The Venezuela regime of strongman Nicolas Maduro has issued a decree providing that, to quote CNBC, “workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.” It’s shocking, yet as I note in a new post at Cato, “in fact elements of forced labor have cropped up in socialist experiments even in nations with strong track records of constitutional government and civil liberties, such as postwar Britain.” Happy (free and unbound) Labor Day!
In a 45-page booklet, the U.S. Chamber talks back at the National Labor Relations Board over its push in recent years to forbid, as violations of labor law, a wide range of employer workplace rules:
Through a series of decisions and official guidance, the NLRB has undertaken a campaign to outlaw heretofore uncontroversial rules found in employee handbooks and in employers’ social media policies—rules that employers maintain for a variety of legitimate business reasons… The NLRB has gone to outlandish lengths to find commonsense workplace policies unlawful … the Board’s irrational interpretations of the law have created a serious headache for employers and employees looking for stability and common sense in labor relations.
* Confidentiality of workplace investigations
* Employee misconduct
* Communications and non-disparagement
* Protection of intellectual property and confidentiality of company information
* At-will disclaimers
* Dress codes
- “May employer fire employees for defending themselves (or others) against violent customers?” Dissenting Judge Lee has better view in Utah case [Eugene Volokh]
- “You have to ignore many variables to think women are paid less than men. California is happy to try.” [Sarah Ketterer, WSJ]
- U.S. Department of Labor has agreements with eleven countries to teach immigrant workers about U.S. labor laws “prior to and after their arrival” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]
- “Why is Harrisburg paying a police officer who hasn’t shown up for work in 25 years?” [PennLive] Cf. Former Nashville cop says he “didn’t really want to” go on disability pension 27 years ago, “but it was either that or get fired” [Nashville City Paper back in 2010]
- “A White House forum for your whiny employees? Yup, this is a real thing, and you should pay attention.” [Jon Hyman]
- Minneapolis charity canvassers: “The Wobblies just won a big independent contractor case at the NLRB” [Politico “Morning Shift”, Jon Hyman]
- On widely reported decline in labor share of U.S. income, mind this little-reported asterisk [David Henderson, Timothy Taylor]
- Really, I never want to hear one word ever again about Gov. Andrew Cuomo being “at least good on economic issues” [Peter Suderman and Nick Gillespie, Reason (New York will mandate $15/hour for most fast-food workers, which in many upstate cities could amount to 75 percent of average wage); Heather Briccetti/New York Post (activists bused from one hearing to next to jeer opponents); Nicole Gelinas/City Journal (Cuomo picks online guy to represent business on brick-and-mortar-endangering wage board), Joanna Fantozzi/The Daily Meal (possible legal challenge); Coyote on Card and Krueger study]
- Labor markets don’t behave the way sentimental reformers wish they behaved, part 53,791 [Seattle minimum wage hike: Mark Perry (largest half-year decline in foodservice jobs in region since Great Recession; but see, Brian Doherty on problems with that number series) and Rick Moran (“Employees are begging their bosses to cut their hours so they can keep their food stamps, housing assistance, and other welfare benefits.”); David Brooks via Coyote]
- Employers scramble to monitor, control time worked in response to Obama overtime decree [WSJ] “No one wants to go back to filling out time sheets…. managers fear (rightly) that I will have to set arbitrary maximum numbers of work hours for them.” [Coyote] Business resistance aims for the moment at (deliberately abbreviated) public comment period [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner] “Can Obama Really Raise Wages for Millions of People So Easily? Quick answer: no” [David Henderson; WSJ/@scottlincicome on seasonal pool-supply company]
- Hillary Clinton and the Market Basket Stores myth [James Taranto]
- Labor Department proposes tightening regulation of retirement financial advisers [Kenneth Bentsen, The Hill]
- Proposed: “well-orchestrated” state ballot initiatives aimed at overturning employment at will [Rand Wilson, Workplace Fairness] My view: “Everybody wins with at-will employment” [Ethan Blevins, Pacific Legal amicus briefs in Supreme Court of Washington, followup on oral argument, and thanks to PLF for citing my work in its amicus brief in Rose v. Anderson Hay and Grain; much more on employment at will in my book The Excuse Factory, also some here]
- The SEIU’s home caregiver membership motel: you can check in, but just try checking out [Watchdog Minnesota Bureau]
- “Denver DA charges man with tampering for handing out jury nullification flyers” [Denver Post, earlier New York case covered here, here, here, etc.] More: Tim Lynch, Cato.
- Occupational licensure vs. the First Amendment: Texas regulators seek to shutter doc’s veterinary advice website [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
- Fired for waving rebel flag? Unlikely to raise a First Amendment issue unless you work for the government, or it twisted your employer’s arm [Huntsville (Ala.) Times, Daniel Schwartz]
- “Twitter joke thieves are getting DMCA takedowns” [BoingBoing]
- A reminder of Gawker’s jaw-droppingly bad stuff on freedom of speech (“Arrest Climate Change Deniers”) [Coyote, related]
- Canadian lawyer/journalist Ezra Levant facing discipline proceeding “for being disrespectful towards a government agency” [Financial Post, earlier]
- “‘Shouting fire in a theater’: The life and times of constitutional law’s most enduring analogy” [Carlton Larson via Eugene Volokh, also Christopher Hitchens on the analogy]
It’s like a parody of one’s worst expectations: President Obama refuses to curtail the federal police militarization program, instead calling for a big hike in federal spending on aid to local departments with the usual micromanaging strings attached. [The Guardian] The administration has now gathered some useful information on the Pentagon’s 1033 surplus-gear program, but still has no plans to improve data gathering on police use of lethal force [Washington Post editorial] More from USA Today: “The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, has waged an intense lobbying campaign to keep the surplus equipment flowing,” and its executive director specifically speaks up in favor of the transfer of armored vehicles and personnel carriers. More: Trevor Timm.
Related: Conor Friedersdorf gathers stories of cops reinstated in union arbitration from Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Sarasota, and other cities. He concludes:
I’d rather see 10 wrongful terminations than one person wrongfully shot and killed. Because good police officers and bad police officers pay the same union dues and are equally entitled to labor representation, police unions have pushed for arbitration procedures that skew in the opposite direction. Why have we let them? If at-will employment, the standard that would best protect the public, is not currently possible, arbitration proceedings should at a minimum be transparent and fully reviewable so that miscarriages of justice are known when they happen. With full facts, the public would favor at-will employment eventually.
You can’t tackle the excessive force problem credibly unless you tackle the power of the police unions. Period.
Is the American job market becoming less fluid, as a new paper by Steven Davis and John Haltiwanger argues, with less job-switching and fewer vacancies opening up at established employers? And to the extent this is an unwelcome trend, which policies might be contributing to it? [The Economist; some possibly contrary data points from Alex Tabarrok]
The town of Stratford, Connecticut entered an employment agreement with its director of human resources, stating that his employment would be entirely at-will and further providing:
Based upon the annual performance evaluation, and at the [m]ayor’s sole discretion and recommendation, the base salary may be increased on July 1 of each fiscal year, subject to the approval of the [council], which by Charter fixes the salaries of all mayoral appointees.
Subsequently, the town council voted to reduce the manager’s salary, and the dispute went to litigation. Both a trial court and a Connecticut appeals court agreed with the manager’s argument that even though the document prescribed an at-will relationship, by specifying that the base salary “may be increased” it was implicitly promising that it would never be decreased. [Daniel Schwartz; Adams on Contract Drafting]
Annals of European employment law: “The Irish arm of supermarket giant Tesco has been ordered to pay a convicted drug dealer €11,500 for unfair dismissal.” The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) found that the market should have considered sanctions less severe than dismissal given that the employee had cooperated with its process and that a manager admitted there was no evidence of public awareness of the employee’s legal troubles, which eventuated in a guilty plea and a suspended jail sentence. [Evening Herald (Ireland)]
“Francesco Schettino, former captain of the Costa Concordia, has sued, claiming wrongful termination from his job after the accident, according to his lawyer.” [L.A. Times] “As you may recall, there were a few questions about whether Schettino’s conduct was entirely up to snuff on the night of the accident. First, there was the whole running-into-a-rock problem, of course, but he was also criticized for then fleeing the ship before all the passengers were evacuated.” [Lowering the Bar]