President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 “the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted in this or any other country." The historic FLSA established the minimum wage, created a standard workweek, and outlawed child labor. Almost eighty years later, many argue that the law is too rigid for today’s 21st-century workplace and the gig economy. Others contend that the law must be strengthened to better protect workers, many of whom face job insecurity; wage theft; or lack of health, retirement, and unemployment benefits. Most agree that the law needs to be updated -- but how?
In this dynamic and realistic Week One simulation, students will prepare for and conduct a Congressional hearing on updating the FLSA. Working in teams, students will gain experience in the key components of preparing for and conducting a hearing including writing, delivering, and responding to opening statements, testimony, and questions. Students will play the roles of witnesses such as Department of Labor leadership, business leaders, worker advocates, and others, as well as Democratic and Republican Congressional Members of Congress/staff. Additional Members of Congress will be played by outside experts. Upperclass teaching fellows will help guide student preparation for the hearing and also may serve as Members of Congress in the simulation.