2019

Labor and Worklife Program postdoctoral fellow Phillippe Scrimger wins LERA’s Best Dissertation Award

April 18, 2019

Labor and Worklife Program postdoctoral fellow Phillippe Scrimger’s Ph.D dissertation “The Distributive Effects of Trade Unionism: A Look at Income Inequality and Redistribution in Canada’s Provinces” has been named the winner of the Labor and Employment Relations Association’s 2019 Thomas A. Kochan and Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Awards Competition. The Award will be formally presented at the LERA 71st Annual Meeting, June 13-16, 2019 in Cleveland, OH.

Phillippe’s dissertation was completed under adviser Gregor Murray at the University of Montreal’s...

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2019 Apr 04

Clean Slate Convening on Building Worker Power through Benefits Provision and Enforcement

(All day)

Location: 

Harvard Law School

What’s at stake? The transformation of work has produced two well-known problems: one, many workers can no longer rely on stable employment to provide them with benefits like retirement, vacation, or insurance, and, two, it is increasingly difficult to enforce basic laws like minimum wage and overtime pay. Although there are many ways to address these problems, putting workers in charge of the organizations that deliver benefits and conduct enforcement could ensure efficient delivery of services while building economic and political voice for working people...

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U.S. Moves to Limit Wage Claims Against Chains Like McDonald’s

U.S. Moves to Limit Wage Claims Against Chains Like McDonald’s

April 1, 2019

By Noam Scheiber
NY Times

The Labor Department released a proposal on Monday that would limit claims against big companies for employment-law violations by franchisees or contractors.

 

Under the doctrine set by the board during the Obama administration, a company is considered a joint employer if it exercises direct or indirect control over workers hired by a franchisee or contractor.

But the board, now with a Republican majority, is considering ...

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Logo Washington Examiner

Sanders campaign unionization raises questions about strikes and conflicts of interest

March 21, 2019

by Sean Higgins
Washington Examiner

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 are organizing the campaign workers for Sen. Bernie Sanders', I-Vt., presidential campaign, but they are not endorsing his bid.

Wilma Liebman, former chairwoman of the National Labor Relations Board, said that just because organizing a campaign staff is novel, there’s no reason why it cannot be done.

“Collective bargaining can be very flexible and adapted to the parties’ needs,” said Liebman, now senior research associate at Harvard Law School’s labor and worklife program. "Some contracts are lengthy, spelling out detailed rules and procedures. Some are just a few pages long, setting out just basic values and principles."... Read more about Sanders campaign unionization raises questions about strikes and conflicts of interest

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO OVERTIME?

March 12, 2019

with Nick Hanauer
Pitchfork Economics 

The overtime threshold used to be the minimum wage for the middle class—but where did it go? Labor experts Sharon Block and Chris Lu join Nick and Jasmin to explain why the overtime threshold, which used to cover 65 percent of workers, today covers only 7 percent. That’s craziness! And surprise, surprise—employers love to claim that forcing you to work for free is in your own best interest. But are they telling the truth? (46 minute audio interview)

2019 Mar 01

Clean Slate Convening on New Organizations for Worker Power

(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

What’s at stake? Historically, labor unions have been the key organization for worker voice and power, and we need legal reforms that enable us to strengthen unions. But we also need to consider legal support for other worker institutions, including organizations that represent workers outside of formal collective bargaining processes.

At this convening, we will explore the features of organizations that can build power for workers. Our exploration will include works councils, members-only unions, worker centers, organizations that address the interests of consumers and communities, and organizations that build workers’ political power. ... Read more about Clean Slate Convening on New Organizations for Worker Power

Labor’s Hard Choice in Amazon Age: Play Along or Get Tough

Labor’s Hard Choice in Amazon Age: Play Along or Get Tough

February 22, 2019

By Noam Scheiber
New York Times

It’s one of the most vexing challenges facing the labor movement: how to wield influence in an era increasingly dominated by technology giants that are often resistant to unions.

Are workers best served when unions take an adversarial stance toward such companies? Or should labor groups seek cooperation with employers, even if the resulting deals do little to advance labor’s broader goals?

In 2016, Uber reached a five-year agreement with a regional branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to create a drivers’ guild, which would advocate on behalf of drivers but not challenge their status as independent contractors. But Sharon Block, a senior Labor Department official under President Barack Obama, pointed out that the guild had taken something of a hybrid approach between cooperation and antagonism, lobbying for policies such as a minimum earnings standard for drivers and allowing passengers to tip, both of which have been enacted in New York.

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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.”

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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.

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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...

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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

Slideshow of Event:
Joe Kennedy

Video of Event:

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.

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