Author Archives: afscme

The Tax Debate We Need

Source: Marshall Steinbaum, Jacobin, October 20, 2017

Progressive taxation curbs the power of the wealthy — and that’s exactly why the Right hates it. ….

…. Given the Republicans’ control of every branch of government, their plan has a high probability of becoming law. This article will forecast the contours of the “tax debate” in the coming months, as they attempt to shepherd their legislative obscenity to passage.

But it will then take a step back and consider the role that progressive taxation plays in the economy, and why it must be at the top of any left-oriented policy agenda: because without progressive taxation, the privileged have never been peacefully toppled from their position of power over the economy. ….

Income Inequality and Household Labor

Source: Daniel Schneider, Orestes P Hastings, Social Forces, Advance articles, Published: 23 October 2017

From the abstract:
Income inequality has increased dramatically in the United States since the mid-1970s. This remarkable change in the distribution of household income has spurred a great deal of research on the social and economic consequences of exposure to high inequality. However, the empirical record on the effects of income inequality is mixed. In this paper, we suggest that previous research has generally overlooked a simple but important pathway through which inequality might manifest in daily life: inequality shapes the ability of women to outsource domestic labor by hiring others to perform it. One important venue where such dynamics might then manifest is in time spent on housework, and in particular in the time divide in housework between women of high and low socio-economic status. We combine micro-data from the 2003–2013 American Time Use Survey with area-level data on income inequality to show that the class divide in housework time between women with a college degree and from high-earning households and women of lower socio-economic status is wider in more unequal places. We further assess whether this gap can be explained by domestic outsourcing by combining micro-data from the 2003–2013 Consumer Expenditure Survey with area-level data on income inequality and show that the gap in spending for household services between households of high and low socio-economic status also increases in contexts of higher inequality.

White Lawmakers Are Using Alabama’s Racist State Constitution To Keep Black Wages Down

Source: Bryce Covert, In These Times, November 2017

Alabama wrote its 1901 constitution to “establish white supremacy.” Workers in a majority-black city say it’s Jim Crow all over again. ….

Just two years ago, these Fight for $15 workers and their allies won a minimum wage increase to $10.10 in Birmingham. It was short-lived. State lawmakers intervened before the law took effect, passing a preemption bill that undid the work of the City Council and the will of its constituents. Since Alabama doesn’t even have its own minimum wage, minimum-wage workers still make the federal wage of just $7.25 an hour.

“We want $10.10, we gonna do it again,” the crowd chanted.

The workers are using protests to pressure corporate employers and state legislators to raise their pay. But they’re not counting on it happening voluntarily. On April 28, 2016, workers in Birmingham filed a lawsuit accusing the state of racial animus and violating the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection.

The lawsuit offers a novel approach in a struggle taking place across the country as blue cities battle red states for self-determination. Republicans often extoll the virtue of local governmental control, but not, it seems, when it comes to progressive change…..

Fighting Back, Fighting Forward: An Agenda for State & Local Pro-Worker Reforms

Source: Judith M. Conti, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Legislative Brief, October 2017

From the introduction:
Though it is easy to look at what is happening in Congress and our federal government these days and feel despair, now is the time for advocates across the country to double-down on their efforts to fight for progressive reform at the state and local level wherever possible. In states with leadership open to progressive reforms, advocates should be looking for every opportunity to introduce and work toward passing either this year or in the near future the kinds of reforms that will help low-wage workers gain a foothold in the economy and be more economically secure.

Even in states where the policy terrain is less favorable, finding legislators to champion progressive policies is both a messaging victory demonstrating to the electorate what is possible, but also can be an effective weapon to fight off ill-advised proposals aimed at taking power and rights away from workers and giving more to corporate employer interests.

The fact is that our nation’s low-wage and middle class workers are more vulnerable than they have been in most of our lifetimes, and this is particularly true for immigrant workers and people of color. The tone and tenor of so much of the national dialogue these days is deeply negative and divisive. But bringing together community-based organizations, their members, advocates and legislators at the state level can help turn the tide toward the positive. We can work together to present an alternative vision of what this nation should be about and how it should value its working people.

The legislative proposals discussed in this brief present advocates with a menu of options they can explore with state legislators and allies. Any one of them would represent a significant step forward to marginalized and low-income workers, and NELP staff are able to provide campaigns with technical assistance to help get off the ground and build for success.

Deregulating For Dollars: How Trump’s Anti-Regulation Agenda Could Boost His Own Pocketbook

Source: David N. Cicilline and Rick Claypool, Public Citizen, October 11, 2017

From the introduction:
…. This report highlights six examples of cases in which President Trump’s business interests could benefit from his administration’s plans to dismantle public protections. Gutting these protections – the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule and ban on brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, the National Labor Relations Board’s “joint employer” rule, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s pay transparency rule and the Department of Homeland Security’s cap on H-2B visa workers — could benefit the Trump Organization. At the same time, these rollbacks would harm low- and middle-income Americans, many of whom supported his candidacy.

The report also provides nine additional examples off anti-corruption restrictions, consumer protections and worker protections that could be rolled back under Trump, to the potential benefit of his companies. It also notes Trump’s potential conflicts of interest relating to an affordable housing program from which he and his family profit and details how Trump could benefit from restrictions on class action lawsuits and tax cuts to benefit corporations and the rich.

At issue are not only the direct monetary gains that Trump may garner from deregulatory moves. His ongoing ownership of a wide range of business interests can’t help but color his approach to regulatory policy, as it relates both to specific rules and broad policy considerations.

The stakes are high. Trump’s deregulatory agenda will result in more workers facing injuries and discrimination, more consumers ripped off and more pollution accelerating climate change and poisoning our air and water. The more Trump’s deregulatory agenda is realized, the more the costs will be borne by the American public. ….

How So-Called “Right to Work” Laws Aim to Silence Working People

Source: Amy Traub, Dēmos, 2017

From the introduction:
In America, working people have the freedom to band together with their co-workers to negotiate for a fair return on our work. We have the freedom to act together so can we speak with a more powerful voice. We have the freedom to join and form unions. Yet today, powerful interests want to take away that freedom. Corporate lobbyists have pushed federal and state-level policies deceptively named “Right to Work” laws that strip away the freedom to negotiate for a fair return on our work. These laws are designed to drain workers’ collective resources by requiring unions to provide representation to people who make no contribution to sustain the union. In essence, so-called “right to work” laws aim to silence working Americans, which causes their wages and working conditions to deteriorate, making it more difficult to sustain a family. Economists find that in states that have adopted these laws, the typical full-time worker is paid $1,500 a year less than their counterpart in a state that has not undermined workers’ rights.

This Demos Explainer clarifies what misleadingly named “right to work” laws do, how they silence workers’ collective voice, and what their impact has been in states that adopt them. We also explore the roots of this anti-worker policy in efforts to cut wages and solidify racial divisions among workers in the Jim Crow South. Today, as “right to work” laws are promoted in a growing number of states and in the U.S. Congress, Demos aims to ensure that elected leaders, the media, and ordinary Americans understand the true nature of this policy.

Exposure to Cooking Fumes and Acute Reversible Decrement in Lung Functional Capacity

Source: Masoud Neghab, Mahdieh Delikhoon, Abbas Norouzian Baghani, Jafar Hassanzadeh, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol 8 No 4, October 2017

From the abstract:
Background: Being exposed to cooking fumes, kitchen workers are occupationally at risk of multiple respiratory hazards. No conclusive evidence exists as to whether occupational exposure to these fumes is associated with acute and chronic pulmonary effects and symptoms of respiratory diseases.
Objective: To quantify the exposure levels and evaluate possible chronic and acute pulmonary effects associated with exposure to cooking fumes.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 60 kitchen workers exposed to cooking fumes and 60 unexposed employees were investigated. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms among these groups was determined through completion of a standard questionnaire. Pulmonary function parameters were also measured before and after participants’ work shift. Moreover, air samples were collected and analyzed to quantify their aldehyde, particle, and volatile organic contents.

Results: The mean airborne concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein was 0.45 (SD 0.41), 0.13 (0.1), and 1.56 (0.41) mg/m3, respectively. The mean atmospheric concentrations of PM1, PM2.5, PM7, PM10, and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) was 3.31 (2.6), 12.21 (5.9), 44.16 (16.6), 57 (21.55) μg/m3, and 1.31 (1.11) mg/m3, respectively. All respiratory symptoms were significantly (p<0.05) more prevalent in exposed group. No significant difference was noted between the pre-shift mean of spirometry parameters of exposed and unexposed group. However, exposed workers showed cross-shift decrease in most spirometry parameters, significantly lower than the pre-shift values and those of the comparison group. Conclusion: Exposure to cooking fumes is associated with a significant increase in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms as well as acute reversible decrease in lung functional capacity.

The Changing Policy Landscape of the Direct Care Workforce

Source: Robert Espinoza, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 3, August 2017

As the largest growing occupation in the country, the direct care workforce represents a critical segment of the long-term services and supports field and the U.S. economy. Direct care workers are the paid frontline of long-term care, supporting millions of older people and people with disabilities in residential settings and in their homes and communities. The need for direct care will surge over the next few decades, as millions of people reach retirement age, and as people live longer with higher rates of chronic illness and functional limitations (Administration for Community Living, 2014).

Unfortunately, jobs in this sector are characterized by low wages and high turnover, which impairs both the livelihood of workers and the quality of care they provide. In the face of growing demand for long-term care, policymakers have increasingly begun strengthening this workforce, largely by increasing wages and benefits, promoting better training and advanced roles, collecting reliable data on the workforce, expanding access to long-term care, and supporting the relationship between paid and unpaid caregivers. States around the country are also steadily adopting laws that increase wages for workers and government funding for paid caregiving, create advanced roles and training opportunities for workers, establish working groups to study this workforce, and explore universal long-term care insurance options. Heightened attention on this sector, paired with a health framework that elevates the role of the worker in care delivery, can improve both the quality of jobs for workers and the quality of care for families nationwide…..

Pension Math: Public Pension Spending and Service Crowd Out in California, 2003-2030

Source: Joe Nation, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Working Paper 17-023, October 2017

From the abstract:
California public pension plans are funded on the basis of policies and assumptions that can delay recognition of their true cost. Even with this delay, local and state governments are facing increasingly higher pension costs—costs that are certain to continue their rise over the next one to two decades, even under assumptions that critics regard as optimistic. As budgets are squeezed, what are state and local governments cutting? Core services, including higher education, social services, public assistance, welfare, recreation and libraries, health, public works, and in some cases, public safety.

Women in the Workplace 2017

Source: McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, 2017

Women in the Workplace 2017 is a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. This research is part of a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company to give organizations the information they need to promote women’s leadership and foster gender equality.

This year 222 companies employing more than 12 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. In addition, more than 70,000 employees completed a survey designed to explore their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues. To our knowledge, this makes Women in the Workplace the largest study of its kind.

Key findings:

  • The bar for gender equality is too low
  • Nearly 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman. A much smaller but still significant number of women agree: a third think women are well represented when they see one in ten in leadership.

  • Women hit the glass ceiling early
  • At the first critical step up to manager, women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers. This gender disparity has a dramatic effect on the representation of women: if entry-level women were promoted at the same rate as their male peers, the number of women at the SVP and C-suite levels would more than double.

  • Men are more likely to say they get what they want without having to ask
  • Women of all races and ethnicities negotiate for raises and promotions at rates comparable to their male counterparts. However, men are more likely to say they have not asked for a raise because they are already well compensated or a promotion because they are already in the right role.

  • Women get less of the support that advances careers
  • Women are less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance, and employees who do are more likely to say they’ve been promoted in the last two years. Similarly, women are less likely to interact regularly with senior leaders, yet employees who do are more likely to aspire to be top executives.

  • Women are less optimistic they can reach the top
  • Women are less likely than men to aspire to be a top executive, and those who do are significantly less likely than men to think they’ll become one. However, when you look at ambition by race and ethnicity, both women and men of color are more interested in becoming a top executive than white women and men.

  • Men are less committed to gender diversity efforts
  • Men are less likely to say gender diversity is a top personal priority and point to concern over de-emphasizing individual performance as the primary reason. Some men even feel that gender diversity efforts disadvantage them: 15 percent of men think their gender will make it harder for them to advance.

  • Many women still work a double shift
  • On average, 54 percent of women do all or most of the household work, compared to 22 percent of men. This gap grows when couples have children. Women with a partner and children are 5.5 times more likely than their male counterparts to do all or most of the household work. Even when women are primary breadwinners, they do more work at home.