Voter Suppression Laws Cost Americans Their Voices at the Polls

Source: Liz Kennedy, Center for American Progress, November 11, 2016

From the summary:
The integrity of U.S. elections depends on every eligible American being able to cast a vote that is counted. Yet this year, the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, many Americans across the country were blocked from having their voices heard in the democratic process….

Pension Structure and Employee Turnover: Evidence from a Large Public Pension System

Source: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kristian L. Holden, ILR Review, Online First, Published online before print November 4, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Public pension systems in many U.S. states face large funding shortfalls, and policymakers have considered moving toward defined contribution (DC) pension structures in the interest of reducing the likelihood of future shortfalls. Concerns exist, however, that such changes might increase levels of employee turnover. The empirical evidence on the relationship between pension structure and turnover is mixed, and is quite limited in the case of public-sector plans. The authors study a single class of public-sector employees (teachers) who are enrolled in either a traditional defined benefit (DB) plan or a hybrid DB-DC plan during overlapping periods of time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors find little evidence that the introduction of the hybrid plan increased employee turnover; in fact, they find that turnover is lower among teachers who transferred out of the DB plan into the hybrid plan. Employers may benefit by shifting the debate away from plan structure per se and toward a discussion of how to provide employees with pension plans they will highly value.

Hiring Job Seekers with Criminal Histories

Source: Mark Feffer, HR Magazine, Vol. 61 no. 8, October 2016

Weigh the risks and rewards of employing ex-offenders. ….

Given a workforce facing unprecedented skills gaps and a country where tens of thousands of state and federal inmates are being released back into their communities every month, Miller’s story is worth bearing in mind. Many people with criminal histories are eager to work but have a hard time finding an employer willing to give them a chance.

Companies are understandably concerned about the safety of their workers and customers as well as their own assets and public image. But today, many HR professionals are finding that the best approach to hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds is not so different from the one they use for everyone else: to evaluate each candidate on his or her merits.

That doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind or forgoing background checks; rather, it’s about giving candidates with criminal backgrounds a chance to be included in the selection process, carefully assessing the nature of their crimes and the time since conviction, and balancing overall risks against potential rewards. ….

It Pays to Talk

Source: National Academy of Social Insurance, November 2016

From the summary:
Deciding when to take Social Security benefits is one of the most important financial decisions your parents will make. This infographic outlines thre things they should keep in mind to make smart claiming decisions. Depending on your parent’s financial situation, it may pay to wait, but definitely pays to talk.

The infographic is part of a toolkit of resources designed to educate workers approaching retirement, and their families and friends, about their options for taking Social Security benefits, and about why it can pay to wait.
it pays to talk to your parents about social security

The Great Poll Closure

Source: Leadership Conference Education Fund, November 2016

From ProPubilca’s Electionland blog post:
Freed From Federal Oversight, Southern States Slash Number of Polling Places

Voters in states formerly covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act will have at least 868 fewer polling locations at which to cast ballots on Nov. 8, according to a new study by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a civil rights group that supports protections for minority voters. The report found a “widespread effort to close polling places” in some of the states previously covered under Section 5, which was invalidated by a 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The decision allowed states to change voting laws without approval by the federal government. The report looked at the number of polling places for the 2016 general election in states including Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, compared to general elections in either 2012 or 2014. Almost every county in Arizona reduced the number of polling places. Pima County, the state’s second-largest, reported 62 fewer locations than the 280 it had four year ago. Cochise County, which had 50 polling places for its 12,466 voters in 2012, will have 18 on Nov. 8. In Arizona’s presidential primary, Maricopa County, the state’s largest, had one polling place for every 21,000 voters.

Source:, 2016 is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. is a non-profit organization fiscally sponsored by the New Venture Fund. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined efforts, and employees are winning important changes at work — a few recent examples can be found here.

America’s second-class citizens: Why more than six million Americans cannot vote

Source: Al Jazeera, 2016

More than six million Americans of voting age – that is one out of every 40 people of voting age in the country will be ineligible to vote in the upcoming elections. They are people who have been convicted of a felony, a crime typically punishable by more than a year in prison, and who, as a result, have had their voting rights taken away from them.

How to Make Union Meetings Interesting and Useful

Source: Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle, Labor Notes, November 4, 2016

Membership meetings are not simply places for members to get information and cast votes, which could also be accomplished through newsletters and mail referendums.

Meetings should give members a sense of power by bringing them together. They can see and feel that they are not alone, that others have similar problems, and that others have found solutions. Meetings should give members the opportunity to observe leaders and potential leaders in action. They can learn from each other, combine ideas, and build something bigger.

If this doesn’t sound like a union meeting you’ve ever been to, it’s because most locals are unwittingly stuck in traditions that almost guarantee that a first-time attendee will not come back, and only the most faithful will persevere.

Although many officers fret about low attendance levels, it is not necessary for democracy that all or most members attend membership meetings. Except at contract time and for other special events, most locals will see only a relatively small, dedicated minority at monthly meetings. Meetings, especially on a regular basis, are not for everyone.

Are you a local officer who wants to lead productive, engaging meetings? See the section on “Leading a Membership Meeting” for tips on how to prioritize agenda items and how to be a good chair, including exercises to help you think through common problems that may arise.

Are you a rank and filer facing an undemocratic administration? See “Being Effective at Union Meetings” for advice on how to use monthly meetings, including choosing your goals, organizing your support ahead of time, and navigating parliamentary rules.

But union meetings can be the chief organizing vehicle for that portion of the membership that takes union work most seriously—the activists. Coming to the monthly meeting is often one of the first things that a member tries when he’s seeking to be more involved. It’s important not to turn them off!
That means that the success of a meeting is not measured simply by the number attending, but by how that meeting contributes to the control, involvement, activism, and self-confidence of all the members, both those present and those not. What “comes out of” the meeting—the plans made, assignments taken, feedback received—are more important than the meeting itself…..

Preliminary Evidence on Film Production and State Incentives

Source: Charles W. Swenson, Economic Development Quarterly, OnlineFirst, Published online before print November 3, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines whether state movie production incentives are effective in attracting and/or retaining movie production. The issue is of significant policy interest because of the large amounts spent by states for such subsidies. This study finds that while movie production incentives were effective in increasing the number of film production employment and establishments for a few states such as New York and California from 1998 to 2011, there was no discernable increase across all states. Much of this noneffect appears because of a “crowding out” effect due to the sheer number of states with incentives.

Union Membership and Charitable Giving in the United States

Source: Jonathan E. Booth, Daniela Lup, Mark Williams, ILR Review, OnlineFirst, Published online before print November 3, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using U.S. panel data from 2001–2011, the authors examine general differences in charitable giving between union members, free-riders, and the nonunionized. Results indicate that union members are more likely to give and to give more to charity relative to the nonunionized, whereas free-riders are the least generous. Similar effects are found when examining the question of who joins a union or who becomes a free-rider: joining a union positively affects charitable giving, while becoming a free-rider makes individuals’ behavior less charitable. Evidence also suggests that the positive effect of union membership on giving does not diminish over time. Taken together, these results provide new evidence that union membership generates civic engagement in the form of charitable behavior; results also suggest the need to further investigate the civic behavior of free-riders.