Daily Digest - July 9: America's Workers Need a Vacation

Jul 9, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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America Gets Summer Vacation All Wrong (U.S. News & World Report)

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America Gets Summer Vacation All Wrong (U.S. News & World Report)

Pat Garofalo points out the dissonance between long summer vacations for students, which lead to learning losses, and the United States' lack of paid vacation time for workers.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Director of Operations Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove and Policy Intern Candace Richardson look at possible solutions to low-income students' summer learning losses.

Buying a Home: The American Dream That Won’t Die (MSNBC)

Suzy Khimm looks at post-housing crisis options for low-income would-be homeowners. Opportunities are limited, and there is continued discrimination against minorities seeking mortgages.

Democrats Push Bill to Reverse Supreme Court Ruling on Contraceptives (NYT)

The bill could hit the Senate floor as early as next week, reports Robert Pear, but it faces long odds in the House, since Speaker Boehner approves of the Hobby Lobby decision.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn explains how the Hobby Lobby and McCullen rulings increase the barriers to women accessing health care.

Corporate Tax Scam Watch: The 'Inversion' Craze (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik explains why companies look to "inversions," corporate restructuring in a foreign country, to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and considers possible remedies.

NFL Cheerleaders Got An Early Advantage In Their Lawsuit Against The Buffalo Bills (Business Insider)

A judge said the evidence supports the Buffalo cheerleaders' claim that they are employees of the NFL team, reports Allan Smith, which allows their wage theft case to move forward.

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Detroit's Revitalization Funds Could Re-Empower Residents, Too

Roosevelt Summer Academy Fellow Dominic Rushe lays out one way Detroit could introduce participatory budgeting, allowing citizens to help decide where community development funds are most needed.

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Daily Digest - July 8: Will the Stock Market Boom Be a Bust for the Economy?

Jul 8, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Stiglitz: I'm 'very uncomfortable' with current stock levels (CNBC)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz emphasizes the difference between a strong stock market and overall economic strength, reports Antonia Matthews.

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Stiglitz: I'm 'very uncomfortable' with current stock levels (CNBC)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz emphasizes the difference between a strong stock market and overall economic strength, reports Antonia Matthews.

Union Wins $15 Minimum Wage for L.A. Schools' Service Workers (LA Times)

Howard Blume says the school board's unanimous approval of higher wages shows the growing power of the service workers' unions in Los Angeles, where many union members are also parents.

Why the Supreme Court’s Attack on Labor Hurts Women Most (The Nation)

Michelle Chen argues that limiting home health care workers' ability to organize will prevent many others in low-wage domestic work, primarily women, from improving working conditions.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch looks at the challenges presented by the Harris v. Quinn ruling.

Conservatives Say Cutting Unemployment Benefits Boosted the Jobs Numbers. This Chart Says Otherwise. (TNR)

Long-term unemployment is still falling at the same slow-and-steady pace as the past few years, writes Danny Vinik, indicating no link to the end of extended unemployment benefits.

Left Pushes Regulators to Lift Curtain on CEO Pay (The Hill)

Labor unions and other interest groups fear that upcoming regulations that require companies to disclose CEO-to-median-worker pay ratios will be diluted, says Megan R. Wilson.

Democrats Can Win with Populism — If They Play it Right (WaPo)

New polling data shows that many voters associate the Republican Party with big business and the wealthy, which Aaron Blakes sees as a key strategic point for Democrats in 2014.

Three Paths to Full Employment (AJAM)

Dean Baker's suggestions include increased government spending, as in the New Deal; reducing the trade deficit; and reducing the supply of labor with policies that push employers to hire more people.

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Daily Digest - July 3: America's Workforce is Still Segregated After All These Years

Jul 3, 2014Tim Price

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On the Civil Rights Act's 50th, Workplaces Remain Segregated (Colorlines)

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On the Civil Rights Act's 50th, Workplaces Remain Segregated (Colorlines)

Though the Civil Rights Act brought legal segregation to an end decades ago, people of color are still being pushed into lower-paying occupations, writes Rinku Sen.

  • Roosevelt Take: A new infographic from the Roosevelt Institute's Future of Work initiative outlines five policy proposals that would promote an inclusive workforce.

Domestic Care for Family Members Isn't Valued If Its Givers Are Exploited (Truthout)

In a book excerpt, Sheila Bapat cites research from Roosevelt Fellow Annette Bernhardt and others to show how domestic workers are shut out from standard labor protections.

We Know We Work Too Much. Now How Do We Stop It? (New Republic)

Bryce Covert looks at paid leave and vacation laws, health care reform, work-sharing programs, and other potential statutory solutions to America's oversized workweek.

Porsches, Potholes and Patriots (NYT)

The Fourth of July should prompt a celebration of America's great public investments -- and an acknowledgment that they depended on taxes, writes Nicholas Kristof.

Census: One-Quarter of Americans Now Live in "Poverty Areas" (Slate)

Data from 2010 shows that a growing number of Americans live in areas where more than 20 percent of the population is below the poverty line, notes Jordan Weissmann.

Yellen Drives Wedge Between Monetary Policy, Financial Bubbles (Reuters)

Fed chair Janet Yellen says monetary policy is the wrong tool to curb financial risk, report Michael Flaherty and Howard Schneider. She sees no need to raise rates at present. 

New on Next New Deal

Graduated and Living With Your Parents? You May Be Luckier Than You Think.

Millennials forced to move home may have their economic futures determined by where they were born, writes Roosevelt Campus Network Operations Director Lydia Bowers.

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SCOTUS Ruling Doesn’t Gut Public Unions, But Creates New Challenges for Care Workers

Jun 30, 2014Richard Kirsch

The Supreme Court's decision in Harris v. Quinn will make it harder for home care and child care workers to organize for better pay and higher quality jobs.

The Supreme Court's decision in Harris v. Quinn will make it harder for home care and child care workers to organize for better pay and higher quality jobs.

A huge sigh of relief mixed with curses. That’s my reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision today to block home care workers in Illinois from being required to pay union dues, while continuing to allow public employee unions to collect dues from all the workers they represent. The decision in Harris v. Quinn blocks the right-wing assault against one of the most important pillars of progressive infrastructure, public employee unions, but will add to the challenge of raising wages and benefits in the surging low-wage workforce.

First, some background on the case: As part of the right’s ongoing attack on working people, a right-wing legal group recruited a handful of home care workers in Illinois to challenge the state's requirement that the workers pay union dues. The workers are employed by individual patients but are funded by Medicaid.

Having unions, in this case SEIU, represent home care workers is part of an admirable strategy to extend collective bargaining to workers who are publicly funded even if they do not work directly for the government. Since federal law does not provide collective bargaining rights to either public employees or domestic home care workers, using state law to organize these workers, who typically receive low pay with no benefits, is vitally important to their own well-being and to building a middle-class-driven economy.

The National Right to Work Foundation’s attorney argued, as Lyle Denniston explains at SCOTUSblog, that "anything a public employee union does is an attempt to shape matters of 'public concern,' and it should not be able to compel support -- even for part of the monthly dues -- from workers who oppose the union's public policy ambitions."

If the Court had followed that logic, it would have reversed its own precedent, set in the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision, which held that public employees could be required to pay dues for collective bargaining but not for purely political purposes. Fortunately, the Court didn’t go there today, which means that states and localities, which have the power to regulate public employee unions, will continue to be able to require that all employees who work directly for the government pay dues to the union that represents them. While this should have been a no-brainer given the Court’s precedent, it is a huge relief and enormously important to preserving the ability of public employees to organize together for decent wages and benefits. And it is clear defeat for the right’s campaign to eviscerate one of the most important progressive institutions.

Instead, the Court’s decision today focused on whether home care workers are fully public employees. In a 5-4 ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, it decided that these workers are only partial-public employees and so cannot be required to pay dues to a union that represents them. The ruling will make it much more difficult to organize the growing number of low-wage workers who care for the elderly and disabled through home care and for young children through child care.

Home care and child care workers get paid very little, have few benefits, and make up a big chunk of the surge in low-wage jobs that defines today’s economy. But it is a huge challenge to organize workers who are directly employed by individuals. The answer has been to take advantage of the fact that the public is paying for a big chunk of their earnings by treating them as public employees, as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn did in the Harris v. Quinn case. The Court’s rejection of this approach creates new roadblocks to home care and child care workers who are attempting to organize unions capable of bargaining for better pay and higher quality jobs.

The solution may to be to have the public take over home care and child care. If public agencies employed these caregivers, financed as they are now by a combination of public funds and sliding-fee payments by the individuals who use their services, these workers would be full-fledged public employees. This strategy will require a major change in the organization of care, but should be tested where there are progressive local and state governments. Its success would be a deliciously ironic turn against the right’s campaign to shrink government, and a big step toward creating a good-jobs economy to power an America that works for all of us.

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

Image via Thinkstock

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Daily Digest - June 30: Inequality is a Choice We Can Stop Making

Jun 30, 2014Tim Price

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Inequality Is Not Inevitable (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that policies and politics have created America's economic divide, and only engaged citizens can fix it.

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Inequality Is Not Inevitable (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that policies and politics have created America's economic divide, and only engaged citizens can fix it.

  • Roosevelt Take: For more on Stiglitz's plan to address inequality, read his Roosevelt Institute white paper on tax reform.

How Cities Can Take on Big Cable (Bloomberg View)

The Federal Communications Commission should preempt state laws that ban cities from building competitive fiber networks, writes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford.

Public Sector Unions Could Radically Change This Week (WaPo)

Today's Supreme Court decision on Harris v. Quinn could seriously weaken public employee unions if their compulsory dues are ruled unconstitutional, notes Lydia DePillis.

Will the Government Finally Regulate the Most Predatory Industry in America? (The Nation)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering new rules to protect the 12 million Americans a year who rely on high-interest payday lenders, reports Zoe Carpenter.

Why This Company Decided to Make Its Salaries Public to All Employees (Think Progress)

The CEO of data analytics company SumAll tells Bryce Covert that increased pay transparency has led to greater productivity and trust and less stress over compensation.

What Americans Think of the Poor (Prospect)

A new Pew poll shows that even many conservatives who agree that "poor people have it easy" also believe the economic system is unfair, writes Paul Waldman.

New on Next New Deal

Summer Vacation is Feeding the Achievement Gap

Students from low-income families face substantial setbacks without access to summer learning programs, write Roosevelt Institute Director of Operations Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove and policy intern Candace Richardson.

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Daily Digest - June 27: NLRB Ruling is Politics as Usual

Jun 27, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Myth of America’s Golden Age (POLITICO Magazine)

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The Myth of America’s Golden Age (POLITICO Magazine)

Growing up in Gary, Indiana gave Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz early insight into inequality, which is a result of politics and not an economic inevitability, he says.

Presidential Appointments Were Already a Total Nightmare. They Just Got Worse. (MoJo)

Patrick Caldwell breaks down the NLRB v. Canning decision, and explains how it will increase obstructionism in Congress by reducing real recesses.

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (Supreme Court)

President's Obama's appointments to the NLRB in December 2011 occurred during a three-day adjournment, not a true recess, so the Supreme Court has ruled the appointments invalid. Justice Breyers delivers the Court's opinion.

What Happened When the City of Boston Asked Teenagers for Help With the Budget (Next City)

Hollie Russon Gilman reports that when 12-25 year olds were given responsibility for $1 million of Boston's budget, they funded parks, the arts, and educational technology.

To Get a Fair Share, Sharing-Economy Workers Must Unionize (AJAM)

Susie Cagle talks to Uber driver Ramzi Reguii about his work to organize his fellow drivers. They've already rallied together to prevent Uber from requiring some drivers to buy new cars.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Operations Director Lydia Bowers looks at how the sharing economy exploits unprotected workers.

More Than Three Quarters of Conservatives Say the Poor “Have it Easy” (WaPo)

Christopher Ingraham sees this widespread agreement among conservatives as the most striking result in the Pew Research Center's massive survey of American politics.

The Crisis of Student Loans is Real, No Matter What Pundits Tell You (The Guardian)

David Dayen says the Brookings student debt report fails by focusing on the average income of college graduates overall, which ignores how badly the job market has harmed recent graduates.

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Daily Digest - June 25: Konczal Rebuts Brookings' Findings on Student Debt

Jun 25, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Devastating, Lifelong Consequences of Student Debt (TNR)

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The Devastating, Lifelong Consequences of Student Debt (TNR)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal points out that the student debt crisis isn't about monthly payments, as the Brookings Institution suggests, but the life choices necessitated by debt.

What if We Treated Labor Like a Startup? (The Nation)

David Rolf, president of SEIU 775NW, suggests that organizing labor movements like startup incubators would help to develop new projects to improve working conditions.

Why Government Pension Funds Became Addicted to Risk (NYT)

Higher-risk investments have become necessary if pension funds are to hit return targets, writes Josh Barro, but come at a price in management fees and hide the real cost of the pensions.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson considers how big money in politics affects pension investment choices.

Why the Gap Thinks a Higher Minimum Wage is Good for Business (Vox)

Danielle Kurtzleben speaks to a vice president at Gap about the company's attempt to retain skilled and educated staff by setting a higher minimum wage company-wide.

Making a Withdrawal: Banks Shut Branches in Poorer Communities (AJAM)

Ranjani Chakraborty and Sarah Hoye examine what happens to communities where banks have eliminated branches. Fees from payday lenders for cashing checks and other services add up fast.

Mortgage-Investor Group Asks DOJ to Leave It Out of Bank Settlements (WSJ)

When banks get credit in their settlements with the Justice Department for modifying loans, mortgage investors want the loans they own excluded, writes Christina Rexrode.

Congrats, America. You Have Less Economic Opportunity Than You Did in 1970 (WaPo)

A new study quantifies varies kinds of opportunity over 40 years and finds that decreasing opportunity overall in the past decade is mostly due to the economy. Jim Tankersley and Jeff Guo report.

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Daily Digest - June 24: What We Talk About When We Talk About Poverty

Jun 24, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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21st Century Democrats: Konczal on GOP Misunderstanding Charity (America's Democrats.org)

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21st Century Democrats: Konczal on GOP Misunderstanding Charity (America's Democrats.org)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal discusses his article on "The Voluntarism Fantasy," the false idea that private charity could provide for the needs of the poorest Americans.

Get Sick, Get Fired: America's Low-Wage Workers Push Back (TAP)

Sharon Lerner says the fight over paid sick leave is characteristic of larger fights over the nature of democracy, and whether the desires of the common people are being accounted for.

Washington is Making Inequality Worse (MSNBC)

A new study suggests that growing political polarization and rising income inequality are linked. Timothy Noah emphasizes that polarization stems from the GOP moving to the right.

Massachusetts Nannies and Housekeepers Now Protected From Long Days, Abuse, Sexual Harassment (The Nation)

Michelle Chen speaks to some of the workers who will benefit from Massachusetts's new Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which awaits the governor's signature.

Corporate Close-Up: Should CEO Compensation Determine Corporate Income Tax Rates? (Bloomberg BNA)

Melissa Fernley reports on a new model for corporate income taxes being considered in California, which would scale tax rates based on CEO-to-median worker compensation ratios.

States Undo Food Stamp Felon Bans (HuffPo)

California and Missouri are giving more ex-offenders access to food stamps, reports Arthur Delaney. He says this is an opportunity to reduce recidivism by helping people feed their families.

Mankiw, Piketty, and Wealth Taxes (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein argues that economist Greg Mankiw fails to prove that allowing the wealthy to keep more of their wealth will be better for everyone else.

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Daily Digest - June 20: The Upside to Government Data Collection

Jun 20, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Chicago Is Your Big (Friendly) Brother (Bloomberg View)

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Chicago Is Your Big (Friendly) Brother (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains Chicago's new plan to collect and make public data that could improve local quality of life, like precise pollution levels.

Does He Pass the Test? (NYRB)

Timothy Geithner frames his memoir as a success story of avoiding another Great Depression, and Paul Krugman says that ignores the question of whether things could have been better.

Massachusetts Passes The Highest State Minimum Wage In The Country (ThinkProgress)

The Massachusetts legislature has passed a law raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017, and the governor is expected to sign the bill soon, Bryce Covert reports.

Detroit Pension Fund Urges 'Yes' Vote on Bankruptcy Plan (Reuters)

Karen Pierog writes that the police and firefighters' fund is urging members to approve this grand bargain, which reduces cost-of-living increases, for fear of larger cuts.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson says that big money in politics encourages pension underfunding.

Awaiting the Supreme Court decision on Aereo (Marketplace)

Dan Gorenstein speaks to Susan Crawford, who says this case about TV broadcasting rights could have wide implications for cable television payment models.

Higher Taxes Do Not Kill Jobs (AJAM)

Job growth in 2013 was concentrated in places that raised taxes or already had high taxes. David Cay Johnston says this confirms that taxes aren't job killers.

New on Next New Deal

What the History of the World Wars Can Tell Us About the Deeper Struggles at Work in Iraq

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow David Woolner reflects on previous U.S. efforts to  spread democracy.

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Daily Digest - June 18: Is High CEO Pay a Reward for Failure?

Jun 18, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Study: The Higher the Pay, the Worse the CEO (Vocativ)

Daniel Edward Rosen looks at a study from the University of Utah, which shows that companies that pay CEOs more than $20 million a year have average annual losses over $1 billion.

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Study: The Higher the Pay, the Worse the CEO (Vocativ)

Daniel Edward Rosen looks at a study from the University of Utah, which shows that companies that pay CEOs more than $20 million a year have average annual losses over $1 billion.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow and Director of Research Susan Holmberg and Campus Network alumna Lydia Austin look at additional ways high CEO pay distorts the economy.

Chicago Aldermen Want a $15 Minimum Wage in Their City, Too (In These Times)

Progressives in Chicago are pushing their own minimum wage increase, reports Ethan Corey, and the popular measure would be implemented much more quickly than Seattle's.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute President and CEO Felicia Wong says increasing the minimum wage is a powerful step to promote democracy.

A Small Increase in Inflation Squeezes U.S. Workers (NYT)

Neil Irwin reports that average wages have fallen 0.1 percent in the past year when inflation is taken into account, so while the economy may be improving, workers are still struggling.

The Big Freeze on Hiring (WaPo)

Companies are taking longer than ever to fill open jobs, and Catherine Rampell suspects their reluctance is due to continued uncertainty about the health of the economy.

Domestic Workers, Domestic Cargo (The Baffler)

Ned Resnikoff reviews Sheila Bapat's new book on domestic workers' rights and ties their struggle to other low-wage service jobs that are similarly disparaged as not "real jobs."

Critics Warn Starbucks Employees to Read the Fine Print of New Tuition Plan (ThinkProgress)

Alan Pyke speaks to education experts, who critique the Starbucks program for restricting tuition assistance to a single online university, with no options for in-person classes.

U.S. Reaches $968 Million Mortgage Settlement With SunTrust (WSJ)

Alan Zibel and Andrew R. Johnson report on SunTrust's settlement, the latest attempt to penalize banks for abusive mortgage practices. $500 million is reserved to help underwater homeowners.

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