By Maddie Johnson, Senior Writer
Brian Callaci, Ph.D, was invited by psychology professor Nuwan Jayawickreme, Ph.D., who serves as the director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program, to give students a presentation regarding the recent outrage employees have had on corporations on April 6.
Callaci discussed this ongoing issue brilliantly by breaking down how the problem has erupted, from exploiting corporation changes in the 70s to explaining how certain philosophers viewed what has turned into not very much a free market.
Callaci received his Ph.D in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and now works as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Data and Society Research Institute. His studies have allowed him to analyze the market from a variety of perspectives and have given him the opportunity to answer why the market has restricted and upset so many employees.
Before jumping into highlighting major disputes between corporations and their employees, Callaci informed attendees how he thinks the market gradually became more strict. He referenced three famous economists — Karl Marx, John Robinson and Adam Smith — to support his reasons.
He explained how first, Marx perceived the market as not equal since employees had to seek work from employers that didn’t have access to a means of production, or the number of social relationships one needs in order to survive and produce.
Robinson was a famous economist in 1933 who stressed that the market isn’t exactly the free market that society depicts it to be, because employees may have to stick to their jobs for personal reasons despite their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the company.
Finally, Callaci referenced Adam Smith, who argued the wealthy come together to use a combined power which as a result prohibits workers’ right to take action.
After going into depth about how each of these influential economists observed the market, Callaci emphasized that there are multiple reasons why so many employees are suffering when working for large corporations.
In today’s age, he shared that the effects of non-compete agreements, which include economic growth and bargaining power, are doubled when given to employees who are women or minorities. He also discussed that conflict has specifically been built with low-wage workforce, considering hires have been greater than quits in all sectors, although low-wage sectors have experienced higher levels of quits.
To close off the presentation, Callaci noted the numerous, famous corporations that treated their employees unfairly, resulting in strikes and protests making national news headlines. These companies included Amazon, Uber and McDonalds.
In response to these conflicts, Callaci presented his personal recommendations on what policies should be passed and changed to fix these issues. These consisted of Congress passing the Protecting to Right to Organize Act, raising the minimum wage to at least 15 dollars an hour and the FTC banning non-compete agreements.
Students from various departments came to hear Callaci share his views on the market. One of them was junior engineering major Sammer Abodi, who explained that he was intrigued to come to the event to learn more about the different types of scandals corporations get caught in with their employees.
“I just got a kind of an internal look on the union forming and union organization and how difficult that process would be, and how corporations try to find loopholes to control people,” Abodi said.
Another attendee, junior and education major Claire Vredenburg, shared in an email statement to The Quadrangle how impressed she was to learn there are many ways companies try to take advantage of their employees.
“I learned a lot about what corporations do to put workers at a disadvantage. These things happen all the time in the work environment and it is important to call attention to the ways in which corporations have harmful effects on the labor force,” Vredenburg said.
Callaci hopes students and other attendees understood from his presentation that for so long employees have been financially mistreated by corporations and because of this, policies need to be passed that will make critical changes to the market.
“I hope they got a better understanding of how labor markets work in reality, not just the theory,” Callaci said. “You know, how corporations have the power to alter the playing field that they face so it’s not really a level playing field. And over time, they’ve been stacked in their favor over the interests of workers.”