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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cuomo and Christie Order Strict Ebola Quarantines

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

The governors of New York and New Jersey on Friday ordered quarantines for all people entering the country through two area airports if they had direct contact with Ebola patients in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The announcement signaled an immediate shift in mood, since public officials had gone to great lengths to ease public anxiety after a New York City doctor received a diagnosis of Ebola on Thursday.
A few hours later, New Jersey health officials said a nurse who had recently worked with Ebola patients in Africa and landed in Newark on Friday had developed a fever and was being placed in isolation at a hospital. The nurse, who was not identified, had been quarantined earlier in the day under the new policy, even before she had symptoms. Officials did not know Friday night whether or not she had the virus.
The new measures go beyond what federal guidelines require and what infectious disease experts recommend. They were also taken without consulting the city’s health department, according to a senior city official.

But both governors, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, portrayed them as a necessary step. “A voluntary Ebola quarantine is not enough,” Mr. Cuomo said. “This is too serious a public health situation.”
In New York City, disease investigators continued their search for anyone who had come into contact with the city’s first Ebola patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, since Tuesday morning. Three people who...
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Saturday Night Live interns settle NBCUniversal wage lawsuit

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of former interns at NBCUniversal, including on the late-night TV show "Saturday Night Live," have reached a $6.4 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit claiming they should have been paid for their work.
The settlement resolves claims that NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp, violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws in New York, California and Connecticut by classifying the plaintiffs improperly as "non-employee interns," exempt from applicable wage and hour requirements.
Court approval is required for the settlement, which was filed Wednesday night in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The average payout would be about $505, court papers show.
"It was probably a good idea for NBCUniversal to settle," said Marcia McCormick, an employment law professor at Saint Louis University School of Law. "NBCUniversal ran the risk that its decision not to pay interns might be viewed by a court as willful, which could result in much higher damages."
NBCUniversal denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. A spokeswoman, Lauren Skowronski, declined to comment.
Justin Swartz, a partner at Outten & Golden representing the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The July 2013 lawsuit is one of dozens filed in the United States challenging private companies' longstanding practices of paying interns nothing, or less than minimum wage.
Many were filed after U.S. District...
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The Working Nation

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

During the Cold War era, Western economies delivered broad and growing prosperity for the middle class. This nurtured a general faith in political institutions and culminated in the democratic triumphalism of the 1990s.
In a new essay called “The New Challenge to Market Democracies,” William Galston of the Brookings Institution argues that this era is over. In Europe, growth has stagnated and unemployment is at catastrophic levels, especially for the young. Japan is afflicted with economic stagnation and demographic decline. In the United States, the middle class is hollowing out. The median annual earnings of workers with bachelor’s degrees have not increased in three decades.
A tree known by its fruit, democratic capitalism, Galston observes, has not produced the expected crop. This has led to a loss of confidence in the regime. Galston’s essay is about how economic problems degrade the national spirit and lead to a loss of faith in the whole enterprise.
I think the malaise can be pinned down more precisely. In our meritocratic culture, satisfying and stretching work has become a psychological necessity. More than ever before, we are defined by what we do. If you are of prime age and you are not in the labor force, or engaged in some deeply stretching activity like parenting, then you will begin to feel drained inside. If you are in a dysfunctional workplace with bad personal relationships and no clear purpose, a core piece of you will begin to...
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'We Suck' on Minimum Wage, U.S. Labor Chief Says; Christie Has 'Head in the Sand'

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has “got his head in the sand” when it comes to the plight of minimum-wage earners in his state, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez said.

“I’ve met with minimum-wage workers in New Jersey,” Perez said today at a Bloomberg News event in Washington. “I’ve met with folks who -- the only raise they got, they’re baggage handlers at Newark Airport, and the only raise they got was when the voters increased the minimum wage.”

President Barack Obama and his administration have been pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. Most Republicans in Congress and many Republican governors, including Christie, oppose the increase. The Democratic-led Senate has tried and failed repeatedly to advance the issue, and House Speaker John Boehner has said his Republican-led chamber won’t consider it.

“All the Democrats and the president want to talk about is minimum wage,” Christie, 52, told reporters today at a diner in Bordentown, New Jersey, where he was campaigning for congressional candidate Tom MacArthur, a Republican from Toms River. “The reason they want to do that is because they have not had the kind of growth in this country that we should be having in terms of wages and better jobs.”

New Jersey voters last November approved a constitutional amendment that will increase the...
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Chris Christie berated by U.S. Labor Secretary over minimum wage comments

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

In this Sept. 14, 2014 file photo, protesters participate in a rally outside a McDonaldis on Chicago's south side as labor organizers escalate their campaign raise the minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour. As Democrats across the country make an election-year push to raise the minimum wage, they are also looking to motivate younger people, minorities and others in their base to go to the polls on Nov. 4th. The party has put questions on the ballot in five states asking voters whether the minimum wage should be increased.
TRENTON — Speaking at a Bloomberg News event in Washington D.C. today, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez said Gov. Chris Christie has “got his head in the sand” when it comes to the nation's lowest-paid workers.
Earlier this week, Christie made headlines by saying he was "tired" of hearing about the minimum wage as a mid-term election issue.
According to a Bloomberg News report, Perez noted that when it comes to a national minimum wage, the U.S. is a dismal third-from-dead-last among the 34 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes the U.S., the United Kingdom, most Western European nations, Scandinavia, Mexico and Australia.
"I mean, we suck,” Perez said.
Minimum wage in New Jersey is now $8.25, a base rate that was hiked just this year, after voters passed a legislatively-referred...
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Daylight Saving Time Is Bad For Worker Health

Photo Credit:  ©2014 Jon L Gelman, All rights reserved
Every year,  the time change swing mandated by Congress alters the clock we follow. Our bodies will suffer and accidents will happen and fatalities in the workplace will increase. The cycle is about to begin yet again as  Daylight Savings Time is about to end.
Today's post by Mike Nudelman is shared from
Daylight saving time (DST) is about to end, and an interesting thing that you might not realize is how such a small shift in our time can have a large impact on our body clock and our health.

These negative impacts of daylight saving time even cost us real money in lost productivity.

DST starts at 2:00 a.m. (the clock gets turned forward to 3:00 a.m.) on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2:00 a.m. (the clock gets turned back to 1:00 a.m.) on the first Sunday of November.

It was enacted during World War I to decrease energy use. Benjamin Franklin first advocated for the practice in 1784 because he noticed that people used candles at night and slept past dawn in the mornings. By shifting time by an hour during the summer, they would burn fewer candles and not sleep through the morning sunlight.

The debate still rages as to if this time-switch does save energy, but along the way we've seen signs that it has negative effects on our health and the economy.
Surprising health impacts

Transitions associated with the start and end of DST disturb sleep patterns, and make people restless at night, which results in sleepiness the next day, even during a "Fall back" period, since when we Fall Back, we might have trouble adjusting to going to sleep "later" after the time change.

This sleepiness leads to a loss of productivity and an increase in "cyberloafing" in which...

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Former workers, whistleblowers shed light on nuclear site safety setbacks

RICHLAND, Wash. – On the banks of the Columbia River, miles of open land sit undeveloped behind barbed wire fences. A handful of mysterious structures dot the landscape, remnants from the early days of the Cold War. Passing by the old Hanford nuclear production complex can feel like a journey into the past.

Known simply as Hanford, workers here produced plutonium for the world’s first atomic bomb and for many of the nation’s current nuclear warheads. The site was first developed in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project and ceased plutonium production nearly 50 years later, leaving behind 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste. Spanning 586 square miles, it is now ground zero for the largest cleanup project in America.
For 27 years, Mike Geffre was part of that effort, working in an area known as the tank farms: 177 massive underground storage tanks, which hold up to 1 million gallons each of the country’s most toxic nuclear waste.
First built in the 1940s, many of the original single-shell tanks leaked and contaminated the local groundwater. But starting in the 1960s, the federal government built stronger double-shell tanks that were supposed to hold the waste securely until it could be treated and sent to a deep geological repository for final keeping. Geffre, who maintained instruments used to monitor chemical and radioactive waste, spent much of his time looking for leaks in the supposedly unleakable tanks.
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