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CEPR News February 2014

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 28 February 2014 14:21

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

CEPR’s Director Watch is Live!
CEPR recently launched its corporate accountability project, Director Watch. Director Watch, and its sister project, The Huffington Post’s Pay Pals, brings to light the performance of the companies that directors help oversee and the paychecks they and their CEOs collect, giving the public a much needed and deserved look at a buddy system that effectively victimizes shareholders and working people alike.  

CEPR provided all of the data analysis for the Huffington Post’s PayPals project, and CEPR researcher Arthur Phillips was featured in the accompanying video on Huff Po Live.  CEPR Co-director Dean Baker was quoted in the Huff Po piece that was the lead story, and he has written several op-eds about the project.

CEPR will highlight a Director of the Day. Click here to find out the name of the inaugural Director!


CEPR on NAFTA and the TPP
On February 12th, CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot joined Representative Rosa DeLauro, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach and moderator Laura Carlsen of the Americas Program at a press briefing at the National Press Club on the effects of NAFTA and implications for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

Earlier that same day, CEPR released a paper that compares the performance of the Mexican economy with that of the rest of the region over the past two decades. Titled “Did NAFTA Help Mexico? An Assessment After 20 Years,” the paper showed that in the era since the passage of NAFTA, Mexico has experienced lagging growth, persistent poverty and increased unemployment.

“Mexico did all the things that Washington wanted and was supposed to be the big winner from NAFTA,” Mark said. “But after 20 years, it’s pretty clear that although some billionaires did remarkably well, the Mexican people lost. There should be more discussion of what went wrong, especially in light of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which is modelled on NAFTA.” CEPR’s paper was cited in numerous media outlets, both in the U.S. and Mexico.


CEPR on Paid Leave
February marked the 21st anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was signed into law to give covered employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualifying reasons. CEPR marked the occasion by releasing a report, “Expanding Federal Family and Medical Leave Coverage: Who Benefits from Changes in Eligibility Requirements.” The report, by CEPR Senior Research Associate Helene Jorgensen and Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum, notes that employers with less than 50 employees in a 75 mile radius are not subject to the FMLA and employees who have worked for their employer for less than a year or with insufficient hours are also ineligible.

CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo summarized CEPR’s report in this post for the CEPR Blog.

Eileen traveled to California were she and co-author Ruth Milkman presented their findings from their new book Unfinished Business, which documents the history and impact of California’s paid family leave program, the first of its kind in the United States. On February 12th they were in San Francisco where they spoke to Bay Area community members who are working locally and statewide to expand awareness of paid family leave. The following day they were in Los Angeles at an event sponsored by The California Work & Family Coalition.

See video from the January 30th briefing on the Capitol Hill, Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy.


CEPR on the Minimum Wage
CEPR continued to write about the minimum wage this past month, especially after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report suggesting that raising the minimum wage might cause significant job losses. CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt, who has authored numerous studies on the minimum wage, responded with two CEPR blog posts on the CBO report. As John points out in this post, the CBO report supported many of the claims made by supporters of raising the minimum wage. And, in a second post, on the issue of the employment effect,John puts the CBO's headline findings into context. 

Dean weighed in on the minimum wage in this appearance on MSNBC’s All in With Chris Hayes, and was quoted in this op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. Dean and Jared Bernstein’s book “Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People” was cited several times in an article on the minimum wage in the New Republic.

CEPR’s work on the minimum wage is having an impact on the debate. John was quoted in this op-ed by David Cay Johnston for Al Jazeera, and in this piece in the Missoulian.com. CEPR’s work was cited in this editorial in the New York Times and in this piece in Alternet. Dean wrote this post for the CEPR Blog on measuring inflation and the purchasing power of the minimum wage.

John and Nicole went to the White House on February 12th to attend the signing of an executive order by President Obama raising the minimum wage for government contractors to $10.10.


CEPR on the Benefits of Unionization for Black Workers

A new CEPR report “Union Advantage for Black Workers”, shows that even after controlling for factors such as age and education level, unionization has a significant positive impact on black workers' wages and benefits. The union advantage is particularly strong for black workers with lower levels of formal education.

"Unionization rates are down for all workers, including black workers, but the pay and benefit boost for unionized black workers is very clear in the data," said Janelle Jones, CEPR Research Associate and an author of the report. Jones and her co-author, John Schmitt, note that black workers continue to have a higher unionization rate (15 percent) than the rate for the workforce as a whole (13 percent).

The paper was featured in this article in the New York Amsterdam News.


CEPR on Venezuela

CEPR’s International team has been closely monitoring the situation in Venezuela, writing numerous op-eds and blog posts, and providing in-depth analysis of the events as they unfold. 

Mark wrote this column for the Guardian, citing South America’s increased criticisms of the United States’ continued support of regime change in Venezuela. The piece was shared on facebook over 24,000 times and was tweeted over 2,000 times.

CEPR’s Americas Blog has covered the events in depth. In this post, CEPR’s Director of International Communications Dan Beeton gives a historical overview of protests in Venezuela, noting how they fit a pattern. In this post, CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston countered statements made on PBS’ NewsHour questioning the legitimacy of the Venezuelan election. Jake also penned this post on what Wikileaked State Department cables say about opposition leader Leopoldo López, and he wrote this piece tracking victims of the recent violence on all sides. Jake also noted Brazil’s statement of “non-interference.”

Mark’s post on February 24 pointed out that media claims – such as one made by the New York Times – that suggest that opposition voices are few and far between on Venezuelan television, do not represent reality. The post helped lead to the Times issuing a correction for its false statement, as Mark noted in a follow-up post.

Mark was quoted extensively in the media, including this piece for the Christian Science Monitor, this one for Voice of America and this one in The Independent (U.K.). Mark appeared on CCTV as well as RT’s Breaking the Set, while CEPR Senior Associate for International Policy Alexander Main spoke with The Real News Network, and CEPR Director of International Programs Deborah James was interviewed by Al Jazeera America’s Inside Story. Several of CEPR’s papers on Venezuela were cited in this op-ed in Al Jazeera America as well.


CEPR on Haiti

In an exclusive interview, former Organization of American States (OAS) Special Representative to Haiti Ricardo Seitenfus reveals how the OAS intervened to overturn the results of Haiti’s 2010 elections, affirming CEPR’s analysis at the time. He also provides more details about threats made to oust then-president René Préval from office, and comments on the cholera epidemic, the U.N. mission, the Caracol industrial park, the role of NGOs in Haiti, Petrocaribe, and more. Excerpts of the Seitenfus interview by CEPR’s Dan Beeton and freelance journalist Georgianne Nienaber were originally published by Dissent Magazine on February 24, 2014. The full interview was published by CEPR’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Blog.


CEPR on Obamacare

CEPR continues to state the facts about Obamacare. In this post for the CEPR Blog Dean, John and Janelle ask: Will Obamacare Boost wages? Meanwhile, in this op-ed Dean asks “Is Obamacare Bad News for the ‘It's Hard to Find Good Help’ Crowd?” Dean also wrote several posts on Obamacare for Beat the Press (here,here and here).

And in case you missed it, here is CEPR’s latest fundraiser that takes on the issue, “Take This Job and Shove It.”


The Latest From the CEPR Blogsosphere:
The CEPR Blog

CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad wrote several posts this past month, including this one on America’s invisible – and very diverse – working class. Shawn took on the New York Times, twice, for their “attack on single mothers”. He took on Nicholas Kristoff in a post titled “Nick Kristof Parachutes Back Into Appalachia and the Results Aren’t Pretty”. Shawn also wrote on spending trends on mean tested programs

John penned this review of the book “When Mandates Work”, while Dean wrote this post on the January jobs report.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber
In addition to the extensive coverage of Venezuela, CEPR’s Americas Blog featured this guest post by Brian Mier (geographer and freelance journalist who lives in Brazil, and works as a policy analyst at the Centro de Direitos Econômicos e Sociais)on how Brazilian social movements are organizing for political reform.

Beat the Press
In February’s edition of BTP, Dean takes the New York Times to task for their war on public pensions and the Washington Post for beating up on seniors. He also critiques Fred Hiatt,says Larry Summers is half right, wonders why Thomas Friedman is writing about economics again, and thinks that Robert Samuelson is in the dark as well as badly confused (he also took Samuelson to task for beating up on seniors). He criticizes David Brooks on the minimum wage, Greg Mankiw for defending the 1%, and NPR for their debt obsession. And all before he had his breakfast…

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch
In addition to the exclusive interview with Ricardo Seitenfus , the Haiti blog featured this post on the killing of a human rights leader in Haiti as well as this one on Haitian President Martelly’s visit to Washington.


In other CEPR News…
--CEPR Senior Research Associate Ha-Joon Chang was interviewed by the Varsity newspaper at the University of Cambridge, U.K.

--Shawn appeared on CCTV to discuss how cities are handling urban migration and the infrastructure-, housing-, and water-related challenges that come with it.

--Dean wrote this CNN op-ed on the stimulus, five years after.
--On February 5th, Dean was a panelist at a briefing sponsored by Representative John Conyers, Jr. and Representative Frederica S. Wilson. Dean joined moderator Christina Bellatoni of Roll Call and panel participants Larry Mishel of EPI, Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO, John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies, and Phil Harvey of Rutgers University in a discussion of whether or not the right to employment should be seen as the critical foundation of economic democracy, and if the government has a special obligation to provide employment opportunities for all.

--On February 11th, Dean discussed his latest books, "Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People" (co-authored with Jared Bernstein) and "The End of loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive” at the Women’s National Democratic Club.

On the next day he traveled to Minnesota where he joined the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Hassett in a talk on the future of Social Security and Medicare. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the AARP of Minnesota.

--Dean weighed in on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in this piece for Atlantic-community.org. “The pursuit of free trade is just a cover for the real agenda of the TTIP. “The deal is about imposing a regulatory structure to be enforced through an international policing mechanism that likely would not be approved through the normal political processes in each country,” writes Dean.

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