Workers & Economic Inequality

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Obama’s Progressive Worker Agenda Improved with Executive Actions

While there is still progress left to be made, Obama's executive actions have advanced millions of workers' rights and wages.


Pennsylvania Needs to Listen to Home Care Workers

In February, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order aimed at improving the quality of home care for seniors and people with disabilities, along with the working conditions of those who provide these services. The order, however, has been met with debate over whether or not the action grants workers the right to form a union. TCF fellow Moshe Marvit sets the record straight by explaining what Gov. Wolf's executive order can and cannot do.

Faced with a ballooning elderly and disabled population that requires vital services and the need for a rapidly growing number of workers, any responsible elected official should support policies that ensure an adequate, qualified workforce to provide quality services to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

This is precisely what Mr. Wolf’s executive order is trying to do — by creating a mechanism for these workers to elect a representative who would confer with state officials about the issues they face. This representative would talk with the Secretary of Human Services about recruitment and retention of qualified workers, standards for compensation, health benefits and other concerns. They also would discuss ways to improve services and make them more efficient.

Read Marvit's full discussion of the issue in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Tags: unions, pennsylvania, home care workers, healthcare, collective bargaining

In Major Anti-Labor Case, Union-busters No Longer Even Pretend Unions Don’t Benefit Workers

The latest case against labor, Bain v. California Teachers Association, has brought into question whether or not membership dues should be used to fund unions' political activities. As TCF fellow Moshe Marvit explains, however, the anti-union groups behind Bain are "perverting the First Amendment as a tool against labor"—and are using a pro-union façade while doing so.

It is a strange irony of this case that the plaintiffs readily admit the myriad benefits that come with union membership, but argue that it is unfair to require them to be members of the union to get those benefits. Bain and StudentsFirst have decided that the First Amendment gives them the right to make membership mean whatever they choose it to mean.

Read more from Marvit on the case at In These Times.

Tags: teacher unions, supreme court, labor unions, in these times

Democrats Must Have a Concrete Plan to Empower Workers

Recently, many prominent Democrats have spoken out in support of collective bargaining and organized labor. TCF fellow Amy Dean takes a look at this "warm embrace" of unions and why political rhetoric alone will not be enough this election cycle.

Part of the reason for the Democrats’ praise for labor is the recent spotlight on the ever-growing levels of economic inequality in the United States. Another reason is political expediency: With the 2016 election campaign looming, politicians are pandering to a base that they normally take for granted.

But Democrats cannot afford to pay only lip service to organized labor when the moment is convenient. Unless they take real measures to shore up employees’ rights to collectively organize, the Democratic Party will be courting a major crisis, as will America’s working families.

Check out the rest of Dean's piece at Al Jazeera America.

Tags: labor unions, labor organizations, al jazeera america

StudentsFirst Sues Teachers Unions Over Dues

In California, a court case addressing whether or not teacher union members should be able to opt out of paying dues destined for political purposes has been filed by Sacramento-based StudentsFirst, a national school-privitization organization. In an article discussing the legal battle, TCF fellow Moshe Marvit comments on similar cases involving dues disputes, discussing in particular Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that is now on appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Friedrichs is sort of attacking [Abood] head-on,” labor attorney and Century Foundation fellow Moshe Marvit told Capital & Main, “saying that it should be overturned, that the whole agency fee or fair share provision model that Abood sort of formalized in the public sector should be deemed unconstitutional. Bain is not attacking Abood in the same way. It’s saying that a fair share balance should be struck, not necessarily in favor of a right to work, but more in favor of the idea that nonmembers should get all the benefits of membership.”

Read more at Capital & Main.

Tags: unions, supreme court, labor unions

Wolf Camp Disputes Assertion of Home-Care ‘Union Ballot’

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are accusing a ballot that is being circulated to the state's independent home-care workers of being a union ballot, calling the move an "ambush." Labor experts like TCF fellow Moshe Marvit, however, have noted that the ballot is about representation of these workers and not unionization, which is a key distinction to make as the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act effectively prohibits home-care “domestic” workers from organizing.

“It’s actually a pretty important distinction,” said Moshe Z. Marvit, a labor law expert and a fellow with The Century Foundation, a liberal New York City policy group. “And it is a distinction that has been very well developed under the law in America.”

Read more on this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Tags: unions, legislation, labor union, labor organizing, home health


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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