Income inequality is the defining issue of our time, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told a group of young progressive activists at the AFL-CIO headquarters yesterday. Ellison joined a panel of distinguished guests that included AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, Rep. Kevin Killer (D-S.D.), Special Assistant to the President for Labor and Workforce Policy Portia Wu and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) Gregory Cendana, at the Youth Economic Policy Forum (YEPF) hosted by the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
No one would blame Nicholas Perez and Cheri Stewart if they decided the problems facing their generation are just too big to tackle.
After all, unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds stands at more than 17% and is even higher for young people of color. Many college graduates are burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Older workers often stereotype the millennial generation as self-absorbed and “lacking a work ethic.”
Perez, Mitchell and some 20 other young workers who participated in the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Young Workers Convention on Sunday have experienced it. They’re not throwing up their hands, however—they’re organizing. Many are finding new ways to lead within their unions.
A 2007 Boston Globe report on college admissions data that has been making the rounds on Twitter lately reveals that “about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards,” most of whom “are students who gained admission through their ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors, faculty members, administrators and politicians topping the list.”
Jessica Camacho is a policy intern at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C.
As a low-income and first-generation college student in my family, the subject of student loans has been a matter of acute concern to me. High school counselors constantly told me that student loans are “good debt.” This type of information made it justifiable for peers in similar socioeconomic situations to borrow federal and private loans. But lenders take advantage of first-time borrowers by failing to explain in full detail future payment plans, which may cause individuals to be fiscally unprepared for post-graduate life. Current student debt trends must be fixed in order to stop setting up graduates for a lifetime of financial struggles.