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.
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
$18 Minimum Wage in California: Who would be affected by the proposal to raise California’s minimum wage?
The Living Wage Act is a proposed ballot measure to increase the California minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2025. This report examines which workers stand to benefit from the proposed increase.
RELEASE: $18 Minimum Wage in California: Who would be affected by the proposal to raise California’s minimum wage?
New research finds that an $18 minimum wage would give five million California workers a pay raise; the ballot initiative would help lift 3.5 million Californians out of poverty.
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.
RELEASE: Failure to Deliver: Assessing Amazon’s Freedom of Association Policy under International Labor Standards
Amazon’s just-announced “freedom of association policy” fails to comply with international human rights standards for workers involved in union organizing, finds a report published today by the UC Berkeley Labor Center and Berkeley Law’s Center for Law and Work.
A list of California city and county ordinances, proclamations, mayoral directives, and orders that expand labor standards for workers affected by the pandemic, such as paid sick leave, health care, worker retention/right of return, and policies that lift workers’ voices in firm, industry, and government responses to the pandemic.
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.
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.
RELEASE: Massachusetts Uber/Lyft Ballot Proposition Would Create Subminimum Wage: Drivers Could Earn as Little as $4.82 an Hour
A new UC Berkeley analysis finds that a Massachusetts measure proposed by Uber, Lyft, and several delivery network companies would create a subminimum wage of as little as $4.82 an hour.
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.
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.
The ultimate impact AB 257 will have on the state budget will depend on to-be-made decisions by the council. But even with a small increase in fast-food workers’ wages resulting from the bill, the net fiscal effect is likely to be positive for the state.
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.
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.
Study: Low Georgia Wages Cost Taxpayers $4.7 billion. Families of more than half of Georgia workers who would receive pay increases under a $15 minimum wage are enrolled in a public safety net program.
The Effects of Proposition 22 on Driver Earnings: Response to a Lyft-Funded Report by Dr. Christopher Thornberg
Thornberg over-estimates driver gross earnings (before expenses) based on data that is not representative of drivers in California. He also underestimates driver costs. In doing so, he significantly overstates what drivers earn on net now, and would earn under Proposition 22.
The companies have a choice over how they adjust to comply with California’s laws protecting workers—or if they choose to fight those laws with a ballot initiative that would take pay standards back seventy years.
This paper analyzes the prospective impact of that proposal in the four North Bay counties—Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano.
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.