The Center for American Progress has released an excellent new report on The Future of Worker Voice and Power. Authored by David Madland, the report recommends modernizing U.S. labor law in four primary ways: (1) moving from firm-level collective bargaining to industry, regional or sectoral bargaining; (2) expanding the menu of vehicles for firm-level employee voice, including by promoting works councils at the firm level; (3) encouraging membership in worker organizations by giving those organizations a formal role in the delivery of social goods (like unemployment insurance and worker training); and (4) increasing legal protections for labor rights. All four proposals make good sense. The call for sectoral bargaining is particularly notable, in part because the idea – recently a political nonstarter – is gaining significant prominence among leading labor scholars and policymakers (as reflected, for example, in important new work by Mark Barenberg and Kate Andrias). The recommendation for a Ghent-like system for providing unemployment insurance (or related programs) through unions is also gaining steam, thanks in large part to Matthew Dimmick’s writing on the subject.
The CAP report is absolutely worth reading, and constitutes a productive roadmap for thinking about labor law reform in the next administration.