Mark Barenberg

Isador and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and CoDirector of Columbia Program on Labor Law and Policy, Columbia University
Chapter Member: New York City SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Mark

Barenberg’s areas of expertise include labor rights in free trade agreements and U.S. trade legislation, multi-stakeholder initiatives to enforce international labor rights, global economic institutions, U.S. domestic labor law and policy, U.S. employment law and policy, and United States constitutional law. He is the founding president of Worker Rights Consortium and legal adviser to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. He has drafted many anti-sweatshop, living wage, and trade reform laws on behalf of cities, states, and Congress and has written policy papers and led numerous workshops with the Roosevelt Institute’s Future of Work initiative. Barenberg has also served as legal adviser to Members of Congress and A.F.L.-C.I.O in several capacities. He has acted as consultant to the Economic Policy Institute’s Agenda for Shared Prosperity, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the International Labor Organization (ILO), the specialized UN agency charged with formulating and monitoring compliance with international labor law.

In the News

Opinion: "Labor Rights, under Republican Attack," Mark Barenberg (with James Brudney and Karl Klare), New York Times, October 31, 2011.


"International Labor Indicators: Conceptual and Normative Snares" in Handbook on International Labor Law, edited by Anne Trebilcock and Adelle Blackett (Edward Elgar, forthcoming).
Discusses how difficult it is to formulate meaningful numerical indicators to measure a country’s enforcement of complex worker rights.
"Widening the Scope of Worker Organizing: Legal Reforms to Facilitate Multi-Employer Organizing, Bargaining, and Striking," Roosevelt Institute, forthcoming.
Argues that labor law must change to help workers create organizations that span multiple employers. Discusses as an example the efforts of workers to organize “big-box supply chains” – that is, the workforces of factories, trucking companies, warehouses, and other companies feeding into big-box retail stores.
"The U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Obama Health Care Legislation" European Journal of Social Law 3 (2013): 180-193.
Argues that the Supreme Court’s first Affordable Care Act decision dodged the debate over libertarian rights (against Congressional mandates that citizens engage in forced purchases of insurance) and, to the contrary, affirmed the Constitutional capacity of the government to implement social insurance.
"Sustaining Workers’ Bargaining Power in an Age of Globalization: Institutions for Meaningful Enforcement of International Labor Rights," Economic Policy Institute, October 2009.

Offers an architecture for the new high-powered institutions that would be necessary to genuinely counter the race-to-the-bottom in global labor standards.

"Toward a Democratic Model of Private Labour Monitoring" in Regulating Labour in the Wake of Globalisation, edited by Brian Bercusson and Cynthia Estlund (Kluwer, 2008), 37-65.
Criticizes corporate codes of conduct that set labor standards in global factories, and shows that a participatory, worker-centered method for inspecting factories is the better alternative.
"The Political Economy of the Wagner Act: Power, Symbol, and Workplace Cooperation" Harvard Law Review 106, no. 7 (1993): 1379-1496.
Argues that the New Deal policy of encouraging labor unionism was not based on an adversarial ideal of labor-management relations, but instead was deeply committed to labor-management cooperation.