December 2007 - January 2008 (25)

Editor: Terence K. Huwe
Contributors: Dan Bellm, Elizabeth del Rocio Camacho, Stefanie Kalmin, Janice Kimball, Jenifer MacGillvary, Vibhuti Mehra, Dick Walker

IRLE News & Events
Call for IRLE Working Paper Series Contributions
Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society. Volume 46, no. 4, October 2007: Abstracts of Articles

IRLE Program News

The Labor Center
California Public Employee Relations
Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Library
The Labor Project for Working Families


Call for Working Papers: IRLE Working Paper Series

We are pleased to announce the Fall 2007 Call for Papers for IRLEs Working Paper series.

IRLE's series received over 50,000 downloads during the 2006-2007 academic year, which suggests broad, sustained interest in our areas of study. Papers are listed on the IRLE Web and are also available within the eScholarship Repository, at

IRLE hopes to receive working papers from faculty who have received support, as your research progresses. Terry Huwe will follow up with faculty individually to learn more about your current projects.

How to Submit a Paper

Please send an electronic copy (e.g., MS Word, .RTF) to Terry Huwe, Associated files (e.g., MS Excel spreadsheets, JPEGs) may also be appended to the papers as needed.

Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society. Abstracts of Articles Published in Volume 46, No. 4

Lisa K. Jepsen

Using data from the 2000 Census, I test the hypothesis that cohabiting lesbians have statistically different earnings from cohabiting and married heterosexual women. Cohabiting lesbians earn more than their heterosexual counterparts, even when differences in childrearing status are considered. Further, the results do not support differences in household specialization as an explanation for the lesbian earnings premium. JEL J71, J16

Arnaldo Camuffo and Fabrizio Gerli

While the manufacturing sector is vanishing in most European and North American regions, North East Italian firms have successfully contrasted global competition thanks to superior manufacturing capabilities grounded, among other things, on people’s competencies.
Applying non-parametric statistical analysis on data from 212 behavioral event and 44 repertory grid interviews, the research presented in this note investigates the nature of these competencies for production supervisors in North East Italian firms. We identify four threshold and nine distinctive competencies and offer insights on the relationship between these competencies and North East Italian firms’ manufacturing capability. We also suggest how to use competency tools to design skill development policies in industrial clusters and implement effective human resource management practices in small and medium sized enterprises.

Cihan Bilginsoy

Many open-shop contractors in the U.S. construction sector sponsor training cooperatively in unilateral multi-employer apprenticeship programs. Their proponents view these coordinated efforts as an alternative to the training organized jointly by a union and signatory contactors. This paper uses a new dataset to compare the performance of these program types in terms of the transition probabilities and durations of apprentices. It shows that in open-shop multiple employer programs: (1) the completion rate is higher but still lags behind that of the union-management programs; (2) quitters leave training before substantial build-up of skills; (3) the graduates complete requirements at a faster pace. While these results are disconcerting in view of the skilled labor shortage in construction, they are consistent with the open-shop sector’s preference to rely extensively on semi-skilled workers.

James Swanson and Kim Andrews

This study applies stochastic frontier analysis to test the monopoly union model. This approach allows use of a wider data set than has been previously employed. We fit a stochastic cost frontier to data from the U.S. manufacturing sector that include exogenous sources of potential inefficiency including unionization. Our findings suggest that over the 1972-1982 time period more heavily unionized industries in the U.S. manufacturing sector were more likely to operate off their labor demand curve. This result is inconsistent with the monopoly union model predictions.

Ozkan Eren

This paper examines the union wage effect among private sector wage and salary workers using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics data. We estimate the average union premium by utilizing semi (non) parametric matching techniques, as well as by linear regression model. Our analysis reveals: (i) Conditioning linearly on covariates understate the union wage effect. In addition, matching results under the alternative support conditions indicate that selection on unobservables has at most a modest impact on average. (ii) Log wage estimations lead to an overstatement of the union wage effect. Solving these problems yield the union membership premium as 21.5 percent.

IRLE Program News

The Labor Center

New Reports on Wal-Mart

In November 2007, the Labor Center released two new reports on Wal-Mart. One report, “Living Wage Policies and Wal-Mart: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Wal-Mart Workers and Shoppers,” found that Wal-Mart could increase its minimum wage to $10 per hour and greatly boost the well-being of low-income workers with little financial impact on most shoppers. The other report, “A Downward Push: The Impact of Wal-Mart Stores on Retail Wages and Benefits,” found that Wal-Mart store openings lead to the replacement of better paying jobs with jobs that pay less and are less likely to provide health benefits. Wal-Mart’s entry also drives wages and benefits down for workers in competing industry segments such as grocery stores, their report says.

The Labor Center’s Fall 2007 Newsletter is now available online.
Check out articles about California health care reform, labor’s role in contesting the Social Security “no-match” letters, improving jobs in the Black community, the use of popular education in labor campaigns, and more:

Upcoming Labor Center Trainings

C.L. Dellums African-American Union Leadership School:
Deadline for applications is January 4, 2008.
This school develops the leadership skills of Bay Area Black trade unionists. Eight bi-weekly Saturday sessions, February 9 through May 17, 2008, at the IRLE Building in Berkeley. Contact Steven Pitts, 510-643-6815 or, or visit our website.

California Lead Organizers Institute—
Deadline for applications is January 25, 2008.
Five-day residential training with two weekend follow-up sessions, designed for lead organizers and a spiring lead organizers from unions and community-based organizations. March 3 through 7, 2008, at Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center in Watsonville, CA. Contact Caitlin Healy, 510-643-7048 or, or visit our website.

California Public Employee Relations

CPER Journal No. 187 (December 2007) is at the printer.

First up on the list of main articles in is an introduction to new legislation giving firefighters many of the same rights as peace officers. Attorneys Steve Tiedemann and Connie Chuang introduce readers to the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2008. The article covers the act’s most significant provisions, and highlights some of the contentious issues expected to arise as a result of the new law.

Next, author Brian Pellis writes that the California Supreme Court “delivered two blows to the once seemingly impenetrable cloak of confidentiality protecting peace officer personnel information from public disclosure.” Two separate decisions that held Penal Code Sec. 832.7 — which provides that “peace officer personnel records” are confidential — does not prevent disclosure of certain personnel information in response to California Public Records Act requests by the news media. Pellis urges all parties to know both sides of the law. That kind of understanding, he says, will avoid claims by peace officers that too much information is being released and claims by the public that its right to inspect public records is being infringed.

CPER’s third main article focuses on the Ralph M. Brown Act, which requires local legislative bodies to conduct their business in sessions open to the public. However, as authors Randy Riddle and Erich Shiners note, there are limited exceptions to that requirement. The exception for personnel matters allows a local body to meet in closed session to discuss hiring, retention, and dismissal of public employees. However, it extends to an employee the right to request that complaints or charges against him or her be heard by the legislative body in open rather than closed session. Unfortunately, the statute and cases interpreting that provision are unclear on exactly what triggers the local body’s duty to give the employee notice. This presents a serious problem for public employers, particularly in light of the severe consequences imposed by the Brown Act if the employer gets it wrong. Riddle and Shiners review the statute and interpretive case law concerning the personnel exception and provide guidelines for public employers on when the exception requires notice to the affected employee.

And those are just the main articles! The Recent Developments section brings readers up to date on:

  • The dispute over returning local control to the Oakland Unified School District
  • The governor’s actions on four important bills in the higher education sector
  • The Supreme Court’s “no” to Public Engineers in California Government as they attempt to Skirt Prop. 35 concerning the issue of contracting out
  • The rush to organize employees at Lawrence Livermore Lab just days before it goes private
  • CDF Firefighters’ efforts to fix salary compaction
  • New benefits for U.C. student employees
  • Jurisdiction of the Public Employment Relations Board
  • Age discrimination
  • Contractual notice requirements.

Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

CSCCE's study of child care center and Head Start directors participating in New Jersey's groundbreaking Abbott Preschool Program will be released in January 2008. The study's findings and recommendations carry strong implications for California and other states creating "mixed-delivery" preschool systems, operating both in public schools and in community-based child care settings. CSCCE interviewed 98 directors from throughout the state about challenges, successes, and lessons learned regarding school district/community relationships, pay equity, staff benefits, professional development, and other issues.

Dan Bellm's article, "Take Each Child by the Hand: An Early Childhood Educators' Delegation to China," was published online in the November 2007 issue of Young Children, the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The article describes a 2006 visit to several regions of China by 20 early childhood educators from the United States. The delegation visited public and private kindergartens, elementary schools, university-level teacher education programs, and a school for children with developmental disabilities. The article is available at:

Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Library

Living New Deal Project Website Soon To Be Launched
The IRLE Library has been working closely with California Studies Center Chair Richard Walker, scholar Gray Brechin, and a large volunteer community to migrate The Living New Deal Project to a UC Berkeley-IRLE server. That work is now largely complete, and will be officially unveiled to the general public in early 2008. The Living New Deal Project combines volunteer spirit and community building with Web technology, and as such is an excellent example of "Library 2.0" applications in support of research.

Digitization Update
Digitization of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO’s proceedings is ongoing, and quality assurance is underway. It is currently forecast that the files will be completed by the end of the calendar or shortly afterwards. Once that point is reached, Library staff will be able to begin developing the digital library that users will be able visit. That work will begin in winter and spring of 2008.

Print Journals Display Update
The Library Commons has been displaying the newest copies of scholarly journals prominently since it was dedicated, and now that display has been enhanced. New glass shelves have been fitted into the bookcase, enabling staff to stack the newest issues directly below the latest issues, for the reader’s convenience.

IRLE Librarian Participates in the University Libraries “New Directions” Initiative
UC Berkeley’s University Library is undergoing an ambitious strategic self-review, which is titled “New Directions.” The initiative will provide library and campus leaders with a blueprint for future strategies, which will include not only print collections and in-person reference service, but many technology-driven services as well. The entire University Library staff has been invited into the planning process, as well as the Affiliated Libraries. IRLE’s Terry Huwe is a “Sponsored Blogger,” with the task of raising key issues to stimulate dialogue and debate. The New Directions Blog may be found at .

The Labor Project for Working Families

Project Presents a Seminar on Paid Sick Days in California

Netsy Firestein, Executive Director of the Labor Project for Working Families, spoke on the issue of paid sick days, related research and the emerging campaign for paid sick days in California at a seminar entitled Paid Sick Days in California – A Campaign to Expand Minimum Labor Standards to All Workers in California held at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment on November 19, 2007. A labor–community coalition led by the Labor Project for Working Families is exploring legislation in California in 2008 to mandate that employers provide a minimum number of paid sick days for employees’ own illness or to care for a family member.

Labor Project offers Paid Family Leave for Union Activists

The Labor Project for Working Families is offering trainings on California’s Paid Family Leave law for union activists in the state. The trainings are offered with an attorney specializing in family leave laws. The trainings cover Paid Family Leave, FMLA/CFRA, Pregnancy Disability laws and how they interact with each other. To schedule a training or learn more, please call Brenda Muñoz at (510) 643-7088 or email

Netsy Firestein Speaks on Work-Life Policies at Penn State

Netsy Firestein was a presenter at “Work-Life Policies that Make a Real Difference for Individuals, Families and Organizations”, a symposium at Pennsylvania State University – October 8-9, 2007. The proceedings, including Netsy’s paper, will be published in 2008 by Urban Institute Press.