Decent Work, Living Wages, and the Government’s Hidden Leverage

Source: American Prospect, Special Report, Vol. 20 no. 8, October 2009

Today, the country’s primary labor market – regular jobs with reliable wages, benefits, and terms of employment – is being drained by a rise in temporary and contract work with no security. By using its power as a contractor and by enforcing laws already on the books, government can turn millions of bad jobs into good ones.
Articles include:

Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers – Annette Bernhardt, Ruth Milkman and Nik Theodore
Rebuilding our economy on the back of illegal working conditions is morally untenable — and it is bad economics.

Dark and Bitter – Nancy Cleeland
Food workers increasingly exist in a legal limbo with no protections for wages, benefits, job security, or life and limb. Why are employers like Hershey off the hook?

Decent Work – Robert Kuttner
How government can get back on the side of promoting good jobs.

Forgotten Corners of the Economy – Stephen Franklin
As unemployment rises, the illegal treatment of day laborers only worsens. Where’s the government?

Good Jobs, Healthy Cities – Peter Dreier
Some city governments are using their economic muscle to promote good jobs.

Government Paves the Way – Paul Sonn and Annette Bernhardt
A decent work agenda for the Obama administration.

Stuck on the Low Road – David Bensman
Deregulation turned truck driving from a good job into a bad one. Now, thanks to local organizing and government action, there’s a better road.

The Good War and the Workers – Steve Fraser
World War II defense contracts raised labor standards. Government could use the same leverage in peacetime.

Which Side Is Government On? – David Moberg
Millions of contract workers whose salaries are ultimately paid by government live in poverty. Uncle Sam should demand high standards, not pay as little as possible.

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