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  • Backgrounder posted July 2, 2015 by James Sherk Salaried Overtime Requirements: Employers Will Offset Them with Lower Pay

    The Obama Administration has announced plans to require overtime pay for salaried employees who earn less than $50,440 a year. Economic research shows that employers will offset new overtime costs by lowering base salaries. As a result, these regulations will have little effect on total weekly earnings or hours worked. They will require employers to rigidly monitor…

  • Commentary posted June 18, 2015 by James Sherk How The Left Uses Deceptive Minimum-Wage Data

    Does the U.S.-Canadian speed gap bother you? Americans can drive no faster than 65 on Massachusetts highways. Meanwhile Canadian motorists zip along at speeds of up to 100. Congress should close this inequitable speed gap! This argument sounds ridiculous, because it is. Canadians measure speed in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. Moreover, many states have higher…

  • Commentary posted June 16, 2015 by James Sherk Union work on taxpayers' dime

    In 1976, Jerry Jordan began his career teaching Spanish in Philadelphia public schools. A decade later, Jordan left the classroom to work full time for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. He is now the union's president, negotiating with public officials for union members' wages and benefits - but there's one big problem. Nearly 30 years after Jordan graded his last…

  • Issue Brief posted April 28, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., James Sherk, John Gray Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act: Budget Gimmicks and Expanding an Ineffective and Wasteful “Job-Training” Program

    On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the Senate Committee on Finance reported out of committee the Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act of 2015. The bill was sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R–ME) and Ron Wyden (D–OR). A day later, a companion bill (H.R. 1892), sponsored by Representatives Dave G. Reichert (R–WA), Tom Reed (R–NY), and Patrick Meehan (R–PA), was…

  • Commentary posted April 24, 2015 by James Sherk Labor Reforms Sweep the Midwest

    Labor unions have traditionally been the 800-pound gorilla of special-interest groups. They have secured handouts and subsidies that other organizations’ lobbyists could only dream about. But that may be changing. This year a raft of Midwestern states have scaled back some of organized labor’s special privileges. States are starting to treat unions no differently from…

  • Testimony posted April 22, 2015 by James Sherk How Collective Bargaining Affects Government Compensation and Total Spending

    Testimony before Committee on Government Affairs Nevada Assembly April 7, 2015 James Sherk Research Fellow in Labor Economics The Heritage Foundation Chairman Ellison and Members of the Government Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify. My name is James Sherk. I am a Research Fellow in Labor Economics at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in…

  • Commentary posted April 14, 2015 by James Sherk The Labor Story the Media Is Missing: Local Right-to-Work Laws Are Spreading

    Last month Wisconsin made national headlines by becoming the 25th right-to-work state. But there’s another equally significant development in workers’ rights that has largely escaped media attention: the rapid flowering of local right-to-work laws in Kentucky. As of December 1, 2014, no local governments anywhere in the U.S. prohibited forced union dues. Now a dozen…

  • Commentary posted March 30, 2015 by James Sherk Choice provided by right-to-work will help Wisconsin's union members

    Many wonder how right-to-work laws will affect Wisconsin. To see how, consider another question: Do monopolies help or hurt customers? Until now, unions have had a monopoly in many Wisconsin workplaces. They didn't have to persuade workers to purchase their services; they could force them to. Anyone who didn't pay dues — averaging about $700 a year — lost his or her…

  • Commentary posted March 11, 2015 by James Sherk Walker Scores another Win for Wisconsin Workers

    Wisconsin governor Scott Walker made history today: His signature made Wisconsin a right-to-work state. This marks symbolic and substantive milestones. Symbolically, half the country now guarantees voluntary union dues. Substantively, Walker has helped demonstrate that right-to-work is a political asset, not a liability. Until today, unions could force workers to pay…

  • Testimony posted March 3, 2015 by James Sherk How Unions and Right-to-Work Laws Affect the Economy

    Testimony before Committee on Labor and Government Reform Wisconsin Senate February 24, 2015 James Sherk Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics The Heritage Foundation Chairman Nass, Vice-Chairman Wanggaard, and members of the Committee on Labor and Government Reform, thank you for inviting me to testify. My name is James Sherk. I am a Senior Policy Analyst in…

  • Commentary posted February 3, 2015 by James Sherk Bruce Rauner Is Trying Kentucky’s Approach to Right-to-Work: Do It Locally

    Newly elected Illinois governor Bruce Rauner is already trying to shake up his state: He just proposed local right-to-work laws, albeit at the local rather than state level. As the Associated Press reports: "The states that are already growing don’t force unionization into their economy," Rauner told an audience at Richland Community College in Decatur, a city he said…

  • Backgrounder posted January 26, 2015 by James Sherk Unions Charge Higher Dues and Pay Their Officers Larger Salaries in Non–Right-to-Work States

    Businesses with monopolies charge higher prices and operate less efficiently than they would facing competition. Labor unions operate no differently. Unions charge workers more and spend their money less carefully in states where they can compel workers to purchase their services. Union financial reports reveal that they charge workers roughly 10 percent higher dues and…

  • Commentary posted January 13, 2015 by James Sherk Five Ways The Washington Post Got Middle Class Woes Wrong

    The Washington Post has recently published a series of articles arguing “America’s middle class is lost,” citing problems that go far beyond the recent recession. Take the accompanying graphic, which shows the year median income peaked in each U.S. county. In most, that happened in 1999 or earlier. The Post argues that over the past 25 years “the typical family’s income…

  • Commentary posted January 8, 2015 by James Sherk Liberal policies suppress wages: Opposing view

    Americans of all income levels would benefit from faster economic growth that raises wages. Unfortunately, wages are being held back by the very policies supported by those criticizing slow wage growth. Liberals across the country supported the misnamed Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The law's mandates have made health coverage more expensive for both individuals…

  • Commentary posted January 6, 2015 by James Sherk The argument that most workers are better off without unions

    Does the ability to buy Toyotas hurt middle-class Americans? That is essentially the argument made by those who say falling union membership has harmed the middle class. But it holds little water. The decline of unions has hurt unions — while benefiting most other Americans. Union membership certainly dropped sharply in the 1970s, the period when some argue things went…