Posts by stephen herzenberg

Have You No Shame, Sir (Plus Mary)?

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The Central Pennsylvania Business Journal this week published the list of the highest-paid 10 executives in the region in 2010. Nine of these executives are men. The tenth was Mary F. Sammons, the former Chairman and CEO of Rite Aid.

Some of the salary information in The Business Journal is not new. (See, for example, the CEO pay list in Table A1, starting on page 21 of The State of Working Pennsylvania 2011.) What is new is that The Business Journal also published these executives’ pay in 2009, allowing us to look at the change in pay from 2009 to 2010 for a group of Pennsylvania executives. (Earlier, we only had information on change in executive pay from 2009 to 2010 for U.S. CEOs.)

Here’s what we found. The dollar increase in pay for these executives ranged from $2.55 million for Michael Lockhart of Armstrong World Industries to less than a million dollars (about $900,000) for Neil Shah, the President and COO of Hersha Hospitality Trust. The average increase was $1.64 million.

What the 99% Are About One More Time: The Social Impact of Inequality

This past week, in a response to U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, this blog addressed the gap between the myth of equal opportunity in America and the reality of increasing immobility. New York Times columnist Charles Blow is on a similar theme today in a column called “America’s Exploding Pipe Dream.”  

A Response to Eric Cantor on Inequality

Last Friday evening, I was asked to lead a Saturday afternoon "teach-in" on inequality to Occupy Harrisburg. Shortly after receiving this request, I got an email about a talk on income inequality that Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the U.S House of Representatives, had been scheduled to give Friday at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cantor canceled his talk at the eleventh hour, saying that he had only just learned his lecture would be open to the public. Cantor's prepared remarks, however, were published by The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Cantor’s remarks were a refreshingly honest discussion of opportunity in America and what he, a leading conservative, has to say on the issue. So I decided to make my introductory remarks to Occupy Harrisburg a take-off on and response to Cantor’s text. See who you think gets the better of the argument by reading my remarks and Cantor’s.

After I delivered my prepared remarks, I spent an hour in a very enjoyable back and forth with the audience. In my experience giving talks and teaching students at leading universities, I have rarely met such an informed and thoughtful group.

Losing the PA Advantage as Unemployment Rate Climbs

I put out a media statement today on Pennsylvania's September jobs report, which showed the state's unemployment rate has risen to 8.5 percent.

“The number of jobs in Pennsylvania fell by 15,800 in September, over half of which was a 8,300 drop in government jobs. In another troubling indicator, the number of manufacturing jobs in the state fell for the first time in 10 months, a further sign that declines in public-sector employment are dragging down the private economy.

"Since May, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate has increased by nearly a percentage point, from 7.4 percent to 8.3 percent, while the U.S. unemployment rate has held steady at 9.1 percent. While the difference between the U.S. and state unemployment rates — the ‘Pennsylvania Advantage’ — fluctuates a lot on a month-to-month basis, this gap has been smaller than the current 0.8% in only one month since 2009.

"The September report demonstrates yet again that Pennsylvania and the nation need a jobs plan. Policymakers have been sitting on their hands for the past two years and Pennsylvania families are paying the price."

Are YOU a Loser Liberal? Read on and Find Out

The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets ProgressiveOur friend Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research has a new book out with the provocative title The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.

You can download the book for free HERE. You can also listen to an online discussion of the book this Sunday from 5-7 pm by clicking HERE (You will have to register with firedoglake to participate in the discussion). Let us know what you think of the discussion by writing a comment on this blog post.

And read on to learn the core argument of Dean's book and why we at the Keystone Research Center are NOT loser liberals.

How About A Sitdown Strike Across Hershey’s Supply Chain?

By now most of you have heard about the recent Hershey incident in which foreign students, having paid for the privilege of participating in a “cultural exchange” visit to the United States, found themselves packaging the candy company’s chocolate for about $8 per hour (not counting the upfront fee for the program and before you subtract the living costs taken out of the students’ paychecks). 

As Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and I pointed out in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed last week, the implications of this incident go far beyond the advantage taken of the 400 students. It’s a case that demonstrates the irresistible urge of global corporations to fragment workers in their production chains so that the most vulnerable can be paid very low wages. Hershey, after all, has a stronger motivation than most corporations to resist this impulse: it’s in a capital-intensive industry, it has a cherished consumer brand placed at risk by the relentless pursuit of low wages, and the company is held in trust on behalf of a school for underprivileged children. The Hershey case demonstrates the need for constraints on companies’ freedom to pursue low-wage strategies.

Out with Austerity Economics, In With a ‘Moral Economy’

We released our annual State of Working Pennsylvania at the Keystone Research Center today.

Bottom line: the report shows that the economy is limping along and our job market is broken. State and federal policies driven by austerity economics are increasing joblessness, sparking greater economic inequality and undercutting American values.

With working families still struggling in this weak economy, we make the case for an alternative approach that focuses directly on job creation and building a stronger economy. We’re calling this new direction a “moral economy”— one that is more competitive economically and supports rather than undercuts American values.

News Flash: PA Public-Sector Jobs Not Path to Riches

The Economic Policy Institute has a new report out documenting — surprise, surprise — that jobs in Pennsylvania state and local government aren’t the way to get rich.

The report, authored by Rutgers University labor and employment relations Professor Jeffrey Keefe, shows that Pennsylvania public-sector workers make the same or slightly less in wages plus benefits than comparable Pennsylvania private-sector workers. The more-generous benefits of public-sector workers are balanced by lower wages and salaries.

We weren’t very surprised by this result. We had made similar observations earlier this year.

Lieutenant Governor Repeats Misleading Marcellus Jobs Number

In a statement today, Lieutenant Governor James Cawley repeated widely-circulated figures that risk a misleading impression of job creation in Marcellus Shale industries in Pennsylvania.

As we pointed out in a press release this afternoon, Marcellus industries are creating jobs, but the total since the end of 2007 is less than 10,000 — not 72,000 as many readers of the Lieutenant Governor’s statement will end up believing.

Philadelphia Mayor Vetoes Paid Sick Leave Bill

Some bad news out of Philadelphia Tuesday — Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed legislation that would have allowed every worker in the city to earn paid sick days.

As Lonnie Golden, a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State Abington, and I wrote in an op-ed earlier this month, a paid sick days law would be good for business, good for the economy and good for public health in Philadelphia.