Clients and collaborators – Our worker strategy team supports the Kalmanovitz Initiative and other programs 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
Alternative worker strategies – Over the past several years, there has been an explosion of creative worker organizing across the country. The OUR Walmart campaign looks to both old models of minority unionism and new technologies like social media to strengthen workers’ voices in the retail sector. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers negotiates directly with name brand retailers like Whole Foods and Taco Bell to raise wages for farmworkers in the Florida tomato fields. In Los Angeles, environmentalists have teamed up with labor activists to improve air quality for local residents and raise wages for port truck drivers. The experimentation extends to the restaurant and food sector (e.g., the Restaurant Opportunities Center), domestic work (e.g., New York State’s “Domestic Worker Bill of Rights”), and contingent workers (e.g., the Freelancers Union and the National Guestworkers Alliance).
Worker justice initiatives look beyond traditional labor relations to improve working conditions; they depend more and more on creative collaborations between traditional labor unions, community organizations, and consumer activists. But the legal norms that regulate worker organizing and bargaining are in tension with recent First Amendment jurisprudence and trends that shape bargaining and collective action in a globalized, networked economy. We are working with the Kalmanovitz Initiative to identify points of friction between old and new worker organizing models, eliminate legal barriers to innovative worker justice efforts, and develop policy ideas that support improved wages and working conditions in a globalized economy.
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. In 2013, we began working with the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable to expand these concepts to universal human rights outside the scope of core labor standards. Recent work:
- Sweatfree Model Policy – Lloyd Grove, Lindsey Scannell & Robert Stumberg