Author Archives: afscme

The Labor Movement’s Principles for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Source: AFL-CIO and Change to Win, August 2009

Immigration reform is a component of a shared prosperity agenda that focuses on improving productivity and quality; limiting wage competition; strengthening labor standards, especially the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively; and providing social safety nets and high-quality lifelong education and training for workers and their families. To achieve this goal, immigration reform must fully protect U.S. workers, reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers and reduce employers’ incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than U.S. workers. The most effective way to do that is for all workers—immigrant and native-born—to have full and complete access to the protection of labor, health and safety and other laws. Comprehensive immigration reform must complement a strong, well-resourced and effective labor standards enforcement initiative that prioritizes workers’ rights and workplace protections. This approach will ensure that immigration does not depress wages and working conditions or encourage marginal low-wage industries that depend heavily on substandard wages, benefits and working conditions.

This approach to immigration reform has five major interconnected pieces:
1. An independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need;
2. A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism;
3. Rational operational control of the border;
4. Adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and
5. Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

The Recent Surge In Nurse Employment: Causes And Implications

Source: Peter I. Buerhaus, David I. Auerbach and Douglas O. Staiger, Health Affairs, Vol. 28 no. 4, July 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In this paper we examine the recession’s impact on current RN employment and on projections of the future size of the nurse workforce. Clarifying the effect of the recession on RN employment can help employers and policymakers anticipate the possibility that the long-standing nurse shortage is finally winding down. But before concluding that it is safe to turn attention away from the nurse workforce, we examine trends in the composition of the RN workforce that lie underneath the recent employment changes. This assessment suggests the need to strengthen the current workforce before the recession lifts and imbalances in the supply and demand for RNs reappear. Next, we focus on the future workforce and project the age and supply of RNs through 2025, noting the impact of the recession on these projections. We conclude with policy implications to support the current nurse workforce and remove barriers that are blocking efforts to expand the long-term supply of RNs.

State and Local Government Sales Tax Revenue Losses from Electronic Commerce

Source: Donald Bruce, William F. Fox, William B. Stokely, LeAnn Luna, University of Tennessee, April 13, 2009

The development of new technologies and digital processes has had a profound effect on the U.S economy as e-commerce sales have grown from $995.0 billion in 1999 to $2, 385 billion by 2006. The rapid growth in e-commerce affects state and local economies in several important ways. First, state and local governments continue to lose sales and use tax revenues because of the inability to collect taxes that are due. Second, firms change their best business practices to avoid creating a collection responsibility in certain states. Firms choose to locate their selling or warehousing activities to avoid creating nexus rather than locating where they can operate most efficiently. Also, local vendors face a competitive disadvantage to e-commerce competitors as consumers browse in shops on Main Street but then make their purchases online to evade the tax. Finally, there may be distributional consequences if lower – income consumers are more likely to make purchases in local stores where the tax is collected.

We estimate state and local sales tax losses arising from e-commerce for 46 states and the District of Columbia using both a baseline forecast and an optimistic forecast for e-commerce growth. B2B (business – to – business) sales account for approximately 93 percent of total e-commerce. In the baseline case, we estimate that annual national state and local sales tax losses on e-commerce will grow to $11.4 billion by 2012 for a six – year total loss of $52 billion. The more optimistic growth case estimates losses to reach $12.65 billion by 2012 and an aggregate loss of $56.3 billion.

The Robust Relationship between Taxes and U.S. State Income Growth

Source: Robert Reed, National Tax journal, Vol. LXI, No. 1, March 2008

I estimate the relationship between taxes and income growth using data from 1970–1999 and the forty–eight continental U.S. states. I find that taxes used to fund general expenditures are associated with significant, negative effects on income growth. This finding is generally robust across alternative variable specifications, alternative estimation procedures, alternative ways of dividing the data into “five–year” periods, and across different time periods and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) regions, though state–specific estimates vary widely. I also provide an explanation for why previous research has had difficulty identifying this “robust” relationship….

Unions & Cooperatives: Allies in the Struggle to Build Democratic Workplaces

Source: Lisabeth L. Ryder, Grassroots Economic Organizing, GEO 73/72 (I), February 26, 2008

As labor organizers, we struggle in the field every day to improve the lives of workers; we are in search of tools and alternatives for working people that will meet the needs of today’s casualized and insecure workforce, with shrinking or negligible benefits. It is in the spirit of innovative leadership that we propose that the labor movement use worker cooperatives, an alternative organizing strategy added to more traditional labor organizing methods, as a means of returning control of their lives to the American working people.

The work of unions is to create workplace democracy, and in the larger picture, economic democracy. Currently, we do this in the context of an adversarial relationship between employer and employee. A worker cooperative is an alternative that reaches outside of the limitations of this model, converting workplaces into democratically run institutions owned by the workers. Worker cooperatives are not a panacea for the woes of today’s labor movement. Yet worker cooperatives have a long history in the American workers’ struggle for economic democracy and hold potential for expanding the labor movement into unexpected workforces, as well as providing alternatives for better serving the workers we already represent.
Worker Coops Unite! Collaborative Double Issue with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
Source: Grassroots Economic Organizing, GEO 73/72 (I), 2008

Articles include:
Worker Cooperatives – A Powerful Force for Justice and Democracy
The People’s Grocery: Developing a Worker-Owned Community Grocery Store
Searching For the Next Cooperative Principle
A Strategy for Unions and Coops: Toward Building A Labor-Ownership Economy
Unions & Cooperatives: Allies in the Struggle to Build Democratic Workplaces
Our Eyes On the Prize: From a “Worker Co-op Movement” to a Transformative Social Movement
World Social Forum at a Crossroads: 5th International, Solidarity Economy, or Stand Pat?
Dreaming of America Beyond Capitalism? Gar Alperovitz
Autonomy and/Or Economic Development? David Ellerman and Helping People Help Themselves

Alternative Service Delivery: Shared Services

Source: Government Finance Officers Association, Best Practice, Approved by GFOA’s Executive Board: October 2007

Governments continue to address funding issues related to their budgets often resulting in the reduction of programs and services. In addition, governments often face an increase in service responsibilities. At the same time, residents are demanding that governments demonstrate improved efficiencies and even offer new or improved services without new taxes.

To meet these challenges, governments are becoming more and more interdependent, including cooperating to deliver services. The services most often provided collaboratively include health and human services, transit systems, airports, sewage collection, disposal of hazardous wastes, libraries, tax assessing, and title records.

Informal (handshake agreements) may include such items as sharing information or equipment, coordination of individual efforts, or joint promotion. More complex or formal agreements might include contracting with another government for service, sharing facilities, purchasing/insurance pools, merged departments, special districts, or regional planning. Shared services that might be the most difficult to achieve include mergers, annexation, or service provision transfers, especially where political support is required. Formal intergovernmental cooperation often includes written agreements among governments and may require a division of labor and/or transfer of funds.

Suburbs may be more likely to enter into shared services agreements due to the greater density of governments in a metropolitan area, proximity, and similar levels of service. Rural communities might consider shared services due to their smaller size and lack of resources. Rural areas may have more cooperative agreements between different types of governments.

In all cases, alternative service delivery that involves shared services requires governments working together to achieve shared policy objectives. Governments are encouraged to cooperate to provide their residents services they could not provide on their own or to provide their residents lower cost and/or higher quality services…..

From Districts to Schools: The Distribution of Resources Across Schools in Big City School Districts

Source: Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel, Ross Rubenstein, Symposium on Education Finance and Organization Structure in NYS Schools, Albany, NY, March 2004
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This paper explores the determinants of resource allocation across schools in large districts and examines options for improving resource distribution patterns. Previous research on intra-district allocations consistently reveals resource disparities across schools within districts, particularly in the distribution of teachers. While overall expenditures are sometimes related to the characteristics of students in schools, the ratio of teachers per pupil is consistently larger in high poverty, high-minority and low-performing schools. These teachers, though, generally have lower experience and education levels — and consequently, lower salaries — as compared to teachers in more advantaged schools. We explore these patterns in New York City, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio by estimating de facto expenditure equations relating resource measures to school and student characteristics. Consistent with previous research, we find schools that have higher percentages of poor pupils receive more money and have more teachers per pupil, but the teachers tend to be less educated and less well paid, with a particularly consistent pattern in New York City schools. The paper concludes with policy options for changing intra-district resource distributions in order to promote more efficient, more equitable or more effective use of resources. These options include allocating dollars rather than teacher positions to schools, providing teacher pay differentials in hard-to-staff schools and subjects, and adapting current district-based funding formulas to the school (and student) level.