Development and application of a noise‐hazard scheme for road maintainers

Source: Jennifer M. Cavallari, Jennifer L. Garza, Jackie DiFrancesco, Alicia G. Dugan, Erica D. Walker, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: January 18, 2020

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From the abstract:

Background: Transportation road maintenance and repair workers, or “maintainers,” are exposed to hazardous and variable noise levels and often rely on hearing protection devices (HPD) to reduce noise‐exposure levels. We aimed to improve upon HPD use as part of the HearWell program that used a Total Worker Health, participatory approach to hearing conservation.
Methods: Full‐shift, personal noise sampling was performed during the routine task of brush cutting. Work activities and equipment were recorded and combined with 1‐min noise measures to summarize personal noise‐exposure levels by equipment. Using noise‐monitoring results, HPD noise reduction ratings, and input from worker‐based design teams, a noise‐hazard scheme was developed and applied to the task and equipment used during brush cutting.
Results: Average (standard deviation) and maximum Leq 1‐minute, personal noise‐exposure levels recorded during brush cutting included chainsaws at 92.1 (7.6) and max of 111 dBA, leaf blowers at 91.2 (7.5) and max 107 dBA, and wood chipper at 90.3 (7.3) and max of 104 dBA. The worker‐designed noise‐hazard scheme breaks down noise exposures into one of three color bands and exposure ranges: red (over 105 dBA), orange (90‐105 dBA), or yellow (85‐90 dBA). The scheme simplifies the identification of noise levels, assessment of noise‐hazard, and choice of appropriate hearing protection for workers.
Conclusion: Combining noise‐exposure assessment with intervention development using participatory methods, we characterized noise exposure and developed an intervention to educate and assist in protecting workers as they perform noisy tasks.

Workforce Capacity in Municipal Government

Source: Agustin Leon‐Moreta, Vittoria R. Totaro, Public Administration Review, Early View, First published: February 19, 2020

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From the abstract:

The central aim of this article is to examine trends in the municipal government workforce in metropolitan (urban) areas. It explores, from a local public economies perspective, how the intergovernmental organization of municipalities influences their workforce capacities. The article situates the local labor market in state‐local systems and examines how local governments respond to fragmentation in a metropolitan area. The main finding is that the employment capacity of municipalities varies widely across metro areas, with local and intergovernmental factors affecting municipal workforces and labor expenditures. Local capacities and the state’s labor framework appear to be influential in the level of government employment. Facing various challenges, municipalities adapt their workforce levels to changing conditions in urban areas. While its main contribution is to research on local government capacity, the article also draws from the intergovernmental literature to identify factors that influence the workforce capacity of municipal governments.

Prevalence of type II workplace violence among home healthcare workers: A meta‐analysis

Source: Ha Do Byon, Mijung Lee, Min Choi, Knar Sagherian, Mary Crandall, Jane Lipscomb, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: February 12, 2020

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From the abstract:

Background: Home healthcare workers (HHWs) provide medical and nonmedical services to home‐bound patients. They are at great risk of experiencing violence perpetrated by patients (type II violence). Establishing the reliable prevalence of such violence and identifying vulnerable subgroups are essential in enhancing HHWs’ safety. We, therefore, conducted meta‐analyses to synthesize the evidence for prevalence and identify vulnerable subgroups.


Methods: Five electronic databases were searched for journal articles published between 1 January 2005 and 20 March 2019. A total of 21 studies were identified for this study. Meta‐analyses of prevalence were conducted to obtain pooled estimates. Meta‐regression was performed to compare the prevalence between professionals and paraprofessionals.

Results: Prevalence estimates for HHWs were 0.223 for 12 months and 0.302 for over the career for combined violence types, 0.102 and 0.171, respectively, for physical violence, and 0.364 and 0.418, respectively, for nonphysical violence. The prevalence of nonphysical violence was higher than that of physical violence for professionals in 12 months (0.515 vs 0.135) and over the career (0.498 vs 0.224) and for paraprofessionals in 12 months (0.248 vs 0.086) and over the career (0.349 vs 0.113). Professionals reported significantly higher nonphysical violence for 12‐month prevalence than paraprofessionals did (0.515 vs 0.248, P = .015).


Conclusion: A considerable percentage of HHWs experience type II violence with higher prevalence among professionals. Further studies need to explore factors that can explain the differences in the prevalence between professionals and paraprofessionals. The findings provide support for the need for greater recognition of the violence hazard in the home healthcare workplace.

Hiring Challenges Confront Public-Sector Employers

Source: Mike Ramsey, SHRM, All Things Work, February 15, 2020

Only a few years ago, applying for a job with the Pennsylvania state government could be a daunting process. Posted jobs had vague, bureaucratic titles like “Administrative Officer 1.” Applicants had to take written exams at a testing center. Some waited months for a civil service commission to respond by mail before they could interview. Many had moved on by then. …. Things changed in early 2019, after state lawmakers agreed to streamline the 1940s-era system. Now, Walsh’s agency oversees a centralized website, where job seekers apply for positions that are more clearly defined. Testing and scoring is folded into the online application process, which administrators track closely. ….

U.S. Public Finance 2020 Outlook: A Precarious Balance

Source: Robin Prunty, Kurt Forsgren, David Bodek, Jane Ridley, Geoff Buswick, Jessica Wood, Ted Chapman Marian Zucker, Suzie Desai, S&P Global Ratings, January 2020

From the summary:
All sector outlooks are stable with the exception of Higher Education which continues with a negative outlook for the third year. The record economic expansion has translated to overall credit stability in U.S. Public Finance and we expect this to continue in 2020. Despite favorable economic and fiscal trends we do see a precarious balance for 2020 as key credit risks such as retirement liabilities, event risk disruptions, global aging, and pressing infrastructure needs present budget and policy challenges in 2020 and beyond. We will continue to highlight Environmental, Social and Governance issues, which could lead to both positive and negative credit influences.

Explaining the Persistence of Gender Inequality: The Work–family Narrative as a Social Defense against the 24/7 Work Culture

Source: Irene Padavic, Robin J. Ely, Erin M. Reid, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 65 no. 1, March 2020
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From the abstract:
It is widely accepted that the conflict between women’s family obligations and professional jobs’ long hours lies at the heart of their stalled advancement. Yet research suggests that this “work–family narrative” is incomplete: men also experience it and nevertheless advance; moreover, organizations’ effort to mitigate it through flexible work policies has not improved women’s advancement prospects and often hurts them. Hence this presumed remedy has the perverse effect of perpetuating the problem. Drawing on a case study of a professional service firm, we develop a multilevel theory to explain why organizations are caught in this conundrum. We present data suggesting that the work–family explanation has become a “hegemonic narrative”—a pervasive, status-quo-preserving story that prevails despite countervailing evidence. We then advance systems-psychodynamic theory to show how organizations use this narrative and attendant policies and practices as an unconscious “social defense” to help employees fend off anxieties raised by a 24/7 work culture and to protect organizationally powerful groups—in our case, men and the firm’s leaders—and in so doing, sustain workplace inequality. Due to the social defense, two orthodoxies remain unchallenged—the necessity of long work hours and the inescapability of women’s stalled advancement. The result is that women’s thin representation at senior levels remains in place. We conclude by highlighting contributions to work–family, workplace inequality, and systems-psychodynamic theory.

The future is female: How the growing political power of women will remake American politics

Source: Michael Hais and Morley Winograd, Brookings Institution, Fixgov blog, February 19, 2020

The most profound change in American politics today and in the years to come will result from a massive movement of women into the Democratic Party….. As far back as the Reagan presidency, there has been a gender gap in American partisanship with women tilting toward the Democratic Party and men toward the GOP. But the overwhelming change in political party demographics since Trump’s victory in 2016 is the culmination of a long-term movement in party identification and voting behavior among women. With the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, what had been a modest gap of variable proportions has turned into a chasm so wide no Republican presidential candidate will be able to cross it for years to come….

The Impact of Janus on Public Employee Unions So Far

Source: Irma Rodríguez Moisa, Nate J. Kowalski, Jay G. Trinnaman, and Eric T. Riss, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 3, Winter 2019
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The authors examine the primary effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus , particularly for California employers under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act.

Development on a Cracked Foundation: How the Incomplete Nature of New Deal Labor Reform Presaged its Ultimate Decline

Source: Leo E. Strine Jr., Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 19-48, November 22, 2019

From the abstract:
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Margaret Levi, and Barry R. Weingast’s excellent essay, Twentieth Century America as a Developing Country, Conflict, Institutional Change and the Evolution of Public Law, celebrates the period during which the National Labor Relations Act facilitated the peaceful resolution of labor disputes and improved the working conditions of American workers. These distinguished authors make a strong case for the essentiality of law in regulating labor relations and the importance of national culture in providing a solid context for the emergence of legal regimes facilitating economic growth and equality. This reply to their essay explores how the New Deal’s failure to eradicate ideological divisions, racial inequities, and anti-labor power structures rooted in our nation’s history compromised the ultimate success of the NLRA, the protection of labor in the international trading regime, the effectiveness and prevalence of American labor unions, and the overall leverage of American workers.

The reply then addresses two related realities: 1) the New Deal idea that all workers deserve economic security, safe working conditions, and a fair say over the terms and conditions of their employment remains sound; and 2) but that idea cannot be realized unless it is backed by legal force in the institutions of law that govern a now global economy. Put simply, the original vision of FDR calling for a global New Deal must be implemented if American workers and their international brethren are to receive fair treatment.

Labor Antitrust’s Paradox

Source: Hiba Hafiz, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 521, Last revised: 19 January 19, 2020

From the abstract:
Growing inequality, the decline in labor’s share of national income, and increasing evidence of labor market concentration and employer buyer power are all subjects of national attention, eliciting wide-ranging proposals for legal reform. Many proposals hinge on labor market fixes and empowering workers within and beyond existing work law or through tax-and-transfer schemes. But a recent surge of interest focuses on applying antitrust law in labor markets, or “labor antitrust.” These proposals call for more aggressive enforcement by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as stronger legal remedies for employer collusion and unlawful monopsony that suppresses workers’ wages.

The turn to labor antitrust is driven in part by congressional gridlock and the collapse of labor law as a dominant source of labor market regulation, inviting regulation through other means. Labor antitrust promises an effective attack because agency discretion and judicial enforcement can police labor markets without substantial amendments to existing law, bypassing the current impasse in Congress. Further, unlike labor and employment law, labor antitrust is uniquely positioned to challenge industry-wide wage suppression; suing multiple employers is increasingly challenging in work law as a statutory, doctrinal, and procedural matter.

But current labor antitrust proposals, while fruitful, are fundamentally limited in two ways. First, echoing a broader antitrust policy crisis, they inherit and reinvigorate debates about the current consumer welfare goal of antitrust. The proposals ignore that, as a theoretical and practical matter, employers’ anticompetitive conduct in labor markets does not necessarily harm consumers. As a result, workers’ labor antitrust challenges will face an uphill battle under current law: where consumers are not harmed, labor antitrust can neither effectively police employer buyer power nor fill gaps in labor market regulation left by a retreating labor law. Second, the proposals ignore real synergies between antitrust enforcement and labor regulation that could preempt the rise of employer buyer power and contain its exercise.

This Essay analyzes the limitations of current labor antitrust proposals and argues for regulatory sharing between antitrust and labor law to combat the adverse effects of employer buyer power. It makes three key contributions. First, it frames the new labor antitrust as disrupting a grand regulatory bargain, reinforced by the Chicago School, that segregated labor and antitrust regulation to resolve a perceived paradox in serving two masters: workers and consumers. The dominance of the consumer welfare standard resolved that paradox. Second, it explains how scholarly attempts to invigorate labor antitrust fail to overcome this paradox and ignore theoretical and doctrinal roadblocks to maximizing both worker and consumer welfare, leaving worker plaintiffs vulnerable to failure. Third, it proposes a novel restructuring of labor market regulation that integrates antitrust and labor law enforcement to achieve coherent and effective regulation of employer buyer power. It refocuses labor antitrust claims on consumer welfare ends and relegates worker welfare considerations to a labor law supplemented and fortified by the creation of substantive presumptions and defenses triggered by labor antitrust findings as well as labor agency involvement in merger review.