Workers & Economic Inequality

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A Bill to Get the Labor Movement Back on Offense

The Nation has mentioned TCF fellows, Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit, in an article about the Ellison-Lewis legislation.

For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.

Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination. That sounds like a nice talking point—but this isn’t just another messaging bill...

...Ellison told MSNBC, which first reported the bill, that he got the idea from a book by Century Foundation fellows Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit, titled Why Union Organizing Should Be a Civil Right. They argue that the First Amendment’s right to free association should clearly include one of the most crucial forms of association—banding together to push back against unfair treatment from employers.

Read the full article.

Tags: workers rights, labor unions, labor rights, labor movement, labor laws, civil rights

Is it worth spending to make workers happy?

July 29, 2014 BY: Mark Thoma TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma, has written an article about the benefits of employee satisfaction in an article for CBS News.

Numerous studies have found a correlation between employee satisfaction and company success. Does this mean happy employees are also the most productive workers? Should firms spend money to make workers happier with their jobs?

Answering these questions is trickier than it might seem at first glance. It could be that happier employees are more productivity and create higher profits, or could it be that working for a company that's very successful causes workers to be more satisfied with their jobs. Or perhaps companies that do well spend more on their employees, resulting in a higher level of job satisfaction.

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Tags: workforce, workers, labor market

This Congressman Wants To Give You The Right To Sue Union Busters

TCF fellow, Moshe Marvit, has been quoted in a Huffington Post article about the Ellison/Lewis civil rights bill.

If your boss tramples on your right to organize in the workplace, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes you should be able to sue for damages in federal court. He plans to introduce a bill in Congress next week that would grant you that very right.

"Union busters are on the march and are aggressive," Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told HuffPost. "I think the [legal] options that are offered by the current process are not adequate."

Under U.S. labor law, workers have relatively limited recourse in the face of union busting. When workers are fired for union organizing, they can file what's known as an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that enforces labor law. If the board pursues the charge against the employer, the worker can win back pay and reinstatement, but not the sort of damages associated with, say, sexual discrimination in the workplace.

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Tags: unions, labor unions, labor rights, labor organizing, civil rights

Tax Inversions Must Be Stopped Now

TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard published a piece at The Wall Street Journal discussing tax inversions.


In an inversion, a large U.S. firm acquires a much smaller target company domiciled in a tax-friendly jurisdiction such as Ireland or the U.K., but the deal is structured so that the foreign minnow swallows the domestic whale. U.S. shareholders of the U.S. firm must pay immediate capital gains tax for the privilege of inversion, and the U.S. company ends up as the nominal subsidiary of a publicly held foreign corporation.
The deals are driven by planning to avoid paying the U.S. tax that applies when firms repatriate their low-taxed foreign earnings to the U.S. This has triggered demands—most recently, from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew —to close down inversions through the tax code, or to deprive inverted firms of government contracts or other benefits.

Read the article here.

Tags: tax inversions, edward kleinbard, economics

New Blueprint for US Workplace: Ellen Bravo on the Fight for Paid Family Leave

July 22, 2014 BY: Amy Dean TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality

TCF fellow, Amy Dean, interviews Ellen Bravo about the fight for paid family leave, for a piece published on Truthout.

Too many Americans are going to work sick or unable to take time to care for a family member. Ellen Bravo explains how we can change that.

When American workers finally get paid family leave, it's no exaggeration to say that they'll have Ellen Bravo to thank. Bravo, director of Family Values @Work, a 21-state coalition that is working to pass paid leave legislation at both the state and national level, has worked to organize women and men with this one policy goal for several decades. Bravo, who both wears her working-class identity proudly and can deliver data-driven talking points like a seasoned policy wonk, says that although the majority of employees are women working outside the home, most workplaces are still designed for men with wives at home.

Read the full article.

Tags: workers rights, labor rights

Merger Rush for Offshore Tax Break Bets on U.S. Stalemate

Bloomberg mentions TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard in a recent article discussing tax-reducing offshore mergers.


Under current rules, U.S. companies can change their tax home through a merger if the former shareholders of the foreign company own at least 20 percent of the combined company. Executives aren’t required to move and many inverted companies are run from the U.S.
The proposed law would raise that threshold to 50 percent. It wouldn’t affect companies with completed inversions, such as Eaton Corp Plc and Actavis Plc.
Congress also should limit inverted companies from using offshore profits that haven’t been taxed by the U.S., said Edward Kleinbard, former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

Read more here.

Tags: taxation, tax breaks, offshore mergers, edward kleinbard


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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