Monthly Archives

January 2021

Research Findings

Uneven Access to Union Jobs Increases Inequality Within Marginalized Groups

January 28, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright light on extant structural inequality. Differences in labor market outcomes and economic security between unionized and non-unionized workers are no exception. It has become increasingly clear that non-unionized workers are less shielded from the economic impacts of the pandemic and that many of these workers are disproportionately Black and Hispanic.

Unions do a great deal to challenge economic inequality. Unions do this by increasing baseline wages among workers, stabilizing promotion decisions reducing their arbitrariness, and providing other resources like job training and skill development. Although unionization benefits all workers, its effects are particularly apparent among already marginalized groups.

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Research Findings

A second chance in the military

January 21, 2021

As many as 1 in 3 Americans have some type of criminal record. Many of them face multiple barriers to employment.

In 2018, 95 percent of employers conducted background checks during the hiring process, which was up from 70 percent of the employers surveyed in 2012. In addition, many state occupational licensing laws prohibit people with criminal records from joining licensed professions. These barriers, coupled with the persistent social stigma surrounding past arrest and conviction records, mean that employment prospects are grim for a substantial segment of the U.S. population.

Within this social context, the United States military happens to be one of the largest employers to regularly hire people with a criminal record. However, we know little about their lives, other than that people with a criminal record perform equally well or better than their counterparts without a criminal record.

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Research Findings

Labor’s Legacy

January 14, 2021

At the same time that union density in the United States has declined and labor law has withered, employment law has flourished, proliferating at the subnational level and expanding into new substantive domains (see Figures 1 and 2 below).

As a result, for the vast majority of 21st century workers, what rights and protections remain come not from labor law and the mechanism of collective bargaining, but from employment laws and the mechanisms of regulation and litigation.

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Research Findings

No escape: When workplaces use social media

January 7, 2021

Existing studies on how information and communication technologies influence work find that workers use digital media to control their work-life boundaries. But in China, social media is all pervasive with a permanent memory. There is no escape in time or space, and resistance is futile.

In a recent article, I examine how workplace subordinates interact with their supervisors on WeChat, the most popular app in China. I find that lower-ranked individuals are compelled to constantly express their loyalty and appreciation and publicly submit to their superiors by clicking “like” or commenting on their posts. They also have to provide immediate and polite responses to their superordinates in WeChat group chats after work hours and with respect to non-work-related issues.

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