Roosevelt Institute Releases Blueprint to Empower Workers for Shared Prosperity

By Roosevelt Institute |

Policy Agenda Coincides with White House Summit on Worker Voice

New York—The Roosevelt Institute today released a substantial labor agenda to coincide with the White House Summit on Worker Voice. The Blueprint to Empower Workers for Shared Prosperity and supporting policy briefs, products of Roosevelt’s Future of Work Project, are the culmination of a three-year process that brought together labor unions, academics, leading thinkers from worker centers, community and policy groups, and attorneys to identify new areas to build worker power.

“This agenda would radically rewrite the rules of our economy and labor laws to empower workers, rebalance worker–CEO power, hold corporations accountable for labor law violations, and update our laws to meet the demands of a 21st century economy,” said Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who will be present at the White House Summit.

The Blueprint, authored by Warren, Roosevelt Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch, and Roosevelt Program Manager Andy Shen argues that the failure to update labor policy has left already vulnerable workers and communities in an increasingly precarious position; that in the last four decades we have witnessed an ongoing political attack on existing labor standards and worker rights; that political forces have blocked attempts to modernize and expand labor institutions designed to build worker power as the economy has transformed; and that the deliberate failure to adapt and augment our labor institutions has allowed the perpetuation of structural discrimination in labor markets.

To remedy this, the Blueprint and subsequent papers focus on five policy strategies to empower workers, level the playing field, and modernize labor laws: (1) maximizing worker power and voice in the new economy; (2) ensuring local residents receive a fair share of the wealth generated by publicly funded projects; (3) holding all employers accountable for violations of labor and civil rights; (4) promoting worker-centered business models and socially responsible business practices; and (5) valuing care by valuing care workers.

These policies include Mark Barenberg’s proposals around multi-employer bargaining, Haeyoung Yoon’s proposals around local and state business registration schemes, Laura Dresser’s work on care workers, Ben Beach and Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel’s proposals on labor-community coalitions, and Olatunde Johnson’s work on racial and ethnic inclusion in employment though regulatory mandates and incentives.

“In approaching the challenges that workers face today, we took inspiration from the New Deal’s achievements in responding to a harsh industrial economy and an immediate economic crisis while also building positive foundations for the future,” said Kirsch. “These are smart, commonsense policy ideas that will promote shared prosperity and drive the economy forward.”

Many of the authors of the papers and participants in the project will be present for the White House Summit, as will Roosevelt Institute President Felicia Wong. Roosevelt’s Future of Work Project is led by Kirsch, Warren, and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt.


Papers Released today by the Roosevelt Institute

· Dorian Warren, Richard Kirsch, Andy Shen, Blueprint to Empower Workers for Shared Prosperity

· Mark Barenberg, Widening the Scope of Worker Organizing: Legal Reforms to Facilitate Multi-Employer Organizing, Bargaining, and Striking

· Ben Beach and Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel, Metropolitan Coalitions: Creating Opportunities for Worker Organizing

· Laura Dresser, Valuing Care by Valuing Care Workers: The Big Cost of a Worthy Standard and Some Steps toward It

· Olatunde Johnson, Promoting Racial and Ethnic Inclusion in Employment through Regulatory Mandates and Incentives

· Michael Piore, Labor Standards and Worker Organization Strategy

· Haeyoung Yoon, Local and State Business Registration Schemes: An Enforcement Lever to Strengthen Employer Compliance with Labor Standards and to Facilitate Worker Organizing

· Dorian Warren, Tackling Workplace Segregation Through Collective Bargaining: The Case of UNITE-HERE and the Hotel Industry

· Dorian Warren, Union Organizing In National Labor Relations Board Elections

About the Roosevelt Institute
Until economic and social rules work for all Americans, they’re not working. Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, the Roosevelt Institute reimagines the rules to create a nation where everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We are a 21st century think tank bringing together multiple generations of thinkers and leaders to help drive key economic and social debates and have local and national impact.

The Roosevelt Institute brings together thousands of thinkers and doers—from emerging leaders in every state to Nobel laureate economists. We reimagine the rules that guide our social and economic realities. Follow us on Twitter @rooseveltinst and like us on Facebook.