Tuesday, May 26, 2015
On the heels of Jeff's announcement of international labor conferences, Bernard Banks (Keily Thompson, New Zealand) writes to tell us of the LawAsia Employment Conference that will be held in Hanoi on 14 -15 August 2015. Here are the details:
The theme of the Hanoi conference is: Free Trade Agreements and Trans National Employment –Legal Implications, and following the formal opening and keynote address there will be seven business sessions provisionally entitled: employment impacts of FTAs –a regional overview; immigration issues in trans national employment; minimum terms and conditions –employment obligations in host countries; liability for workplace injuries to trans national employees –issues and case studies; cross border taxation issues for employers and employees; liability for actions in host countries – employee obligations and employer liability; and a concluding panel discussion and forum including an international round up of FTA employment issues and contributions from delegates. We are in close liaison with the Vietnam Bar Federation which has a co-hosting role.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Susan Bisom-Rapp (Thomas Jefferson) sends along the annual call for papers for the 14thInternational Conference in Commemoration of Professor Marco Biagi and the Fifth Young Scholars’ Workshop in Labour Relations. The theme of the 2016 conference is Well Being At and Through Work, a topic that could not be more timely given the lingering effects of the global economic crisis on working people. In addition, in connection with the Young Scholars’ Workshop, this year the Foundation is awarding a Marco Biagi Prize, which will allow the author of the best paper to take up a three-month residence at the Foundation and comes with a prize of 3500 euros.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The annual Colloquium on Scholarship in Employment and Labor Law (COSELL) will be held at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Sept. 11-12, 2015, in Bloomington, Indiana. This conference, now in its tenth year, brings together labor and employment law professors from across the country. It offers participants the opportunity to present works-in-progress to a friendly and knowledgeable audience.
Registration is now open at: http://www.law.indiana.edu/cosell.
If you’re planning to come, please go ahead and register now; you can fill in details about the project you will present later in the summer.
The conference is free, and we will provide all meals during the conference. Travel & hotel information is found on the website.
Please feel free to contact any of us with questions.
We will look forward to hosting you in Bloomington!
April 28, 2015 in About This Blog, Conferences & Colloquia, Disability, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination, Faculty News, Faculty Presentations, International & Comparative L.E.L., Labor Law, Labor/Employment History, Pension and Benefits, Public Employment Law, Religion, Scholarship, Teaching, Wage & Hour, Worklife Issues, Workplace Safety, Workplace Trends | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Congratulations to blogger emeritus and our friend Paul Secunda (Marquette), who has been awarded a Senior Fullbright Scholar award for this fall. He will be teaching and conducting research on the national pension program in Australia. Paul will become a senior fellow at the Melbourne University Law School, teaching courses and conducting research on the Australian Superannuation workplace pension system, which is widely considered to be a global benchmark for workplace pension programs. You can get more detail from Marquette's press release. Great work, and wonderful news, Paul!
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
The Thirteenth International Conference in Commemoration of Professor Marco Biagi will take place on March 19 – 20, 2015. This year’s conference theme is “Employment Relations and Transformation of the Enterprise in the Global Economy.” This annual conference is organized by the Marco Biagi Foundation at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Conference will be preceded on March 18th by the Young Scholars’ Workshop in Labour Relations, also organized and hosted by the Marco Biagi Foundation. The Conference and Workshop programs are here.
Hat tip: Susan Bisom-Rapp. Susan is both a Conference and Workshop participant and serves on the Marco Biagi Foundation’s scientific committee and international council. She tells us that this will be her ninth consecutive year attending the event.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Los Angeles Times has published a series of stories—“Product of Mexico,” by reporter Richard Marosi, with photos and video by Don Bartletti—on the harsh conditions faced by farm laborers in Mexico who work to supply tomatoes, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables for sale in US stores. Parts one and two of this four-part series are here and here.
Marosi and Barletti spent eighteen months traveling across nine Mexican states. They observed conditions at thirty farm labor camps, and interviewed “hundreds” of workers. They found that many farm labors “are essentially trapped for months at a time in rat-infested camps, often without beds and sometimes without functioning toilets or a reliable water supply.” Some growers withhold weekly wages (in violation of Mexican law) “to prevent workers from leaving during peak harvest periods.” And farm workers “often go deep in debt paying inflated prices for necessities at company stores.” Some go hungry. Others face the threat of violence.
They also conclude that although many US companies have “social responsibility guidelines” that preclude buying goods from suppliers that do not comply with minimum labor standards, those commitments are poorly enforced. That’s consistent with the general conclusion of some (e.g., Locke 2013) that, given complex cross-national supply chains, such private voluntary agreements are quite limited in their ability to ensure minimum labor standards.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
A zero-hour contract is a "contract" of employment creating an on-call arrangement between employer and employee and in which the employer asserts it has no obligation to provide any work for the employee. It's become common in the United Kingdom, and apparently is being "offered" to employees by many American-owned companies including McDonald's and Burger King. In many ways, it's similar to just-in-time scheduling that has become increasingly common in the U.S. retail/fast-food economy, except that in some weeks an employee many receive zero work hours.
Are zero hours contracts lawful? This note responds to the DBIS consultation on banning exclusivity clauses (August 2014). It asks the following: what is a zero hours contract? To what extent are zero hours contracts legal? Why have zero hours contracts spread? And finally, what is the right thing to do?
Bernard Banks (Kiely Thompson Caisley - New Zealand) informs us that the annual LawAsia Employment Conference (which he chairs) will be held May 15-16, 2015 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. If you are interested in presenting, contact Bernard. I attended this last year, and through the conference ended up collaborating with labor/employment practitioners from all over the world on an article (forthcoming Arizona J. Int'l & Comparative L.) on labor outsourcing. The conference is a great opportunity to see labor/employment issues from myriad perspectives, and to meet labor/employment folks from everywhere. If you're interested, let me know and I'll be happy talk with you.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Thanks to Monique Lillard (Idaho), chair of the AALS Labor Relations and Employment section and Natasha Martin (Seattle), chair of the AALS Employment Discrimination section for sending along the joint newsletter of the two sections for posting. Download it while it's hot: Download Joint Newsletter for AALS Sections
December 1, 2014 in Disability, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination, Faculty News, International & Comparative L.E.L., Labor and Employment News, Labor Law, Public Employment Law, Scholarship, Teaching, Wage & Hour | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, October 6, 2014
The Southeastern Association of Law Schools holds its annual meeting every summer at the end of July/beginning of August, and planning for next year's programming has started. For the past several years, a workshop for labor and employment law has taken place over several of the days. Michael Green (Texas A & M) is helping to organize the workshop for next summer. If you are interested in participating, feel free to get in touch with him: firstname.lastname@example.org. Some suggestions already made include panels or discussion groups on whistleblowing, joint employer issues, termination for off-duty conduct (including recent NFL scandals), disability and UPS v. Young, and a junior scholars workshop.
One additional piece of programming already proposed is a discussion group on attractiveness issues in Employment Discrimination cases. Wendy Greene is helping to organize it, so get in touch with her if you are interested in participating on that topic.
And regardless of whether you get in touch with Michael or Wendy, you should think about proposing programming for the annual meeting if you are at all interested and regardless of the topic. The meeting is surprisingly (because of the lovely environs) substantive, and the environment is very relaxed and is designed to be egalitarian. Here are the details:
The SEALS website www.sealslawschools.org is accepting proposals for panels or discussion groups for the 2015 meeting which will be held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club http://www.bocaresort.com/ Boca Raton, Florida, from July 27 to Aug. 2. You can submit a proposal at any time. However, proposals submitted prior to October 31st are more likely to be accepted.
This document explains how to navigate SEALS, explains the kinds of programs usually offered, and lays out the rules for composition of the different kinds of programming: Download Navigating submission. The most important things the Executive Director emphasizes are these: First, SEALS strives to be both open and democratic. As a result, any faculty member at a SEALS member or affiliate school is free to submit a proposal for a panel or discussion group. In other words, there are no "section chairs" or "insiders" who control the submissions in particular subject areas. If you wish to do a program on a particular topic, just organize your panelists or discussion group members and submit it through the SEALS website. There are a few restrictions on the composition of panels (e.g., panels must include a sufficient number of faculty from member schools, and all panels and discussion groups should strive for inclusivity). Second, there are no "age" or "seniority" restrictions on organizers. As a result, newer faculty are also free to submit proposals. Third, if you wish to submit a proposal, but don't know how to reach others who may have an interest in participating in that topic, let Russ Weaver know and he will try to connect you with other scholars in your area.
October 6, 2014 in Conferences & Colloquia, Disability, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination, Faculty News, Faculty Presentations, International & Comparative L.E.L., Labor Law, Pension and Benefits, Public Employment Law, Religion, Scholarship, Teaching, Wage & Hour, Workplace Trends | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, August 25, 2014
Susan Bisom-Rapp (Thomas Jefferson) and Malcolm Sargeant (University of Middlesex Business School) have posted on SSRN the page proofs for their article, It’s Complicated: Age, Gender, and Lifetime Discrimination Against Working Women – The United States and the U.K. as Examples, forthcoming at 22 Elder L.J. 1 (2014). From the abstract:
This article considers the effect on women of a lifetime of discrimination using material from both the U.S. and the U.K. Government reports in both countries make clear that women workers suffer from multiple disadvantages during their working lives, which result in significantly poorer outcomes in old age when compared to men. Indeed, the numbers are stark. In the U.S., for example, the poverty rate of women 65 years old and up is nearly double that of their male counterparts. Older women of color are especially disadvantaged. The situation in the U.K. is comparable.
To capture the phenomenon, the article develops a model of Lifetime Disadvantage, which considers the major factors that on average produce unequal outcomes for working women at the end of their careers. One set of factors falls under the heading “Gender-based factors.” This category concerns phenomena directly connected to social or psychological aspects of gender, such as gender stereotyping and women’s traditionally greater roles in family caring activities. A second set of factors is titled “Incremental disadvantage factors.” While these factors are connected to gender, that connection is less overt, and the disadvantage they produce increases incrementally over time. The role of law and policy, in ameliorating or exacerbating women’s disadvantages, is considered in conjunction with each factor, revealing considerable incoherence and regulatory gaps. Notably, the U.K.’s more protective legal stance toward women in comparison with the U.S. fails to change outcomes appreciably for women in that country.
An effective, comprehensive regulatory framework could help compensate for these disadvantages, which accumulate over a lifetime. Using the examples of the U.S. and the U.K., however, the article demonstrates that regulatory schemes created by “disjointed incrementalism” – in other words, policies that tinker along the margins without considering women’s full life course – are unlikely to vanquish systemic inequality on the scale of gender-based lifetime discrimination.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Susan Bisom-Rapp (Thomas Jefferson) writes to let us know that the Marco Biagi Foundation has put out calls for papers for the 2015 annual conference on labor relations March 19-20, 2015, in Modena Italy.
There is a general call for papers Download MARCO BIAGI CONFERENCE MARCH 2015, and a call for papers from newer scholars Download Call YSW 2015. The topic of the conference is Employment Relations and Transformation of the Enterprise in the Global Economy, and for the general call for papers, the foundation invites papers focusing on one of four tracks:
Organisational structure of the enterprise and the fragmentation of the employer’s role and responsibilities
Employment relations in ‘special’ enterprises
Small and medium-sized enterprises in a global context: relations, interests, protection
Collective solidarity and the representation of interests in the context of recent developments in regulatory provisions and the dematerialisation of the enterprise
Participants who intend to contribute a paper to one of the conference sessions should submit an abstract (maximum 1500 words) no later than 31 October 2014, and fill in the form that will be made available from September 2014 on the Marco Biagi Foundation website: www.fmb.unimore.it
Abstracts should include an indication of the related track. However, the Academic Advisory Board reserves the right to assign papers to the track they consider to be most appropriate.
Abstracts and papers may be submitted either in English or in Italian.
In order to be included in one of the conference sessions, full papers need to be submitted to the conference organisers no later than 13 February 2015.
Download the call for papers or visit the website for more details.
The Young Scholars Workshop will take place on the afternoon of March 18.
Abstracts should describe research projects that fall within the field of Labour relations from one of the following disciplinary perspectives: law, industrial relations, labour economics, organization theory, human resources management. Special consideration will be given to those topics and original research projects that allow for an interdisciplinary dialogue involving two or more of these disciplines, and that show a specific concern for international and/or comparative issues.
Scholars willing to participate in the workshop should submit a 1,000 word abstract along with a resume, including educational and academic career, publications, and contact information, no later than 31 October 2014.
Please submit the abstract electronically (in English). The preferred format for submission is Microsoft Word.
Abstracts should include the paper title and a bibliography, and should make specific reference to disciplinary field, academic affiliation of the author, research question(s), methodology and main results achieved.
The working language of the workshop will be English, some authors may be selected for a poster presentation instead, and some conference expenses will be covered for one author of papers and posters accepted. See the call for more details.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Congratulations to Katherine V.W. Stone (UCLA) on the publication by Vandeplas Publishing of Globalization and Labor Standards Annotated Bibliography: An Essential Research Tool. Here's the publisher's description:
The Globalization and Labor Standards (GALS) Annotated Bibliography is a compendium of articles about international labor rights, national and transnational labor standards, and comparative labor law that have been published in law journals. All of the articles in the library are abstracted and cross-referenced by subject. Each article is accompanied by an annotation that describes its contents clearly and concisely. The annotations have been written by Professor Katherine V.W. Stone with the help of her students at the Cornell Law School, the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and UCLA School of Law. This volume compiles all of the content in the GALS bibliographic library from 2000 to 2014. The purpose of the book is to preserve the wealth of material developed over the past fifteen years and make it available to libraries and researchers.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Just a friendly reminder from conference organizers, Melissa Hart and Scott Moss at the University of Colorado Law School, that the deadline to register to attend, and/or present a paper at, the 9th Annual Labor and Employment Scholars Colloquium is Friday, August 1, 2014. The Colloquium is scheduled in Boulder between September 11-13, 2014.
You can register and submit a paper proposal at this link:
June 12, 2014 in About This Blog, Arbitration, Conferences & Colloquia, Disability, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination, Faculty Presentations, International & Comparative L.E.L., Labor Law, Pension and Benefits, Public Employment Law, Religion, Scholarship, Teaching, Wage & Hour, Worklife Issues, Workplace Safety, Workplace Trends | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The AALS is hosting a Workshop June 22-24 in Washington DC on Transnational Perspectives on Equality Law. The full program is here, and this is a summary:
Workshop on Transnational Perspectives on Equality Law
Sunday, June 22 - Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
Antidiscrimination law is an American invention that has spread all around the world. During the American civil rights movement of the 1960s, antidiscrimination law promised radical social transformations towards equality for women and minorities in the workplace, in politics, and in education. But recent developments in Equal Protection and Title VII doctrine have paralyzed this trajectory. Meanwhile, the last decade has seen the unprecedented globalization of antidiscrimination law, as well as its expansion and alternative development outside the United States, catalyzed largely by the European Union's two directives in 2000, on race equality and on equal treatment in employment. Over the last few years, a new body of equality law and policy experimentation has emerged not only in the EU and in European countries, but also in South Africa, Canada, Latin America, and Asia. There is a range of public policies adopted to mitigate the disadvantages of vulnerable groups such as racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, women, the disabled, the elderly, and the poor, constituting an "equality law" that goes beyond norms prohibiting discrimination.
At the same time, antidiscrimination law in the United States seems to be changing. U.S. Supreme Court decisions over the last several years (Ricci v. DeStefano, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, Wal-Mart v. Dukes, and Shelby County v. Holder) have signaled the end of antidiscrimination law as envisioned by the civil rights movement in the United States. In response, there is growing scholarly interest in finding new approaches to the persistent problem of structural inequality. Comparative reflection is a productive tool, particularly when energy and optimism surrounds the trajectory of antidiscrimination law and equality policy outside of the United States. Now that there is over a decade's worth of new antidiscrimination activity in the EU countries following the 2000 equality directives, the time is ripe for scholarly reflection and evaluation of these developments. From an intellectual, practical, and strategic perspective, antidiscrimination scholars in the United States can no longer ignore developments in antidiscrimination law in other countries.
While a growing number of American legal scholars are lamenting the limits of antidiscrimination law, the recent growth of this body of law outside of the United States has largely gone unnoticed. The central purpose of this mid-year meeting is to widen the comparative lens on U.S. equality law - its failures, its achievements, and its potential - across a variety of subject areas. The meeting will provide a unique and much-needed opportunity to bring together scholars from various fields - constitutional law, employment discrimination law, comparative law, comparative constitutional law, election law, education law - to deepen and enrich the scholarship and teaching of equality. The meeting will also provide a unique opportunity for U.S. scholars to interact with a wide, varied, and stimulating group of antidiscrimination scholars working around the world.
Additionally, law schools are increasingly making their curricula more transnational and comparative. This conference will assist teachers in integrating comparative perspectives to illuminate constitutional law, employment discrimination law, employment law, and other traditional subjects.
This Workshop will explore a number of critical questions including what is at stake in looking comparatively when doing equality law; how affirmative action is understood in other legal systems; understanding disparate impact, accommodation, and positive rights. There will be discussions of religion, profiling, and equality and social movements. Transnational perspectives on equality law will be a greater component of antidiscrimination scholarship going forward. This meeting should not be missed.
AALS Planning Committee for 2014 AALS Workshop on Transnational Perspectives for Equality Law
Timothy A. Canova, Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center
Guy-Uriel E. Charles, Duke University School of Law, Chair
Richard T. Ford, Stanford Law School
Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School
Julie C. Suk, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University
May 28, 2014 in Conferences & Colloquia, Disability, Employment Discrimination, Faculty Presentations, International & Comparative L.E.L., Religion, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Please welcome guest blogger Joseph Seiner from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Joe teaches Employment Discrimination, Principles of Labor Law, Individual Employment Law, a workshop in ADR in Employment Law, and a seminar in Comparative Employment Discrimination. From his faculty bio:
Joseph Seiner received his B.B.A., with High Distinction, from the University of Michigan in 1995, where he was an Angell Scholar. Professor Seiner received his J.D., Magna Cum Laude, Order of the Coif, from the Washington and Lee University School of Law, in 1998. Professor Seiner was a lead articles editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review.
Following law school, Professor Seiner clerked for the late Honorable Ellsworth Van Graafeiland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After his clerkship, he practiced law with Jenner & Block, LLP, in Chicago, Illinois, where he focused on labor and employment matters. In September, 2001, Professor Seiner accepted a position as an appellate attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., where he presented oral argument as lead counsel in the United States Courts of Appeals in employment discrimination cases.
Prior to joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Law, Professor Seiner was an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he developed and taught a seminar on comparative employment discrimination. Professor Seiner's articles have been selected for publication in numerous journals, including the Notre Dame Law Review, the Boston University Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Boston College Law Review, the William and Mary Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, the Hastings Law Journal, the Wake Forest Law Review, and the Yale Law and Policy Review. Professor Seiner's work has been featured in a number of media sources, including The Wall Street Journal. Upon invitation, Professor Seiner has submitted written testimony to committees in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Professor Seiner teaches courses in the labor and employment law area.
Joe is also a prolific scholar. You might check out his most recent article, now on SSRN, The Issue Class. From the abstract:
In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), the Supreme Court refused to certify a proposed class of one and a half million female workers who had alleged that the nation’s largest private employer had discriminated against them on the basis of their sex. The academic response to the case has been highly critical of the Court’s decision. This paper does not weigh in on the debate of whether the Court missed the mark. Instead, this Article addresses a more fundamental question that has gone completely unexplored. Given that Wal-Mart is detrimental to plaintiffs, what is the best tool currently available for workers to pursue systemic employment discrimination claims?
Surveying the case law and federal rules, this paper identifies one little used procedural tool that offers substantial potential to workplace plaintiffs seeking to pursue systemic claims — issue class certification. Rule 23(c)(4)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the issue class, allowing common issues in a class case to be certified while the remaining issues are litigated separately. The issue class is typically used where a case has a common set of facts but the plaintiffs have suffered varying degrees of harm. This is precisely the situation presented by many workplace class action claims.
This paper explains how the issue class is particularly useful for systemic discrimination claims. The paper further examines why traditional class treatment often fails in workplace cases, and addresses how the plaintiffs in Wal-Mart could have benefited from issue class certification. Finally, this Article discusses some of the implications of using the issue class in employment cases, and situates the paper in the context of the broader academic scholarship. This paper seeks to fill the current void in the academic scholarship by identifying one overlooked way for plaintiffs to navigate around the Supreme Court’s decision.
May 20, 2014 in About This Blog, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination, Faculty News, International & Comparative L.E.L., Labor Law, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, April 24, 2014
From conference organizers Scott Moss and Melissa Hart, at the University of Colorado Law school comes word that registration is open for the Ninth Annual Colloquium on Labor and Employment Law Scholarship. The dates will be September 11th to the 13th in Boulder.
As many of you already know, this is a terrific opportunity to get to know colleagues in an informal setting and exchange ideas as we discuss works-in-progress. Past participants likely would agree that the friendly, low-key atmosphere and productive sessions, as well as the chance to socialize with our colleagues, make this gathering especially fun and valuable.
The Colloquium will follow the familiar format. We will workshop papers all day Friday through Saturday afternoon. Exact times TBD; check the event webpage for updates as the Colloquium approaches.
To register, click here.
April 24, 2014 in Conferences & Colloquia, Disability, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination, Faculty Presentations, International & Comparative L.E.L., Labor Law, Labor/Employment History, Pension and Benefits, Public Employment Law, Religion, Scholarship, Wage & Hour, Worklife Issues, Workplace Safety, Workplace Trends | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, March 24, 2014
I just posted on SSRN an article I've co-authored with a slew of other folks. My purpose in blogging it, however, is not so much the content of the article, but the process of creating it. The article grew out of a panel presentation I gave last May at a LawAsia Employment conference. At that conference, I and attendees from several other countries learned from each other that although labor outsourcing is prevalent in all of our countries, the approach to legally regulating it varies considerably. We decided that we'd each write a summary of our country's laws; I then collected the summaries, organized them into an article, added a section comparing and contrasting the different approaches, and found a journal to publish it.
What I've particularly enjoyed about this project is the opportunity it's given me to work with labor/employment practitioners throughout the world. I'm looking forward to collaborating with them on future projects, and next time I'm in Istanbul or Jakarta or Melbourne or Beijing, I'll have a new friend there happy to show and introduce me around.
Anyway, the article is A Comparative Analysis of Labor Outsourcing (forthcoming Arizona J. Int'l & Comparative L. (2014 )). Here's the abstract:
This article compares the laws and the practice of labor outsourcing in five countries: Australia, China, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United States. The article finds both significant similarities and differences among the countries. For example, labor outsourcing is globally prolific and seems to be increasing. However, the general legal approach to regulating it varies considerably, with some countries adopting a regulatory model, others a hybrid regulatory-contractual model, and others not regulating it at all. Similarly, the scope of legal regulations varies considerably by country: some focus on protecting existing employees, other focus on curbing exploitation of workers performing outsourced work; some countries regulate the types of work that can be outsourced or subcontracted and others regulate the firms that can provide labor outsourcing services. Thus, a thorough understanding of labor outsourcing can be achieved only from considering the different perspectives and legal regimes in which it operates.
I spent my spring break in Modena, Italy, where every March since 2003, the Marco Biagi Foundation (MBF) at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia has hosted an international conference devoted to international and comparative employment and labor relations. I’ve attended the event annually since 2007, making this my eighthconsecutive year as a conference participant. The conference was held on March 18th and 19th, with a pre-conference Young Scholars’ Workshop taking place on March 17th.
This year’s conference, “Labour and Social Rights: An Evolving Scenario,” centered on the challenges involved in providing employment-related social protection programs at a time when more and more people work outside of traditional employment relationships. (Social protection, loosely defined, consists of the programs that form the social safety net, including, among other things, unemployment insurance, job retraining efforts, workers’ compensation, disability insurance, and publically provided pensions.) Particular attention was given to the economic forces changing standard employment relationships, the values and interests that should be protected as new types of work emerge, and the theories and strategies that should anchor new forms of protection for working people. Participants addressed these issues from a number of disciplines including law, industrial relations, economics, and human resource management.
As an American, I was struck by the extent to which neoliberalism and austerity continue to drive public policy in many countries, especially in the EU. To the chagrin of many scholars at the conference, the quest for workplace “flexibility” has not abated despite the continuing labor market crisis, which manifests itself in elevated unemployment in many nations. Similarly notable was the concern voiced by commentators about the rise in precarious work and the weakening power of trade unions. These problems are not new but they have been greatly exacerbated by the economic conditions beginning in 2008. Clearly, we in the US are not alone.
On the upside, it is apparent that scholars are eager to theorize beyond the traditional, paradigmatic employment relationship with the goal of extending vital social security protections to greater numbers of people. Rather than clear solutions, it seems we are in a period of complex problem-solving. This requires patience and fortitude, as new models are posed and their utility evaluated. Ultimately, however, this period of theorizing will come to nothing without political movements demanding change from elected representatives. In the meanwhile, however, it’s possible to expand one’s thinking about the existing challenges through interaction with labor and employment scholars from other countries.
I was particularly pleased to see prominent US scholars in the program this year. Trina Jones (Duke) gave an insightful paper on the contemporary challenges facing U.S. civil rights law. Mike Zimmer (Loyola U., Chicago) and Michael Fischl (Connecticut) addressed different aspects of the challenges facing unions with the former suggesting ways in which transnational unionism might be enabled and the latter gleaning lessons from the way low wage union organizing campaigns have strategically deployed traditional labor law and non-labor law claims.
As for me, I served as chair for a panel titled “Social Dialogue and Labour Standards,” which covered six papers written by professors from six countries: Germany; Russia; South Africa; Ireland; Italy; and Brazil. The discussion on this panel was very diverse since the papers were on six very different subjects. Even so, common themes were evident. The papers dealt with the way our understanding of what counts as ‘work’ is evolving and changing over time, as is our willingness to think about the rights and protections all people who work should be entitled to.Another theme that emerged from the panel was the variety of mechanisms that can be used to provide voice to the concerns of the most vulnerable workers.
In addition to chairing the panel, I helped organize and was a commentator at the MBF’s annual Young Scholars’ Workshop. This was my third year of involvement with this portion of the annual conference events. This year we heard and commented on papers from Ph.D. students from the U.K., the U.S., Italy, Hungary, and Spain. There were eight papers presented in all. Creating ties with the new generation of comparative scholars is one of the most exciting parts of the conference. The quality of the scholarly work they are doing is impressive.
Over time, the MBF has become my academic home-away-from-home. I have been privileged to serve on the Foundation’s International Council since 2009, and two weeks ago was appointed to the MBF’s Scientific Committee, the academic advisory board that advises the Foundation on all of its scholarly projects. The Scientific Committee met in Modena during the conference to discuss and approve the theme for the Thirteenth International Conference in Commemoration of Marco Biagi. The theme, tentatively stated, is: Employment Relations and Transformation of the Enterprise in the Global Economy. Stay tuned for the call for papers. I hope many of you will consider submitting a proposal.
Sounds like it was great, Susan. Thanks!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
This Article takes a different approach. It explains a regime’s preferred method of regulating contracts, especially in the employment and consumer contexts, by reference to macro features of its political economy. Both the normative question of whether a mandatory or default approach is superior, and the positive question of which approach is probable, turn on characteristics of the population set that will be subject to the rule, characteristics of market structure in that jurisdiction, and various political institutions. Unlike others commenting on the mandatory-default divide, this Article emphasizes the importance of political and economic features of the transactional environment, not the microeconomics of the transactions themselves. The four environmental factors I study here are heterogeneity, mobility, sectoral composition and institutional capacity. After exploring their effects on domestic regulatory strategy, I discuss the limitations they pose for transnational regulation. Although “private regulation” might appear a third regulatory mode suitable in the transnational context, I argue that private agreements that constrain other private agreements are not properly regarded as an alternative to either ex ante mandatory rules or ex post interpretive defaults imposed by the state.
Looks worth a read!