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The Clean Slate Agenda


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. Fixing our broken economy and democracy requires reorganizing power in this country. We need to rewrite American labor law to enable workers to build strong collective organizations that can match corporate power. But our laws to empower workers are outdated, failing to keep up with changes in the economy, technology, and employers’ tactics to undermine them. We need bold, transformative change to give everyone a voice in building a society in which workers, their families, and their communities can prosper.

With this report, we offer an intervention that promises to help stop the vicious self-reinforcing cycle of economic and political inequality. By proposing a fundamental redesign of labor law, our aspiration is to enable working people to create the collective economic and political power necessary to build an equitable economy and politics.

Our Recommendations


Labor law reform must start with inclusion to address systemic racial and gender oppression. We recommend extending the protection of labor law to domestic, agricultural, undocumented, disabled, and incarcerated workers; adopting a more protective test for defining independent contractors; and extending coverage to independent contractors.

Universal Representation

We recommend that labor law provide all workers with multiple forms of representation free from employer interference. These will include workplace monitors, works councils, non-exclusive collective bargaining representation, and exclusive collective bargaining representation.

Sectoral Bargaining

We recommend creating a system of sectoral bargaining. Collective bargaining agreements reached at the sectoral level should be binding on all firms in that sector.

Democratic Participation

We recommend that workers’ ability to participate in democracy be facilitated by mandating same-day registration, early voting and vote by mail, in addition to paid time off to vote and engage in civic activities. Employers should be prohibited from coercing workers’ political activities.

Meaningful Collective Action

We recommend that workers be able to choose as the object of their strikes or collective action the parties exercising real power over their lives. When they strike, they shouldn’t face financial ruin. They should be protected when they speak out on issues that affect their lives, livelihoods, and communities.

Meaningful Collective Bargaining

To ensure that all Clean Slate recommendations are meaningful, we recommend that labor law protect workers’ right to organize and empower them to bargain over a broader range of subjects, including those that most impact their lives and communities, like climate change.

Role in Corporate Decisionmaking

We recommend that workers choose representatives to serve on corporate boards and that corporations have a legal duty to consider how corporate decisions will affect workers, not just executives and shareholders.

State and Local Innovation

Federal labor law should set a floor for workers’ rights. State and local governments should be allowed to adopt reforms that build up from it.

To learn more about the history of the Clean Slate project and the partners who helped bring our recommendations to life, check out Our History.