Author Archives: afscme

Head Start Report Speaks to Role School Bus Drivers Can Play in Child Development

Source: Ryan Gray, School transportation News, December 20, 2012

A final report issued this summer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that evaluates Head Start programs in the United States suggests that school bus drivers are among agency employees who engage families and communities as well as assist in tracking a student’s success in the federal program for low-income preschoolers….
Final Report
Source: Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation, August 2012

For Safe Food System, Workers Need Earned Sick Days

Source: Liz Ben-Ishai, Center for Law and Social Policy, January 7, 2013

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed two broad new food safety rules – marking the first major food safety rulemaking since the 1930s. These rules came about because of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed more than two years ago. Since the passage of the law, consumer advocates have pressured the government to move forward with the rulemaking process, to little avail. While powerful interests and politics held up the process, the human and economic costs of food-borne illness accumulated. One in six Americans becomes sick from contaminated food each year, which adds up to 48 million cases of food-borne disease annually.

These rules are a major step forward for consumer safety. However, policy makers should take note that a major gap in labor protections for workers who handle our food continues to imperil the safety of our food system: most farmworkers and restaurant workers, as well as other food chain workers, receive no earned sick days, which means many are forced to come to work when sick. This lack of protections is not only unfair to workers, but also 1) dangerous for consumers, who risk infection and illness when they eat food handled by sick workers, 2) bad for businesses, and 3) harmful to the U.S. economy….

Worst Off – Single-Parent Families in the United States, A Cross-National Comparison of Single Parenthood in the U.S. and Sixteen Other High-Income Countries

Source: Timothy Casey, Laurie Maldonado, Legal Momentum, December 2012

From the abstract:
“Worst Off – Single-Parent Families in the United States, A Cross-National Comparison of Single Parenthood in the U.S. and Sixteen Other High-Income Countries” is an exhaustive, critical analysis of data and information drawn from a broad range of sources including government agencies, social scientists, and academic researchers worldwide. The scope of the report, with its impressive compilation of data and statistics, is a significant addition to the literature on social policies and an incisive analysis of the current circumstances and needs of single parents in the U.S. – the overwhelming majority of whom are single mothers.

The hidden costs of U.S. health care: Consumer discretionary health care spending

Source: Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 2012

from the summary:
In 2010, total U.S. health-related expenditures were an estimated $3.2 trillion or 23.9 percent higher than reported in the National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA). This translates to $10,392 per person.

An additional $621 billion in direct and indirect costs was estimated for goods and services above what is captured in NHEA accounting. Of this additional amount, $492 billion (79 percent) is the imputed value of unpaid supervisory care given to individuals by family or friends.

The hidden costs of U.S. health care: Consumer discretionary health care spending. a study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, estimates U.S. health-related spending by taking a broad view of direct and indirect costs as well as items such as alternative medicines, functional foods, and the imputed cost of supervisory care.

State Chart Book on Wages for Personal and Home Care Aides 2001-2011

Source: Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), October 2012

From the abstract:
Provides a state-by-state look at trends in wages for PCAs, the fourth fastest-growing occupation in the country, and a key job title within the direct-care workforce. Prepared as a resource guide on wages for advocates and policymakers concerned with the direct-care workforce, the data underscore the problem of low wages for PCAs, factors which contribute to workforce instability and near-poverty incomes for this high-demand workforce.

The “Fiscal Cliff” and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

Source: Mindy R. Levit, Margot L. Crandall-Hollick, Jim Hahn, Jim Monke, Janemarie Mulvey, Julie M. Whittaker, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R42884, January 4, 2013

The federal budget deficit has exceeded $1 trillion in each of the last four fiscal years (FY2009-FY2012). Concern over these large deficits, as well as the long-term trajectory of the federal budget, resulted in significant debate during the 112th Congress over how to achieve meaningful deficit reduction and how to implement a plan to stabilize the federal debt. Numerous expiring provisions, across-the-board spending cuts, and other short-term considerations having a major budgetary impact, were scheduled to take effect at the very end of 2012 or in early 2013. This combination of policies, estimated by CBO to reduce the deficit by $502 billion between FY2012 and FY2013, was referred to by some as the “fiscal cliff.” Had these policies taken effect, CBO projected that the economy would have returned to recession in FY2013….Despite the enactment of ATRA, many policy issues affecting the federal budget remain unresolved. Specifically, in early 2013, Congress will likely consider a debt limit increase, additional actions related to the postponed BCA automatic spending reductions, and appropriations for the final six months of FY2013. Finally, long-term fiscal sustainability issues remain unresolved….

National Health Spending In 2011: Overall Growth Remains Low, But Some Payers And Services Show Signs Of Acceleration

Source: Micah Hartman1, Anne B. Martin, Joseph Benson, Aaron Catlin, Health Affairs, Vol. 32 no. 1, January 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In 2011 US health care spending grew 3.9 percent to reach $2.7 trillion, marking the third consecutive year of relatively slow growth. Growth in national health spending closely tracked growth in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 and 2011, and health spending as a share of GDP remained stable from 2009 through 2011, at 17.9 percent. Even as growth in spending at the national level has remained stable, personal health care spending growth accelerated in 2011 (from 3.7 percent to 4.1 percent), in part because of faster growth in spending for prescription drugs and physician and clinical services. There were also divergent trends in spending growth in 2011 depending on the payment source: Medicaid spending growth slowed, while growth in Medicare, private health insurance, and out-of-pocket spending accelerated. Overall, there was relatively slow growth in incomes, jobs, and GDP in 2011, which raises questions about whether US health care spending will rebound over the next few years as it typically has after past economic downturns.

Community Partnerships: Hope for an Embattled Labor Movement? A Conversation with Andrea van den Heever

Source: Nancy MacLean, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 9 no. 4, Winter 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Contributing editor Nancy MacLean sits down with the remarkable union organizer Andrea van den Heever. A white South African who fled the apartheid regime, van den Heever fortuitously landed a secretarial job at Yale University in 1982, just as HERE’s organizing drive among clerical workers was getting off the ground. Soon she had been recruited to a struggle that has never let go of her, first as local steward, today as director of Community Organizing Project for the international union. In wide-ranging reflections with MacLean, van den Heever identifies both the strategies and sensibilities at the core of modern-day unionism as social movement. Among the many highlights of her account is the conceptual link she envisioned between the Freedom Charter in South Africa and the New Social Contract among New Haven workers; her emphasis on the need for twinned attention to African American and Latino community concerns; and the role of both clergy and student and faculty supporters in helping balance an uneven playing field in organizing campaigns.

U.S. Conference of Mayors 2012 Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness

Source: U.S. Conference of Mayors, December 2012

From the press release:
The annual assessment of hunger and homelessness conducted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors found continuing growth in the demand for emergency food and housing in 25 cities whose mayors are members of the Conference’s Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness. Not surprisingly, unemployment and poverty lead the list of causes of hunger cited by officials in the survey cities; lack of affordable housing, poverty, and unemployment are seen as the main causes of homelessness. … Emergency kitchens and food pantries in nearly all of the cities had to reduce the quantity of food a client could receive during a food pantry visit or in a meal at an emergency kitchen. In fact, lack of resources meant people had to be turned away in need in nearly 90 percent of the cities. On the homeless front, 60 percent of the cities said they saw an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness; across the cities, the increase averaged seven percent. ….