Monthly Archives: October 2016

In Chicago, Teachers and Black Lives Matter Activists Partner Up to Build a Bigger Movement

Source: Leah Fried, Labor Notes, October 25, 2016

Extracting wins from the boss has never been easy—and union membership hovering at a low 11 percent isn’t making it any easier. But a good way to boost our numbers and power is to partner with people who are organized in other ways, building a broader movement as we build our unions.

For several years the Chicago Teachers Union has put incredible effort into building unity—not only among its members, but also with parents and neighborhood groups. The results were on display in October as hundreds of volunteers worked daily in the lead-up to a possible strike.

Parents spoke at press conferences, painted banners, handed out leaflets, distributed T-shirts and yard signs, and talked to other parents. My son’s elementary school was one of many where parents and kids joined teachers in an early-morning picket.

One vehicle was the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, an alliance of dozens of unions and 60 community organizations—including the Chicago chapters of Black Lives Matter and Black Youth Project 100…..

The Dangers of “Ballot Security” Operations and Voter Intimidation

​Source: Wendy R. Weiser and Adam Gitlin, Brennan Center for Justice, Fact Sheet, August 2016

From the summary:
Over the past few weeks, the issue of voting has been thrust to the center of public discussion. Multiple courts across the country ruled against discriminatory and disenfranchising new voting laws, and politicians responded by claiming our elections are “rigged.” Some have gone so far as to call for off-duty police officers to monitor polling places and for citizen volunteers to serve as “election observers” to root out supposed fraud — even though overwhelming evidence makes clear that polling place fraud is virtually nonexistent.

But deploying non-official, private actors to conduct supposed “ballot security” operations or to challenge whether a voter can cast a ballot is highly risky: it can easily lead to illegal intimidation, discrimination, or disruptions at the polls.

Drawing on extensive research and prior publications, this fact sheet outlines the threat posed by so-called ballot security and poll-watching operations, how such operations can cross the line to illegal activity, what is and is not allowed under the law, and what must be done to protect against intimidation, discrimination, confrontations, and other potentially harmful activity at the polls this November.

Election officials can — and should — take steps now to minimize the risk of problems on and before Election Day.
The Watchers Watching Elections
Source: NCSL’s The Canvass, October 2016

You go to the polls and who do you see? Your neighbors, maybe. Poll workers, of course (who may also be your neighbors). Who else?

Party designees known as “poll watchers” are likely. Members of the media too. Interested citizens and academics might be there. And, in a smattering of polling places spread throughout the nation, international observers may be there on Election Day, as well. As it turns out, who—besides voters—is allowed at the polls depends on which state you are in.

Regardless of which category these people fit in, they have at least three things in common:
• All are governed in some way by state law—which means legislators set the policy.
• None are permitted to interfere with the voting process, although some have authority to formally challenge a voter’s eligibility.
• All aim to ensure that the election is well-run, often by providing feedback to election officials. …..

Trends in College Pricing 2016

Source: The College Board, 2016

From the summary:
Trends in College Pricing provides information on changes over time in undergraduate tuition and fees, room and board, and other estimated expenses related to attending colleges and universities. The report, which includes data through 2016-17 from the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, reveals the wide variation in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country. Of particular importance is the focus on the net prices students actually pay after taking grant aid into consideration. Data on institutional revenues and expenditures and on changing enrollment patterns over time supplement the data on prices to provide a clearer picture of the circumstances of students and the institutions in which they study.
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Reality and Perception: Why Men Are Paid More

Source: Jane Miller and Amy Adkins, Gallup, Business Journal, October 26, 2016

Story Highlights:
Men report working more hours per week than women do
Perceptions of hours worked can influence pay
There’s a wide range of approaches to evaluating and compensating time

This article is the first in a two-part series.
Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived
Source: Gallup, 2016

How to create a workplace culture that attracts, engages and retains a gender-diverse workforce

Child Care Deserts: An Analysis of Child Care Centers by ZIP Code in 8 States

Source: Rasheed Malik, Katie Hamm, Maryam Adamu, and Taryn Morrissey, Center for American Progress, October 2016

From the summary:
For working parents with young children, the task of finding child care can be daunting. Across the country, parents report frustration when trying to find affordable, high-quality child care. While the cost of child care is certainly a barrier to child care access, less understood are the roles of supply and location. This report examines the location of child care centers across eight states, comprising 20 percent of the U.S. population younger than the age of 5, and uncovers another cause driving the child care crisis: 42 percent of children under 5 years of age live in child care deserts.

The term “child care desert” is not currently part of the American lexicon. However, lack of child care supply is a serious national problem that disproportionately impacts rural areas. The Center for American Progress is introducing a working definition of child care deserts, which borrows its terminology from the frequently studied problem of food deserts—what the government defines as communities in which residents do not live in close proximity to affordable and healthy food retailers.1 For the purposes of this study, a child care desert is defined as a ZIP code with at least 30 children under the age of 5 and either no child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many children under age 5 as there are spaces in centers.
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FastTrack Project Database

Source: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), 2016

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) is committed to an open and transparent government. This searchable database is designed to better assist the public in accessing project data for FastTrack grants.
State releases list of business grants totaling $400 M
Mike Reicher, Tennessean, October 25, 2016

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development recently released an online database detailing more than $400 million of state grants awarded to businesses.

Redefining Employment for the Modern Economy

Source: Brishen Rogers, American Constitution Society (ACS), ACS Issue Brief, October 2016

From the blog post:
The explosive growth of Uber and other on-demand labor platforms has brought public attention to a longstanding issue facing workers in this country: the fissuring of employment. Fissuring comes in many forms, including misclassification of employees as independent contractors, subcontracting and franchising arrangements.

Such strategies can deprive workers of their rights under our employment laws, most of which define employment per the common law “right to control test.” That definition is narrow, failing to reflect the economic realities of modern work relationships. It is also notoriously difficult to apply in practice, which increases litigation costs and disempowers low-wage workers.

This is not a small problem. Wage and Hour Administrator David Weil estimates that there are “over 29 million workers in just five industries affected … including in the construction, hospitality, janitorial, personal care and home health care industries.”

Unfortunately, some prominent reform proposals—such as to create a new legal category of worker that would slot between “employee” and “independent contractor,” with limited employment rights—would move us backwards rather than forwards. Ethically speaking, workers in fissured relationships are no less deserving of basic protections than standard employees. Creating a third category of worker would also make employment status litigation even more complicated and more expensive.

In a new issue brief for ACS, I propose an omnibus employment status bill to address such challenges. The central reform would redefine employment under the core federal labor/employment statutes per the broad “suffer or permit” test from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In misclassification cases under that test, courts’ and agencies’ task is not to determine whether the putative employer enjoys a right to control the performance of the work, but rather “to determine whether the worker is economically dependent on the employer (and thus its employee) or is really in business for him or herself (and thus its independent contractor).”

2017 Premium Changes and Insurer Participation in the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplaces

Source: Cynthia Cox, Michelle Long, Ashley Semanskee, Rabah Kamal, Gary Claxton, and Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, October 24, 2016

Health insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces (also called exchanges) are expected to increase faster in 2017 than in previous years due to a combination of factors, including substantial losses experienced by many insurers in this market and the phasing out of the ACA’s reinsurance program. We analyzed 2017 premiums and insurer participation made available through on October 24, 2017, as well as data collected from states that run their own exchange websites. At this time, data are not available for all states; we will update as more complete information becomes available.

Nonstandard work arrangements and worker health and safety

Source: John Howard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 25 October 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Arrangements between those who perform work and those who provide jobs come in many different forms. Standard work arrangements now exist alongside several nonstandard arrangements: agency work, contract work, and gig work. While standard work arrangements are still the most prevalent types, the rise of nonstandard work arrangements, especially temporary agency, contract, and “gig” arrangements, and the potential effects of these new arrangements on worker health and safety have captured the attention of government, business, labor, and academia. This article describes the major work arrangements in use today, profiles the nonstandard workforce, discusses several legal questions about how established principles of labor and employment law apply to nonstandard work arrangements, summarizes findings published in the past 20 years about the health and safety risks for workers in nonstandard work arrangements, and outlines current research efforts in the area of healthy work design and worker well-being.

6 Million Lost Voters: State-Level Estimates of Felony Disenfranchisement, 2016

Source: Christopher Uggen, Ryan Larson, and Sarah Shannon, The Sentencing Project, 2016

From the abstract:
A record 6.1 million Americans are forbidden to vote because of felony disenfranchisement, or laws restricting voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes. The number of disenfranchised individuals has increased dramatically along with the rise in criminal justice populations in recent decades, rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 6.1 million today.