“Organized labor is laying the groundwork for an aggressive legal challenge to right-to-work laws, one that essentially would invalidate most state versions of the law.” When unions sought to overturn Indiana’s newly enacted right to work law, the Seventh Circuit upheld it but split 5-5 over rehearing of the case, a surprisingly close outcome. [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]
- Forget about event permits unless you hire union? Feds arrest Boston mayor’s tourism aide on extortion charges [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, Boston Herald, indictment, WCVB (auto-plays)]
- Georgia to feds: franchise law is state law, and you’re not free to tear up its terms to favor unions [International Franchise Association, Connor Wolf/Daily Caller]
- Unique California farm-labor law binds growers to “contracts” they never signed. Is that even constitutional? [Ilya Shapiro, Cato] Upstate farmers furious over Gov. Cuomo’s move to unionize farm labor in New York [City and State]
- NLRB strikes down innocuous handbook provision expecting employees to maintain “positive” workplace environment [Jon Hyman] “Is it time for a new NLRB rule on handbook policies?” [same]
- “Funding Ideology, Not Research, at University of California ‘Labor Institutes'” [Steven Greenhut, Reason]
- NLRB Philadelphia regional director, criticized over role in pro-union fund, suspended for 30 days [Law360, Labor Union Report]
- Union representing Seattle school cafeteria workers threatens church for giving free pizza to students [Shift WA, KOMO]
- Portland: “Police chief, police union urge officers not to attend citizen review panel hearings” [Oregonian] “The Most Inappropriate Comment from A Police Union Yet?” [Kate Levine, PrawfsBlawg; Tamir Rice case, Cleveland] “Maryland’s Police Union Rejects ‘Any and All’ Reforms” [Anthony Fisher, Reason back in January]
- On-the-job porn habit got Wheaton, Ill. cop fired, but if he nabs psychiatric disability, he’ll draw 65% of $87K+ salary with no income tax [Chicago Tribune]
- “Why TSA Lines Have Gotten So Much Longer” [Gary Leff, View from the Wing; Robert Poole, WSJ]
- Unions are biggest beneficiaries of Congress’s transit subsidy spigot. Time to apply terms and conditions [Steven Malanga]
- “HUD Can’t Fire Anyone Without Criminal Charges, Even Interns” [Luke Rosiak, Daily Caller] “Here’s Why It’s All But Impossible To Fire A Fed” [Kathryn Watson, Daily Caller]
On “Wednesday the American Bar Association joined others in asking federal lawmakers to reconsider the [Labor Department’s] revised rule [requiring more extensive disclosure of the identities of outside professionals hired to resist unionization, as well as other clients of those professionals]. Although there are a number of ways in which the rule is ‘deeply flawed,’ the overarching concern of the ABA is the negative impact it will have on attorney-client privilege, says ABA President Paulette Brown in written testimony (PDF) submitted for a Wednesday hearing by a U.S. House subcommittee.” [ABA Journal, BNA, earlier]
Abood abides: a 4-4 Supreme Court split leaves in place earlier precedent providing that public employees can be required to pay union “agency fees” spent on activities of which they may not approve. Cato reactions: Trevor Burrus (“The lack of a blockbuster decision in Friedrichs is one of the most significant immediate consequences of Scalia’s death”), Jason Bedrick (“Not only do agency fees violate the First Amendment rights of workers by forcing them to financially support inherently political activities with which they may disagree (as my colleague Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber explained), but the unions often negotiate contracts that work against the best interests of the workers whose money they’re taking.”). Bonus: Charles C.W. Cooke (NEA president’s “Orwellian” words on case). Earlier here.
- Feared Philadelphia union boss launches program to use drones to surveill non-union worksites [William Bender, Philly.com (“got into a fistfight with a nonunion electrical contractor – and broke his nose – at a construction site at Third and Reed.”)]
- “We know where you live” continued: U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez’s “persuader rule” exposes lawyers and other professionals to intimidation, creates legal minefield for employers expressing opinion [The Hill, Jon Hyman, earlier]
- Richard Epstein on labor unions [Libertarianism.org podcast discussion with Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus]
- Actions protected as “concerted” by labor law include some taken by individual employee entirely alone, according to National Labor Relations Board, as it declares unlawful company policy against secretly taping conversations at the workplace [Jon Hyman, Whole Foods case]
- “Brace for more litigation based on feds’ new joint employment guidance, labor lawyers tell companies” [ABA Journal; Insurance Journal on Browning-Ferris; Daniel Schwartz; earlier] Applying NLRB joint employer notion to company like McDonald’s could blow up franchise business model, which some union advocates might not mind [Diana Furchtgott-Roth]
- Judge Merrick Garland shows great deference to NLRB, except in cases where it has ruled for an employer [Bill McMorris, Free Beacon]
After the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) noticed a rash of malware infections, it told employees to stop accessing personal webmail accounts from their government computers. Oh, no, said the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which grieved the change as having been made without prior bargaining with the union. An arbitrator agreed, ruling that “federal law did not give federal agencies ‘sole and exclusive discretion’ to manage its information technology systems.” ICE appealed, but the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) “also sided with the union.” [Washington Times]
P.S. Reports of problems at the U.S. Embassy in London suggests that controls on employee use of at-work computers to send and receive private email might need some tightening up at the State Department too.
My colleague Ilya Shapiro thought things went well for the plaintiffs’ side in yesterday’s oral argument in the much-watched case over the First Amendment and teachers’ union dues, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Others generally agree. Commentary before the argument from Jason Bedrick and Trevor Burrus, and afterward from Lyle Denniston (and more SCOTUSBlog).
On Jan. 11, the Supreme Court hears what may well be the most important case of the term. In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, 10 teachers have challenged a state requirement that they support political causes with which they disagree and that hurt their students.
At issue is a kind of law that exists in 25 states which forces public-sector workers either to join a union or pay an amount that covers the cost of the union’s collective bargaining. For California teachers, that means annual dues of about $1,000 or “agency fees” of about two-thirds that amount.
— Ilya Shapiro and Jason Bedrick, Orange County Register. More: Shapiro and Jayme Weber, The Federalist; Richard Epstein, Robert Alt first, second (empirical evidence that unions can do well even when nonmembers not obliged to pay agency fees), third (stare decisis) posts, George Will. Earlier on Friedrichs and its predecessor cases Harris v. Quinn and Knox v. SEIU. A contrary view: New York Times editorial.