Focus and tenacity matter.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Margy's Blog & Updates

 I don’t think that there’s any way for the country to succeed without wage growth and job growth, long term. Unions are simply a way that people get to share in the success, so that it all doesn’t end up among shareholders and executives. – Andy Stern


The Exit Interview – read the whole thing in the Washington Post. 


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News Brief Thursday, December 11

Monday, December 15, 2008 | News


Fired up about poverty
“Noting that ”the State of Poverty is America’s most populated state – 37 million people,“ the Shriver Center recommended a 12-point plan to confront poverty.”
Have you tried Al-Anon’s 12-point plan? Might help you finally kick the habit of talking about poverty.

Poverty hurts performance of kids in school
“This is about the broader social and community problems that hold kids back…”
“Poverty” also hurts policy. Why not focus on those social and community problems instead?

Poverty hits home in southern New Jersey classrooms
“Schneider said there must be greater recognition of the services poor families need beyond just education – and schools are the ideal place to offer them.”

Careful – sounds like you’re moving closer to talking about inclusion than poverty. Finally gettin‘ over that fear of success?

Why Do Americans Still Hate Welfare?
“In the 1960s, policy makers and the media began to focus on poverty and anti-poverty measures for the first time since the Great Depression. But in the process, the latter appears to have offered a distorted image of the American poor.”
And that’s the image – true or not – you’re projecting every time you talk about poverty.

Remember ’Hunger in America?‘ It’s Still Here
“In the 1960s, the media’s direct or implicit question was: ”How can a country this wealthy let children go hungry?“ By the Reagan era and for many subsequent years, the implicit question asked by the media became:  ”Why are all these undeserving people getting benefits with our tax dollars?“”

It’s all about the framing (and the Big Bad ’Blame the Morals‘ Wolf has been blowing the Sympathy Frame of your Poverty House down for years). Time for a change?

Illinois governor arrested in corruption scandal
If you’re so desperate to talk about poverty, may I suggest…poverty of conscience?


Bloomington between ’rock and a hard place‘ in ’living wage‘ issue
“”In a 2-to-1 vote … the voters say that they want us to be compassionate about what we pay our employees,“ Stockton said, noting there was an 80 percent voter turnout in the referendum.”
Is that ’hard place‘ in your heart, Bloomington?

New jobs offer less than living wage
“When families are unable to earn living wages, many are forced to make the difficult choices between adequate health care, balanced nutrition and paying the bills.”

Citing bailout, union wants to organize bank workers
“”We believe there is special responsibility for companies who receive taxpayer dollars to ensure their workers have a voice on the job,“ SEIU’s Lynda Tran said.”

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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 17

Monday, November 17, 2008 | News


Public policy can’t fix poverty
Perhaps more accurately, “Poverty policy can’t fix poverty.”

“But Brian Riedl, senior federal budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the automatic stabilizing effects of these programs remained strong. ”Antipoverty spending is at its highest level in American history,“ he said.”

Policies can look prohibitively expensive when packaged under the ever-growing poverty banner.

Activists inspired to fight poverty
“Murray and other local residents who attended the summit pointed to education, access to sustainable housing and transportation as key issues in the battle against poverty.”

The summit could have done better to inspire activists to fight FOR education, access to sustainable housing and transportation.

King III: US must address poverty
“If we will be a great nation,” he said, in an oratory reminiscent of his father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “let us not be satisfied until we have education, decent jobs, a living wage, adequate and affordable health care and decent housing.”

King III is apparently unaware that these issues and measures are not included in the US definition of poverty.

Summit starts long road to combat poverty
“There’s a reason poor people are often described as ”mired in poverty.“ To be ”mired“ is to be stuck in something that’s hard to get out of, and that’s sure true of poverty.”

Kinda like how policy solutions are mired in a sympathy frame?

Where Obama Can Be Bold
I bet I can guess where Obama will lose if he is bold. (I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with “noverty”.)

Working poor still fall short
“The report calls for stronger policies for working families at both the state and federal level.”

Look for sister article next week, “Stronger ‘poor’ policies still fall short.”

Wages, Dreams, Preparedness

A Living Law?
“Why should employees have to fill out complaints or file lawsuits to get the city to obey a city law?”

How else is The Man supposed to keep low-wage workers down?

Can more spending revive the American Dream?
“Traditionally, Americans have had extraordinarily optimistic views of the economic prospects for themselves and their children. This may be one reason they have tolerated in the past 30 years a major redistribution of income in the nation to the top 1 or 2 percent of its citizens from those with lower incomes.”

As L. Frank Baum wrote, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.’ That is, unless they don’t.

Retraining program gets $450K
“Developing our workforce to be better prepared for jobs today and tomorrow is one our community’s highest priorities,” said Kathryn Merchant, Greater Cincinnati Foundation president.“

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News Brief - November 7

Friday, November 7, 2008 | News


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.”



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.“


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 - October 31

Friday, October 31, 2008 | News

Paid Sick Leave

Employers fear paid sick leave will raise their costs
“It’s going to be a killer,” Maliszewski said of the proposal. “Once you start taking away the creativity of small business by forcing them to do certain things, you take away their ability to compete.”
You know what else is a killer? Disease. Especially when workers can’t afford to take time off to treat it.

Wages, Economy

Time to make Vancouver a living wage city
“And if all this sounds expensive, consider this. Better pay translates directly into a healthier local economy. Low-income families spend almost all their money close to home. And businesses that have adopted the living wage report higher productivity and reduced turnover.”
Some things cost more because they are high quality items.

Battlers for a living wage demonized

A new type of capitalism
“The top 1 percent of earners in the United States gained $600 billion annually in income while the bottom 80 percent lost that same $600 billion from 1979 to 2008.”
(…not to mention the $700 billion wealth transfer that is taking place in ‘08.)

The Futility of Class Warfare  

“This pervasive belief in the American Dream — the notion that everyone has a shot at the brass ring — is the most formidable constraint on the effectiveness of the class-warfare card.”

Poverty, Crime

Candidates walk tight line on poverty
“…for a Democrat to talk too much about poverty sounds like talking about welfare – which is not popular with the middle class voters that he’s [Obama] trying to court.”
Poverty talk is divisive and unpopular. Why are we still trying to walk that line?

People are poor in America because they lack values, morals, and ethics
How can you really have a rational discussion when this is the propaganda used against you?

Many States Tax Working-Poor Families Deeper into Poverty

Federal report analyzes crime in 28 cities
“A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that unemployment and low wages do not have a significant effect on crime - at least in the short term.”

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News Brief - October 28

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | News


“The Working Poor group knows that it is a political hot potato to call for public policy to improve wages and  benefits and increase training programs to help lift low-wage workers out of poverty.”
That potato would be a lot cooler if you dropped the “poverty” and kept up the inclusive rhetoric. 

Young workers in unions earn $4 more per hour than non-union, study shows
“Even though they’ve done everything right – finished high school and college at higher rates than in the past, young workers have been the hardest hit by stagnant and declining wages over the last 30 years.”

Workers unite for human rights
“The rally called attention to the plight of poverty-level workers who say they lack health care or educational opportunities to improve their job prospects.”

Health Care, Housing

Premiums soar; wages stagnate
“As health care becomes less and less affordable, Georgians face difficult choices in trying to provide health coverage for themselves and their families.”

Report: Energy efficiency key to housing affordability
“As we look at the age of homes and concentrations of low-income households, we see that the very people least able to afford high consumption live in homes built without energy efficiency measures.”


In race for president, economy passes war and health care as key issue

Keep the playing field level 

“The economic climate has affected us all, regardless of social standing, and if communities are going to survive, we had better start working together to make ends meet.”


Task force tries to redefine poverty 

“Poverty is high,” Dillon said, agreeing that the numbers being used to set guidelines don’t take into account people trying to pay utilities on $7 and $8 an hour jobs. “You can’t pay all the necessities to live” on those kinds of wages, he said.“

Then let’s cut the Sympathy Frame, and have a conversation about sufficient wages, and better jobs for everyone.

Campaign offers little on how to aid the poor
”All three are upset that poverty — affecting more than one in 10 Americans — is rarely spoken about on the presidential campaign trail.“
Allow me to direct you back to that whole ‘hot potato’ thing.

Crises on many fronts

”No one knows how to quell the uncertainty. And no one is even talking about the poor.“
Plenty of people are talking about the poor – no one is listening.

Report: Indiana working poor numbers grow
”Investing in job training programs, increasing the minimum wage above the federal wage standard, and initiatives such as paid parent leave for family and medical needs resulted in some states reducing their number of low-income working families, the report said.“  

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News Brief - October 24

Friday, October 24, 2008 | News


Study shows gap growing between rich and poor
“What will happen if the next decade is not one of world growth but of world recession? If a rising tide didn’t lift all boats, how will they be affected by an ebbing tide?”
It may be about time we retire this whole “rising tide” analogy. Some boats are apparently not boats at all, but seaplanes…

‘More inequality’ in rich nations
“The most equal distribution of wealth is in the Nordic countries, including Denmark, Sweden and Finland.”
Perhaps some of us are too quick to dismiss the Nordic track.

Inequality in major US cities rivals Africa: UN
“”The life expectancy of African Americans in the United States is about the same as that of people living in China and some states of India, despite the fact that the United States is far richer than the other two countries,“ [the report] said.”

Pennsylvania Women Stop Closing Wage Gap With Men
“But in the current decade, despite a so-called economic expansion between 2001 and 2007, the progress of women in the Pennsylvania workforce stopped.”

Health Insurance

Health costs soar past wages
“So, it probably cuts into the amount of wage increases that they can get.”

Utahn’s wages not keeping up with rising insurance coverage costs
“The average Utahn’s work-based health insurance premium has increased five times faster than the average wage since 2000, the group says.”

Education, Schools

How one failing St Paul school made the grade
“We find out their learning styles, then we can address each child’s needs,” Johnson said.“
Not leaving children behind doesn’t have to be rocket science.

USDA to kill Phila. school lunch program
”The 17-year-old program aimed at poor students is unique because it doesn’t require students and their families to fill out application forms for free or reduced-price meals. This maximizes student participation.“
It also reduces administrative cost and stigma associated with free lunches.

Povert (of sorts)

Fuel poverty campaigners lose high court battle
”Campaigners failed today in a high court bid to force the government to spend more to end fuel poverty.“
Apparently there is a lack of legal as well as political will.

Poverty in America: The Problems and Solutions
”Communities know what they need. It is not more welfare or school vouchers… but jobs, programs which work in schools and for young people. Good public transportation and job training, learning how to be resourceful and make things again, self-sufficiency, and a deep respect for learning need to be privileged more than what television and advertising put out there.“

Poverty and Politics (Netherlands)
An example of the discussion that ensues when individuals are highlighted instead of the conditions or systems in which we live.


Lawmakers must halt runaway minimum wage
”It was never designed to be a living wage. It was supposed to be an earnings floor for workers in entry-level, low-skilled or unskilled, often menial jobs, protecting a vulnerable work group from exploitation. If someone doesn’t want to earn just the minimum wage, then the solution is to get the education and/or skills and training needed to go up the wage ladder to qualify for better jobs.“
I’m assuming that the Yakima Herald Editorial Board realized the power of their argument, were promptly trained, and are now the New York Times Editorial Board.

Coweta wages in ‘rapid decline’
”[The economist] said more jobs isn’t necessarily a good thing, if they aren’t the right kinds of jobs. Fruth compared the situation to a baseball team’s roster. Adding a bunch of “scrubs,” he said, doesn’t lift the team batting average, and certainly doesn’t make for a better team, even with more players.“

UNH Study: State’s households struggle with less livable wage
”The study also projects a continued decline in livable wage jobs in New Hampshire due to the state’s transformation from a production-based to a service-based economy.“



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News Brief - September 5

Friday, September 5, 2008 | News


Group pulling Ohio sick leave measure from ballot

Study: Few California Workers Aware of Family Leave Law
And fewer have taken time off. 

Sick and Fired: US Workers Struggle Without Paid Sick, Parental Leave
“A new report finds the United States ranks at the bottom of 21 high-income nations in providing parental leave for workers.”
In spite of the revelation that…
American Workers Overwhelmingly Support Paid Sick Days

How does Swedish parental leave work?
A jealousy-inducing example of “elsewhere.”  

Labor Market, Economy, Wages

Struggles for worker justice take on new urgency, intensity
“As we enjoy barbecue picnics and time off from work, we should also remember the most fundamental aspect of Labor Day: honoring workers and their struggles for rights.”

Tough economy worsens struggle for workers, job seekers
It’s a recurrent story – wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, it’s harder to recover from job loss, and job security is fading. It will take better jobs to build the economy we so wistfully remember.

For others, Census data paints a rosier picture:
The Real Economic Scorecard

Let’s Stop Minimizing Minimum Wage
“Two years ago, more than 650 economists, including five Nobel Prize winners, signed a statement saying state and federal minimum wage increases can ”significantly improve the lives of low-income workers and their families, without the adverse effects that critics have claimed.“

Health Care

Cost of caring for Missourians without health insurance impacts everyone in the state

Kids of Stressed, Low-Income Mothers Prone to Weight Problems
Making jobs better – and ensuring that hard work earns a living wage – is not only good for workers, but for the health of their families and communities as well.

Absence makes baby’s brain grow softer: Call for two years paid maternity leave

Education, Housing

Economic Diversity: Why We Measure It
US News ranks colleges according to the economic diversity of their student populations.

Affordable housing hard to come by on coast
Hurricanes: conveniently gentrifying neighborhoods for the wealthy everywhere.

Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy is back in the public eye, with poverty, not Palin, apparently to blame:
Poverty, not sex ed, key factor in teen pregnancy
Cause for Alarm? Understanding Recent Trends in Teenage Childbearing

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News Brief - September 2

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 | News

Wages, Labor market

Renewing America’s ‘contract with the middle class’
“Workers were rewarded for their hard work with fair wages, benefits and advancement opportunities — and our economy and our national security were much stronger for it.”

Why unions matter more than ever
“According to Greenhouse, if wages had increased as fast as productivity since 1979, a full-time worker would earn $58,000 a year and not the $36,000 that was the average in 2007.”

Labor Day blues ensue:
Report: Labor Day finds workers worse off
Workers laboring to stay afloat
“”Even if the economy turns back up, what this business cycle showed us is while strong productivity growth is essential for rising living standards, it doesn’t guarantee rising living standards,“ Shierholz said.”
Economic gains of workers cut, nonprofit says
“On a day that the U.S. Department of Labor says is ”dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers,“ an analysis of the state economy this weekend shows that those economic achievements are eroding and that the number of those without jobs is rising.”

Editorial: Middle class squeeze threatens American dream

State’s minimum wage on the rise
“Roughly 26,500 New Hampshire workers were expected to benefit from the increase, most of them women, parents or older adults.”



IT Dads Push for Paternity Leave

Helping with a healthy balance
Companies offer a variety of benefits to supplement the Family Medical Leave Act.

Canada weak on worker benefits: Report
“Weak” for Canada sounds herculean when compared with US.



Jackson: Revive the war on poverty
When you’ve been losing a war for 40 years, isn’t it time to find a different strategy?

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