New Article: Rebecca Cokley, “Work Until You Die” Is Not a Retirement Plan, The Nation (March 10, 2023). Excerpt below:
The disability community is reeling this week over the passing of Judith Heumann. Judy, a polio survivor, spent most of her 75 years advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, in school, in employment, in foreign policy, in the United States and globally. She served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and pioneered roles at the World Bank and the Ford Foundation. But the reality is that Judy, like so many disabled people, had to work until her death to maintain the quality of life that she needed to stay in the community and avoid being forced against her will into an institution or nursing home.
As Rebecca Vallas at the Disability and Economic Justice Collaborative says, “Disability is a cause and consequence of poverty.” Rules and regulations regarding Social Security, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Workforce Investment Act, and Medicaid govern every decision people with disabilities can make about their economic status, from what college to attend to whether to marry.
New Article: Ben Zipperer, Turnover, Prices, and Reallocation: Why Minimum Wages Raise the Incomes of Low-Wage Workers, 3 J. of L. & Pol. Econ. 160 (2022). Abstract below:
The research on the minimum wage contributes insights into claims raised in legal arguments that employers and workers have equal power and that an employer’s management power must be unrestricted lest the firm or the economy suffer. Mandated minimum wages, the conventional argument goes, will force firms to pay a wage higher than the market rate, resulting in job losses and, potentially, bankruptcy. But evidence from minimum wage increases and expansions finds that the policy can improve labor market conditions without causing harmful side effects because of such “channels of adjustment” as reduced worker turnover, consumer price increases, and the reallocation of low-wage workers to higher-paying establishments.In general, employer mandates can increase the prevalence of good jobs. By altering the mix of firms and reallocating workers across them, the minimum wage creates or at least shifts the composition of jobs toward those that are more productive and pay higher wages.
New Article: Hannah Dreier, Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S., N.Y. Times, (Feb. 25, 2023). Overview below:
It was almost midnight in Grand Rapids, Mich., but inside the factory everything was bright. A conveyor belt carried bags of Cheerios past a cluster of young workers. One was 15-year-old Carolina Yoc, who came to the United States on her own last year to live with a relative she had never met.
About every 10 seconds, she stuffed a sealed plastic bag of cereal into a passing yellow carton. It could be dangerous work, with fast-moving pulleys and gears that had torn off fingers and ripped open a woman’s scalp.
The factory was full of underage workers like Carolina, who had crossed the Southern border by themselves and were now spending late hours bent over hazardous machinery, in violation of child labor laws. At nearby plants, other children were tending giant ovens to make Chewy and Nature Valley granola bars and packing bags of Lucky Charms and Cheetos — all of them working for the processing giant Hearthside Food Solutions, which would ship these products around the country.
New Article: Noam Scheiber, You’re Now a ‘Manager.’ Forget About Overtime Pay., N.Y. Times, (March 6, 2023). Abstract below:
For four years beginning in 2014, Tiffany Palliser worked at Panera Bread in South Florida, making salads and operating the register for shifts that began at 5 a.m. and often ran late into the afternoon.
Ms. Palliser estimates that she worked at least 50 hours a week on average. But she says she did not receive overtime pay.
The reason? Panera officially considered her a manager and paid her an annual salary rather than on an hourly basis. Ms. Palliser said she was often told that “this is what you signed up for” by becoming an assistant manager.
Federal law requires employers to pay time-and-a-half overtime to hourly workers after 40 hours, and to most salaried workers whose salary is below a certain amount, currently about $35,500 a year. Companies need not pay overtime to salaried employees who make above that amount if they are bona fide managers.
New Article: Jack Meserve, This Penn professor has been offending minorities for years. Will tenure save her?, Vox, (Feb. 16 2023). Excerpt Below:
At the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, a rare academic event is taking place: The school is attempting to revoke tenure from an endowed professor. Rarer still is the reason. Cases of professors losing tenure are often due to sexual or financial misconduct, but Amy Wax is facing sanction for racist and sexist statements made publicly and privately.
Wax, a lawyer and neurologist who started her career at the solicitor general’s office under Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton, has become something of a standard-bearer for the right’s war on wokeness — and a confounding case study in the pitched arguments over academic freedom, tenure, and higher education.
New Article: Elyse Dorsey, Income Inequality, Job Polarization, and the Redistributive Power of Antitrust, 29(4) Geo. Mason. L. Rev. (2022).
In recent years, income inequality and antitrust enforcement have been repeatedly linked in popular and policy discussions. Particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic shocked and dramatically reshaped daily lives across the world, concerns regarding economic inequality have surged. Simultaneously, as the pandemic increased global reliance upon technological tools—already the topic of significant debate regarding appropriate antitrust enforcement—and catalyzed disruptions along all manner of supply chains, created various shortages, and drove price increases, the appropriate role of antitrust laws once again reemerged as a critical topic of discussion. It was perhaps inevitable that the two phenomena would be linked in policy discussions.
Indeed, the nature of a causal link between income or wealth inequality and antitrust is longstanding, though surprisingly underexamined. Since early in the twentieth century, the U.S. Government sought to examine the supposed “intimate relation” between income distribution and monopoly power. In the decades since, this intimate relation has been invoked repeatedly.
The goal of this Article is to understand better the capacity of antitrust law and policy to affect inequality trends and to begin the work of ascertaining its role in contributing to recent income inequality trends. It is generally agreed that individual antitrust cases have distributional effects. But the causal link between antitrust enforcement and inequality, writ large, remains underdeveloped and underexplored. There is a robust literature exploring trends in income distribution which would seem to provide ample ground for developing the relationship between inequality trends and antitrust enforcement.
Part I summarizes the income inequality literature, to provide a more detailed basis upon which to analyze the potential effect of antitrust enforcement across the period examined. Part II describes general antitrust law and enforcement trends since 1890, setting the stage for a comparison of the trends in antitrust and those observed in income distribution. Part III explores the connection between these trends. Part IV deploys these insights to consider the redistributive power of antitrust law. The work is a first step toward a richer understanding of how antitrust law and policy might contribute to income inequality trends and, ultimately, of whether changes in law, policy, or priorities might better facilitate desired goals.
New Article: Kathryn Anne Edwards, Worker Mobility in Practice: Is Quitting a Right, or a Luxury?, 3(1) Berkley J. of L. and Pol. Econ. 104, (2022). Abstract below:
Worker mobility—the ability to find and take another job—is at the core of worker power, and, conversely, worker immobility is at the core of employer power. This paper presents evidence of barriers to worker mobility in terms of labor market constraints (can a worker find another job?) and financial constraints (can a worker afford to transition to another job?). The theoretical context of these findings is dynamic monopsony: the harder it is for a worker to leave, the more power an employer has over that worker’s wages.
New Article: Steve Lohr, These Job-Training Programs Work, and May Show Others the Way, NY Times (Oct. 3, 2022). Overview below:
For Amber Mitchell Ikpe, learning computer software skills was only part of the experience at Year Up, a nonprofit job training program.
The coursework, followed by a six-month internship at a company, included classes on speaking in public, teamwork, professional behavior and attire. There was a closet with men’s and women’s business clothes, and an ironing board.
Year Up also arranged help with basic needs including subsidized child care, medical insurance and food assistance. When her car broke down, she got a grant to get it fixed.
“Without all that, I would never have finished,” Mrs. Ikpe recalled.
After graduating from Year Up, Mrs. Ikpe landed a technology job with a near six-figure salary. Five years later, she is a homeowner in suburban Atlanta and considers herself upper middle class. She now works for an education and networking nonprofit for Black technology managers.
New Article: The White House, The State of our Unions, September 5, 2022. Overview Below:
Organized labor appears to be having a moment. After decades of erosion in the private sector, U.S. workers are organizing at a pace not seen in many years. In December 2021, a Starbucks in western New York became the first to unionize, sparking a wave of union elections in stores across the country (see Figure 1). First-ever unions have also formed at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, an Apple store in Maryland, and an REI store in New York City. This recent wave of worker organizing is partially concentrated among younger and more educated workers and in industries–including the service sector, but also media, tech, and think tanks–that have resisted organizing activities in the past.
New Article: Shayak Sarkar, Need-Based Employment, B.C. L. Rev. (Forthcoming, 2023). Abstract Below:
Scholars equate employment with productivity. Yet employment based on economic need, not only productivity, defines American history. After the Great Depression, New Deal programs prioritized putting poor Americans back to work. Need-based employment also resonates with modern intuitions and laws—work-study, tax credits, government contracting, and donated leave (encouraged by the world’s richest as a way for low-wage employees to survive pandemics).
Despite need-based employment’s intuitive appeal and persistence, it implicates a significant legal problem. Consider a notable incident from then-Professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life. As a new professor, her Dean paid the eventual Justice less because she had a highly paid spouse. As federal courts confront similar controversies, scholars and jurists have repeated Ginsburg’s anecdote as a classic example of sex discrimination.
A presumption that gay married men swim in money, or that women can subsist on a husband’s income, is straightforward sex discrimination. But when employees in fact experience such support—whether due to patterns of heterosexuality, hypergamy, or other financial realities— we must confront the tension between our need-based inclinations and how needs assessments incorporating one’s relationships may disparately impact otherwise protected groups. Since white women and gay men are more likely than Black counterparts to economically benefit from their marriage to men, intersectionality reveals need-based employment’s potential and encourages clarification of “business necessity” and other statutory defenses. This Article provides a fuller vision and potential legal defense of need-based employment, challenges and all.