Collective Passion and Collective Power May Corrupt Individuals, but They Are Still Very Necessary

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

On July 30, Cathy O’Neil posted an article titled “The Manufactured Trucker Shortage” on her mathbabe blog. She opens the article with a quotation from an article in the Wall Street Journal that raises some alarm over the current shortage of long-distance trucker drivers, estimated to be about 30,000 drivers, and, worse, the projected shortage of 200,000 long-distance drivers by 2025.

O’Neil claims that inadequate compensation, degrading working conditions, and the competitive advantages enjoyed by large trucking companies are the main reasons for the shortage. Specifically, although the average truck driver makes about $50,000 per year, the averaging means that many drivers are earning considerably less than that annual income. Likewise, although the surveillance technology employed by trucking companies has reduced the liability created by drivers ignoring safety standards, it has also been abused in so many ways that drivers are arguably being monitored by some companies much more closely…

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Wage Theft Increases with Contingent Employment–and Not Just among Fast-Food or Retail Workers

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

What follows is a news release disseminated this week by the Department of Labor.


Federal enforcement effort finds more than 3,000 Gulf Coast workers owed nearly $3.5 million in back wages by staffing agencies.

US Labor Department determines agencies illegally paid wages as per diem reimbursement.

NEW ORLEANS — Six Gulf Coast staffing agencies have agreed to pay thousands of workers nearly $3.5 million in back wages after U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found part of their wages were mislabeled as “per diem” payments as reimbursement for expenses they never incurred.

Federal investigators found the agencies owed back wages to more than 3,000 workers–-welders, electricians, pipe fitters, and other craftspeople-–on maritime vessels and other oil and gas industry projects.

The investigations are part of an ongoing, multi-year initiative aimed at ending an illegal and alarming trend of employers labeling part of employee wages as per…

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The Corporate Representation of Contingent Employment

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Some time ago, the authors of several posts to this blog, including me, took issue with several reports that asserted either that a very large percentage of adjunct faculty are quite satisfied with the conditions of their employment or, at the opposite extreme, that the main cause of their economic exploitation has been their own failure, for diverse reasons, to compete effectively in the competition for full-time employment.

Well, the first rationalization of the rising numbers of part-time faculty is part of a broader corporate rationalization of contingent workers. The following infographic from Mavenlink Software frames contingent employment not only as a deliberate, personal choice made by most workers in the category but also an opportunity to pursue “solopreneurship.” (Although I have made this point in previous posts, I think that it bears repeating that a tortured neologism is an indication of an analysis or an argument that strains the…

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2013 Statement on Contingent Workers from the US Department of Labor

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The rampant exploitation of contingent faculty—in particular, of part-time or adjunct faculty—is one of the more disgraceful developments in American higher education over the last quarter century. It ranks with the rampant abuses committed by online for-profit colleges and universities as one of the most pernicious effects of the corporatization of higher education—and, more broadly, the ideological agenda to privatize public education at every level and all other public institutions.

It does seem especially shameful that the so-called “ivory tower” have perpetuated this extended pattern of economic exploitation and that our institutions’ leaders have continued to attempt to explain it away as an economic necessity, even as their own compensation has soared to levels that would have been inconceivable– that would have seemed scandalous—just a few decades ago.

Nonetheless, what has been occurring in higher education is part of what has been occurring more broadly in the American workforce, and…

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“Right to Work,” by the Numbers: Part 9: Previously Uninsured Americans Who Now Receive Health Insurance through the Federal Exchanges Established under the Affordable Care Act

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Pro-Labor and Right-to-Work States

Uninsured, by State, in August 2014:

Uninsured in August 2014

Source: Gallup Well-Being Index [].

Uninsured, by County, in August 2014:

Uninsured in August 2014, by County

Source: Enroll America []

Percentages Using Federal Exchanges:

Percentages Using Federal Exchanges

Source: Washington Center for Equitable Growth []


Previous posts in this series have included:

Part 1: Population Growth and Movement:

Part 2: Immigration:

Part 3: Unemployment Rates, by State:

Part 4: Historic Highs and Lows in Unemployment, by State:

Part 5: Employment in Manufacturing:

Part 6: Loss of Employment in Manufacturing, before and during the Great Recession:

Part 7: Right to Work by the Numbers: GDP by State and GDP per Capita by State:

Part 8: Right to Work by the Numbers: GDP in Urban and Rural Areas:

My other posts on “right to work” have included:

“Right to Work” Provides Workers…

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Sen. Sherrod Brown: How Trade is Like a Baseball Game

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

For those of you who are not residents of Ohio and may be unfamiliar with Sherrod Brown’s record, he has been a staunch defender of the continuing value of collective bargaining rights and of public education. He was one of the few figures at the federal level who immediately denounced Senate Bill 5 for what it was—an ideological attack on workers’ rights and the middle class. He is a progressive’s progressive—and unapologetically and proudly so.


Folks in Washington like to make big promises when it comes to our trade deals. But for too long, we’ve seen nothing but bad results.

We’ve seen what so-called free trade agreements have done to our workers and our communities over the past two decades. We’ve seen the factories close and the stores get boarded up. That’s why I voted against giving the president authority to rush through a huge new trade agreement, the…

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Two Video Links That Might Be of Interest

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Robert Reich’s website includes a series of short videos explaining Ten Ideas to Save the Economy. The videos are available at:

The first seven of Reich’s ten ideas to make the economy work for the many and not the few include:

1. Increasing the minimum wage nationally.

2. Making work family-friendly.

3. Expanding Social Security.

4. Busting up Wall Street.

5. Reinventing education.

6. Ending corporate welfare now.

7. Strengthening labor unions.

As far as I can tell, the last three of the ten ideas have not been posted yet.


Another item of interest is this GIF created for the chapter at Eastern Michigan University to engage its members more fully in their upcoming contract campaign:

It is a clever use of a digital technology that has certainly been available for some time, but I suspect that very few of our chapters have taken advantage of it or any number…

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If You Keep Doing the Same Thing Repeatedly while Expecting Different Results

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This is what Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said on the Senate floor on the proposed TransPacific Partnership:

“We are creating a structure of a group of seven very poor nations with very low wages, five affluent nations with higher wages, and think about the difference between running an operation in Malaysia or Mexico, with a minimum wage of less than $2 an hour, and in Vietnam with a minimum wage of 60 to 70 cents depending on what part of the country you’re in. Think about the difference between that and the minimum wage in the United States. It is a 10-to-1 differential. . . .

“In order to have something that was fundamentally different, we would have to have something like snap-back tariffs. A situation where a country deeply violated its promises on labor standards, deeply violated its promises on environmental standards, but there would be some sort of…

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Sometimes the Economic Equations Are Simple: Addendum 1: More Graphs on the Current vs. Historical Scale of Corporate Profits

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Ratio of Wages to Profits

Profits as % of Value Added by Corporatations

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A New Far-Right Theory: Liberal Immigration Policies Have Been the Primary Cause of Falling Incomes for Most Americans

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This is an excerpt from an article distributed by the Far-Right news service Newsmax:

“Wages for the overwhelming majority of Americans have fallen below 1970s levels as the percentage of the population that is foreign-born has surged.

“A memo from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), released in response to a request for data from the Senate Judiciary Committee, shows on the other hand that in the decades prior to 1970, when the percentage of foreign-born Americans dropped, wages for most Americans rose.

“From 1945 to 1970, the foreign-born population in the United States decreased from 10.97 million to 9.74 million, a decline of 11.2 percent.

“During that 25-year period, the reported income of the bottom 90 percent of tax filers rose from an average of $18,418, in 2013 dollars, to $33,621 in 1970, an increase of 82.5 percent.

“The share of total income held by the bottom 90 percent…

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