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Union Targets Hospitals in California, Oregon

Wall Street Journal (12/02/13) Kris Maher

The nation’s largest health care union is threatening to mount ballot initiatives in California and Oregon that it says would lower health care costs, but industry officials say the real goal is to pressure hospitals into making it easier for the union to organize thousands of workers. Proposed measures in both states would cap executive pay and limit how much hospitals can charge consumers. Both sides say they are prepared to spend millions on opposing campaigns if the measures get on the ballots in November 2014.

However, the Service Employees International Union says it could back off if the industry agrees to work with the union. Hospitals can join with the SEIU, or “get into some very high-stakes policy and political engagements,” says Dave Regan, who heads the SEIU’s biggest local in California. Experts say the SEIU appears to be ramping up the tactic of waging negative public campaigns to win agreements from employers, including organizing accords, by setting the stage for a direct appeal to voters. The potential showdown comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the legality of pacts in which employers agree not to oppose union organizing, known as neutrality agreements.

Wage Strikes Planned at Fast-Food Outlets

New York Times (12/01/13) Steven Greenhouse

The organizers of this year’s strikes against fast-food outlets for better wages have announced that they plan to sponsor one-day strikes in 100 cities on Dec. 5 and protests in 100 additional cities. Strikes are planned for the first time in Charleston, SC, Providence, RI, and Pittsburgh. The groups demand a $15 per hour wage for fast food workers.

The movement includes the groups Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15 and is part of a union-backed effort by low-paid workers to raise wages. National Restaurant Association officials say raising pay to $15 per hour when the federal minimum wage is $7.25 will drive a shift towards more automation and fewer workers.

2.2 Million Jobless Americans Face Aid Cutoff

USA Today (12/01/13) Paul Davidson

The National Employment Law Project says around 1.3 million jobless Americans will lose extended jobless benefits by the end of December and another 850,000 will lose unemployment insurance from January through March if Congress fails to renew the program. There are concerns that such a move would hit these households especially hard, considering that a temporary increase in food stamp benefits was phased out on Nov. 1.

Although the unemployment rate has dropped from 10% in October 2009 to 7.3% in November, 36% of unemployed Americans, around 4.1 million, have been without a job for at least six months. NELP says the percentage of long-term unemployed receiving benefits will decline to 25% if the emergency program is not renewed, down from 34% currently and 45% a year ago. Ending the extended unemployment benefits would also lower economic growth by 0.15 percentage points in 2014, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

Nurses, Wilkes-Barre General Spar Over Strike Staffing Plans

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (Pennsylvania) (11/30/13) Roger DuPuis

Nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Pennsylvania are planning a 14-hour work stoppage on Dec. 3 due to disagreements about soaring health insurance costs, scheduling, and pay increases. The nurses’ union has complained that the hospital’s parent company, Community Health Systems, expects to hire “highly questionable” nurses from staffing firms to serve as strikebreakers. However, hospital officials say the incidents cited in the union’s statement do not involve nurses from US Nursing, which is the staffing firm used by Wilkes-Barre General.

Hospital spokesman Jim McGuire says the errors and misdeeds mentioned in the statement, such as a strike-staffing nurse who infected patients with Hepatitis C in Philadelphia, are merely scare tactics. He says, “Under the terms of the hospital’s agreement with the staffing firm, the qualifications, level of experience, and certifications required of the temporary nurses are the same as those required of our staff nurses.”

Get Important Legal Information to Protect Your Business

All staffing professionals and their clients need to know the facts about co-employment—the relationship between a staffing firm and its client in which each has legal rights and duties with respect to the same employees. Help your employees and your clients by giving them the book that explains this evolving area of federal employment law.

The ASA book Co-Employment: Employer Liability Issues in Third-Party Staffing Arrangements, now in its seventh edition, explains how staffing firms and clients can mitigate employment-related risks. View the contents and an excerpt online at

Staffing World Workshop Proposals Due By Dec. 9

Can you offer solutions for the challenges that staffing firms face today? The American Staffing Association is looking for staffing industry professionals to share their experience and expertise through presentations. ASA is also looking for professionals in business, workforce, workplace management, and other disciplines pertinent to the staffing industry.

As a presenter for ASA, you will have the opportunity to reach out to staffing industry professionals and build lasting connections. ASA is currently accepting workshop proposals for Staffing World® 2014, the ASA annual convention and expo. The deadline to submit a workshop proposal is next Monday, Dec. 9.

Proposals for ASAPro webinars are accepted on an ongoing basis. Earlier submissions are given priority.

Do you know of a staffing professional in your company who would be a perfect presenter for ASA? Asking your internal staff to submit a proposal helps show them how important they are as an employee and resource in your company.

For more information and to download submission guidelines, visit