The panel discussion "Unions in the Public Eye" took place at New York University School of Law as part of the "Annual Survey of American Law Symposium: The Continuing Vitality of...
For years, activists who pushed hard for local policies to improve low-wage jobs feared that their small successes would have only marginal effects. But now, as the debate...
On October 1, 2013, two key provisions of the US Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) designed to extend health insurance to the...
In 2007, Stephanie...
Our EPRN and LERA community lost an extremely talented and creative colleague who, for many of us, was also a dear friend. This past weekend, Casey Ichniowski died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm...
A recent California poll suggests a turn in public opinion toward skepticism about unions. What happened?
Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers are proposing to set up a works council in the company's Tennessee plant but are encountering opposition from the Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation...
Privatization is often sold as providing higher quality services and infrastructure at lower cost. In fact, important costs are regularly overlooked. In other words, services and infrastructure have been privatized, even though keeping them public is the better choice.
Chicago Privatization and its Costs
Chicago's experiences with privatization make a textbook case for not deciding to privatize without carefully identifying costs. By failing to do so, Chicago has found itself locked into bad deals that will last for three to four generations.
Consider Chicago's Parking Meter deal. It was approved after the aldermen were given two days only to digest the 686-page document. They voted overwhelmingly for the deal because they believed they had no alternative means to pay for basic city needs.
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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has decided to sign a 40-year contract to privatize the state's crumbling bridges, but there has been little to no media coverage of the deal and what it will mean for two generations of Pennsylvanians.
At midnight of January 20, 2014, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announced that the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett finally decided to take action on the state's crumbling bridges. The action it is taking is to sign a 40-year contract to privatize Pennsylvania bridges.
The word privatization does not appear in any of the announcements. Instead, PennDOT refers to the project as a public-private partnership. However, whether called a PPP, P3, public-private partnership, contracting out or privatization, the result is the same. Infrastructure privatization - that is privatization of roads, bridges, parking garages, parking meters, airports and the like - involves signing a contract, generally for a term of 30 to 99 years.
In the case of Pennsylvania's bridges, the private contractor takes on responsibility for designing, constructing, financing and operating bridges for up to 40 years. [PennDOT, McCalls] Experience with infrastructure privatization shows what we can expect as the bridge privatization proceeds.
Copyright Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission. To continue click on this link.Read & discuss»
The panel discussion "Unions in the Public Eye" took place at New York University School of Law as part of the "Annual Survey of American Law Symposium: The Continuing Vitality of Unions" on Feb. 23. Panelists were Thomas A. Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management professor and past Labor and Employment Relations Association president; Steven Greenhouse, New York Times labor and workplace reporter; and Randy Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
For video of keynote speech by Professor Benjamin Sacks (Harvard Law), click here.
To view the panel discussion "Unions in the Poltical Process" click here.
To view the panel discussion "The Future of the NLRB" click here.
For years, activists who pushed hard for local policies to improve low-wage jobs feared that their small successes would have only marginal effects. But now, as the debate over proposed increases in the federal minimum wage heats up, their grit and determination may pay off.
In her essay in a new edited volume, “What Works for Workers?,” Stephanie Luce points out that more than 125 living-wage ordinances have been put into place since Baltimore first implemented one in 1994. While the number of workers directly affected has been relatively small, no ill economic effects have been documented, and the political demonstration aspect of it has been heartening. <Read more>
First published online by the New York Times Feb. 24, 2014.Read & discuss»
One in seven Americans - that is 46.5 million of us - live in poverty. And in the wake of the Great Recession, there is more to poverty today than just a bad economy. We have an increasingly unequal society in which the top 1% holds 40% of the wealth. According to a Global Post study, the United States leads the trend toward greater inequality which is rising faster - and already greater - here than in nearly all other developed countries.
Until the Reagan Administration, the minimum wage was set at a level that allowed one wage earner to support a family. The minimum wage has never been required to keep up with inflation nor been benchmarked to ensure that a full-time worker's wages can keep a family above the poverty line. As a result, many workers' families have now become destitute.
Why has this happened? The causes of poverty are complex, but one important factor is the decline in union membership, starting in the 1980s, which has led to a decline in union bargaining power.Read & discuss»
The news is full of bad news about unions these days. Unions are blamed for holding up the bailout of GM and Chrysler with foot-dragging over wages and benefits. Teachers' unions are accused of protecting bad teachers and standing in the way of providing good education. Public employees are supposed to be overpaid and lazy. The bottom line seems to be that, at best, unions are dinosaurs and about to go extinct. At worst, they are a drag on our economy.
So, why have unions? Because the persistent problem of unlimited corporate power requires an effective counterbalance.
The need for such a counterbalance is clear. We saw the effect of increasing corporate power in the 2010 elections. We see it in virtually every law considered by Congress and state legislatures. And we saw it in the period leading up to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. As corporations grow mightier, they are able to amass even greater power. Then, just as now, Supreme Court decisions made corporations unaccountable to their societies by removing limits on corrupting and destructive power wielded by corporations.
Among other actions Congress took to limit irresponsible corporate power was to enact the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. Congress wanted to give unions power to act as a counterbalance to corporate power.
Copyright Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.
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