Disaster Unemployment Assistance: How Workers Can Access the Program After Hurricane Harvey

Source: National Employment Law Project (NELP), Fact Sheet, August 30, 2017

What is Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)?
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), also referred to as Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance, is a federal program that provides temporary financial assistance to individuals unemployed as a result of a “major disaster” declared by the president. As of August 25, 2017, a major disaster was declared due to Hurricane Harvey in 18 counties in Texas, and on August 30th another 11 counties in Texas were added to the declaration, making DUA benefits available to workers in the 29 counties listed below. As of August 30th, a major disaster has not yet been declared in Louisiana. For a current list of the states and counties, see FEMA’s website (http://www.fema.gov/disasters)….

What are the Basic Eligibility Requirements for DUA?
There are two major requirements for an individual to qualify for DUA: 1) The individual must be out of work as a “direct result” of a major disaster; and 2) The individual does not qualify for regular unemployment insurance (UI) from any state. Once found to be eligible for DUA, workers must actively look for work and accept suitable work offered them, not unlike UI recipients. In addition, the individual must show that for every week he or she is collecting DUA, his or her unemployment continues to be the direct result of the disaster, not other factors….

Public libraries can (literally) serve as a shelter from the storm

Source: Grace Morris, The Conversation, August 30, 2017

U.S. public libraries often transform into shelters during emergencies.

After Superstorm Sandy, for example, the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey and Connecticut’s New Canaan Library gave the public somewhere to charge devices, contact loved ones or even just watch movies. Other New Jersey libraries went further: The Roxbury Public Library opened early and closed late. South Orange’s library became its primary evacuation center.

Libraries don’t just pitch in following natural disasters. In August 2014, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library became a safe space amid the unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. After local schools started the school year two weeks behind schedule, leaving students in the lurch, the library even hosted informal classes for hundreds of students….

Research Shows Unionized Workers Are Less Happy, but Why?

Source: Patrice Laroche, Harvard Business Review, August 30, 2017

Many employers are paying more and more attention to the well-being of their employees and to how they perceive their current jobs, especially because employee satisfaction is associated with important work-related outcomes such as organizational commitment and job performance, as well as with lower levels of turnover and absenteeism. But what role do unions, historically advocates for the well-being of workers, play in promoting employee happiness? The relationship between union membership and job satisfaction is still disputed vigorously among scholars. Many of the early studies suggest that union members are less satisfied than nonunion workers but are also less inclined to quit their jobs. This surprising finding has been considered an anomaly by many researchers, as unions should achieve better working conditions, which common sense suggests should lead to higher job satisfaction.

My research helps answer this puzzle. In a recent meta-study, I found that unions don’t seem to make workers less satisfied. Rather, workers who are likely to be dissatisfied — even after controlling for various aspects of their work — are more likely to join unions…..

Dirty Laundry: An Investigation

Source: Annie Hylton, Dissent, Summer 2017

…..While most New Yorkers recognize the thousands of storefront laundromats scattered across the city that offer drop-off washing or dry-cleaning services as well as coin-operated machines, few may be familiar with larger corporate-owned commercial laundromats, to whom these services are increasingly being contracted. Many of us have likely used a sheet or table cloth cleaned in a commercial laundry, which typically provides services for hotels, hospitals, restaurants, and neighborhood laundromats that outsource their laundry. The commercial laundry industry is growing: in the New York metropolitan area alone, the number of laundry and dry cleaning workers grew from about 9,480 in 2011 to 12,680 in 2016, according to the Department of Labor.

Commercial laundries can range from massive industrial operations employing hundreds or even thousands of workers to more modest “sweatshop” laundries, with anything from a dozen employees to fifty or more, like Suffolk, where Marlyn Gonzalez worked. It is in such commercial laundries, most of which are housed in large factory-like buildings in Queens, Long Island, and the Bronx, that thousands of laundry workers—largely African-American or immigrant women—labor in hot, crowded, and often dangerous or toxic conditions to clean the linens used by millions of New Yorkers. And it is these workers who endure the consequences of an industry plagued by poor working conditions, exploitation, and abuse…..

Who Falls for Fake News? The Roles of Analytic Thinking, Motivated Reasoning, Political Ideology, and Bullshit Receptivity

Source: Gordon Pennycook, David G. Rand, Yale University, August 21, 2017

From the abstract:
Inaccurate beliefs pose a threat to democracy and fake news represents a particularly egregious and direct avenue by which inaccurate beliefs have been propagated via social media. Here we investigate the cognitive psychological profile of individuals who fall prey to fake news. We find a consistent positive correlation between the propensity to think analytically – as measured by the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) – and the ability to differentiate fake news from real news (“media truth discernment”). This was true regardless of whether the article’s source was indicated (which, surprisingly, also had no main effect on accuracy judgments). Contrary to the motivated reasoning account, CRT was just as positively correlated with media truth discernment, if not more so, for headlines that aligned with individuals’ political ideology relative to those that were politically discordant. The link between analytic thinking and media truth discernment was driven both by a negative correlation between CRT and perceptions of fake news accuracy (particularly among Hillary Clinton supporters), and a positive correlation between CRT and perceptions of real news accuracy (particularly among Donald Trump supporters). This suggests that factors that undermine the legitimacy of traditional news media may exacerbate the problem of inaccurate political beliefs among Trump supporters, who engaged in less analytic thinking and were overall less able to discern fake from real news (regardless of the news’ political valence). We also found consistent evidence that pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity negatively correlates with perceptions of fake news accuracy; a correlation that is mediated by analytic thinking. Finally, analytic thinking was associated with an unwillingness to share both fake and real news on social media. Our results indicate that the propensity to think analytically plays an important role in the recognition of misinformation, regardless of political valence – a finding that opens up potential avenues for fighting fake news

The Lost Art of Being Anti-Fascist: Another Reason Why We Need a Labor Movement

Source: Sharon Block, On Labor blog, August 30, 2017

….The question that many of us have been asking since Election Day — “how did we get here” — has taken on greater urgency in the wake of Charlottesville. There has been much thoughtful writing and commenting on the root causes of this now evident phenomenon. I recently came across an article by Senator Robert Wagner, primary sponsor of our bedrock federal labor law, the National Labor Relations Act, that got me thinking about an unexplored possible contributing factor – whether there is a plausible relationship between the decline in the labor movement and the vulnerability of our population to fascism.

The framework of this argument was articulated by Senator Wagner in a May 1937 article in the New York Times Magazine. The NLRA had passed in July 1935 but questions about its future as a result of challenges to its constitutionality lingered until April 1937. As Senator Wagner was witnessing the rise of a fascist power, he described his ideal industrial state. One attribute of his ideal vision was a strong labor movement, bringing the experience of collective bargaining to the American working class.

In addition to the many economic arguments that Wagner made in defense of the NLRA was his argument that the process of being a member of a union and engaging in collective bargaining in the workplace gave Americans the experience of participating in a democratic process in a way that had become remote in their political life. He lamented that politics had been “impersonalized” and that the nature of the nation’s problems – too big, complex and fast-moving – made it difficult for ordinary Americans to get involved in addressing them. Thus, in his view, the workplace became the more likely venue for the “expression of the democratic impulse”…..

2017 Supreme Court Commentary: Employment Law

Source: Jonathan Ross Harkavy, Patterson Harkavy LLP, August 15, 2017

From the abstract:
This article, the author’s longstanding annual review of the Supreme Court’s work in the employment area, examines in detail every decision of the 2016-2017 term relating to employment and labor law, with commentary on each case and additional observations about the Court’s work in this term and the upcoming one. In particular, the author uses the latest term’s decisions as a lens for examining broader aspects of the Court’s jurisprudence, particularly in light of disruptive changes in the nature of the employment relationship and in the composition of the Court itself

Labor Day 2017: Sept. 4

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, August 9, 2017

The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. The parade inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “workingmen’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.” This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of workers in America.

The Effects of Tulsa’s Pre-K Program on Middle School Student Performance

Source: William T. Gormley, Jr., Deborah Phillips, Sara Anderson, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, August 23, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
As states have upgraded their commitment to pre-K education over the past two decades, questions have arisen. Critics argue that program effects are likely to fade out or disappear over time, while supporters contend that program effects are likely to persist under certain conditions. Using data from Tulsa Public Schools, three neighboring school districts, and the state of Oklahoma, and propensity score weighting, we estimate the effects of Tulsa’s universal, school-based pre-K program on multiple measures of academic progress for middle school students. We find enduring effects on math achievement test scores, enrollment in honors courses, and grade retention for students as a whole, and similar effects for certain subgroups. We conclude that some positive effects of a high-quality pre-K program are discernible as late as middle school.