News Brief - November 24

Monday, November 24, 2008 | News

Paid, Unpaid Leave

Navy Gives New Dads 10 Days Paid Leave
"One of the biggest reasons for the change is to keep the Navy competitive in recruiting and retaining talented people."

Real estate group backs sick leave law challenge
One of the biggest reasons for the backing is to keep the Milwaukee metro area free of talented people.

What do we want? Paid maternity leave. Now. (AU)
"It is to be hoped that one day Australian women will be amazed that paid maternity leave was once contentious and considered too expensive for the country to afford despite the wealth of evidence that it is what women want and what families and businesses need."

Poverty, Wages

High school degree part of poverty equation
Unfortunately, poverty is not part of the policy solution equation.

Hard times hardest on elderly poor
"Lopez lives in her tiny apartment, where Pat Robertson blares on the television, and depends on her children to bring her tacos at the end of the month, when her food stamps have run out. She can't read, so she can't understand the forms the government sends her."
You might as well say "Hard times hardest on unmarried elderly without a sense of individual responsibility." See where that statement gets you.

Everyone pays the province's $38 billion cost (Canada)
"We all pay in increased costs for health care, crime and social assistance; in the loss of tax revenue that accompanies low earnings; and in the intergenerational cycle of poor children growing up to be poor adults, [the report] says."
We all benefit when no one is left behind.

How not to help the poor
"In too many cases, parents pass on these poor values and choices to their children. Poverty then becomes generational, a way of life.  Trying to break the cycle of chronic poverty when Fedzilla does whatever it can to sustain it is analogous to trying to melt an iceberg with a match."
Ted Nugent fends off Fedzilla with his guitar. We should all listen to him. He also has a gun.

Tulsa billionaire believes early childhood education stops poverty
""I have felt all of my life that we all got where we are by dumb luck, that we have a moral obligation to share our random advantage with those who didn't win the ovarian lottery and that the purest form of charity is one which intervenes in the cycle of poverty at the earliest possible stage, through nutrition, health care and housing. Equal opportunity is really the social contract of life," he said."
Unfortunately, "stopping poverty" stops policy.

Report Sees Positives in Recession Fallout
"We are moving more to a service-based economy," Mr. Tirinzonie said, "which might have slightly lower paying jobs, but a good many still require post-secondary education."
An economy built on low-wage jobs that still require a college degree? Brilliant.

 

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News Brief - November 20

Thursday, November 20, 2008 | News

Paid Leave

Lawmakers push to expand paid leave

"But employers object to the proposal's rigid, one-size-fits-all approach; it's not needed, employers groups say, because 74 percent of employers already provide paid sick days..."

Because one-size-fits-74% ain't bad...right? It's not like we're all in this together or anything...

Commerce association to challenge sick-day ordinance
"The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday to proceed with a legal challenge to the paid-sick-day ordinance that voters overwhelmingly approved Nov. 4."

Later, the MMAC kicked a puppy.

Bush Changes to Employee Leave among First Midnight Rules

"The rule...will make it more difficult for employees to use paid leave when taking FMLA leave. Because FMLA leave is unpaid, employees often attempt to use paid leave, such as paid vacation time, to avoid disruptions in their pay."

Those darn pesky workers, always trying to "avoid disruptions in pay" and "take their kids to the doctor and still afford to buy food for their family".

Jobs, Mobility

The Tear-Down (Detroit Edition)
"The nation is said to be in need to some bottom-up economic stimulus. And NOW we're going to tear down what remains of the country's manufacturing core? We're going to say good-bye to companies that collectively (and again, because of union bargaining power) provide health coverage for two million people (their direct employees, dependents, retirees, and supplier employees)??"

No ironic comment needed here!

Upward Mobility is So 1970s

"Between 1978 and 2005, CEO pay increased from 35 times to nearly 262 times the average worker's pay," the study finds. That's because CEOs are making all of the important decisions that keep workers employed and our economy afloat...

Poverty

Poverty Here at Home: Part I
"But, again and again, when we talked about children in poverty nobody just talks about numbers or salaries. The conversation every time leads to talking about the structure of family."

That sounds like a very productive conversation.

Langston University Helps Tackle Poverty in Tulsa

"Poverty in Oklahoma is substantial and it is real...It is also too expensive to be ignored." 

The poverty banner is also expensive: it will cost you your policy goals. Public will can't be bought with Poverty Pennies.

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News Brief - November 7

Friday, November 07, 2008 | News

Poverty

Survey focuses on rural poverty

"People who are low-income or living in poverty are clearly disadvantaged with numerous factors impacting their health and access to health care."

Then let's start talking about helping everyone overcome those factors. 
Taxing citizens into poverty
"But it is clear something needs to be done to prevent poor Alabamians from falling further behind."
You mean like dropping the poverty frame?

What Obama's Next Steps Should Be...
"Eliminating poverty sets the bar too low and, as a national goal, it simply will not work to achieve our shared hopes for a strong nation."

 

Economy

The economics of single motherhood
"If we have that many children born to single mothers, the standard of living is low not just for them but for all of us," said Walley. "The high number of single mothers fundamentally changes the way our economy works."

Mass. a model of healthcare reform, hurdles
"Some healthcare analysts and leaders in the business and insurance industries say Massachusetts' experience offers tangible proof that overhauling a massive system is possible."
 

Wages

Bloomington plans to explore living wage
"By a decisive 65 to 35 percent margin in an advisory referendum, they want a "living wage" of about $9.81 an hour paid to city workers who aren't making that much."

Killer living wages
Run for your lives!
"What's the opposite of a living wage? Presumably a death wage."
 

Paid Leave, Time Off

Milwaukee Voters Approve Paid Sick Leave Referendum
"The referendum brought by a coalition of union and community groups gives full-time workers between five and nine sick days a year, depending on the size of their employer."

Paid sick leave referendum wins big
"We knew this was an issue that resonated with people in the city who understand it's so important for families to have the ability to work and care for their families," she said. "We believe business will find this will be good for them too because the costs of retraining and rehiring will be offset."

Business Owners Unhappy About Paid Sick Leave
...apparently forgetting that they are part of the most entrepreneurial, innovative workforce in the world.

 
Election Day in US should be a holiday
"Low turnout doesn't occur evenly across all demographics. People with higher income, occupational standing and education, for example, are more likely to vote. They're more likely to have the time, leisure and resources to vote."
 
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News Brief - August 22

Friday, August 22, 2008 | News

Economy, prices

Voters in Polls Want Priority to Be Economy, Their Top Issue

Compare that to poverty/hunger/homelessness, which only 3% of people identified as the most important issue in a March 2008 Gallup poll.  Doesn't it make sense to communicate in terms of an issue people really care about?

Real wages fall as record price hikes hit US workers
"...the average household now earns a staggering $1,500 less than it would if wages had kept pace with inflation over the past twelve months."

Power rates spike in some states
Costs are increasing for everyone.

Health, Family Leave

Health, Family Leave

Paid sick-leave mandate opposed by Strickland, Fisher

Business group tallies sick-leave plan cost
Others question study results, say it represents "worst case scenario."

Supreme Court to Review Pro-Worker Ruling on Family Leave
Court to decide whether leave applies to sick family members.

States push laws requiring paid sick days

Massachusetts law spurs rise in health coverage

439,000 more get health coverage
"In the past two years, Massachusetts has embarked on a closely watched experiment to become the first state requiring virtually all residents to have health insurance. The figures released yesterday provide some of the most compelling evidence so far that the experiment is working."

Low-wage work

How Low-Income Neighborhoods Stabilize
Review of Cracks in the Pavement, the result of a 9-year study by UC Berkeley Professor Martin Sanchez-Jankowski on "low-income communities."

Working poor still struggle

Budget woes in California may lead to higher taxes
"Critics call the sales tax hike regressive. It hurts low wage families the hardest because a larger percentage of their income will go towards paying sales taxes."

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The 2008 New Jersey Paid Family Leave Bill: Bringing Employers and Employees...Together?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | Margy's Blog & Updates

Here's an update from The Mobility Agenda's Senior Research Associate, Sarah Sattelmeyer.

Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate approved a (long time in the works!) paid family leave bill, which the Assembly passed in March. Governor Corzine has committed to signing this bill, which will make New Jersey the third state to adopt paid family leave.

For those of you who are not work-life policy junkies like myself, family and medical leave (which differs from paid sick days) can guarantee workers time away from work to recover from a personal health condition, for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for an elderly family member, and/or to incorporate additional longer-term family care needs.

The 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act, administered by the US Department of Labor, provides unpaid family and medical leave for some U.S. workers. On the other hand, State Temporary Disability Insurance programs are administered on a state level and offer paid family and medical leave for workers. Employer and employee generally jointly fund these programs.

Many states are working (California has been successful!) to extend their Temporary Disability Insurance programs or develop new programs to cover a wide array of family and medical needs, including adoption. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, New Jersey's new law falls into this category in that it will expand the state's temporary disability insurance program to give workers up to six weeks of family leave benefits to care for a sick family member or a newborn or newly adopted child. It provides temporary disability insurance benefits at two-thirds of wage replacement up to a maximum of $524 per week in 2008, and is financed by a small employee payroll deduction.

It’s about time, right? But despite the passage of this bill through both houses of the New Jersey legislature, significant conflict about the idea of work-life policies still exists. According to an Associated Press reporter and Newsday.com, Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and other opponents of the bill fear that "[t]his [bill will] impose a tax on every employer in our state and continue…to lay the groundwork for the exodus of citizens and employers."

This comment by Senator Beck should have provided the perfect opportunity for Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney, a leading proponent of the bill, to use language that bridged the business-worker gap. But instead, he followed in the divisive footsteps of Senator Beck by commenting that "[t]his bill…signif[ies] a new day for the state's work force, in that, the needs of families will be put before the needs of business owners."

Senator Sweeney, while meaning well and clearly a strong champion of workers who is on the right side of this issue, lost his chance to promote the pro-business benefits of work-life policies when he verbally created a divide between “families” and “business owners”—between us and them.

In many situations, employers have used public and private policy to balance competing work-life priorities. In a recent study conducted by WFD Consulting and Corporate Voices for Working Families, offering work-life policies in the workplace improves employee retention, creates more positive human capital outcomes, and establishes a more productive workforce, all of which can lead to stronger financial performance, especially for retail companies whose employees often have a direct relationship with customers. In fact, researchers reporting on a 2002 Watson Wyatt study found that “companies that provide more flexible work arrangements” could see as much as a 3.5 percent rise in shareholder value.

Work-life policies also lead to better mental health and less stress, which contribute to a reduction in employee health care costs. According to the CDC, stress at work can increase employees’ unscheduled absences, and health care expenditures (something about which we are all concerned!) are nearly 50 percent greater for U.S. workers who report high levels of stress.

We still need research to explore the narrative lens that works best when discussing work-life policy with a pro-business contingent. But even without the research, stakeholders should use common sense in their public remarks about work-life policy. New Jersey legislators just passed a bill that will help thousands of workers, but Senator Sweeney’s comments did not even open the door for a productive dialogue with the business community about legislation that affects all of us.

The facts are on his side. The battle is won, but not the war. The Senator Sweeneys of the world need to see their legislation through in a manner that will help other leaders win similar battles.

The Mobility Agenda will soon release Work-Life Policies for the Twenty-First-Century Economy, a report that explains the need for better work-life policy and provides recommendations for stakeholders.

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Work Life Policies Move Forward

Sunday, March 09, 2008 | Margy's Blog & Updates

The movement to guarantee that all workers have paid time off for work life balance is gaining momentum.

Washington DC just passed the second local law in the nation (despite the limitations of the provision, this is progress) and New Jersey seems poised to pass a law offering paid family and medical leave.

And finally, check out this innovative use of the web to create on “online rally” for paid sick days.

Spend your lunch break today speaking out for paid sick days for all working people.

Join us virtually at the U.S. Capitol for the first-ever Online Rally for Healthy Families — a special online event hosted by the National Partnership and the Healthy Families Act coalition.

Bring your friends and co-workers along....

You can join the rally by visiting EveryoneGetsSick.org and then share your story, upload a photo, take action, and more.

Color me green – I love this creative use of the available technology.

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