Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) urged lawmakers to embrace a package that could avert the so-called fiscal cliff, noting that 2.1 million Americans have already lost federal unemployment benefits as a result of Congressional inaction. “From this point on, it is lose-lose,” Feinstein explained, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “My big worry, is, a contraction of the economy. The loss of jobs, which could be well over 2 million in addition to the people already on unemployment.”
Indeed, the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group, projects that “more than 2 million Americans will stop receiving benefits after Dec. 29, when the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will cease to exist.” The benefits have kept 2.3 million out of poverty last year alone, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that a full, year-long extension would lead to the creation of 300,000 new jobs.
The initiative requires recipients to search for a job while receiving payments, and one study found that unemployment recipients search harder for jobs than those who are not receiving money from the program.
Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) demanded spending cuts to pay for the program, which would cost $30 billion. Democrats have been pushing for a full extension of benefits.
This post was originally posted on Think Progress on December 30, 2012. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Igor Volsky is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress.org. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Fox News, and CNBC television, and has been a guest on many radio shows. In 2011, Forbes named Igor one of their top 30 under 30 in Law & Policy. Igor grew up in Russia, Israel and New Jersey and graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He was previously the Health and LGBT editor at ThinkProgress.
Friday, December 28th, 2012
This morning Meteor Blades reported that Jobless benefits claims drop again, but numbers could be skewed by holiday closures of state offices, including this sad news for those whose base unemployment payments have been used up:
Come Saturday, if the president and congressional leaders do not come to agreement on fiscal matters, some 2.1 million people will lose their benefits under the federal extensions. If those extensions are not renewed in the new year, an estimated 900,000 more people will lose their benefits by April 1. Some economists say that such a cut-off combined with the end of the payroll tax cut could, by themselves, throw the nation back into recession.
Arthur Delany picks up this theme in Congress Almost Certain To Blow Unemployment Deadline, telling us even if the special House session convened by Speaker Boehner should unexpectedly pass a solution to budget crisis, it will be too late for the 2 million unemployed who are receiving exgended benefits under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation act:
Democrats have demanded a full reauthorization of emergency benefits through next year, which would cost $30 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The current regimen of benefits provides up to 47 weeks in states with high unemployment rates, for a combined 73 weeks of state and federal compensation. Jobless workers in only nine states are eligible for the full duration.
Republicans have been quiet about the benefits, which many observers consider a sign they won’t be a deal-breaker for the GOP. President Barack Obama included unemployment compensation when he called on Congress to pass a scaled-down “fiscal cliff” bill late last week.
Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) says:
“I’ve never seen a public as energized or as knowledgeable about an issue as they are about the fiscal cliff,” Hoyer said. “I don’t mean that they know every paragraph, sentence, and ramification of the failure to stop going over the fiscal cliff, but they know it will not be positive. They know it will have a negative impact on the economy and they know it will have a negative impact on them and their families. And they are expecting us to be here to work, and we’re not.”
One advantage of rallying public compassion and outrage to extend these benefits as a stand alone bill, on its own merits, starting in the Senate, might be that we may end up having to make less severe concessions to the intransigent House Republicans to get an extension than we’ve apparently offered to House Speaker Boehner in the rejected “grand bargain” which is reported to have included chained CPI which would have cost seniors vastly more in human suffering and start the steady compounding reduction of the value to recipients essentially forever.
I hope Senate Majority leader Harry Reid proposes a stand alone bill extending these benefits we can rally behind, as well as as many other bills combining this with $250,000 threshold tax cuts, and Medicare doctors fix. My hope is that if we are willing to play hardball, and rally public support around each component of the “fiscal cliff” we may get through the whole situation with the least possible damage to our common good and the constituencies that depend on the Democratic Party to defend their interests.
This post was originally posted on The Daily Kos on December 27, 2012. Reprinted with Permission.
Monday, September 10th, 2012
The other day, I read an article on Forbes called “Tips For Dealing With Lazy Co-Workers.”
It’s a fun topic, isn’t it, because we all love to feel like we are the only ones working hard. And it’s such a hardship to put up with lazy old Joe in the next cube over. Ugh!
Time to review one of our favorite words: Sludge.
“Sludge” is the toxic language we use to judge people for how they spend their time. It’s based on old beliefs about how work should happen.
Sludge is when someone says, “10:00 a.m. and you’re just getting in? I wish I could come in late every day.” The belief being expressed here is that work happens between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The person who isn’t in the building at 8:00 a.m. is therefore not working.
Focusing on lazy co-workers is a waste of time. It’s Sludge.
Changing Workplace Culture
No one wins when you play office politics, so stop playing the game! For all the lists out there that we’ve seen lately (ahem.. “Tips for Pretending Like You’re Really Working” or “Tips for How to Dress Like a Really Serious Professional” or “Tips to Fake Being ‘On’ 24/7”), I present to you a Results-Only perspective: 10 Tips for Becoming a Workplace Politics Rebel
10. Remind yourself that you are an adult.
That’s right. Ask yourself why, as an adult, you have to ask your boss for permission to do the following:
Take a longer lunch
Use the restroom (Yes, some clients of ours used to be required to ask for a hall pass!)
Explain why you’re not putting in extra hours
9. What is fair? Getting paid to deliver results. Period.
Remember college? If you didn’t know the material, you got a bad grade. If you skipped every class and had no clue what classes you were even taking and got a bad grade, you were accountable. No results? No GRADE. You are getting paid to deliver something for the organization. At work, what it should come down to is this: “No results, no job.”
8. Get clear on measurable results.
What isn’t measurable is subject to interpretation. This puts you as an employee in a bad spot and tempts the boss to reward face-time and presenteeism.
Not sure what you’re supposed to be doing or delivering? Do not waste another minute filling time. Go to your boss and be relentless about identifying–in writing–how you are going to measure your work. What is success? And then run from anything that is subjective.
“I’d like you to work on being a team player” is absolutely not a business goal. It’s up to the interpretation of everyone around you and you’ll never win that one.
7. See old beliefs for what they are. Old.
Relationships are best built face-to-face. Some people just need more supervision. People who are in the office are more dedicated. The best collaboration happens in the office. Core hours are important to the customer. People who telework are slackers.
If any of these beliefs made you say “that’s so true”’ then you’re six degrees of separation away from focusing on what is important. There’s a new definition for the social aspect of work.
6. Stop talking about “availability”
It’s time to cease the wasted energy surrounding these phrases: “Who is available?”, “When will you be available?”, “Are you available from 8-5?”, “Will you be available next week?”, “What time this afternoon will you be available?”, “We need to be available for our customers.”
Get a grip! We have voicemail and email–the superheroes that work 24/7 to gather information for us. So that we can get work done. Voicemail and email are on 24/7, but that doesn’t mean you should be! In response to all that gathered information, what people need to do is…coming up in the next point.
5. Respond. Not fast…not slow…but based on the work.
Respond to the needs of the business – the work. Who best knows your job? You. And according to #6, you have superheroes gathering information for you so that you can respond to the needs of your business. Only you know how speedy that needs to be.
An on-call surgeon has a different response time then an accountant (unless it’s April 15th). If someone asks “will you be available on Friday?” respond politely, but firmly, with the magic phrase: “is there something you need?”
6. Let go of the clock. Just… let… it… go!
Time only matters if it is about a deadline. Or if you decided to meet at 1:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. is relevant. Anyone who thinks 8 a.m. is some magical time that work should begin and 5pm is some magical time work should end – for most people – is seriously living in 1952.
If you find yourself looking at the clock and barking out comments like “It’s nine o’clock! Where the heck is Bob?!” please go back and review all of the points in this post.
3. Only ‘meet’ if the work requires meeting.
Find yourself getting caught up in unproductive meetings that are wasting your time and going nowhere? It’s not the meeting organizer’s fault. It’s yours. Look at all the meetings you have on your calendar. For each meeting, ask the following questions:
Is there a clear, measurable outcome that will affect the measurable outcome of your work? Do you know your role? Is a meeting the best way to accomplish the outcome?
If the answer is yes, then meet. If not, ask the meeting organizer to clarify these things for you and if they can’t, politely decline.
2. Mind your own business.
Now that you’ve accomplished #8, this is your focus. What time Susie is coming in, or how much vacation Bob is getting, is not important. Each and every day, reach out to people and tell them exactly what you need and when you need it in order to accomplish what you’ve agreed to deliver, and the rest will take care of itself. Whether Jill is working from home, a cabin, or a cube is irrelevant. And how much vacation time Bob gets – yep. Irrelevant.
1. Focus on what matters
At the risk of sounding a bit Pollyanna-ish, your life is what matters. The old adage “nobody on their deathbed ever said ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office’” had it right. If we continue to play the old workplace politics game that includes who stayed the longest, who put in the most time, who looked the busiest and who was the most effective at sucking up to the boss, then we’re all losers.
This blog originally appeared in ROWE on September 2, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Cali Ressler is co-creator of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). She’s the co-author of the bestselling Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It, and a nationally recognized keynote speaker.
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
There is a common misconception that the Family and Medical Leave Act only include provisions that apply to pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, there are many scenarios that working people face which could benefit from leave guaranteed under FMLA laws. It is important for all workers to be aware of FMLA and what it covers, because this 12 week allotment of unpaid leave may be of great assistance in many situations.
FMLA does cover issues pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth. But, what about other parenting situations? For example, what if an employee adopts a child? Or, what if a parent has a sick child? FMLA can be applied in these situations as long as the situation qualifies. Furthermore, FMLA does not have to be used as a single extended period of leave. If, for example, a parent has a child who must be taken to the doctor regularly for treatment, that parent may take leave in small increments to do this. Even if the time needed is only an hour, FMLA can be used. All an employee has to do is provide the employer with sufficient information to explain why the leave is needed and when it will be taken.
What if there is a family member other than a child who is having significant health issues? Can an employee have leave under FMLA to care for them? Unequivocally yes as long as the employee qualifies. To qualify the employee must work for a qualifying organization, have worked at least 1,250 hours in a year, give an explanation of why and when the leave is needed, and provide medical certification to prove the need for leave. When an employee needs time to care for the needs of a child, spouse, or parent, FMLA provides it. Leave may be used to take a family member for medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and dialysis. It may also be used to care for a family member with a chronic condition such as Alzheimer’s.
There are other situations where FMLA may be applied that are less well-known. For example, many people don’t realize that FMLA makes special provisions that apply to military personnel, including those in the Reserves or National Guard. If an employee has a spouse, child, or parent who is in the military, they may take FMLA leave to cover the needs that arise if that person is called to duty. These could include financial preparations, handling legal arrangements, and attending military functions. FMLA can also be used for the purpose of spending time with a serviceperson who is on short-term, temporary leave during deployment.
Lastly, people should remember that FMLA can be used in order to care for an employee’s own serious health issues. This doesn’t mean that you can use FMLA to recuperate from a cold. But, if you have a significant health situation arise, or if you have a chronic issue like asthma or arthritis, FMLA can help you. Employees will need to provide a medical certification form completed by a physician to document the need for leave.
If you need to take time off for a significant health reason, for a parenting issue, or for something relating to active military duty, you need to examine FMLA leave. The requirements to be eligible for the leave are surprisingly few. They are:
• An employee must work for a covered employer
• An employee have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months
• An employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months
• An employee must work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
FMLA is an extremely helpful protection for all employees. Those who are not completely familiar with the laws should make an attempt to familiarize themselves with its contents. The Department of Labor provides employees with resources that explain FMLA. A small investment of time learning about the rules could be a lifesaver if the need for leave arises.
About the Author: Lizabeth C. S. Bell has a background in English and library science. Currently, she does research, analysis and writing for EmploymentLaw HQ, a site dedicated to providing employees with free information about their legal rights. Insatiably curious, Lizabeth is interested in pursuing further intellectual challenges and loves sharing new knowledge with others.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
Today marks the third year minimum wage workers haven’t seen a raise. While the price of just about everything else has skyrocketed (milk, eggs, health care, college), full-time minimum wage workers are barely making more than $15,000 a year.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) is encouraging workers, advocates and community members to take action today by rallying to support a minimum wage increase. Events are taking place all over the country, and NELP has an online petition you can sign here.
Here are 10 facts you need to know from NELP about the minimum wage:
How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. Instead, it’s $7.25. Learn more.
The annual income for a full-time employee working the entire year at the federal minimum wage.
The number of states where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment working a 40-hour week. Learn more.
The number of times Congress passed legislation to increase the minimum wage in the past 30 years.
The number of states (including the District of Columbia) that have raised their minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25.
The number of states that annually increase their state minimum to keep up with the rising cost of living.
The percentage of Americans who support gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10.00 an hour, according to an October 2010 poll.
64 in 100 vs. 4 in 100
What are the chances an adult minimum wage worker is a woman vs. the chances a Fortune 500 CEO is a woman? Learn more.
The percentage of Missouri voters that voted to increase and index the Missouri minimum wage in the 2006 ballot initiative.
The federal minimum wage for tipped employees, such as waiters and waitresses, nail salon workers or parking attendants.
Learn more about the National Day of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage here.
This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO on July 24, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Jackie Tortora recently joined the AFL-CIO as the blog/social Media editor. Before that, she was a Social Security and Medicare advocate for a national seniors’ organization.
Friday, July 20th, 2012
First-time unemployment claims jumped to 386,000 from last week’s revised total of 352,000, the Department of Labor reports. Last week, first-time claims were initially reported at 350,000, the lowest since March 2008. However, analysts cautioned that the drop was likely a result, at least in part, of auto manufacturers not shutting down as many plants as they usually do at this time of year; seasonal adjustments to the jobless claims numbers were thrown off by that.
The four-week moving average, a measure preferred because it reduces volatility, was 375,500. This is a drop of 1,500 from the previous week’s revised figure of 377,000. Volatility as a result of the auto industry’s summer shutdowns, however reduced they are this year, is expected to continue making it difficult to suggest any trends in the labor market.
For all unemployment benefit programs, including federal emergency extensions, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending June 30 was 5,752,116, a decrease of 121,985 from the previous week. This number is dropping in part because people are exhausting their eligibility for weeks of benefits being reduced by Congress and some states.
(The Maddow Blog)
This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on July 19, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Credit: Joe Kekeris
When you think of minimum wage workers, it’s a good bet firefighters don’t come to mind.
Yet in Scranton, Pa., firefighters are risking their lives rushing into burning buildings, all for $7.25 an hour.
A fight between Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and the City Council over the city budget has resulted in a pay slash for all 400 city employees—including police officers and firefighters—to the minimum wage.
Firefighter Andy Polansky tells Current.com he and his wife don’t live beyond their means. Their only luxury? Putting their two kids in day care.
With the $7.25 an hour it makes it questionable to put them in day care. Putting them in day care is $70 a day, which means I work 10 hours before I can start paying other bills. We will cut back on everything we can, but we live a fairly simple lifestyle, so there isn’t much to cut from.
Trying to live—indefinitely—on up to 75 percent less pay means using up all your savings to pay bills, says firefighter John Judge, president of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 60.
We can’t keep going back to the bank for a loan. When I tell them I make $7.25 an hour, they’re not going to give me a loan.
Doherty and Council President Janet Evans say they’re trying to reach a deal by an Aug. 1 deadline set to get $2.25 million in financial assistance offered by the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
Until then, firefighters and other public employees are sinking into debt for doing their jobs.
This blog originally appeared on AFL-CIO Now on July 18, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Tula Connell got her first union card while she worked her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee they were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union (the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism (covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia) she started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), she now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.
Monday, July 16th, 2012
The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate to maintain low inflation and high employment — a job description that requires a balancing act, as these two goals can be in tension. The Fed has put its inflation target at 2 percent, while 5 percent is generally viewed as the normal unemployment rate when the economy is operating at full strength.
But as economist Chad Stone shows in U.S. News & World Report this morning, the Fed has usually hit its inflation target ever since the Great Recession while utterly failing to meet its obligation to bring down unemployment:
So the Fed has spent the last three years treating 2 percent inflation as a ceiling rather than a happy median, refusing to allow it higher even to bring down America’s sky-high unemployment rate of 8 percent. But the good news is that in late June, the Federal Reserve finally decided to extend what monetary easing it has engaged in by another $267 billion, and the institution’s hesitation to do more to help the economy could be dissapating. Whether it will be sufficient to help the economy at this point remains to be seen.
This post originally appeared in Think Progress on July 13, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Jeff Spross is video editor and blogger for ThinkProgress.org. Jeff was raised in Texas and received his B.S. in film from the University of Texas, after which he worked for several years as an assistant editor in Austin and Los Angeles. During that time Jeff co-founded, wrote and produced The Regimen, a blog and podcast dealing with politics and culture. More recently, he has interned at The American Prospect and worked as a video producer for The Guardian.
Thursday, June 28th, 2012
As we move further into the twenty-first century, I have come to the realization that many of us have forgotten where we came from. I would wager many who are doctors, lawyers, elected officials and captains of industry came from humble means. Working class families, such as construction workers, maintenance people and factory workers, just to name a few. And many (oh so many) have turned on the same sort of people that bore and raised them, clothed and fed them, put them through college and called them son or daughter. How do we end this cycle?
To solve any problem we first need to address the main cause and move from there towards a solution.
Much of the problem starts with us, the parents. Do we tell our children about what we do? Do we educate them on the struggles of those who have come before us? Those who had endured, bled and sometimes died so that the generations to come could have a better life than their parents had. Sadly, I don’t think so.
Many parents back in the seventies and eighties probably never thought there would be attacks on the people that build our country, that teach our children, or even those that protect us while we sleep. And that was our first mistake. Never underestimate the greed of those that have no conscience. Never think for a second that people won’t watch you suffer while they profit.
Something else that has put us in this predicament is that some of us in skilled labor put down our professions, expressing horror at the thought of our children following in our footsteps. This happens more often than we might want to admit and it has lasting consequences. We act as though working with our hands is something to be ashamed of, that it’s something to look down on. And we’re ok with that? I’m certainly not and you shouldn’t be either.
Now, to end the cycle.
We need to talk to our children. We have to tell them that those of us that work with their hands, those that earn their wages from the sweat of their brow, those that put themselves in danger to serve the public good, work in an office and teach our children are not expendable. That these people ought to be treated with the same respect and dignity we all want in life.
We should remind our kids that men, women and even children were degraded, abused, beaten, stabbed, shot and killed all in the name of a few very wealthy people that didn’t want to pay their fair share to raise this nation to its full potential. More importantly, that those who fought prevailed, it was not in vain and they won a lasting period where most had a fair shake. And this is what has been under attack. This is what is at stake.
The fight for all working people throughout the nation starts with us as workers, blue and white collar alike. We need to erase the lines that divide us, realize that we all labor; we all scrape and scratch for a better life for our families. We must get past these superficial and petty differences or we will all fall. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
If we’re going to end this cycle now, we need to stand together, take pride in our work and teach our children that everyone has worth. Preserving our way of life starts at home.
This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos on June 24, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Todd Farally is a third generation Union Sheet Metal Worker, blogger and activist who has been involved in the Labor Movement and political activism most of his life. He was raised to believe in speaking out when injustice is imposed upon those without a voice and to never give up, no matter how tough the fight may seem.
Thursday, June 21st, 2012
A group of House Democrats recently proposed legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, roughly where it would have to be to match the peak buying power the wage reached in 1968. Cities and states across the country are taking action on their own, raising their minimum wages in an effort to help low-income workers.
Opponents of minimum wage increases contest that raising the minimum wage will be costly for businesses and have a negative effect on job growth and employment. An analysis by the Center for American Progress’ Nick Bunker, David Madland, and the University of North Carolina’s T. William Lester, however, found five recent studies showing that increasing the minimum wage — even during periods of high unemployment — does not have a negative effect on job growth:
A significant body of academic research has found that raising the minimum wage does not result in job losses even during hard economic times. There are at least five different academic studies focusing on increases to the minimum wage—including increases ranging from 7 percent to 12.3 percent made during periods of high unemployment—that find an increase in the minimum wage has no significant effect on employment levels. The results are likely because the boost in demand and reduction in turnover provided by a minimum wage counteracts the higher wage costs.
Similarly, a simple analysis of increases to the minimum wage on the state level, even during periods of state unemployment rates above 8 percent, shows that the minimum wage does not kill jobs. Indeed the states in our simple analysis had job growth slightly above the national average. [...]
All the studies came to the same conclusion—that raising the minimum wage had no effect on employment.
While increasing the minimum wage likely has no effect on job creation, it does have a tangible benefit for workers. Eight states increased their minimum wage at the beginning of 2012, providing extra benefits to 1.4 million workers. More than half of the workers directly affected by a minimum wage increase, as well as more than half who would be indirectly affected, are women, meaning increasing the wage provides help to a segment of the population that already faces significant disadvantages in the workplace.
This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on June 20, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Travis Waldron is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journal’s Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky’s daily student newspaper.