US Labor Studies in the Twenty-First Century: Understanding Laborism Without Labor

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 45, July 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In recent years, labor studies has flourished even as labor unions in the United States have continued their long-term downward trajectory. One strain of this research has situated the labor movement, and its decline, at the center of economic inequality’s rise in the United States. Another has explored the labor movement’s interconnections with political dynamics in the contemporary United States, including how labor’s demise has reshaped the polity and policies. This body of scholarship also offers insights into recent stirrings of labor resurgence, ranging from the teachers’ strikes of 2017 to the Fight for 15 minimum wage initiatives. Yet the field’s reliance on official union membership rates as the standard measure of union strength, and on official strike statistics as the standard measure of union activism, prevents it from fully understanding the scope and durability of worker activism in the post-Wagner age.

Stay or Exit: Why Do Nonprofits Maintain Collaborations With Government?

Source: Shuyang Peng, Yuguo Liao, Jiahuan Lu, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published August 13, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Although the public-management literature has demonstrated a growing interest in public–nonprofit collaborations, it pays little attention to the sustainability of collaborations. This study proposes that nonprofits’ intentions to maintain collaborations with government are influenced by both instrumental and relational factors. Using a national sample of human service nonprofits, this study demonstrates that both nonprofits’ continuance commitment and affective commitment play a role in shaping their intentions to maintain collaborative relationships with government. Specifically, continuance commitment is driven by the presence of a formal agreement and the dependence on government funding, and affective commitment is shaped by distributive and procedural justice. The findings have implications for public managers to effectively manage their collaborations with nonprofits.

“Felony assault should stick:” Assaulted EMS responders’ frustration and dissatisfaction with the legal system

Source: Jasmine Y. Wright, Andrea L. Davis, Sherry Brandt‐Rauf, Jennifer A. Taylor, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: August 16, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction:
The prevalence of violence to first responders is reported in ranges of approximately 40% to 90%. Pennsylvania has a felonious assault statute to address such violence, but the prosecutorial process has been noted to cause first‐responder dissatisfaction.

Methods:
An exploratory qualitative study using individual interviews with snowball sampling was conducted with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office to understand the prosecutorial process when a first responder is assaulted and injured in a line of duty. The Philadelphia Fire Department provided a list of first responders who sustained a work‐related injury from a patient or bystander assault so that particular cases could be discussed during the interviews.

Results:
Emergent themes fell into two categories: factors that lead to a charge (prosecutorial merit, intent, and victim investment), and the judge’s discretion in sentencing (“part of the job” mentality, concern for the defendant, and the justice system’s offender focus). Immediately actionable tertiary prevention recommendations for fire departments, labor unions, and district attorney’s offices were developed.

Conclusion:
Violence against fire‐based emergency medical service (EMS) responders is a persistent and preventable workplace hazard. While felonious assault statutes express society’s value that it is unacceptable to harm a first responder, this study found that such statutes failed to provide satisfaction to victims and that support when going through the court process is lacking. Assaulted EMS responders, their employers, and labor unions would benefit from the recommendations provided herein to help them extract a stronger sense of procedural justice from the legal process.

How Democrats can win back workers in 2020

Source: Thomas Kochan, The Conversation, August 16, 2019

Labor unions and the workers they represent were once the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

The 2016 presidential election revealed just how much that has changed. Hillary Clinton lost in key battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin in part because she took labor support for granted.

A survey my team of labor scholars at MIT conducted about five months after the election showed that most workers feel they lack a voice at their jobs. Many Americans apparently felt that Donald Trump did a much better job than Clinton showing he was on their side and had a plan to help them.

As I watch the 2020 presidential debates, I wonder: Will Democrats make the same mistake? Or will they return to their roots and put the full range of workers’ needs and aspirations front and center in their campaigns?

Some of the candidates vying to be the 2020 nominee have offered plans to support organized labor, but they mainly endorse bills already in Congress to shore up collective bargaining rights. None have offered a clear vision and strategy for assuring workers have a voice in the key decisions that will shape the future of work.

This won’t be enough to give workers the stronger and broader voice at work they are calling for today.

In our 2017 survey, we learned two key things about what workers actually want…..

New York City’s $15 Minimum Wage and Restaurant Employment and Earnings

Source: Lina Moe, James Parrott, Yannet Lathrop, Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and the National Employment Law Project, August 2019

From the press release:
Five years after New York State passed the first of several laws to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour, New York City’s restaurant industry continues to thrive, with strong growth in restaurant industry employment, wages, and the number of establishments around the city, according to a new report released today by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and the National Employment Law Project.

The report’s findings of a prospering restaurant industry are in sharp contrast to the “sky is falling” rhetoric of industry lobbyists who warned of massive job losses, $20 Big Macs, and shuttered restaurants. The report offers a first-of-its-kind assessment of restaurant employment and earnings over the entire period of the city’s historic minimum wage increases, during which the wage floor rose from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour.

The restaurant industry has the highest proportion of workers affected by the minimum wage of any industry. Researchers analyzed comprehensive employment, wage, and restaurant establishment data between 2013 and 2018 to assess the impact of the higher minimum wage on New York City’s restaurant industry. They found that during this period, New York City saw a strong economic expansion of the restaurant industry, outpacing national growth in employment, annual wages, and the number of both limited- and full-service restaurant establishments…..

When Robots Make Legal Mistakes

Source: Susan C. Morse, Oklahoma Law Review, Vol. 72, 2019

From the abstract:
The questions presented by robots’ legal mistakes are examples of the legal process inquiry that asks when the law will accept decisions as final, even if they are mistaken. Legal decision-making robots include market robots and government robots. In either category, they can make mistakes of undercompliance or overcompliance. A market robot’s overcompliance mistake or a government robot’s undercompliance mistake is unlikely to be challenged. On the other hand, government enforcement can challenge a market robot’s undercompliance mistake, and an aggrieved regulated party can object to a government robot’s overcompliance mistake. Especially if robots cannot defend their legal decisions due to a lack of explainability, they will have an incentive to make decisions that will avoid the prospect of challenge. This incentive could encourage counterintuitive results. For instance, it could encourage market robots to overcomply and government robots to undercomply with the law.

Voter Purge Rates Remain High, Analysis Finds

Source: Kevin Morris, Brennan Center for Justice, August 1, 2019

Using data released by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in June, a new Brennan Center analysis has found that between 2016 and 2018, counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at much higher rates than other counties.

This phenomenon began after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision that severely weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Brennan Center first identified this troubling voter purge trend in a major report released in July 2018.

Before the Shelby County decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit proposed changes in voting procedures to the Department of Justice or a federal court for approval, a process known as “preclearance.”

After analyzing the 2019 EAC data, we found:
– At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, similar to the number we saw between 2014 and 2016, but considerably higher than we saw between 2006 and 2008;
– The median purge rate over the 2016–2018 period in jurisdictions previously subject to preclearance was 40 percent higher than the purge rate in jurisdictions that were not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act;
– If purge rates in the counties that were covered by Section 5 were the same as the rates in non-Section 5 counties, as many as 1.1 million fewer individuals would have been removed from voter rolls between 2016 and 2018.

Teachers Fighting for Public Schools Were Key to the Uprising in Puerto Rico

Source: Mercedes Martinez and Monique Dols, Labor Notes, August 15, 2019

In the two months leading up to the uprising which ousted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló, educators celebrated hard-fought victories against the privatization of their education system. Struggles by teachers and families against school closures and charter schools helped pave the way for July’s unprecedented outpouring of protest (see box).

By the end of the school year in June, it became clear that the struggle to stop charterization had largely won. There is only one actively functional charter school on the island.

Then in July, teachers and families who had fought pitched battles against the closing of 442 public schools by ex-Secretary of Education Julia Keleher were vindicated when Keleher was arrested on corruption charges.

As the new school year starts in August, educators are still fighting to fully fund and staff the schools, reopen those shuttered under Keleher, and keep the charters out. In the weeks and months to come, expect educators to keep playing a critical role in the struggle for democracy, against austerity, and for the dignity of the working class in Puerto Rico….

Comparing disability and return to work outcomes between alternative and traditional workers’ compensation programs

Source: Katherine Schofield, Andrew D. Ryan, Kim N. Dauner, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 62, Issue 9, September 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
The Union Construction Workers’ Compensation Program (UCWCP) was developed in 1996 as an alternative workers’ compensation arrangement. The program includes use of a preapproved medical and rehabilitation network and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and prioritizes a quick and safe return‐to‐work. The aim of this study is to determine if differences in recovery‐related outcomes exist between UCWCP and the statutory workers’ compensation system (SWCS).

Methods:
Claims data from 2003 to 2016 were classified as processed through UCWCP or SWCS. Outcomes included: temporary total disability (TTD), vocational rehabilitation (VR), claim duration and costs, and permanent partial disability (PPD). The relative risk of incurring TTD, VR, and PPD in UCWCP vs SWCS was calculated using log‐binomial regression. Linear regression examined the relationship between programs and continuous outcomes including costs and duration. Estimates were adjusted for age, sex, wage, and severity.

Results:
The UCWCP processed 15.8% of claims; higher percentages of UCWCP claimants were older and earned higher wages. Results point to positive findings of decreased TTD incidence and cost, lower risk of TTD extending over time, higher likelihood of VR participation, and less attorney involvement and stipulation agreements associated with UCWCP membership. Differences were more apparent in workers who suffered permanent physical impairment.

Conclusion:
Findings suggest that the defining programmatic elements of the UCWCP, including its medical provider and rehabilitation network and access to ADR, have been successful in their aims. Claims with increased severity exhibited more pronounced differences vs SWCS, potentially due, in part, to greater use of programmatic elements.

Assessing the impact of health and safety training: Increased behavioral change and organizational performance

Source: Ruth Ruttenberg, Carol Rice, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, August 5, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Annual health and safety refresher training is mandated for workers in a number of employment sectors and also is used to maintain and enhance skills when not legally required.

Methods:
One year following training, hazardous waste worker training participants were asked if the training had been applied at their work or in the community, corresponding to Kirkpatrick levels of training evaluation. Likely response themes were drafted by the authors using qualitative data coding.

Results:
Of the 1,726 refresher participants, 1,094 (63%) provided an entry. Eight theme categories were adapted from the originals, spanning the activities trainees reported as applications of their training: events, actions, awareness, emergency response, equipment, planning and standard operating procedures, training, and use of written resources.

Conclusions:
Asking participants to reflect on how training has been applied provides an opportunity to describe workplace changes made during the past year. Participants documented that training resulted in actions to protect them from hazardous exposures. Specific events where training was used and where actions were taken to improve health and safety represent Kirkpatrick Levels III and IV applications of training. Collecting similar data may be useful to others wishing to identify impacts of training and can be integrated into routine program assessment.