Faculty Publications - Labor Relations, Law, and History

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    Equity in Focus: Job Creation for a Just Society
    Brady, Anne Marie; Lieberwitz, Risa; Cunningham, Zach (Cornell University, ILR School, The Workers Institute, 2023)
    [Excerpt] Prioritizing gender and racial equity to promote a strong and just economy is a high priority of the Biden-Harris Administration. Historic levels of financing have been made available to support a range of infrastructure projects across the United States through key pieces of legislation, chief among them the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November 2021. The immediate issue is ensuring that the $1.2 trillion in direct government spending made available through the law is distributed in an equitable manner; that the jobs created or bolstered through this major infusion of federal funding include groups of people who historically have been excluded from past opportunities, and importantly, that these jobs are quality jobs—jobs that pay well, have strong social and labor protections, and where possible, are union jobs. This report explores these themes and discusses how policymakers, practitioners, and advocates are addressing the inequities in three sectors: the child care economy, the clean energy economy, and the construction trades, as presented in the Equity in focus—Job Creation for a Just Society series. The series was a year-long engagement made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau and The Worker Institute at the Cornell University ILR School. The webinar series and summit brought together local, state, and federal policymakers, practitioners, unions, workers, industry stakeholders, policy researchers, philanthropy, and advocates to explore how best to prioritize gender and racial equity as core components of a strong and just economy. This report captures the key social, economic, and political issues discussed during the Equity in focus webinar series and summit, which explored the challenges and solutions to achieving equity in job creation in these three sectors. The solutions highlighted in this report are rooted in local-level innovations designed to reverse inequalities in job creation and access that are supported through partnerships with the state and federal government.
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    Review of the book [The marketing of higher education: The price of the university's soul]
    Lieberwitz, Risa L. (Cornell University, 2004)
    [Excerpt] These commercialization trends have been the focus of recent scholarly commentary from such fields as history, sociology, education, and law. Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University and former Dean of Harvard Law School, joins the debate in his book Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education, inquiring "why this [commercialization] trend has developed, what dangers it poses for universities, and how academic leaders can act to limit the risk to their institutions." Bok defines commercialization as "efforts within the university to make a profit from teaching, research, and other campus activities.' He begins his study of commercialization trends with the oldest of commercialized university activities athletics-and then expands the discussion to include more recent commercial activities that involve research and teaching.
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    Faculty in the Corporate University: Professional Identity, Law and Collective Action
    Lieberwitz, Risa L. (Cornell University, 2007)
    Over the past two decades, major social and legal developments have made an enormous impact on U.S. universities' core functions of research and teaching, leading to a move away from the traditional "public interest" model of the university towards a "corporate" model of higher education. Such trends toward "corporatization" include the commercialization of academic research, as universities have enthusiastically embraced federal legislation giving them the right to patent and license federally funded research results, thereby cementing university-industry ties. Universities have cut back on tenured faculty lines, which provide lifetime job security, and have instead expanded nontenure-track faculty, including teaching by adjunct faculty and graduate assistants. Universities have created for-profit corporations offering distance education courses. In each of these developments, faculty have played key roles in either promoting or resisting the changes. This article seeks to explain these responses, in two parts: first by studying the faculty's professional identity, and second, by addressing the question of whether the faculty's professional identity shapes their responses to these important changes in universities.
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    Strengthening Social Regulation in the Digital Economy: Comparative Findings from the ICT Industry
    Doellgast, Virginia (Taylor & Francis, 2023)
    National economies with different industrial relations and welfare state traditions are experiencing a similar digital transformation. This article examines how labour unions are seeking to influence digital strategies and investments in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, based on initial research findings in the US and Germany. These efforts can be divided into three action fields: campaigns focused on influencing state investment and data protection or AI regulation; efforts to extend legal or negotiated labour market protections to new groups of workers; and collective negotiations over new technologies at firm and workplace levels. All three can be seen as complementary in establishing the conditions for the social regulation of new digitally enabled markets.
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    Testimony before the United States House Committee on Education and Labor - In Solidarity: Removing Barriers to Organizing
    Bronfenbrenner, Kate (2022-09-14)
    [Excerpt] The data I present to you today are the first cut descriptive findings of my new study on company characteristics and employer opposition. These data provide insight on whether and how employer opposition to unions has changed in the last two decades, how those changes have impacted union organizing and the implications for labor policy. The new study is a comprehensive analysis of employer behavior in representation elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), on a random sample of 286 NLRB elections that occurred between January 1, 2016, and June 30, 2021.
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    The Contemporary Immigrant Rights Movement in the United States
    Paret, Marcel; Aptekar, Sofya; Gleeson, Shannon (Taylor & Francis, 2020-01)
    [Exerpt] This article traces the contemporary United States immigrant rights movement from its origins in 1990s California through current resistance in the Trump era. In doing so, we adopt a Seattle+20 lens in order to situate struggles around migration in relation to global capitalism and the tensions highlighted above. Issues of organized labor and worker power feature prominently in our account. In the United States, migrants played a special role in reinvigorating workers’ movements plagued by decimation and bureaucratization (Lichtenstein 2002; Fantasia and Voss 2004). In a world where borders are increasingly irrelevant for elites and capital, and are ever more brutal for workers, labor movements – unionized and not – provide an important analytical lens for understanding the collective action of migrants. Given the growing centrality of migrants to contemporary global capitalism, immigrant rights movements also contain the possibility of challenging the status quo by subordinating the profit motive to the livelihood of all people, beyond borders, and by elevating democratic mechanisms over market mechanisms.
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    Franchisor Power as Employment Control
    Elmore, Andrew; Griffith, Kati L. (University of California Berkeley School of Law, 2021-08)
    Labor and employment laws are systematically underenforced in low-wage, franchised workplaces. Union contracts, and the benefits and protections they provide, are nonexistent. The Fight for Fifteen movement has brought attention to the low wages, systemic violations of workers’ rights, and lack of collective representation in fast-food franchises. Given that franchisees can be judgment-proof and cannot set industry standards, the deterrence, remedial, and collective bargaining goals of labor and employment laws can depend on holding the franchisor (the brand) responsible under the joint employer doctrine. In a series of cases, however, a dominant approach has emerged that essentially foreclosed the possibility that franchisors and their subordinate companies (franchisees) are joint employers. Recent political developments mirror this foreclosure and pose a historic narrowing of the scope of joint employer liability. This Article challenges courts, administrative agencies, and legislators to take more seriously franchisors’ power over their franchisees and the working conditions of low-wage fast-food workers. To advance this argument, we rely on insights from an original empirical data set of (1) forty-four contracts between leading fast-food franchisors and franchisees in 2016 and (2) comprehensive documentation provided in joint employer legal proceedings against two major fast-food franchisors in the United States: McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza. Our proposed “power as employment control” construct considers, within the confines of existing doctrines, the cumulative effects of lead franchisor firms’ reserved (unexercised) and exercised influence over the working conditions in their subordinate businesses. By giving power more consideration in analyses of joint employer liability, courts, administrative agencies, and policy-makers can bring more justice and consistency to this hotly contested area.
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    An Introduction to Labor and Employment Law
    Gold, Michael (SUNY OER Services, 2018)
    An Introduction to Labor and Employment Discrimination Law is not an attempt to teach law to undergraduates, but rather to introduce them to legal reasoning. The principal means to this end are cases that present competing arguments (e.g., in majority and dissenting opinions) on major issues. Each case is preceded by the author’s introduction and followed by the author’s comments and questions. Chapter 1 focuses on labor law in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, i.e., before the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Chapter 2 surveys modern labor law under the Labor Act, covering such topics as representation and unfair labor practices. Chapter 3 is a brief introduction to the law of employment discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Americans With Disabilities Act. The book is accompanied by an appendix that contains a glossary of legal terms plus excerpts from the Constitution and relevant federal statutes.
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    Prepared Statement for the National Mediation Board Open Meeting Re: RLA Rulemaking Docket No. C 6964
    Bronfenbrenner, Kate (2009-12-07)
    Testimony before the NMB hearings on the proposed rule change to the RLA that recommend changing the voting standard from the majority of eligible voters to the majority of votes cast. The testimony summarized findings from the first ever national academic study of organizing under the RLA. Based on findings that showed that under the RLA standard greater employer suppression is correlated with lower turnout while under the NLRB standard both the union and the employer work aggressively for high turn out, the author argued for changing the voting standard to majority of votes cast.
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    Bottom-Up Organizing: HERE in New Haven & Boston
    Hurd, Rick (1986-04-01)
    [Excerpt] HERE is a union in the process of change. After decades of cooperative relations with management, the union's national leaders were rudely awakened when the major hotel chains jumped on the union-busting bandwagon in the late 1970s: contract concessions were demanded, organizing drives were vigorously opposed, and programs were implemented to weaken existing locals. HERE has responded with a newfound militance, demonstrated in strikes in New York, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Monterey, California. To stem the decline in the union's membership, Vincent Sirabella, the innovative and politically progressive head of HERE'S New Haven Local 217 since 1957, was promoted to Director of Organization in 1983 by HERE President Edward Hanley.
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    Free Speech and Freedom of Association: Finding the Balance
    Compa, Lance A. (2013-06-01)
    [Excerpt] The fundamental right to freedom of association guarantees that workers are able to form and join trade unions free from any interference from employers and governments. This basic principle has been applied consistently by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for over 60 years. However, the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) is now attempting to undermine that principle by arguing, in the name of freedom of expression, that anti-union campaigns meant to discourage workers from forming or joining a union are consistent with international standards. They even go so far as to argue that anti-union campaigns may be an obligation of employers. To accomplish this, the IOE relies heavily on a contorted interpretation of a 2010 decision by the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) concerning Delta Airlines’ campaign to encourage workers to “shred” their union election ballots. Only by claiming that the Delta decision represents a radical departure from precedent can the IOE now argue the existence of an international right to wage anti-union campaigns worldwide. Indeed, the IOE had previously conceded that U.S.-style antiunion campaigns violate the right to freedom of association as established by the ILO. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) recognizes that employers and workers have a right to express themselves; however, that right is not unlimited. The limit must be drawn where interference with the right to association begins. The vitriolic anti-union campaigns waged by U.S.-based employers cross that line. The fact that aggressive anti-union campaigns are considered legal under the domestic labour law of a country does not override international standards. Indeed, labour laws like those found in the U.S. are outliers among nations, permitting anti-union speech that is illegal (and unthinkable) elsewhere when workers seek to form and join trade unions.
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    The Restructuring of Industrial Relations in the United States
    Katz, Harry C. (1991-05-01)
    This paper discusses the extent to which a new industrial relations system including greater participation in decision making by workers and unions has diffused in the American economy. The paper uses the automobile as an illustrative case. The paper includes examination of the factors that have limited the diffusion of new industrial relations in the auto industry and elsewhere.
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    Final Report on a Survey of Training and the Restructuring of Work in Large Unionized Firms
    Katz, Harry C.; Keefe, Jeffrey H. (1993-10-19)
    [Excerpt] This report summarizes and analyzes a survey of the training and work restructuring occurring in large unionized firms. This survey provides the most comprehensive answers to date to the following questions for large unionized workplaces: What kinds and amounts of training do workers receive in American firms? How much change occurred in training amounts and types from 1980 to 1990? Why do some firms provide more training than other firms? What is the amount of work reorganization underway in these workplaces and what are the links between work reorganization and training activities? Do firms perceive shortages in adequately trained new hires?
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    From “Old Red Socks” to Modern Human Resource Managers? The Transformation of Employee Relations in Eastern Germany
    Turner, Lowell (1994-11-01)
    Excerpt] With the dramatic and unexpected opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, began a far-reaching process of transformation in every aspect of society within the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany). Indeed by October 1990, the GDR had been unified with and absorbed into the larger German Federal Republic (the former West Germany) and no longer existed as a separate political entity.1 The basic principle guiding German unification was the replacement of East German laws, institutions, and practices with West German laws, institutions, and practices -- in politics, the economy, and civil society.
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    ILR Impact Brief - Employment Arbitration: Emergence of a New Profession
    Seeber, Ronald L.; Lipsky, David B. (2006-01-01)
    The ILR Impact Brief series highlights the research and project based work conducted by ILR faculty that is relevant to workplace issues and public policy. Brief #1 highlights the authors' research on employment arbitration, including a survey of the National Academy of Arbitrators.
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    Labor Rights in Haiti
    Compa, Lance (1989-04-01)
    [Excerpt] This study of labor rights in Haiti was conducted on behalf of the International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund by Lance Compa, Washington Representative of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), who is the principal author of this report. It includes findings from a field investigation in Haiti in July 1988, and from interviews and further information supplied by Haitian trade unionists throughout 1988 and early 1989. This report also draws on information developed by a delegation of U.S. unionists and labor educators who visited Haiti July 24-31, 1988, under the sponsorship of the Washington Office on Haiti.
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    Trade’s Hidden Costs: Worker Rights in a Changing World Economy
    Cavanagh, John; Compa, Lance; Ebert, Allan; Goold, Bill; Selvaggio, Kathy; Shorrock, Tim (1988-01-01)
    [Excerpt] For decades, the U.S. foreign assistance program has sought with limited results to further economic development and growth in Third World countries. We have witnessed some countries making real progress toward development through industrialization, only to find more of their people trapped in hunger and poverty. Hopefully, it is apparent that for development to be effective, it must benefit the broadest sectors of the population within any society. Why are worker rights crucial to the development process? The capacity to form unions and to bargain collectively to achieve higher wages and safer working conditions is essential to the overall struggle of working people everywhere to achieve minimally decent living standards and to overcome hunger and poverty. The denial of worker rights, especially in Third World countries, tends to perpetuate poverty, to limit the benefits of economic development and growth to narrow, privileged elites and to sow the seeds of social instability and political rebellion.
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    Blueprint for Change: A National Assessment of Winning Union Organizing Strategies
    Bronfenbrenner, Kate; Hickey, Robert (2003-01-01)
    In the last seven years the AFL-CIO has put forth an immense effort to facilitate, support, and encourage organizing initiatives by all affiliates. Although to date progress has been much slower than the leadership of the labor movement had hoped, more recently there have been some signs that those efforts are beginning to bear fruit. A growing number of unions are putting more resources into organizing, recruiting and training more organizers, running more organizing campaigns, winning more elections and voluntary recognitions, and winning them in larger units. Yet, despite all the new initiatives and resources being devoted to organizing and all the talk of "changing to organize," American unions today are at best standing still. Massive employment losses in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and airline industries have eliminated hundreds of thousands of union jobs, raising the bar even higher for the number of new workers needed to maintain current union density, much less grow. At the same time, the political climate for organizing has become ever more hostile as the threat of terrorism and the fog of war have been used to justify a full scale attack on civil liberties, federal sector unions, immigrant workers, and organizing and collective bargaining rights. Even in this climate, some unions, in some industries, have still managed to make major organizing gains, despite intensive employer opposition. In just the last several years we have witnessed significant victories such as CWA at Cingular Wireless, IFPTE at Boeing, UAW at New York University, PACE at Imerys, SEIU at Catholic Healthcare West, UNITE at Brylane, and HERE in the Las Vegas hotels. Although there was great variation in the industry, workforce, union, and company characteristics in each of these campaigns, still a pattern becomes evident—the unions that are most successful at organizing run fundamentally different campaigns, in both quality and intensity, than those that are less successful. In this paper we focus on these fundamental differences in the nature of winning and losing campaigns which provide us with a blueprint for the kinds of comprehensive organizing strategies that are required to win across a wide range of organizing environments and company and unit characteristics. We also look at the strategic, organizational, and cultural changes the U.S. labor movement must make in order to be able to mount these more comprehensive campaigns and make the gains necessary to significantly increase union density and the political and economic power that goes with it.
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    Unions, Associations and Twenty-First Century Professionals
    Hurd, Richard W.; Lakhani, Tashlin (2008-03-01)
    [Excerpt] Unions that represent professional and technical workers are at a critical juncture in their evolution. On the one hand, there is tremendous opportunity; disproportionate employment growth can be expected for professional and technical occupations in health care, education, science and technology, performing arts, media and communication. On the other hand, there are clear challenges. Professional labor markets and the contemporary workplace are being reconfigured by neoliberal economic policies, technological change, and the spread of contingent employment arrangements. Twenty-first century professional workers will respond positively to unions only if they see organizations that are agile enough to adapt to the workers' own shifting concerns.