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Why is the United States the only developed country whose labour laws leave most up to the employer?

Why is the United States the only developed country whose labour laws leave most up to the employer?

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I read this post: "Bad Facts About The USA".

It says that the United States, Lesotho, Swaziland and New Guinea are the only countries in the world not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. There are other labour laws, like paid vacation or paid sick days that employers don't need to pay.

I did a little research and discovered these things are true. But what does this mean in practice?

Is it normal for companies to pay these things for their employees? But if I want to pay less than possible to my employee, I can legally do it? I don't know the reality in the United States, but this makes me believe that work in a low income job in the USA might have less benefits than China. I'm trying to imagine how a job in a McDonald's restaurant is.

Have workers tried to change this? Did they try in the past or are they trying today?

What is the historical reason that the United States is today the only developed country like this?

The United States is a federation where, in theory, the States delegate certain powers to the federal government (USG) which they could not effectively exercise individually (such as defense), while reserving all other powers to themselves and the people. Due to reserved powers, internal matters like labor regulations would generally fall under State jurisdiction where many States do apply their own laws. In the example of maternity leave, six states and the District of Columbia mandate certain benefits. As another example, there is a federal minimum hourly wage but most states also mandate a higher state minimum wage. So in general, an absence of federal law on any given issue does not preclude the States or even local governments from acting, and this is certainly the case in labor laws and benefits.

There is also a historical element in play. The American Revolution was one of the most libertarian in history, and the US has always leaned to the right economically. Even the Democratic Party, our more progressive major party, is center-right by international standards. Almost any regulations on private enterprise are frowned on by the conservative Republican Party, who have long been a friend to big business and would say that free markets are preferable to government intervention. At the national level US economic policy is dominated by pro-capitalist, pro-corporate ideas.

Back in the days when women (let's be honest here, particularly middle to upper-class women) were not in the workforce, maternity leave was not much of an issue.

It took until the 1990's when the changing demographics of the workforce, the increasing status of women, and the political parties in power, all aligned properly to allow for a push for maternity leave legislation. The new FMLA law (which the USA currently operates under), allowed women time off without pay, but only if they work full-time for a company with more than 50 workers. The reason the law isn't more generous is of course because anything more generous would not have passed in the 103rd Congress.

Now of course employers are free to offer something more generous, and many do. Also, states are free to do the same, and a bare handful do.

The 103'rd Congress was kind of special, in that it was the last time the Democratic Party controlled both Houses of Congress and the Presidency until a 2 year period starting in 2009. Given that the Democratic party tends to be the more friendly of two parties towards labor, and the Republican more friendly towards business interests, I think its fair to conclude that there simply wasn't a political environment as conducive to medical leave reform (or any kind of labor reform) again until that brief window in 2009. That window was almost entirely consumed with an attempt to pass universal healthcare coverage, which was considered a bigger issue (probably by both sides). Several other more labor-friendly laws were passed too. And there was also the small matter of a major recession to deal with.

First, labor conditions & laws vary greatly, even in today's developed world, so you cannot assume that just because a country is a modern economic power, it has labor laws similar to yours. Nor should you immediately assume that your country's approach is "good" and another "bad". For example, some people would argue that government requiring employers to provide paid maternity leave can cause employers to avoid hiring or promoting women of child-bearing age, for fear they will have to hold open a critical position if a woman has a baby. I know quite a few American women who would rather get good jobs and take little maternity leave than be closed out of such jobs.

Second, in pretty much all countries that have/develop a capitalist economy, have/get democratic government, & go through an industrial revolution, there is a broad pattern of workers being "exploited" through poor working conditions followed by movements to improve the lot of workers that result in laws, labor unions, and other structures to protect workers. The way this pattern plays out is determined by the history, population mix, economy, political structures, timing of events, and other factors in each country.

Third, it is great that you are interested labor history and concerned about working conditions around the world. I, for one, hope you will read up and learn more about the different ways countries wrestle with the problem of how to have a efficient capitalist economy, along with good jobs and working conditions for all. I also hope that you will see that this balance is one that the countries of the world must, increasingly, face together. I do love my Apple devices, but I'm concerned that I paid less for my iPad because the Chinese workers who made it put in long hours in grim conditions. Similarly, I love my Starbucks lattes, but I wish the barristas who serve me didn't have to support families on miserably low salaries.

Maternity leave: US policy is worst on list of the world's richest countries

According to a 2019 report by Unicef, which analysed which of the world’s richest countries are most family friendly, Estonia leads the field for new mothers with over 80 weeks of leave at full pay.

At the bottom of the table was the United States – which, with a grand total of zero weeks, was the only country in the analysis that offered absolutely no national paid leave.

The report, which used data from the 41 countries from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and European Union, found only half offered mothers a minimum of six months full pay.

Using OECD figures, here is a snapshot of paid leave for mothers around the world.

Debates over Globalization

While proponents argue globalization is beneficial to economic growth, opponents argue that it contributes to global inequality.

Learning Objectives

Assess the controversy over globalization

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Globalization has resulted in the widespread sharing of—and access to—information and cultural exchanges around the globe.
  • Mobile phones, cellular networks, and the Internet allow people to communicate and connect across nations and borders. In addition, advancements in transportation have led to more opportunities for travel across borders, especially for those with more access to wealth.
  • Proponents of economic growth, expansion, and development generally view globalizing processes as desirable or necessary to the well-being of human society.
  • Economic liberals generally argue that higher degrees of political and economic freedom in the form of free trade in the developed world are ends in themselves, producing higher levels of overall material wealth they see globalization as the beneficial spread of liberty and capitalism.
  • Critiques of globalization generally stem from discussions surrounding the impact of such processes on individual nation-states and on the planet. Opponents view globalizing processes as detrimental to social and economic well-being on a global or local scale.
  • Opponents claim that the increasing autonomy and strength of corporate entities shapes the political policy of countries. They instead advocate global institutions and policies that better address the needs of the working classes and the environment.
  • The anti-globalization movement’s largest and most visible mode of organizing remains mass decentralized campaigns of direct action and civil disobedience.

Key Terms

  • gini coefficient: A tool that measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (e.g., levels of income): a number of zero expresses perfect equality, where all values are the same (e.g., where everyone has an exactly equal income), while a number of one (100 on the percentile scale) expresses maximal inequality among values (e.g., where only one person has all the income).
  • anti-globalization: A movement critical of the internationalization of corporate capitalism participants oppose what they see as large, multi-national corporations having unregulated political power, exercised through trade agreements and deregulated financial markets.


Globalization is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. Put in simple terms, globalization refers to processes that promote worldwide exchanges of national and cultural resources. Advances in transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, including the rise of the Internet, are major factors in globalization, generating further interdependence of economic and cultural activities. Globalizing processes affect and are affected by business and work organization, economics, socio-cultural resources, and the natural environment.

Impact of Globalization

Globalization has resulted in the widespread sharing of—and access to—information around the globe. Cultural trends are exchanged through music, art, industry, clothing style, and technology. People around the world are more connected than ever before through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. Mobile phones and cellular networks, in addition to the Internet, allow people to communicate and connect across nations and borders. Advancements in transportation have led to more opportunities for travel across borders, especially for those with more access to wealth.

Some research indicates positives trends as the world has become more globalized, though it is unclear if these trends are directly linked to globalization. For example, some researchers have shown that in the developing world as a whole, life expectancy rose by four months each year after 1970 and infant mortality rate declined from 107 per thousand in 1970 to 58 in 2000 due to improvements in standards of living and health conditions. Adult literacy in developing countries rose from 53% in 1970 to 74% in 1998. Technological innovations such as the mobile phone are believed to benefit most developing countries.

At the same time, globalization has allowed corporations to outsource manufacturing and service jobs from high-cost locations to lower-cost locations, where they can pay workers lower salaries and provide fewer (or no) benefits critics argue this disadvantages poorer countries. Increases in income disparity has occurred over the last 20 years. In the U.S. the income of the top 50% has risen to a much greater extent than the income of the bottom 50% of American citizens, which has risen only slightly over the last forty years.

The Debate Over Globalization

Reactions to processes contributing to globalization have varied widely, with a history as long as extraterritorial contact and trade. Philosophical differences regarding the costs and benefits of such processes give rise to a broad range of ideologies and social movements. Proponents of economic growth, expansion, and development generally view globalizing processes as desirable or necessary to the well-being of human society. Those opposed to globalization view one or more globalizing processes as detrimental to social well-being on a global or local scale. Many question the social or natural sustainability of long-term and continuous economic expansion, while others point out the social and structural inequality caused by these processes, as well as the colonial, imperialistic, or hegemonic ethnocentrism, cultural assimilation, and cultural appropriation that underlie such processes.

Proponents of Globalization

In general, corporate businesses, particularly in the area of finance, see globalization as a positive force in the world. Many economists cite statistics that seem to support such a positive impact. For example, per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth among post-1980 globalizing countries accelerated from 1.4% a year in the 1960s and 2.9% a year in the 1970s to 3.5% in the 1980s and 5.0% in the 1990s. Economic liberals generally argue that higher degrees of political and economic freedom in the form of free trade in the developed world are ends in themselves, producing higher levels of overall material wealth. Globalization is seen by these proponents as the beneficial spread of liberty and capitalism.

Critiques of Globalization

Critiques of globalization generally stem from discussions surrounding the impact of such processes on the planet and on individual nation-states, especially those in the “Third World.” Economic arguments by fair trade theorists claim that unrestricted free trade benefits those with more financial leverage (i.e. the rich) at the expense of the poor. They challenge directly traditional metrics, such as GDP, and look to other measures, such as the Gini coefficient or the Happy Planet Index, pointing to evidence of social disintegration, the spread of diseases, environmental damage, breakdowns in democracy, and increasing poverty in many of the world’s nations as unintended consequences of globalization. Environmental challenges such as climate change, cross-boundary water and air pollution, and over-fishing of the ocean have all been linked to globalization. Some opponents of globalization see the phenomenon as the promotion of corporate interests they also claim that the increasing autonomy and strength of corporate entities shapes the political policy of countries. They advocate global institutions and policies that they believe better address the moral claims of poor and working classes as well as environmental concerns.

Anti-globalization, or counter-globalization, consists of a number of criticisms of globalization, but can be generally described as a criticism of the globalization of corporate capitalism. Opponents of globalization in developed countries are disproportionately middle class and college educated this contrasts sharply with the situation in developing countries, where anti-globalization movements have been more successful in enlisting a broader group, including millions of workers and farmers. Although since the mid-2000s more emphasis has been given to the construction of grassroots alternatives to (capitalist) globalization, the movement’s largest and most visible mode of organizing remains mass decentralized campaigns of direct action and civil disobedience.

The Occupy Movement: One of the most recent manifestations of the anti-global capitalism movement is the Occupy Movements. These images show protests in different cities across the United States where activists protests dominance of the banks, corporations, and organizations like NATO, the World Bank, and IMF.

Paid parental leave is rare

Photo, file: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Another reason that U.S. parents find it hard to take time off is that the Family and Medical Leave Act, while mandating time off for some workers, doesn't require the government or employers to offer paid leave. And the reality these days, especially as the economy struggles to emerge from the Great Recession, is that many people can't afford to take time off without pay.

"When leave isn't paid, it's not economically feasible," said Jane Farrell, a research associate with the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal-leaning think-tank. "Even if you have the guarantee of a job when you come back, what does that mean when you're making $10 an hour and you have no savings?"

Many larger employers do offer paid parental leave. For the broader U.S. labor force, however, only 12 percent of employees get paid family leave through their companies, according to CAP.

Indeed, a higher-paid job is no guarantee of getting paid leave. Labor data show that only slightly more than half of college-educated women work in jobs that allow them to keep drawing a paycheck for at least part of their leave period.

Other countries may also stint on paying parents on leave. For instance, Korea, Kuwait and Lebanon exclude domestic workers from their paid-maternity programs, while farm workers are ineligible in places like Bolivia and Egypt.

World's Most Paid Vacation Days: Europe Guarantees Most Paid Leave For Workers

It's August again and in Europe that means "out of the office" messages, "closed" signs, and desolated streets. August 1st marks the unofficial start of summer vacation in Spain, France and Italy, and even in times of economic crisis, most employees are dead-set on taking their summer days.

And why not? According to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, European countries lead the world in guaranteeing paid leave for its workers. Among OECD countries, 16 of the 18 most generous governments when it comes to paid vacation are European.

Spain and Germany are among the most holiday-happy, both offering 34 days of paid leave each year. Italy and France guarantee 31 days of paid vacation, and Belgium requires 30. These numbers include both mandatory vacation and public holidays.

To find out which two countries give the most paid days off, check out our slideshow below.

CEPR reports that the United States is the only nation among advanced economies that does not provide a legal guarantee of paid leave. New Zealand and Australia ensure respectively 30 and 28 days of paid leave, and Canada's federal government stipulates 19 paid days, with some provinces adding on additional time. Even in Japan, where thousands commit suicide every year because of work-related stress, all employees are guaranteed 10 paid vacation days.

To be clear, many American companies do provide paid leave. According to CEPR, 77 percent of private sector companies offer employees at least some paid vacation, and those workers get an average of 21 paid days.

Still, that leaves nearly 1 in 4 Americans without any guarantee of paid time off from work. Those workers are noticeably overrepresented in the lower classes, notes CEPR. Half of the workers whose wages scale in the bottom 25 percent enjoy no paid leave.

The U.S. federal government, the largest American employer, does provide paid leave for its own employees, but the amount depends on seniority, and even those with 15 or more years of service are only guaranteed 26 days a year. All federal employees get paid on the 10 annual federal holidays as well.

In May, U.S. Representative Alan Grayson introduced a bill in Congress to mandate at least 1 week of paid leave for all U.S. employees, but no action has been taken since. An earlier attempt by Grayson didn't even make it out of subcommittee.

Europe's paid leave regime has not been entirely immune to the pressures of the Eurozone crisis. While the European Union's 1993 Working Time Directive mandates a paid vacation of at least 20 days, recession-weary Portugal has canceled 4 of its 13 public holidays for the next 5 years, according to the Telegraph. The decision required negotiations with the Vatican, as two of the holidays are tied to Catholic feast days.

Check out our slideshow to find out which country requires the most paid time off

Part II: Unionizing in the United States

In 2020, after a period of steady decline, union membership (the share of workers who are members of a union, also referred to as union density) in the United States stood at a very low 10.8 percent. The share of US workers with collective bargaining coverage (those represented by a union, including nonunion members) was similarly low, at 12.1 percent. Union membership was significantly higher in the 1950s through the 1970s with about a third of workers being part of, or protected by, a union, but after 1973, union membership in the private sector became the target of antiworker politicians and corporations.

Historical data show that the decline in bargaining power coincided with stagnating wages for lower income workers and growing income inequality. Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Washington found that the drop in union density may have accounted for as much as 40 percent of rising inequality.

Presently, a worker covered by a collective bargaining agreement in the United States on average earns about 11.2 percent more than a worker with a similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector. This difference is more pronounced for Black and Hispanic workers, which suggests that unions can help to reduce the racial wage gap. On average, Black workers represented by a union earn 13.7 percent more than their nonunionized peers, and Hispanic workers represented by a union earn 20.1 percent more.

Content: Developed Countries Vs Developing Countries

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonDeveloped CountriesDeveloping Countries
MeaningA country having an effective rate of industrialization and individual income is known as Developed Country.Developing Country is a country which has a slow rate of industrialization and low per capita income.
Unemployment and PovertyLowHigh
RatesInfant mortality rate, death rate and birth rate is low while the life expectancy rate is high.High infant mortality rate, death rate and birth rate, along with low life expectancy rate.
Living conditionsGoodModerate
Generates more revenue fromIndustrial sectorService sector
GrowthHigh industrial growth.They rely on the developed countries for their growth.
Standard of livingHighLow
Distribution of IncomeEqualUnequal
Factors of ProductionEffectively utilizedIneffectively utilized

Definition of Developed Countries

Developed Countries are the countries which are developed in terms of economy and industrialization. The Developed countries are also known as Advanced countries or the first world countries, as they are self-sufficient nations.

Human Development Index (HDI) statistics rank the countries on the basis of their development. The country which is having a high standard of living, high GDP, high child welfare, health care, excellent medical, transportation, communication and educational facilities, better housing and living conditions, industrial, infrastructural and technological advancement, higher per capita income, increase in life expectancy etc. are known as Developed Country. These countries generate more revenue from the industrial sector as compared to service sector as they are having a post-industrial economy.

The following are the names of some developed countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United States.

Definition of Developing Countries

The countries which are going through the initial levels of industrial development along with low per capita income are known as Developing Countries. These countries come under the category of third world countries. They are also known as lower developed countries.

Developing Countries depend upon the Developed Countries, to support them in establishing industries across the country. The country has a low Human Development Index (HDI) i.e. the country have low Gross Domestic Product, high illiteracy rate, educational, transportation, communication and medical facilities are not very good, unsustainable government debt, unequal distribution of income, high death rate and birth rate, malnutrition both to mother and infant which case high infant mortality rate, high level of unemployment and poverty.

The following are the names of some developing countries: Colombia, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey.


I hate the work place standards in the US. Personally, my workload doesn’t actually require 40 hours per week, but my employer does. Everyday is a struggle to stay chained to my desk waiting for more work to come up. But I also think it’s ridiculous to require those people whose jobs could take over 40 hours a week to actually complete the work in that time. Just because we live in a world where you could work around the clock, communicating with people all over the world, doesn’t mean you should. We are not robots, we need a life.

40 hours? That’s it? Get a new job if you hate it so much, otherwise quit crying. You should have lots of free time with only a 40 hour workload

That’s the mentality that’s killing people Nick. “Get tough.” “Don’t cry.” Why should people swallow that line? Because someone with a title says so? Because “that’s the way it’s always been?”

With the tech we have available, so many jobs can be done remotely and you can sustain profitability for a company with less time spent in the office. Its not 1847. These aren’t factories. You don’t need to keep your arse parked in a seat for 40-80 hours per week glued to a screen to do a job well.

I for one sincerely hope that members of my generation make overwork an open regulatory and political battleground. And I hope the overwork crowd loses badly.

It has all gone too far because people don’t shut down the people with the “work til you drop” mentality. They are scared something might happen. I ask “Like what? You’ll lose a shitty desk job chained to a spreadsheet?” Doesn’t sound like a loss to me. Sounds like liberation.

Those companies are loyal to NO ONE except their own bottom line.

I ask you Nick: Are you a share holder in a billion dollar company? Probably not right? Neither am I, but I have a follow up question: Why do you think you and so many others so vehemently defend the slave driver mentality? Why do you wish for a world where so many suffer needlessly in the name of a dollar?

It has to end and I do all I can to speak out against overwork and employer abuse. Our Federal laws allot for ZERO mandated days off. We work 499 hours more per year than some workers in Europe. That’s 60 full work days more. You’re OK with giving up your life and time to someone at the top of a company who doesn’t care if you get sick? If your family gets sick? If you just need to rest like a normal human being? Naw man… I am afraid your camp is squarley in the wrong.

The attitude tha work is supreme is indefensible at this juncture in our nation’s history given all that’s gone down in the last 30 or 40 years.

We can and we should do better by our workers. The rich have enough. We should give a crap less if we enrich them further at the expense of our own health.

P.s. you’re probably not a bad guy at all…. this isn’t meant to be a personal attack. I dont know you at all. I am just reacting to what you wrote.

I suspect you just drank some koolaid. I was the same as you 7 years ago. Then I experienced some horrible things at the hands of my corporate overlords. So, I stood up one day walked out.

I started a small business. It was a crazy amount of work to set up but now that it’s running and profitable, I have days where I work 3 hours and get all my stuff done. I am not a crybaby at all and neither are people who want to reclaim control over life and time. The corporate mentality will never change in our lifetime. Only we can liberate ourselves from their toxic, dangerous and unhealthy grasp. I wish for everyone in the US and around the world the freedom and flexibility a small business offers. Don’t forget peace of mind…Good luck to you and may you find what you are looking for.

Actually, if you have a retirement plan of any type, you likely are a shareholder in a billion dollar company.

Frankly, it is not the place of government to mandate days off, though most people have substantial vacation time and paid holidays (or comp pay/time if the holiday needs to be worked). I do not expect the CEO of my company to care if I get sick, or a family member becomes sick. I also am responsible for obtaining the rest I require.

Crikey, you Americans are so thoughtful, considerate and compassionate. NOT!

We can ALL have better lives if the owners of these multi billion dollar companies and their immediate circles weren’t so damned greedy. It is thanks to the hard work of all the people working for the company, that they have success, not due to the boss sipping coffee and chatting all day. Remember that.

Alicia, these are your words:

“I do not expect the CEO of my company to care if I get sick, or a family member becomes sick. I also am responsible for obtaining the rest I require.”

All that shows me is that you are just another victim of the compassionless, brainless, mindless American workplace. You SHOULD expect your CEO to give a crap about who you are, or if you get sick, or if a family member gets sick.

What if the CEO gets sick? He has all the care he needs.

So, the CEO deserves care and family time and days off, but YOU don’t? Why? Are you less of a person than the CEO? The answer is no, you are not.

We are conditioned to accept this programming from day one. And it IS programming. My business is international. I travel a lot. Most Americans don’t. All you know is your own tiny region of the USA. There are TONS of people out there who are doing things differently.

The US is the nation that is behind on workplace thinking and structure. Other nations are creating good quality of life.

“Yeah, but they don’t have a $13T economy like we do”, is a common objection.

To that I say, very eloquently: “And so f’ing what?”

They live HAPPY lives. They are pleased with their existence.

Americans are miserable. Most of you just don’t want to admit how bad things have gotten. Our relationship to work has become one of an abused wife and a physically violent husband. The worker is the wife who continually shows up at the husband’s (company’s) door day after day, even after being smacked down.

My wife and I tried for IVF 4 times and failed. We needed a 5th appointment and I had already taken time off. My boss, a sniveling little rat of a man, wouldn’t give me any. I told him, that for the sake of my unborn child and my family, that he could fire me, and that I was going.

Who allows themselves to be treated the way that man treated me? I should have slammed his head against his desk. And that’s the problem: None of you are MAD enough at being treated like little slaves at your job.

You suck it up you tell yourself that there are no other alternatives you whine and moan and complain all day, but you don’t leave. This is happening on a scale so massive in the US, that is MUST be a psychological disorder akin to PTSD. I cannot see how any person, regardless of race, gender, religion, and economic status, would put up with being talked to the way my boss talked to me about IVF.

How many of you are being treated this way, day in and day out? How many of you, like Alicia, have had your spirits slammed down to the ground and your necks stepped on over and over again?

Alicia, I feel for you, I really do. When you write what you write, you are not being a good worker or sharing how responsible you are. You are a human being who has given up on being treated the way you deserve.

My anger is not directed at you. You have my compassion. I cannot imagine what it’s like to choose to live like that anymore. My anger is directed at a system that people choose to perpetuate that creates the attitude you espouse: i.e. that you should be utterly grateful to your employers that they gave you a job and can take it away anytime with no warning or recourse and that you should endure sub-human working conditions because you have had it driven into you since you were 15 years old to keep your head down, shut up, and do what they say, no matter the impact on you.

A buddy of mine asked me “What would happen if your company failed?” I said “I would drive Uber and start another one.”

When you own your own business, you are no longer a slave. You are free. Yes, it is true that you do not have the resources of your large company to back you up, but very soon, that doesn’t matter. Once you make 1 sale, you feel like you can conquer the world.

That’s what I want for you, Alicia. I want you to feel the freedom and joy I feel. You deserve it. If you worked for me, you would be able to voice your concerns without fear of being fired and you would also be granted proper rest, vacation, etc. I completely disagree with your assessment in one regard: that your company is not responsible for your health.

If we were in the Army together, and I was your superior officer, you bet your bottom dollar I am responsible for your health and life. You follow my lead, so if you get hurt, that’s on me.

In the business world, things used to be this way, but then, like someone pointed out below, American GREED got in the way. The Baby Boomers mortgaged their children’s future and you, Alicia, and the people who think like you are casualties of a war against poverty and health. Those greedy CEOs are evil people. They WANT to see others suffering. None of what they do is by accident. Tired people are easy to control. People who put company over family are easy to manipulate.

It sucks to say Alicia, but you are a pawn in someone else’s war – a war you did not choose on a battleground you did not create.

This is why creating our own individual enterprises is the only way out of the matrix: the ultra-greedy 1% are NEVER going to capitulate these points. They will never say “Ya know… You’re right! People SHOULD have time off to see their kids be born.”

Do you see how psychotic it is to treat people the way they do, yourself included, in the name of money? It is a spiritual and mental illness, the product of minds so warped by greed and power, that they would sacrifice a small child to the God of Death if it meant putting $100 more in their pockets. They’d sell out their own mothers to gain a little political capital.

If America is going to succeed going forward, then we need to seek out these people, make their activities 100% illegal, and throw them behind bars.

A man who would keep a husband from accompanying his wife to a fertility treatment is not the kind of man who should be in charge of anything, let alone have a job. We throw young black men in jail for sneezing wrong in America.

I want to see the white executives on the job get their justice, so I DO think it’s the government’s job to step intercede in this discussion in the form of new workplace protection laws.

Damn the bottom line. People over profits.

You can still earn ridiculous sums of money in America. Our economy is that good! But, if you limit it JUST a little bit and allocate resources to people’s lives and to helping them, then you can make a HUGE difference.

For example: If we cut our military by 25%, we would have billions more each year to spend on roads, schools, health care, and other public necessities and we would still have the largest military, capable of destroying every nation 17 times over in one day.

We need to wake up from the post-WWII slumber. The party is over. The Boomers gutted the nation, so those of us born in the mid 70s to mid 90s have ONE question to face:

Are we going to repeat the same crap and put ourselves through even WORSE times and hate life?

OR… are we willing to take a serious look at these issues and draw clear lines in the sand for workers’ rights and privileges.

I am on the 2nd side of things and my heart aches to read what Alicia wrote here today – that a CEO should NOT care about her and her health.

People without money think it’s impossible to stand up to people with money. Newsflash: they are just like you, scared and confused in the 21st century. They just have people crafting these seemingly impenetrable images of success and power. Anyone should be able to stand up to their oppressor, look him in the eye, and say “Go eff yourself”.

Only the individual can liberate him/her/theirself. No one can do it for you. As long as you choose to walk up those steps every morning, take a deep sigh, and tell yourself whatever rationalization you need to tell yourself to get through the day, you WILL be their slave. They don’t value you because you do not value yourself.

That is the hard truth to look at. Once you find why you are not valuing yourself, you can get free. Until then, it is the cube for you, I am afraid.

If your running for office you have my vote. 32 hour work weeks are more than we should be working. 8 weeks vacation should be the norm. 8 weeks which means you still work 85 percent of the year. How is that asking for too much.

Be a teacher. 7 hour work day 281 days a year that’s every other day off

Teaching is not 7 hours a day. The summers are busy with planning for the year ahead. And when you in the classroom, you must be on high alert every second to keep each child engaged and cared for. Anyone who teaches for “time off” should not be teaching.

For many, a 40 hour work week is padded with 1 hour for lunch, who knows how long to commute (for this exercise, I’m going with the average of 30-45 minutes), and up to an hour for the morning drill of getting ready for work including breakfast (if you’re not me – I’m super fast in the morning). Also, most people get to work early, and leave late because we are told “if you’re on time, you’re late” and we never want to be seen leaving right at clock out time. So in urban settings, a 40 hour work week can often mean 60 hours of your week devoted to preparing for, getting to or attending to your job. A week has 168 hours. If you subtract that 60 hours devoted to your job, the 8 hours you’re supposed to sleep every night (40 hours), and your weekend (48 hours) you have 20 hours left. That’s 2 hours a day. 2 hours to cook, clean, exercise, take kids to/from sports or lessons, catch up with your loved ones and unwind enough to recharge your mind and get a good night’s sleep. And that’s if your week goes perfectly smooth – no traffic delays, no crazy person jumping in front of a commuter train to stuff up your journey home, no unexpected late night at work, wardrobe malfunction or family/household issue that needs attention. It’s not enough. No wonder people aren’t sleeping, eating or exercising appropriately. No wonder we’re unhealthy.

C has the right to cry if he or she wants, you are just a corporate troll looking to bash someone, you have the right to be a dick so they have the right to cry.

That’s not the problem ! We are all under paid and have less vacations less sick days, less benefits then any other country in the world . The Rich have Swiss accounts no person can get into and they get away with everything by paying off politicians . We are sitting ducks Jackson ! Take your head out of your ass buddy

With tasks to do at home and on weekends a lot of the time, and a commute, 40 hrs is a lot pal. And its hard to be at a desk 5 days a week, week after week, month after month, year after year, with no substantial break in sight until a possible retirement. Some people like being at work and can’t sit still at home or anywhere else, like a caffeine loaded monkey. If that’s you, enjoy.

I had a job like this once. We were required to put in the hours even when there wasn’t any work and we were paid by the minute. Unsure why. Think it was so my manager could get a bigger budget.

Fortunately in my current job I work till I’m done not a minute more. Unfortunately it often takes longer than expected and always more than 40 hrs a week.

Couldn’t agree more on all levels

Please don’t take my ‘working mothers’ data point out of context as a statement that I think mothers should stay home. My point was to show that we’ve lost 50% of adults staying home with their children – whether it’s a man or woman. That’s a huge blow to work-life balance, but it’s almost a necessity these days. My point was that nobody is home with the kids anymore – man or woman – and that’s a shame.

Danielle… hush. Miller has a point. Have you actually looked around lately at the youth in america? Kids are growing up with no adults in the house because they’re too busy working 60 – 80 hours a week – some of them with no benefits or any vacation time because they could be contractors. As it seems most companies in the states don’t hire employees, they hire contractors so they don’t have to pay for benefits and vacation. They will however dangle that possibility in your face for years while you pound away 12 hours a day.

Flame me if you want but if you compare our lives with our european counterparts who are getting upwards of 40 bank holidays a year (not counting vacation time)… american life is the absolute suck.

Unfortunately William “moving” is not that easy. See, we here in the US let anyone come in because the corporations are always looking for the cheaper labor – since there are laws in other countries that protect the workers (read TAXPAYERS) they aren’t interested in an open borders policy because they don’t want to end up like us.

If the policies in this country change at some future point to where YOU are dissatisfied, is “move…” an answer you’d accept and something you’d do? If so then I would say that’s pretty cowardly of you.

It’s OK to love the country and hate the policies.

I agree with Neil 100%. It’s so easy for someone to say if you don’t like it, just move. Honestly, I would if I could. But my husband and I have married children, our parents, siblings and other relatives. You can’t just expect someone to uproot their entire life. Most middle class Americans in this country are frustrated, fed-up, exhausted, and stressed out. But truly, there is nothing we can do about it. It’s the American way and we are stuck! Not by choice, but by chance.

“This is very important — to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you’re gonna lose everything…just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That’s why they’re all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful.”
― Charles Bukowski

Wise words from Wise Guy | can’t resist – Hard
Work pays off in the Long Run…but avoiding Hard Work pays off RIGHT NOW – you may even get to be President =^)

Kim your too nice. No need to explain. In short its imptactical to just move for everyone or just or find a job you love, right. Come on William be real. There are down right shit jobs that need to be done and trust me they are not being done out of passion.

Don’t move, change the playing field. That’s what made America great and that is what corporations pay big money to do to the working class every day. They change the playing field. They hire lobbyists and pay off politicians. We should model corporations to be more like those in Germany, which is what they were like in the 1950’s and 1960’s here in the U.S. CEO’s salaries weren’t as large in comparison to workers’ salaries, and unions mattered. How did unions become synonymous with “Marxism” and being leftist? Its’ a crock of dung that the top 1 percent has all of the assets and representation. It is sad that a conservative, working class person has to apologize for sounding like a leftist, and thinks unions are bad. It’s brainwashing. American corporations think they have rights like people do. They want to hire foreign slave labor and to circumvent all of the labor laws, environmental laws and checks and balances that our families have worked so hard to establish.

Whatever dude. I’m a welder and the company I work for requires 7 day work weeks… Constantly. There is never a weekend where they do not ask their workers to come in. Something needs to change. No human being should be subject to this much labour. It’s pathetic. Our country will never catch up with the rest of the world so as long as people like you keep saying “move.” Either you are lucky and only work 40 or less hours a week or you are perfectly content with the fact that American workers are modern day slaves.

William, will you please leave and let the door lock as you leave.

Why, when presented with these facts, is your answer “Move”. She is not making an anti-patriotic statement. She’s not saying “Damn American and damn the flag too!” You are HEARING her say that. She is saying “I want some compassion in my life.” Therefore, when you hear her plea of compassion, and your response is “move”, what you are saying is that you PREFER a nation of mean jerks running things over people of kindness who would change things. Your attitude, not hers, is the issue. I pray this becomes the political divide of our generation, because your attitude needs to be stomped out. There’s no place anymore for rationalizing your BS, You don’t get to wipe out all compassion and kindness with one word: “Move…” Who are you? You’re no one, like me. WHY on EARTH would you respond that way? Are you a sadist? Do you LIKE being punished and punishing others? It is the attitude you espouse that has so many millions of people confused. Americans are NOT mean, like you. Americans are kind, helpful people in our cores and the recent decade has given people like you a platform to act insane. Well, it’s over, man. This “Move” crap has gotten old. What did you do to make someone’s life better today? Very little, I bet. I weep for your children, if you have any, growing up with a father like you. You’re a sadist. If you are a young man, then I pity you for learning to hate so early in life. You are going to have a LONG road ahead of anger, dissatisfaction, and generally walking around with a huge chip on your shoulder. So, enjoy that… just keep yourself the hell away from the rest of us who want to make this place better.

I have to leave the house at 6am. I get home at 7 or 8 pm, if I am lucky. I also work some Saturdays.
I have no social life, very little time to devote to hobbies or anything else.

I think it is economic slavery. I am just getting by, and I’ve had some periods of unemployment. So they know they have us over a barrel and can make us do anything. What are the options? None.

What decisions in your life led you to the point where you are?

Hey, I can show you an alternative route

Except for this, European unemployment rates have run roughly twice the uS rate moving in lock step together for decades. Sure, it sounds great to have all that extra time, but when you become too expensive to the employer, jobs are lost. o ahead, everyone go work and i’ll do the same

Working less hours should theoretically result in more people being employed. Europe has other other economic issues at play.

Normally the system dependes on a few well educated key people to work alot to develop the Product/service combination then “normal” people in sales, purchasing, production, Brand- and Product- managers, regional managers, warranty, logistics, sourcing… are needed

One of my best friends took a job in Germany and the law there is you can’t work more than 44 or 48 hours per week(I forget which one).

He said maybe a couple weeks of the year he works past 40 and gets an automatic 2 weeks paid vacation his first year he went there.

I’m only 25 and for the jobs I’ve had, it’s ridiculous the amount of hours I’ve worked. All of the tier 1 automotive companies usually are at a minimum of 50 hours a week, like people are saying here, even desk jobs are working 48+.

I hope we take after the euro way in terms of work/life culture.

It’s hard to work a 10-12 hour day, go home, work out, eat and repeat the same process day in and day out. I don’t know about anyone else in the manufacturing work type but for me, even at work, I’m thinking about the next day and what I can fit in to those hours I get after work.

Long story short, it’s ridiculous the hours Americans work.

Can you please send the source/citation for this statement:
In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.
I clicked on the link but did not see where the information was originally taken from.

so you should have said that in the beginning

Just wanted to point out that a change of 󈬄% of mothers working” to 󈬶% of children having mothers who work” does not necessarily translate to a “more than 50% increase.”

Strictly speaking, it’s entirely possible that the number of mothers who work also have more children (on average) than mothers who do not work. It’s also entirely possible (though unlikely) that the number of children with working mothers has DECREASED, given the available statistics.

It seems impossible to draw the line because employers are strapped and continually demand more. It is much harder to cut back then to push forward. Having the ability to cut your work load is a difficult task especially for a salary employee.

These statistics give me hope that America will continue to be the great country that it already is. I am glad that Americans, on average, work harder than every other developed country in the world. It means that we as a nation will continue to innovate, to create, and to protect the lifestyle we have come to enjoy.

I have worked all over the world, and the level of workplace exhaustion and psychosis I have seen here is unequaled. Also, the majority of the “work” that is done is completed at break-neck speed, with little or no regard for quality. To top it off, the much-touted high standard of living equals, in fact, may hours spent in the car commuting, with no time left for friends or hobbies.

Exactly. The only ones getting ahead are the top dogs. Everyone else is just running on the treadmill. We know it’s a matter of time
before we have stress-related health issues.
The career gurus say to quit your job. Easy to say, but there are so few jobs out there.

No Gus it’s not a matter of time before we have health issues. Those days are here and have been for the past 15 years

The lifestyle that we have come to enjoy? Sure, I live in a comfortable 800 sq. ft. apartment in a peaceful, country setting and have more than what is an absolute necessity for life. Now if only I could find a way to enjoy my home for more than sleeping and 2 additional hours of my day. Working an average of 60 hours a week leaves me with little time for much of anything beyond work. There is little time to spend with my husband, friends, or family, on my hobbies, or even getting my laundry done at some points. I can’t even imagine raising a family with this kind of work schedule. I feel exhausted and stressed out because of the pace of my job. Even when I’m not working, my brain is still on-the-job. How can this be considered an enjoyable lifestyle? Now to top it all off, I am a teacher, which means that I actually get a bit of reprieve from this workload and work less hours during the summer months. I can’t imagine working 60+ hours a week every single week of the year.

I feel like you do. It’s like a trap and there are no options. People say quit and find another job. There are no other jobs, and even if we could find one, it probably would be the same.

I notice the gap between the people who have a lot of time on their hands, and those who are working like we do…is getting greater. So is the gap between those working and not working. And the gap between the intelligent and the unintelligent is getting larger too. The intelligent are doing the work.

The “intelligent” have seen what a joke this all is and got themselves out of the rat race.

You must be an employee of the financial industry! I say this because massive debt offered by the banks coupled by the near zero percent interest rates given those banks by the FED is partly why people have to work 60 to 80 hours a week while our government does nothing – having just returned from a 10 day vacation and taking this Friday off.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the American people stood together and all chose to go into their offices ONLY when Congress was in DC – and went on “vacation” when they weren’t in session and effectively shut the country down.

Why don’t we see how long we can function when we don’t show up for work en-masse like Congress does most of the time?

Actually, I’m not an employee of the financial industry. Not even close. I’m a public school teacher.

Try working in medicine, where it’s both mentally and physically demanding. 12 hours a day or longer, and lunch breaks are rare. I’ve worked from 7am to 8pm without a break.

Sometimes, it never ends. People think those who work in healthcare are just masochistic about taking care of others. We break down too. We just cannot go on and on. So much is being demanded of us.

And how does being overworked correlate to your assertions? In fact, studies have shown otherwise.

Ok so protect what lifestyle to enjoy? We don’t have a life, no leisure time to enjoy time with our family and experience the creations of the hard work from others. Most of us are working overtime to just afford a shelter and food for our families.

I think we are overworked. I have not work in one company where at least 75% of my co-workers were not addicted to coffee aka the working man’s crack. How come we don’t have a siesta like Spain? I think that would help a lot of people if they were able to rest in the middle of day. Then we won’t have so many people addicted to the working man’s crack. I think we should also restructure idea of work. I hate the 8 hour work day. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably actually work 5 hours a day while at work. The other 3 hours are hours where we are surfing the net or doing something else unrelated to work. I read an article in More magazine about the restructuring the way we work. They gave examples of companies that allowed employees to set their own hours. These companies actually had better productivity rates.

Because they are trying to squeeze every single drop out of us while they can.
That’s how the owners are millionaires.
They don’t care about us, and if one of us falls down, they have someone else waiting in the wings.
Slavery takes many forms.

Argentina is the only country that still has siesta really. They also go back to work until like 7 or 8pm and eat dinner at midnight, start dancing at 2am, and the clubs open seven days a week at 4am. I think siesta is the only time they actually sleep.

I spent years in northwestern Argentina, and I never figured out how their economy worked. There was almost no farmland in several of the provinces I visited, so I always wondered where the food came from. Almost nobody I met paid taxes. A large percentage of them were 1 income families, and I can’t think of a mother I met who actually worked, unless they owned a kiosco (a small store selling food, cigarettes, etc.) as the front room of their house.

Their standard of living went from “painful” (No interior heating or AC but concrete walls and tile roofs) to unbearable (slums, tin roofs over cinderblocks or adobe walls. no water, and an outhouse.) I only met one person who I’d consider “wealthy.” He owned an appliance store, a car, and had a nice house and a VCR. (Since Argentina didn’t allow imports of most items back in the 1980s, if you got a VCR in the mail, you paid a bribe to the postal “service” equivalent to the value of the VCR. Back then they were still over $300! Oddly enough almost everyone had a TV though.

Every town simply shut down from 1:00-4:00 for the siesta, (until 5:00 in the summer) which was when people came home to eat lunch (which was usually the biggest meal of the day) and then they slept it off for a couple of hours and went back to work. Of course it was 50 degrees inside their houses (or worse) in the winter and 90 degrees (or more) in the summer, so I’m not quite sure how they managed to sleep the siesta. I wore 6 layers of clothing in the winter and none in the summer, so there were only about six months a year when your bedroom was at a temperature to allow sleeping!

At about 4:00-5:00 the businesses opened up again until 8:00 or 9:00 or so, then there was a leisurely, supper that often lasted past midnight, and they eventually went to bed for six hours or so. Restaurants were open FAR past midnight, for which we were grateful. We got in after midnight, and I was never able to accustom my body to sleep during the siesta. So the Argentine schedule seemed to mostly work for them, but it certainly didn’t work for me! I was exhausted all the time on less than six hours of sleep.

On Friday nights and all weekend long it was common to see one or more neighbors setting up stereo speakers on their balcony at midnight, just as you were going to bed! The music pounded until the sun came up, then the party-goers staggered home to sleep it off. That left me getting by on less than two hours of sleep some nights. It was INSANE that their culture thought that keeping your neighbors awake all night was perfectly acceptable! We brought that up with our neighbor as he was setting up his speakers, and he said “So call the police. They won’t come.” He was right. And if you lived in an apartment building it only took ONE neighbor doing this to ruin everyone’s sleep! I’m surprised that the people in the apartments around them didn’t pound some sense into them or at least convince them to turn down the volume of the music. Perhaps they were the guests at the parties.

Argentina has defaulted on its national debt several times, and inflation was running 600% while I was there. Yet steak was 10 cents a pound, and to preserve our salaries we converted our Argentine currency into dollars and sold them off when we were out of pesos. That saved us an average of 7%-10% per month!

I found that most Argentines didn’t have much of a work ethic, and didn’t realize that there were ways they could vastly improve their lives. (Furnaces and AC come immediately to mind, and a phone would be nice, but the waiting list took months or years and cost up to $1000!) The food was great, although we drank the water and regretted it the entire time. They were generally happy people who often had multiple generations living in the same home. Their health care – don’t go there… The public hospitals were nightmares, with rooms filled with up to 20 patients with differing maladies, and the stench was stifling. The private hospitals were pretty good, the nurses were flirts, and the doctors were mostly competent.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can judge the degree of civilization of a country by its public restrooms. Peru was a nightmare, and Argentina wasn’t much of an improvement. The biggest challenge I had was figuring out how to flush the toilets! They often came in weird configurations, and some didn’t have a tank of water to flush them. I had to leave a steaming pile behind me more than once, much to my embarrassment.

I couldn’t WAIT to get back to the USA, where almost every family owns at least one car, thousands of houses don’t collapse in a 5.6 earthquake, every home has a phone, and the water won’t make you sick. (We had our own well so the problems they’re having in Michigan didn’t apply.) When I got home I filled a cold glass of water from the faucet, drank it down, and sighed happily. It tasted great and didn’t make me sick.

As already posted on the comments on the wp source, that graph is wrong. The Uk changed to 24 in 2007, and 28 in 2009, effectively covering the national holidays, so if you get them all off you get a minimum of 20, if you work them you get 28.

Here's what maternity leave looks like around the world

In some places in the world, new mothers can take several months off work after giving birth — and they don't have to worry about money because they're getting paid.

Some countries pay mothers the same amount as the salary they were making before, while others offer a percentage of their former salary, starting at about 30% for developed countries.

Most developed nations pay new mothers at least half of her previous salary during their time off, according to a report by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that studied maternity leave in 42 countries around the world. The OECD, a 35-member organization dedicated to democracy and the market economy, looked at policies in place as of April 2016.

Some of these countries offer paternity leave policies for fathers, but we're just looking at the moms.

On average, maternity leave in OECD countries lasts 18 weeks. Only one developed country — the United States — offers zero paid maternity leave.

Research shows that paid maternity leave is good for individuals, businesses, and the economy. A study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that it keeps women in the workforce and lowers their need for public assistance.

Here is a snapshot of paid maternity leave in 42 countries around the world, listed in alphabetical order.

Union Recognition and Collective Bargaining: How Does the United States Compare With Other Democracies?

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is undoubtedly one of the most significant and controversial bills facing the new Congress. Its opponents have attempted to portray the bill as a radical, undemocratic and dangerous piece of legislation that would disenfranchise millions of American workers and damage an already fragile economy. One of the country&rsquos largest management law firms, Jackson Lewis, states that it &ldquocalls for revolutionary changes to labor law,&rdquo while another opponent has attacked its &ldquoradical approach to first contract bargaining.&rdquo1 In reality, it is a modest piece of legislation that would establish recognition and bargaining rights for U.S. workers weaker than those enjoyed by workers in most other developed democracies.

How does the United States measure up to other democracies when it comes to recognition and bargaining? First, let us look at the usual suspects. Collective bargaining coverage in every nation in Continental Europe is several times higher than it is in the United States. (I exclude Central and Eastern Europe, which will be considered shortly.) While union density has fallen in several European countries, collective bargaining coverage has remained high and relatively stable. Union density in Western Europe ranges from below 10 percent in France to almost 80 percent in Sweden but collective bargaining coverage is over 80 percent in all but Germany, where it is over 60 percent. Several factors have contributed to a more supportive environment for collective bargaining: centralized labor market regulation, union involvement in unemployment insurance in certain countries, and union-friendly legal frameworks.

U.S.-style systems of majority recognition do not exist in Continental Europe. In most of Continental Europe, aggressive opposition to bargaining is relatively uncommon thus, many countries do not have specific legislation addressing the issue. Statutory or constitutional provisions on freedom of association are in some countries interpreted as entailing bargaining rights, and national laws in certain countries contain a legal obligation to bargain. In Austria (and Slovenia), for example, compulsory membership of employers’ organizations results in almost 100 percent bargaining coverage. Even in those countries in which multi-employer bargaining is voluntary, strong state sponsorship for bargaining without statutory backing is common. Under mandatory extension laws&mdashwhich extend collective agreements to cover non-union workers in Germany, France and Holland&mdashbargaining coverage has remained high, even as union density has declined.

It is not simply the &ldquousual suspects&rdquo that have bargaining coverage higher than the United States. Even in Central and Eastern Europe&mdashwhere unions are weaker and often operate under unfavorable macroeconomic conditions&mdashcoverage is, on average, significantly higher than in the United States (See Table 1).

Europe is, of course, no paradise for workers. European unions face many of the same challenges as their U.S. counterparts&mdashheightened international competition and relocations to countries with cheaper labor costs and fewer legal protections, increasing employer demands for decentralization in bargaining and company-specific flexibility, the challenge of maintaining stable organizations among low-paid, dispersed and transient service sector workers, and more hostile national governments. But few European employers campaign against bargaining coverage and threaten workers&rsquo careers or predict job losses through relocation or closure if workers choose to bargain collectively. Organizing typically means internal recruitment, as workers are already covered by a collective agreement. In the United States, organizing involves both an adversarial campaign for the right to bargaining rights with a specific employer and a union membership campaign. This explains why we find higher bargaining coverage in Europe and why BMW and Mercedes-Benz workers, among others, have bargaining in Germany but not in South Carolina or Alabama.

Collective Bargaining in New Democracies
Recent developments in certain emerging economies illustrate just how far the United States lags other democracies when it comes to the protection of recognition and bargaining rights. Despite inhospitable environments&mdashunfavorable macroeconomic conditions, widespread privatizations, and enormous informal sectors&mdashcollective bargaining coverage has risen in several new democracies over the past few decades. In South Africa, for example, bargaining coverage has risen from around 10 percent to over 40 percent since the 1980s. In Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay, left-of-center governments have strengthened recognition and bargaining rights and coverage has risen. Bargaining coverage has also increased in Taiwan and Korea. Workers in these nations can gain bargaining coverage without having to endure management-dominated representation elections and bargaining campaigns, as they must do in the United States. While one should not minimize the obstacles faced by workers in these countries, their experience demonstrates that, even under adverse circumstances, a decline in bargaining coverage is not inevitable, pressures associated with economic globalization are not irresistible, and governmental policies do matter. Having trailed other OECD nations for years, U.S. bargaining coverage has now fallen below that found in several new democracies.

Other Advanced Anglophone Countries &ndash Canada and the United Kingdom
What about those countries whose labor laws most resemble U.S. law? Fist, let&rsquos consider the United Kingdom. Among developed democracies, the United States is alone in having a sophisticated industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year devoted entirely to helping management resist collective bargaining. But several U.S. union avoidance firms have recently sought overseas markets for their expertise. When Britain introduced its new union recognition law in 1999, one U.S. firm wrote: &ldquoSixty-five years&rsquo U.S. experience with union organizational experience provides valuable parallels from which U.K. employers can learn how to stay union free. It is clear from U.S. experience that worthy U.K. employers&hellip will be able to defeat union organizing efforts.&rdquo2 Former Trades Union Congress general secretary and current European Trade Union Confederation general secretary John Monks criticized the firm for promoting a &ldquodubious approach&rdquo to bargaining that was &ldquofar more suited to the aggressive nature of U.S. industrial relations.&rdquo3 But other consultant firms soon followed in its path. One large U.S. union avoidance firm that operates in Canada, Mexico, South America, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and German&mdashtelling clients that it enjoys an international reputation for &ldquoeliminating union incursions&rdquo&mdashhas conducted several high profile union avoidance campaigns in the United Kingdom with considerable effect.4 When confronted by U.S.-style anti-union tactics, U.K. unions spend more time and resources on campaigns and are much less likely to win recognition. If this behavior were to become the norm in the United Kingdom, it would likely have disastrous consequences for British workers.

Employer opposition in the United Kingdom still pales in comparison with that found in the United States, partly as a result of the fundamental differences between the union recognition law in the United States and United Kingdom. Britain has a &ldquohybrid&rdquo system of union recognition: employers can recognize the union without a demonstration of majority support, or, if the employers refuses voluntary recognition, the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) can recognize the union on the basis of documentary evidence of union membership or by holding an election. Since the law was introduced a decade ago, the vast majority of new recognition agreements have resulted from voluntary recognitions, and the CAC has held relatively few contested representation elections. As a result of these differences in law and employer behavior&mdasha significant proportion of British employers still cooperate with unions and view bargaining positively&mdashUnited Kingdom bargaining coverage, though it has fallen by almost half since the early 1980s, is still more than double that of the United States.

Recognition and Bargaining in Canada: Lessons for the United States
The Canadian system of industrial relations is broadly similar to that of the United States, and labor laws in several Canadian provinces have or had provisions similar to those of the EFCA. However, Canadian labor law differs from its U.S. counterpart in two critical respects: First, it is decentralized, with only about 10 percent of employees covered by federal labor law&mdashmost of the remaining 90 percent are covered by 10 different provincial laws. US law, in contrast, is highly centralized, with a broad and rigid federal pre-emption doctrine curtailing all but the most marginal policy experimentation at the state and local levels during the past several decades. Second, Canadian labor law is more responsive to political realignments than its U.S. counterpart&mdashthat is, when there is change in provincial government, we often see significant reform in the province&rsquos labor law. In the United States, the need to gain a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster has presented a formidable obstacle in the path of labor law reform proposals in recent decades.

Canadian labor law also provides an interesting comparison with the United States because, while the labor policy issues are very similar to those in the United States, the policy debate is very different. For the most part, labor law reform in Canada is not accompanied by contentious debate about the need to protect the sanctity of the &ldquosecret ballot,&rdquo but simply a recognition that, even in Canada&mdashwith its quick elections (usually between 5-10 days) and strict adherence to these deadlines, restrictions on employer electioneering, and tougher penalties for unfair management practices&mdashmajority sign up makes organizing easier for workers, while contested representation elections makes organizing more difficult. Thus, with a left of center government, we see the adoption majority sign up and other reforms, but when the political pendulum swings in the opposite direction, contested elections are reintroduced. Currently, five Canadian jurisdictions have laws that include majority sign-up processes: the federal jurisdiction, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.5

Have EFCA-Style Provisions Been Discredited in Canada?
Opponents of the EFCA in the United States have repeatedly pointed to Canada as a country in which, as a direct result of their experience with majority sign-up, lawmakers now recognize the superiority of mandatory elections. Nine out of ten Canadian provinces used majority sign up in the late 1980s, they point out, while only four out of ten use it today. Two decades ago, majority sign-up covered over 90 percent of Canadian employees today, these same provisions cover about 40 percent of Canadian employees. But claims that majority sign up has been discredited in Canada and replaced by U.S.-style elections are misleading. First, as mentioned previously, union elections in Canada are very different from management-dominated NLRB elections. Second, five Canadian jurisdictions&mdashincluding large and influential ones such as the federal jurisdictions and Quebec&mdashstill have majority sign up. Finally, the policy situation is far from static and Canadian laws are much more malleable than their U.S. counterpart — provinces that have moved from majority sign up to elections could still move back in the opposite direction. In May 2008, for example, the Ontario Legislature considered a bill to reintroduce majority sign up. Thus, majority sign-up could, once again, become the norm in Canada.

Canada&rsquos experience with majority sign up is relevant to the current U.S. debate in a more direct way. The principal refrain of employer groups opposed to majority sign-up is that it would expose employees to coercion and intimidation by unscrupulous union organizers. What does the Canadian experience suggest? Until the Conservative Harris government did away with majority sign-up in 1995, this system of union recognition had operated in Ontario&mdashCanada&rsquos most populous province&mdashfor almost half a century. Yet the preeminent scholar of Canadian labor law, Professor Harry Arthurs, recently stated that he did not know of a single case in which the employer had complained that the union had illegally coerced workers into joining a union.6 Not one case in fifty years, compared to over 20,000 cases of employer coercion per year under the National Labor Relations Act for the past two decades.

Opponents of the EFCA have also used the Canadian comparison to attack one of the bill&rsquos other main provisions &ndash first contract arbitration (FCA). Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, for example, Jackson Lewis lawyer Michael J. Lotito recently (and erroneously) wrote: &ldquoA quick review of history shows why [FCA] is a bad idea. In Canada, all 10 provinces once operated under a law similar to the EFCA. Today, that law has been abolished in all but four provinces.&rdquo7 Ten versus four refers not to FCA provisions, as Lotito implies, but to majority sign-up. In fact, seven Canadian provinces have first contract arbitration provisions in their laws, while three (Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) have never had it. No Canadian jurisdiction has had FCA and then decided to get rid of it. In contrast with the contention that the Canadian experience illustrates the pitfalls of FCA, academic research suggests the opposite&mdashit has reduced first contract disputes and encouraged bargaining, and arbitrators rarely impose settlements. Professor Susan Johnson, an economist at Wilfred Laurier University, reports that FCA &ldquosupports and encourages the collective bargaining process and is not a substitute for it.&rdquo8 Thus, the lessons from the Canadian experience with majority sign up (little or no evidence of union coercion) and first contract arbitration (encourages collective bargaining and reduces first contract disputes by half) support the case for reform in the United States. And as a result of its stronger protection for recognition and bargaining rights, bargaining coverage in Canada is over double the U.S. level: about 31.5 percent overall, ranging from over 39 percent in Quebec (the nation&rsquos second most populous province) to under 25 percent in Alberta.

In January 2009, unions from 45 different countries pledged support for the EFCA. Given its moderate provisions, it is not surprising that labor unions from other democracies support the legislation. Workers in their countries already enjoy recognition and bargaining rights at least as strong as those provided for by the bill. It is time to inject some reality into the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act &ndash a bill that would be considered a modest proposal in any other developed democracy&mdashand reject the hyperbolic rhetoric about &ldquoradical&rdquo and &ldquorevolutionary&rdquo reform. A systematic comparison of recognition and bargaining in developed democracies can help promote a more realistic and sensible debate.

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