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Trump appointee may give McDonald's a break in landmark labor case

January 11, 2018

by Lydia DePillis   @CNNMoney
 

The Trump administration is moving to undo the actions of former President Obama on almost every front, and now it's happening with breathtaking speed at an agency charged with protecting worker rights.

Now, it appears Robb may also back off what has become one of the most expensive and staff intensive cases in the board's history: A complaint filed against McDonald's in 2014 that claims the company should be held liable for alleged retaliatory actions by its franchisees against workers who participated in daylong strikes as part of the Fight for $15 movement, a union-backed campaign to raise wages.

"I think that's a bellwether issue as to whether this leadership cares about these statutes making sense and applying today," said Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, who served as head of policy at the Department of Labor until President Trump took office. "Or is this just a way of letting everybody fend for themselves, without the protections that they were supposed to have?"

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Trump's Obamacare Rule Would Let Small Firms Act Like Big Ones

January 4, 2018
By Zachary Tracer  and Josh Eidelson

The Trump administration is proposing to let small firms act more like big corporations to buy cheaper health insurance, a measure that would get around some of Obamacare’s requirements.

The rule would broaden the availability of less-regulated health insurance coverage to more small employers, and to self-employed people. The rule does so by letting many more small firms band together under “association health plans,” or AHPs. Those plans would be exempt from many of the Affordable Care Act’s rules on what benefits have to be covered.

“This rule seems to err on the side of making AHPs broadly available without making any effort to embed the protections that people get from ACA-covered plans,” said Sharon Block, a former senior Obama administration Labor Department official who now runs the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. “You’re moving people towards less-quality plans and potentially doing harm to the people who stay in the ACA-covered plans.”

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Labor ruling says employees can only have one boss

December 15, 2017

By Andy Uhler

The National Labor Relations Board has overturned a 2015 law that made it easier for contractors and workers at franchised businesses to form unions and collectively bargain with big corporations. 

The 2015 NLRB ruling said contract workers at a recycling center were jointly employed by a third party staffing firm and the business they worked for. Sharon Block was a member of President Obama's NLRB. She's now executive director of the labor and worklife program at Harvard Law School. 

“What the Obama board did was try to apply the proper legal standard, but in a way that fit the way that our economy and our business relationships work today,” she said.

Also reported in: logo[Read Here]... Read more about Labor ruling says employees can only have one boss

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Under Trump, Union Election Rules Could Be Tilted In Employers’ Favor

December 12, 2017

By Dave Jamieson

The newly conservative National Labor Relations Board may scrap worker-friendly reforms made under Obama.

Sharon Block, a former Democratic member of the labor board, tweeted Tuesday that the “predictions of catastrophe” hadn’t materialized and that the only good reason to revisit the rules is “a political one.”

While Iowa pushes STEM education, most job growth in technology

December 8, 2017

By Erin Murphy

While all American students should have a working knowledge of science and math, it may be misleading to suggest the country faces a shortage of STEM workers, an expert on science education and policy told the Times.

“When it gets generalized to all of STEM, it’s misleading,” said Michael S. Teitelbaum, a senior research associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. “We’re misleading a lot of young people.”

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Sharon Block on Who should get the $$ from Tips

December 8, 2017

Interview by Ronn Owens

Should tips be shared? And, WHO do those tips belong to?

Those are some of the questions coming up as the Trump Administration proposes changes to the Tipping rule.

Listen in as Ronn talks with Sharon Block - Executive Director of the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. And, former Senior Counselor to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and the head of the Dept. of Labor policy office.

TRUMP WANTS YOU TO TIP RESTAURANT OWNERS, NOT SERVERS

TRUMP WANTS YOU TO TIP RESTAURANT OWNERS, NOT SERVERS

December 7, 2017

BY SHARON BLOCK AND CHRISTINE OWENS

If the Trump administration has its way, the tip you leave your waiter or waitress could end up in the pocket of the restaurant owner instead of the person who served you.

This week, Trump’s Labor Department proposed rescinding an Obama-era rule that made the logical point that tips are the property of the servers and cannot be taken by the restaurant owner.

The administration’s proposal would allow restaurant owners who pay their wait staff as little as $7.25 per hour to collect all the tips left by patrons and do whatever they want with them—regardless of what diners intended.

Also reported in: logo alternet smon December 8, 2017 [Read Article]

Also referenced in: logo fast casual on December 12, 2017 [Read Article]... Read more about TRUMP WANTS YOU TO TIP RESTAURANT OWNERS, NOT SERVERS

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Trump Plans To Kill An Obama Regulation Protecting Restaurant Servers

December 6, 2017

By Dave Jamieson

The administration says the changes will steer more money to cooks and dishwashers. Worker groups say it will lead to lower pay and wage theft.  Sharon Block, LWP, tweeted, "Hard to see how workers benefit when employers are allowed to keep their tips."

"Loosening the rule is right in line with Trump’s assault on regulations since he took office. As HuffPost previously reported, many of the changes his administration has pursued have benefited lower-wage employers like retail and restaurant chains. Trump has already...

Read more about Trump Plans To Kill An Obama Regulation Protecting Restaurant Servers
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Will Trump Lawyers Switch Sides in Supreme Court Labor Case?

December 5, 2017

By Ben Penn

Speculation has been simmering for months that the Trump administration might ask the Supreme Court to ban public sector unions from collecting mandatory fees. Calling for a decision that could significantly reduce labor movement finances and political influence would be a major shift in approach for the federal government.

“If they were to take such a radical step to undermine workers’ rights, I have no doubt that it would be motivated not by a genuine concern about constitutional rights but by a desire to destroy the labor movement,” Sharon Block

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Labor Department Proposes Killing Obama Tip Pooling Rule

December 4, 2017

By Ben Penn
The Labor Department wants to remove an Obama-era regulation that restricted the circumstances in which employers could force workers to share tips. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, in a proposed rule released Dec. 4, calls for rescinding the 2011 regulation that prohibited restaurants, bars, and other service industry employers from requiring front-of-house employees, such as servers, to share tips with back-of-house workers, such as cooks and dishwashers...The department’s analysis that unwinding this rule will improve workplace conditions for restaurant employees was immediately opposed by worker advocates and former DOL officials in the Obama administration. “There is nothing” in the proposed rule “that would preclude an employer from keeping the tips of workers as long as he’s paid them $7.25 an hour,” Sharon Block, LWP DIrector, told Bloomberg Law.