Clean Slate Convening on Facilitating the Formation and Sustainability of Powerful Worker Organizations


Tuesday, October 9, 2018 (All day)


Harvard Law School

First working group meeting of the Rebalancing Economic and Political Power:  A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law  Project

DATE & TIME Tuesday October 9, 2018, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Closed session for Working Group II.B. Members - 3:30-5:00p.m)

LOCATION Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall, 2036 Milstein East A

1585 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138


Purpose: Increasing inequality can be attributed in part to the expansion of “right to work” and declining union density, such that we need new ways to form and sustain worker organizations. At this convening, we will debate how workers should decide whether to be represented and how workers can most effectively support the organizations that represent them.


Getting there:
For those in need of parking, the closest Harvard Parking garage is located at 10 Everett Street and parking passes can be purchased online here.


Recommended Readings:



Registration and Breakfast


Welcoming Remarks

  • Sharon Block, Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
  • Judy Scott, James and Hoffman, P.C.


Keynote - Policy as Political Weapon: Conservative Advocacy and the Demobilization of the American Labor Movement

  • Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University


Panel One: Facilitating Choice of Worker Organization

Under current law, choosing representation (without an employer’s acquiescence) is extremely cumbersome – it requires the intervention of a government agency, guarantees employers a voice in the campaign, and sets significant numerical hurdles to starting the process and even higher hurdles to winning any representation. On this panel, we will debate how workers should decide whether to be represented by a worker organization. Among the ideas we will explore are: whether workplaces should be unionized by default, whether elections should be required in all workplaces, and how formal the choice of representation should be.


Moderator: Judy Scott, James and Hoffman, P.C.

  • David Doorey, Associate Professor, Director, Osgoode Hall Law School, LLM Labor & Employment Law (PDP), York University
  • Brishen Rogers, Associate Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Gwynne Wilcox, Partner, Levy Ratner P.C. & Counsel, SEIU 1199
  • Emily Stewart Organizing Director, Midwest Initiatives, SEIU




Panel Two: Revenue Generation to Sustain Powerful Worker Organizations

As our panelist Shayna Strom has written, worker organizations that cannot simply rely on mandated membership dues or fees have a “business model problem”. Among the ideas we will explore for how workers can most effectively sustain organizations are: whether worker organizations should be permitted to charge fees for representation activities, whether they should be able to collect fees directly from employers, whether they should rely on revenue derived from providing non-representation services to workers, and whether they should charge for services provided to employers or government.


Moderator: Karla Walter, Director, Employment Policy, Center for American Progress

  • Bo Delp, Better Builder and Policy Director, Workers Defense Project
  • Nicole Berner, General Counsel, SEIU
  • Jess Kutch, Co-founder & Co-director,
  • Shayna Strom, National Advocacy Director and Deputy Political Director, ACLU & Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation


Lunch Break


Looking at Global Modals of Sustainable Revenue Generation and Workers’ Choice

  • Lance Compa, Senior Lecturer, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University


Working Groups on Revenue Generation

Working Groups on Facilitating Choice


Closing Remarks

  • Benjamin Sachs, Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry and Faculty Co-Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School

Agenda - Spanish

Twitter: @LWPHarvard, @OnLaborBlog #ReworkLaborRights

Opening remarks by Sharon Block
Opening remarks by Sharon Block and keynote by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

Information on collective bargaining and union density in Canada - English     Spanish

List of possible worker choice and revenue generation models discussed - English    Spanish