This symposium essay uses the recent bankruptcy filing by Hostess, which was prompted by the refusal of workers to take additional pay cuts to keep the company afloat, to explore the issue of workplace dignity. The Hostess bakery workers, I suggest, took a stand that proclaimed that employers could not assume that workers would do anything to keep their jobs, that some jobs were not worth having or keeping, particularly when the company had repeatedly failed to provide required pension payments to its workers. I also discuss the various ways in which consumers can seek to influence employment policies, though one current problem is that consumers often do not know which companies treat their workers with respect. Towards the end of the essay, I discuss the recent advent of B-Corporations (and their limitations) and call for the development of a “Humanely Produced” label, that would require certification related to workplace policies, given that current certifications typically have more to do with environmental than employment policies.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-115; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-115
Michael Selmi, Hostess and the Search for Workplace Dignity, 52 Washburn L.J. 517 (2013).