News from the Daily Kos Labor
- Latina Equal Pay Day finally rolls around, this week in the war on workers
November, 23 2019
November 20 was Latina Equal Pay Day. That means that’s when the average Latina caught up with what the average white man was paid between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. And yes, it is nearly 2020. Latinas need to work nearly a full extra year to match the white man’s single year.
While women overall make 80 or 81 cents on the white man’s dollar, putting Equal Pay Day in April, and Black Women’s Equal Pay Day comes in late August since they make 61 cents on the dollar, for Latinas it’s 53 cents for every dollar a white man makes. White women make 77 cents, Asian American women make 85 cents, and Native American women make 58 cents.
“At every level of education, white non-Hispanic men are paid more than Hispanic women. What’s also clear from the data is that further education does not close their sizable wage gaps with white non-Hispanic men,” the Economic Policy Institute reports. “As Hispanic women increase their educational attainment, their pay gap with white men generally increases. The largest dollar gap (more than $18 an hour), occurs for workers with more than a college degree. Even Hispanic women with an advanced degree earn less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree. That statistic bears repeating: white non-Hispanic men with only a college degree are paid, on average, $6.81 more than Latinas with an advanced degree!”
- Thousands of Indiana teachers rally at state Capitol for school funding
November, 19 2019
Indiana teachers are the latest to join the uprising that keeps rolling like waves through the United States. Thousands of teachers and supporters joined a Red for Ed protest at the state Capitol, seeking increased education funding and better pay, and they made their impact felt with 147 school districts canceling classes. Many Indianapolis schools offered free lunches so students wouldn’t go without.
“It’d be nice to be able to afford textbooks and technology to supplement a whole classroom,” high school government teacher Randy Harrison told ABC News. “Protect the arts, music, P.E., a library.” Chalkbeat offered a series of similar stories from teachers:
- ”There are teachers in my school that are still using 1960s technology and supplies to make their classes go. Our HVAC system is on life support. We do not have enough aides and counselors to help the students that need it most. Our special education department has to also teach the general education students because we cannot afford to have a dedicated [special education] teacher. We cannot afford to bring on more janitors and maintenance personnel so we have unfixed bathrooms and facilities (no doors on stalls, urinals that don’t function).”
- “I cannot make ends meet on my pay despite 15 years experience and a master’s. I am tired of watching the schools in the poorest communities having their funding cut yearly. I am tired of the insane school grade system and the endless testing. And I will leave teaching before I submit to giving 15 hours of unpaid time to a business to renew my license.”
- “As a teacher, I am tired of my school not having funding. As a parent, I am enraged with the amount of money spent on testing and the amount of time it takes away from my children’s education.”
According to the National Education Association, Indiana teacher pay is 36th in the nation, and per-student spending is 47th. But Indiana was also ranked last in pay raises for teachers over 15 years, according to one study.
The teachers point out that Indiana had an unexpected budget surplus, which is going to things like a swine barn at the state fairgrounds.
- New Jersey hits Uber with $650 million bill for back taxes, this week in the war on workers
November, 16 2019
New Jersey says Uber owes $650 million in back taxes and interest for misclassifying workers as independent contractors. This isn’t coming out of nowhere—in 2015, the state notified Uber it owed $54 million in unemployment and disability taxes. Four years later, the number has grown to $523 million in past-due taxes and $119 million in interest and penalties.
No surprise, Uber says it will fight to avoid paying its tab. And the decision that Uber drivers are employees could have major ramifications beyond taxes—refusing to treat its workers as employees is at the heart of Uber’s business model. New Jersey is dealing other blows against that misclassification, including determining former rideshare drivers to have been employees for the purposes of collecting unemployment (one of the taxes Uber hasn’t been paying), and the state Senate is considering legislation cracking down on misclassification. California recently passed such a law, which Uber and other affected companies have said they will spend tens of millions of dollars fighting. A class-action lawsuit against Uber in New Jersey also seeks to escape Uber’s forced arbitration requirement because the drivers in question are involved in interstate commerce.
Uber’s business model is reliant on violating labor law to exploit workers, and, as the New Jersey case shows, it also cheats states of massive amounts of revenue. Increasingly, that model is under challenge in the states. Following the New Jersey demand for back taxes, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance’s Bhairavi Desai said in a statement, “New Jersey is sending a message that the state’s labor laws aren’t dictated by corporations. It’s time for New York to follow.” It is time, and that would be another major challenge for Uber. At some point, you have to wonder how many big states even a rich company like Uber can afford to keep battling for the right to violate labor laws.
- Teachers tell how far they’ll go for classroom supplies, this week in the war on workers
November, 9 2019
It’s old news by now that teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies, but a new Washington Post report finds that the problem is even bigger than we knew. (And we knew it was big.) The Post asked teachers to tell what classroom supplies they buy and how much they spend, and got 1,200 responses.
“I am a scavenger,” said one Michigan teacher. “My friend who works in the Michigan [Department of Natural Resources] office gives me their used binders, and my husband brings me furniture and supplies that the hospital he works at is throwing away.”
According to an Ohio teacher, “We are literally collecting pop tabs to recycle so we can buy more stuff.” A California teacher takes “discarded things off the side of the road.”
Teachers are making up for what cities and towns should be providing their schools to begin with—basic necessities at the level people in just about every other job can take for granted. “I’m often bowled over by the fact that financiers and software engineers can show up to work expecting to have every supply they could possibly need,” said a New York teacher.
And it must be the government that pays for needed supplies. Education is a public good that should be handled in a public way, not reliant on individuals. Another teacher told The Post that she hates coverage of donors fulfilling teachers’ wishlists for supplies, because “It normalizes this begging practice. If we properly funded schools and trusted teachers, we could stop seeing teachers beg online and restore their dignity.” And take the luck out of it, where some classrooms get everything they need and others are left wanting.
This is a sign of so many things wrong with U.S. society and politics. It shows the low, low value placed not just on teachers but on kids and on the very concept of education. Teachers have been fighting and still are fighting to fix it, but it can’t just be on them.
- Kamala Harris proposes a longer school day—without tormenting kids or exploiting teachers
November, 6 2019
Students leave school hours before their parents typically get home from work, creating a challenge for many parents and too often meaning kids are left alone. Sen. Kamala Harris wants to change that—but not by making teachers work longer, uncompensated hours, as all too many proponents of longer school days want.
Harris is proposing a pilot program to fund 500 schools serving low-income populations to figure out what works best to lengthen the school day from 8 AM all the way to 6 PM, without vacations beyond federal holidays. That shouldn’t mean students sitting still at their desks for developmentally inappropriate lengths of time. Rather, the schools should come up with “high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic, or enrichment opportunities for students.” After five years, the Education Department would report on the best practices established during the pilot program and on its effects on parents, students, and teachers.
“The bill would also require the school to find a private or non-federal public funding source, such as state grants or philanthropy organizations, to match 10 percent of the federal grant money, a stipulation intended to help the programs remain sustainable after the initial grant money has run out,” Kara Voght reports at Mother Jones. “The matches can be money or an in-kind contribution in the form of volunteer staff time, meeting spaces, or equipment.”
This would have to be developed really, really carefully and thoughtfully, taking into account the needs of students and teachers. But it could mean moving beyond kids being cooped up except for painfully short recesses. It could mean adequate physical education and time for arts and music, rather than testing-based curricula squeezing everything else out. It could mean low-income kids getting the equivalent of high-quality afterschool programs that higher-income kids now have access to. It could mean teachers having prep time and time for grading built into their workday while students were in other activities.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, is optimistic. “This bill would enable school districts and communities to find solutions that work for them,” she said in a statement, while “teachers and paraprofessionals aren’t filling in the gaps without respect and fair compensation.”
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