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EconomicPolicyInstitute July 22, 2011

Proposed workplace election rules are positive step

The National Labor Relations Board recently proposed new rules  governing employer and employee conduct in workplace elections to form unions. In the new policy memo, Proposed rule changes by the NLRB would make workplace elections more democratic, EPI Research Associate Gordon Lafer finds these proposed rules to be a positive though minor step toward bringing workplace elections more into conformity with the definition of free and fair elections.

In keeping with basic election standards, the first rule would require employers to provide union supporters with a list of eligible voters—with complete contact information—as soon as employees indicate their desire to hold an election aimed at forming a union. The second rule would remove incentives for frivolous legal claims that could potentially delay the vote in order to lengthen the time for anti-union campaigning.

On Monday, July 18, EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey spoke in favor of the proposed rule changes at the NLRB public meeting. Click here for his remarks.

“To give unions and pro-union employees a chance to be heard, it is critical that organizers have access to the other employees outside of work,” said Eisenbrey of the first rule’s requirement to provide union supporters with a list of eligible voters. The proposed rule “should significantly improve access and make the election process at least a little fairer…and is a step in the right direction,” he concluded.

Nobel laureates and leading economists oppose constitutional balanced budget amendment

On Tuesday, July 19, a group of leading economists, including five winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics, publicly released a letter to President Obama and Congress opposing a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Organized by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the letter outlined the reasons why such an amendment “could greatly damage an already-weak recovery.”

“While the nation faces significant fiscal problems that need to be addressed through measures that start to take effect after the economy is strong enough to absorb them, writing a requirement into the Constitution that the budget be balanced each year would represent very unsound policy,” the letter stated.  Read the full letter.

New EPI tool engages younger generations in Social Security debates

On Wednesday, July 20, retirement security expert Theresa Ghilarducci, political strategist Celinda Lake, and EPI Research Assistant Kathryn Edwards convened at EPI to examine the negative consequences of the proposed changes to Social Security on future generations and discuss ways to engage young people in the conversation.

Lake’s polling found that young people have a strong connection to Social Security and most believe it should be maintained.  “Young voters overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit,” she said.

At the event, Edwards released the new EPI publication, A Young Person’s Guide to Social Security.  Though written for high school and college students, this comprehensive guide to Social Security’s history, how it works, and current conversations about the program’s future will benefit anyone interested in learning more about a program that is too often misunderstood, Edwards said. View footage from the event.

Job growth retreats in some states, mirrors national trend

State employment data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics mirrors national patterns of the past two months.  In June, 19 states and the District of Columbia continued to have unemployment rates of 9.0% or higher, and seven states and DC continued to have rates of 10.0% or more.  Ten states and DC have lost jobs since June 2010, even though the economy has technically been experiencing a recovery.  Click here to see interactive maps.

EPI in the news

In the past week EPI’s experts have been cited in television, radio, and print media. Some of the highlights include:

The New York Times Economix blog referenced EPI’s federal budget policy work in the article, “How the budget war was framed.”

CNN Money.com cited EPI’s tracking of the jobs crisis and its greatly varied impact among different demographic  groups in the article, “Was the ‘mancession’ just a mirage?”

The Hill quoted Rebecca Thiess, an EPI federal budget policy analyst, on the importance of raising the debt ceiling in the online article, “Budget experts raise concerns over McConnell debt-limit fallback plan.”

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