Events | Inequality and Poverty

Centering Unequal Workplace Power: Shattering the assumption that employees and employers have equal bargaining power

Date: October 7, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged the assumption that there is equal power between employers and employees, and all of us need to challenge this notion.

The stakes are high. Nothing less than economic fairness, our freedoms in and out of the workplace, the ability to have adequate workplace protections, and a robust democracy hang in the balance.

The equal power assumption is false, but pervasive, in employment law, philosophy, political science and economics, and it greatly disadvantages the vast majority of working people. The Economic Policy Institute’s Unequal Power project is a three-year, interdisciplinary initiative that challenges the equal power assumption and identifies why we need to operate with a framework that centers unequal workplace power.

Join us for the launch of Unequal Power, featuring presentations and a discussion by leading thinkers, a brief overview of the project, and a dedication of the initiative to Justice Ginsburg, whose dissent in Epic Systems inspired the project

Opening remarks and overview of the Unequal Power project

  • Thea Lee, President, Economic Policy Institute
  • Larry Mishel, Distinguished Fellow, Economic Policy Institute
  • Jennifer Harris, Senior Fellow, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Dedication to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • Kate Andrias, former clerk to Justice Ginsburg and Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Presentation

  • Samuel Bagenstos, former clerk to Justice Ginsburg and Frank G. Millard Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Panelists

  • Cynthia Estlund, Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • Suresh Naidu, Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Elizabeth Anderson, John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Jenny R. Yang, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
The Unequal Power project is dedicated to the memory of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recognized the inherent asymmetry between workers and their employers.

For workers striving to gain from their employers decent terms and conditions of employment, there is strength in numbers.

—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissent in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis

See related work on Economic inequality | Unions and Labor Standards

See more work by Lawrence Mishel and Thea M. Lee