Dirt Diggers Digest No. 65

Editor: Philip Mattera

December 19, 2005



-- 1. Job Tracker brings together abundance of workplace data

-- 2. Ranking states from the worker's point of view

-- 3. SEC preparing rules to improve disclosure of executive compensation

-- 4. Data on federal employees being withheld by Bush Administration

-- 5. New accounting rule on asset retirement obligations coming into effect

-- 6. HHS Corporate Integrity Agreements

-- 7. New evidence of employers' anti-union animus

-- 8. Dialog finally eyes academic market

-- 9. Tracing e-mail messages

-- 10. Change to Win job announcement [omitted from web archive]

1. Job Tracker brings together abundance of workplace data


Job Tracker, a new database created by Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, brings together an abundance of information on the workplace record of more than 60,000 companies. The resource combines information on occupational safety and health, collective bargaining and the export of jobs. Searches can be done by company name, by industry, by state or by zip code.

In assembling the information, Working America obtained extensive raw data from federal agencies such as OSHA and the NLRB as well as WARN Act notices and Trade Adjustment Assistance certifications. These are supplemented by information from media accounts and other sources.


2. Ranking states from the worker's point of view


Conservative think tanks like to publish rankings of the states in terms of business climate, which usually means their willingness to cut corporate taxes and weaken industry regulation. A new index by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst includes ratings from the point of view of workers.

The Institute's report, DECENT WORK IN AMERICA, provides a state-by- state "work environment index" that measures job opportunities, job quality, and workplace fairness by analyzing data such as unemployment rates, wage rates, wage inequality and the percentage of workers with health insurance coverage. It also considers the degree to which states protect collective bargaining rights in the public and private sectors.

The states that come out on top of the list are Delaware, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Iowa. At the bottom are Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Utah and South Carolina. The study finds there is a relationship between a state's environment for workers and its economic health. In general, high ranking states on the work environment index have faster economic growth and lower poverty rates than states at the bottom.


3. SEC preparing rules to improve disclosure of executive compensation


A series of recent press reports have indicated that the Securities and Exchange Commission will soon issue new rules governing the disclosure of executive compensation. SEC chairman Christopher Cox told the Los Angeles Times (see article on December 16) that improved disclosure "is absolutely a top priority for early '06." Cox indicated that the Commission will, for example, tell companies to move figures on contributions to supplemental pension plans from inconspicuous notes to a more complete compensation table, presumably in the proxy statement. The key, he said, was to give investors a readily available figure for total compensation. It is not clear whether the SEC will seek to change the current arrangement under which companies are not required to disclose perks worth less than $50,000 each.


4. Data on federal employees being withheld by Bush Administration


In another step toward secret government, the Bush Administration is discontinuing the long-standing practice of making public the names, job titles and locations of some 900,00 civilian employees. The new policy was revealed when the Office of Personnel Management turned down without explanation what was expected to be a routine FOIA request by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

TRAC, which uses the data to conduct statistical analyses of federal regulatory enforcement and other operations, responded by filing a lawsuit against OPM in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. TRAC is being represented by a lawyer from Public Citizen. For more on the lawsuit, click here.


5. New accounting rule on asset retirement obligations coming into effect


New procedures promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on conditional asset retirement obligations go into effect his month. The procedures, outlined in FASB's Interpretation No. 47, require companies to account for conditional long-lived asset retirement obligations on their current balance sheet. This will have implications for the way firms treat potential environmental hazards relating to items such as landfills and underground storage tanks. Consultants are already offering their services in helping companies assign a "fair value" for the ultimate retirement of the facilities. The results of the new procedures will be seen on balance sheets issued beginning next year.


6. HHS Corporate Integrity Agreements


The website of the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human services recently updated its list of corporate integrity agreements, making this a good time to highlight these documents, which have not previously been featured in the Dirt Diggers Digest.

Corporate integrity agreements (or CIAs) are in effect consent decrees that healthcare companies enter into as part of the settlement of civil false claims actions brought by HHS. CIAs, which last up to five years, entail rigorous auditing and reporting requirements. Among the larger firms still subject to a CIA are the Eckerd drugstore chain, HealthSouth, Paracelsus Healthcare, Pfizer and the pharmacy division of Wal-Mart.


7. New evidence of employers' anti-union animus


In conjunction with International Human Rights Day and the flurry of activities highlighting the need to restore collective bargaining protections, American Rights at Work issued a report providing new evidence of the extent to which U.S. employers intimidate workers trying to form unions. Undermining the Right to Organize presents the results of research conducted by Center for Economic Development showing that the majority of employers aggressively use legal and illegal tactics to sway representation elections.


8. Dialog finally eyes academic market


Dialog, the supermarket of databases, has finally created a fixed-price/unlimited use product for the academic market. Thomson Corporation, Dialog's parent company, recently announced that Dialog Choice, which until now has been marketed mainly to the corporate market, will be made available to universities as well.

Dialog, one of the original commercial database aggregators, has long had one of the best collections of scientific, technical and business resources, with emphasis on bibliographic and data material. It later moved into full-text, and a few years ago it introduced its own database called Dialog Newsroom, which claims to contain content from 11,000 print publications and wire services from around the world. Unlike Lexis-Nexis, which has packaged its material for academic use for quite some time, Dialog has until now focused on deep-pocketed customers who did not mind paying high per-search fees.

Note: If you want to do an occasional Dialog search without subscribing, there is a pay-as-you-go service called Open Access that is billed to your credit card.


9. Tracing e-mail messages


A handy guide to tracing the origin of an e-mail message was recently published by Data2know.com: Internet and Online Intelligence. The article discusses techniques for identifying IP addresses and using trace route programs. The tracing process does not pierce fully anonynmous messages, but it can, for example, pin down the general geographic origin of Hotmail messages. The quarterly Data2know.com newsletter is published by Hetherington Information Services and is available on the web at no cost.


A cumulative index of sources (with links) mentioned in back issues of the Dirt Diggers Digest is available here.


Contact Information


email: pmattera@goodjobsfirst.org

web: http://www.corp-research.org/