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Can a Mad Max dystopia be stopped? Ex-RTP entrepreneur Wadhwa to find out at Harvard

April 13, 2018

by Rick Smith 
WRAL Tech Wire

Vivek Wadhwa has been named a Distinguished Fellow with the Labor and Worklife program at Harvard Law School “to help with what I consider to be the most important research project of our times: to understand the impact of technology on jobs and develop policies to mitigate the dangers.”

Reached by WRAL TechWire, Wadhwa says the project is “something that [economist] Richard Freeman and I have long been discussing. There is anecdotal evidence automation is affecting jobs but not enough hard research.”... Read more about Can a Mad Max dystopia be stopped? Ex-RTP entrepreneur Wadhwa to find out at Harvard

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Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short

April 16, 2018

By Noam Scheiber
New York TImes

Organized labor managed an increasingly rare feat on Monday — a political victory — when its allies turned back a Senate measure aimed at rolling back labor rights on tribal lands.

The legislation, called the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, would have exempted enterprises owned and operated by Native American tribes from federal labor standards, even for employees who were not tribal citizens.

“It’s a very, very troubling step at a moment when we should be doing everything we can to try to protect people’s collective rights and when there are so many people who feel so disempowered in this economy,” said Sharon Block, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board who is executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

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For some minor league baseball players, wages can seem like peanuts

April 5, 2018

By Mitchell Hartman
Marketplace

In 2014, Broshuis brought a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against the baseball owners. The goal was to force the teams to follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and pay players as hourly workers, including for all hours of play and practice.

 

Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and an Obama administration appointee to the National Labor Relations Board, said that because many minor league players are paid such a low salary — in some cases working out to less than minimum wage for all the hours worked — their lawsuit should proceed.

“We are talking about paying people $7.25 per hour, and time-and-a half when they work over forty hours. These are just bedrock principles of minimum standards,” Block said. And she said that not paying players during spring training flies in the face of other labor law precedent. “Generally, if you are in training and it is for the employer’s benefit, meaning you’re learning to do your job better, you have to be compensated.”... Read more about For some minor league baseball players, wages can seem like peanuts

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The emerging plan to save the American labor movement

April 9, 2018

By Dylan Matthews
Vox

The Trump era has sparked some of the most creative thinking in labor in years.

“Sectoral bargaining is certainly getting more attention in legal academic and labor law policy debates,” Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School and former practicing labor lawyer, says. “The way I would think about it is that there’s an existential panic about what will happen to the labor movement. That’s not new, it’s just getting worse. … If we need unions for economic and political equality as I think we do...

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Punching In: Confirmation Process Picks Up Steam

April 9, 2018

By Chris Opfer and Ben Penn

 

 When news of the proposed settlement in the McDonald’s joint employment case broke last week, some folks might have assumed we accidentally dropped a zero from the $170,000 that Mickey D’s is offering a group of workers to resolve their unfair labor practice complaints. Surely, the chance to resolve one of the biggest cases in the labor and employment space without risking a ruling that McDonald’s is a joint employer with its franchisees of franchise restaurant workers could fetch a bigger price tag?

“It sounds like they’re getting off awfully cheap,” former NLRB member Sharon Block (D) told me of the settlement.... Read more about Punching In: Confirmation Process Picks Up Steam

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Equal Pay For Women: Why The U.S. Needs To Catch Up On Data Disclosure And Transparency

April 10, 2018

Alison Omens , Contributor
co-authored by Sharon Block
Forbes

The United States has fallen behind on equal pay. According to JUST Capital’s 2017 Rankings, 78 of the 875 largest publicly-traded U.S. companies have conducted pay equity analyses, while only 54 have established a policy, as well as targets, for diversity and equal opportunity – that’s 9% and 6% of these corporations, respectively. When it comes to pay equity, corporations in the U.S. are not beholden to the same rules as those in other nations, and are lagging when it comes to equal pay for women.

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1099 Nation spreads its tentacles: Employees in every sense of the word — but without the benefits

April 10, 2018

 MARK ERLICH
Commonwealth Magazine

For the past 40 years, employers have pursued a strategy of shedding obligations to their employees as part of a broader outlook that views labor as one more risky liability to move off a balance sheet. For some, this has meant the purposeful misclassification of employees as independent contractors, a tactic adopted by Beldi’s disreputable construction contractors as well as more high-profile and celebrated firms such as FedEx and Uber.

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Labor Board Official Parries Criticism on ‘No-Plan’ Plan

April 4, 2018

Hassan A. Kanu
Bloomberg Law

 

The National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel is standing firm on a series of proposals to restructure the agency starting next year even as concern within the NLRB about the plans is said to have reached a boiling point.

Peter Robb refused to withdraw the proposals per a request from the union representing agency staffers at headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg Law. Although Congress kept the board’s funding steady this year, Robb noted that the White House budget request for next year is “well below” the current allotment.

 

“He seems to be doubling down on the budget rationale, but it just doesn’t ring true that the president’s budget would drive these kinds of changes in a practical sense,” Block said. “If he’s got other reasons, then he should tell people what those reasons are.”

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Minor League Baseball players are latest victims of anti-worker Trump and GOP

March 29, 2018

Sharon Block, Opinion contributor
USA Today

Congress just killed workplace protections for underpaid minor league baseball players. Notch another win for the 1% under Republicans and Donald Trump. 

The team owners who make up Major League Baseball had spent more than two years and more than $1 million lobbying Congress and the White House to exempt themselves from having to pay minor league players minimum wage and overtime.

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'Energetically Corrupt' Mulvaney Gave Green Light to Delete Data on Trump's Tip-Stealing Rule

March 21, 2018

by Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

"Further revealing how far the Trump administration is willing to go to "actively make workers' lives worse," Bloomberg Law reported on Wednesday that White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney personally approved the Labor Department's decision to delete an internal analysis showing that its proposed "tip-sharing rule" would allow companies to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from their employees per year."

"The story about how Secretary Acosta pushed out the tip stealing rule while hiding the cost from the public keeps getting...

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All Demand is Local: Why Donors Remain Bullish on STEM Education

March 8, 2018

By Mike Scutari
Inside Philanthropy

Michael Teitelbaum's book, titled Falling Behind? Boom, Bust and the Global Race for Scientific Talent  argues that corporate and political leaders have been sounding the alarm about a STEM shortage ever since the end of World War II. And every time they do, enrollments surge, generating too many graduates and not enough jobs.

Yet there is a surging demand in computer occupations, especially in certain parts of the country. And those donors who are helping universities meet that demand are definitely on the right track.

Ultimately, donors' unrelenting focus on STEM education is a reminder of how often philanthropy is driven by local factors or the challenges of specific institutions. While there may be a glut of STEM graduates at the broadly defined macro-level, the employers and university administrators attuned to nuances of their respective ecosystems have concluded there’s a shortage.

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Leading Questions podcast – new episode with Professor Benjamin Sachs, on labor law being everywhere

January 24, 2018

Posted by Evelyn Douek
in Podcast , The Harvard Law Record

Evelyn and Hannah sit down with Professor Benjamin Sachs, the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School, to learn about how labor and employment law is everywhere in your lives and the news, even if you don’t always see it, get some great movie recommendations and an interesting productivity tip.

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Labor Board Scraps Controversial Joint Employer Decision (Updated)

February 26, 2018

By Hassan Kanu and Chris Opfer
in Bloomberg Law

The National Labor Relations Board is taking a redo on its controversial decision to limit joint employer liability for affiliated businesses, thanks to ethics questions surrounding Member William Emanuel’s (R) participation in the case.

The board announced today that it has vacated its decision in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors. A Republican-majority NLRB in December used the Hy-Brand case to scrap an expansive Obama-era legal test that made it easier to tag affiliated businesses as joint employers. It overturned a previous decision in Browning-Ferris Industries, a case then pending before a federal appeals court that Emanuel’s former law firm participated in.

“This was one of the most important issues that this board was going to deal with and everyone knew that his firm was involved,” former NLRB member Sharon Block told Bloomberg Law of Emanuel’s participation in the case. The board “broke precedent in dealing with an issue of this magnitude” by taking up the joint employment question in a case in which it could have been avoided, Block added.

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Ethics Conflict at NLRB Pushes Agency Into 'Uncharted Territory'

February 23, 2018

By Erin Mulvaney 
The National Law Journal

The NLRB inspector general’s report reinforced the concerns of union attorneys and Democratic senators that Trump-appointed member William Emanuel should not have voted in the Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors case in December that overturned the broad joint-employment standard the Obama-era board set. Emanuel’s former firm, Littler Mendelson, where he’d been a shareholder in Los Angeles, represented a party in the original case Browning-Ferris Industries that expanded joint-employment liability.

Sharon Block, former NLRB member and now executive director of Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, said the inspector general report makes it clear that the Hy-Brand decision must be invalidated. Block said the board could ask for input from the parties in the case to show why it should or should not validate the decision.... Read more about Ethics Conflict at NLRB Pushes Agency Into 'Uncharted Territory'

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Trump’s ‘Tip-Pooling’ Plan Could Screw Your Bartender

February 13, 2018

By Dave Jamieson
HuffPost

The Trump administration is seeking to change wage regulations so that restaurants and other businesses with tipped workers can decide how the gratuities are divvied up.

Sharon Block, a former Labor Department official under Obama, said it’s hard to read the proposal any other way. In adopting a judge’s dissent in a tip-sharing lawsuit, Trump’s team seems to argue that the Labor Department can’t tell an employer what to do ― or not do ― with a worker’s tips if the employer pays the federal minimum wage of $7.25. As the...

Read more about Trump’s ‘Tip-Pooling’ Plan Could Screw Your Bartender

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