Educating for Change: How Labor Education Centers and AFL-CIO Bodies Can Grow and Transform Together

Source: David Reynolds, Barbara Byrd, Jeff Grabelsky, Paul Iversen, Jason Kozlowski, Sarah Laslett, Katherine Sciacchitano, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 42 no. 4, December 2017

From the abstract:
In order to survive and prosper today, both labor councils and labor education centers need to rethink their mission, goals, and strategies. In this report, we examine how partnerships between these two types of organizations have fostered creative transformation for both. We examine the innovative relationships between labor education programs and their respective labor councils and state federations in five states (Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Iowa, and West Virginia). These cases include those with long-standing strong relationships and those that have been recently rebuilt or rethought. In several cases, the labor education centers owe their very existence to the work of state labor leaders to who helped found them and, more recently, to maintain and expand their resources. In addition, we document the role played by the UCLA labor education program in revitalizing the Orange County AFL-CIO, as well as two key partnership programs of Cornell and the AFL-CIO in New York: the Union Leadership Institute and the New York City Capacity Building Initiative.

Accidental Revitalization? Looking at the Complex Realities of Union Renewal

Source: Jason Foster, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 42 no. 4, December 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article outlines a union renewal case study with unexpected circumstances. It examines a local that underwent significant renewal in a context where renewal would normally not be expected. It did so by significantly altering its practices while retaining a stable leadership and highly centralized structure. This unexpected renewal is explained through the application of a referential unionisms framework. The article coins the term accidental revitalization to describe the case, arguing the intentionality for reform lies not in design, policy, or upheaval, but instead in an extension of logics constructed through narrative resources mobilization.

The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870-2015

Source: Òscar Jordà, Katharina Knoll, Dmitry Kuvshinov, Moritz Schularick, Alan M. Taylor, NBER Working Paper No. 24112, December 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This paper answers fundamental questions that have preoccupied modern economic thought since the 18th century. What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there a tendency for returns to fall in the long-run? Which particular assets have the highest long-run returns? We answer these questions on the basis of a new and comprehensive dataset for all major asset classes, including—for the first time—total returns to the largest, but oft ignored, component of household wealth, housing. The annual data on total returns for equity, housing, bonds, and bills cover 16 advanced economies from 1870 to 2015, and our new evidence reveals many new insights and puzzles.

Related:
Massive new data set suggests economic inequality is about to get even worse
Source: Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, Wonkblog, January 4, 2018

FAQ: Wide Differences in State Retiree Health Spending and Liabilities

Source: Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, December 19, 2017
(subscription required)

Retiree health benefits vary considerably among states. Despite generally greater legal flexibility to change these benefits compared to pensions, large liabilities and significant costs persist for some state employers who offer generous benefits. We do not expect new accounting rules to have a material impact on costs, but the new rules will facilitate probing credit risk, especially important for those issuers whose retiree benefits have stronger legal protections.

Adjustments to US State and Local Government Reported Pension Data

Source: Moody’s, December 19, 2017
(subscription required)

This cross-sector rating methodology replaces the Adjustments to US State and Local Government Reported Pension Data methodology published in April 2013. We have updated the description of our standard balance sheet adjustment and included a description of our standard income statement adjustment. Both of these reflect the implementation of Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement 68 accounting standards, which requires adjustments that were not previously necessary. We have retired the concept of amortizing adjusted net pension liabilities on a level dollar basis over 20 years, a cost metric not included in any scorecards of primary rating methodologies. We have also added a description of how we calculate the “tread water” indicator….

Waking Up to Advocacy in a New Political Reality for Libraries

Source: Paul T. Jaeger, Erin Zerhusen, Ursula Gorham, Renee F. Hill, Natalie Greene Taylor, The Library Quarterly, Volume 87, Issue 4, October 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The engagement of the US federal government with libraries has been disjointed. Financial support for libraries has been controversial and inconsistent, and many policy decisions have directly affected library operations and activities, particularly those of public libraries. Libraries’ experiences with the federal government offer many lessons about the broad ideological attitude toward—and constraints on—library support before the 2016 election. These lessons have import for all public-sphere institutions as they navigate the even more complicated current environment. This article argues that the best hope for library funding and support is to concentrate efforts at the local and state levels, coordinating efforts and sharing ideas and resources across locations and types of institutions. A national advocacy strategy coordinated across the states will maximize advocacy efforts where we may have a greater chance of success.

Death in the Trench

Source: Jim Morris, Center for Public Integrity, December 14, 2017

Jim Spencer suffocated under a pile of dirt in Nebraska — a grim reminder of the weakness of America’s worker-safety law. ….

…. The general contractor overseeing the building of the house, Clau-Chin Construction, had outsourced the trench-digging to an excavation contractor, Larry Kessler Construction. Interviewed by officials with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after Spencer’s death, the owners of both companies – Shaun Houchin, of Clau-Chin, and Kessler —  professed ignorance of the OSHA trenching standard. Both were cited and assessed fines of $24,800 and $16,800, respectively. “To me, that was nothing,” Cheryl Spencer says. “How is it you can kill somebody with a car and get charged with vehicular homicide, and kill somebody in a trench and get a slap on the wrist?” It’s a fair question. The unsatisfying answer is that the protection of workers is not a priority in the United States. ….

Libraries Under Capitalism: The Enclosure of the Literary Commons

Source: Gus Bagakis, Truthout, January 3, 2018

….Increased budget cuts are leading to the end of our literary commons. How can advocates help public libraries survive and promote real democratic values and critical thinking? First, by understanding the fate of public libraries in the context of the history of capitalism. Second, by organizing and acting to protect public libraries as locations of community connection and potential action, the bane of the disempowering, oligopolistic capitalist system……