Spring 2015 Events

Note: additional events will be added as the Spring Colloquium Series is finalized.

Monday, January 26, 2015 | 12pm - 1pm

Peter Philips

The Impact of Illness Prevention Policies on Statewide Injury Rates in U.S. Construction

Peter Philips, Professor, Economics, University of Utah; IRLE Visiting Scholar

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asserts that Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs) dramatically reduce workplace injuries. OSHA predicts that individual employers adopting IIPPs will experience as much as a 35 percent drop in injuries, and statewide adoption of mandatory IIPPs would result in a 12 percent decline. While critics concede that voluntary IIPPs can substantially reduce firm-level injury rates, weak and limited literature on state-level IIPP policies fails to show that mandatory IIPPs reduce injuries. A fixed effects panel data model of injury rates in U.S. construction from 1982 to 2008 shows that controlling for confounding factors including changes in reporting culture, long term trends in injury reduction, business cycle and other economic factors, mandatory IIPPs reduce total construction injury rates by 32 percent and lost workday injuries by 38 percent in areas of low union density. As construction union density rises, the impact of IIPPs declines. The relatively weak impact of both mandatory and quasi-voluntary IIPPs in more heavily unionized construction is explained by the greater prevalence of joint union-management training programs which provide practices and procedures similar to those promoted by IIPPs.

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Monday, February 9, 2015 | 11 am - 12 pm

Joe Stiglitz

Rethinking the Sources of Inequality of Income and Wealth

Joe Stiglitz, American economist, Professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the John Bates Clark Medal.


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Monday, February 9, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Damon Silvers

Raising Wages— Why Our Nation's Future Depends on Rebuilding Workers' Bargaining Power

Damon Silvers, Director of Policy and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO

Co-sponsored with the Center for Labor Research and Education

Mr. Silvers serves on a pro bono basis as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the state of New York. Damon Silvers led the successful efforts to restore pensions to the retirees of Cannon Mills lost in the Executive Life collapse and the severance owed to laid off Enron and WorldCom workers following the collapse of those companies. Mr. Silvers received his J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School.

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Monday, February 23, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Ming Leung

For love or money? Gender differences in how one approaches getting a job

Ming Leung, Assitant Professor, Haas

Extant supply-side labor market theories conclude that women and men apply to different jobs but are unable to explain gender differences in how they may behave when applying to the same job. By comparison, demand-side theories implicate employer behaviors to explain both between and within-job variation in outcomes. We correct this discrepancy by considering gendered approaches to the hiring process. We propose that applicants can apply for a job and emphasize either the relational or the transactional aspects of entering such an exchange relationship and that this affects whether they are hired. Relational job seekers focus on developing a social connection with their employer. In contrast, transactional job seekers focus on quantitative aspects of the job. We expect women to be more relational and men to be more transactional and that this behavior will contribute to differences in hiring outcomes. We examine behaviors in an online contract labor market for graphic designers, Elance.com where we find that women are more likely to be hired than men by about 9.5%. Quantitative linguistic analysis on the unstructured text of job proposals reveals that women (men) adopt more relational (transactional) language in their applications. These different approaches affect a job seeker’s likelihood of being hired and attenuate the gender gap we identified. Attenuation suggests that how one approaches the hiring process matters and that gender is correlated with a particular style of engagement.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015 | 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm | Wells Fargo Room

Fair Wages

Are Fair Wages Common Sense: Exploring Corporate Living Wage Programs

Paul Rice, CEO of Fair Trade USA
Roger McElrath, Associate Director of BSR
Jeff Denby, Co-Founder and CCO of PACT
Moderator: Robert Strand, CRB Executive Director
Co-sponsored with the Center for Responsible Business

H&M has implemented a plan with a stated goal to achieve a “fair living wage” for 850,000 textile works by 2018. IKEA recently announced a new living wage policy for its U.S. employees based on a living wage calculator developed by a professor at MIT. Other companies such as Novartis, Gap, and Trader Joe’s, have similar programs in place. Civil society organizations also support programs that hold companies accountable and improve workers’ lives. In this session we will hear from senior executives at Fair Trade USA and BSR as we explore how managers have implemented living wage programs, and the business challenges and successes they have encountered along the way.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015 | 8am - 6pm

Sustainability Conference

Reducing Inequality in a Sustainable World

Keynote Speaker: Sivan Kartha, Stockholm Environment Institute
Co-sponsored with the UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development

As the global movement for sustainability is gaining steam, inequality continues growing rapidly. How can we slow inequality and poverty while increasing the sustainability of our living patterns and economies? This conference brings together economists, sociologists, ecologists, anthropologists, planners, and policymakers to outline the issues and discuss potential solutions. Three panels address sustainability and inequality from the perspective of cities and regions, measurement, and global growth. The goal of the conference is not just to expose the hard tradeoffs between environmental sustainability and economic growth and equity, but also to offer the possibility of transformation via alternative frameworks for measurement and action.

» Conference overview
» Conference program
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Monday, March 9, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Bob King

Building Worker Power

Bob King, Former President, UAW; Visiting Researcher IRLE and Center for Latin American Studies



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Monday, March 30, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Evan Totty

The Effect of Minimum Wages on Employment: A Factor Model Approach

Evan Totty, Doctoral student, Economics, Purdue University

» Read Paper PDF

This paper resolves issues in the minimum wage-employment debate by using factor model econometric methods to address concerns related to unobserved heterogeneity. Recent work has shown that the negative effects of minimum wages on employment found using traditional methods are sensitive to the inclusion of controls for regional heterogeneity and selection of states that experience minimum wage hikes, leaving the two sides of the debate in disagreement about the appropriate approach. Factor model methods are an ideal solution for this disagreement, as they allow for the presence of multiple unobserved common factors, which can be correlated with the regressors. These methods provide a more flexible way of addressing concerns related to unobserved heterogeneity and are robust to critiques from either side of the debate. The factor model estimators produce minimum wage-employment elasticities that are much smaller than the traditional OLS results and are not statistically different from zero. These results hold for many specifications and two datasets that have been used in the minimum wage-employment literature. A simulation shows that unobserved common factors can explain the different estimates seen across methodologies in the literature.

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Monday, April 6, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Jerome Gautie,

Sixty-five Years of National Minimum Wage: Assessing the French Experience

Jerome Gautie, Visiting Scholar, Professor of Economics at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France

» Read Paper PDF

The presentation will aim at providing an overview of the French minimum wage (MW) institution and policy, with some comparison with the United-States experience. It will pick up elements from previous work (Caroli and Gautié (eds), 2008; Gautié 2009; Gautié and Scmidt, (eds.), 2010; Gautié, 2015), and will also rely on two ongoing complementary research programs (still in a very early stage).

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Monday, April 13, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Cristina Banks

How an Interdisciplinary View of Healthy Workplaces is Greater than the Sum of the Parts

Cristina Banks, Senior Lecturer, Haas School of Business, Management of Organizations Group (MORS)


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Monday, April 20, 2015 | 12 pm - 1 pm

Seth Holmes

Migrant Farmworker Injury: Slow Death and Statistical Events

Seth Holmes, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

Based on eighteen months of full-time fieldwork with indigenous Mexican migrant farmworkers in Washington State, California, and Oaxaca, Mexico, this paper considers the suffering of farmworkers and the effects that statistical aggregation has on perceptions of and responses to it.  Human suffering in the contemporary world is known increasingly through statistical aggregation. The suffering of individuals is collected into categories in order to harness capital and compel intervention. Many forms of farmworker suffering are experienced and perceived as normal, uneventful, everyday life. When these forms of suffering are statistically amassed, however, the results are transformed into certain kinds of events, potentiating particular responses while erasing aspects of experience, temporality, and context.

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All events are located at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way, Berkeley.

TO ATTEND AN EVENT, PLEASE R.S.V.P. Myra Armstrong, zulu2@berkeley.edu