The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

Economics in Brief: NYC Amazon Workers Move One Step Closer to Unionization

Also: Cash for low-income mothers may boost babies’ cognitive development, and more.

(Photo by Scott Lewis / CC BY 2.0)

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NYC Amazon Workers Earn Sufficient Support to Hold a Union Election

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island have earned sufficient interest to hold a union election, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) confirmed.

This effort is a long time coming, with workers at the Staten Island location alleging that the e-commerce giant illegally fired union organizer Daequan Smith, Bloomberg News reports. The NLRB agreed. An investigation into the complaint found that an Amazon consultant claimed they would fix issues if they opposed unionization, questioned workers’ involvement with the labor union and called union organizers “thugs.”

The labor board issued a formal complaint against Amazon on Thursday asking the company to conduct mandatory training with managers and “requiring management to educate employers about their rights with an NLRB agent present.”

Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse workers are similarly fighting for increased worker protections after they filed for unionization last year. Now, the nearly 6,100 workers will get a second chance at unionization through a vote do-over after the NLRB found that Amazon had unjustly interfered with the votes, as Next City previously reported.

The specifics of the Staten Island union election will be determined at a hearing on February 16.

Cash Stipends to Low-Income Mothers Help Increase Brain Activity in Babies

Providing cash aid to low-income mothers during the first year of their child’s lives could increase their cognitive development, the New York Times reports.

A thousand mothers were chosen to participate in the Baby’s First Years research project, with one group receiving $20 a month while the other received $333. Payments will continue until the child is at least 4 years old.

Initial results have been promising. Though further cognitive tests should be done to confirm researchers’ beliefs, the study found that changes in the babies’ brain activity were modest and could be a significant scientific finding. “It’s proof that just giving the families more money, even a modest amount of more money, leads to better brain development,” says Martha J. Farah, a neuroscientist who conducted a review of the study for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, who published the study on Monday.

The results of this research comes after President Joe Biden ended the child tax credit, a federal relief program that provided families with up to $300 a month per child. The initial direct payment reached 59.3 million children in July, reducing child poverty among Black Children by 21%, according to Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.

But changes in federal relief are estimated to push nearly 3.7 million kids into poverty. As conservatives argue against direct relief payments, researchers are hoping these results help refocus the conversation.

“[It’s] almost always about the risks that parents might work less or use the money frivolously,” Greg J. Duncan, co-author of the study and economist at the University of California, Irvine, told the Times. Instead we should question “whether the payments are good for kids.”

EPI Study Shows Wage Growth Is Not the Cause of Price Inflation

New data from the Economic Policy Institute found that increased price inflation was caused by a global supply chain crisis that focuses on durable goods instead of face-to-face services.

According to Economic Policy Institute’s Josh Bivens, this shows that increased wages were not the cause of recent price inflations. His research also found that since 1989, labor costs remain relatively stagnant when non-labor costs rise. Workers’ wages are thus unlikely to change even as non-labor costs increase, due to decreased bargaining power in the labor market.

Bivens concludes by warning that “worker disempowerment means we can—and should—be far more cautious about raising interest rates to slow inflation even in the face of a large and persistent initial price shock.”

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in political science and journalism in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.

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Tags: unionsamazoncash assistance

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