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"At-Will" employment (Nationwide statistics)

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  • "At-Will" employment (Nationwide statistics)

    I am researching "at-will" versus "contract" or "tenured" employment. I would like to find out national statistics on rates, i.e. the percentage of employed persons nationally in "at-will" situations. I have heard 60%, but cannot confirm.

    Please help!

  • #2
    Not sure why you're asking, but since every state in the U.S. is an "at-will" state except Montana (and even there, in certain circumstances, AND since true contracts normally exist only for very high-level executives, etc., I would guess that percentage to be much higher.

    Another class assignment?
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    • #3
      I agree more

      I would agree it is likely 75% or so, but that's off the top of my head with no support. Poke around the fed dept. of labor to see if maybe they have it. Or maybe the AFl-CIO, who might keep tabs on such a thing. You might also be able to "back into it" by subtracting known quantities. for example, me thinks, unionized workforce in american is like 12 or 13% (this includes public employees, I think, since private employer unionized workforce is now like 8%). Add to that federal or state employees who are not union, but generally protected under civil service laws. In fact, use the private unionized workforce number (like 8%) and add all state, municipal and fed employees to that (since to use the larger Unionized number which includes some govt. workers would "double count" some govt. employees.) After that, see if you can get a figure on contract employees. I agree contract employees are usually higher up execs, but nowadays many companies are using "contract employees", a la microsoft.

      Or you could peg the number at 100% since the 13th Amendment makes all employment at will, but that's a different kind of will.

      curt j.


      • #4

        Here in California we have a ballot initiative (Prop 74) that will be voted on next month. If passed this would impact teachers by extending by two years the probationary period for new teachers (from 3 to 5), and would also allow administrators to fire a teacher who received two consecutive "unsatisfactory" evaluations.

        My interest in "at-will" employment is because for the vast majority of employed people in the US, we can be terminated (or quit) without cause since we are "at-will" employees. I favor this proposition, as I believe that teachers to a large degree hold our children's futures in their hands, and I want administrators to be able to terminate lower performing teachers just as lower performing employees everywhere else (just about) can be. In fact, even if this prop passes, they will still likely have more job security than most people.

        I have a blog on which I have posted l on this subject, if you are interested.

        By the way, I did 'poke around' the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but couldn't find any good information. If anyone can give/direct me to more complete information, I would very much appreciate it!




        • #5
          I can't point you to any statistics either. Using just some data and assumptions though:

          Less than 10% of employees are in unions and are covered by collective bargaining agreements (which usually means they can only be fired for "cause" as specified in the CBA), leaving 90% of the total workforce. Subtract tenured employees, employees with individual employment contracts and the like, and I'd guess that roughly 75% of people working in this country are "at will" employees.


          • #6

            Thanks. One more question, since we're sort of on the subject.

            I am a bit confused by "tenure". This is used, to my knowledge, mostly in the educational professions. I would guess that at the university level, anyway, that the arguments FOR tenure are that a professor with tenure would be able to pursue research that some in the university administration might not agree with. To that extent I see value in tenure. But I have trouble with the idea that just because someone shows up to work everyday and doesn't screw up horribly, that they should get to keep their job for life. That may have been good in decades past, but in this new century is seems very antiquated.



            • #7
              Actually tenure is a good thing in school districts and the children's educatonal stability because largely school boards in most towns are elected. That means that you have these folks are elected to the board for stints of time. And typically they have very diverse backgrounds unrelated to education and are in fact elected in for their activism on a topic in the schools (bussing, new school being built type agendas) or only while their kids are in the district. As a result, they have the incentive to promote their agendas. Take for example the pay scale in a school district. Without tenure protections, a board could come in and "clean house" simply to reduce the payroll in a town where they felt they were paying too much in taxes personally without regard to performance. If my kids were in that district I'd be upset that my kids had all new and lower compenated educators every two years.

              Tenure is something that does offer a protection to a teacher or administrator from these fluctuations that would affect educational quality. However, it does not protect a teacher from misconduct or poor performance at the end of the day. Administrators can go to the union, can document poor performance, and can eliminate a teacher's job. It certainly takes more documentation and must be handled in a way that ensures the termination complies with the contract and collective bargaining agreement. And yes -- it usually takes longer to terminate someone who is tenured.

              But it is largely a misnomer that a teacher has a job for life. Yes, they have a job that is more difficult to be outright terminated from like some that are merely in an "at will" relationship.

              I am in California and will be voting to extend tenure. Five years is likely a little longer than necessary, but two is too short. Most states in the US currently offer 3 yrs to gain tenure. A good teacher, who is into his/her job for the right reasons, is likely going to do well no matter if it is 2, 3, or 5 years to gain tenure I figure, so from my perspective I think it is a good step forward to put this into effect and weed out those folks who are merely looking to do what they have to to gain that status. My two cents.


              • #8
                why in this century is it outmoded?

                I've heard reference to such an argument before: that in this (century, millenium, day and age, etc.) that tenure (or etc.) is outmoded.

                why? can anyone tell me?

                the arguments which supported it in the past, whatever they are, seem equally suited to today. I imagine some of those arguments are that tenure promotes individualism and research, or that it rewards people for dedicating themselves to a life of teaching rather than taking their skills on the open market, or that it is a bullwark against the vagaries of elected school boards, or that whatever. But why has this now changed? Is there something going in this country that I'm not aware of? Do we not need independent thinkers like we used to? are school boards, or Univ. equiv., better now? Is inducing people to teach by incentivizing through a secure future no longer necessary? Are aliens landing to destroy us and thus tenure is moot? what, pray tell, makes things different.

                and this goes for private sector employees in any profession/skill/job. For example, you might hear that "in this day and age it simply is not appropriate to continue to pay workers $11 per hour (or etc.) " Why? because you can get a 12 year old in Indonesia to do the same work? Well, you're only right if you argue, thus, that in this day and age it is not appropriate for american workers and citizens to live any better than a 12 year indonesian. If you agree with this, then lets please pass legislation either disolving the United States in favor of the United Nations at large, or perhaps legislation making indnesia the 51st state, or perhaps repealing the minimum wage, or etc. All of these being silly.

                Well, thats my .02.

                curt j.


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