in EEOC history [Tamara Tabo] “SCOTUS requires employers to stereotype in ruling for EEOC in hijab-accommodation case” [Jon Hyman] Yes, employers can still have dress codes, but read on for the caveat [Daniel Schwartz]
- “Illinois Uses Racial Preferences for No Good Reason,” Seventh Circuit take note [Ilya Shapiro and Julio Colomba, Cato]
- Feds can refuse to register a “disparaging” trademark. Consistent with the First Amendment? [Shapiro, Cato]
- More from Ilya Somin on anniversary of eminent domain Kelo v. New London decision [one, two, more]