2019

Bloomberg Logo

The Resurrection of American Labor

February 7, 2019

by Jane Paskin
Bloomberg Businessweek

According to the official records, U.S. workers went on strike seven times during 2017. Aggrieved workers, however, took matters into their own hands, using social media and other tech tools to enhance their campaigns. From industry walkouts to wildcat teachers’ strikes, they made very public demands of their employers. The official number of major work stoppages recorded by the BLS in 2018 nearly tripled, to 20. 

“I think there’s a real desire for working people to not segment their lives so much,” says Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. Companies know that, too. That’s why places such as Comcast, Facebook, and Google gave workers time off to join political protests in 2016. The problem, Block says, is that political issues are often workplace issues, too. “Immigration, racial justice, gender equality—people are seeing these things as interconnected, and that’s giving rise to movements that aren’t so easy to characterize but are very powerful.”

harvard gazette logo

A Call for a Kinder Capitalism

February 5, 2019

Brett Milano
Harvard Correspondent
Harvard Gazette

Speaking at Harvard Law School, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D., Mass.) called Monday for a new national economic agenda based on “moral capitalism” that addresses the needs of embattled workers.

In recent months, Kennedy has been pushing for a fresh economic sensibility. Speaking at the John T. Dunlop Forum on the topic of “Building a Moral Capitalism,” he argued that the recent federal government shutdown represented capitalism at its least moral.

Boston Globe Logo

Joe Kennedy preaches ‘moral capitalism’ at Harvard Law

February 5, 2019

By Jon Chesto
Boston Globe

 

Joe Kennedy started his push for “moral capitalism” by urging local business leaders to help address the country’s worsening income inequality.

Now, the congressman is spelling out his ideas for how the federal government should tackle the problem.

The Massachusetts Democrat spoke to a packed room at Harvard Law School on Monday, making his plea for a government unafraid to set new rules for a fair and just economy. Strong regulations, he argues, shouldn’t be viewed as an obstacle to growth but as a necessary condition for a functioning capitalist system to survive. From his point of view, government has been complicit in the erosion of workers’ rights.... Read more about Joe Kennedy preaches ‘moral capitalism’ at Harvard Law

From Immigrants to Robots: The Changing Locus of Substitutes for Workers
Richard B. Freeman and George J. Borjas. 1/2019. “From Immigrants to Robots: The Changing Locus of Substitutes for Workers”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Increased use of robots has roused concern about how robots and other new technologies change the world of work. Using numbers of robots shipped to primarily manufacturing industries as a supply shock to an industry labor market, we estimate that an additional robot reduces employment and wages in an industry by roughly as much as an additional 2 to 3 workers and by 3 to 4 workers in particular groups, which far exceed estimated effects of an additional immigrant on employment and wages. While the growth of robots in the 1996-2016 period of our data was too modest to be a major determinant of wages and employment, the estimated coefficients suggest that continued exponential growth of robots could disrupt job markets in the foreseeable future and thus merit attention from labor analysts.
2019 Feb 11

James Green Forum -“Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: Organizing Workers in the Southern USA”

4:00pm to 5:30pm

Location: 

WCC 2019 Milstein West AB, Harvard Law School

James Green Forum 2019Speakers: Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, Professor, West Virginia University and Ken Fones-Wolf, Professor, Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair, West Virginia University
Commenter: Sister Marie-Therese Browne, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky... Read more about James Green Forum -“Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: Organizing Workers in the Southern USA”

2019 Jan 15

Clean Slate Convening on Levels, Actors and Scope of Bargaining

(All day)

Location: 

Harvard Law School

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

Agenda - Spanish

Reimagining Collective Bargaining:
The economy is fissuring and disaggregating, but since 1935 collective bargaining has largely taken place at the level of a single “firm,” has...

Read more about Clean Slate Convening on Levels, Actors and Scope of Bargaining
2019 Feb 04

John T. Dunlop Forum – “Building a Moral Capitalism” featuring Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

1585 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA | 2036 Milstein East ABC

 

Joe Kenedy Dunlop forum poster

Congressman Joe Kennedy III discusses his recent call for “moral capitalism” and outline how he believes a new Congress can recalibrate our country’s economy back towards American workers.

The John T. Dunlop Memorial Forum is hosted by Harvard Law School Labor & Worklife Program and co-sponsored by Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

... Read more about John T. Dunlop Forum – “Building a Moral Capitalism” featuring Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III

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Labor Department Leadership Vacancies Could Threaten Policy Work

January 7, 2019

by Jaclyn Diaz
Bloomberg

The Labor Department is starting 2019 without confirmed officials in several key leadership posts, vacancies the business community fears could derail some policy initiatives.

The department doesn’t have confirmed leaders for seven sub-agencies after the Jan. 4 departure of Bryan Jarrett, who was serving as acting administrator for the Wage and Hour Division.

“I can certainly say there was nothing like this during our time,” Sharon Block, a former DOL policy office head under President Barack Obama, told...

Read more about Labor Department Leadership Vacancies Could Threaten Policy Work
American Prospect Logo

The Return of the Strike

January 3, 2019

By Steven Greenhouse
American Prospect

This year, thousands of teachers, hotel workers, Google employees, and others walked off the job and won major gains. Which raises two questions: Why now? And will this continue?

Some labor experts say the recent surge of strikes could portend a new wave of labor activism, as more and more workers see that collective action can pay off. Others argue that the recent surge is more likely a one-time blip of militancy that will fade away as organized labor’s long-term decline continues.

Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, says labor’s renewed militancy reflects a broader shift in the zeitgeist. “When there’s a lot of collective action happening more generally—the Women’s March, immigration advocates, gun rights—people are thinking more about acting collectively, which is something that people hadn’t been thinking about for a long time in this country in a significant way.”... Read more about The Return of the Strike

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Joint Employer Labor Regulation Clouded by Court Decision

January 5, 2019

Hassan A. Kanu and Jon Steingart
Bloomberg News

The NLRB acted properly in 2015 when it adopted a more expansive test for determining when companies in franchise, staffing, and other relationships should be considered joint employers for liability and collective bargaining purposes, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held Dec. 28. The board broke new ground with that test by saying that a company that has the authority to exert control over another company’s workforce could be required to bargain with or be held liable for unfair labor practices against the workers, even if it doesn’t exercise that ability.

The NLRB’s test, crafted by a Democratic majority, has been the subject of heated debate in the business community, courts, and Congress, highlighted by litigation involving McDonald’s and allegations against Microsoft. The now Republican-majority board is working on a regulation that would limit joint employment and allow businesses more leeway to outsource labor and other components.... Read more about Joint Employer Labor Regulation Clouded by Court Decision

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Clean Slate Update

December 12, 2018

by Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs
OnLabor.org

Last spring, we promised to share information about the project we’ve launched at Harvard Law School, “Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law Reform.”

On Labor Day,  we laid out our vision for this ambitious project:  (1) reimagining collective bargaining; (2) expanding the range of available worker organizations; (3) ensuring that collective action leverages power; (4) using benefits and enforcement to strengthen worker organizations; (5) updating other legal regimes to empower workers; and (6) addressing persistent, historical inequities that have plagued the labor movement.... Read more about Clean Slate Update

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