Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

Audio: Home Care Unions Adapt to New Legal Obstacles

Source: Labor Notes, September 2, 2014

Labor Notes’ Samantha Winslow discussed the ruling’s implications in a radio interview on KPFA’s Letters and Politics and also on Equal Time Radio, where she joined Vermont home care worker Amanda Shepard.
Letters and Politics – Hobby Lobby Analysis
Source: KPFA, June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Home Care Workers & ?

Source: WDEV, Equal Time, 2014

Dispatches from Freedom Summer

Source: ProPublica, 2014

A variety of voices revisit the events and lessons of Mississippi’s long hot summer of 1964.

Articles include:
Long a Force for Progress, a Freedom Summer Legend Looks Back by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Georgia Congressman John Lewis talks about what changed — and didn’t — because of the movement he helped to lead 50 years ago.

Interview With Civil Rights Legend John Lewis: Audio by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Listen to Nikole Hannah-Jones interview barrier-breaking Freedom Rider and longtime congressman John Lewis.

In His Professional Twilight, a Son of Mississippi Considers His Legacy on Race by Joe Sexton
Former federal judge Charles W. Pickering wants his life of accomplishment and controversy to have been a contribution to his state’s racial healing.

When Freedom Summer Landed in White America’s Living Rooms by Seth Wessler
An iconic civil rights print hung in one rural Maine home and helped shape a family’s commitment to justice.

A Brutal Loss, but an Enduring Conviction
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Rita Bender, 22 when her husband Michael Schwerner was killed by the Klan in Mississippi in 1964, says challenges remain in the fight for racial justice.

Ghosts of Greenwood by Nikole Hannah-Jones (audio) (photos)
A reporter goes to Mississippi and encounters the echoes of family and the struggle for civil rights.

Little Evidence of the ACA Increasing Part-Time Work So Far

Source: Bowen Garrett and Robert Kaestner, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & the Urban Institute, Timely Analysis of Immediate Health Policy Issues, September 2014

From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation summary:
Some reports have suggested that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already triggering an increase in part-time workers. Is this true?

So far, the available evidence suggests those claims are false. This Quick Strike analysis by the Urban Institute suggests that there is “no evidence that the ACA had already started increasing part-time work before 2014.”

If the ACA was likely to have increased part-time work, how might it have happened?
Primarily in two ways:
∙ Employers with 50 or more employees will be subject to penalties under the ACA if they fail to comply with the act’s employer mandate—the requirement that they provide adequate and affordable coverage for their full-time employees. In anticipation of the mandate, some suggest, employers are seeking to avoid or reduce penalties either by cutting employee hours to below 30—the threshold at which an employee is considered full-time—or hiring more part-time workers.
∙ Employees, offered access to health insurance under the ACA—including subsidies for those with family incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level—might be voluntarily choosing part-time employment because they no longer need the employer-sponsored health insurance available only to full-time employees.

Urban Institute researchers say their analysis offers more likely explanations. Their research indicates transitions between full-time and part-time work are consistent with historical patterns. Moreover, “These findings suggest that the increase in part-time work in 2014 is not ACA-related, but more likely due to a slower than normal recovery of full-time jobs following the great recession.”

Party of Lincoln Takes Aim at Black Voters – Georgia GOP rewrites laws to hedge against growing minority strength

Source: Lou Dubose, Washington Spectator, September 1, 2014

… In a state where African Americans make up 31 percent of the population, Democratic candidates, particularly those running for statewide office, are not competitive without the black vote. In any close election, African-American turnout determines which candidate prevails. … In November, Georgia’s restrictive ballot-access laws will get their first real test. … After Republicans won control of both houses of the General Assembly in 2004, they resorted to race as the primary criterion in drawing the congressional, legislative and even county commissioners’ districts, frequently “pairing” Democratic incumbents to force them to run against each other. They packed blacks into racially homogeneous districts and subdivided, where they could, those communities where whites and African Americans had built biracial coalitions of voters….

A ‘Holocaust in Slow Motion?’ America’s Mass Incarceration and the Role of Discretion

Source: Mark William Osler, Mark W. Bennett, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-30, 2014

From the abstract:
Numbers don’t lie: America has suffered an explosion in imprisonment that has been fundamentally unrelated to actual crime levels. In this article, a federal District Court Judge and a former federal prosecutor examine the roots of this explosion with a focus on the discretion of Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission, federal prosecutors, and judges. This dark period may be in its twilight, though, and the authors conclude by describing specific actions each of these four groups could take to dismantle the cruel machinery of mass incarceration.

LEGOSH – Global database on occupational safety and health legislation

Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), 2014

From the summary:
Legislation on occupational safety and health (OSH) is an essential component of national systems and programmes aiming at protecting the health and safety of workers. The ILO, in its efforts to support the development of national OSH systems, has developed and launched LEGOSH, an innovative database to collect, analyse, describe and share essential knowledge on OSH legislation and policy around the world.

The database has a user-friendly interface which allows users to:
– Access summaries of OSH legislation in English and authentic legal texts in their original language;
– Compare the legislation of several countries or regions on a particular subject;
– Conduct customized searches;
– Link to national and regional OSH institutions’ websites, OSH databases and other relevant sources of OSH legislation, policies and information;
– Consult the relevant comments of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR).

Title VII in Economic-Historical Perspective

Source: Gavin Wright, Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 11 no 3, Fall 2014
(subscription required)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 fully deserves its status as a watershed achievement in American political and social history, and Title VII merits full marks as a landmark in national economic history. Enforcement of Title VII generated major economic gains for African Americans, advances that for the most part have been sustained over time. In drawing lessons from this historical record, however, it must be recognized that the successes reflected a specific set of channels in a particular historical context. The primary driving forces were grass-roots mobilization for racial justice and pressure from all three branches of the federal government. Most of the gains were realized in the South, reflecting the low starting point in that region’s transition from decades of Jim Crow segregation as well as the organizational cohesion descended from the civil rights movement. It is far from clear that the same or similar approaches can be effective in confronting racial and class inequalities in the twenty-first century….

Where’s the Care?

Source: Eileen Boris, Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 11 no 3, Fall 2014
(subscription required)

In 1966, Ida Phillips, a white mother of seven children, applied for a position as an assembly line trainee at a Martin-Marietta missile plant in Orlando, Florida. At a wage of $2.25 an hour with benefits, the job was a real improvement over waitressing at Donut Dinette. But the personnel office rejected her application, claiming that the firm did not hire women with preschoolers. Her subsequent suit led to the first US Supreme Court decision on Title VII in 1971. Litigated at a time when the scope of civil rights at work was up for grabs, when feminists envisioned a robust equality for women of all classes, Phillips v. Martin-Marietta illuminates the significance of anti-discrimination law in opening up hiring — and its profound limits for restructuring the workplace to revalue labors of care that disadvantage women over men and women of color over other women. It points to the obstacles that the fixed categories of the law — singular identities such as sex and race — impose when plaintiffs, despite their intersectional and complex, indeed fluid, selves – must compare themselves to other similarly situated individuals to claim differential treatment and thus establish harm. It reminds us that not all labor counts as work under the law.

Fifty years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we have learned that formal equality is not enough. Title VII may have helped professionals crack glass ceilings and other women leave pink-collar work for better paying blue-collar jobs, but it does little to tear down maternal walls. Today feminist lawyers seek to deploy it as one tool against what Joan Williams in 2000 dubbed “family responsibility discrimination,” which severely impacts low-waged workers in jobs with little flexibility. However, paid care workers, disproportionately African American and immigrant women of color, turn elsewhere in their quest for recognition, dignity, better working conditions, and higher wages. Union organizing and bills of rights are the preferred tools of nannies, cleaners, and elder-, child-, and home-care workers of all sorts. These workers are leading the way toward a new social justice movement that values “caring across the generations,” fights for living wages, and recognizes the interdependence of us all….

Title VII, the Rise of Workplace Fairness, and the Decline of Economic Justice, 1964–2013

Source: Touré F. Reed, Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 11 no 3, Fall 2014
(subscription required)

…While the rise of diversity reflects the conservative turn in American politics since the 1980s, diversity’s disregard for economic inequality can be traced in part to the limitations of Title VII. To be sure, Title VII has succeeded in opening opportunities to minorities and women while making the workplace “fairer” for everyone. Nevertheless, its narrow focus on employment bias helped establish a framework that divorced discrimination from the structural roots of poverty and unemployment. Indeed, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations’ commitment to commercial Keynesianism precluded comprehensive antipoverty initiatives of the sort proposed by Secretary of Labor Wirtz or even Senator Humphrey’s S1937. Though much has changed since 1964, the employment opportunities available to minorities and women remain bound to the trajectory of the broader economy. The high rates of black unemployment and poverty today, for example, are a reflection on the health of the sectors of the economy that have employed a disproportionately large share of African Americans – the public sector, manufacturing and construction, transportation, and retail and service. Title VII is, of course, still relevant to the life chances of underrepresented groups. Nevertheless, if the endgame is simply to secure a seat at an ever-shrinking table, more and more minorities and women will remain standing in the unemployment line….

“The Largest Civil Rights Organization Today”:Title VII and the Transformation of the Public Sector

Source: Thomas J. Sugrue, Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 11 no 3, Fall 2014
(subscription required)

In a 1966 interview, Gloster Current, a longtime official at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told historian August Meier that he considered the “federal government the largest civil rights organization today.” Current captured the most important economic impact of the long black freedom struggle: government had become the single most important agent of African American economic advance in the last third of the twentieth century. “Public employment,” write historians Michael Katz and Mark Stern in their systematic survey of twentieth-century census data, “became African Americans’ distinctive occupational niche.” In 2000, a remarkable 43 percent of black women and 19 percent of black men worked in government and state-related jobs. Those jobs served as a buffer against deindustrialization and an alternative to rapidly proliferating, poorly paid service-sector and retail jobs. “In 2000,” Katz and Stern show, “the median income for blacks who worked full time in the public sector exceeded the income of black private sector employees by 15 percent for men and 19 percent for women.” They conclude: “Public and state-related employment have thus proved the most powerful vehicles for African American economic mobility and the most effective anti-poverty legacy of the Great Society.” That government employment would be the major vehicle for black advancement was by no means inevitable, even when Current made his optimistic statement in early 1966…..