News & Commentary

January 24, 2020

Lolita DePalma

Lolita De Palma is a student at Harvard Law School.

California has experienced significant union growth—139,000 workers were unionized in the past year. 16.5% of California’s workforce is now unionized. Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation, said, “We’re seeing a reinvigoration in organizing across California, including in healthcare, online media, technology, and entertainment.”

As Annie reported yesterday, Clean Slate for Worker Power, an initiative of Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, released its final report on Thursday. The initiative brought together a diverse group of activists and scholars to recommend policies to empower working people. The report advocates for an entirely new system of labor law that will enable working people to build collective organizations to increase their bargaining power with employers. The Harvard Gazette interviewed Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs, the authors of the report, who explained that a “clean slate” is necessary for labor law because “the system we have is so fundamentally broken that tweaking it or amending it is no longer a sufficient response.”

Today, unions in France made a final push to oppose President Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping pension plan. Thousands took to the streets, disrupting traffic and forcing schools to shut down. Now that the health minister has officially presented the bill to President Macron and his cabinet, Parliament can begin to debate the proposals next month.

Presidential hopefuls have been looking to unions for endorsements in the upcoming Democratic primaries. While Senator Bernie Sanders has been receiving significant union support, Pete Buttigieg has not been endorsed by a single union.

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