Sachs, Benjamin I.

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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...

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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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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....

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Preparing U.S. workers for the post-COVID economy: Higher education, workforce training and labor unions

December 16, 2020

Kristen E. Broady, Moriah Macklin, and Jimmy O’Donnell
Brookings Institute Report

The pandemic has exacerbated the need for improvements in how we train and protect our workforce.

For policymakers working to reverse the direction of labor law in this country, there are two paths available. The first, acknowledging the original sins and subsequent weakening of labor, involves a fundamental rethinking of labor-management relations in the United States. This approach is embodied by the innovative work being done by the Clean Slate for Worker Power Project, a project of Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program headed by Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs. The project puts forward a plan for rewriting the rules that underpin labor law. For example, they suggest moving away from fundamental system establishment-level bargaining and instead moving toward a sectoral bargaining system, as already exists in Europe.

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Like many US workers, Trump staff has little recourse if asked to work alongside sick colleagues

October 7, 2020

Matthew Rozsa
Salon

What do workers do when the person responsible for enforcing worker safety laws turns a blind eye to his own staff?

The case of meatpacking employees may end up being comparable to the situation in the White House. Sharon Block, the Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, explained that workers at meatpacking plants "were told to continue to show up for work even as their coworkers were testing positive in high numbers and even dying." "As different as these workplaces may seem, the dynamic is similar — especially for the non-partisan staff in the White House, many of whom are people of color who are not highly paid. Because of the failures of the Trump Administration and their political objectives, workers' health and lives are needlessly being put at risk."... Read more about Like many US workers, Trump staff has little recourse if asked to work alongside sick colleagues

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Labor Law Must Include All Workers

September 22, 2020

Sharon Block & Benjamin Sachs
American Compass

Inclusion is a necessary first step toward fixing America’s broken labor law system.

In January of this year, we published a comprehensive set of recommendations for reforming U.S. labor law. Although the recommendations were extensive, the theory that lay behind them was straightforward: our country is facing dual crises of political and economic inequality, and we can help address those crises by giving working people greater collective power in the economy and in politics. Although progressives and conservatives disagree on many things, we all ought to agree that the stark inequalities that now pervade American life constitute grave threats. Politically, the viability of our democracy is threatened by a government that responds to the views of the wealthy but not to those of the poor and middle class. Economically, the viability of our community life is threatened by the fact that that we live in a country where it would take an Amazon worker 3.8 million years, working full time, to earn what Jeff Bezos alone now possesses.

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