Author Archives: afscme

NCPERS 2016 Public Retirement Systems Study

Source: National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, December 2016

In September, October and November 2016, the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) undertook a comprehensive study exploring retirement practices of the public sector. In partnership with Cobalt Community Research, NCPERS has collected and analyzed the most current data available on member funds’ fiscal condition and steps they are taking to ensure fiscal and operational integrity. The 2016 NCPERS Public Employee Retirement Systems Study includes responses from 159 state, local and provincial government pension funds with more than 10 million active and retired memberships and assets exceeding $1.5 trillion. The majority –77 percent– were local pension funds, while 23 percent were state pension funds…..
Related:
NCPERS 2016 Public Retirement Systems Study Dashboard
Since 2011 NCPERS has conducted the annual Public Retirement Systems Study that surveys nearly 200 local and statewide public pensions. It is the most comprehensive survey of its kind and provides information on investment experiences and assumptions, plan administration and operations, and trends, innovations, and best practices.

With the issuance of the 2016 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study, in addition to the static pdf of the survey we have provided a dynamic interactive dashboard powered by Tableau to supplement the study. The dashboard will allow you to manipulate and search the survey results so that the data is refined to your specifications. Among the benefits is that you can compare survey results to plans similar to yours in size, participant composition, and plan type.

MLK, Jr. Remembered

Source: National Geographic, 2017

Thanks to the efforts of a Baptist preacher, Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. law upholds equal rights for all people across the country regardless of race, color, or creed.

Related:
Read Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring Nobel Peace Prize speech
Source: USA TODAY, January 13, 2017

Photos: 25 facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: WSB-TV 2, January 13, 2017
(slideshow)

Poor People's Campaign

On Nov. 27, 1967, King announces what would be his last mission, the Poor People’s Campaign, which would focus on jobs for the poor. King had begun to shift his focus toward economic justice and speaking out against the war in Vietnam.

15 photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family…
Source: WSB-TV 2, January 13, 2017
(slideshow)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, others are unidentified.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, third from left, share a laugh outside court in Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 25, 1960. Others are unidentified. Andrew Young is seen at center, facing right. (AP Photo)

National African-American History Month: February 2017

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, Release Number: CB17-FF.01, January 10, 2017

From the summary:
To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded to a month. Since then, U.S. presidents have proclaimed February as National African-American History Month.

Note: The reference to the black population in this publication is to single-race black people (“black alone”) except in the first section on “Population.” In that section, the reference is to black alone or in combination with other races, a reference to respondents who said they were one race (black) or more than one race (black plus other races).

Evidence from a Minimum Wage Experiment

Source: John J. Horton, New York University – Leonard N. Stern School of Business, January 10, 2017

Firms posting job openings in an online labor market were randomly assigned minimum hourly wages. When facing a minimum wage, fewer firms made a hire, but those workers they did hire were paid a higher wage. However, the reduction in hiring was not large, even at the highest minimum wage imposed. In contrast, minimum wages substantially reduced hours-worked, across cells. Firms facing a higher minimum wage also hired more productive workers, which can explain, in part, the reduction in hours-worked: with more productive workers, projects were simply completed in less time. This labor-labor substitution margin of adjustment would presumably be less effective in equilibrium, if all firms sought out more productive workers. However, using the platform’s imposition of a market-wide minimum wage after the experiment, I find that many of the experimental results also hold in equilibrium, including the labor-labor substitution towards more productive workers.

Repeal & Replace Watch

Source: Kaiser Health News, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, but has offered few details about what comes next. That’s why Kaiser Health News is launching Repeal & Replace Watch to track the new administration’s plans to revamp America’s health care system.

With a steady stream of analysis, explanation, investigation and data, Repeal & Replace Watch will follow how the new politics of health care are playing out here in D.C. We’ll also report on how the changes in Washington affect patients, hospitals, doctors and insurers across the country.

The Family Time Squeeze: Perceived Family Time Adequacy Buffers Work Strain in Certified Nursing Assistants With Multiple Caregiving Roles

Source: Nicole DePasquale, Jacqueline Mogle, Steven H. Zarit, Cassandra Okechukwu, Ellen Ernst Kossek, and David M. Almeida, The Gerontologist, Advance Access, First published online: January 10, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose of the Study: This study examined how certified nursing assistants (CNAs) with unpaid family caregiving roles for children (“double-duty-child caregivers”), older adults (“double-duty-elder caregivers”), and both children and older adults (“triple-duty caregivers”) differed from their nonfamily caregiving counterparts (“workplace-only caregivers”) on four work strain indicators (emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and work climate for family sacrifices). The moderating effects of perceived family time adequacy were also evaluated.

Design and Methods: Regression analyses were conducted on survey data from 972 CNAs working in U.S.-based nursing homes.

Results: Compared with workplace-only caregivers, double-and-triple-duty caregivers reported more emotional exhaustion and pressure to make family sacrifices for the sake of work. Triple-duty caregivers also reported less job satisfaction. Perceived family time adequacy buffered double-duty-child and triple-duty caregivers’ emotional exhaustion and turnover intentions, as well as reversed triple-duty caregivers’ negative perceptions of the work climate.

Implications: Perceived family time adequacy constitutes a salient psychological resource for double-duty-child and triple-duty caregivers’ family time squeezes. Amid an unprecedented demand for long-term care and severe direct-care workforce shortages, future research on workplace factors that increase double-and-triple-duty caregiving CNAs’ perceived family time adequacy is warranted to inform long-term care organizations’ development of targeted recruitment, retention, and engagement strategies.

Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding

Source: Emilie Stoltzfus, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43458, January 10, 2017

Child welfare services are intended to prevent the abuse or neglect of children; ensure that children have safe, permanent homes; and promote the well-being of children and their families. As the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted, states have the primary obligation to ensure the welfare of children and their families. At the state level, the child welfare “system” consists of public and private child protection and child welfare workers, public and private social services workers, state and local judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel. These representatives of various state and local entities assume inter related roles while carrying out child welfare activities, including
• promoting child and family well-being through community-based activities;
• investigating, or otherwise responding to, allegations of child abuse and neglect;
• providing services to families to ensure children’s safety in the home;
• removing children from their homes when that is necessary for children’s safety;
• supervising and administering payments for children placed in foster care;
• ensuring regular case review and permanency planning for children in foster care;
• helping children leave foster care to permanent families via reunification with parents or, when that is not possible, via adoption or legal guardianship;
• offering post-permanency services and supports to maintain families; and
• helping older children in foster care, and youth who leave care without placement in a permanent family, to become successful adults. ….

….This report begins with a discussion of the status of FY2017 appropriations, which had not been finalized as of early January 2017, and then reviews federal appropriations activity in FY2016. The remainder, and bulk, of the report provides brief descriptions of each federal child welfare program, including its purpose and recent (FY2012-FY2016) final funding levels……

New index of economic marginalisation helps explain Trump, Brexit and alt.right

Source: Andrew Cumbers, The Conversation, January 12, 2017

….Much has been said about the crisis of liberal political democracy, but these trends look inextricably linked with what is sometimes referred to as economic democracy. This is about how well dispersed economic decision-making power is and how much control and financial security people have over their lives. I’ve been involved in a project to look at how this compares between different countries. The results say much about the point we have reached, and where we might be heading in future.

Our economic democracy index looked at 32 countries in the OECD (omitting Turkey and Mexico, which had too much missing data). While economic democracy tends to focus on levels of trade union influence and the extent of cooperative ownership in a country, we wanted to take in other relevant factors.

We added three additional indicators: “workplace and employment rights”; “distribution of economic decision-making powers”, including everything from the strength of the financial sector to the extent to which tax powers are centralised; and “transparency and democratic engagement in macroeconomic decision-making”, which takes in corruption, accountability, central bank transparency and different social partners’ involvement in shaping policy…..

….The index provides strong evidence that xenophobic politics may be linked to changing levels of economic participation and empowerment – notwithstanding the French data. We found that the greater the poverty and inequality in a country, the lower the rates of economic democracy.

These findings suggest, for example, that the Anglo-American-led attack on trade unions and flexible labour policies may actually drive up poverty and inequality by cutting welfare benefits and driving up individual employment insecurity. While the OECD itself advocated these policies until recently, countries with high levels of economic democracy such as Norway, Denmark and Iceland have much lower levels of poverty than countries such as the US and UK…..
Related:
Democratising the economy: Transforming Public Policy Through Economic Democracy

Harnessing automation for a future that works

Source: James Manyika, Michael Chui, Mehdi Miremadi, Jacques Bughin, Katy George, Paul Willmott, and Martin Dewhurst, McKinsey Global Institute, January 2017

From the summary:
Automation is happening, and it will bring substantial benefits to businesses and economies worldwide, but it won’t arrive overnight. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds realizing automation’s full potential requires people and technology to work hand in hand.
Related:
Executive summary
Appendix

Don’t Curse, Organize

Source: Michael Kazin, Dissent, Winter 2017

A cruel irony lurks beneath the debacle of the 2016 election: Donald Trump may have won the roughly 80,000 voters he needed in the Rust Belt at least in part because he vowed to fix a massive problem of twenty-first-century capitalism that the left had propelled into national prominence: economic inequality. The insurgents of Occupy, the fighters for $15, and Bernie Sanders and his young apostles had all drawn the media’s attention to the nagging wage gap, bad trade deals, and lousy, non-union jobs. Barack Obama won reelection in 2012 partly because he stoked this discontent when he ran against a businessman who wrote off nearly half the population of his own country. But last fall, it was Trump, not the uninspiring Democratic nominee, who made an effective, albeit classically demagogic, appeal to white working people to change a system “rigged” against them. “He stoked his base’s fears,” observed Gary Younge in the Guardian; “she failed to give her base hope.”

So how should radicals and liberals resist and help defeat an administration hostile to every principle and policy that makes a decent society possible? Several contributors to this issue offer sharp, sensible views about those burning questions. …. Leftists, in and out of social movements, should instead seize the opportunity that Hillary Clinton’s defeat has given them—by transforming the Democratic Party from inside.

Articles include:
The Fight Ahead:

Tomorrow’s Fight
Jedediah Purdy
Trump has put us where he put his followers all year: frightened, in a besieged place, a country we do not feel we recognize, in need of a champion. Now we all have to be one another’s champions.

Left Foot Forward
Sarah Leonard
….Now that our enemies are in power, what comes next? For starters, if the Democrats stand a chance in the near future, Republicans have conveniently demonstrated for them what they did not believe coming from the left: economic populism works….

The Next Democratic Party
Timothy Shenk
Parties recover from defeat in two ways. They can try to beat the opposition at their own game, or they can try to change the rules of the game. Donald Trump did the latter. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn.

A Call for Sanctuary
Mae Ngai
The American public does not support mass removal of immigrants. And by turning cities and campuses into sanctuaries against raids and deportations, we have the power to stop it.

Prepare For Regime Change, Not Policy Change
N. Turkuler Isiksel
Lessons from the autocrats’ toolkit. …. Confidence in the exceptional resilience of American democracy is particularly misplaced in the face of today’s illiberal populist movements, whose leaders are constantly learning from each other. Trump has a wide variety of tried and tested techniques on which to draw; already, he has vowed to take pages out of Putin’s playbook. Defenders of liberal democracy, too, must learn from each other’s victories and defeats. Below are some hard-earned lessons from countries that have been overrun by the contemporary wave of illiberal democracy. They could be essential for preserving the American republic in the dark years to come…..

A Devil We Know
Robert Greene
Frightening as it is, Trumpism has many precedents in U.S. history—and the social movements of the last century, from the Southern Tenant Farmers Union to ACT UP, offer important lessons for how to fight it.

Texas’s New Ground Game
Michelle Chen
….The Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a gritty grassroots network linking three rapidly browning cities—San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston—has fought and won enough local battles to demonstrate the value of seeding incremental progressive wins on the neighborhood level in order to build a grassroots people’s movement. And they know better than to take anything about Texas for granted. For TOP’s communications director Mary Moreno, giving people a reason to believe voting still makes a difference in a politically predictable state starts with talking about them, not their vote…..

The Future of Work:

Introduction: No Retreat
Sarah Jaffe and Natasha Lewis
….When we sat down to consider the future of work, then, we decided to set aside the debate over whether, how many, and how fast the robots are coming and concentrate on these questions of politics, of power. Which workers have it, and how do they wield it? Whose work is valued, and how much? Who is a member of the working class these days, and how is that likely to change?

And we decided to think big. Though it might be hard to imagine a more dire political reality than the one we currently face, the shock of the recent election shows there is space for new political ideas. The authors in the following pages set out provocations and strategies to win the future we want, and warn of the futures we might get if we lose these fights…..

Thank God It’s Monday
Kate Aronoff
….Reverence for hard work is not simply a decorative gimmick, but core to the WeWork philosophy. The imperative to hustle reflects the way the founders see (and wish to shape) the future of work. Meanwhile, WeWork’s popularity is driven—in part—by the increasing atomization of labor, across income brackets. By offering workers an alternative to days spent alone behind a computer, Neumann and McKelvey discovered they could turn a profit by exploiting one of the defining features of work’s so-called future: isolation….

A Strike Against the New Jim Crow
Janaé Bonsu
(subscription required)
….Last September, inmates around the nation boldly resisted as exploited workers have often done in the past. They staged the largest prison strike in U.S. history. It was organized by the Free Alabama Movement, a group of prisoners and allies, and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a segment of the Industrial Workers of the World…..

Love’s Labor Earned
J.C. Pan
(subscription required)
….To most women today who find themselves exhausted by unwaged, unappreciated emotion work, receiving payment for it probably seems like a pretty delightful idea. Why continue to coddle and counsel men without getting something in return? Why work as therapists without charging therapist rates?….

Learning from the Rank and File: An Interview with Barbara Madeloni
Sarah Jaffe and Barbara Madeloni
On November 8, as the electoral map turned redder and redder, Massachusetts and the surrounding northeastern states began to look like a little blue island. Reliably Democratic in presidential elections even after a Republican took the governor’s office in the state two years ago, Massachusetts was still the site of significant election-night drama, as an initiative that would have drastically expanded the reach of charter schools was on the ballot—and went down, sixty-two to thirty-eight. Barbara Madeloni is the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and helped build the No on Two coalition that defeated the initiative. She spoke with Dissent about the lessons from that fight for the future of the labor movement as it prepares for the attacks that will likely come from a Trump administration.

An Economist’s Case for Open Borders
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian
…..Last April, an economist named Branko Milanovic published a proposal to reduce global economic inequality in the Financial Times. The best way to help the world’s poor, he wrote, is to encourage movement of labor and get countries to open up their borders. But of course, that’s easier said than done: many citizens of rich host countries balk at the idea of increased migration. When they imagine foreigners settling down within their borders, they fear that their jobs, their benefits, and their idea of national (and, let’s face it, ethnic) unity will be threatened. The campaigning around the British initiative to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election will endure as the consequences of this talk in action. Milanovic’s suggestion is as follows: what if we make some concessions to these concerns and fears, and formally reduce the rights and benefits foreigners are entitled to, so long as they are welcome to come, work, and get a shot at improving their economic situation, at least for a limited time?….

Bargaining with Silicon Valley
Rebecca Burns
(subscription required)
…..At this rate, it’s unlikely that all of us will be working on online platforms anytime soon. But the defining feature of the gig economy isn’t really that workers accept jobs through an app on their phone: it’s that they work with no benefits, no job security, and no unions. And it’s this model of the future, in which workers are fully fungible, that is being embraced not only by tech acolytes, but also by traditional employers and the broader right. Under the guise of inevitability, a host of tech, business, and anti-union groups appear eager to use the gig economy as a Trojan horse for changes that affect far more workers: privatizing what remains of the social safety net, “modernizing” (read: gutting) key labor laws, and further hobbling unions…..

A Left Vision for Trade
Erik Loomis
(subscription required)
….Both Trump and Clinton explained their objection to the TPP in terms of the very real threat it posed to American jobs. But globalization is not going away, with or without the TPP. So how can we make it fairer?….