Despite Debt And An Unstable Economy, A Degree May Be More Beneficial Than You Thought


In what comes as bad news for non-college grads, better news for those with a degree, and an overall statement on the state of our economy, the New York Times reports that, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute, on an hourly basis, college grads make 98 percent more than those without a degree.

In the early 80’s grads only made 64 percent more.

The education gap is a growing divide that’s often overlooked, but according to David Antor, economist and author of Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality Among the “Other 99 Percent”:

“An exclusive focus on the concentration of top incomes ignores the component of rising inequality that is arguably even more consequential for the ‘other 99 percent’,” he says.

It’s an interesting concept, especially during a time where, considering the cost and job market, many question the merits of a college degree. The New York Times reports that:

“It’s important to emphasize these shortfalls because public discussion today — for which we in the news media deserve some responsibility — often focuses on the undeniable fact that a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee success.”

Despite the upfront costs, college is still a better option than not and the aforementioned evidence supports that.

“Tellingly, though, the wage premium for people who have attended college without earning a bachelor’s degree — a group that includes community-college graduates — has not been rising.”

Still, college grads aren’t immune from the pressures of a less-than-stellar recovering economy:

“College graduates, like almost everyone else, are suffering from the economy’s weak growth and from the disproportionate share of this growth flowing to the very richest households.”

The bottom line in all of this is, while a college degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, unlike previous years where workers could find fruitful employment opportunities, nowadays having no degree almost always puts workers at a disadvantage.

Since a college degree is necessary, let’s get Congress to make it more affordable for everyone, sign the petition now.

Photo courtesy of Nazareth College via Flickr.

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Clueless on Climate Change: Punching In

How should they know?

Boehner, Rick Scott and other Republicans, claim they aren’t the experts on climate change. So don’t ask.

House GOP helps big business, again

This time they’ve cleared a $287 billion tax break for businesses.

A Walmart walkout for fair pay

Beginning today, hundreds of “Walmart Moms” across the country are walking off the job to protest their low wages.

What really caused of the slow economic growth in early 2014?

Despite several charges that the harsh winter caused the economy to contract in the beginning of 2014, one blogger asserts that the real blame lies in our dysfunctional government.

Great news for public school students in Indianapolis

This fall, all students will receive free breakfast and lunch.

While we wait on Harris v. Quinn

The Hill columnist writes about the landmark case and what it really means for workers.

Key Quote: “Let’s be clear: This case has nothing to do with defending the rights of individual workers, as NRTW would have us believe. Rather, it is about a far-right organization attempting to destroy the collective rights of American workers.”

And finally….

The Working Families Party is said to be courting Diane Ravitch as potential opponent to Gov. Cuomo.

Hey North Carolina, Our Freedoms Were Built Through ‘Imminent Disturbance’

North Carolina lawmakers want to use a new gag rule to silence growing Moral Monday protests over their extremist agenda that has attacked voting rights, education, the environment, unemployed workers, health care and women’s rights.

The “imminent disturbance” rule allows police to arrest anyone who poses a threat to create a disturbance through chants, singing or anything that might interfere with normal conversation levels at the State Legislative Building in Raleigh. In other words, just the possibility of an “imminent disturbance” could put the civil rights, union, student, environmental and other activists in jeopardy of arrest.

But as this new AFL-CIO video shows, “the greatest moments of America’s  history were borne of ‘imminent disturbance’,” from  the Boston Tea Party to the women’s suffrage movement to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and more.

“Silence the people and you’ve silenced America.”

AFL-CIO Communications Director Eric Hauser said:

“We stand together with the thousands who have spoken out against these reprehensible rules, and call on North Carolina’s leaders to reverse course and restore the basic rights we fight for every day”

For more information, text DISTURB to 235246 (data and message rates may apply).

In a related development, members of the Moral Monday movement staged a special lobby day at the State Legislative Building Tuesday urging lawmakers to “repent for their immoral actions last summer and to repeal these disastrous laws that are hurting our state’s most vulnerable.”

When House Speaker Thom Tillis (R)—who is also running for the U.S. Senate—refused to meet with them, more than a dozen staged a sit-in in his office at about noon. After legislative police ordered the sit-in’s supporters and a large group of media to leave the area that evening, they arrested 14 of the protesters at about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to news reports.


The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and one of the founders of the Moral Monday movement, said the Moral Monday protests will continue:

“Speaker Thom Tillis and his aides have refused to engage in a serious discussion over the deep and weighty issues, and now they are playing a waiting game in hopes that we will lose heart, pack up and go home. But we are not here to play games. These are serious, life-and-death questions. Where can the unemployed go for help? Where can those hardworking North Carolinians without health care access go? Where can those who have been disenfranchised go?”

How Republican-Controlled Michigan Became The Seventh State This Year to Raise the Minimum Wage


On Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law a bill that would repeal the current minimum wage law, raise the state minimum wage to $9.25 by 2018, and index the wage to inflation thereafter.

The bill was nearly identical to one proposed by Gov. Snyder’s probable Democratic opponent, former-Rep. Mark Schauer. Last year, Snyder’s office responded to Schauer’s proposal by saying that raising the minimum wage wasn’t “a burning issue,” and that it could have “unintended consequences.” Other previous statements also indicated Gov. Snyder opposed efforts to raise the wage.

So what happened?

The people of Michigan happened. Specifically, citizen-lead effort by Raise Michigan to put a minimum wage increase to $10.10 by 2017–and making that the tipped minimum as well–on the November ballot.

In Michigan, if a law that is the target of a ballot initiative is repealed, the initiative effort is canceled or at the very least thrown into legal doubt. Republicans in the Michigan legislature introduced a weaker minimum wage bill aimed at doing just that.

Faced with bad options, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and several of her colleagues opted to work with Republicans to strengthen the bill:

As disappointing as it was to see this legislation introduced, when it became clear that Republicans were intent on passing it and take that choice away from voters, I decided to roll up my sleeves, take a seat at the table and work to make significant changes to the bill to infuse it with some of the real demands of our workers.

The result was what happened today: a minimum wage increase passed with bipartisan majorities in both Houses was signed into law by a governor who previously opposed it.

Raise Michigan, for their part, will continue their effort to get the higher increase on the November ballot. They are still submitting nearly 300,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State.

In the meantime, even if the petition drive is truly scuttled, Michigan minimum workers will still see a raise of $0.90 an hour in September.

Photo by Raise Michigan on Facebook

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Ford Moves Manufacturing Jobs From Mexico Back to Ohio: Punching In

Fixing the VA

To fix embarrassing problems at Veterans Affairs, you have to adequately staff it.


Ford Motor Co. moving manufacturing jobs from Mexico back to Ohio.

Leaning in with action, not just words

Hilton workers in Cambridge, Massachusetts appeal to Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg to speak up for them.

Key Quote: “Unite Here Local 26, which is organizing workers at the Hilton DoubleTree Suites hotel near the Charles River, said it wanted to enlist Sandberg’s help after facing resistance from Hilton…So, the union decided, why not appeal to the author of the bestseller “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”?”

This state is on my mind

Georgia among the states that would be most helped by a minimum wage hike.

Yes and…?

D.C. activists, who successfully raised the city’s minimum wage, now pursuing an increase for tipped workers.

The people getting rich off our kids

The luxe life of the school privatization business.

In Ohio, dropouts soar in charter schools.

And the people pushing back

The rise of a new teachers union movement.

New civil rights suit calls school closures discriminatory.

Finally: The best way to alleviate homelessness

Providing basic housing and case managers to homeless individuals costs less than current system.

IMF CEO Says Income Inequality Casts a Dark Shadow On Global Economy

If you needed any more proof that the growing economic inequality will negatively affect the financial landscape for everyone except the wealthy, look no further.

“One of the leading economic stories of our time is rising income inequality, and the dark shadow it casts across the global economy,” Christine LaGarde, CEO of the International Monetary Fund, an organization that works to foster growth and economic stability on a global level, said in a speech on Tuesday.

Check out these two charts that back up LaGarde’s statement below:


According to the Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report, the richest 10 percent of people hold 86 percent of the world’s wealth, and the bottom half of all adults in the world own just one percent of global wealth.

“Since 1980, the richest 1 percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data,” LaGarde noted.

In America alone, here’s what that looks like:


LaGarde also called out too-big-to-fail banks, noting that:

“In the decade prior to the crisis, the balance sheets of the world’s largest banks increased by two to four-fold. With rising size came rising risk—in the form of lower capital, less stable funding, greater complexity, and more trading.”

But she does note a silver lining when it comes to reforming some of these issues:

“This is especially true for banking regulation under the auspices of the Basel Committee, where we are moving forward with stronger capital and liquidity requirements. This should make the system safer, sounder, and more service oriented.”

Are You Trapped in the Walmart Economy?

Workers at Walmart are mounting a new initiative not only to get their stories of how Walmart’s low wages, disrespect and intimidation are trapping them in a Walmart economy, but how millions of other workers and their families are caught in that same economy.

A Walmart economy is an economy of inequality manipulated by corporations like the $16 billion-a-year-in-profits retail behemoth and other corporations and 1 percenters like the Walton family, the richest in America.

To workers at Walmart, a Walmart economy means “having to decide between paying my bills and being able to take a day off work to stay with my sick daughter,” says LaShanda Myric, a Walmart worker in Denver.

For Richard Wilson who works at a Chicago Walmart, it means “….Working full-time, but not being able to pay back my student loans.”

What does the Walmart economy of inequality mean to you? Is it struggling to pay your bills or drowning in debt? Is it forgoing health care because you can’t afford health insurance or being unable to retire?

Use the hashtag #Walmarteconomy to tweet or post a photo or video to Instagram to say what the Walmart economy means to you. You also can go to the new Walmart Economy website and share your story.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Raising The Wage: Punching In

A Big month for workers in Michigan

First Detroit workers get pension relief, now Gov. Snyder signs off on a $9.25 an hour minimum wage increase.

Election season

Should the GOP bother with Senate elections? One columnist says yes.

Taxes, taxes and more taxes

Did David Koch’s group, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, receive a tax break for their $900,000 endorsement of Gov. Walker?

Immigration reform

Obama has delayed deportation review until the end of the summer in the hope that Congress will pass a slew of immigration laws by then.

Key quote: “The White House is concerned that Republicans would balk if the administration takes unilateral action to stem the deportation of undocumented immigrants, ending any slim remaining hopes of a legislative compromise.”

Why Boehner really cares about immigration reform.

And finally…

Consumer confidence has increased to 83 percent, the second highest since 2008.

Adjuncts Are Fighting Back Against Unfair Working Conditions


For years, adjunct professors at colleges across the country have been forced to deal with low pay and poor working conditions, but recently the discontent in the field has been growing, signaling that a change towards fairer conditions is on the horizon.

Back in April, instructors at the Maryland Institute College of Art voted to bring a labor union on board and now, adjuncts from two private colleges may be next in line.

In June, adjuncts at Marist College in Poughkeepsie will hold a vote to determine whether or not the nearly 400 instructors will unionize.

Additionally, Albany, N.Y.-based College of Saint Rose is also in the process of collecting signatures for a vote.

On average, most adjunct professors make between $2,000 and $3000 a course, and because they aren’t considered full-time, the colleges usually skirt on health insurance and paid time off.

The City University of New York pays its adjuncts $3,000 per course, while its salaried professors make over $100,000 a year.

It’s not just the pay that’s deplorable in the adjunct world, there’s also virtually no job security as teaching positions aren’t guaranteed. Meanwhile, more and more colleges are filling its classrooms with adjuncts, largely due to the cheap labor they provide.

These harsh realities are a clear indicator that change is necessary, and for many, a union is the answer.

“A union puts us on equal legal footing with the administration,” says Karen Comstock, a social psychology instructor at Marist. “Right now, we are hired semester-to-semester, and now we either accept their contracts, or we can leave. There is no negotiation. With a union, both sides have to negotiate with a good-faith effort to come up with a contract that is more satisfying.”

Photo courtesy of Joby Elliott via Flickr.

The State of America’s Deadly Jobs, in 9 Charts

The State of America's Deadly Jobs, in 9 Charts

At The Huffington Post, Alissa Scheller has an article that includes nine charts that show very clearly the key takeaways from the AFL-CIO’s recent Death on the Job report.  These charts explore the issue of who the 4,600 who die on the job each year are and what is contributing to their deaths.









Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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