Balancing Public Health and Economic Recovery: Terri Gerstein Advocates for Worker Protections

Terri Gerstein (‘95), Director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program, was consulted for an article in MoneyGeek regarding the results of their job recovery analysis and what government may do to stimulate economic recovery while safeguarding public health. Terri advocated for strong worker safety protections, new anti-retaliation and paid sick leave laws, as well as states adopting COVID-specific workplace safety standards in conjunction with OSHA stepping up to do its job (“The Cost of American Job Recovery,” Sep. 30). “I am concerned that continuing high unemployment rates will lead to higher rates of labor violations, including safety and health, because it will make it harder for workers to speak up. . . . Pre-COVID, there was already a great disparity of bargaining power between employers and workers; that disparity is exacerbated by high unemployment, which may lead to further degraded working conditions. At the same time, the seriousness of COVID-related health risks has also led to an increase in worker organizing and activism. I anticipate and hope that this trend will continue.”