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Law and Organizing for Countervailing Power

Readers of this blog need no reminder of the pervasive inequalities that define American society. Nor do readers need to be convinced that a perverse concentration of wealth has had profoundly corrosive effects on the viability of American democracy. In a recent article published in the Yale Law Journal, we argue that the traditional approaches to combatting political inequality—campaign finance reform, voting rights, participatory governance—do not go far enough, and we ask what else might be done to redress the fundamental power imbalances that define our politics. We argue that the key lies in building countervailing power among poor and working-class people, and that law can and should be used to facilitate organizing by the poor and working class: not only as workers, but also as tenants, debtors, welfare beneficiaries and others.

The Uber/Lyft Drivers’ Association, Unionization, and Labor Law Reform

We agree with Dubal that winning collective bargaining power at Uber and Lyft will depend on the continuation of the kind of solidarity actions that Dubal describes. But in our view, a fundamental reshaping of labor law will also be necessary. Even if an “uncompromised” version of California AB5 passes, that won’t get us there.

The Uber/Lyft “Workers’ Association” Debate: A Response to Dubal

I share Dubal’s worries about Uber and Lyft's proposed "workers' associations" and agree about the indispensable role played by independent, exclusive-representative unions. But I am more open to the possibility that we ought not necessarily reject workers’ associations of the sort being contemplated in the California debates.

Law and Politics in Employee Classification

As has been widely reported, the U.S. Department of Labor issued an “opinion letter” yesterday concluding that an unnamed “virtual marketplace company” does not employ the workers who make the company viable. Instead, the letter finds that these workers are independent contractors. The letter is flawed in multiple ways. As Sharon will explain, deciding a major…

This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform

As divided as we have become as a country, we arrive at this Labor Day with a shared national understanding: both economic and political power are wildly out of balance, with dire consequences for the vast majority of Americans who find themselves on the losing end of this imbalance. Wherever we live, and however we…

Autocracy at Work: Understanding the Gothamist Shut Down

Unionization is, and always has been, the most effective way that working people can wrest a bit of control back from owners like Ricketts. It operates through the simple logic of collective action: by bargaining together, people increase their leverage and gain a voice in shaping what their work lives are like. Unions move workplaces away from institutions governed autocratically – by those with the ‘money that pays for everything’ – and toward institutions that are governed democratically, by including the insights and opinions of those who do the work.