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11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce to Keep in Mind During Hispanic Heritage Month

Originally posted by AFL-CIO

11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce

In a new report released this week, Latino Workers and Unions: A Strategic Partnership for America’s Progress, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement details the work environment for Latinos in the U.S. workforce. The picture the report paints isn’t a pretty one. Here are 11 important facts about Latino workers in the United States:

1. The Latino population is the fastest growing group in the United States, currently at more than 55.4 million (17% of the overall population).

2. More than 26 million Latinos represent about 15% of the workforce, a number expected to nearly double by 2050.

3. In 2013, nearly one in four Latino families lived below the poverty line, nearly twice the national poverty rate.

4. Nearly one-fourth of Latinos work in low-wage jobs.

5. In 2014, the Latino unemployment rate was 6.7%, above the national rate of 5.5%.

6. In 2014, the average nonunion Latino made just $547 a week.

7. More than two-thirds of Latinos lack retirement accounts, and more than 80% of Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.

8. Nearly 30% of Latinos lack health insurance.

9. More than three-fourths of Latino workers work in jobs where they face minimum wage or overtime pay violations.

10. In 2013, nearly 800 Latinos died at U.S. workplaces, the highest total since 2008.

11. Latinas on the job earn only 56% of what a white man earns and more than 75% of Latinas in the southern part of the United States report sexual assault being an issue in the workplace.

The report says that the key way for Latinos to improve this situation is through unions, a partnership that will yield many benefits for unions, too. The report concludes:

Although the current outlook for Latinos is uncertain, their potential for growth is impressive. Wielding over $1.5 trillion in purchasing power, making huge gains in the workforce and electorate, it’s no surprise that the future for Latinos can be drastically different and positive. But in order to realize this potential, Latinos must harness their strengths and exert their voice in the workplace.

Gaining access to a union will be an essential step for Latino workers and their families. Through union representation, Latinos can achieve higher wages that will help them fight poverty and gain access to health and retirement benefits.

Union, Yes: Unions Help Kids in Our Communities

Unions-Help-Children-Move-Up-LadderA new study shows yet another benefit of unions you may not be aware of: The New York Times this week wrote about a study that “suggests that unions may also help children move up the economic ladder.”

The paper–written by researchers at Harvard, Wellesley and the Center for American Progress–essentially finds that children born into low-income families have a greater chance of ascending “to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher.”

The Times article points out that it seems that no other link to upward mobility is as strong as the one found in the study. It’s also another reason why the decline in union membership is so troubling.

Beyond the effect of unionization on parents’ wages, the researchers found that this trend is also attributed to the fact that “unions are effective at pushing the political system to deliver policies — like a higher minimum wage and greater spending on schools and other government programs — that broadly benefit workers.” Perhaps the best and most recent examples of this are seen in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, where the minimum wage has been raised significantly.

And the correlation between increased union membership and increased income earning percentile for children doesn’t just apply to children in the lowest percentile, but children of all households.

Interestingly, the study also found that “children with fathers who belong to a union have significantly higher wages than children who don’t. But when it’s the mother who belongs to a union, only the wages of daughters rise.”

When trying to determine why, the Times notes that “it’s possible that the explanation is sociological: Daughters with a mother who belongs to a union may be more likely to work themselves, which means they’re more likely to have higher wages. Or, put differently, union membership is helping to change social norms.”

What norms are unions changing exactly? “Giving workers a greater sense of agency.” That sense, that union workers have the power to speak out if they are mistreated, then spreads to their peers.

Richard B. Freeman, one of the study’s authors, summarizes the takeaway nicely: “things that have a small effect at the individual level can have a larger aggregate effect.”

Gallup Poll Shows Americans’ Support for Labor Unions Continues to Recover

gallup union surveyThe latest results from the 2015 installment of Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey show that Americans’ approval of labor unions has jumped five percentage points to 58% over the past year, and is now at its highest point since 2008, when 59% approved. Consistent with the recent increase in approval of unions, the percentage of Americans saying they would like labor unions to have more influence in the country has also been rising, and now stands at 37%, up from 25% in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage wanting unions to haveless influence has declined from 42% to 35%.

New Report Shows Rise In Child Poverty After Great Recession

child povertyMore children in the U.S. are living in poverty after the Great Recession than during the economic downturn, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

According to the report, titled Kids Count: 2015 State Trends In Child Well-Being, about 22 percent of America’s children—or one in four—lived below the poverty line in 2013.  During the middle of the Great Recession in 2008, 18 percent of children in the U.S. lived below the poverty line.

The report is based on data gathered from federal agencies during 2008 to 2013 and examines factors that affect the well-being of children state-by-state, including economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The report also examines racial disparities, and points out children of color are more likely to live in poverty than white children.

Living in poverty has a pernicious effect on the future prospects of America’s children.  According to the report, children who experience poverty are more likely encounter social and economic difficulties later in life, including experiencing poor health, becoming parents at a young age, dropping out of school and facing limited employment opportunities.

New Study Sheds Light on the Struggles of Involuntary Part-time Workers

Sad-Broken-Piggy-Bank-150pixA new national study by Rutgers University finds that a growing number of part-time workers are being left behind in the economic recovery. According to the study, titled “A Tale of Two Workforces: The Benefits and Burdens of Working Part Time,” nearly one in five Americans are employed in part-time jobs and are working fewer than 35 hours per week.  Nearly 20 million Americans are voluntary part-time workers who are working part-time to supplement their income, pursue an education or care for family members.  However, 6.5 million Americans are involuntary part-time workers who want, but can’t find, full-time employment.

Involuntary part-time workers are twice as likely as voluntary part-time workers to work on weekends and holidays, and are more likely to be subjected to unpredictable schedules.  In addition, more than three-quarters of involuntary part-time workers said their finances are in fair or poor shape, and almost one-third said their financial condition is flat out poor.

The new study was based on a sample survey of 944 part-time workers. The survey was conducted from March 25 to April 6, 2015, by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

New Report Sheds Light on Walmart’s Overseas Tax Havens

Nancy-PayYourFairShareAmericans for Tax Fairness released a new report yesterday that sheds light on Walmart’s placement of at least $76 billion in assets into an elaborate, undisclosed web of 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 offshore tax havens, which may be used to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and avoid U.S. taxes on those foreign earnings.

The report, titled The Walmart Web: How the World’s Biggest Corporation Secretly Uses Tax Havens to Dodge Taxes, shows that the retail giant has made tax havens central to its growing International division, which now accounts for one-third of the company’s profits. Walmart’s network of 78 undisclosed overseas subsidiaries in tax havens have no retail operations and few, if any, employees. Twenty-two of these paper companies are in Luxembourg alone, a country that plays a central role in the company’s tax haven network.

The retail giant has avoided scrutiny of its international tax dodging in the past by declining to disclose its tax haven subsidiaries on Exhibit 21 (“Subsidiaries”) of the company’s annual 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Companies use tax havens to dodge taxes. It appears that’s the secret game Walmart is playing,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “We are calling on Congress, federal agencies and international organizations to determine if Walmart is skirting the law when it comes to reporting its use of tax havens, using various schemes to dodge taxes, and getting a sweetheart deal from Luxembourg that is the equivalent of illegal state aid. Average Americans and small businesses have to make up the difference when Walmart doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes.”

Retail Sector Is Driving Inequality, New Report Shows

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via Reuters

via ReutersA new report from Demos and the NAACP underscores how Walmart and the retail industry as a whole are driving inequality. 

A new report from Demos and the NAACP underscores how Walmart and the retail industry as a whole are driving inequality.

The report, titled The Retail Race Divide: How the Retail Industry Is Perpetuating Racial Inequality in the 21st Century, points out that while the retail sector continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions that are keeping Black and Latino workers from climbing up the economic ladder. According to the report, 17 percent of Black and 13 percent of Latino workers in the retail industry are living below the poverty line compared to 9 percent of the retail workers overall.  Black and Latino retail workers are underrepresented in management positions which pay more. For example, while Black workers make up 11 percent of the retail workforce, only 6 percent of these workers are in management positions.

The report points out that Black and Latino retail workers are more likely to hold involuntary part-time positions with erratic hours that make it hard to juggle competing life demands, such as child care, a second job or the ability to go back to school.  Even in full-time sales positions, Black and Latino retail workers earn about 75 cents on the dollar compared to their white colleagues, which amounts to up to $7,500 per year.

There are ways that Walmart, an important employer of women and minorities, and other retailers like Target, IKEA and Savers, can help narrow the racial gaps in the retail sector, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour (which would reduce the poverty rate in this sector by 50 percent); ending involuntary part-time work; and introducing fair scheduling practices.  Members of OUR Walmart, who are also shareholders, will address these issues at Walmart’s shareholders meeting today, and present two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

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As CEO Pay Continues to Rise, Walmart Workers Prepare to Call for Change at Retail Giant’s Shareholders Meeting

fb_textart_waltonfamilyAccording to new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, CEO pay increased nearly 16 percent in 2014, while Walmart and the Waltons—heirs to the Walmart empire—continue to drive inequality nationwide.

Mega-retailer Walmart, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. Walmart CEO Douglas McMillon is paid $9,323 an hour, while a new Walmart employee making $9 an hour would have to work 1,036 hours to earn what McMillon makes just 60 minutes. PayWatch also notes that six Walton family members have more wealth than 43 percent of America’s families combined.

“I made about $13,000 last year, working as many hours as the company would let me,” said Shannon Henderson, a Walmart employee and mother of two in Sacramento, California. “I work for the richest company in the world, and I can’t support my family without public assistance. That’s not right, and that’s why I’m not going to stop fighting for $15 and full-time.”

As Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting approaches, workers have announced their intention to propose a shareholder resolution that would rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

 

New York AG Questions Scheduling Practices in the Retail Sector

Although the retail sector continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, too many retail workers are struggling to survive in low-wage wage jobs with unpredictable scheduling practices that threaten their economic security and stand in the way of competing life demands.

Recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to 13 retailers, including Target Corp., Gap Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co., regarding their on-call scheduling practices, which require hourly retail workers to show up for work or stay home with little advance notice and no pay if the worker’s services are not needed. New York labor laws state that workers who are called in by their employers for a scheduled shift are entitled to at least four hours of pay at minimum wage even if workers are dismissed early and work less than four hours.

Economists and academics agree that access to education would narrow the current wealth gap, but many retail workers are unable to further their education because of unpredictable scheduling at work. Faced with losing more hours or even their jobs, many retail workers have been forced to drop classes and curtail their education in order to meet their employer’s demands. As income inequality continues to grow, it’s critically important that employers in the retail sector lead the way in making sure that retail workers have access to full-time hours and benefits so that workers in this growing industry have a pathway to the middle class.

The New Year Gives Workers a Much Needed Raise

Image: Low wage workers take part in a protest organized by the Coalition for a Real Minimum Wage outside the offices of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,The new year brought a much needed raise to millions of American workers in 21 states and the District of Columbia due to increases in state minimum wage levels. This means that a total of 29 states and the nation’s capital now have a minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25 per hour.

While the states and localities that have taken action to raise the minimum wage should be lauded, all American workers deserve a minimum wage and this requires a federal solution.  But despite widespread public support, Congressional Republicans and their corporate backers continue to block efforts to raise the minimum wage.  They have stuck to the same old, tired argument that raising the minimum wage will be bad for businesses, despite findings from a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which found that states that raised the minimum wage experienced faster employment growth than the states that didn’t.

Millions of retail workers are barely making ends meet in minimum wage jobs across the country, and the Retail Justice Alliance urges the 114th Congress to start the new year by acknowledging the many Americans who are struggling to get by and raise the minimum wage.