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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Recent Work

The Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) is a public service and outreach program of the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Founded in 1964, the Labor Center conducts research and education on issues related to labor and employment. The Labor Center’s curricula and leadership trainings serve to educate a diverse new generation of labor leaders. The Labor Center carries out research on topics such as job quality and workforce development issues, and we work with unions, government, and employers to develop innovative policy perspectives and programs. We also provide an important source of research and information on unions and the changing workforce for students, scholars, policymakers and the public.

Cover page of Independent Contracting in California: An Analysis of Trends and Characteristics Using Tax Data

Independent Contracting in California: An Analysis of Trends and Characteristics Using Tax Data

(2022)

In this report, we leverage recent innovations in analyzing tax data to shed new light on the prevalence and characteristics of independent contracting in California.

Cover page of California’s Labor Market in the Time of COVID-19: 2021 Chartbook

California’s Labor Market in the Time of COVID-19: 2021 Chartbook

(2022)

This data tool tracks the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers in California, and how the state is recovering from these effects. The pandemic left millions of Californians out of work, and while the economy has begun to recover in recent months, some workers continue to struggle. This resource will be updated periodically, as new data becomes available, to allow users to monitor the progress of labor markets in the state.

Cover page of General Comments by the UC Berkeley Labor Center on the OSTP Bill of Rights for an Automated Society Initiative

General Comments by the UC Berkeley Labor Center on the OSTP Bill of Rights for an Automated Society Initiative

(2022)

The UC Berkeley Labor Center’s Technology and Work program provided input to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) initiative on developing a Bill of Rights for an Automated Society.

Cover page of The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the US Construction Industry

The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the US Construction Industry

(2022)

In this paper we look at the use by construction workers and their families in the United States of five means-tested safety net programs. We find that 39% of families of construction workers are enrolled in one or more safety net program at a cost of almost $28 billion per year. In comparison, 31% of all workers have a family member enrolled in a safety net program. Three times as many construction workers as all workers lack health insurance (31% compared to 10%).

Cover page of How Defined Benefit Pensions Support a Quality Public Sector Workforce in Marin County

How Defined Benefit Pensions Support a Quality Public Sector Workforce in Marin County

(2021)

This brief examines the economic value of defined benefit pensions—which provide secure monthly retirement income based on salary and years of service—for public employees, employers, and residents in Marin County.

Cover page of Massachusetts Uber/Lyft Ballot Proposition Would Create Subminimum Wage: Drivers Could Earn as Little as $4.82 an Hour

Massachusetts Uber/Lyft Ballot Proposition Would Create Subminimum Wage: Drivers Could Earn as Little as $4.82 an Hour

(2021)

Uber and Lyft, along with a group of delivery network companies, have filed a ballot proposition in Massachusetts to create a separate set of labor standards for their drivers. After considering multiple loopholes, we find that the majority of Massachusetts drivers could earn as little as the equivalent of a $4.82 wage, while the minority of drivers who qualify for a health care stipend could earn the equivalent of just $6.75 per hour.

Cover page of The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in California’s Construction Industry

The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in California’s Construction Industry

(2021)

In California, the question of whether and under what conditions labor standards requirements should be included in housing bills typically hinges on the issue of how much it would add to the cost of the project.[1] However, one important aspect of cost has so far not been considered: the cost to the public safety net resulting from low-road employment practices common in residential construction. Our analysis calculates the cost of utilization of the five major means-tested safety net programs by California construction workers and their families.  We find almost half of families of construction workers in California are enrolled in a safety net program at an annual cost of over $3 billion. By comparison, just over a third of all California workers have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net program.

Fiscal Effects of the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, AB 257

(2021)

The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, AB 257, would create a Fast Food Sector Council charged with establishing industry-wide minimum standards on wages, working conditions, and training in the industry.  If the council raises the wage floor for fast-food workers and reduces wage theft it would create savings to the state budget through decreased utilization of state safety net programs as well as increased tax revenue.

Cover page of Turning the Tables: Participation and Power in Negotiations

Turning the Tables: Participation and Power in Negotiations

(2021)

A report by Jane McAlevey and Abby Lawlor, illustrates best practices for building the power to win in today’s challenging union climate and features a series of case studies in collective bargaining during the four years under Trump. They cover four key employment sectors: teachers, nurses, hotel workers, and journalists. In each case, workers used high transparency and high participation approaches in contract campaigns to build worker power. Each victory points a path to raising workers’ expectations of what is possible to win at the negotiations table today.