At the Blog
On Monday, Erin Hatton kicked off a symposium on her recent book, Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment. Hatton argues that, in a range of cases – including prison laborers, welfare workers, college athletes, and graduate students – employers wield power over workers not by virtue of their power over wages, but instead by control over workers’ “status” and all of the rights, privileges, and opportunities that such status confers. As she writes, “in each of these cases, supervisors have the capacity to revoke such rights and privileges, the consequences of which extend beyond the job and its wages to affect these workers’ lives, families, and futures in far-reaching ways.”
On Tuesday, Noah Zatz praised Hatton’s account for providing a “rich empirical grounding and generative theoretical framing for LPE analysis,” and wondered whether we should extend the status/economy distinction to what employers extract and produce. As he writes, “Is status at stake here only for the workers? Or do the complexities of status/economy also apply to what ’employers’ are extracting, producing, and circulating more widely? For instance, in her brilliant book on Black women in convict leasing, Sarah Haley argues that for the Jim Crow carceral regime, ‘[a]ssault and destruction of the body in specific contexts (riots, scaffolds, penal camps) were fundamental tools in the construction of white civil society, white human value, and white personhood more broadly.’ Race/gender status here are not simply resources that facilitate status coercion in the service of economic extraction but also part of what these labor structures produce.”
And on Thursday, workers from the Sustainable Economies Law Center concluded our symposium on decommodifying urban property by sharing some memorable moments with clients that have transformed how they approach radical real estate law. As they write, “Our clients often encourage us to lay down our legal tools, step into their world, and see what they see. Many of us, especially those of us from Black and brown, working class communities, are reminded of the figurative (and literal) fences we jumped as kids and young adults before we were force-fed the logic of the dominant culture that told us that these fences are not only real, but insurmountable. Like seeing a dear, old friend, we are reminded of parts of ourselves that have been lying dormant since we opted to develop our lawyer brains.”
In LPE Land
The Martin H. Malin Institute for Law and the Workplace at Chicago-Kent College of Law have put out a CFP for a symposium on The Effect of Dobbs on Work Law. Proposals due by Friday, August 12.
Last but not least, an interesting new article by Matthew Bodie on The Law of Employee Data.