Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is an assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and the author of State Capture: How Conservative Activists, Big Businesses, and Wealthy Donors Reshaped the American States—and the Nation (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Recent Articles

How to Rebuild the Labor Movement, State by State

What progressives can learn from conservative anti-union advocacy

This is a preview of the Spring 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Last year’s strikes and direct action by workers, especially red-state public school teachers, have rightly been celebrated for injecting new energy into the American labor movement. Yet these mobilizations should not distract progressives from the magnitude of the challenges facing unions and their supporters in the Democratic Party. The next time Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, they will need to put major reforms of federal labor law front and center. In the meantime, they ought to learn from conservative anti-union efforts about pursuing change through the states and developing a politically minded strategy for labor reform. In particular, Democrats need to think about labor law reform not just as yet another area of public policy, but rather as conservatives do: as a set of reforms that can build durable political power that enables further policy wins on...

Employer Political Coercion: A Growing Threat

Since Citizens United, companies can legally require workers to participate in politics—and fire them if they refuse.

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This article appears in the Fall 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . A common piece of advice for new hires is to avoid talking about politics, sex, and religion in the workplace. But it may be increasingly difficult for workers to keep their politics to themselves. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United , employers now have broad legal rights to campaign for political candidates inside their firms as well as in the public arena. And thanks to new technology, they have the means to track their employees’ political opinions and activities. Managers and supervisors can now legally require their workers to participate in politics as a condition of employment. For instance, in most states, managers have the legal right to mandate worker attendance at a political rally for a favored candidate—and fire or punish workers who decline to participate. Consider the following examples from recent years of employers engaging their...