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The Future of Worker Power: Labor Organizing and Labor Law at a Crossroads

Oct 18, 2022


Zoom (link to be provided) and Yale Law School (SLB 127)

Time of Event:

Tuesday 12:10 PM - 1:30 PM

What is the future of worker power in the US? On the one hand, the last several decades have been characterized by declining labor power and legal retrenchment. Private sector union membership is at an all-time low, and the Supreme Court recently dealt a major blow to public sector unions. “Right to work” laws, and a raft of other rules make the legal environment inhospitable to organizing and help explain some of labor’s decline. Yet in the last few years there has also been a startling upsurge in interest in unions and labor militancy, both in the US and beyond its borders. Nearly seventy percent of people in the U.S. express approval of unions—the highest level on record since 1965. And in “Striketober” alone, more than 100,000 U.S. workers either participated in or prepared for strikes against multinational corporations, followed by a wave of unionizing among Amazon and Starbucks workers.

This panel will convene key leaders in labor organizing with academics to ask: why are we seeing an upsurge in organizing now? What might a longer view of labor power, political economy, and labor law tell us about today? How can we reconcile the surge in interest in unions with the previous declines in labor law and traditional unionism? Can law and lawyering play a role in increasing worker power, and what might that do to address questions of corporate power, democratic decline, and inequality in the US today?

Panelists will include Sara Nelson (Association of Flight Attendants-CWA), Lorena Lopez (UNITE HERE Local 11), Eric Blanc (Rutgers University), and Charles Du (SEIU 32BJ). Gabriel Winant (University of Chicago) will moderate.

This event is co-organized by the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights and the LPE Project.

This is a hybrid event:

To attend virtually, please register here

To attend in person, please register here

If you are attending the event in person, but you are not affiliated with Yale University, please email us at so that we can include your name on a pre-approved list of people who will be entering the building. Please also bring an ID and proof of vaccination to the event.