Payday Report

is creating labor journalism in the South

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About Payday Report

Payday is excited to launch #BossTalk, a new labor law podcast co-hosted by University of Wyoming Labor Law Professor Mike Duff and Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk.

#BossTalk aims to be a lot like the show Car Talk. However, instead of teaching you to how to fix your car, we teach you how to fix your boss. Each week, #BossTalk aims to explore ways in which workers can use labor law to fight back against the boss.

Most people don't have the slightest idea about the legal leverage they might possess

Remedies available to fired workers—for example, back pay—can be shockingly small, and lawyers often must choose work based on a percentage of the back wages that are due. #BossTalk aims to educate everyday working people about basic labor law concepts they can use to give themselves a fighting chance at gaining available, but often undisclosed, legal protections.

There is no better person to talk about how workers can use labor law to fix the boss than Mike Duff. He may be the only former blue collar worker/Teamster steward/baggage loader/Harvard Law grad/NLRB agent/distinguished law professor in history.

Duff worked for nearly a dozen years as a baggage handler at the Philadelphia airport, where he served as a Teamsters shop steward, while earning his bachelor's at West Chester University. He then attended Harvard Law School and worked as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board for more than a decade. He now works as a University of Wyoming labor law professor.

“I have had the unique experience of being a blue-collar worker until the age of 32, and then going on to law school and becoming a practicing lawyer and, later, a law professor,” says Duff. “It has been a long, strange trip that in many ways began with the death of my coal miner grandfather when he was 52 years old. I don’t just think workplace justice, I breathe it. If you want to ‘fix your boss’ you need to understand how the law does and does not protect you in your quest.”

Mike Elk is a member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild and previously served as senior labor reporter at POLITICO. In 2015, he was illegally fired for union organizing. With the assistance of Mike Duff and others, Elk was able to win a year’s salary as a settlement, which he used to start Payday Report.

“As someone who's been through the legal process, it can be scary, frustrating, and intimidating, but it’s also incredibly liberating to know how you can fight back,” says Elk. “The goal of #BossTalk is to make sure everyone can learn how to beat their boss.”

Each week, #BossTalk aims to interview workers and explore how workers can use labor law to their advantage. As our budget expands, we hope to do more field reports and buy better audio equipment for callins.

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