Monthly Archives: February 2017

Workers Union Alleged Lack of Oversight Leads to Lawsuit for Violating the Railway Labor Act

Posted by Avinash Sookdeo.

On February 15th, Southwest Airlines Co. filed a lawsuit against Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), and several of its officers, including Bret Oestreich, its National Director, in a Texas federal court. AMFA represents about 2,400 of Southwest’s mechanics and others in related fields. The lawsuit claims that AMFA allegedly helped to organize boycotts regarding mechanics working overtime shifts while in negotiations, thereby violating the Railway Labor Act (RLA). This is largely due to the fact that both Southwest Airlines Co. and AMFA have been in contractual negotiations for four years, despite the intervention of a federal labor mediator.

AMFA is being sued for three violations of the RLA, including Section 6 of 45 U.S.C. § 156, where Southwest Airlines Co. claims irreparable harm. Two counts of violation of Section 2, 45 U.S.C. § 152 was also filed, claiming that the AMFA encouraged unlawful job action and did not take necessary or reasonable steps to stop the unlawful job action. Several weeks ago, AMFA filed lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, claiming that Southwest Airlines Co. has not maintained its status quo during its negotiations, and has communicated information to its union members directly, violating the Railway Labor Act.

Southwest Airlines Co., which is the fourth largest airline carrier, claims that the union failed in its duties “to prevent the workers from banding together to decline overtime work this month” (The Associated Press). The lawsuit comes after the company noticed a 75% decrease from average overtime shift. The company said the boycott resulted in them outsourcing extra employees, costing the company financially. According to court documents, Southwest Airlines Co. is seeking a declaratory judgement, an immediate injunction, and damages for the costs of extra staffing, amongst other things.

Avinash is a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences and Legal Studies of Business Minor at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Sources:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ec39df208463495e9d077bec242581eb/southwest-lawsuit-claims-union-workers-avoiding-overtime

http://courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Southwest.pdf

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/southwest-airlines/2016/12/16/mechanics-union-files-federal-lawsuit-southwest-airlines-take-leave-negotiating-tactics

Violation of Net Neutrality Rules by Telecommunication Carriers

Posted by Alonso Arbulu.

In June 2016, a federal court of appeals upheld government net-neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission enacted this new ordinance under the past chairman, Tom Wheeler. According to this law, both the government and Internet providers should treat all data on the web as equal.

An issue arose, when T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T started offering zero-rating plans, in which they gave their customers free data when using certain apps. The FCC perceived that the implementation of these data plans violated the net-neutrality rules by favoring certain content owned by the internet providers. In Tom Wheeler’s words, these firms’ practices negatively affected competition through “potentially unreasonable discrimination in favor of their own affiliates.” Accordingly, the FCC under the supervision of Tom Wheeler started an investigation to determine whether or not these companies were adversely affecting consumer benefits by breaking net-neutrality rules. In response to the inquiry, the telecommunication firms claimed that their practices benefited customers by increasing competition, and provided free data and easily accessible content at a better price.

At the beginning of February this year, Ajit Pai was tapped to be chairman of the FCC. Despite the past leadership’s perspective of the zero-rating plans, Ajit Pai decided to close the investigation, dropping the charges against the Telecommunication companies. According to the FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly “companies, and others can now safely invest in and introduce highly popular products and services without fear of commission intervention based on newly invented legal theories.” O’Rielly’s comments highlight the benefits of zero-rating plans and endorse Ajit Pai’s decision on this issue.

Alonso is an economic and finance student at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Article links:

https://thetechportal.com/2017/02/04/fcc-against-net-neutrality-zero-rating-schemes-t-mobile-bingeon-att-sponsored-data/

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/317854-fcc-suspends-probes-of-telecommunications-firms

Background information:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-approves-net-neutrality-rules-setting-stage-for-legal-battle-1424974319

Wells Fargo Scandal

Posted by Frankie Panicucci.

Wells Fargo is a corporate bank with very high and unrealistic sales targets. To meet these unrealistic sales targets Wells Fargo employees were secretly opening millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge. These unauthorized accounts that were created racked up fees and allowed Wells Fargo to make more money. The accounts that were created started all the way back in 2011. The company then learned of this behavior and fired about 5,300 employees over the years. In order to pull off the scheme, the employees transferred funds from a customer’s original account into a new one without their knowledge, and it is estimated that around 1.5 million accounts were created. Customers were then being charged for over drafting or not having enough of a minimum balance in the original account. Employees also submitted over five hundred thousand applications for credit cards without the customer’s knowledge. Some of these accounts were charged over $400,000 in fees.

Wells Fargo was eventually caught committing these crimes after being investigated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB). Wells Fargo is being fined with the largest fine since the CPFB’s inception; a fine of $185 million and also must refund customers $5 million. Of the $185 million, $100 million will go to the CFPB’s penalty fund, $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and $50 million will go to the City and County of Los Angeles. As part of the settlement Wells Fargo also needs to make changes to its “sales practices and internal oversight.” The CPFB declined to mention how the investigation began.

The initial suspicions of accounts being created for customers began when some customers complained to Wells Fargo about unauthorized accounts that were created on their behalf. L.A. City’s Attorney, Mike Feuer, says, “Consumers must be able to trust their banks.” Feuer sued Wells Fargo in May of 2015 in relation to the unauthorized accounts. Once the suit was filed, he began to receive calls and emails from customers regarding the issue. Wells Fargo hired a consulting firm to look into the allegations after the suit was filed. After the investigation Wells Fargo released an internal statement which says, “At Wells Fargo, when we make mistakes, we are open about it, we take responsibility, and we take action.”

Frankie is an economics and finance major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.