Author Archives: afscme

State of America’s Libraries Report 2012

Source: American Libraries, Digital Supplement, April 2012

From the press release:
Publishers limiting library e-book lending, budget cuts and book challenges are just a few library trends of the past year that are placing free access to information in jeopardy. These trends as well as other are detailed in the 2012 State of America’s Libraries Report released today by the American Library Association (ALA) in conjunction with National Library Week (April 8 – 14)….

…The single-minded drive to reduce budget deficits continued to take its toll on essential services at all levels of society in 2011, with teachers and librarians sometimes seen as easy targets for layoffs. Even the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services suffered budget cuts, and the Library of Congress lost nearly 10 percent of its workforce.

School librarians faced especially draconian budgetary challenges in 2011. Cuts began at the federal level in May 2011, when the Department of Education eliminated fiscal 2011 funding for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program, the only federal program solely for school libraries in the United States. The effects were soon felt at the state and local levels

Academic librarians and their colleagues in higher education in the United States also continued to navigate a “new normal,” characterized by stagnating budgets, unsustainable costs, increased student enrollments and reduced staff.

Sounding the Alarm

Source: Pennsylvania State Education Association, March 2012

From the summary:
Pennsylvania’s public schools are in the midst of their toughest fiscal crisis since the 1930s. Following the nearly $860 million in cuts in 2011-12 and the proposal of $100 million more for next year, districts are being forced to make increasingly difficult decisions about how to meet the education needs of their students. Many of these decisions will result in cuts to programs necessary to provide the challenging, well-rounded, and comprehensive curriculum required for success in the 21st Century global economy. These cuts are not in the best interests of America’s students, therefore risking the future of our children.

Recent reports revealed that some school districts, such as Chester Upland and York City, had insufficient cash on hand to meet payroll. These are only the first instances of districts pushed to the breaking point. More will follow. If legislative action isn’t taken now, the financial viability of a significant number of school districts will be threatened by 2014. Pennsylvania could do a disservice to an entire generation of students who will not get a second chance.
See also:
Appendix A: Program Curtailment Requests
Appendix B: Impact of Funding Cuts
Appendix C: Chart on Salaries and Benefits
Appendix D: Solutions That Work
Press release

Public-Sector Unionism vs. the Public Interest

Source: Brian Farmer, New American, December 5, 2011
(subscription required)

The unionization of government workers represents the ideal situation for labor unionism. The ultimate objective of labor unionism is to monopolize the available supply of labor to an employer and to eliminate all competing workers to that source of employment. If a labor union can accomplish that, it can raise the price of labor, be it through increased wages, more generous fringe benefits, or productivity-killing work rules in the determination of working conditions. And that is much easier to accomplish in the public sector than it is in the private sector, because private-sector businesses do not enjoy a monopoly in their provision of goods and services to consumers….By their very nature, collective bargaining laws create an adversarial relationship between the labor union and the employer, which makes strife inevitable. Labor unions know that no employer will seriously consider a labor union demand if it knows that the labor union has no power to enforce it. Obviously, to enforce their demands, labor unions will strike, no matter whether such strikes are contractually legal or not. In the public sector, it means the withholding of public services. Public officials become so desperate to settle the strike and restore public services that a settlement almost invariably involves an agreement not to penalize the labor union for engaging in an illegal strike. This gives the labor union disproportionate power and results in government decisions that have short-term political benefits but disastrous long-term financial consequences….

The Impact of Workplace Policies and Other Social Factors on Self-Reported Influenza-Like Illness Incidence During the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic

Source: Supriya Kumar, Sandra Crouse Quinn, Kevin H. Kim, Laura H. Daniel, and Vicki S. Freimuth, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 102 no. 1, January 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives. We assessed the impact of social determinants of potential exposure to H1N1—which are unequally distributed by race/ethnicity in the United States—on incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic….Conclusions. The absence of certain workplace policies, such as paid sick leave, confers a population-attributable risk of 5 million additional cases of ILI in the general population and 1.2 million cases among Hispanics. Federal mandates for sick leave could have significant health impacts by reducing morbidity from ILI, especially in Hispanics.

Caring in America: A comprehensive analysis of the nation’s fastest-growing jobs: Home health and personal care aides

Source: Dorie Seavey and Abby Marquand, Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), December 2011

From the abstract:
This PHI report provides a thorough analysis of the home care and personal care industries in the U.S., as well as of the workers who provide both types of care. The authors detail the many difficulties facing workers in both fields, including uncompetitive wages with little to no benefits offered, inconsistent and often inadequate training requirements, high injury rates, and unpredictable hours. The report lists several recommendations to improve the quality of these jobs.

The State of the Unions 2011: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State and the United States

Source: Ruth Milkman, Laura Braslow, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies and the Center for Urban Research, CUNY, September 2011

These are difficult times for organized labor in the United States. In addition to the challenges of an anemic economic recovery and persistently high unemployment, unions are confronting continuing attacks on public-sector collective bargaining rights and aggressive demands for concessions from both public- and private-sector employers. Against this background, the long-term decline of unionism has continued unabated. Although relative to the nation as a whole, organized labor remains strong in New York City and State, substantial erosion has occurred there in recent years, as Figure 1a shows. Nearly one-fourth (22.9 percent) of all wage and salary workers residing in New York City were union members in 2010-11, compared to 24.6 percent a year earlier. This proportion was slightly higher in New York State (24.1 percent), which ranks first in union density among the nation’s fifty states, and whose unionization rate is more than double the U.S. average of 11.9 percent. In absolute terms, New York State had more union members – over 1.9 million – than any state except California, which has a far larger population. In 2010-11, there were over 750,000 union members in the five boroughs of New York City, comprising about 40 percent of all union members in the State. At the national, state, and city levels alike, losses in union membership have been disproportionately concentrated in the private sector over the past decade, as Figure 1b shows. In the public sector, union density has been relatively stable (see Figure 1c), although government budget cuts and recent attacks on collective bargaining rights for public- sector workers may change that in the future.

The State of America’s Libraries, 2011

Source: American Libraries, Digital Supplement, 2011

The Great Recession may have come to an end, but there’s no end to libraries’ key role in helping hard-pressed Americans find employment or launch a bootstraps venture. These and other key trends in the library community are detailed in this report on the State of America’s Libraries, 2011. The trends are documented in a nationwide poll commissioned by the American Library Association (ALA) as part of a Harris Interactive telephone omnibus study conducted in January with a cross-section of 1,012 adults.

The Wage and Employment Impact of Minimum‐Wage Laws in Three Cities

Source: John Schmitt and David Rosnick, Center for Economic and Policy Research, March 2011

From the summary:
This report analyzes the wage and employment effects of the first three city-specific minimum wages in the United States -San Francisco (2004), Santa Fe (2004), and Washington, DC (1993). We use data from a virtual census of employment in each of the three cities, surrounding suburbs, and nearby metropolitan areas, to estimate the impact of minimum-wage laws on wages and employment in fast food restaurants, food services, retail trade, and other low-wage and small establishments.

Cost Savings Potential of the Department of Correctional Services Cook-Chill Program

Source: New York Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability, 2010-MS-3, 2010

This report explains how the use of cook-chill food services in county correctional facilities is an effective way to provide food services to inmates in the most efficient way possible. “Under the Cook-Chill process, large quantities of food are cooked to a just-done state, then chilled rapidly and stored under tightly controlled temperature conditions. The food is then shipped and requires only reheating in order to be served, with an average ordering-to-consumption window of about three weeks. The majority of the food is shipped in large, sealed plastic bags and is reheated at the prisons for serving. Other cold food items, including juice and salads, are packaged in individual serving containers. The typical Cook-Chill bulk items come in 20-portion bags” (p. 4). The major part of this report looks at: potential cost savings; cost savings; other long-range operational improvements; and recommendations. Counties in New York have the potential to save over $11 million per year by using cook-chill processing.

The Impact of Prison Conditions on Staff Well-Being

Source: David M. Bierie, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Vol. 56 no. 1, February 2012

From the abstract:
Prison conditions have been at the center of long-standing debates among corrections scholars. Interestingly, this debate has focused on inmates alone while paying little attention to the potential impact of prison conditions on staff. Addressing this limitation, the study draws on survey data collected from a stratified random sample of prison staff working at all federal prisons in 2007 to examine the impact of prison conditions on staff well-being (substance use, psychological symptomatology, physical duress, and sick leave use). Mixed-level models show that harsh physical conditions correspond to significant problems for staff on all outcomes measured (individual-level impacts). The data also show that prison-level aggregations of harsher conditions correspond to significant deterioration in staff physical and psychological symptomatology above and beyond individual-level effects.