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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.

Can Progress on Diversity Be Union-Made?

Can Progress on Diversity Be Union-Made?

November 6, 2021

By Eduardo Porter
NY Times

In Boston, setting a goal for a racially diverse construction work force is one thing. Meeting it has proved more difficult.

“There is a legacy of racism, which by no means has been eliminated,” Mr. Erlich said. “I respect folks in the community that complain that things are not changing fast enough. And they are not changing fast enough.” Still, he argues, unions realize that “they need to become less homogeneous and reflect the demographics of the city.”

And he warns that the nonunion contractors that will...

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Construction Dive logo

Is 'Striketober' the moment construction unions have been waiting for?

October 28, 2021

, Senior Reporter
Construction Dive

The convergence of worker shortages, supply chain snarls and vaccine mandates could give labor the upper hand at the bargaining table, experts say.

But the broader trend of American workers demanding higher wages and better working conditions almost two years into the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic raises the question: Could more strikes be ahead for construction, too?

"What we're facing now gives unions leverage at the bargaining table, whether they strike or not," said Mark Erlich, a fellow in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, and former executive secretary-treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. "It at least will help them get better agreements."

Politico logo

How Corporations Keep Their Own Workers in Debt

October 21, 2021

Opinion by TERRI GERSTEIN

We typically think of debt that ordinary people and families owe to corporations as a consumer problem, but in today’s marketplace, it causes distinct harm to workers as workers. Very often, employer-driven debt holds workers hostage in their jobs and undermines their bargaining power to get a better deal.

President Joe Biden has vowed to be the most pro-worker leader this country has seen in years, and fortunately, he can use the authority of the federal government to address these abuses even without action from a gridlocked Congress.

One simple, yet powerful solution is to direct certain key agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Transportation, to create dedicated offices for worker protection. Such a move would ensure that abusive worker-consumer situations are systematically and routinely addressed — not just through one-off cases — and would serve as a major acknowledgment that worker protection must look different in today’s economy.... Read more about How Corporations Keep Their Own Workers in Debt

bloomberg Law logo

Some States Could Stymie Enforcement of OSHA’s Shot-or-Test Rule

October 19, 2021

Bruce Rolfsen
Bloomberg Law

If and when federal OSHA enacts its national Covid-19 shot-or-test requirement, some state governments opposing that mandate could stave off for months the enforcement of its requirements.

That’s because the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration allows the governments of 26 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to adopt and enforce their own workplace safety and health rules for private-industry or state and local government workers.

No release date for it has been announced. But, when federal OSHA enacts a new rule, state workplace safety agencies are required by federal law to adopt the U.S. rule or enact a measure of their own that is “at least as effective” as the federal mandate.

“States can do more, but they can’t do less,” said Terri Gerstein, director of the Harvard University Labor and Worklife Program’s State and Local Enforcement Project.... Read more about Some States Could Stymie Enforcement of OSHA’s Shot-or-Test Rule

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A Growing Trend: Treating Wage Theft As A Criminal Offense

September 23, 2021

By Daniela Porat
Law 360

The need for criminal prosecution of wage theft and other employment law violations has become all the more imperative, said Terri Gerstein, the director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program.

"I think that the situation of working people in our country has become dire," she said. "One of the benefits of criminal prosecution is it just sort of changes the calculus … there's a whole other set of consequences other than just, 'OK, I'm going to pay...

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Comment: Unions not against vax mandate; they just want a say

Comment: Unions not against vax mandate; they just want a say

September 16, 2021

Terri Gerstein
Washington Post

Most unions have strongly supported vaccination efforts, often including mandates. But they also want a place at the table in relation to implementation.

“Labor unions are a microcosm of the society we live in,” Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of Cornell University’s Worker Institute, told Yahoo News. “The same political divide we have right now exists within the rank and file of unions.” Unions represent and give voice to their members — of course they want ...

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Other People’s Rotten Jobs Are Bad for Them. And for You.

Other People’s Rotten Jobs Are Bad for Them. And for You.

September 6, 2021

Terri Gerstein
Opinoin
NY Times

I enforced workplace laws in New York State for the better part of two decades, and this case stands out to me, because it so clearly exemplifies why all of us should care about workers’ rights. When people have bad working conditions and no voice on the job, it’s obviously bad for them. But the impact of rotten jobs — those with low pay, long hours, bad treatment, or no worker voice — radiates far beyond the workers themselves. Other people’s rotten jobs affect our collective health, safety and well-being.

We should care about...

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Robocabs could make climate change worse, say researchers at Harvard, MIT

August 24, 2021

By HLS News Staff
Harvard Law Today

A new study shows that electric, autonomous cabs could increase greenhouse gas emissions — not reduce them

 

A new study led by Dr. Ashley Nunes, a fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, concluded that, counterintuitively, fleets of electric, autonomous taxis could dramatically increase energy consumption and emissions that contribute to climate change — not reduce them.

“While electric vehicles themselves have lower emissions than traditional gasoline-powered...

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Dame magazine logo

REINVENTING THE WORKWEEK

August 30, 2021

by Meira Gebel
Dame Magazine

For many American workers, the traditional eight-hour-plus days, five days a week is no longer tolerable. Can we reimagine the status quo?

“People want the ability to make a living, have work-life balance, and be able to care for their families,” said Gerstein, who is also the director of the project on state and local enforcement at the Harvard Law School labor and worklife program. “This includes a predictable schedule with sufficient pay, and where one job should be enough.” 

“I think it’s...

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CBS News logo

How Joe Biden's order on noncompetes could make it easier to quit your job

July 27, 2021

BY IRINA IVANOVA
CBS News

The president's July 9 executive order takes aim at an increasingly common and oft-criticized feature of the labor market: noncompete agreements. Under these restrictive agreements, which cover an estimated one-fifth to one-half of private-sector workers, employees give up future work in their industry as a condition of keeping their current job. 

Terri Gerstein, director of the state and local enforcement program at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program, noted there were other legal ways, including...

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There’s a Way to Get More People Vaccinated—and It Doesn’t Involve the Lottery

There’s a Way to Get More People Vaccinated—and It Doesn’t Involve the Lottery

July 1, 2021

By Terri Gerstein and Lorelei Salas
The Nation

In light of the widespread jobsite transmission of the virus, and Covid-19’s devastating impact on working people, we should also do everything possible to eliminate obstacles for essential workers. Fortunately, there are two non-flashy but surefire approaches to boost rates among the many workers who want the vaccine but haven’t had it: first, pass paid sick leave laws covering the shot as well as side effects; and second, turn to unions, worker organizations, and others that are already known to and trusted by workers and their communities. 

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The germ of innovation: The lessons from accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development

May 24, 2021

EMRAN QURESHI
Opinion
THE GLOBE AND MAIL

There is one bright flicker of hope: biotech. The spread of the pandemic is being slowed by the emergence of effective vaccines that were developed and deployed in fewer than 11 months. This is an extraordinary advance from past vaccine development, which ranged from five to 10 years. Two of the first vaccines that were out of the starting gate and jabbed into arms were from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.... Read more about The germ of innovation: The lessons from accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development

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Wall Street’s Grip on Secret Harassment Hearings Starts to Crack

May 12, 2021

Max Reyes
Bloomberg

But their path to ending forced arbitration on Wall Street is seen as long and arduous. Much of the finance industry, including Goldman, remains committed to settling disputes behind closed doors, and change is unlikely to pass easily through a divided Congress.

“It still helps to build momentum and build a shared understanding that this practice of forced arbitration is not right,” Terri Gerstein, director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School, said in an interview. “It’s not fair, and it’s not good...

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Big Law Builds Up State AG Expertise Amid Enforcement Boost

May 12, 2021

Ellen M. Gilmer
Bloomberg Law

Top law firms are building out practice groups focused on state attorneys general, whose aggressive moves on everything from workers’ rights to Big Tech have clients looking for lawyers with a deep understanding of the process.

Harvard Law School’s State and Local Enforcement Project director Terri Gerstein, former head of the Labor Bureau in the New York attorney general’s office, cautioned private practice lawyers against relying too heavily on relationships formed during their past work in state offices.

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