Monthly Archives: April, 2015

Sometimes the Economic Equations Are Simple: Declining Union Membership = Lower Wages = Higher Corporate Profits = Higher CEO Pay: Part 1


Declining Union Membership

Workers Pay and Union Rates

“Over the last three decades, U.S. labor union membership has fallen by nearly half, even though more Americans are actually in favor of unionization.

“Some 11% of all wage and salary workers in 2014 were in a union — down from 22% in 1983 after peaking at nearly 35% in 1954, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed in a report from the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank. The decline of organized labor has affected nearly all occupational groups, but not uniformly, according to BLS data. The biggest declines, in fact, have come in occupations that were — and still are — among the most unionized in the country, especially those dominated by the private sector such as construction, transportation and maintenance and repair. “More jobs require a college education,” says Harry Holzer, economist at the McCourt School of Public Policy at…

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Sometimes the Economic Equations Are Simple: Declining Union Membership = Lower Wages = Higher Corporate Profits = Higher CEO Pay: Part 2


Workers’ Pay Is Still Higher in Pro-Labor States

Weekly Earnings by Industry

“Under federal law, no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, and the Supreme Court has made clear that workers cannot be forced to pay dues used for political purposes. So-called right-to-work (RTW) legislation goes one step further and entitles employees to the benefits of a union contract—including the right to have the union take up their grievance if their employer abuses them—without paying any of the cost.

“This means that if an employer mistreats a worker who does not pay a union representation fee, the union must prosecute that worker’s grievance just as it would a dues-paying member’s, even if it costs tens of thousands of dollars. Non-dues-paying workers would also receive the higher wages and benefits their dues-paying coworkers enjoy. RTW laws have nothing to do with whether people can be forced to join a union…

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Sometimes the Economic Equations Are Simple: Declining Union Membership = Lower Wages = Higher Corporate Profits = Higher CEO Pay: Part 3


Record Corporate Profit Margins

Earning and Revenue Growth 2015

“One item that hasn’t gotten much attention lately is corporate profit margins, which are near record highs. Since the financial crisis, companies have been cutting operating costs, trimming debt, and increasing exposure overseas — all actions that have boosted margins. But as the bull market and economic recovery have aged, we have heard more and more that margins are topping out or likely to revert to some long-term average or even collapse.

“Morgan Stanley’s Adam Parker doesn’t see any of tumbling margins quite yet.

“’For several years now, there has been an increasingly vocal group of investors and academics arguing that US corporate profitability and productivity has peaked,’ Parker wrote in a research note on Monday. ‘We disagree and would point to this quarter’s EPS results as yet another counterexample to what we argue is an over-reliance on irrelevant historical comparisons.’

“Parker notes that…

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Sometimes the Economic Equations Are Simple: Declining Union Membership = Lower Wages = Higher Corporate Profits = Higher CEO Pay: Part 4


Soaring CEO Compensation

CEO Pay in Minimum-Wage Hours

“America’s corporate leaders have recovered nicely since the recession. The average worker? Not so much.

“The annual pay for CEOs soared 12.1% last year, the fastest increase since 2010 and up from a median increase of just 1.6% in 2013, according to an analysis by professional services firm Towers Watson & Co. of 500 Standard & Poor’s 1500 companies. Higher pension values, larger annual incentive payouts and higher values of long-term incentives all contributed to the large increase. CEOs at small-cap companies received the largest increase (13.7%) compared with their counterparts at midcap (10.6%) and large-cap (11.6%) companies.

“’Last year was a good year financially for many companies and their shareholders,’ says Todd Lippincott, North America leader of executive compensation at Towers Watson, adding that companies still “carefully manage” their executive pay programs.

Total pay includes base salary, annual and long-term cash bonuses, long-term incentives such as…

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Some Guarded Good News from Ohio—When Any Good News Is Certainly Worth Celebrating


This post is an elaboration on a message that was sent to the members of our chapter at Wright State University, which itself was collaboratively drafted and developed from a message distributed by the chapter leadership at the University of Cincinnati. (In these kinds of things, it is “collaboration” and “sharing,” not “plagiarism.”)

We have had good news from Columbus:

Late on Monday afternoon, the House Finance Committee removed  the “Yeshiva” language from HB 64! That language would have eliminated the collective bargaining rights of more than 10,000 faculty at Ohio’s public colleges and universities by reclassifying them as managers.

We offer a big thanks to everyone who worked to make this happen.

A very heartfelt and personal thank you to all of our chapter members who came to President David Hopkins’ office this morning and stood outside while I met with him. By your presence this morning, you demonstrated our collective resolve…

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Sneak Attack on Faculty Collective Bargaining Rights in Ohio!!!


Earlier today, Tuesday, April 14, House Republicans unveiled Substitute House Bill 64, which contained their revisions to the governor’s budget.

Most alarming about the substitute bill were new provisions that would reclassify faculty as managers if they participate in any sort of decision-making at their institutions.

If faculty are managers, then they are not employees, which means they are ineligible to participate in collective bargaining.

The Legislative Service Commission’s comparison document of the executive budget versus the current version explains how the current version would change Ohio Revised Code Section 4117:

–Specifies, for the purposes of Ohio’s Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Law, that faculty members of state institutions of higher education are considered supervisors or management level employees if they participate in decisions with respect to courses, curriculum, personnel, or other matters of academic or institutional policy.

–Specifies further that faculty members are considered management level employees if they participate…

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Thomas Perez on the Uneven Economic Recovery, Income Inequality, and the Need for Strong Labor Unions


This is a carefully prepared, persuasive, and at times eloquent speech.

It would have been nice if such speeches had been given more consistently at the beginning of the Obama presidency, instead of at the tail end of it, and if they had reflected a broader and louder political focus on protecting and promoting labor rights.

The president’s statement on the passage of “right to work” in Wisconsin, which is cited in this speech, follows a general silence–at least off the campaign trail–on the convulsive labor issues in states across the Midwest, issues that were brought to a head with the Great Recession and the Far Right’s expedient conflation of state budget crises and the supposed “excesses” of public-employee unions.

In the next presidential election cycle, labor unions need to demand more than rhetoric from ostensibly pro-labor candidates. We need to demand some identification of specific policy proposals that will protect and promote…

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