2022

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Is Washington State About to Deprive Its Gig Drivers of Basic Rights?

March 2, 2022

BY TERRI GERSTEIN
The American Prospect

When Proposition 22, the (sadly, successful) initiative to strip gig workers of rights, was on the California ballot in 2020, there was immense news coverage and analysis. As gig companies like Uber and Lyft prepare similar attempts across the country, with the goal of ensuring their workers remain non-employees, a similarly high-profile fight is brewing in Massachusetts, where worker, environmental, and racial justice advocates have formed a coalition to gear up for a major battle as a similar measure comes before voters in November...

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What Can U.S. Labor Take from the Proposed E.U. Directive of Regulations of Platform Workers?

What Can U.S. Labor Take from the Proposed E.U. Directive of Regulations of Platform Workers?

February 18, 2022

by 
OnLabor Blog

On December 9, the European Commission issued a package of proposed regulations of platform work. This legislative initiative came after a long period of lobbying, consultation, and research by business groups, unions, and academics on the problems emerging from the entry of platforms into European Union labor markets.

From a U.S. perspective, the...

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After five years of #MeToo movement, a modest win for women's workplace rights

February 16, 2022

By 
Justice Matters
Reuters

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Feb. 10 enacted one of the most momentous workplace rights reforms in more than a decade, and Congress’ most significant legislation against sexual harassment and abuse since the #MeToo women’s movement began five years ago.

The U.S. Senate approved a bill to ban companies from making employees sign away their rights to file a lawsuit over sexual assault or harassment, and to force them to take their claims to confidential arbitration instead. The House of Representatives had passed its version of the bill earlier.

Terri Gerstein, a fellow at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program, told me the legislation is an “important first step,” and a major accomplishment, especially given the stark partisan divide in Congress and businesses’ strong interest in keeping disputes out of court.

“I would not understate what a real accomplishment this is, and how meaningful it is to women who have faced harassment and assault,” Gerstein said. “It demonstrates a bipartisan recognition that forced arbitration is unfair to workers and that the secrecy is a problem.”

But Gerstein said she also wouldn't understate the importance of ending forced arbitration in wage, race discrimination and other types of workplace disputes.... Read more about After five years of #MeToo movement, a modest win for women's workplace rights

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Union labor complaint against Amazon takes aim at “captive audience” meetings

February 25, 2022

Meghan McCarty Carino
Marketplace

Organizers of an effort to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board this week, challenging the company’s right to require employees to attend anti-union presentations at work, a common tactic that is currently considered legal.

Labor advocates have long argued unions should be offered equal time in workplaces to present their own information said Benjamin Sachs, co-director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

“It...

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Enforcers take action to protect workers from workplace violations at Domino’s and Family Dollar stores

February 25, 2022

by Terri Gerstein
Working Economics Blog
Economic Policy Institute

Recent cases brought by state and local enforcers include the recovery of $2 million for workers of a Seattle Domino’s franchisee that underpaid workers and didn’t give required notice of schedules; citation of Massachusetts Family Dollar stores for $1.5 million for thousands of meal break violations; and prosecution of several cases involving egregious violations of wage payment, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation laws.

2022 Mar 03

The Evolving Role of Universities in the American Innovation System Virtual Conference

1:15pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

The conference is free and open to everyone; however, registration is required.- online

Thursday, March 3, 2022, 1:15 p.m.-6:00 p.m.Friday, March 4, 2022, 9:20 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

The conference is free and open to everyone; however, registration is required.

There is great interest across government, industry, and academia in improving the U.S. innovation system, particularly in light of competitive threats from countries like China. American universities have long been a foundation of U.S. leadership in science, technology, and innovation. As with other U.S....

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Infrastructure bills are kicking off billions in construction projects. Will workers of color get the jobs?

February 7, 2022

By Chris Burrell
WGBH News

Workers of color now make up almost a quarter of the state’s workforce in the building trades, their numbers climbing 30 percent from a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But those trends aren’t clear in the state’s track record for hiring workers of color on public construction jobs. And with an infrastructure boom on the horizon fueled by federal funding, labor experts say the state has an opportunity to do better.

Despite a 2016 state mandate requiring all state agencies to track minority workers’ hours on...

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Mills administration cracking down on employer wage and hour violations

February 6, 2022

Peter McGuire,
Portland Press Herald, Maine, Yahoo! News

Since Gov. Janet Mills took office three years ago, the Maine Department of Labor has escalated its pursuit of illegal workplace practices including wage theft, child labor and false record keeping, a significant departure from past practices at the agency.

The department's new approach is modeled on a practice called strategic enforcement, pioneered at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Obama administration. 

Generally, the shift to strategic enforcement means proactively working...

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2022 Mar 16

2022 Harvard Trade Union Workshops

Wed Mar 16 (All day) to Thu Mar 24 (All day)

Location: 

Online on Zoom

Unfortunately, the Covid crisis is not over. We regret that a variety of obstacles blocked us from carrying out the residential Trade Union Program at Harvard this year. We had hoped and began to plan for the program, but it has turned out not to be feasible. Nevertheless, in our effort to continue to support and educate the labor community, we will hold a new set of online workshops providing potent ideas and compelling visions for revitalizing unions and democracy.

The theme for this year’s online workshop is “Democracy Under Attack: What should unions do?” The workshop will...

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Biden to sign order mandating PLAs on federal construction projects

February 4, 2022

Zachary Phillips
Construction DIve

Dive Brief:
President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Friday requiring project labor agreements on federal construction projects over $35 million, according to a White House fact sheet. 

The order, which is effective immediately, will impact $262 billion in federal construction contracts and affect nearly 200,000 workers. 

Nevertheless, the new executive order does not apply to work funded by grants to non-federal agencies, which includes the bulk of the projects funded under the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a senior official told Reuters. 

​​​​​​​Mark Erlich, fellow at Harvard's Labor and Worklife Program and retired executive of the New England Carpenters Union, said the advantages of PLAs are many.

"On larger projects, PLAs allow for an uninterrupted access to skilled labor working under standardized and uniform terms and conditions," he said. "I believe their value has been established and most of the objections have been refuted."... Read more about Biden to sign order mandating PLAs on federal construction projects

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How Governments Can Boost Workplace Safety After Supreme Court Halts Vaccine Mandate

January 24, 2022

Terry Gerstien
Route Fifty

COMMENTARY | Although the court struck down the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccine-or-test mandate, there are ways states and localities can protect workers from the virus.

Earlier this month, in a decision that surprised no one who was paying attention, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority blocked an emergency workplace safety rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requiring large employers to mandate...

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Amazon and the Girl Scouts Are Unlikely — and Disturbing — New Partners

February 4, 2022

Terri Gerstein
Teen Vogue

This op-ed discusses the “problematic” new partnership between the tech giant and the Girl Scouts.

Amazon and the Girl Scouts of America recently announced a partnership to “engage girls in STEM.” As part of the program, Amazon fulfillment centers in more than 20 U.S. cities will host “Girl Scout Amazon Tours.” There’s even a special cobranded Amazon-Girl Scouts patch participants will earn.

It might seem an odd partnership for the Girl Scouts, whose mission is to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make...

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American Prospect Logo

Will Starbucks Bargain With Its Baristas, or Just Pretend To?

December 16, 2021

by Terri Gerstein
American Prospect

Many newly unionized employers go discreetly AWOL (or worse) when it comes to negotiating a first contract. Coffee drinkers shouldn’t let Starbucks get away with that.

But even in Buffalo, the battle is far from over. Thursday’s union victory marked perhaps the end of the beginning. Serious challenges remain, including bargaining a first contract. Unfortunately, there are too many ways employers can try to destroy a union even after an election. We need better laws to stop these subtler forms of thwarting...

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Starbucks: Purveyor of Fresh Coffee and Stale Union-Busting

November 23, 2021

BY TERRI GERSTEIN
The American Prospect

Management’s old-school battle against its Buffalo baristas’ organizing campaign reveals a failure to recognize how unionization can align the company with its consumers.

Starbucks, like any company whose workers are unionizing, could take a genuinely innovative path. It has the opportunity to become a visionary leader; its executives could use their imagination to move toward a different corporate future. Imagine a Starbucks in 2030 or 2035 that’s known nationally as the unionized coffee chain, with the most stable workforce among all quick-serve restaurants, amazing service, amazing coffee, beloved by a generation of customers, shareholders, and workers.

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