Violation Tracker – April 2017 update

Source: Good Jobs First, April 18, 2017

From the press release:
Good Jobs First today announced a large new addition to Violation Tracker, the country’s first public database of corporate crime and misconduct: more than 34,000 cases brought by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor since the beginning of 2010 for violations of overtime, minimum wage and other provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The largest violators captured by the new data are oilfield services company Halliburton, which in 2015 agreed to an $18 million settlement of alleged overtime violations, and CoreCivic (the new name of private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America), which in 2014 agreed to an $8 million settlement….

The Drivers of Public Sector Pension Reform Across the U.S. States

Source: Michael Thom, The American Review of Public Administration, Volume 47, Issue 4, May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study analyzes the diffusion of public sector pension reforms across the American states between 1999 and 2012, a policy area notable for its fiscal implications as much as its recent political polarization. Previous enactment in other, non-contiguous states was the largest and most consistent driver of reform. Otherwise, empirical findings suggest that reform antecedents varied by reform type. Existing funding levels reduced the likelihood that states would cut benefits, change pension governance, or reduce cost of living allowances, but had no effect otherwise. Evidence for partisan legislative influence is weak, although Republican control had partial, positive effects on the enactment of pension governance reforms and increases to the retirement age. Across the board, other relevant factors such as constitutional pension protections, collective bargaining rights, and union membership density had no effect. That external contagion pressures have a more robust influence than endogenous conditions raises questions about the future efficacy of pension reform.

Health Care Workers Bring Sanctuary Movement into the Union

Source: Porfirio Quintano, Labor Notes, April 13, 2017

I had no money and spoke no English when I illegally crossed the border into California 23 years ago, but I worked hard and fought for the right to stay here.

Had I made that harrowing journey this year, I’m sure I’d be deported right back into the crosshairs of the Honduran government’s death squads that had targeted me and many other community organizers.

Instead I quickly won a grant of political asylum—and later received full American citizenship.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones. At the San Francisco hospital where I work, nine out of 10 members of my union are foreign-born. We never ask anyone about their immigration status, but I know several green card holders who are getting ready to apply for citizenship now that their place in America seems less secure.

People might think the Bay Area is one big protective cocoon for immigrants, but that’s not the case. The suburb where I live is not a sanctuary city. And my elected county sheriff contracts with the Department of Homeland Security to house people awaiting deportation hearings.

Who can my co-workers count on if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents come looking for them or their family members? Our union, thankfully…..

The Impact of Work/Family Conflict and Workplace Social Support on Mental Distress in Home Health Workers

Source: Ahyoung Lee, Yuri Jang, Home Health Care Management & Practice, OnlineFirst, First Published April 11, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The study explored the role of work/family conflict and workplace social support in predicting home health workers’ mental distress using a sample of home health workers in Central Texas (n = 150). The result of multivariate analysis showed that work/family conflict increased mental distress, while client support and organizational support decreased mental distress. In addition to the direct effects, client support was found to buffer the negative impact of work/family conflict. Findings call attention to the ways to reduce work/family conflict and increase workplace social support in efforts to promote home health workers’ mental well-being.

The negative impact of prison work on sleep health

Source: Lois James, Natalie Todak, Suzanne Best, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 60 no. 5, May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives
To examine the prevalence of sleep disorders, deprivation, and quality in a sample of prison employees, and investigate the relationship between exposure to work-related critical incidents and sleep.

Methods
We surveyed 355 Washington State Department of Corrections employees. The survey included the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and the Critical Incident History Questionnaire.

Results
We found 28% and 45% of the sample reported suffering from Apnea and insomnia, respectively. Over half of the sample reporting sleeping less than 2 h between shifts and being constantly fatigued. We found significant associations between exposure to critical incidents and sleep problems.

Conclusions
Prison workers are in desperate need of help to improve their sleep. Our findings suggest the importance of continued investigation of prison worker sleep health using objective measures, toward the development of programs for improving sleep and resilience to critical incidents and stress.

Can universal basic income counter the ill-effects of the gig economy?

Source: Vili Lehdonvirta, The Conversation, April 12, 2017
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Platforms like eBay, Uber, Airbnb, and Freelancer are thriving, growing the digital economy and disrupting existing business. The question is how to ensure that the transformations they entail have a positive impact on society. Here, universal basic income may have a role to play.

Few social policy ideas are as hot today as universal basic income. Social scientists, technologists, and politicians from both ends of the political spectrum see it as a potential solution to the unemployment that automation and artificial intelligence are expected to create.

It has also been floated as a potential solution to the rise of the gig economy, where work is centred around on-demand tasks and short-term projects as opposed to regular full-time employment. This is the kind of employment that platforms like Uber and Freelancer are based on…..

When State and Federal Laws Clash: The Possible Showdown Over Marijuana Laws

Source: Heather Trela, Rockefeller Institute of Government blog, April 2017

The 2016 election was memorable for many reasons, but lost in the shadow of the presidential outcome was the big night marijuana legislation had in the states. Three states (Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota) passed initiatives legalizing medicinal marijuana, marking the first time that more than half of the states have permitted the use of medicinal marijuana. Voters in Montana rolled back some restrictions on their existing medical marijuana law. Meanwhile, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all passed legislation to allow for recreational marijuana use. The only loss for marijuana at the voting booth in 2016 was in Arizona, where voters rejected Proposition 205, which would have legalized recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older (medicinal marijuana laws passed in Arizona in 2010). In the aftermath of the election, the entire West Coast now permits some type of marijuana use and recreational use gained a foothold in the Northeast. One in five people in the United States now live in a state where marijuana is legal.

While this could be seen as a victory for proponents of such measures, it may be setting states up for a showdown with the federal government….

We Need To Restore the Frayed Alliance Between Unions and Progressives

Source: Cynthia Phinney, Peter Kellman and Julius Getman, In These Times, March 30, 2017

Progressives are finally energized. Millions of young people became politically active through the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders and several million more joined the women-led solidarity marches of the inaugural weekend. Many of the recently activated are seeking to channel their enthusiasm into effective political resistance. These are heartening developments. But it is far too early to declare victory over those who seek to make America great by returning it to a less tolerant, less progressive past.

A dismayingly large share of the white working class, including union members that once supported liberal candidates and causes, remains supportive of President Donald Trump and his agenda. Only when liberals recognize the importance of labor, and when a progressive labor movement returns to its historic roots, will the battle against right-wing demagogues and zealots be won.

What we are calling for is an active alliance between progressives and organized labor. For progressives and intellectuals, organized labor has much to offer: a rich history, seasoned leaders and, most significantly, an immediate connection to workers. For organized labor, the potential of such an alliance is equally significant. It can renew the commitment to social and political change, reminding workers and their leaders that unions are far more than just vehicles for economic gain. ….