Category Archives: Minimum Wage

Promoting Wage Law Enforcement Policies in 2010

Source: Progressive States Network, Stateside Dispatch, December 14, 2009

The problem of wage law violations and flat-out theft of wages from employees has become one of the most endemic crime waves suffered by Americans. Workers suffer silently as their already meager wages are reduced. Honest employers suffer as they lose out to competition willing to violate the law. And state budgets lose out as employers fail to pay the taxes they would have owed if they followed the law.

Progressive States Network will be working with state leaders around the country to promote policies to improve enforcement of minimum wage, overtime and related wage laws in the states. This Dispatch will highlight the chronic wage violations in the workplace, model wage law enforcement language for states to promote, messaging to support those campaigns, and specific ways such an approach has the added benefit of undercutting anti-immigrant attacks in the states.

Civil Rights and the Low-Wage Worker

Source: University of Chicago Legal Forum, Volume 2009
(subscription required)

Articles include:

* Noah D. Zatz – The Minimum Wage as a Civil Rights Protection: An Alternative to Antipoverty Arguments?
* David A. Weisbach – Toward a New Approach to Disability Law
* Maria L. Ontiveros – Labor Union Coalition Challenges to Governmental Action: Defending the Civil Rights of Low-Wage Workers
* Michael Selmi – Unions, Education, and the Future of Low-Wage Workers
* Scott L. Cummings, Steven A. Boutcher – Mobilizing Local Government Law for Low-Wage Workers
* Kathleen Kim – The Trafficked Worker as Private Attorney General: A Model for Enforcing the Civil Rights of Undocumented Workers
* Devah Pager, Bruce Western, David Pedulla – Employment Discrimination and the Changing Landscape of Low-Wage Labor Markets
* Leticia M. Saucedo – Three Theories of Discrimination in the Brown Collar Workplace
* Michael A. Stoll – Ex-Offenders, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Consequences in the Labor Market
* Ruben J. Garcia- Toward Fundemental Change for the Protection of Low-Wage Workers: The ‘Workers’ Rights are Human Rights’ Debates in the Obama Era
* Benjamin F. Burry – Testing Economic Reality: FLSA and Title VII Protection for Workfare Participants

Stitching a Decent Wage across Borders: the Asia Floor Wage Proposal 2009

Source: Jeroen Merk of the Clean Clothes Campaign on behalf of the Asia Floor Wage Campaign, 2009

From the summary:

The problem:
One of the root causes of poverty wages in the industry is the power of global buyers to constantly relocate production in search of ever lower prices and better terms of trade. This power is used to exert a downward pressure on wages and conditions – labour being one of the few ‘production costs’ or ‘inputs’ that can be squeezed.

The solution:
The basic idea of the Asia Floor Wage is to put a ‘floor’ under this, thereby preventing this competition from forcing wages below poverty levels and making sure gains are more equitably shared along the supply chain. The Asia Floor Wage alliance have formulated a unified, regional demand for a minimum living wage which is decent and fair and which can be standardised and compared between countries. This regional collective bargaining strategy will unite workers and their allies from different Asian countries behind one wage demand.
See also:
U.K. Group Pushes for Flat Asian Wage
Source: Jeremy Hobson, American Public Media, October 8, 2009

Labor Rights in the Era of Globalization

Source: Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Vol. 3 Issue 2, 2009
(subscription required)

Berkeley Electronic Press is pleased to announce the following new special issue of Law & Ethics of Human Rights, featuring articles which explore themes such as the shifting philosophical foundations and conceptual framework of international labor rights and their relations to international human rights, transnational labor regulation and the changes that have occurred in practice, and the conceptualization of rights associated with these concepts, including freedom of association, minimum wage, and labor migration.

Guest Editors: Yossi Dahan, Academic Center of Law & Business
Faina Milman-Sivan, University of Haifa


Freedom of Association as a Core Labor Right and the ILO: Toward a Normative Framework
Faina Milman-Sivan

The International Labor Organization in the Stag Hunt for Global Labor Rights
Alan Hyde

De-Territorializing Labor Law

Guy Mundlak

Collective Labor Rights and the European Social Model
Diamond Ashiagbor

Globalization and Social Justice: The Right to Minimum Wage

Hani Ofek-Ghendler

Comment on Alan Hyde: The Perils of Economic Justifications for International Labor Standards
Guy Davidov

Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities

Source: Annette Bernhardt, Ruth Milkman, Nik Theodore, Douglas Heckathorn, Mirabai Auer, James DeFilippis, Ana Luz González, Victor Narro, Jason Perelshteyn, Diana Polson, Michael Spiller, National Employment Law Project, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and UIC Center for Urban Economic Development, 2009

This report exposes a world of work in which the core protections that many Americans take for granted–the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers’ compensation when injured, and the right to advocate for better working conditions–are failing significant numbers of workers. The sheer breadth of the problem, spanning key industries in the economy, as well as its profound impact on workers, entailing significant economic hardship, demands urgent attention.

In 2008, we conducted a landmark survey of 4,387 workers in low-wage industries in the three largest U.S. cities–Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. We used an innovative, rigorous methodology that allowed us to reach vulnerable workers who are often missed in standard surveys, such as unauthorized immigrants and those paid in cash. Our goal was to obtain accurate and statistically representative estimates of the prevalence of workplace violations. All findings are adjusted to be representative of front-line workers (i.e. excluding managers, professional or technical workers) in low-wage industries in the three cities–a population of about 1.64 million workers, or 15 percent of the combined workforce of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
See also:
Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says
Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, September 2, 2009

Confronting the Gloves-Of Economy: Labor Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market

Source: edited by Annette Bernhardt, Heather Boushey, Laura Dresser, and Chris Tilly, Labor and Employment Relations Association, July 2009

From the summary:
Across the United States, growing numbers of employers are breaking, bending, or evading long-established laws and standards designed to protect workers, from the minimum wage to job safety rules to the right to organize. This “gloves-off economy,” no longer confined to a marginal set of sweatshops and fly-by-night small businesses, is sending shock waves into every corner of the low-wage – and sometimes not so low-wage – labor market. What can be done to reverse this dangerous trend?

This report, based on the book The Gloves-Off Economy: Labor Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market (a Labor and Employment Relations Association volume published by Cornell University Press), provides a comprehensive yet compact summary of gloves-off practices, the workers who are affected by them, and strategies for enforcing workplace standards. The editors, four prominent labor scholars, have brought together economists, sociologists, labor attorneys, union strategists, and other experts to offer varying perspectives on both the problem and the creative, practical solutions currently being developed in a wide range of communities and industries. Bernhardt, Boushey, Dresser, and Tilly and the volume’s 18 other authors combine rigorous analysis with a stirring call to renew worker protections.

Minimum Wage Issue Guide

Source: Kai Filion, Economic Policy Institute, July 21, 2009

EPI’s Issue Guide on the Minimum Wage provides an accessible overview for those who are interested in the effects this important labor market policy has on the economy and its workers. This Issue Guide is comprised of a series of fact sheets, important data and charts, and a bibliography of the key research conducted by both EPI and others in this area.

This Minimum Wage Issue Guide specifically includes data on how many people are affected state-by-state, along with information about trends on the minimum wage’s value over time, and other clear, research-based answers to the key questions and issues in the current national debate over minimum wage policy.

Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index

Source: American Legislative Exchange Council, 2009

From the press release:
In the midst of economic turmoil, federal bailouts, and budget deficits in more than 40 states, a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) offers a roadmap to recovery based on economic performance trends from states over the last 10 years. The second edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index shows how the federal bailout of the states may simply encourage out-of-control spending by states, which is up 124 percent over the last 10 years, without requiring them to make the tough decisions needed to bring about financial stability.

Increases in Minimum Wage Boost Consumer Spending

Source: Kai Filion, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 27, 2009

The recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included policies to help struggling families and create jobs. But an extremely effective and simple policy that achieves both of these goals is often overlooked: increases in the minimum wage. Each increase provides financial relief directly to minimum wage workers and their families and helps stimulate the economy. By increasing families’ take-home pay, workers gain both financial security and an increased ability to purchase goods and services, thus creating jobs for other Americans.

Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan

Source: Philip Du Caju, Erwan Gautier, Daphne Momferatou,Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, IZA Discussion Paper, No. 3867, December 2008

This paper presents information on wage bargaining institutions, collected using a standardized questionnaire. Our data provide information from 1995 and 2006, for four sectors of activity and the aggregate economy, considering 23 European countries, plus the US and Japan. Main findings include a high degree of regulation in wage setting in most countries. Although union membership is low in many countries, union coverage is high and almost all countries also have some form of national minimum wage. Most countries negotiate wages on several levels, the sectoral level still being the most dominant, with an increasingly important role for bargaining at the firm level. The average length of collective bargaining agreements is found to lie between one and three years. Most agreements are strongly driven by developments in prices and eleven countries have some form of indexation mechanism which affects wages. Cluster analysis identifies three country groupings of wagesetting institutions.