Fall 2002 Colloquia: Changing Labor Market Institutions in the U.S.

December 4, 2002 - 12:00-1:30pm, IRLE Director's Room

"An Occupational Approach to Economic Development"

ANN MARKUSEN, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Co Sponsor: Department of City and Regional Planning

For more than 30 years, cities and states have attempted to attract and retain businesses through incentives such as tax breaks and subsidized land and buildings, widely believed to be overly-expensive and inefficient in generating employment. In this talk, Markusen makes the case for a human skills-based theory of regional development and for conceptualizing regional economies on the basis of occupations rather than industries. She argues that economic development strategies should target human talent and skilled people, including those in blue collar and service occupations, whose contributions are generative of growth for the overall economy and/or achieve equity goals.
She outlines how economic and community development planners might target occupations as well as target industries in shaping an economic development strategy, working with occupationally-based organizations such as professional associations and trade unions.

November 18, 2002- 12:00-1:30pm, IRLE Director's Room

"The Limits of Reform at the NLRB and Alternative Strategies for Labor"

FRED FEINSTEIN, University of Maryland's School of Public Affairs

After decades of unsuccessful attempts to reform the NLRA, efforts to enhance the ability of workers to affect their working conditions appear to be taking new forms. The NLRA has been essentially unchanged for more than fifty years and is likely to remain that way for the forseeable future, notwithstanding fundamental changes in the workplace. Efforts to improve enforcement of the Act during my tenure as General Counsel of the NLRB succeeded in certain respects but enhanced enforcement is not likely to address fundamental weaknesses in the Act. Notwithstanding the deadlock on NLRA reform, significant innovation is emerging in both policy and in how workers are seeking to gain leverage in the workplace. These include changes in federal employment law, increasing policy initiatives at the state and local level and different approaches to organizing and asserting employee influence in shaping workplace conditions.

Fred Feinstein, former General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, is a Senior Fellow and Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland's School of Public Affairs where he writes, teaches and develops executive education programs on labor policy issues.

During his nearly six-year tenure as General Counsel, Feinstein was recognized for efforts to improve the administration of the National Labor Relations Act. He instituted a system for case prioritization and made significant progress in assuring the consistency in the timely conduct of elections for union representation. He received four "Hammer Awards" for these and other innovations in the operations of the Office of General Counsel.

Before his appointment by President Clinton in 1994, Feinstein served for 17 years as Chief Labor Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. House of Representative's Labor?Management Relations Subcommittee. Responsible for directing the consideration of labor legislation, Mr. Feinstein was lead staffer on the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act), and several efforts to amend the National Labor Relations Act.

Feinstein has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University School of Law, conducting courses on Legislation. He was also an elementary public school teacher in East Harlem, New York in the early 70's. Mr. Feinstein received a J.D. from Rutgers Law School and a B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College.

October 28, 2002 - 12-1:30pm, IRLE Director's Room

"Postwar Intellectuals and the Demise of the 'Labor Question'"

NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Department of History, UC Santa Barbara

Many of America's most famous and influential intellectuals, on the left and in the center, devalued and marginalized the historic "labor question" during the decades that followed World War II. Even before the onset of the great boom, the specter - and to some the reality - of a bureaucratized capitalism displaced and decentered Progressive Era/New Deal issues of political economy. On the left, writers like Dwight Macdonald, Herbert Marcuse, and C. Wright Mills saw capitalism's mid-century crisis as one of cultural and social claustrophobia, not class tensions. Meanwhile, in the liberal center, a generation of well-connected intellectuals, including Clark Kerr, Seymour Martin Lipset, Arthur Schlesinger, and Daniel Bell "defended" trade unionism and a self-conscious working-class interest, but only by propigating the idea of an insular and politically parochical industrial pluralism ("free collective bargaining") that collapsed when challenged by the post-Sixties growth of a pervasive rights-consciousness in workplace legal culture, as well as by the anti-union assault conducted by the corporate/Republican Right during the 1970s and later.

Nelson Lichtenstein is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (2002), Walter Reuther: the Most Dangerous Man in Detroit (1995); and Labor's War at Home: The CIO in World War II, which will be shortly reissued from Temple University Press. He serves on the editorial boards of Labor History, New Labor Forum, and International Labor and Working Class History. In 1996 Lichtenstein was a co-chairman of the Columbia University "Teach-in with the Labor Movement" that introduced John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO leadership to a new generation of American academics and intellectuals.

October 14, 2002 - 12-1:30pm, IRLE Director's Room

"Politics, Power, and Organizing: The Struggle for Economic Justice"

PAUL OSTERMAN, Sloan School and the Department of Urban Planning, M.I.T.

Osterman will draw upon his work with the Industrial Areas Foundation, a national network of community organizations, to discuss how to strengthen progressive politics and progressive economic policies. He will describe the organizing strategies of this network and the nature of their faith based approach. He will then layout and assess the labor market strategies which these organizations have implemented in many of the cities in which they operate. These include job training, living wages, and school reform. The talk will be based on Osterman s forthcoming book Gathering Power; The Future of Progressive Politics In America (Beacon Press)

Paul Osterman is the Nanyang Professor of Human Resources and Management at the Sloan School and the Department of Urban Planning, MIT

His most recent book is Gathering Power; The Future of Progressive Politics In America (Beacon Press, forthcoming). Other recent books include Securing Prosperity: How the American Labor Market Has Changed and What To Do About It (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Working In America (MIT Press), 2001.

Osterman is also the author of Employment Futures: Reorganization, Dislocation, and Public Policy and Getting Started: The Youth Labor Market; the co-author of Working In America; A Blueprint for the New Labor Market; The Mutual Gains Enterprise; Forging a Winning Partnership Among Labor, Management, and Government, and Change At Work, and the editor of two books, Internal Labor Markets, and Broken Ladders; Managerial Careers In The New Economy. In addition, he has written numerous academic journal articles and policy issue papers on topics such as labor market policy, the organization of work within firms, job training programs, economic development, and anti-poverty programs.

Osterman has been a senior administrator of job training programs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and consulted widely to government agencies, foundations, community groups, and public interest organizations. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from MIT.