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Photo: Jennifer Borrow

Contact: Ken Jacobs
Phone: (510) 643-2621

The living wage movement is “the most interesting (and underreported) grassroots enterprise to emerge since the civil rights movement … signaling a resurgence of local activism around pocketbook issues.”

-Robert Cutter, Columnist

Labor Center Reports on Living Wage

Report CoverCourse Correction: Reversing Wage Erosion to Restore Good Jobs at American Airports
November 4, 2013, by Miranda Dietz, Peter Hall, and Ken Jacobs

In recent decades, the airline industry has seen a substantial increase in outsourcing which has undercut job security and lowered wages. The transformation of self-sustaining middle-class airline careers to low-wage outsourced jobs not only hurts workers and their communities, but also may negatively affect the safety, security, and efficiency of airports. This report examines the extent of outsourcing in the airline industry; trends in wages over the last 20 years; the implications of these trends for workers, customers, and other stakeholders; and the costs and benefits of improving job standards in this industry.

Living Wage Policies and Big-Box RetailLiving Wage Policies and Big-Box Retail: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers
April 2011, by Ken Jacobs, Dave Graham-Squire and Stephanie Luce
» Research Brief PDF
» Press Release PDF
» Press Coverage

This study uses the most recent data available to update the 2007 report on the impact to workers and shoppers if Walmart increased its minimum wage. It finds that a $12 per hour minimum wage would provide substantial benefits to Walmart workers in low-income families, while the costs would be dispersed in small amounts among many consumers across the income spectrum.

Creating Good Jobs in Our CommunitiesCreating Good Jobs in Our Communities: How Higher Wage Standards Affect Economic Development and Employment
November 2010, by T. William Lester, Ken Jacobs
» Full Report PDF

The most common and comprehensive policies used in creating jobs and raising the quality of jobs are business assistance living wage laws, which require businesses receiving public subsidies to pay workers wages above the poverty level.

This report assesses the question of whether or not business assistance living wage laws reduce jobs and economic development activity in the cities that choose to pass them.

Watch the archived video from today's event "Are Higher Standards for Workers Good for Local Economic Development? A Debate about the Economic Experience of American Cities with Wage Standards."

Raising The Bar: The Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point Development Community Benefits AgreementRaising The Bar: The Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point Development Community Benefits Agreement
May 2010, by Ken Jacobs
» Issue Brief PDF

In May 2008, the Lennar Corporation signed a Community Benefits Agreement with the San Francisco Labor Council, the San Francisco Organizing Project and ACORN on the Hunter's Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point integrated development project. The brief provides background on the CBA and discusses the major provisions in the agreement.

LERA San Francisco Values: The New Social Compact
January 2009, by Ken Jacobs, in Labor and Employment Relations Association Series, Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting, ed. Adrienne E. Eaton
» Full Article PDF

Discussion of the transformation of basic labor standards in San Francisco over the last 12 years. The author finds these policies to represent a bold experiment in American industrial relations that can provide important lessons for the rest of the country.

Living Wage Policies and Wal-MartLiving Wage Policies and Wal-Mart: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Wal-Mart Workers and Shoppers
December 2007, by Arindrajit Dube, Dave Graham-Squire, Ken Jacobs and Stephanie Luce
» Research Brief PDF
» Press Release PDF
» Press Coverage

This study analyzes what the impact on Wal-Mart workers and shoppers would be if the retailer increased its minimum wage to $10 per hour. It finds that a $10 per hour minimum wage would provide significant, concentrated benefits to Wal-Mart workers, the majority in low-income families, while the costs would be dispersed in small amounts among many consumers across the income spectrum.

Industrial Relations Journal Industrial Relations: The Impacts of Living Wage Policies
» Vol. 44 Issue 1, January 2005

Special issue devoted to new research on the impact of living wage ordinances.Special issue devoted to new research on the impact of living wage ordinances.

Living Wage Policies at the San Francisco Airport: Impacts on Workers and Businesses
January 2005, by Michael Reich, Peter Hall and Ken Jacobs, Industrial Relations, vol. 44, no. 1.
» Report
NOTE: This article is available online from the vendor, and access may be limited. Please check with your local public library (or academic library) if you cannot access it from this link.

The authors evaluate the costs and benefits of a living wage ordinance implemented at the San Francisco Airport (SFO). Impacts of these policies are measured in terms of wages, turnover, worker morale, work effort, and employment, all of which improved. The authors find that pay for low-wage workers rose dramatically at SFO as a result of the ordinance, and earnings inequality among low-wage, non-managerial workers declined significantly as well. The study concludes that there was no overall employment loss, and that additional costs to employers are negligible.

Living Wages and Economic Performance: The San Francisco Airport Model
March 2003, by Michael Reich, Peter Hall and Ken Jacobs
» Report PDF
» Appendices PDF

This report examines the living wage ordinances in place for San Francisco International Airport employees, focusing specifically on the Quality Standards Program (QSP). The authors profile the various low-wage occupations based at the airport before QSP, and trace the development of the low-wage labor market in the airport jobs complex. The study then assesses the impact of QSP on workers, firms, taxpayers, and airport security, ultimately finding the ordinance to be an exemplary model of “high road” economic policy.

The Impact of a Large Wage Increase on the Workforce Stability of IHSS Home Care Workers in San Francisco County
November 2002, by Candace Howes
» Working Paper PDF

Study traces changes to San Francisco’s homecare labor market following recent wage increases and the extension of healthcare benefits to workers. The author profiles the workforce of in-home support services (IHSS) before and after the major changes, looking at employment figures, income, worker turnover, “match” with consumers, and worker demographics. The author concludes with a discussion of the costs to county, state, and federal government.

Living Wages & Airport Security
September 2001, by Michael Reich, Peter Hall and Ken Jacobs
» Preliminary Report

A preliminary report dealing with the San Francisco Airport’s living wage ordinance, written in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The report looks at pre-ordinance airport security, finding weaknesses that stemmed from low wages, low worker morale, high turnover, and inadequate training. The authors contrast this with the San Francisco Airport security screening after the living wage was implemented. The authors find the San Francisco Airport model to be superior to the FAA’s security standards revisions being proposed at the time.

Living Wages at the Port of Oakland
December 1999, by Carol Zabin, Michael Reich and Peter Hall
» Report PDF

This report, written before actual passage of the law, examines the potential impacts of a living wage ordinance for the Port of Oakland. The authors explain the stimulus for the extension of the living wage law to Port tenants (groups here into real estate, maritime port, and airport activity). The study profiles Port employment by job composition, worker demographics, and wage levels, followed by a cost-benefit analysis of the impact upon firms and workers in each of the three sectors. The authors find modest costs for airport and maritime port tenants, and larger but still acceptable costs for real estate tenants.

Living Wages at the Airport and Port of San Francisco: The Benefits and the Costs
October 1999, by Michael Reich and Peter Hall
» Report PDF

The second half of a cost-benefit analysis of San Francisco’s living wage ordinance, examining the effects upon leaseholders of city property (primarily employers based at the airport and the port). The authors examine the number and types of businesses affected, the job composition and pre-ordinance wage rates of covered workers, and the costs of the ordinance to firms—with special attention paid to the restaurant sector. The study ultimately finds modest costs for both airport and port tenants.

Living Wages & the San Francisco Economy: The Benefits and the Costs
June 1999, by Michael Reich, Peter Hall and Fiona Hsu
» Report

A cost-benefit analysis of San Francisco’s living wage ordinance, conducted before passage of the law. The study focuses on three of the four groups to which the ordinance would apply: for-profit and non-profit firms holding service contracts with the city, and home health care workers. The authors calculate the expected costs and benefits to city and county governments, to affected firms and workers, and to the local economy. The report ultimately finds that the ordinance will have a significant positive impact, with negligible to moderate costs for affected parties.

Living Wage Campaigns in the Economic Policy Arena: Four Case Studies from California
June 1999, by Carol Zabin and Isaac Martin
» Report

This report highlights best practices in living wage movements through case studies of Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, and San Diego campaigns. Discussion centers on the fruitful alliance between labor unions and community organizations in building living wage movements, and on living wage ordinances as tools for equitable economic growth.

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