Daylight Savings: Suggestions to help workers adapt to the time change

Today’s post was shared by Work Org and Stress and comes from blogs.cdc.gov

DaylightSavingsTimeWeb

Spring forward Fall back.

We all know the saying to help us remember to adjust our clocks for the daylight savings time changes (this Sunday in case you are wondering). But, what can we do to help workers adjust to the effects of the time change? A few studies have examined these issues but many questions remain on this topic including the best strategies to cope with the time changes.

By moving the clocks ahead one hour in the Spring, we lose one hour which shifts work times and other scheduled events one hour earlier. This pushes most people to have a one hour earlier bedtime and wake up time. In the Fall, time moves back one hour. We gain one hour which shifts work times and other scheduled events one hour later thereby pushing most people to have a one hour later bedtime and wake up time.

It can take about one week for the body to adjust the new times for sleeping, eating, and activity (Harrision, 2013). Until they have adjusted, people can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation and reduction in performance, increasing the risk for mistakes including vehicle crashes. Workers can experience somewhat higher risks to both their health and safety after the time changes (Harrison, 2013). A study by Kirchberger and colleagues (2015) reported men and persons with heart disease may be at higher risk for a heart attack during the week after the time changes in the Spring and Fall.

The reason for these…

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NPR: Is It Fair To Have To Pay Fees To A Union You Don’t Agree With?

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristen Wolf, from Causey Law Firm.

Worth thinking about –  this upcoming SCOTUS decision could have a big impact on unions/union workers.  Reposting from NPR.org. – kw

Listen to the Morning Edition article here:

It’s the showdown at the Supreme Court Corral on Monday for public employee unions and their opponents.

Union opponents are seeking to reverse a 1977 Supreme Court decision that allows public employee unions to collect so-called “fair share fees.”

Twenty-three states authorize collecting these fees from those who don’t join the union but benefit from a contract that covers them.

The decision later this year will have profound consequences not just for the California teachers in Monday’s case, but for police, firefighters, health care workers and other government workers across the country.

To understand what is at stake, here is a primer in how the labor law works in states that have authorized these fees.

If a majority of the public employees at a given site vote to be represented by a union, that union becomes the exclusive bargaining agent for the workers. In California, some 325,000 teachers in more than 1,000 school districts are represented by the California Teachers Association and, to a lesser extent, the California Federation of Teachers.

Of those, 9 percent have not joined the union, but under California law, any union contract must cover them too, and so they are required to pay an amount that covers the costs of negotiating the contract and administering it. The idea is that they reap the bread-and-butter benefits covered by the contract — wages, leave policies, grievance procedures, etc. — so they should bear some of the cost of negotiating that contract.

They do not, however, have to pay for the union’s lobbying or political activities; they can opt out of that by signing a one-page form.

In addition, the state Legislature has carved out certain hot-button matters that are not subject to bargaining at all. Specifically, the union can’t bargain over pensions or tenure.

In 1977, the Supreme Court upheld mandatory fees for non-union members as constitutional. The court said they were justified by the state’s interest in maintaining labor peace and eliminating “free riders” who gain benefits without paying their “fair share.”

But in recent years, five Supreme Court justices have signed on to opinions strongly hinting that they were ready to overturn that precedent. Indeed, Justice Samuel Alito, the author of two key opinions, all but invited the challenge posed by Monday’s case.

The Face Of The Case

Rebecca Friedrichs is the public face of the lawsuit that bears her name. After 28 years on the job, she is currently a third-grade teacher in Buena Park near Anaheim, Calif.

“The union’s supposed financial benefits aren’t worth the moral cost,” she said. “They protect teachers who are no longer effective in the classroom … and they’re more focused on self-preservation than they are on educating little children.”

Friedrichs is a strong opponent of the $650 in yearly fees she says she is forced to pay, arguing that everything the union does is political.

The fees are “used to promote the union’s political agenda,” Friedrichs said, contending that they violate her First Amendment right of free speech and association.

Eric Heins, the current president of the California Teachers Association, counters that what is purely political is the Friedrichs case.

“It’s really about an agenda to weaken and destroy unions,” he said.

Heins added that he in fact got involved with the union because of concerns about teaching — especially No Child Left Behind and its “incessant” testing.

Heins said the union contract has allowed him to advocate for “good teaching” for his students “without fear of retaliation.”

He compares the case against fair-share fees to a group of four people going out to dinner. Three vote for one restaurant, the fourth for another. The group goes with the majority; they enjoy the meal, but when the bill comes, the guy who wanted another restaurant tells his friends, “the rest of you have to pick up the tab” because the restaurant wasn’t my choice.

The Arguments

In the Supreme Court on Monday, lawyer Michael Carvin, representing the challengers, will tell the justices that what are technically called “agency fees” are unconstitutional.

“You’re forcing the employee to subsidize somebody else’s speech,” Carvin said. Negotiating a public employee union contract, he maintains, is different from negotiating one for workers in the private sector.

“When we’re talking about public unions,” he said, “everything they do is inherently a matter of public concern, because every time they get pension, health care and salary benefits, that comes out of the public fisc … so every dollar you spend on health care or salary is a dollar you can’t spend on roads or children.”

Lawyer David Frederick, representing the union, counters that what the challengers are seeking is a free ride on the union’s back.

“No one is precluding the right of teachers to speak publicly about their beliefs concerning merit pay, to lobby the Legislature” or express their views on important issues related to education, he said. “All we’re talking about here is an efficient means for the government to determine what its contract with its workforce is going to be.”

The union and the state of California are on the same page in this case. They say that agency fees give the union the resources to be able to make some hard deals, as they did in California during the Great Recession when they negotiated teacher furloughs and some reductions in pay so that more teachers could keep their jobs.

The union and the 23 fair-share states say that if the court were to overturn its 1977 decision, it would trample on states’ ability to govern their own affairs. And more importantly, it would inevitably weaken unions. They would have to raise dues, pitting those who do pay against those who don’t, and the unions would likely have to dig in their heels unreasonably in negotiating to prove their mettle.

Lawyer Frederick pointed to New York City and state in the 1960s and ’70s, a time when agency fees were not authorized.

There were “literally hundreds of work stoppages in the public sector — we’re talking about the subway system … firemen, police, teachers — who went out on strike,” he noted. “And just one week of a strike of the transit workers in New York could cost a billion dollars to the economy.”

There were on average 20 public-sector strikes a year in New York state in the 15 years prior to the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision. Many of them lasted a month or more and closed down schools and other public services, from senior centers to garbage collection.

Even laws imposing harsh penalties for public employee strikes were ineffective.

But after the Supreme Court upheld agency fees, the state quickly passed a law permitting them, and the rate of strikes plummeted by well over 90 percent to fewer than two per year.

In Monday’s case, the union and nearly half the states urge the Supreme Court not to risk that kind of chaos again.

Politics At Play

The unions have seen the consequences quite recently when Republican-dominated state governments eliminated fair-share fees. In 2012 union membership in Michigan declined by 7 percent, and “free-riding” more than doubled, after the state enacted a public-sector right-to-work law and prohibited school districts from collecting union dues by payroll deduction, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

But the challengers’ Michael Carvin dismisses such justifications outright:

“The proof is in the pudding. Most states don’t require agency fees. The federal government doesn’t require agency fees. And those unions do fine in that environment.”

But, he added, in a moment of puckish clarity:

“It may impede their ability to become the largest political contributors to the Democratic Party.”

The court’s 1977 decision is so wrong, he contends, that it is time to reverse it.

The union, the state of California, 21 other states and the District of Columbia warn that if that happens, it would unsettle tens of thousands of union agreements across the country, an assertion that Carvin also dismisses.

There is a second issue brought by the challengers — a secondary spear, as it were, aimed at the union’s heart. The challengers contend that the opt-out provision authorized by state law is also unconstitutional.

Under that provision, the union is required to send all nonmembers a one-page form allowing them to check a box and automatically be exempt from sharing the expense of the union’s lobbying and ideological activities. The challengers want to reverse the process, and be automatically exempt unless they opt in. The union contends that would require a far more costly canvassing process.

Both the union and the state argue that the opt-out process is an administrative choice made by the state, and that there is no need to “constitutionalize” it.

Monday’s arguments promise to range from lively to ferocious, with a decision expected by summer.

 

Photo Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images via NPR.org

 

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Is it Illegal to Discriminate Against Me on the Job Because of My Accent?

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Contrary to popular opinion, many immigrants work in professional and white-collar jobs. The explosive growth of immigration to the United States means that more immigrants will work in white-collar jobs in the United States. Since white collar jobs often require verbal communication, immigrants employed in white-collar professions and their employers will increasingly face the question of whether it is legal to discriminate on the basis of accent. 

Most federal and state courts that have addressed the issue believe that it is illegal for employees to discriminate based on accent if that discrimination is tied to nationality. Courts have even gone so far as to state that nationality and accent are intertwined, which means that they take such discrimination seriously. However, courts understand that employers have an interest in clear verbal communication. So what steps should you take if you think you are being discriminated against because of your accent? 

  1. Apply for a promotion for which you are qualified: Discrimination is only actionable if the company takes some action against you. One so-called adverse action is a failure to promote. If you are a trusted and valued employee, a company will often give you a reason why you were not promoted. If this reason is related to your accent, you can often get a decision maker to say as much. Legally, this is considered direct evidence of discrimination.
  2. If possible, reach out to other foreign-born employees in your workplace: If other foreign-born employees are being discriminated against for the same or similar reasons, it makes sense to work with them, as it can show a pattern by the employer. Also, when employees work together to fight discrimination, they are not just protected by civil rights laws, but they are also protected under the National Labor Relations Act.
  3. If possible, contact an employment attorney in your area before you decide to take action:  Every situation is different, and laws vary from state to state. A lawyer can give you tips about how to potentially build a case, can give you advice about actions and tactics to avoid, and can advise you about any legal deadlines that might apply to your potential case.

New Testing Reveals Hidden Dangerous Chemicals in Popular Halloween Costumes and “Trick or Treat” Bags

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Study Finds Costumes and Party Supplies Sold by Top Retailers Contain Hazardous Additives

(Ann Arbor, MI) — A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 Halloween products for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. The products were purchased from top national retailers including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens.

Media Resources:

“We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director. “Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.”

HealthyStuff.org tested Halloween products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins).

Some products contained multiple chemical hazards, including a Toddler Batman Muscle Costume whose belt contained 29% regulated phthalates, 340 ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120…

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Status of Workers’ Compensation in the United States

Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

For all those concerned about worker’s compensation in our country—which really is all citizens—take a look at this important report on the current status of worker’s compensation systems.  The report, from the Worker’s Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) highlights the scary place where some legislators and big businesses want to take worker’s compensation.

Click here for the report. (PDF)

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How It’s Going: Workers’ Compensation, Perspective and Resilience

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

We humans are made of strong stuff. We can adapt, change, address a new situation, do the right thing, and sometimes even admit we’re wrong.

Though it’s hard to admit it, some of the challenges and stresses of the workers’ compensation system are that the system is made up of humans who lack perspective, lose perspective or refuse to see others’ perspectives.

One of the important and impressive things about humans is that we continue to adapt and gain perspective in situations that make us uncomfortable, doing the right thing even when facing big problems and challenges.

In Adjuster Does Right from David DePaolo, this amazing blog post helped me to step back and gain perspective.

Do you do the right thing when it might not be popular or profitable?

In his blog post, DePaolo writes the following, encouraging people to realize that those humans involved in the system might not have all the information but will be making a decision anyway, and stubbornly dig in because their way is the right one for their “side.”

“It’s easy to denigrate and criticize ‘the insurance company’ because of the monolithic facade of the establishment, and the cold, dehumanizing character of the process.

“But behind that steel and glass are real human beings entrenched in conflict as soon as they walk through the doors to do their jobs. Every day the professional at the claims desk has decisions to make that affect, deeply, others,” DePaolo writes.

In this case, DePaolo celebrates the result as a success story, because “Adjuster X did the right thing. Not without considerable anxiety, stress and internal conflict …”

The “sides” are not necessarily evil, and the people taking the sides are generally good people who have friends and loved ones.

James Fallows wrote an article that is linked to at the end of the DePaolo story, How America Is Putting Itself Back Together. It has so many good thoughts and ideas in it, and I strongly encourage you to read it and think about how you are involved in whatever community, tribe, or cause outside of yourself in which you believe.

“What is true for this very hard-luck city prevails more generally: Many people are discouraged by what they hear and read about America, but the closer they are to the action at home, the better they like what they see,” Fallows writes.

For different people, “home” can mean different things. What is your community? Who are your people? Where do you belong, contribute, and make someone think and be challenged and/or feel good and be appreciated?

It doesn’t have to look the way your parents’ community looked – it can be online – uniting people in different states, or it can be via CB radios, to use a couple of examples that occur today.

Thinking about workers’ compensation makes me realize that the system can definitely be improved, but it does, generally speaking, work, as do a lot of other activities in American life, which Fallows demonstrates in his article in The Atlantic.

Sometimes people in workers’ compensation get so focused on their way or the highway – what Fallows likens to people on an Interstate who can only see the road ahead, because they’re driving on the ground.

But Fallows encourages people to get a different perspective – like he does – by flying low across the nation in a small plane. I think that idea can be applied to an individual’s situation, the workers’ compensation system, or a community, which was Fallows’ focus.

“I would love for more people to know how this country looks from above. I would love for America’s sense of itself to include more of what we’ve seen on the ground,” he writes.

There are smart, thoughtful people in every community. The workers’ compensation system is no exception. The quote below, though Fallon was referencing creativity in tech start-ups, applies to people who choose to be nice, make the best of hard and challenging situations, and strive to be kind.

“… Nearly everywhere we went we were surprised by evidence of a different flow: of people with first-rate talents and ambitions who decided that someplace other than the biggest cities offered the best overall opportunities. We saw and documented examples in South Carolina, and South Dakota, and Vermont, and the central valley of California, and central Oregon.” …

 “Where you wouldn’t expect, that is, except we have seen so much of this nearly every place we’ve gone,” Fallows writes.

What Fallows is describing but doesn’t specifically name is resilience – recovering, adapting, developing coping tools, and figuring out the new normal. It is not an easy thing, but it is an important thing.

It is possible to be content – and even happy, or at least satisfied – with your personal situation, while still taking part in fighting injustice and inequity.

One way of doing that is by helping others – even working with people with whom you don’t agree philosophically – but who you can work with to improve a system or achieve a goal, anyway.

That’s one of the motivations of the Kids’ Chance of Nebraska organization. It offers scholarships to college students whose parents have been affected by workplace injury or even death. It is a wonderful, powerful cause, and I look forward to many more scholarships helping children of injured workers continue and ultimately reach their educational goals.

Though there is a lot of divisiveness and taking sides in the nation right now, after reading DePaolo and Fallows, it is reassuring to think that just like a bunch of small fragmented communities showing economic resilience, maybe our small gestures like a bunch of people within a workers’ compensation system giving Kids’ Chance scholarships, can and do make a difference to the greater whole.

Yes, there is always room for improvement. But I would like to think that just like that adjuster who did the right thing and those who give back to their communities are helping, that maybe we, as a nation, are doing OK after all.

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How It’s Going: Workers’ Compensation, Perspective and Resilience

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

We humans are made of strong stuff. We can adapt, change, address a new situation, do the right thing, and sometimes even admit we’re wrong.

Though it’s hard to admit it, some of the challenges and stresses of the workers’ compensation system are that the system is made up of humans who lack perspective, lose perspective or refuse to see others’ perspectives.

One of the important and impressive things about humans is that we continue to adapt and gain perspective in situations that make us uncomfortable, doing the right thing even when facing big problems and challenges.

In Adjuster Does Right from David DePaolo, this amazing blog post helped me to step back and gain perspective.

Do you do the right thing when it might not be popular or profitable?

In his blog post, DePaolo writes the following, encouraging people to realize that those humans involved in the system might not have all the information but will be making a decision anyway, and stubbornly dig in because their way is the right one for their “side.”

“It’s easy to denigrate and criticize ‘the insurance company’ because of the monolithic facade of the establishment, and the cold, dehumanizing character of the process.

“But behind that steel and glass are real human beings entrenched in conflict as soon as they walk through the doors to do their jobs. Every day the professional at the claims desk has decisions to make that affect, deeply, others,” DePaolo writes.

In this case, DePaolo celebrates the result as a success story, because “Adjuster X did the right thing. Not without considerable anxiety, stress and internal conflict …”

The “sides” are not necessarily evil, and the people taking the sides are generally good people who have friends and loved ones.

James Fallows wrote an article that is linked to at the end of the DePaolo story, How America Is Putting Itself Back Together. It has so many good thoughts and ideas in it, and I strongly encourage you to read it and think about how you are involved in whatever community, tribe, or cause outside of yourself in which you believe.

“What is true for this very hard-luck city prevails more generally: Many people are discouraged by what they hear and read about America, but the closer they are to the action at home, the better they like what they see,” Fallows writes.

For different people, “home” can mean different things. What is your community? Who are your people? Where do you belong, contribute, and make someone think and be challenged and/or feel good and be appreciated?

It doesn’t have to look the way your parents’ community looked – it can be online – uniting people in different states, or it can be via CB radios, to use a couple of examples that occur today.

Thinking about workers’ compensation makes me realize that the system can definitely be improved, but it does, generally speaking, work, as do a lot of other activities in American life, which Fallows demonstrates in his article in The Atlantic.

Sometimes people in workers’ compensation get so focused on their way or the highway – what Fallows likens to people on an Interstate who can only see the road ahead, because they’re driving on the ground.

But Fallows encourages people to get a different perspective – like he does – by flying low across the nation in a small plane. I think that idea can be applied to an individual’s situation, the workers’ compensation system, or a community, which was Fallows’ focus.

“I would love for more people to know how this country looks from above. I would love for America’s sense of itself to include more of what we’ve seen on the ground,” he writes.

There are smart, thoughtful people in every community. The workers’ compensation system is no exception. The quote below, though Fallon was referencing creativity in tech start-ups, applies to people who choose to be nice, make the best of hard and challenging situations, and strive to be kind.

“… Nearly everywhere we went we were surprised by evidence of a different flow: of people with first-rate talents and ambitions who decided that someplace other than the biggest cities offered the best overall opportunities. We saw and documented examples in South Carolina, and South Dakota, and Vermont, and the central valley of California, and central Oregon.” …

 “Where you wouldn’t expect, that is, except we have seen so much of this nearly every place we’ve gone,” Fallows writes.

What Fallows is describing but doesn’t specifically name is resilience – recovering, adapting, developing coping tools, and figuring out the new normal. It is not an easy thing, but it is an important thing.

It is possible to be content – and even happy, or at least satisfied – with your personal situation, while still taking part in fighting injustice and inequity.

One way of doing that is by helping others – even working with people with whom you don’t agree philosophically – but who you can work with to improve a system or achieve a goal, anyway.

That’s one of the motivations of the Kids’ Chance of Nebraska organization. It offers scholarships to college students whose parents have been affected by workplace injury or even death. It is a wonderful, powerful cause, and I look forward to many more scholarships helping children of injured workers continue and ultimately reach their educational goals.

Though there is a lot of divisiveness and taking sides in the nation right now, after reading DePaolo and Fallows, it is reassuring to think that just like a bunch of small fragmented communities showing economic resilience, maybe our small gestures like a bunch of people within a workers’ compensation system giving Kids’ Chance scholarships, can and do make a difference to the greater whole.

Yes, there is always room for improvement. But I would like to think that just like that adjuster who did the right thing and those who give back to their communities are helping, that maybe we, as a nation, are doing OK after all.

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Panthers’ Super Bowl Football Player (Thomas Davis) Joins the Big Game While Still Recovering from Surgery (or, in Work Comp Terms Panthers’ Employee Returns Full-Duty Pre-MMI)

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Super Bowl 50 what a game! As a Panthers’ fan, it was depressing to see our usually high-scoring offense crushed by the Broncos’ defense. However, the Panthers’ defense kept us in the game until the bitter end. The dedication of Thomas Davis, a Panthers’ linebacker, was quite a site. Davis, who sustained a broken forearm in an earlier game, played through Super Bowl 50 with a surgically implanted plate and 11 screws in his right forearm. Davis shared a post-surgical photo after the Super Bowl on social media. In his post, Davis said:

This post is not about me, or how tough I am. It’s not to shine any light on me or my injuries. Our team doctors and trainers did an amazing job giving me an opportunity to get back on the field. This post is strictly to show how much love I have for my brothers and #PantherNation. Thank you all for your support and we will #KeepPounding.-TD

Take a look at the photo (if you’re not too squeamish) and you will be amazed that Davis played through the Super Bowl with over 20 stitches. Clearly, Davis is a strong individual. His decision to join the game, despite his injuries, was not taken lightly and was made with the consultation of his treating physicians.

Like Davis, many injured workers are extremely eager to return to work. Whenever possible, and medically acceptable, returning to work is the best option for the injured worker and the employer. However, the decision to return to work after an injury must be carefully evaluated. All too frequently, our firm receives calls from injured workers who prematurely rush back to work only to find out they can’t perform their old job duties. Sadly, their employer, although understanding at first, becomes frustrated with the injured worker’s physical constraints and the injured worker is terminated. Under these circumstances, the injured worker may have an additional cause of action (retaliatory discharge claim) but the end result could have been avoided if they monitored their recovery carefully and focused on healing before returning to work.