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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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Under Trump, Labor Protections Stripped Away

September 3, 2018

By Katie Johnston
Boston Globe 

“This has been a terrible 18 months-plus for working people in this country,” said Celine McNicholas, director of labor law and policy at the Economic Policy Institute. “It’s an unprecedented attack on workers.”

Several worker advocacy groups have seized the moment to propose major overhauls to labor law, including the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, which is exploring policy proposals to reimagine collective bargaining by sector instead of by employer, and to give workers seats on corporate boards, among other recommendations. 

It’s not just a reaction to Trump, said Sharon Block, who runs the center with labor professor Benjamin Sachs, though she added he’s certainly making matters worse. 9/3/2018 Under Trump, labor protections stripped away “The little power that workers have, this administration seems to be bound and determined to diminish even more,” said Block, who served on the NLRB board and was a labor adviser to President Obama. “The time for tinkering around the edges has past. What we really need is fundamental change.”

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Tesla Severance Offer Draws the Line on Worker-Safety Concerns

June 18, 2018

Josh Eidelson, Dana Hull
Bloomberg

Language in a confidential severance agreement Tesla Inc. is using as part of the biggest job cut in its history is likely to deter dismissed employees from going public with worker safety concerns, according to employment-law experts.

“The implication is, if you went to OSHA and you said, ‘Here’s something new I want to tell you about a safety concern at Tesla,’ and then OSHA asks the company to respond to that allegation, the company is going to say, ‘That employee told us that they raised everything,’” said Sharon Block, the executive director of Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program.

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A Response to “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization”

April 20, 2018

by TERRI GERSTEIN AND DAVID SELIGMAN
OnLabor Blog

 

In his recent post, “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization,” Ben Levin argues that “the impulse to use criminal law for ‘progressive’ ends”—like combatting wage theft—“is dangerous; it serves to bolster the carceral state and all of its deep structural flaws.”

In his recent post, “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization,” Ben Levin argues that “the impulse to use criminal law for ‘progressive’ ends”—like combatting wage theft—“is dangerous; it serves to bolster the carceral state and all of its deep structural flaws.” We write from the perspectives of lawyers who have had extensive experience protecting workers’ rights, one as a former government enforcer and the other as an attorney at an advocacy organization. While we of course appreciate the deep structural flaws of […]
We write from the perspectives of lawyers who have had extensive experience protecting workers’ rights, one as a former government enforcer and the other as an attorney at an advocacy organization. While we of course appreciate the deep structural flaws of our criminal justice system, we’ve seen how important a tool the criminal law can be in protecting workers from wage theft, and we don’t think that bringing the criminal law to bear on predatory employers who take advantage of vulnerable workers exacerbates the injustices of our criminal justice system. If anything, doing so expresses to the most vulnerable members of society that the criminal law can work for them, not just against them. Progressive policymakers and enforcers would be misguided to eschew the tools of criminal law in combating the scourge of wage theft.

The most important reason to employ criminal law tools in certain wage theft cases is that the civil law, while critically important, also has its limits in deterring illegal conduct, responding promptly to abuses, and in punishing chronic wrongdoers.... Read more about A Response to “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization”

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These U.S. Workers Are Being Paid Like It’s the 1980s

May 25, 2018

By Josh Eidelson
in Bloomberg

Thanks to a web of loopholes and limits, the federal government has been green-lighting hourly pay of just $7.25 for some construction workers laboring on taxpayer-funded projects, despite decades-old laws that promise them the “prevailing wage.”

The failure of government to keep up with what’s going on in the labor market, [Erlich] said “is a large piece” of why construction has faded as “a pathway to the middle class.”

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Reviving the Manufacturing Sector, Starting in Middle School

May 22, 2018

By Benjamin Herold
Education Week

"Manufacturing is changing dramatically," said Emily DeRocco, the education and workforce director of Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, or LIFT. "We want young people to understand that there are actually exciting jobs available."

Her group is one of 14 "innovation institutes" aiming to bring government, industry, and academia together to support technology-related research and education in advanced-manufacturing fields such as clean energy, lightweight materials, and robotics. The groups all fall under the umbrella of Manufacturing USA, a national network of public-private research institutes created under the Obama administration.

 "There is a lot to like about this kind of data-driven approach to connecting educational activities with the world of current and future careers," said Michael S. Teitelbaum, a senior research associate at the labor and worklife program at Harvard University.... Read more about Reviving the Manufacturing Sector, Starting in Middle School

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Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Workers

May 21, 2018

By Terri Gerstein and Sharon Block
New York Times Opinion

Federal labor law protects the right of workers to join together to improve their conditions, whether through a union or other means. But the court has now carved out a big exception to that longstanding principle. In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the court said that companies can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to bar workers from joining forces in legal actions over problems in the workplace. In other words, workers who are underpaid, harassed or discriminated against will have to press their cases alone in arbitration, rather than with their colleagues in a class-action case, or even with their own lawsuit.

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Why MBAs haven’t got a clue about front-line workers: Business school programs ignore the plight of the working class. That must change.

April 26, 2018

By Jeremy Avins, Megan Larcom and Jenny Weissbourd 
Boston Globe

"Harvard’s Trade Union Program has since shrunk and moved to the law school, physically and ideologically distant from the minds of business leaders. In today’s MBA programs, writes MIT Sloan School of Management professor Thomas Kochan, “Labor relations is often either ignored or, if covered, curricula tend to focus on how to avoid rather than how to work with” workers’ rights groups."

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MEDA: On Democracy at Work 

April 14, 2018

By Dominique Méda
Le Monde  

The « Firm and Common Interest" report, requested and submitted on March 9 by Nicole Notat and Jean-Dominique Senard to the French Government, proposes to reinforce co-determination - the participation of employees in the management of the company. At the proposed level, it will certainly not allow French employees to give voice as much as their counterparts in Sweden or Germany. But this proposal makes it clear in the public debate that the company is a political entity.

In the book just published by Belgium's sociologist and political scientist Isabelle Ferreras (Firms as Political Entities, Cambridge University Press, 2017, not translated to french), this idea is at the heart of her thinking, and she deduces logically that corporate governance should result from the election by two "chambers" - one representing the capital contributors, the other the labor contributors - this government having to collect the majority in each of them.... Read more about MEDA: On Democracy at Work 

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 "We must make French companies benefit from a shock of democratic competitiveness"

April 20, 2018

By Isabelle Ferreras Professor of Sociology at the University of Leuven (Belgium)
Le Monde - Op-Ed

"The firm is a political entity, and must therefore be governed according to the rules of democracy with the participation, on an equal footing, of workers and capital investors," says the sociologist Isabelle Ferreras, in a forum in Le Monde.

The recent Notat-Senard report commissioned by the French government, which brings to life the reflections of Pierre de Gaulle, Pierre Mendes France and Michel Rocard, makes a correct diagnosis: the 21st century firm is much more than a « corporation » , this legal instrument serving shareholders. But it is also more than an "object of collective interest", as the report modestly describes it.... Read more about  "We must make French companies benefit from a shock of democratic competitiveness"

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Can a Mad Max dystopia be stopped? Ex-RTP entrepreneur Wadhwa to find out at Harvard

April 13, 2018

by Rick Smith 
WRAL Tech Wire

Vivek Wadhwa has been named a Distinguished Fellow with the Labor and Worklife program at Harvard Law School “to help with what I consider to be the most important research project of our times: to understand the impact of technology on jobs and develop policies to mitigate the dangers.”

Reached by WRAL TechWire, Wadhwa says the project is “something that [economist] Richard Freeman and I have long been discussing. There is anecdotal evidence automation is affecting jobs but not enough hard research.”... Read more about Can a Mad Max dystopia be stopped? Ex-RTP entrepreneur Wadhwa to find out at Harvard

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Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short

April 16, 2018

By Noam Scheiber
New York TImes

Organized labor managed an increasingly rare feat on Monday — a political victory — when its allies turned back a Senate measure aimed at rolling back labor rights on tribal lands.

The legislation, called the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, would have exempted enterprises owned and operated by Native American tribes from federal labor standards, even for employees who were not tribal citizens.

“It’s a very, very troubling step at a moment when we should be doing everything we can to try to protect people’s collective rights and when there are so many people who feel so disempowered in this economy,” said Sharon Block, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board who is executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

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Punching In: Confirmation Process Picks Up Steam

April 9, 2018

By Chris Opfer and Ben Penn

 

 When news of the proposed settlement in the McDonald’s joint employment case broke last week, some folks might have assumed we accidentally dropped a zero from the $170,000 that Mickey D’s is offering a group of workers to resolve their unfair labor practice complaints. Surely, the chance to resolve one of the biggest cases in the labor and employment space without risking a ruling that McDonald’s is a joint employer with its franchisees of franchise restaurant workers could fetch a bigger price tag?

“It sounds like they’re getting off awfully cheap,” former NLRB member Sharon Block (D) told me of the settlement.... Read more about Punching In: Confirmation Process Picks Up Steam

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