Executive Paywatch: High Paid CEOs and the Low-Wage Economy
In 2013 the CEO to worker pay ratio was 331:1 and the CEO to minimum wage worker pay ratio was 774:1. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, a country where hard work and playing by the rules would provide working families a middle-class standard of living. But in recent decades, corporate CEOs have been taking a greater share of the economic pie while wages have stagnated and unemployment remains high.
High-paid CEOs of low-wage employers are fueling this growing economic inequality. In 2013, CEOs of the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index companies received, on average, $11.7 million in total compensation, according to the AFL-CIO’s analysis of available data from 350 companies.
Today’s ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is simply unconscionable. While CEO pay remains in the stratosphere, production and nonsupervisory workers took home only $35,239 on average in 2013, and a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage earned only $15,080.
Even as companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase.
Federal Labor Relations Statutes: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via MSPB Watch)
Since 1926, Congress has enacted three major laws that govern labor-management relations for private sector and federal employees. An issue for Congress is the effect of these laws on employers, workers, and the nation’s economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, nationwide, 14.5 million employees are union members. In the 113th Congress alone, more than 25 bills were introduced to amend federal labor relations statutes. The proposals ranged from repealing provisions that permit employers to require employees to join a union as a condition of employment in certain circumstances to requiring mediation and, if necessary, binding arbitration of initial contract negotiation disputes. These legislative activities, and the significant number of employees affected by federal labor relations laws, illustrate the current relevance of labor relations issues to legislators and their constituents.
The three major labor relations statutes in the United States are the Railway Labor Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. Each law governs a distinct population of the U.S. workforce.
Union Organizing Decisions in a Deteriorating Environment: The Composition of Representation Elections and the Decline in Turnout
Union Organizing Decisions in a Deteriorating Environment: The Composition of Representation Elections and the Decline in Turnout (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor
It is well known that the organizing environment for labor unions in the U.S. has deteriorated dramatically over a long period of time, contributing to the sharp decline in the private sector union membership rate and resulting in many fewer representation elections being held. What is less well known is that, since the late 1990s, average turnout in the representation elections that are held has dropped substantially. These facts are related. I develop a model of union decision making regarding selection of targets for organizing through the NLRB election process with the clear implication that a deteriorating organizing environment will lead to systematic change in the composition of elections held. The model implies that a deteriorating environment will lead unions not only to contest fewer elections but also to focus on larger potential bargaining units and on elections where they have a larger probability of winning. A standard rational-voter model implies that these changes in composition will lead to lower turnout. I investigate the implications of these models empirically using data on turnout in over 140,000 NLRB certification elections held between 1973 and 2009. The results are consistent with the model and suggest that changes in composition account for about one-fifth of the decline in turnout between 1999 and 2009.
Major Work Stoppages in 2013
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
In 2013, there were 15 major strikes and lockouts involving 1,000 or more workers and lasting at least one shift, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The 15 major work stoppages beginning in 2013 were down from 19 major work stoppages beginning in 2012. (See chart 1 and table 1.)
Major work stoppages beginning in 2013 idled 55,000 workers, lower than 2012 with 148,000 idled workers. In 2013, there were 290,000 days idle from major work stoppages in effect, also lower than 2012 with 1.13 million days idle. In 2013, two-thirds of major work stoppages lasted three or less workdays. State and local government accounted for 60 percent of major work stoppages beginning in 2013. In addition, over half of major work stoppages beginning in 2013 occurred in the state of California. (See chart 2, and tables 1 and 2.)
The longest and most days idle of any major work stoppage beginning in 2013 was between the New York City Public Schools and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, with 8,000 workers accounting for 176,000 days idle. The greatest number of workers involved in a major work stoppage beginning in 2013 was between the University of California Medical Centers and American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 (including the University Professional and Technical Employees Union for one day), involving as many as 18,800 workers. (See table 2.)
Other notable work stoppages beginning in 2013 included the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555. BART was involved in two major work stoppages, occurring in July and October. (See table 2.)
CRS — The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – Union Representation Procedures and Dispute Resolution
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – Union Representation Procedures and Dispute Resolution (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via MSPB Watch)
The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA) gives private sector workers the right to join or form a labor union and to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and other working conditions. An issue before Congress is whether to change the procedures under which a union is certified as the bargaining representative of a union chosen by a majority of workers.
Under current law, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conducts a secret ballot election when a petition is filed requesting one. A petition can be filed by a union, worker, or employer. Workers or a union may request an election if at least 30% of workers have signed authorization cards (i.e., cards authorizing a union to represent them). The NLRA does not require secret ballot elections. An employer may voluntarily recognize a union if a majority of workers have signed authorization cards.
Once a union is certified or recognized, the NLRA does not require the union and employer to reach an initial contract agreement. When a union and employer cannot reach an agreement on a contract, instead of a strike or lockout the parties may use mediation and arbitration to resolve the dispute.
Union Members 2012
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
In 2012, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union–was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.
The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing</strong>
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
This essay examines some of the actors, strategies and tactics behind the worker center movement in the United States, with a focus on the relationship between worker centers and traditional labor unions. Particular emphasis is placed on the activist foundations that fund a substantial portion of the worker center movement, and on exemplars of the centers themselves. The worker centers are seen as performing certain core functions, most notably organizing, that have historically been reserved for the unions themselves, but in social and economic spaces where most traditional unions have not been able to operate successfully. By reaching out to and through worker centers and their allied community organizations in the hope of capturing the benefits of this community-based grassroots organizing, and in some instances by mimicking center-like structures within the traditional union framework, the AFLCIO and various international unions are hoping to reverse the long-term adverse trend in union density that threatens their power. The essay concludes that, to the extent they are successful in achieving this, their efforts may have the unintended consequence of fundamentally altering the labor movement itself.
The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012
Source: Economic Policy Institute
Over the past two years, state legislators across the country have launched an unprecedented series of initiatives aimed at lowering labor standards, weakening unions, and eroding workplace protections for both union and non-union workers. This policy agenda undercuts the ability of low- and middle-wage workers, both union and non-union, to earn a decent wage.
This report provides a broad overview of the attack on wages, labor standards, and workplace protections as it has been advanced in state legislatures across the country. Specifically, the report seeks to illuminate the agenda to undermine wages and labor standards being advanced for non-union Americans in order to understand how this fits with the far better-publicized assaults on the rights of unionized employees. By documenting the similarities in how analogous bills have been advanced in multiple states, the report establishes the extent to which legislation emanates not from state officials responding to local economic conditions, but from an economic and policy agenda fueled by national corporate lobbies that aim to lower wages and labor standards across the country.
Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center
From press release (PDF):
A new report released today by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education finds that Black union density — the proportion of Black workers that belong to unions — exceeds the non-Black union density. In 2012, 13.1% of Black workers were in unions; for non-Black workers, the figure was 11.0%.
Key findings in this brief include:
- A greater proportion of Black workers were union members compared to the proportion of non-Black workers who were union members. In 2012, 13.1% of all Black workers in the United States UNION DENSITY Proportion of Workforce in Unions All Men Women Black 13.1% 14.6% 11.9% Non-Black 11.0% 11.7% 10.3% Source: CPS BLACK SHARE Proportion of Union/Workforce that is Black All Men Women Union 13.3% 12.1% 14.8% Workforce 11.4% 10.0% 13.0% Source: CPSwere union members; 11.0% of non-Black workers in the United States were union members.
- Black workers were disproportionately in unions relative to their share in the overall workforce. In 2012, 13.3% of all union members in the United States were Black; Blacks comprised 11.4% of the overall workforce in the United States.
- These differences were magnified when limiting the analysis to the ten most populous metropolitan areas in the United States. Among U. S. workers, Blacks were 19% more likely to belong to unions than non-Blacks; however, among workers in the largest metropolitan areas, Blacks were 42% more likely to belong to unions compared to non-Blacks.
Legal Immigration Policies for Low-Skilled Foreign Workers (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute
The current US legal immigration system includes few visas for low-skilled workers, and employers have relied heavily on an unauthorized workforce in many low-skilled occupations. This issue brief explains the questions that policymakers must grapple with when designing programs for admission of low-skill workers, for temporary as well as permanent entry. The brief focuses in part on the recent agreement by the US Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO regarding admission of future low-skilled workers.
In 2010, 4,690 workers were killed on the job – an average of 13 workers every day – and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, according to a new AFL-CIO report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.” As a comparison point, in 2009, 4,551 people died on the job. West Virginia, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota and North Dakota were among states with the highest workplace fatality rates while New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island were states with the lowest rates. Latino workers, especially those born outside of the United States, continue to face higher rates of workplace fatalities — 8 percent higher – than other workers.
The report notes that in 2010, more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, experienced work-related injuries and illnesses this year. The report includes state-by-state profiles of workers’ safety and health and features state and national information on workplace fatalities, injuries, illnesses, the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing and public employee coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The report also addresses delays in the standard-making process, ergonomic injuries, new and emerging hazards like pandemic flu and other infectious diseases.
The recession and resulting public deficits have put a spotlight on public sector pay and compensation levels. Many governments have enacted pay freezes, pay constraints and are proceeding with contracting out of public services, partly on the perception that public sector workers are consistently paid more than those working in comparative jobs in the private sector.
This study uses the most detailed comprehensive data available on earnings by occupation and finds the reality is quite different. Overall average pay in the public sector is very similar to pay for comparable occupations in the private sector. Public sector pay is also considerably more equitable, whether measured by gender, age, occupational group or by region.
Cleaner Vehicles Create Opportunities for Jobs, Economic Growth, Study Shows
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council/National Wildlife Federation/United Auto Workers
More than 150,000 American workers already are making components for clean, fuel-efficient vehicles, and that number could grow significantly as the United States continues to embrace new generations of fuel efficient cars and trucks, according to a new study released today.
The report, jointly produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the UAW, comes just two days before President Obama is to visit an advanced battery facility in Holland, Mich., to tout how the new 54.5 mpg fuel standard for cars and light trucks will lead to innovative technologies that will enable automakers to achieve even greater mileage for their products—and save consumers money.
The report, “Supplying Ingenuity: U.S. Suppliers of Clean, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies,” underscores the strong link between fuel-efficient vehicles and economic vitality.