Today’s News & Commentary — August 4, 2021

Yesterday, the Biden administration extended the federal CDC eviction moratorium which was originally set to expire this weekend. The moratorium will continue to be in place until October 3, and will cover all counties where the CDC considers the spread of Covid-19 to be “substantial” or “high”—over 80% of U.S. counties as of today.

As Nikita reported Sunday, The White House stated last week that it would not extend the moratorium because of its prediction that the Supreme Court would rule such a moratorium as being in excess of the CDC’s statutory authority. On June 29, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 not to end the previous eviction moratorium; however, in a concurring opinion, Cavanaugh—who supplied the fifth vote—wrote that he was voting with the majority “[b]ecause the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks.” Cavanaugh concluded that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”

A last-ditch effort made to get congressional legislation to extend the moratorium was unsuccessful, with some House democrats lamenting they had too short notice—just one day—to build unity around a moratorium extension before the end of July. Cori Bush, House Representative for St. Louis County, slept on the steps of the Capitol and called out her colleagues who “chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes.”

Image from Democracy Now

The D.C. Circuit heard arguments from the NLRB yesterday in Fast Food Workers Committee et al. v. National Labor Relations Board. The case began in 2014, with SEIU arguing that McDonalds franchisees engaged in unfair labor practices by discharging workers who were prominently involved with union activities. In 2018, Peter Robb, the NLRB General Counsel hired under Trump, proposed a settlement that involved $170,000 in back pay to workers, but did not recognize McDonalds as a joint-employer. An Administrative Law Judge rejected the settlement in 2019, but was subsequently overruled by the NLRB. The case is now before the D.C. Circuit. SEIU argued that the settlement was unfair because it did not adequately consider the possibility that McDonalds could be liable as a joint-employer, as well as that an NLRB board member should have recused himself due to a conflict of interest. But the NLRB argued yesterday to the D.C. circuit that the settlement was proper. “Settlements are rarely wholly satisfactory to all parties,” the Board stated, “but that is no reason to reject them.”

A Pennsylvania federal judge ruled yesterday that an employer violated their contract with USW Local 36M by firing a worker who wrote “F— Sri Lanka” on a mask, which was directed towards the facility operations manager who was Sri Lankan. The shop rules of the employer, ITT Engineered Valves (“ITT”), required that ITT must first suspend employees for a week before they can be terminated in the case of “Major Acts”, which include “threatening, intimidating, or interfering with fellow employees’ rights, or using abusive language.” Yet an “intolerable act”, defined as “immoral or indecent conduct,” can be punished by immediate discharge. ITT argued that the termination was not improper because of a strong public policy against discrimination and threats of violence at work. Yet both an arbitrator and a district court judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the conduct consisted merely of a “Major Act”, not an “Intolerable Act” that could subject the employee to immediate discharge. Perhaps strikingly, the arbitrator found that the employee’s conduct did not constitute discrimination or harassment because the conduct did not “negatively affect [the manager’s] worker conditions or his terms of employment.” The district judge concluded that the arbitrator’s finding was reasonable.

150 employees of the Democratic National Committee signed cards in favor of unionizing with SEIU Local 500. The DNC has agreed to recognize a union through the card-check process.

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