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AltAusterity Digest #36 February 22-28, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Mar 04, 2018

Thousands of Argentinian transport workers paralyzed Buenos Aires last week protesting President Marci’s reforms. While organizers put the figure at 400,000 protesters, the municipal government claims only 140,000 were present. Macri, who came to power in 2015, has aimed to reduce Argentina’s fiscal deficit by slashing subsidies for utilities and transportation. These reforms have been compounded with an inflation rate of 24.8% in 2017, causing Argentines to lose purchasing power at a steep rate.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Janus v. American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees case over whether workers who benefit from collective agreements can avoid paying union dues if they decline joining the union. The argument is based on the premise that collective bargaining activities violate First Amendment rights. The case follows the similar Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association case, which was deadlocked 4 to 4 after Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. It is expected that Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch will cast the deciding vote.

Following the most recent U.S. budget proposals, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have told employees that budget cuts of up to 80% will mean scaling back their work in low-income countries to detect, prevent and control infectious diseases. Currently, the CDC division that focuses on global health operates in 49 countries, but this will be scaled back by about October 2019, to only 10 countries. This reduction in capacity will significantly reduce the ability of healthcare professionals to prevent and contain infectious diseases on a global scale.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has tabled the 2018 federal spending plan. As the CBC reports, the budget aims to boost productivity, bring more women into the workforce in high-end sectors, tackle the opioid crisis, and improve the living conditions for Indigenous people. Indigenous communities will see a $4.1 billion investment over five years, in addition to investments from the 2016 budget, for infrastructure and social services spending in new housing and child health and welfare programs. The budget has also pledged a new national pharmacare program (though without a dollar amount), funding for cracking down on tax havens and pay equity for federally-regulated employees.

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!