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WBI BLOG

Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies



July 14th, 2014

Healthy Workplace Bill legislation: A 2014 perspective on distorted amendments

The Healthy Workplace Campaign is WBI’s effort to enact anti-bullying legislation for the American workplace state by state. The model bill is called the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB).


Features of the HWB

• Suffolk University Law Professor David C. Yamada, text author, used federal Title VII Civil Rights laws as basis

• Defines severe abusive conduct — does not use term workplace bullying

• Provides legal redress for anyone subjected to abusive conduct, whether or not the person is a member of a protected status group

• Requires that abusive conduct result in either demonstrable health or economic harm to plaintiff

• Plaintiffs who file lawsuits make public formerly hidden, confidential employer processes that hide and deny bullying

• Prohibits retaliation against any participant in procedures involved in dealing with the abusive conduct complaint

• Requires plaintiffs to hire private attorneys, no fiscal impact on state government

• Provides incentives (affirmative defenses) for employers who implement genuine corrective procedures

• Preserves managerial prerogative to discipline and terminate employees

• Does not interfere with state workers’ compensation laws or union CBAs

We named the HWB in 2002. All other uses of the name HWB are unauthorized by us. California first introduced the HWB in 2003. It has been carried in over half of states and two territories since. The Workplace Bullying Institute trains and provides support to a national network of volunteer Sate Coordinators who lobby their respective state legislators to sponsor the HWB. You can track its status at the HWB website.

Botched Amendments & Unanticipated Consequences

As authors of the HWB, we naturally want the full and original version of the bill enacted into law. And we realize compromises will be made during the process. It is “sausage making,” after all. We just wish all bill sponsors would refuse to allow major revisions that change the spirit of the bill from protecting abused workers to something else. Since the HWB was first introduced, different amendments have been proposed or made.

Often the well-intended sponsor, a pro-worker advocate, agrees to compromise adopting the belief that the law can be built in steps. Let’s get this version passed now and it will be revisited in the coming years and supplemented with the other desired provisions.

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Tutorials About Bullying, Unions, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment



July 14th, 2014

Workplace Bullying: Support for U.S. Laws


SUPPORT FOR A LAW in 2014

Question: Do you support or oppose enactment of a new law that would protect all workers from repeated abusive mistreatment in addition to protections against illegal discrimination and harassment?

The respondents who answered this question were individuals who were directly bullied, those who had witnessed it, the few who were perpetrators, and those with no personal experience but who believed it happened and those who believed it was exaggerated. Those groups taken together constituted the American public who were “aware” of abusive conduct at work, the 72% (See National Prevalence).

It is clear that those respondents, the American public aware of abusive conduct, want to see worker protections extended beyond the anti-discrimination statutes – 93% support specific anti-bullying legislation.

Furthermore, 50% of Survey respondents self-defined as Conservatives strongly support the Healthy Workplace Bill. With such little opposition from
those expected to oppose the bill, it is a certain conclusion that now is the time for passage of this new law.


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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), WBI Surveys & Studies | Post Comment



July 11th, 2014

WBI Workplace Bullying education events in August

Workplace Bullying University® For professionals — healthcare, HR, unions, legal, mental health, trainers & consultants, individuals making a career transition — the only comprehensive preparation in the nuanced workplace bullying phenomenon. Includes all education materials needed to launch an organization’s anti-bullying initiative, an extensive Research Library, and hours of supplementary resources. Faculty: Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie.

3 days: August 15-17 in Bellingham, WA
Tuition is $3,100
Special: mention “BLOG” for a $500 discount on/before July 25.
Call 360-656-6630

Said a veteran HR director, “Definitely the most value-added program to organizational development I have attended in my 30-plus years in the business.”


Workplace Bullying Retreat For bullied individuals and those who support them. A day of validation, learning and restoration. Bring along a loved one or coworker. Includes a copy of The Bully At Work. Facilitated by Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie.

1 day: Sat. August 23 in Bellingham, WA
Tuition: $250, $100 for second person.
Special: mention “BLOG” for $50 discount on/before Aug. 1
Call 360-656-6630

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Posted in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Products & Services, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying University | Post Comment



July 10th, 2014

HR Exec: Taking Aim at Workplace Bullies

By David Shadovitz | Human Resource Executive, July 10, 2014

Anti-bullying legislation continues to gain momentum in state legislatures, with Tennessee becoming the first state to pass anti-bullying legislation.

On June 17, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law the Healthy Workplace Act, a law that affects the practices of state and local government agencies. Private employers are not affected.

The law defines “harassment, intimidation or bullying” as any act that “substantially interferes with a person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment,” and instructs the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernment Relations to create a model policy by next March. Employers have the option to adopt the TACIR policy or not. Those deciding to enact it would be immune from claims arriving from bullying behavior.

Proponents of anti-bullying legislation and experts believe other states could soon follow in the Volunteer State’s footsteps, with some pointing to New York and Massachusetts as the most likely to pass anti-bullying laws that would also include private-sector employers.

So far, 28 states have introduced anti-bullying legislation this year, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash.

In June, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla vetoed legislation that would have held both public- and private-sector employers in that territory accountable for workplace bullying. In doing so, Padilla pointed to the Department of Justice’s view that the definition of “workplace harassment” is too vague and the fact that victims of workplace bullying can still seek protection under the territory’s Constitution.

Gary Namie, national director of the Workplace Bullying Institute and a chief architect of the Healthy Workplace Act, says his reaction to the Tennessee law is generally positive. Any legislation that focuses on abusive conduct in the workplace breaks the silence, he says. “You’re going to have all of the institutions talking about it now.”

But while he considers the Tennessee law a good first step, Namie adds that he’s disappointed by the legislation’s limited scope and authority, describing it as a “gutted” version of the Healthy Workplaces Act.

Namie notes that it’s also unfortunate that under the act “all of the processes still happen in-house under a shroud of secrecy . . . . “Everything remains internal.”

Recent studies confirm that bullying continues to be a widespread and troubling issue in workplaces.

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July 10th, 2014

Untrustworthy stupid headlines about workplace bullying

Upon return from a short break, we found a jaw-dropping headline that cannot be believed.

96% of Workers are Bullied at Work!

The non-discerning press copied the press release from a consulting firm named Vital Smarts who have never been players in the workplace bullying arena. [See the US Academy roster to see who is doing credible and important work in America.]

Why do we at WBI say this company’s finding is not believable? Because they do not provide a definition nor describe their research methodology. We at WBI get a 97% bullied rate when we ask those who complete our online surveys. Of course we do. Who comes to this website seeking solutions to their personal problem and may also complete a survey? Bullied targets and witnesses. Our respondents are a “self-selected,” non-random sample. Our research reports clearly state when studies rely on bullied targets’ opinions only.

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Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | Post Comment



July 10th, 2014

New WBI poll — believing bullied workers

For bullied targets. When I described what happened to me

View Results

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July 9th, 2014

Punishment too light for employer-caused death & toxifying river systems

In this space we regularly call for greater employer accountability and the enactment of laws that make that accountability more likely than is currently done voluntarily. Our domain is the non-physical safety threat. U.S. workers are supposedly to be made safe from threats to their physical safety.

OSHA, a “regulatory” agency responsible for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S. seems to have trouble accomplishing its mission. “OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful workplaces by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Wondering if by assistance, OSHA means delivering “waivers” to destructive employers who poison and take lives.

For example, the following two stories of injustice based on token punishment will curdle your blood.

Story 1.

A CSC Sugar plant in Fairless Hills, PA provides sugar for Snapple and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The plant is staffed and managed entirely by temp workers. According to ProPublica statistics, temporary workers are most at risk for safety hazards at worksites in states where data exist.

In February 2013, Peruvian New Jersey resident Janio Salinas was unclogging the machine from below. He was buried alive and asphyxiated. Coworkers found him after they returned from lunch. The onsite temp manager had complained about this potential hazard to a higher level manager until a safety platform was installed. However, the big boss instructed the temp manager to remove that platform because it had slowed the flow of sugar, had slowed down “production.” That big boss lied about his order to investigators, claiming ignorance about the platform (picture on the left). His costly decision was made 13 days before Salinas was buried. Turns out the only cost was Salinas’ life.

Next came the OSHA investigation. OSHA initially fined CSC $25,855 but after CSC installed a safety guard and started using a new procedure to break up sugar clumps, the fine was reduced to $18,098 (for good behavior???). Jean Kulp, director of OSHA’s Allentown, PA, office, told Univision that her agency doesn’t have the ability to shut down businesses, has limited criminal enforcement provisions, and found the CSC had not been “willfully in violation,” which would have triggered bigger fines despite a record of repeated violations.

$18,098 for a man’s life!

Kulp’s ultimate insult to the Salinas’ surviving family: CSC had not in her judgement shown “total disregard” for its workers.

Thanks to Daily Kos for the tip to the tale.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, The New America | Post Comment



July 9th, 2014

Bullied British doctors

British physicians-in-training endure a high level of abuse and bullying.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is the UK agency that license, registers and regulates physicians in the name of serving public safety. The British Medical Association (BMA) is the trade association with physicians as members.

A December 2013 GMC survey of bullying was completed by 54,000 physicians. Overall, 13% claimed to have been victims of bullying; 20% are witnesses to the bullying of others [Note the 2014 U.S. witnessing rate was 21%]. Nearly half of those who reported being bullied were in training. 27% were undermined by a senior physician in a consulting or training role.

Also according to the 2013 study, patient safety was affected by the bullying. Only 5.2% raised concerns about patient safety during their training. By the time the physician is in practice, post-training, the rate drops to 0.4%. It seems the only time doctors connect bullying and abuse to negatively impacting patient safety is when they are just beginning their careers with fresh eyes. Once in place as a professional, the link is ignored.

Both BMA and GMC spokespersons agreed that listening to young doctors working on the front lines is important. In the early stages of their careers, they are most likely to be most sensitive to the safety of patients.

In the U.S. in 2009, JCAHO, the hospital accreditation trade group connected the dots between lateral violence and bullying with threats to patient safety. It issued its “Culture of Safety” standards to be met by all hospitals. But hospitals added very little new to existing policies that have never adequately discouraged bullying and psychological violence in the health care setting.

Back to Britain. In a much smaller survey (of 75 doctors) conducted by the BMA, doctors turned on the patients and complained about them as perpetrators. Over half reported being bullied by a patient at work (though no exact figure could be found, none was provided). Most surveyed physicians said they reported bullying incidents of a doctor by a patient. And the vast majority of doctors said more must be done.

If only they could practice medicine without those bothersome patients! Let me suggest that in the sample of 75 docs were many of the senior docs who had tormented or undermined junior trainees in 2013 and were shown to not care any longer about patient safety in their established practices.

Finally, as the author of so many studies that can be found at this website, I deplore the publication of pie chart results without providing accompanying numbers.

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July 3rd, 2014

Let’s Talk with Kalola: Bullied in England

Dear Kalola,

My story started when a new manager came to run the store. I had been working at the store for 12 years. I am a good team leader popular with everybody, ie., staff and customers. I am helpful and willing to share my knowledge. I am diligent and industrious and willing to stand up against injustice.

The new manager began nit picking, criticism of trivial nature all the time asking me to show others my duties then took all my achievement.

I went sick and blamed myself. I was so depressed. I picked myself up and asked for a meeting. Went to the meeting, a new area manager told me straight away I was not up to job.

With all of the prolonged negative stress, I had very bad stress and a breakdown. Sorry out of space.

Jean


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June 30th, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court strikes another body blow to public sector unions

Unions have certainly become punching bags recently for anti-union zealots — Republican Governors, mainstream media, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and their long-standing arch enemy, the National Right to Work foundation. The right to work meaning without union protections so you can work for minimum wages and absolutely no say in how your work is organized and assigned. Incredibly, 24 states have adopted “right-to-work” legislation that undermines unionism. The NRTWF is the organization that sues unions on behalf of workers fed up with their unions.

So arose the court case Harris v. Quinn (the State of Illinois). The SEIU has been organizing low-paid workers in the home health industry for years. Those workers are typically women of color. They serve disabled individuals in their home — hard work by compassionate underpaid people. When they unionize, wages rise a bit.

Unions, like corporations, engage in political activity. Unions contribute to politicians’ election campaigns at a fraction of the amount corporations do, given that the latter have all the cash. Two SCOTUS decisions — Citizens United decision and one this session — made limits of corporate giving disappear. Anti-union groups like the NRTWF exaggerate the amount of union dues spent on political activity and have successfully separated union funds set aside for that activity from funds to run the business of the union — being advocates for their members. Some states require non-members to pay a “fair share fee” to the union in order to take advantage of workers’ benefits negotiated in collective bargaining agreements between unions and government employers. In other states, anti-union legislation has allowed public sector employees to benefit without having to join or to pay the union. Unions call this “free riding.” Alito thinks the phenomenon is “something of an anomaly.”

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