“From the gig economy, to the #MeToo movement, to recent Supreme Court decisions, U.S. workers are facing new challenges and pressures that make enforcing labor rights increasingly complicated. . . The Workers’ Rights Institute will help workers and their advocates understand their rights and how to effectively invoke them, while working to advance new policies that protect workers in a changing landscape.”
- Mark Gaston Pearce, Executive Director
The Workers’ Rights Institute (WRI) was made possible in part due to the generous support of Georgetown Law alumnus Stephen Bruce (L’79), a D.C.-based employment law attorney and authority on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
WRI places special emphasis on protecting and empowering the most vulnerable workers, with attention to the intersection of labor rights and issues including race, gender and immigration.
Labor-management relations have been substantially out of balance for some time and the low wage worker is feeling the brunt of it. One of the greatest challenges low wage workers face is income inequality. Most economists agree that the weakening of the labor movement and collective bargaining are major factors contributing to income inequality. Federal and State statutes were enacted to protect the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Yet, due to outcome oriented interpretations of the law and limited workers awareness of their rights, the already diminished effectiveness of these statutes has been further diminished over the decades. Building greater bargaining power of working people through outreach, education, and organization is a step towards correcting that imbalance.
Through the engagement of former agency leaders, workers, litigators, unions, worker centers, community organization, law students and others, WRI is developing and enhancing existing and new vehicles for outreach, organizing and education of the most vulnerable workforce. WRI will partner with community groups and public entities to develop guides and training modules as well as launch symposia, public speaking, and multimedia programs to educate and raise public awareness of worker plight and worker rights.
The Workers Rights Institute will facilitate the pairing of worker needs with community and legal resources.