The AFL-CIO Split: Does It Really Matter?

Source: Gary Chaison, Journal of Labor Research, Volume 28, Number 2, Spring 2007

In 2005, the AFL-CIO split and the Change to Win Coalition (CtW) was founded because of the personal ambition of dissident union leaders and their frustration with the severe and continuing decline in union membership. The CtW was build on a shared faith that only a fresh start could lead the unions out of their crisis. But a convincing case has not been made that the seceding unions would be more successful outside of AFL-CIO. When it is seen against the backdrop of the crisis in the labor movement and the enormity of the task of union organizing and revival, the AFL-CIO split does not really matter.

Civil Service Reform, At-Will Employment, and George Santayana: Are We Condemned to Repeat the Past?

Source: Russell L. Williams, Ph.D. and James S. Bowman, Ph.D., Public Personnel Management, Volume 36, No. 1, Spring 2007
(subscription required)

The competing values found in private and public sector models of personnel management animate today’s civil service reform debate. Unfortunately, the antagonists frequently produce as much heat as light as their positions become entrenched and genuine dialogue suffers. In such situations, insights from another time and place can provide a perspective on issues and events. A case in point is philosopher and poet George Santayana who observed in 1905 that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Drawing upon his work, this critique of civil service reform first briefly reviews the origins of the merit system and the objectives of contemporary changes. Then, a case study in the trendsetting “megastate” of Florida is analyzed. The conclusion speculates on the future of radical reform.

The Supreme Court Rulings in Grutter v.Bollinger and Gratz v.Bollinger: The Brave New World of Affirmative Action in the 21st Century

Source: Robert K. Robinson, Ph.D., SPHR, Geralyn McClure Franklin, Ph.D., and Karen Epermanis, Ph.D., Public Personnel Management, Volume 36, No. 1, Spring 2007
(subscription required)

On June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a five to four decision, substantially altered the nature of state imposed affirmative action permissible under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when it held that diversity could serve as a compelling government interest, thus justifying public sector preferential programs. Though this ruling pertained specifically to race-based preferential university admissions, it is likely to have wide ranging implications for all public sector affirmative action programs. One implication may include making it easier to justify state initiated affirmative action by diminishing the requirement to demonstrate the remedial motive behind such action. This article discusses the impact that the Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger decisions are likely to have on preferential admissions policies in public higher education.

The Minimum Wage is a Middle-Class Issue

Source: Oren Levin-Waldman and Charles Whalen, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, Volume 50, Number 3, May-June 2007
(subscription required)

If raising the minimum wage affected only 2.5 percent of the labor market, as many argue it does, than it would not be such an explosive political issue. In truth, it affects wages well up the income ladder. The authors show why. They argue that a higher minimum wage is an essential part of any American wage policy.

Mind If I Peek At Your Paycheck?

Source: Brian Hindo, Business Week, no. 4039, June 18, 2007

It still isn’t easy to find out how you stack up against your colleagues.

You probably know what the guy who sits next to you at work has for lunch every day, how often he calls his wife, how much money he bet on the Astros last weekend, maybe even how much his house is worth. But how much he makes for a living? That’s off limits. After all, there is possibly no matter more shrouded in secrecy, nor a riper topic for office gossip, than what everyone gets paid.

The Work, Family, and Equity Index – How Does the United States Measure Up?

Source: Jody Heymann, Alison Earle, and Jeffrey Hayes, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Project on Global Working Families, 2006

When it comes to ensuring decent working conditions for families, the latest research shows many U.S. public policies still lag dramatically behind all high-income countries, as well as many middle- and low-income countries. This report is based on updated and expanded research used in the first Work, Family, and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally?, released in 2004.

EEOC Issues New Guidance On Work/Family Balance And Promotes Employer Best Practices

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, May 23, 2007

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today held a public meeting focusing on employer best practices to achieve work/family balance, and issued a guidance document on how agency-enforced laws apply to workers with caregiving responsibilities.

The new guidance is being issued by the EEOC as a proactive measure to address an emerging discrimination issue in the 21st century workplace. The document, Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities, provides examples under which discrimination against a working parent or other caregiver may constitute unlawful disparate treatment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The guidance notes that changing workplace demographics, including women’s increased participation in the labor force, have created the potential for greater discrimination against
working parents and others with caregiving responsibilities, such as eldercare ­ all of which may vary by gender, race or ethnicity.

Also from the summary:

The guidance, available online along with a question and answer fact sheet, states: “This document is not intended to create a new protected category but rather to illustrate circumstances in which stereotyping or other forms of disparate treatment may violate Title VII or the prohibition under the ADA against discrimination based on a worker’s association with an individual with a disability.”

Another Look at the Effect of State Mandates for Health Insurance Benefits

Source: Andrew Ma and Professor Scott Harrington, Wharton Scholars Research Journal, 2007

The research question we address is whether state laws that require health insurance policies to provide coverage for specified benefits have affected the size of the population without any private sector health insurance coverage. The laws are often alleged to increase the cost of insurance premiums and thus reduce incentives for smaller employers to offer and for individuals to purchase health insurance. Using data from the United States Census Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1996 to 2002, we measure the effects of 2 sets of high cost benefit mandates on the probability for workers to have health insurance through their employer. We use both individual and state level analyses. Generally we find weak and statistically insignificant effects associated with benefit mandates, though we see evidence that this relationship grows stronger over time.

Medical Surveillance for Health Care Workers Exposed to Hazardous Drugs Recommended in New NIOSH Report

Source: National Institute For Occupational Safety And Health, NIOSH Publication No. 2007-117, April 2007

A new report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers institute medical surveillance programs for health-care workers who are occupationally exposed to hazardous drugs, and suggests practical strategies and components for such programs.

The document, Workplace Solutions: Medical Surveillance for Health Care Workers Exposed to Hazardous Drugs, supplements previous NIOSH resources that highlighted potential health risks for health-care employees who are exposed to hazardous drugs.

The U.S. health care industry is one of the fastest growing sectors, with over 16.6 million workers in 2005. It is estimated that 5.5 million of these health care workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs or drug waste, including pharmacists, nurses, physicians, maintenance workers, operating room personnel, and others who may come into contact with these drugs while performing their job.

Hazardous drugs are those that have been determined through research studies to have a potential for causing harm to healthy individuals, including potential risks of cancer, skin rashes, birth defects, and reproductive toxicity. These same drugs also play a critical role in treatment of patients with serious illnesses like cancer and HIV infection. Although the potential therapeutic benefits of hazardous drugs outweigh the risks of side effects for ill patients, exposed health care workers risk these same side effects with no therapeutic benefit.

Federal Lobbying by Pork-Seeking State, Local Governments Skyrockets At Least 148% Since 1998, Americans for Prosperity Foundation Study Shows

Source: Americans for Prosperity Foundation, May 22, 2007

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to consider landmark lobbying reform legislation this week, the free-market Americans for Prosperity Foundation released a new study showing an explosion in the amount of taxpayer money spent by local governments and public universities to lobby Congress – often to secure pork-barrel earmarks for local pet projects — since 1998.

Using data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and pulled from federal lobbying disclosure forms, the AFP Foundation study found a whopping 148 percent increase in overall federal lobbying spending by local governments, transportation authorities, public water utilities and state governments, including public universities, between 1998 and 2006.

Public universities led the way, increasing their spending on federal lobbying efforts by 213% (from $10.1 million in 1998 to $31.7 million in 2006,) followed closely by a 193% spending increase by local governments (from $20 million in 1998 to $59 million in 2006.) At the same time, the number and cost of pork-barrel earmarks, often awarded to public universities and local governments, skyrocketed at almost exactly the same pace, the study showed.

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