Author Archives: afscme

What’s Behind the Teachers’ Strikes: The Labor-Movement Dynamic of Teacher Insurgencies

Source: Ellen David Friedman, Dollars and Sense, no. 336, May/June 2018

As we watch—rapt—the unexpected teacher insurgencies in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado, we’re also grasping for understanding: Why is this stunning revolt occurring where unions are weak, where labor rights are thin, and where popular politics are considered to be on the right? To understand the insurgency, we need to look at economics, and at political economy specifically. But we especially need a labor-movement analysis.

A labor-movement analysis starts by understanding the political and economic conditions that shape the objective conditions of a particular group of workers (or labor market) at a given moment—prevailing wages, benefits, work processes, structures of employment, stability of work, market forces in the sector, etc. Then we look at how workers respond to those material factors and conditions: how they understand their interests, how they see their own power (or lack of it), how they understand the interests of the employers and what influences them, and how they develop tactics, strategies, and institutions to bring their power to bear against the power of employers. Finally, the self-directed activity of workers (including their ideas, ideologies, methods of organization, decision-making, and what actions they take) can be embedded in the larger context of other sectors of workers, other social movements, and historical labor movements. Such an analysis can help us interpret the teacher strike wave and, perhaps, gain insights that can help us rebuild capable, fighting unions….

Want a lower tax bill? So do Apple and Genentech

Source: Catherine Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, August 12, 2018

For-profit companies don’t typically downplay the value of their assets.

But when it comes to paying property taxes, some of Silicon Valley’s largest companies are going head to head with officials to try to prove that some of the equipment and machinery they used to become global titans are actually worth a lot less than what county tax assessors say.

In the Bay Area, Genentech and Apple are particularly aggressive in opposing tax assessors — elected officials who determine the value of property for tax purposes. Both companies are leading years-long efforts to recoup tens of millions of dollars they say they’ve overpaid in taxes on buildings, land, lab equipment, computers and other items….

…. There is nothing illegal or unethical about appealing assessments. Companies are entitled to contest property assessments they believe are done improperly or inaccurately. But the tactics taken by Genentech, Apple and other large corporations, county assessors say, border on abusing the system.

The practice, they say, forces local governments to hold millions of dollars in limbo that would otherwise go to taxpayer-funded programs like schools, roads and special districts, in case they have to issue refunds to the companies. ….

Related:
Apple argued building was worth $200 not $1B to lower tax bill
Source: Ali Breland, The Hill, August 14, 2018

Amid Legal and Political Uncertainty, DACA Remains More Important Than Ever

Source: Tom K. Wong, Sanaa Abrar, Tom Jawetz, Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Patrick O’Shea, Greisa Martinez Rosas, and Philip E. Wolgin, Center for American Progress, August 15, 2018

Note: The survey results can be found here. For more information on the survey, please contact Tom K. Wong.

Since it was first announced on June 15, 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy has provided work authorization as well as temporary relief from deportation to approximately 822,000 undocumented young people across the United States.

From July 16 to August 7, 2018, Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; the National Immigration Law Center; and the Center for American Progress fielded a national survey to further analyze the experiences of DACA recipients. The study includes 1,050 DACA recipients in 41 states as well as the District of Columbia.

This research, as with previous surveys, shows that DACA recipients are making significant contributions to the economy and their communities. In all, 96 percent of respondents are currently employed or enrolled in school.

….Several years of data, including this 2018 survey, make clear that DACA is having a positive and significant effect on wages. The average hourly wage of respondents increased by 78 percent since receiving DACA, from $10.32 per hour to $18.42 per hour. Among respondents 25 years and older, the average hourly wage increased by 97 percent since receiving DACA. These higher wages are not only important for recipients and their families but also for tax revenues and economic growth at the local, state, and federal levels…..

US Cities Where Salaries Go Furthest: 2018

Source: Jed Kolko, Indeed, Hiring Lab, August 15, 2018

Money isn’t everything. Local markets with the highest adjusted salaries tend to have higher unemployment and weaker future job prospects.

That tempting big salary might not be all it seems. That’s because places where pay is high tend to be more expensive. Jobs offer a premium in the Bay Area, Boston, Washington and New York. But those extra dollars go right back out to pay for higher rents and pricier meals. Adjusted for living costs, salaries are highest not in the big coastal metros, but in less attention-getting locales like Brownsville, TX, Kingsport, TN, and Huntington, WV.

But before you reserve that one-way U-Haul to take you to Kingsport, know this: places where adjusted salaries are higher often serve up other challenges. They tend to have higher unemployment today and are projected to have slower job growth. If you want it all — high adjusted salaries, low unemployment today and good future prospects — look instead at Duluth, MN, Wilmington, NC, and Lubbock, TX.

And let’s be realistic. You might not want to trek across the country, far from family, friends or weather you love, to a place where jobs in your field are scarce. That’s fine. You can probably move somewhere not too far away with a similar mix of jobs and boost your standard of living at the same time — for example, by relocating from Tampa to Birmingham or from San Diego to Sacramento. Most places have relatively close-by sister cities where adjusted salaries are at least a bit higher.

Colorado School District Gives Students 4-Day Weeks

Source: Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, August 15, 2018

Many of us wish we could have longer weekends, but for about 18,000 students in Colorado, that wish is coming true. A school district outside Denver has decided to shorten its week to four days, and the first school year on this new schedule just started, CBS Denver reports. It began on Tuesday, August 14, because the day students get off is everyone’s least favorite: Monday.

While this may sound like a dream come true, it means students will have to sit through longer school days to make up for the hours they’ve lost, according to The Denver Post.

The decision wasn’t made just to give students more days off, though; it had practical motivations: to save money and attract better teachers. The district estimates that it will save $1 million by not having buses on Mondays, hiring fewer subs, and spending less on utilities, according to KUSA Denver. ….

…. Around 560 districts in 25 states include schools with four-day weeks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but evidence is mixed on how the different schedule affects students’ performance. ….

An Overdue Discussion: Two takes on the library-fine debate

Source: Phil Morehart, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

Whether to charge fines for overdue materials is a hot-button topic. The issues are many: Some libraries have halted the practice, citing concerns that fines keep patrons away, while other libraries have kept them in place as vital revenue streams. Fines are also used by some libraries as a method to teach personal responsibility, while other libraries consider that lesson outside the realm of librarianship. We spoke with a librarian on each side of the debate….

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: Advice for managers and leaders

Source: Ryan J. Dowd, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

….Working with difficult homeless individuals is hard. Managing people who work with difficult homeless individuals is harder. There are two equally challenging problems:
– staff members who are terrified of conflict and avoid all confrontation by not enforcing any rules
– staff members who think they are Rambo, turning every mild conflict into World War III

It is easier to help a timid staff member become assertive than it is to help an aggressive staff member be polite. I am not sure why this is, but hot-headed employees usually cannot rein it in for very long. They can get better for a little while, but eventually emotions take over and they lose their cool. Timid staff, on the other hand, grow only more confident as they get experience.

There are some tactics that can make you more effective…..

The Long-Term Budget Outlook Under Alternative Scenarios for Fiscal Policy

Source: Congressional Budget Office, August 8, 2018

From the summary:
Each year, CBO publishes extended baseline projections—a set of budget projections that incorporate the assumption that current laws generally remain unchanged, extending the agency’s 10-year baseline projections beyond the coming decade. In CBO’s most recent extended baseline, revenues grow more rapidly than gross domestic product (GDP), rising to levels well above their historical average, because recently enacted tax changes are scheduled to expire and because of the structure of the tax system. In addition, discretionary spending falls substantially in relation to the size of the economy. Nevertheless, federal debt held by the public rises from an amount equal to 78 percent of GDP in 2018 to 118 percent of GDP in 2038. This report expands on CBO’s extended baseline projections by showing how the federal budget and the nation’s economy would evolve under three alternative scenarios. In those scenarios, laws would be changed to continue certain policies now in place, leading to even higher debt.

ACA subsidies cost more per person than Medicaid. Is that sustainable?

Source: Susannah Luthi, Modern Healthcare, August 8, 2018

Government spending on Obamacare premiums has raced past its per-person spending on Medicaid expansion, and the gap is poised to increase—a trend that has some policy experts shaking their heads over the long-term economic picture and at least one major insurer questioning the sustainability of the individual market….

Related:
Enrolling Americans in Medicaid Is Now Cheaper Than Subsidizing Their Obamacare Coverage
Source: Jordan Weissman, Slate, August 10, 2018

Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: 2018 to 2028
Source: Congressional Budget Office, May 2018
CBO and JCT project that the federal subsidies, taxes, and penalties associated with health insurance coverage for people under age 65 will result in a net subsidy from the federal government of $685 billion in 2018.

Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: Tables from CBO’s Spring 2018 Projections
Source: Congressional Budget Office, May 2018

New data makes it clear: Nonvoters handed Trump the presidency

Source: Philip Bump, Washington Post, August 9, 2018

Most of our assessments of the electorate in 2016 are dependent on estimates. Polling before the election that suggested where people were leaning; exit polling after the fact that gives us some sense of who actually turned out. When more than 137 million people vote, understanding exactly who they were and why they voted the way they did necessarily involves some guesswork.

On Thursday, though, Pew Research Center released an unusually robust survey of the 2016 electorate. In addition to having asked people how they voted, Pew’s team verified that they did, giving us a picture not only of the electorate but also of those who didn’t vote. There are a number of interesting details that emerge from that research, including a breakdown of President Trump’s support that confirms much of his base has backed him enthusiastically since the Republican primaries.

The data also makes another point very clear: Those who didn’t vote are as responsible for the outcome of the election as those who did…..