Jobs

Every American who wants to work should be able to get a job. When stable employment is available to all, it improves the welfare of the country not only because more people are working, but because at full employment, employers have to compete for personnel, raising wages for workers more broadly. Moreover, workers of color and those without four-year college degrees—who have substantially higher unemployment—gain the most when the economy approaches genuine full employment. To make employers genuinely value their low- and middle-wage workers—no matter where they live or what credentials they hold—lawmakers must pursue policies that make more jobs available, and reduce barriers to employment.

EARN groups develop and advocate for policies that will create good jobs, such as investments in infrastructure and responsible economic development programs, tailoring programs target underserved communities and areas of high unemployment. They also work to reduce barriers to employment by supporting workforce development programs with good labor standards, sector partnerships, and policies such as ban-the-box that help formerly incarcerated individuals rejoin the workforce. Lastly, EARN groups’ work to strengthen state unemployment insurance programs, so that unemployed workers have support when looking for a new job.

Publications

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector

The retail sector is an integral part of the Los Angeles landscape with almost half a million
workers in the county, and 147,157 workers in the city. Retail makes up one-tenth of
the private sector workforce in the county and is its second largest employer. Yet more
than half of the county’s workforce earn low wages. In the past few years, local and
statewide policies have focused on transforming low-wage work, including a raise in the
minimum wage, increased worker protections, and required paid time off. Despite the
statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, the unreliable hours and unpredictable
schedules endemic in the retail industry mean these benefits become inaccessible
to many workers. In part, the retail industry relies on scheduling practices that are
not good for workers, such as forcing them to wait for their weekly schedules with only
a few days notice. These practices not only undercut workers’ hours and their expectations
thereof, but also their incomes, and can make it nearly impossible for workers to
realize full and healthy lives.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector explores worker hours
and scheduling practices for “frontline floor” staff that include salespersons, cashiers,
stockers, and food workers in large and chain stores. We used a participatory and research
justice approach and worked with students, workers, and community partners to
collect and analyze the data. Using mixed-sampling methodology, we collected a total
of 818 surveys. In addition, we analyzed government data and conducted an extensive
review of existing policy and academic literature on the topic.

States with joint-employer shield laws are protecting wealthy corporate franchisers at the expense of franchisees and workers

As of 2018, at least 18 states have enacted joint-employer shield laws specifically designed to protect one very wealthy special interest group: corporate franchisers. Corporate franchisers are the big companies—like McDonalds, or Marriott, or Carl’s Junior—that use the franchise business model, in which oftentimes small-business owners (the franchisees) pay for the rights to use the company’s trademarks, services, and products. These state joint-employer laws are intended to shield the corporate owners of the franchise from bearing joint responsibility with their franchisees for complying with minimum wage, overtime, health and safety, and other laws applicable to the employees who work at the franchisee’s stores. In simple terms, the joint-employer shield laws preclude applying the joint-employer legal doctrine to hold franchisers jointly responsible for violations of employee rights.