Author Archives: afscme

Unions for Workers in the Gig Economy: Time for a New Labor Movement

Source: William J. Tronsor, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 69 no. 4, Winter 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The gig economy has fundamentally changed the employer-employee relationship throughout America. In the past, employers relied on an industrial model for production, depending on long-term employees to ensure quality and productivity. The traditional employer-employee relationship was the norm and America’s labor laws were built around that relationship. Today, in order to hinder collective action and skirt America’s labor laws, employers are classifying their workforce as independent contractors. Whether these companies are accurately classifying their workforce as independent contractors requires an extremely fact-based legal assessment, but the ambiguity in the law has made it advantageous for employers to deliberately misclassify their workers. This has resulted in the rise of the gig economy, led by companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, and Grubhub. The gig economy has created a new class of workers, i.e., gig workers. A class of workers whose numbers are growing every year and workers who find themselves unable to avail themselves of the protections of America’s labor laws. The American workforce has evolved, and America’s labor laws need to evolve to respond to these changed circumstances. This article examines the history of organized labor, the importance of organized labor, and the circumstances that brought about the gig economy in America. The article also proposes new organizing strategies, changes that should be made to the law to ensure that all workers are able to collectively organize and avail themselves of the protections of America’s labor laws, so that the organized labor movement can be brought into the 21st century.

Fiscal Survey of the States – Fall 2018

Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, 2018

From the overview:
With data gathered from all 50 state budget offices, this semi-annual report provides a narrative analysis of the fiscal condition of the states and data summaries of state general fund revenues, expenditures, and balances. The spring edition details governors’ proposed budgets; the fall edition details enacted budgets.

State fiscal conditions continue to show signs of improvement and greater stability. According to enacted budgets, state general fund spending is expected to grow 4.3 percent in fiscal 2019 compared to fiscal 2018 levels, with all program areas seeing increases in appropriations.
Other key findings from the report:
– States enacted appropriation increases for fiscal 2019 totaling $41.1 billion across all program areas, compared to just $12.7 billion in new appropriations enacted in their fiscal 2018 budgets one year prior.
– Only 7 states made mid-year budget cuts due to a shortfall in fiscal 2018, totaling $456 million.
– General fund revenues grew a robust 6.4 percent in fiscal 2018, led by a 9.8 percent increase in personal income tax collections.
– 40 states saw general fund revenue collections come in higher than budget projections in fiscal 2018, the highest number of states to do so since fiscal 2006.
– General fund revenues are projected to grow 2.1 percent in fiscal 2019 based on forecasts used to enact state budgets, with a median growth rate of 2.3 percent.
– States enacted a mostly modest mix of tax increases and decreases, many in response to the federal tax law, with a net estimated revenue impact of +$3.1 billion in fiscal 2019.
– States continue to strengthen their reserves, with the median rainy day fund balance as a share of general fund spending expected to rise to 7.3 percent in fiscal 2019, from a recent low of 1.6 percent in fiscal 2010.

Providing for a Family in the Working Class: Gender and Employment After the Birth of a Child

Source: Janette Dill, Adrianne Frech, Social Forces, Advance Articles, December 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Navigating the labor market in today’s economy has become increasingly difficult for those without a college degree. In this study, we ask whether and how working-class men and women in the United States are able to secure gains in wages and/or earnings as they transition to parenthood or increase family size. We look closely at child parity, employment behavior (e.g., switching employers, taking on multiple jobs, increasing hours), and occupation in the year after the birth of a child. Using the 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey for Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we employ fixed-effects models to examine the impact of changing labor market behavior or occupation on wages and earnings after the birth of a child. We find limited evidence that low- and middle-skill men experience a “fatherhood premium” after the birth of a child, conditional on child parity and occupation. For men, nearly all occupations were associated with a “wage penalty” after the birth of a child (parity varies) compared to the service sector. However, overall higher wages in many male-dominated and white-collar occupations make these better options for fathers. For women, we see clear evidence of a “motherhood penalty,” which is partly accounted for by employment behaviors, such as switching to a salaried job or making an occupational change.

Inclusive Work Practices: Turnover Intentions Among LGBT Employees of the U.S. Federal Government

Source: Meghna Sabharwal, Helisse Levine, Maria D’Agostino, Tiffany Nguyen, Advance Articles, The American Review of Public Administration, First Published December 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The federal government lags behind in progressive civil rights policies in regard to universal workplace antidiscrimination laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. The slow progress matters to inclusionary workplace practices and the theory and practice of public administration generally, as recognition of LGBT rights and protection are constitutive of representative bureaucracy and promoting social equity. This study examines the turnover intention rates of self-identified LGBT employees in the U.S. federal government. Using the Office of Personnel Management’s inclusion quotient (IQ), and 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), we identify links in the relationships between workplace inclusion and turnover outcomes among LGBT individuals. We also examine the impact of agency type on LGBT turnover rates based on Lowi’s agency classification type. Key findings suggest that LGBT employees express higher turnover intentions than those that identify as heterosexuals/straight, and LGBT employees who perceive their agencies as redistributive or communal are less likely to experience turnover intentions. However, an open and supportive workplace environment had a positive impact on turnover, suggesting that to implement effective structural change in an organization’s culture of inclusion, public sector managers must do more than merely “talk the talk.” This finding is also suggestive of LGBT employees’ desire to avoid the stigma of being LGBT and hide their identities. Institutions must heed the invisible and visible identities of their employees to be truly inclusive. Workplace practices that acknowledge the invisible and visible identities of their employees are a positive step toward real workplace inclusion.

Local government – Illinois: Ability to absorb pension costs supports exceptional credit quality for some cities

Source: David Levett, Rachel Cortez, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, U.S. Public Finance, Sector In-Depth, December 14, 2018
(subscription required)

Heavy pension burdens have weakened credit quality for many Illinois cities in recent years, but some Illinois municipalities have maintained exceptional credit profiles. Such cities typically have drawn on their strong legal revenue-raising flexibility and high median family incomes (MFI) to support increased pension contributions while maintaining strong reserves. However, credit quality could deteriorate for even these cities if they do not continue to absorb growing pension contributions and keep already high unfunded liabilities in check…..

The Impact of Protest on Elections in the United States

Source: Daniel Q. Gillion, Sarah A. Soule, Social Science Quarterly, Volume 99 Issue 5, November 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives:
The objective of this study was to understand the effect of citizen mobilization on both electoral outcomes and on the likelihood that new candidates will enter races to challenge incumbent politicians.

Methods:
This study uses quantitative, longitudinal data (at the congressional‐district level) on protest, electoral outcomes, and challengers entering races, which are analyzed using an autoregressive distributed lagged regression model.

Results:
Results show that protests that express liberal issues lead to a greater percentage of the two‐party vote share for Democratic candidates, while protests that espouse conservative issues offer Republican candidates a greater share of the two‐party vote. Additionally, results indicated that protest shines a light on incumbent politicians’ failure to address constituent concerns, which leads quality candidates to enter subsequent races to challenge incumbent politicians.

Conclusions:
Citizen activism, which has been shown to impact state and firm policy decisions, also impacts electoral outcomes.

Related:
Yes, protests really can sway elections
Source: by Edmund L. Andrews, Futurity, December 13, 2018

Protests really do have an effect on election results, according to a new study based on 30 years of data.

HUD Took Over a Town’s Housing Authority 22 Years Ago. Now the Authority’s Broke and Residents Are Being Pushed Out.

Source: Molly Parker, The Southern Illinoisan, December 14, 2018

As recently as last year, HUD had told officials in Wellston, Missouri, that they would get their local housing authority back. Then federal officials changed their minds. Wellston will join a growing list of HUD oversight failures, including the Illinois cities of East St. Louis and Cairo.

State and Local Governments’ Fiscal Outlook: 2018 Update

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-19-208SP, December 13, 2018

From the summary:
What’s the prognosis for the fiscal health of state and local governments across the nation?

Our annual outlook suggests the sector will have an increasingly tough time covering their bills over the next 50 years. Our model shows both revenue and spending will increase; however, spending will rise faster. Revenues may be insufficient to sustain the amount of government service currently provided.

Our model also suggests health care costs will largely drive the spending increases—in particular, Medicaid spending and spending on health benefits for state and local government employees and retirees.
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“They Don’t Understand the Value of Life” An Interview with Clarence Jones

Source: Meagan Day, Jacobin, December 14, 2018

Clarence Jones was homeless, despite being employed as a janitor for a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical company. He thought his situation was his fault. Then he got involved in his union.

Clarence Jones is a thirty-seven-year-old janitor living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He started cleaning the offices of Eli Lilly, a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical company, in late summer of this year. By early autumn, he found himself homeless, despite working two jobs. By late autumn, Clarence had become an active rank-and-file union member in both his own workplace and other SEIU-represented workplaces around town.

There were a couple of big moments that caused shifts in Jones’ perspective. One was his first bargaining session, which coincided with his first week of being homeless. Jones says he felt like his situation was his own fault — until he sat across the table from the corporate representatives and saw how hard they resisted a raise for him and his coworkers.

The second moment was when a coworker pounded on the table at another bargaining session and asked, “Are we not worth it?” Jones and his coworkers then stood up and filed out of the room, heads held high. “I felt prideful in that moment. I felt very empowered,” recalls Jones. “For the first time, I felt part of something that I know I should be a part of. I know this is what I’m meant to be doing.”

Jacobin’s Meagan Day talked to Jones about his experience of personal transformation through class struggle….