Why Some States Are Making Short-Term Training Free

Source: Sophie Quinton, Stateline, May 3, 2017

Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding.

Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open. …. Arkansas recently put its own twist on free college with a grant that makes two-year degrees free for students of high-demand subjects, such as computer science. ….

Remotivating the Black Vote: The Effect of Low-Quality Information on Black Voters in the 2016 Presidential Election and How Librarians Can Intervene

Source: Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako), Denyvetta Davis, and Jason Kelly Alston, The Library Quarterly, Vol. 87 no. 3, July 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In a phenomenon that was surprising to many, given the racially charged nature of the 2016 presidential election, black voter turnout was significantly lower than the previous two elections. Donald Trump’s victory is attributable to many factors, one of which was the lower participation of black voters in several swing states. To a lesser extent, black support for third-party candidates also aided Trump’s victory. The lower black turnout itself is attributable to several factors, but one factor specifically in the LIS realm was the prevalence of low-quality information and rhetoric and a susceptibility that some black voters had to this low-quality information and rhetoric. Librarians have a stake and a role in black voter participation. This article will present two specific tactics and other general methods for how librarians can better inform black voters and help motivate them to participate in the process.

ITUC Global Rights Index 2017

Source: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), June 2017

The number of countries experiencing physical violence and threats against workers has risen by 10 percent in just one year, according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. Attacks on union members have been documented in fifty-nine countries, fuelling growing anxiety about jobs and wages. ….

….The ITUC Global Rights Index 2017 ranks 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected in law and in practice.

The report’s key findings include:
– Eighty-four countries exclude groups of workers from labour law.
– Over three quarters of countries deny some or all workers their right to strike.
– Over three quarters of countries deny some or all workers collective bargaining.
– Out of 139 countries surveyed, 50 deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly.
– The number of countries in which workers are exposed to physical violence and threats increased by 10 per cent (from 52 to 59 countries) and include Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia and Ukraine.
– Unionists were murdered in 11 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines and Venezuela…..

….UNITED STATES
No tripartite consultative body to address labour law and policy
The U.S. government does not maintain a formal tripartite consultative body to address labour law and policy. There are some opportunities for consultation, as with the Labour Advisory Committee within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Some government agencies seek input from interested parties by conducting notice-and-comment rulemaking prior to formulating new regulations or policies. Unions may also file amicus curiae briefs in court and agency adjudications to provide their views on disputed matters that will affect labour law or policy.

Far from consulting with unions regarding labour law and policy, some states and U.S. politicians have taken deliberate steps to roll back workers’ collective bargaining rights.

Restrictions with respect to type of strike action
The National Labour Relations Act (NLRA) and judicial decisions interpreting the law prohibit workers from engaging in sitdown strikes, partial strikes and secondary boycotts, and impose other restrictions on organisational or recognitional strikes. Workers at certain health care institutions must provide 10 days’ advance notice before engaging in a strike or picketing, such as intermittent strikes, secondary boycotts and other forms of mutual aid and protection…..

Before the Bargaining Table: How Local 387 made gains for precarious workers

Source: Jordana Feist​, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Tabletalk blog, May 16, 2017

As a researcher, I regularly read the agreements that come into the office. Sometimes, it makes for encouraging reading – like when I read about the changes negotiated in the latest round of bargaining between CUPE Local 387 and the City of New Westminster in BC.

Their new agreement featured a long list of improvements, including:
– Provisions to reduce the use of seasonal workers by converting workers in that classification to regular full-time employees over two years.
– Benefits for all temporary full-time and temporary part-time workers.
– Two new letters of understanding addressing the issues around the auxiliary workforce and continuing the work to convert those positions to regular part-time and regular full-time.
– Benefit improvements and wage increases.

These would be excellent outcomes in any day, but Local 387 achieved all this in a climate where employers are pushing the use of temporary and seasonal workers and trying to restrict their access to health and benefit plans.

How did they get there? ….

Quality Jobs, Quality Education, Better Futures: What We Heard About Precarious Work In the Post-Secondary Sector

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), June 2017

From the summary:
Precarious work deeply impacts people’s lives, health and well-being, and ultimately, their communities. That’s the number one thing CUPE heard in a series of town halls on precarious work in the post-secondary sector held earlier this year.

In a new report, CUPE outlines the key lessons we heard from our members and our allies. These include important distinctions about what precarious work looks like on campuses today, such as the reality that precarious work is not just about filling temporary vacancies or short-term roles: some temporary employees have been in their positions for years and have even risen to the rank of supervisor or department chair.

Furthermore, our report reveals, more schools are using students for labour without offering adequate wages or protection. In particular, reliance on undergraduates to provide academic and support work is growing.

The growing reliance of post-secondary institutions on precarious work has serious consequences for workers. Precarious workers have higher levels of stress, greater difficulty defending their rights, limited ability to make life choices that many of us take for granted, and lower access to government programs and services. Precarity also makes it harder for workers to be good at their job, as well as making it harder for other workers to do their jobs.

Our report concludes with a list of ways that CUPE National, CUPE locals, CUPE members, and our allies can fight back against precarious work. Strategies include organizing, collective bargaining, and getting involved in politics.

CUPE will continue to make fighting precarious work a priority and to call on universities and colleges to make every post-secondary job a respectable job.

Facts Before Funding

Source: Allison Hiltz, State Legislatures Magazine, June 2017

Evidence-based policymaking can arm lawmakers with information about what works. ….

…. More than a buzzword, evidence-based policymaking is becoming a movement unto itself. A recently released report from the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative shows that all 50 states use evidence-based policymaking in some way. Many incorporate the findings from their in-depth analyses into their budgeting decisions, boosting funding for programs that not only work, but also provide a positive return on the tax money invested. ….

…. There are various reasons why states began shifting toward this method of policymaking, but one shared event had an influence on all: The Great Recession. …..

Database of Trump administration officials’ personal finances grows

Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 7, 2017

The Center for Public Integrity today added more than 100 new Trump administration officials’ financial disclosures to a searchable, sortable database first launched in April.

The database allows anyone to easily understand the wealth, assets and business interests of many of the people working for President Donald Trump.

These include Senate-confirmed appointees, White House aides and members of so-called “beachhead teams” sent to prepare executive agencies for the new administration. Among the prominent Trump allies included in the database update: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Eliane Chao and White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The new disclosures are possible thanks to the Center for Public Integrity’s collaboration with ProPublica — a fellow Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization — which requested the disclosure forms from government sources and made the disclosures available as PDF files…..

Related:
New database details White House officials’ finances
Source: Center for Public Integrity, April 4, 2017

On Friday night, the White House began releasing financial disclosures for scores of key employees — including familiar names such as Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

Reporters from dozens of news organizations, including the Associated Press, the New York Times, ProPublica and the Washington Post, then compiled and reported on the documents, which the White House released one-by-one.

The Center for Public Integrity compiled data from those disclosures into a searchable, sortable database, which provide a window into the wealth, assets and business interests of many of the people closest to President Donald Trump. The Center for Public Integrity’s news developer, Chris Zubak-Skees, extracted these details from more than 90 reports, released in PDF format, using a software tool he created….

Facts for Features: Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act: July 26

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, Release Number: CB17-FF.11, June 6, 2017

From the press release:
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.
This Facts for Features provides a demographic snapshot of the U.S. population with a disability and examines various services available to them. The statistics come from various Census Bureau censuses and surveys, covering differing periods of time.

Pointing Out: How Walmart Unlawfully Punishes Workers for Medical Absences

Source: A Better Balance, June 2017

From the summary:
Walmart is proud of its heritage as a family-founded company. Ironically, while the Walton family touts its family values, Walmart’s absence control program punishes workers who need to be there for their own families. Walmart disciplines workers for occasional absences due to caring for sick or disabled family members and for needing to take time off for their own illnesses or disabilities. Although this system is supposed to be “neutral,” and punish all absences equally, along the lines of a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, in reality such a system is brutally unfair. It punishes workers for things they cannot control and disproportionately harms the most vulnerable workers.

Punishing workers for absences related to illness or disability is not only unfair, it’s often against the law. Based on our conversations with Walmart employees as well as survey results of over 1,000 current and former Walmart workers who have struggled due to Walmart’s absence control program, Walmart may regularly be violating the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by failing to give adequate notice to its employees about when absences might be protected by the FMLA and by giving its employees disciplinary points for taking time to care for themselves, their children, their spouses or their parents even though that time is covered by the FMLA.

Similarly, we allege that Walmart’s policies and practices of refusing to consider doctors’ notes and giving disciplinary points for disability-related absences is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects workers with disabilities from being disciplined or fired because of their disabilities. It also requires employers to engage in a good faith interactive process to determine an appropriate accommodation for workers with disabilities. Unfortunately, as detailed in this report, this is too often not Walmart’s practice. Other federal, state and local laws such as pregnancy accommodation protections, and sick time laws, could also be at play. Walmart’s policies and practices are not in compliance with many of these laws.

Simply put: Giving a worker a disciplinary “point” for being absent due to a disability or for taking care of themselves or a loved one with a serious medical condition is not only unfair, in many instances, it runs afoul of federal, state and local law.
Related:
Press release