Category Archives: Cataloged

Labor Standards and Worker Organization Strategy

Source: Michael J. Piore and David W. Skinner, Roosevelt Institute, October 7, 2015

From the summary:
This paper explores a new strategy for workplace-based worker organizations. The strategy is suggested by the contrast between the U.S. system of work regulation, in which regulations are administered by a number of different agencies, each with a relatively narrow jurisdiction, and the system prevailing in Southern Europe and Latin America, where a single agency administers the whole of the labor code. The latter system is particularly effective where, as is generally the case, the work practices of a company are interrelated and “patterned.” The patterns typically reflect the company’s production practices and business strategy; these are the ultimate determinant of work practices and need to be adjusted if violations are to be remedied. The Franco-Latin approach encourages the regulatory agency to recognize these patterns, and then to look for remedies that address the root causes.

Workplace-based worker organizations could simulate the Franco-Latin approach by identifying violations, bringing complaints simultaneously to all the different agencies that have jurisdiction over them, and pressuring those agencies and employers involved to work together with the worker organization to identify the underlying causes of the problems and develop appropriate remedies. This strategy could be developed by a local organization operating on its own or in coordination with other organizations at the local, state, or national level on the model of the recent campaigns to raise the minimum wage.

Local and State Business Registration Schemes: An Enforcement Lever to Strengthen Employer Compliance With Labor Standards and to Facilitate Worker Organizing

Source: Haeyoung Yoon, Roosevelt Institute, October 7, 2015

From the summary:
We have a wage theft epidemic in our country, especially in the low-wage labor market, where too many workers are cheated out of their fair pay. There are many factors that contribute to the wage theft epidemic, from woefully under-resourced public enforcement agencies, to inadequate anti-retaliation protections for workers who come forward to enforce their rights, to a lack of strong consequences for employer noncompliance with labor standards. Moreover, for too many workers, efforts to hold their employers accountable for wage violations turn out to be disempowering experiences, as it is common for workers to wait for years with little or no information as their wage claim languishes at a public enforcement agency, or to never collect their unpaid wages even after an employer is found liable.

To turn the tide against the wage theft crisis, the author explores the use of registrations and licenses that businesses are often required to obtain as a prerequisite of doing business as a labor standards enforcement tool, with the goal of creating strong consequences for violating wage laws and thus motivating employers to change their behavior. She also explores ways in which the business registration scheme, as an enforcement tool, could facilitate worker organizing and worker power-building by creating opportunities for meaningful participation by workers and worker organizations in the implementation and enforcement of the program. This could be done through the creation of an infrastructure called the “Business Registration Board,” which would be governed by worker, employer, and government representatives.

Tackling Workplace Segregation Through Collective Bargaining: The Case of UNITE-HERE and the Hotel Industry

Source: Dorian Warren and Virginia Parks, Roosevelt Institute, October 7, 2015

From the summary:
More than 50 years since passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, the little progress we have made as a country in ending job segregation by race and gender has stalled. As women and people of color make up a growing majority of America’s workforce, we must find new and innovative solutions to ending workplace segregation and promoting equal opportunity for all. This case study of UNITE-HERE’s work in the hotel industry demonstrates one effective solution in light of the inadequacy of the Civil Rights Act: collective bargaining.

We identify direct ways in which UNITE-HERE, through the collective bargaining process, influenced the racial and ethnic division of labor beyond network recruitment among individual members. We show how outside of apprenticeship programs, unions may directly influence racial, ethnic, and gender representation by legislating hiring practices through specific contract language, such as mandating diversity commitments from employers, implementing stronger nondiscrimination practices, and requiring direct outreach to underrepresented applicants.

Union Organizing in National Labor Relations Board Elections

Source: Dorian Warren, Roosevelt Institute, October 7, 2015

From the summary:
Is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) broken? Yes. But does that mean it is irrelevant for workers attempting to organize? No. As data in this paper shows, particularly when focused on certain demographic groups, labor unions are still using the NLRB, and in many cases, very effectively.

This paper examines the use of the NLRB election process since 2000, and especially from 2008 to 2012. The author finds that while the majority of new private sector union members have not gained recognition through the broken NLRB election process, the data show a significant number of workers who do in fact gain representation through NLRB elections. The data also show a notable decline in the numbers of workers gaining unionization through the NLRB, though at the same time, the “win” rates of workers who do use the process have increased over the last decade.

Based on analysis of original data on the demographics of those organized using the NLRB process, the win rates for workers in NLRB elections increases with the diversity of the workplace. specifically, workers of color, women, and especially women of color overwhelmingly vote in favor of unionization through the NLRB election process.

2014 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report

Source: Health Care Cost Institute, October 2015

From the summary:
The 2014 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report tracks changes in health care prices, utilization, and spending for people younger than 65 covered by employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI). The 2014 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report shows that spending per privately insured person grew 3.4% in 2014, with more dollars going to brand-name drugs than in prior years.

Key Findings from this Report
– Health care spending averaged $4,967 per individual in 2014, up $163 from the year before.
– Spending on brand prescriptions jumped by $45 per capita in 2014, despite a nearly 16 percent decrease in use. Hepatitis C antiviral drugs (Harvoni, Olysio, and Sovaldi) accounted for $29.40 of the $45 increase.
– Use of health care services continued to fall in 2014, while prices for all categories of services rose.
– Consumers spent an average of $810 per person out of pocket—a 2.2 percent increase over 2013.
– Every year between 2010 and 2014, out-of-pocket spending by women was higher than that by men.
Press Release

Preventing violence and harassment in the workplace

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Health and Safety Guidelines, 2015

From the summary:
Workplace violence is a serious everyday health and safety issue for many workers in Canada, including CUPE members. Violence doesn’t “just happen.” It’s not “just part of the job.” Rather it’s a workplace hazard with specific causes. By better understanding the root causes of violence in the workplace we can more effectively prevent violence and protect workers. No matter what the cause of violence in the workplace, it is a requirement of employers to provide a healthy and safe workplace that is free from violence in all its forms.

The purpose of the Violence Prevention Guidelines is to provide CUPE members with resources to help protect them against violence in the workplace. Far too often, employers develop policies and procedures that react to violence. This is not good enough. This guide focuses primarily on preventing violence, before it happens in the workplace. Through this guide members will gain an understanding of what is violence, the risk factors and consequences of violence, employer’s requirements under legislation, and how workers, unions, and health and safety committees can work together to prevent workplace violence. Throughout the guide, we explore the potential underlying causes of violence and the steps and process that your employer and health and safety committee can take to prevent violence from happening.

Laws Enabling Public-Sector Collective Bargaining Have Not Led to Excessive Public-Sector Pay

Source: Jeffrey Keefe, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Briefing Paper #409, October 16, 2015

From the summary:
Unlike many other countries, when the United States enacted its private-sector labor law, the National Labor Relations Act, in 1935, it did not include public employees within the same or similar framework for collective bargaining. Not until the late 1950s and 1960s did state and local governments grapple with a labor law to govern their rapidly growing public-sector labor forces. No state or local government chose to transplant the private-sector model of collective bargaining; instead they adopted some parts of it, chose to create no bargaining framework at all, or prohibited collective bargaining. This paper describes the rapid growth of labor laws that have enabled public-sector collective bargaining, and examines the effects of various labor law frameworks on public employee wages.
• Only 2 percent of the state and local public-sector workforce in 1960 had the right to bargain collectively. By 2010, that share had grown to 63 percent.
• While early on, many policymakers were concerned about the right to strike, a number of states did eventually extend the right to strike to more than 20 percent of public employees; however, all of these employees are in non–public safety positions. Thus the right to strike has not had catastrophic results in terms of threats to public safety or welfare.
• The right to strike has also not led to massive wage increases: Employees covered by the right to strike earn about 2 percent to 5 percent more than those without it.
• Public safety employees are effectively covered by binding interest arbitration, which has prevented strikes and has resulted in cost-effective and widely accepted settlements by the participants.
• This research finds no wage effect for public employees covered by collective bargaining attributable to binding interest arbitration when compared with mediation.
• Fact-finding, the most widely employed final dispute-resolution procedure, tends to favor the public employer, resulting in significantly lower wages for public employees, in the range of 2 percent to 5 percent less than other dispute resolution procedures.

Union security provisions, which require employees to contribute to the financial support of the union that has the exclusive right to represent them with respect to terms and conditions of employment, vary by state, locality, and various occupations.
• Dues checkoff, which is widespread in the public sector, has a small positive effect on wages, ranging from 0 percent to 3 percent; however, we suspect it has a major effect on union membership.
• Open-shop laws, which prohibit union security agreements, are associated with significantly lower public-employee wages, with estimates ranging from -4 percent to -11 percent, compared with no policy on union security.
• Agency-shop provisions, which require the payment only of a fee narrowly tailored to support a union’s collective bargaining activities, its contract enforcement, and employee grievance processing, are associated with significantly higher wages, ranging from 2 percent to 7 percent for public employees.

In summary, it is difficult to conclude that the relatively small wage effects of collective bargaining have led to serious distortions in the democratic process. Collective bargaining has resulted in higher public-employee wages in the range of 5 percent to 8 percent. There is some indication that collective bargaining has offset employer monopsony power in the public sector (Keefe 2015; Lewin, Kochan, and Keefe 2012), thus not producing excessive or distorted public-employee compensation, and has promoted internal equity (Keefe 2015, forthcoming).
Press release

Domestic violence and the workplace: A bargaining guide

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), CUPE Equality, September 2015

From the summary:
Domestic violence reaches into the workplace, with serious consequences.

Domestic violence is any form of violence between intimate partners. The violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse, including financial control, stalking and harassment.

This document is for local union officers, bargaining committee members and other activists who want to prevent domestic violence at work and support members who face domestic violence.

It covers:
The definition of domestic violence and how it’s a workplace issue.
How the union can negotiate protections regarding domestic violence related to the workplace.
Examples of collective agreement language.
A checklist for workplace policy and collective agreement language.

Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss

Source: Allyson Fredericksen, Alliance for a Just Society, Job Gap Economic Prosperity series, October 2015

From the press release:
Throughout the nation the idea of a $15 minimum wage is rightfully gaining momentum. However, a new report by the Alliance for a Just Society released today shows that $15 is really a modest proposal, and is not even a living wage in most states.

Nationally, the living wage for a single adult ranges from $14.26 an hour in Arkansas to $21.44 in Hawaii.

At $7.25 an hour, the current federal minimum wage, workers would have to put in up to110 hours a week (as is the case in Hawaii) to cover the basic costs of living for just one person.

A full-time job should mean stability, not struggle. The report, “Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss” reveals that the minimum wage in many states is halfthe pay a single adult needs to cover basics like housing, food, utilities, and transportation.

The numbers are more disturbing when a worker is also supporting children – even with two parents working full time…..

Blueprint to Empower Workers for Shared Prosperity

Source: Richard Kirsch, Dorian Warren, and Andy Shen, Roosevelt Institute, October 7, 2015

The Future of Work (FoW) Initiative, a project of the Roosevelt Institute, has been working since 2013 to strengthen the right to organize and collectively bargain, uplift and uphold labor standards, and end racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination in the workplace.

The Blueprint to Empower Workers for Shared Prosperity is the culmination of a two-year process that brought together labor unions, academics, leading thinkers from worker organizing centers, community and policy groups, and attorneys to identify major areas in which to explore new policies. Based on these discussions, the Future of Work leadership team commissioned a set of papers to develop significant policy proposals. This Blueprint synthesizes those papers and a small number of related papers. The result is a set of bold proposals that, taken together, would transform the American workplace, making it more inclusive, dignified, and just.

We believe that in order to challenge inequality and achieve economic justice, we must rebuild the fundamental norms of the workplace. We need to fight inequality at its source, from low wages to lack of bargaining power to systemic labor market exclusion. Doing so will improve economic performance, as workers’ increased incomes drive spending and raise the standard of living. We will build a fair and high-performing economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

Building on this core principle, the Blueprint explores five policy strategies to empower workers and advance shared prosperity: (1) maximizing worker power and voice in the new economy; (2) ensuring local residents receive a fair share of the wealth generated by publicly funded projects; (3) holding all employers accountable for violations of labor and civil rights; (4) promoting worker-centered business models and socially responsible business practices; and (5) valuing care by valuing care workers.