Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Republic Stay In - A Sign of the Times?

The refusal of workers to leave a closed Chicago plant until they are paid may turn out to be an aberrational act, or it could be a precursor of things to come.

Although anonymous comments are usually more extreme than what you would otherwise hear, that perhaps give a better picture of at least how deeply some people feel. Take a look at the comments that follow one of this mornings stories about the "As Long As It Takes", Laid-Off Illinois Factory Workers Continue Sit-In Protest For Severance Pay, and you can see how deep a divide there may well be.

I have written and talked for some time now about the sea change that seemed at least potentially on the horizon. A change that means in employment and labor law we are going to see and deal with issues different from the world we have known for the last 30 years. Recent events have done nothing to change my feeling that a change is indeed coming, the only remaining question in my mind is just how far that change will go.

The Republic story demonstrates one aspect, employee self-help. It is clear that employer's (and their lawyers) are going to be facing many challenges different not only in degree, but in kind, over what they have addressed up till now in their careers.

I was glad to hear Obama voice his support of these workers. I hope they get every bit of what they're owed and I hope the owners of this company get properly disciplined or fined. When I first heard this story I could not understand that they thought they could even get away with this - but the fact is - they would have gotten away with it if these workers hadn't stood up. Kudos to all of them.
Michael, you're right. I'm not sure we can articulate the change in precise terms, but it's coming.
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