Author Archives: afscme

What’s the Wage Gap in Your State and Congressional District?

Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, September 2012

An unprecedented analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the gender-based wage gap affects women in nearly every corner of the country. In 97 percent of congressional districts — 423 out of 435 districts — the median yearly pay for women is less than the median yearly pay for men. This is the first-ever analysis of these data by congressional district, providing a unique opportunity for women, families and lawmakers to consider the local impact of disparities in pay.
Press Release

Latinas and the Wage Gap
Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, Fact Sheet, January 2013

African American Women and the Wage Gap

Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, Fact Sheet, January 2013

Union Members — 2012

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Labor Force Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-13-0105, January 23, 2013

In 2012, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union–was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.

The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Survey(CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note.

Highlights from the 2012 data:

–Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent). (See table 3.)
–Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates, at 35.4 and 34.8 percent, respectively. (See table 3.)
–Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
–Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.2 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)

Union Membership and Political Participation in the United States

Source: Jasmine Kerrissey, Evan Schofer, Social Forces, First published online: January 9, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines the effect of union membership on civic and political participation in the late 20th century in the United States. We discuss why and how unions seek to mobilize their members and where mobilization is channeled. We argue that union membership affects electoral and collective action outcomes and will be larger for low socioeconomic status individuals. Statistical analyses find that union membership is associated with many forms of political activity, including voting, protesting, association membership, and others. Union effects are larger for less educated individuals, a group that otherwise exhibits low levels of participation. Union membership is not associated with outcomes distant from union political agendas, such as general volunteering and charitable giving, suggesting that unions generate political capital rather than generalized social capital.

All Work and No Pay: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City

Source: Annette Bernhardt, Michael W. Spiller, Diana Polson, Social Forces, First published online: January 10, 2013
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From the abstract:
Despite three decades of scholarship on economic restructuring in the United States, employers’ violations of minimum wage, overtime and other workplace laws remain understudied. This article begins to fill the gap by presenting evidence from a large-scale, original worker survey that draws on recent advances in sampling methodology to reach vulnerable workers. Our findings suggest that in America’s three largest cities, violations of employment and labor laws are pervasive across low-wage industries and occupations, affecting a wide range of workers. But while worker characteristics are correlated with violations, job and employer characteristics play the stronger role, including industry, occupation and measures of informality and nonstandard work. We therefore propose a framework in which employers’ noncompliance with labor regulations is one axis of a competitive strategy based on labor cost reduction, contributing to the reorganization of work and production in the 21st century labor market.

Labor Party Time?

Source: Labor Party Time? blog, 2013

Labor Party Time? is a forum to discuss and debate the need for an independent political party for working people and the prospects for a renewed labor party effort given the state of the labor movement in the United States. The experiences of the Labor Party, founded in June 1996 as a new political party of, by and for working people, serve as the basis for the discussion.

Labor Party Time? Not Yet.
Labor Party Time? Not Yet by Labor Party National Organizer Mark Dudzic and Secretary-Treasurer Katherine Isaac chronicles the successes and failures of the Labor Party movement and analyzes the impact of the effort, the reasons for its decline, and its lessons for today. Join the discussion by posting comments to the Labor Party Time? analysis or to the responses by Labor Party activists Jed Dodd, Donna Dewitt, Chris Townsend, Bill Onasch, and Les Leopold.

Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights – 2012

Source: International Trade Union Confederation, 2012

From the foreword:
2011 was a year of dramatic change, with the Arab Spring heralding new opportunities and new challenges. Trade union rights are more heavily repressed in the Middle East and North Africa than anywhere else on the globe. As people rose up to demand the recognition of their long-suppressed democratic rights, trade unions played a leading role, notably in Tunisia and Egypt. Sadly they paid a heavy price for that involvement, being among the many hundreds killed and the thousands arrested and detained. The struggle continues, both to remove other authoritarian regimes and to build real democracy where they have already fallen, creating an environment in which independent trade unions can flourish. The spirit and determination of the people remains unbowed, as shown by the huge turnout in the November elections in Egypt, and the continued protests in Bahrain and Syria, despite the repression.

The world economic crisis continued to impact unfairly on workers, as many governments persisted in favouring austerity measures over stimulating growth and employment. Unemployment rose to record levels in 2011, with over 205 million people out of work. In Europe, trade unions felt the impact of the Eurozone crisis, with Portugal, Hungary and Romania all further restricting workers’ rights as part of their austerity measures. The most dramatic changes were in Greece however where unemployment rose to 21%, wages and living standards fell sharply and collective bargaining rights were severely curtailed….

…For some workers, defending their trade union rights can cost them their life. In 2011 at least 76 workers died directly as a result of their trade union activities – in addition to those killed during the repression of the Arab Spring protests. There were 56 deaths in Latin America alone, including 29 in Colombia and a further 10 in Guatemala, crimes committed with almost total impunity. At least eight trade unionists lost their lives in Asia. Four were killed in the Philippines, all shot and killed, in four separate incidents, but all had played a prominent role in defending workers rights. A garment union leader and activist was brutally killed in Bangladesh, two years after the government had severely beaten him for his activity. And a one-year-old child died in Zimbabwe after spending a night on the roadside in the rain because its family was among the farm workers summarily evicted for daring to organise. …

The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework

Source: Jennifer K. Elsea, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, RS21900, January 10, 2013

This report provides an overview of the relationship between executive and legislative authority over national security information, and summarizes the current laws that form the legal framework protecting classified information, including current executive orders and some agency regulations pertaining to the handling of unauthorized disclosures of classified information by government officers and employees. The report also summarizes criminal laws that pertain specifically to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, as well as civil and administrative penalties. Finally, the report describes some recent developments in executive branch security policies and relevant legislative activity

Women and Power in the Wisconsin Uprising

Source: Mari Jo Buhle, Dissent, Winter 2013
(subscription required)

When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker opened his assault on collective bargaining in February 2011, few people realized it would open the door to the election of Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate in November 2012. Baldwin, the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the Senate and the first openly gay senator in U.S. history, had been backed by many women’s organizations since her first run for Congress in 1998, but Walker’s successful attempt to roll back the collective bargaining rights of 360,000 public sector workers brought together an unprecedented coalition of labor and women’s groups. …

Financial Literacy and Defined Contribution Pensions: A Global Snapshot of an Unrecognized Problem

Source: John A. Turner, Dana M. Muir, Compensation Benefits Review, Vol. 44 no. 5, September/October 2012
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From that abstract:
The increasing importance of defined contribution plans, both as employer-provided plans and as mandatory individual accounts, has increased the responsibility placed on workers for making financial decisions. While early on it was assumed that workers would be capable of managing these accounts, studies have documented that many workers make financial mistakes. Financial education has been used as a remedy, but experience has shown that many workers are not interested and others do not follow up on changes they indicate they intend to make. The use of defaults for investments and increased transparency concerning fees are two further developments that have addressed this problem. Now, attention is turning increasingly to financial advice. However, often financial advisers have conflicts of interest that affect the quality and cost of the advice they provide. Some countries are enacting laws that address this issue.

Public-Private Pay Comparisons: An Analysis of Florida

Source: Robert E. Lee, Andrew M. Thompson, Compensation Benefits Review, Vol. 44 no. 5, September/October 2012
(subscription required)

From that abstract:
As state and local governments attempt to manage fiscal stress created by the Great Recession, the level of compensation received by public sector workers has become an increasingly debated policy issue. A significant amount of research exists that addresses national public sector compensation trends, but relatively few state-level studies have been performed. This analysis provides a preliminary analysis of public and private sector compensation in Florida. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, sector-level comparisons are made between public and private sector workers within the state with regard to compensation, age and education. This sector-level comparison is then supplemented by an occupational analysis of career fields found in both sectors. The sector-level analysis suggests public sector workers in Florida are, on average, not only better compensated than those in the private sector in aggregate but are also considerably more educated and older. The occupational analysis suggests that public sector workers in Florida are in general less well-compensated than private sector workers employed in the same field, even when older and more highly educated on average.