CEPR News December 2013

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Monday, 23 December 2013 11:00

The following newsletter highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR on Paid Family Leave
Twenty years ago, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was signed into law. The FMLA granted certain workers new and important rights, including the ability to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave after a birth or adoption, but it fell short in at least two important respects. CEPR and the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a joint report titled “Job Protection Isn’t Enough: Why America Needs Paid Parental Leave” to mark the occasion. It was authored by Heather Boushey and Jane Farrell of CAP and CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt.

The paper reviews Census Bureau data from the first two decades of the FMLA that suggests that the law had a limited impact on the frequency of parental leave and no impact on the likelihood that parental leave is paid, despite the historical significance of the FMLA’s guarantee ofjob-protected leave for a majority of U.S. workers.

John wrote this post for the CEPR Blog examining 20 years of parental leave after the FLMA, while CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Applebaum questioned whether paid family leave can increase men’s participation in parenting.

On December 4th, New York’s Time to Care Coalition and A Better Balance hosted a very successful launch event at The Worker Institute at Cornell University in New York City for the new book on paid family leave in California by CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum and CUNY Professor Ruth Milkman. The book, Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of Work-Family Policy in the U.S., holds important lessons for the effort to bring paid leave to all American workers, such as the FAMILY Act. The legislation, which was sponsored by Representative Rosa Delauro and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, would provide workers with up to 12 weeks paid leave to recover from serious illness, disability, or childbirth, or to care for seriously ill family members.

Eileen was on Capitol Hill on December 12th to attend a press conference on the introduction of the FAMILY Act. Annette Bonilla, VP for HR at a San Francisco company, spoke about the many advantages for employers provided by California’s paid family and medical leave programs. In her remarks she cited Eileen and Ruth’s book. (Pictured is Annette Bonilla, Representative Rosa DeLauro and Eileen.)


CEPR on Honduras

CEPR continued to follow developments in Honduras following the elections of November 24th. As CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot wrote in this op-ed for the Guardian, there have been numerous reports of fraud, vote-buying, the buying of polling-place party representatives by the National Party. As Mark noted, the reported victory of the National Party over the LIBRE party (whose candidate, Xiomara Castro, is married to ousted-former president Manuel Zelaya) was an outcome supported by the United States. As Mark notes, the U.S. “put $11 million dollars (that we know about) into the election and wanted to legitimate the rule of its ally, the National Party, just as it did in the more blatantly illegitimate election four years ago after the U.S.-backed military coup.

Mark was interviewed on the aftermath of the Honduran elections by KPFA’s Flashpoints and Houston’s KPFT, while CEPR’s Senior Associate for International Policy Alexander Main discussed the election in this interview with KPFK’s Strategy Session, and International Communications Director Dan Beeton talked about it on Between the Lines. CEPR’s Novemberreport on the Honduran economy continued to provide important background for post-election media coverage, including this article in The Nation, this one in In These Times, and this one in the Los Angeles Times.

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston also weighed in with this post for CEPR’s Americas Blog focusing on the city of El Paraíso, where “The 81.4 percent [of the vote] that went to the National Party was over 11 percentage points higher than in any other city in the entire country.”


CEPR on Women Workers and Union

CEPR’s issue brief “Women Workers and Unions,” by Senior Economist John Schmitt and Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo, examines the most recent data available to investigate the impact that being in, or represented by, a union has on the wages and benefits of women in the paid workforce. Unionized women workers on average make 12.9 percent more than their non-union counterparts, are 36.8 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4 percent more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

“Women are on track to become the majority of the union workforce in 10 years, but their rate of unionization is dropping, along with that of men. Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the wellbeing of women workers also care about unions” said Nicole.

CEPR’s report comes fifty years after the release of “American Women: Report of the Commission on the Status of Women.” The U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau had scheduled an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the commission. Nicole was slated to appear on a panel addressing worker empowerment and collective bargaining in the workplace, but the event was cancelled due to inclement weather

The paper was cited in this piece in the Knoxville Times and Nicole was quoted in this article in the Wisconsin Gazette.


CEPR on Social Security and Pensions

In this op-ed for Truthout, Dean declares the end of “the assault on Social Security and Medicare.” On December 18th, Dean testified at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy of the Senate Committee on Finance. The topic to be addressed is "The Role of Social Security, Defined Benefits, and Private Retirement Accounts in the Face of the Retirement Crisis." The Los Angeles Times ran this article critiquing Dean’s fellow panelist at the briefing, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute, who testified that today’s workers don’t work at physically demanding jobs and therefore they wouldn’t be harmed by raising the retirement age. The LA Times piece contradicted that remark by citing CEPR’s 2010 study on older workers that found that 6.5 million workers aged 58 or older do work in physically demanding jobs, and that raising the retirement age would especially harm low-wage workers. Dean was also quoted in this Alternet piece.

And on the 5th, Dean spoke at a Congressional briefing on an important new study, “The Chained CPI: Shackling America’s Economic Recovery.”  Along with Max Richtman and Web Phillips of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Dean and the panelists presented their findings and provide data on the economic output and job loss impacts that could occur if the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) were to be enacted.

Nicole traveled to Pittsburgh on December 6th to appear on a panel as part of the No Grand Bargain" Luncheon Forum”. Nicole joined fellow panelists PA Senator Jim Ferlo; Leo Gerard, President, United Steelworkers of America; Prof. Wayne Burton, President, PA Alliance for Retired Americans; Andrew Coates MD, FACP, President, Physicians for A National Health Program; and Ed Grystar, Western PA Coalition for Single Payer Health Care, in a discussion of how to keep Social Security and Medicare off the chopping block. A video from the event is available here.

Dean also addressed the escalating attack on public pensions. In this New York Times’ Room for Debate piece, he asks “Why do so many people on the political arena think it’s a good idea to take back the money that workers have already earned?” And he wrote a Guardian op-ed titled “Let's get this straight: AIG execs got bailout bonuses, but pensioners get cuts


CEPR at the WTO

Director of International Programs Deborah James traveled to Bali, Indonesia this month for the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As Deborah wrote in this Americas Blog post, Cuba, on behalf of the ALBA country group, came close to blocking an agreement over the removal of text contradictory to the U.S.’ discriminatory trade practices against Cuba, and attempts within the WTO to stifle Cuba’s objections. In the end, and due in part to an undemocratic process, a deal was reached, but a limited one, and one that leaves some space – despite U.S. efforts to block it - for developing countries to pursue food security measures in the future. Deborah was cited in several Indian and other media outlets on developments during the ministerial.


News from the CEPR Blogosphere


CEPR blog
CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad wrote several posts on poverty and inequality in December’s edition of the CEPR Blog. He continued to call out Nick Kristoff, and he also critiqued President Obama’s speech on inequality. He discussed poverty measures from the perspective of Mandela and King, as well as his own. He discussed the “war” on poverty in this piece, and he wrote this post on seniors, poverty and Social Security.

Nicole wrote this post on work sharing, while John penned this piece critiquing critiques of studies on the minimum wage. Dean joined Sebastian Gechert and Rafael Mentges in writing this post about economists’ views on fiscal stimulus.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber

CEPR Director of International Communications Dan Beeton wrote this post on Nelson Mandela’s “inconvenient” appreciation for Cuba.  Dan and International Intern Joe Sammut wrote this post on Venezuela, noting that “The Associated Press reported yesterday that the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has highlighted a slowing of progress in poverty reduction in Latin America, citing ‘rising food costs and weaker economic growth’ as contributing factors,” but citing Venezuela and Ecuador as bright spots. Venezuela saw a bigger drop in poverty in 2012 than any other country in the region.

Dan also examined whether NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden actually made a quid-pro-quo offer to Brazil this past week, as many media outlets suggested that he did. He points out that “in his letter [to the Brazilian people], Snowden does not make his offer of assistance contingent on the asylum,” but that “the U.S. government has constrained his ability to travel, and will do so ‘[u]ntil a country grants permanent political asylum.’”

Beat the Press
Dean took on favorite son Robert Samuelson again this month. In this post he notes that Samuelson calling for pension cuts is the same as him saying that we should seize Bill Gates software copyrights, as well as this one  that begins: “You know about that recession that began six years ago following the collapse of the housing bubble? Apparently Robert Samuelson doesn't.“

Dean also took on patent monopolies (in three posts, here, here and here) and protectionists, here. He argues TPP points with Paul Krugman here, and here he explains how the New York Times gets just about everything wrong on UK austerity. He also takes the NYT to task for editorializing on cutting Social Security and Medicare (of course the Washington Post gets it too.)

Dean also asks the NYT when they are going to start reporting budget numbers in context as promised. And he reminds reporters that it’s easy to do using CEPR’s budget calculator.

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch
CEPR’s Haiti blog featured this post on the forced eviction of dozens of families in Canaan, near Titanyen. As noted in the post, “The threat of forced evictions in Canaan is occurring at a time when residents on the land have lost their status as ‘official’ internally displaced persons (IDPs). In October, the International Organization for Migration, at the request of the Government of Haiti, removed 54,000 individuals from their official IDP registration because it was deemed that the area showed ‘characteristics’ of ‘new neighborhoods needing urban planning’ and ‘not of IDP sites.’”

The blog also noted that Uruguay’s announcement of a plan to withdraw troops from Haiti is having an impact throughout the region.

In Other CEPR News…

--Dean appeared on MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes, discussing the CA GOP and their efforts to stop Obamacare. Dean debated Obamacare on CNBC, squaring off against Casey Mulligan on how Obamacare is impacting American worth ethic. He discussed the state of the economy with Fox Business News, he penned this op-ed for CNN on the budget deal, and he was quoted in this post on the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog.

--Mark wrote this piece on the Fed for U.S. News and World Report’s Debate Club and this op-ed for the Guardian on the budget deal.. And in this op-ed for The Hill he asks “Can War with Iran be Prevented?”

--Dean and Jared Bernstein’s new book, “The Benefits of Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People” continues to receive attention. Ezra Klein cited the book in this post on the Washington Post’s WonkBlog. In it he refers to Dean and this Beat the Press post, in which Dean writes: Ezra Klein dismisses the problem of inequality and argues that progressives should instead focus on unemployment. While he will get no argument from me on the need to focus on unemployment, the idea that this is a separate issue from inequality is seriously misplaced.” 

Looks like Klein took that response to heart as he recently gave a hearty recommendation for Dean’s and Jared’s bookin this post for Bloomberg News titled “More Jobs are the Antidote to Inequality”: Forget about the best books of 2013. As an early Christmas gift, I’m going to tell you how to get one of the most important books of 2014 -- for free. It’s “Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People,” by Dean Baker andJared Bernstein. You can download it -- at no charge --here. Ho ho ho!

Dean and Jared also wrote this piece for PBS’ NewsHour’s The Business Desk blog.

---Thanks to everyone who has donated to CEPR this year! We really appreciate your support. For those who haven’t it’s not too late…please click on the picture of CEPR’s mascot below and help support our work on 2014.

From all of us here at CEPR (including dogs), happy holidays!

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