Author Archives: afscme

Increasing Pathways to Legal Status for Immigrant In-Home Care Workers

Source: Cynthia Hess, Jane M. Henrici, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), #I924, February 2013

From the press release:
As Congress digs into creating an improved immigration system, a report released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), in cooperation with Caring Across Generations, identifies solutions for increasing access to visas for immigrant in-home care workers. Immigration solutions include provisional visas for immigrants meeting certain criteria, and a policy model that allows states and the federal government to share authority for selecting economic immigrants to the United States.
The authors cite comprehensive immigration reform as a viable solution to solving the care work crisis, noting that any reform of the visa system must also be accompanied by policy changes to improve job quality for in-home care workers.

As the Baby Boom generation ages, women immigrant in-home care workers are filling a gap in home care labor for the elderly. Lack of legal immigration status leaves many vulnerable to low wages and poor working conditions. According to IWPR’s analysis, the median weekly earnings for all female in-home care workers are $308, compared with $560 for all female workers in the U.S. workforce.

According to the report, in the United States:
– Immigrants make up a disproportionate share of the in-home health care workforce at 28 percent.
– 90 percent of in-home health care workers are women and 56 percent are from a minority racial or ethnic group.
– One in five immigrant direct care workers are undocumented.
See also:
Improving Career Opportunities for Immigrant Women In-Home Care Workers
Source: Jane Henrici, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), #I925, February 2013

Occupational Projections for Direct-Care Workers 2010–2020

Source: Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), Fact Sheet, February 2013

In this fact sheet, PHI summarizes the latest national occupational projections (2010–2020) relating to the direct-care workforce released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor. Our analysis indicates that demand for direct-care workers (including nursing aides, home health aides, and personal care aides) over the next decade, particularly in home and community-based settings, will continue to outpace supply dramatically—unless policymakers and employers work together to make these jobs competitively attractive compared to other occupations.

The latest 2010 employment estimate for the direct-care workforce surpasses 3.3 million and projected demand calls for an additional 1.6 million new positions by 2020.

Gilbert Redux: The Interaction of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Amended Americans with Disabilities Act

Source: Deborah Widiss, Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 231, February 20, 2013

From the abstract:
Pregnancy — a health condition that only affects women — raises complicated questions regarding the interaction of employment policies addressing sex discrimination and those addressing disability. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), enacted in 1978, mandates that employers “shall” treat pregnant employees “the same for all employment-related purposes” as other employees “similar in their ability or inability to work.” Despite the clarity of this language, courts regularly permit employers to treat pregnant employees less favorably than employees with other health conditions, so long as the employer does so pursuant to a “pregnancy-blind” policy such as accommodating only workplace injuries or disabilities protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under this reasoning, recent amendments expanding the scope of disabilities covered by the ADA could have the perverse effect of decreasing employers’ obligations to pregnant employees. This Article argues that these decisions misinterpret the PDA. The same treatment clause creates a substantive, albeit comparative, accommodation mandate. Rather than focusing on the presence or absence of discriminatory intent, courts should simply assess whether the employer has, or under the ADA would be required to, accommodated limitations like those caused by pregnancy. This approach appropriately incorporates consideration of the costs that accommodations impose on employers but insulates that inquiry from still persistent misconceptions regarding pregnant women’s capacity and commitment to work.

This Article is the first to consider in depth how the 2008 amendments to the ADA interact with the PDA. In addition to providing textual analysis, the Article provides historical context that helps confirm that the PDA means what it says. Commentary on the PDA generally characterizes the statute’s same treatment language as a response to some feminists’ concerns that requiring “special” accommodations for pregnancy would increase the risk of discrimination or backlash against women generally. This Article contributes to the historical literature on the PDA by identifying a distinct — complementary but largely overlooked — benefit of the PDA’s same treatment language: it came on the heels of an extraordinary expansion of employer and government support for health conditions other than pregnancy. Thus, although the PDA does not itself require specific pregnancy accommodations, its enactment required many employers to provide far more robust support for pregnancy than they had previously. This historical context has direct relevance for contemporary doctrine, since it is closely analogous to the recent expansion of the ADA. The unduly narrow conception of comparators currently used by many courts interpreting the PDA risks relegating pregnancy once again to the basement.

The Incredible Disappearing Health Benefits

Source: Alec MacGillis, New Republic, February 19, 2013

Can a coal company get away with breaking promises to workers?… In 2007, Peabody created a new entity called Patriot Coal, and transferred to it 13 percent of its coal reserves. It also transferred to it about 40 percent of its health care liabilities—the obligations for 8,400 former Peabody employees. A year later, Patriot Coal was loaded up with even more liabilities when it acquired Magnum Coal, an offshoot of the country’s second-largest mining company, Arch Coal. This left Patriot with responsibility for another 2,300 retirees, and, by last year, total liabilities of $1.37 billion. Patriot Coal is now seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy, through which it will seek to limit or discharge its pension and health obligations to 22,000 retired miners and their spouses, 90 percent of whom never worked for Patriot Coal….As the retirees await the fate of their benefits, last week brought them another morsel to chew on: Patriot sought court approval to distribute $6 million in bonuses to 225 corporate executives and salaried employees….

The Wage Theft Epidemic

Source: Spencer Woodman, In These Times, February 20, 2013

Thanks to a wave of government cuts, there’s no one to stop your boss from withholding your pay….Former investigators paint a stark picture of weakened enforcement divisions, lacking both necessary staff and funding, that regularly close claims of wage theft that appear legitimate. … For at least several savvy employers in Virginia, Myers says, there was effectively no minimum wage….

How Can Labor Be Saved?

Source: Josh Eidelson, Nation, February 13, 2013

The past two years have seen sparks of surprising vitality—from the mass uprising in Wisconsin, to the Chicago teachers’ walkout, to the strike wave now roiling Walmart. But the big picture is bleak: our fastest-growing industries are virtually union-free. Strikes by workers are losing ground to lockouts. Concessionary contracts are rampant. The government’s New Deal–era promise to protect the right to organize has become a cruel joke. In politics, as at the bargaining table, unions are mostly playing defense.

When labor declines, our economy and our politics tilt ever further toward the rich. The Democratic Party becomes even less accountable to the working class. Progressive coalitions are stripped of crucial infrastructure and grassroots firepower. Corporate power goes unchecked. Productivity gains flow to the 1 percent. And Americans become ever more subject to the whims of managers: coerced to donate to a boss’s favorite candidate, forced to work while sick, or fired for defending an “ethnic” haircut on Facebook.

How can labor turn this dire situation around?

Forum participants include:
Kate Bronfenbrenner: ”Unions: Put Organizing First
Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit: ”Make Organizing a Civil Right
Suresh Naidu and Dorian T. Warren: ”What Labor Can Learn From the Obama Campaign
Larry Cohen: ”Build a Democracy Movement
Bhairavi Desai: ”Become a Movement of All Workers
Maria Elena Durazo: ”Time for Labor to Mobilize Immigrants
Karen GJ Lewis: ”Fight for the Whole Society

How Two-Tier Union Contracts Became Labor’s Undoing

Source: Louis Uchitelle, Nation, February 5, 2013

…In response to persistent demands from employers for lower labor costs, some of the nation’s most prominent unions—instead of protesting or striking—have agreed to reduce the pay of newly hired workers as long as the wages of existing employees go untouched. And the new hires themselves have abstained from open protest, instead preferring the lower tier to no work at all, or to work that pays even less than a union-negotiated lower tier. …

Storm survivors

Source: Matthew Valencia, Economist, February 16th 2013

Offshore financial centres have taken a battering recently, but they have shown remarkable resilience…

This special report will argue that tax havens are indeed facing serious threats but are also being presented with some enticing opportunities, especially if they have strong links with emerging economies. The best-regulated of them are no longer merely “sunny places for shady people”. They can reasonably feel aggrieved when they are lumped together with the dodgiest havens, or when onshore jurisdictions themselves fail to practise the financial rectitude they preach to their offshore rivals.

All the same, the OFCs will remain under intense pressure as tax compliance receives more political attention. They will have to show not only that they have cleaned up but that they are making a constructive contribution to the world economy.

Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans

Source: Darren Schreiber, Greg Fonzo, Alan N. Simmons, Christopher T. Dawes, Taru Flagan, James H. Fowler, Martin P. Paulus, PLoS ONE, Vol. 8 no. 2, February 13, 2013

From the abstract:
Liberals and conservatives exhibit different cognitive styles and converging lines of evidence suggest that biology influences differences in their political attitudes and beliefs. In particular, a recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala. Here, we explore differences in brain function in liberals and conservatives by matching publicly-available voter records to 82 subjects who performed a risk-taking task during functional imaging. Although the risk-taking behavior of Democrats (liberals) and Republicans (conservatives) did not differ, their brain activity did. Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, while Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala. In fact, a two parameter model of partisanship based on amygdala and insula activations yields a better fitting model of partisanship than a well-established model based on parental socialization of party identification long thought to be one of the core findings of political science. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk, and they support recent evidence that conservatives show greater sensitivity to threatening stimuli.
Red Brain, Blue Brain: Are There Neurological Differences Between Democrats and Republicans?
Source: Kharunya Paramaguru, Time, February 19, 2013
…They found that Republicans used their right amygdala, the part of the brain associated with the body’s fight-or-flight system, when making risk-taking decisions; Democrats tended to show greater activity in their left insula, an area associated with self and social awareness….

Destination Health Exchange: A Long Way to Go and a Short Time to Get There

Source: Mary Branham, Capitol Ideas, Vol. 56 no. 1, January/February 1013

…By mid-December, 18 states and the District of Columbia had opted to set up a state exchange, 18 defaulted to the federal exchange and six had opted for the partnership model, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That leaves nine states undecided with deadlines approaching fast. While states may have missed their opportunity to operate a state-based exchange at this point, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, director of coverage policy for the U.S. Office of Health Reform, said such an exchange is not completely off the table….