This Day in Labor History: the Death of Eugene V. Debs

  • October 20, 2017

On October 20, 1926, Eugene V. Debs, a labor leader and tireless advocate for working people, passed away. Among his many critical successes was a strike in 1893 led by his organization, the American Railway Union, against the Great Northern Railway. The Great Northern Railway was a profoundly important artery between the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. According to the Debs Foundation, "the strike was settled after 18 days and a contract signed which met virtually all union demands." Debs and other labor…

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Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Targeting Gender Wage Gap

  • October 18, 2017

Governor Brown recently signed AB 168, which is targeted at narrowing the state gender pay gap. AB 168 bars employers from relying on candidates' previous salaries to determine 1) whether to offer them a job, and 2) how much to pay them. The idea behind the bill is that many women are trapped in a vicious cycle - they make less than their male peers at their current job and are often capped when they transition to the next job or the next job.…

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Pres. Trump Signs Executive Order Likely to Destabilize Insurance Markets

  • October 13, 2017

On Thursday, October 12, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that many experts predict will significantly undercut the viability of insurance markets regulated by the Affordable Care Act. The thrust of the executive order is aimed at easing regulations on "association health plans" or plans that allow groups of employers, typically in the same industry, to band together in order to buy low cost/minimal benefits insurance for their employees. Prior to the ACA, these types of plans were known as…

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United States Supreme Court Reconsider Constitutionality of Agency Fees

  • September 28, 2017

In April of 2016 WKCHR posted about Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. That case held--in a rare 4-4 split following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia--that public-sector agency shop arrangements do not violate the First Amendment’s protections. The Justices are poised to consider the constitutionality of agency fees again this coming term, in Janus v. American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees. This case concerns a Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services employee who makes a similar objection to agency…

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Governor Brown Considers Bill that Would Allow Employee Benefit Trust Funds to Pursue Unpaid Contributions from General Contractors When Subs Fail to Pay

  • September 25, 2017

Assembly Bill 1701 (Thurmond) is a proposal to amend the California Labor Code to require general contractors on private projects to assume and be liable for the unpaid employee fringe benefit contributions incurred by subcontractors at any tier. A.B. 1701 creates a private right of action for claimants such as Taft-Hartley Multiemployer plans and Joint Labor-Management Cooperation Committees as against a general contractor, even if there is no direct contract between the claimant and the general. The bill would also…

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Effort to Repeal the Affordable Care Act Revives

  • September 19, 2017

New reports suggest a further effort is underway to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) drafted the surprise revival of the repeal effort. A summary of the plan by Vox News can be found here. Fitch Ratings describes the current effort as "more disruptive for most states than prior Republican efforts. States that expanded Medicaid access to the newly eligible population under the [ACA] are particularly at risk under this latest…

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WKCHR Partner Kathryn Halford Prevails at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

  • August 15, 2017

WKCHR is pleased to announce that on August 1, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Mull v. Board of Directors of the MPI Health Plan finding in favor or our client, the MPI Health Plan. The case was successfully argued by Partner, Kathryn Halford and briefed by Partners Elizabeth Rosenfeld and Kathryn Halford. The MPI Plan had appealed the District Court’s summary judgment finding that the Plan’s Summary Plan Description (“SPD”) was not enforceable as…

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Even “Skinny Repeal” Bill Could Not Make The Cut

  • July 28, 2017

In another major blow to the Trump administration, the Senate blocked a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Act with three Republican senators, voting  “no.”    The three GOP senators included Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Senator John McCain of Arizona.  Details of the plan were released only hours before the senators voted on it.  The so called “skinny repeal” would have eliminated the individual and employer mandates, an integral part of the Affordable Care Act.  According…

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The Supreme Court Clarifies Circuit Split about whether ERISA Governs Church-Affiliated Benefits Plans

  • July 7, 2017

The Supreme Court again tackled ERISA in a wordy opinion based more on a “canon of construction” (interpretive tools Courts use to analyze statutes and regulations and glean Congressional intent) than substantive employee benefits law. The Court’s holding in Dignity Health v. Rollins clarifies a split amongst the federal Courts of Appeals regarding ERISA’s reach into church-affiliated benefits plans. Generally, ERISA obligates private employers offering pension plans to adhere to an array of rules designed to ensure plan solvency and…

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Pres. Trump’s Executive Order to Shake Up Apprentice Programs

  • June 20, 2017

Last week President Trump signed an executive order designed to shake up how apprentice programs work. According to the White House, the idea behind the order is to fill in the so called "skills gap." The skills gap is  the disconnect between the need for skilled labor and the lack of qualified workers to fill that need, although this gap is debated. The order does several things, including increasing funding for apprenticeship grants significantly and transferring elements of the oversight of apprentice centers…

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