Faculty Directors

Benjamin I Sachs

Benjamin I. Sachs

Faculty Co-Director, Labor and Worklife Program
Professor, Harvard Law School

Benjamin Sachs is the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School and a leading expert in the field of labor law and labor relations.  Professor Sachs teaches courses in labor law, employment law, and law and social change, and his writing focuses on union organizing and unions in American politics.

p: 617-384-5984
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Robots at the Ready

June 9, 2022

Carolyn Jung
Nob Hill Gazette

Between the pandemic and the labor shortage, automation is having a moment. As help wanted signs remain pervasive, could robots hold the solution — or even a partial one — to the Great American Labor Shortage rocking the hospitality industry? After all, they don’t get sick (though they may break down), take vacation time or need to earn enough to afford the Bay Area’s astronomical housing costs.“It’s possible at some unknown future time that robots will replace humans, but we’re pretty far away from that,” says professor Richard...

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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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2022 Mar 03

The Evolving Role of Universities in the American Innovation System Virtual Conference

1:15pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

The conference is free and open to everyone; however, registration is required.- online

Thursday, March 3, 2022, 1:15 p.m.-6:00 p.m.Friday, March 4, 2022, 9:20 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

The conference is free and open to everyone; however, registration is required.

There is great interest across government, industry, and academia in improving the U.S. innovation system, particularly in light of competitive threats from countries like China. American universities have long been a foundation of U.S. leadership in science, technology, and innovation. As with other U.S....

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Ashley Nunes, Laurena Huh, Nicole Kagan, and Richard B. Freeman. 8/9/2021. “Estimating the energy impact of electric, autonomous taxis: Evidence from a select market”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Electric, autonomous vehicles promise to address technical consumption inefficiencies associated with gasoline use and reduce emissions. Potential realization of this prospect has prompted considerable interest and investment in the technology. Using publicly available data from a select market, we examine the magnitude of the envisioned benefits and the determinants of the financial payoff of investing in a tripartite innovation in motor vehicle transportation: vehicle electrification, vehicle automation, and vehicle sharing. In contrast to previous work, we document that 1) the technology's envisioned cost effectiveness may be impeded by previously unconsidered parameters, 2) the inability to achieve cost parity with the status quo does not necessarily preclude net increases in energy consumption and emissions, 3) these increases are driven primarily by induced demand and mode switches away from pooled personal vehicles, and 4) the aforementioned externalities may be mitigated by leveraging a specific set of technological, behavioral and logistical pathways. We quantify – for the first time – the thresholds required for each of these pathways to be effective and demonstrate that pathway stringency is largely influenced by heterogeneity in trip timing behavior. We conclude that enacting these pathways is crucial to fostering environmental stewardship absent impediments in economic mobility.
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Robocabs could make climate change worse, say researchers at Harvard, MIT

August 24, 2021

By HLS News Staff
Harvard Law Today

A new study shows that electric, autonomous cabs could increase greenhouse gas emissions — not reduce them

A new study led by Dr. Ashley Nunes, a fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, concluded that, counterintuitively, fleets of electric, autonomous taxis could dramatically increase energy consumption and emissions that contribute to climate change — not reduce them.

“While electric vehicles themselves have lower emissions than traditional gasoline-powered ones, our work...

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In Memoriam Paul C. Weiler LL.M. ’65: 1939-2021: North America’s foremost labor law scholar and the founder of ‘sports and the law

July 22, 2021

By Christine Perkins
HLS News

Paul C. Weiler LL.M. ’65, the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School, renowned as North America’s foremost labor law scholar and the founder of sports and the law, died July 7 after a long illness.

Weiler left a multifaceted intellectual legacy. An expert in labor law, he pioneered protections for workers and constitutional reform in his native Canada. He produced seminal scholarship that framed the debate about U.S. labor law in ways that endure to this day. He also founded the field of...

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Paul Weiler, 1939-2021: Faculty Co-Director Emeritus of the Labor and Worklife Program

July 7, 2021

With sadness, we report the death of Paul C. Weiler, the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School as well as the Faculty Co-Director Emeritus of the Labor and Worklife Program (LWP) at Harvard Law School (HLS).

Paul Weiler stood as one of the preeminent figures in several fields of legal scholarship: labor law, entertainment law, and sports law, as well as in constitutional reform and labor dispute resolution in his native land of Canada. He also made significant contributions on legal remedies for medical malpractice and worker disability.

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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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