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Healthcare Transformation Project

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LERA 2014: Live Updates from John August

By John August

Saturday, May 31 - My panel's topic of hidden costs was very well received.  In the fields of occupational safety and health, privatization, tax subsidies to create jobs, teacher exploitation, and health care, I calculate that our political system wastes $2 trillion.
This type of data provides an opportunity to change our language as a nation;  waste should not be part of GDP!

Friday, May 30 - After two full days of conference sessions and meetings, a full house turned out to experience the one-man play:  From "Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks" written and performed by British actor, Ian Ruskin.  The play depicts ILWU founder and leader,  Harry Bridges at middle age, looking back on the creation and success of the International Longshore  and Warehouse Union (ILWU).  The play is a moving historical piece which reminds us that greatness can be achieved with clarity of vision and mobilizing people around that vision, how the vision of one can become the vision of many.  At a time when the maritime association was one of the most powerful industry blocs on the West Coast, thousands of workers stood up against the odds and won regular jobs, with good pay out of a system where working on the docks previously meant bribing the foreman to give you work.  The ILWU strike of 1934 led to the death of two strikers, shot in the back by the police.  These deaths led to a 3-day General Strike in San Francisco, one of the turning points in the creation of the modern industrial labor movement.

Friday, May 30 - 6:00 PM EST- Excited and looking forward to tonight's Special Event:  "From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks" A Live Performance about labor leader Harry Bridges.  This event holds high anticipation as an actor will perform a multimedia program about the life and contributions of one of the most important labor leaders of the 20thcentury.  More to come…

Friday, May 30 - 5:00 PM EST -I attended the Symposium on Change and Innovation in Healthcare:  International Perspectives.

Speakers from Australia, United Kingdom, and from Kaiser Permanente all addressed the need to find a successful  path to innovation in health care delivery, and planning the workforce of the future.  All discussed their struggles with new forms of industrial engineering (LEAN), transition from acute care to primary care focus, and advances in technology and the movement from institutional to home and tele-medicine venues for receiving health care services.

Tom Kochan of MIT and Adrienne Eaton of Rutgers served as discussants for the symposium which was chaired by our own Peter Lazes.  Tom Kochan summarized that these challenges are universal in the industry today.
It was clear that innovation in collective bargaining and change management is essential to make the transformation successful.

Thursday, May 29 - Today I attended a symposium on "The Quality of Jobs for Low Wage Workers in the Hospitality Industry.  The symposium was chaired by ILR's Rosemary Batt, and the discussant was David Weill, the current Wage and Hour Administrator of the US Department of Labor.  Among other things we learned that food service workers in the US occupy both the fastest growing segment of employment and the lowest paid segment of employment in the nation.  This spells double trouble for our nation's workforce:  while  we know that  good jobs are hard to come by, by contrast, the available jobs keep tens of millions in poverty.  We also learned the following fact from panelist, Saru Jayaraman:  that restaurants are 83% out of compliance on the correct allocation of wages and tips.  In most states, the tipped minimum wage is $2.13/hr, with the customer making up the difference in the minimum wage in tips.  This means that most workers in the industry don't earn the minimum wage of $7.25/hr.

For more informaton on Cornell ILR faculty attending LERA, visit

To follow along on Twitter, use the hashtag #LERA2014 and tweet us @ILRHealthcare!


Keywords: Healthcare,health,union,work,SEIU,John August,Kasier Permanente,LERA,labor management partnership,costs of work

Posted on: May 31, 2014  

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