Clean Slate

Union Density and the Post-Roe Crisis

Union Density and the Post-Roe Crisis

June 28, 2022

Sharon Block
OnLabor Blog

The states with the lowest union density generally have the lowest possible minimum wage, no state-mandated paid sick or family leave and have poverty rates above the national average. Conversely, states with the highest union density generally have among the highest minimum wage levels in the country, ensure access to paid sick or family leave and have lower-than-average poverty rates. 

Put simply, the presence of unions in a state correlates with low-wage workers being economically better able to care for themselves and their...

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Starbucks CEO’s Anti-Union Comments Straddle Line of Legality

June 14, 2022

Robert Iafolla
Bloomberg Law

Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz’s disparaging comments about workers’ organizing efforts escalated a lengthy battle with employees who have unionized at 150 stores nationwide.

Workers United alleges Schultz’s recent interview with New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin demonstrates the company won’t bargain in good faith with unionized employees. It’s the fourth time the union has filed a charge with labor regulators over the Starbucks chief’s statements....

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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 and Starbucks Aren’t Listening to Their Workers

May 26, 2022

Sharon Block
Bloomberg Law

Unionization efforts at Amazon and Starbucks have been regarded with hostility by their CEOs, but Harvard Law School professor Sharon Block suggests the companies should view it differently. She writes that organizing efforts can be seen as a positive sign that workers value their companies enough to try to improve their working conditions rather than job hop, and suggests leaders work with employees to come up with a win-win solution.

Ask Help Desk: If I take a remote job, can I be forced into an office?

Ask Help Desk: If I take a remote job, can I be forced into an office?

May 13, 2022

By Danielle Abril
Washington Post

In this new era of work, employees who work at an office are finding that return-to-work policies can be tricky. We’ve heard stories from workers about companies that have changed work arrangements from remote, part-time remote to full time in-office. We’ve heard about fears over whether an employer can promise one working arrangement, only to change it weeks or months later. And we’ve heard questions about what protections unions may or may not offer workers when it comes to returning to the office. ... But employees should beware....

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Emboldened labor movement seeks to expand on successes

Emboldened labor movement seeks to expand on successes

May 10, 2022

BY KARL EVERS-HILLSTROM 
The Hill

The uptick in organizing comes as record numbers of job openings give workers more leverage than they had in previous years. Workers are often pushing for better pay, hours and working conditions, citing pandemic-induced burnout and safety concerns. 

“To have these successes is really significant to send a message that nobody should just accept that where they work is unorganizable,” said Sharon Block, a Harvard Law School...

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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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Biden Seen Reining In Mergers and Cracking Down on Big Tech

November 11, 2020

David McLaughlin
Bloomberg News

The new consensus in the antitrust establishment that a tougher approach is needed sets the stage for Biden to take a harder line than Obama did, said Michael Kades, the director of markets and competition policy at the left-leaning Washington Center for Equitable Growth and a former lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission.

“The question isn’t whether a Biden administration will be more aggressive, but how much more aggressive,” said Kades.

Biden economic adviser Ben Harris also has an interest in antitrust and how it can help workers. He is writing a book with Harvard Law School’s Sharon Block titled “Inequality and the Labor Market: the Case for Greater Competition.” It will propose reforms to labor and antitrust laws with the goal of pushing wages higher, making workplaces safer and increasing mobility.... Read more about Biden Seen Reining In Mergers and Cracking Down on Big Tech

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Uber, Lyft Shares Jump as Companies Win Vote Over Drivers

November 4, 2020

Lizette Chapman
Bloomberg News

Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. jumped in U.S. premarket trading Wednesday after California voters approved a measure (Proposition 22) to protect the companies’ business models from efforts to reclassify their drivers in the state as employees.

“This could be seen as a shot across the bow,” said Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. “Everybody’s looking at California.”Under the new law, gig companies have agreed to provide some new protections to California workers, including a guaranteed wage for time spent driving and a health insurance stipend, but does not include paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and other standard protections afforded under California labor laws.... Read more about Uber, Lyft Shares Jump as Companies Win Vote Over Drivers