Benjamin I. Sachs. 2012. “Unions, Corporations, and Political Opt-Out Rights after Citizens United.” Columbia Law Review , Vol. 112, Pp. 800-869. J-stor linkAbstract
Citizens United upends much of campaign finance law, but it maintains at least one feature of that legal regime: the equal treatment of corporations and unions. Prior to Citizens United, that is, corporations and unions were equally constrained in their ability to spend general treasury funds on federal electoral politics. After the decision, campaign finance law leaves both equally unconstrained and free to use their general treasuries to finance political expenditures. But the symmetrical treatment that Citizens United leaves in place masks a less visible, but equally significant, way in which the law treats union and corporate political spending differently. Namely, federal law prohibits a union from spending its general treasury funds on politics if individual employees object to such use - employees, in short, enjoy a federally protected right to opt out of funding union political activity. In contrast, corporations are free to spend their general treasuries on politics even if individual shareholders object - shareholders enjoy no right to opt out of financing corporate political activity. This Article assesses whether the asymmetric rule of political opt-out rights is justified. The Article first offers an affirmative case for symmetry grounded in the principle that the power to control access to economic opportunities - whether employment or investment based - should not be used to secure compliance with or support for the economic actor's political agenda. It then addresses three arguments in favor of asymmetry. Given the relative weakness of these arguments, the Article suggests that the current asymmetry in opt-out rules may be unjustified. The Article concludes by pointing to constitutional questions raised by this asymmetry, and by arguing that lawmakers would be justified in correcting it.
2012 Mar 29


9:00am to 2:00pm


Harvard Law School, Cambridge MA

Cover Pension conference March 2012The Pension Project held its tenth annual conference, attended by pension trustees from across the United States as well as from Canada and the United Kingdom.  They were joined by scholars, researchers, and practitioners from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany. The conference explored a range of issues concerned with the relationship between pension fund investment and economic growth and job creation; assessed the merits of financial markets reform in the United States, especially as it pertains to pension funds; considered the rationales for and the import for themselves and others of pension fund investment in commodities; discussed a range of activities - from research to engagement - concerned with the bearing of S-factors, particularly workplace related considerations, on investment decisions; described new and important ways of rethinking the meaning and practice of fiduciary duty; and described initiatives in the United States by which public sector pension plans can facilitate private sector worker participation in retirement plans.
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Corporations Launch First-Of-A-Kind Testing Of New Labor & Human Rights Supply Chain Performance Indicators
Larry Beeferman and Aaron Bernstein. 1/2012. Corporations Launch First-Of-A-Kind Testing Of New Labor & Human Rights Supply Chain Performance Indicators . Developed by a collaboration of The Fair Labor Association and The Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project at Harvard Law School.Abstract

Nine companies this month launched a process to test newly-developed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess reputational risks and operational shortcomings associated with labor and human rights factors in corporate supply chains. Collectively, these companies source goods from 1,755 factories that employ around 1.8 million workers in 62 countries.  Once tested, finalized, and implemented, these standardized KPIs could allow interested parties to assess companies’ progress toward reducing labor and human rights risks. 

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Larry Beeferman and Allan Wain. 12/2012. I N F R A S T R U C T U R E: Defining Matters. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper is resource for pension funds in two ways. One is to help them gain a more useful understanding of what infrastructure “is” or might be believed to “be.” The other is to suggest how that understanding relates to ways of thinking about infrastructure and how those ways, in turn, are linked to choices about infrastructure investments for their portfolios. The analysis and findings are based in part on a survey of U.S. public sector pension funds which have made such investments.
2012 Feb 09

“She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker”

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Brigid O’Farrell
Brigid O’Farrell
Mills College
Elissa McBride
Elissa McBride
Director of Education and
Leadership Training, AFSCME

Opening Remarks by Elissa McBride, Director of Education and Leadership Training, AFSCME:
"Like Eleanor, [Brigid] knows that we can make real change if we link education and action. I hope you will listen, learn, and leave committed to honor the legacy of Jerry Wurf and Eleanor Roosevelt by passing on the knowledge you gain here to others, so that together, we can restore the right to organize and bargain for all workers – public and private."

Brochure of full transcript: [Download]