On March 20 at 3-5pm, the Workers’ Rights Institute will host a workers’ rights forum as part of Labor Spring, a nationwide series of more than 60 labor teach-ins and events on campuses and in communities nationwide. Speakers will include Sara Steffens, Secretary-Treasurer, Communications Workers of America; Erica Smiley, Director, Jobs with Justice; Jennifer Abruzzo, General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board ; Sen. Sherrod Brown; Aleah Bacetti & Thanya Cruz Borrazá, Starbucks Workers United; and Elissa McBride, Sec-Treas, AFSCME.
On March 26-28, 2023, the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions will be holding its 50th annual conference in New York City. The event will be held in person.
The early registration rate ends January 31, 2023.
The theme of the 2023 annual conference will be Collective Bargaining in Higher Education Looking Back, Looking Forward, 1973-2023.
WRI's Director, Mark Gaston Pearce, will be participating in the panel "College Athletes, NCAA and the NLRA: An Update"
In addition to experts from across the fields of labor law and organizing speaking on over 20 panels, political philosopher and Harvard University professor Michael Sandel will deliver the keynote address.
Organized by Cornell Law School
There has been a surge of transformative new labor organizing in New York State and across the country, driven both by grassroots worker activism and new progressive laws and policies. We will discuss some of the noteworthy new organizing that has occurred with some of the most successful young organizers and campaigners in the country.
Moderated by Mark Pearce, Workers’ Rights Institute at Georgetown Law School, and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.
The speakers are:
Jaz Brisack is a labor organizer and a Rhodes scholar from the University of Mississippi who cut her teeth on efforts to organize a Nissan auto plant in the state. As a Starbucks barista in Buffalo NY, she organized her workplace in the pandemic, setting in motion a campaign to unionize Starbucks locations across the country.
Chris Smalls started working at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island in 2015, and organized a walkout when the pandemic began in March 2020, in protest of poor COVID-19 protocols. As co-founder and President of the Amazon Labor Union, he led a successful unionizing campaign at his own warehouse, and now supports Amazon workers organizing across the state and even around the world.
Simon Rosenblum-Larson is a former minor league baseball player and co-founder of the non-profit More Than Baseball. His work over the last four years, dedicated to improving conditions for players, directly contributed to the recognition of the first-ever union in minor league baseball just weeks ago.
Jessica Garcia serves as Assistant to the President of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), representing workers across key supply chains, including food and healthcare. She was previously the union's Deputy Political Director, advancing legislative and policy agendas in New York State and nationally.
In partnership with the Claudia Jones School for Political Education:
The forum had a town hall format and covered the following topics:
- What do Starbucks and Amazon mean for the labor movement?
- Have workers created a more inventive way to organize?
- What role do young and marginalized workers play in organizing?
In this panel-based discussion, labor and community organizers explored how we can work together to address the needs of the working class. In addition, they discussed successful organizing techniques and bargaining tactics.
Moderator: Carol Rosenblatt, Executive Director (retired), Coalition of Labor Union Women
Panelists: Alana Eichner, DC Domestic Workers Alliance,
Dyana Forester, President, Metro DC AFL-CIO,
Chris Townsend, Organizing Director (retired),
Amalgamated Transportation Union,
Sequenly Grey, DC Jobs With Justice.
The Georgetown Law Workers Rights Institute hosted a virtual panel on the incredible organizing efforts of Starbucks workers and what their organizing wins mean for the rest of the labor movement.
- Casey Moore, Barista, Starbucks
- Braden Campbell, Editor at Large (Labor), Law 360 (moderator)
- Mark Gaston Pearce, Executive Director of the Worker's Rights Institute, Former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chairman
- Nat Baldino, Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
- Ian Hayes, Partner, Hayes Dolce
In this webinar co-hosted by the Center for Progressive Reform and the Workers' Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, experts discussed how workers and historically marginalized communities are adversely impacted by forced arbitration.
Arbitration requires people to go through a private dispute resolution process, is often biased against workers and consumers, and typically slams the courthouse doors on those who are injured or harmed in the workplace. It's a standard condition in most, if not all, non-union employment and consumer contracts, and it's considered “forced” because few consumers or workers are aware that they are agreeing to mandatory arbitration when they sign such contracts. This requires them to resolve many types of alleged violations of state and federal laws through arbitration, including laws passed to protect against harmful and dangerous products, consumer fraud, employment discrimination, and other forms of wrongdoing.
Center for Progressive Reform's report, "Private Courts, Biased Outcomes: The Adverse Impact of Forced Arbitration on People of Color, Women, Low-Income Americans, and Nursing Home Residents" -
The panelists included:
Mark Gaston Pearce, a visiting professor of law and the executive director of the Workers' Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center.
Jamillah Bowman Williams, associate professor of law and faculty director of the Workers' Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center.
Sid Shapiro, a professor of law at Wake Forest University and the Board Vice President at the Center for Progressive Reform.
Jennifer Abruzzo, the general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board.
Center for Progressive Reform's Senior Policy Analyst M. Isabelle Chaudry moderated the discussion.
In this session, Jessica Gordon Nembhard discusses the history of African American mutual aid and cooperative economics, Black cooperative economic thought, the most prolific periods in the US African American Cooperative movement, and contemporary and previous examples of worker-owned cooperatives, lessons learned, and the way forward.
Co-organized by the Workers' Rights institute and Julian Hill and hosted in collaboration with Coalition for Racial Equity and Democratic Economies (CREDE), the Georgetown Law Socialist Students Union, ONE DC, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), and Claudia Jones School for Political Education.
The Georgetown Law Workers Rights Institute and Julian Hill, in partnership with Georgetown Law's Coalition for Racial Equity and Democratic Economies (CREDE), the Georgetown Law Socialist Students Union, ONE DC, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), and Claudia Jones School for Political Education; hosted a virtual panel with Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard on Economics of Abundance: Critiquing Economics of Scarcity Towards the Sovereignty of Black Labor.
Movement Lawyering, the Solidarity Economy, and Alternative Institutions with Carmen Huertas-Noble, Founding Director, Community & Economic Development Clinic, CUNY School of Law and Julian Hill, Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic Fellow, Georgetown Law
Carmen Huertas-Nobles in conversation with Julian Hill on their experience as a “movement lawyer” supporting grassroots organizers interested in transformative change. They explore questions such as: what do movement lawyers do, and what role can they play in helping the power necessary to assist in organizing new ways for communities to relate to one another, their own labor, and a highly exploitative economic system.
A conversation with: Julian Hill, Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic Fellow and Priyanka Surapaneni (L’21)
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expose systemic challenges to the U.S. political economy, public interest lawyers and community activists have continued to explore strategies for law reform and community empowerment. In this panel discussion, Julian Hill (Georgetown Law) and
Priyanka Surapaneni (L'21) will discuss how lawyers have worked with communities to leverage cooperative strategies to respond to the crises of our modern age. Reflecting on their own career paths, they will highlight how law students, and lawyers alike, can engage in cooperative lawyering and support cooperative movements to promote systems-level change. These efforts aim to improve the material conditions of those who are suffering the most among us.
Organized in partnership with The Washington Council of Lawyers
This year the Buffalo Bills played for the AFC conference championship - a team with a storied history of multiple Super Bowl appearances and well compensated Hall of Fame players. Meanwhile, for decades, its cheerleaders and those of other NFL teams have been subject to costly and abusive working conditions and have received less compensation than the team mascots. The panel will discuss issues addressed in the documentary around labor protections for women, fair-pay, wage theft, sub-minimum wage, the implications of part-time workers organizing, legal & cultural definitions of what constitutes “work,” and the ways gender is embedded in those definitions/gendered labor, to name just a few.
Mark Gaston Pearce, Visiting Professor and Executive Director, Georgetown Law’s Workers’ Rights Institute
Jamillah Bowman Williams, Professor and Workers’ Rights Institute Faculty Director, Georgetown Law
Yu Gu, Director/Producer/ Cinematographer, A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem
Amanda Ross, Former NFL Cheerleader with the Baltimore Ravens
Mhkeeba Pate, Former NFL Cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks
Sean Cooney, Class Counsel to the former Buffalo Jills Plaintiffs
Voter suppression in the United States has a corrosive effect on elections and participation in the political process. When combined with the steady erosion of workers’ rights, however, voter suppression creates a grave threat to democracy itself.
In this conversation, Mark Gaston Pearce of the Workers’ Rights Institute at Georgetown Law, and James Benton, Director of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor’s Race and Economic Empowerment Project, discuss historical and contemporary instances of how voter suppression and decreasing workers’ rights intersect, often with devastating results. In contrast to repeated emphasis on voting as an ultimate expression of American citizenship, they argue that voting is a first step in the fight for political and economic power.
George Bogdanich, Breana Noble, and panelists in conversation with WRI Executive Director Mark Pearce on the importance of balancing union autonomy in order to foster a democratic labor movement. This discussion comes on the heels of new government oversight on the United Auto Workers that is just beginning as another period of oversight on the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is just ending. For the Teamsters, government oversight in the form of a consent decree lasted for a full 25 years and cost the union $170 million. With these developments, our panel will discuss the costs and benefits of government oversight as well as the importance of having procedures to ensure that unions can effectively represent their members and foster internal democracy with elections and leadership mobility.
Our panelists will explore questions such as: when can government intervention sustain democracy within a labor union, at what point does intervention become excessive, and what are the values of having democratic, autonomous unions, especially to promote leadership opportunities for members of color?
Breana Noble, Auto & Business Reporter, The Detroit News
Professor Emeritus, University of Buffalo School of Law