Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Matt Taylor discusses how the U.S.' Supreme Court has stacked the deck against workers by allowing employers to evade all types of collective action, while the Economic Policy Institute points out that a majority of workers are required to sign away their ability to seek class action remedies against illegal actions. And Elizabeth Tippett reports on the use of distorted time-keeping technology to systematically require workers to put in extra time without pay.

- Meanwhile, Jim Stanford comments on the importance of using the government's role in the economy to raise the bar for worker rights and employment standards:
Australia’s government sector is by far the largest single part of Australia’s economy.  The report documents the enormous fiscal dimensions of the economic footprint of government:
  • Total expenditures of over $660 billion per year, equal to 36 percent of Australia’s GDP.
  • Total “consumption” spending (that is, expenditures on current production of public goods and services) of over $330 billion per year (18.5 percent of GDP), and investment spending (on longer-lived capital projects) of over $85 billion (another 5 percent of GDP).
  • Direct public sector employment of close to 2 million workers, with millions more jobs indirectly dependent on government injections of spending power into the economy.
  • Fiscal and policy support for public and community service provision by arms-length non-profit agencies, worth at least another 4 percent of GDP.
  • Goods and services procured from private-sector suppliers equivalent to around 10 percent of GDP (or about $175 billion per year).
This economic footprint, if wielded consistently to achieve higher wages and better jobs, could have a powerful impact on labour market outcomes.  Moreover, through a “demonstration effect,” improved wages and labour standards would “spill over” into better practices in businesses and sectors that have no direct connection to government spending at all. 

It is ironic that Treasurers always pray for stronger wage growth in every budget they prepare, because strong wages are essential to healthy government revenues and stronger economic growth.  But governments don’t pursue obvious opportunities to help achieve that growth, by tying their own expenditure programs to stronger wages and better working conditions.
- Erika Shaker argues that an increased reliance on fund-raising rather than public revenue is only exacerbating differences between wealthier and poorer schools. And Jen St. Denis reports on hundreds of millions of dollars of takes owed which are going unpaid in the real estate sector in Toronto and Vancouver.

- Catherine Griwkowsky interviews Siobhan Vipond about the importance of child care in narrowing the pay equity gap between men and women.

- Finally, Raymond Saint-Germain and Art Eggleton highlight the need for improved social supports and evidence-based criminal justice policy to reverse a sharp increase in the number of women incarcerated in Canada.

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