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CEPR News June 2014

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

CEPR on Women and Unions


Just in time for the June 23rd White House Summit on Working Families, CEPR released a new report that explores the role unions play in addressing the challenges facing working women and families in balancing their work and family responsibilities. The paper,  “Women, Working Families, and Unions” by CEPR Research Associate Janelle Jones, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo, looks at trends in unionization for women; the impact of unions on wages, benefits and access to family and medical leave; and the role of unions in addressing work-life balance issues.

As Nicole noted, “There are few other interventions known to improve the prospects for better pay, benefits and workplace flexibility as much as unions do.  Anyone who cares about the well-being of women workers and working families should also care about unions”.

Nicole wrote this piece on the report for The Hill, as well as a blog post for Girl w/ Pen! titled “Unions: A Way for Feminism to Overcome Its ‘Class Problem’”  that wasreposted in the CEPR Blog. She also participated in several events surrounding the White House summit, including a conference on June 22nd called Working Families Speak Up!  that was sponsored by a broad coalition of labor unions and worker organizations. Here is Nicole at a press conference held the day of the summit, sponsored by Good Jobs Nation:

Nicole was quoted in this Truthout article about last Monday’s event. CEPR’s paper was also cited in this article in the Huffington Post



CEPR on Argentina


CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot wrote this op-ed for the New York Times on the recent decision by the Supreme Court not to review a ruling in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that said Argentina can't make payments on its restructured debt unless it also pays holdout hedge funds that refused to accept the country's debt-restructuring offers. As Mark notes in the op-ed, “The plaintiffs in the New York case are widely known as ‘vulture funds,’ because they bought the bonds after the default at a fraction of their value, hoping to use court rulings like this one to force payment at the bonds’ original face value.” While Mark notes that Argentina may find a way around this decision, the ruling will most likely have a lasting effect on the functioning of international financial systems.

  1. this longer op-ed for U.S. News and World Report, Mark examines the question of why the IMF and the U.S. government did not file a brief in support of Argentina as they had with the lower court. Mark calls this a “Washington mystery” akin to an Agatha Christie novel.

Mark’s critique of the decision was also widely cited in the Argentine media, includingthis interview with Miradas al Sur, this article in newspaper Página/12, and this articlefrom news agency Télam, among others. CEPR’s analysis of the issue was also cited in this story from Mercopress, this article in the International Business Times and this article from CorpWatch.


CEPR on Paid Leave


CEPR released several papers looking at paid leave policy in June.  CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum co-authored a report with Sharon Lerner of Demos titled, “Business As Usual: New Jersey Employer’s Experiences with Family Leave Insurance”. The paper explores New Jersey employers’ experiences with the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI) program.  The findings show that the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance program helped meet the leave needs of workers while imposing no undue burden on employers.

The New Jersey experience was not dissimilar from the experiences in California and Rhode Island, the only other states in the nation that offer paid leave programs. Just as in New Jersey, employers in California and Rhode Island did not believe that these programs imposed heavy burdens upon them or were an impediment to business.

On June 24th, Eileen traveled to New York to participate in a panel discussion hosted by Demos on the political and practical lessons New Yorkers can learn from the passage and implementation of paid leave in New Jersey and California. Other speakers include Sherry Leiwant of A Better Balance and Donna Dolan of the New York State Paid Leave Coalition.

Eileen’s co-author Sharon Lerner wrote this piece that was published by CNN.

CEPR also released a paper titled “Documenting the Need for a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Program: Evidence from the 2012 FMLA Survey”. The report, by Eileen and CEPR Senior Research Associate Helene Jorgensen, analyzes the Department of Labor’s Family and Medical Leave Survey and documents the unmet leave needs of private-sector workers in the United States. 

 “While the FMLA does allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave, the law only applies to 55.9 percent of private sector workers due to eligibility requirements,” said Helene. Just as importantly, this leave is unpaid. The prospect of losing income during a leave acts as the most commonly cited disincentive to taking time off for family or medical reasons.”

Helene wrote this post for the CEPR Blog, noting that the United States is one of the only six countries in the world that do not mandate paid maternity leave. The post was picked up by several outlets including Common Dreams.

In addition, Eileen’s previous report on business’ experiences with paid sick days in CT was cited in this op-ed in the Los Angeles Times while her previous study of California’s paid family leave legislations was cited in this post from the Washington Post’s Wonkblog


CEPR on Honduras


CEPR’s 2012 paper co-authored with Rights Action, “Collateral Damage of a Drug War,” was cited in a piece in Al-Jazeera America. The article, “Honduran indigenous groups caught in crosshairs of global drug trade,” noted that CEPR’s paper “flagged concerns that the U.S. government was ‘promoting increasingly aggressive military-style tactics’ in regional drug interdiction efforts, with ‘few if any attendant accountability mechanisms.’”

CEPR Research Associate Stephan Lefebvre and International Program Assistant Eileen O’Grady wrote this critique for CEPR's Americas Blog of a Wall Street Journalfront-page story on LGBT asylum seekers from Honduras titled, “If You’re Seeking Asylum, It Helps to be Gay.” Eileen and Stephan note that the article fails to mention the 2009 military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya and triggered a wave of human rights violations and widespread political and social repression targeting women, LGBT Hondurans, indigenous communities and other minorities.

Stephan also penned this post on a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry from 108 members of Congress calling on the State Department to ensure that U.S. support for Honduras does not go to known human rights abusers.

On June 17th, CEPR Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main participated in a heavily-attended congressional briefing hosted by Representative Hank Johnson that looked at how the current situations in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have caused unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children to make the dangerous journey to the U.S.–Mexico border. Alex was joined by Geoff Thale of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Megan McKenna of Kids In Need of Defense (KIND).

Alex’s article in the new issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas examines how U.S.-supported militarization of the “drug war” has contributed to the violence that is pushing children and others to flee Central American countries and Mexico. These are also themes that International Communications Director Dan Beeton comments on inan op-ed for Al Jazeera America, published on June 28, the 5-year anniversary of Honduras’ coup d’etat.

CEPR on Black College Grads


John and Janelle’s May 2014 report, “A College Degree is No Guarantee” continued to receive attention in June. The paper shows how the Great Recession has been hard on recent graduates, especially black recent college graduates. Even Steven Colberttook notice (at 00:20).

Janelle was interviewed about the paper’s findings on NPR’s Tell Me More, and John was featured in this Bloomberg News piece that appeared in the Washington Business Journal. The paper was cited in this piece in the Economist, and John was quoted in this Bloomberg Business Week piece on the unemployment rates of college graduates as well as this article in the University Herald.


CEPR on Private Equity


The new book by Eileen and co-author Rosemary Batt of Cornell University, Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street also continued to receive media attention this past month. (The book can be ordered from Russell Sage,Powell’s or on Amazon.)  The book provides an unprecedented analysis of the little-understood inner workings of private equity and of the effects of leveraged buyouts on American companies and workers.

David Sirota cited the book in this piece for Salon that was picked up by several other publications including Alternet. And Eileen’s presentation at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in CA on March 28, 2014 was broadcast on KCPW.


Eileen wrote this piece for Fortune magazine titled “Why private equity investors can't save Red Lobster” on Darden Restaurant Inc.’s sale of its Red Lobster chain to private equity firm Golden Gate Capital. She also penned this CEPR Blog post on the same topic, as well as one that asks “Private Equity at Work: Too Much of a Good Thing?” and this one on limiting leverage to limit risk.

CEPR on the IMF and Ukraine


In this interview on Counterpoint (WPKN, 89.5FM, Bridgeport, CT), Mark discussed hisMay op-eds for Al-Jazeera America and the Chicago Tribune that warned of the dangers for the people of Ukraine if the newly-elected government there accepts austerity policies demanded by the IMF and the European Union.  Mark alsodiscussed the IMF on the Progressive Radio Network.  And in this interview for the Huffington Post Live, Mark discussed the implications of Russian President Putin being kept out of the G7 summit over his actions in Ukraine.


The Latest From the CEPR Blogsosphere:


The CEPR Blog


CEPR Domestic Intern Ben Wolcott’s post looking at austerity and the employment rate made  Brad DeLong’s list of recommended reads and was also mentioned in Slate. Ben also looked at the relationship between hours worked and the employment rate in a post titled “Vacation as a Job Creator”.

The CEPR Blog also featured a guest post by Colin Gordon titled “Piketty in One Graph”, as well as Dean’s post on the May employment report. John and Janelle wrotethis update on low wage workers while Nicole gave tips on what questions to ask at Janet Yellen’s press conference.

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber


Brian Mier wrote a guest post titled “The World Cup Bus to Nowhere” In which he noted that “Despite spending around R$4 billion preparing for the World Cup, Rio de Janeiro, with a metropolitan area of over 12 million people, remains one of the world’s largest cities with no direct public transportation link between its international airport and downtown.” 

CEPR International intern Peter Hayakawa wrote this post on Colombia’s second round of presidential elections, which resulted in incumbent Juan Manuel Santos winning a decisive five-point victory, beating challenger Óscar Iván Zuluaga who had won the first round in an upset. Peter examines what Santos’ win means for Colombia’s ongoing peace process.

And in this post, Mark sets John Kerry straight on economic growth in Latin America.

Beat the Press


In this month’s Beat The Press, Dean took on Frank Bruni’s Generational War, and took the Associated Press to task for continuing the war on disability beneficiaries. Dean also pointed out  that Robert Samuelson agreed to be a punching bag, and that he wants people to be unemployed. In this post that asked “are there too few or too many workers?” Dean talks of politician’s dislike of strawberry ice cream and budget deficits. Here he noted that the WAPO has not heard about the housing bubble, here he reminded us that “Patent Monopolies Cause Corruption: #56,897”, and here he reminded NPR that bankers could go to jail when banks are found to have broken the law.



Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch


CEPR’s Haiti blog featured this post on comments by the former head of the OAS Electoral Mission in Haiti that confirmed previous accounts that the international community tried to force then-president Réné Préval from power on election day in 2010.

In other Haiti news, Dan Beeton had this letter published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In the letter Dan corrects several inaccuracies contained in the paper’s June 10, 2014 op-ed on Haiti.

Director Watch


CEPR’s Director Watch (and its sister site, 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.

This past month Dean wrote a piece for Fortune magazine titled “A Cure for Bloated CEO Pay” that reaffirmed the need for shareholders to hold corporate boards accountable.


In other CEPR News…


--Dean channeled Thomas Friedman (kind of)  in this piece on taxi drivers and ride sharing, while Larry Summers gave Dean props in this Reuters article that was picked up by several other media outlets. Here is Dean on CNBC’s Closing Bell talking about wage growth dilemma, and here he is on the Real News answering the question “Is the US Heading Towards Another Recession?”

--John and Dean both have articles in the summer 2014 edition of Dissent magazine. John’s piece (co-authored with Mark Levinson) is titled “Beyond Stagnation”, while Dean’s piece (co-authored with Jared Berstein) is on full employment and the road to shared prosperity.

--Mark wrote this op-ed for The Hill on how the DEA collaborates with the NSA to spy on foreign countries under the rubric of counternarcotics assistance. --John was on the Real News talking about the Fast Food Workers’ Movement.

--The Huffington Post published this piece by CEPR Senior Research Associate Ha-Joon Chang on his forthcoming (in the U.S.; already a best-seller in the U.K.) bookEconomics: The User's Guide.

--CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad wrote this article for TalkPoverty.org on the need to re-imagine anti-poverty work by focusing on building a broad-based progressive movement for economic justice and security. Dean also weighed in on the topic with this op-ed titled “Doing For the Poor and Doing To the Poor”.

CEPR On the Road


On June 18th and 19th, CEPR Director of International Programs Deborah James participated in several panels organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Global Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.  The first panel, which Deborah moderated, discussed macroeconomic dimensions of inequality and included participants such as Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and Triyono Wibowo, Ambassador and UNCTAD’s President of the Trade and Development Board, among others. Deborah also spoke at a round table on the best policy practices to global transformation. She was joined by Rubens Ricupero, former Secretary-General of UNCTAD and former Minister of Finance in Brazil, and Martin Khor, Executive Director of South Centre, to name a few.

And on June 20th, Dean participated in a conference sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Washington Office and the AFL-CIO titled, “What have we learned from the crisis and what remains to be done?” Dean spoke on a panel along with Thorben Albrecht of the German Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs, Julianne Malveaux and Robert Scott of EPI, and Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect.


CEPR’s Graphic Economics

This month’s graph is from Ben Wolcott’s CEPR Blog post “”.