Author Archives: afscme

How Major Programs Might Fare in a Partial Government Shutdown

Source: Federal Funds Information for States, Budget Brief 18-19, December 19, 2018
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From the summary:
The second fiscal year (FY) 2019 continuing resolution (CR)—which funds the portion of federal spending not covered by full-year spending bills enacted earlier this year—will expire on Friday. While Congress just announced an agreement on another short-term CR through February 8 and the president appears to support it, the risk of a federal shutdown likely will continue until a final budget is enacted.
Should a partial shutdown occur, state officials will have questions about their ability to operate federal grant programs in the absence of a current appropriation. The answers to those questions vary by program. FFIS Budget Brief 18-17 provides answers to general questions; this brief provides targeted summary information about specific grant programs.

Appendix: links to the sources of program-specific details

Union Mergers; Some Questions Raised by a “Disorderly Breakup”

Source: Gary Chaison, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 30 Issue 4, December 2018
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From the abstract:
This essay discusses the 2004 merger between UNITE, a clothing workers’ union, and HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union. Many labor scholars and union proponents believed that this merger would revive a dormant US labor movement and lead to great success in union organizing. Although much was expected, there was very little accomplished by this merger. While union mergers can either be amalgamations or absorptions, the UNITE-HERE merger took the former form. Although successful amalgamations usually occur when the two unions share a common jurisdiction, additional problems occur when the unions are dissimilar in size and type of members. The UNITE-HERE merger displayed none of these three above-mentioned characteristics. This essay also discusses issues of the centralization/decentralization of union mergers, the negotiation and promotion of such combinations, local union and national union mergers while concluding with a discussion of whether union mergers are an appropriate strategy for dealing with a struggling US labor movement early in the twenty-first century.

Related:
Introduction to “Union Mergers; Some Questions Raised by a “Disorderly Breakup””
Source: Victor G. Devinatz, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 30 Issue 4, December 2018
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Working Women versus Employers: An Insider’s View

Source: Anne Ladky, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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In her book, Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide, Lane Windham compellingly illuminates the context of organizing in that decade and dispels long-held myths. She makes clear that it was not a lack of organizing that resulted in the decline in unionization in the following decade but the aggressive refusal of companies to tolerate union organizing activity—or any campaigns that they perceived could lead to unionization—aided by government failures. The experiences of those of us in what has been called the working women’s movement bear out her arguments.

I am not a historian—my comments are aimed at connecting what I was experiencing as an organizer with Windham’s narrative. I was organizing in the 1970s around women’s employment issues as a member of the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and then as a member of Women Employed (WE). I joined the staff of Women Employed in 1977, became its executive director in 1985, and served in that position for thirty-two years. WE, whose founding is noted in the book’s second chapter, is now a forty-five-year-old organization whose mission is to break down barriers to women’s economic advancement and promote workplace fairness. It has a staff of twenty; it is locally based with national policy reach. The organization has opened hundreds of occupations to women, helped outlaw and reduce sexual harassment, did some of the very first work on family-friendly workplace policies, made affirmative action a dramatically effective tool for women’s advancement, and much more. Today, its priorities are to change workplace policies and practices that affect low-paid working women, expand work-family policies, and enable more low-income women to enter and succeed in higher education. While the organization’s priorities have changed to address evolving barriers facing low-paid female workers, the organization’s mission is unchanged since its founding in 1973….

Related:
Tangled Up in Race: Working-Class Politics and the Ongoing Economic Divide
Source: Dan Graff, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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The title of Lane Windham’s impressive new exploration of union organizing in the 1970s, Knocking on Labor’s Door, immediately calls to mind Bob Dylan’s hit single “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Whether the allusion is intended or not, the song’s release date resonates, since 1973 — marked by the oil crisis and stagflation — is widely considered among historians to be the year of reckoning for the New Deal order, the US labor movement, and the heyday of American liberalism. But where Dylan’s song is a dirge, with its mournful narrator accepting “the long black cloud” announcing death, Windham’s monograph exudes an opposite tone. By uncovering stories of worker-activists who organized with a purpose and a passion reminiscent of the 1930s, Windham rejects the notion of the 1970s as “the last days of the working class” (3)….

Labor Feminism Meets Institutional Sexism
Source: Katherine Turk, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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Lane Windham’s Knocking on Labor’s Door offers important contributions to labor and working-class history and to the emerging literature on American capitalism. Most important, the book reminds us that the 1970s did not mark a gloomy descent into neoliberalism; rather, those years were shot through with electrifying possibilities.

My comments will reflect on how Knocking on Labor’s Door handles the identity politics of sex and class. The book offers striking insights into the political economy of the 1970s; in particular, it sheds new light on employers’ efforts to protect their profits as they navigated a globalizing landscape. But in blaming those employers when union campaigns led by women and men of color fell short, Windham downplays other factors — especially the roadblocks thrown up by wage-earning white men. Laboring women had to aim their campaigns for equity at their employers as well as at their union “brothers.” Aware of the distinct yet related challenges they faced everywhere they worked, many women experimented with and blended new and well-established forms of activism. The formal labor movement thus offers too narrow a lens to capture the range of outcomes that working people — women in particular — imagined and pursued as they fought the baked-in inequities that shaped workplaces and unions alike…..

I Hear You Knockin’. . . . But You Can’t Come In
Source: Alex Lichtenstein, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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Knocking on Labor’s Door is an impressive achievement. By combing through National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records and revisiting some crucial but forgotten labor struggles from the 1970s, Lane Windham seeks to refute pessimists like Jefferson Cowie, who regard that decade as ringing the death knell of an empowered American working class. Specifically, Windham wants to call our attention to the energized struggles of African American, women, and immigrant workers. Newly emboldened by the previous decade’s rights revolutions, these members of the working class sought to join and reinvigorate the flagging American labor movement that had previously done much to exclude them. They indeed were “knocking at labor’s door.”

But did that door open? With all due respect to Windham’s ability to uncover the dynamics of previously ignored or overlooked struggles of this era, I want to provoke discussion by laying out an alternative narrative, based as much as possible on the compelling evidence of labor ferment she herself has unearthed and brought to life in the pages of this book.

Here is my alternative narrative:…

Author’s Response
Source: Lane Windham, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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I am grateful to Anne Ladky, Dan Graff, Katherine Turk, and Alex Lichtenstein for their carefully considered and provocative analyses of Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide. In writing the book, I aimed to open up a fresh discussion of the workers’ movement in the pivotal 1970s and also to offer new approaches for understanding working people’s struggles today. These accomplished scholars and activists clearly have embraced both undertakings. I would like to also thank the Newberry Library for hosting this forum and the journal Labor for allowing us to further our dialogue here….

Rethinking Middle America

Source: Christopher CimaglioLabor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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From the abstract:
The emergence of “Middle America” as a meaningful political category is most commonly credited to the populist conservative politics of the late 1960s and to Richard Nixon in particular. This article presents an alternative origin story for the idea of Middle America, spotlighting liberal commentators and national journalists working in the same period. As these observers sought to understand and portray what they saw as a new and growing white backlash against African Americans’ gains and cultural change broadly, they helped to cement one of the most central and enduring claims in the period’s elite political and media discourse: white workers comprised the core of an alienated, traditionalist white majority—a group many called Middle America—separated from liberal white professionals by a deep cultural divide.

Connecting the Dots: Labor and the Digital Landscape

Source: Richard Wells, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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From the abstract:
This article takes stock of the recent union organizing in digital media. It offers some context, beginning with a discussion of the crisis in the traditional, printbased news business that is both cause and effect of the growth of the digital news media. The article then provides a sampling of the ways in which this crisis has been diagnosed and understood, in terms of the basic economics of the business and in terms of its dire implications for the public sphere. A review of the main themes in the history of union-based struggle in the news industry, followed by considerations of the union role on the infrastructural side of the increasingly Internet-based communications industry, helps pinpoint both the challenges and the possibilities represented by the unionization of digital media workers.

Connecticut Labor History in the Classroom

Source: Cecelia Bucki, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Vol. 15 no. 3, September 2018
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In May 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act No. 15 – 17, encouraging local school districts to teach the history of the American labor movement. This was the culmination of years of advocacy by teachers, union activists, and supportive legislators.

The Datafication of Employment: How Surveillance and Capitalism Are Shaping Workers’ Futures without Their Knowledge

Source: Sam Adler-Bell and Michelle Miller, The Century Foundation, December 19, 2018

We live in a surveillance society. Our every preference, inquiry, whim, desire, relationship, and fear can be seen, recorded, and monetized by thousands of prying corporate eyes. Researchers and policymakers are only just beginning to map the contours of this new economy—and reckon with its implications for equity, democracy, freedom, power, and autonomy.

For consumers, the digital age presents a devil’s bargain: in exchange for basically unfettered access to our personal data, massive corporations like Amazon, Google, and Facebook give us unprecedented connectivity, convenience, personalization, and innovation. Scholars have exposed the dangers and illusions of this bargain: the corrosion of personal liberty, the accumulation of monopoly power, the threat of digital redlining, predatory ad-targeting, and the reification of class and racial stratification.3 But less well understood is the way data—its collection, aggregation, and use—is changing the balance of power in the workplace.

This report offers some preliminary research and observations on what we call the “datafication of employment.” Our thesis is that data-mining techniques innovated in the consumer realm have moved into the workplace. Firms who’ve made a fortune selling and speculating on data acquired from consumers in the digital economy are now increasingly doing the same with data generated by workers. Not only does this corporate surveillance enable a pernicious form of rent-seeking—in which companies generate huge profits by packaging and selling worker data in marketplace hidden from workers’ eyes—but also, it opens the door to an extreme informational asymmetry in the workplace that threatens to give employers nearly total control over every aspect of employment.

The report begins with an explanation of how a regime of ubiquitous consumer surveillance came about, and how it morphed into worker surveillance and the datafication of employment. The report then offers principles for action for policymakers and advocates seeking to respond to the harmful effects of this new surveillance economy. The final sections concludes with a look forward at where the surveillance economy is going, and how researchers, labor organizers, and privacy advocates should prepare for this changing landscape ….

Evaluating Shepard’s, KeyCite, and BCite for Case Validation Accuracy

Source: Paul Hellyer, Law Library Journal, Vol. 110 no. 4, Fall 2018

This study evaluates and compares how accurately three legal citators (Shepard’s, KeyCite, and BCite) identify negative treatment of case law, based on a review of 357 citing relationships that at least one citator labeled as negative. In this sample, Shepard’s and KeyCite missed or mislabeled about one-third of negative citing relationships, while BCite missed or mislabeled over two-thirds. The citators’ relative performance is less clear when examining the most serious citator errors, examples of which can be found in all three citators.

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2017

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-18-1978, December 18, 2018

There were a total of 5,147 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2017, down slightly from the 5,190 fatal injuries reported in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See chart 1.) The fatal injury rate decreased to 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers from 3.6 in 2016. (See table 1.)