A Couple of Wins for Us Workers
While the pandemic has dominated the news this year, the war over workers’ rights to free speech and fair pay and benefits has raged on. Here are a couple of recent wins for us workers:
It’s called Freedom for Speech: Employee Opinions Receive the Support of the NRLB
During a 2021 Virtual Employment Law Seminar hosted by Ward and Smith attorneys, Grant Osborne began by discussing the memorandum issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which renewed its focus on Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA). According to an article by National Law Review, “Section 7 of the NLRA protects workers’ rights to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid or protection.”
The law covers activities that may include discussion, social media posts, and other forms of communication about political and social issues related to the workplace. The recent memo issued by the NLRB said that “cases involving retaliation against concerted employee conduct will be vigorously pursued.” Despite employers’ usual hostile views towards employee’s free speech, employees have the legal right to voice their opinions about minimum wage, employment experiences, and other social issues without fear of retaliation by employers.
“Gig” Worker Update: Court Strikes Down Proposition 22
For decades, employers have attempted to evade their responsibilities to employees by labeling them “independent contractors.” The latest battle regarding workers’ rights kicked off with the California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex, which announced a modern standard for determining if an employee is an “independent contractor” or an employee. Shortly after the decision, enlightened legislators in Sacramento, including our very own Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, passed Assembly Bill 5 to codify Dynamex, which Governor Newsom signed into law. Workers rejoiced.
But Multi-Billion dollar companies, seeking to protect their profits, declared war on the Dynamex decision and AB5, and ran a $200 million campaign of misinformation. Voters passed Prop 22, not fully understanding its effect.
The Service Employee’s International Union ( SEIU ) then sued the state to overturn Prop 22. In August, a Superior Court Judge found that Prop 22 violated the California State Constitution because it failed to provide workers’ compensation protections.
What is certain is the billion dollar “gig” companies will appeal the decision back up to the California Supreme Court in its relentless pursuit of profits.
Same battles, different century.