Sunday, May 17, 2015

FDR and the Economic Bill of Rights

During World War II, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed an economic bill of rights that would ensure equality in the pursuit of happiness. During his presidency, FDR was committed to an economic and social recovery plan through the New Deal programs. He believed that social and economic rights embedded in the U.S. Constitution would guarantee security for all Americans. The eight specific rights included:
  • Employment, with a living wage
  • Food, clothing and leisure
  • Farmers' rights to a fair income
  • Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
  • Housing
  • Medical care
  • Social security
  • Education
In an era where the gap between the rich and poor has widened to unprecedented levels, this country need the economic bill rights more than ever. Watch his full presidential radio speech on the economic bill of rights below:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sociology and Civil Unrest in Baltimore

The Everyday Sociology Blog has a recent post on the coverage of civil unrest in Baltimore. While the news media generally focuses on the violent aspects, Karen Sternheimer reminds us to look at the situation from a sociological perspective.

While there are many explanations that can help us understand these events, here are some of the connections my students made, drawing from what they learned about social inequality as well as the criminal justice system:
  1. A sense that there are no consequences for police brutality
  2. The recent history of mass incarceration and the criminalization of low-income people
  3. Joblessness, poverty, and limited economic opportunity
  4. Coverage of violence drowns out legitimate grievances
  5. Racism hasn’t disappeared

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Fight for $15 and Unionization for Working Families

Last month, workers from all kinds of industries came out to protest, support, and express their sentiments on why higher wages and unionization are necessary for working families. Poor working conditions, insufficient pay, lack of benefits, reliance on government assistance, and unpredictable work schedules have psychological and economic costs for working families. The lack of economic security is the reason why workers are voicing out their stories of hardship and seeking economic justice.

People throughout the US sent a clear message on April 15th that in addition to better wages, people also need better jobs — jobs that provide employees with regular schedules, paid sick leave, dependable hours, benefits and respect.

Several organizations are now stepping forward to act on that message at a national level. On April 29th, the Center for Community Change, Working Families Organization, Jobs With Justice, Center for Popular Democracy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and dozens of local grassroots partners are coming together to launch Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All. It’s a major economic initiative to reinvest in low-income communities of color and bring jobs — good jobs — to everyone.

Related Content:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Robert Reich: How Just In Time Scheduling Is Making Workers' Lives Hell

If you have never heard of this term, just-in-time scheduling is where employers in service industries (think retail and restaurants) can alert low-wage and part-time employees up to half an hour (!) before their scheduled shift to determine whether or not they are needed. Due to technological advances and high-speed internet, employers use "workplace optimization systems" to determine weather, traffic, sales, and nearby event patterns to predict customer demand. While this process may save money for the employer, it is costly for workers who plan their schedules around commuting and child-care needs. To arrive to work only to be sent home because you are not needed places a considerable economic burden on working families, who are disproportionately communities of color. The decline of steady jobs with regular and predictable work schedules has created a system where employees' economic security is at its lowest point. This nation has reverted back to old practices (poor working conditions, insufficient pay, and lack of benefits) that have not been witnessed since the Great Depression. According to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, low-wage and part-time workers, who have no control over their erratic schedules and monthly income, are at the mercy of their employers in the "flexible" labor market.

Robert Reich describes the pitfalls of just-in-scheduling in this way:

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then.

Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

This way, employers don’t need to pay anyone to be at work unless they’re really needed. Companies can avoid paying wages to workers who’d otherwise just sit around.

Employers assign workers tentative shifts, and then notify them a half-hour or 10 minutes before the shift is scheduled to begin whether they’re actually needed. Some even require workers to check in by phone, email, or text shortly before the shift starts.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Higher Education: Career in Admissions

Have you ever wondered what is it like to work in admissions? Whether you gained experience as an ambassador or campus tour guide, there are several things you need to know about a career in admissions. Prospective students talk to admissions counselors to learn more about a college or university's programs and admissions procedures. There are several advantages and disadvantages of working in admissions. (Note: This post is not about careers in financial aid, which has a different set of responsibilities.)

  • A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for an entry-level position. (Professional schools like public health and social work may require a master's degree in the field).
  • Can advance into higher administrative positions (director roles require a master's degree).
  • Positions are available in institutions of all sizes (from community colleges to universities) and types (professional schools, public colleges, private colleges, etc.)
  • May enjoy reduced work hours during non-peak recruitment season (summer months).
  • Opportunities for professional development are available (both on-campus and conferences).
  • Some employers require previous experience in admissions.
  • Mobility (across schools) is a key factor, though not required, for advancement.
  • Low salaries lead to high turnover (The average admissions counselors stays in their position for three years.)
  • May require extensive travel (overnight, regional, and cross-country).
  • High volume of work requires multi-tasking and flexibility.
  • May require long hours of work during peak recruitment season (evenings and weekends).
  • Budgetary cutbacks may stagnate funds for hiring and retention of these positions.
  • Racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in key segments of admissions.
Are you an aspiring admissions counselor or coordinator?  Check out these links below to see if admissions is the right career path for you.

Hiring in Admissions (August 7, 2009) - Inside Higher Ed

Secret Lives of Admissions Officers (December 8, 2009) - The Daily Beast

Confessions of a College Admissions Officer (February 20, 2009) - BuzzFeed

Getting Into the Admission Office (April 8, 2013) -Inside Higher Ed

Career Paths for Admissions Officers, A Survey Report (July 2014) - National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Robert Reich: The Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Division of America

Robert Reich--economist, professor, and activist--published a grim blog post about what happens if Americans continue to segregate by income and place. When cities lack a mixture of incomes and become increasingly poor, city services and quality of living decline. Detroit is ground zero for that reality--when the city residents, mostly poor and elderly communities of color, must deal with inadequate services while wealthier white Americans have the luxury to ignore social problems.

Detroit is the largest city ever to seek bankruptcy protection, so its bankruptcy is seen as a potential model for other American cities now teetering on the edge.

But Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they’d otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans.


Related Content: A Foreclosure Conveyor Belt - The Continuing Depopulation of Detroit