Law in the Labor Movement’s Challenge to Wal-Mart: A Case Study of the Inglewood Site Fight

Source: Scott L. Cummings, UCLA School of Law, UCLA Public Law Series, Paper 7-01, July 3, 2007

This Article studies the role of law in the successful community-labor challenge to Wal-Mart’s first proposed Los Angeles-area Supercenter in the working-class city of Inglewood. It focuses on the use of legal and legislative challenges to mobilize opposition to Wal-Mart’s Inglewood initiative—a technique known as the “site fight” because of its focus on blocking Wal-Mart at a specific location. The aims of this Article are twofold. First, it seeks to understand the site fight in relation to broader shifts within the labor movement, which have driven some unions to promote pro-labor legal reform at the municipal government level. Part I therefore explores how labor leaders have responded to the limits of traditional unionism by pursuing an alternative model of labor activism that uses political opportunities available in the local development process to advocate policy reforms designed to increase union density.

Part II provides a detailed case study of the defining campaign of the anti-Wal-Mart movement—the Inglewood site fight—in which labor leaders allied with land use and environmental lawyers to oppose Supercenter plans on the ground that the negative community impacts outweighed consumer benefits.

Part III draws four central lessons from the Inglewood campaign.

Private Pensions, the Tax Code, and the Erosion of Retirement Income Security

Source: John C. Scott, A Paper Submitted to the Conference on Empirical Legal Studies – November 9-10, 2007, posted to the web: July, 5 2007

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American workers are experiencing a long-term decline in the quality and quantity of retirement income security despite the enactment of dozens of tax laws supporting private pensions, hundreds of tax rules, and billions in lost tax revenue for over 40 years. Why is pension security eroding, and why is retirement income policy ineffective? I argue that the system of tax laws and institutions governing private pensions both directs political change as well as responses to such change in a way that is shifting risk onto workers. This paper grounds its review in the structure of pension law as found in the tax code. I first review general trends regarding retirement and retirement plans as well as the general pattern of tax legislation affecting pensions. In particular, I note the rise of the 401(k) plan, which has become the major type of private pension program in the United States. The combination of a diffuse set of tax laws governing pensions and the fragmented nature of key stakeholders creates an game-like environment in which each group and subgroup compete for changes in tax legislation at the expense of others. The paper concludes with an attempt to bridge fiscal sociology with the sociology of risk in the context of retirement policy.

CRIME IN THE U.S. The Preliminary Stats for 2006

Source: Report issued by Robert S. Mueller III, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Justice, June 4, 2007

From the summary:
We’ve just released our preliminary crime statistics for 2006…and they’re available in full only here on this website. The big picture? Nationwide, violent crime in the U.S. increased 1.3 percent and property crime decreased 2.9 percent over 2005.

The stats, which we collected from more than 11,700 law enforcement agencies nationwide, show a rise in violent crime for the second straight year. The increase, however, is less than the 2.3 percent figure reported for 2005 and the 3.7 percent increase reflected in the preliminary six-month report for 2006 released in December.

Mega Influence

Source: Matthew Weinstock, Hospitals & Health Networks, Vol. 81 no. 7, July 2007

Every year since 2003, Fortune has dubbed Linda Dillman one of the 50 most powerful women in business. And why not? In 2003, while serving as chief information officer for retail giant Wal-Mart, she launched perhaps the world’s most envied RFID supply tracking system. As is Wal-Mart’s practice, in 2006 Dillman switched career paths and became executive vice president of risk management and benefits administration, making her responsible for health coverage for the nation’s largest private-sector employer. She sets benefits policies for more than 1 million workers—or “associates,” in Wal-Mart speak. She’s in the forefront of some of health care’s most pressing issues: Wal-Mart, along with other big businesses and labor unions formed Better Health Care Together to advocate reform; the retailer joined five other large companies to build a personal health record system called Dossia; and the company must stave off union-backed legislation to enhance its benefits package. Dillman recently spoke with H&HN Senior Editor Matthew Weinstock.

Getting Immigration Reform Right

By Ray Marshall, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, July-August 2007
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In a broad analysis of the nation’s past immigration policy mistakes, former labor secretary Ray Marshall puts his finger on this most delicate of issues. The United States needs and values its immigrants. But unless it gets policy right, argues Marshall, the number of illegal immigrants will have doubled in twenty years and the situation will be still harder to control. He presents hard-edged and practical solutions to the many issues.

Organizing and Involving Young Workers: What Does It Take?

Source: Tiffany Ten Eyck, Labor Notes, no. 340, July 2007

Young people aren’t entering the labor movement in large numbers these days. In 2005, less than five percent of workers aged 16-24 were in unions, while workers 65 and older enjoyed the highest increase in unionization. At Labor Notes’ recent San Jose Troublemakers School, young workers and longtime union members got together to talk about how to overcome the obstacles preventing the labor movement from reaching young workers.

Are Those Who Bring Work Home Really Working Longer Hours? Implications for BLS Productivity Measures

Source: Lucy P. Eldridge and Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Working Paper 406, May 2007

An ongoing debate surrounding BLS productivity data is that official labor productivity measures may be overstating productivity growth because of an increase in unmeasured hours worked outside the traditional workplace. This paper uses both the ATUS and May CPS Work Schedules and Work at Home Supplements to determine whether the number of hours worked by nonfarm business employees are underestimated and increasing over time due to unmeasured hours worked at home. We find that 8 – 9 percent of nonfarm business employees bring some work home from the workplace. In addition, those who bring work home report working longer hours than those who work exclusively in a workplace, resulting in a 0.8 – 1.1 percent understatement of measured hours worked. However, we find no conclusive evidence that productivity trends were biased over the 1997-2005 period due to work brought home from the workplace.

Paid Sick Leave: Putting Legislative Preferences before Individual Preferences

Source: Jill L. Jenkins, Employment Policies Institute, May 2007

Paid sick leave is rapidly becoming the next big legislative trend. The first paid sick leave mandate was implemented in San Francisco in February 2001, but already many other cities and states have followed suit with proposals of their own. And there are currently two proposals at the national level. While the details vary, these proposals all typically allow employees to take paid sick leave for their own illness or to provide care for a sick child, spouse, or other relative (and, in the case of San Francisco, domestic partner, or “designated person”). The amount of leave typically averages about 7 days a year.

Because this is a relatively new policy, there is little research examining its effects. Proponents focus on two key arguments: one moral and one social. The moral argument is that low-wage entry-level employees should be able to take sick days without worrying about losing income—“no one should have to go to work sick for fear of losing their job or being unable to pay their bills.” The social argument is that a sick leave policy benefits society as well—“we, as a society, do not want the people serving our food or taking care of our children coming to work sick and potentially passing their illness along.” Each of these arguments packs a punch and neither is, strictly speaking, wrong, but neither tells the whole story either.

2007 State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment

Source: American Gaming Association (AGA), 2007 AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment

The AGA presents the 9th annual State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment. Included in the report are details of the national and state-by-state economic impact of commercial casinos, along with data examining the continued growth of the racetrack casino sector. State of the States offers an in-depth look at casino visitation, profiles the American casino gambler, and features polling data indicating the acceptance of casino gaming remains high. The 2007 State of the States survey includes a special section on the Gulf Coast region that features the results of a new poll of opinion leaders from the area about the status of recovery efforts and the outlook for the future, particularly with regard to the region’s gaming industry. It also reports on the poker sector and for the first time, spotlights sports betting, a sector of the industry that has been receiving increased interest.

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