Belabored Podcast #56: The Post–Harris v. Quinn Future

Belabored Podcast #56: The Post–Harris v. Quinn Future

What does Harris v. Quinn mean for home care workers, for other public sector workers, and for any of us who care about labor? Belabored asks Harvard Law professor Benjamin Sachs and Minnesota care worker Sumer Spika. Plus: strikes in California and Greece, labor struggles at the opera, and more.

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The Supreme Court didn’t go nuclear on public sector unions this time around, but the decision in Harris v. Quinn was still bad enough: Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush appointee, wrote the majority decision and found that home health care workers are “partial public employees” and therefore their unions are not entitled to the protections as those of other, presumably more “full-fledged” public workers.

What does all this mean for home care workers, for other public sector workers and their unions, and for any of us who care about labor? This week, Belabored asks Benjamin Sachs, the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School, former Assistant General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and former attorney at New York community organization Make the Road. We also speak with Sumer Spika, a home care worker from Minnesota, who along with her colleagues just filed for the first post-Harris union election among home care workers.

Elsewhere in the country, we bring you an update from the port truckers’ strike in California, the Metropolitan Opera’s labor issues in New York, and the dangerous precedent being set after an electrical workers’ strike in Greece. Finally, in “Argh! I Wish I’d Written That,” we look at teacher tenure and seniority rules, and the (faulty) logic of outsourcing in American manufacturing.


Not Over til Overtime’s Due? Met Labor Strife Bares Secrets (New York Times)

Save the Met Opera (petition)

California Truck Drivers Go on Strike (MSNBC)

Sarah: Port Trucking Companies Steal More Than $1 Billion in Wages From Drivers (In These Times)

SEIU, Minnesota home health care workers file for union election (Star Tribune)

Greek Court Rules Strike by Electricity Workers Illegal (Reuters)

Coalition Poised to Force Strike over Electricity Sell-Off to End (Ekathimerini)

Conversation with Benjamin Sachs

Benjamin Sachs on Harris v. Quinn at OnLabor

Benjamin I. Sachs faculty page at Harvard Law School

Michelle: Supreme Court Ruling in ‘Harris v. Quinn’ Will Undermine Gains Made by Low-Wage Home Healthcare Workers (The Nation)

Michelle: Why the Supreme Court’s Attack on Labor Hurts Women Most (The Nation)

Sarah: Why Harris and Hobby Lobby Spell Disaster for Working Women (In These Times)

SCOTUS’s Quiet Expansion of Harris (In These Times)

Why the Noel Canning Decision May Already Be Moot (The Century Foundation)

5 Big NLRB Cases Up for Review After Noel Canning (Law360)

Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!

Michelle: Kate Bahn, “What’s So Wrong with Teacher Tenure?” (Lady Economist) and Andrew Strom,“In Defense of ‘Last-In, First-Out’” (OnLabor)

Sarah: Esther Kaplan, “Losing Sparta: The Bitter Truth Behind the Gospel of Productivity” (Virginia Quarterly Review)