Humiliation at Work and Union Interest: An Empirical Analysis of Community Union Satisfaction as Related to Status Enhancement

Source: Steven Mellor, Katherine Holzer, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Online First, January 4, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
How noneconomic benefits claimed by labor unions relate to union interest is not well articulated. Based on Torres and Bergner’s (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 38, 195–204, 2010; Psychotherapy, 49, 492–501, 2012) analysis of severe public humiliation, in which status enhancement underlies recovery, we examined an augmented relationship between humiliation at work (the underside of dignity at work) and willingness to join a union. As hypothesized, nonunion employees who were less detached from work showed more willingness to join when presented with evidence that members of a union were satisfied with community aspects of membership related to status enhancement above and beyond their satisfaction with economic aspects. Implications for union interest research and applications are discussed.

Comparing Public Quality Ratings for Accredited and Nonaccredited Home Health Agencies

Source: Scott C. Williams, David J. Morton, Susan Yendro, Home Health Care Management & Practice, Vol 30, Issue 1, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This was a descriptive study comparing 1,582 accredited and 10,008 nonaccredited home health agencies over a 3-year period using the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Home Health Compare data set. Metrics included the star rating and 22 quality measures. A longitudinal model was used to determine differences between accredited and nonaccredited organizations on the quality measures. Categorical differences in star ratings and risk-adjusted outcome categories were analyzed using a chi-square test. Accredited agencies had statistically higher star ratings than nonaccredited organizations (3.4 vs. 3.2, p < .001), and they were more likely to be categorized 4, 4.5, and 5 star organizations (p < .001). Absolute differences between accredited and nonaccredited agencies on the OASIS quality measures were generally small but consistently favored accredited facilities over all 3 years studied (p < .05).

Unions Widen Who They’re Fighting For

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, January 25, 2018

Historically, public-sector unions have focused their attention almost entirely on negotiating for higher wages and better benefits. These days, though, many are showing up at the bargaining table to fight not just for themselves but also for the people they serve — like students, foster children and taxpayers. ….

Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962 to 2016: Has Middle Class Wealth Recovered?

Source: Edward N. Wolff, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 24085, November 2017
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From the abstract:
Asset prices plunged between 2007 and 2010 but then rebounded from 2010 to 2016. The most telling finding is that median wealth plummeted by 44 percent over years 2007 to 2010. The inequality of net worth, after almost two decades of little movement, went up sharply from 2007 to 2010, and relative indebtedness for the middle class expanded. The sharp fall in median net worth and the rise in overall wealth inequality over these years are largely traceable to the high leverage of middle class families and the high share of homes in their portfolio. Mean and median wealth rebounded from 2010 to 2016, by 17 and 28 percent, respectively. While mean wealth surpassed its previous peak in 2007, median wealth was still down by 34 percent. More than 100 percent of the recovery in both was due to a high return on wealth but this factor was offset by negative savings. Relative indebtedness continued to fall for the middle class from 2010 to 2016, and wealth inequality increased somewhat. The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth holdings widened considerably between 2007 and 2016, and the wealth of households under age 45 declined in relative terms.

Workplace Wellness Programs Really Don’t Work

Source: Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg, January 26, 2018

Workplace wellness programs have two main goals: improve employees’ health and lower their employers’ health-care costs. They’re not very good at either, new research finds.

What Do Workplace Wellness Programs Do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study
Source: Damon Jones, David Molitor, Julian Reif, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 24229, January 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Workplace wellness programs cover over 50 million workers and are intended to reduce medical spending, increase productivity, and improve well-being. Yet, limited evidence exists to support these claims. We designed and implemented a comprehensive workplace wellness program for a large employer with over 12,000 employees, and randomly assigned program eligibility and financial incentives at the individual level. Over 56 percent of eligible (treatment group) employees participated in the program. We find strong patterns of selection: during the year prior to the intervention, program participants had lower medical expenditures and healthier behaviors than non-participants. However, we do not find significant causal effects of treatment on total medical expenditures, health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status in the first year. Our 95% confidence intervals rule out 78 percent of previous estimates on medical spending and absenteeism. Our selection results suggest these programs may act as a screening mechanism: even in the absence of any direct savings, differential recruitment or retention of lower-cost participants could result in net savings for employers.

From the Bargaining Table to the Ballot Box: Political Effects of Right to Work Laws

Source: James Feigenbaum, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, and Vanessa Williamson, National Bureau of Economic Research, January 20, 2018 (draft)

Labor unions play a central role in the Democratic party coalition, providing candidates with voters, volunteers, and contributions, as well as lobbying policymakers. Has the sustained decline of organized labor hurt Democrats in elections and shifted public policy? We use the enactment of right-to-work laws—which weaken unions by removing agency shop protections — to estimate the effect of unions on politics from 1980 to 2016. Comparing counties on either side of a state and right-to-work border to causally identify the effects of the state laws, we find that right-to-work laws reduce Democratic Presidential vote shares by 3.5 percentage points. We find similar effects in US Senate, US House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as on state legislative control. Turnout is also 2 to 3 percentage points lower in right-to-work counties after those laws pass. We next explore the mechanisms behind these effects, finding that right-to-work laws dampen organized labor campaign contributions to Democrats and that potential Democratic voters are less likely to be contacted to vote in right-to-work states. The weakening of unions also has large downstream effects both on who runs for office and on state legislative policy. Fewer working class candidates serve in state legislatures and Congress, and state policy moves in a more conservative direction following the passage of right-to-work laws.

Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die

Source: Eric Levitz, New York, January 26, 2018

The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that.

With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it’s clear that the Democratic Party didn’t merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself…..

Giving States Flexibility to Change Obamacare without Changing the Law: Examining the Potential Uses of the Affordable Care Act’s State Waiver Process

Source: Michael Gusmano, John Kaelin, and Thomas Gais, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Policy Brief, January 19, 2018

From the press release:
In a new policy brief, researchers explore the potential of the Affordable Care Act’s 1332 waiver as a tool for widespread, state-level policy change to address challenges in Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation.

Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act is intended to give states the flexibility to achieve the goals of the legislation while adapting to local factors by applying for an innovation waiver. Based on the list of provisions that may be subject to the waiver, many core features of the ACA could be changed at the state level through a Section 1332 waiver, including the creation of health insurance exchanges, ACA certification standards for qualified health plans, ACA requirements related to essential health benefits (EHB), cost-sharing reduction payments and premium tax credits (with alternative funding available), and employer and individual mandates.

In their new brief, Gusmano, Kaelin, and Gais examine the waiver’s origins, powers and limitations, uses to date, and its potential role in adapting the ACA to changing and diverse circumstances. They observe, for example, a shift in the purposes of 1332 applications before and after the 2016 elections—suggesting a new function for waivers to not only pursue innovative pathways to implementation, but to help states respond quickly and effectively to rapid changes in healthcare markets. The authors also outline ways in which the waiver process may be improved…..

Clash of Laws: The Growing Dissonance between State and Federal Marijuana Policies

Source: Heather Trela, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Policy Brief, January 25, 2018

This policy brief examines the growing separation between the federal government and the states when it comes to marijuana policy and the federalism implications of this divide. Since the 2016 election, the states and the federal government have been on a collision course over the implementation of state marijuana policy and the enforcement of federal law. The essays collected in this brief highlight some of the major issues currently at play in United States marijuana policy and potential issues to watch in the coming year.