Clean Slate for Worker Power

Building a Just Economy and Democracy

Overview

Clean Slate for Worker Power is an initiative of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School that is building a policy agenda to reconstruct labor law in order to bring balance to our economy and politics. It is a multi-year project that involves leading academics, activists, advocates, labor leaders and practitioners and will culminate with a comprehensive set of actionable recommendations.

Background

Wages have been stagnating for decades. Income inequality is at its highest level in history and still growing. The political and economic power of ordinary people in the U.S. is dwarfed by the massive influence of corporations. The right to unionize has been eviscerated. Demagogues are seeking (sometimes successfully) to capitalize on these trends to advance their own goals to the further detriment of working people. In the face of these trends, how can ordinary Americans organize and mobilize for economic and political justice? And what does the law do to enable or impede their efforts? The magnitude of the challenges requires more than tinkering around the edges of the existing legal frameworks. It is critical that we bring new perspectives to answering these hard questions in order to build a policy agenda for legal reform that will establish justice in our economy and our politics.

Process
  • Clean Slate for Worker Power engaged the Labor and Worklife Program’s extensive network to provide bold and new ideas to reform labor law. Starting from the problems of economic and political inequality that we need to solve, we then identified the legal mechanisms that can address those problems. For inspiration, we look to models from international labor law, from U.S. organizing of workers outside of the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act, and to new ideas not yet tried.
     
  • In January 2020, Clean Slate for Worker Power will issue a final report on actionable recommendations to fundamentally reconstruct U.S. labor law.

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Clean Slate: Defining Problems Opening Remarks

Sharon Block speaking at Clean Slate

Sharon Block and Ben Sachs give opening remarks, July 24, 2018

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