Sunday, July 31, 2005
Total compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent from March to June 2005, seasonally adjusted, the same increase as occurred between December 2004 and March 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Benefit costs between March and June rose 0.8 percent, compared with the gain for wages and salaries of 0.6 percent.
Increases in benefit costs accounted for over 35 percent of the rise in compensation costs for civilian workers from March to June 2005. Among private industry workers, benefit costs contributed nearly 35 percent of compensation gains during the quarter; compared with nearly 60 percent from December 2004 to March 2005. Health insurance costs constituted about 10 percent of the compensation gains during the quarter. Among State and local government workers, benefit costs comprised nearly one- half of compensation cost gains during the March to June period, virtually unchanged from the December to March quarter. Health insurance costs represented nearly one-third of the gain in compensation costs from March to June 2005.
- Joe Hodnicki
Friday, July 29, 2005
The Washington Post is reporting that former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich will take a faculty position at the University of California, Berkeley. Reich, currently a professor at Brandeis University, taught at Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy during the spring semester and in 2004.
- Joe Hodnicki
Thursday, July 28, 2005
AFL-CIO's 25th Constitutional Convention in Chicago adopted Resolution 53, which “applauds the bravery and courage of our soldiers in Iraq and calls for their rapid return.” The resolution addresses the needs of returning veterans and union members and emphasizes the commitment of the AFL-CIO to support Iraqi trade unionists.
- Joe Hodnicki
By far, one of the best Federal agency websites has to be the website of the National Labor Relations Board.
The Electronic Reading Room provides access to the NLRB Rules and Regulations, Decisions and Orders, and Weekly Summary of NLRB Cases, plus NLRB Public Notices, which include Federal Register Notices; General Counsel Memoranda; Operations-Management Memoranda; a description of the NLRB's Public Information Program; Representation Cases; Unfair Labor Practice Cases; and the NLRB's Government Information Locator Service (GILS). Also available from the Electronic Reading Room are NLRB Manuals, Press Releases, FOIA Manual and regs, annual FOIA reports and a section dedicated to "Hot Docs.
The Board's e-Gov services are no less impressive. They include:
General Counsel: Request for Extension of Time
Board: File Documents with Executive Secretary
Classified Index the Electronic Network (Citenet)
Go to Where To File Your FOIA Request for guidance concerning which NLRB office may have the records you seek. Click on Sample Letter if you wish to see or copy a form letter that you can use to make a FOIA request. Click on E-FOIA Request if you wish to file an electronic FOIA request for records located in the Agency's headquarters office in Washington, DC.
Although the navigation system is fairly straightforward, I find the site map is the best way to find information and materials provided by the NLRB on its site.
- Joe Hodnicki
Republished from Law Librarian Blog
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Yesterday, the House passed HR 525 by 263 - 165 (Roll no. 426)
Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005 - Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to provide for establishment and governance of association health plans (AHPs), which are group health plans whose sponsors are trade, industry, professional, chamber of commerce, or similar business associations, and which meet certain ERISA certification requirements. (Thus, through ERISA preemption of State laws, certified AHPs are exempted from State regulation of health insurance providers, including State consumer protection laws and State requirements for health care benefits to be offered by such entities, with certain exceptions.)
(Sec. 2) Establishes rules governing AHPs, including requirements relating to certification, sponsors and boards of trustees, participation and coverage, nondiscrimination, plan documents, contribution rates, benefit options, applications for certification, notice of voluntary termination, corrective actions, and mandatory termination.
Requires AHPs which provide health benefits in addition to health insurance coverage to maintain certain reserves and comply with other solvency requirements.
Directs the Secretary of Labor to apply for appointment, and carry out specified duties, as trustee of any insolvent AHPs which provide health benefits in addition to health insurance coverage.
Allows a State to impose a contribution tax on any AHP commencing operations in such State after the enactment of this Act. Sets forth limits on such tax, including reduction by the amount of any tax or assessment otherwise imposed by the State on specified other insurance related items maintained by the AHP.
Requires AHPs to include in their summary plan descriptions, in connection with each benefit option, a description of the form of any solvency or guarantee fund protection secured under ERISA or applicable State law.
Allows a certified AHP to exist in a State regardless of any State law that would preclude it.
Preempts State requirements for benefits to be offered by AHPs; but allows a State in which an AHP is domiciled to require the domiciled AHP to cover particular types of diseases and conditions. Allows health insurance issuers to offer coverage of the same policy type offered in connection with a particular AHP to eligible employers, regardless of whether such employers are members of the particular association and regardless of State law. Deems health insurance coverage policy forms filed and approved in a particular State in connection with an insurer's offering under an AHP as approved in any other State in which such coverage is offered when the insurer provides a complete filing in the same form and manner to the authority in the other State.
Makes inapplicable to certified AHPs certain current ERISA provisions which allow State regulation of multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). Revises ERISA preemption rules to permit State regulation of self-insured MEWAs providing medical care which do not elect to meet the certification requirements for AHPs.
Directs the Secretary to report to specified congressional committees by January 1, 2010, on the effect, if any, AHPs have had on the number of uninsured individuals.
(Sec. 3) Revises requirements for treatment of single employer arrangements. Allows two or more trades or businesses to be deemed a single employer if they are in the same control group offering medical care benefits, under specified conditions.
(Sec. 4) Provides for enforcement of AHP requirements, including criminal penalties for certain willful misrepresentations, issuance of cease and desist orders, and the responsibility of AHP boards of trustees for certain claims procedures.
(Sec. 5) Directs the Secretary, regarding the exercise of authority, to consult only with the recognized primary domicile State for an AHP.
(Sec. 6) Provides for transitional and other rules relating to treatment of certain existing health benefit programs
- Joe Hodnicki
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
Insuring America's Workers in a New Era of Offshoring by Lael Brainard, Robert E. Litan, and Nicholas Warren
Brookings Institution Policy Brief (July 2005)
With a new wave of white-collar offshoring coming fast on the heels of accelerated job losses in manufacturing, an ever-broader pool of American workers is finding that the nation's safety net has more holes than netting. The nation can and must do more to help insure the livelihoods of American workers in the face of structural shifts of whatever form, while preserving the benefits of an open and innovative economy. With technological change and offshoring accelerating job turnover and the pace at which workers' job-specific skills lose value, the time has come for the federal government to strengthen the existing safety net.
We propose a new wage insurance program to provide incentives for more rapid reemployment and on-the-job-training—a program that insures earnings for permanently displaced workers who secure reemployment at lower pay. It would cost roughly $3.5 billion a year to provide permanently displaced full-time workers who secure reemployment with insurance on 50 percent of their earnings loss up to a cap of $10,000 a year for two years. An insurance policy costing $25 per worker per year is a small price to help displaced American workers get back to work more quickly, seek opportunities in new sectors, and gain more valuable reskilling through on-the-job training.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
In 1998, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated a unique and useful guide to some important aspects of employment discrimination law. This guide is the index to the EEOC's legal brief bank, a collection of legal filings and court documents concerning a wide range of employment issues.
The brief bank index, developed with public tax dollars, provides an overview of the complex issues arising when employees and companies become involved in possible discriminatory behavior, and the damages caused by employment discrimination. It also outlines areas that may not be protected under federal employment law. The index contains a list of subject areas as well as the designation numbers of legal documents and briefs covering that subject. Overall, the document demonstrates the wide scope of valuable work being done at the Commission.
Among its holdings, EEOC maintains a library of legal filings and analyses associated with a wide range of topics in employment discrimination. In November 1998, the agency last revised its index to those 438 documents. According to EEOC attorneys, the index has not been updated since 1998. In early 2001, EEOC released a paper printout of the index following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
EEOC recently supplied an electronic copy of their brief bank index, but not without a hiccup.
At first, EEOC decided to withhold large portions of the index under the b2 and b5 exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act. As a basis for this withholding, they planned to cite the b2 and b5 exemptions, and relied on guidance from the "Ashcroft Memorandum" issued in 2001 encouraging agencies to withhold records wherever justified. Since 2001, these exemptions for internal materials (b2) and deliberative and attorney work product materials (b5) have been popular exemptions for agencies following the Ashcroft Memorandum.
However, when EEOC was shown that it had already released the document in PAPER form and that withholding made no sense, EEOC's FOIA Officer decided to release the electronic copy in full.
Many or most of the documents listed in the index are probably available upon request from EEOC. While some materials might be legitimately withheld by the agency citing attorney work product or deliberative privileges, many (or most) of the documents were filed in court and once filed are now a part of the public record, no longer privileged, and thus would be releasable in their entirety. Some documents could properly be released with certain portions redacted. Any blanket claim by EEOC that none of these documents can be released to the public would be unsound and incorrect.
To obtain copies of any of the legal briefs described in this index, simply send a letter of request, identifying the brief numbers you want, to:
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Attn: Stephanie D. Garner
Assistant Legal Counsel/FOIA Officer
1801 L Street, N.W., 6th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20507
telephone number: (202) 663-4640
In your request, you should indicate whether you want an electronic copy or a paper copy of the document. It might also be helpful to include a highlighted or marked copy of the index page where the brief appears.
Thanks to Joe Hodnicki, editor of the Law Librarian Blog for the tip.
The Law Professor Blogs Network is proud to announce a collaboration with Juris Novus, one of the finest law blog aggregators online. Juris Novus will be featuring a rotating cast of blogs from our Network.
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Monday, July 18, 2005
Organization and Inequality in a Knowledge Economy
by Luis Garicano, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg - #11458 (EFG)
We present a theory of the organization of work in an economy where knowledge is an essential input in production: a knowledge economy. In this economy a continuum of agents with heterogeneous skills must choose how much knowledge to acquire and may produce on their own or in organizations. Our theory generates an assignment of workers to positions, a wage structure, and a continuum of knowledge-based hierarchies. Organization allows low skill agents to ask others for directions. Thus, they acquire less knowledge than in isolation. In contrast, organization allows high skill agents to leverage their knowledge through large teams. Hence, they acquire more knowledge than on their own. As a result, organization decreases wage inequality within workers, but increases income inequality among the highest skill agents. We also show that equilibrium assignments and earnings can be interpreted as the outcome of alternative market institutions such as firms, or consulting and referral markets. We use our theory to study the impact of information and communication technology, and contrast its predictions with US evidence.
Affirmative Action and Its Mythology
by Roland G. Fryer, Jr., Glenn C. Loury - #11464 (LS PE)
For more than three decades, critics and supporters of affirmative action have fought for the moral high ground -- through ballot initiatives and lawsuits, in state legislatures, and in varied courts of public opinion. The goal of this paper is to show the clarifying power of economic reasoning to dispel some myths and misconceptions in the racial affirmative action debates. We enumerate seven commonly held (but mistaken) views one often encounters in the folklore about affirmative action (affirmative action may involve goals and timelines, but definitely not quotas, e.g.). Simple economic arguments reveal these seven views to be more myth than fact.
Age, Women, and Hiring: An Experimental Study
by Joanna Lahey - #11435 (LS)
As the baby boom cohort reaches retirement age, demographic pressures on public programs such as social security may cause policy makers to cut benefits and encourage employment at later ages. This paper reports on a labor market experiment to determine the hiring conditions for older women in entry-level jobs in Boston, MA and St. Petersburg, FL. Differential interviewing by age is found for these jobs. A younger worker is more than 40% more likely to be offered an interview than an older worker. No evidence is found to support taste-based discrimination as a reason for this differential and some suggestive evidence is found to support statistical discrimination.
Impacts of Policy Reforms on Labor Migration From Rural Mexico to the United States
by Susan M. Richter, J. Edward Taylor, Antonio Naude - #11428 (ITI LS)
Using new survey data from Mexico, a dynamic econometric model is estimated to test the effect of policy changes on the flow of migrant labor from rural Mexico to the United States and test for differential effects of policy changes on male and female migration. We find that both IRCA and NAFTA reduced the share of rural Mexicans working in the United States. Increased U.S. border enforcement had the opposite effect. The impacts of these policy variables are small compared with those of macroeconomic variables. The influence of policy and macroeconomic variables is small compared with that of migration networks, as reflected in past migration by villagers to the United States. The effects of all of these variables on migration propensities differ, quantitatively and in some cases qualitatively, by gender.
Firms' Demand for Employment-Based Mental Health Benefits
by Judith Shinogle, David Salkever - #11436 (HC)
Employment-based health insurance is the main source of health coverage for the non-elderly. Few previous studies have examined the factors that impact employer decision-making in selecting the coverage to offer to their employees and none have examined generosity of mental health coverage. This paper uses cross-sectional data from a survey of medium to large firms, including information on employee characteristics, to examine the empirical determinants of mental health coverage choices. We find that the firm's demand for mental health coverage is strongly influenced by employee characteristics. We also find that certain state and local policy interventions directed at enhancing access to mental health care have impacts on coverage decisions. Specifically, public provision of mental health lowers mental health coverage generosity and parity legislation increases mental health generosity. Future research with panel data is warranted to examine the causal effects of these policies.
Thanks to Joe Hodnicki, editor of Law Librarian Blog for the tip.