Home Work

Source: Mary Branham Dusenberry, State News, Vol. 50 no. 3, March 2007

States [are] open to employees telecommuting, but there are obstacles.

Technology now allows many people to work from anywhere, not just the typical office setting. Many state governments offering this benefit to their employees have found telecommuting provides benefits beyond the original reasons, often traffic and air quality. But growing the program in many states has run into problems.

A Health Link Hits Home

Source: Healther Kleba, Governing, Vol. 20 no. 6, March 2007

A handful of large and small telehealth programs are finding that remote monitoring can curb the costs of long-term care.

Although there are obstacles to widespread use–mostly in terms of upfront costs and patients’ acceptance–the technology is in place and the benefits are becoming clear. While the Alabama program is one of only a handful of experimental state and local efforts, there is already an impressive track record on remote monitoring. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been practicing telehealth for nearly five years, and the results suggest that the program could lower the cost of treating long-term and chronic-care patients. VA officials report that home-care monitoring has been cutting by about one-third the patient-care costs of those who are remotely monitored.

Felon Fallout

Source: Alan Greenblatt, Governing, Vol. 20 no. 6, March 2007

Overcrowding and soaring corrections costs are pushing prison reform to the top of states’ policy agendas.

A couple of years ago, the state of California did something surprising. It changed the name of its Department of Corrections, tacking on the words “and Rehabilitation” to the agency’s title. It was a small step — the modification wasn’t accompanied by any sudden surge in funding for rehabilitation programs. But it was symbolically important nonetheless. Thirty years ago, the state officially recast the department’s mission from rehabilitation to incarceration and punishment. Since then, the idea of rehabilitating prisoners has been a much lower priority than locking up more of them. Now, with the state’s prisons bursting at the bars, that may be about to change.

The Politics of Electricity Restructuring across the American States: Power Failure and Policy Failure

Source: Phillip J. Ardoin and Dennis Grady, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 38 no. 3, 2006

Utility deregulation has been the focus of research examining the role of policy diffusion in state policy innovation. In this study, a model of policy innovation is employed to determine the factors that influence the probability of a state restructuring its electric utility policies. Examined are the effects of industrial: residential price ratio disparities, the relative cost of energy in each state, the selection process of public utility commissions, legislative professionalism, the partisanship of state legislatures, interest group influences, and regional diffusion on the likelihood of a state adopting energy deregulation policies. The findings indicate that economic factors determine the policy choices of state legislatures. The policy diffusion model generally is sustained even though, in retrospect, the policy of deregulation of the electric industry generally has been considered to be a failure.

Commentary: Supervisors Of The World Unite! The NLRB Tells Nurses And Professional Workers Which Side They Are On

Source: Harris Freeman, WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 1, March 2007
(subscription required)

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has finally issued the long-awaited Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. decision, holding that registered nurses who nominally coordinate and guide the work of other nurses or health care workers are supervisory personnel who fall outside the coverage of the National Labor Relations Act. Oakwood Healthcare is a seminal NLRB decision, articulating a remarkably expansive rule for determining whether or not an employee is a supervisor. By radically redefining who is a worker and who is a boss, Oakwood Healthcare has the potential to do what no other single case in the history of the NLRB has ever done—deprive more than eight million professionals and skilled workers of their right to join a labor union. If Oakwood Healthcare is not reversed by the federal courts or undermined by statutory labor law reform, as many as eight million professional employees and skilled workers will join the 32 million members of the U.S. workforce—one out of four workers—who, according to the General Accounting Office, do not have the legal right to join unions. As dissenting Board member Wilma Liebman ominously noted, Oakwood Healthcare creates a class of workers existing in a legal limbo “hav[ing] neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees.”

North Carolina AFL-CIO: How a Small State Federation Builds Political and Legislative Power Without Money or Numbers

Source: Monica Bieski Boris and Randall G. Wright, WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 1, March 2007
(subscription required)

It would not be surprising if in a state like North Carolina, whose union density is less than 3 percent and whose labor budgets are small and tight, the state federation concentrated on a traditional labor agenda of only servicing the remaining union members in an effort to merely survive. All of the main ingredients of building effective labor power—deepening relationships with community partners, developing a progressive agenda, electing and holding accountable political champions, leadership development, and support for organizing—require significant resources. Yet, because the resource base is small, the state federation has become the natural base from which to grow such strategies. By pooling resources to hire talented staff and by fostering deep relationships among community players with key resources, the North Carolina AFL–CIO is able to have an impact far greater than its paper strength. Although there is a paucity of literature on central labor councils, recent research points to the model as an important element of building a strong labor movement (Ness and Elmer 2001; Ruffini 2002; Richter 2003; Rogers and Streeck 1995).

Atlanta: Local Initiative Combines With National Support

Source: Tom Karson, WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 1, March 2007
(subscription required)

For over a decade the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council has had a reputation as an activist council engaged in innovative coalition building. Looking to build on this work and learning from the power-building experiences in California and elsewhere, the Council founded the nonprofit Georgia Stand-Up in 2005. The new organization immediately leaped into coalition work around Atlanta’s massive new economic development initiative—the BeltLine Project. This article looks at how local leadership was able to combine seeds laid by prior work with national support to produce a dynamic example of the new second generation of regional power building.

Commentary: Reflections On New Alliance Across The Country

Source: Bruce Colburn, Scott Reynolds, David Reynolds, WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 1, March 2007
(subscription required)

New York was the first state to embark on the New Alliance process, originally approved by the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) Convention in 1999 and reaffirmed in 2005. Since New York acted, New Alliance processes have been initiated in nine other states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Ohio was the most recent state to act. In April 2006, some 600 delegates approved a reorganization plan that consolidated the state’s thirty-six central labor councils into twenty-two councils working under five area labor federations, each with full-time staff….

…New Alliance seeks to take state and regional labor structures built for a prior era and reorganize them to stimulate growth in the labor movement. It essentially asks labor leaders to consider what their state and local labor movements would look like ideally if they had the luxury of starting from scratch today. By struggling over this question and connecting the answers to where the labor movement now is, New Alliance hoped to produce a vision for state and local labor movements and a concrete program to build toward this direction.