Posts by stephen herzenberg

A Victory for Seattle "For-Hire" Drivers...and for the Next Labor Movement

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One regular theme on this blog is that area-wide unions that lift wages and benefits in industries that cannot relocate are the main way we're going to fix our income distribution and — thanks to the political power of such area-wide unions once they represent tens of millions — fix our democracy.

Drillers Are Right – PA Needs Tax Rate on Gas Like Other States: It’s Time for a Severance Tax

In its recent letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, the Marcellus Shale Coalition points (in paragraph three) to the effective tax rate (ETR) on production as a key indicator of whether Pennsylvania should enact a severance tax in addition to the per-well impact fee we already have.

OK, let’s look at that ETR using Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) estimates of the ETR for 2011-16 and IFO estimates of prices and production to project the ETR (using IFO’s method) in 2017 and 2018.*

Unpacking the Right’s Breathless Embrace of New Seattle Minimum-Wage Study

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A recent column by A. Barton Hinkle in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (and also on the Reason Foundation web page) about minimum wage increases is getting a lot of attention in conservative intellectual circles. In the piece, Hinkle compares climate denial to skepticism expressed about a recent study on the effects of Seattle’s increase in its minimum wage.    

Yes! Millennials SHOULD Lead the Next Labor Movement

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Kashana Cauley, a writer for "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah," published a column yesterday, "Why Millennials Should Lead the Next Labor Movement," to which I say "hallelujah."
 
Since Keystone Research Center began operating in December 1995, we have argued that the main answer to economic inequality is labor unions that fit the industries and jobs of today and the future.

Apprenticeship Weak: Trump proposal fails to tap into apprenticeship’s potential

This piece was originally posted on the Economic Policy Institute's Working Economics Blog here: http://www.epi.org/blog/trump-apprenticeship-proposal

Everyone loves apprenticeships (including me) as a basic model for learning work-related skills, but for the most part, policymakers don’t think very hard about why there’s so little apprenticeship in the United States. For that reason, we’re likely to continue talking about how great apprenticeship is but not making significant investments in it. President Trump’s underwhelming plan to expand apprenticeships, unveiled this past week, won’t change that. His initiative will add $100 million (less than a dollar per U.S. worker) to the budget for apprenticeship and give employers more flexibility (i.e., unilateral control without objective oversight or minimum standards) in structuring new apprenticeships, but does little to address the underlying reasons why the United States lags behind our peers when it comes to apprenticeships.

With Public Pensions Done, It’s Time Now for a Victory on Retirement Security...and a Great State Budget

Roughly five years after Gov. Corbett first began an effort to eliminate guaranteed pensions for future school and state employees, Gov. Wolf today signed a bill that reduces the guaranteed portion of future pensions by about three-eighths (because the pension increases with each year of service by 1.25% of final salary instead of 2%). Alongside this smaller guaranteed pension, future employees will receive a 401(k)-style savings account. If these savings are converted into a second monthly check – an “annuity” – “actuaries” estimate (Table 9, p. 19) that the total retirement benefit for future career employees will be within 16% to 18% of the retirement benefit received by employees under the prior (Act 120) pension plan (enacted in 2010).

In sum, the enacted pension compromise is a smaller cut in benefits than earlier “hybrid” (combined DB-DC) proposals (such as this one with a smaller DB multiplier). Together with Social Security, the new hybrid pension will maintain retirement security for future school and state employees.

Last Chance for Sen. Toomey to Vote with Main St. Savers on Retirement Security

We hear from our friends in Washington DC that a U.S. Senate vote on a House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res. 66) that would impede states from improving retirement security for private workers could come today or tomorrow. It won’t come to a vote unless Republican leaders in the Senate think that the resolution will pass – so now is the time for Pennsylvanians to make their voice heard with Sen. Toomey. If he votes against H.J. Res 66 as he should, joining Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, that can send it down.

Attacks on Public Sector Workers Hurt Working People and Benefit the Rich

Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House and Senate continue to promote bills that would reduce the power of public sector unions by undercutting them financially. These bills would make it harder or illegal to collect some current contributions to unions (e.g., from non-members who enjoy higher wages and benefits and workplace representation from public sector unions).

Why Do Rural Legislators Vote for Voucher Programs That Deliver NO Benefits to Their Counties?

Imagine two Pennsylvania programs that subsidize a mix of the state's most expensive private schools catering to the very rich plus faith-based instruction hostile to those with different beliefs. Imagine, further, that you don't have either kind of school in your rural county, which is served virtually entirely by public schools.

KRC on U.S. Senate Action to Prevent Cities from Improving Retirement Security for Private Sector Workers

We issued the following statement in my name this week in response to the U.S. Senate vote on H.J. Resolution 67 blocking a rule that would make it easier for cities to help private-sector employees save for retirement.
 
 
“Earlier today, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey joined all but one member of the Republican Majority in the U.S. Senate to block large cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Seattle from empowering employees of private-sector companies to save for retirement. Sen. Toomey and his colleagues made clear that they stand for the Wall Street financial firms who charge bigger fees to individuals who set up retirement savings plans on their own. Sen. Toomey and his colleagues stand against the Main Street retirees that would benefit when big cities bargain lower fees from financial services vendors and use competitive bids to select high-quality savings options.