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AltAusterity Digest #57 July 19-25, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Jul 27, 2018

Legislation for a universal basic income pilot program in Chicago is currently gaining co-sponsors. The bill has been introduced by Ameya Pawar and will be voted on by City Council. The proposal consists of a $500 a month payout to 1000 families in Chicago, as well as changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit program that will allow them to receive tax credits on a monthly, rather than yearly basis. Pawar justified the bill by explaining that the threat of automation, and the potential destruction of thousands of jobs, required a new regulatory framework. The $500 is intended to supplement, rather than replace family income.

The government in Britain has announced the biggest public sector pay rise in nearly 10 years. This years’ increases include 2.9% for the armed forces across the UK, 2.75% for prison officers, 2% for GPs, dentists and police, and between 1.5% and 3.5% for teachers depending on their location in England or Wales. The move comes after the 1% pay cap last year, which provoked backlash from unions. A 3% pay increase to teachers in Scotland was rejected by unions earlier in the year, which could lead to industrial action if the pay raise issue is not resolved.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives have used their House majority to push through back-to-work legislation that orders contract faculty, teaching assistant and graduate assistants back to the job. The labour dispute dated back to March 5th, with the union (CUPE 3903) split over whether to accept York’s offer. Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath has opposed the move to use back-to-work legislation, while also criticizing the Liberal’s funding levels for post-secondary education.

The New York Times examines Portugal’s “U-turn” from austerity in 2015, to the country’s highest growth in a decade last year. While Portugal’s “anti-austerity” agenda should not be oversold, the Costa administration did raise public sector salaries, the minimum wage and pensions to pre-bailout levels, despite objections from creditors. These measures were matched with incentives to stimulate business which included development subsidies, tax credits and funding for small and midsize companies. However, despite Portugal’s recent successes, public investment is at a 40-year low, public sector wages have failed to keep up with growth, and low-paying part-time contracts are still prevalent.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!