(c) 2014 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Rise And Fall Of The 40-Hour Workweek

Today's post is shared from

"Eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, eight hours for what we will."
During the Industrial Revolution, that was one slogan of workers who rallied for the eight-hour workday — the 40-hour, five-day week that's become the standard for Americans.
On Sept. 5, 1882, the first Labor Day march took place in New York City, and one of the key concerns of workers was cutting down hours. Side note — Labor Day celebrations were moved to Sept. 1 two years later.
Henry Ford was the first to implement the change in all his Ford factories — moving away from 48-hour, six-day workweeks without changing wages. In 1926, Ford spoke with World's Work magazine, explaining why he made the change. Interestingly, more rest for workers wasn't exactly his reasoning.
He's quoted as saying: "A workman would have little use for an automobile if he had to be in the shop from dawn until dusk. ... The automobile, by enabling people to get about quickly and easily, gives them a chance to find out what is going on in the world-which leads them to a larger life that requires more food, more and better goods, more books, more music -- more of everything."
In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law — providing for the 40-hour workweek across the U.S. The formation of labor unions played a large hand in getting the act passed.
Unions helped prompt the Great Sit-Down of 1937, protesting the working conditions...
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The high cost of labor efficiency — and the ‘Good Jobs’ alternative

Today's post is shared from the PBS Newshour
What do Costco, Trader Joe’s, QuickTrip and Spanish supermarket Mercadona have in common? They treat labor as assets, says Zeynep Ton, author of “The Good Jobs Strategy,” and therefore, avoid even bigger costs than labor. Continue reading →

What’s Happening to North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act? (Part III)

Today's post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.
In Part I and II of this series we discussed the legislative power shift in 2010 and identified four significant changes.  Here are some more legislative changes, all imposed after 2010:

    5.   Even If The Claim is Denied the Employer Can Still Get An IME.
Before 2010, although an employer might be able to get the employee’s medical records once the claim was filed, if the claim was denied the employee took the position that the employer had no right to force the employee to go to an insurance-selected physician for an IME.  That has now changed.
    6.   In Second Opinion Rating Evaluations Certain Medical Evidence Can Be Ignored.
An employee has an absolute right to get a second opinion about the extent of a permanent injury, if dissatisfied with the impairment rating given by the insurance-selected treating physician.  Occasionally, this new physician, who was selected by the employee, would make a medical finding that the employee needed further medical treatment or would diagnose another medical condition that had not been evaluated by the treating physician.  This new information would be the basis of a motion to the Industrial Commission for additional medical care.  New legislation states that as to any opinions unrelated to the rating the Commission “must either disregard or give less weight” to these medical opinions.
    7.   Restrictions on the Ability to Change Physicians.
Before 2010, the employee had the right to petition the N.C. Industrial Commission to change physicians.  Occasionally there were personality conflicts between the employee and the insurance-selected physician, or the physician would be ignoring certain complaints, or not reporting the complaints in the medical records.  When these matters were brought to the attention of the Executive Secretary’s Office, the Commission had the discretion to authorize a change of physician.  New legislation now requires that the Plaintiff prove by a “preponderous of the evidence” that a change is necessary.
     8.   Greater Difficulty for Getting Second Opinion for Employee.
Before 2010, the employee could select a physician for a second opinion examination and request the Industrial Commission to approve this physician.  Now the employee must first request approval “in writing” from the employer and attempt to jointly agree on a new physician.  If this effort fails, then the employee can seek approval from the Industrial Commission.  This new procedure is a roadblock to allowing the employee quicker access to a different medical provider.

Part IV of the series will discuss other changes, including administrative changes, to the Act.  Stay tuned.

Court OKs workers' comp for kickball injury

Todays post is shared from
A man who was severely injured during the company kickball game he organized is entitled to workers’ compensation, the S.C. Supreme Court has ruled.
The justices reversed the Court of Appeals and the state workers’ comp panel in a Wednesday decision.
During a company-sponsored kickball game in 2007, Stephen Whigham jumped and landed awkwardly on his right leg, shattering his tibia and fibula.
“He was taken away in an ambulance and eventually underwent two surgeries. His doctor later informed him he would need a knee replacement in the near future,” according to Wednesday’s decision.
Whigham was the director of creative solutions at Jackson Dawson Communications in Greenville, described in court records as a marketing, advertising and public relations company.
During a meeting with other company leaders, Whigham came up with the idea of having a company kickball game as a team-building activity, and his superior at the company approved it. Supplies cost the company $440.
The event was called “Ballad Ball” and “paid tribute to the rock ballads of the 80s,” according to court records.
In its decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court focused on whether Whigham’s employer expected him to attend the game.
When asked if he would have considered it irresponsible of him not to show up, his boss replied: “I don’t know. I would have thought—he wouldn’t do...
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GM ignition switch compensation program receives more than 300 claims, including 107 death-related

Today's post was shared by Take Justice Back and comes from

DETROIT, MI- The General Motors Co. ignition switch compensation program has received 309 claims through Monday, including 107 related to fatal accidents.
Camille S. Biros, of Feinberg Rozen LLP, which is overseeing the program for the Detroit-based automaker, said payments to eligible victims and their families are expected to be finalized by the end of September. She said the number of claims filed has no correlation to the amount of individuals expected to be paid through the program, which could cost GM hundreds of millions of dollars.
The voluntary compensation program was announced by GM and renowned compensation attorney Kenneth Feinberg in late-June. There is no financial cap on the program and everyone that meets stringent guidelines set by Feinberg are eligible for the program.
Feinberg Rozen started accepting claims Aug. 1. It will continue accepting claims through Dec. 31.
GM has linked the faulty ignition switches to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes, but others, including victims' family members and lawyers, say the death toll is closer to 100. GM has said its numbers could increase based on Feinberg's findings because it only included those involved in front-end collisions.
Kenneth Feinberg, the independent claims administrator for the GM Ignition Compensation Program, announces the details of the program, including eligibility, scope, rules for the program, and timing of submitting claims, during a news...
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Virginia: Delays in workers' comp system hold up treatments

Today's post is shared from
The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission is an independent state agency with 270 employees and an annual operating budget of nearly $45 million.
Disputed cases are heard by one of the 21 deputy commissioners unless the parties agree to mediation. In 2013, "the average turnaround time from the time a case was referred to the hearing docket to the date the hearing was held was 150.9 days" or about five months, said James Szablewicz, who has served as chief deputy commissioner for the past decade.
In most cases, the deputy commissioner is supposed to issue a ruling within 21 days of the hearing. After that, a worker or employer's representative may file an appeal to be heard by the three commissioners. The commissioners are considered the equivalent of civil court judges in Virginia. The General Assembly appoints them to renewable six-year terms.
Virginia law does not set deadlines for hearings before deputy commissioners or commissioners. One way, however, that the commission expedites the process is to sometimes substitute an "on-the-record" decision for a hearing, Szablewicz said. In cases with smaller-scale disputes that...
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The Medicare Miracle

Today's post is shared fromPaul Krugman of the
So, what do you think about those Medicare numbers? What, you haven’t heard about them? Well, they haven’t been front-page news. But something remarkable has been happening on the health-spending front, and it should (but probably won’t) transform a lot of our political debate.
The story so far: We’ve all seen projections of giant federal deficits over the next few decades, and there’s a whole industry devoted to issuing dire warnings about the budget and demanding cuts in Socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid. Policy wonks have long known, however, that there’s no such program, and that health care, rather than retirement, was driving those scary projections. Why? Because, historically, health spending has grown much faster than G.D.P., and it was assumed that this trend would continue.
But a funny thing has happened: Health spending has slowed sharply, and it’s already well below projections made just a few years ago. The falloff has been especially pronounced in Medicare, which is spending $1,000 less per beneficiary than the Congressional Budget Office projected just four years ago.
This is a really big deal, in at least three ways.
First, our supposed fiscal crisis has been postponed, perhaps indefinitely. The federal government is still running deficits, but they’re way down. True, the red ink is still likely to swell again in a few years, if only because more baby boomers will retire and start collecting benefits; but, these...
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