By Jamin Raskin, Professor, American University, Washington College of Law and Maryland State Senator
2014 Jerry Wurf Memorial Lecture
Opening Remarks by Professor Jamin B. Raskin:
"In 2010, in the 5-4 Citizens United decision, the conservative majority on the Roberts Court broke from government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people,' and gave us a constitutional blueprint for government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. It held that for-profit corporations have the right to spend unlimited sums—million or billions of dollars-- promoting or disparaging candidates for public office."
By Larry W. Beeferman, Director, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP and
Arthur Bragança de V. Weintraub, Law Professor, Federal University of São Paulo.
Revista Brasileira de Previdência,
Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP),
September 10, 2014
Recently, Brazil made changes to its retirement system as it concerned public sector workers, “reforms” which in certain ways were similar to those which occurred for most federal workers in the United States somewhat over a quarter of a century ago. Broadly speaking it involved the conversion of a purely pay-as-you-go defined benefit plans to a hybrid of a reduced pay-as-you- go defined benefit plan with a funded defined contribution plan. In the United States, the latter is called the Thrift Savings Plan which now has over 4.5 million participants and nearly $400 billion in assets. This paper compares the two systems in terms, among other things, in terms of the changes which were sought, those which were actually made and why, the expectations as to the results the changes made would produce and what is known (in the case of the U.S.) as what the actual results were.
Video by The New England Regional Council of Carpenter
Labor Day, September 1, 2014
"This remarkable video project features Julio Beldi, a carpenter who is now realizing the benefits of working as a union member after struggling as part of the underground economy as well as commentary by Harvard's Elaine Bernard and former Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne Goldstein. Julio's experience is not unique. It is all too common and needs to be shared.
Julio’s story underscores the continued importance of organized labor for all workers in America. Unions are the single best solution to the problems of economic inequality and injustice. So while we celebrate the holiday and the victories won by our predecessors, let us also dedicate ourselves to continuing that progress for all of America's working families. We invite you to watch this video and to share the link with anyone you think may be interested."
--Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer , NERCC
Dr. Dariusz Jemielniak, a visiting fellow in the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School for 2011/2012, explores the working world of open-source communities in Common Knowledge? An Ethnography of Wikipedia (Stanford University Press, 2014). A long-time participant in the Wikipedia community, Jemielniak shows the ideological, political, and administrative clashes that ensue when participants contribute to the website, which has an incredible half a billion web visitors per month.
Jemielniak heads the Center of Research on Organizations and Workplaces (CROW) at Kozminski University (Warsaw, Poland). He recently co-edited a Handbook of Research on Knowledge-Intensive Organizations (IGI Global, 2009), and he also authored The New Knowledge Workers (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012).
April 28, 2014
David Weil, LWP and BU, will take a leave of absence to take the post. He said, “I am honored to have been nominated by President Obama to serve as Wage and Hour Administrator and grateful for my confirmation by the US Senate. I look forward to working on the many vital issues overseen by the agency to assure that working people receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
Harvard University Press, 2014
For much of the twentieth century, large companies employing many workers formed the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Today, on the list of big business’s priorities, sustaining the employer-worker relationship ranks far below building a devoted customer base and delivering value to investors. As David Weil’s groundbreaking analysis shows, large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of the people responsible for their products, in favor of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one another. The result has been declining wages, eroding benefits, inadequate health and safety conditions, and ever-widening income inequality.
Weil proposes ways to modernize regulatory policies and laws so that employers can meet their obligations to workers while allowing companies to keep the beneficial aspects of this innovative business strategy.
Cambridge Handbook of Institutional Investment and Fiduciary Duty,
ed. James P. Hawley, Andreas G. F. Hoepner, Keith L. Johnson, Joakim Sandberg, and Edward J. Waitzer,
Cambridge University Press, 2014,
In this chapter we will contend the following: the trust model is a poor fit for the relationships in which plans are embedded. Those relationships warrant, at minimum, decision-makers considering members’ interests as workers at the associated enterprise, which derive from the financial risks of plan investments in other enterprises in general, and arguably the impact of harms that result from the behaviors of specific, sometimes competing enterprises. We express skepticism that these relationships justify taking account of members’ interests other than as members or workers. However it can be justified based on a different line of argument. It concerns the extent to which members (or others) who participate in collective vehicles for investment should retain the voice they would otherwise have with respect to advancement of their interests in the case of their own individual investment decisions. Vindication of a broader range of members’ interests might have merit as a matter of social policy rather than as one of advancing those interests for their own sake.
The foregoing points are made within the context of what is deemed to be decision-makers’ duty of loyalty. However, we briefly explore the import of what is termed their “duty of care” for the issues explored. In doing so, we assert that the statutory framework that defined that duty was largely devoid of substantive content. The content was supplied by investment theories and practices at best insensitive to the relationships in which plans are grounded. Moreover, those theories and practices embodied problematic claims about the goals that might legitimately be pursued by the enterprises in which plans might invest. These claims stand in tension if not in direct conflict with those of members’ interests that decision-makers might appropriately seek to advance. The foregoing suggests a close or intimate connection between how fiduciary duty, with respect to investment in enterprises, and the legitimate goals that might be pursued by those enterprises are understood.
March 19, 2014
There is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce. How can the conventional wisdom be so different from the empirical evidence? Teitelbaum goes on to explain.
[Go to Article]
Is the United States falling behind in the global race for scientific and engineering talent? Are U.S.
employers facing shortages of the skilled workers that they need to compete in a globalized world?
Such claims from some employers and educators have been widely embraced by mainstream media
and political leaders, and have figured prominently in recent policy debates about education, federal
expenditures, tax policy, and immigration. Falling Behind? offers careful examinations of the existing
evidence and of its use by those involved in these debates.
[Go to Introduction to the book and preview of the chapters]
Karin Klein opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times discusses Teitelbaum’s work [Go to Article]
by Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman , and Douglas L. Kruse
The idea of workers owning the businesses where they work is not new. In America’s early years, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison believed that the best economic plan for the Republic was for citizens to have some ownership stake in the land, which was the main form of productive capital. This book traces the development of that share idea in American history and brings its message to today's economy, where business capital has replaced land as the source of wealth creation. Based on a ten-year study of profit sharing and employee ownership at small and large corporations, this important and insightful work makes the case that the Founders’ original vision of sharing ownership and profits offers a viable path toward restoring the middle class. Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse show that an ownership stake in a corporation inspires and increases worker loyalty, productivity, and innovation.
Interviewed by Paul Solman,
October 22, 2013
Employment data for the month of September was finally released after being delayed for weeks by the shutdown. The numbers reflect a month of disappointing growth with little change in unemployment and fewer jobs created than expected. Economic correspondent Paul Solman looks at what it means for the nation's economic recovery.
by Larry Beeferman and Allan Wain
This paper builds upon the understanding of infrastructure developed in “Infrastructure:Defining Matters.” Through a primarily case study approach it explores in-depth a particular method of deciding upon infrastructure investments and identifies ways that decision-making can be strengthened drawing upon that understanding and a revised version of the linked categories for analysis based on them, which were described in the previous publication.
By Robert N. Charette
30 Aug 2013
In most developed countries, the predicted shortfall of STEM (short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers is supposed to number in the hundreds of thousands or even the millions. And yet, alongside such dire projections, you’ll also find reports suggesting just the opposite—that there are more STEM workers than suitable jobs. Michael S. Teitelbaum, a Wertheim Fellow at Harvard Law School and a senior advisor to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is quoted to help clarify the STEM shortage debate.
The financial challenges low- and middle-income Americans face are daunting. But the poor and middle class are in an equally serious, if less well recognized, political predicament: the government has become almost entirely unresponsive to them. But what if we unbundle the union and allow workers to organize politically without also organizing for collective bargaining? If we shift our aim away from reviving collective bargaining and toward enabling political organizing by underrepresented groups, we would allow workers to organize “political unions” even when they don’t want to organize collective bargaining ones.
by Benjamin Sachs and Jack Goldsmith
On Labor is a blog devoted to workers, unions, and their politics. We interpret our subject broadly to include the current crisis in the traditional union movement (why union decline is happening and what it means for our society); the new and contested forms of worker organization that are filling the labor union gap; how work ought to be structured and managed; how workers ought to be represented and compensated; and the appropriate role of government – all three branches – in each of these issues.
held by Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project,
Labor and Worklife Program
May 1 - 3, 2013
The 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 Australia, and Colombia. The conference explored a range of issues concerned with possible fund investment in emerging market countries: the political, social, legal, economic, etc. landscape of the countries in which those investments might be made; the factors and considerations which funds attend to when contemplating investments of this kind; the relationship between emerging market country development goals and investors’ goals; and the rationale for and means by which funds take into account the impact of their investments on the countries which are the object of that investment. [More]
by Garry Sran with Michael Lynk, James Clancy and Derek Fudge
for The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) given at international conference on Labour Rights and their Impact on Democracy, Economic Equality and Social Justice
The paper finds that regressive labour laws in Canada have reduced unionization rates which has led to rising income inequality and reduced civic participation.
by Ruth Milkman*, Stephanie Luce and Penny Lewis
Published by Murphy Institute, CUNY
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) suddenly burst into public view on September 17, 2011 when a group of about 2,000 protestors assembled in lower Manhattan and occupied a previously obscure “privately owned public space” called Zuccotti Park. Where did OWS come from? Who were the protesters? What motivated them to join this new movement? And why did the occupations gain such enormous traction with the media and the wider public? The authors investigated these questions through in-depth interviews with 25 core Occupy activists as well as a representative survey of 729 people who participated in an OWS-sponsored May 1, 2012 rally and march.
*Ruth Milkman is a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the academic director of its Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. She is currently a teacher at the HTUP and a Radcliffe Institute Fellow.
Richard Freeman, LWP Faculty Co-Director, is a guest on NPR's On Point to discuss Unions in the age of right to work laws. Specifically, looking at labor and organized labor nationwide after the big fight in Michigan.
December 12, 2012
HTUP graduate, Chris Christodoulou (Class of 2011) has written a semi autobiographical book on his development as a labour movement activist. The book includes poems and songs.
All proceeds of the book will go to the Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia.
To get a copy of the book contact Chris at: CChristodoulou@unionsnsw.org.au
Given by Brigid O’Farrell, Independent Scholar, Mills College
2012 Jerry Wurf Memorial Lecture
Historian Brigid O’Farrell, author of the book She Was One of Us about the deep connections of Eleanor Roosevelt with the labor movement, delivered the 2012 Jerry Wurf Memorial Lecture on February 9. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 2012, the Jerry Wurf Memorial Fund seeks to promote Wurf’s “commitment to improving the quality of lives of working people….” An independent scholar affiliated with Mills College in California, O’Farrell emphasized Eleanor Roosevelt’s devotion to the idea of labor rights as human rights. In dialogue with an audience of students, labor leaders, and scholars, O’Farrell explored Roosevelt’s relationships with African American labor leader A. Philip Randolph and UAW president Walter Reuther. Click the link for a PDF copy of O’Farrell’s presentation and response to audience questions:
By Benjamin Sachs
New York Times
July 12, 2012
A CENTRAL principle of American political life is that everyone gets to choose which candidates to support. The idea that the government could force us to support those we oppose is anathema. But this unacceptable state of affairs is one of the unintended consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens Unitedcase. ...
Pension and Capital Stewardship Project,
Labor and Work Life Program,
Harvard Law School
March 28-30, 2012
The conference, attended by pension trustees from across the United States as well as from Canada and the United Kingdom, 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.
Conference Page: Including the Power Point presentations and related sessions materials. [Go to Conference Page]
Conference Agenda: [Download PDF]
Table of contentsof the conference resource book with web-links to most of the documents. [Download PDF]
Fair Labor Association (FLA),
Harvard Law School’s Pension and Capital Stewardship Project, and
Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) Institute
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.
Sponsored by LUCRF Super, this study was commissioned by
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
and prepared by The Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project,
Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
Prepared at the request of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), this report benchmarks the supply-chain labor and human rights policies of the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX 200) against 2,500 of the largest global companies building on the work of the Project’s previous publication “Benchmarking Corporate Policies on Labor and Human Rights in Global Supply Chains,” (Occasional Paper No. 5) On the whole, the ASX 200 companies lag their peers in other listed markets, with a mere 17% issuing a labor and human rights policy covering their supply chain, versus 35% in the global sample. This trend carries across when analyzing company procedures to implement policies. There is some exception to this pattern for occupational health and safety policies of ASX 200 companies, which were notably strong, which may reflect the impact of strict health and safety legislation in Australia. The largest Australian companies (by market capitalization) also managed to measure up to their global peers on a number of indicators. The majority of ASX 200 firms however paled in comparison to the performance of the global sample.
Economic and financial pundits, one percenters and 99% occupiers, trickle down supply-siders, and Keynesian macro-economists – move over. This article uses the Seussian classics How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who, The Lorax, and Halloween is Grinch Night, to explain who stole American prosperity and full employment and lays out a Hortonomics path to restore economic well-being for all.
By Xiaoying Li, LWP Wertheim Fellow, 2011
After great national debate and controversy, in June 2007 China enacted a new Labor Contract Law that legally obligated firms to give workers written contracts as of January 2008. This paper uses survey data of migrant workers before and after the law to assess its effects on labor market outcomes. It finds that the new Law increased the percentage of workers with written contracts, raised social insurance coverage, reduced violations of workers rights and wage arrears, and was positively associated with the likelihood that a firm would be unionized, but had no discernible effect on wages.
November 29, 2011
American Constitution Society Blog
Comments on how Benjamin Sachs' paper," Unions, Corporations, and Political Opt-Out Rights after Citizens United," illuminates the Supreme Court’s asymmetrical treatment of corporations and unions in political campaign funding.
On November 21, 2011, the Canada Seminar hosted a special program at Harvard University to announce the publication of Re-Creating Canada: Essays in Honor of Paul Weiler (Montreal and Kingston: Queen’s Policy Studies Series, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011). Edited by Professor Randall Morck of the University of Alberta, the book features essays by several Canadian intellectuals who have held the Mackenzie King visiting professorship at Harvard. At the public forum in late November, there were also presentations by LWP Executive Director Elaine Bernard, LWP Research Director John Trumpbour, LWP Fellow John Hogan, and Leeds University Professor Peter Nolan, who is current editor of The Industrial Relations Journal (IRJ). Nolan provided an updated and extended version of his recent commentary for the IRJ, “Money, markets, meltdowns,” while Hogan highlighted Weiler’s contributions to media law: “He reminds us that the exercise of power in the media sphere has profound implications for democratic citizenship.”
By Benjamin Sachs
Columbia Law Review
[Vol. 112, 2012 ]
This article argues that (because of Beck rights) unions and corporations face unequal campaign finance regulation after Citizens United. 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.
Harvard professor discusses the history and theory of unions – and explains why Wisconsin governor Scott Walker should heed the example of Australia’s ex-PM, John Howard. He also recommends his 5 favorite books.
Submitted by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending
Co-chaired by Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Robert Jackson Jr.
Aug. 3, 2011
The petition presents data indicating that public investors have become increasingly interested in receiving information about corporate political spending. It observes that many public companies have voluntarily adopted policies requiring disclosure of the company’s spending on politics, and these disclosure practices can provide a useful starting point for the SEC in designing disclosure rules in this area. The petition then suggests that disclosure of information on corporate political spending is important for the operation of corporate accountability mechanisms, including those that the Supreme Court has relied upon in its analysis of corporate political speech. Finally, the petition explains that the design of disclosure rules concerning political spending would involve choices similar to those presented by the disclosure rules previously developed by the Commission, and thus that the Commission has ample experience and expertise to make these choices.
Interview of Elaine Bernard
by Nicki Thomas
Toronto Star Newspaper
August 16, 2011
"Union advocate Dr. Elaine Bernard was in Toronto Tuesday, speaking to delegates at the annual meeting of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. The Star spoke with Bernard, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Labour and Worklife Program, about unions, city workers and why the private sector “doesn’t have a lock on wealth creation.”"
A chapter in:
Ours to Master and to Own: Workers' Control from the Commune to the Present
BY IMMANUEL NESS and DARIO AZZELLINI
Ours to Master and to Own has lessons drawn from historical and contemporary struggles for workers’ control. It is essential reading for those struggling to bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old.
American Police Beat
Police association leaders from around the nation came to the Harvard Law School in April to attend the 12th annual Police Union Leadership Seminar, The yearly event has been called one of the most challenging in the law enforcement field. This year 85 people attended representing cities as different and far-flung as Honolulu, New York , Omaha, Seattle, Houston, and Mesa. Topics covered include: "Your pensions did not cause the problem," "Preparing for the next 9/11 or Katrina," "Everyone agreed: the union needs a plan to help their members," and "Facebook, discipline, and pensions."
By David Weil
Boston Globe's online op-ed,
May 28, 2011
Getting rid of collective bargaining rights for public sector unions may seem like a tempting strategy for state lawmakers seeking to solve their budget woes.But in the long term, the strategy is likely to backfire — and exacerbate the very fiscal woes that states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana, sought to solve by sidelining unions.
Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research
vol. 17 no. 1, pp. 43-57
This article describes US unions’ efforts at capital stewardship, that is, the investment and management of the assets accumulated in pension and other retirement plans (frequently termed ‘workers’ or ‘labour’s capital’) — on behalf of plan participants and in the interest of workers more generally. It focuses particularly on the opportunities for direct worker voice in the governance and management of those assets through workers serving as trustees of the plans. The article explores the challenges these trustees face in navigating that role in addition to their possibly conflicting role as a union member or official. It details unions’ visions for capital stewardship and their efforts to integrate trustees’ activities within the broader range of union activities. Finally, it describes ways in which unions have collaborated in support of their trustees and to develop a cross-union capital stewardship agenda.
By Larry Beeferman
Commissioned for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems,
This paper reviews: (1) what typically are seen as important near- or short-term causes linked to the financial crisis, (2) the kinds of individual and institutional behaviors that many believe contributed to these causes, (3) the most important among the provisions of recently enacted financial markets reform legislation – the Dodd-Frank Act – ostensibly calculated to change those behaviors, and (4) some critical perspective on whether the provisions are suited to the task.
SYMPOSIUM: The National Labor Relations Act at 75: Its Legacy and its Future
October 28, 2010
On the 75h Anniversary of the NLR Act, Professor Freeman discusses how the Act has failed and become irrelevant to most workers. He gives suggestions on where to go from here.
NY Times Economix Blog commented on the paper. (10/28/2010)
American Society of International Law International Organizations Interest Group Review
A little explored aspect of our growing global interdependence has been the proliferation of international access to the workplace protections provided by the national laws of their home and host countries. The expansion of such international organizations from the fledgling focus of the League of Nations on inter‐government regulation of health, post, telegraph, labor standards and the like to the broader role of the United Nations, and the more recent extension into economic development and criminal prosecutions has occurred in the context of negotiated privileges and immunities treaties with member states. There are now more than 100 such independent international, multi state organizations. Their independence from national constraints places their employees beyond the protection of national legislation and judicial enforcement. It also raises questions of the adequacy of workplace standards and fairness within such organizations, and the effectiveness of the machinery created by the employer to supplant access to national law. As these organizations grow and multiply, the problems of structure and administration continue in the context of seeking to recognize a universal standard of fairness in a world where national laws and enforcement are so variable and uncertain.
By Larry Beeferman and Matthew B. Becker
Capital Matters Occasional Paper Series
Households in the United States face serious challenges to enjoying income security in retirement. This paper critically appraises two policy initiatives ostensibly geared to helping to meet those challenges. One already embodied in law - the federal Pension Protection Act of 2006 (the "Act") - and the other in the form of Obama administration and legislative proposals, use automatic enrollment in employment-based defined contribution (DC) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts, respectively, along with default investments as means toward that end.
The paper describes the rationales offered at the time for the Act's provisions, the manner in which the enacted policies have been implemented, and how effective they have been and are likely to be. It assesses the strength of the evidence available at the time to support advocates' contentions that automatic enrollment would be a success. It then considers the post-enactment literature on the outcomes of automatic enrollment. It follows with a review of the literature on persistence (over time) of contributions to defined contribution (DC) plans and how realistic or justifiable were expectations for the success of the Act's provisions. The paper then characterizes the IRA proposals and examines studies of the persistence of contributions to IRAs. Next it evaluates the workings and outcomes of New Zealand's KiwiSaver scheme, the one already in operation which most closely resembles what proponents urge should be done with respect to IRAs. Finally, drawing on the findings and observations in the preceding sections, the paper offers a broader perspective on the directions policy should take if there is to be a serious prospect of ensuring retirement income security for all households in this country.
By Michelle Kaminski, PhD and Jailza Pauly, PhD
Work supported by the Jerry Wurf Fellowship
The labor movement holds itself to a high standard regarding diversity in leadership, as stated in the goal, "The leadership should look like the membership." While unions have taken proactive steps to promote diversity in leadership, there is still a gap. This study examines the experience of male and female union leaders in order to understand some of the differences in the paths to leadership. By identifying barriers to women's leadership, the study hopes to identify steps unions can take to increase the proportion of women leaders. Some of these factors might apply to other underrepresented groups as well.
By Tessa Hebb and Larry Beeferman
Chapter 4 in The "Social" in Social Security: Market, State and Associations in Retirement Provision,
Mark Hyde and John Dixon eds.,
Edwin Mellen Press, Lampeter, UK., 2010
This article explores the evolution of labor friendly US investments by pension funds in the period since the downturn of the financial markets in 2001. It argues that both pension funds and investment vehicles that bring intentional targeting to their investments are becoming increasingly sophisticated financial players. Labor friendly investments that focus on risk adjusted rates of return as the driver for investment are increasingly able to point to strong track records that encourage a wide range of pension fund investors to engage with these vehicles and practices.
A Report to Department of Labor's
Wage and Hour Division
Changes in the U.S. workplace require a revised approach to enforcement, one that is built on an understanding of how major sectors of the economy employing large numbers of vulnerable workers operate and then using those insights to guide enforcement strategy. Just as the forces driving workplace outcomes, including those related to compliance with workplace regulations, have changed, so must the strategies that agencies employ to improve conditions.
Hosted by Labor and Worklife Program's Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project
Harvard Law School
April 21- April 23, 2010
Among the topics on which this year’s Capital Matters conference focused were systemic risk and its pension fund and other implications, various aspects of pension fund risk management, a rethinking of fiduciary duty, an assessment of the success of capital stewardship, challenges faced by employment-based retirement plans and the broader challenge of retirement security for all households, and the new landscape of pension fund investment in infrastructure.
Edited by John Hogan, Peter Nolan, and John Trumpbour
Printed in a special issue of
Labor History Journal
[February 2010, Vol. 51, no.1]
Labor History, regarded by many as “the pre-eminent journal for historical scholarship on labor,” has begun its fifty-first year of publication with a special issue on “Labor in the Information Age.”It features articles on the alleged rise of “the weightless economy,” the meaning of the Facebook phenomenon for labor activists, and the perils of workplace surveillance. This special issue is edited by Labor & Worklife Program fellow John Hogan, University of Leeds professor Peter Nolan, and Labor & Worklife Program research director John Trumpbour.
By Benjamin Sachs
HARVARD LAW REVIEW
[Vol. 123:655 2010]
The proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has led to fierce debate over how best to ensure employees a choice on the question of unionization. The debate goes to the core of our federal system of labor law. Each of the potential legislative designs under consideration — including both “card check” and “rapid elections” — aims to enhance employee choice by minimizing or eliminating managerial involvement in the unionization process. The central question raised by EFCA, therefore, is whether enabling employees to limit or avoid managerial intervention in union campaigns is an appropriate goal for federal law. This Article answers this foundational question in the affirmative. In addition, this Article offers two new designs — alternatives to both card check and rapid elections — that would accomplish the legitimate function of minimizing managerial intervention while at the same time preserving secrecy in decision making.
By Larry W. Beeferman
Journal of Industrial Relations,
Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 545-558 (2009)
This article briefly describes the recent growth of private equity, details some of the challenges such growth has posed for American labor, and outlines ways in which labor has chosen to respond. In so doing it suggests that the diverse, complicated, and practical choices labor has made to date have been shaped by the particular strengths and weaknesses of its position in American society. More particularly, these choices place the emphasis on (1) legislative change, relating mainly to tax rather than regulatory policy (labor-related or otherwise); (2) capital strategies, by which unions and pension funds engage companies in connection with corporate governance and investments that might be made in or withheld from them; and (3) high-profile campaigns relating to the reputation of private equity firms and the companies in their portfolio.
By RIchard Freeman
"Inequality in a Time of Contraction"
Glasshouse Forum-Stanford University Conference
The aim of the conference was to clarify the rise of inequality in the West in recent decades and to try to identify the mechanisms driving the rise. Freeman's paper discusses how inequality creates instability in many ways. It gives huge incentives to people at the top of the income distribution to take large risks with investments and to distort company records to appear to be meeting their profit targets. At the bottom of the distribution stagnant real wages gives rise to excessive debt, as low income earners try to keep up their consumption.
By Brian Burgoon and Damian Raess
Politics & Society
The paper challenges popular wisdom that economic globalization uniformly increases working hours and flexibility in industrialized countries. It shows that work-place labor representation through collective agreements and works councils play a crucial role in channeling the consequences of globalization.
By Aaron Bernstein and Christopher Greenwald
Capital Matters Occasional Paper Series
Near majorities of large corporations have labor and human rights (LHR) policies covering their global supply chains, although far fewer have established follow-up monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. LHR supply-chain policies are also close to the norm among European companies, with the United States and Asia lagging behind. These findings are contained in the first study to benchmark LHR policies among the 2,500 companies found on the major stock market indices. The study was done by Pensions Project Senior Fellow Aaron Bernstein and Christopher Greenwald, Director of Data Content at the Swiss firm ASSET4, using ASSET4 data.
from The Economist Print Edition
Oct 15th 2009
Executive Director, Elaine Bernard, comments on what Canadian Unions must do to survive, in the Economist.
Are you noticing the effect of the recession by seeing many empty storefronts where you live? Richard Freeman, has started a blog to document this effect. He has photographed the empty storefronts that he walks by every day.
PBS' Newshour has included the blog on its story on the effects of the recession.
[Click here to see their slideshow]
You too can get involved and help document with pictures the effect of the recession on small businesses. Take a picture of storefronts in your area and upload them to the blog at:
Read about what the Labor and Worklife Program has been up to recently.
By Aaron Bernstein
Capital Matters Occasional Paper Series
This paper explores how pension funds and other investors can obtain data on the long- term sustainability risks posed by the labor and human rights (LHR) activities of global corporations, with a specific focus on supply chains. It should be read as a companion piece to Bernstein's “Incorporating Labor and Human Rights Risk into Investment Decisions" (Occasional Paper, No. 2, September 2008)
By Benjamin Sachs
Slate Internet Magazine
April 16, 2009
Professor Sachs offers two alternatives to the currently proposed Employee Free Choice Act. Both alternatives address the biggest fears of business and labor. Workers will be able to choose whether they want a union more freely than they can now, and with more confidentiality than card check allows
"Long-term Investment Decisions: Assessing the Sustainability Risks of Labor and Human Rights and other Workplace Factors Conference"
March 27-28th, 2009
The goal was to exchange ideas about how investors can begin to measure a wide range of workplace-related factors and analyze their potential materiality to long-term portfolio returns. Topics covered included labor and human rights in global supply chains; human capital factors such as employee ownership, teams, and high-performance work systems; and shareholder engagement actions on such issues. The discussion yielded recommendations such as the establishment of a network to exchange information and ideas; and the application of those findings to investment decision-making and possible engagement with corporations. A report on the meeting will be available shortly.
By Arnold Zack
Labor and Employment Relations Association's Blog
March 13, 2009
The proposed Employee Free Choice Act calls for mediation and arbitration of first contracts if the parties do not reach a negotiated agreement within 90 days. By so ensuring an initial contract, the framers of the bill hope to successfully establish the beginnings of collective bargaining institutions and relationships in newly unionized workplaces. Although the bill draws on the experiences and practices of interest arbitration that have developed over many decades, as currently drafted, the bill does not spell out the particular design features of an arbitration system nor clarify how arbitration would relate to mediation, strikes, or lockouts. Addressing these issues and several others will help to show how the processes envisioned by this bill should operate.
By Vivek Wadhwa, Saxenian, Freeman & Salkever
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Foreign national students have come to the United States to study in increasing numbers and have participated in some of the most advanced academic research efforts to date, lending enormous brainpower to the development of technological and scientific innovations that benefited America. Upon completion of their studies, significant numbers of foreign students have traditionally chosen to remain in the U.S. to work full-time or pursue post-doctoral work. More recently, as the economies of the developing world have grown rapidly and Western economies have grown less quickly, this paper's evidence suggests that, fewer foreign national students are wish to stay in the U.S. after graduation.
Co -sponsored by:
Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP
Building & Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO
Held on February 13, 2009,
The discussion included trustees and officials of public sector and Taft-Hartley pension plans, pension and policy experts, union officials and staff, investment practitioners, and scholars. The meeting canvassed the federal policy landscape of grant, tax and other measure to support and incentivize investment in infrastructure and explored new ideas for such measures that make more pension fund investment in infrastructure practicable. Participants also reviewed the current landscape of investment opportunities for pension fund investment in infrastructure, the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches as the relate to issues of financial risk and reward as well concerns of labor, and considered new ideas for investment, among them ones involving collaborations among pension funds.
By Elaine Bernard
January -March 2009,
Unions need to capture the enthusiasm of workers to survive and thrive. Elaine Bernard talks to the ITF about organizing globally and building union power.
By Elaine Bernard
December 2008/January 2009
Unions are the premier institution of a free, democratic society, promoting democracy in the workplace, as well as economic and social justice, and equality. They have this role because they are instruments of transformation of members and of society at large.
By Larry W. Beeferman
Pensions Occasional Papers,
Labor and Worklife Program
Pension funds are increasingly giving thought to investment in infrastructure in an effort to achieve substantial and stable returns that are a match for funds' long-term liabilities. This paper describes risk, reward, and other financial considerations that bear on that thinking. The paper also discusses concerns about the job and labor implications of such investments and pension fund and other response to those concerns.
By Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt
European Economic and Employment Policy Brief
No. 3 – 2007
Average annual working hours are substantially shorter in European countries and elsewhere in the world's advanced economies than they are in the United States. One important reason for the difference is that workers in the United States are less likely to receive paid annual leave and paid public holidays, and those U.S. workers that do receive paid time off generally receive far less than their counterparts in comparable economies.
By Benjamin Sachs
Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 29:6, p. 2685, 2008
Faced with a traditional labor las regime that has proven ineffectual, workers and their lawyers are turning to employment statues like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 as the legal guardians of their efforts to organize and act collectively. Workers, are relying on employment statues, not only for the traditional purpose of securing the substantive rights provided by those laws, but also as a the legal architecture that facilitates their organizational and collective activity - a legal architecture we conventionally call labor law.
Elaine Bernard opens Labor Rights are Human Rights International Symposium
Given by the National Union of Public and General Employees in Ottawa, Canada
The inclusion of economic rights as fundamental human rights demands that we go further than simply saying that the state, employers and courts should 'allow' workers, citizens and communities to form organizations to attempt to win contracts, legislation and rights. Rather, these institutions should be promoting organization and just and equitable outcomes," she argued.
By Vivek Wadhwa,
Una Kim de Vitton and
Global Engineering and Entrepreneurship, Duke,
Out of necessity — because of educational weaknesses; skills shortages; competition for top talent; turnover; and rising salaries — leading businesses in India have developed highly advanced, innovative practices and that these are allowing industries in India to become globally competitive and grow rapidly. U.S. and other countries facing increased global competition can learn that workforce training and development may be essential to maintaining a competitive edge.
By Elaine Bernard
Democratic Left, Fall 2008
In assessing the overall state of labor today, Bernard argues that the decline in strength, density and influence of the labor movement must be a concern for everyone – whether a union member or not. However, union organizing to rebuild labor’s power must be more than campaigns to recruit new members. As important as this type of growth is, unions also need to organize internally, re-energizing existing members. Bernard argues that unions need to spend more time “lighting fires” rather than focusing on “putting them out.”
By Benjamin Sachs
Harvard Law and Policy Review, Vol. 1, p. 375, 2007
This essay challenges the conventional wisdom that American labor law has reached a dead end. Sachs argues that the dysfunctionality of the National Labor Relations Act has led not to ossification - as many believe - but to a hydraulic effect: unable to find an outlet through the NLRA, the continuing demand for collective action has forced open alternative legal channels.
Check out what Richard Freeman, Faculty Co-Chair of LWP and Harvard Professor has to say about how current problems require strong government actions. The markets will not save us from global warming, energy, financial chaos.
Click here to read his comments and add your own
A blog found by Benjamin Sachs (LWP Faculty Co-DIrector) and Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School), devoted to workers, unions, and their politics.
Senior Research Associate,
Labor and Worklife Program,
Harvard Law School
Friday, September 26
Harvard Business School
Held by Science-Based Business Initiative Seminars
at Harvard Business School
Harvard Trade Union Program,
Labor and Worklife Program
at Harvard Law School
Author & Professor, Salem State University
Oct. 8, 2014
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Room 2019 A & B
Harvard Law School
1585 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
Also a panel on Immigration and Labor with:
Mark Erlich, New England Regional Council of Carpenters
Natalia Berthet, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
Sofia Campos, United We Dream
January 12th - February 20th 2015
of Law &
Maryland State Senator
Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Wasserstein Hall, Room 2036 B
Harvard Law School
1585 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
Richard B. Freeman
Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Wasserstein Hall, Room 2036 B
Harvard Law School
1585 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
"What's Next for the U.S. Labor Movement?"
A panel discussion hosted by HUCTW
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Professor, Dept. of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, and Dept. of History, Rutgers University
Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, New England Regional Council of Carpenters
Kris Rondeau, Organizer, AFSCME
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
3:15 pm - 4:30 pm
Sackler Lecture Hall
485 Broadway, Cambridge
This event is part of the HUCTW 25th
Anniversary Panel Series. All members of
the Harvard community are welcome.
Copies of this book featuring brother Binh’s personal story can be ordered from the Center for Labor Research and Education at: http://books.labor.ucla.edu
Or you can download an order form below:
[Download order form]
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