Washington, D.C. — As states and cities around the country increasingly look for ways to ensure better conditions for their workers, a handful—such as New York state, Washington state, Oregon, and Seattle—are considering or have already enacted legislation to create workers’ boards. Workers’ boards set policies for workers’ compensation, training, and standards. They can also help mitigate challenges facing workers, such as closing the pay gaps that women and people of color face, while building worker power, since by design workers and their organizations are directly involved in governance decisions.
A new Center for American Progress report provides a road map for state and local governments looking to set minimum labor standards for specific occupations or sectors. The report outlines the following policy recommendations for any legislation that creates workers’ boards:
- Include a strong purpose statement and a broad mandate to improve wages and working conditions for all workers throughout the economy
- Require that board members be selected in ways that are representative, democratic, and encourage public participation
- Provide boards with the authority to gather relevant information through hearings and investigations as well as to issue comprehensive recommendations
- Design boards with a bias toward action operating as adequately resourced institutions making regular decisions
- Provide for a process that enables quick review and adoption of board recommendations
- Create strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with promulgated standards
- Empower workers to organize and participate in board activities
“While bringing together representatives of workers, business, and the public to negotiate fair working conditions is not an entirely new idea, workers’ boards are becoming an increasingly popular policy solution for states and cities looking to improve the lives of their workforce,” said David Madland, senior fellow and senior adviser to the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress. “With this report, we attempted to provide a clear blueprint for creating effective, equitable workers boards so policymakers can ensure that their states’ or cities’ worker boards become powerful institutions to improve the lives of their workers. ”
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcisucj or 202.495.3682.