Author Archives: afscme

Respiratory Symptoms in Hospital Cleaning Staff Exposed to a Product Containing Hydrogen Peroxide, Peracetic Acid, and Acetic Acid

Source: Brie Hawley, Megan Casey, Mohammed Abbas Virji, Kristin J Cummings, Alyson Johnson, Jean Cox-Ganser, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Early View, Published: 25 October 2017
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From the abstract:
Cleaning and disinfecting products consisting of a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (HP), peracetic acid (PAA), and acetic acid (AA) are widely used as sporicidal agents in health care, childcare, agricultural, food service, and food production industries. HP and PAA are strong oxidants and their mixture is a recognized asthmagen. However, few exposure assessment studies to date have measured HP, PAA, and AA in a health care setting. In 2015, we performed a health and exposure assessment at a hospital where a new sporicidal product, consisting of HP, PAA, and AA was introduced 16 months prior. We collected 49 full-shift time-weighted average (TWA) air samples and analyzed samples for HP, AA, and PAA content. Study participants were observed while they performed cleaning duties, and duration and frequency of cleaning product use was recorded. Acute upper airway, eye, and lower airway symptoms were recorded in a post-shift survey (n = 50). A subset of 35 cleaning staff also completed an extended questionnaire that assessed symptoms reported by workers as regularly occurring or as having occurred in the previous 12 months. Air samples for HP (range: 5.5 to 511.4 ppb) and AA (range: 6.7 to 530.3 ppb) were all below established US occupational exposure limits (OEL). To date, no full-shift TWA OEL for PAA has been established in the United States, however an OEL of 0.2 ppm has been suggested by several research groups. Air samples for PAA ranged from 1.1 to 48.0 ppb and were well below the suggested OEL of 0.2 ppm. Hospital cleaning staff using a sporicidal product containing HP, PAA, and AA reported work-shift eye (44%), upper airway (58%), and lower airway (34%) symptoms. Acute nasal and eye irritation were significantly positively associated with increased exposure to the mixture of the two oxidants: HP and PAA, as well as the total mixture (TM)of HP, PAA, and AA. Shortness of breath when hurrying on level ground or walking up a slight hill was significantly associated with increased exposure to the oxidant mixture (P = 0.017), as well as the TM (P = 0.026). Our results suggest that exposure to a product containing HP, PAA, and AA contributed to eye and respiratory symptoms reported by hospital cleaning staff at low levels of measured exposure.

Taxpayers are subsidizing hush money for sexual harassment and assault

Source: Peter J. Henning, The Conversation, November 5, 2017

Many of the recent stories about sexual abuse claims against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and other powerful actors, journalists and executives mention settlements either they or their employers made to silence women who accused them of misconduct.

These settlements often require alleged victims to sign a nondisclosure agreement – essentially a pledge of secrecy – in exchange for a cash payment. They are designed to keep the reputations of allegedly abusive high-flyers intact, an arrangement that can allow repeated wrongdoing.

As a law professor who focuses on white-collar crime, what I find striking about these contracts is how they can be treated as tax-deductible business expenses. That means American taxpayers are helping foot the bill for keeping despicable behavior in the shadows.

I don’t believe that secret payments to settle sexual abuse claims should be tax-deductible. Here’s why…..

Police bodycam test results don’t meet expectations

Source: Mike Cummings, Futurity, October 30, 2017

Police departments have embraced body-worn cameras as a tool for reducing police misconduct and building trust between law-enforcement officers and the communities they serve, but do they work?

A randomized-controlled trial conducted within the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department by The Lab @ DC, involving about 2,200 officers, shows they don’t notably change officer behavior.

Alexander Coppock, a Yale University political science professor and coauthor of the study, talks about the findings and what they say about the abilities of body cameras to prevent abuse….

Related:
Evaluating the Effects of Police Body-Worn Cameras: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Source: David Yokum, Anita Ravishankar, Alexander Coppock, Lab @ DC, Working Paper, October 20, 2017

About the Results

Reconstructing resistance and renewal in public service unionism in the twenty-first century: lessons from a century of war and peace

Source: Whyeda Gill-McLure & Christer Thörnqvist, Labor History, Volume 59, 2018
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From the abstract:
This special issue uses the occasion of the centenary of the Whitley Commission Reports to illuminate the contemporary crisis in public service industrial relations from a historical perspective. In all six countries studied—Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the USA—public service employment is labour intensive and quantitatively significant in the overall economy. Public services have also been major targets of neoliberal reforms, starting in the UK and the USA at the turn of the 1980s and in the other countries about a decade later. In addition, the relatively high union density and the political dimension of public services and public union strategies have been major targets of new public management and more latterly austerity. However, the regressive period has had a differential impact in different countries. In the liberal market economies of the UK and the USA, the neoliberal turn has destabilised traditional patterns of public sector industrial relations to greatest effect. While in the more coordinated market economies, traditional arrangements and values have been more resistant to austerity and neoliberal reforms. We attempt to shed light on these differential impacts through a critical analysis of the historical evolution of public sector industrial relations in each country.

Related:
100 years of Whitleyism: a century of public service industrial relations in Europe and the US
Source: Guest Editors – Whyeda Gill-McLure and Christer Thörnqvist, Labor History, Volume 59, 2018
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Public sector unions, democracy, and citizenship at work

Source: Patrice M. Mareschal, Labor History, Volume 59, 2018
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From the abstract:
Since the 1970s, governments around the world have been engaged in a conflict over the appropriate role of public services in society. In the U.S. and elsewhere, public services have faced pressures to restructure, reduce the size of government, and make government more ‘business-like.’ This paper examines how the evolution of public services and public sector unions shaped the distinctive character of public sector industrial relations in the U.S. Next it demonstrates how this distinctive character made public services and public sector unions vulnerable to neoliberal attacks and New Public Management reforms. It concludes by theorizing about how the frameworks of citizenship at work and union renewal may be used to strengthen the essential identity and restore the positive role that public sector unions have traditionally played in society.

Richest Americans Benefit Most from The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), November 2017

From the introduction:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was introduced on November 2 in the House of Representatives, would raise taxes on some Americans and cut taxes on others while also providing significant savings to foreign investors. Of those tax cuts that would benefit Americans, nearly a third would go to the richest one percent in 2018, and by 2027 that fraction would rise to nearly half. Because the legislation, which will be simply called the House bill in this report, includes provisions that raise taxes and provisions that cut taxes, the net effect for any particular family depends on their situation.  This report includes estimates of the House bill’s average impact on each income group and estimates of the fraction of each income group facing a tax cut or a tax hike. The estimates incorporate all the significant changes that the bill would make to the federal personal income tax, corporate income tax and estate tax, as explained in more detail in the methodology section. (See Table 1 and Table 2 for a detailed distributional analysis of the House Bill in 2018 and 2027.)

Some of the provisions in the House bill that benefit the middle-class — like lower tax rates and fewer brackets, an increased standard deduction, and a $300 tax credit for each adult in a household — are designed to expire or become less generous over time. Some of the provisions that benefit the wealthy, such as the reduction and eventual repeal of the estate tax, become more generous over time. The result is that by 2027, the benefits of the House bill become increasingly generous for the richest one percent compared to other income groups…..
Related:
State data
Spreadsheet of data

Understanding Muni Bonds: Prospects for Funding Infrastructure Improvements

Source: Ed Friedman, Regional Financial Review, August 2017
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Both monetary and fiscal policies will affect the municipal bond market over the coming year. Anticipated further tightening by the Federal Reserve will raise all interest rates, including the borrowing costs of state and local governments. The Trump administration’s goal of boosting infrastructure spending will potentially magnify this movement to the extent that it stimulates overall growth. Moreover, the municipal bond market will be one of the alternatives considered for the financing, the others being an infrastructure bank and one or more public-private partnerships.

This article assesses the structure of the muni market, macroeconomic trends in the market, and the role it may play in federal fiscal policy. The costs and benefits of using the muni market are weighed against the other alternatives…..

The Economic Impact of Harvey, Irma and Maria

Source: Adam Kamins, Ryan Sweet, Regional Financial Review, September 2017
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The late-summer spate of three major hurricanes making landfall in U.S. states or territories within a month is unprecedented in recent history. This paper focuses on the short- and long-term economic ramifications of the three late-summer storms to hit the U.S. and includes a review of the local impact on affected areas, as well as implications for the U.S. as a whole.

Who is poor in the United States? A Hamilton Project annual report

Source: Jay Shambaugh, Lauren Bauer, and Audrey Breitwieser, Brookings Institution, Hamilton Project, October 2017

From the introduction:
Who are the millions of people living in poverty in the United States?

In 2016, 40.6 million people, or 12.7 percent of the population, lived in poverty, as defined by the official poverty measure. 6 million fewer people were living in poverty in 2016 than at the peak of 46.7 million in 2014. The official poverty measure is determined by a household’s pre-tax income; for example, in 2016, a family of four earning less than $24,339 would be considered poor.

From 1980 to 2014, the number of people living in poverty in the United States grew from about 29.3 million to 46.7 million. Over this same period, the pre-tax income of the bottom quintile of earnings grew 4 percent while incomes of the top 1 percent grew 194 percent. From 1980 to 2016, growth in the number of people in poverty has come largely from working-age adults.

In this economic analysis, we characterize those who were living in poverty in 2016, as we reported for 2014 and 2015. We then extend these snapshots to examine the population living in poverty over time: how have the characteristics of those living in poverty changed over the past 30 years? We focus particularly on the working-age poor. What share of the working-age poor are in the labor force? What are the most prevalent reasons for labor force nonparticipation among the working-age poor? For those who are working part-time and poor, is it involuntary or for reasons specific to their circumstances?

Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump

Source: Barry H. Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman Eisen, Brookings Institution, October 10, 2017

From the introduction:
In this paper, we break down and analyze the question of whether President Trump may have obstructed justice and explain the criminal and congressional actions that could follow from an obstruction investigation. Addressing the possibility of criminal behavior by President Trump and the complicated issues it raises is not a task that we take lightly. Dissecting allegations of criminality leveled against an individual who has been duly elected president and who has sworn to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution is an inherently solemn task. But it is our hope that by presenting a rigorous legal analysis of the potential case against the president, we will help the American people and their representatives understand the contours of the issues, regardless of whether it is eventually litigated in a court of law, the halls of Congress, or the court of public opinion.

Our paper proceeds in four parts. In Section I, we summarize the relevant facts and allegations that can be gleaned from witness testimony and credible media reports. In Section II, we explain the law governing obstruction of justice and how it applies to the apparent facts and allegations as currently known. In Section III, we lay out the options available after Special Counsel Mueller has completed his investigation. These options include referral of the case to Congress, indictment of the president, holding the case pending removal of the president, and closing the case without indictment. Finally, in Section IV, we discuss the actions that Congress could take concurrently with or in addition to Mueller’s investigation. We explain that although Congress’s decision to take those steps is ultimately governed by both political and legal standards, there is precedent for impeaching a president on grounds that he has obstructed justice, obstructed a congressional investigation, or been convicted of a crime, should those circumstances arise.

We also have appended a number of documents that form the factual and legal basis for this white paper. Appendix A contains a factual chronology with the sources we relied on as well as a copy of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement for the record before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Appendix B contains copies of the federal obstruction laws and other relevant criminal statutes. Appendix C contains the authorities governing Special Counsel Mueller, including the Department of Justice’s special counsel regulations and the order defining his jurisdiction. Appendix D contains the articles of impeachment we discuss, official versions of which can be difficult to locate.

Finally, one crucial caveat that is important to note: the publication of this paper comes at a time when our understanding of the facts is still developing and without the benefit of the investigative tools that a prosecutor (or even a defense attorney) might employ. While we fully expect that our understanding of the facts relevant to this case will improve in the weeks and months ahead, we believe that the analysis we provide and the precedents we have collected will be relevant to the discussion regardless of what the investigations by Special Counsel Mueller and by Congress uncover…..

Related:
Appendix