Which Parts of Their Collective Bargaining Agreements Do the Friedrichs Plaintiffs Oppose?

Source: Andrew Strom, OnLabor blog, November 24, 2015

The theory of the Friedrichs case is that requiring the plaintiffs to pay fair share fees imposes a “severe and ongoing infringement” of their rights to free speech. Their Complaint asserts that each plaintiff “objects to many of the unions’ public policy positions, including positions taken in collective bargaining.” The fair share fees that are at issue in the case do not go to fund the unions’ public policy initiatives. Instead, they only fund activities that are germane to collective bargaining. And because of the way the case has been litigated, the plaintiffs have not identified which specific provisions in their collective bargaining agreements they oppose.

In their Supreme Court brief, the Friedrichs plaintiffs argue that wages and benefits for teachers can be controversial, and they assert that collective bargaining involves matters relating to education policy, but they never assert that they personally oppose their union on any issues addressed by their own collective bargaining agreements. While the brief is full of generalized assertions about collective bargaining agreements, it never addresses any of the specific collective bargaining agreements that apply to the plaintiffs. ….

….The unwillingness of the Friedrichs plaintiffs to identify the specific collective bargaining activities that they find objectionable is at odds with the heated rhetoric in their lawyers’ Supreme Court brief. While their lawyers assert that the Friedrichs plaintiffs are being forced to contribute money “for the propagation of opinions which [they] disbelieve[],” in fact, it appears that their agency fees are going to fund negotiation and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements that directly benefit them…..

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): In Brief

Source: Ian F. Fergusson, Mark A. McMinimy, Brock R. Williams, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44278, November 19, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among 12 Asia-Pacific countries, which the Obama Administration casts as comprehensive and high standard, with economic and strategic significance for the United States. The 12 countries (including the United States) announced the conclusion of the TPP negotiations on October 5, 2015, after several years of ongoing talks. President Obama publicly released the text of the agreement and notified Congress of his intent to sign it on November 5, 2015. Congress would need to pass implementing legislation for a final TPP agreement to enter into force for the United States. It would be eligible to receive expedited legislative consideration under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), P.L. 114-26, if Congress determines the administration has advanced the TPA negotiating objectives, and has met various notification and consultation requirements. Through the TPP, the participating countries seek to liberalize trade and investment and establish new rules and disciplines in the region beyond those that already exist in the World Trade Organization (WTO). …. Throughout the negotiations on TPP, certain aspects of the agreement have proven controversial. These include select market access issues (such as on dairy and other agricultural products, autos, and textiles and apparel) as well as the level of intellectual property protection, the scope and enforcement of environment and worker rights provisions, the treatment of SOEs, investor-state dispute settlement, access to government procurement, and the potential inclusion of provisions on currency valuation and exchange rates. This report briefly summarizes some of the key provisions listed generally in alphabetical order. Additional analysis of the agreement will be forthcoming…..

Massive Rolling Strikes Shut Down Quebec

Source: Sonia Singh, Labor Notes, November 23, 2015

After provincial bargaining stalled, 400,000 public sector workers across Quebec walked out in October and November on rolling one-day strikes.

The government is proposing pension cuts and only a 3 percent salary increase over five years. Since coming to power in April 2014 it has already begun cuts to services, including slashing health and education funding.

The Common Front, a coalition of Quebec public sector unions, is coordinating the strikes, which include teachers, health care workers, and government employees. Members voted to authorize six days of strikes per union. These began with one-day strikes, staggered by region. The Common Front vowed that if no agreement was reached, all members would strike at the same time December 1-3.

Labor Notes interviewed Benoit Renaud and Philippe de Grosbois, who have both been on strike. Renaud is an adult education teacher in the city of Gatineau and a member of the La Fédération Autonome de L’enseignement. de Grosbois teaches in a pre-college program in Laval and is an executive of his local, which is part of the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux.

At the time of the interview, a December general strike was still planned. However, the Common Front recently announced it’s postponing the strike while negotiations continue…..

Puerto Rico and Health Care Finance: Frequently Asked Questions

Source: Annie L. Mach, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R4427, November 18, 2015

Puerto Rico’s financial circumstances, including uncertainty about its ability to service its large public debt, have drawn attention in recent months. As Congress examines Puerto Rico’s finances, questions have arisen about how federal health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program [CHIP]) and private health insurance requirements apply to Puerto Rico. Is Puerto Rico treated like a state, or is it treated differently? This report provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Puerto Rico’s health care system……

2016 Hunger Report – The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality

Source: Barbara Baylor, Maria Belding, Steven Damiano, Caron Gremont, Patricia Jones, Molly Marsh, Amber Moulton, National Council of La Raza, Dawn Pierce, Beth Ann Saracco, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, and Karen Wilkinson, Bread for the World Institute, 2015

From the blog post:
….The 2016 Hunger Report, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality, reminds us of how costly the collection of health problems related to hunger is—costly both to individuals and to society….. We all understand that when people don’t have any food at all, they will die of starvation. Death from starvation is an extreme example of the “effect” of hunger on health. But even the bland term food insecurity leads to poor health outcomes. One in three chronically ill adults in the United States has to choose between paying for food or medicine. Either choice is damaging to their health. The medicine may not work without food. Who isn’t familiar with the instruction on many prescription medications to ‘Take with Food’? …. The United States has a population-wide health problem. We spend roughly $3 trillion per year on health care, or 18 percent of GDP—twice as much on average as other high-income countries. But for all this spending on health care, our population is less healthy than those of peer countries. Why? One of the main reasons is that we as a nation tolerate much higher levels of hunger and poverty than people in other rich countries. ….

Using social media content for screening in recruitment and selection: pros and cons

Source: Debora Jeske, Kenneth S Shultz, Work Employment & Society, Published online before print November 20, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The article considers the arguments that have been made in defence of social media screening as well as issues that arise and may effectively erode the reliability and utility of such data for employers. First, the authors consider existing legal frameworks and guidelines that are present in the UK and the USA, as well as the subsequent ethical concerns that arise when employers access and use social networking content for employment purposes. Second, several arguments in favour of the use of social networking content are made, each of which is considered from several angles, including concerns about impression management, bias and discrimination, data protection and security. Ultimately, the current state of knowledge does not provide a definite answer as to whether information from social networks is helpful in recruitment and selection.

Political Entrenchment and Public Law

Source: Daryl Levinson & Benjamin I. Sachs, Yale Law Journal, Vol 125 no. 2, November 2015

Courts and legal scholars have long been concerned with the problem of “entrenchment”—the ways that incumbents insulate themselves and their favored policies from the normal processes of democratic change. But this wide swath of case law and scholarship has focused nearly exclusively on formal entrenchment: the legal rules governing elections, the processes for enacting and repealing legislation, and the methods of constitutional adoption and amendment. This Article demonstrates that political actors also entrench themselves and their policies through an array of functional alternatives. By enacting substantive policies that strengthen political allies or weaken political opponents, by shifting the composition of the political community, or by altering the structure of political decision making, political actors can achieve the same entrenching results without resorting to the kinds of formal rule changes that raise red flags. Recognizing the continuity of formal and functional entrenchment forces us to consider why public law condemns the former while ignoring or pardoning the latter. Appreciating the prevalence of functional entrenchment also raises a broader set of questions about when impediments to political change should be viewed as democratically pathological and how we should distinguish entrenchment from ordinary democratic politics. ….

…..[P]olitical actors intent on entrenching their preferred parties or policies need not resort to manipulating the formal rules of the Constitution, elections, or legislation. Consider recent changes to public-sector labor law. Labor unions generally provide support to Democratic candidates, mobilizing pro-Democratic voters and funding the logistical and organizational infrastructure of Democratic campaigns. Seeking to defend their hold on power against Democratic challengers, Republican officeholders have enacted restrictive labor legislation for the purpose of weakening unions. In 2011, for instance, the Republican-dominated Wisconsin legislature overhauled the state’s collective bargaining laws to profoundly curtail unions’ ability to participate effectively in politics. In case the purpose of these measures was not apparent, the new restrictions exempted all the unions that had endorsed the Republican Governor in the previous election. The goal, it seems, was to selectively incapacitate the Republicans’ political opponents, and not just at the state level: as Wisconsin’s Republican senate majority leader put it at the time, “[I]f we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions . . . President Obama is going to have a . . . much more difficult time getting elected . . . .” Wisconsin Republicans intent on undermining their political opposition and entrenching their party in office did not need to resort to disfranchisement or gerrymandered electoral districts. They used labor law instead……


Source: Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), 2015

Launched in 2015, EnforcingSickDays.org provides state and local governments with tools and resources to effectively implement earned sick days laws. EnforcingSickDays.org is an extension of CLASP’s peer-to-peer advising work with earned sick days enforcement agencies. In 2014 and 2015, CLASP organized a series of conference calls in which enforcement agencies across the country discussed shared challenges and best practices in implementing earned sick days laws. This was followed by a live convening co-hosted by CLASP and the City of New York in October 2015. In addition to enforcement agencies, the convening welcomed advocates from five states and the District of Columbia. Building on this peer learning model, EnforcingSickDays.org provides a library of resources for effectively implementing earned sick days.

Sections include:
Laws and Regulations – Texts of ESD laws, rules, and regulations
Education – Websites, PSAs, posters, and more to educate employers, employees, and the public about the law
Enforcement Operations – Complaint forms, audit reports, and more to conduct investigations and evaluate your success

Multigenerational Families and Food Insecurity in the United States, 1998-2013

Source: Duy Do, Renae Rodgers, Julia A. Rivera Drew, Minnesota Population Center, Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS), Data Brief No. 1, June 2015

Key Findings:
Data from the Integrated Health Interview Series, 1998-2013
– Multigenerational families increased as a share of all families over the past two decades.
– About 15% of multigenerational families were food insecure compared to 11% of single-generation families.
– 20% of children and 16% of young adults living in multigenerational families were food insecure, compared to 15% of children and 13% of young adults living in single-generation families.
– The share of families receiving SNAP benefits increased; in 2007, 7%of families received SNAP, compared to 13.3% of families in 2013. This rise was steeper for multigenerational families (9.6% in 2007, compared to 19.5% in 2013).
– Multigenerational families were more likely to receive SNAP benefits than single-generation families. There was no difference in the duration of benefit receipt by family structure.

Funding for Housing, Health, and Social Services Block Grants Has Fallen Markedly Over Time

Source: Isaac Shapiro, Bryann DaSilva, David Reich, Richard Kogan, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Policy Futures, November 19, 2015

From the summary:
Funding for housing, health, and social services block grants has fallen significantly over time, an examination of several decades of budget data demonstrates. These data provide a cautionary tale for proposals to merge large numbers of additional programs — especially programs serving families and individuals who are low income or otherwise vulnerable — into block grants, as would occur, for example, under a proposal that House Speaker Paul Ryan made in 2014 to merge 11 low-income programs into a mega-block grant in an unspecified number of states.

Policymakers advancing these proposals often accompany them, as Mr. Ryan did, with assurances that the new block grant would get the same overall amount of funding as currently goes to the individual programs that it would replace. This new analysis of several decades of budget data strongly suggests, however, that even if the funding a new block grant received in its initial year matched the prior funding for the programs merged into the block grant, the initial level likely wouldn’t be sustained. The analysis shows that when social programs are merged into (or created as) broad block grants, funding typically contracts — often sharply — in subsequent years and decades, with the funding reductions growing deeper over time.