Can Renewal Emerge from Destruction? Crisis and Opportunity in Wisconsin

Source: Don Taylor, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 40 no. 4, December 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article explores public sector labor relations in Wisconsin after the 2011 “uprising” and subsequent attempts to recall public officials, including the governor. While unions there have faced catastrophic setbacks and confront an uncertain future, the potential exists for Wisconsin to forge a new approach to escape the confines of the “service model,” which has left unions as “houses of straw.” If Wisconsin public sector unions can combine lessons from history and nonbargaining states with comprehensive plans for organizational culture change, a crucially important model could take shape for the entire U.S. labor movement.

Right-to-Work Laws, the Southernization of U.S. Labor Relations and the U.S. Trade Union Movement’s Decline

Source: Victor G. Devinatz, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 40 no. 4, December 2015
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From the abstract:
This article provides a framework for explaining why the right-to-work (RTW) movement is thriving in the twenty-first century’s second decade while outlining how RTW has negatively impacted the U.S. trade union movement. I argue that the recent growth of the RTW movement is due to the Southernization of U.S. labor relations that has led to not only an assault on private sector unionism but on public employee unionism as well. After presenting recent developments concerning RTW legislation, the roots of the Southernization of U.S. labor relations are discussed followed by sections outlining the historical development of the Southernization of both the U.S. working class and U.S. politics before presenting the effects of the Southernization of U.S. labor relations. The article’s penultimate section reports on the major economic effects of RTW legislation, primarily through outlining three RTW hypotheses and the associated empirical evidence. The final section proposes a methodology for potentially dealing with the RTW movement given the Southernization of U.S. labor relations.

Promises Unfulfilled: Right-to-Work’s Early Economic Track Record in Indiana

Source: Frank Manzo IV, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 40 no. 4, December 2015
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From the abstract:
This article examines the early economic track record of Indiana’s “right-to-work” (RTW) law on labor market outcomes. It analyzes various labor market metrics to compare the experience in Indiana relative to nine neighboring states, as well as to the United States in the aggregate. Data are analyzed both 36 months before and 36 months after Indiana passed RTW. Initial “difference-in-difference” estimates find that the labor market performance of Indiana has not surpassed that of neighboring states following passage of the law, contrary to the claims promised by its proponents. Wage and employment growth in Indiana’s construction industry, in particular, has fallen significantly behind the rest of the region. Regression analyses are subsequently performed, which conclude that RTW’s unique effect has been to lower hourly wages in the state economy by 1.1 to 1.5 percent on average and have little to no impact on employment. The combination of effects results in state income tax revenues that are annually $16 to $52 million lower than they would be in the absence of the RTW policy.

The Economic Effects of Adopting a Right-to-Work Law: Implications for Illinois

Source: Robert Bruno, Roland Zullo, Frank Manzo IV, Alison Dickson, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 40 no. 4, December 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While considerable efforts have been made by legislators, business associations, and political organizations to pass right-to-work (RTW) laws in states across the country, the empirical evidence on the effect of adopting an RTW law on labor market outcomes and state budgets is both varied and mixed. This article provides a forecast on the effect of RTW laws on important labor market outcomes—including earnings, employment, unionization, and inequality. It also investigates RTW’s impacts on two particularly affected industries (manufacturing and construction) and three demographic groups (African-American, Latino/a, and female workers). The findings are subsequently applied to the state of Illinois to project the potential law’s impact on Illinois workers and on the state’s tax revenues. By and large, as a policy prescription, RTW would generate harmful effects to Illinois’ economy, lower its capacity to provide essential public services and degrade the quality and condition of the state’s labor force.

The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Source: World Economic Forum, Global Challenge Insight Report, REF 010116, January 2016

Today, we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology, to name just a few, are all building on and amplifying one another. This will lay the foundation for a revolution more comprehensive and all-encompassing than anything we have ever seen. Smart systems—homes, factories, farms, grids or cities—will help tackle problems ranging from supply chain management to climate change. The rise of the sharing economy will allow people to monetize everything from their empty house to their car.

While the impending change holds great promise, the patterns of consumption, production and employment created by it also pose major challenges requiring proactive adaptation by corporations, governments and individuals. Concurrent to the technological revolution are a set of broader socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic drivers of change, each interacting in multiple directions and intensifying one another. As entire industries adjust, most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation. While some jobs are threatened by redundancy and others grow rapidly, existing jobs are also going through a change in the skill sets required to do them. The debate on these transformations is often polarized between those who foresee limitless new opportunities and those that foresee massive dislocation of jobs. In fact, the reality is highly specific to the industry, region and occupation in question as well as the ability of various stakeholders to manage change.

The Future of Jobs Report is a first step in becoming specific about the changes at hand. It taps into the knowledge of those who are best placed to observe the dynamics of workforces—Chief Human Resources and Strategy Officers—by asking them what the current shifts mean, specifically for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies. In particular, we have introduced a new measure—skills stability—to quantify the degree of skills disruption within an occupation, a job family or an entire industry. We have also been able to provide an outlook on the gender dynamics of the changes underway, a key element in understanding how the benefits and burdens of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be distributed.

Overall, there is a modestly positive outlook for employment across most industries, with jobs growth expected in several sectors. However, it is also clear that this need for more talent in certain job categories is accompanied by high skills instability across all job categories. Combined together, net job growth and skills instability result in most businesses currently facing major recruitment challenges and talent shortages, a pattern already evident in the results and set to get worse over the next five years.

The question, then, is how business, government and individuals will react to these developments. To prevent a worst-case scenario—technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality—reskilling and upskilling of today’s workers will be critical. While much has been said about the need for reform in basic education, it is simply not possible to weather the current technological revolution by waiting for the next generation’s workforce to become better prepared. Instead it is critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their current workforces through re-training, that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning and that governments create the enabling environment, rapidly and creatively, to assist these efforts. In particular, business collaboration within industries to create larger pools of skilled talent will become indispensable, as will multi-sector skilling partnerships that leverage the very same collaborative models that underpin many of the technology-driven business changes underway today. Additionally, better data and planning metrics, such as those in this Report, are critical in helping to anticipate and proactively manage the current transition in labour markets.

Examining the Work Ethic of Correctional Officers Using a Short Form of the Multidimensional Work Ethic Profile

Source: C. Allen Gorman, John P. Meriac, The Prison Journal, Vol. 96 no. 2, March 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The work ethic construct has seen increased research attention in recent years and has been applied to a host of different settings. In this study, the work ethic of correctional officers (COs) was examined. Compared with other occupational samples, COs generally endorsed higher levels of work ethic across several of the dimensions. Also, we found that the measurement properties of the Multidimensional Work Ethic Scale–Short Form (MWEP-SF) were comparable to those presented in previous studies. Implications for future research and the relevance of work ethic in a corrections context are discussed. In addition, study limitations and future directions are addressed.

The Unknown, Poorly Paid Labor Force Powering Academic Research

Source: Louise Matsakis, Motherboard, February 4, 2016

Many of Amazon’s least-paid workers aren’t in its warehouses, but online. They’re the workers of Mechanical Turk, (MTurk) Amazon’s marketplace where companies can request for individuals, referred to as Turkers, to complete micro-sized tasks, called Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), in exchange for pennies a pop. The tasks vary widely, and can include transcription, writing, editing, and content moderation, among many other things.

But Turkers aren’t just helping to translate sentences or tag pictures on Instagram, they’re contributing to academia. As a post published Wednesday by Vanessa Williamson on The Brookings Institute’s TechTank blog points out, professors and researchers are increasingly turning to the platform to mine data for their studies. ….

…. The problem is, it’s not clear whether the data gathered via Turkers is valid in some circumstances, and there are questions as to whether it’s sourced ethically, since at least some people who work on MTurk are paid far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour….

Drug Testing and Public Assistance

Source: Randi Hall, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), February 2016

From the summary:
In the last decade, numerous states have made drug screening and testing an eligibility condition for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance under certain circumstances. As of November 2015, 13 states have adopted such regulations. Wisconsin included a provision in its state budget to screen and test certain individuals participating in FoodShare Employment and Training under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Legislatures in 19 other states have recently considered bills to drug test under TANF.

Very few applicants have tested positive for drug use in states that have implemented these policies. Consequently, operating costs far exceed the fiscal savings from denying benefits. This is consistent with previous research that found only a small share of welfare recipients experience substance abuse disorders.
Blog post

State Job Creation Strategies Often Off Base

Source: Michael Mazerov, Michael Leachman, February 3, 2016

From the summary:
To create jobs and build strong economies, states should focus on producing more home-grown entrepreneurs and on helping startups and young, fast-growing firms already located in the state to survive and to grow ― not on cutting taxes and trying to lure businesses from other states. That’s the conclusion from a new analysis of data about which businesses create jobs and where they create them.

The data show that:
– The vast majority of jobs are created by businesses that start up or are already present in a state — not by the relocation or branching into a state by out-of-state firms. ….
– During periods of healthy economic growth, startups and young, fast-growing companies are responsible for most new jobs. …..

State economic development policies that ignore these fundamental realities about job creation are bound to fail. A good example is the deep income tax cuts many states have enacted or are proposing. Such tax cuts are largely irrelevant to owners of young, fast-growing firms because they generally have little taxable income. And, tax cuts take money away from schools, universities, and other public investments essential to producing the talented workforce that entrepreneurs require. Many policymakers also continue to focus their efforts heavily on tax breaks aimed at luring companies from other states — even though startups and young, fast-growing firms already in the state are much more important sources of job creation.

It is too soon to know what strategies will work best, as many states and localities experiment with various ways to boost the number and success rates of startups and young, fast-growing firms. In the meantime, policymakers should reject major income tax cuts and new corporate relocation subsidies, and reconsider those already enacted. Public investments that help build a skilled workforce and improve the quality of life for local residents are better bets ― successful entrepreneurs report these factors are key to where they founded their companies. …..

More newborns die in ICU without 1-to-1 nursing

Source: Nicola Jones – University of Warwick, Futurity, February 10, 2016

A decline in one-to-one nursing care of very sick and premature newborns is linked to a higher death rate in neonatal intensive care units in the UK, a new study shows.

The British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) recommends one-to-one nursing care for newborns in neonatal intensive care in the UK, and a ratio of one nurse for every two infants in high dependency units. For infants in receipt of special care, the recommended ratio is 1:4.

Yet few neonatal units have achieved the required staffing ratios….
The effects of a one-to-one nurse-to-patient ratio on the mortality rate in neonatal intensive care: a retrospective, longitudinal, population-based study
Source: S I Watson, W Arulampalam, S Petrou, N Marlow, A S Morgan, ES Draper, N Modi, Archives of Disease in Childhood – Fetal & Neonatal Edition, Published Online First 9 February 2016