Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs

Source: Christopher F. McLaren and Marjorie L. Baldwin, National Academy of Social Insurance, October 2017

From the abstract:
Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs is the twentieth in a series by the National Academy of Social Insurance to provide the only comprehensive national data on this largely state-run program. The study provides estimates of workers’ compensation payments—cash and medical—for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs providing workers’ compensation.
*Note: Due to the large size of the file, the report may take a few moments to download

Related:
View an infographic.
Read the national press release.
Read state-specific findings for California, Illinois, Oklahoma, Washington State, and West Virginia
Download a document detailing the sources and methods used to produce the state-level estimates in the report.

MapLight – Data

Source: Maplight.org, 2017

MapLight tracks several data sets that you can search for evidence of money’s influence on politics.

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
Top contributions from major donors to congressional politicians.

CONGRESSIONAL BILLS
Bills paired with contributions, positions taken by special interests, and vote results.

LEGISLATORS
Profiles of elected officials with campaign finance statistics.

LOBBYING
See how much money companies and interest groups spend trying to influence lawmakers.

BULK DATA SETS + APIS
Use MapLight’s data for your own research or software project.

Agency Fees and the First Amendment

Source: Benjamin I. Sachs, Harvard Law Review, Forthcoming, Date Written: September 22, 2017

From the abstract:
Agency fees are mandatory payments that certain employees are required to make to labor unions. In recent years, the Supreme Court has moved closer to declaring these fees an unconstitutional form of compelled speech and association and may soon invalidate them entirely. The Court – and the scholarship on agency fees – proceeds from the assumption that such fees are employees’ money that employees’ pay to a union. This article argues, however, that this is the wrong way to understand agency fees and for two sets of reasons. One, the Court treats agency fees as employees’ money because fees pass through employee paychecks on the way from employers to unions. But this is simply an accounting formalism required by labor law. Because employees have no choice but to pay the fees, the fact that the fees pass through paychecks is irrelevant for purposes of First Amendment analysis. Instead, under the First Amendment, agency fees are – and must be treated as – payments made directly by employers to unions. And payments made by employers to unions raise no compelled speech or association problems for employees. Two, irrespective of the accounting regime, the article shows why agency fees ought to be treated as union property rather than as the property of individual employees. Unionization, by allowing employees to negotiate collectively, produces a premium for employees covered by union contracts. Agency fees are a small fraction of this union premium. Because it is the union that produces the premium out of which agency fees are paid, and because individual employees would never earn the premium as individuals, the premium and the fees that come out of it should be treated – under the Court’s own cases – as the property of the union that secured them. The article thus provides two sets of arguments with the same fundamental implication: agency fees are not properly understood as payments made by employees to unions, and there is accordingly no compelled speech or association problem with agency fees.

Related:
Janus, Agency Fees and the First Amendment
Source: Benjamin Sachs, On Labor blog, October 5, 2017

The growing use of mandatory arbitration: Access to the courts is now barred for more than 60 million

Source: Alexander J.S. Colvin, Economic Policy Institute, September 27, 2017

From the press release:
A new EPI paper by Cornell professor Alexander J.S. Colvin shows that more than half of private sector nonunion workers—or 60 million people—are subject to mandatory arbitration in employment contracts, which takes away their access to the court system that protects their legal employment rights. Mandatory arbitration agreements are used by employers to require employees, as a condition of employment, to agree to arbitrate legal disputes rather than being able to go to court. These agreements bar access to the courts for all types of legal claims, including those based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. In other words, when a worker is paid less than she is owed, is fired for being pregnant, or is underpaid because of her race, she cannot have her claim heard in a court of law—instead, she is locked into a process that favors the employer. This new data collected by Colvin in 2017, show that the number of companies requiring mandatory arbitration has increased from around 2 percent of workers in 1992 to more than half of workers in 2017…..

Related:
Summary

The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments

Source: Joshua Kalla, David E. Broockman, American Political Science Review – Forthcoming, September 25, 2017

From the abstract:
Significant theories of democratic accountability hinge on how political campaigns affect Americans’ candidate choices. We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero. First, a systematic meta-analysis of 40 field experiments estimates an average effect of zero in general elections. Second, we present nine original field experiments that increase the statistical evidence in the literature about the persuasive effects of personal contact 10-fold. These experiments’ average effect is also zero. In both existing and our original experiments, persuasive effects only appear to emerge in two rare circumstances. First, when candidates take unusually unpopular positions and campaigns invest unusually heavily in identifying persuadable voters. Second, when campaigns contact voters long before election day and measure effects immediately — although this early persuasion decays. These findings contribute to ongoing debates about how political elites influence citizens’ judgments.

Related:
Most Campaign Outreach Has Zero Effect on Voters
Source: Emma Green, The Atlantic, September 30, 2017

A new paper finds that direct mail, door-to-door canvassing, and television ads almost never change people’s minds. What does this mean for American democracy?

A massive new study reviews the evidence on whether campaigning works. The answer’s bleak.
Source: Dylan Matthews, Vox, September 28, 2017

In general elections, campaigns’ attempts to win swing voters appear to not work at all.

Millionaires or Job Creators: What Really Happens to Employment Growth When You Stick It to the Rich?

Source: Ahiteme N. Houndonougbo, Matthew N. Murray, Public Finance Review, Online First, Published September 27, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We provide empirical evidence on the consequences of relatively higher tax burdens on the rich for aggregate employment growth using a newly constructed time series for 1947 through 2011 derived from the US Statistics of Income. In response to shifts in the relative federal tax burden toward the rich, we find statistically significant positive effects on employment growth in the short run and some evidence of negative effects on employment growth in the long run. Among our robustness checks, we use the Romer and Romer narrative record analysis to restrict our sample to a period of exclusively exogenous tax changes. The results hold in the restricted sample and are also consistent across alternative specifications and estimation methods, including unrestricted and Bayesian vector autoregressive.

Are Zero Tolerance Drug Testing Policies About to Go Up in Smoke?

Source: Nathaniel M. Glasser, Employee Benefit Plan Review, Vol. 72 no. 2, October 2017
(subscription required)

In an important recent decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held that a qualifying patient who has been terminated from employment for testing positive for marijuana as a result of her lawful medical marijuana use may state a claim of disability discrimination under that state’s anti-discrimination statute. Much like a similar decision in Rhode Island, this holding has significant implications for employers that drug test for marijuana use because 29 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted legislation legalizing medical or recreational marijuana use, or both.

Bring the Union Meeting to the Members

Source: Joe Fahey, Labor Notes, September 28, 2017

How many members attend your union meetings? And how do you feel about that?

Whether it’s just a handful or a hundred, no activist is ever satisfied.

But you can drop a whole load of frustration if you stop expecting a majority of members to travel to the union hall for a two-hour monthly meeting. Thinking about members and meetings in a different way can allow you to bring shorter union meetings to more and more members—at the workplace…..