Workplace

A More Transparent Labor Market

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At a conference a few weeks ago, I learned about an intriguing effort to bring more transparency to the global labor market. The project, known as WageIndicator.org, was started about 10 years ago by researchers, journalists and trade unionists in The Netherlands. Today the project can be found in 55 countries, including the U.S. where it is called Paywizard.org.

What is it exactly? It's a web site with oodles of information and tools that allow you to share and compare wages, access basic information on the minimum wage and labor rights, and look up the salaries of politicians, CEOs and Hollywood stars. You can also take an anonymous online salary survey, which is how the project has built its vast database of jobs and salaries.

Third and State This Week: The Economy, Obama Jobs Plan and Education Cuts

This week, we blogged about the President's jobs plan, education funding cuts, "network" unionism, the August jobs report and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price shared his statement and some analysis from national experts on President Obama's jobs speech. Mark also blogged about the August jobs report and responded to a Patriot-News columnist's misguided take on the unemployed.
  • On the workplace, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted a recent op-ed he co-wrote with Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president Rick Bloomingdale on the foreign student incident at Hershey and proposed one solution: forming a union among workers that cuts across Hershey's entire supply chain.
  • On education funding, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a recent analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tracking how much states cut per-student, inflation adjusted K-12 spending in the new fiscal year.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

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.

Third and State This Week: States Cutting Budgets, the Debt Ceiling Debate, and a Middle Class 'Under Attack'

This week, we blogged about the looming debt ceiling crisis in Washington, how state budget cuts will hurt the economic recovery, Marcellus Shale job claims, a new report on the middle class in Pennsylvania and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • This week was a busy one for Mark Price, who penned four of our five blog posts. On the Marcellus Shale, Mark corrected an inaccurate figure in a recent Wall Street Journal piece about jobs created in Pennsylvania from Marcellus Shale drilling.
  • On the economy, Mark wrote about a recent report from the Keystone Research Center and the national policy center Demos on a middle class that is "under attack" in Pennsylvania. He also blogged about a new policy brief analyzing Pennsylvania's June jobs report.
  • On the federal debt ceiling debate, Mark shared his op-ed on this "manufactured crisis" which ran on FoxNews.com this week.
  • Finally, on the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finding that at least 38 of 47 states are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services in 2012. According to the report, this cuts-only approach that most states have taken will slow the recovery and weaken the nation’s economy over the long term.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

The Middle Class ‘Under Attack’

At the Keystone Research Center, we have been chronicling for years the forces that are putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on middle-class Pennsylvanians.

Last week, we released a new report in partnership with the national policy center Demos that takes the temperature of the state's middle class in the wake of the Great Recession. I'm sorry to say, once again, the patient is not well.

The state's annual unemployment rate is the highest it has been in nearly three decades and the cost of going to college is on the rise.

According to the report, times are particularly tough for Pennsylvania's young people, with state budget cuts to 18% of public university funding and a 7.5% tuition hike in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. Pennsylvania's young people already bear the seventh highest rate of student debt in the nation — at approximately $28,000 on average.

Third and State This Week: State Budget, Marcellus Jobs and a Paid Sick Leave Update

This week, we blogged about the Pennsylvania budget, a setback for a paid sick leave bill in Philadelphia, a recent report on how many Pennsylvania jobs have been created by the Marcellus Shale boom and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • This week, Pennsylvania enacted a 2011-12 state budget, with deep cuts to schools, health care and human services, while leaving most of a $785 million surplus on the table. Sharon Ward had an overview of the budget and also posted this media statement calling it a budget that does less with more.
  • On paid sick days, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's veto of a bill that would have allowed every worker in the city to earn paid sick days.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Stephen wrote about a recent Keystone Research Center policy brief on the actual job contribution of the Marcellus boom and the attacks it generated from the natural gas industry and its allies. Chris Lilienthal blogged about several key points state lawmakers should keep in mind as they consider enacting a Marcellus Shale impact fee.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

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.

Third and State This Week: Preserving Tobacco Funds for Health Care, Fasting for PA's Vulnerable and the May Jobs Report

This week, we blogged about the latest job numbers, efforts to preserve tobacco settlement dollars for health care services, paid sick days legislation and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On health care, intern Emma Lowenberg blogs about an effort by consumer health advocates to urge the state Senate to preserve Pennsylvania's share of tobacco settlement funds for health care purposes.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal writes about the "Fast for PA's Vulnerable," an effort by Harrisburg faith leader Stephen Drachler to draw attention to the impact of budget decisions on Pennsylvania's most vulnerable by abstaining from solid foods.
  • On unemployment and the economy, Emma sums up the May jobs report by turning to the expert analysis of four leading economists.
  • And on workplace issues, Steve Herzenberg shares a recent op-ed he coauthored with economics and labor studies professor Lonnie Golden on the benefits of paid sick days in Philadelphia.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

The Benefits of Paid Sick Days

In recent weeks, I've written here and here about legislation before Philadelphia City Council that would allow every worker in the city to earn paid sick days.

To round things out, I am now passing along an op-ed I co-authored with Lonnie Golden, a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State Abington, that was published last week in The Philadelphia Daily News urging City Council to pass the paid sick days bill. Post a comment to let me know what you think.

Third and State This Week: Public Health Experts on Alcohol Privatization and a Paid Sick Days Follow Up

It was a short week at Third and State, but Steve Herzenberg managed to pen blog posts on a group of public health experts' recommendation against further privatization of alcohol sales and how a paid sick days bill could make Philadelphia a high road city of opportunity. Plus, the Friday Funny is back.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On workplace issues, Steve Herzenberg asks whether Philadelphia wants to attract employers that have advanced and effectively enforced labor standards, including paid sick leave, or employers with low standards.
  • On privatization, Steve writes that national public health experts are recommending against further privatization of retail alcohol sales based on evidence that it would increase excessive alcohol consumption and related problems.
  • Finally, today's Friday Funny brings a little of The Simpsons' sense of humor to the question of how we prioritize spending on schools and prisons.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

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