Searching For Silver Linings During COVID-19
16 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2020 Last revised: 4 Sep 2020
Date Written: April 4, 2020
This short essay responds to currently circulating suppositions about how COVID-19 will impact—specifically, will improve—working conditions in America once the pandemic has concluded. I argue that these predictions are cautiously optimistic, rationally deduced from ongoing events, and thoroughly unlikely to be realized. As world-transforming as COVID-19 has already proven to be, I show that both governmental and corporate responses to date do not support optimistic assessments as to the pandemic’s effects on labor and employment law in the United States. I also respond to various analogies that have been drawn to previous world-transforming events as a way of supporting the idea that the pandemic will change working conditions in America for the better, and I show why either those analogies rely on bad history or are simply faulty in the way they compare previous events to COVID-19. The lesson—because even in these difficult times, papers by academics must have lessons—is as grim as the news about the virus itself: America’s problematic labor system is far more resilient than the workers who suffer because of it.
Keywords: COVID-19, work, labor and employment law, reforms
JEL Classification: K00, K31, J00, J2, J3, J5, J6, J8, Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation