Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2013

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-14-2246, December 16, 2014

The overall incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work to recuperate was 109.4 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2013, down from the 2012 rate of 111.8, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2013, there were 1,162,210 days-away-from-work cases in private industry, state government, and local government, essentially the same number of reported injuries and illnesses as in 2012. The median days away from work to recuperate–a key measure of severity of injuries and illnesses–was 8 days in 2013, one fewer than reported in 2012. ….The incidence rate for local government protective service workers decreased to 451.3 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2013, down from 480.4 in 2012 despite no statistical change in the overall local government incidence rate. (See table 3.) The incidence rate for local government building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers increased to 472.6–up from 438.0 in 2012. The rate of days-away-from-work cases for state government workers was statistically unchanged in 2013 at 160.1 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. ….

As Income Inequality Rises, America’s Middle Class Shrinks

Source: Keith Miller and David Madland, Center for American Progress, December 18, 2014

America’s middle class is struggling. As recent economic data show, middle-class household incomes remain stagnant at a near-25-year low, and the share of the nation’s economic gains going to the middle class has fallen to near-record lows. Meanwhile, the costs of middle-class essentials—such as child care, higher education, health care, and housing—have rapidly increased. Beyond these well-documented facts, however, another long-term trend affecting the middle class has received somewhat less attention: As income inequality has steadily grown in the United States, the actual size of America’s middle class has shrunk.

A commonly used method to assess the strength of the middle class is to look at the nation’s overall income distribution and evaluate how a predetermined portion—for example, the middle 20 percent or middle 60 percent—is doing on a variety of indicators, such as what percentage of the country’s aggregate income it takes home or how its median wealth has changed over time. But an alternative method is to try to actually measure the share of Americans earning what can be considered a middle-level income. This is an income that falls within a set range of the national median—the income level that separates the top half of earners from the bottom half—which would identify a household as being middle class.

This analysis uses a range of 50 percent of the national median income—the same range used by Princeton economist Alan Krueger when conducting a similar analysis—and looks at all households between the ages of 25 and 64. This means all working-age households earning incomes between 0.5 and 1.5 times the national median will be considered part of the middle class. In 2012, this range spanned between roughly $30,000 and $90,000.

Kansas: Baseline Report – State-Level Field Network Study of the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act

Source: Rockefeller Institute of Government, Brookings Institution, Fels Institute of Government, ACA Implementation Research Network, December 2014

Researchers at the Kansas Health Institute have just released their baseline report from Kansas and are highlighting the diverse approaches to ACA implementation taken by Kansas state elected officials to the level of the governor. The Kansas report is the 19th baseline study to come out of the 36-state network established by the Rockefeller Institute, in conjunction with the Brookings Institution and the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, to examine the implementation of the ACA.

Preparing for 2015: Key Priorities for States

Source: Kate Murray, Mollie Murphy, and Suzanne Crisp, National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services, December 2014

The NRCPDS is excited to release this helpful guide for states getting ready for new compliance requirements, including compliance with the FLSA Home Care Rule. This resource lists key priorities for 2015, including ensuring that FLSA costs are included in state budgets.

What Do Right-to-Work Laws Do? A Case Study Analysis Using Synthetic Control Method

Source: Ozkan Eren, Serkan Ozbekliky, Louisiana State University and Claremont McKenna College, no date.

Using the case study of Oklahoma and a recently developed econometric technique, we examine the impact of right-to-work laws on state-level labor market outcomes. Having eliminated the potential time variant and invariant confounding effects, our results show that the passage of right-to-work laws in Oklahoma decreased the private sector unionization rates. Several other state outcomes, on the other hand, were not affected by right-to-work laws. The Öndings for the private sector generally carry over to the manufacturing sector.

Judicial Review of the EEOC’s Duty to Conciliate

Source: Stephanie M. Greene, Christine Neylon O’Brien, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 340, November 17, 2014

From the abstract:
Fifty years after the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal courts remain unsettled on a variety of issues involving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s pre-suit obligations. Courts currently disagree on: whether the EEOC’s conciliation efforts are subject to judicial review; what the standard of judicial review should be; what the remedy should be if a court finds the EEOC failed to fulfill its pre-suit obligations; and whether the EEOC may bring suit on behalf of unidentified individuals under Section 706. In EEOC v. Mach Mining, LLC, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit was the first circuit court of appeals to hold that conciliation efforts are a matter of agency discretion and are not subject to judicial review. Other courts have reviewed the conciliation process and have required that the EEOC demonstrate at least good faith efforts to conciliate. On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court granted Mach Mining’s petition for certiorari and a decision is expected in the upcoming term. The Court’s decision will resolve some of the differences between the circuits and may indicate how courts should resolve related issues. This article maintains that the Supreme Court should affirm the Seventh Circuit’s decision. Supreme Court precedent emphasizes that the EEOC’s efforts should be focused on resolving the merits of discrimination claims and supports the conclusion that judicial review should be denied because it results in delays and distractions from Title VII’s objectives. If the Court decides that judicial review of the conciliation process is required, the EEOC will face a new landscape that will disturb Title VII’s mandate that the conciliation process be informal, confidential, and a matter of agency discretion.

Characterization of cleaning and disinfecting tasks and product use among hospital occupations

Source: Rena Saito, M. Abbas Virji, Paul K. Henneberger, Michael J. Humann, Ryan F. LeBouf, Marcia L. Stanton, Xiaoming Liang and Aleksandr B. Stefaniak, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 58 no. 1, January 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Healthcare workers have an elevated prevalence of asthma and related symptoms associated with the use of cleaning/disinfecting products. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize cleaning/disinfecting tasks and products used among hospital occupations.

Methods: Workers from 14 occupations at five hospitals were monitored for 216 shifts, and work tasks and products used were recorded at five-minute intervals. The major chemical constituents of each product were identified from safety data sheets.

Results: Cleaning and disinfecting tasks were performed with a high frequency at least once per shift in many occupations. Medical equipment preparers, housekeepers, floor strippers/waxers, and endoscopy technicians spent on average 108–177 min/shift performing cleaning/disinfecting tasks. Many occupations used products containing amines and quaternary ammonium compounds for >100 min/shift.

Conclusions: This analysis demonstrates that many occupations besides housekeeping incur exposures to cleaning/disinfecting products, albeit for different durations and using products containing different chemicals.

National Center Newsletters 1973-2000

Source: National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, 2014

Between 1973 and 2000, the National Center published a bimonthly newsletter with contributions from directors and newsletter editors Maurice Benewitz, Thomas Mannix, Theodore H. Lang, Aaron Levenstein, Joel M. Douglas, Frank R. Annunziato and Beth H. Johnson. In addition, issues of the newsletter included contributions by other scholars including Clark Kerr, Fred Lane, Clara Lovett, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Myron Lieberman, Irwin Polishook, Matthew Finkin, Richard W. Hurd and Richard Chait.

Over its 27 year publication history, the newsletter contained articles, analysis and data on subjects that continue to be topical in higher education and the professions including: the impact of the Supreme Court’s Yeshiva University decision, the organizing and representation of adjunct faculty and graduate students, academic freedom and tenure, shared governance, discrimination and faculty strikes. The final issue of the newsletter appeared in 2000 with excerpts of a speech given by then AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney at the National Center’s 28th annual conference as the first annual Albert Shanker Lecture.

Zero-Hour Contracts: The Newest Way Workers Are Getting Screwed

Source: Workplace Prof blog, December 6, 2014

zero-hour contract is a “contract” of employment creating an on-call arrangement between employer and employee and in which the employer asserts it has no obligation to provide any work for the employee. It’s become common in the United Kingdom, and apparently is being “offered” to employees by many American-owned companies including McDonald’s and Burger King. In many ways, it’s similar to just-in-time scheduling that has become increasingly common in the U.S. retail/fast-food economy, except that in some weeks an employee many receive zero work hours.

Ewan McGaughey (King’s College London) has just posted on SSRN his essay Are Zero Hours Contracts Lawful? Here’s the abstract:

Are zero hours contracts lawful? This note responds to the DBIS consultation on banning exclusivity clauses (August 2014). It asks the following: what is a zero hours contract? To what extent are zero hours contracts legal? Why have zero hours contracts spread? And finally, what is the right thing to do?