Author Archives: afscme

Aggregate Demand and State-Level Employment

Source: Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, FRBSF Economic Letter, 2013-04, February 11, 2013

What explains the sharp decline in U.S. employment from 2007 to 2009? Why has employment remained stubbornly low? Survey data from the National Federation of Independent Businesses show that the decline in state-level employment is strongly correlated with the increase in the percentage of businesses complaining about lack of demand. While business concerns about government regulation and taxes also rose steadily from 2008 to 2011, there is no evidence that job losses were larger in states where businesses were more worried about these factors.

‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party

Source: Amanda Fallin, Rachel Grana, Stanton A Glantz, Tobacco Control, Published Online First 8 February 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: The Tea Party, which gained prominence in the USA in 2009, advocates limited government and low taxes. Tea Party organisations, particularly Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, oppose smoke-free laws and tobacco taxes.

Methods: We used the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, the Wayback Machine, Google, LexisNexis, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Center for Responsive Politics ( to examine the tobacco companies’ connections to the Tea Party.

Results: Starting in the 1980s, tobacco companies worked to create the appearance of broad opposition to tobacco control policies by attempting to create a grassroots smokers’ rights movement. Simultaneously, they funded and worked through third-party groups, such as Citizens for a Sound Economy, the predecessor of AFP and FreedomWorks, to accomplish their economic and political agenda. There has been continuity of some key players, strategies and messages from these groups to Tea Party organisations. As of 2012, the Tea Party was beginning to spread internationally.

Conclusions: Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that spontaneously developed in 2009, the Tea Party has developed over time, in part through decades of work by the tobacco industry and other corporate interests. It is important for tobacco control advocates in the USA and internationally, to anticipate and counter Tea Party opposition to tobacco control policies and ensure that policymakers, the media and the public understand the longstanding connection between the tobacco industry, the Tea Party and its associated organisations.

National Health Care Expenses in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2010

Source: Kelly Carper and Steven R. Machlin, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Statistical Brief #396, January 2013

This Statistical Brief presents estimates of health care expenses by type of service and distributions by payment sources for the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population in 2010. Health care expenses, as reported in this Brief, represent payments to hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers based on utilization information collected in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Household Component and payment data collected in both the MEPS Household and Medical Provider Components. Expense estimates include amounts paid by individuals, private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other payment sources. All differences between estimates discussed in the text are statistically significant at the 0.05 level.

Family and Medical Leave in 2012

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Chief Evaluation Office, February 2013

The nation now has two decades of experience with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). That experience — including both employer workplace practices and employee leave taking patterns — was described by earlier surveys of worksites and employees conducted by the Department of Labor in 1995 and in 2000. In 2012, Abt Associates conducted a third pair of surveys for the Department of Labor.

Study Reports are as follows:
Klerman, Jacob, Kelly Daley, and Alyssa Pozniak. (2012). Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Technical Report. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.
Daley, Kelly, Courtney Kennedy, Marci Schalk, Julie Pacer, Allison Ackermann, Alyssa Pozniak, and Jacob Klerman (2012). Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Methodology Report. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.
Pozniak, Alyssa, Krista Olson, Katherine Wen, Kelly Daley, and Jacob Klerman. (2012). Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Detailed Results Appendix. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.
A public-use file of data from the surveys is also available:
Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Public Use File — For Employers (Zip)*
Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Public Use File — For Employees (Zip)*
McGarry, Nancy, Jacob Klerman, Kelly Daley, and Alyssa Pozniak. (2012). Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Public Use File Documentation. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.

Major Work Stoppages in 2012

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Compensation and Working Conditions, News Release, USDL-13-0193, February 8, 2013

In 2012, there were 19 major strikes and lockouts involving 1,000 or more workers and lasting at least one shift, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The 19 major work stoppages beginning in 2012 equaled the total from 2011. Major work stoppages beginning in 2012 idled 148,000 workers, higher than 2011 with 113,000 idled workers. In 2012, there were 1.13 million days idle from major work stoppages in effect, also higher than 2011 with 1.02 million days idle. (See charts 1 and 2, and table 1.) Over 40 percent (8 of 19) of major work stoppages beginning in 2012 occurred in November and December. …

How Fast Food Workers Super-Sized Their Pay in New Zealand

Source: Erik Forman, Labor Notes, February 8, 2013

…The independent union Unite (no relation to UNITE HERE) launched its “Super Size My Pay” campaign in 2005. Now with more than 4,000 members at KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, and Wendy’s, it has become one of the most successful fast food organizing efforts in the world.

From 0 to 2,000 in Six Months

Unite developed an organizing model that took advantage of two features of New Zealand labor law: As in Europe, employers are legally required to negotiate with a union that represents even just a handful of its workers. And in 2003 a Labour Party government passed a law requiring employers to allow union organizers access to non-union shops to meet with workers. Unite’s strategy? Go into fast food restaurants, call workers off the shop floor one by one for short meetings, and make a membership pitch. …

Policy Basics: Top Ten Facts about Social Security

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Updated November 6, 2012

From the summary:
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. Almost eight decades later, Social Security remains one of the nation’s most successful, effective, and popular programs. It provides a foundation of income on which workers can build to plan for their retirement. It also provides valuable social insurance protection to workers who become disabled and to families whose breadwinner dies.

Fact #1: Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It provides important life insurance and disability insurance protection as well….
Fact #2: Social Security provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps up with increases in the cost of living….
Fact #3: Social Security provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American, and its benefits are not means-tested….
Fact #4: Social Security benefits are modest….
Fact #5: Children have an important stake in Social Security….
Fact #6: Almost half of the elderly would be poor without Social Security. Social Security lifts 14 million elderly Americans out of poverty….
Fact #7: Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income….
Fact #8: Social Security is particularly important for minorities….
Fact #9: Social Security is especially beneficial for women….
Fact #10: Social Security can pay full benefits through 2033 without any changes. Relatively modest changes would place the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond….
Why Minorities Need Social Security More
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Financial Security Project, Squared Away blog, February 7, 2013

Neoclassical Labor Economics: Its Implications for Labor and Employment Law

Source: Michael L. Wachter, University of Pennsylvania, Institute for Law and Economics, Research Paper No. 13-34, 2012

From the abstract:
Whereas law and economics appears throughout business law, it never caught on in legal commentary about labor and employment law. A major reason is that the goals of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the country’s foundational labor law, are at war with basic principles of economics. The lack of integration is unfortunate if understandable. Notwithstanding the NLRA’s normative goal to keep wages out of competition, economic analysis applies as centrally to labor markets as to any other market.

One of the NLRA’s primary goals is to equalize bargaining power. Its drafters envisioned achieving this goal through procedural and substantive means: increasing the number of people covered by collective bargaining contracts and raising union wages above competitive levels. These goals, however, are in conflict. For the NLRA to succeed, the relationship between demand (employment) and prices (wages) would have to be upward sloping. Unfortunately, the reverse is true. While the adverse tradeoff between above-market union wages and union employment was not as marked in the Wagner Act, the NLRA’s vision became unattainable once the Taft-Hartley amendments sanctioned competition between union and nonunion models of the employment relationship.

This Chapter uses neoclassical economics to analyze several theoretical and policy issues. For example, it considers the efficiency wage theory that unions can raise productivity to offset above-market pay. Efficiency wages work when employees respond to a reward, as in above market pay, with greater loyalty. Yet union workers are more likely to be loyal to their labor unions than the firm that the union claims resisted the higher pay. The efficiency wage model works better in the nonunion model, the context in which it was first developed. While unions may be preferred on normative grounds, the highly competitive political economy of the United States makes it difficult for unions to succeed.

Spreading Protest Tactics

Source: Corinna Wu, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Vol. 11 no. 1, Winter 2013
(subscription required)

From the introduction:
Protesting can take many forms—from waving signs, lighting candles, and making speeches to holding sit-ins, writing letters, and filing lawsuits. Some unusual tactics—such as paying for a purchase in pennies to slow down business—aren’t used often, but once successful, they can spread like wildfire.

Sarah Soule, a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, wanted to see just how such protest tactics have spread among social-movement organizations….

Staffing Levels: A Key to Managing Risk in 24/7 Operations

Source: Bill Sirois and Martin Moore-Ede, CIRCADIAN, White Paper, 2013
(registration required)

From the summary:
A common assumption among many shiftwork managers is that reducing headcount will cut costs. However, staffing levels, if too lean or imbalanced, are actually a key contributor to fatigue and human error in 24/7 operations. In fact, data from hundreds of shiftwork operations shows that any significant imbalance between workload and staffing levels drives up overtime, absenteeism and employee turnover, and reduces productivity. Identifying and implementing the optimal staffing levels for your organization’s workload is a critical first step to fatigue risk management and can result in safer employees and reduced costs.
Understanding whether your organization is staffed at the right level requires consideration of several factors.
In this white paper, authors Bill Sirois and Dr. Martin Moore-Ede will:
– Review typical causes for staffing imbalances
– Consider the benefits and risks of keeping staffing lean
– Review overtime levels in 24/7 operations
– And consider various solutions to addressing staffing and scheduling imbalances