covid-19

Working From Home And Worker Bargaining Power

A good deal of the narrative and debate over working from home focuses on workers—what do they get, why do they want it, how they are choosing it. But to work from home, someone has to pay you. Does telework signal a change in the power relationship between employers and employees?

Economist Teresa Ghilarducci told us in a recent Forbes blog that there are 10 indicators of workers’ bargaining power, and only 4 of them are up—quit rates, reservation wages, the unemployment rate, and the number of jobs per unemployed worker. But productivity and profits are rising faster than wages, the labor share of the nation’s wealth has fallen, and real income for workers also is down—all trends that favor employers over workers.

We shouldn’t

The Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals Is Greed

We’re entering our third year of Covid, and America’s nurses — who we celebrated as heroes during the early days of lockdown — are now leaving the bedside. The pandemic arrived with many people having great hope for reform on many fronts, including the nursing industry, but much of that optimism seems to have faded.

In the Opinion Video above, nurses set the record straight about the root cause of the nursing crisis: chronic understaffing by profit-driven hospitals that predates the pandemic. “I could no longer work in critical care under the conditions I was being forced to work under with poor staffing,” explains one nurse, “and that’s when I left.” They also tear down the common misconception that there’s a shortage of nurses. In fact, there are more qualified nurses today in America than ever before.

To keep patients safe and protect our health care workers, lawmakers could regulate nurse-patient ratios, which California put in place in 2004, with positive results. Similar legislation was proposed and defeated in Massachusetts several years ago (with help from a $25 million “no” campaign funded by the hospital lobby), but it is currently on the table in Illinois and Pennsylvania. These laws could save patient lives and create a more just work environment for a vulnerable generation of nurses, the ones we pledged to honor and protect at the start of the pandemic.

ThedaCare lawsuit shows how Covid-19 disrupted the nursing labor market

The staffing crisis in health care reached a farcical extreme last week when ThedaCare, a health system in Wisconsin, filed for a temporary restraining order to block a number of its employees from leaving their jobs and moving to another nearby hospital.

The hospital argued that, because the pandemic had created a shortage of health care workers, it needed the court to block the employees from leaving at least until it was able to come up with a staffing plan.

As medical workers burn out, isolate due to Covid-19, and leave for other professions, the ensuing staffing shortage has gotten so severe that ThedaCare turned to the courts to try to fix it. It was a striking example of how the pandemic has turned the health care labor market upside down, putting nurses and doctors in higher demand than ever even as they must face the most grueling working conditions of their careers.

The workers and the hospital that hired them, Ascension Northeast Wisconsin, countered that ThedaCare could have matched the offers made by Ascension, but didn’t. By declining to match and then failing to come up with a plan before the workers were to set to leave, they argued ThedaCare was attempting to punish the workers for its own shortsightedness.

It appeared for a moment that ThedaCare’s gambit might work: A local judge granted the temporary injunction. But the judge changed course a few days and lifted the order, allowing the workers — members of an interventional radiology and cardiovascular team — to start work at their new employer.

New complaint narrows scope of COVID-19 mandate lawsuit

A revised complaint in the wide-reaching federal lawsuit seeking to overturn executive and public health orders related to COVID-19 in Wyoming has narrowed the suit’s scope — and left off its most well-known plaintiff.

Thursday’s updated lawsuit comes after U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled that the initial 128-page complaint failed to state a succinct cause of action and did not follow federal filing rules.

As in the first complaint, the new version states that Wyoming has extended its state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic longer than necessary as a way to procure federal funding.

The new complaint includes nine parents of Wyoming school children, but not Grace Smith, the Laramie High School student arrested for trespassing in October after returning to school while suspended for refusing to wear a mask. Smith’s father, Andy, is also not named in the second amended complaint.

It is not clear why the Smiths, who gained national attention after Grace’s arrest, are not included in this most recent filing, or whether they still plan on participating in the suit. Their lawyer could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The complaint focuses primarily on mask mandates in Wyoming public schools, including districts in Sheridan, Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Sweetwater and Uinta counties.

Judge blocks hospital from taking COVID-19 patient off ventilator

An Anoka County judge has ordered that Mercy Hospital must leave a Buffalo, Minnesota, man on a ventilator.

Scott Quiner was diagnosed with COVID-19 last fall and hospitalized in Waconia in October. His wife Anne told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Scott was transferred to Mercy Hospital in November where he remains sedated and on a ventilator.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the hospital alleges that doctors at the hospital were planning to take COVID-19 patient Scott Quiner off the ventilator Thursday.

“I have advised the doctors that I vehemently disagree with this action and do not want my husband’s ventilator turned off,” Anne Quiner states in the filing.

On Thursday, Judge Jennifer Stanfield ordered that Mercy Hospital cannot turn the ventilator off. A hearing is set for Feb. 11. In the meantime, Stanfield told both parties to put together their legal arguments on the authority to remove someone from life support in Minnesota.

Allina Health, which operates Mercy Hospital, said it was “unable to comment on specific patient care” for privacy reasons.

“We will follow the court’s order in this case and continue to work through the legal process. In the meantime, our care teams remain committed to providing exceptional care to all our patients

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