News

Boston Globe Logo

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."

Breached Podcast Logo

Breached Podcast on Employment

April 25, 2018

This episode explores what a social contract of employment looks like, given the changing nature of work in the 21st century economy. We hear from Tom Kochan, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management; Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; Steven Pedigo, an assistant professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies; and Sharon Block, Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

[Listen to Podcast]
More information on Podcast Series at  OnLabor logo

OnLabor.org logo

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”

logo le monde

 "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"

New York Times logo

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.

logo le monde

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 

WRAL Tech Wire logo

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

forbes.com logo

Equal Pay For Women: Why The U.S. Needs To Catch Up On Data Disclosure And Transparency

April 10, 2018

Alison Omens , Contributor
co-authored by Sharon Block
Forbes

The United States has fallen behind on equal pay. According to JUST Capital’s 2017 Rankings, 78 of the 875 largest publicly-traded U.S. companies have conducted pay equity analyses, while only 54 have established a policy, as well as targets, for diversity and equal opportunity – that’s 9% and 6% of these corporations, respectively. When it comes to pay equity, corporations in the U.S. are not beholden to the same rules as those in other nations, and are lagging when it comes to equal pay for women.

Commonwealth Magazine logo

1099 Nation spreads its tentacles: Employees in every sense of the word — but without the benefits

April 10, 2018

 MARK ERLICH
Commonwealth Magazine

For the past 40 years, employers have pursued a strategy of shedding obligations to their employees as part of a broader outlook that views labor as one more risky liability to move off a balance sheet. For some, this has meant the purposeful misclassification of employees as independent contractors, a tactic adopted by Beldi’s disreputable construction contractors as well as more high-profile and celebrated firms such as FedEx and Uber.

The Vox logo

The emerging plan to save the American labor movement

April 9, 2018

By Dylan Matthews
Vox

The Trump era has sparked some of the most creative thinking in labor in years.

“Sectoral bargaining is certainly getting more attention in legal academic and labor law policy debates,” Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School and former practicing labor lawyer, says. “The way I would think about it is that there’s an existential panic about what will happen to the labor movement. That’s not new, it’s just getting worse. … If we need unions for economic and political equality as I think we do...

Read more about The emerging plan to save the American labor movement