When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level

When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level

When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level

When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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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 effects, these new policies raised living standards significantly for tens of thousands of people, and without creating any negative effects on employment. While modest by most European and Canadian standards, San Francisco’s policies represent a bold experiment in American labor market policies that provides important lessons for the rest of the United States.

*Portions of this chapter are based on or appeared in Ken Jacobs, “San Francisco Values: The New Social Compact,” Labor and Employment Relations Association Series, 61st Annual Proceedings, edited by Adrienne E. Eaton, 180–87 (n.p.).

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