29 January 2020

Harvard Law School has published a major report on US employment law,  Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Democracy and Economy. Based on consultation with workers, organisers, economists, sociologists and political scientists around the world, it makes detailed recommendations for wholesale reform of labour law — and although some of it is US-centric, a lot of it has value for Australia. Here are some of the recommendations I find most interesting:

  • Provide a works council in any workplace where at least three workers request one;
  • Allow union organizers access to workplaces and email systems upon showing of 25 percent support;
  • Allow workers to strategically choose whom to strike based on which companies have power over their working conditions, not who signs their paychecks;
  • Expand the range of collective bargaining subjects to include any subjects that are important to workers and over which employers have control, including decisions about the basic direction of the firm and employers’ impact on communities and our shared environment;
  • Expand corporations’ fiduciary duties to include a duty to workers;
  • Give worker organisations a formal advisory role informing enforcement agencies’ operations and strategic priorities; and
  • Prohibit employers who have a record of noncompliance with labor laws from receiving federal funds.

There’s a lot in this report, and it’s well worth digging into.