Combining all of the state and local income, property, sales and excise taxes state residents pay, the average overall effective tax rates by income group nationwide are 11.1 percent for the bottom 20 percent, 9.4 percent for the middle 20 percent and 5.6 percent for the top 1 percent.In Washington, the most regressive state, the poorest 20 percent of the population pays 16.9 percent of its income in state and local taxes while the richest 1 percent pays just 2.8 percent. By contrast, in Vermont, the most progressive state, the poorest 20 percent pays 8.7 percent while the richest 1 percent pays 8 percent—still a lower percent, but a whole lot more fair.
There's more of the week's news below the fold.
The grand scheme of things
- Josh Eidelson looks at the rise of alt-labor:
As unions face declining membership these workers’ groups—like the mostly union-free job sectors they organize—are on the rise, particularly in New York. Because of their efforts, more restaurant workers in the city get paid sick days, domestic workers receive overtime pay, and taxi drivers will soon have health insurance.
Twenty years ago, when Rutgers labor professor Janice Fine first set out to count the nonunion groups that were organizing and mobilizing workers, she found just five in the entire country. Today, her tally stands at 214. These groups organize farmworkers and fashion models. They go by names like “workers’ centers” and “workers’ alliances.” Some are rooted in the immigrant-rights movement as much as the labor movement. Lacking the ability to engage in collective bargaining or enforce union contracts, these alternative labor groups rely on an overlapping set of other tactics to reform their industries.
A fair day's wage
- Sarah Jaffe on the drive to organize fast food workers in New York City:
Her name is Pamela Flood, and she works at the Burger King at 971 Flatbush Avenue. She was one of 200 or so workers at New York City’s fast-food restaurants that struck for a raise to $15 an hour and union recognition on that November day, kicking the simmering movement among the city’s lowest-wage workers up another level. She also works at a CVS and attends classes at night, holding down a 4.0 GPA as she studies to be a medical assistant, to better support her three children. Burger King pays her just $7.25 an hour.
Flood drew cheers that day on the picket line when she demanded $15 an hour so that she could take her kids on vacation like the high-paid executives can. “I work hard for my money, I work hard for my kids, and I think we all deserve better,” she told me. “I’ll take two and three jobs to take care of my kids, but while I’m doing that I’m also going to stand up for what I believe in, and what I believe in is that we should be making way more than $7.25, because if a doorman, a security guard, and a janitor can make $12 to $15 an hour, why can’t we?”
- The National Labor Relations Board Office of the General Counsel found the New York City school bus strike not unlawful.
About a year ago, Cablevision technicians in Brooklyn voted to unionize. They're still trying to get a contract with a viciously anti-union company that's refusing to bargain in good faith. Then Wednesday, Cablevision fired 23 workers who had gone to press management to bargain. Thursday morning, workers and their supporters, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, both mayoral candidates, rallied and tried to get management to talk to them.
(Quinn still needs to let paid sick days come to a council vote, though.)
- Just weeks after California-based port truck drivers at Toll Group won their first contract, including a raise, overtime pay, and pension contributions, another group of port drivers is trying to follow suit by joining the Teamsters:
Delegates for 85 port drivers at American Logistics International hand-delivered a letter to their boss late yesterday afternoon telling him the news.The Toll Group example shows how hard the fight will be—and that victory is possible.
- If you hold an event at a hotel and get a bill listing a service charge of around the percentage you would usually leave as a tip, it's not unreasonable to assume it's a tip, right? Not in San Antonio, where the service charge goes to management. And then workers don't get tipped because people assume that's what the service charge is for. Some workers even say they've been told by management to lie to customers who ask if the service charge is a tip.
Workers and UNITE HERE are fighting back, petitioning for a Tip Integrity Act; they collected more than 3,700 signatures in the city's hospitality district.
- A powerful NBA player agent is urging basketball players to dump the executive director of their union.
- Bill Gates, "philanthropist," isn't just into terrible education policy, he's also an investor in waste management company Republic Services:
According to the Teamsters union, which represents the employees of Republic Services, workers have been subject to lockouts for protesting against the destruction of already modest pensions, unpaid overtime, and illegally abandoning contracts agreed upon with the union. In 2012, Republic Services' practice of locking out protesting workers led to stoppages in at least 13 American cities.
State and local government
- The good news is, the same ALEC-member Pennsylvania legislator has introduced the same basic bill repeatedly and Gov. Tom Corbett says he doesn't expect it to pass. The bad news is, it's a free rider bill and we've seen this whole "oh, it won't pass" thing before, in Michigan.
- Speaking of crapitude in Pennsylvania, Corbett is pitting state liquor store workers against public school teachers.
- A California warehouse was cited over $1 million for wage theft:
The warehouse required employees to punch in but provided only three time clocks for their workers, resulting in long lines of more than 100 employees. Workers who arrived to work on time but waited in line to punch in were given “warnings” for punching in late. This created a situation where employees were obliged to report to work earlier and earlier, time for which they were not compensated. When employees punched out for their meal period, they were also required to stand in long lines, which cut into their 30-minute lunch break and forced them to come back early to punch back in. The company would alter their time records to reflect that the employees had been allotted the full 30-minute lunch break.
- This is not new, but it's new to me, and a great discussion of why one Fordham University professor won't let Teach for America recruit from his classes anymore:
Teach for America had accepted only four of the nearly one hundred Fordham students who applied. I become even angrier when I read in the New York Times that TFA had accepted forty-four of one hundred applicants from Yale that year. Something was really wrong if an organization which wanted to serve low-income communities rejected every applicant from Fordham, students who came from those very communities, and accepted half of the applicants from an Ivy League school where very few of the students, even students of color, come from working-class or poor families.
Since then, the percentage of Fordham students accepted into Teach for America has marginally increased, but the organization has done little to win my confidence that it is seriously committed to recruiting people willing to make a lifetime commitment to teaching and administering schools in high-poverty areas.
Never, in its recruiting literature, has Teach for America described teaching as the most valuable professional choice that an idealistic, socially-conscious person can make. Nor do they encourage the brightest students to make teaching their permanent career; indeed, the organization goes out of its way to make joining TFA seem a like a great pathway to success in other, higher-paying professions.