Over the last decade, fast-food restaurants have proliferated in the United States, with the largest increase in Los Angeles County. Fast food is an integral part of the food sector in Los Angeles, comprising nearly 150,000 restaurant workers. This report investigates working conditions in fast food prior to the pandemic, profiles the industry’s demographics and cost to the public, and examines the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.
The Labor Center conducts in-depth research on labor markets and working conditions in a wide range of industries, especially those employing low-wage workers, women, immigrants, and workers of color.
Research & Publications
A new report by UCLA and UC Berkeley finds that working conditions in the Los Angeles fast-food industry lead to an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission in communities of color as well as high public costs.
This report examines trends in food retail in the U.S. preceding and up through the pandemic, assessing how e-commerce is likely to affect workers in the industry in the next 5-10 years. In contrast to widespread fears that technology leads to automation-related job loss, e-commerce is creating jobs, as customers are now paying for tasks that they used to do themselves for free. But for most of these new positions, job quality is a serious concern, and the passage of Proposition 22 in California this fall exacerbates the problem.
New Report Shows E-Commerce & Food Delivery Work Growing During Recession & Unemployment, but Jobs More Precarious Than Ever
In this report, we focus on trends in technology adoption in the retail sector, looking beyond the effects of the current crisis to trace how retailers are using digital technologies in ways that alter the quality and quantity of front-line retail jobs. While we recognize the pandemic’s possible impacts on the retail workplace throughout the report, the bulk of our discussion concerns longstanding trends that appear likely to continue over the next five years or longer.
New technologies in the retail sector are likely to mean more monitoring and coercion of workers, and a stronger advantage for large companies like Walmart and Amazon, according to a new report released today from the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA.
We project that the industry likely won’t experience dramatic job loss over the next decade, though many workers may see the content and quality of their jobs shift as technologies are adopted for particular tasks.
This report analyzes a major barrier to successful implementation of new clean truck standards: the common trucking industry practice of classifying (and often misclassifying) truck drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.
New UC Berkeley Report: Stop Truck Driver Misclassification to Meet California’s Climate Goals. Misclassified drivers can’t afford clean trucks; Current Legislation—AB 5 would help make California’s transition to low- and zero-emissions trucks a reality.
Expanding high-quality ECE would not only generate economic output through the higher earnings of ECE workers, but would have an even greater impact on the state’s economy by increasing the employment, earnings, and productivity of parents.
As legislators in Sacramento consider proposals to improve early care and education (ECE), a new report by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley shines light on the shortfalls of the current system. It finds that increased public spending on early care and education can provide a substantial boost to California’s economy.
Misclassification in California: A Snapshot of the Janitorial Services, Construction, and Trucking Industries
In this fact sheet we look at three industries in California where misclassification is known to be disproportionately high and could potentially be reduced by an ABC test – trucking, construction, and janitorial services. For each industry, we describe the demographics and wages of workers and misclassification practices by employers.
Third in the Guest Blogger Series: Voices of Labor and Allies from Labor in the Climate Transition Conference. “Freight and delivery companies are finding ways to pass on the responsibility of cleaning up fleets to individual drivers, while minimizing their own investments. This is what corporations do when we don’t have policies that protect workers or incentivize companies to do the right thing.”
Behind the apps that consumers interact with are large workforces of low-wage workers in fulfillment centers that prepare ingredients and pack them into boxes. This new and growing group of workers, who are primarily immigrants and people of color, has remained invisible in the narrative of how meal-kits are “disrupting” the food industry.
New UC Berkeley report looking at job quality in a meal-kit fulfillment center finds workers struggling with low wages, unpredictable schedules, workplace-related injuries, and sexual assault.
Will autonomous trucks mean the end of the road for truck drivers? The $740-billion-a-year U.S. trucking industry is widely expected to be an early adopter of self-driving technology, with numerous tech companies and major truck makers racing to build autonomous trucks. This trend has led to dozens of reports and news articles suggesting that automation could effectively eliminate the truck-driving profession.
RELEASE: Driverless trucks could replace many of the nation’s best long-distance trucking jobs, while shifting the industry towards more low-wage gig jobs
Without action from policymakers, driverless trucks are projected to eliminate some of America’s best trucking jobs while also creating low-wage gig jobs, according to the first in-depth study of how autonomous trucks could be adopted by specific segments of the industry and affect wages and working conditions.
Comments on Rule Proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Prohibiting Homecare Workers from Making Paycheck Deductions for Union Dues
The ability of homecare workers to choose to join a union and have dues deducted from their pay has led to important improvements in an industry historically marked by low wages and high worker turnover. The proposed rule would not only harm workers, it would have a deleterious effect on care quality and undermine the objective of home and community based services of providing seniors and people with disabilities a viable alternative to institutional settings.
At the Wage Floor: Covering Homecare and Early Care and Education Workers in the New Generation of Minimum Wage Laws
These workers provide a critical (but too often unrecognized) public good; as such, we argue that a significant public investment is a necessary part of the solution, both to deliver minimum wage increases to these workers and to cover the significant unmet need for care.