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Weekly Roundup: February 10, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Reed Shaw continued our symposium on Worker Surveillance & Collective Resistance by looking at how electronic surveillance is short-circuiting employment and labor law. The spread of intense forms of worker monitoring, he argues, should not be understood as merely imposing some new, discrete set of harms on workers. Rather, pervasive employee monitoring should be seen as fundamentally altering the employment context in a way that threatens everything from worker safety, compensation, and classification to workplace discrimination and disability policy.

On Tuesday, Matthew Bodie took the baton, arguing that workplace surveillance is not merely an invasion of privacy but also a method of data collection and value creation. By generating huge data sets to feed increasingly sophisticated algorithms, workplace surveillance allows employers to extract even more value from their employees. If employees truly want to participate in the management of their data and tap into it as a source of value, they need to wield power over data collection systems through collective bargaining and shared workplace governance.

And on Thursday, Alvin Velazquez concluded the symposium by looking at a variety of remedies that could protect both worker data and consumer data. As he outlines, invasive digital surveillance often follows low-wage workers home, through geotracking, “smart” devices, and data gleaned from their behavior as consumers. To address this problem, Congress needs to adopt a comprehensive framework that protects both worker and consumer data. In the absence of such Congressional action, regulatory action such the National Labor Relations Board’s recent focus on surveillance can be used to improve the situation. Finally, labor law doctrines should venture even further to address the impacts of surveillance: for instance, the NLRB should hold that evidence of surveillance is an essential term or condition of employment for determining whether two companies are a worker’s joint employer under its newly proposed joint employer rule.

In LPE Land

The History and Political Economy Project is now accepting applications for their next round of graduate/early career summer research grants. Apply by March 12!

Last call: you have five more days to apply to be an Academic Fellow with the LPE Project next year. The fellow will split their time 50/50 between programming & their own research, and also receive an appointment as a Research Scholar at Yale Law School.

Call for Papers: The Workshop on Law & Political Economy in Latin America will take place July 24-25 in São Paulo, Brazil. Apply by March 15.

Over at OnLabor, Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs argue that to address the disconnect between record-high levels of support for unions and record-low levels of unionization, we need to enact a law that actually protects workers who support unions from retaliation.

Daniel Walters has a new paper that offers his second take on the Major Questions Doctrine (you can find his first take in these very pages).

Amy Zanoni has recently published an interesting paper – Remembering Welfare as We Knew It: Understanding Neoliberalism through Histories of Welfare.

Chief Justice Roberts explains why Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act is no longer necessary.