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Clean Slate for Worker Power

Building a Just Economy and Democracy

Clean Slate for Worker Power is a project of Harvard Law School’s Center for Labor and a Just Economy (CLJE). It was founded by Professor Benjamin Sachs, Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School, and Sharon Block, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School and Executive Director of CLJE.

Based on a reimagined vision of labor law that works for all, the Clean Slate project focuses on advancing pragmatic and innovative policy solutions to enable working people to build countervailing power for a more inclusive and equitable nation.

The Clean Slate Agenda

Since the founding of the country, concentration of power in the hands of a small minority has been recognized as a threat to the viability of American democracy. Today, the struggle to preserve democracy in the face of extreme wealth concentration is acute because we live in a historical moment when vast disparities of economic power have been translated into equally shocking disparities in political power.

With this report, we offer an intervention that promises to help stop the self-reinforcing cycle of economic and political inequality. By proposing a fundamental redesign of labor law, our aspiration is to enable all working people – including those who have been excluded by systemic racism and sexism – to create the collective economic and political power necessary to build an equitable economy and politics.

About the Clean Slate Project

The Clean Slate for Worker Power project began in 2018, developing from a foundational question to address the dual crises of economic and political inequality in America: what would labor law look like if, starting from a clean slate, it was designed to empower working people to build a truly equitable democracy and economy? Our aim is not to return to a labor movement of yesterday entrenched in racial and gender inequalities. In order for workers to be able to build countervailing power, we believe a statutory clean slate approach to labor law reform is necessary for a truly inclusive and just economy and democracy.

In January 2020, we released a set of recommendations for a redesigned labor law with Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy. The report was the product of more than a year of intensive engagement with more than 200 stakeholders, including union leaders, workers, advocates, academics, economists, futurists, students and others from the U.S. and around the world. Since the release of our initial recommendations report, Clean Slate for Worker Power has engaged with partners and collaborators across sectors to identify and implement innovative policy approaches to advancing our vision. In this new phase of work for the Clean Slate project, our focus is on deepening our partnerships with stakeholders and exploring policy and organizing strategies to empower workers at the state and local level.