Posts Tagged ‘unions’

Chart of the day

Posted: 27 February 2015 in Uncategorized
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Jaumotte-IMF

According to a new study from the International Monetary Fund,

Inequality has risen in many advanced economies since the 1980s, largely because of the concentration of incomes at the top of the distribution. Measures of inequality have increased substantially, but the most striking development is the large and continuous increase in the share of total income garnered by the 10 percent of the population that earns the most—which is only partially captured by the more traditional measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient (see Chart 1). . .

we find strong evidence that lower unionization is associated with an increase in top income shares in advanced economies during the period 1980–2010 (for example, see Chart 2), thus challenging preconceptions about the channels through which union density affects income distribution.

The main channels they identify include wage dispersion (unionization reduces inequality by helping equalize the distribution of wages), unemployment (union density does not, in general, raise unemployment), and redistribution (strong unions induce policymakers to engage in more redistribution by mobilizing workers to vote for parties that promise to redistribute income or by leading all political parties to do so). Thus, they find, lower union density can increase top income shares by reducing the bargaining power of workers.

The obvious policy conclusions, then, are to improve rules and regulations that allow workers to organize and bargain collectively and to engage in corporate governance reforms that give workers more of a say in the major decisions taken by enterprises—not only in terms of executive pay, but also where and when jobs are created and how the resulting surplus is allocated.

Feed the Birds

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According to the Wall Street Journal, an extraordinary 70 percent of the instructors on the campuses of U.S. colleges and universities were (as of 2011) adjuncts and other contingent workers. That’s up from an already-high 43 percent in 1975.

But now, fortunately, the academic precariat is starting to organize:

Since late November, adjuncts have won unionization votes at eight colleges, from Boston University to Dominican University of California. Last week, full-time, nontenure-track faculty at Tufts University’s College of Arts & Sciences voted to unionize.

Those union victories come after more than 15,000 part-time teachers at 40 schools joined unions in the 2012-13 academic year, bringing the total number of unionized, part-time teachers to about 172,000, according to the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College in New York. The National Labor Relations Board in December issued a ruling opening the door for more union action at private religious schools, and a national adjunct walkout day is scheduled for Feb. 25.

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This is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka [ht: ac], from earlier this year, on the issues of race and class in the United States, including the problems within the history of the U.S. labor movement itself.

It’s a perspective that has mostly gone unheard in the debate provoked by the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. . .

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Neil King, Jr., for the Wall Street Journal, is perplexed:

It is in many ways both the ultimate economic puzzle and the great political challenge: Why have American incomes remained so flat, for so long, and what can be done to change that?

Uh, well. Maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that. King just can’t be bothered to figure it out.

So, let’s help him out: American incomes are flat precisely because of the anti-union, free-trade, decrease-taxes, cut-social-programs, don’t-raise-the-minimum-wage policies his newspaper has been promoting for the past three decades.

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