Posts Tagged ‘corporations’

Job-satisfaction-statistics

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One way of thinking about workers’ happiness is to measure the extent to which it contributes to higher stock returns for the corporations in which they work. That’s exactly what Alex Edmans, Lucius Li, and Chendi Zhang did and the result is not particularly surprising: employee satisfaction is, in fact, associated with positive abnormal stock returns. But there’s a caveat: the positive relationship really only holds in countries that have “flexible” labor markets (such as the United States and the United Kingdom), that is, where it is relatively easy to hire and fire workers. In other countries (such as Germany), where “regulations already provide a floor for worker welfare,” there’s very little effect.

As Mark Thoma explains,

Why might this be the case? One suggestion is that when a company spends money to make workers happier in a flexible market, it can then attract the most productive workers from other firms. But when labor markets are less flexible, it’s harder for workers to change employers, and the payoff from spending on worker satisfaction is much lower.

The U.S. has a relatively flexible labor market, and one reason for that is the “commodification” of labor. Increasingly, labor has come to be treated like any other input to the production process. All that matters is the contribution to the bottom line.

Of course, another way would be to move beyond the choice between flexible and not-so-flexible labor markets: by eliminating the commodification of labor power, changing what the bottom line means, and letting workers themselves democratically decide how to increase their happiness on the job.

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Just about a year ago, I reported on the plan to build a mixed high-rise apartment building in New York City that would have separate—rich and poor—entrances.

Well, that plan has just been approved by the city.

The building, one of the last Riverside South towers, at 40 Riverside Boulevard, will be 33-stories with 219 luxury condo units and 55 affordable rental units. The affordable housing allowed Extell to increase the overall size of the project under the Inclusionary Housing Program, although a more accurate name, in this case, would probably be something along the lines of the Inclusionary, But Not That Inclusionary Housing Program. While the luxury condos face the water, the affordable units will be segregated into a street-facing “building segment,” with the separate entrance located in the back of the building. “This ‘separate but equal’ arrangement is abominable and has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side,” local Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal said after the “poor door” plans came to light last August.

In addition, low-income residents will have separate elevators and will not be able to use some of the building’s facilities—such as gyms, storage units, rooftop space—which will be reserved for high-income residents.

According to the Real Deal, that’s just fine for other developers in the city.

“No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations,” said David Von Spreckelsen, Senior Vice President at Toll Brothers, told The Real Deal. Toll Brothers’ 1 Northside Piers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has separate entrances. “So now you have politicians talking about that, saying how horrible those back doors are. I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood.”

Apparently, as corporations acquire legal personhood and new discriminatory rights, class segregation is becoming established as the law of the land.

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