Sachs, Benjamin I.

Ben Sachs and Sharon Block at Clean Slate Launch

Harvard Law’s Labor and Worklife Program releases major report aimed at reforming American labor law

January 23, 2020

By Liz Mineo/Harvard Staff Writer
Labor Law Today

Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program released a set of sweeping recommendations to fundamentally rewrite U.S. labor laws and help shift the balance of power in this country back into the hands of working people. Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program, and ...

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Respecting the Right to Strike at Harvard

Respecting the Right to Strike at Harvard

December 16, 2019

by Sharon Block, Benjamin Sachs and Laura Weinrib
OnLabor Blog

According to the Crimson, Harvard has circulated an email advising departments seeking to hire spring teaching fellows (and other student workers) to include certain language in job postings and offer letters. The Crimson reports that the email “recommends departments include a provision in postings and offer letters that conditions teaching fellow positions on whether candidates can commit to a start...

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Announcing Uber Works, the Ride-Hailing Giant Changes Lanes into Temporary Work

October 3, 2019

By Lisa Marie Segarra

While Uber faces legal battles over whether its drivers should be classified as employees or contractors, the tech company unveiled an unexpected new service on Wednesday: Uber Works.

An extension of the gig economy model that Uber arguably popularized with its original ride-hailing service, Uber Works will be an app that matches temporary workers with potential jobs and employers. The move seems provocative for Uber, which is currently pushing back against a pending California law that could reclassify on-demand workers like Uber's drivers as employees.

Despite Uber's new take on temporary employment, Benjamin Sachs, Kestnbaum professor of labor and industry at Harvard Law School, says it's more of the same.

"The connection between Uber Works and the ride-hailing side that I see is this massive company with intense tech resources fueling the degradation of work, rather than to make work meaningful," Sachs told Fortune.... Read more about Announcing Uber Works, the Ride-Hailing Giant Changes Lanes into Temporary Work

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Why the Gig Economy Matters — Even If It’s Small

September 18, 2019

By Sarah Kessler

When I started reporting on gig workers in 2014, I was surprised to find some of the people who represented labor organizations would respond to my inquiries with mild irritation. But is this really a harmful distraction from the wider workforce? In my book, Gigged, I argued that the gig economy was like a Trojan horse — that problems faced by Uber and Lyft drivers are shared by other types of workers, and that...

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What California should do next to help Uber drivers

September 13, 2019

By Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs
Washington Post

Recognizing them as employees was a fine first step. Letting them unionize is crucial.

The struggle for gig workers’ rights took a big step forward this week when the California legislature passed a law classifying many such workers — including Uber and Lyft drivers — as “employees.” Once it is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the law...

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Why Uber Thinks It Can Still Call Its Drivers Contractors

September 12, 2019

Aarian Marshall
Uber will not treat its California drivers as employees, the ride-hail company’s head lawyer said Wednesday, despite a new law designed to do just that. The law would create a more stringent test to separate independent contractors from full-time employees. The company’s argument rests on a premise that’s been a cornerstone since its early days: that Uber is a technology company, not a transportation one.

The ...

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Barstool Sports Founder’s Tweetstorm Raises Labor Row

August 13, 2019

by Alex Ebert and Chris Marr
Bloomberg Law

In a series of Aug. 13 tweets, Barstool’s Dave Portnoy threatened to fire and sue employees that reached out to union lawyers. The tweets followed an Aug. 12 blogpost where he dared his employees to attempt to form a union, so that he can “smash their little union to smithereens.”

“Under any reading of the federal labor law, telling workers that they’re going to be fired if they seek advice or help about a unionization campaign is flatly illegal,” said Harvard law professor Ben Sachs. “In my estimation, even the Trump NLRB would consider that illegal.”

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The Next Union Era

July 25, 2019

National Review

While labor unions can have value, their current structure in the United States serves almost nobody well. As much as anything else, organized labor needs individuals who like Rolf not only want to organize but also see the need to be innovative in the very way that labor organizations do business.

In addition, as Harvard Law School’s Benjamin Sachs has proposed, unions should be allowed to “unbundle” their services so that they can advocate political causes without bargaining collectively. This could help give workers a...

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Unions are on frontlines of fight against inequality

April 29, 2019

By Katie Johnston
Globe Staff

Stop & Shop’s stores were ghost towns during the recent strike. With workers standing outside in picket lines, customers stayed away , leading to one of the most effective strikes in recent memory.

The grocery clerks and bakers and meat cutters holding signs were protesting proposed cuts to their benefits, but their plight also resonated with the public because they represented something bigger: working Americans across the country whose wages are barely budging while the cost of living skyrockets in such places as Boston and corporations rake in record profits.

“What we’re seeing is an increasing resistance to the fundamental unfairness of a system that’s so skewed both economically and politically to the wealthy,” said Benjamin Sachs, a Harvard Law School labor professor, noting that when Uber goes public, former CEO Travis Kalanick’s stock is expected to be worth upward of $6 billion — an amount that would take a full-time Uber driver 150,000 years to make.... Read more about Unions are on frontlines of fight against inequality logo

Clean Slate Update

December 12, 2018

by Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs

Last spring, we promised to share information about the project we’ve launched at Harvard Law School, “Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law Reform.”

On Labor Day,  we laid out our vision for this ambitious project:  (1) reimagining collective bargaining; (2) expanding the range of available worker organizations; (3) ensuring that collective action leverages power; (4) using benefits and enforcement to strengthen worker organizations; (5) updating other legal regimes to empower workers; and (6) addressing persistent, historical inequities that have plagued the labor movement.... Read more about Clean Slate Update