Risks Rise for State and Local Budgets: COVID Stress Test Update

Source: Dan White, Emily Mandel, and Colin Seitz, Moody’s, June 24, 2020
(subscription required)

• States and local governments will need approximately $500 billion in additional aid over the next two fiscal years to avoid major damage to the economy.
• Timing is of the essence, as state and local policymakers face several important budget deadlines in the weeks and months ahead.
• If action is not taken quickly enough, the spending cuts and tax increases that would need to be undertaken could cost several million additional jobs and further delay the recovery.
• The specter of a second wave of widespread infections is broadening the distribution of potential downside scenarios.

States will cut K-12 education funding, pushing budget pain to school districts with varying ability to cope

Source: Moody’s, June 23, 2020
(subscription required)

Many states suffering revenue declines because of the coronavirus outbreak will cut K-12 funding, leaving school districts having to raise revenue, reduce expenses or draw down reserves. Raising revenue or reducing expenses generally lowers credit risk the most, while spending reserves, particularly large single-year drawdowns, tends to carry the greatest risk. ​

Coronavirus and COVID-19

Source: SHRM, 2020

Communicable diseases like coronavirus and the respiratory illness it causes, COVID-19, can bring a busy workforce to a standstill. Look below for the latest news and updates, as well as critical member-only resources. In addition, here is key information to help you to work your way through the pandemic:

  • Review our coverage most read by SHRM members, plus a complete list of all content we’ve published on COVID-19.
  • Visit our resource page on Remote Work guidance and best practices.
  • Compare policies regarding layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts on the Employee Termination and Layoffs resource page.
  • Explore our COVID-19 Express Requests to learn about the CARES Act and much more.

Differential occupational risk for COVID‐19 and other infection exposure according to race and ethnicity

Source: Devan Hawkins, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: June 15, 2020

From the abstract:
Background:
There are racial and ethnic disparities in the risk of contracting COVID‐19. This study sought to assess how occupational segregation according to race and ethnicity may contribute to the risk of COVID‐19.

Methods:
Data about employment in 2019 by industry and occupation and race and ethnicity were obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey. This data was combined with information about industries according to whether they were likely or possibly essential during the COVID‐19 pandemic and the frequency of exposure to infections and close proximity to others by occupation. The percentage of workers employed in essential industries and occupations with a high risk of infection and close proximity to others by race and ethnicity was calculated.

Results:
People of color were more likely to be employed in essential industries and in occupations with more exposure to infections and close proximity to others. Black workers in particular faced an elevated risk for all of these factors.

Conclusion:
Occupational segregation into high‐risk industries and occupations likely contributes to differential risk with respect to COVID‐19. Providing adequate projection to workers may help to reduce these disparities.

COVID-19 Resource Center

Source: Health Affairs, 2020

A collection of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) content from Health Affairs journal articles and additional resources provides timely commentary, expert analysis, and policy proposals.

COVID-19 BLOG ARTICLES – Timely posts from leading experts on policy matters related to COVID-19 and Coronavirus Disease.
FAST TRACK COVID-19 JOURNAL ARTICLES – Rapidly published peer-reviewed journal articles on COVID-19.
COVID-19 MULTIMEDIA – Interviews, commentary, media citations, and more on COVID-19 and Coronavirus Disease.
RELATED JOURNAL ARTICLES – Relevant articles from our journal archives on global health, health system preparedness, pandemics, and related topics.

Navigating the Threat of Pandemic Syllabus

Source: Duke University Press, 2020

Amid the worldwide spread of COVID-19, it’s a challenging time, and our thoughts are with those affected by this disease. In support and solidarity, we are providing free access to the following books and journal articles to help build knowledge and understanding of how we navigate the spread of communicable diseases.

Listed books are free to read online until June 1, 2020, and journal articles are free until October 1.

Breaking contracts over coronavirus: Can you argue it’s an ‘act of God’?

Source: Andrew Schwartz, The Conversation, March 31, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented countless people from fulfilling their contracts, from basketball players to babysitters. Could all of these people be sued for breach of contract, or are they excused due to this extraordinary event? What about payments made in advance, such as tickets bought for a concert that has now been canceled or a dorm room leased at a college that is now closed? ….

….Force majeure clauses are common in corporate contracts. They dictate which types of unexpected events will excuse performance and how to deal with payments already made or other losses. The precise wording of these clauses is key. Some might expressly mention pandemics or government orders, while others might not. Similarly, some clauses might call for full restitution, while others might provide for 50% refunds or no refund at all. Whatever the force majeure clause says will displace the ordinary rules of impossibility and restitution.

The contract between the NBA and its players, for example, includes a force majeure clause that specifically covers epidemics. It states that basketball teams can withhold part of their players’ salaries for each canceled game, and ESPN reported that the league was considering it. ….

Walkouts Spread as Workers Seek Coronavirus Protections

Source: Dan DiMaggio, Saurav Sarkar, Labor Notes, March 26, 2020

As the coronavirus spreads, more and more workers who are still on the job are taking action to defend their health and safety and demand hazard pay. Here’s a round-up. (For an earlier round-up, see “Organizing for Pandemic Time-Off,” Labor Notes, March 16, 2020.)

Can I Get Fired for Talking about Virus Risks?

Source: Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes, March 31, 2020

Many workers still on the job during this pandemic are upset about their working conditions. But can you get in trouble for talking about your concerns—to your co-workers, on social media, or to the newspaper?

In a word: no. Not legally, anyway.

Below is a short run-down of your legal right to organize around wages, hours, and working conditions, even if you don’t have a union—and if you do have a union, your additional protection under your contract.

Let’s be real—employers have been known to break laws and contracts, and the bureaucratic remedies (court cases, grievances) are slow. But often threats are just meant to silence you. Showing that you know your rights may be enough to get management to back off its threats….

Related:
WEBINAR: Organizing without a Union During the Coronavirus / Organizándose sin sindicato durante el coronavirus
Source: Chris Brooks, Labor Notes, March 27, 2020