Author Archives: afscme

Organizing in Red America

Source: Dissent Magazine, Summer 2017

Articles include:
Left in the Middle
Michael Kazin

….The good news is that a left does exist in Red America—and, amid the failures of the Trump administration, appears to be growing. Its adherents may share, in whole or in part, the cultural proclivities of the more numerous conservatives who live there. But they are arguing and organizing for many of the same demands as are their counterparts in places like New York City and Los Angeles; they are also busy defending the same people at risk from Trump and his allies in Congress and their own states. In this special section of Dissent, you will learn about some of those activists and a few of the politicians who share their goals…..

Working Too Hard for Too Little: An Interview with Senator Sherrod Brown
Michael Kazin

….This spring, the senator issued a lengthy document, “Working Too Hard for Too Little: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America,” which lays out a set of innovative ideas about how to raise wages, make jobs more secure, and compel employers to adhere to decent standards on the job. In late April, Michael Kazin interviewed the senator in his office on Capitol Hill…..

Mississippi Autoworkers Mobilize
Michelle Chen

The workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, had high hopes when the state-of-the-art factory complex moved in fourteen years ago to a small, majority black town where more than a quarter of residents live in poverty and decent jobs are scarce. …. After fourteen years at the plant, he says, “People are hurting inside of my factory.” His fellow coworkers have been concerned by what they see as increasingly unstable working conditions and general deterioration in benefits and safety protections. A few years ago they campaigned to organize with the United Auto Workers (UAW). Since then, he says, the workers have faced growing hostility from management for seeking to unionize, which only confirms its disrespect for a community that’s invested decades of public funding and faith in Nissan’s promise of stable manufacturing careers. ….

Birmingham’s Fight For a Living Wage
Scott Douglas

The election of Donald Trump has turned our attention to the politics of white working-class people, particularly in the states that voted for him last fall. But progressives should not ignore the activism of the black working class in many of those same red states. ….

The Next Operation Dixie
Sarah Jaffe

The election of Donald Trump has led to a lot of soul-searching on the left. In particular, the narrative since the election has focused on Trump’s appeal to working people, and whether this reflects an inherent racism among the so-called “white working class” or a failure of liberals and the left to speak to their economic concerns.

While the divide between “red” and “blue” states is often overstated (just ask the Republican governors of Massachusetts and Illinois), the Deep South has always lagged behind in union organizing. The failure of the CIO’s “Operation Dixie” in the late 1940s and concerted campaigns to divide black workers from white workers in law and on the shop floor left southern workers with fewer rights, lower wages, and, without unions to press their case, with less political representation. Yet there have always been exceptions, unions and organizations that have fought against great odds to build power for workers in the South, and with the accession of Trump, they can offer us advice for how to move forward when workers’ rights are under attack and racism being fomented from the highest levels of government. Dissent’s Sarah Jaffe spoke with three labor organizers from the South about their experiences and what can be learned from their successes….

Standing With Immigrants in Nebraska
Julie Greene

…. Many states have been transformed by immigration in recent decades, but some are better prepared than others to cope with the crisis. Take my home state of Nebraska. A solidly red state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in more than half a century, Nebraska has nonetheless seen the flowering of a pro-immigrant political culture. Over the past six years, activists across the state built a coalition that has made it possible to confront the harsh words and actions of the Trump administration head on. Examining what they did and how they did it can offer lessons for activists beyond the Great Plains. ….

Bringing Power to the People: The Unlikely Case for Utility Populism
Kate Aronoff

One glaring omission in the postmortem handwringing about the 2016 election is the fact that most poor people in America—of all races and genders—simply didn’t vote. They were prevented from doing so by a number of structural barriers—voting restrictions, second and third jobs, far-flung polling locations—as well as a lack of excitement about two parties they saw as having abandoned them.

Enter: twenty-first-century electric cooperatives, a perhaps unlikely player in the contest for power between progressives and conservatives in the heart of so-called Trump country in rural America.

If there’s one thing poor, rural communities tend to have in common, it’s where they get their power—not political power, but actual electricity. Over 900 rural electric cooperatives (RECs)—owned and operated by their members—stretch through forty-seven states, serving 42 million ratepayers and 11 percent of the country’s demand for electricity. They also serve 93 percent of the country’s “persistent poverty counties,” 85 percent of which lie in non-metropolitan areas. REC service areas encompass everything from isolated farm homes to mountain hollers to small cities, with the highest concentrations in the South, the Midwest, and the Great Plains. And they might just offer an opportunity to curb the right and the climate crisis alike…..

Millennials and the Future of Work

Source: Finance & Development: A Quarterly Publication of the International Monetary Fund, Volume 54 Number 2, June 2017

Millennials are increasingly looking to find their way in the sharing economy.

Articles include:
An Uncertain Future
by: Maureen Burke
Along with exciting new possibilities, millennials face a whole different set of obstacles

The Future of Work
by: Arun Sundararajan
The digital economy will sharply erode the traditional employer-employee relationship

Straight Talk: The Voice of Youth
by: Christine Lagar
Adapt, adjust, and never stop learning

Pension Shock
by: Mauricio Soto
Young adults in advanced economies must take steps to increase their retirement income security

Education for Life
by: Nagwa Riad
Labor markets are changing, and millennials must prepare and adjust

Playing Catch-up
by: Lisa Dettling and Joanne W. Hsu
Youth today are not building wealth the way their parents did

In Their Own Words
by: Niccole Braynen-Kimani and Maria Jovanović
Millennials reflect on the key challenges facing their generation

Wage Discrimination: Behind the Numbers

Source: Jocelyn Frye and Kaitlin Holmes, Center for American Progress, July 5, 2017

Equal pay is often framed in the public debate as being solely a women’s issue. But a close look at the data reveals that wage discrimination is a problem experienced by many different groups, including women, men, older workers, and workers with disabilities.

A review of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge filings data—both public and unpublished—helps paint a diverse and nuanced picture of wage discrimination claims. Having a clearer, more accurate understanding of wage discrimination is essential in identifying the breadth of the challenges facing workers and the most effective solutions in response to the needs of workers.

The majority of wage discrimination charges alleging discrimination based on gender are filed by women. But a portion of gender-based wage discrimination charges are also filed by men. A review of unpublished EEOC data from the past four fiscal years shows that men filed, on average, 15 percent of gender-based wage discrimination charges…..

The Financial Impact of the American Health Care Act’s Medicaid Provisions on Safety-Net Hospitals

Source: Allen Dobson, Joan DaVanzo, Randy Haught, Commonwealth Fund, June 2017

From the abstract:
Issue: Safety-net hospitals play a vital role in our health care system, delivering significant care to Medicaid, uninsured, and other vulnerable patients. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) would make changes to Medicaid that would substantially reduce federal funding, resulting in potential adverse effects on safety-net hospitals and the populations they serve.

Goal: Examine how the AHCA Medicaid provisions, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will reduce federal Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years, will affect the financial status of safety-net hospitals.

Methods: The Dobson | DaVanzo Hospital Finance Simulation Model uses Medicare Hospital Cost Report data for 2015 and assumptions regarding how states will respond to the AHCA Medicaid provisions to estimate the financial impact on safety-net hospitals.

Key Findings: Beginning in 2020 the financial status of safety-net hospitals will deteriorate as Medicaid coverage is reduced and the per-capita spending limits proposed in the AHCA grow. By 2026 total margins will drop to 0.5 percent compared with estimates under current law of 2.9 percent—representing an 83 percent reduction in net income for safety-net hospitals. Small rural safety-net hospitals and safety-net hospitals treating the largest proportion of low-income patients would be hurt the most.
Related:
Technical Appendix
Chartpack (pdf)
Chartpack (ppt)

Global earnings inequality: Evidence from a new database

Source: Olle Hammar, Daniel Waldenström, VoxEU, July 3, 2017

Recent studies have analysed trends in global income inequality, but for most people in the world, labour earnings represent the vast majority of their income. This column uses a new global database on occupational earnings since 1970 to examine trends in earnings inequality between countries’ high- and low- earners, between countries, and between occupational groups. Global earnings inequality has fallen over the past half-century, and so has inequality within occupations, with main equalisation in the late 1990s and 2000s.

2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2017

From the summary:
The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book urges policymakers not to back away from targeted investments that help U.S. children become healthier, more likely to complete high school and better positioned to contribute to the nation’s economy as adults. The Data Book also shows the child poverty rate in 2015 continued to drop, landing at 21%. In addition, children experienced gains in reading proficiency and a significant increase in the number of kids with health insurance. However, the data indicate that unacceptable levels of children living in poverty and in high-poverty neighborhoods persist.

In this year’s report, New Hampshire ranked first among states for overall child well-being, moving up one from 2016. Massachusetts and Vermont filled out the top three. Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi were the three lowest-ranked states.

Beyond Urban Versus Rural: Understanding American Political Geography in 2016

Source: Dante J. Scala, Kenneth M. Johnson, University of New Hampshire, Carsey School of Public Policy, National Issue Brief #124, Summer 2017

From the summary:
In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, commentators focused on the political polarization separating residents of urban and rural America. Certainly rural–urban differences are only one of several factors that contributed to the surprising 2016 outcome, but rural voters are rightly acknowledged as one key factor in Donald Trump’s electoral success. Yet, defining 2016 as the tale of two Americas—one urban, one rural—hinders a nuanced understanding of the country’s political geography. Many political commentators mistakenly caricature rural America as a single entity, but our research summarized here shows that complex variations in voting patterns persist among both urban and rural places. Rural America is a remarkably diverse collection of places including more than 70 percent of the land area of the United States and 46 million people. Both demographic and voting trends in this vast area are far from monolithic. Here we examine voting patterns over the last five presidential elections, treating rural–urban differences as a continuum, not a dichotomy.

Key Findings:
Although rural voters and urban voters are often portrayed as polar opposites, their differences are best understood as a continuum, not a dichotomy.

From the largest urban cores to the most remote rural counties, we find significant variations in voting behavior that persist over the last five presidential elections.

Hillary Clinton nearly matched Barack Obama’s 2012 performance in most urban areas.

Clinton’s defeat was due, in part, to her failure to match the performance of recent Democratic Presidential nominees in less populated areas.

The Trump team’s poor arguments for slashing SNAP

Source: Patricia Smith, The Conversation, June 25, 2017

The Trump administration aims to slash spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by US$193 billion over the next decade. The proposal would also overhaul how the nation’s main nutrition assistance program operates, potentially encouraging additional cuts by the states.

Curbing SNAP’s reach is only one way that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and other officials are trying to trim the safety net to save taxpayer dollars – while simultaneously boosting military spending.

As an economist who studies nutrition policy, I don’t understand what good the administration thinks it can do by overhauling and paring back an effective and efficient program. By many measures, SNAP successfully satisfies an essential human need and fulfills its mandate to promote the general welfare….

White House Women Face Bigger Gender Pay Gap Than National Average

Source: Sofia Lotto Persio, Newsweek, July 3, 2017

Women working in U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House earn less than men on average, according to new data. 

The White House released salary information of its 377 staffers on June 30 in line with a Congressional rule dating back to 1995. The data revealed that the White House has a wider gender pay gap than the national average. The average gender pay gap in the U.S. in 2016 was 18.1 percent, meaning that for every dollar earned by a man, a woman earned 81.9 cents, according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

But the gender pay gap in the White House stands at 20 percent, CNN reported, with women earning 80 cents to every dollar earned by a man. The difference in pay does not neccessarily mean that women’s salaries are lower for doing the same job, but that there are less women in high-paid roles.