Category Archives: Employment

New Article: Social Media and Worker Organizing Under U.S. Law

New Article: Brishen Rogers, Social Media and Worker Organizing Under U.S. Law, Oct. 19, 2018, Int’l J. Comp. Lab. L. & Ind. Rel., Forthcoming.

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New Report: TANF Studies Show Work Requirement Proposals for Other Programs Would Harm Millions, Do Little to Increase Work

New Report: LaDonna Pavetti, Ph.D, TANF Studies Show Work Requirement Proposals for Other Programs Would Harm Millions, Do Little to Increase Work, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Nov. 13, 2018.

New Article: Workers in the “Gig” Economy: The Case for Extending the Antitrust Labor Exemption

New article: Marina Lao, Workers in the “Gig” Economy: The Case for Extending the Antitrust Labor Exemption, 51 Univ. Cal. Davis 1543 (2018). Abstract below:

Consumers are the clear winners in the fast-growing sharing economy (and, more specifically, the “gig” economy), as are the technology companies that conceived and developed the digital platform models and that serve as the intermediaries. Though workers on the platforms have also benefited, particularly those who value flexibility, there is a sense that they are not receiving an appropriate share of the joint surplus that their “partnership” with the platforms produces. For those troubled by this disparity, the challenge is to find a principled solution that would allow the benefits to be distributed more equitably, but would not upend the innovative business model and thereby lose the associated efficiencies and other benefits.

In this Article, I argue for the extension of the antitrust labor exemption, currently limited to labor activities of employees, to encompass gig economy workers. That would allow them to negotiate collectively with the platform/intermediary over compensation and benefits issues without exposure to antitrust liability. Gig economy workers straddle the line between employee and independent contractor and do not currently receive
the benefits and protections that are tied to employment. I explain why it would be consistent with the philosophies underlying the antitrust law and the exemption to extend the exemption to gig economy workers, and why that can be reconciled with more recent refusals to apply the exemption to non-employee professionals — mostly independent physicians.

The Article additionally addresses the drawbacks of different solutions proposed by others also concerned about the precarious circumstances of gig economy workers, focusing in particular on a proposal to legislatively redefine “employment” broadly to cover gig economy workers. My concern with this proposal is that it risks jeopardizing the very business model that has facilitated online intermediated work, and could also have the unintended effect of diminishing platform competition, which is troubling from a competition policy perspective. Given the uncertainties and risks, the simpler approach of extending the antitrust labor exemption to permit collective action by gig economy workers, proposed in this Article, seems to be the better path.

The exemption is not a perfect solution, and I address its weaknesses. But it is a means to advance the workers’ interests in securing an appropriate share of the surplus that has been jointly created by the platform and the workers, without as much risk of dismantling the business model in the process.

New Article: Combating Discrimination Against the Formerly Incarcerated in the Labor Market

New Article: Ifeoma Ojunwa & Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Combating Discrimination Against the Formerly Incarcerated in the Labor Market, 112 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1385 (2018). Abstract below:

Both discrimination by private employers and governmental restrictions in the form of statutes that prohibit professional licensing serve to exclude the formerly incarcerated from much of the labor market. This Essay explores and analyzes potential legislative and contractual means for removing these barriers to labor market participation by the formerly incarcerated. First, as a means of addressing discrimination by the state, Part I of this Essay explores the ways in which the adoption of racial impact statements—which mandate that legislators consider statistical analyses of the potential impact their proposed legislation may have on racial and ethnic groups prior to enacting such legislation—could help to reduce labor market discrimination against the formerly incarcerated. In so doing, this Part analyzes the influence of racial impact statements in the few states that have implemented them. Part II of this Essay examines the possibility of a contractual solution that could help to decrease discrimination against the formerly incarcerated in the private labor market, particularly by those employers who rely on the labor of imprisoned individuals. Specifically, this Part uses the fact that many private corporations rely on and profit from low-wage prison labor to argue that the state penal institutions that lease prisoners to such corporations should push for contractual agreements that stipulate that corporations relying on prison labor must revoke policies that bar employing the formerly incarcerated upon their release. In addition, this Part explicates how contractual stipulations may also provide for affirmative hiring policies for the formerly incarcerated. Finally, this Essay concludes by highlighting how failure to address continued labor market discrimination against the formerly incarcerated could render the formerly incarcerated a permanent economic underclass, thereby undermining notions of fairness and equality.

New Blog Post: America’s Worsening Geographic Inequality

New Blog Post: Richard Florida, America’s Worsening Geographic Inequality, CityLab, Oct. 16, 2018.

New Report: How Marriott’s Corporate Practices Fuel Growing Racial Inequality in America

New Report: Amy Traub & Julia Gunn, How Marriott’s Corporate Practices Fuel Growing Racial Inequality in America (Demos 2018).

Online Tool: Economic Policy Institute’s Minimum Wage Calculator

Online Tool: Economic Policy Institute’s Minimum Wage Calculator. With links/info on every state.

News Coverage: Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.

News Coverage: Matthew Desmond, Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not., N.Y. Times, Sept. 11, 2018.

New Blog Post: How I survive: American teachers and their second jobs – a photo essay

New Blog Post: Peter Rad & Erum Salam, How I survive: American teachers and their second jobs – a photo essay, TheGuardian.com. Sept. 5, 2018.

New Book: The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation

sawmillNew Book: Isabel Sawhill, The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation (2018). Overview below:

A sobering account of a disenfranchised American working class and important policy solutions to the nation’s economic inequalities

One of the country’s leading scholars on economics and social policy, Isabel Sawhill addresses the enormous divisions in American society—economic, cultural, and political—and what might be done to bridge them. Widening inequality and the loss of jobs to trade and technology has left a significant portion of the American workforce disenfranchised and skeptical of governments and corporations alike. And yet both have a role to play in improving the country for all.

Sawhill argues for a policy agenda based on mainstream values, such as family, education, and work. While many have lost faith in government programs designed to help them, there are still trusted institutions on both the local and federal level that can deliver better job opportunities and higher wages to those who have been left behind. At the same time, the private sector needs to reexamine how it trains and rewards employees. This book provides a clear-headed and middle-way path to a better-functioning society in which personal responsibility is honored and inclusive capitalism and more broadly shared growth are once more the norm.