OUR MISSION ||
The UC Berkeley Center for Law and Work (CLAW) fosters cross-disciplinary scholarship, student engagement, and community involvement to address pressing and emerging labor and employment issues faced by our most vulnerable working populations. With a focus on race, class, gender, and immigration status, CLAW combines robust legal, policy, and empirical research and analysis to develop solutions to what is broken in our current structures of work, and to chart a promising future of progressive labor policy that is inclusive of all workers and promotes a vibrant and equitable economy.
OUR WORK ||
Too many people in California and nationwide work in jobs that do not pay enough for food, housing, and other basic necessities. Workers with the least economic mobility and resources, including disproportionate numbers of people of color, women, and immigrants, are the hardest hit by inequality on multiple fronts—including wage disparities that are only made worse by pervasive wage violations, inadequate labor protections and enforcement, and lack of access to government programs meant to support workers during times of need. Today, we stand at a crossroads: How do we re-imagine laws and policies around work and working relationships in order to create a more fair and just economy? To help answer this question, CLAW utilizes our multiple decades of expertise, as thought leaders in academia and the public and non-profit sectors, as we seek to raise, lead, and envision an innovative law and policy platform that advances worker equity and fosters sensible, high-road business practices.
- RAISING worker voice and the low-wage work floor. The Center will explore and assess promising models, such as worker cooperatives and wage boards, that promote worker agency, participation, and control in improving labor standards and lifting the low-wage work floor. We will also identify and analyze opportunities to empower workers in the face of regressive policies and court decisions that threaten to erode workers’ rights.
- LEADING and shaping model laws and policies for low-wage and immigrant workers. CLAW will take a deep dive into California laws and policies framing the rights of low-wage, immigrant, and undocumented workers, including laws to deter wage and hour abuses, establish corporate responsibility for labor law violations, and provide government labor agencies with powerful enforcement tools. Through rigorous legal and policy analysis, we will provide insights into what has worked and what hasn’t, and map out where California must go from here to help realize a true vision of economic justice for all our working communities. As part of designing a blueprint forward, we will craft and recommend model statutes and policies that elevate and safeguard the rights of low-wage workers and ensure that labor protections are meaningful regardless of immigration status.
- ENVISIONING equity in work and economic security for all workers. The Center will examine the depths of wage inequality in the private sector, including in industries that perpetuate the payment of poverty wages, and expand the understanding of pay disparities based on race, ethnicity and gender. With an interdisciplinary approach, we will also challenge traditional norms around the meaning and structures of work, as we recommend law and policy solutions aimed at achieving equity—in the workplace, working relationships, and government social insurance programs for workers who lose their jobs or are unable to work.
OUR COMMUNITY ||
With our synthesis of scholarship, research, and legal and public policy strategies, CLAW creates an intellectual hub for those who study law and work at the Law School and across the Berkeley campus. We draw not only from our dynamic campus community, but also from our pivotal vantage point in California, with the largest economy in the nation and fifth largest in the world. Recognizing that what happens in California, including what works and what fails, often sets the pace for the rest of the country, we incorporate critical perspectives gained from the state’s unparalleled diversity of working communities, including the largest populations in the country of low-wage and immigrant workers, as a springboard to develop model economic justice policies for workers. The Center connects faculty, scholars, and students to lawyers, activists, grassroots organizations, research and policy institutions, public agencies, policymakers, and other stakeholders. Integrating faculty and student research from the Law School with research from other campus faculty and organizations, including the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE)(link is external), CLAW also supports the professional and scholarly development of JD, PhD, LLM, and JSD students with interests in the law of work.