Racial Wage Gap

The best way to advance policies to raise living standards for working people is for diverse groups to recognize that they share more in common than not. Since class identity has often been racialized, one of the greatest challenges to rebuilding the economic power of the working class lies in establishing multiracial solidarity on a national scale. It is important to remember that the same special interest groups that fund the opposition to policies such as the minimum wage and paid sick leave, and that support efforts to undermine collective bargaining power, are often the same ones aligned with support of voter suppression tactics that limit voting among people of color, low-income individuals, students, seniors, and people with disabilities. The best way to advance the needed economic policies is for diverse groups to recognize that they share more in common than not and work together to achieve their overlapping and intersecting agendas. Getting to that point requires honesty and a collective reckoning about race, white privilege, and institutional racism, with respect to the costs and benefits to each of us.

Advancing policies that address persistent racial disparities while also tackling class inequality will require abandoning the zero-sum mindset that says one group’s set of issues is totally distinct from and in direct competition with another’s. Overcoming this trap begins with defining a broader view of how all the issues are related. It will take a considerable amount of ongoing effort to shift the dominant narrative from one that divides the masses to one that creates a new world of possibilities that benefits all of us.

Publications

Collective bargaining can reduce turnover and improve public services in Colorado

  • April 9, 2019
  • Rich Jones

Since 2009, there has been a growing problem in Colorado with increasing employee turnover, programs operating with short staffing forcing employees to work extensive overtime, and low morale that jeopardizes vital public services.  The growing turnover is complicated by the difficulty filling authorized positions. Research shows that collective bargaining for public sector employees, coupled with labor management partnerships, has been effective at improving agency performance and reducing employee turnover.

High turnover makes it hard to provide quality service to residents, reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies, puts a strain on state workers, and burdens taxpayers. Based on a careful review of research on turnover costs, replacing the 4,268 workers who left state government in FY 2017-18 conservatively cost taxpayers $48 million. Research shows that allowing state employees to negotiate with their employer through a collective bargaining process for better pay, benefits, and working conditions will help lower turnover rates, save taxpayers millions, and improve services.

State of Working Philadelphia 2018

Each Labor Day the Keystone Research Center releases an annual checkup on the health of the Pennsylvania labor market, “The State of Working Pennsylvania.” (https://www.keystoneresearch.org/SWP2018). The 2018 edition focused on state-level data, mostly available through June 2018. This addendum to that report focuses on 2017 data released last month by the Census Bureau on incomes and poverty for Philadelphia. We complement the Census data with statistics on employment and unemployment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to provide a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the Philadelphia economy since 2005. We start with the year 2005 as that is the first year in which data at the county level are available from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

State of Working North Carolina

  • September 6, 2018
  • North Carolina Justice Center
  • Alexandra Forter Sirota, Allan Freyer, Patrick McHugh, Suzy Khachaturyan, William Munn, and Hyun Namkoong
As North Carolina grapples with the best way to build stronger regional economies, policymakers should consider the central and positive role that public infrastructure can play in deepening the connections for the state’s workforce to jobs, the state’s businesses to markets and the state’s residents to well-being.
This year’s State of Working North Carolina report presents the ways in which public infrastructure and local assets — specifically, anchor institutions — can help connect workers in rural areas to jobs, boost rural communities, and contribute to more equitable growth of the state’s economy.