The theory of marginal product of labor says that every worker is paid exactly what they’re worth—the value that their labor generates. Employers cite marginal productivity to legitimize paying the lowest wages possible, but it’s just another trickle-down scam. Economist Marshall Steinbaum and food labor expert Saru Jayaraman join us this week to expose the lie of marginal productivity and show how it’s been used to exploit workers for centuries. 

Marshall Steinbaum is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and a Senior Fellow of Higher Education Finance at the Jain Family Institute. He studies market power in labor markets and its policy implications. He was previously a Senior Economist and Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and a Research Economist at the Center for Equitable Growth. 

Twitter: @Econ_Marshall

Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and President of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Saru authored ‘Behind the Kitchen Door’, a national bestseller, and her most recent book is ‘Forked: A New Standard for American Dining.’ 

Twitter: @SaruJayaraman

Further reading

No, Productivity Does Not Explain Income: https://evonomics.com/no-productivity-does-not-explain-income/ 

ROC United Diners’ Guide App: https://rocunited.org/diners-guide/

Saru Jayaraman: How Restaurant Workers Are Inheriting a Legacy of Slavery in the U.S.: https://bioneers.org/saru-jayaraman-restaurant-workers-inheriting-legacy-slavery-u-s-ztvz1712/

Evidence and Analysis of Monopsony Power, Including But Not Limited To, In Labor Markets: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_comments/2018/08/ftc-2018-0054-d-0006-151013.pdf

Antitrust and Labor Market Power: https://econfip.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Antitrust-and-Labor-Market-Power.pdf

Why Are Economists Giving Piketty the Cold Shoulder? 

http://bostonreview.net/class-inequality/marshall-steinbaum-why-are-economists-giving-piketty-cold-shoulder