Clean Slate

International Advisory Group


The International Advisory Group’s Role in Clean Slate is critical.  For inspiration in coming up with reforms for U.S. labor law, the project looks to models from international labor law. The international advisory group provides expertise on those international models and how they relate to U.S. labor law.


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Domestic Advisory Group


The ambition of Clean Slate is to answer the question of “what would be best” for working people now and in the future, not just “what could be better” now.  To help the project answer this question, Clean Slate relies on a group of stellar practitioners, legal scholars, economists, organizers, sociologists, political scientists, and union leaders all devoted to rebalancing economic and political power in favor of American workers.

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The Clean Slate Project is led by Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs, who bring a unique combination of the necessary expertise to take on this policy challenge.  Together, they have decades of experience in labor policy development.  Sachs and Block have taken leadership roles in exploring the most important of today’s labor policy issues, including the impact of automation on labor markets, growth of the gig economy, new forms of worker organizations and the...

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Project Structure

The project is composed of the LWP leadership, eight working groups, a domestic advisory group and an international advisory group.
2018 Oct 09
Boston Globe Logo

Under Trump, Labor Protections Stripped Away

September 3, 2018

By Katie Johnston
Boston Globe 

“This has been a terrible 18 months-plus for working people in this country,” said Celine McNicholas, director of labor law and policy at the Economic Policy Institute. “It’s an unprecedented attack on workers.”

Several worker advocacy groups have seized the moment to propose major overhauls to labor law, including the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, which is exploring policy proposals to reimagine collective bargaining by sector instead of by employer, and to give workers seats on corporate boards, among other recommendations. 

It’s not just a reaction to Trump, said Sharon Block, who runs the center with labor professor Benjamin Sachs, though she added he’s certainly making matters worse. 9/3/2018 Under Trump, labor protections stripped away “The little power that workers have, this administration seems to be bound and determined to diminish even more,” said Block, who served on the NLRB board and was a labor adviser to President Obama. “The time for tinkering around the edges has past. What we really need is fundamental change.” logo

This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform

September 3, 2018


The question on this Labor Day therefore must be how, in 2018, can we create a new labor movement, one that can unite the interests of a sufficient number of lower and middle income Americans so that they have the power to restore balance to our economy and politics.

So we need to rebuild labor law from a clean slate to meet the challenges of the new economy. To provide a blueprint for that kind of reform, we have launched a new project at Harvard Law School: Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law.  This summer, we kicked off the Clean Slate project with a convening aimed at identifying the core elements of a successful 21st Century labor law.... Read more about This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform

Harvard Law Today logo

A ‘Clean Slate’ for the future of labor law

August 1, 2018

Harvard Labor and Worklife conference starts up a journey toward systemic reform, economic equality

Harvard law Today

Last month, Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program began an ambitious effort to fix a broken system of labor laws. The program, “Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law,” began with a daylong seminar at Wasserstein Hall. It will continue with a series of followup meetings over the next eighteen months, with the goal of producing major recommendations to reform labor law.

Attendees came from across the country, including law professors, labor activists, and union and online organizers. Because Chatham House rules were invoked for the event, none of the panelists will be identified or quoted; Block explained that this allowed for a freer exchange of ideas.

Co-organizers Sharon Block, executive director of HLS’s Labor and Worklife Program, and Benjamin Sachs, Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry and faculty co-director of the Labor and Worklife Program, said that some significant work was begun.... Read more about A ‘Clean Slate’ for the future of labor law

2018 Jul 24

Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law Opening Conference: What Problems Should We Be Solving For?

(All day)


Harvard Law School

Project Background:  Wages have been stagnating for decades. Income inequality is at its highest level in history and still growing.  The political and economic power of ordinary Americans is dwarfed by the massive influence of corporations.  The right to unionize has been eviscerated.  Demagogues are seeking (sometimes successfully) to capitalize on these trends to advance their own goals to the further detriment of working people. In the face of these trends, how can ordinary Americans organize and mobilize for economic and political justice? And what does the law...

Read more about Rebalancing Economic and Political Power: A Clean Slate for the Future of Labor Law Opening Conference: What Problems Should We Be Solving For?