Veterans Living Paycheck to Paycheck Are Under Threat During Budget Debates

By Katherine Gallagher Robbins and Anusha Ravi

President Donald Trump and congressional Republican leaders have promised to “take care” of America’s veterans—but the congressional and presidential budgets, which will be debated this fall, threaten several programs that help ensure basic living standards for veterans and their families, including Medicaid, affordable housing programs, job training, and nutrition assistance. Rather than taking care of America’s veterans and their families, the budget resolution is expected to pave the way for massive tax cuts, 61 percent of which would benefit the richest 1 percent of Americans.

The sad reality is that veterans’ needs are not fully addressed by veteran-specific benefits and services—even with current federal and local Department of Veterans Affairs supports, far too many veterans and their families continue to struggle to meet their basic needs regarding housing, nutrition, health care, and more. In fact, new analysis by the Center for American Progress reveals that 3.9 million veterans—more than 1 in 5—are living paycheck to paycheck at 200 percent of or less than the federal poverty level. These veterans are especially at risk because of this administration’s budget proposals.

Certain groups of veterans are particularly threatened. Economic insecurity is disproportionately high for many veterans of color. Thirty-seven percent of Native American veterans, 30 percent of African American veterans, and 26 percent of Latino veterans are living paycheck to paycheck, compared with 20 percent of white, non-Hispanic veterans. While Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) veterans experience a lower rate of economic insecurity—18 percent—certain ethnic groups of AAPI veterans, including Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, and Laotian veterans, face increased economic insecurity.*

Young veterans, many of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, also face particular challenges. One-third of veterans ages 18 to 29 live paycheck to paycheck, compared with 22 percent of veterans ages 30 to 44, 21 percent of veterans ages 45 to 64, and 20 percent of veterans ages 65 and older. Veterans with disabilities are also especially likely to be economically insecure, with 29 percent living paycheck to paycheck, compared with 21 percent of veterans overall. Twenty-five percent of female veterans are economically insecure, compared with 21 percent of male veterans.

Veterans in certain states are especially vulnerable. At least one-quarter of veterans live paycheck to paycheck in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Kentucky, Montana, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Oregon.

*Note: Given the relatively small sample sizes of many AAPI groups of veterans in the 2015 American Community Survey’s one-year data set, the authors analyzed detailed AAPI veteran economic insecurity using an expanded data set—the 2015 American Community Survey’s five-year data set. According to these data, on average, 22 percent of all veterans and 19 percent of AAPI veterans lived paycheck to paycheck from 2011 through 2015. By comparison, 28 percent of Vietnamese American veterans, 36 percent of Cambodian American veterans, 46 percent of Hmong American veterans, and 36 percent of Laotian American veterans lived paycheck to paycheck. Data used are the latest available from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series USA interactive data tool.

***

Reposted from CAP

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work