2017

Richard Freeman, Wenquan Liang, Ran Song, and Christopher Timmins. Working Paper. “Willingness to Pay for Clean Air in China”. NBER Working PaperAbstract
We develop a residential sorting model incorporating migration disutility to recover the implicit value of clean air in China. The model is estimated using China Population Census Data along with PM2.5 satellite data. Our study provides new evidence on the willingness to pay for air quality improvement in developing countries and is the first application of an equilibrium sorting model to the valuation of non-market amenities in China. We employ two novel instrumental variables based on coal-fired electricity generation and wind direction to address the endogeneity of local air pollution. Results suggest important differences between the residential sorting model and a conventional hedonic model, highlighting the role of moving costs and the discreteness of the choice set. Our sorting results indicate that the economic value of air quality improvement associated with a one-unit decline in PM2.5 concentration is up to $8.83 billion for all Chinese households in 2005.
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Europe could have the secret to saving America’s unions

April 17, 2017

By Dylan Matthews
The Vox

Labor unions in America are in crisis. In the mid-1950s, a third of Americans belonged to a labor union. Today only 10.7 percent do, including a minuscule 6.4 percent of private sector workers. The decline of union membership explains as much as a third of the increase in inequality in the US, caused voter turnout among low-income workers to crater, and weakened labor’s ability to check corporate influence in Washington, DC, and state capitals.

The future for traditional unions looks so bleak that a growing number of labor scholars and activists are coming to the conclusion that the US approach is dead and can’t be revived.

Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School and former practicing labor lawyer, says, “The way I would think about it is that there’s an existential panic about what will happen to the labor movement. That’s not new, it’s just getting worse. … If we need unions for economic and political equality as I think we do, we have to do something to stop that downward spiral.”

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Labor ruling says employees can only have one boss

December 15, 2017

By Andy Uhler

The National Labor Relations Board has overturned a 2015 law that made it easier for contractors and workers at franchised businesses to form unions and collectively bargain with big corporations. 

The 2015 NLRB ruling said contract workers at a recycling center were jointly employed by a third party staffing firm and the business they worked for. Sharon Block was a member of President Obama's NLRB. She's now executive director of the labor and worklife program at Harvard Law School. 

“What the Obama board did was try to apply the proper legal standard, but in a way that fit the way that our economy and our business relationships work today,” she said.

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While Iowa pushes STEM education, most job growth in technology

December 8, 2017

By Erin Murphy

While all American students should have a working knowledge of science and math, it may be misleading to suggest the country faces a shortage of STEM workers, an expert on science education and policy told the Times.

“When it gets generalized to all of STEM, it’s misleading,” said Michael S. Teitelbaum, a senior research associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. “We’re misleading a lot of young people.”

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Sharon Block on Who should get the $$ from Tips

December 8, 2017

Interview by Ronn Owens

Should tips be shared? And, WHO do those tips belong to?

Those are some of the questions coming up as the Trump Administration proposes changes to the Tipping rule.

Listen in as Ronn talks with Sharon Block - Executive Director of the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. And, former Senior Counselor to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and the head of the Dept. of Labor policy office.

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Will Trump Lawyers Switch Sides in Supreme Court Labor Case?

December 5, 2017

By Ben Penn

Speculation has been simmering for months that the Trump administration might ask the Supreme Court to ban public sector unions from collecting mandatory fees. Calling for a decision that could significantly reduce labor movement finances and political influence would be a major shift in approach for the federal government.

“If they were to take such a radical step to undermine workers’ rights, I have no doubt that it would be motivated not by a genuine concern about constitutional rights but by a desire to destroy the labor movement,” Sharon Block

TRUMP WANTS YOU TO TIP RESTAURANT OWNERS, NOT SERVERS

TRUMP WANTS YOU TO TIP RESTAURANT OWNERS, NOT SERVERS

December 7, 2017

BY SHARON BLOCK AND CHRISTINE OWENS

If the Trump administration has its way, the tip you leave your waiter or waitress could end up in the pocket of the restaurant owner instead of the person who served you.

This week, Trump’s Labor Department proposed rescinding an Obama-era rule that made the logical point that tips are the property of the servers and cannot be taken by the restaurant owner.

The administration’s proposal would allow restaurant owners who pay their wait staff as little as $7.25 per hour to collect all the tips left by patrons and do whatever they want with them—regardless of what diners intended.

Also reported in: logo alternet smon December 8, 2017 [Read Article]

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Labor Department Proposes Killing Obama Tip Pooling Rule

December 4, 2017

By Ben Penn
The Labor Department wants to remove an Obama-era regulation that restricted the circumstances in which employers could force workers to share tips. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, in a proposed rule released Dec. 4, calls for rescinding the 2011 regulation that prohibited restaurants, bars, and other service industry employers from requiring front-of-house employees, such as servers, to share tips with back-of-house workers, such as cooks and dishwashers...The department’s analysis that unwinding this rule will improve workplace conditions for restaurant employees was immediately opposed by worker advocates and former DOL officials in the Obama administration. “There is nothing” in the proposed rule “that would preclude an employer from keeping the tips of workers as long as he’s paid them $7.25 an hour,” Sharon Block, LWP DIrector, told Bloomberg Law.

We need an agenda for new laws to prevent sexual harassment

We need an agenda for new laws to prevent sexual harassment

December 2, 2017

By Sharon Block and Terri Gerstein

 

What we’ve learned from the current flurry of revelations about sexual harassment is that public shaming may reform behavior but the law, as is, won’t. That means we need a broad agenda to change the law to protect the millions of women who don’t work for a famous boss.

In so doing, we should be especially careful to protect low-wage women workers, who often have less economic mobility than better educated, higher-wage workers, and are even less able to quit when they end up in a hostile work environment.... Read more about We need an agenda for new laws to prevent sexual harassment

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