In my testimony before the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training on February 26, 2013, I review issues relevant to the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, and I discuss some particular provisions of recently proposed reauthorization bills in the House of Representatives.
In my testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on April 24, 2013, I review the evidence on long-term unemployment in the U.S. and discuss a range of policies to address this problem.
When Jia Jingchuan, a 27-year-old electronics worker in Suzhou, China, sought compensation for the chemical poisoning he suffered at work, he appealed neither to his employer nor to his government. Instead, he addressed the global brand that purchased the product he was working on. “We hope Apple will heed to its corporate social responsibility.”
In the past, his appeal would probably have fallen on deaf ears. But today, throughout the world, buyers in many industries have acknowledged a degree of responsibility for workplace conditions in supplier factories and pledged to ensure that the goods they eventually market are not made under abusive, dangerous, environmentally degrading, or otherwise unethical conditions. These businesses have committed to using private, voluntary regulation to address labor issues traditionally regulated by government or unions. And for the most part, the companies have acted on these commitments.
But have these private efforts improved labor standards? Not by much. Despite many good faith efforts over the past fifteen years, private regulation has had limited impact. ... <Read more>
First published online in the Boston Review on May 17, 2013.
First published online on May 17 in the Boston Review.
Yesterday, a conservative panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that sharply undermines the power of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and, more broadly, of the government as a whole to regulate business. The ruling marks the second time this year that the court has radically undercut the NLRB. In January, the court held that Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the board were invalid, effectively undoing more than a year of NLRB decisions.
Now, the body often referred to as “the second most important court in the land, after the Supreme Court,” has held that the NLRB cannot require employers to post notices informing employees of their labor rights. The decision, which comes less than three weeks after lack of regulatory enforcement led to a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 14 and left about 200 injured, opens the door for businesses to challenge requirements that workers workers be informed of their health, safety and employment rights. [READ MORE]
Our very expensive federal retirement programs crowd out needed expenditures for poor children and youth in the areas of education and job training along with many other public investments. This crowding out will become much more severe in the next few decades, unless we are willing to reform the retirement programs and begin to limit these expenditures.
First published online March 8, 2013, in The Washington Post.
The tide is turning in the debate over whether all employees should be able to earn paid sick leave. The benefits for those who need to be able to take a day off when they have the flu or want to keep a sick child home from school have not been in doubt. From a people perspective, it has never made sense for workers to face the hard choice between going to work sick or staying home and losing a day’s pay and maybe even being told not to bother coming back. Managers and professionals have always been able to use paid sick leave to recover from a routine illness, of course.
The sticking point has been whether American companies could create jobs and would stay in business if they had to allow hourly workers to earn paid sick days. Business organizations and lobbyists ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the National Restaurant Association answered with a resounding no! And in some places, that was enough to scuttle efforts to make a minimum number of paid sick days an employment standard that all workers could rely on—although business owners have been part of all the campaigns for sick days, and essential to its success in several places. <Read more>
First published online March 6, 2013 in the U.S. News and World Report.
Just before the November election, news leaked that the Congressional Research Service had been strongarmed by Senate Republicans into withdrawing a report that analyzed the last six decades of economic data and found, contrary to deeply held Republican dogma, that there was no correlation between top marginal tax rates and economic growth. Six weeks later, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, we were reminded that 15 years ago the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied to kill all federal funding of gun research, leaving the public without solid information with which to debate gun control. [Read More]
First published online Feb. 13,2013, in In These Times.
Social Security is not a private opt-in or -out choice like the decision to fund an IRA. Instead, for decades, it has involved employees and employers providing secure retirement benefits generation after generation. The money workers pay into Social Security today funds benefits for today's retirees, and today's retirees did the same during their working lives for those who drew Social Security payments decades ago. The importance of this function of Social Security was well understood until recently.
Today, some people believe that Social Security will not be there for them even though there are equitable solutions that will fully fund Social Security for the foreseeable future. In planning for the future of Social Security, we need to recognize that it is no small thing to break our long-standing intergenerational obligation to ensure that Social Security retains its role in protecting its recipients.
First published online Feb. 11, 2013, by Truthout.org.
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