Sharon Block participated in a panel discussion at the ROC-Boston Women in the Workforce Breakfast

nurse lock out

August 8, 2017

Sharon Block, LWP Executive Director, participated in a panel discussion at the ROC-Boston Women in the Workforce Breakfast. Block addressed the challenges for tipped workers posed by the subminimum wage. Other panelists included Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women's Law Center, Senator Cindy Friedman, Massachusetts State Senate, and Marisol Santiago, Director of ROC-Boston.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) is working locally and nationally to make sure that women are treated with respect and fairness at work.

[More Info]

LWP hosted Meeting on Worker Protection and Labor Law Enforcement by State Attorneys Generals

nurse lock outJuly 27-28, 2017

LWP hosted attorneys from 11 states to discuss best practices and strategies for administering worker protection statutes. Topics discussed included coordination with state labor agencies, efficient case development, methods for assessment of multi-state litigation opportunities and exploration of innovative legal theories for worker protection.

ring of fire logo
Ring of Fire Radio
July 28, 2017

LWP Executive Director, Sharon Block, former Obama official from the National Labor Relations Board, explains how Donald Trump is turning back the clock on labor rights.

[Listen to Radio show]

"Robots can ‘make ­humans great again’ but in jobs more menial"

Richard Freeman
Economics Correspondent
The Australian
July 29, 2017

In the past humans have lost their jobs to improvements in technology. Professor Richard Freeman, Harvard and LWP, argues that “The main effect is not going to be on whether you have a job or not, but the quality of the jobs,”

[Go to Article]

"A labor voice at Harvard: ex-union leader to study the underground economy"

Mark Erlich
Boston Globe
July 17, 2017

"Mark Erlich was a familiar figure at construction sites as executive secretary of the state’s carpenters union. Now Erlich is hitting the hallowed halls of Harvard.

He’s joining the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School as a fellow. He’ll be working with professors and researchers at Harvard and other universities on issues of wages and the underground economy."

[Go to]

[Article without Subscription]

"'We want to work’: Nurses strike at Tufts Medical Center now a lockout"

nurse lock out

By Boston Globe
July 13, 2017

"More than 100 members of the striking Massachusetts Nurses Association made a symbolic effort to return to work at the Tufts Medical Center Thursday, but were rebuffed by security as the first nurses strike against a Boston hospital since 1986 turned into a lockout expected to last into Monday.... Led by Deb Sullivan, a union representative and HTUP alumni,, more than 100 nurses crossed Washington Street chanting “we want to work’’ as they tried to enter the hospital."

[Go to Article]

"Why I was arrested while asking Sen. Portman to vote against TrumpCare"

roona ray

By Dr. Roona Ray
July 6, 2017

"Dr. Roona Ray, a public health and HIV specialist, writes in the op-ed below of her arrest, along with nearly 40 other health care professionals and others, during June 28 sit-ins in and near Sen. Rob Portman's Capitol Hill office"

Dr. Ray has lectured at the Harvard Trade Union Program.

[Go to Article]

"For a More Productive Workforce, Scientific Know-How Helps: Companies with a higher percentage of scientists and engineers are more productive, according to a new study"

WSJ logo

By Lauren Weber
 June 27, 2017

"Companies with a higher proportion of scientists and engineers are more productive than their peers, even when those workers aren’t directly involved in the research-and-development tasks that drive the most obvious forms of innovation, a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests."

Richard Freeman, and co-authors Erling Barth, James Davis, and Andrew Wang, all affiliated with LWP, "were curious about the influence science and engineering professionals wield outside of R&D. Most previous research has focused on jobs where scientists and engineers were inventing new products. "

[Wall Street Journal article online]
[WSJ article PDF]

Full Research article: "The Effects of Scientists and Engineers on Productivity and Earnings at the Establishment Where They Work,"
National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, No. 23484 [Download working paper]

David Weil named dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University


Brandeis Now

By Max Pearlstein '01
 May 18, 2017

"Brandeis University has named David Weil dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, effective August 14. Weil, who will also become a full professor on the Heller faculty, currently serves as the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.  

In 2014, Weil took a leave from BU after former President Barack Obama appointed him to head the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, which is charged with promoting and achieving compliance with fundamental labor standards, including those related to the minimum wage, overtime, child labor and family medical leave. "

Weil has been a core facutly member of the Harvard Trade Union Program for many years.

[Go to Article]

China’s “Great Leap Forward” in Science and Engineering

By Richard Freeman, LWP Faculty Director, Professor, Harvard Universityfreeman

Vox China

 Jun 20, 2017

"This essay argues that because of its huge population, China’s Great Leap Forward in science and engineering has the magnitude (Freeman and Huang, 2015a) mindful of the United States’ post-World War II ascendance in global science. China’s economic impact should put to rest debates over whether a one-party state with a sometimes overweening government can be truly innovative (Wei, Xie, and Zhang, 2017). As long as China’s eye is on the prize of knowledge, it will be a global leader in innovation in the next decade. "

[Go to Article]

How Elections Influence Judges

Interviewed: DANIEL L. CHEN, LWP Fellow
IAFF logo

May 25, 20175:12 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

"Social science research looks at the relationship between how judges rule and how they are influenced by election campaigns... Chen says that judicial rulings, especially as expressed by dissents, become twice as partisan as the election approaches before falling back to normal levels."

[Go to transcript]

[Download Chen's Article]

Labour rights indicators: a new resource for better understanding of labour rights in the world

By  Mark Anner, David Kucera, Dora SariIAFF logo

Global Labour Column,
Number 274, May 2017

"Is compliance with international labour standards good for economic development, or does non-compliance give countries a competitive advantage? Are we faced with a ‘race to the bottom’ with respect to labour standards?...

As old as these questions are, we still lack anything like definitive answers to them. Knowing the answers should not call into question the objective of improving compliance with international labour standards, but rather inform the strategy by which this is pursued. In spite of there being a fair amount of research, a key bottleneck in moving forward is adequate measures for many international labour standards, particularly for freedom of association and collective bargaining (FACB) rights which are intrinsically difficult to measure. To address this gap, new labour rights indicators and an accompanying dataset, both focusing on FACB rights, have been launched by the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University together with the Global Labour University. "

[Download Article]

The Right to Strike


IAFF logoBoston Review, May 22, 2017

“'In order to win workers’ rights,” Pope, Bruno, and Kellman argue, “organized labor should act like a rights movement. History tells us that rights movements—from abolition to women’s suffrage to civil rights—succeed when they claim a few key rights, exercise them at every opportunity, and place them front and center in every phase of movement activity.'

To me, two words are holding them back: “acting like.” There can be no “acting like” for organized labor, for in today’s world of global finance capitalism, labor is the new frontier in the historic struggle for rights—which is in fact a phase in the struggle for emancipation...."

[Full Article]

Congratulations to Elaine Bernard for receiving the Sefton/Williams Award for Contributions to Labour Relations

IAFF logoThe award, given by Woodsworth College and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resource at the Univeristy of Toronto, honours individuals who have made a significant contribution to the field of labour relations and human rights. Both practitioners in labour relations as well as academics have received this award.

The award will be presented at the Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture on March 30, 2017. This years speaker is Richard Yeselson, Labour Journalist, talking on "Trade Unions and Populist Politics: What The Trump Presidency Truly Means for Labour"

We are proud that our former Executive Director is this year's recipient.

[Info on Award]
[Info on Event]

Sharon Block to Join Harvard's Labor and Worklife Program as Executive Director

Sharon BlockSharon Block, currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor and Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor, will be the new Executive Director of Harvard University's Labor and Worklife Program. She will join faculty co-directors Richard Freeman and Benjamin Sachs and staff members Lorette Baptiste, Larry Beeferman and John Trumpbour at the Program. Block will succeed Elaine Bernard, who has successfully served in the role of Executive Director since 1989.

"We are delighted that someone with Sharon Block's extensive experience and deep insight into the issues facing 21st Century workers will become the Labor and Worklife Program's new director," said Sachs, the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School. "We welcome Sharon to Harvard and look forward to building together on the superb work the Program has done under Elaine Bernard's leadership."

[More info]

Sharon's Introductory Letter 3/28/17 on [OnLabor Blog]

Congratulations to HTUP Graduate

IAFF logoCongratulations to Edward A. Kelly, on becoming the General Secretary Treasurer of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Mr. Kelly, graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program class of 2015, was recently elected in 2016 at the IAFF 53rd Convention.

[More info]

Jim Green
James Green, one of the leading historians of U.S. labor, died at age 71 on June 23, 2016.  Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a core faculty member of the Harvard Trade Union Program for close to thirty years, Green created masterworks that are taking their place as classics in the field.

Memorial to celebrate Jim's life and work:
Saturday, November 12 at 2 pm
Carpenter's union hall (750 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester MA).
Come to reconnect with old friends, and share stories about Jim.
[RSVP for Memorial]

[Download full Obituary]


By  Larry W. Beeferman, Director, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP and
Dr Allan Wain, Head of Research and Strategy CP2 and LWP Fellow.paper cover

May 2016

Despite the size of what has been termed the “Islamic Finance market” – currently in the range of $2 Trillion – and the expectation that it will, in coming years, continue to grow rapidly, many investors have little or no familiarity with it. Precisely what is meant by the phrase varies. It might be cast as finance, the understanding and practice of which is informed in some measure by “the Islamic narrative”; that is, accounts of the world and the place of people within and their relations to it drawn from the constellation of beliefs, commitments, and practices associated with Islam. The paper seeks to introduce investors to the potential relevance and significance of Islamic Finance for the decisions that they make. It does so through an exploration of views about the “real” in three related senses: prominent efforts, within the context of Western finance, to promote investment in so-called “real assets”; especially in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, concern about “financialization,” particularly as it pertains to ideas about and the relationships between a so-called “real economy” and a/the financial sector or sphere; and the importance of notions of the “real” which are quite prominent in characterizations of the conceptual underpinnings for and the practice of Islamic finance.

[Download Paper]

Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) Award to Jim Green

Jim Green, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and core faculty, Harvard Trade Union Program has received the Award for Distinguished Service to Labor and Working-Class History.

"...Devoted first and foremost to education, Green has made labor history into public history over the last half century at the University of Massachusetts, while providing models for other labor historians to follow, including by his role in documentaries of working-class history in 'The Great Depression,' with Blackside Productions, and most recently 'The Mine Wars,' aired nationally this year in PBS’s distinguished 'American Experience' series."

Jim Green’s book will be on PBS “The American Experience”

imageThe script of "American Experience: The Mine Wars" is based on James Green’s book, The Devil is Here in These Hills: West Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015).

The show will air on January 26, 2016 from 9-11 on over 200 PBS stations.

"Produced and directed by award-winning Boston film maker Randy MacLowry and his team at The Film Posse, “The Mine Wars” depicts an astonishing saga of class struggle and social redemption with suspenseful narrative, stunning photos and moving testimony. According to Green, who worked closely with the MacLowry on the script, “The Mine Wars” will depict the struggles of our nation’s industrial workers to win union rights and protections as well as the basic freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment." - From the Publisher

2015 John T. Dunlop Memorial Forum

"The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So many and What Can Be Done to Improve it"

weilDavid Weil, Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, delivered a presentation for the John T. Dunlop Memorial Forum hosted by the LWP. After providing his own memories of Secretary of Labor Dunlop, Weil explores how his division of the DOL is transforming inspections and improving enforcement of wage and hour regulations.

[Download transcript (PDF)]

LWP has Moved! We are just moving down the street to
8 Mt Auburn Street.


As of October 28, 2015, our new address is:
Labor and Worklife Program
Harvard Trade Union Program
Harvard Law School
8 Mt. Auburn Street, 1st floor
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Phone and email will stay the same:
Phone: 617.495.9265
Fax: 617.496.7359

Eunice Han’s latest research on unions in amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court

Eunice Han, who teaches economics at Wellesley College and is Senior Research Associate at the Labor and Worklife Program, has made a major contribution to an amicus brief for the crucial Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Working with University of Wisconsin social scientist Joel Rogers and Harvard economist Richard B. Freeman, Eunice Han delivers significant economics evidence against the widespread belief that teacher unions are overprotecting bad teachers. This is her first amicus brief, and Han finds it exciting and satisfying that the latest academic research on these issues has the potential of influencing important Supreme Court decisions.

[Download Amicus Brief]

"The Myth of Unions' Overprotection of Bad Teachers: Evidence from the District-Teacher Matched Panel Data on Teacher Turnover"

By Eunice Han, Wellesley College and NBER
October 5, 2015

After examining unique district-teacher matched panel data for 2003-2012, the data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

[Download Paper]

"How an Area’s Union Membership Can Predict Children’s Advancement" in nyt logo

based on "Bargaining for the American Dream What Unions do for Mobility" (Center for American Progress)
By  Richard Freeman, Eunice Han, David Madland, Brendan Dukepaper cover

September 9, 2015

Researchers at Harvard, Wellesley and the Center for American Progress released a paper  showing that children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. It also shows that Children who grow up in union households have better outcomes.

[Go to New Yort Times Article]

[Press release]

[Download Paper]


By Michael Teitelbaum, LWP Sr. Research Associate
September 2015

"Although the US research enterprise is successful and productive, Michael Teitelbaum explains it is not very stable. This instability is primarily due to a history of boom & bust cycles of funding. The most recent cycle occurred from 1998 to 2008, when the NIH budget doubled and then abruptly stalled. These boom & bust cycles are harmful to universities, faculty, and, most especially, early-career scientists and trainees. Teitelbaum offers three solutions for how to bring stability to the US research enterprise and make it sustainably productive."

[Go to video]

Solidarity Forever! When Labor Had Its Day, And Why Its Time Has Come Again

By James Green, Factulty, HTUP
Mon, Sep 07, 2015
from WBUR

"Worker advocates would do well to look back to values of the first Labor Days and deepen the argument about the dignity of those who do the work."

[Go to Blog]

Teitelbaum’s Falling Behind on the scientific workforce featured in the New York Review of Books

paper cover

"The Frenzy About High-Tech Talent"
by Andrew Hacker
July 9, 2015

Political scientist Andrew Hacker discusses LWP Senior Research Associate Michael Teitelbaum’s work and ongoing debates about shortages of scientific workers in the United States.

[Go to article]

The Materiality of Human Capital to Corporate Financial Performance

By  Larry W. Beeferman, Director, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP and
Aaron Bernstein, Pensions Project Senior Fellow, LWPpaper cover

April 2015

Much attention has been given by pension funds and other institutional investors to governance and in some measure environmental considerations in their investment-related decisions, spurred by either by normative concerns and/or their impact on financial performance. However, very little has been done in the latter terms with respect to what are often termed social considerations, which include work-related matters. This publication represents an effort to begin to remedy that problem.

More particularly, of the many published studies of human capital policies, the paper examines 92 that focus on the links to corporate financial performance. A large majority of the studies – covering a period of two decades and encompassing dozens of countries and industries - reported positive correlations. The paper summarizes key aspects of the research, reviews the methods and approaches they employ, and discusses strengths of and limitations to the findings. Overall, the paper suggests that human capital management can be material to a company’s financial performance. It recommends the kinds of information which investors should seek – among them, about the array of a company’s human capital policies, their relationship to one another, and their link to the company’s business strategy, and measures outcomes and financial impacts – and companies should provide.

[Download Paper]

"Whose Power? Whose and Which Duties? Pension Fund Investments and Fiduciary Duties in the United States an India"

By  Larry W. Beeferman, Director, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP and
Dr. Allan Wain Head of Strategic Development Hastings LWP Fellow
india mapusmapflag
February 2015

Central to the efficacy of funded retirement plans are the roles and responsibilities of those with ultimate authority to make the required investment-related decisions and effective fulfillment of them by those to whom we refer to as “investment decision-makers”. Those roles and responsibilities often fall in whole or part under the rubric of what is termed “fiduciary duty”; however, there are other important and related ones which occasion the choice of the title for this paper. This study considers key issues reflected in discourse in India and the United States pertaining to such roles and responsibilities. It identifies key concepts and modes of thinking and implementation as they relate to understanding them and fleshes out the foregoing by an in-depth illustrative discussion of the issues as they pertain to one important kind of plan within the retirement system of each country.  It does so with an eye to establishing a basis for a broader comparison of how fiduciary-related duties might apply to diverse kinds of funded plans in both countries. 

[Download Paper]

"The American Dream for the Next Generation"

Course taught by: Thomas Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research and member of HTUP faculty advisory committee.

course icon

EdX On-line course
Class begins: March 23, 2015
9 Weeks

"The goal of this course is to explore and develop plans of action for improving the job and career opportunities for the next generation workforce.

At this time, there aren’t enough good jobs or educational opportunities out there to maintain what we used to call the “American Dream” – the idea that each generation should be able to achieve a higher standard of living for themselves and their families.  It’s a fundamental ideal that drives people all over the world – not just in the United States.

To understand how we got here, and what we can do about it, we have to understand the world of work.  In this course, we’ll trace the history of work and employment that has made the economy work so well in the past.  And we’ll uncover what’s gone wrong, in order to figure out new solutions that fit today’s workforce, economy, and society."

[More information and to enroll in Course]

"I N F R A S T R U C T U R E: Doing What Matters"

By  Larry W. Beeferman, Director, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP and
Dr. Allan Wain Head of Strategic Development Hastings LWP Fellow
india map

February 2015

This paper provides a  critical review of  the  extensive experience of  major financial institutions, namely, development finance institutions, for example, the International Finance Corporation, and financial institution signatories to what are termed the Equator Principles, which have made an ostensible commitment to meeting environmental and social standards for their investments in infrastructure (among others). Based on an analysis of  what the standards ostensibly require of those institutions, the criteria they employ in making decisions, how they are organized to do so, the kinds of resources they bring to bear in that effort, the means and mechanisms for assuring compliance and accountability, etc., it offers “lessons learned” and recommendations for pension funds which have adopted or might choose to adopt such standards and seek to pursue a serious-minded effort to assure that the goals they set are achieved.

[Download Paper]

"The Devil Is Here in These Hills"

By  James Green, Core faculty at the Harvard Trade Union Programbook cover

Atlantic Monthly Press, February 3, 2015

"From before the dawn of the twentieth century until the arrival of the New Deal, one of the most protracted and deadly labor struggles in American history was waged in West Virginia. On one side were powerful corporations whose millions bought mercenary armed guards and political influence. On the other side were fifty thousand mine workers, the nation’s largest labor union, and the legendary 'miners’ angel,' Mother Jones. The fight for unionization and civil rights sparked a political crisis that verged on civil war, stretching from the creeks and hollows to the courts and the U.S. Senate. In The Devil Is Here in These Hills, historian James Green tells the story of West Virginia and coal like never before." From Publisher.

"Citizens Derided: Corporate Politics & Religion in the Roberts Court"

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."

[Download Presentation]

Protect Those Who Protect Our Food

by Benjamin Sachs

New York Times

op ed logo
November 12, 2014

Harvard Law School professors Jacob E. Gersen and Benjamin I. Sachs make the case in a New York Times op-ed piece (published in print on November 13, 2014) that the health of the nation would be better protected if restaurant and food factory workers had provisions for paid sick days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 5.5 million people annually get sick from the highly contagious norovirus, which spreads primarily from “infected food workers,” most of whom cannot afford to take a day off when they are ill. Gersen, Founder and Director of the Food Law Lab at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School, and Sachs, the Faculty Co-Chair of the Labor and Worklife Program at HLS, propose remedies..

[Go to full Op Ed]

“Reform” of the United States and Brazilian Retirement Systems for Federal Employees

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.

[Download Paper]

Escaping the Underground Economy: One Carpenter's Story

nercc logoVideo 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

[Link to video]

Former LWP Fellow Dariusz Jemielniak explores the world of Wikipedia in his new book Common Knowledge?

June 2014

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.

[For more information on the book]

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).

David Weil Confirmed as U.S. Wage and Hour Administrator, U.S. Department of Labor

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.”

[Go to Press Release]

“The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It”

By David Weil


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.

“Paradigm lost: employment-based defined benefit plans and the current understanding of fiduciary duty,”

By  Larry W. Beeferman

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,
pp. 110-111.

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.

The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

by Michael S. Teitelbaum
The Atlantic logo

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]

Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent

by Michael S. Teitelbaum book cover

November 2013

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]

Science Careers 2013 Person of the Year:
Michael S. Teitelbaum

CREDIT: Mary Ellen Crowley/Shutterstock
Every December, Science Careers names a "Person of the Year" to honor an individual who has made an especially significant and sustained contribution to the welfare of early-career scientists. This year's choice is Michael S. Teitelbaum, a distinguished demographer and visionary official at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Combining scholarship and policy analysis with practical action and judicious deployment of the foundation's resources, Teitelbaum has played major roles in numerous important advances that have enhanced the careers and lives of thousands of young scientists.

[Full Article]

The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy

by Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman , and Douglas L. Krusefreeman

November 2013

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.

[Publisher Website]

Economists expect 'messier' jobs report for October after unimpressive September

freemanRichard Freeman
Interviewed by Paul Solman,
Economics Correspondentpbs logo

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.

[View Interview]

I N F R A S T R U C T U R E: Deciding Matters

bBeefermany Larry Beeferman and Allan Wain

August 2013

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.

[Download Paper]

The STEM Crisis Is a Myth

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.

[Go to Article]

A New Kind of Union

by Benjamin Sachs

op ed logo
September 1, 2013

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.

[Go to full Op Ed]

On Labor Blog

by Benjamin Sachs and Jack Goldsmith 

sachsOn 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.

[Go to On Labor blog]


held by Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project,
Labor and Worklife Programcover

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]

[Download Conference Agenda]

Unions Matter: How the Ability of Labour Unions to Reduce Income Inequality and Influence Public Policy has been affected by Regressive Labour Laws

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

March 2013.

The paper finds that regressive labour laws in Canada have reduced unionization rates which has led to rising income inequality and reduced civic participation.

[Download Article]


by Ruth Milkman*, Stephanie Luce and Penny Lewis

Published by Murphy Institute, CUNY

Januray 2013

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.

[Download Article]

*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.

Right To Work Laws

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


[Information on the program]

[Listen to Podcast]



O’Farrell 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:

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

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:

[Download presentation]

How Pensions Violate Free Speech

By Benjamin Sachs 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. ...

[Download the article]

10th Annual Pensions and Capital Stewardship Conference  

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]

Corporations Launch First-Of-A-Kind Testing Of
New Labor & Human Rights

Supply Chain Performance Indicators  

chainsFair Labor Association (FLA),
Harvard Law School’s Pension and Capital Stewardship Project, and
Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) Institute

January 2012

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. 

[Download Press Release]

[Download Final Summary Report]

[Interview with Larry Beeferman in Law.Com]

Supply-Chain Labour and Human Rights


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

December 2011

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.

[Article in the Australian Newspaper]

[Article in the Investor Daily]

[Wall Street Journal Interview on Infrastructure]

[ Australian Broadcasting Company Interview on Superannuation/ Infrastructure]

[Download Paper]

"What Happened to Shared Prosperity and Full Employment and How to Get Them Back: a Seussian Perspective"

By Richard Freeman

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.

[Download Paper]


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.

[Download Paper]

"The Roberts Court’s Free Speech Double Standard"

By Monica Youn, the Brennan Center Constitutional Fellow at NYU School of Law, and the editor of Money, Politics and the Constitution: Beyond Citizens United. logo

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.

[Link to Blog]

Panel discussion on new book honoring LWP Faculty
Co-Chair Emeritus Paul Weiler


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.” 


Unions, Corporations, and Political Opt-Out Rights after Citizens United

By Benjamin Sachs sachs

Forthcoming in:
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.

[Download the abstract]

Richard B Freeman on Five Books Interviews


Browser Website
March 2011

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.

[Link to Full Interview]

Petition to require public companies to disclose to shareholders the use of corporate resources for political activities submitted to the SEC 

Submitted by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending
Co-chaired by Professors Lucian Bebchuk  and Robert Jackson Jr.
sec logo

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.

[Link to Full Petition]

What wealth can be found in the public sector?

Interview of Elaine Bernard

by Nicki Thomas
Staff Reporter

paper logo
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.”"

[Link to Article]

Recipe for Anarchy: British Columbia’s Telephone Workers’ Occupation of 1981

by Elaine Bernard

book cover

A chapter in:

Ours to Master and to Own: Workers' Control from the Commune to the Present


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.

[Link to Book Publisher]

12th Annual Police Union Leadership Seminar

Co-Hosted By American Police Beat & Labor and Worklife Program

big 50

American Police Beat
June 2011

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."

[Link to Conference Summary Article]

The short-sighted attack on collective bargaining

By David Weil

BeefermanBoston Globe's online op-ed,
The Angle
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.

[Link to Blog]

Capital Stewardship in the United States: Worker Voice and the Union Role in the Management of Pension Fund Assets

By BeefermanLarry W. Beeferman

Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research
February 2011 
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.


Origins of the Financial Markets Meltdown, the Need for Financial Reform, and the Dodd-Frank Bill Response

By Larry Beeferman

 Commissioned for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, 

January 2011

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.

[Download Paper]

What Can We Learn from NLRA to Create Labor Law for the 21st Century?

By Richard Freeman

Presented at:

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)

[Read Blog]

[Download Paper]

Developing Standards Of Workplace Justice Within International Organizations

By Arnold Zack

Published in:
American Society of International Law International Organizations Interest Group Review

Summer 2010

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.

[Download Paper]

Going on Automatic: The Right Path Toward Retirement Income Security For All?

By Larry Beeferman and Matthew B. Becker

Published in:
Capital Matters Occasional Paper Series

September 2010

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.

[Download Occasional Paper No.6]

Union Leadership and Gender: Obstacles for Women

By Michelle Kaminski, PhD and Jailza Pauly, PhD

Work supported by the Jerry Wurf Fellowship

July 2010

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.

[Download paper PDF]

US Pension Funds’ Labour-Friendly Investments

By Tessa Hebb and Larry Beeferman
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.

[Link to book web page at Mallen Press]


By Freeman Richard Freeman

International Labour Review
Vol. 149, No. 2
May 26, 2010

Wall Street’s 2007–09 implosion and the ensuing global recession highlight the crucial relationship between finance and the economy. Governments, international agencies and experts had failed to detect rising risk levels in the deregulated financial sector. The author outlines the resulting huge cost in lost jobs and likely reductions in public goods and growth, as economies restabilize budgets after paying for massive bailouts and stimulus packages. Specifically, he assesses the role of monetary incentives for rent-seeking in the decisions that led to the crisis. Finally, he makes the case for radical reform of the institutions linking finance and the real economy.

[Download paper PDF]


David Weil

A Report to Department of Labor's
Wage and Hour Division
May 2010

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.

[Download full report]

Capital Matters VIII - Managing Labor's Capital

Hosted by Labor and Worklife Program's Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project

Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA
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.

[Download Conference Materials and Presentations]

Labor in the Information Age

Edited by John Hogan, Peter Nolan, and John Trumpbour Labor History

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.

[Download the Table of Contents]

[Go to Labor History Journal Website]

Enabling Employee Choice: A Structural Approach to the Rules of Union Organizing

By Benjamin Sachs sachs

Printed in:

[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.

[Download the paper]

Private Equity and American Labor: Multiple, Pragmatic Responses Mirroring Labor’s Strengths and Weaknesses

By JIR logo 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.

[Click here to download Abstract ]

When Inequality Gets too Big: Can Lower Inequality Help Economic Recovery and Reduce the Risk of Another Financial Meltdown

By Freeman RIchard Freeman

"Inequality in a Time of Contraction"
Glasshouse Forum-Stanford University Conference

November 2009

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.

[Click here to see video of the interviewed by Chris Giles, Economics Editor of the Financial Times. ]

Globalization and Working Time: Working Hours and Flexibility in Germany

By Raess Brian Burgoon and Damian Raess

Published in:
Politics & Society

December 2009

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.

[Click here to read the article online]

Benchmarking Corporate Policies on Labor and Human Rights in Global Supply Chains

By Aaron Bernstein Bernstein and Christopher Greenwald

Published in:
Capital Matters Occasional Paper Series

November 2009

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.

[Download Occasional Paper No.5]

[Download Press Release (Nov. 11, 2009)]

Trade Unions in Canada: All Struck Out

economist logofrom The Economist Print Edition

Oct 15th 2009

Executive Director, Elaine Bernard, comments on what Canadian Unions must do to survive, in the Economist.

[Click here to read the article online]

The Effect of the Recession: Empty Storefronts Blog

sempty storefront 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:

[My Town 2009 Empty Storefronts Blog]

2009 Labor and Worklife Program Annual Report

annual report cover

Read about what the Labor and Worklife Program has been up to recently.


[Download 2009 Labor and Worklife Annual Report]


Quantifying Labor and Human Rights Portfolio Risk

By Aaron BernsteinBernstein

Published in:
Capital Matters Occasional Paper Series

June 2009

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)

[Download Occasional Paper No. 4]

[Download Occasional Paper No. 2]

Card Check 2.0: A better fix for union organizing than the Employee Free Choice Act

By Benjamin Sachs sachs

Posted on:
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

[Download the paper]

[View paper on the Website]

Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project Meeting:


"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.

[Click here to event summary]

First Contract Arbitration: Issues and Design

By Arnold Zack zack
Posted on:
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.

[Download the paper]

[Comment on the Blog]

Losing the World’s Best and Brightest

By Vivek Wadhwa, Saxenian, Freeman & Salkevercover

Published by:
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
March 2009

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.

[Download the paper]

Infrastructure Finance and the Pension Fund Role in It Conference

“Built,” by Leah Beeferman,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.

[For More Information]

Unions Breathe Life into Democracy

By Elaine Bernard ILWU workers
Published in:
Transport International,
January -March 2009,
Issue 34

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.

[Download the paper]

The Power to Change Things: Labour Rights as Human Rights

By Elaine Bernard book cover
Published in:
Our Times,
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.

[Download the paper]

Pension Fund Investment in Infrastructure: A Resource Paper

By Larry W. Beeferman crossroads
Published in:
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.

[Download the paper]

No Vacation Nation USA: A Comparison of Leave and Holiday in OECD countries

By Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt wreath

Published in:
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.

[Download the paper]

Employment Law as Labor Law

By Benjamin Sachs Ben Sachs
Published in:
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.

[Download the paper]

Labor rights are meaningless without unions to give them life

Elaine Bernard opens Labor Rights are Human Rights International Symposium
nupge logo
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.

[More information on the symposium]

How the Disciple became the Guru: Is it time for the U.S. to learn workforce development from former disciple India?

By Vivek Wadhwa, Una Kim de Vitton and Gary Gereffi
Published in:
Global Engineering and Entrepreneurship, Duke,
July 2008

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.

[Download the paper]

State of US Labor & Building Union Power

By Elaine Bernard
union density graph
Published in:
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.”

[Download the paper]

Labor Law Renewal

By Benjamin Sachs Ben Sachs
Published in:
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.

[Download the paper]

Richard Freeman featured on Today's Workplace: a Workplace Fairness Blog

Richard Freeman
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

*New* Capital Matters, July 2008

Vol. 1, No. 4 | July 2008

Capital Matters, Stock Market, Private Equity, Retirement
•Experiments in Public Sector Pension Fund Design
•Accounting for Pension Fund Risk and Reward
• A Code of Conduct for Pension Trustees
• CEO Pay as a Proxy for Good Corporate Governance
• DB and DC Investment Returns Compared
• Labor, Human Rights and Investment Risk

[Capital Matters | July 2008]
[Subscribe to Capital Matters]

Big Pharma's R&D Booster Shot

By Ben Rissing and Peter Engardio Ben Rissing Peter Engardio
Published in:
Business Week

In their quest to develop new drugs, Western pharmaceutical companies are increasingly teaming up with companies in China and India

[Full article in Business Week ]

Universities set the pace in labor relations

By Richard Freeman
LWP Faculty Co-Director and Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Harvard University Most Americans think of auto, steel and other blue-collar workers negotiating with giant manufacturers when they think of labor relations. These industries set the pace in U.S. collective bargaining from the 1940's to the 1970's.

[Read the full article.]

America Works: Critical Thoughts on the Exceptional US Labor Market

By Richard B. FreemanAmerica Works by Richard Freeman
"...Readable, reasoned, compassionate and enjoyable". - Lawrence Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute

Economist Richard Freeman, Labor & Worklife Program Faculty Co-Chair and Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University paints a picture with broad brushstrokes of the dynamic American labor market and how it fares compared to European and industrialized nations.

[Buy the book]
[Read the introduction]

printPrintable Version
Harvard Trade Union Program News

Ken Donnelly (1950-2017),
HTUP Class of 1997

KJ DonnelyMassachusetts State Senator Ken Donnelly waged many battles in support of workers.  A firefighter, he was a dedicated labor leader and a friend of the Harvard Trade Union Program.  His chief of staff Cindy Friedman called him a “fighter for those without a voice.”

   [CBS News Obituary]

Save the Date

htup logo75 th Anniversary Reunion & Celebration
of the
Harvard Trade Union Program

Activities will include: 

  • Welcome Dinner Symposium on current labor issues
  • An alumni book including pictures from all 106 sessions of the HTUP
  • Boston Harbor Dinner cruise

OCTOBER 6-8, 2017

More information coming soon
[Download Flyer]

Harvard Trade Union Program

htup logoHarvard Trade Union Program Accepting Applications for the
107th Session
Jan 8-Feb 16, 2018

[Download Brochure]

[Application Information]

James Green Memorial Forum


Bill Fletcher Jr.
Author & Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies

January 24, 2017
4:00 – 6:00 pm

Wasserstein Hall, Room 2036 B
Harvard Law School
1585 Mass. Ave., Cambridge


Scott Nova

Executive Director,
Worker Rights Consortium

January 31, 2017
4:00 – 6:00 pm

Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall
Harvard Law School
1515 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

[Download Flyer]

Jerry Wurf Memorial Forum


book cover

Christine L. Owens
Executive Director, National Employment Law Project

February 9, 2017
4:00 – 6:00 pm

Wasserstein Hall, Room 2036 B
Harvard Law School
1585 Mass. Ave., Cambridge


February 14, 2017
4:00 – 6:00 pm

Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall
Harvard Law School
1515 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

Larry Beeferman, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, LWP
Brent Booker, Secretary Treasurer, North America's Building Trades Unions
Donald Cohen, Executive Director, In the Public Interest
Kevin DeGood, Director, Infrastructure Policy, Center for American Progress

John T. Dunlop Memorial Forum


book cover M. Patricia Smith
former, Solicitor of Labor

February 15, 2017
4:00 – 6:00 pm

Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall
Harvard Law School
1515 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

All forums open to the public.

[Download Full Forum Schedule]

Sponsored by:
Harvard Trade Union Program,
Labor and Worklife Program
at Harvard Law School

[Event Archive]


afl-cio LCC logo
2016 AFL-CIO Law Student Union Summer program

Application deadline: Friday, January 15.

Law Student Union Summer (LSUS) is a unique and exciting 10-week internship for law students that combines front-line labor-related public interest legal work with grassroots organizing in real, ongoing campaigns by AFL-CIO affiliated unions throughout the country.

[Download Flyer: (PDF)
[Go to Website]

[Additional Resources for Law Students]


"Organizing on Separate Shores: Vietnamese and Vietnamese American Union Organizers"
Kent Wong and An Le

Harvard Trade Union Program alumni Châu Nhật Bình (HTUP 2006) is one of ten Vietnamese and Vietnamese American union organizers featured in a new book authored by Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and An Le a Vietnamese American Attorney and researcher. Brother Bình who is with the Deputy Director of the International Department of the Vietnamese General Confederation of Labor, was the first Vietnamese trade union leader to attend the HTUP. The book includes five union organizers from Vietnam, and five Vietnamese American union organizers who share their stories of war, sorrow, loss, displacement, and migration. Their stories are inspirational and capture their hope, determination, and perseverance against the formidable obstacles they face in organizing workers to improve their jobs and their lives.

Copies of this book featuring brother Binh’s personal story can be ordered from the Center for Labor Research and Education at:

Or you can download an order form below:
[Download order form]

Labor and Employment News

Days of paid holidays and leave by OECD country
Click on image to increase size

Labor Stats
Percent of Workforce in Unions Since 1948
  union density graph

Click on image to increase size

In an effort to understand public sector unions and labor markets, The Labor and Worklife Program, with the help of Unionstats and The Labor Research Association , have compiled a massive amount of data relating to public sector unionization and general labor market trends.

Click Here to get the graphs and statistics.

Check Your Pay


Think you're earning less than what you should be? Find out what you should be earning in your city and state.
Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School

onLabor logo
A blog founded by Benjamin Sachs (LWP Faculty Co-DIrector) and Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School), devoted to workers, unions, and their politics.


  Wertheim Fellows
  John T. Dunlop Memorial Forum


Science and Engineering Workforce Project (SEWP)

The Labor and Worklife Program is supported in part by the Meyer Kestnbaum Fund for Labor and Industry, established in honor of Meyer Kestnbaum (1896-1960), president of Hart, Schaffner, and Marx, by his family and friends—a group that included both his company’s management and shareholders, and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. The donors agreed in seeing the fund as an opportunity to support the Harvard community’s various activities in the field of industrial relations, industrial affairs and the problems and opportunities of industry, labor and government in a changing world.

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