Workers & Economic Inequality

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Volkswagen’s Sort-of Union in Tennessee

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, an unusual "minority union" arrangement has developed at the local Volkswagen plant. TCF fellow Moshe Marvit commented on the development and why a minority union is a step in the right direction for the plant.

“The sooner that the workers can get to organizing and demanding rights and having a voice in the workplace—even if that’s not the majority of the workers—I think that’s good,” says labor lawyer Moshe Marvit, a fellow at the Century Foundation.

Read more on the Volkswagen union in Bloomberg Business.

Tags: volkswagen, unions, unionization, union organizing

Republicans Think They’ve Finally Figured Out How to Kill Unions

In the past few years, Republicans have continued to ramp up their ongoing war against unions. A recent piece by TCF fellow Moshe Marvit was used to provide commentary on how Justice Samuel Alito is supporting the battle from the Supreme Court.

Last June in the case Harris v. Quinn, Justice Samuel Alito led a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court in deciding that home health care aids and other caregivers in Illinois paid via Medicaid didn’t have to pay. The ruling was relatively narrow, and didn’t apply to full-fledged municipal employees like teachers. But as The Century Foundation points out, Alito has been laying the groundwork to dismantle compulsory union dues for years. His Harris opinion was filled with language that questions the legitimacy of the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that upheld a union’s rights to collect dues.

Read more on Republicans' efforts to fight unions in The New Republic.

Tags: unions, supreme court, republicans, anti-union activists


As a guest on the Rick Smith Show, TCF fellow Moshe Marvit discussed the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, which was recently submitted as an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If successful, the case would affect tens of thousands of union contracts, forcing millions of public employees into a right-to-work model.

Tags: unions, supreme court, labor unions, labor rights

Unions can fix the crisis facing adjunct professors

TCF fellow Amy B. Dean explains how universal unionization has the potential to ameliorate some of the demands that are put on adjunct professors or graduate student assistants who are often times underpaid and overworked. Several nationwide cohorts of students, parents and professors have come together to form the New Faculty Majority, an advocacy group for sustainable teacher working conditions. Adjuncts were initially hired as a way for college deans to cut corners and allow tenured faculty to pursue their research, but this system has turned into a bad situation

“If I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union,” President Barack Obama said on Labor Day to a union audience in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed budget cuts to higher education and urged professors to “work harder.” Unions are typically associated more with factory workers than with college professors, but universities and colleges are workplaces too. Unionization will limit the exploitation of adjuncts without requiring new legislation or onerous regulation by merely mandating universities to respect their employees’ rights.

The full article can be found in Al Jazeera America.

Tags: labor unions, higher education, al jazeera america, adjunct unions, adjunct professors

The Supreme Court Case That Could Decimate American Public Sector Unionism

Last week the Supreme Court received an appeal for Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case that, if passed, would ruin the leaps and bounds that labor unions have made in the past half-century. TCF fellow and labor rights expert Moshe Marvit confirms that if successful, the new law would affect tens of thousands of union contracts and would force millions of public employees into a right-to-work model.

If the Supreme Court accepts this case, the decision could have enormous impacts on public sector workers by either allowing agency fees to remain but requiring all workers to opt in, or eliminating fair-share fees all together. That the agency fee in its current form could remain is possible, but unlikely—otherwise, the court would not have agreed to hear the case.

Read Marvit's article from In These Times.

Tags: scotus, right to work, labor unions, fair labor standards, collective bargaining, anti-union activists

A Bigger Tent

TCF's Amy B. Dean reports on the potential for AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to invigorate the "labor movement" via unorthodox practices such as connecting unions to a wider progressive movement. Dean gives the history of Trumka's labor career and quotes him saying, “I talk to them more often. They talk to me,” explaining how he is reviving the union and employee relationship.

In his five years as AFL-CIO president, Trumka has learned to use the infrastructure of the labor movement—its state and regional governing bodies—to lay the groundwork for changes within the federation. By holding the state and local bodies accountable to annual organizing targets, he hopes to stabilize the embattled AFL-CIO and prepare it for new growth.

Read Dean's article here.

Tags: workers rights, labor unions, labor movement, afl-cio


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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