June 14, 2013

The Worker Voice in a New Era of Organizing

Katie Corrigan

Assistant for the Secretary of Treasurer, Liz Shuler AFL-CIO
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Stephen P. Berzon

Founding Partner, Altshuler Berzon LLP
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Ann C. Hodges

Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law
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Mark Schneider

Counsel for Political Programs and Associate General Counsel, SEIU
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Willis Goldsmith

Partner, Jones Day
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Craig Becker

General Counsel, AFL-CIO
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Economic inequality has grown rapidly over the past few decades, with a disheartening decline in workforce stability. The workplace and its force as a channel for economic success is no longer a foregone conclusion for the worker. Organizing to fight income inequality has become increasingly difficult. Much of this dilemma can be traced to the hostile, coordinated legal and political opposition facing organized workers, collective action, and collective bargaining. Is collective action the most effective method of fighting income inequality? How can principles of freedom of assembly and freedom of association be used in new and creative ways to mobilize and organize workers? What novel tools can existing labor organizations and unions look to in their organizing campaigns? What are new and transformative forms of organizing that can fundamentally enhance collective action and reinvigorate the worker voice? What types of federal and state legislation could support these efforts, and is collective action the answer to fighting economic inequality?