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California legislature passes bill that could transform worker bargaining. Here’s how.

August 31, 2022

By Max Zahn
ABC News 

If signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law would allow hundreds of thousands of fast food workers to bargain collectively over the terms of their work at large companies across the sector, rather than be forced to form a union at a single workplace and negotiate with one employer at a time. Using a newly created state-level council, California could raise pay and improve working conditions for the industry.

"It's really significant because it's giving fast food workers a seat at the table on a sector-wide basis," Sharon Block, the executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard University Law School, told ABC News.

"Once this is up and running, fast food companies can't compete against each other based on who can drive down labor costs as much as possible to make themselves more profitable," she added.... Read more about California legislature passes bill that could transform worker bargaining. Here’s how.

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Labor movement adds union members store by store

August 26, 2022

Meghan McCarty Carino
Marketplace

More than 200 Starbucks have now unionized across the country as well as two Trader Joe’s and an Apple store. The shop-by-shop approach creates a constant drumbeat of union activity, though each of these drives involves a relatively small number of workers.

“It’s simply easier to do,” he said, involving far fewer logistical challenges. Workers can even undertake organizing small workplaces on their own, without the resources of a powerful union. It’s...

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Thinking Sectorally

July 27, 2022

BY 
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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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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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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