Labor and Employment

Public pensions continue to be a topic of great concern to state policymakers across the country. Struggling from years of insufficient contributions, combined with longer-living retiree populations, many states face mounting public pension liabilities. Understanding how your state’s plan compares to others around the country and having access to reliable data about pension plans are both essential  to making evidence-based policy decisions. This FREE CSG eCademy session, presented in partnership with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, offers background on the state of public pension systems and introduces a free tool which can be used to inform debates about retirement security issues: Public Plans Data.

A jury concluded that pork processing employees should have been compensated per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for donning and doffing varying protective equipment, but Tyson Foods failed to keep records of the time they spent doing it. In Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo the Supreme Court held 6-2 that the employees could bring a collective (class) action lawsuit using “representative evidence” put together by an industrial relations expert averaging donning and doffing time by position based on 744 videotaped observations.

While some jobs and industries are more vulnerable to FLSA overtime collective actions or other class action lawsuits, state and local government are not spared.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state prison populations have grown significantly over the last few decades and in 36 states, the prison population has more than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978.  Spending on corrections has also increased in states: state corrections spending more than doubled between 1986 and 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), from $20 billion to over $47 billion.   

A new federal law allows persons with disabilities to save for their futures through tax-advantaged  savings accounts set up by states. These accounts -- called ABLE -- are much like 529 college savings plan. 

On February 23, Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenburg announced plans to make his state’s plan available nationwide.

Paid leave laws are only found in three states; California, Rhode Island and New Jersey.  14 states total have leave laws that provide unpaid or paid leave beyond the employee supports found in the federal Family Medical Leave Act, known as FMLA.  The infographic below highlights information on leave laws and the impact they have on employees and employers.  

On January 29, President Obama announced an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government how much they pay their employees, broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The action is part of a larger effort to close the pay gap between men and women.

This past weekend, Winter Storm Jonas pummeled the East Coast covering the ground in feet of snow. According to The Weather Channel, snowfall records have been set at Baltimore, JFK Airport in New York City and in other cities and towns across the Northeast. 

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Following on the heels of an active December that saw Congress avoid a government shutdown, extend tax breaks for Americans and pass education reform, there is hope that President Obama and Congress will carry this unexpected span of bipartisanship into 2016. Although impossible to know with certainty which issues will be tackled, criminal justice reform could be on the list.  

Public pensions continue to be one of the biggest fiscal challenges confronting state and local governments. Even before the onset of the Great Recession, many state and local government plans were struggling to meet their pension and retirement health care obligations. While the run-up in the equity markets in recent years might have alleviated some of the fiscal pressures faced by public sector pension plans, there continue to be major challenges ahead on this front. This webinar from the Southern Legislative Conference provides an overview of the latest state pension trends alongside presentations from two SLC states on the specific measures initiated to bolster the funding positions of their plans.

CSG Director of Fiscal and Economic Development Policy Jennifer Burnett outlines the top five issues for 2016, including strategic decisions following modest revenue growth, workforce development, public pensions, federal instability, and health care costs. 

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