Labor, Trucking, Ports, Tax

Five months into the year and we are starting to see some organized trends in policies that state legislatures are pushing. One trend of particular concern is a wave of worker protection bills that have emerged in the last month. Marrying the issues of concerns about automation, artificial intelligence and old school labor issues these bills look to limit employers’ abilities to track productivity or reward efficiencies, such as bills regulating production quotas in warehouses, heat illness legislation, and communication during nonwork hours. Not only have we seen new labor legislation, but unions, especially the United Auto Workers (UAW) have escalated their efforts to unionize the south and Governors are pushing back, hoping to maintain their competitive flexibility that has drawn new manufacturers to their states. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and five other Republican governors issued a joint statement on April 16 opposing the UAW’s unionization campaign in the South, stating they are concerned by the misinformation and scare tactics that UAW has brought to their states. Following this statement on April 20, the UAW won an election to unionize at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, and announced plans to continue to advance collective bargaining campaigns in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

New labor bills are emerging in states coast-to-coast. California AB 2751 addresses employer communication during nonwork hours. This bill would provide for a “right to disconnect,” allowing both exempt and non-exempt employees to ignore communications during nonwork hours from public or private employers, regardless of industry or company size. Exemptions include emergency communications or changes to a schedule within 24 hours. The bill also allows employees to file a complaint about a pattern of violations with the Labor Commissioner. The measure awaits floor consideration in the State Assembly.

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