Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy

Source: Sharon Block and Benjamin Sachs, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, January 2020

From the summary:
Since the founding of the country, concentration of power in the hands of a small minority has been recognized as a threat to the viability of American democracy. Today, the struggle to preserve democracy in the face of extreme wealth concentration is acute because we live in a historical moment when vast disparities of economic power have been translated into equally shocking disparities in political power.

With this report, we offer an intervention that promises to help stop the self-reinforcing cycle of economic and political inequality. By proposing a fundamental redesign of labor law, our aspiration is to enable all working people – including those who have been excluded by systemic racism and sexism – to create the collective economic and political power necessary to build an equitable economy and politics.

Inclusiveness
Labor law reform should expand protections of the law to address systemic racial and gender oppression.

Universal Representation
Pathways to worker power should track corporate power and be universal, providing multiple forms of voice for all workers without employer interference.

Sectoral Bargaining
We recommend creating a system of sectoral bargaining in which agreements are binding on all firms in the sector.

Employees’ Refusals to Participate in an Employer-Sponsored Wellness Program: Barriers and Benefits to Engagement

Source: Evan K. Perrault, Grace M. Hildenbrand, Rachel HeeJoon Rnoh, OnlineFirst Published January 7, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While worksite wellness programs are generally designed to help employees realize better overall health, some employees may not see them in that light. The current study sought to better understand why employees refuse to participate in a new employer-sponsored wellness program. This study also investigated how participation in the program is related to employees’ self-perceived health, efficacy to be healthier and their perceptions toward their organization providing useful resources to engage in a healthy lifestyle. A survey of more than 1,500 employees at a large Midwest organization was conducted after their annual open-enrollment period. Open-ended responses from participants refusing to participate in the wellness program (n = 297) indicated privacy considerations as their primary concern. They also thought participation would take too much time, conceptually thought the program was unfair or not useful and felt they were already healthy and not in need of the program. Both participants and nonparticipants had no differences in self-perceived overall health. However, participants had greater self-efficacy, and perceptions that their employer offered useful resources to engage in a healthy lifestyle, than nonparticipants. Recommendations for communicating new wellness programs to employees are discussed.

Getting In, Getting Hired, Getting Sideways Looks: Organizational Hierarchy and Perceptions of Racial Discrimination

Source: Adia Harvey Wingfield, Koji Chavez, OnlineFirst, Published January 2, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article argues that black workers’ perceptions of racial discrimination derive not just from being in the minority, but also from their position in the organizational structure. Researchers have shown that black individuals encounter an enormous amount of racial discrimination in the workplace, including but not limited to exclusion from critical social networks, wage disparities, and hiring disadvantages. But fewer studies examine the extent to which black workers believe racial discrimination is a salient factor in their occupational mobility or the factors that might explain their divergent perceptions of racial discrimination. Based on 60 in-depth interviews with black medical doctors, nurses, and technicians in the healthcare industry, we show that black workers’ status within an organizational hierarchy fundamentally informs perceptions of the nature and type of workplace racial discrimination. These findings have implications for understanding how racial dynamics at work are linked to mental health, occupational satisfaction, and organizational change.

Why is the American South Poorer?

Source: Regina S Baker, Social Forces, Advance Access, December 12 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While American poverty research has devoted greater attention to poverty in the Northeast and Midwest, poverty has been persistently higher in the U.S. South than in the other regions. Thus, this study investigates the enduring question of why poverty is higher in the South. Specifically, it demonstrates the role of power resources as an explanation for this regional disparity, yet also considers family demography, economic structure, and racial/ethnic heterogeneity. Using six waves (2000–2016) of U.S. Census Current Population Survey data from the Luxembourg Income Study (N = 1,157,914), this study employs a triangulation of analytic techniques: (1) tests of means and proportion differences, (2) multilevel linear probability models of poverty, and (3) binary decomposition of the South/non-South poverty gap. The comparison of means associated with the power resource hypothesis yields the largest substantive differences between the South and the non-South. In the multilevel models, adjusting for power resources yields the largest declines in the South coefficient. Binary decomposition results indicate power resources are the second most influential factor explaining the South/non-South poverty gap. Overall, power resources are an important source of the South/non-South poverty gap, though economic structure and other factors certainly also play a role. Results also suggest an important interplay between power resources and race. Altogether, these results underscore the importance of macrolevel characteristics of places, including political and economic contexts, in shaping individual poverty and overall patterns of inequality.

Janus-Faced Judging: How the Supreme Court is Radically Weakening Stare Decisis

Source: Michael Gentithes, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, January 16, 2020

From the abstract:
Drastic changes in Supreme Court doctrine require citizens to reorder their affairs rapidly and undermine trust in the judiciary. Stare decisis has traditionally limited the pace of such change on the Court, acting as a bulwark to wholesale jurisprudential reversals by the Justices. Yet in recent years, the stare decisis doctrine itself has come under threat.

With little public or scholarly notice, the Supreme Court has radically weakened stare decisis. The Court has long suggested that a precedent, regardless of the quality of its reasoning, should stand unless there is some special, practical justification to overrule it. But in several recent decisions, the Court has suggested that “poor reasoning” in a prior decision both triggers stare decisis analysis and justifies overruling cases. This presents a grave threat to legal stability. Justices can always find reasoning they believe is “poor” in prior decisions. Stare decisis under this formulation provides little restraint against changing course. It also opens the door to “wave theories” of stare decisis, whereby new Justices seeking rapid change can claim fidelity to a weak version of stare decisis early in their careers, only to suggest a stronger version later to protect their own decisions.

This weakened version of stare decisis has deep analytical flaws that would allow perpetual changes to legal doctrine based simply on the current Justices’ policy preferences. The Court must not accept the alarming effects such a weak version of stare decisis would have on legal stability, consistency, and judicial legitimacy.

A Collection of Materials About Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Portrait of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the National Archives and Records Administration.
Resources from The King Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Complete Transcript of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination Conspiracy Trial
Martin Luther King Encyclopedia (via Stanford University)
Digitized: Official March on Washington Program (via NARA)
This program listed the events scheduled at the Lincoln Memorial during the August 28, 1963.
● The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University
MLK Day Resources (via Infoplease.com)
Includes: History of the Holiday, Biography of Martin Luther King, Civil Disobedience, King Assassination Conspiracy Theories, The March on Washington, Excerpt from the “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King Speeches, Quotes from Martin Luther King, Timelines: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights Movement
Voices of Civil Rights Online Exhibition (via Library of Congress)
The exhibition Voices of Civil Rights documents events during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. This exhibition draws from the thousands of personal stories, oral histories, and photographs collected by the “Voices of Civil Rights” project, a collaborative effort of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), and the Library of Congress, and marks the arrival of these materials in the Library’s collection.
Court Documents Related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memphis Sanitation Workers (via National Archives and Records Administration)
tion)
We Shall Overcome, Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement (via National Park Service)
Online exhibition.
Nobel Peace Prize Materials (via NobelPrize.org)
Presentation Speech Gunnar Jahn*, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, 1964
MLK’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
December 10, 1964
Transcript of MLK’s Nobel Lecture
December 11, 1964
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement Resources (The Seattle Times)
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (via National Park Service)
CNN Student News One-Sheet: Martin Luther King Jr. (via CNN)

Why Don’t Women Self-Promote As Much As Men?

Source: Christine Exley, Judd Kessler, Harvard Business Review, December 19, 2019

….Since self-promotion is a pervasive part of work, those of us who do more self-promotion may have better chances of being hired, being promoted, and getting a raise or a bonus. As researchers interested in gender gaps in earnings, negotiations, and firm leadership, we wondered whether gender differences in self-promotion also exist and might contribute to those gaps.

We found a large gender gap in self-promotion — with men rating their performance 33% higher than equally performing women. To understand what’s driving this gap, we looked at two factors that might influence one’s level of self-promotion: confidence (you may be unsure of your actual performance) and strategic incentives (you may talk up your performance to get a raise or promotion)…..

Six tax-based ways to tackle US income inequality

Source: Jeffrey Frankel, The Guardian, December 18, 2019

….The first policy proposal would be to reinforce the estate tax. ….
Second, policymakers should give the IRS the resources it needs to collect taxes that are owed…..
Third, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would help to “make work pay”. ….
Fourth, the payroll tax should be made more progressive…..
Fifth, the US government also should make the income tax more progressive – for example, by cutting the gap between the tax rates on investment income and wages. ….
Finally, Congress should revisit the December 2017 corporate-tax cut to make it revenue-neutral…..

Solidarity and disparity: Declining labor union density and changing racial and educational mortality inequities in the United States

Source: Jerzy Eisenberg‐Guyot, Stephen J. Mooney, Amy Hagopian, Wendy E. Barrington, Anjum Hajat, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, December 17, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Recently, United States life expectancy has stagnated or declined for the poor and working class and risen for the middle and upper classes. Declining labor‐union density—the percent of workers who are unionized—has precipitated burgeoning income inequity. We examined whether it has also exacerbated racial and educational mortality inequities.

Methods:
From CDC, we obtained state‐level all‐cause and overdose/suicide mortality overall and by gender, gender‐race, and gender‐education from 1986–2016. State‐level union density and demographic and economic confounders came from the Current Population Survey. State‐level policy confounders included the minimum wage, the generosity of Aid to Families with Dependent Children or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the generosity of unemployment insurance. To model the exposure‐outcome relationship, we used marginal structural modeling. Using state‐level inverse probability of treatment‐weighted Poisson models, we estimated 3‐year moving average union density’s effects on the following year’s mortality rates. Then, we tested for gender, gender‐race, and gender‐education effect‐modification. Finally, we estimated how racial and educational all‐cause mortality inequities would change if union density increased to 1985 or 1988 levels, respectively.

Results:
Overall, a 10% increase in union density was associated with a 17% relative decrease in overdose/suicide mortality (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.70, 0.98), or 5.7 lives saved per 100 000 person‐years (95% CI: −10.7, −0.7). Union density’s absolute (lives‐saved) effects on overdose/suicide mortality were stronger for men than women, but its relative effects were similar across genders. Union density had little effect on all‐cause mortality overall or across subgroups, and modeling suggested union‐density increases would not affect mortality inequities.

Conclusions:
Declining union density (as operationalized in this study) may not explain all‐cause mortality inequities, although increases in union density may reduce overdose/suicide mortality.

Uneven Patterns of Inequality: An Audit Analysis of Hiring-Related Practices by Gendered and Classed Contexts

Source: Jill E Yavorsky. Social Forces, Volume 98, Issue 2, December 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite women’s uneven entrances into male-dominated occupations, limited scholarship has examined whether and how employers in different occupational classes unevenly discriminate against women during early hiring practices. This article argues that intersecting gendered and classed features of occupations simultaneously shape hiring-related practices and generate uneven patterns of inequality. Using data derived from comparative white-collar (N = 3,044 résumés) and working-class (N = 3,258 résumés) correspondence audits and content-coded analyses of more than 3,000 job advertisements, the author analyzes early hiring practices among employers across two gendered occupational dimensions: (1) sex composition (male- or female-dominated jobs) and (2) gender stereotyping (masculinized or feminized jobs, based on the attributes that employers emphasize in job advertisements). Broadly, findings suggest a polarization of early sorting mechanisms in which discrimination against female applicants is concentrated in male-dominated and masculinized working-class jobs, whereas discrimination against male applicants at early job-access points is more widespread, occurring in female-dominated and feminized jobs in both white-collar and working-class contexts. Interestingly, discrimination further compounds for male and female applicants—depending on the classed context—when these occupational dimensions align in the same gendered direction (e.g., male-dominated jobs that also have masculinized job advertisements). These findings have implications for the study of gender and work inequality and indicate the importance of a multidimensional approach to hiring-related inequality.