Yes, We Can Do Something About Insecure Work

A recent New York Times editorial claimed it is simply impossible for “good jobs” to equate to a “good life” for Americans. So a logical conclusion can be drawn, that “bad jobs” (or non-secure work) could ever equate to a “good life”.

Politicians routinely promise that, if elected, they will create more “good jobs,” which are understood to be jobs with solid wages, regular ours and, perhaps, generous employer-provided benefits. During this year’s Presidential Campaign, Hillary Clinton promised “the biggest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II” by a means of a misture of tough trade negotiations, investment in domestic manufacturing, infrastructure investment, research and development, regulatory relief for small business and a tax credit to subside apprenticeships. President-elect Trump proposed to protect American workers from competition with illegal immigrants, the offshoring of jobs by United States-based corporations and harmful practices by trading partners like China.

american-dream

But far from the campaign stops and Capitol Hill, Americans are asking; shouldn’t we all be able to enjoy “good lives,” even if we have “bad jobs,” or those defined as insecure work… one’s with low wages, irregular hours and poor or no employer-provided benefits?

Well, according to an important new study from the International Labor Organization, which highlights smart policies that have been used to improve insecure work.

DOWNLOAD: International Labor Organization Study on Non-Secure Work

The comprehensive study by the ILO documents the rise of “insecure” or “non-standard” forms of work – temporary work, seasonal work, casual or intermittent work, daily work, involuntary part-time work, on-call work, temp agency work, subcontracted work, and employment misclassified as independent contracting—around the world in recent decades.

For most working people, these “non-standard” working arrangements have meant greater economic insecurity, including lower earnings, greater likelihood of unemployment, limited control over work hours, less predictable schedules, lower likelihood of union representation, greater occupational safety and health risk, and reduced access to on-the-job training and unemployment and retirement benefits.

The ILO study identifies policy choices that have made “non-standard” work less insecure, including the following:

  • Ensuring equal treatment for part-time workers with regard to wages, working conditions, freedom of association, safety and health, paid annual leave, paid holidays, maternity leave, pension benefits, protections against discrimination, and termination of employment;
  • Ensuring equal treatment for temp agency workers with regard to wages, working conditions and freedom of association, and protecting agency workers against discrimination;
  • Preventing abuse by setting limits on the use of temp agency work, casual work, on-call work or labor subcontracting, in certain circumstances;
  • Assigning joint liability for labor and employment obligations to lead firms in subcontracting networks and user firms in multiple-party arrangements;
  • Establishing minimum guaranteed hours for part-time, on-call and casual workers, and limiting the variability of working schedules;
  • Cracking down on misclassification of employees as independent contractors by, for example, establishing a presumption of an employment relationship or legally defining contracts for certain kinds of services as employment contracts;
  • Using collective bargaining to regulate insecure work by, for example, turning contract work into regular jobs; ensuring equal treatment of temporary, temp agency, casual and part-time workers; guaranteeing minimum hours; and negotiating worker-friendly schedules;
  • Ensuring that all “non-standard” workers can organize and be represented effectively in collective bargaining;
  • Broadening the scope of collective bargaining to all workers in a sector or occupational category;
  • Strengthening remedies against anti-union discrimination, especially discrimination against temporary and on-call workers;
  • Forming alliances between unions and other organizations, such as day labor worker centers, to address issues of concern to insecure workers;
  • Promoting fiscal and monetary policies that lead to full employment;
  • Making social protection programs more inclusive by lowering thresholds for hours, earnings, duration of employment and minimum contributions

Insecure work is not inevitable. Nor is the impossibility of a “good life”. Non-standard employment, including temporary work, part-time work, temporary agency work and other multi-party employment arrangements, disguised employment relationships and dependent self-employment, has become a contemporary feature of labor markets the world over. What is key is that the policies and regulations in place protecting non-standard workers detailed in the International Labor Organization study be an ongoing effort practiced consistently.

As Union Members you know… the “good life” does not have to be impossible.

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Five Reasons to Cheer for Unions This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate the capacity for upward mobility women have gained in the workforce — especially when it comes to labor unions.

Today, women constitute the greatest portion of the labor force working inside and outside of the home. In another couple of years, the same will likely be said of women in unions. In 2015, women made up roughly 49 percent of union members — but by 2023, women will be the majority of the unionized workforce.

hardworking-mom

In spite of these strides, millions of female workers are getting the squeeze in today’s economy. Even as women break the glass ceiling in business and politics, they still earn on average, 77 cents to every dollar earned by men — and unions are a big part of the solution.

Women have a great deal to gain from joining a union, with union victories working to pave the way for workers to bargain for affordable family health care, fair wages, improved working conditions and a better life for their families.

Did you know that…

1. Unionization results in significantly higher wages for women of all education levels.
Being in a union raises a woman’s pay as much as a full year of college does. Being a member of a union raises women’s wages by 12.9 percent — or $2.50 per hour — compared to their non-union peers.

Among women workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, the benefits are even greater, with female union members earning 14 percent more than those workers who were not in unions.

2. Unions protect workers’ rights regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender.
In a country where it’s still legal for an employer to fire someone for being gay in 29 states, and for being transgender in 34, having a union can make all the difference.

3. Unionization raises the probability of a woman having a pension.
The union advantage is most impressive when looking at employer-provided retirement plans. Women represented by unions are a whopping 53.4 percent more likely to have pension coverage than their non-union counterparts.

4. Being in a union is good for a woman’s health.
The union impact on a woman’s likelihood of having health insurance is even larger than the impact on wages. At every education level, female union members are 36.8 percent more likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

5. Unions help close the wage gap.
Despite the fact that the gender wage gap overall hasn’t made any progress in the last five years, it’s been shrinking among workers who belong to a union, declining 3.6 cents between 2015 and 2012. The gender gap between what unionized male workers make and what unionized female workers make is just 9.4 cents, which, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, unionized working women make more than 90 percent of what men do.

Among non-union workers, on the other hand, the wage gap is 18.7 cents, about double the gap between union workers. And while all workers typically make higher wages when they’re unionized, a women’s boost of $222 a week is even bigger than her male counterpart.

There’s still much work to be done…

Yet even as we celebrate Mother’s Day – we cannot lose sight of the work yet to be done to achieve full equality.

The United States is the only industrialized nation without any paid family leave law. With the changing nature of our 21st-century workforce, it’s getting harder and harder to balance the demands of the family you love and the job you need. Change has yet to come to Washington, but momentum is growing in the states: So far, California, Rhode Island and New Jersey have passed paid leave laws. It’s time to update workplace policies that are stuck in the past and give more Americans paid family leave – to take care of sick loved ones and newborn children.

The Labor Department is awarding half a million dollars to help feasible studies on new paid leave policies and with the support of Unions, it is our hope paid maternity leave will soon be realized.

RELATED: Maternity Leave FAQs

Considering the great boost to equality, pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the well-being of women workers also care about unions.

Union Built PC wishes our Union Sisters a very Happy Mother’s Day.