Tag Archives: income inequality

AFT: Labor unions and shared prosperity

On the occasion of Labor Day, a message from American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten on the importance of the labor movement to American workers and communities:

Today is Labor Day—and there’s a good reason it’s a national holiday. By organizing together and fighting collectively, workers have been able to better their lives and the lives of their families. So rather than think about Labor Day as the last gasp of summer or bemoan the loss of union clout, let’s redouble our efforts to re-create an enduring middle class.

Income and wealth inequality rivals levels last seen in the Gilded Age. The American dream has slipped away from those who are working hard to make it. And rather than confronting these realities, many — particularly on the right — turned to union bashing and restricting labor rights that rendered people powerless to address inequities. The result: stagnating wages and stifled hopes for men and women who worked hard and played by the rules.

But we continue to fight — to fight for higher wages, fair contracts, professional development, safety measures, and resources for our members and their students, their patients and the others they serve.

America’s educators, healthcare professionals and public service workers know this firsthand. After the Great Recession, some on the right seized the political moment to vilify teachers and assault the labor movement that gives them a voice. In the aftermath, a study by a University of Utah economist showed that, in the four states that successfully weakened teachers’ right to bargain together, public school teachers’ wages fell by nearly one-tenth. That’s a statistic we as educators and public servants simply cannot afford.

Conversely, robust unions help everyone — not just the people who form them—and a growing body of research demonstrates that. There’s a multiplier effect. Through unions, we lift up our communities, strengthen the economy and deepen our democracy. If unions were as strong today as in 1979, according to a timely new study by the Economic Policy Institute, nonunion men with a high school diploma would earn an average of $3,016 more a year. And the Center for American Progress has found that kids who live in communities where unions are strong have a better chance to get ahead.

Workers in unions earn, on average, 27 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. The National Women’s Law Center has found that unions close the pay gap for women, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that black workers see outsized gains from union representation. It’s a powerful reminder of the link between organized labor and economic success.

You see the union advantage in our advocacy as well. When the recession devastated the construction sector and put millions of Americans out of work, the American labor movement came together with the goal of raising $10 billion to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Five years later, our pension funds have reallocated $16 billion for infrastructure investments, including rehabilitating New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, turning it into a travel hub befitting a great modern city and creating good American jobs in the process.

In hospitals and patient care settings across the country, our members have been leading the fight against workplace violence.

And in the classroom, unions are critical partners in giving kids the chance to succeed. A 2016 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that where teachers unions are strong, districts have a better track record of building the quality of our teaching force — keeping stronger teachers and dismissing those who are not making the grade. Through unions, teachers fight for the tools, time and trust that educators need to tailor instruction to the needs of our children, to help them reach for and achieve their dreams.

Here at the AFT, we take that work seriously—for example, curating Share My Lesson, a free digital collection of lesson plans and resources for educators used by nearly a million people. In fact, Share My Lesson has more than 750 lessons about Labor Day!

Despite years of right-wing attacks on unions, a 2015 survey found that a majority of Americans would join a union if they had the choice. They know what a union offers: a voice in their workplace, the opportunity to negotiate wages and benefits and the ability to retire with dignity and security.

Indeed, despite all the attacks waged against us, the AFT—which celebrated our 100th anniversary at our national convention this summer—has grown over the past several years, with well over 1.6 million K-12 and higher education educators and staff, state and local employees, and nurses and other healthcare professionals as members. And now we are seeing more vulnerable workers — such as adjunct faculty and graduate students, teachers at charter schools and early childhood educators—seeking to join our ranks. In the private sector, tens of thousands of low-income workers have joined the Fight for 15 and the union movement because they know a union will help them get long-denied wage increases.

We have taken on the fight for adjuncts and early childhood educators from Pennsylvania to California — many of whom work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. These are the people who teach our youngest children, and they’re the ones who educate our college students; they deserve to live above the poverty line while doing this critical work.

Graduate students at Cornell University are celebrating the recent National Labor Relations Board decision that reinstates the right of graduate workers at private universities to organize. They are building momentum and talking to hundreds of fellow grad students about the power of collective bargaining, and are excited about the prospect of winning union recognition and joining more than 25,000 AFT graduate employees at public institutions who already enjoy the benefits of a contract.

The aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II led our country to understand we were all in it together. We established the GI Bill and other educational access and equity programs; management and labor respected each other, with unions being the voice of labor; and the middle class thrived.

Now, as income inequality is again at its height, let’s remember on this Labor Day what a strong labor movement has done—and can do again—to help workers, our communities, the economy and our democracy grow and thrive.

WHY IT MATTERS: Income inequality in America

Income inequality has surged near levels last seen before the Great Depression. The average income for the top 1 percent of households climbed 7.7 percent last year to $1.36 million, according to tax data tracked by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. That privileged sliver of the population saw pay climb at almost twice the rate of income growth for the other 99 percent, whose pay averaged a humble $48,768.

But why care how much the wealthy are making? What counts the most to any family is how much that family is bringing in. And that goes to the heart of the income-inequality debate: Most Americans still have yet to recover from the Great Recession, even though that downturn ended seven years ago. The average income for the 99 percent is still lower than it was back in 1998 after adjusting for inflation.

Meanwhile, incomes for the executives, bankers, hedge fund managers, entertainers and doctors who make up the top 1 percent have steadily improved. These one-percenters account for roughly 22 percent of all personal income, more than double the post-World War II era level of roughly 10 percent. One reason the income disparity is troubling for the nation is that it’s thinning out the ranks of the middle class.

 

WHERE THEY STAND

Hillary Clinton has highlighted inequality in multiple speeches, with her positions evolving somewhat over the past year. Bernie Sanders held her feet to the fire on that subject in the primaries. Clinton hopes to redirect more money to the middle class and impoverished. Clinton would raise taxes on the wealthy, increase the federal minimum wage, boost infrastructure spending, provide universal pre-K and offer the prospect of tuition-free college.

Donald Trump offers a blunter message about a hollowed-out middle class and a system “rigged” against average Americans. Still, he has yet to emphasize income inequality in the campaign. To bring back the factory jobs long associated with the rise of the middle class, Trump has promised new trade deals and infrastructure spending. But Trump has also proposed a tax plan that would allow the wealthiest Americans to keep more of their earnings.

 

WHY IT MATTERS

President Barack Obama has called rising inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” And experts warn that it may be slowing overall economic growth. Greater inequality has created a festering distrust of government and of corporate leaders whose promises of better times ahead never fully materialized.

The result has been a backlash against globalization that many Americans feel tilted the economy against them. For the top 1 percent, the ability to move money overseas and reach markets worldwide concentrated pay for “superstars,” according to economists. At the same time, factory workers now compete with 3 billion people in China, India, Eastern Europe and elsewhere who weren’t working for multinational corporations 20 years ago. Many now make products for Apple, Intel, General Motors and others at low wages. This has depressed middle-class pay. These trends have contributed to a “hollowed out” labor market in the United States, with more jobs at the higher and lower ends of the pay scale and fewer in the middle.

Social factors have amplified the trend as well. Single-parent families are more likely to be poor than other families and less likely to ascend the income ladder. Finally, men and women with college degrees and high pay are more likely to marry each other and amplify income gaps.

 

This story is part of AP’s “Why It Matters” series, which will examine three dozen issues at stake in the presidential election between now and Election Day. You can find them at: http://apnews.com/tag/WhyItMatters.

Total U.S. wealth doubled between 1989 and 2013, but probably not your family’s wealth

Total wealth in the United States doubled between 1989 and 2013, but the wealth of  families in the middle of the economy barely budged during that period.

This finding comes from a new report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who waged a hard-fought battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Over the period from 1989 through 2013, family wealth grew at significantly different rates for different segments of the U.S. population,” CBO wrote. “The distribution of wealth among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

Sanders, in a press statement, said, “The reality, as this report makes clear, is that since the 1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country. There is something profoundly wrong when the rich keep getting richer and virtually everyone else gets poorer. That is unacceptable, and that has got to change.”

As of 2013, the top 10 percent of families owned three-quarters of total family wealth in the United States. The average wealth of the top 10 percent was $4 million, but families in the bottom 25 percent were $13,000 in debt on average, according to the CBO report.

More about the numbers

Since 1989, the amount owed by indebted U.S. families tripled. In 2013, families in the bottom 25 percent were $13,000 in debt, on average, whereas they had virtually no debt in 2001. A total of 15 million families were in debt in 2013, with an average indebtedness of $32,000.

Higher education plays a role in determining family wealth, according to the report. In 2013, households headed by someone with a college degree had four times more wealth than households headed by an individual with a high school degree.

Yet student loan debt was largely responsible for the increase in debt among the bottom 25 percent of families. Between 2007 and 2013 “the share of families with student debt increased from 25 percent to 36 percent, and the average amount increased from $24,000 to $36,000,” CBO wrote. The percentage of indebted families with outstanding student debt rose from 56 percent in 2007 to 64 percent in 2013, and their average student loan balances increased from $29,000 to $41,000.

“If we are going to reduce wealth inequality in this country, we must make public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially lower student loan interest rates so that millions of young people do not leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades,” Sanders stated.

Poverty hits highest level in 30 years

Poverty in Wisconsin hit its highest level in 30 years during the five-year period after the Great Recession.

The determination comes from an analysis by the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The lab’s data tells Malia Jones, an assistant scientist in social epidemiologist, that poverty has been getting worse in the state.

“Poverty went up significantly, even during a time when the nation’s economy was improving,” she says.

Jones compared U.S. Census Bureau data from 2005-09 to data from 2010-14. The census bureau says a person is living in poverty when the total income of a household is below the poverty threshold, which takes into account the size of the family, the number of children in the family and, in some cases, the age of the head of household.

Jones found the number of Wisconsin residents living in poverty hit 13 percent during the five years ending in 2014 — the highest rate since 1984.

For 2010-14, poverty increased significantly in 31 of 72 Wisconsin counties, including 11 of the 15 most populous counties.

The UW-M estimates show about 738,000 Wisconsin residents were living in poverty in 2010-14, compared with 605,000 in 2005-09.

The research also shows:

• Over 2010-2014, nearly one in five Wisconsin children, were living in poverty. That’s 239,000 children.

For 2005-09, about 14.6 percent of kids in the state were living in poverty.

The finding means an additional 50,000 children in Wisconsin are at risk for food insecurity, housing insecurity, poor educational outcomes and lifetime disease risk due to poverty.

• Although black people are more broadly affected by poverty than any other race/ethnic group in the state, the largest relative increase in poverty occurred among Latinos.

• The lab report shows Wisconsin ranks 49th out of 50 states on the gap between black and white poverty rates. In the state, 39 percent of blacks and 28 percent of Latinos are living in poverty. For whites, the rate is 11 percent.

• Poverty went up among both unemployed and employed adults in Wisconsin.

• Poverty increased among high school graduates with no college education from 8.9 percent to 11 percent; among those with some college from 6.6 percent to 8.9 percent; and among those with a bachelor’s degree or more from 3 percent to 3.6 percent.

National look at poverty

Consistent with the UW-M research, a national report from the Economic Innovation Group shows the gap between the nation’s richest and poorest communities widened in the “recovery years” after the Great Recession. In The Distressed Communities Index, EIC evaluated economic prosperity and distress by ZIP code, legislative districts, municipalities and states.

Some findings:

• 50.4 million Americans live in distressed ZIP codes. In the bottom 20 percent of ZIP codes that are the most distressed, more than half of adults are not working and the median income is two-thirds of the state level.

• The country’s most distressed ZIP codes are stuck in a deep recession. From 2010 to 2013, the average distressed ZIP code lost 6.7 percent of its jobs and saw 8.3 percent of its businesses close. At the same time, the average prosperous ZIP code saw booming job growth of 17.4 percent and business growth of 8.8 percent.

  • DCI Data for U.S. Zip Codes by State

Progressives fear Trans-Pacific trade pact jeopardizes climate talks

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan and 42 other House Democrats wrote the president in mid-October, cautioning him that the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact could undermine efforts to address climate change.

Pocan, a progressive Democrat from Madison, urged the administration to refrain from adopting trade rules, including those in the TPP, that empower foreign investors to challenge governments’ environmental regulations.

“In recent years we have witnessed an alarming rise of international trade and investment disputes related to renewable energy and climate policies,” the representatives wrote to the White House.

The letter was dispatched following news that the negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership had reached an agreement in Atlanta.

At the U.S.-based Sierra Club, executive director Michael Brune said the TPP “would empower big polluters to challenge climate and environmental safeguards in private trade courts and would expand trade in dangerous fossil fuels that would increase fracking and imperil our climate. The TPP’s environmental chapter might look nice on the surface, but will be hollow on the inside.”

The White House says the TPP is intended to encourage trade among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, in part by reducing tariffs.

The deal is highly secretive and details have not been published, though WikiLeaks says it leaked a version of the agreement earlier in October.

As the president promotes the TPP to the American public and members of Congress, opposition continues to grow. Labor unions, environmentalists, social justice and human rights groups oppose the TPP. So do many Democrats in Congress and, as of October, all the Democratic candidates for president.

Hillary Clinton, who had previously promoted the TPP, announced on Oct. 8 her opposition to the deal. “I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made,” Clinton said in a statement. “But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”

Opponents of the TPP argue that the deal is great for corporations but bad for small business, family farmers, organized labor and the environment.

“Two-fifths of the global economy will be covered by corporate courts, meaning a huge rise in governments being sued for protecting the public interest from corporate greed,” said Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now, a democratic social justice organization in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called the TPP a bad deal that “will not bring economic stability to working families.”

Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy group, forecast massive opposition to the TPP in 2016, when it reaches a congressional vote and when election battles intensify.

Groups to suspend Run Warren Run campaign

The groups behind Run Warren Run are suspending their push to draft Elizabeth Warren to run for president on June 8. That day, six months after launching the campaign to draft the U.S. senator into a run for the White House, the groups are delivering a petition with 365,000 signatures from supporters.

MoveOn.org Political Action and Democracy for America launched the Run Warren Run campaign in December 2014 with a commitment to invest at least $1.25 million after supermajorities of both groups’ members voted in support.

Over six months, hundreds of thousands voters joined the call for Warren to run. So too did dozens of nationally prominent progressive leaders, including Van Jones, Larry Cohen, Zephyr Teachout, Annie Leonard and Lawrence Lessig, who headlined a Run Warren Run event in New York in April.

The petitions will be delivered to Warren’s office in Washington, D.C.

A news release said, “The groups will then rest their case and suspend their draft effort, pivoting their focus to working alongside Sen. Warren and other progressive populists on issue fights like defeating Fast Track negotiating authority for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.”

Highlighting the progressive campaign’s accomplishment, MoveOn and Democracy for America said with Run Warren Run, they 

 • Signed up more than 365,000 Americans who believe Warren’s vision and track record would make her a great candidate;

• Opened field offices in Iowa and New Hampshire, hired field organizers in both states and built a network of local, grassroots leaders in these key early states committed to encouraging Warren to run.

• Recruited more than 60 state legislators and local party leaders from Iowa and New Hampshire to join the effort.

• Held more than 400 events, including rallies, house parties, teach-ins, honk-and-waves and other events in nearly every state.

• Been endorsed by dozens of prominent organizational leaders, elected officials, celebrities and other progressives.

• Generated coverage in thousands of news stories elevating Warren’s voice and demonstrating a groundswell of grassroots support for her leadership — setting the stage for the presidential race and changing the dynamics of important debates in Washington. 

“Even without her in the race, Elizabeth Warren and the Run Warren Run campaign she inspired have already transformed the 2016 presidential election by focusing every single Democratic candidate on combatting our country’s income inequality crisis,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America. “We still think there’s plenty of time for Sen. Warren to change her mind, but now that we’ve shown that she has the support she would need to mount a winning a campaign, we’re excited to take the grassroots juggernaut we’ve built with our members and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Warren in the battles ahead.”

“The Run Warren Run campaign has changed the conversation by showing that Americans are hungry for Elizabeth Warren’s agenda — an agenda that rejects the rigged status quo in Washington and puts working and middle-class Americans over corporate interests,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action. “We’ve assembled a grassroots army and demonstrated the substantial support Sen. Warren could expect if she were to enter the race. Now it’s time to suspend our active draft efforts and pivot to standing alongside Sen. Warren on the big fights ahead, starting with stopping Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Progressive leaders unite to fight income inequality

Progressive leaders, including Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, united this week to launch The Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality.

“We all know the political saying, ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ The Progressive Agenda shifts the national conversation to creating an economy which serves hardworking Americans by reforming our tax code and supporting working families,” said Pocan, a Democrat from Madison. “This agenda addresses the root causes of income inequality in America and puts meat on the bone of our progressive values.”

The effort was announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Pocan and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

“The Progressive Agenda is an important first step in growing the paychecks of working Americans,” Grijalva and Ellison said in a joint statement released on May 12. “The coalition assembled today is proof we can do great things for people when we organize together. Mayor de Blasio and all of the partners involved in creating The Progressive Agenda are dedicated to the idea that no one working full-time in America should live in poverty.”

On the Web …

http://progressiveagenda.us 

Problems facing poor inch into presidential race

In a presidential campaign where candidates are jockeying to be champions of the middle class and asking wealthy people for money, the problems facing the poor are inching into the debate.

Tensions in places such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, have prompted candidates to explore the complicated relationship between poor communities and the police, and the deep-seated issues that have trapped many of the 45 million people who live in poverty in the United States.

But addressing the long-running economic, education and security troubles in underprivileged neighborhoods is a challenge with few easily agreed upon solutions.

A frustrated President Barack Obama challenged the nation to do “some soul-searching” after riots in Baltimore followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody. There have been other deadly altercations between police and black men or boys in Ferguson, New York’s Staten Island, Cleveland and North Charleston, South Carolina.

“I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities,” Obama said. “But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.”

To some of the Republicans running to replace Obama, his call for spending more money in poor areas underscores the problem with many current anti-poverty programs. The GOP largely opposes new domestic spending and party officials often say federally run programs are bloated and inefficient.

“At what point do you have to conclude that the top-down government poverty programs have failed?” said Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and expected presidential candidate. “I think we need to be engaged in this debate as conservatives and say that there’s a bottom-up approach.”

Republicans have struggled in recent years to overcome the perception that the party has little interest in the plight of the poor.

Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, was criticized for saying he was “not concerned about the very poor” and that it was not his job to worry about the 47 percent of Americans who he said “believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.”

More than 60 percent of voters who made less than $30,000 per year backed Obama over Romney in that campaign, according to exit polls.

Blacks and Hispanics, who overwhelmingly backed Obama in the past two presidential elections, are most likely to be poor. According to the census, about 27 percent of blacks and 25 percent of Hispanics were poor in 2012, compared with 12.7 percent of whites.

Bush has been among the most vocal Republicans discussing the need to lift the poor out of poverty and reduce income inequality, though he has yet to flesh out many of his policy proposals. He has been most specific about the need for greater educational choices and opportunities. Bush frequently cites his work in Florida, where he expanded charter schools, backed voucher programs and promoted high testing standards.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has long called for overhauling criminal sentencing procedures that he says disproportionately imprison low-income black men. He has promoted “economic freedom zones” where taxes would be lowered in areas with high long-term unemployment in order to stimulate growth and development.

Paul, who has made a point of reaching out to black communities, has drawn criticism for comments he made during the Baltimore unrest. In a radio interview, Paul said he had been on a train that went through the city and was “glad the train didn’t stop.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also has talked frequently about the poor. His anti-poverty proposals include consolidating many federal programs to help the poor into a “flex fund” that states would then manage.

Democrats, too, are trying to incorporate plans for tackling poverty into economic campaign messages that otherwise center on the middle class.

Following the Baltimore turmoil, Hillary Rodham Clinton made a plea for criminal justice changes that could aid urban communities. Among her ideas: equipping every police department with body cameras for officers. She said the unrest was a “symptom, not a cause” of what ails poor communities and she called for a broader discussion of the issues.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination, has been at the center of the discussions about Baltimore’s issues. He was mayor from 1999 to 2007 and enacted tough-on-crime policies.

While O’Malley is not backing away from those practices, he is trying to put criminal justice issues in a larger context. He wrote in an op-ed that the problem in Baltimore and elsewhere is as much about policing and race as it has about “declining wages and the lack of opportunity in our country today.”

In some places that have dealt with recent unrest, residents say they welcome the campaign discussions on poverty and policing, but hope the issues will not fade away when the next big campaign focus arises.

“Hopefully these protests are something they’ll wrap themselves around, and we can make sure these issues get addressed,” said Thavy Bullis, a Baltimore college student.

Clinton: Nation must deal with income inequality

Approaching a likely presidential campaign announcement next month, Hillary Rodham Clinton said this week that income inequality and wage stagnation are problems that go hand-in-hand and the nation needs creative solutions to bolster job opportunities and living conditions in the cities.

Clinton, at a discussion about urban areas, cited the benefits of partnerships between the private and public sectors and updated policies to improve social mobility. The policy event offered a preview of economic themes she is likely to address in a campaign.

“We need to think hard about what we’re going to do now that people are moving back into and staying in cities to make sure that our cities are not just places of economic prosperity and job creation on average,” Clinton said. “But do it in a way that lifts everybody up to deal with the overriding issues of inequality and lack of mobility.”

Her appearance at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank founded by allies of her husband, offered no new clues on the timing of her announcement, but plenty of presidential atmospherics. Clinton was joined by Housing Secretary Julian Castro, considered a potential running mate for Clinton by some Democrats, and the heads of a public workers union and teachers union, two of Clinton’s most ardent labor allies.

Neera Tanden, a former Hillary Clinton policy adviser, is president of the center and moderated the discussion while the think tank’s founder, John Podesta, sat in the front row. Podesta, a former Bill Clinton chief of staff, is expected to take a senior position in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton later met with President Barack Obama at the White House, where the two discussed “a range of topics,” the White House said.

Many Democrats support boosting wages and household income and argue that many families have yet to benefit from an improving job market. Liberals, led most visibly by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, say the party has become too intertwined with Wall Street and needs bold strategies to address inequality.

Clinton said economic problems have been acutely felt by young people, with more than 5 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 not in school or employed and in need of job skills and training. She urged leaders to get out of their “ideological bunkers” and said they could learn from the work of one panelist, Mayor Aja Brown of Compton, Calif., on curbing gang violence.

“Don’t be surprised if you get a call to come and maybe we’ll start not too far from here in a beautiful domed building,” Clinton said to laughter, referring to the U.S. Capitol. “Get everybody in the same room and start that conversation that could lead to collaboration and better results for our cities and our country.”

Joined at the event by Lee Saunders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, Clinton made no mention of a trade proposal backed by Obama called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Some labor unions worry she might support the initiative, which they see as undermining jobs, environmental standards and worker rights. They call it “NAFTA on steroids” in a reference to the North American trade pact Clinton’s husband piloted with Canada and Mexico in the 1990s.

Clinton ended the day at an awards ceremony honoring the legacy of Robin Toner, the first woman to serve as national political correspondent for The New York Times. Toner, who died in December 2008, covered Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and the Clinton White House.

Hillary Clinton joked that her relationship with the press “has been at times, shall we say, complicated.” She quipped that she was all about “new beginnings,” including a new grandchild, “another new hairstyle” and a “new email account.” She did not take questions from reporters at the event.

It was the final event on her public schedule for the rest of March.