Littler’s Jim Paretti Testifies Before Congress on Future of Work, Emma Coalition

Washington, D.C. (December 20, 2019) – On December 18, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development heard testimony from a panel of witnesses, including Littler Shareholder Jim Paretti, on the future of work and how to ensure workers are competitive in a rapidly changing economy. 

Testifying on behalf of the Emma Coalition, Paretti discussed the impact of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation on the workforce, and in particular, the technology-induced displacement of employees (TIDE™). The Emma Coalition is nonprofit, nonpartisan organization co-founded by Littler and the National Restaurant Association that is dedicated to addressing the coming TIDE through education, training and engagement with policymakers. As Paretti explained, “With proper preparation, employers and their workers can ride and thrive in TIDE. But if they do nothing, TIDE will overwhelm them.”

Paretti further discussed how the Emma Coalition is exploring strategic partnerships to advance its mission and examining the role workforce data analytics might play in predicting and responding to job displacement. He offered several policy areas for the Committee to consider, ranging from a federal analysis of the impacts of TIDE on the workforce, to lifelong learning accounts to provide workers with resources for upskilling and training. 

“Currently, we provide tax-favored ways to set aside monies at the end of our careers through 401ks and IRAs, and at the start of our careers through tax-deferred options to save for college,” Paretti said. “The Emma Coalition endorses the principle that we should explore the effectiveness of providing similar benefits for workers throughout their careers.”

This was the second in a series of hearings the Committee has held on the future of work. 

One of the witnesses testifying alongside Paretti was Nova Gattman, Deputy Director for External Affairs of the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board. In early December, the state of Washington released a ground-breaking report from its Future of Work Task Force, a first-in-the-nation project that brought together business, labor and government to explore future of work policy in detail. The Task Force’s report examines the future of work in the state, with particular emphasis on workforce training and readiness, and the impact of TIDE on the state’s workforce. The report includes more than 15 specific recommendations, broadly grouped into five policy areas. The Emma Coalition welcomed the Task Force’s report when it was released, and will be working to circulate it prominently.

Finally, Paretti discussed Littler’s partnership with the National Restaurant Association in forming the Emma Coalition, and why the restaurant and foodservice industry is at the epicenter of TIDE.  “The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises over one million restaurants and other foodservice outlets, which employ 15.3 million employees—approximately 10 percent of the U.S. workforce,” Paretti said. “Restaurants are job creators and the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, and 1 in 3 Americans get their first start in the restaurant industry. Most relevant to the hearing, given those statistics and demographics, restaurants and foodservice are at the beachhead of TIDE, as automation has dramatically begun to reshape the industry.” He detailed efforts the association is undertaking to help its members address the challenges of TIDE.

Hearing testimony, and a link to the full video recording of the hearing, may be found here.

About Littler

With more than 1,500 labor and employment attorneys in offices around the world, Littler provides workplace solutions that are local, everywhere. Our diverse team and proprietary technology foster a culture that celebrates original thinking, delivering groundbreaking innovation that prepares employers for what’s happening today, and what’s likely to happen tomorrow. 

About the Emma Coalition

The Emma Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to preparing American businesses and government for technology-induced displacement of employees (TIDE). The Coalition seeks to educate the employer community and policymakers about the issues surrounding TIDE, and to maximize the economic and social benefits of TIDE while minimizing the disruptive costs for employers and the workforce. The Coalition directly engages with policymakers on the importance of confronting TIDE and with employers to create training programs and practices that workers need to compete in the post-TIDE economy. The Emma Coalition is a joint venture of the National Restaurant Association, the leading business association for the restaurant and foodservice industry, which employs nearly 10 percent of the nation’s workforce, and Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law firm representing management. More information about the Emma Coalition may be found at