December 31, 2019
Meyerson on TAP
Workers Have Rights? Uber and the Chamber Go to Court to Stop Such Nonsense. As the old year ends, the old order is striking back. Today in California, big business is in court seeking to overturn two landmark pieces of pro-worker, pro-freedom legislation that the bluest state’s legislators and governor enacted this year, and that are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow.
Today, Uber and Postmates filed a suit to overturn AB 5, the new law requiring companies that misclassify their workers as independent contractors when they’re actually employees to treat them as employees—and, as such, covered by minimum-wage laws, state-mandated benefits, workers’ comp, the works. And yesterday, a federal judge stayed AB 51—another law set to take effect tomorrow, this one banning employers from requiring new hires, as a condition of their employment, to waive their right to sue for grievances and to submit instead to forced arbitration. District Judge Kimberly Mueller, responding to a suit from both the U.S. and California Chambers of Commerce, along with other business groups, set January 10 for a hearing to determine whether to make that stay permanent (though, of course, appealable). According to a 2018 report from the Economic Policy Institute, two-thirds of California workplaces have such clauses in their employment contracts.
With the federal bench overflowing with reflexively anti-worker Bush and Trump appointees, the fate of progressive state legislation is inherently in doubt. All the more reason why Democrats need to win the White House and Senate next November, and put more judges on that bench who don’t believe it’s legal to treat workers as serfs. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON
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