Employer-Sponsored Pensions: A Primer

Source: Brendan Cushing-Daniels and Richard W. Johnson, Urban Institute, January 29, 2008

The shifting pension landscape raises questions about the financial security of future retirees. About one-half of private-sector workers are not covered by employer-sponsored pension plans on their current job. Many private-sector employers have replaced traditional pensions with 401(k)-type plans, which protect benefits for workers who change jobs frequently but expose participants to investment risks. This primer describes pensions, workers with coverage, and related policy issues.

Do Individual Mandates Matter?

Source: Linda J. Blumberg, John Holahan, Urban Institute, January 29, 2008

In this brief we conclude that, absent a single payer system, it is not possible to achieve universal coverage without an individual mandate. The evidence is strong that voluntary measures alone would leave large numbers of people uninsured. Voluntary measures would tend to enroll disproportionate numbers of individuals with higher cost health problems, creating high premiums and instability in the insurance pools in which they are enrolled, unless further significant government subsidization is provided. The government would also have difficulty redirecting current spending on the uninsured to offset some of the cost associated with a new program without universal coverage.

International Care: R.I.’S Hospitals Look Abroad For Nurses

Source: Felice J. Freyer, Providence Journal, January 26, 2008

So far, the number of foreign nurses in Rhode Island is small. Of the 20,553 nursing licenses, only 79 belong to foreign-trained nurses, some of whom probably have not yet arrived. Rhode Island Hospital’s 20 foreign nurses work among 1,800 bedside nurses at the hospital.

But, here as elsewhere, the trend is clearly growing — held in check, at least for now, by limits on the number of visas the State Department will give out. Rhode Island Hospital has offered jobs to 133 additional foreign nurses who are waiting for visas. Kent Hospital has 26 foreign nurses “on the way.”

Nationwide, 12 percent of those who took the qualifying exam for a nursing license last year were educated overseas.

Symposium: Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership

Source: Industrial Relations, Volume 47 Issue 1, January 2008
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Introduction to a Symposium on the Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership by Thomas A. Kochan

In 1997 Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest private integrated health insurance and health care delivery organization, and a coalition of ten national and thirty local unions signed an agreement to create a labor management partnership. Over the past decade it has grown to become the largest, and as will be described in the papers in this symposium, the most ambitious labor management partnership in the history of U.S. labor relations. Since 2000 our research team has studied the partnership through interviews, surveys, case studies of specific projects, and participant observation of national contract negotiations. The papers presented in this symposium report on three aspects of our research that capture critical challenges and opportunities facing labor, management, and government policy makers today.

Balancing Acts: Dynamics of a Union Coalition in a Labor Management Partnership by Adrienne E. Eaton, Saul A. Rubinstein and Thomas A. Kochan

The Potential and Precariousness of Partnership: The Case of the Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership by Thomas A. Kochan, Paul S. Adler, Robert B. McKersie, Adrienne E. Eaton, Phyllis Segal and Paul Gerhart

Bargaining Theory Meets Interest-Based Negotiations: A Case Study by Robert B. McKersie, Teresa Sharpe, Thomas A. Kochan, Adrienne E. Eaton, George Strauss and Marty Morgenstern.

Decline and Disenchantment: Reflections on the Aging of the National Labor Relations Board

Source: Wilma B. Liebman, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Volume 28, no. 2, 2007

In this essay, the senior member of the National Labor Relations Board reflects on the aging of American labor law and the agency that administers it. In her view, the National Labor Relations Act, which has not been updated in 60 years, is now out of sync with a transformed economy. Meanwhile, the Board, even accounting for the statutory, judicial and political constraints under which it operates, has failed in its duty to apply the statute dynamically. The author suggests, however, that the stakes are too high to abandon hope for a revitalization of labor law and policy.

Administrative Criminal Law & Procedure in the Teamsters Union: What Has Been Achieved After (Nearly) Twenty Years

Source: James B. Jacobs and Dimitri D. Portnoi, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Volume 28, no. 2, 2007

This article is a comprehensive case study of the most important civil RICO labor racketeering case in American history, U.S. v. IBT. It provides the first empirical study of the effort by DOJ and the federal courts to purge organized crime from the IBT and to reform the union so that it will be resistant to future corruption and racketeering. Drawing on 18 years of litigation generated by the effort of court-supervised monitors to enforce the 1988 settlement, it utilizes a database of all disciplinary charges brought by and the sanctions imposed by the court-supervised monitors. This article traces the remedial phase which has generated an immense amount of litigation right up to the present and focuses on the disciplinary (as opposed to the election) part of the remedial effort. The magnitude of this effort can hardly be exaggerated. The two remedial entities that the settlement established to enforce the consent order have expelled more than 600 officers and members from the IBT and placed some 40 IBT locals and joint councils under the international union’s trusteeship. This work has been accomplished via the creation of an IBT-specific criminal justice system that has evolved into an elaborate system of procedural and substantive disciplinary law. U.S. v. IBT is an experiment in institution building. It may allow us to determine, or at least to knowledgeably assess, the potential and limits of civil RICO as a methodology for attacking deeply entrenched systemic criminality in powerful formal organizations.

Compulsory Labor in a National Emergency: Public Service or Involuntary Servitude? The Case of Crippled Ports

Source: Michael H. LeRoy, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Volume 28, no. 2, 2007

The Thirteenth Amendment ban on involuntary servitude has new relevance as the United States grapples with national emergencies such as catastrophic hurricanes, flu pandemics, and terrorism. This article considers work refusal and coerced work performance in the context of life-threatening employment. Overwhelmed by fear, hundreds of police officers and health care workers abandoned their jobs during Hurricane Katrina. Postal clerks worked against their will without masks in facilities with anthrax. A report by Congress demonstrates concern that avian flu will cause sick and frightened medical personnel to stay away from work, thus jeopardizing a coherent response to a crisis. How far can the U.S. go in forcing reluctant civilians to perform essential jobs during a national emergency? The author explores solutions to his question by hypothesizing a large release of radiation–whether by terror attack, catastrophic accident, or major earthquake–in a vital Pacific port.

President’s Expected Push To Make Tax Cuts Permanent Is Irresponsible Fiscal And Economic Policy

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 28, 2008

In his State of the Union address this evening, President Bush is expected to renew his push to make his signature tax cuts permanent. In recent weeks, Administration officials have offered three major arguments for this policy — (1) the tax cuts yielded strong economic growth over the past few years, (2) extending them would help the economy overcome its current weakness, and (3) extending them would improve the economy’s performance over the long run. None of these claims bears up well under scrutiny.

Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008

Source: Amaad Rivera, Brenda Cotto-Escalera, Anisha Desai, Jeannette Huezo, and Dedrick Muhammad, United for a Fair Economy, January 15, 2008

This report finds that due to racial bias, people of color are being hit especially hard by the current subprime lending crisis. As homes are foreclosed and families of color find themselves in financial ruin, the racial and economic equality that Martin Luther King, Jr. once envisioned is moving even further out of reach. We found the estimated total loss of wealth for people of color to be between $164 billion and $213 billion for subprime loans taken during the past eight years. This breaks down to losses of between $71 billion and $92 billion for Black/African-American borrowers, and between $75 billion and $98 billion for Latino borrowers for the same period.

An Analysis Of The Rebate Proposal In The Announced Stimulus Deal

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 25, 2008

The centerpiece of the stimulus deal announced yesterday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is a proposal to send rebate checks to 117 million U.S. households.

The structure of the proposed rebate, while not ideal from a stimulus standpoint, is far superior to the structure of the rebate proposal that the Administration developed last week. Where the President’s proposal would have left out approximately 26 million low- and moderate-income working households, the rebate proposal included in the compromise package would reach almost all of these households.

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Dispelling Confusion On Food Stamps, Tax Rebates, And The Stimulus Package: Speaker’s Statement on Food Stamps at National Press Club Was Mistaken

Source: Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 26, 2008