Fighting for a Living Wage / Edition 1

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The living wage movement is considered by many to be the most interesting grassroots enterprise to emerge since the civil rights movement. Ten years after the first ordinance was passed in Baltimore, there are more than one hundred living wage ordinances on the books across the United States, and the movement continues to thrive and grow, despite increasing opposition. This book is not a simple celebration of the living wage movement, but a critical evaluation in which Stephanie Luce, a national expert on living wage campaigns, assesses the strengths and shortcomings of various campaigns and their resulting implementation.

Although many local governments have been convinced to pass living wage ordinances, the movement has had less success in ensuring that these ordinances are fully realized. Some cities have consistently enforced their ordinances after passage. In other communities implementation is weak or nonexistent, and thousands of workers do not benefit from laws designed to ensure that they are paid a living wage.

Luce provides in Fighting for a Living Wage the first serious examination of the reasons for implementation failure, as well as an analysis of the factors that lead to success. Luce argues that citizens can play a significant role in implementing and monitoring living wage policies, even where governments oppose the movement or are reluctant to enforce the laws in question. Luce finds that the nature of the campaign to formulate and pass policy can influence the likelihood of successful implementation. Surprisingly, the chances for thorough enforcement are greater in communities where living wage campaigns caused more, not less, conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Despite surprising successes in the passage of living-wage ordinances around the country, implementation often has been lackadaisical. The experiences of the living wage movement described in this work will interest those concerned with promoting or analyzing social movements. Individuals interested in studying administrative practices also will profit from this book. Clear, jargon-free writing makes it accessible to undergraduates while still offering important lessons to advanced scholars. Highly recommended."—M. Perelman, California State University, Choice, April 2005

"In examining implementation of living wage laws, Stephanie Luce covers important new territory. The more than one hundred living wage laws enacted across the country over the past decade represent a significant experiment in labor policy reform at the local level. Fighting for a Living Wage offers a provocative and thoughtful ground-level examination of this movement, using case studies and theory to understand how policy implementation actually happens."—Paul Sonn, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law

"The growing number of living wage campaigns across America may serve as the building blocks for national reform. In Fighting for a Living Wage, Stephanie Luce takes a comprehensive look at the state of the living wage movement and highlights the critical campaign factors that lead to making a difference in the lives of working families. Luce's close and thoughtful review of dozens of living wage campaigns across America suggests more than the passage of municipal ordinances but instead the birth of a movement that could very well make the fight for social justice and economic equity the civil rights issues of our day."—Amy B. Dean, Founding President, Working Partnerships USA, and former President, South Bay AFL-CIO

"Stephanie Luce makes another great contribution to the living wage movement with this book! She shows not only how hard it can be to win living wages in community after community but also how difficult it can be to harvest the fruits of victory. Almost a billion dollars in increased wages have been won through this movement. We need to fight for every dollar until they have all been paid!"—Wade Rathke, Chief Organizer, ACORN, and Local 100, Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801489471
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The politics of implementation 1
2 Setting the stage : the political and economic context 15
3 Overview of the movement 32
4 A closer look at living wage campaigns 57
5 Living wage outcomes 71
6 Implementation : what happens after laws are passed? 95
7 Fighting from the outside 112
8 Coalitions playing a formal role 131
9 Factors needed for successful implementation : inside and outside strategies 150
10 Other outcomes beyond implementation 181
11 The future of the living wage movement and lessons for policy implementation 207
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