Today, 24.7 million American workers have been forced to sign contracts that, as a condition of employment, require them to waive their rights to joining a class action lawsuit to address sexual harassment and other workplace disputes—instead these workers must act alone to resolve what is often systemic violations of employment protections. The National Labor Relations Board has determined that these arbitration agreements violate workers’ right under the National Labor Relations Act to join together for “mutual aid and protection.” Business interests—and the Trump administration—disagree. In Murphy Oil, the Supreme Court will decide whether workers have the right to come together to protect themselves from workplace issues like sexual harassment. The case could not be more relevant, or present the Justices with two more starkly divergent options.
In Airline Service Providers Association v. City of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the contractors’ complaint, finding that the city’s contract clause was not preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, even though it clearly constituted a local government influencing the bargaining process between a private sector actor and the collective bargaining representative of its employees. The court found such influence or interference tolerable by a municipal actor because it determined that the city was acting as a “market participant” not as a “regulator”.
We find majorities or significant minorities of the largest global corporations collect a variety of human capital (HC) metrics of increasing interest to institutional investors. These averages mask a sharp dichotomy between metrics disclosed publicly and those reported by respondents to an annual survey of nearly 2,000 of the largest firms traded on global exchanges. For example, about half of these companies report the average hours of training they provided to employees annually. But the figure was dramatically higher for respondents, at 84 percent, versus just 18 percent of firms assessed using public reporting. Similarly, while 52 percent of firms publicly report employee fatalities, 96 percent of survey respondents disclosed the metrics, but only 17 percent of publicly assessed companies. Comparable differentials were found across other measures. The findings suggest that investors could gain access to HC data that is material to financial performance if they request public disclosure of information already gathered by a critical mass of large corporations in major markets. However, the reporting differs among regions and countries such as the United States and Great Britain, as well as between large market cap companies compared with smaller ones.
Will the Labor Department appeal a judge’s recent decision that could deny overtime pay to millions of Americans? Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has been clear that he doesn’t like the Obama administration’s overtime rule, insisting that he wants to reconsider it and possibly make one of his own. But he needs to appeal the judge’s decision regardless, otherwise he’s creating uncertainty that isn’t good for anyone.
The Trump Administration is waging a quiet war on workers. The effort involves anti-union appointments to federal agencies, repeal of Obama-era regulations that were designed to raise the wages of low and middle income workers, and support for anti-worker legislation in Congress.