Block, Sharon

Inequality and the Labor Market The Case for Greater Competition
Sharon Block and Benjamin H. Harris. 4/6/2021. Inequality and the Labor Market The Case for Greater Competition, Pp. 261. Brookings Institution Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

As the United States continues to struggle with the impact of the devastating COVID-19 recession, policymakers have an opportunity to redress the competition problems in our labor markets. Making the right policy choices, however, requires a deep understanding of long-term, multidimensional problems. That will be solved only by looking to the failures and unrealized opportunities in anti-trust and labor law.

For decades, competition in the U.S. labor market has declined, with the result that American workers have experienced slow wage growth and diminishing job quality. While sluggish productivity growth, rising globalization, and declining union representation are traditionally cited as factors for this historic imbalance in economic power, weak competition in the labor market is increasingly being recognized as a factor as well.

This book by noted experts frames the legal and economic consequences of this imbalance and presents a series of urgently needed reforms of both labor and anti-trust laws to improve outcomes for American workers. These include higher wages, safer workplaces, increased ability to report labor violations, greater mobility, more opportunities for workers to build power, and overall better labor protections.

Inequality and the Labor Market will interest anyone who cares about building a progressive economic agenda or who has a marked interest in labor policy. It also will appeal to anyone hoping to influence or anticipate the much-needed progressive agenda for the United States. The book’s unusual scope provides prescriptions that, as Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz notes in the introduction, map a path for rebalancing power, not just in our economy but in our democracy.

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NLRB Case Hinders Workers' Path To Justice

June 3, 2019

By Sharon Block
Law 360

Recently, 23 McDonald’s workers told the company that “Time’s Up” — they stood together and filed sexual harassment claims[3] with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and lawsuits against the company. Another group of workers filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,[4] asking the federal agency to hold McDonald’s accountable for failing to take reasonable steps to protect them from on-the-job violence. 

In a little-noticed National Labor Relations Board filing, the Trump administration recently has opened a new front in its war on American workers aimed squarely at efforts like those taken by these brave McDonald’s workers. The Trump-appointed general counsel of the NLRB is arguing[5] in a case on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Tarlton and Son Inc., that workers have no protection under federal labor law if they are fired for filing a lawsuit or a claim with a federal agency to protect their rights. If successful, the general counsel’s position would mean that your employer can refuse to pay you and your coworkers the wages that you are owed and then fire you when you complain to the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit to get your money. 

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