Ahead of the first presidential debate next Monday, the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) – a coalition convened by Innovation Ohio Education Fund – released their 2016 Election Presidential Voter Guide. [Read more…]
In August, 2015, Dayton became the first City in Ohio to announce it was granting paid parental leave to all municipal employees. The City adopted a policy nearly identical to that available to State of Ohio employees: a two-week, unpaid waiting period followed by four weeks paid at 70 percent of a worker’s usual rate. The policy was extended to both mothers and fathers after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a new child. While on leave, employees may use accumulated leave balances to supplement their pay up to 100 percent, and, in some cases, the City approved flexible schedules to allow workers without sufficient leave balances to work part-time and still receive partial pay.
In contrast with the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires workers to have been on the job for at least 12 months to be eligible for unpaid leave, Dayton extended benefits to all employees. Staff with less than a year on the job could still take unpaid or partially paid leave under the Dayton program.
When it implemented the policy, Dayton used a model published by Innovation Ohio to estimate the rate of leave-taking among its workforce. Using the IO model and data on the Dayton workforce, over the course of a year, the City expected 66 workers to take leave.
One year later, the results are in. In conversation with City of Dayton staff earlier this month, we learned that the actual number of employees who used parental leave was 64, very close to the 66 our model predicted. Similarly, the projected value of the leave according to the IO model was $191,000 while the actual “value” of leave used by Dayton employees was $170,000. (Note: the value of the leave is merely the number of hours at the worker’s usual rate of pay. The City did not actually incur additional costs to offer the benefit.)
Departments were not given additional funds to deal with any costs associated with workers taking leave. Instead, they were told to absorb any overtime costs within their budgets as they would for overtime used to cover other types of leave. Human Resources examined overtime use at the Police Department and found no discernable increase compared to the prior year. No other departments have reported having challenges keeping overtime under budget.
Interestingly, out of 64 employees who took leave, 54 were men. This is unsurprising, given the large proportion of safety forces — still male-dominated professions — in the City’s workforce. Fire Department employees were the top leave-takers, with 23 employees making use of the benefit, followed by 16 in the Police Department.
Also notable was the observation by City staff that most employees use all the paid leave they were afforded, in contrast to findings in California that men are less likely to take leave, and when they do are out for shorter time periods than women. This could be explained by the fact that Dayton’s policy offers 70 percent of pay during leave, with the ability to supplement up to 100 percent using accrued leave, making it far more generous than the 55 percent of pay offered in California.
Today, City staff offered an update on highlights of the program’s first year at its regular Commission meeting. We congratulate Dayton on the anniversary of this important family-friendly workplace policy.
Today a new report from Ohio Hedge Clippers – a coalition of policy, labor and grassroots organizing groups — shows the role billionaire hedge fund managers have played in the loss of thousands of Ohio jobs.
In 2009, in the midst of government bailout talks with the Big Three automakers, hedge funds purchased the outstanding debt of auto parts manufacturer Delphi — currently struggling in bankruptcy — for pennies on the dollar. These “vulture capitalists” (so-called because they prey on firms that are near death, seeking profits by slashing costs) were later able to convert their investment into a controlling share of the company’s stock.
The new controlling faction terminated health insurance for many Delphi retirees and threatened to shut down the company if it didn’t get a piece of the government bailout. The hedge funds held the taxpayers, auto industry, and Delphi workers hostage to its steep, anti-worker demands. According to today’s report:
Singer and the other hedge fund vultures wanted more public subsidies for the company and reductions of its obligations to workers like collective bargaining agreements, union wages, health care, and defined benefit pensions.
Because of their considerable leverage (Delphi is a critical supplier to US automakers), they were able to reject a deal to keep 15 of their 29 US facilities open and unionized. Today, one vulture brags that “virtually none” of the workers in Delphi’s remaining 4 US facilities are unionized; thousands more lost their jobs. Taxpayers ultimately contributed $12.9 billion in bailout funds, including $5.6 billion to assume responsibility for much of the Delphi pension obligations. The company has reincorporated abroad to avoid US taxes.
As they took aim at US workers, the hedge funds walked away with a huge profit. After taking the company public in 2011, one fund made $390 million, another $1.3 billion. The biggest payday went to Paulson & Company, whose shares grew by $2.6 billion.
The report warns that many of the same hedge funds are behind the pending merger of Dow and DuPont, which has already led to 10,000 layoffs and promises $3 billion more in “savings.” At risk are the combined 13 Dow and DuPont Ohio facilities and the more 2,000 employees who work there.
Vulture capitalists are increasingly playing an outsized role in politics. Since Citizens United opened the door to nearly unlimited funding for Super PACs, hedge fund managers have dumped billions into efforts to select our next President and Congress.
In fact, 4 of the 5 largest contributors to Fighting for Ohio, one of the two main Super PACs supporting Rob Portman, are hedge fund managers (see table):
At the top of the list is Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies, who in addition to supporting Portman has recently put his considerable wealth fully behind Donald Trump’s presidential bid. And the CEO of Paulson & Company — the largest beneficiary of the Delphi takeover — was recently named by Trump as one of his chief economic advisers.
Why do fund managers spend so much on politics? No doubt they seek to preserve their favorable tax treatment of their investment earnings that subjects them to a tax rate lower than that paid by most working Ohioans. Rules allowing companies like Delphi to move their profits overseas to avoid paying US taxes are also popular with vultures seeking to make a buck.
Trump may talk tough about hedge funds, but they make up a large part of his economic team. And Portman, who has made an issue of the pension mess at Delphi, should look no further than the backers of his Super PAC for an explanation.
Rob Portman called the auto rescue a “lousy deal” that would lead to lost jobs and taxpayers left footing the bill. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Our latest report examines the progress that the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) has made since the state legislature passed the so- called “Cleveland Plan” and voters approved a new levy in 2012.
Make no mistake, there has been progress. For the first time in decades, enrollment in CMSD has increased. Graduation rates have also increased, disciplinary actions have decreased, and proficiency test scores have improved relative to other large urban school districts.
However, many challenges still remain. The successes mentioned above are only relative to other challenged school districts. The district’s national fourth grade reading and math scores have improved since 2012, but remain mired in the bottom of districts nationally – as they have over the last decade.
Our report also discusses the education supports created in The Plan such as efforts to expand early childhood education, the formation of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance to establish greater local control and a better informed community about its schools’ quality, and the implementation of wraparound services to create a broader support network for students and schools.
Read the full report here.