- Great moments in public employee unionism, cont’d: D.C. Metro track inspector charged after derailment with falsifying records wins reinstatement and back pay in arbitration [Max Smith, WTOP, earlier here (similar after fatal smoke incident) and here] Could be permanent? “Bus drivers’ union threatens strike over driverless buses” [Jason Aubry, WCMH (Columbus, Ohio)]
- Letting guests skip housekeeping = grievance: “Union Threatens Strike over Marriott’s Green Initiative” [Darrell VanDeusen, Kollman & Saucier]
- Stephen Bainbridge series on what’s wrong with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposals [earlier, etc.] continues with a post on labor co-determination and employee involvement in corporate governance;
- “Public Sector Unions Win Big at the California Supreme Court: California citizens must now meet and confer with union bosses before qualifying any compensation-related initiatives for the ballot.” [Steven Greenhut, Reason]
- My Frederick News Post letter to the editor opposing Question D (mandatory binding arbitration and collective bargaining for career firefighters). More on mandatory binding arbitration in the public sector: Ivan Osorio et al on California, for Cato (see pp. 12 et seq.); Steve Eide, Public Sector Inc., 2013.
- “Waikiki, Hawaii hotel workers decline to join union; the union demands they pay full dues anyway, starts process to garnish their wages. Does the union’s conduct amount to an unfair labor practice? NLRB: No, the union made an honest mistake. D.C. Circuit: That ‘makes no sense.’ The union never apologized or said it made a mistake. Its message to the workers was, ‘We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way.'” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit”]
- Critique of political-spending provisions of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposals on corporate governance [Prof. Bainbridge] Plus, some WSJ letters on her plan [same; earlier here, here, and here]
- “The Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Small Business” [Michael D. Bordo and John V. Duca, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy]
- Something to keep in mind in New York Attorney General races: “The Martin Act Gives New York Politicians Way Too Much National Power” [Jeff Patch, Real Clear Markets, and thanks for quotes]
- Through its Charities Bureau the New York AG’s office can also make life difficult for private nonprofits of whose ideology it disapproves; Democratic nominee Letitia (Tish) James says she intends to use the power to go after crisis pregnancy centers and NRA [Zach Williams, City And State NY]
- Treasury based a list of supposed Russian oligarchs on Forbes mag list of wealthy Russians. Now a 79-year-old laser scientist faces sanctions who’s been a U.S. citizen for 10 years and says he isn’t friendly with Putin [Steven Mufson, Washington Post]
- “Why California’s Gender Quota Bill [for corporate boards] Is More Likely To Be Unconstitutional Than California’s Pseudo-Foreign Corporation Statute” [Keith Paul Bishop, California Corporate & Securities Law (Allen Matkins)]
Schemes like a government mandate of worker representation on corporate boards (an element of German “co-determination”) are not new, and scholars have studied their track record in Europe for years. In particular, they tend not to provide robust incentives for risk-taking and dynamism; that’s aside from their interference with the contractual liberty of all parties to adopt alternative governance methods agreed to by all parties. I talk with Cato’s Caleb Brown about that and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s other ideas for revamping how large companies are run. Earlier here and here.
General incorporation laws were a huge 19th century advance, replacing favoritism-riddled corporate chartering at official pleasure with automatic operation of legal right. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s corporate governance scheme would risk taking us back to the bad old days. I’ve got a new post at Cato, channeling Richard Epstein and other commentators on the topic. Earlier here, and some extended critique of the “stakeholder” idea in this 2002 piece by Norman Barry.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a new scheme to impose employee co-determination and an assortment of other forcible corporate governance alterations on American business. My new Cato post argues that it would expropriate huge sums in shareholder value while undercutting incentives for economic dynamism. Alternatives to the U.S. corporate governance system, “European or otherwise, simply do not have as good a track record of supporting a dynamic economy that generates world-beating enterprises across a wide range of business sectors.” Other views: Donald Boudreaux (“deeply truly scary”), Matt Yglesias/Vox (taking favorable view of scheme, including its destruction of perhaps 25 percent of current shareholder value). More on the “stakeholder” and co-determination angles: Samuel Hammond, and Megan McArdle on the latter.
- Sens. Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren team up on federal bill to curb practice of yanking occupational licenses over unpaid student debt [Eric Boehm] “Pennsylvania’s Governor Calls for Abolishing 13 Occupational Licenses” [same] Licensing reform generally hasn’t been a partisan battle, but party-line vote in California legislative committee has derailed one promising bill [same] Nebraska gets out in front on the issue with a bill sponsored by libertarian state senator Laura Ebke [Platte Institute] “You Shouldn’t Need a License to Braid Hair” [Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes on Cato amicus brief in Niang v. Tomblinson]
- Alone among states, California requires a “mandatory mediation and conciliation process” for agricultural employers. Arbitrary and open to constitutional challenge [Ilya Shapiro and Reilly Stephens on Cato amicus brief for California Supreme Court certiorari in Gerewan Farming Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board]
- “Lawsuits that compel sharing economy companies to treat their contractors as full-fledged employees will only forestall the inevitable transition towards a Tomorrow 3.0 economy.” [Pamela Hobart, Libertarianism.org reviewing Michael Munger’s new book “Tomorrow 3.0”] Plaintiffs in California Supreme Court ruling: “Uber Drivers Just Killed All the Parts of the Job They Supposedly Liked the Most” [Coyote]
- Or maybe the gig economy isn’t taking over after all [Ben Casselman, New York Times; Ben Gitis and Will Rinehart, American Action Forum, on new Bureau of Labor Statistics survey finding that prevalence of contingent work has declined, not risen, since 2005]
- “Original Meaning Should Decide Arbitration Act Case on Independent Contractors” [Andrew Grossman and Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus in Supreme Court case of New Prime v. Oliviera]
- “Disability rates among working-age adults are shaped by race, place, and education” [Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman, Brookings]
- SEC in-house administrative law judges are unconstitutional, rules 10th Circuit, creating circuit split [ABA Journal, Jonathan Adler]
- “Dear Sen. Warren: If we care to share our policy views, we’ll let you know. Otherwise MYOB. Signed – 33 firms” [Elizabeth Warren letter demanding to know what financial firms think of delay in Labor Department fiduciary rule, coverage WSJ/MarketWatch]
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s grab for more regulatory power over financial institutions would erode due process protections [New York Post quoting Mark Calabria]
- “Supreme Court Probes Whether Miami Can Sue Banks Over Foreclosure Crisis” [Daniel Fisher, earlier on Bank of America v. Miami here, etc.] Arnold Kling’s prescriptions for getting the government out of the mortgage market;
- Mini-symposium on the personal benefit standard for insider trading in the recent Supreme Court case of Salman v. U.S. [Bainbridge]
- India’s devastating crackdown on cash [Cato Daily Podcast with Jim Dorn and Caleb Brown]
After initially resisting, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has agreed to return nearly $130,000 in donations she and her PAC received from the Boston-based Thornton Law Firm, known for asbestos plaintiff’s litigation. An investigation found the law firm paid $1.4 million in bonuses in patterns strongly suggesting they were being used to cover “straw donations” nominally from partners [co-published Boston Globe/Open Secrets story; New York Post]
From 2010 through 2014, Strouss and Bradley along with founding partner Michael Thornton and his wife donated nearly $1.6 million to Democratic party fundraising committees and a parade of politicians from Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada to Hawaii gubernatorial candidate David Ige to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Over the same span, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as “bonuses” in Thornton Law Firm records; more than 280 of the contributions precisely matched bonuses that were paid within 10 days.
That payback system, which involved other partners as well, helped make Thornton the 11th-ranked law firm nationally for political contributions in 2014, according to data analyzed by the Center, even though the firm is not among the 100 biggest in Massachusetts, much less the U.S.
Capitol Hill recipients of Thornton money include many figures who have played a role in blocking asbestos litigation reform, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).
- Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Brian Schatz (D-Haw.) call for federal investigation into AirBnB effects on housing market [Kevin Boyd, Rare] “Santa Monica convicts its first Airbnb host under tough home-sharing laws” [Los Angeles Times]
- “Florida man claims he invented iPhone in 1992, sues Apple for $10 billion” [Don Reisinger, Fortune, auto-plays]
- More on why Philadelphia soda tax is a bad idea [Baylen Linnekin, earlier here and here] Reining in FDA, legal home distilling, school lunch waste: 9 food issues for the next President [same]
- Judge Alsup: once having launched infringement claim, mass copyright filer can’t escape counterclaim so easily by dropping it [opinion in Malibu Media v. John Doe (“motion seems more like a gimmick designed to allow it an easy exit if discovery reveals its claims are meritless”) via Techdirt]
- IKEA dresser recall shows CPSC acting aggressively. Did it act wisely? [Abby Wisse Schachter, Wall Street Journal]
- Don’t use “implied contract” to escape the implications of freedom of association re: cake-baking [David Henderson]
“The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a series of criminal charges against short-term lending companies, accusing the unrelated firms of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, a federal law passed with the intention of combating organized crime.” It says lenders have falsely claimed affiliation with American Indian tribal governments so as to evade regulation. [Ben Johnson, Heartland]
The forces of consumer financial regulation led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren have made it clear that they would like to ban “payday” lending (short-term, at high interest rates or fees). Yet history teaches that such lending — like gambling, late-night alcohol, and many other disapproved activities — is in such steady demand that short of government supervision of a population more intense than anything in living memory, the real choice is whether to tolerate an aboveboard legal market or to drive it into informal and sometimes illegal channels. In the latter circumstance, consumer remedies against bad actors may be non-existent, and extra-legal status and the absence of advertising may make it hard for borrowers to compare possible sources of loans. As for enforcement methods following non-payment of debt: “Driving [businesses] underground will very often make it worse,” Olson said. “It will mean outright violence, at worst, or extralegal sanctions for those who aren’t paying their debt. You might find you like extralegal sanctions less than you like things they can currently do, like ruining your credit rating.” More: Eric Boehm.