Liar, Liar: The New Propaganda War Against Unions

Source: Esther Kaplan, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

Who exactly is behind the Center [for Union Facts] its founder Richard Berman won’t say, except to note that he’s already raised $2.5 million from a variety of companies, trade organizations, and individuals. But the Chamber of Commerce, the leading pro-corporate lobby group, has its fingerprints all over the project, The AFL-CIO reports that Berman addressed a conference of the state Chambers of Commerce in January, where, according to one attendee, participants pledged millions of dollars in support. And Randel Johnson, a vice-president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, served as an advisor in creating the Center. (Sarah Longwell, spokesperson for the Center for Union Facts, did not return repeated phone calls requesting further information.)

Steel Magnolias: Labor Allies With the Environmental Movement

Source: David Foster, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

The Donora disaster was the root cause of the USW’s subsequent embrace of environmental issues that led eventually to the founding on June 7, 2006 of a new Strategic Alliance between North America’s largest private sector manufacturing union, and the Sierra Club, the country’s oldest and largest grass-roots environmental organization. While the decision to align the USW and the Sierra Club originated in their shared history of supporting environmental protections like the Clean Air Act, the new Alliance was sparked by the accelerating pace of globalization and the seismic social shifts accompanying it. Both organizations realized that for the first time in human history any meaningful improvement in the economic well-being of the world’s population was dependent on the sustainable management of our planted and its resources.

The 2006 Immigrant Uprising: Origins and Future

Source: Victor Narro, Kent Wong, and Janna Shadduck-Hernández, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

For three months between March 10 and May 1, 2006, five million mostly Latino Immigrants and their supporters demonstrated in over one hundred cities throughout the United States. The marches and rallies demanded full rights for immigrants, and opposed the anti-immigrant legislation pending in Congress. Immigrant families – women and men, grandparents and grandchildren – came out of the shadows of society to demand justice and equality.

Bad Jobs: The Overlooked Crisis in the Black Community

Source: Steven Pitts, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

Thirty-five years after the end of the modern civil rights movement and the end of legal segregation, the United States still has a blind spot which renders invisible the impact of institutional racism on black life. In the arena of employment, this blind spot results in the limited view of the job crisis in the Black community – a view which focuses exclusively on unemployment. Just as white supremacy is rarely seen as a constituent aspect of U.S society, the plight of low-wage Black workers is rarely seen. The racism which only sees two segments of Black society – the elite who have made it and the “underclass” who has not – also keeps Blacks who toil in bad jobs in the shadows. This limited view results in a set of policies and programs which are ill equipped to address the complexities surrounding the reality of work facing Black Americans.

Global Unions: A Solution the Labor’s Worldwide Decline

Source: Stephen Lerner, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

At no time in history has there been a greater urgency or opportunity to form real global unions whose goal is to organize tens of millions of workers to win economic and social justice by counterbalancing global corporations on the world stage even as the power of the state declines.

The Health of the Nation: Labor, Business, and Health Care Reform

Source: Marie Gottschlak, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

Today, health benefits are once again a major arena of labor-management strife. And once again universal calls for universal health care by labor leaders mask important differences between them over health care reform. Some labor leaders are advocating a bottom-up mobilization in support of a single-payer solution that would dismantle the system of job based benefits based on private insurance. Others are staking their health care strategy on wooing key business leaders to become constructive partners in some kind of unspecified comprehensive reform of the health system.

The Changing Face of Public Employee Unionism

Source: Norma M. Riccucci, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27 no. 1, March 2007
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This article provides a brief picture of the various unions that currently represent state and local government employees in the United States, including teachers and professors. It reviews the factors that have contributed to union decline in the private sector, and those factors explaining union growth in the public sector. Its purpose is purely descriptive, seeking to illustrate the ability of unions to seize opportunities to organize public employees, thereby increasing their “strength in numbers.”

Public Sector Compensation in Local Governments: An Analysis

Source: Thom Reilly, Shaun Schoener, and Alice Bolin, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27 no. 1, March 2007
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The purpose of this study was to examine local government compensation practices across the United States and to explore possible correlations of these practices to service delivery. One hundred twenty of the largest cities and counties responded to a mail survey, for a response rate of 40%. The data suggest a large percentage (86%) of local governments faced financial difficulties in the form of a budget shortfall since 2000. In response to these shortfalls, local governments were more likely to reduce their workforce, reduce or eliminate services, and/or raise taxes or user fees rather than scale back wages and benefits. Because of this reaction, more than one half of the respondents experienced a decrease in full-time equivalent employment per 1,000 residents. Collective bargaining status, geographical region, and type of government (county or city) were found to be significant factors in determining compensation practices. Implications for practice and policy are advanced.

State Government Employee Health Benefits in the United States

Source: Christopher G. Reddick and Jerrell D. Coggburn, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27 no. 1, March 2007
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Employer-sponsored health benefits are an important but relatively understudied area in public sector human resource management. This study examines the choices that state governments make in the United States and the views of state human resource directors (HRD) on health benefits. Survey data, gathered from state HRDs in fall 2005, reveal several important findings: In terms of choices, the most common plan offered is the preferred provider organization (PPO); less than one third of states offer health benefits to nontraditional partners; health benefits improve employee satisfaction and the performance of the state government; and cost to the state government is the most important factor that affects choice of plan. There is not a high level of agreement on what strategies state government should pursue to reduce costs of health benefits; however, there is some agreement that premiums will be increasing in the near future.