Labor Organization Innovation (LOI) Initiative


The labor movement is at a watershed moment as economic, technological, demographic and legal forces are combining to create the conditions for fundamental change. The labor movement needs to prepare for disruptive change – change that will markedly alter the landscape of players, expectations, and possibilities in workers’ rights organizing. The capacity to anticipate, plan for, and address disruptive change is requisite to the future viability and success of any organization. Given the magnitude of this moment, the Labor and Worklife Program is working with the National Education Association (NEA) to seize this opportunity as an occasion for growth and evolution by fundamentally rethinking the nature and operations of unions. The key is to transform, rather than reform, the institution.

Through the Labor Organization Innovation (LOI) Initiative, the Labor and Worklife Program and NEA are assembling a cross-disciplinary team of union leaders, advocates, academics, educators, policy leaders, and researchers to bring creativity, risk-taking, and innovation to develop a blueprint for the next generation of worker organizations. Leveraging learnings from educators’ movements, teachers’ unions, other kinds of worker organizations, businesses facing disruptive change, and social movements, the LOI Initiative will explore how workers – whether formally or informally organized – can work in concert to reach shared goals and continue to support educators.


To address critical questions about the future of collective power and labor organizations, the LOI Initiative is undertaking a set of activities focused on:

  1. Engaging and learning from field leaders: What factors led to the emergence of independent educators' movements and how can unions support those efforts? Looking ahead, what opportunities and challenges are emerging and how can unions and educators' movements navigate them?
  2. Piloting efforts to collectively address the unmet needs of educators: How can organizers best engage, support, and connect educators? How will educators' needs and priorities evolve?
  3. Understanding what works: What strategies and practices are most powerful in authentically engaging educators?
  4. Disseminating learnings: How can we share what we've learned to inform the future of worker organizations?


2018 Sep 17

What We All Can Learn from the 2018 Educator Walkouts.

(All day)


Harvard Law School

Sponsored by National Education Association (NEA) and Labor and Worklife Program.

"Last week, the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School hosted an event with the National Education Association on the teacher walkouts that spread through red states from January to May 2018.  We held this event to learn as much as possible about what motivated tens of thousands of teachers to stand up for themselves and their schools.  The most profound lesson I learned was the importance of telling stories of...

Read more about What We All Can Learn from the 2018 Educator Walkouts.

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