September 2, 2019

Labor Day Weekend Messages from Two MIT Sloan Professors

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On Labor Day and the days leading up to it, MIT Sloan Professors Thomas Kochan and Zeynep Ton each penned op-eds calling, in different ways, for better working conditions for U.S. workers as a route to economic prosperity for the nation.

In a Labor Day op-ed on the website The Hill, Professor Thomas Kochan, the George M. Bunker Professor of Management at MIT Sloan, shares reasons to be optimistic that many Americans may now be ready for a new social compact that would improve conditions for U.S. workers and lead to widely shared prosperity.

He writes: “Workers and labor organizations are taking action to rebuild their bargaining power in new ways, business leaders are calling for a more balanced view of corporate responsibility than they have been espousing throughout the era of financial capitalism, educational institutions are offering new ideas and concrete programs to prepare for the future of work and Democratic candidates for president are determined to win back the support of the workers who abandoned them in 2016.”

Kochan then calls for leaders of different stakeholder groups “to sit down with each other to start the process of negotiating a new workplace compact capable of launching an era of shared respect and prosperity.”

And in an article published on August 30 on Harvard Business Review’s website, MIT Sloan Professor of Practice Zeynep Ton makes the case for improving the quality of frontline service-sector jobs as a means to expanding the middle class in the U.S. “Over the last 100 years, many manufacturing jobs — once low-paid, tedious, and dangerous — were transformed into well-paying, desirable jobs,” she writes. “It once seemed impossible to imagine, but it was quite possible and quite profitable. A similar transformation is now possible and badly needed in the service sector.”

Read Kochan’s op-ed here and Zon’s op-ed here.

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