Today's Fair Shot -October 3rd, 2017

1-Mayhem in Las Vegas Was Senseless, Shocking

2-Teamsters Set Record Straight on Accusations That Post-Hurricane Deliveries in Puerto Rico Have Been Delayed

3-Supreme Court Appears Closely Split in Workplace Arbitration Case

4-Study: More Than Half of Non-Union Private Sector Workers Have Mandatory Arbitration Procedures for Workplace Claims

1) Our hearts go out to the victims of the senseless violence in Las Vegas. As of this writing, at least 59 people have died and more than 500 people have been injured in a sniper shooting during a country music festival. We offer our condolences to the families of all who died and our hope for a full recovery to those who were injured. The shock and sadness in our office and in the labor movement in general are palpable.

  The AFL-CIO posted a selection of responses to the tragedy within the union movement:

  Las Vegas police are drawing praise for how quickly they got to the shooter, who apparently killed himself rather than be caught. Stories of heroism in the crowd are emerging.

  The New York Times reports:

  Online video of the attack near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino showed the singer Jason Aldean's performance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music event, being interrupted by the sound of gunfire. The music stopped, and as victims fell bleeding, concertgoers screamed, ducked for cover, or ran.

  "Get down," one shouted. "Stay down," screamed another.

  Tenaja Floyd of Boise, Idaho, said many of the people around her in the concert crowd thought at first that the sounds came from fireworks, but "I knew immediately, that wasn't fireworks." She said her mother, Jennifer, threw her to the ground and lay on top of her to protect her. As people started running out of the venue, she said, they thought they might be trampled, so they decided to join the rush to leave.

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2) Hurricane Maria seems to have brought masters of disinformation out of the woodwork regarding labor matters. First, an age-old, knee-jerk "repeal the Jones Act" meme surfaced when the docks and warehouses near them were stocked fully with goods needed for the relief effort. Now, with no evidence, the Teamsters have been accused of striking rather than delivering goods to those in need.

  The Teamsters posted this statement:

  Stories Fabricated and Spread by Biased Online Sources to Further Anti-Union Agenda

   (WASHINGTON) - The Teamsters Union denounces reports from online, anti-union sources that stated Teamster truck drivers in Puerto Rico have refused to move supplies from the port as part of an effort to leverage wage increases from the government. These reports are false and have no basis in fact.

  The truth is that members from Teamsters Local Union 901 in San Juan have been working or volunteering since the day after the hurricane passed, helping with disaster relief and recovery.

  "Let me be clear - Teamsters in Puerto Rico have been working on the relief efforts since day one," said Alexis Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 901. "Anyone that has reported anything different is lying. Our only agenda is to help bring Puerto Rico back better and stronger."

  "These viral stories spreading across the internet are nothing but lies perpetrated by anti-union entities to further their destructive agenda," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "The fact that they are attempting to capitalize on the suffering of millions of citizens in Puerto Rico that are dire need of our help by pushing these false stories, just exposes their true nature."

  The union is also coordinating with the AFL-CIO to send Teamster volunteers to Puerto Rico to help augment the relief efforts. Hundreds of Teamsters have volunteered to aid in the recovery in the key areas like the distribution of aid and sanitation.

  "The outpouring of volunteers from our membership across the country is truly inspiring," said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16 in New York, N.Y. "We have had hundreds of members contact us to volunteer their time to go down to Puerto Rico to help with the relief efforts."

3) The U.S. Supreme Court appears split on the question of whether companies may require employees to give up their right to sue in court over employment issues and instead submit to binding arbitration that is rigged in favor of employers, The New York Times reports.

   On Day 1 of the 2017-18 high court term, the outlook for working families isn't great. The comments of justices who appear to be friendly to requiring employees to have access to the court system suggest the stakes:

  The court's decision on the matter could affect some 25 million employment contracts. A ruling in favor of employers, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, could cut out "the entire heart of the New Deal" and undo an understanding of labor relations with roots in the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt...

  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said there was often no point in pursuing individual arbitration because the sums at issue were too small.

   "There is strength in numbers," she said. "We have to protect the individual worker from being in a situation where he can't protect his rights."...

  Justice Ginsburg said the arbitration law was concerned with agreements between merchants of relatively equal bargaining power. The employment contracts at issue in the case, she said, have been forced on workers.

  "There was no true liberty of contract," she said...

  Some justices suggested that workers could band together in a limited sense by hiring the same lawyer and filing individual arbitration cases.

  Justice Elena Kagan said that was not good enough.

  "The fact that there is one way to exercise a right left over does not make it O.K. if we've taken away another 25 ways of exercising the right," she said. "You know, when we think about the First Amendment, we don't say we can ban leafleting because you can always write an op-ed."

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4) As the U.S. Supreme Court considered a major arbitration case on Day 1 of its 2017-18 term, the Economic Policy Institute released a new report that shows the practice of requiring employees to submit to arbitration is more widespread than you might think.

  In fact, more than half of non-union private-sector employees now have mandatory arbitration procedures. That number is buttress by large corporations, where the practice is becoming widespread.

  Alexander Colvin, a professor at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, posted the report:

  This study finds that since the early 2000s, the share of workers subject to mandatory arbitration has more than doubled and now exceeds 55 percent. This trend has weakened the position of workers whose rights are violated, barring access to the courts for all types of legal claims, including those based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

  In October 2017, the Supreme Court will hear a set of consolidated cases challenging the inclusion of class action waivers in arbitration agreements. Class action waivers bar employees from participating in class action lawsuits to address widespread violations of workers' rights in a workplace. The Court will rule on whether class action waivers are a violation of the National Labor Relations Act; their decision could have wide-reaching implications for workers' rights going forward.

  Key findings of this study:

* More than half-53.9 percent-of nonunion private-sector employers have mandatory arbitration procedures. Among companies with 1,000 or more employees, 65.1 percent have mandatory arbitration procedures.

* Among private-sector nonunion employees, 56.2 percent are subject to mandatory employment arbitration procedures. Extrapolating to the overall workforce, this means that 60.1 million American workers no longer have access to the courts to protect their legal employment rights and instead must go to arbitration.

* Of the employers who require mandatory arbitration, 30.1 percent also include class action waivers in their procedures-meaning that in addition to losing their right to file a lawsuit on their own behalf, employees also lose the right to address widespread rights violations through collective legal action.

* Large employers are more likely than small employers to include class action waivers, so the share of employees affected is significantly higher than the share of employers engaging in this practice: of employees subject to mandatory arbitration, 41.1 percent have also waived their right to be part of a class action claim. Overall, this means that 23.1 percent of private-sector nonunion employees, or 24.7 million American workers, no longer have the right to bring a class action claim if their employment rights have been violated.

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