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Senior citizen serving coffee
This should not replace retirement.
Connecticut took a step toward addressing the impending retirement crisis Wednesday night. The legislature passed a budget that includes the formation of a board and $400,000 in funding to investigate forming what some are calling a public option for retirement:
The bill establishes a "Connecticut Retirement Security Board" that is charged with developing a proposal for a state retirement plan that, similar to an IRA, would allow private-sector employees who do not receive benefits from a public pension or private employer-sponsored 401(k) to open savings accounts.

"Folks should not have to be Wall Street wizards to have a secure retirement,'' said Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain.

The plan, backed by the AARP, the Connecticut Working Families Party, and AFSCME, would call for small administrative fees, making it extremely unpopular with financial management companies that make their money off of administrative fees that are not so small. But financial industry sorrow and anger aside, there's a retirement crisis that needs to be addressed:
The average working household has almost no retirement savings, the National Institute on Retirement Security said in a June 2013 report. The median retirement account balance is $3,000 for all working-age households and $12,000 for near-retirement households.

Two-thirds of working households ages 55 to 64 with at least one earner have retirement savings just slightly exceeding their annual income, which the National Institute on Retirement Security says is "far below" what's needed to maintain their standard of living in retirement.

Something needs to be done unless we want what we now think of as the retirement age to become the "live in poverty or keep working until you die" age.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's education and labor news.

A fair day's wage

  • Just-in-time scheduling hurts workers:
    Many big retail stores use computer systems that use data from the weather outside, the flow of customers in the store, and the rate of sales to determine how many employees are needed for any given time.

    This sort of automation is intended to boost the store’s bottom line. But for retail workers, who are often parents who need to hire babysitters, students who have tuition payments due, or people just trying to juggle shifts with two jobs, the “just-in-time” scheduling system wreaks havoc on their lives.

  • This is special. The Ohio Contractors Association is suing the city of Akron for trying to institute local hiring requirements. Such requirements are fairly common, and it's obviously in a city's interest to have city money going to local contractors and workers, both to boost the local economy and for accountability purposes—a contractor with a reputation to protect in the immediate area is likely to be especially careful. But, yeah, the Ohio Contractors Association does not like that.
  • Another NFL team is facing a wage theft lawsuit by a former cheerleader. This time, it's the Jets:
    "When you look at the actual hours worked versus what Krystal was paid, she only made $3.77 per hour," her attorney Patricia Pierce said.

    "The failure to pay the women who work as cheerleaders a legal wage for all of the hours that they work is clearly an NFL-wide problem that needs to change," Pierce said.

  • If you're on Twitter and you care about labor, don't forget to follow @blogwood.
  • Wow:
    Man holding toddler, caption
    Via press release:
    More than a dozen new carwashes in South LA are now unionized; making Los Angeles the first city with that many union washes in the nation. The small businesses have pledged to follow all labor and health and safety regulations as well as to give a 2% raise to the workers. The new union carwash workers are represented by the United Steel Workers Local 675 and make up 133 of their members as to date.
  • UAW calls in the cavalry to combat "culture of fear" at Nissan plant:
    Workers report that Nissan relentlessly promotes an anti-union message at the factory in Canton. From the day workers are hired, employees say, they are subjected to regular meetings with management and continuous operation of television monitors inside the factory, both of which deliver frequently repeated anti-union messages. Organizers say Nissan also uses the employment of hundreds of part-time workers, who work alongside full-time workers at roughly half the hourly pay, as an indirect anti-union tool to remind workers how the company could replace them at a far lower cost if they organized.

    To work against such a reported culture of fear, the union groups initiated their pursuit of OECD fact-finding and mediation with Nissan this week to create a non-combative process for finally conducting a union representation election in Canton.

  • Wage gap, lawyers edition. Maybe women should get a discount on law school?


Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat May 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks, Laura. Always appreciated. (4+ / 0-)

    Union-busting is as old as unions, and still as lamentable.

    Corporations might be trying to resurrect an era when they could get away with union-busting, and they have agents-in-place among the Supremes. But the tide is turning against these practices, as more and more formerly safe and middle class union members, like firefighters and teachers, find out they aren't safe from union-busting either.  

    I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. ~ Malcolm X -8.62 -8.36

    by 4Freedom on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:08:56 AM PDT

  •  I don't understand what Connecticutt is proposing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is it a savings account?
    If so, what is the advantage over savings accounts that I can already open?
    Is it pre-tax?  If so, does't the Federal Government have something to say about that?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:09:49 AM PDT

    •  Retirement for All in Connecticut (0+ / 0-)

      Here is a link to the Connecticut General Assembly's Office of Legislative Research analysis of the retirement for all proposal:  It is a plain language explanation of what is being proposed.  The proposal started as a piece of legislation, Senate Bill 249, but eventually passed as part of the budget implementer bill, House Bill 5597.

      38, male, NY-14 (born), NJ-9 (raised), MA-1 (college), CT-1 (now)

      by kalu on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:52:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmm. So it's sort of like state-level Social (0+ / 0-)

        Security, except it's not automatically set up to create a slush fund for the legilature, although it could be managed that way.

        Doesn't seem like a bad thing, although I would expect the first "improvement" to be passed would be the opt-out provision.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sat May 10, 2014 at 08:53:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  For the vast majority of people... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots, ladybug53, blue muon

      A retirement system need to be low cost, automatic and simple enough to forget about. Unlike many Wall Street-based retirement plans, the money ought to be there when people retire.

      •  Sure, and there are lots of ways to do that. (0+ / 0-)

        This, I guess, would be another.

        Good or bad depends on whether you trust politicians any more than you trust financial types -- and that's a trick question because it looks like the politicians would rely on financial types.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sat May 10, 2014 at 08:56:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Save when they can't always eat? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Or pay the rent or utilities?  It's great for people who have disposable income, but not everybody does.

      •  But that's exactly what the plan is -- forced (0+ / 0-)


        So -- somebody who couldn't always afford to eat would be able to eat even less.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sat May 10, 2014 at 08:54:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except that if everyone is forced to save, then (0+ / 0-)

          prices will decline accordingly.

          It's that whole supply and demand thing.

          This is exactly why almost everything we need we would be better off getting through government taxing and spending: If I must choose between health care and eating, I will eat. It is only the oh-so-wise-and-bountiful market that gives me this hobbesian choice. If society takes away the choice by simply confiscating 10% of my income and guaranteeing me health care, the cost of everything else I consume will come down, because the purveyors can no longer demand that I sacrifice my need for health care to their need for executive bonuses.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sun May 11, 2014 at 12:00:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did you really write that? (0+ / 0-)

            Is it snark?

            Good chuckle regardless, especially for the supply and demand.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:33:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Uh, sorry, but that's how the actual world works. (0+ / 0-)

              The "freedom to choose" is no freedom at all. Minimum wage workers will find themselves squeezed to the very edges of subsistence -- basically, they will be forced to choose some unsatisfactory balance between inadequate housing and inadequate nutrition, while everything else that might be considered a necessity they will consume at extremely inadequate levels. In the worst cases, they will either starve themselves in order to keep a roof over their heads, or they will live on the street in order to keep food in their bellies. Either way, health care will be an idle fantasy. Adam Smith, of course, knew this and explicitly stated it in the Wealth of Nations.

              In the US, the government attempts to mitigate this with food stamps, Section 8 housing, and Medicaid. The problem, as we all know here, is that this approach is less a subsidy to the workers, than a subsidy to their employers -- thus the preponderance of Wal-mart workers who qualify for these programs. In any neighborhood where any significant number of households receive SNAP benefits and/or Section 8 housing, there will be an increase in the price of food and housing, because what drives prices in those neighborhoods is precisely the budget of the average household to pay for food and housing. Even in areas with a smaller fraction of SNAP households, food prices will be increased by the presence of SNAP, because such areas will typically have price discrimination systems in place, whereby low-income households buy lower-quality food -- either buying generic and/or store-brand items at the same supermarkets as everyone else, or buying their food at stores like Aldi, which exist entirely to enable a multi-class society.

              The most reasonable solution within our current economic system to the problem of food pricing is a government program that helps the locals establish their own grocery co-ops, including providing the necessary real estate at no charge. Of course, the majority of Americans would quickly come to accept the propaganda of their plutocratic masters, that providing such real estate represents some sort of outrageous violation of the natural order of things -- i.e., that slumlords ought to be able to charge a premium to anybody who hopes to operate a non-profit grocery in a low-income food desert.

              However, that's only the most reasonable solution within our current economic system. The most reasonable solution is for the government to simply operate the grocery stores. Again, the average American would consider this solution to be obviously insane -- my God, in 5 years, we'd look like the Soviet Union, with rows of barren shelves. I understand why the average American might think this, but to be polite, the average American's understanding of the nature of such things is mythological in its epistemology.

              Consider by contrast, the government-run booze shops in Canada (or, as I understand it, Pennsylvania). Mysteriously, notwithstanding the absence of competition nor the presence of a very visible government hand, Manitobans are free to choose from an abundant supply and variety of alcoholic beverages. A Winnipeg "LC" (from "Liquor Control Commission") is a cornucopia of self-medication options.

              Similarly, Manitobans enjoy some of the lowest automobile insurance rates in Canada, because they all get their insurance from an ebil, inefficient gubmint corporation that somehow manages to provide the same benefits of private automobile insurance for less money -- and I'm pretty sure that's running pay-as-you-go, rather than subsidizing the rates with earnings from gambling in the financial markets with the paid premiums.

              The bottom line is that market competition is spectacularly inefficient, because the cost of competing is extremely high (marketing, sales commissions, duplication of effort). Market competition can also be spectacularly ineffective, as when superior marketing results in a market triumph for an inferior product (ref: MS-DOS), or when no satisfactory scheme is feasible for price discrimination.

              I fully support "Living wage" efforts, but they are only half of the solution. The other half is taxation of income in order to provide necessary goods and services: Food, housing, transportation, health care, education, clothing. For example, a more "european" solution to the Medicaid problem would be that Walmart has a choice: Either provide a health plan that meets some minimum standard, or pay a 10% payroll tax and let the government provide the health plan. (This is how Germany deals with the funding of vocational training.) Instead of bribing employers to install themselves in suburban-sprawl fringes, employers should be charged a flat x% payroll transportation tax, to subsidize public transportation to their facilities. (Feel free to tinker with that tax in order to encourage a more thoughtful approach to development.)

              Etc etc etc.

              The only reason that the majority of Americans do not live in abject, squalid poverty is that our elites have taken it upon themselves to "employ", on our behalf, several hundreds of millions of effective slaves in China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Central American, and Mexico. So those people live in abject squalid poverty instead. The fact is that the only reason they or we must live in abject squalid poverty is because that's the only way to feed the ravening maw and limitless appetite.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sun May 11, 2014 at 08:37:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Connecticut (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, blue muon

    What Connecticut is doing about pensions sounds like socialism.  Love it.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:17:57 AM PDT

  •  Destruction of benifits (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Sunspots, Papuska

    It would really help everyone if the US provided a financial net for older people instead of just trying to destroy the net under the guise of making it bigger.

    For instance, Ronald Reagan eliminated 'double dipping' the result of which was a bunch of people no longer paid into the social security system  This was supposed to save SS by limiting the number of those eligible for benefits in the future, but really all it did was cut of funds for current beneficiaries. Of course many of these double dippers do get social security because they have paid 40 quarters. They get only half, but they pretty cleanly destroyed SS by significantly cutting the number of payers.

    This was a really funny turn of events because most conservatives will say that SS is not a pension, so double dipping is not really something that is possible.

    Many financial planners say 15% of the salary should be saved for retirement.  If everyone pays SS, and 7% goes to retirement and other benefits, then 8% should go into a well managed pension.

    •  It Would Help Everyone if the US Were A (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue muon, BusyinCA, UntimelyRippd

      nation state instead of the location of parts of global markets.

      There is just about no issue facing the occupants of this location that wouldn't be resolved by the country functioning as advertised instead of

      just trying to destroy the net

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:43:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Regan's true motive (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots, blue muon, BusyinCA

      of course was to destroy Social Security - and has led us to the absurdist scheme of 401(k)s being the fall back for most Americans. All the while, those companies who administer these 401k plans get wealthy while retirement savings plummet and rely on the fluctuations of the market.

      Of course, more often than not, the investment firms take their fees whether there is growth or not for the retirement account

    •  The majority of Americans cannot afford to save (0+ / 0-)

      for retirement, period. This is a straightforward outcome of market-based social arrangements. It can only be fixed by raising the minimum wage, providing universal health care for all (possibly via a flat tax), and forcing additional savings by raising social security taxes (screw these damnable "holidays" and other shenanigans that only weaken the system).

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sun May 11, 2014 at 12:05:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Likely Cost Far More Than 1% to Administer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue muon

    Index funds, no trading, no buying truckloads of rare coins, I'm thinking, not costlier than 1%.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:29:24 AM PDT

  •  Keep working until you die? (5+ / 0-)

    Despite people being more active and healthy after age 50, holding on to a good job until "one dies" is no easy feat these days.

    If one loses a job after age 50, there is a good chance that person will never work again in ANY job given the rampant age discrimination in hiring that is now common and practiced in nearly every organization.

    While retirement is a huge problem in this country, a bigger problem is effectively dealing with the attitude of discarding productive people simply because they hit a chronological age.  

    This country is doing absolutely NOTHING in dealing with this issue. This is one form of discrimination that most everyone is okay with...except those affected.

    "Self-respect is the keystone of democracy"

    by neverontheright on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:52:00 AM PDT

    •  I think you are right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots, blue muon

      that age discrimination is a big problem - and we don't do enough to help people who lose their jobs later in life.

      But I do think the underlying problem is that people are obliged to work later into their lives because there just isn't a system in place to ensure livelihoods. In the era of defined benefit plans - or in European countries - people can actually plan for life after work. Today, that is unreliable at best, a fantasy for many.

      •  He Olde Pension... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, israelfox87

        My father lived well in his retirement years by collecting a union pension and Social Security, buying a trailer home for $10,000, and living in a trailer park for $400 per month. I hope to be that fortunate with a Roth IRA and Social Security when I retire in 20 to 30 years from now.

  •  Enough with the "entitlement" garbage.... (0+ / 0-)

    Too many of these people that complain about having to work until they are dead, did some very poor financial decisions years early.  Like that ARM on that house, and took out equity, or perhaps lived WAY too large.  This type is shown plain as day with my parents.  Stripped out equity, lots of vacations, and just lived large.  Good, till the rug was pulled out from them back in 2008.  

    •  Meh... (0+ / 0-)

      My older brother looks down on me because I live a frugal style that let me salt away half my income. Meanwhile, he's bitching and moaning about retirement because the down payment for his empty house came from his wife's 401K, the mortgage is still underwater, and his favorite $120 blue jeans aren't getting cheaper. That's what you get for living the American dream.

    •  Sometimes people are in this situation due to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, blue muon

      earlier job losses.   I know that's what happened to us.  My husband always had the main salary and my teaching salary was what we saved.  Then my husband lost his job in the 90's and was out of work for 2 years.  One can go through a lot of savings in 2 years when the main income has been lost.  You never fully recover because next thing you know, your kids are college age and you have to deal with that.  I feel fortunate to have my teacher's pension, which while not great, is something we can live on if we move to an area with lower cost of living.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:18:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you have no money to open any sort of account (0+ / 0-)

    it does not matter that the state will make sure you can have one.  If you do have a little extra money, a credit union can help you save some of it.  

  •  Just Fund Social Security (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Or, raise the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage is about four times as effective for providing retirement funds for people than any kind of private system. And we only pay about 0.6% for administration of Social Security (for retirement). Unless the private sector is going to hold total administrative fees below a half percent there's no financial advantage to having it done that way.

    And then there's the risk. Who's going to pick up the tab when these companies go bankrupt? Who usually does?

    Just pay these people better. If you raise their wages $1/hour, then about 12 cents per hour goes into Social Security. That money could be used to expand Social Security benefits for the retired. And the risk is essentially eliminated.

  •  I'm already in for the "keep working until you (0+ / 0-)

    die" plan.

    If I'm lucky, that'll be about 10 more years.
    If I'm not, it'll be 25 or 30.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:52:04 PM PDT

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