Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Institute for Labor and Employment (ILE) is a new multi-campus research program that is devoted to studying, and finding solutions for, problems of labor and employment in California and the nation. It expands upon the existing Institutes of Industrial Relations (IIRs) at UC Berkeley and UCLA, which were founded in 1945, and on the two Centers for Labor Research and Education housed in the IIRs on those two campuses. The ILE itself is based at UCLA and UC Berkeley, but draws on and supports faculty, academic staff, and students throughout all the campuses in the UC system, sponsoring a variety of employment-related research and service activities.

Cover page of Income Polarization and California's Social Contract

Income Polarization and California's Social Contract


This chapter explores the implications of growing economic and social inequality in California for the state's social contract, as well as the role of government and other institutions in addressing the new polarization. Data from the ILE's 2001-02 California Workforce Survey reveal that a majority of Californians are seriously concerned about the widening economic divide and support public policy measures that would help to narrow it. Respondents with lower incomes and less education are especially supportive of a strong government role in this area, as are noncitizens, Latinos, and African Americans. Because of the concentration of low-wage workers, immigrants, and Latinos in the southern part of the state, attitudes there belie the conservative stereotype of Southern California, traditionally juxtaposed to the relatively liberal attitudes assumed to be typical of the Bay Area. The survey results suggest that today, southern Californians are in fact more supportive of a strong government role than are people in the rest of the state. Southern Californians are also more pro-union than their counterparts elsewhere in the state. Another important topic in the chapter is public policy in regard to the problem of combining work and family responsibilities, with a large majority of survey respondents reporting that they favor compensating workers for family leave, and making child care and elder care more affordable.

Cover page of Recession and Reaction: The Impact of the Economic Downturn on California Labor

Recession and Reaction: The Impact of the Economic Downturn on California Labor


This chapter reviews the effects of the current recession on California's working people. Just before the downturn that began in early 2001, the buoyant economy, together with a bolder labor movement and progressive public policy initiatives, had begun to challenge the longer-term drift toward economic inequality that had marked the preceding decades, and even workers at the bottom of the state's income distribution made modest gains at the very end of the 1990s. That progress came to an abrupt halt with the recession, which was triggered mainly by the crash and a broader slowdown in the high-tech sector. Although the situation worsened significantly with the events of September 11, 2001, the recession was well under way in California several months earlier. Nonetheless the post-9/11 period led to extensive job losses in sectors like travel and tourism, where union density is high. More broadly, the chapter highlights the ways in which this recession has exposed the downside of the "new economy." For example, labor market flexibility helped businesses respond quickly to competitive challenges during the boom, but the temporary workers who made that flexibility possible now face not only layoffs but also limited access to public and private safety nets. This analysis suggests the continuing importance of public policies that address the issues of economic inequality and employment insecurity.

Cover page of Labor Law Enforcement in California, 1970-2000

Labor Law Enforcement in California, 1970-2000


This chapter examines the record of two state agencies within the California Department of Industrial Relations, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and the California Occupational Safety and Health Program (Cal/OSHA), over the 1970-2000 period. Although the data available on the performance of these agencies are severely limited - in most cases consisting only of enforcement activity measures, without any valid measures of enforcement outcomes, it is possible to draw some conclusions. The analysis shows that the agencies' budget and staffing allocations have generally not kept pace with the growth in the size of the state's workforce, nor with the agencies' increased responsibilities. Despite recent improvements, the agencies are still funded and staffed at 1989 levels. Moreover, several key activity measures, such as the number of investigations, citations, and penalties assessed, have failed to increase in proportion to the expansion of funding and staffing that has occurred. The chapter highlights the urgent need for these agencies to collect data on outcomes, so that any future progress in their work can be measured and evaluated in a rigorous manner.

Cover page of Growing Apart: The "New Economy" and Job Polarization in California, 1992-2000

Growing Apart: The "New Economy" and Job Polarization in California, 1992-2000


This chapter explores the characteristics of job growth in California during the long economic expansion of the 1990s. The main focus is on the quality of jobs (measured by median hourly earnings) generated during the boom years. Drawing on U.S. Current Population Survey data, the analysis shows that net employment growth in California was polarized between "good jobs" and "bad jobs," with relatively little growth in the middle. The state's pattern of job growth was more polarized than that in the U.S. as a whole, although in both the state and the nation, the 1990s pattern contrasts sharply with that of the 1960s, when economic expansion generated a more evenly distributed array of new jobs. In the 1990s, race, ethnicity and nativity were tightly linked to the new polarization, although in the case of gender, the analysis reveals extensive within-group polarization. One of the most striking findings in this chapter involves regional differences: whereas the Los Angeles metropolitan area showed an even more extreme pattern of job polarization than the state as a whole, in the San Francisco Bay Area (which includes Silicon Valley) "good jobs" dominated growth, with little expansion of jobs at the low end or in the middle. This suggests that the much-touted "new economy" of the 1990s is a geographically bounded phenomenon, and one that may depend on a more polarized and less salutary set of economic arrangements in nearby regions.

Cover page of Work in the Postindustrial Economy of California

Work in the Postindustrial Economy of California


Utilizing new data from the ILE's 2001-02 California Workforce Survey, this chapter compares the situation of the state's managers and professionals, on the one hand, to that of its clerical, service and blue-collar workers, on the other. Even more than in the past, the contrast between the two groups is striking. The managerial-professional group - which is disproportionately white and male - is doing well, both in regard to incomes and fringe benefits as well as in regard to the quality of work experience. Most managerial and professional respondents find their work enjoyable, but many report working long hours and being tied to their jobs after hours by new telecommunications technologies. By contrast, clerical, service, and blue-collar workers - a disproportionately female, nonwhite and foreign-born group - earn less, have fewer fringe benefits, and work shorter hours - in many cases fewer hours than they would like. They are also much more fearful of layoffs. However, unionized workers in the clerical, service and blue-collar group enjoy more job security as well as better pay and fringe benefits than do their nonunion counterparts.

Cover page of California Labor Relations: Background and Developments through Mid-2002

California Labor Relations: Background and Developments through Mid-2002


This chapter examines the current state of union-management relations in California, based on records of public agencies and related data. A review of patterns of unionization in the state shows that two-thirds of the state's union-represented workers are in the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas, although Sacramento has a higher unionization rate. As is the case nationally, California's public sector is highly unionized, with approximately half the workforce covered by union contracts. In the private sector, union-represented workers are found in a variety of occupations and industries. Some work in manufacturing, as the common stereotype would indicate, but large concentrations are also found in construction, grocery and food warehouses, and health care. Some of the most dramatic organizing successes in the state during recent years have involved low-wage immigrant workers, such as janitors and home health care workers. The chapter reviews recent developments in collective bargaining in the state in some detail, examining recent contract settlements and other data.