LWP Fellows

Other People’s Rotten Jobs Are Bad for Them. And for You.

Other People’s Rotten Jobs Are Bad for Them. And for You.

September 6, 2021

Terri Gerstein
Opinoin
NY Times

I enforced workplace laws in New York State for the better part of two decades, and this case stands out to me, because it so clearly exemplifies why all of us should care about workers’ rights. When people have bad working conditions and no voice on the job, it’s obviously bad for them. But the impact of rotten jobs — those with low pay, long hours, bad treatment, or no worker voice — radiates far beyond the workers themselves. Other people’s rotten jobs affect our collective health, safety and well-being.

We should care about...

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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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REINVENTING THE WORKWEEK

August 30, 2021

by Meira Gebel
Dame Magazine

For many American workers, the traditional eight-hour-plus days, five days a week is no longer tolerable. Can we reimagine the status quo?

“People want the ability to make a living, have work-life balance, and be able to care for their families,” said Gerstein, who is also the director of the project on state and local enforcement at the Harvard Law School labor and worklife program. “This includes a predictable schedule with sufficient pay, and where one job should be enough.” 

“I think it’s...

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There’s a Way to Get More People Vaccinated—and It Doesn’t Involve the Lottery

There’s a Way to Get More People Vaccinated—and It Doesn’t Involve the Lottery

July 1, 2021

By Terri Gerstein and Lorelei Salas
The Nation

In light of the widespread jobsite transmission of the virus, and Covid-19’s devastating impact on working people, we should also do everything possible to eliminate obstacles for essential workers. Fortunately, there are two non-flashy but surefire approaches to boost rates among the many workers who want the vaccine but haven’t had it: first, pass paid sick leave laws covering the shot as well as side effects; and second, turn to unions, worker organizations, and others that are already known to and trusted by workers and their communities. 

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Mike  Firestone

Interim Managing Director
LWP Program Fellow
Research on misclassification, wage theft, and building worker power
Mike Firestone is an attorney, labor policy advisor, and political strategist with a background in campaigns and government service. His current areas of work include misclassification, wage theft, and building worker power. Prior to joining LWP, Mike led voter protection efforts for the Biden-Harris campaign in Michigan and served as an assistant attorney general and Chief of Staff to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, overseeing a broad range of legal and policy matters, including the rulemaking and implementation of the Massachusetts paid sick time law.... Read more about Mike  Firestone
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President Biden’s climate summit and how the world celebrated Earth Day

April 22, 2021

Sky News Climate Show
Anna Jones
Interview 

"Climate adaptation: How to build resilience in a changing world"

Are Targets on emission reductions the right focus or should more attention be given to adapting and giving resources to adapting life to a world that is already experiencing changes in temperatures and climate. Dr. Xi (Sisi) Hu, Program Fellow, LWP,  states, "...

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Opinion: Why Coloradans should be skeptical about gig companies’ promises

January 21, 2021

By Terri Gerstein
The Colorado Sun

In December, Uber’s CEO asked the governors of all 50 states to give the ride-hailing company’s workers priority for the coronavirus vaccine. The company sent a similar letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

It’s a profoundly cynical move. Uber and friends just spent over $200 million on California’s Proposition 22, a successful ballot initiative to exempt themselves from basic employment laws (paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, workplace safety requirements), in exchange for a seriously slender benefits package. 

Uber’s advocacy for vaccine priority reads more than anything like a company seeking replacement parts for its machinery, not caring for its people.... Read more about Opinion: Why Coloradans should be skeptical about gig companies’ promises

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Celine McNicholas

LWP Fellow
Celine McNicholas is EPI’s director of government affairs and labor counsel. An attorney, her current areas of work include a wide range of workers’ rights issues, including labor and employment law, collective bargaining, and union organizing. She was a core member of EPI’s Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages Policy Watch, an online resource that tracked federal actions affecting working people and the economy during the first year of the Trump administration. McNicholas continues to monitor and analyze the Trump administration’s labor and employment policies.
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Uber and Lyft could shut down in California this week. It may not help their cause

August 16, 2020

By Sara Ashley O'Brien
CNN Business

The threats from Uber and Lyft to halt their businesses came after a California court ordered them last Monday to reclassify their drivers in the state as employees in 10 days. This reclassification would represent a radical shift for the two businesses. They built up massive fleets of drivers by treating them as independent contractors. That way they were not entitled to benefits like minimum wage, overtime pay, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and paid sick leave.

California is hardly the only legal challenge Uber and Lyft are facing. Massachusetts has a similar law to AB-5 and the attorney general there recently sued the companies over worker misclassification. Decisions in Pennsylvania and New York around unemployment insurance also go against the companies' stance on employment. Last year, the New Jersey Labor Commissioner determined Uber owed $649 million in unpaid unemployment insurance contributions as a result of driver misclassification.

Terri Gerstein of the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program and Economic Policy Institute questioned if the companies may also eventually withdraw from other markets where their business model is similarly in limbo: "What's the long term plan?"... Read more about Uber and Lyft could shut down in California this week. It may not help their cause

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Summer was always a heat and health risk for UPS workers. Then came COVID-19

August 15, 2020

Adiel Kaplan and Lisa Riordan Seville
NBC News

During the summer of coronavirus UPS drivers are working 12 hour shifts delivering a record number of packages in record heat, all while wearing masks.Business has soared for UPS as Americans have turned to home delivery during the pandemic, but employees say heavy workloads, COVID-19 safety measures and sweltering summer heat are pushing them to the limit.

But despite a growing attention to the role of essential workers, advocates said OSHA, which polices workplaces, has failed to protect them.

“It’s unthinkable to me what has been happening with OSHA,” said Terri Gerstein, senior fellow at the Economic Policy Institute and director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School. “They are abdicating their duty to enforce the law.”... Read more about Summer was always a heat and health risk for UPS workers. Then came COVID-19

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Uber Says Gig Workers Are Their Own Bosses — But Courts Disagree

August 11, 2020

WHIZY KIM
Refinery29com

According to some estimates, over 50 million people today may be engaged in some type of gig work. In the side hustle economy, gig work has become a necessity to make ends meet while also providing some flexibility that a typical 9 to 5 wouldn’t. But gig workers are facing an identity crisis now, especially those working for popular app-based companies like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, or Doordash. Are they their own self-employed bosses, or are they employees?

“When workers are misclassified as independent contractors, it has a lot of serious implications,” says Gerstein. That includes all the protections, which have been especially crucial during the pandemic.... Read more about Uber Says Gig Workers Are Their Own Bosses — But Courts Disagree

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With OSHA as an Employer Advice Columnist, States and Cities Should Protect Workers from COVID-19

August 11, 2020

BY DEBBIE BERKOWITZ & TERRI GERSTEIN
Morning Consult

Given the scope of the current crisis, states and cities can’t completely fill the void left by a nonfunctioning OSHA. But we’ve all seen the charts showing state variations in COVID rates. State and local leadership unquestionably can make a meaningful difference in the health of our communities. Keeping workers safe is one of the most important actions that government leaders can take to stop the spread of the virus — and enable long-term economic recovery. It won’t be easy; politics is complex, and corporate interests will fight tooth and nail against new workplace protections. But people’s lives are in the balance. It would be government malpractice not even to try. 
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