At the Blog
On Monday, Asher Morse explained how labor agreements could protect federal agencies from future presidential attacks. As he argues, Federal collective bargaining agreements are meaningfully enforceable — by third-party arbitrators, whose decisions are appealable to the Federal Labor Relations Authority — and could be used to proactively build in protections for federal workforces. For example, the union representing roughly half of EPA employees is currently seeking a “scientific integrity” provision in their next contract, guaranteeing that scientists have a say in drafting EPA positions and decisions. Even the Trump administration, hostile to many agencies, recognized the power of collective bargaining agreements to bolster its most ideologically-aligned agencies, as contracts with ICE and CBP contracts gave these agencies’ unions incredible latitude to influence agency policy, as well as generous grants of paid time off from assigned government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees. To take advantage of these opportunities, however, agency management needs to abandon its adversarial posture and adopt a conciliatory and collaborate approach to collective bargaining.
On Tuesday, the LPE’s own law & organizing fellow, Talia Rothstein, reflected on the student militancy that led to the creation of law school clinics, the taming of that project, and what reclaiming it might look like. Though a familiar feature of legal education today, clinics were only embraced by law schools in the 1960s and 1970s, when student activists demanded curricular reform and mainstream actors pushed for a greater focus on lawyer preparedness and serving the legal needs of the poor. Against this backdrop, law schools came to see clinics as the perfect concession to defuse the threat of student power. As a result of this institutional cooptation however, student protestors were left with a host of unmet demands—many of which remain unfulfilled today. As Rothstein writes, “to truly live up to their radical origins, clinics must be re-politicized with a deeper critique of the university. For that, law students—members of clinics and not—must organize.”
And on Thursday, Veena Dubal and Renan Kalil examined the recent push by multinational platform companies, including Uber, iFood, Rappi, and 99, to export the United States’ most exploitative new labor laws to Brazil. While such companies are pitching an “intermediate” worker category law, akin to Prop 22, as a compromise between labor and capital, empirical evidence from the U.S. context shows that adopting this law would be disastrous for low-income workers. Moreover, as both Brazilian courts and courts around the world have found, platform companies exert high levels of control over their workers and thus should be subject to standard labor and employment regulations.
In LPE Land
Roll Call: Did you or a scholar whose work you love have an article accepted this cycle? If so, let us know! In the next week or two, we’re hoping to publish a round-up post, highlighting some of the hottest LPE and LPE-adjacent forthcoming work from this cycle. Send nominations to email@example.com with (i) a short description of the piece (e.g., the abstract); (ii) where it will be forthcoming, and (iii) if available, a link to ssrn, or the screenshot of the abstract on twitter. Self-nominations are highly encouraged.
Cool video alert: If you weren’t one of the nearly 100 people packed into a room at YLS this week to hear Bernard Harcourt and Corinne Blalock talk about his new book Cooperation: A Political, Economic, & Social theory, the video is now available on our website. With Dune: Part II delayed until March, what else are you going to watch???
Cool job alert: The FTC’s Bureau of Competition and Bureau of Consumer Protection are jointly offering the agency’s first ever Honors Attorney Program. This opportunity will allow five new attorneys, hired directly out of law school or judicial clerkships, to develop a strong foundation in both competition and consumer protection enforcement and policy work through a year-long assignment in each Bureau. Upon successful completion of a two-year term limited appointment, participants may be converted to a permanent position.
Cool job alert: The Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator seeks applications for a fellow in the field of networks, platforms, and utilities. The two-year fellowship is designed to support individuals who are interested in becoming law professors in the field of networks, platforms, and utilities, defined broadly as including transportation, communications, energy, banking, and tech platforms, and issues and themes that cut across these sectors.
Cool Event Series: this upcoming year, the Columbia Seminar on Full Employment (co-chaired by our former deputy, Raúl Carrillo) will be exploring the politics of mobilizing and organizing for true full employment for all. Each session will feature at least one academic and one organizer / advocate / person-doing-the-work, who will kick off the conversation. While in-person capacity is limited, anyone can sign-up to join via Zoom.
In Jewish Currents, Erik Baker argues that beyond being merely a tool to extract a better compensation package, strikes serve as engines of political transformation and should be embraced as a positive political good.
Over at the Rural Reconciliation Project, Emily Prifogle discusses curricular innovations on rural law happening at several U.S. law school, and introduces a series of related infographics produced by students in her mini-seminar on Law in Rural America.
In the Hill, Erik Peinert and Morgan Harper explain how Biden can make asthma inhalers cheaper and more accessible by stopping patent manipulation, the kind of policy win that resonates with voters.