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When Mandates Work

Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level

Michael Reich

Publication Year: 2014

Starting in the 1990s, San Francisco launched a series of bold but relatively unknown public policy experiments to improve wages and benefits for thousands of local workers. Since then, scholars have documented the effects of those policies on compensation, productivity, job creation, and health coverage. Opponents predicted a range of negative impacts, but the evidence tells a decidedly different tale. This book brings together that evidence for the first time, reviews it as a whole, and considers its lessons for local, state, and federal policymakers.

Published by: University of California Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

The idea for this book originated in a session of the Labor and Employment Research Association’s 2009 annual meetings. The session, “San Francisco and the New Social Compact,” was organized by David Weinberg and Michael Theriault. Their encouragement resulted in the...

Abbreviations and Glossary

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pp. xiii-xv


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p. xvi

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Chapter 1. When Do Mandates Work?

Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich

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pp. 1-44

Beginning in the late 1990s, the City of San Francisco enacted a notable series of laws designed to improve pay and benefits, expand health care access, and extend paid sick leave for low-wage San Francisco residents and workers. Remarkably, and despite many warnings about dire negative...

Part I: The Pay Mandates

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Chapter 2. Labor Market Impacts of San Francisco’s Minimum Wage

Arindrajit Dube, Suresh Naidu, and Michael Reich

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pp. 47-69

In November 2003 San Francisco voters passed a ballot proposition to enact a minimum wage covering all employers in the city. The new standard set a minimum wage at $8.50 per hour—over 26 percent above the then-current California minimum wage of $6.75—and an annual adjustment...

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Chapter 3. Liftoff: Raising Wages at San Francisco Airport

Peter V. Hall, Ken Jacobs, and Michael Reich

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pp. 70-96

Most of the first wave of living wage ordinances that were enacted in the mid-1990s involved minimum pay scales that were substantially above federal and state minimum wages. Typically they set a standard of $8.00 or more per hour when the minimum wage was $5.15. Policy makers generally...

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Chapter 4. Living Wages and Home Care Workers

Candace Howes

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pp. 97-122

This chapter reports on the effects of living wages and employer-provided health insurance on job quality and workforce attachment among the home care workers in San Francisco who are employed through the Medicaid-funded In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program...

Part II: The Benefi t Mandates

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Chapter 5. Health Spending Requirements in San Francisco

Carrie H. Colla, William H. Dow, and Arindrajit Dube

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pp. 125-155

In 2006, San Francisco adopted a major health care reform and became the first city in the United States to implement a pay-or-play employer health-spending mandate. It also created Healthy San Francisco, a “public option” to promote affordable universal access to care. In this chapter...

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Chapter 6. Requiring Equal Benefits for Domestic Partners

Christy Mallory and Brad Sears

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pp. 156-196

In 1996, San Francisco enacted the first equal benefi ts ordinance (EBO) in the nation.1 An EBO requires local government contractors to provide benefits to unmarried partners of employees on the same terms that they are provided to spouses. Since 1996, nineteen other localities and one...

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Chapter 7. Universal Paid Sick Leave

Vicky Lovell

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pp. 197-226

Of the twenty-two countries with the most highly developed economies, only the United States fails to ensure that workers are provided with pay and job protection when they miss work due to illness (Heymann et al. 2009). Australians are guaranteed ten days of paid sick leave at full pay; in...

Part III: Making the Mandates Work

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Chapter 8. Enforcement of Labor Standards

Miranda Dietz, Donna Levitt, and Ellen Love

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pp. 229-255

The best labor laws are only as good as the enforcement that supports them. Nevertheless, enforcement considerations are often an afterthought, and adequate enforcement is far from a given. San Francisco’s employer mandates stand out not just for their strength and breadth as...

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Chapter 9. Labor Policy and Local Economic Development

Miriam J. Wells

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pp. 256-285

As the fabric of globalization has become more densely woven, the consequences for organized labor have alarmed many scholars. Some scholars hold that globalization threatens workers’ rights because it erodes the state’s inclination and capacity to guarantee them (Brecher...

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Chapter 10. Community Benefit Agreements and Economic Development at Hunters Point Shipyard

Ken Jacobs

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pp. 286-308

Over the past twenty years debates about urban economic development in the United States have shifted markedly. Environmentalists used to oppose development as intrinsically bad for the environment. Now environmentalists have come to see smart growth, with a focus on reclaiming...

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Chapter 11. Mandates: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects

Miranda Dietz, Ken Jacobs, and Michael Reich

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pp. 309-314

As a result of the policies discussed in this book, tens of thousands of low-wage workers in San Francisco receive higher pay. They are not as compelled to come to work when they are sick, and they are more able to take care of their loved ones when they are sick. An even larger number...


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pp. 315-318


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pp. 319-325

E-ISBN-13: 9780520957466
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520278141

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 867631077
MUSE Marc Record: Download for When Mandates Work

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Labor policy -- California -- San Francisco.
  • Labor laws and legislation -- California -- San Francisco.
  • Wages -- Government policy -- California -- San Francisco.
  • Employee rights -- California -- San Francisco.
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