Monthly Archives: October 2016

Partisan Political Activities and Federal Workers: Questions in the 2016 Election

Source: Congressional Research Service, CRS Reports & Analysis, Legal Sidebar, October 20, 2016

As Election Day nears, interest in the Hatch Act’s regulation of government employees’ political activities peaks, with a number of issues raising congressional interest. Are federal officials permitted to appear with candidates for partisan political election at public events? Can federal entities endorse a candidate for partisan political election? The following Q&A addresses the issues implicated by these questions….

State Voter Identification Requirements: Analysis, Legal Issues, and Policy Considerations

Source: Eric A. Fischer, R. Sam Garrett, L. Paige Whitaker, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R42806, October 21, 2016

….This report provides an updated overview of state requirements for voters to present some form of ID before casting a ballot in a federal election. The report also discusses the origins of voter ID, relevant federal legislative action in the 114th Congress, and selected legal and policy issues related to state voter ID laws. The scope is limited to identification requirements for voting; the report does not address voter registration requirements….

Lobbying Across Venues: An Issue-Tracing Approach

Source: Charlotte Jourdain, Simon Hug, Frédéric Varone, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Published online before print October 21, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines lobbying activity during four California policymaking processes and through the four institutional venues available in that state: the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and the ballot initiative. It shows that past advocacy activity explains future mobilization on the same policy issue. Groups that fail to reach their policy goals will be more likely to mobilize later if the policy process changes venue, compared with those that have achieved their policy preference. Thus, the availability of multiple venues provides a counterweight to the possible advantages received by certain group types in each venue. Furthermore, public interest groups are more likely to mobilize across venues and repeatedly within a venue, while business groups are less likely to do so.

Hair-Follicle Drug Testing: Lessons for Employers

Source: Hassan A. Kanu, Daily Labor Report, October 19, 2016

….The data on drug testing by employers are largely imprecise, but a 2016 survey of 3,459 HR professionals done by HireRight showed that 92 percent of employers that perform drug screens use urinalysis, while 8 percent use hair tests. While there are flaws in both the urinalysis test and the hair-follicle test, it’s the hair-follicle test that is the most unreliable and could cause headaches for employers….. Scientific studies have also found another issue with hair-follicle testing: a likely racial bias. ….

The Lucrative Road From Congress to Corporate Boards

Source: Jeff Green, Brandon Kochkodin and Blacki Migliozzi, Bloomberg, October 18, 2016

In an election year dominated by populist outsiders, politicians are learning that cozy relationships with corporate America can be a liability…. And yet “director” is a popular and lucrative job title for many former members of Congress. Last year, the 64 one-time lawmakers who sat on boards pulled down an average $357,182, twice what they earned when taxpayers paid their salaries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg of former members of Congress who served on Russell 3000 company boards in 2015….

Inoculate Your Co-Workers against the Boss’s Tactics

Source: Alan Hanson, Labor Notes, October 18, 2016

The last time you organized a petition or voted to strike, were any of your co-workers caught off guard by the way the boss reacted? Was someone disciplined—or promoted? Did the CEO send out a misleading letter, or show up on night shift to shake everyone’s hand?

Whenever we take action at work, we can expect management to fight back—though the tactics vary widely, depending whether they’re trying to scare us, confuse us, deflate us, or divide us.

As organizers, we need to prepare our co-workers for whatever the boss might lob our way. For that we use a method called inoculation.

The point of inoculation isn’t just to let workers know what the boss will do. More important is teaching them to interpret why the boss is acting this way…..

How Night Shifts Perpetuate Health Inequality – Methods for approaching them as safely as possible

Source: James Hamblin, The Atlantic, October 20, 2016

….Night shifts are a health hazard in either case, but for different reasons.

Would it be better not to keep throwing your body back and forth from diurnal to nocturnal? Cleveland Clinic, for one, tells patients both to “avoid frequently rotating shifts,” and also to “decrease the number of night shifts worked in a row.”

What? That’s scary if you have to work nights. Newly discovered health risks of working night shifts keep coming out: higher risks of coronary artery disease, diabetes, weight gain, and some cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed night shifts as “probably carcinogenic.” Among people who’ve worked a decade of shift work, their brains show cognitive decline years in advance.

But these findings are almost always in people who do shift work—bouncing back and forth between nights and days. There’s even something called Shift Work Sleep Disorder (or Shift Work Disorder), defined by increased accidents, work-related errors, irritability, or mood problems…..

Tracking the gig economy: New numbers

Source: Ian Hathaway and Mark Muro, Brookings Institution, October 13, 2016

The gig economy, as reflected by nonemployer firms, is significant and growing fast. Overall, there has been a clear surge in nonemployer firms’ — a measure of contractor and freelance individuals — business activity in the last decade, which almost certainly reflects, at least in part, the rise of online platforms.

Platform-based freelancing is not yet substantially displacing payroll employment—but that could change. Despite the uptick in nonemployer contractors, payroll employment in “rides and rooms” industries has not declined during the last five years. Instead, payroll employment has increased in these industries, particularly in the passenger ground transit sectors.

Online gigging in the rides and rooms industries is so far concentrated in large metropolitan areas. Gig economy activity is unevenly distributed in the rides and rooms industries. The spread of nonemployer firms between 2010 and 2014 occurred mostly in the largest metro areas. No less than 81 percent of the four-year net growth in nonemployer firms in the rides sector took place in the 25 largest metros, while 92 percent occurred in the largest 50 metros.

Project on Student Debt – State by State Data

Source: Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), 2016

Seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower. This represents a 4% increase from the average debt of 2014 graduates.

National, state, and college data on student debt from federal and private loans can be found in the full report. For more details, click on the map and other links on this page…..