This week on CounterSpin: One of the more hopeful things you might not have heard about is the revival in the House of Representatives of the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal, or FAIR, Act, that would ban those ubiquitous small-print “agreements” that annul critical worker and consumer rights, like the ability to bring class action lawsuits. Prominent proponents include Google employees and former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson; but as bill sponsor Hank Johnson of Georgia explained, it’s really about narrowing the “massive power differential between soulless corporations and individuals just trying to get by.” We get some background on forced arbitration and why it matters from previous CounterSpin conversations with Celine McNicholas from the Economic Policy Institute and Joanne Doroshow from the Center for Justice and Democracy.
An important if often hidden engine of the corporate corrosion of worker/consumer rights has been the National Labor Relations Board, the federal enforcer of labor law. It seems like change is afoot: Biden apparently called for the resignation of the Board’s general counsel, famously anti-union Peter Robb, 23 minutes after becoming president, fired him when he refused to resign, and then fired the next Trump appointee who took the job. We talked about the Trump-era NLRB while it was happening with Cornell University’s Kate Bronfrenbrenner. We hear part of that conversation this week.