The Center for Labor and Employment Law hosted the 64th annual Conference on Labor, "The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on the Workplace,” at NYU School of Law on June 9 and 10. Organized by Samuel Estreicher, Dwight D. Opperman Professor of Law and director of the center, the two-day event with nine panels and several lectures included keynote addresses by Seth Harris ’90, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, and Wilma Liebman, chair of the National Labor Relations Board.

Seth Harris and Wilma LiebmanDiscussing the topic of economic insecurity in the U.S., Harris observed, “This is a subject that millions of American workers could write a doctoral thesis about simply by detailing their struggles during the Great Recession.... American workers have not been slacking off in the face of economic adversity. They remain the world’s hardest-working working people. The resilience, resolve, and ingenuity of America’s workers are our most valuable assets. We just needed government policies to catch up.” In that vein, he said, the Obama administration has worked to promote job training and continuing education, universal health care, and worker protection against abuse and unfair competition.

While acknowledging that the recovery process was long and uneven as nearly 14 million Americans remain unemployed, Harris asserted that the government was doing everything it could, and that citizens were up to the challenge: “Faith in the American worker has guided our policymaking throughout my time in the Obama administration. It’s the reason we believe that, despite the challenges ahead, workers are essential to winning the future. We’ll continue to fight for them and for their families.”

Liebman addressed the conference at the beginning of its second day, talking about some of the thorny political aspects of labor law and labor law policy.

Posted on June 21, 2011