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January 28, 2014

College football players want to unionize

This is amazing. Why shouldn't college athletes get paid, own their image rights, and be able to organize? Northwestern University Football Players To File Petition To Unionize | ThinkProgress
The NCAA has spent years embroiled in fights over the rights of its athletes, the biggest of which is the lawsuit from current and former players (led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon) that argues players should have control over the use of their names, images, and likenesses and share in the revenues they help create. That poses a major threat to the NCAA, because a loss would mean a rejiggering of its financial model to give players a cut of revenues. A union drive, however, would take a massive step forward: it would, for the first time, require classifying athletes as employees who had the right to organize, bargain, and earn compensation for their labor (for now, ESPN reports, only men’s basketball and football players would be eligible to join, as they are in the best position to argue for employment rights). That may sound radical, but it isn’t necessarily. Labor lawyers, advocates for paying players, and some college professors have argued before that athletes should be considered employees. Jeffrey Kessler, a labor attorney who has worked for all four major American professional players associations, told me in 2012 that “there are good (legal) arguments that Division I football is basically a business, and that students are exploited as workers. And therefore schools should be free to compensate athletes in any manner that they want to, without NCAA restrictions,” though he acknowledged that as currently recognized, those athletes have no rights under federal labor law. As Bylaw Blog’s John Infante notes, the Northwestern case will go before an NLRB with unsettled law on this issue. Unlike public schools, which are covered by state law, Northwestern and other private universities are covered by the National Labor Relations Act, and the NLRB hasn’t clearly determined how to approach these issues legally. New York University graduate students won the right to organize from NLRB, then lost that right when the board revisited the decision later.

January 23, 2014

Oakland Raiders sued for wage theft; pay their cheerleaders less than $5 an hour

I have to say, I love seeing all these mega-rich corporations get hit with wage theft suits. It's about damn time. Oakland Raiders Cheerleaders Sue Team Over Wage Theft, Unfair Employment Practices | ThinkProgress
The Raiderettes, cheerleaders for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, sued the franchise in a California court Wednesday, alleging that the team failed to pay them for all hours worked and engaged in other unfair employment practices. According to the suit, the Raiders withheld the cheerleaders’ annual pay until after the season ended and forced them to pay for many of their other expenses, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Their annual salary, according to the suit, is $1,250, which works out to less than $5 per hour worked once games, practice, and other events are included (the California minimum wage is currently $8 per hour). The Raiderettes’ attorney told the Mercury News that the Raiders owe thousands of dollars in back wages to both current and former cheerleaders. “The club controls our hairstyle and makeup, and we have to foot the bill,” the lead plaintiff told the Mercury News. “We also have to pay the costs for traveling to all kinds of events, including photo shoots… I love the Raiders and I love being a Raiderette, but someone has to stand up for all of the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams.” The Raiders aren’t the only Bay Area team that has faced wage theft claims. The San Francisco Giants agreed to pay workers $544,715 in back wages last August after a Department of Labor investigation. The Giants found themselves under investigation again in October for allegedly using intern labor improperly. Major League Baseball has previously warned teams to improve their labor practices, saying in a memo to teams that wage theft and other labor violations were “endemic to our industry.”

January 21, 2014

It's time to boycott Kellogg's

Kelloogg's is pushing their factories to be union-free. To do this they are locking out the workers who have jobs and are busing in people from other cities to do the same work at lower pay. Scab Cereal - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Bradshaw says the lockout is part of a plan to make Kellogg union-free. “If we win in Memphis, they have to wait until the master contract expires to make these changes,” he said. “If we lose in Memphis, it’s going everywhere. “Other companies are going to see it. General Mills has already called our international president and said, ‘What are you doing about Kellogg?’ He’s thinking if Kellogg can do it, they can, too.” The Memphis lockout is only the latest step in a series of increasingly hostile anti-union moves by Kellogg globally. Management recently announced that two union plants in Australia and Canada will close this year, and production will move to non-union facilities. Kellogg also recently shifted 58 million pounds per year of cereal production from Memphis to Mexico. Bradshaw said workers in Mexico are required to live in a housing compound near the factory and are bused to work. Some have been kidnapped by drug cartels. In 1996, more than 800 people worked at the Memphis facility. Now it stands just above 200. Much of the work is automated.