Category Archives: Labor Unions

The community dimensions of union renewal: racialized and caring relations in personal support services

Source: Louise Birdsell Bauer, Cynthia Cranford, Work Employment & Society, Published online before print July 20, 2016
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From the abstract:
Union renewal research calls for moving beyond broad terms, like community unionism, to specify how social relations of work shape renewal for different workers, sectors and contexts. Analysis of interviews with union officials and union members in publicly funded, in-home personal support reveal two community dimensions: both caring and racialized relations between workers and service recipients. Scholarship on care workers emphasizes empathy and coalition with service recipients as a key aspect of union renewal, yet says little about racialized tensions. Studies of domestic workers emphasize organizing in response to racialization, but provide little insight into caring social relations at work. This article develops arguments that both positive and negative worker–recipient relations shape union organizing and representation in the service sector by specifying the ways in which racialization contributes to this dynamic. It suggests that anti-racist organizing at work, alongside coalition building and collective bargaining, are important renewal strategies for this sector.

Casting a Long Shadow? Cross-border Spillovers of Shadow Economy across American States

Source: Rajeev K. Goel, James W. Saunoris, Public Finance Review, Vol. 44 no. 5, September 2016
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From the abstract:
This article examines the determinants of the shadow economy across American states, with emphasis on cross-border spillover effects. Results show positive spillovers of shadow activities across state borders with different specifications. In other effects, greater unionization in a state induces businesses to go underground, while states without a sales tax had a smaller shadow economy, ceteris paribus. Greater state product checked shadow growth, with military and nonmilitary state products having opposite effects. Finally, states bordering Canada and Mexico had different flows from the shadow sector.

Disability Rights and Labor: Is This Conflict Really Necessary?

Source: Samuel R. Bagenstos, University of Michigan Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 509, June 15, 2016

From the abstract:
The relationship between the American labor movement and identity-based social movements has long been a complicated one. Organized labor has often been an ally of civil rights struggles, and major civil rights leaders have often supported the claims and campaigns of organized labor. Recall the reason Dr. Martin Luther King was in Memphis on the day he was assassinated — to lend his support to a strike by unionized sanitation workers. But unions and civil rights groups have found themselves on the opposite sides of intense battles as well. The relationship between the labor movement and the disability rights movement is just as complicated. Organized labor has often been an ally of disability rights efforts. But in some of the highest stakes battles for workers and individuals with disabilities, many unions and disability rights groups have opposed each other. Although many commentators have written about the tensions and collaborations between labor unions and civil rights groups promoting race or sex equality, the very similar dynamics of the relationship between unions and disability rights groups have largely escaped comment.

In the past several years, though, the tensions in the labor-disability relationship have become especially acute. As unions (particularly the Service Employees International Union) have pushed for increased wages and benefits for direct-care workers who provide home and community-based services, and state Medicaid cuts have placed pressure on the budgets available to pay those workers, many disability rights activists have worried that labor’s agenda will lead to the (re-)institutionalization of people with disabilities. This tension stood in the background of the litigation in Harris v. Quinn, in which the Supreme Court addressed the collective bargaining system some states had set up for personal-assistance workers. And the dispute between unions and (some) disability rights activists broke out in a particularly sharp and nasty way in response to the Department of Labor’s recent rules expanding Fair Labor Standards Act protections for home care workers. Although some disability rights groups supported the new rules, which had been a major priority of organized labor, particularly vocal and influential activist groups opposed them. These tensions are nothing new. Disability rights activists have long challenged the paternalism of those assigned to “help” or “care” for them, and the unions that represent those workers are thus a natural target for suspicion if not antagonism. And many (though not all) elements of the American labor movement have strongly opposed the deinstitutionalization of people with mental disabilities. The current labor-disability tensions cannot be understood outside of the context of that history.

This essay, which was presented as the Stewart Lecture on Labor and Employment Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in April 2016, attempts to do two things. First, it puts the current labor-disability controversy into that broader context. Second, and perhaps more important, it takes a position on how disability rights advocates should approach both the current controversy and labor-disability tensions more broadly. As to the narrow dispute over wage-and-hour protections for personal-assistance workers, this essay argues both that those workers have a compelling normative claim to full FLSA protection — a claim that disability rights advocates should recognize — and that supporting the claim of those workers is pragmatically in the best interests of the disability rights movement. As to the broader tensions, the essay argues that disability rights advocates go wrong, both normatively and pragmatically, in treating the interests of individuals with disabilities as inevitably superordinate to those of individuals who do the work of providing community-based services and supports. Although this wrong turn is completely understandable in light of the history of paternalist subordination of people with disabilities at the hands of the helping professions, today’s situation calls for an accommodation of the legitimate claims of each side.

Public-sector Unions and Government Policy: Reexamining the Effects of Political Contributions and Collective Bargaining Rights

Source: George R. Crowley, Scott A. Beaulier, Public Finance Review, Published online before print July 15, 2016
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From the abstract:
Recent events, including the failed recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Chicago teachers strike, have shed light on the relationship between state fiscal policy and public-sector union power. While a literature has developed focusing on various aspects of the link between public-sector unions and government policy, scholars have yet to reach consensus. In most cases, public-sector unions have multiple tools they can use to influence policy. We find that union political contributions and collective bargaining are associated with higher incomes for state and local employees and with higher public employment, both across state and local governments overall as well as within the education sector. We also find relatively little evidence that union activity influences total spending.

When the Hell Did the NLRB Become More Activist Than Labor?

Source: Shaun Richman, In These Times, Working In These Times blog, July 12, 2016

….I have advocated that unions should pursue an agenda of judicial activism. These recent NLRB actions prove that the time is ripe to challenge the rules of the system that keep unions shackled. I’ve spent most of my career complaining about how slow and ineffective the NLRB is, as have most union organizers. That bias should not blind us to the opportunity of the moment…..

Nurse Unions and Patient Outcomes

Source: Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Owen Thompson, ILR Review, Vol. 69 no. 4, August 2016
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From the abstract:
The authors estimate the impact of nurse unions on health care quality using patient-discharge data and the universe of hospital unionization in California between 1996 and 2005. They find that hospitals with a successful union election outperform hospitals with a failed election in 12 of 13 potentially nurse-sensitive patient outcomes. Hospitals were more likely to have a unionization attempt if they were of declining quality, as measured by patient outcomes. When such differential trends are accounted for, unionized hospitals also outperform hospitals without any union election in the same 12 of 13 outcome measures. Consistent with a causal impact, the largest changes occur precisely in the year of unionization. The biggest improvements are found in the incidence of metabolic derangement, pulmonary failure, and central nervous system disorders such as depression and delusion, in which the estimated changes are between 15% and 60% of the mean incidence for those measures.

A Special Issue on Work and Employment Relations in Health Care

Source: ILR Review, Vol. 69 no. 4, August 2016
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From the introduction:
Editorial Essay: Introduction to a Special Issue on Work and Employment Relations in Health Care
Ariel C. Avgar, Adrienne E. Eaton, Rebecca Kolins Givan, and Adam Seth Litwin

…..This special issue of the ILR Review is designed to showcase the central role that work organization and employment relations play in shaping important outcomes such as the quality of care and organizational performance. Each of the articles included in this special issue makes an important contribution to our understanding of the large and rapidly changing health care sector. Specifically, these articles provide novel empirical evidence about the relationship between organizations, institutions, and work practices and a wide array of central outcomes across different levels of analysis. This breadth is especially important because the health care literature has largely neglected employment-related factors in explaining organizational and worker outcomes in this industry. Individually, these articles shed new light on the role that health information technologies play in affecting patient care and productivity (see Hitt and Tambe; Meyerhoefer et al.); the relationship between work practices and organizational reliability (Vogus and Iacobucci); staffing practices, processes, and outcomes (Kramer and Son; Hockenberry and Becker; Kossek et al.); health care unions’ effects on the quality of patient care (Arindrajit, Kaplan, and Thompson); and the relationship between the quality of jobs and the quality of care (Burns, Hyde, and Killet). Below, we position the articles in this special issue against the backdrop of the pressures and challenges facing the industry and the organizations operating within it. We highlight the implications that organizational responses to industry pressures have had for organizations, the patients they care for, and the employees who deliver this care……

Articles include:
Nurse Unions and Patient Outcomes
Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Owen Thompson
Abstract:
The authors estimate the impact of nurse unions on health care quality using patient-discharge data and the universe of hospital unionization in California between 1996 and 2005. They find that hospitals with a successful union election outperform hospitals with a failed election in 12 of 13 potentially nurse-sensitive patient outcomes. Hospitals were more likely to have a unionization attempt if they were of declining quality, as measured by patient outcomes. When such differential trends are accounted for, unionized hospitals also outperform hospitals without any union election in the same 12 of 13 outcome measures. Consistent with a causal impact, the largest changes occur precisely in the year of unionization. The biggest improvements are found in the incidence of metabolic derangement, pulmonary failure, and central nervous system disorders such as depression and delusion, in which the estimated changes are between 15% and 60% of the mean incidence for those measures.

How Do Hospital Nurse Staffing Strategies Affect Patient Satisfaction?
Jason M. Hockenberry and Edmund R. Becker
Abstract:
In this article, the authors evaluate the role of the nurse staffing mix on hospital patient satisfaction. Using three years (2009 to 2011) of hospital patient satisfaction data linked to data on the productive staffing hours of registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses, nurse’s aides, and contract nurses for 311 California hospitals, the authors analyze how nurse staffing levels affect 10 dimensions of patient satisfaction. The findings indicate that a higher level of RNs per bed appears to increase overall patient satisfaction. Conversely, hospitals with a higher proportion of nursing hours provided by contract nurses have significantly lower levels of patient satisfaction on scores related to overall patient satisfaction and nurses’ communication with the patient. The results have implications for RN staffing strategies and inform the broader literature on worker-skill mix and employment arrangements.

Who Cares about the Health of Health Care Professionals? An 18-Year Longitudinal Study of Working Time, Health, and Occupational Turnover
Amit Kramer and Jooyeon Son
Abstract
Health care workers are employed in a complex, stressful, and sometimes hazardous work environment. Studies of the health of health care workers tend to focus on estimating the effects of short-term health outcomes on employee attitudes and performance, which are easier to observe than long-term health outcomes. Research has paid only scant attention to work characteristics that are controlled by the employer and its employees, and their relationship to employees’ long-term physical health and organizational outcomes. The authors use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) from 1992 to 2010 to estimate the relationships among working time, long-term physical health, job satisfaction, and turnover among health care employees. Using a between- and within-person design, they estimate how within-person changes in work characteristics affect the within-person growth trajectory of body mass index (BMI) over time and the relationship between working-time changes and physical health, and occupational turnover. The study finds that health care employees who work more hours suffer from a higher level of BMI and are more likely to leave their occupation.

Health Care Information Technology, Work Organization, and Nursing Home Performance
Lorin M. Hitt and Prasanna Tambe

The Consequences of Electronic Health Record Adoption for Physician Productivity and Birth Outcomes
Chad D. Meyerhoefer, Mary E. Deily, Susan A. Sherer, Shin-Yi Chou, Lizhong Peng, Michael Sheinberg, and Donald Levick

Creating Highly Reliable Health Care: How Reliability-Enhancing Work Practices Affect Patient Safety in Hospitals
Timothy J. Vogus and Dawn Iacobucci

Filling the Holes: Work Schedulers As Job Crafters of Employment Practice in Long-Term Health Care
Ellen Ernst Kossek, Matthew M. Piszczek, Kristie L. McAlpine, Leslie B. Hammer, and Lisa Burke

How Financial Cutbacks Affect the Quality of Jobs and Care for the Elderly
Diane J. Burns, Paula J. Hyde, and Anne M. Killett

Is It Time for the Courts to End Labor Lockouts?

Source: Moshe Marvit, The Century Foundation, June 30, 2016

From the summary:
The labor lockout—an action by the management of a company to deny workers access to their place of employment—was once a rare phenomenon compared to the strike, and there was a time when one could be fairly certain that any work stoppage was a strike. But in recent years, the federal courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have expanded the permissible use of lockouts by management to the point that they now represent a significant portion of work stoppages. At a time when the most well-known tools of labor organizing have already been undermined by aggressive (and too frequently unlawful) anti-union tactics by employers, this enhancement of management power is designed to weaken the bargaining power of unions, and lead to a further decline in the earnings and benefits available to hard-working families. The previous rationale for widely authorizing the use of employer lockouts is outdated in today’s economy. In order to properly balance the interest of employers and workers, and preserve workers’ rights to organize, bargain, and strike, the courts should reconsider their precedents and take decisive action to curtail lockouts.

This report will examine the current state of lockouts, how they have increased in relation to strikes, how the law has permitted this expansion, and what must be done to restore workers’ rights to stop work….

What You Should Know
– A “labor lockout” describes when the management of a company denies its workers physical access to their place of employment and hires replacement workers in their absence.
– Lockouts, as opposed to strikes, are considered a tactic to weaken bargaining power of unions, causing workplace power to be increasingly skewed in favor of employers.
– The vast majority of recent lockouts occur in three industries: manufacturing; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and utilities.
– After several court cases, the NLRB has decided that lockouts largely hurt hard-working families and pose a looming threat to workers who wish to engage in meaningful collective bargaining.

Three Recent Wins Prove Old-Fashioned Union Power Isn’t Dead Yet

Source: Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes, July 7, 2016

Three big wins for workers in the last nine months arrived where you might least expect them: in the old, blue-collar economy. That’s the economy where unions are down to 6.7 percent, where wins are rare and workers are supposed to be on their way out. Yet at Chrysler, Verizon, and a huge Teamster pension fund, thousands of union members mobilized to put a stick in management’s eye. Hundreds of thousands will see the benefit…..

Labor Day 2016: Sept. 5

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB16-FF.14, July 8, 2016

From the introduction:
The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. The parade inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “workingmen’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.” This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers.