Author Archives: afscme

Reinforcing Regulatory Regimes: How States, Civil Society, and Codes of Conduct Promote Adherence to Global Labor Standards

Source: Michael W. Toffel, Jodi L. Short, and Melissa Ouellet, Harvard Business School Working Papers, HBS Working Paper Number: 13-045, November 2012

From the abstract:
In response to pressure from various stakeholders, many transnational businesses have developed codes of conduct and monitoring systems to ensure that working conditions in their supply chain factories meet global labor standards. Many observers have questioned whether these codes of conduct have any impact on working conditions or are merely a marketing tool to deflect criticism of valuable global brands. Using a proprietary dataset from one of the world’s largest social auditors, containing audit-level data for 31,915 audits of 14,922 establishments in 43 countries on behalf of 689 clients in 33 countries, we conduct one of the first large-scale comparative studies of adherence to labor codes of conduct to determine what combination of institutional conditions promotes compliance with the global labor standards embodied in codes. We find that these private transnational governance tools are most effective when they are embedded in states that have made binding domestic and international legal commitments to protect workers’ rights and that have high levels of press freedom and nongovernmental organization activity. Taken together, these findings suggest the importance of multiple, robust, overlapping, and reinforcing governance regimes to meaningful transnational regulation.

Municipal Equality Index

Source: Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign, ISBN 978-1-934765-26-5, 2012

From the abstract:
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community.

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition; the municipality’s employment practices; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership. Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples. Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.
See also:
Full-length, detailed scorecards

Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care

Source: Susan C. Reinhard, Carol Levine, Sarah Samis, AARP Public Policy Institute, October 2012

From the summary:
This study challenges the common perception of family caregiving as a set of personal care and household chores that most adults already do or can easily master. Family caregivers have traditionally provided assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, and household tasks such as shopping and managing finances. While these remain critically important to the well-being of care recipients, the role of family caregivers has dramatically expanded to include performing medical/nursing tasks of the kind and complexity once only provided in hospitals.
See also:
In Brief

The Retirement Breach in Defined Contribution Plans: Size, Causes, and Solutions

Source: Matt Fellowes, Katy Willemin, HelloWallet, January 2013
(registration required)

Well over half of U.S. employers use 401(k)’s and other defined contribution (DC) programs to encourage their employees to save for retirement, now collectively spending over $118 billion in match contributions and encouraging employees to save another $175 billion every year. Yet, over 25 percent of households that use a DC plan for retirement have withdrawn, or breached, their DC balances for non-retirement spending needs, amounting to over $70 billion in annual withdrawals. These trends challenge key legal and financial assumptions used to govern the DC retirement market …

…The findings indicate that employers are subsidizing an expensive retirement benefit that a large, and growing, share of workers do not use for retirement, signaling a broader misalignment between the advanced financial needs subsidized by employers and the basic, unmet financial needs of workers. Furthermore, because retirement plan breaching is not among the metrics reported by plan managers, this growing problem is largely invisible to employers sponsoring retirement benefits. Among our recommendations, we encourage employers and regulators to promote access to more personalized Total Rewards and talent management programs—with an increased focus on holistic money management needs —which more effectively align benefit spending with the actual benefit needs of their population. This will reduce costs for employers, improve worker engagement, and ultimately increase Rewards efficacy.

Health care personnel immunization programs: An assessment of knowledge and practice among infection preventionists in US health care facilities

Source: Ruth M. Carrico, Timothy Wiemken, Kelly Westhusing, Diana Christensen, W. Paul McKinney, AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, published online 14 January 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Guidelines exist that recommend specific vaccines for health care personnel and supporting documents provide guidance for program development and implementation, but the extent to which those guidelines have been implemented in health care personnel immunization programs has not been fully explored. This project aimed to evaluate current practices in US health care facilities concerning health care personnel immunization programs. … Results of the survey have identified a number of education and training opportunities that can be addressed by professional associations using available evidence-based and proven implementation materials as resource documents. …

Health care versus non-health care businesses’ experiences during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic: Financial impact, vaccination policies, and control measures implemented

Source: Terri Rebmann, Jing Wang, Zachary Swick, David Reddick, Corina Minden-Birkenmaier, AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, published online 31 January 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Only limited data are available on businesses’ experiences related to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in terms of interventions implemented, staffing shortages, employees working while ill, and H1N1 vaccination policy. A questionnaire was administered to human resource professionals during May-July 2011 to assess US businesses’ experiences related to the 2009 pandemic. …In all, 471 human resource professionals participated. Most did not work while ill. Twelve percent reported staffing shortages, 2.1% needed to hire temporary staff, and fewer than 1% reduced workload or closed during the pandemic. From logistic and linear regressions, determinants of providing employees H1N1 influenza training, respiratory hygiene education, offering H1N1 vaccine to employees, and higher infection prevention intervention scores were size of the business (with larger businesses implementing more interventions, such as providing education and vaccine, than smaller businesses) and being a health care agency…. Businesses should continue to improve business continuity and pandemic plans to prepare for the next biologic event (ie, pandemic, bioterrorism attack, or emerging infectious disease outbreak)….
Related:
Business continuity and pandemic preparedness: US health care versus non-health care agencies
Source: Terri Rebmann, Jing Wang, Zachary Swick, David Reddick, Corina Minden-Birkenmaier, AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, published online 21 January 2013
(subscription required)

The Impact of the Upward Redistribution of Wage Income on Social Security Solvency

Source: Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, February 3, 2013

…What is newer and was less widely anticipated is the upward redistribution of income that we have seen over the last three decades. This affects the program in two ways. First it has a direct effect in that a larger share of wage income has gone over the taxable maximum (currently just over $113,000). In 1983, the Greenspan commission set the cap at a level where 90 percent of wage income would be subject to the tax, meaning that 10 percent would escape taxations.

Since that date, the upward redistribution of wages has increased the portion of wage income over the cap to 16.8 percent, with just 83.2 percent of wage income subject to the cap. The share going over the wage cap is projected to rise further, reaching 17.5 percent of wage income in a decade. In this way, the upward redistribution of income directly worsens the finances of the program….

Focus Voters’ Anger on Corporations, Not Just Republicans

Source: Gordon Lafer, Labor Notes, January 28, 2013

…The country is in a bad mood, and legitimately so. Our task is to help people find the clarity and courage to direct their anger at those responsible for their misery. …

…There is no Master Plan that guarantees victory. But here are a few steps unions can take to move politics forward in 2013:
Focus on the states….
Put workplace organizing at the center of our political operation….

…Since most unions’ political staffs come out of electoral politics, they often don’t understand workplace internal organizing. To do politics right, we must bring together political and organizing staffs that often operate on separate tracks.
Recruit members to serve as public ambassadors….
Campaign against the corporate lobbies….
Run offensive campaigns….

The Unemployed and Job Openings: A Data Primer

Source: Donald Hirasuna, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R42943, January 31, 2013

New information that adds to the mix of labor market indicators may be useful to Congress. The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening provides information on how many unemployed persons on average there are for every job opening. It adds to the current mix of labor market indicators such as the unemployment rate, which is a measure of the excess supply of workers. In addition, it adds to employment statistics, which measures the demand for workers that have already been met by employers. By dividing the number of unemployed persons with the number of job openings, the ratio gauges the excess supply of workers relative to the demand, where job openings serve as a measure of the unmet need for workers. The resultant statistic compares the number of persons who are actively searching for jobs to the number of available opportunities.

Four key findings arise from this analysis:
1. The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening is highly correlated with the unemployment rate between 2001 and 2012.
2. The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening rises during the recessionary periods covered in this data set. In the 2007-2009 recession, the ratio rises to very high levels, especially in the goods-producing industries (construction, manufacturing, mining and logging).
3. Although the ratio is highly correlated with changes in the unemployment rate, the ratio saw modest improvements coming out of the recent recession sooner than the reductions in the unemployment rate.
4. Even though the ratio has reduced, it remains at higher levels than prior to the 2007-2009 recession.

Exchanging Delayed Social Security Benefits for Lump Sums: Could This Incentivize Longer Work Careers?

Source: Jingjing Chai, Raimond Maurer, Olivia S. Mitchell, and Ralph Rogalla, Pension Research Council, Working Paper WP2012-21, October 2012

From the abstract:
Social Security benefits are currently provided as a lifelong benefit stream, though some workers would be willing to trade a portion of their annuity streams in exchange for a lump sum amount. This paper explores whether allowing people to receive a lump sum as a payment for delayed retirement rather than as an addition to their lifetime Social Security benefits might induce them to work longer. We model the factors that influence how people trade off a Social Security stream for a lump sum, and we also examine the consequences of such tradeoffs for work, retirement, and life cycle wellbeing. Our base case indicates that workers given the chance to receive their delayed retirement credit as a lump sum payment would boost their average retirement age by 1.5-2 years. This will interest policymakers seeking to reform the Social Security system without raising costs or cutting benefits, while enhancing the incentives to delay retirement.