Journal Article - academic

“How Does Declining Unionism Affect the American Middle Class and Inter-generational Mobility?”
Richard B. Freeman, Eunice Han, Brendan Duke, and David Madland. 2016. ““How Does Declining Unionism Affect the American Middle Class and Inter-generational Mobility?”” Federal Reserve Bank, 2015 Community Development Research Conference Publication.Abstract
This paper examines unionism’s relationship to the size of the middle class and its
relationship to intergenerational mobility. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) 1985
and 2011 files are used to examine the change in the share of workers in a middle-income
group (defined by persons having incomes within 50 percent of the median) and use a
shift-share decomposition to explore how the decline of unionism contributes to the
shrinking middle class. The files are also used to investigate the correlation between
parents’ union status and the incomes of their children. Additionally, federal income tax
data is used to examine the geographical correlation between union density and
intergenerational mobility. Findings include that union workers are disproportionately in
the middle-income group or above, and some reach middle-income status due to the
union wage premium; the offspring of union parents have higher incomes than the
offspring of otherwise comparable non-union parents, especially when the parents are
low-skilled; and offspring from communities with higher union density have higher
average incomes relative to their parents compared to offspring from communities with
lower union density. These findings show a strong, though not necessarily causal, link
between unions, the middle class, and intergenerational mobility. 
Private Equity and American Labor: Multiple, Pragmatic Responses Mirroring Labor’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Larry W. Beeferman. 2009. “Private Equity and American Labor: Multiple, Pragmatic Responses Mirroring Labor’s Strengths and Weaknesses.” Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 51, No. 4,, Pp. pp. 545-558 .Abstract
This article briefly describes the recent growth of private equity, details some of the challenges such growth has posed for American labor, and outlines ways in which labor has chosen to respond. In so doing it suggests that the diverse, complicated, and practical choices labor has made to date have been shaped by the particular strengths and weaknesses of its position in American society. More particularly, these choices place the emphasis on (1) legislative change, relating mainly to tax rather than regulatory policy (labor-related or otherwise); (2) capital strategies, by which unions and pension funds engage companies in connection with corporate governance and investments that might be made in or withheld from them; and (3) high-profile campaigns relating to the reputation of private equity firms and the companies in their portfolio.
Capital Stewardship in the United States: Worker Voice and the Union Role in the Management of Pension Fund Assets
Larry W. Beeferman. 2/2011. “Capital Stewardship in the United States: Worker Voice and the Union Role in the Management of Pension Fund Assets.” Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, vol. 17 , no 1, Pp. 43-57.Abstract
This article describes US unions’ efforts at capital stewardship, that is, the investment and management of the assets accumulated in pension and other retirement plans (frequently termed ‘workers’ or ‘labour’s capital’) — on behalf of plan participants and in the interest of workers more generally. It focuses particularly on the opportunities for direct worker voice in the governance and management of those assets through workers serving as trustees of the plans. The article explores the challenges these trustees face in navigating that role in addition to their possibly conflicting role as a union member or official. It details unions’ visions for capital stewardship and their efforts to integrate trustees’ activities within the broader range of union activities. Finally, it describes ways in which unions have collaborated in support of their trustees and to develop a cross-union capital stewardship agenda.
'Reform' of the United States and Brazilian Retirement Systems for Federal Employees
Larry W. Beeferman and Arthur Bragança V. de Weintraub. 9/10/2014. “'Reform' of the United States and Brazilian Retirement Systems for Federal Employees.” Revista Brasileira de Previdência, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP),. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Recently, Brazil made changes to its retirement system as it concerned public sector workers, changes which in certain ways were similar to those which occurred for most federal workers in the United States somewhat over a quarter of a century ago. Broadly speaking it involved the conversion of a purely pay-as-you-go defined benefit plans to a hybrid of a reduced pay-as-you- go defined benefit plan with a funded defined contribution plan. In the United States, the latter is called the Thrift Savings Plan which now has over 4.5 million participants and nearly $400 billion in assets.

This paper offers a brief history of the origins of the U.S. system up until the changes in question were made, what were among the major factors or considerations which appear to have spurred the changes, a little bit about the constituencies which seem to have driven or resisted change as the case may be, the modifications that were envisioned, and expectations as to the difference that was expected to be wrought from those alterations. It canvases the differences between the then “old” and the “new” systems in relation to what was ostensibly sought to be achieved. It then draws on what is a surprisingly thin literature to describe the outcomes of the changes more than 25 years later with an eye to hoped-for or anticipated results at the outset. We then detail important elements of the new Brazilian system – which is at an early stage – with an eye to similarities and differences between it and the one we have described with a focus on how the outcomes of the system in the U.S. might bear on thinking in Brazil as it moves forward with its own. We conclude briefly with thoughts on the nature and merits of further pursuing the comparison and inquiry.

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