Labor Standards

The Labor Center’s research on labor standards focuses on minimum wage and living wage policies, and their effects on employment, workers, firms, and the public.

Research & Publications
UC Berkeley Labor Center

Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances

Across the country, cities and counties have become laboratories of policy innovation on labor standards. Before 2012, only five localities had minimum wage laws; currently, 56 counties and cities do. To help inform policymakers and other stakeholders, the UC Berkeley Labor Center is maintaining an up-to-date inventory of these laws, with details on wage levels, scheduled increases, and other law details, as well as links to the ordinances.

Lance Compa

Failure to Deliver: Assessing Amazon’s Freedom of Association Policy under International Labor Standards

Amazon recently announced a new policy on freedom of association under international standards, saying it would comply with International Labor Organization and United Nations principles on union organizing and collective bargaining. This assessment shows that Amazon’s freedom of association policy, on its face, is non-compliant with international labor standards, and Amazon management’s conduct before and after issuing the policy continues to violate international standards.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

Labor Center Research on the Rideshare Industry

Prop 22 carves out an exception from state labor law for app-based transportation and delivery gig companies, including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, allowing the companies to continue to classify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Labor Center chair Ken Jacobs and economics professor Michael Reich have produced several papers that examine the implications of Prop 22 compared to employee status for drivers, consumers, taxpayers, and the companies.

Ken Jacobsand Michael Reich

Massachusetts Uber/Lyft Ballot Proposition Would Create Subminimum Wage: Drivers Could Earn as Little as $4.82 an Hour

Uber and Lyft, along with a group of delivery network companies, have filed a ballot proposition in Massachusetts to create a separate set of labor standards for their drivers. After considering multiple loopholes, we find that the majority of Massachusetts drivers could earn as little as the equivalent of a $4.82 wage, while the minority of drivers who qualify for a health care stipend could earn the equivalent of just $6.75 per hour.

Ken Jacobsand Kuochih Huang

The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in California’s Construction Industry

Low wages and exploitative practices in the resident construction industry cause profound hardship for workers and their families. It also costs the public. This analysis finds almost half of families of construction workers in California are enrolled in a safety net program at an annual cost of over $3 billion. By comparison, just over a third of all California workers have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net program.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

RELEASE: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in California’s Construction Industry

The study, by Ken Jacobs and Kuochih Huang of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, finds that almost half of the families of construction workers in California are enrolled in a safety net program at an annual cost of over $3 billion in public funds. By comparison, just over a third of all California workers have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

The Public Cost of a Minimum Wage Below $15 in Delaware

This data brief estimates the public cost to Delaware and the federal government from the use of safety net programs among low-wage working families who would be directly affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. We find that just over half of these Delaware families (51%) are enrolled in at least one safety net program, at an annual cost of $700 million.

Ken Jacobs, Ian Eve Perryand Jenifer MacGillvary

The Public Cost of a Low Minimum Wage in Georgia

This data brief estimates the public cost to Georgia and the federal government from the use of safety net programs by low-wage working families who would be directly affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. We find that just over half of these Georgia families (51%) are enrolled in at least one safety net program, at an annual cost of $4.7 billion.

Jenifer MacGillvaryand Ken Jacobs

The Union Effect in California #3: A Voice for Workers in Public Policy

Perhaps the most important effect of a strong labor movement is the countervailing force it poses to the corporate sector in the political and public policy arenas. This effect is clearly visible in California. With the support and backing of labor, California has passed ambitious laws promoting the rights of workers—union and nonunion alike—as well as policies advancing the common good broadly.