Tag Archives: Labor
Budget Cuts and Rent-Free Charter Schools: The Ugly Education Legacy of Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg
On December 16, 2013, two letters were sent to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. One was a letter signed by 140 principals from across the city. The other, a letter signed by 19 of the 32 Community Education Councils in addition to the Citywide Council on English Language Learners, the Citywide Council on Special Education, the Citywide District 75 Council, and individuals from the Citywide Council on High Schools and Community Education Council 23.
The common thread to these letters was clear, the NYC school system needs to purge itself of the toxic "reforms" instituted by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
the Board of Education
and community school boards:
In 1969, then mayor John Lindsay relinquished control of NYC schools after a series of protests and demands from the public for community control of community schools. This led to the creation of 32 elected community school boards and a central Board of Education(BOE) made up of 7 members appointed by the mayor and borough presidents.
In 2002, Mayor Bloomberg took control of NYC schools and abolished the BOE and the community school boards, essentially shutting down parental democratic access to their children's education.
The BOE was replaced by the Panel for Educational Policy(PEP). The PEP consists of 13 appointed members, 8 appointed by the mayor and one each appointed by the borough presidents. Community boards were replaced with Community Education Councils(CECs).
Not only do the CECs have very little power when it comes to affecting change in community schools, they are poorly advertised and sparsely attended. These changes have left parents feeling locked out and voiceless in their children's schools.
Changes in funding:
The introduction of "Fair Student Funding"(pdf) had 3 main goals; to increase equity in funding schools while preserving stability, to improve student achievement, and to make school budgets more transparent.
The Independent Budget Office(IBO) has found that the funding formula actually underfunds 94% of schools and is not easily understood or transparent, according to a report released April 10 of this year.
Increase in the
number of charter schools:
Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a champion of for-profit charter schools. Under his management, 175 charter schools have opened in NYC since 2002.
These schools are often opened in place of larger community schools that have been closed by the Mayor-controlled PEP. Or, they force their way in to already existing school buildings rent-free, using space and resources that were originally meant for public schools.
While the majority of public schools are seeing their budgets cut, spending for charter schools is expected to exceed $1billion in the next school year.
of America’s higher education
faculty members today
are adjunct professors or off the tenure track.
There’s a growing army of the working poor in our nation, and big contingents of these folks are now on the march. They’re strategizing, organizing, and mobilizing against the immoral economics of inequality being hung around America’s neck by the likes of Walmart, McDonald’s, and colleges.
Wait a minute. Colleges? You get advanced degrees to get ahead in life. More education makes you better off, right? Well, ask a college professor about that — you know, the ones who earned PhDs and are now teaching America’s next generation.
The sorry secret of higher education — from community colleges to brand-name universities — is that they’ve embraced the corporate culture of a contingent workforce. They’re turning lots of professors into part-time, low-paid, no-benefit, no-tenure, temporary teachers.
Overall, three-quarters of America’s higher-ed faculty members today are adjunct professors or off the tenure track. That means they’re attached to a particular school, but not essentially a part of it.
It also means that these highly educated, fully credentialed professors have become part of America’s army of the working poor. They never know until a semester starts whether they’ll teach one class, three, or none — typically, this leaves them with take-home pay somewhere between zero and maybe $1,000 a month. Poverty.
Adjuncts usually get no benefits, no real chance of earning fulltime positions, no due process or severance pay if dismissed, no say in curriculum or school policies…sometimes not even office space. Like their counterparts at Walmart and McDonald’s, adjunct college professors aren’t treated as valuable resources to be nurtured, but as cheap, exploitable, and disposable labor.
Unsurprisingly, this contingent of the low-wage army is organizing, too. For information, check out the New Faculty Majority: NewFacultyMajority.info.
- (Photo: pa1nt/CC/Flickr)
You Won’t Love These McSubsidies
Let us all now bow before the god of free enterprise, whose awesomeness was revealed in a recent news release announcing that the divine managers of fast-food deity McDonald’s achieved a profit of $1.5 billion in just three months this summer.
Holy Big Mac! How does Mickey D’s do that? Peek behind the curtain and you’ll see that the secret power that McDonald wields is thee and me — America’s taxpayers.
The corporation rips off its huge workforce by paying poverty wages and no benefits, then directs the workers to the food stamp office and other government-funded safety-net programs.
Neat, huh? A major chunk of the chain’s cost-of-doing-business disappears from the corporate books and — shazam — reappears on the government’s books. In fact, theNational Employment Law Project reports that McDonald’s’ phenomenal profits are bloated by an estimated $1.2 billion that we taxpayers will shell out this year to support its predatory wage-and-benefit policy.
Aren’t you “lovin’ it,” as the chain’s ads say?
But the golden arches are not alone in this fast-food flimflam. Yum! Brands, the conglomerate that owns KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, soaks us for $648 million to underwrite its poverty pay . Subway burrows into us for $436 million . Burger King, taps us for $356 million , little sweet Wendy’s grabs more than a quarter-billion bucks from us , and Dunkin’ Donuts dips into our pockets for $274 million .
And look here — it’s Domino’s pizza, whose extremist right-wing owner says he hates government spending. But he’s picking taxpayers’ pockets to the tune of $126 million to subsidize his “free” enterprise .
These corporate powers piously preach about the “magic” of the marketplace, but as these facts reveal, magicians don’t do magic. They perform illusions.
Fast food workers around the country are making headlines in their fight for a union and a living wage. While the target of the Fight For 15 movement are the fast food chains, local activists also follow on the heels of other low-wage worker uprisings throughout New York City. As communities, perhaps its time we started really thinking about the moral meaning of a wage that pays a full-time worker too little to reach the poverty line. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the last forty years, it would be $10.74 an hour (it’s currently $7.25).
Counter to the panic-stirring by right-wingers and the shadiest of corporations attempting to keep wages below the poverty line, an increase in minimum wage would only mean the tiniest of increases to consumer prices. As explained by demos:
“The potential cost to consumers would be just cents more per shopping trip on average. If retail firms were to pass the entire cost on to consumers instead of paying for it by redirecting unproductive profits, shoppers would see prices increase by only 1 percent. “ (source)
But it's not only employees in the low-wage professions who stand to win from significant increases in the minimum wage. Small business owners also stand to benefit in several ways from a serious wage hike for their lowest paid workers.
Here are 5 reasons small business owners should support a significantly higher minimum wage for their workers:
1-- A higher minimum wage will not hurt job growth. Economic studies have shown that, contrary to the stream of right-wing talking points coming out of the right-wingers in corporate America, a higher minimum wage does not hurt job growth. In a survey of the past 20 years of research, economists found little or no effect on job growth. Furthermore in a 2013 survey, economists agreed, 4 to 1, that the benefits of increasing the minimum wage substantially outweigh the cost.
2-- A higher minimum wage is good for local business. States that have a minimum wage higher than the federally mandated minimum actually have significantly higher small business and retail growth. From a strictly capitalist perspective, shoppers have to have enough money (for most of us, that means from a job) to keep shopping.
3-- Higher wages means less turnover (and less turnover cost). As small business owners know all too well, the cost of replacing an employee can involve a lot more than just the wages they’re eventually paid, In fact, a 2012 study by the Center for American Progress found that " it costs businesses about one-fifth of a worker’s salary to replace that worker."
When researchers at the Harvard Business School examined Costco’s business model (the average wage at the store is $17/hour), they found that for Costco “[employee] turnover is unusually low, at 17% overall and just 6% after one year’s employment. In contrast, turnover at Wal-Mart is 44% a year, close to the industry average.“
In 2003, San Francisco airport raised wages from $6.45 to $10 an hour--and saw a dramatic drop in turnover from 95% to 19%. Similarly, “a study of home-care workers in San Francisco found that turnover fell by 57% following implementation of a living wage policy.” (source). A study released in July of this year by Dube, Lester and Reich examined the impact a higher minimum wage had on employment rolls and found that turnover rates “fall substantially” after a minimum wage increase.
4--Higher wages may lead to higher levels of trust between employees and employer. It’s always kind of a strange moment when a company that constantly rips off its employees fires an employee for ripping the company off. Nonetheless, the National Retail Security Survey found that over $15 billion in merchandise was lost nationwide to employee theft in 2011.
A research team at the Harvard Business School wanted to explore the relationship between higher wages and employee theft. It turns out researchers found a strong connection between higher wages and a significant decrease in employee theft. Savings on otherwise lost inventory amounted to around 39% of pay increases. That is to say research shows that for every $1 retail employee wages are raised, the company saves an average of some 40 cents in lost merchandise. Conversely, researchers have found that decreased wages has a strong connection to increased employee theft.
5-- It’s the right thing to do. American businesses have been squeezing much higher productivity from working folks at stagnating wages. Put most succinctly by EPI, : “While productivity grew 80% between 1979 and 2009, the hourly wage of the median worker grew by only 10.1%, with all of this wage growth occurring from 1996 to 2002.” Meanwhile, the cost of living in America has risen by 67% since 1990 alone (source).
Inequality in America has reached historic proportions (one study found that our level of inequality is even higher than the Roman Empire’s). A study published earlier this year in The Journal of Economic Perspectives found that out of all “developed nations,” America has the greatest levels of income inequality. Point blank: American businesses owe their workers for nearly two generations of increased profits during stagnated wages.