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

The UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment supports faculty and graduate student research on employment and labor topics in a variety of academic disciplines. The Institute also sponsors colloquia, conferences and other public programming, and is home to the undergraduate minor in Labor and Workplace Studies at UCLA. The Institute also includes three sub-units: the UCLA Labor Center, the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program, and the Human Resources Round Table.

Cover page of Wal-Mart’s Limited Growth in Urban Retail Markets: The Cost of Low Labor Investment

Wal-Mart’s Limited Growth in Urban Retail Markets: The Cost of Low Labor Investment

(2015)

Expanding Walmart’s share of urban markets is becoming increasingly important to the company because of declining sales growth and the over-saturation of suburban and rural retail markets. The company has sought urban expansion, especially outside its home base in the South, for over 15 years, but in recent years their quest has taken on added urgency. During 2009’s 16th Annual Meeting for the Investment Community of Walmart, former Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro Wright stated achieving average market share in the most urban areas of the United States would increase annual sales by $80 to $100 billion. Over the next six years, Walmart developed an ambitious growth strategy aimed at expanding the company’s share of the urban retail market by using smaller store models designed to boosts grocery and e-commerce sales in these areas. Neil Currie, an analyst at UBS Securities LLC, estimated in 2010 that the company’s strategy for expanding into urban markets could potentially increase its annual revenue by over 20 percent. Despite such bold predictions, Walmart’s urban growth has been disappointing. This report explores Walmart’s shortfall in city-based growth, and how community and consumer opposition to the company's low labor standards and negative impact on local business has contributed to that shortfall.

Cover page of A New Map of Right-to-Work?  Pushing the "Local Option" in Kentucky and Illinois

A New Map of Right-to-Work?  Pushing the "Local Option" in Kentucky and Illinois

(2015)

Until recently, the spread of “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation formed a fairly dormant chapter in the history of labor relations and state policy. By the conventional narrative, the state-by-state adoption of RTW rules represented a key front of postwar anti-union politics, helping to establish an uneven geography of workplace regulations, possibly contributing to the shift of manufacturing to the Sunbelt, and undermining union-dense production sectors in the Northeast and Midwest. However, this once largely closed episode of economic restructuring has re-opened with three Midwestern states adopting RTW over the past three years and a broader uptick in related legislation in other states. Focusing on one new front of anti-union legislative campaigns, this report examines the emergence of RTW law as a viable option for local governments. Beyond probing the limits of federal regulations, local RTW’s circulation as a flexible policy concept strategically exploits political and economic factors at the local scale that differ from the “rules of the game” established at the state level.

Cover page of Examining The Evidence: The Impact of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance on Workers and Businesses

Examining The Evidence: The Impact of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance on Workers and Businesses

(2015)

This study represents the most definitive analysis of a living wage lawís impact on workers and employers. It provides important new insights on the effects of living wage policies, which have been adopted by more than 120 local governments around the country. The studyís findings are based on three original random-sample surveys of workers and firms. Random sampling techniques ensure that survey findings are representative of the entire population being studied. The surveys include:

• A survey of 320 workers affected by the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, conducted after the pay increase had taken place. This is the first such survey ever completed.

• A survey of 82 firms affected by the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance.

• A control group survey of non-living wage firms in similar industries, which provides a baseline for comparison in order to isolate the impacts of the living wage.

Cover page of Young Workers in Los Angeles: A Snapshot

Young Workers in Los Angeles: A Snapshot

(2015)

This report focuses on young people between the ages of 18 and 29 working across Los Angeles County. While most studies of young workers focus on middle-class youth experience, we have captured a diverse segment of young people in the early stages of their employment journeys and careers. Youth in Los Angeles make up nearly 20 percent of the nation’s most populated and diverse county and 1 of every 4 LA County workers is a young worker.

Cover page of The Economic Impacts of Long-Term Immigration Detention in Southern California

The Economic Impacts of Long-Term Immigration Detention in Southern California

(2015)

In 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained over 477,000 immigrants at a cost of over $2 billion (or $161 per detainee, per day). Today, more than 33,000 immigrants are held in ICE custody on any given day.  These numbers indicate a sharp expansion in immigration detention.  

The Economic Impacts of Long-Term Immigration Detention in Southern California, a new IRLE report by Caitlin Patler, shows that detention of immigrants for 6 months or longer places severe strains on their families.  Lost wages from the Immigrant Detention Study sample of 562 detainees-a small fraction of the total detainee population-totaled an estimated $12 million.  More than two-thirds of detainee families include at least one citizen or Lawful Permanent Residence. Detention is creating an economic crisis for immigrant communities. Long-term immigration detention is creating an economic crisis for immigrant communities, which impacts the economic status of not only individual detainees, but of entire households.  

Cover page of "Your Liberation is Linked to Ours"  International Labor Solidarity Campaigns

"Your Liberation is Linked to Ours"  International Labor Solidarity Campaigns

(2015)

As part of the UCLA Labor Center’s Global Solidarity project, the Institute for Transnational Social Change (ITSC) provides academic resources and a unique strategic space for discussion to transnational leaders and their organizations involved in cross-border labor, worker and immigrant rights action. The overarching goal of ITSC is to promote solidarity among worker-led transnational organizations in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. The Institute organizes annual gatherings for labor leaders and grassroots organizers to think critically and creatively building the human and social assets necessary to strengthen the transnational worker organizing movement. The Institute works in close collaboration with strategic partners in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada representing labor unions, worker centers, grassroots advocacy organizations, and academic institutions.

The idea to organize labor delegations and encourage worker-to-worker solidarity in support key campaigns that exemplified the importance of global solidarity emerged during our December 2014 meeting in Los Angeles. Participants of that tri-national meeting discussed the need to practice international labor solidarity from the grassroots level. The present report highlights five campaigns where international labor solidarity has played a critical role in shaping outcomes of the conflict. The main goal in documenting these experiences is not only to learn about the truly remarkable campaigns undertaken by workers at the local level facing global companies, but also to highlight the fact that international workers alliances are integral to their success.

Cover page of The State of the Unions in California and its Key Cities in 2015

The State of the Unions in California and its Key Cities in 2015

(2015)

IRLE’s State of the Unions 2015 starts by considering the impacts of the fifteen dollar minimum wage on Los Angeles and San Francisco. Proposals to exempt unions from the minimum wage provision will not make a difference to the majority of union jobs, which tend to pay well above regulated price floors. The minimal employment dislocation associated with the new wage will likely be concentrated in the hospitality and trade (including retail) sectors. Though one might expect a minimum wage increase to reduce the value of unionization to workers, an increase in the wage floor may well instead nudge unionization rates above their historic lows through reducing employers’ incentives to oppose unionization. Other current changes in the state of California unions are limited. Union membership remains most common in the public sector. Given their disproportionate concentration in jobs such as education and health care, women, black workers, and the college-educated are particularly likely to be unionized. California, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have seen unionization levels dip since 2014, but those rates remain within their range of fluctuation over the last twenty years.

Cover page of Advantaging Communities: Co-Benefits and Community Engagement in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

Advantaging Communities: Co-Benefits and Community Engagement in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

(2015)

California has long been a leader in climate change policy. Considering the gridlocked nature of the United States Congress and the increasing degradation of the environment through excess carbon emissions, the need for leadership today is especially critical. California’s focus on combating climate change and promoting equitable development through a legislative agenda takes advantage of the significant investment opportunities provided by California’s Cap-and-Trade auctions. As a result, California remains a trend-setter of environmental policies for other states and even other countries around the world.

California’s ability to provide replicable models for the rest of the world depends upon the development of successful policies and programs in the initial funding cycles of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). Informing this groundbreaking approach through “best practices” of equitable green development, technical expertise and authentic community engagement is a crucial step to ensure lasting and meaningful revitalization for environmental justice communities.

Advantaging Communities focuses on environmental justice policy recommendations for GGRF investments in “disadvantaged communities” (DACs) that maintain a primary focus on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions, while maximizing environmental, public health and economic co-benefits, and engaging in authentic community partnerships. This report promotes targeted objectives for DACs, including quality of life improvements, greater resilience for vulnerable populations, and community-determined investments. Co-benefit maximization is sought through cross-cutting investment strategies, stronger baseline requirements and incentives for individual programs; high road labor practices; proactive anti-displacement measures and specific methods of community engagement.

This document provides a community perspective for State agencies administering the GGRF and individual programs funded by Cap-andTrade auction revenues. It also serves as a guide for community advocates to navigate the complex landscape of the GGRF, and where it most needs to address issues of social, environmental and economic equity.

Cover page of The "California Package" of Immigrant Integration and the Evolving Nature of State Citizenship

The "California Package" of Immigrant Integration and the Evolving Nature of State Citizenship

(2015)

Immigration law is no longer the exclusive domain of the federal government. That was certainly clear in the mid 2000s, with restrictive laws on immigration enforcement in many states and localities. Starting in 2012, however, momentum shifted away from these restrictionist laws, and towards a growing number of state laws that push towards greater immigrant integration, on matters ranging from in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students, to expanded health benefits and access to driver’s licenses. California has gone the furthest in this regard, both with respect to the number of pro-integration laws passed since 2000, and in their collective scope. Indeed, as we argue in this paper, these individual laws have, over time, combined to form a powerful package of pro-integration policies that stand in sharp contrast to the restrictive policies of states like Arizona. In this paper, we provide a deeper look into the “California package” of immigrant integration policies, and ask two fundamental questions, one empirical (Why do pro-integration laws pass in some states and not in others, and in some years but not in others?), and the other theoretical (what are the implications of the “California package” of immigrant integration laws for our notions of citizenship?). As we elaborate, California has created a de facto regime of state citizenship, one that operates in parallel to national citizenship and, in some important ways, exceeds the standards of national citizenship, as currently established and as envisioned in Congressional attempts at comprehensive immigration reform.

Cover page of The “California Package” of Immigrant Integration and the Evolving Nature of State Citizenship

The “California Package” of Immigrant Integration and the Evolving Nature of State Citizenship

(2015)

Immigration law is no longer the exclusive domain of the federal government. That was certainly clear in the mid 2000s, with restrictive laws on immigration enforcement in many states and localities. Starting in 2012, however, momentum shifted away from these restrictionist laws, and towards a growing number of state laws that push towards greater immigrant integration, on matters ranging from in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students, to expanded health benefits and access to driver’s licenses. California has gone the furthest in this regard, both with respect to the number of pro-integration laws passed since 2000, and in their collective scope. Indeed, as we argue in this paper, these individual laws have, over time, combined to form a powerful package of pro-integration policies that stand in sharp contrast to the restrictive policies of states like Arizona. In this paper, we provide a deeper look into the “California package” of immigrant integration policies, and ask two fundamental questions, one empirical (Why do pro-integration laws pass in some states and not in others, and in some years but not in others?), and the other theoretical (what are the implications of the “California package” of immigrant integration laws for our notions of citizenship?). As we elaborate, California has created a de facto regime of state citizenship, one that operates in parallel to national citizenship and, in some important ways, exceeds the standards of national citizenship, as currently established and as envisioned in Congressional attempts at comprehensive immigration reform.