Sachs, Benjamin I.

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‘It just shouldn’t be this hard’

September 26, 2022

By Brett Milano
Harvard Law Today

“The real world is exciting and fun in a way, which for labor lawyers hasn’t always been true,” she said in a conversation with Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry Benjamin I. Sachs. Block recently returned to Harvard as executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School after a career that included key positions in both the Obama and Biden administrations — serving on the former’s National Labor Relations Board, and as acting administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President Biden.

We’re seeing organization in workplaces that were previously thought to be un-organizable. These workers are getting over that hurdle, so is that going to inspire more organizing?

The path to change, she said, may instead be political. “Not to abandon organizing but having more people in Congress who will vote for labor law reform. You mobilize people around the big issues, not by nibbling around the edges.”

Property Rights and Union Rights

Property Rights and Union Rights

September 5, 2022

 Benjamin Sachs
OnLabor Blog

As part of our Labor Day coverage, I’m posting my take on the Supreme Court’s decision in Cedar Point NurseryOnLabor readers can access the full article on The Supreme Court Review’s website (for thirty days) and the article’s Introduction is posted below. The bottom line? Only by ignoring what the United Farm Workers actually did in the 1960s and 70s, and only by ignoring what labor law actually does, can the Supreme Court conclude that the union access rights at issue in the case were an unconstitutional taking of property. Had the Court acknowledged the contributions to public safety and pesticide health facilitated by California’s agricultural labor relations act, the Court’s own reasoning would have required the opposite holding.

This Labor Day We’re Inspired, but It Shouldn’t Be This Difficult

This Labor Day We’re Inspired, but It Shouldn’t Be This Difficult

September 5, 2022

by Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs 
OnLabor Blog

For those of us who support unions, we have an unfamiliar feeling this Labor Day. It’s a feeling of hope and celebration. This is unfamiliar territory because union organizing has been in a free fall for decades now. But we can smile this Labor Day because American workers have delivered a lot to celebrate and, even more importantly, a lot to be inspired by. Workers this year have accomplished what just a few years ago seemed impossible — they have created positive momentum for a labor movement that many left for dead. Baristas at Starbucks, warehouse workers at Amazon, geniuses at Apple, crew members at Trader Joe’s, and salespeople at REI all now share an unexpected common title — union member. And we can see in the results of Gallup’s latest poll that this momentum is contagious: support for unions among the public — 71 percent — is at the highest level since 1965.

But we find our celebratory mood tempered somewhat by a recognition of two things: first, the enormous effort it took for workers to achieve these victories, and, second, how much difficult work remains ahead. Put simply, it just shouldn’t be this hard, this heroic, this extraordinary, to organize a union and bargain a contract.... Read more about This Labor Day We’re Inspired, but It Shouldn’t Be This Difficult

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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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What does a recent Supreme Court ruling on forced arbitration mean for workers?

June 7, 2022

Meghan McCarty Carino
Morning Marketplace Report

The Supreme Court on Monday decided a case that limits – in a small way – the use of forced arbitration by employers. The high court ruled that Southwest Airlines could not force an airline baggage handler to resolve her complaint about unpaid overtime in private arbitration with the company and instead has the right to sue them in court.

Now the Supreme Court has clarified a question about which workers can be held to arbitration agreements, finding the baggage handler was exempt because she works in...

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Amazon workers in Staten Island have unionized in historic win

April 1, 2022

By Anna Kramer
Protocol

Amazon workers have voted to unionize for the first time in the company's history in the United States, securing a sweeping and unexpected victory in a National Labor Relations Board election for a group of around 8,000 workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York.

"Amazon is a corporation with massive essentially unlimited resources which it has deployed to stop workers from exercising their right to organize, and that nonetheless the workers have been able to...

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Sharon Block Returns to Harvard as Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program

Sharon Block Returns to Harvard as Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program

March 18, 2022

Benjamin Sachs
OnLabor Blog

I am so happy to share with OnLabor readers the news that Sharon Block is returning to Harvard Law School as a professor of practice and the Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program. Sharon’s return is a great boon for labor law at Harvard and an incredible opportunity for us to consider the future of LWP, including the Clean...

Read more about Sharon Block Returns to Harvard as Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program
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Washington state eyes law that would give rideshare workers benefits, independent status

March 9, 2022

Meghan McCarty Carino
Marketplace

The state of Washington could be on its way to adopting a law with big implications for the gig economy. State lawmakers have passed a bill that offers ride-hailing drivers some new benefits. The bill bars them from being classified as employees.

Washington is the latest state to grapple with providing rideshare driver benefits – like sick leave and minimum pay — while still giving drivers flexibility over their schedules. 

While the bill provides some benefits, they fall short of those afforded to employees...

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Union labor complaint against Amazon takes aim at “captive audience” meetings

February 25, 2022

Meghan McCarty Carino
Marketplace

Organizers of an effort to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board this week, challenging the company’s right to require employees to attend anti-union presentations at work, a common tactic that is currently considered legal.

Labor advocates have long argued unions should be offered equal time in workplaces to present their own information said Benjamin Sachs, co-director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

“It...

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