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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

House Passes Wasserman Schultz Longshore Harbor Workers' Compensation Clarification Act: Protecting Jobs and Keeping Workers Covered

Washington, D.C.– The Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Clarification Act, introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), and passed by the House of Representatives today, reinstated congressional intent to ensure that workers in the recreational marine repair industry have adequate workers’ compensation coverage. This legislation provides a more clear definition of a recreational vessel which allows small businesses in the marine repair industry to forgo duplicative insurance policies while ensuring these small businesses, 95% of which have fewer than 10 employees, can adequately protect their employees without incurring exorbitant costs. 
In 2009, Congress passed Section 803 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which expanded an existing exception that allowed more recreational marine repair workers to receive workers’ compensation coverage under state law rather than under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act. This was necessary because repair workers were simply not buying the more expensive longshore policies and were thus left uncovered. Unfortunately, new regulations were issued in 2011 that adopted a definition of a recreational vessel that was far more complicated and onerous than the existing law. In doing so, this new regulatory definition ran counter to what Congress intended.
The Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Clarification Act establishes a workable definition for a recreational...
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Verbal Assault: Threats Entitle Employee to Workers' Compensation

Verbal assault gives rise to a compensable event. Today's post is shared from
A New York man whose co-worker's angry husband threatened to kill him is entitled to workers' compensation benefits, a New York state appeals court ruled.
     Arthur Mosley worked as an assistant store manager for Hannaford Brothers Co. supermarket in 2007. He called a co-worker at her home to discuss a work-related issue, according to the Memorandum and Order from the Appellate Division Third Department.
     "Following that telephone call, the coworker's husband became convinced that claimant and the coworker were engaged in a romantic relationship, prompting the coworker's husband to undertake a course of threatening and harassing conduct against claimant, culminating in an unsuccessful murder-for-hire plot against him," according to the July 3 Memorandum and Order.
     It continues: "Additionally, the coworker's husband contacted claimant's supervisor regarding the alleged affair, which triggered an internal investigation by the employer and ultimately resulted in claimant requesting a transfer to another store. As a result, claimant's preexisting posttraumatic stress disorder was exacerbated to the point that he was unable to continue to work. Claimant thereafter filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits."
     The New York Daily News reported that Mosley...
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Ebola Virus Disease Confirmed in a Traveler to Nigeria, Two U.S. Healthcare Workers in Liberia

Viral exposure in the workplace could have fatal consequences. This Health Advisory is shared from
Nigerian health authorities have confirmed a diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in a patient who died on Friday in a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, after traveling from Liberia on July 20, 2014. The report marks the first Ebola case in Nigeria linked to the current outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Health authorities also reported this weekend that two U.S. citizens working in a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, have confirmed Ebola virus infection. These recent cases, together with the continued increase in the number of Ebola cases in West Africa, underscore the potential for travel-associated spread of the disease and the risks of EVD to healthcare workers. While the possibility of infected persons entering the U.S. remains low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that healthcare providers in the U.S. should consider EVD in the differential diagnosis of febrile illness, with compatible symptoms, in any person with recent (within 21 days) travel history in the affected countries and consider isolation of those patients meeting these criteria, pending diagnostic testing.


CDC is working with the World Health Organization (WHO), the ministries of health of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and other international organizations in response to an outbreak of EVD in West Africa, which was...
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N. Michael Rucka: October 3, 1939 - July 28, 2014

N. Michael Rucka
The world has lost a brilliant leader, a devoted advocate, and a compassionate person, N. Michael Rucka.

Mike’s unswerving devotion and commitment throughout his entire lifetime advanced the cause of justice for injured workers and their families. His presence was that of a giant upon whose shoulders he lifted and inspired us to make the world a better place.

N. Michael Rucka, known nationally as a pioneer and expert in the field of workers' compensation and personal injury law, died on 28 July at his home in Salinas, California. He was 74 and had been battling cancer for two years.
The founding member of the Rucka, O'Boyle, Lombardo & McKenna law firm in Salinas, California, his contributions to the advocacy and representation of injured workers redefined the field and established him as one of its foremost and most sought-after experts. A former president of the California Applicants' Attorneys Association, he was a founding member of the Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) and served as its Chair from 1996-2000. The recipient of numerous professional awards, he argued cases at the local, state, and Federal level.
Noted for his compassion and knowledge throughout the community of the Monterey Peninsula, Mr. Rucka was as zealous in pursuit of a full life as he was in pursuing justice for his many clients. A world-traveler who described himself as an eternal and eager student, he was an inspiring educator. His passion for fine wine led him to grow his own grapes and, with three of his dearest friends, turned him to wine-making as a hobby. He enjoyed nothing more than good company with whom to share the fruit of his labors. A voracious reader despite a lifelong struggle with dyslexia, he inspired a love of learning in all around him. A long-time member and past-president of Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel, he remained active in his congregation through his retirement. He loved art in all its myriad forms, but was especially fond of jazz, and attended the Monterey Bay Jazz Festival for many years in the company of his dearest friends.
Born 3 October, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, he moved to Los Angeles when young before his parents, Nettie and Arthur Rucka, finally settled in San Francisco, where Mr. Rucka graduated Lowell High School. He went on to graduate from the University of California at Berkeley, and then earned his law degree from the University of San Francisco. In 1972 he moved his family to Salinas, where he opened ROLM Law.
His commitment and compassion were as evident in his home as outside of it. He was devoted to his wife of 53 years, Corrina, and together they raised three children and opened their home to serve as AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service) host parents to another two, Nilson and Claudia.
Mr. Rucka is survived by his wife, Corrina; his sister, Joan; his children Brandy, Greg, and Nicholas; and his grandchildren Sashya, Dashiell, and Elliot.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at a future date.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fast-Food Workers Intensify Fight for $15 an Hour

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

As labor gatherings go, this one was highly unusual — 68 workers arrived on charter buses from St. Louis, 100 from New York City and 180 from Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. Fifty flew in from Los Angeles and two dozen from Seattle.
These were not well-paid carpenters or autoworkers heading to their annual convention, hoping to sneak in a round of golf. Rather they were fast-food workers — 1,200 of them — from McDonald’s, Burger King and other chains, eager to pursue their ambitious goal of creating a $15-an-hour wage floor for the nation’s four million fast-food workers.
Crowding over the weekend into an expo center in this suburb west of Chicago, many wore boldly lettered T-shirts proclaiming “We Are Worth More” and “Raise Up for $15.”
“If we win $15, that would change my life,” said Cherri Delisline, 27, a single mother who earns $7.35 an hour after 10 years as a McDonald’s cashier in North Charleston, S.C. “I get paid so little money that it’s hard to make ends meet, and I’ve had to move back in with my mother.”

It was by far the largest gathering of fast-food workers, and it was largely underwritten by the Service Employees International Union, a powerhouse with two million members known for unionizing hospital workers, home care aides and janitors. Mary Kay Henry, the union’s president, said the S.E.I.U. has adopted the fast-food...
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Big Oil's New Pitch: Fracking Means Never Having To Fear Putin

Today's post was shared by Mother Jones and comes from

The Obama administration, meanwhile, is weighing plans to streamline DOE approval of liquefied natural gas export facilities (though some industry insiders doubt it will speed up the process). The issue has also played into the secret negotiations over a sweeping US-European Union trade agreement. According to an EU memo leaked to the Washington Post earlier this month, Europe is pressing the United States to lift its longstanding restrictions on fossil fuel exports and make a "legally binding commitment" to allow oil and gas to flow to EU countries.
Even if the market shifts, most European countries aren't equipped to handle large-scale liquefied natural gas imports—and won't be for years.
But the argument behind these measures may be a red herring. Speeding up exports would be boon to industry profits, given that natural gas costs at least three times more overseas than it does in the United States. However, according to environmentalists and industry analysts, it would do little to break Europe's dependence on Russia. "Folks who were in favor of accelerating liquefied natural gas exports anyway have seized upon the Ukraine crisis as yet another argument for why we should be doing it," says Edward Chow, a former Chevron executive and an expert on international energy markets. "But it won't directly effect Europe." Most US exports, he explains, are slated for Asia, where natural gas fetches a much higher price than it does in Europe. Even...
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Take Two: Just How Good Are Generic Meds Anyway?

Today's post was shared by Mother Jones and comes from

A few days ago I wrote a post about generic painkillers and the fact that doctors themselves—who should know better—often don't use them. "If physicians aren't really sold on generics in their own personal lives," I asked, "does this mean they're not really sold on them in their professional lives too?"
Well, perhaps I got it backwards. A friend sent me a link to a Forbes article from last year about the FDA retracting its approval of a generic version of Wellbutrin:
The episode is bringing momentum to a movement that has been quietly building among many doctors and medical societies that are increasingly willing to ask a question that borders on heresy: Are generics really identical to the branded products they are meant to replicate? To a surprising degree, they say, the answer is no.
If you’re a layperson, this is the way you probably think of generics: They’re the exact same products in different packaging; generics companies can sell such medications for a fraction of the cost of the originals because they don’t have to spend huge sums on drug development and marketing....But generic drugs diverge from the originals far more than most of us believe.
....The FDA’s rules effectively acknowledge that. The agency’s definition of bioequivalence is surprisingly broad: A generic’s maximum concentration of active ingredient in the blood must not fall more than 20% below or 25% above that of the brand name....
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