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At a time of increased profits and productivity, wages have stagnated for everyday families, pension and health care coverage are declining, and costs are being shifted to workers. People are working harder and smarter, but they are not sharing in the gains from their efforts.
Both mothers and fathers are working, yet most workplaces are outdated, forcing parents to choose between being a productive worker or a good family member. And it looks no better for the next generation. The decline in middle-class living standards, the elimination of institutions that support a growing middle class, and the dramatic increase in income inequality experienced in recent years, is not the result of some invisible hand.
It is the direct result of policy choices that have undermined the bargaining power of everyday Americans. Instead of instituting policies in this global economy to ensure a broadly shared prosperity, we have made choices that benefit the few.
At the same time, who works, how work is carried out, and the conditions of employment have changed dramatically in recent years, while the public policies, institutions, and practices governing work and employment relations, put in place in the s to fit the industrial economy and workforce of that time, have not kept up.
As a result, the American Dream is slipping away from millions of Americans and their families. A majority of Americans now worry their children will not be able to improve on the standard of living they experienced growing up.
A new social contract must build an economy that is strong and durable, but it must also build strong and durable families. It must recognize that we live in a new global economy with increased insecurities and with modern families that in most cases include fathers and mothers in the workplace.
A viable social contract must be grounded in a clear and widely shared set of values and expectations Americans have for work and its relationship to families and the society.
Americans expect work to be a source of human dignity and growth. This is deep in our cultural and our religious heritages. By working, we develop as human beings, contribute to our society and communities, and provide for our families.
We teach our children there is dignity and fulfillment in hard work and that by working hard in school and in their careers, opportunities will come their way.
By instilling these values early in life and reinforcing them as adults, what we do for work and employment becomes an important part of our personal identity.
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At a macro level, ensuring these necessities requires a commitment to a full-employment policy in practice and trade policies that work for ordinary workers and their families.
Consistent with our democratic principles, all Americans expect to have a voice at work and to be treated fairly. This implies that when critical decisions need to be made affecting the interests and needs of shareholders, executives, employees, and communities, we value balance and fairness over the dominance of any one of these interests over all others.
Finally, because most parents are now participating in the labor force, they need the flexibility and resources to meet their dual obligations to be productive workers and good parents and citizens.
This is perhaps the most profound change in how work is positioned in society and, therefore, it needs to figure prominently in the design of workplace and labor market policies and institutions.
Building this new social contract requires a re-examination of the roles of government, corporations, and unions in our society. The social contract that grew out of the New Deal and served the economy and society well for three decades following World War II evolved out of on-going and mutually beneficial negotiations and problem solving between leading corporations and labor unions, with government playing a key mediating, facilitating, and regulating role.
Government saw unions as important institutions that ensured workers had a voice in their workplaces and in the public debate. It also recognized its role in providing returning GIs and others with the tools to compete and thrive in the economy, including education and housing assistance.
Yet starting in the late s, this ability to negotiate fair and balanced divisions of the productivity and economic growth jointly generated by workers and employers broke down. After the conservative victory in the s, a disdain for government social policies and an attack on collective bargaining became a key element of the new ideology.
Government no longer saw its role of ensuring that prosperity was shared broadly.
Other employment and labor laws were undercut, leaving workers with fewer protections. Unions today represent only 7. In a world of new global and domestic competition, the threat of unfriendly takeovers and restructuring opportunities provided by the new information and telecommunication technologies, and the realignment of executive compensation in the form of stock options, corporations shifted their objectives to solely maximizing shareholder returns regardless of the effects of their actions on the interests of workers, communities, or the national economy and government.
Because of these radical shifts, the large middle class that flourished after World War II began to flounder. To rebuild a large middle class and give working Americans a real shot at the American Dream, there must be a resurgence of the roles that government, corporations, and unions played before these dramatic changes.
America must reexamine the roles its major institutions are playing to ensure that they once again help to create broad-based prosperity. Americans must close the gap that has widened in recent years between the private behavior and interest of individual firms and the larger public interests corporations are expected to serve.
Corporate leaders should be held accountable for building the types of 21st century organizations capable of competing in a global economy and supporting good jobs and a rising standard of living in the United States.
Some firms are leading the way, engaging the skills of their workforce and working with their employees and union representatives. These firms respect the rights of employees and treat workers as partners in tackling the competitive challenges they face. They treat the human and social capital employees bring individually and collectively to work as assets for competing in global markets.
Instead of merely maximizing shareholder value, they view their role as looking out for the interests of all stakeholders, including employees. Government policies need to encourage and support these firms and create a level playing field so that their efforts are not undermined by firms that treat employees as "factor costs" to be minimized, tightly controlled, and kept from having a voice in decisions that affect their future.
This can be done if society holds firms accountable for complying with domestic labor and employment laws, for respecting and enforcing internationally accepted labor standards throughout their global supply chains, for distributing productivity gains fairly among workers, managers, and shareholders, and for ensuring that the board of directors represents the interests of workers.Yahoo Lifestyle is your source for style, beauty, and wellness, including health, inspiring stories, and the latest fashion trends.
Each week, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser publishes Oahu statistics for marriage licenses and birth certificates filed with the state Department of Health’s Vital Statistics System. Rhode Island Spirits will produce under the Rhodium brand name and expects to distill the equivalent of 30, milliliter bottles of gin, vodka and liqueurs in the first year.
Professor Randa Jarrar, a self-described Muslim who teaches at Fresno (California) State University, immediately tweeted about her joy that Former First Lady Barbara Bush died. For video of the work being done, click on the video above.
CROOKSTON HIGH SCHOOL ANNOUNCES EXCEL AWARD WINNERS. The Crookston High School has announced that juniors Katherine Geist and Benjamin Brantner are the Crookston High School School nominees for the Minnesota State High School League's Excel Award.
Sep 20, · A letter to the entire university from President Michael Lovell: Dear Marquette community: I wanted to share the letter below from Father Robert Wild, Marquette’s 22nd president and chancellor, requesting his name be removed from our newest residence hall, as well as my response.