Clients and collaborators
Our worker strategy team supports the Kalmanovitz Initiative and nonprofit organizations that seek to re-envision the legal status of workers in a rapidly changing economy.
The Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor promotes innovations in policy to promote broadly shared economic justice and respect for the dignity of labor. The Initiative unites Georgetown’s faculties in law, history, business, and foreign service.
Nonprofit organizations ask us to develop model policies for governments and institutions.
- Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, which consists of three states (Maine, New York and Pennsylvania) and 13 cities (including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Milwaukee)
- International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, which consists of 27 organizations including a steering committee of Amnesty International, EarthRights International, Global Witness, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch
Projects on worker strategies
Just employment policy for Jesuit universities – Georgetown University became a leader within the network of Jesuit universities when it adopted a Just Employment Policy, which commits the university to pay a living wage, provide a dignified workplace, and respect the right to organize unions. In 2013, Pope Francis stressed that a living wage is a foundation of human dignity and a central tenet of Catholic teaching. As the country debates Just Employment, the Harrison Institute is working with the Kalmanovitz Initiative to develop a model JEP and a policy guide to assist both students and administrators as they seek to elevate the status of low-wage workers in a climate of intense budget pressures.
Alternative worker strategies – The labor movement in the United States is entering a period of both significant challenges and significant opportunities. The percentage of American workers in unions fell to 11.3% last year – the lowest level of union membership in almost 100 years. A recent court decision has called into question the continued viability of the National Labor Relations Board, and strategic litigation by employers has chilled efforts to organize workers. Yet despites these obstacles, there has also been a proliferation of new approaches to labor advocacy, ranging from worker centers that provide services to immigrants and other marginalized workers to internet based advocacy campaigns. The Harrison Institute has worked with the Kalmanovitz Initiative to map the legal environment for these new worker strategies. For example, we have analyzed the implications of recent Supreme Court decisions on the First Amendment for labor advocacy and analyzing the protections provided under the National Labor Relations Act for “concerted activity” by both unionized and non-unionized workers.
Procurement without sweatshops – Following the lead of universities, a growing number of state and local governments seek to avoid purchasing apparel (e.g., uniforms for police and athletics) that is made in sweatshops. In 2012, we worked with the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium (16 cities and states) to develop model purchasing policy for cities and states to set standards that reward decent working conditions in the apparel sector (e.g., purchasing police uniforms). The model policy enables a government to evaluate a supplier’s capacity to manage its own supply chain, comply with workplace laws in the country of production, and honor core labor standards of the International Labor Organization. Recent work:
- Sweatfree Model Policy – Lloyd Grove, Lindsey Scannell & Robert Stumberg
Procurement and human rights – In 2013, we began working with the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable to expand our work on procurement standards to include universal human rights beyond the scope of core labor standards. This work has been fueled by media coverage of the factory fires in Bangladesh, where thousands of workers died in factories that supplied apparel to U.S. government agencies. In response, the contractors denied knowledge that they were sourcing from these factories. We have analyzed the vast code of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and have developed a concrete policy agenda for potential reforms at each state of the procurement process. For example, some of the options are to improve supply chain transparency and to evaluate contractors on their capacity to manage vast supply chains.