Background Briefing: September 7, 2020


On Labor Day: The State of Working America

We begin on this Labor Day with an analysis of the state of working America from Lawrence Mishel, who is a distinguished fellow and the former president of the Economic Policy Institute. He is the principal author of a research volume published every two years that is widely considered the authoritative text on the American workforce, “The State of Working America”. We discuss his latest report “CEO compensation surged 14% in 2019 to $21.3 million: CEO’s now earn 320 times as much as the typical worker.” We analyze why CEO pay has increased 1,167% from 1978 to 2019, in contrast to the lack of wage growth for workers which has been stagnant since the late 1970’s. As CEO compensation continues to balloon fueling income growth for the top 0.1% and 1% so does the growth of income inequality in this country.


The Disgraceful Growth of Wage Theft During the Pandemic

Then we look into the disgraceful rise of wage theft during the pandemic and speak with Janice Fine, the director of research and strategy at the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations. She is the lead author of a new report from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth “Maintaining effective U.S. labor standards enforcement through the coronavirus recession” and joins us to discuss how 20% of low-wage workers are paid less than the law requires, up from 10% before the pandemic.


According to a Recent Gallup Poll, 65% of Americans Approve of Labor Unions

Then finally we speak with Dr. Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who studies labor, information technology, the organization of work, global economic trends and trade. He joins us to discuss how approval of labor unions is the highest since 2003 with 65% of Americans supporting labor unions according to a recent Gallup poll which has 83% of Democrats saying they approve of unions compared with 45% of Republicans and 64% of independents.