Saturday, February 19, 2005

Women Coming Together:
Claiming the Law for Social Change

presented by
The University of Cincinnati College of Law and the
Joint Degree Program in Law and Women's Studies

February 25 - 27, 2005
University of Cincinnati Tangeman Student Center

What is women coming together
At this two-day gathering, diverse women will articulate and activate an inclusive, progressive agenda for all women to help lead this nation in a positive direction. Women Coming Together will provide opportunities to develop new strategies, expand and enhance coalitions, and share ideas about how to “claim the law” as a vehicle for social change.

February 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Living Wages Research

Industrial Relations presents a Special Issue on Living Wages in its January 2005 issue.  Here is the table of contents:


The Impacts of Living Wage Policies: Introduction to the Special Issue
David Fairris, Michael Reich

Fighting for Other Folks' Wages: The Logic and Illogic of Living Wage Campaigns
Richard Freeman

The Role of Community Involvement in Implementing Living Wage Ordinances
Stephanie Luce

The Economic Impact of the Boston Living Wage Ordinance
Mark D.Brenner

The Impact of Living Wages on Employers: A Control Group Analysis of the Los Angeles Ordinance
David Fairris

Living Wage Policies at the San Francisco Airport: Impacts on Workers and Businesses
Michael Reich, Peter Hall, Ken Jacobs

Living Wages and Retention of Homecare Workers in San Francisco
Candace Howes

When Do Living Wages Bite?
Scott Adams, David Neumark

The ILO October Inquiry: Statistics on Occupational Wages and Hours of Work and on Retail Food Prices

Internet Resources
Selected by the Institute of Industrial Relations Library
Terence K.Huwe, Janice Kimball

Recent Publications
Selected by the Institute of Industrial Relations Library
Terence K.Huwe, Janice Kimball

February 18, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paper on the effects of Right to Work Laws

A recent paper from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research by Barry Poulson (Colorado) analyzes the effect of Right-to-Work laws (RTWs) on living standards.  In, The Standard of Living in Right to Work States, Poulson looks not only as to how money income varies across states with and without RTWs, but at other factors such as "cost of living and the burden of taxation."

February 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

More on the reactions to Wal-Mart Settlement

James E. Tierney's WEBLAG/WEBLOG includes a couple of posts regarding reactions by various state attorneys general about the Wal-Mart settlement.

Tierney points out the relevance of this settlement to the broader issue of Ag's to enforce state minimum wage, overtime and child labor laws.

February 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reactions to Wal-Mart's Settlement with DOL

The Kansas City Star reports on the initial reaction to the settlement between Wal-Mart and the DoL regarding child labor violations.  In, Wal-Mart Dances Around the Law, the paper reports that:

"Some legislators and labor advocates are bristling at what looks like a sweetheart deal between Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Labor.

According to an agreement, revealed by The New York Times more than a month after its Jan. 6 effective date, Wal-Mart gets 15 days' notice before Wage and Hour Division investigators will look into complaints of child labor law violations at its stores and warehouses.

Then it gets a grace period to correct them.

The Labor Department's official news release on the agreement wasn't released until after the newspaper asked questions, and even then it didn't reveal the details.

“This is a company that has been accused of a lengthy list of labor violations,” U.S. Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat and ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a news release.

Miller called on the U.S. inspector general to investigate, adding: “Wal-Mart does not have the credibility to serve as an impartial investigator of accusations of labor violations against itself.”"

February 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

On today's newspapers

A couple of very interesting articles in the Wall Street Journal involving employment issues:

Fast-food chains are trying to tackle the problem of high turnover with a higher starting wage as part of their retention efforts. But Domino's is willing to try all sorts of tactics to keep employees -- except paying them significantly more.
The tendency of work to expand beyond allotted hours, with no corresponding increase in pay is a big problem for part-timers. Sue Shellenbarger looks at how law and accounting firms are dealing with the situation.
And The New York Times reports on the cancellation of the NHL''s season:
The National Hockey League season ended before it began yesterday when Commissioner Gary Bettman canceled all of the remaining games after a five-month lockout of players.

It is the first time a North American professional team sport's entire season was lost because owners and players could not agree on a financial arrangement. A salary cap was the principal issue, but even after the union accepted the idea this week, a deal could not be reached. (N.H.L. Cancels the Rest of Its Season as Labor Talks Fall Apart)

February 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers

LERA Refereed Paper Competition Entries Due March 21, 2005

The LERA Editorial Committee call for individual papers for the 2005 Refereed Papers Competition includes allowing papers up to 20 pages in length.

Winning authors will be invited to present their papers at the LERA 58th Annual Meeting in Boston in January 2006 and to be published in the longer format in the LERA 2006 Proceedings of the Annual Meeting. The LERA now publishes its Proceedings online, although printed copies of the volume are distributed to libraries and authors as well as being available for purchase by LERA members at a special price. Per an agreement with other journals in the field, the LERA also offers the winning authors an option of submitting their papers instead for expedited review in either Industrial Relations, Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, Labor Studies Journal, or Industrial Labor Relations Review. Publication in those journals is entirely at the discretion of their editorial boards.

Individual refereed papers are selected on the basis of blind review.

Guidelines for the refereed competition are as follows: paper length should not exceed 20 typed, double-spaced pages in a 12-point font (the page limit includes endnotes, references, tables, and figures-a full-page table is considered one full page of text).

To ensure anonymity in the judging process, the author's name, postal address, phone number, e-mail address, and affiliation should only appear in a cover letter.

Authors wishing to participate in the refereed papers competition need to submit four (4) hard copies and one (1) electronic copy (via email) of their papers by March 21, 2005, to:

Sarah Dolinar

LERA National Office

504 E. Armory Ave.

121 LIR Bldg. MC-504

Champaign, Illinois 61820

February 17, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Flight Attendant Comes Clean

Ex- Delta flight attendant (Ellen Simonetti) posts the pictures that really led to her termination. Here is Simonetti eating a slice of pizza in a Delta airplane:

Pizza2 For the whole story click here.

February 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NBER Report on Impact of Maternity Leave on Mothers' and Infants' Welfare

How Does Job-Protected Maternity Leave Affect Mothers' Employment and Infant Health? by Michael Baker, Kevin Milligan


Maternity leaves can affect mothers' and infants' welfare if they first affect the amount of time working women stay at home post birth. We provide new evidence of the labor supply effects of these leaves from an analysis of the introduction and expansion of job-protected maternity leave in Canada. The substantial variation in leave entitlements across mothers by time and space is likely exogenous to their unobserved characteristics. This is important because unobserved heterogeneity correlated with leave entitlement potentially biases many previous studies of this topic. We find that modest mandates of 17-18 weeks do not increase the time mothers spend at home. The physical demands of birth and private arrangements appear to render short mandates redundant. These mandates do, however, decrease the proportion of women quitting their jobs, increase leave taking, and increase the proportion returning to their pre-birth employers. In contrast, we find that expansions of job-protected leaves to lengths up to 70 weeks do increase the time spent at home (as well as leave-taking and job continuity). We also examine whether this increase in time at home affects infant health, finding no evidence of an effect on the incidence of low birth weight or infant mortality.

Thanks to Joe Hodnicki for the tip.

February 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DOL Fines Wal-Mart

From U.S. NewsWire:

The U.S. Department of Labor has fined Wal-Mart $135,540 in civil money penalties for violating the youth employment provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for allowing teenage workers to operate hazardous equipment.

"Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer with approximately 3,000 stores, is headquartered in Bentonville, Ark.

The department investigated the company from October 1998 through April 2002, at its stores located in Connecticut, Arkansas, and New Hampshire. The investigations revealed that Wal-Mart employed 85 minors aged 16 and 17 who performed prohibited activities, including loading and occasionally operating or unloading scrap paper balers, and operating fork lifts. Of the 25 investigations, 21 were in Connecticut, three were in Arkansas, and one was in New Hampshire."

Wal-Mart Agrees to Pay Fine for Violating Child Labor Laws; Company Signs Settlement Agreement with Labor Department

February 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Growing Pains

It has been 12 years since its enactment, and the FMLA is experiencing growing pains, that is according to a report in  Sara Schaefer Muñoz reports in Family and Medical Leave Act Leaves Employers Frustrated, that

"But while the act is helping employees, it's leaving many employers frustrated. They say the vague definition of what can trigger time off and the right of employees to take leave in increments -- weeks, days, even hours -- at different times make the law ripe for abuse. What's more, many human-resources administrators believe employees sometimes use the law for bogus or questionable reasons. Among employers, this has earned the FMLA the nicknames "the Slacker's Protection Act" and "the Far More Leave than anyone intended Act.""

February 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Job Posting

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
needs a visiting professor for the 2005-2006 academic year.
This is a "coverage" visiting position that will include teaching some
combination of the following courses: Property, Sales, Debtor/Creditor
Relations, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Transactions, Employment Law,
Labor Law.

The School of Law is located on the edge of a park in downtown Little Rock.
It is within walking distance of the Clinton Presidential Center which
includes the Clinton Presidential Library and the Clinton School for Public
Service. The law school and the Clinton school are planning several joint
projects for the coming year.

If you are interested please contact:

John M. A. DiPippa
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
William H. Bowen School of Law
1201 McMath Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72202

February 15, 2005 in Faculty Moves | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Workplace Love Contracts

The Arizona Republic reports on the emergence of "love contracts" as a way of guarding against sexual harassment complaints.

"Companies are starting to use these contracts to state a relationship is consensual and reiterate the company's sexual-harassment policy. Fear of sexual-harassment lawsuits has been the impetus, particularly when the relationship involves a manager and a subordinate. But companies also worry about how a relationship can affect productivity and morale and may set some ground rules for conduct in the contract."

Firms avert trouble from office dating by Yvette Armendariz.

February 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Labor blog

A new blog about the future of the labor movement.  Here is its openning post.

The Labor Commons

For as long as the labor movement has existed, so has portentous discussion about its future. Lately much of the discussion has focused on globalization, changes in the industrial base which have fostered unionism's decline, and on the need to evolve the top-down organizing styles made obsolete by the openness and grassroots nature of the internet.

Some people talk about about building online "hubs" that would spark a new bottom-up labor movement with self-organized Smart Mobs of activist workers taking charge of their own destinies. "Hubs" is clumsy internet lingo, not very exciting or evocative. If we want to get people involved, maybe we need a new language or conceptual framework for the labor movement, but there's probably something better than "hubs," and definitely something better than "mobs" (too much historical resonance!).

Perhaps instead of convincing ourselves that we are on the cutting edge of a future filled with hubs and mobs, we should, counter-intuitively, look to the past for inspiration. People who think about community building for a living talk about "the commons" - a concept that goes back to an earlier age - the village green, a shared space freely available to everyone, in whose continued health everyone has an interest. From this "archaic" perspective, the mob and the hub are transformed into brother, sister, parent, spouse, neighbor and neighborhood.

As David Bollier puts it:

"The commons is a new way to express a very old idea – that some forms of wealth belong to all of us, and that these community resources must be actively protected and managed for the good of all. The commons are the things that we inherit and create jointly, and that will (hopefully) last for generations to come. The commons consists of gifts of nature such as air, water, the oceans, wildlife and wilderness, and shared "assets" like the Internet, the airwaves used for broadcasting, and public lands. The commons also includes our shared social creations: libraries, parks, public spaces as well as scientific research, creative works and public knowledge that have accumulated over centuries."

The crux of the challenge for the labor movement is represented in the contrast between the open space of the commons and the closed walls of the factory: the unions we have inherited developed in factories and shops whose closed confines necessarily gave rise to an organizing culture of secrecy and mistrust, conducted in whispers, superseding "louder" forms of unionism: displacing, for example, the high-volume organizational form represented by the IWW, which in the early twentieth century had a large itinerant membership of boisterous hobos and lumberjacks. Time has caught up with the traditional unions: the enclosed spaces no longer exist, deindustrialization and network technologies that favor shouts over whispers have obliterated workplace walls, and the message to unions is "open up or face the demolition squad."

Getting people "into the tent" is a metaphor often used by labor organizers, but it may be more important to bring people *out* rather than in: it would be better to pull the union, and the labor movement, out and onto the commons, bringing the union members with them.

Get Real

The commons is not only about community space in the virtual sense, but also about the real world. The real world is important not just for the obvious reason that we live in it, but because it is also in danger - environmental catastrophe is just around the corner if we don't act now, and perhaps even if we do.

Perhaps environmental concerns will offer the opportunity to unite all currently fractured progressive causes, and offer the best chance to foster a mass awakening that can revive the labor movement too - the best chance for a mass movement that won't be disabled by political fragmentation, because the goal - saving the earth - transgresses and subsumes merely "political" interests while remaining indisputably the crucial object of politics.

But the environmental movement has its own problems. Many people support environmental causes, but many don't support them very strongly. Environmentalism has suffered from the same narrowness of focus that has plagued the labor movement. Adam Werbach, former president of the Sierra Club, has lately been trying to spark a discussion over the "death of environmentalism."

"[our project] should be changing America's values to look more like our own. Sadly, the environmental movement is not prepared to take on this battle. Most environmental organizations treat the environment as a narrow category that includes one set of things, such as California condors, smog and redwoods, but leaves out another set, such as HIV/AIDS, job creation and debt relief. This specialization is not well suited to answer the need of Americans for fulfillment. Without addressing this need for a more ambitious movement, environmentalists, and all social movements on the left, are doomed to minority status."

Indeed, this narrowness of focus is not limited to environmentalism. If you tour the growing number of Web sites dedicated to the discussion of the future of the commons, the issues range from technology to ecology to economics to philanthropy to the arts - and always absent is Labor.

Plainly there needs to be a refocusing all around.

The good news is that oncoming advances in social software are going to make it easier to build stronger, more effectively integrated online communities. Social networking, identity/reputation systems, FOAF and other technologies will make it easier for people to discover other people with similar interests, anywhere in the world.

But many questions remain to be answered:

How do you take that ability to create virtual social networks, and match them to the real world's real spaces and real neighborhoods?

How do such virtual constructions reveal, in a new light, the spaces in our real lives?

How do you link the conversations in cyberspace to organization of real world actions?

Why is it assumed that "many to many" communications are democratic and political?

Why is the communicationally transparent rationality of the internet assumed?

Isn't it as subject to non-rational influence as every other communication medium?

How do you reconcile the openness of the internet with the need to protect organizing workers from retaliation?

Jodi Dean states the problem well in her discussion of Extreme Democracy:

"Why would one assume that conversation leads to consensus (this is, of course, the position of Habermas and other deliberative democrats)? As long as people have enough information, they are said to be able to reach a consensus. But who thinks that lack of information is the fundamental problem facing democracy today? Why would anyone think that discussion and information would lead to a consensus on, say, the proper way to distribute property, the nature of reality, the limits of freedom?

The problem of consensus is linked to the problem of politics. Politics is about friends and enemies, life and death matters. Limit conditions--how far will you go? Until emergent and extreme democrats start grappling with this limit, with what others think of as sovereignty or the force of law or the injunction, it will difficult to think through the political potential of networked communication technologies"

Labor lawyer Nathan Newman gives the problem a more pragmatic turn:

But rather than all this meta-talk about labor, I'd love to see folks analyze real labor fights in the detail that bloggers take on other issues. Sure, the SEIU versus AFL-CIO smackdown got some blog press, but that story broke during the DNC convention (probably not coincidentally with Andy Stern's sense of how to get attention). But the bread-and-butter fights, the strikes, the organizing campaigns-- those need the blog energy to educate the public about why they matter.

My standard line is that the press covers unions only in two cases-- when they are going on strike or when their leaders are being indicted. Most people couldn't tell you what a grievance is or how arbitrations are used to enforce a worker's rights under a union contract. ttp://

Whatever the answers turn out to be, the important thing to remember is that the pieces will not fall into place automatically. Deliberation and scepticism are required. There are technological improvements coming, but anyone who says with certainty what the result will be is talking out of his hat. Still, the contours of a positive future are vaguely discernable: in the next year, a vast network of progressive issue web sites is going to be created, using software specifically purposed for organizing: almost everybody has heard of, or seen an online petition, but there are more powerful tools being developed as we speak, specifically intended to build grassroots organizations that are deeply interlinked through RSS, XML-RPC and other syndication technologies. It will be a conscious effort to create a new commons. It would be a shame if the labor movement was absent from that space, reduced to senile whispering, wandering the warehouses of the industrial past.

There are steps that even ordinary people like us can take to make sure that doesn't happen:

1. We can build a new *all inclusive* labor portal for activists, reformers, union staffers and workers that is also deeply integrated with other causes and sites, especially environmental issues.

2. We can build a new online labor encyclopedia, based on wikipedia, that will be an education and organizing site that is open to all and editable by all.

3. We can help other workers build their own portals.

4. We can make it "hyperlocal." Imagine a network of sites that extends to the neighborhood level. Not a "neighborhood watch" network like some from the McCarthyite right want to build, but a neighborhood education, activism, and giving network that runs the gamut from organizing to philanthropy. A "neighborhood praise" network. A "neighborhood giving" network. A "neighborhood rescue" network.

February 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)