Author Archives: afscme

Union Health Plans Will Suffer under Obamacare

Source: James McGee, Labor Notes, March 18, 2013

…That model is “multiemployer health care plans,” bargained by unions and jointly administered with employers, that provide continuous coverage even for part-time and seasonal workers through periods of unemployment (see box below). Yet what should have been a model for health care reform now faces an uncertain future. Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tilts the playing field to disadvantage multiemployer plans, this decades-old gain of the labor movement may be irreparably damaged. …

In Wisconsin, When Bargaining Is Illegal, We Bargain ‘Informally’

Source: Dawn Tefft, Labor Notes, March 20, 2013

…Many state employee locals in Wisconsin have chosen not to bother with recertification. Locals in the American Federation of Teachers are adopting informal bargaining tactics for items that are off the table.

Employers agree to informal “consent bargaining” outside of contracts—through verbal agreements, memorandums of understanding, or changes in policy—when faced with strong locals. In Wisconsin, where dues check-off and even “fair share” are prohibited, strong locals are those that understand organizing at the grassroots level….

Earned Income Tax Credits in the States: Recent Developments, Good and Bad

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice, March 18, 2013

Note to Readers: This is the last in a six part series on tax reform in the states. Over the past several weeks CTJ’s partner organization, The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has highlighted tax reform proposals and looked at the policy trends that are gaining momentum in states across the country.

Lawmakers in at least six states have proposed effectively cutting taxes for moderate- and low-income working families through expanding, restoring or enacting new state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) (PDF). Unfortunately, state EITCs are also under attack in a handful of states where lawmakers are looking to reduce their benefit or even eliminate the credit altogether.

The federal EITC is widely recognized by experts and lawmakers across the political spectrum as an effective anti-poverty strategy. It was introduced in 1975 to provide targeted tax reductions to low-income workers and supplement low wages. Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia provide EITCs modeled on the federal credit. At the state level, EITCs play an important role in offsetting the regressive effects of state and local tax systems.

Federal Tax Reform: Effects on State and Local Governments

Source: Matthew Gardner, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, United States Senate for Hearing: “Tax Reform: What It Means for State and Local Tax and Fiscal Policy”, March 19, 2013

…Federal tax reform can affect state and local taxes in several ways. The federal government can create, repeal or change tax expenditures in a way that is passed on to the states because virtually every state has tax rules linked to the federal rules. The federal government can subsidize state and local governments’ ability to raise taxes and can subsidize their ability to borrow funds to finance capital investments. Finally, the federal government can regulate state and local governments’ ability to raise taxes in a way that coordinates and harmonizes their tax rules or in a way restricts their taxing power and makes their tax systems more complex.

My testimony makes four points.
1. Federal tax reform can provide state governments an opportunity to improve their finances by repealing or reducing tax expenditures.
2. The federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes is indeed a tax expenditure that reduces the amount of revenue collected by the federal personal income tax, but in many ways is more justified than many other tax expenditures.
3. The federal government’s practice of not taxing the interest income on state and local bonds is an inefficient way to subsidize state and local governments, and the President’s proposal to extend Build America Bonds would mitigate this problem.
4. When lawmakers consider legislation intended to coordinate tax rules among the states, they must distinguish proposals that will truly achieve this result (like the Marketplace Fairness Act) from those that simply restrict states’ taxing powers at the behest of corporate interests (like the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act). …

Preview of the 2013 Comprehensive Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts: Changes in Definitions and Presentations

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Survey of Current Business, Volume 93 Number 3, March 2013

As part of the 14th comprehensive revision of the NIPAs, to be released in July, a variety of changes will update the accounts to more accurately portray the evolving U.S. economy.

Projections of the Long-Term Growth of the Registered Nurse Workforce: A Regional Analysis

Source: Peter I. Buerhaus, Ulrike Muench, David I. Auerbach, Douglas O. Staiger, Nursing Economics, Vol. 31 no. 1, January-February 2013

From the summary:
– Providing regional projections of the RN workforce will allow underlying differences in the age structure of the RN workforce to become more visible.
– By providing regional-level projections, it will also be possible to identify those regions whose RN workforce is expected to grow at a slower rate relative to other regions.
– States in the South and Midwest have a greater supply of younger-aged RNs available to replace fewer numbers of older-age RNs compared to other regions.
– In contrast, the Northeast and West have fewer younger RNs currently in their workforce yet a relatively larger number of older age RNs to replace.
– These differences in age structure may be partly due to differences in nursing school enrollment and expansion in nursing education capacity across regions.
– This information can help guide national and state health work-force planners, employers, educators, and others in developing policies and initiatives that may impact nursing supply in their states.

Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care

Source: National Patient Safety Foundation, Lucian Leape Institute, 2013

From the abstract:
Workplace safety is inextricably linked to patient safety. Unless caregivers are given the protection, respect, and support they need, they are more likely to make errors, fail to follow safe practices, and not work well in teams.

This report looks at the current state of health care as a workplace, highlights vulnerabilities common in health care organizations, discusses the costs of inaction, and outlines what a healthy and safe workplace would look like. The report concludes with seven recommendations for actions that organizations need to pursue to effect real change.
See also:
Executive Summary
Webcast Audio
Webcast Slides

The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide

Source: Thomas Shapiro, Tatjana Meschede, Sam Osoro, Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University, Research and Policy Brief, February 2013

From the press release:
New research shows the dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines in the United States reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and African-Americans, and that personal ambition and behavioral choices are but a small part of the equation.

So powerful are these government policies and institutional practices that for typical families, a $1 increase in average income over the 25-year study period generates just $0.69 in additional wealth for an African-American household compared with $5.19 for a white household, in part because black households have fewer opportunities to grow their savings beyond what’s needed for emergencies….

…The research is unique in that it has followed the same nearly 1,700 working-age households over what is now a 25-year period –from 1984 to 2009. Unlike standard statistical comparisons, this approach offers “a unique opportunity to understand what happens to the wealth gap over the course of a generation and the effect of policy and institutional decision-making on how average families accumulate wealth,” according to the authors.

In gross terms, there is no question that the difference in median wealth between America’s white and African-American households has grown stunningly large. The new study found the wealth gap almost tripled from 1984 to 2009, increasing from $85,000 to $236,500. The median net worth of white households in the study has grown to $265,000 over the 25-year period compared with just $28,500 for the black households….
See also:

Annual Report: Black Employment and Unemployment in 2012

Source: UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, February 12, 2013

From the press release:
A new report by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education find that between the first quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2012, Black unemployment rates remained at 13.9%. For the nation as a whole, unemployment rates fell from 8.3% to 7.8%….

The report’s main findings include:
– The official Black unemployment rate stood at 13.9% in the first and fourth quarters of 2012. When the data was disaggregated by gender, unemployment rates for Black men rose over that time period from 14.7% to 14.9% while rates fell for Black women from 13.2% to 13.0%.
– When focusing on Black adults (ages 20 and older), Black male rates remained constant at 13.7% and Black female rates fell from 12.3% to 12.1%.
– For white adults, male unemployment rates fell from 6.9% to 6.4% and female unemployment rates fell from 6.7% to 6.3%.