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Thinking Sectorally

July 27, 2022

The American Prospect

Our current model of collective bargaining leaves millions of workers out in the cold. Sectoral bargaining could change all that—and, just maybe, rebuild our shrunken middle class.

Sectoral bargaining also has the potential to disincentivize employer opposition to unionization. Under our current bargaining system, companies compete with each other over wages, and most managers thus believe that unionization will put them at a competitive disadvantage. Sectoral bargaining takes wages out of competition, requiring all companies in a sector to follow the same rules and adhere to the same standards, thus preventing a race to the bottom that pits workers against one another and drives down wages and living standards.

Employers then have to compete based on other factors, such as greater productivity or the quality of their product. With sectoral bargaining, as Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, explained: “You don’t have workers bearing the full burden of the competitiveness that is inherent in capitalism.”... Read more about Thinking Sectorally

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Federal Inaction, Local Action: Local Governments Tackle Labor Issues

July 19, 2022

Mark Kreidler
American Prospect

Creation of permanent local offices of labor standards is a new frontier for municipalities, something that didn’t exist before because, by and large, it didn’t need to. Times have changed.

“Municipality by municipality isn’t ideally how you would do this. In the ideal, you’d have a Congress that protects workers and honors the will of the majority,” said Terri Gerstein, director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program. “But at the same time, these are ways to...

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Local Governments Mobilize to Support Working Citizens

July 14, 2022

Carl Smith

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009. In the absence of action from Congress and state legislatures, local governments are adding capacity to their programs to support workers.

“There's a lot of untapped potential for local governments to protect working people and to play a new role in that regard,” says report co-author Terri Gerstein, director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard worklife program.

LiJia Gong, policy and legal director at Local Progress, and ...

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Laws That Create Countervailing Power

July 7, 2022

Prospecft Staff

How can organizations of poor and working people build countervailing power against large institutions? One strategy is to devise laws that create opportunities for organizing and political leverage to change the distribution of power and alter substantive outcomes. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 is one such law. The NLRA invited and defended union organizing. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 is another such law. It created an affirmative obligation on the part of banks to serve communities, which in turn provided an organizing target. What laws...

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