Income Down, Poverty Up Since 2000

Source: Joint Economic Committee, press release, August 28, 2007

Follow up to August 28, 2007 posting Census Bureau Reports Household Income Rises, Poverty Rate Declines, see today’s press release: “Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Vice Chair of the JEC, today reacted to the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of its 2006 report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States. Although median household income rose slightly in 2006, after adjusting for inflation, the report showed that all but the richest of American households have seen their incomes decline since 2000. The Census Bureau also revealed that while the national poverty rate declined by 0.3% in 2006, the number of people in poverty living in poverty has risen by 4.9 million since 2000, an increase in the poverty rate of one percentage point. Additionally, the number of children under 18 in poverty has skyrocketed under the Bush Administration, rising 10.7 percent in the last 6 years.”

The JEC also released three fact sheets taking an in depth look at the findings in the Census Report:
The Number of Americans without Health Insurance Rose Again in 2006
Household Income Up Slightly in 2006, but Down Since 2000
Nearly One in Eight Americans Living in Poverty

Secrecy Report Card 2007: Report Finds Expanded Federal Government Secrecy in 2006

Source: Patrice McDermott and Emily Feldman, OpenTheGovernment.org, 2007

From the press release:
Government secrecy saw further expansion last year despite growing public concern, according to a report released today by a coalition of open government advocates. The Secrecy Report Card, produced annually by OpenTheGovernment.org in order to identify trends in public access to information, found a troubling lack of transparency in military procurement, assertions of executive privilege, and expansion of “sensitive” categories of information, among other areas.

In 2006, the public’s use of the Freedom of Information Act continued to rise. Agency backlogs are significant; the oldest FOIA request in the federal government has now been pending for more than 20 years.

How to Collect and Analyze Data: A Manual for Sheriffs and Jail Administrators, 3rd edition

Source: Gail Elias, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, NIC Accession Number 021826, July 2007

This National Institute of Corrections manual provides guidance on how information affects policy decision making. Topics include good management; data collection; how to locate and capture information; analyzing, interpreting, and sharing information; and getting the most from your information system.

Union-made vehicle list available for Labor Day

Source: United Auto Workers, August 31, 2007

From the press release:
The UAW announced today that a list of 2008 union-made cars, trucks, pickups, vans, CUVs and SUVs is now available on the UAW Web site at 2008 Union-Built Car and Truck Guide….

Vehicles from nine different manufacturers are produced in union-represented auto assembly plants in the United States and Canada, according to the list distributed today by the UAW. Union-made products are available in every price range and in every product category, including hybrids, clean diesels and energy-saving flex-fuel vehicles.

UAW-made vehicles, said Gettelfinger, have recently won top-quality rankings from J.D. Power and Associates and the University of Michigan Consumer Satisfaction Survey.

In addition, the most recent Harbour Report, a closely watched study of auto plant efficiency, showed that when union plants are compared with nonunion facilities that build the same type of vehicle, union plants are more productive in 12 out of 13 cases.

U.S. Labor Department issues sixth annual report on child labor in trade beneficiary countries

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2007

From the press release:
The U.S. Department of Labor today released its sixth annual report on the worst forms of child labor in 141 countries and territories that receive U.S. trade benefits.

ILAB prepared the department’s 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor under the child labor reporting requirement of the Trade and Development Act of 2000. The act requires trade-beneficiary countries and territories to implement their international commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

As defined by the International Labor Organization Convention 182, the worst forms of child labor include any form of slavery, such as forced or indentured child labor; the trafficking of children and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; child prostitution and pornography; the use of children for illicit activities such as drug trafficking; and work that is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

This report presents information on the nature and extent of the worst forms of child labor in each of the 141 countries and territories and the efforts being made by their governments to eliminate these problems. The bureau’s Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking collected data from a wide variety of sources, including U.S. embassies and consulates, foreign governments, nongovernmental organizations and international agencies. In addition, bureau staff conducted field visits to some countries covered in the report.

Purple America

Source: Bob Moser, The Nation, Vol. 285 no. 5, August 13, 2007

What on God’s green earth has gotten into the Wilkes County (NC) Democrats? Here it is, the first pretty April Saturday of a snowy, blowy spring. There’s yards to mow, balls to toss, plants to plant, Blue Ridge Mountains to hike–all of which you’d think would be mighty tempting on Democratic convention day in a place where Republicans have a damn near two-to-one edge. “Welcome to red-hot Republican territory,” says Dick Sloop, a career-military retiree turned antiwar protester who’s the new county Democratic chair. “We’ve been like the homeless around here: silent and invisible. The best we ever did in my lifetime, we had two Democrats once on a five-seat county commission.” Even here in western North Carolina, where Republicans have proliferated since the Civil War (when the woods were full of Union sympathizers rather than pro-lifers), Wilkes County–Bible-thumping, economically slumping–has stood out for its fire-and-brimstone conservatism. It’s been a stiff challenge to find folks willing to run against the Republicans. Hell, it’s been rare to hear anybody publicly admit to being a Democrat. “You’ve got a lot of people in this county who probably couldn’t tell you if they’ve ever met one,” Sloop says. But in a scene playing out this year all across “red America,” from these lush hills to the craggy outcroppings of the Mountain West, previously unfathomable crowds of Democrats are streaming up the steps of the old county courthouse, past bobbing blue balloons and Welcome Democrats! signs. They’re hopping mad about the national state of things but simultaneously giddy with a new-found hope–finally!–for their party.

Engineers Await Tragedy’s Inevitable Impacts

Source: Aileen Cho, Tom Ichniowski and William Angelo with reporting from Tom Armistead, Craig Barner, Lucy Bodilly, Eileen Schwartz, Tudor Van Hampton and Deb Wood, Engineering News Record, Vol. 259 no. 6, August 13, 2007

Just as West Virginia’s Silver Bridge collapse in 1967 marked a new era for bridge inspections and awareness of U.S. infrastructure issues, so will Minnesota’s Interstate 35W bridge collapse be another ante-upping chapter. The chapter is still being written. U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has vowed a “top-to-bottom review” of federal bridge inspection guidelines. The specific structural issues that may be reshaped depend largely on what the National Transportation Safety Board will determine from its investigation. Fatigue cracks, lack of redundancy, bearings corrosion, welding codes–a variety of possible factors have been thrust on the national stage. But engineers caution against premature theories regarding why the 40-year-old steel truss bridge collapsed Aug. 1. What does seem clear is that this will lead to updates in inspection guidelines, increased use of monitoring technologies and renewed attention to the complex issue of funding.

Union Certification: A Critical Analysis and Proposed Alternative

Source: Mark Harcourt and Helen Larri, WorkingUSA, Vol. 10 no. 3, September 2007
(subscription required)

The North American union certification system has not met the representation needs of most workers. In this essay, certification’s effectiveness is critically examined. The exclusive representation and winner-take-all approach satisfies only two out of seven categories of union and nonunion workers with different representational preferences. The “winners” are those who successfully exercise their choice to be either unrepresented or represented by their most preferred union. All others are “losers.” A compulsory proportional representation alternative is proposed which allows for both union and nonunion forms of representation, representative election based on proportional votes, and mandatory workplace representation. The merits of this alternative in balancing the needs of both voting majorities and minorities and protecting worker rights from management encroachment are discussed. Some preliminary suggestions on its implementation are offered.

Race, God, and Guns: Union Voting in the 2004 Presidential Election

Source: Donald W. Beachler, WorkingUSA, Vol. 10 no. 3, September 2007
(subscription required)

The conservative political preferences of many working class Americans have been the subject of much academic and popular analysis in recent years. This article investigates the voting behavior of union household residents in the 2004 presidential election. The source for this information is national and state exit polls from the 2004 election. There has been much debate about whether white working class support of Republicans is rooted in conservative cultural values. Despite ardent opposition by the Bush administration to the goals of organized labor, 46 percent of white voters who resided in union households voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election. The impact of race, religion, and gun ownership on the voting choice of labor households is investigated in an effort to provide an understanding of conservative voting by so many households affiliated with an interest group that is at odds with the Republicans.