Liquidity in the Municipal Bond Market

Source: Edward Friedman, Regional Financial Review, July 2018
(subscription required)

Although the possibility of near-term federal legislation to boost infrastructure spending is fading, the need to address the nation’s aging roads, bridges, and other public works is as pressing as ever. Financing is the sticking point. After an initial flurry of interest, no progress has occurred on so-called public-private partnerships. Inevitably, the focus has shifted back to the municipal bond market as the vehicle. Unfortunately, tax reform has hindered rather than helped the market by reducing its tax advantages. This article will provide evidence that the market is also relatively illiquid and will show how that is also an impediment. However, recent regulatory changes offer the prospect that liquidity in the form of institutional participation in the market is set to rise.

QRATE Quantitative Ratings Estimator

Source: Dan White, Sunayana Mehra, Martin Wurm and Emily Mandel, Regional Financial Review, July 2018
(subscription required)

QRATE is a quantitative ratings estimator designed by Moody’s Analytics to estimate municipal issuer credit quality based solely off of quantitative economic, demographic and financial metrics for a given issuer at a given time. The models cover all 11 sectors of the municipal market and allow users to calculate quantitative QSCORES based off some of the same analyst-adjusted financial data used by Moody’s Investors Service. A QSCORE is a numerical value that can be mapped to a standard letter rating equivalent, as well as estimated probability of default and loss-given-default measures.

Viewpoint: How to Talk with Nonunion Workers about ‘Right to Work’

Source: Shannon Duffy, Labor Notes, August 7, 2018

Two questions, three doors: thoughts in the closing days of the campaign to defeat “right to work.”

There’s been a lot of talk about the value of unions online and on doors this election season, and I’d like to address two questions that continue to be voiced.

The first question is why nonunion workers should vote to defeat right to work. Whenever it is raised, I often hear what is called the fair share argument. That’s the explanation where union defenders say, “What if you joined a country club or a homeowners association and you refused to pay their dues? How successful do you think you’d be trying to pull something like that? And can you honestly state that someone should have the right to do that?”

Let’s forget for a moment that it’s not a good idea to equate being in a union to being in a country club (it doesn’t exactly push back against that elitist tag that they always try to pin on us) or that substituting “homeowners association” for “country club” when talking to people on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder isn’t really any better. No matter how you slice it, it’s still those of us who have lecturing those who don’t have about why the system shouldn’t be changed, and that’s not exactly a winning strategy.

Now, I sure don’t want to knock anyone’s hard work—and if that argument is working for you on the doors, then God bless you, and keep doing what’s working. But it seems to me that we often miss opportunities to discuss how we can challenge existing power structures and create meaningful change. So indulge me for a moment….

Related:

Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Reject ‘Right to Work’
Source: Chris Brooks, Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes, August 8, 2018

Unions in Missouri are declaring victory after voters shot down a Republican-backed “right-to-work” law by a hefty 2 to 1.

The final vote count was 937,241 against the legislation to 452,075 in favor. Missouri became the 28th state with a right-to-work law on the books in February 2017, when Republican Governor Eric Greitens signed the law at a ceremony in an abandoned factory.

In response, thousands of union members hit the streets to gather enough signatures to trigger a referendum vote that could repeal the law. Over the course of six months, activists gathered 310,567 signatures—more than three times the number needed. Right to work was put on hold until voters could decide….

A Roadmap to Rebuilding Worker Power

Source: David Rolf, The Century Foundation, August 8, 2018

What You Should Know:
– Organized labor is in decline. Today, only 6 percent of private-sector workers are represented by a union, compared to 33 percent in the 1950s.

– Yet, despite this trend, and recent setbacks in rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the National Labor Review Board, polls show that public support for unions is at its highest level in many years—around 60 percent.

– Young people are especially enthusiastic about the need for unions. Among adults under age 30, unions’ approval rating is an eye-popping 76 percent.

– With automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence shaping the future of work—and an increasing number of occupations becoming unmoored from the confines of current labor laws—there are growing calls to rewrite those laws for the twenty-first century.

– A strong and future-focused labor movement has the opportunity to reshape structural power dynamics for working Americans in a way not seen since the 1935 passage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

WorldatWork 2018-2019 Salary Budget Survey

Source: WorldatWork, July 31, 2018
(subscription required)

WorldatWork’s annual salary budget survey is the longest-running survey of its kind, delivering data and information that covers 19 countries. Now in its 45th year and reflecting 5,499 responses, compensation professionals continue to rely on the salary budget survey in making key decisions about their compensation spend. The survey data covers base salary increases, merit budgets, salary structure adjustments (U.S. only), promotional increases (U.S. only) and variable pay plans (U.S. only).

Related:
top-level results

Stop Trouble Before It Starts With A Refusal Of Service Policy

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 35 Issue 16, August 6, 2018
(subscription required)

A restaurant owner asks a member of the Trump Administration to leave her restaurant. A fast food worker refuses to serve a police officer. A store manager declines to help a customer because he’s wearing a hat with an acronym she finds offensive.

Employers across the country are inadvertently finding themselves on the front lines of political protest as some employees make decisions about service based on their own beliefs. Depending on the nature of the interaction and the presence of witnesses (and smartphone cameras), these incidents have the potential to go “viral” and put the employer in the national spotlight as both sides of the political divide seek to use the employee’s action as evidence of good or of evil.

Pay Equity: What You Don’t Do Can Hurt You

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 35 Issue 16, August 6, 2018
(subscription required)

$2.66 million. That’s the amount of money the University of Denver has agreed to pay to settle claims it paid full female professors in its law school less than their male counterparts.

Despite warnings that pay equity was high on the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s priority list, the institution of higher education allegedly paid female full professors in its Sturm College of Law an average of $20,000 less per year than male full professors for substantially equal work under similar working conditions. The salary disparity wasn’t confined to just a portion of the female full professors. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the salaries of all seven female full professors in the school were below the average salary paid to men.

Are Social Media Searches Still Risky?

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 35 Issue 16, August 6, 2018
(subscription required)

Gone are the days of employers casually reviewing social media to assess prospective hires. Instead, they are formalizing their social media screening practices.

That’s the conclusion of the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study, released in late May. According to the study, 18% of employers have formalized their process of reviewing candidate social media profiles and another 17% are considering doing so in the future.

“We would never hire without seriously searching all platforms,” one study participant noted.

How To Fire An Employee Returning From Leave

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 35 Issue 15, July 24, 2018
(subscription required)

An employee has major surgery and uses six weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave during recovery. While he’s absent, another employee takes on his duties and finds a major mistake had been made in a calculation on an important project and a number of assigned tasks were incomplete or poorly done. Normally, this level of performance would result in termination, but you can’t fire someone just returning from leave, can you? Isn’t that just asking for a lawsuit?

Terminating an employee who is returning from any type of protected leave can be tricky, but it’s doable if you have the right evidence and documentation. Courts will look closely to be sure the termination isn’t a pretext for illegal discrimination, but if the business justification is clear, they are apt to side with the employer.