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Worker Boards Across the Country Are Empowering Workers and Implementing Workforce Standards Across Industries
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Worker Boards Across the Country Are Empowering Workers and Implementing Workforce Standards Across Industries

Worker boards have achieved real momentum in the United States, with four states and three local governments enacting laws since 2018 that bring workers and employers together to recommend standards.

State and local policymakers are increasingly regulating workplace standards—including compensation, scheduling, training, and safety—through industrywide councils or boards that include worker representatives. This helps create a path to improve working conditions and empower workers. Since 2018, four states and three local governments have enacted laws that include workers and employers in the process of recommending or implementing workplace standards for an entire sector. Additional action is planned, most notably in California, where the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act—which would create a sector council for the fast-food industry—is being considered by the state Senate after the state Assembly passed it in January 2022.

These standard-setting bodies go by a number of names, including industry councils, workers standards boards, and wage boards. However, what unites them is that they bring together representatives from both the workforce and their employers in an official capacity to help set and enforce workplace standards that cover all workers in a particular industry and geography—for example, domestic workers in Seattle or farm workers in New York.

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Authors

Aurelia Glass

Research Assistant

David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

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