Welcome to On Labor, a new blog by Jack Goldsmith and myself dedicated to current developments in the world of workers, unions, and politics. Labor is a complicated field today. Complicated because the traditional labor movement is in dramatic decline, and, on some accounts, on the brink of disappearing entirely. The decline of unions – why it’s happening, whether and how it will continue, and what it means for our economy and our politics – is worth attention and analysis, which we will give it. But despite union decline – actually, in part because of it – “labor” questions remain central to multiple ongoing public debates. Witness the last two days on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times: the Journal goes on the attack about political disclosure rules for unions; the Times takes up strikes by fast food workers. Or consider the Supreme Court’s recent docket: one case raises the constitutionality of the current structure of public sector unions; another the legality of current models of organizing private sector unions.
As traditional unions decline, moreover, new worker organizations are moving to fill the gap, and, as a result, these organizations are now the subject of intense contestation. There are also innumerable questions about how work ought to be structured and managed, how workers ought to be represented and compensated, and about what the appropriate role of government is in all of this. We mean the blog to be a place where these questions will get raised and debated and, hopefully, clarified.
As a law professor, I have written extensively about these subjects, and the blog will be a forum for shorter writing that is more responsive to contemporary developments. Most of the posts will come from Jack and me, but we will be joined by a group of Harvard Law Students who will provide summaries of top daily news stories, background briefings on relevant legal and political developments, and some posts of their own. We will occasionally have guest posts from others in the field.
Like many blogs, On Labor is a work in progress. We welcome your ideas and suggestions as we go.