Author Archives: afscme

Organized Labor, Democracy, and Life Satisfaction: A Cross-National Analysis

Source: Lauren Keane, Alexander Pacek, Benjamin Radcliff, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 37 no. 3, September 2012

From the abstract:
In this paper we attempt to assess how labor unions affect cross-national variation in life satisfaction. We argue that cross-national differences in the extent of labor organization play a significant role in determining why citizens in some nations express greater subjective satisfaction with life than others. We examine this proposition using data on nations that cover the political and economic spectrum. To anticipate our findings, we show that individual union membership has a consistent positive effect on individual well-being. Our main focus, though, is the effects of the national level of union density on the general, overall level of satisfaction within a country, considering both union members and nonmembers. We find that union density is strongly associated with the general level of well-being but that this effect is conditioned, as we expect, by the level of democracy: in democratic countries, union density produces greater levels of life satisfaction, while in highly authoritarian settings, it appears to reduce satisfaction. In each case, these effects obtain for members and nonmembers alike, thus highlighting the importance of labor unions for the general, overall level of quality of life across nations

Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets

Source: David Lee, Emmanuel Saez, Journal of Public Economics, Volume 96, Issues 9–10, October 2012
(subscription required)

This paper provides a theoretical analysis of optimal minimum wage policy in a perfectly competitive labor market and obtains two key results. First, we show that a binding minimum wage–while leading to unemployment– is nevertheless desirable if the government values redistribution toward low wage workers and if unemployment induced by the minimum wage hits the lowest surplus workers first. Importantly, this result remains true in the presence of optimal nonlinear taxes and transfers. In that context, a binding minimum wage enhances the effectiveness of transfers to low-skilled workers as it prevents low-skilled wages from falling through incidence effects. Second, when labor supply responses are along the extensive margin only, which is the empirically relevant case, the co-existence of a minimum wage with a positive tax rate on low-skilled work is always (second-best) Pareto inefficient. A Pareto improving policy consists of reducing the pre-tax minimum wage while keeping constant the post-tax minimum wage by increasing transfers to low-skilled workers, and financing this reform by increasing taxes on higher paid workers. Those results imply that the minimum wage and subsidies for low-skilled workers are complementary policies.

The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Safety and Corrections Populations

Source: Susan D. Phillips, Sentencing Project, September 2012

…States are now in the process of planning and carrying out the implementation of the ACA. Groups concerned with high rates of incarceration and, in particular, with its accompanying racial disparities, will want to follow these decisions. What follows is a brief introduction to the implications the ACA has for:
(1) lowering the number of people cycling through the criminal justice system because of behaviors stemming from addictions and mental illness;
(2) lowering correctional health care expenditures through improved continuity of care; and
(3) reducing racial disparities in incarceration related to disparities in health care access…

Winning Hearts and Minds: Making the Case for the Labor Movement

Source: Topos Partnership, Labor Day, 2012

The Problem
After decades of bad press, average Americans – if they think of unions at all – regard them too often with a hostile or skeptical eye. Yet, as union membership has declined, so too have the clout and prosperity of American workers. Reversing this trend will require a long-term commitment to rebuilding people’s understanding of the role of labor organizing in creating more widespread prosperity.

The Solution
When people understand that unions are not meddlesome outside institutions, but instead an expression of their own ability to stick together with other employees; when they understand that unions are not just about dues and services, but about a collective voice; when they see that the fundamental right to stick together is being attacked, then their whole perspective on the labor movement shifts. People turn away from the familiar caricatures to a much more constructive and supportive engagement.

The State of the Unions 2012: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State and the United States

Source: Ruth Milkman, Laura Braslow, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies and the Center for Urban Research, CUNY, September 2012

These are difficult times for organized labor in the United States. In addition to the challenges of an anemic economic recovery and persistently high unemployment, unions are confronting continuing attacks on public-sector collective bargaining rights and aggressive demands for concessions from both public- and private-sector employers. Against this background, the long-term decline of unionism has continued unabated. Although relative to the nation as a whole, organized labor remains strong in New York City and State, significant erosion has occurred there in recent years, as Figure 1a shows. Nearly one-fourth (22.3 percent) of all wage and salary workers residing in New York City were union members in 2011-12, compared to 22.9 percent a year earlier, and 24.6 percent two years earlier. This proportion was slightly higher in New York State (23.7 percent), which ranks first in union density among the nation’s fifty states, and whose unionization rate is more than double the U.S. average of 11.7 percent. In absolute terms, New York State had more union members — almost 1.9 million — than any state except California, which has a far larger population. In 2011-12, there were about 735,000 union members in the five boroughs of New York City, representing almost two out of every five union members in the state. At the national and state level, and to an even greater extent in New York City, losses in union membership have been disproportionately concentrated in the private sector over the past decade, as Figure 1b shows. The Great Recession that began in late 2007 accelerated the long-term decline in private- sector unionization in the City (see page 5). In the public sector, by contrast, union density has been relatively stable, and has actually increased slightly in New York City recently (see Figure 1c), although ongoing budget cuts and, in other parts of the country, direct attacks on collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers may change that in the future.

Is Your Social Medial Policy Unlawful?

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Vol. 29 no. 17, August 22, 2012
(subscription required)

Think your social media policy is first-rate? Better take another look. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently reviewed the social media policies of seven employers and found six of them contained unlawful provisions. This news affects more than just six organizations whose policies were at issue. From confidentiality clauses to reminders for respectful dialogue, the provisions that were rejected appear in countless employers’ social media policies. Union status doesn’t matter in this case; the rules cited by the NLRB cover most private sector employees, union members or not. …

Occupational Injuries among U.S. Correctional Officers, 1999-2008

Source: Srinivas Konda, Audrey A. Reichard, Hope M. Tiesman, Journal of Safety Research, Volume 43, Issue 3, July 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study describes fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries among U.S. correctional officers…. While workplace violence is the primary cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among correctional officers, transportation events and bodily reactions are also leading causes of occupational injury. Future research is needed to identify risk factors unique to these events and develop appropriate prevention and intervention efforts….This study adds to the literature on occupational injuries among correctional officers and provides a national level description of fatal and nonfatal injuries across a 10-year period. Given that assaults and violent acts, transportation events, and bodily reaction and exertion were significant injury events, future research should describe detailed injury circumstances and risk factors for correctional officers unique to these events. This would allow appropriate prevention and control efforts to be developed to reduce injuries from these events…

Highlights
► There were 113 fatalities among correctional officers from 1999–2008. ► Eighteen officers were killed by inmates from 1999–2008. ► Nonfatal work-related injuries were estimated at 125,200 over 10 years. ► Violent acts were responsible for 45% of fatal and 38% of nonfatal injuries. ► Transportation related events were responsible for as many deaths as assaults.

Risk factors associated with bus accident severity in the United States: A generalized ordered logit model

Source: Sigal Kaplan, Carlo Giacomo Prato, Journal of Safety Research, Volume 43, Issue 3, July 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Highlights:
► Generalized ordered logit model for bus accident severity in the United States ► Marginal effects of risk factors on bus accident severity are identified ► Bus severity is linked to driver’s age, gender and risky behavior ► Bus severity is linked with intersections, low-speed areas and road curves ► Driver training, career length, vehicle standards and education are proposed…

Results:
Results show that accident severity increases: (i) for young bus drivers under the age of 25; (ii) for drivers beyond the age of 55, and most prominently for drivers over 65 years old; (iii) for female drivers; (iv) for very high (over 65 mph) and very low (under 20 mph) speed limits; (v) at intersections; (vi) because of inattentive and risky driving….

Social Justice and Growth: The Role of the Minimum Wage

Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), International Journal of Labour Research, Vol. 4 no. 1, June 2012

From the summary:
This issue of the International Journal of Labour Research is wholly dedicated to the question of the minimum wage, a matter that has gained in importance and profile in recent years. No doubt, the main reasons behind this rise in prominence relate to the stagnation of wages in several parts of the world, a generalized increase in earnings inequality as well as the rise in social unrest across the globe.