2019

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The world has underestimated China’s rise as a scientific power

August 31, 2018

By Akshat Rathi
Quartz

The study, published by Qingnan Xie of Nanjing University and Richard Freeman of NBER, argues that the world has been underestimating China’s contribution to science. So far, the way country-level contributions are measured is based on how many scientific papers have authors with an address in a particular country. But the new study argues that using addresses does not account for cases in which, for instance, Chinese researchers author a paper while working at a US university.

Correcting for those sorts of mistakes, the authors find that Chinese researchers now publish more scientific papers than others. Roughly one in four scientific papers published has an author with a Chinese name or address. If Chinese-language papers are included, then the figure jumps up to 37%. By comparison, China contributes around 15% to global GDP.

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This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform

September 3, 2018

 SHARON BLOCK AND BENJAMIN SACHS
OnLabor.org

The question on this Labor Day therefore must be how, in 2018, can we create a new labor movement, one that can unite the interests of a sufficient number of lower and middle income Americans so that they have the power to restore balance to our economy and politics.

So we need to rebuild labor law from a clean slate to meet the challenges of the new economy. To provide a blueprint for that kind of reform, we have launched a new project at Harvard Law School: Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law.  This summer, we kicked off the Clean Slate project with a convening aimed at identifying the core elements of a successful 21st Century labor law.... Read more about This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform

Trump’s Power to Fire Federal Workers Curtailed by Judge

Trump’s Power to Fire Federal Workers Curtailed by Judge

August 25, 2018

By Noam Scheiber
New York Times

A federal district judge in Washington struck down most of the key provisions of three executive orders that President Trump signed in late May that would have made it easier to fire federal employees.

The ruling is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the administration, which has suffered losses in court in its efforts to wield executive authority to press its agenda on immigration, voting and the environment.

Sharon Block of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, who is a former senior Labor Department official and National Labor Relations Board member during the Obama administration, called the decision a “stinging rebuke.”... Read more about Trump’s Power to Fire Federal Workers Curtailed by Judge

Labor Provisions in Trade Agreements (LABPTA): Introducing a New Dataset
Damian Raess and Dora Sari. 8/3/2018. “Labor Provisions in Trade Agreements (LABPTA): Introducing a New Dataset.” Global Policy.Abstract

Global labor policy through trade has begun to receive growing attention with the inclusion of labor provisions in preferential trade agreements (PTAs). Until recently there has been a shortage of available data that would adequately capture the variation that exists with respect to the scope and stringency of labor provisions, preventing scholars and practitioners from addressing key questions about the design and effects of the trade‐labor linkage. This paper introduces a new dataset covering 487 PTAs from 1990 to 2015 coded against 140 distinct items pertaining to six main categories, presenting – to our knowledge – the most rigorous and fine‐grained mapping of labor provisions. It also offers the first systematic description of key trends in the design and occurrence of those commitments. Our study shows that labor provisions have not only expanded in terms of their content and participating countries but that labor provisions have, although to a varying degree, also become more stringent over time. The provisions that have across all PTAs increased most steadily are the ones related to the institutional framework set up for the monitoring and implementation of labor commitments, becoming more specialized and more inclusive of third party involvement over time.

Comment on data set: Elliott, K. A. (2019), Assessing Trade–Labor Linkages: A Big Step Forward. Glob Policy, 10: 151-152. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12644

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Trump Overtime Pay Rule Slow Out of Gate

August 20, 2018

Jaclyn Diaz and Ben Penn
Bloomberg Law

The Labor Department has shown scant signs of progress on revising an Obama-era rule to expand overtime pay eligibility, more than a year after embarking on its mission.

The Trump DOL’s latest soft target for a proposed rule is January 2019, after initially aiming for a fall 2018 release. A federal judge shot down the 2016 rule, which would have qualified an additional 4 million workers for time-and-a-half pay. An appeal of that decision is on hold to allow time for Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to develop what’s expected to be a more narrow update.

“When you do it right, this kind of rulemaking is hard,” said Sharon Block, who coordinated the 2016 overtime rulemaking as head of the Obama DOL’s policy shop. “I don’t think this Department of Labor has shown themselves to be able to do this kind of complex difficult rulemaking. I have no idea if they have the capacity to do it in the time they have left.”... Read more about Trump Overtime Pay Rule Slow Out of Gate

DC Attorney General sues national electrical contractor for misclassification

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine sued a national electrical contractor for misclassifying hundreds of workers as independent contractors, instead of properly treating them as employees. Here is a copy of the complaint. Attorney General Racine started the office’s first ever workers’ rights unit in 2017.... Read more about DC Attorney General sues national electrical contractor for misclassification

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A ‘Clean Slate’ for the future of labor law

August 1, 2018

Harvard Labor and Worklife conference starts up a journey toward systemic reform, economic equality

By BRETT MILANO
Harvard law Today

Last month, Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program began an ambitious effort to fix a broken system of labor laws. The program, “Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law,” began with a daylong seminar at Wasserstein Hall. It will continue with a series of followup meetings over the next eighteen months, with the goal of producing major recommendations to reform labor law.

Attendees came from across the country, including law professors, labor activists, and union and online organizers. Because Chatham House rules were invoked for the event, none of the panelists will be identified or quoted; Block explained that this allowed for a freer exchange of ideas.

Co-organizers Sharon Block, executive director of HLS’s Labor and Worklife Program, and Benjamin Sachs, Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry and faculty co-director of the Labor and Worklife Program, said that some significant work was begun.... Read more about A ‘Clean Slate’ for the future of labor law

2018 Jul 24

Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law Opening Conference: What Problems Should We Be Solving For?

(All day)

Location: 

Harvard Law School

Project 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 Americans 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...

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Trump Nominee Is Mastermind of Anti-Union Legal Campaign

Trump Nominee Is Mastermind of Anti-Union Legal Campaign

July 18, 2018

By Noam Scheiber
NY Times

Jonathan F. Mitchell, a conservative lawyer, is the lead counsel in several lawsuits against public-employee unions.

After the 2016 election, he served as a volunteer attorney on the Trump transition team, where he helped review future executive orders. In September, the president nominated him to head the Administrative Conference of the United States, a small federal agency that advises the government on improving its inner workings. His nomination awaits action by the Senate after the Judiciary Committee approved him on a party-line vote in March.

Ms. Block said the court’s decision last month indicated that the conservative majority might rule that the fees should be refunded retroactively. The decision referred to the fees as a “considerable windfall that unions have received,” adding, “It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers.”

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Ending the Dead-End-Job Trap

July 12, 2018

By Terri Gerstein and Sharon Block
NY Times Op Ed

It’s the American dream: We’re supposed to improve ourselves, get a better job, move on and up. But in too many instances, secret agreements between employers are stifling workers’ ability to parlay their hard work and experience into better-paying jobs and a chance to climb the career ladder.

On Thursday, the attorney general of Washington State, Bob Ferguson, announced that he had obtained agreements from seven fast-food chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr. and McDonald’s, not to use or enforce “no poach” or “no hire” agreements. Under these arrangements, franchisees pledge not to hire job applicants who are current or recent employees of the company or any of its franchisees, without the approval of the applicants’ employers.... Read more about Ending the Dead-End-Job Trap

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The Kavanaugh Nomination and Labor

July 10, 2018

[Sharon Block] provides an overview of [Kavanaugh's] record and attempt to make the case that his record reflects a sustained and, at times, aggressive hostility to the role of the law in protecting the vulnerable and less powerful.

The Agri Processor dissent is significant for a number of reasons.  First, it reflects a broader trend in Kavanaugh’s record of being unsympathetic to the plight of immigrants. His dissent reflects a willingness to write groups of workers completely out of basic labor standards – here all undocumented workers...

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