5 Calls debuts what may be the easiest way to call your reps yet

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, January 25, 2017

A growing number of political activist websites have popped up in recent days to help those opposed to the Trump administration’s policies and agenda to take action. But a new one, 5 Calls, has just launched its simple online tool that makes the more cumbersome process of getting in touch with your representatives a lot easier than before.

The site, created by a team of volunteers, isn’t very fancy, but it’s certainly efficient.
The idea is that if you have 5 minutes to spare, you can place 5 calls – something that’s far more effective in terms of influencing your representatives and getting your voice heard than emailing is said to be.

And, yes, this site has an anti-Trump, left-leaning agenda, but it’s worth noting its creators have open sourced the code. While this was done largely because of the way the team operated – during their free time, from different locations – it places the code in the public domain. And that means others – including those on the opposing side of the political spectrum – could build their own version of 5 Calls, if they were motivated to keep such a site updated. ….

The Winds of Changes Shift: An Analysis of Recent Growth in Bargaining Units and Representation Efforts in Higher Education

Source: William A. Herbert, City University of New York – Hunter College, December 2016, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy (forthcoming)

From the abstract:
This article analyzes data accumulated during the first three quarters of 2016 regarding completed and pending questions of representation involving faculty and student employees in higher education. It is part of a larger and continuing National Center research project that tracks faculty and graduate student employee unionization growth and representation efforts at private and public institutions of higher learning since January 1, 2013.

The data presented in this article demonstrates that the rate of newly certified units at private colleges and universities since January 1, 2016 far outpaces new units in the public sector. There has been a 25.9% increase in certified private sector faculty units over the number of private sector units identified by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions in 2012, while the increase in the public sector has been 2.1%. The largest number of newly certified units involves non-tenure track faculty at private non-profit institutions. The second largest group of new units in higher education involves tenured and tenure-track faculty at public institutions. The average final election tallies demonstrate strong support for unionization among higher education faculty: 72.8% among private sector tenured/tenure-track and contingent faculty, and 73.3% among public sector tenure-track and contingent faculty.

The article demonstrates that unionization efforts by private sector tenured and tenure-track faculty and faculty continue to be adversely impacted by two judicially-created doctrines, despite modifications made to the applicable standards in a 2014 National Labor Relations Board decision. It also examines pending and completed unionization efforts by graduate and research assistants in light of the recent NLRB decision finding that private sector graduate student employees are entitled to the associational rights guaranteed under federal labor law.

The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027

Source: Christina Hawley Anthony, Barry Blom, Nathaniel Frentz and Joshua Shakin, Charles Whalen and Christopher Williams, Amber Marcellino, Pamela Greene, Dan Ready, Nathaniel Frentz, Claire Sleigh, Congressional Budget Office, pub. number 52370, January 2017

From the summary:
CBO projects that, under current law, the deficit in 2017 will total $559 billion (or 2.9 percent of GDP)—but over the next decade, budget deficits would eventually follow an upward trajectory, as growth in revenues would be outpaced by rising spending for retirement and health care programs that target older people and for interest on the federal debt.

Economic growth over the next 10 years is projected to remain close to its modest rate since the end of the recession in 2009. CBO expects that reduced slack in the economy will put upward pressure on inflation and interest rates. ….

Connecting All Children to High-Quality Early Care and Education: Promising Strategies From the International Community

Source: American Institutes for Research, Issue Brief, October 2016

From the summary:
In Europe, rich and poor kids alike are enrolling in early care and preschool programs in large numbers. These accomplishments offer us insights for our collective efforts to strengthen early education in the U.S….
Related:
Report

Union Members – 2016

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-17-0107, January 26, 2017

The union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was 10.7 percent in 2016, down 0.4 percentage point from 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million in 2016, declined by 240,000 from 2015. 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 are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible 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 in this news release. ….

…. In 2016, 7.1 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.4 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (34.4 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.4 percent). Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest for local government (40.3 percent), which includes employees in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. In the private sector, industries with high unionization rates included utilities (21.5 percent), transportation and warehousing (18.4 percent), telecommunications (14.6 percent), construction (13.9 percent), and educational services (12.3 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), agriculture and related industries (1.3 percent), food services and drinking places (1.6 percent), and professional and technical services (1.6 percent). (See table 3.)….

Performance-Related Payments in Local Governments: Do They Improve Performance or Only Increase Salary?

Source: Alessandro Spano & Patrizio Monfardini, International Journal of Public Administration, Advance Access, January 19, 2017

From the abstract:
Personnel policies in public sector organizations are fundamental to improving public services, since they have an impact on both individual and organizational performance. Within the broad area of Human Resources Management (HRM), Performance-Related Pay Systems (PRPSs) are widely considered one of the cornerstones of public sector managerial reforms. Monetary incentives should be paid for performance achievements of single employees and/or teams, according to a defined set of objectives. While the role and appropriateness of PRPSs in the public sector have been widely discussed in the literature, in some countries monetary incentives have been used as a tool to increase individual salaries, without considering them as a motivating instrument in a wider HRM system. A small number of studies have been conducted to understand the limitations of this form of incentives and to investigate whether it can be replaced by different and more effective incentives in order to avoid the de-motivating effect caused by money, as recognized in the literature. This study tries to fill this gap investigating, through twenty-five interviews to informed respondents the effectiveness of existing PRPSs at Local government level in Italy both in terms of performance and motivation and the possibility to substitute monetary with non-monetary incentives. The findings suggest that the limitations of monetary incentives have been widely recognized, but it is still difficult to replace them with different and more effective alternatives.

Fairness Matters: A Chart Book on Who Pays State and Local Taxes

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), 2017

From the overview:
There is significant room for improvement in state and local tax codes. Income tax laws are filled with top-heavy exemptions and deductions. Sales tax bases are too narrow and need updating. And overall tax collections are often inadequate in the short-run and unsustainable in the long-run. In this light, the growing interest in tax reform among state lawmakers across the country is welcome news.

Too often, however, would-be tax reformers have proposed policy changes that would worsen one of the most undesirable features of state and local tax systems: their lopsided impact on taxpayers at varying income levels. Nationwide, the bottom 20 percent of earners pay 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes each year. Middle-income families pay a slightly lower 9.4 percent average rate. But the top 1 percent of earners pay just 5.4 percent of their income in such taxes. This is the definition of regressive, upside-down tax policy.

State and local tax systems add to the nation’s growing income inequality problem when they capture a greater share of income from low- or moderate-income taxpayers. Further, state tax systems that ask the most of families with the least are not well-suited to generate the revenues needed to fund schools, health care, infrastructure, and other public services that are crucial to building thriving communities. This problem is particularly acute in the long run since regressive tax systems depend more heavily on low-income families that face stagnating incomes while taxing the superrich, whose wealth and incomes continue to grow, at lower rates.

As the information in this chart book helps illustrate, it does not have to be this way. States vary considerably in the fairness of their tax codes, and pursuing policies adopted by states with the least regressive tax systems is a proven strategy for reducing tax inequity.