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When Mandates Work

When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level

Michael Reich
Ken Jacobs
Miranda Dietz
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    When Mandates Work
    Book Description:

    Starting in the 1990s, San Francisco launched a series of bold but relatively unknown public policy experiments to improve wages and benefits for thousands of local workers. Since then, scholars have documented the effects of those policies on compensation, productivity, job creation, and health coverage. Opponents predicted a range of negative impacts, but the evidence tells a decidedly different tale. This book brings together that evidence for the first time, reviews it as a whole, and considers its lessons for local, state, and federal policymakers.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95746-6
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Abbreviations and Glossary
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  7. ONE When Do Mandates Work?
    (pp. 1-44)
    Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich

    Beginning in the late 1990s, the City of San Francisco enacted a notable series of laws designed to improve pay and benefits, expand health care access, and extend paid sick leave for low-wage San Francisco residents and workers. Remarkably, and despite many warnings about dire negative effects, these new policies raised living standards significantly for tens of thousands of people, and without creating any negative effects on employment. While modest by most European and Canadian standards, San Francisco’s policies represent a bold experiment in American labor market policies that provides important lessons for the rest of the United States.



    • TWO Labor Market Impacts of San Francisco’s Minimum Wage
      (pp. 47-69)
      Arindrajit Dube, Suresh Naidu and Michael Reich

      In November 2003 San Francisco voters passed a ballot proposition to enact a minimum wage covering all employers in the city. The new standard set a minimum wage at $8.50 per hour—over 26 percent above the then-current California minimum wage of $6.75—and an annual adjustment for cost of living increases (reaching $10.55 in 2013). This standard, which first became effective in late February 2004, constituted the highest minimum wage in the United States and the first implemented universal municipal minimum wage in a major city. In a prospective study of this policy, Reich and Laitinen (2003) estimated that...

      (pp. 70-96)
      Peter V. Hall, Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich

      Most of the first wave of living wage ordinances that were enacted in the mid-1990s involved minimum pay scales that were substantially above federal and state minimum wages. Typically they set a standard of $8.00 or more per hour when the minimum wage was $5.15. Policy makers generally assumed that a living wage policy could not work in trade-based goods-or service-producing sectors that were subject to the forces of technological change and global competition. Consequently, living wage ordinances typically covered only workers on municipal service contracts, or only about 3 percent to 5 percent of the low-wage workers in a...

    • FOUR Living Wages and Home Care Workers
      (pp. 97-122)
      Candace Howes

      This chapter reports on the effects of living wages and employer-provided health insurance on job quality and workforce attachment among the home care workers in San Francisco who are employed through the Medicaid-funded In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

      When they work directly for consumers in their home, both publicly funded and privately paid consumer-directed home care workers are classified as independent providers or contractors. As independent providers, they are covered neither by the National Labor Relations Act nor by state public employment law. Accordingly, they do not have the right to form a union or engage in collective bargaining (Smith...


    • FIVE Health Spending Requirements in San Francisco
      (pp. 125-155)
      Carrie H. Colla, William H. Dow and Arindrajit Dube

      In 2006, San Francisco adopted a major health care reform and became the first city in the United States to implement a pay-or-play employer health-spending mandate. It also created Healthy San Francisco, a “public option” to promote affordable universal access to care. In this chapter, we examine the effects of this mandate on employers, costs, earnings, and employees. To examine the effects of the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) on health care benefits we use the Bay Area Employer Health Benefits Survey; and to investigate the effect of the HCSO on jobs and wages, we use the Quarterly Census of...

    • SIX Requiring Equal Benefits for Domestic Partners
      (pp. 156-196)
      Christy Mallory and Brad Sears

      In 1996, San Francisco enacted the first equal benefits ordinance (EBO) in the nation.¹ An EBO requires local government contractors to provide benefits to unmarried partners of employees on the same terms that they are provided to spouses. Since 1996, nineteen other localities and one state, California, have passed similar laws.

      San Francisco’s pioneering ordinance passed unanimously. The mayor predicted that other jurisdictions would follow San Francisco’s lead, and the City stated that both employees and employers would benefit because of it. However, the ordinance also generated some criticism, which focused mainly on the potential administrative costs and burden associated...

    • SEVEN Universal Paid Sick Leave
      (pp. 197-226)
      Vicky Lovell

      Of the twenty-two countries with the most highly developed economies, only the United States fails to ensure that workers are provided with pay and job protection when they miss work due to illness (Heymann et al. 2009). Australians are guaranteed ten days of paid sick leave at full pay; in Germany, workers receive full pay for up to six weeks of illness leave and may take up to seventy-eight more weeks at reduced pay. Some employers in the United States voluntarily help fill the gap, but 42 percent of workers face a loss of pay if they are too sick...


    • EIGHT Enforcement of Labor Standards
      (pp. 229-255)
      Miranda Dietz, Donna Levitt and Ellen Love

      The best labor laws are only as good as the enforcement that supports them. Nevertheless, enforcement considerations are often an afterthought, and adequate enforcement is far from a given. San Francisco’s employer mandates stand out not just for their strength and breadth as written but also for the City’s commitment to on-the-ground enforcement.

      While living wage laws have been widely adopted by jurisdictions across the country, their enforcement is uneven. A review in eighty locations classified more than half of living wage laws as having “narrow” implementation: no full-time staff person assigned to administer the law or answer questions and...

    • NINE Labor Policy and Local Economic Development
      (pp. 256-285)
      Miriam J. Wells

      As the fabric of globalization has become more densely woven, the consequences for organized labor have alarmed many scholars. Some scholars hold that globalization threatens workers’ rights because it erodes the state’s inclination and capacity to guarantee them (Brecher and Costello 1994; Mander and Goldsmith 1997; Tilly 1995). Without challenging the pattern of declining federal protections that these authors document or disagreeing that global action has merit, I suggest here that their despondence about local action and state involvement is unwarranted and that it reflects an overly simplistic conception of the state. The American federal state, because of the relative...

    • TEN Community Benefit Agreements and Economic Development at Hunters Point Shipyard
      (pp. 286-308)
      Ken Jacobs

      Over the past twenty years debates about urban economic development in the United States have shifted markedly. Environmentalists used to oppose development as intrinsically bad for the environment. Now environmentalists have come to see smart growth, with a focus on reclaiming brownfields, as an important way to reduce the environmental impacts of development, achieve energy efficiency, and combat global warming. This position is strongly supported by empirical evidence (Norman, MacLean, and Kennedy 2006; Golub and Brownstone 2009). Community organizations and unions now recognize that dense urban development is more likely to lead to living wage jobs (LeRoy n.d.). Economists point...

      (pp. 309-314)
      Miranda Dietz, Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich

      As a result of the policies discussed in this book, tens of thousands of low-wage workers in San Francisco receive higher pay. They are not as compelled to come to work when they are sick, and they are more able to take care of their loved ones when they are sick. An even larger number of workers have greater access to health care services. They no longer face discrimination in benefits based on their sexual orientation.

      Adding up the results reported in each of the chapters gives us a sense of the scope of the policies’ effects. An estimated 77,500...

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 315-318)
  12. Index
    (pp. 319-325)