Monday, February 28, 2005
A number of interesting articles and editorials on labor and employment related issues. Here are some excerpts:
Six Figures? Not Enough! (by Alex Williams, NYT):
There was a time not long ago when earning six figures was a significant milestone among upwardly mobile professionals. If you were young and single in one of the nation's big cities, you could live in a building with a doorman, drive a European car, eat at fine restaurants and vacation in Jackson Hole. For married people it meant a suburban home and college savings accounts for the children.
Beyond the lifestyle, $100,000 was a psychic achievement; it meant joining the meritocratic elite. The prospect of "six figures" kept white-collar workers toiling for 20 years, confident that hard work would be rewarded and that the American social contract was securely in place.
Certainly $100,000, which is more than twice the national median household income of $43,527, is still a princely wage in most of the country, placing you in the top 5.2 percent of American wage earners with full-time jobs, according to the 2000 census. Even in New York City, only 7.5 percent of full-time workers make that much. But $100,000 isn't what it used to be. It has been devalued, in the practical sense by inflation and psychologically because it is now a relatively common salary for newcomers in fields like law and banking. For today's executive strivers in the more affluent cities, there is a new grail: $200,000
St. Louis Orchestra Reaches Pact After 2-Month Dispute (by Daniel J. Wakin, NYT):
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra musicians and management appear to have ended a labor dispute that cost two months of the season.
The two sides reached agreement on a contract on Thursday night, and it is likely to be ratified on Tuesday. If the musicians accept the pact, rehearsals will begin on Thursday for concerts next weekend.
Maternal Wall: Moms Find Roadblocks to Jobs, Advancements (by Amanda Cuda, The Connecticut Post)
"Just as the glass ceiling once kept women out of desirable jobs based on gender, there are invisible obstacles keeping mothers from these same positions, or causing them to lose the positions they already hold. This phenomenon has been dubbed the maternal wall by many, including Joan Williams, law professor and director of Program on WorkLife Law at American University, in Washington, D.C.
AT LUNCH WITH: Warren Farrell - Are Women Responsible for Their Own Low Pay? (by Claudia H. Deutsch, NYT)
"Do you think that Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard's president, stirred up a hornets' nest by suggesting that women's brains are not genetically wired for math or science? Wait until you hear Warren Farrell on the subject of women's pay.
Sure, Dr. Farrell accepts that women, as a group, are paid less than men. But the way he sees it, using pay statistics to prove sex discrimination is akin to using the horizon to prove that the world is flat.
Women, he believes, methodically engineer their own paltry pay. They choose psychically fulfilling jobs, like librarian or art historian, that attract enough applicants for the law of supply and demand to kick in and depress pay. They avoid well-paid but presumably risky work - hence, the paucity of women flying planes. And they tend to put in fewer hours than men - no small point, he says, because people who work 44 hours a week make almost twice as much as those who work 34 and are more likely to be promoted."
The program is a research and advocacy center that seeks to eliminate employment discrimination against caregivers, such as parents. It recently released a report, co-authored by Williams, about ending discrimination against caregivers in the workplace. Much of the report discusses the bias faced by mothers in the workplace. Williams said the point of the report was to determine how rampant this kind of prejudice is. She said that WorkLife Law has documented 170 cases where people have taken successful legal action against companies for caregiver discrimination."