News Item

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

Law 360 logo

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...

Read more about A Growing Trend: Treating Wage Theft As A Criminal Offense
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 ...

Read more about Comment: Unions not against vax mandate; they just want a say
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...

Read more about Other People’s Rotten Jobs Are Bad for Them. And for You.
Harvard Law Today logo

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 ones, our work...

Read more about Robocabs could make climate change worse, say researchers at Harvard, MIT
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...

Read more about REINVENTING THE WORKWEEK
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...

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

Read full article

Logo for The Globe and Mail

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

Bloomberg Logo

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...

Read more about Wall Street’s Grip on Secret Harassment Hearings Starts to Crack
bloomberg Law logo

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.

Associated Press logo

After Amazon: Labor tries to regroup in wake of Alabama loss

April 10, 2021

By PAUL WISEMAN and
ANNE D'INNOCENZIO
AP News

Despite the strongest public support and the most sympathetic president in years, the American labor movement just suffered a stinging defeat -- again.

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, overwhelmingly voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in much-anticipated election results announced Friday.

Amazon and business groups celebrated the decision, saying warehouse workers got a chance to weigh the pros and cons of union membership -- and voted to reject it....

Read more about After Amazon: Labor tries to regroup in wake of Alabama loss
Colorado Sun Logo

Opinion: Why Coloradans should be skeptical about gig companies’ promises

January 21, 2021

By Terri Gerstein
The Colorado Sun

In December, Uber’s CEO asked the governors of all 50 states to give the ride-hailing company’s workers priority for the coronavirus vaccine. The company sent a similar letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

It’s a profoundly cynical move. Uber and friends just spent over $200 million on California’s Proposition 22, a successful ballot initiative to exempt themselves from basic employment laws (paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, workplace safety requirements), in exchange for a seriously slender benefits package. 

Uber’s advocacy for vaccine priority reads more than anything like a company seeking replacement parts for its machinery, not caring for its people.... Read more about Opinion: Why Coloradans should be skeptical about gig companies’ promises

Boston Globe Logo

Gig workers deserve employment protections

December 18, 2020

Mark Erlich
Boston Globe 

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors predates the emergence of the gig economy and has been a method of skirting the cost of standard worker protections.

In the midst of all the presidential transition drama, one of the most overlooked but consequential outcomes of the November election was the victory of Proposition 22 in California. Funded by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates to the tune of a record-breaking $200 million, the ballot measure exempted ride-hailing and delivery drivers from a 2019 law, Assembly Bill 5, which brings California’s gig economy into compliance with conventional employment laws.

Download Op-ed... Read more about Gig workers deserve employment protections

Pages