Thursday, October 29, 2009

Louisville Courier, October 29, 2009, Thursday

Louisville Courier

October 29, 2009, Thursday

Louisville Courier

Louisville a key in Ford contract vote; UAW workers weigh more givebacks

United Auto Workers 862 in Louisville, one of the largest UAW locals at Ford Motor Co., on Wednesday began what could be a pivotal vote on contract changes affecting Ford factories nationwide.

At issue are proposed changes that would require union workers to surrender the right to strike over wage and benefit increases during contract talks in 2011.

Chrysler and General Motors workers already gave up the right to strike altogether as part of agreements negotiated as those companies battled bankruptcy.

Ford's tentative UAW pact requires that Ford and the union negotiate pay and benefit increases through binding arbitration. Unlike Chrysler and GM, Ford's UAW work force would retain the right to strike if Ford proposed any cuts in 2011.

As of Wednesday, four union locals across the country had voted in support of the tentative agreement, while six had voted against it.

Many Louisville Assembly workers at the union hall on Fern Valley Road on Wednesday said ceding the right to strike — even on a handful of issues — was a reason to reject the pact.

“It is a slippery slope,” said Karen L. Bybee, 47. “A line has to be drawn in the sand.”

Besides the strike restrictions, the pact would freeze entry-level wages at $14 per hour and consolidate some job classifications. In return, the automaker promises more work and a $1,000 bonus Dec. 31. st

The vote comes at an especially critical time for the Louisville Assembly Plant.

Ford has promised the Fern Valley Road plant, which produces the declining Explorer sport utility vehicle, a different product with “significant export volume” in 2011. A person familiar with the company's plans has said the plant will assemble the Escape SUV for U.S. sales and the Kuga compact sport utility vehicle for export.

The plant, which laid off about 275 employees last summer, currently employs just one shift of about 1,100 workers. That shift is running at 70 percent of its capacity and is expected to produce 70,000 Explorers by year's end.

But when the renovated Louisville Assembly reopens in 2011, the plant could produce 80,000 Kuga CUVs for export alone, according to a recent Bloomberg News story. That would mean more jobs for UAW workers in Louisville and possibly provide openings for workers from Ford's Indianapolis Steering plant, which Ford has been trying to spin off for years.

“Based on the forecasted employment opportunities at Louisville Assembly Plant … the parties agree to proactively work together to maximize the Louisville employment opportunities for the Indianapolis employees,” the agreement states.

Meanwhile, Ford has promised to keep making Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs at the Kentucky Truck Plant, through the “current product cycle.”

Next year, the Chamberlain Lane operations will produce a new F-Series Super Duty truck and a new diesel engine.

Even if Ford hires 3,000 people for three shifts at Louisville Assembly, new workers “will not be able to afford to buy the products they make” because their wages would be too low, said Joe Morris, 53, an electrician at the plant.

Louisville Assembly millwright Gene Embry, 48, wore a sandwich board that said “NO” in 12-inch-tall letters.

“We want Ford to succeed and do very well,” electrical apprentice Bob Cecil, 44, said. “But the only thing a union has is the right to strike.”

Since the current contract was ratified in 2007, workers have conceded the right to overtime pay after eight straight hours, agreed that new workers can earn half the current union scale, and surrendered annual cost-of-living increases and other benefits, including tuition reimbursement.

On Sunday, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger visited Louisville's UAW Local 862, which is comprised of about 5,000 workers from the two plants, to encourage workers to back the contract changes.

Local 862 represents approximately 12 percent of the 41,000 UAW members voting on the contract.

Opponents have spread the misconception, Gettelfinger said, that the agreement bars workers from walking off the job entirely during 2011 talks. Workers retain the right to strike on issues besides increased wages and benefits, he added.

“We feel we need to get that message out to our membership,” Gettelfinger said.

So far, polling has produced mixed results. Details remain scant as neither Ford nor UAW officials would comment before results are released, which is expected next week.

As of Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press, four locals had voted yes, including workers in Indianapolis.

But six locals have voted against the contract, the paper said, including the Kansas City Assembly Plant, which faces the loss of Escape production if the vehicle migrates to Louisville Assembly in 2011.

Rocky Comito, president of the Louisville local, said Wednesday that he hopes workers here approve the contract, to show solidarity with union leaders.

Voting within Local 862 continues through 10 p.m. Friday.

Richard W. Hurd, professor of labor relations at Cornell University, said the overall results will depend on how militant union leadership is nationwide.

He added that the UAW was bound to negotiate similar cuts for Ford workers after concessions were made by GM and Chrysler workers. He noted that the Detroit-based automakers had paid workers comparable wages and benefits for six decades before the recent auto crisis.

In Ford's case, “the UAW International can say it made a good faith effort,” he said.

Reporter Jere Downs can be reached at (502) 582-4669.

The Detroit Free Press and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

The New York Times, October 28, 2009, Wednesday

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

October 28, 2009, Wednesday

Late Edition - Final

HEADLINE: With Contract's Help, Carnegie Crew Draws Big Pay



Some of the highest-paid people at Carnegie Hall will never have their names on the big posters outside or sit in its executive suites or stand next to famous conductors. They are members of Carnegie's permanent stage crew, the self-effacing men in dark suits who glide out to tote a podium, shift a music stand and make sure that concerts start on time, or at all.

The men -- Dennis O'Connell, properties manager; James Csollany, carpenter; John Goodson and John Cardinale, electricians; and Kenneth Beltrone, carpenter -- were identified on Carnegie's tax return for the 2007-8 season as being the hall's leading five earners after its top executive, Clive Gillinson. Their annual compensation ranged from Mr. O'Connell's $422,599 (with an additional $107,445 in benefits and deferred compensation) to Mr. Goodson's $327,257 (with $76,459 in benefits and deferred compensation), the return showed.

Famous soloists can earn that much in a matter of days or weeks, given recital fees that go anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000, classical music managers say. But the vast majority of artists on Carnegie's stages earn far less. In fact, many musicians toiling in the trenches have to lay out their own money to rent the main auditorium or Carnegie's smaller halls, Zankel and Weill. The Carnegie stagehand salaries outstrip compensation at Lincoln Center and elsewhere. At a time of belt-tightening at Carnegie, they stand out in greater relief.

The average stagehand annual salary and benefits package at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully halls is $290,000, said Eileen McMahon, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Center. At the Metropolitan Opera stagehands rarely figure in the top-earning echelons, although the properties master, James Blumenfeld, was listed as earning $334,000 two seasons ago, said Peter Clark, a Met spokesman. He said the money included a payout of built-up vacation time.

The stagehands, whose craft is often passed down through generations, benefit from a powerful union, Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, one of the city's oldest organized labor bodies. A Local 1 stagehand strike in 2007 closed most Broadway shows for 19 days. On Broadway stagehands earn a minimum of $1,225 to $1,600 a week on a long-running show, although those numbers don't apply to Carnegie Hall stagehands, who have a separate contract. The Carnegie stagehands benefit from a generous agreement that has evolved over decades at one of the busiest halls in the country. They are paid fixed performance fees for the shows they work, along with hourly rates for work connected with the shows. After 40 hours a week, they receive overtime at one-and-a-half, double or triple time. The tax returns list their average work week at 80 hours. Their compensation includes vacation pay (few take much time off) and a large amount connected to recordings made in the hall.

''It's pretty amazing what the total comes out to be,'' said Lois Gray, a professor emeritus at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations and an expert on labor relations in the arts and entertainment industries. ''But it reflects bargaining power and one's economic position. You don't pass moral judgments on these things. Baseball players are scarce, and talent is scarce.''

While substitute sopranos and solo violinists can easily be found, the show cannot go on without the men in the suits.

''They can't be replaced in the short run,'' Ms. Gray said. ''In the long run they can be replaced. None of these entertainment venues is willing to wait for the long run.''

The power of the stagehands is palpable in the nervousness shown by people in the industry when talking about them. Carnegie officials declined to provide details about the contract; the stagehands and Local 1 officials declined to be interviewed for this article.

''The last thing I want to do is upset the people at Carnegie Hall,'' said Kelly Hall-Tompkins, a violinist who played a recital at Weill earlier this month. ''I'd like to have a lifelong relationship with them.''

Ms. Hall-Tompkins said she begrudged the stagehands nothing. ''Musicians should be so lucky to have a strong union like that,'' she said.

Carnegie declined to say what portion of its $70 million budget (down from $84.5 million two seasons ago) was devoted to stagehand costs, and it is not clear how much those costs contribute to, say, a $154 top-price ticket for a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert next week.

Renters of the hall's main Stern auditorium and the smaller Zankel Hall are generally charged extra for the stagehands, depending on the needs; the minimum charge for stage labor at Weill Recital Hall is $540 per performance. In rent alone, outside presenters can pay from $1,475 at Weill on a weekday afternoon to $15,600 for a weekend evening at Stern.

Ellen Hamilton, president and founder of the Florida International Piano Competition, recently rented Weill for a competition recital and paid the labor minimum. ''It did seem high to me,'' she said. ''I don't know if that's because we're in Florida, and that's New York.''

Stagehand costs for a concert with orchestra and chorus in Carnegie's main hall average around $7,000 to $8,000, said Peter Tiboris, a conductor and the general director of Mid-America Productions, a major producer of concerts at Carnegie Hall.

The stagehands, who have all worked at Carnegie for more than two decades, practically live in the hall, it is said, often arriving at 8 a.m. and leaving after midnight. Why so much overtime? It is available, and the stagehands simply choose to take it, said Mr. Gillinson, also Carnegie's executive and artistic director, who is the only staff member listed as earning more than the stagehands. His salary and benefits were $946,581, according to the tax return for the 2007-8 season, relatively modest compared to those of other New York arts titans.

Carnegie chooses to keep on only five permanent stagehands, Mr. Gillinson said, hiring others part time, because the number and nature of productions cannot be predicted from year to year. He also said that it would be no less expensive to hire other stagehands to fill in the overtime hours.

''The reality is, this is money you've got to pay to get the job done anyway,'' he said. The stagehands, Mr. Gillinson pointed out, have huge and varied jobs to carry out, far more so than at halls like the Met or Avery Fisher, where the fare is more predictable. They must set up and dismantle configurations for daytime rehearsals and evening performances on all three stages for 800 events a season, sometimes seven days a week.

They must move pianos, unload instruments from trucks, set up and adjust sound equipment, move risers for orchestras, keep an eye on maintenance throughout the building, fix seats, remember different orchestral seatings and even keep in mind what kind of podium a conductor prefers.

''I never had a problem with what they make,'' said James D. Nomikos, a former operations director at Carnegie who was their supervisor. ''They sacrifice their family life, their time. By the time their careers are over, they're broken, with all that lifting.''

Mr. Nomikos said the main reason to let the stagehands pile on the overtime was to provide continuity during the day. It makes no sense to have one set of workers set up for a morning rehearsal and a different set do it at the evening performance.

''You don't get one dancer doing the rehearsal,'' he said, ''and one dancer doing the performing.''


GRAPHIC: PHOTOS: At Carnegie Hall, a vast majority of artists who perform on its stages earn far less than the hall's permanent stage crew. (PHOTOGRAPH BY HIROKO MASUIKE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Clive Gillinson, Carnegie's top executive, says stagehands have huge and varied jobs to carry out, far more so than at halls like the Met. (PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER MURPHY/CARNEGIE HALL, VIA BLOOMBERG) (pg.C4)

LOAD-DATE: October 28, 2009

The Washington Post, October 28, 2009, Wednesday

Copyright 2009 The Washington Post

All Rights Reserved

The Washington Post

October 28, 2009, Wednesday

Suburban Edition

HEADLINE: To find right PR guru, Beck looked to his left

BYLINE: Jason Horowitz


A few weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, Glenn Beck, a young Tampa-based disc jockey eager to break into conservative talk radio, called his new Manhattan agent, George Hiltzik, to help arrange a visit to Ground Zero. Hiltzik directed Beck to his 29-year-old son, Matt, who had returned to his job with the TriBeCa-based studio head Harvey Weinstein after playing a key role in electing Hillary Rodham Clinton to the U.S. Senate.

"I wasn't aware of all his positions at the time," Hiltzik said of Beck's enthusiastic conservative views. "I knew he was not, like, a big Democrat."

To say the least.

In the years since their first encounter, Beck has become arguably the most influential and incendiary conservative critic in America. He has called President Obama a racist, compared him to Hitler and forced the firing administration appointees. This month, the White House retaliated against Beck's outlet, Fox News Channel, but the resulting controversy has only boosted Beck's notoriety, which, is Hiltzik's professional concern.

"My job is to look out for his personal business interests and try to weave them in well with his partners'," said Hiltzik, whose boutique PR firm, Hiltzik Strategies, has represented Beck since 2007. "We give strategic counsel, which includes managing the profile of the business."

"When I'm picking politicians, employees or business partners, I focus on their character not their political parties," Beck said in a statement. "And I know and trust Matthew's character."

The close friendship and lucrative business relationship that has developed between the 45-year-old conservative firebrand and the 37-year-old former Democratic operative shows how partisan media personalities get discovered, promoted and catapulted into the political stratosphere, even when the talent and the talent broker have opposing ideologies. But for Hiltzik's former Democratic allies, the alliance is still mostly shocking.

"It's surprising," said Bill de Blasio, who ran Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign, for which Hiltzik served as the go-to liaison to New York's Jewish community. "He worked for the state Democratic Party, he worked for Hillary Clinton in 2000, he is as solid a Democrat as you can imagine."

Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who benefited from Hiltzik's help in his 1998 breakthrough win to become attorney general, was astonished that the guy he knew as his state party's lead spokesman was now representing the man some in the White House see as Public Enemy No. 1.

Spitzer called Hiltzik a friend and "a thoughtful, reasoned advocate -- certainly at the time -- for the Democratic principles that I was running on and that most of my colleagues believed in."

Other Hiltzik allies resort to strange-bedfellow teasing. "Everyone knows they're dating," joked Harvey Weinstein, who called his former right hand a deeply religious, brilliant guy. "It must be that kind of attraction. I can't see any other reason."

His voice turning more serious, Weinstein said there was perhaps a simple reason Hiltzik felt comfortable representing Beck. "I had a lot of actors Matt came in contact with," Weinstein said. "I just think Glenn is another one."

The ribbing and occasional opprobrium of his friends is something Hiltzik -- who also represents Katie Couric, Alec Baldwin, Annie Leibovitz and Don Imus -- said he has no problem weathering.

"As a general rule," Hiltzik explained, "I stand by people and don't make decisions based on what other people think."

An election maestro

Little in Hiltzik's background suggests he would end up at Beck's side. He grew up in the affluent New Jersey suburb of Teaneck, and commuted to the exclusive Manhattan Jewish day school Ramaz, where other future Clinton operatives Phil Singer and Philippe Reines also matriculated. He graduated from the industrial labor relations school at Cornell University, where in 1993 he eagerly attended the first of many speeches by Hillary Clinton.

As a law student at Fordham, Hiltzik became politically active: He volunteered for Carolyn McCarthy's successful 1996 bid for Congress, inspired by her commitment to gun control. He got to know people in politics and scored a gig as spokesman for the New York State Democratic Committee, helping Chuck Schumer unseat Sen. Al D'Amato and laying the groundwork for Clinton's listening tour in Upstate New York.

His success in getting Democrats elected caught the attention of Weinstein, the co-founder of Miramax Films, who wanted to widen his footprint in Democratic politics. He invented a hybrid job for Hiltzik that would put the movie honcho in the middle of the action. "Matt's job was half P.R., and mostly politics," Weinstein said. With Hiltzik's contacts, Weinstein threw a star-studded fundraiser for the first lady at his home on Martha's Vineyard, with Jimmy Buffett on the bill. A few days later, Hiltzik took a leave of absence from Miramax and went to work for Clinton.

Right around that time in October 1999, Hiltzik's father, George, took a call during an business trip in Zurich. On the other end was Beck, an obscure disc jockey toiling in New Haven, Conn. Beck had done his research and informed the former NBC executive and high-powered agent of his conclusion: It should be Hiltzik, who has brokered the radio gigs of blogger Matt Drudge and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, to lift Beck's career to a new level.

"He's in New Haven probably spinning Britney Spears records," George Hiltzik recalled thinking at the time. But he admired Beck's tenacity and sized him up. His scouting report: Beck, a recovering alcoholic, was talented but not without issues. But the elder Hiltzik recalled that something about the way Beck spoke about his new wife convinced the agent, a devoted family man himself, that Beck would turn things around. He gave Beck a shot.

Beck moved to a radio station in Tampa in 2000, and after some iffy first weeks, started drawing in listeners with his nakedly personal style and stunts like broadcasting from treehouses.

As the elder Hiltzik brokered a lucrative syndication deal that gave Beck a much wider audience, his son was neck-deep in New York Democratic politics.

The younger Hiltzik was tasked with positioning Weinstein, his brash, polarizing boss, as the uniter of a Democratic Party torn apart by a nasty mayoral primary. And Hiltzik had to manage some outsize, infighting personalities.

On the eve of the mayoral election between Democrat Mark Green and Republican Michael Bloomberg, Hiltzik and Weinstein attempted an eleventh-hour unity news conference with Green, the vanquished Democratic primary opponent, plus local machers Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton. In a Four Seasons hotel suite, Hiltzik and his crew worked the phones furiously while Sharpton ate shrimp cocktail and Weinstein gobbled entire pizzas. The whole room nervously awaited Clinton, who was circling the hotel in his motorcade waiting for the final details of the news conference to be worked out. Negotiations collapsed and local television cameras captured Clinton's car speeding off. Hiltzik and Weinstein decided to ring up Bloomberg with Weinstein's endorsement.

"At 11:45, Matt said, 'Call Mike and tell him you're supporting him,' " Weinstein recalled.

Fast friends

In his 2003 book, "The Real America," Beck includes "Miramax Matthew" among his acknowledgments. In 2004, Beck, then based in Philadelphia, devoted airtime on his national radio show to plug "Paper Clips," a little-known documentary Hiltzik produced about Holocaust education, which was screening in Tampa. Hiltzik expected a handful of people to attend -- instead, there was a packed house of 250.

"I'm telling you," Hiltzik said, as he sat in on an interview with Beck for GQ Magazine earlier this year. "You don't understand the influence [Beck] has, you don't understand the audience he has, the books he sells, the loyalty to him, you are looking at somebody who has an audience that actually does things."

Beck, sitting proudly to Hiltzik's right in the corner office of his Midtown Manhattan headquarters, emphasized how remarkable it was that a large crowd attended Hiltzik's film.

"A documentary. On the Holocaust. And paper clips," Beck said.

In May 2005, Hiltzik left Weinstein to build the U.S. wing of the London-based Freud Communications. He brought on Couric, Imus, Baldwin and other gold-plated clients. He and Beck briefly discussed working together, but concluded the time was not yet ripe.

But in the summer of 2007, as Beck was on the verge of signing a five-year, $50 million deal with Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications -- he saw an opportunity.

"Glenn calls me up, tells me he's looking for a public relations person and [asked] how would I feel if he called Matthew," George Hiltzik said. "I'm not 100 percent against it, I'm 1,000 percent against. I don't believe in mixing family and business. But I said, 'You are both businessmen, you can make your own judgments.' " The younger Hiltzik, who would soon be striking out on his own, took the job -- and the risk. (Neither Beck nor Hiltzik would discuss the fees involved.)

"He wasn't someone who was getting a lot of attention back then," he said.

Line in the sand

Since Hiltzik has started working for Beck, the commentator has graced the cover of Time and the front page of the New York Times (a copy of which is framed in Beck's Manhattan office). He made the Forbes Celebrity 100 list and was profiled by "20/20." He has millions of radio listeners. His books are bestsellers. His Web site is a cash cow. His comedy tour sells out theaters around the country.

And his name is cursed in the White House.

Beck's fame is, of course, directly related to the heightened platform given to him by Fox News, and his willingness to use it to say outrageous things. Hiltzik said that he deferred to Fox News on all things related to Beck's television show. He repeatedly said that he had nothing to do with the content of Beck's commentary.

Some of Hiltzik's critics failed to find that a convincing distinction.

"Lawyers sometimes have to represent mobsters," said Green, the onetime mayoral candidate in New York and president of Air America Media. "But it's not the same excuse when you are a public relations guy. There's a due process that requires everyone to have a lawyer in a criminal case. There is no due process that requires a talk show host to have a flak."

"I love Matt," said Ken Sunshine, a Democratic activist and public relations powerbroker whom Hiltzik regards as a mentor. "I value our friendship, but I wouldn't be caught dead representing Glenn Beck."

Hiltzik is ever ready for counterattack. "Apparently Mark failed to mention that he sought my assistance in resolving an Air America issue," Hiltzik said. "And that he called me repeatedly this summer soliciting contributions for his most recent campaign."

It's a strange world where close friends can manage clients who are avid enemies. Sunshine, for example, also advises Color of Change and Green for All, two groups founded by Van Jones, who resigned from his position as the Obama administration's special adviser on green jobs after withering, unrelenting criticism from Beck.

And it's not just Sunshine's clients who are subject to Beck's drubbings, it's also his onetime mentor. The current secretary of state, for example, did not respond to calls about Hiltzik and his top client's tirades against the Obama administration. Asked if he thought Hillary Clinton approved of his current promotion of Beck, who has called her, among other things, "the antichrist," Hiltzik said, "She has a lot more important things to worry about."

"Matt Hiltzik is a top professional who can't save Glenn Beck from his vulgar, hateful ignorance," said Robert Zimmerman, a public relations executive in New York, Democratic National Committee member and close friend of Hiltzik's. "But he can get him extensive publicity while he goes down in flames."

GRAPHIC: IMAGE; Christopher Meighan/the Washington Post

LOAD-DATE: October 28, 2009

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 28, 2009, Wednesday

Copyright 2009 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)

October 28, 2009, Wednesday

HEADLINE: Ex-A-B exec sues, claims gender gap in pay, roles

BYLINE: By Jeremiah McWilliams 314-340-8372

It was about two weeks before Christmas in 2002. Francine Katz, vice president of communications and consumer affairs at Anheuser-Busch, was meeting with her bosses - Chief Executive Pat Stokes and Chairman August A. Busch III - for a performance review.
Katz said she expressed her disappointment that the brewer had not given her a larger raise after she was promoted to her new job five months earlier and became the first woman appointed to A-B's key strategy committee.

Things got unpleasant, according to Katz. She says Busch and Stokes told her the compensation was based on the market rate for her job, and that they couldn't deviate from that number. Busch added that she was ungrateful and could have received less.
Now, Katz is bent on receiving more. Gone from Anheuser-Busch for about 10 months, Katz - a 20-year A-B vet-eran and once its highest-ranking female executive - filed a lawsuit accusing Anheuser-Busch of gender discrimination and paying her less than her male counterparts. The suit, filed Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court, outlines the meeting seven years ago, along with a number of other stinging charges.

In the suit, Katz, 51, claims Anheuser-Busch pays women less than their male counterparts and encourages a "locker room" and "frat party" atmosphere. She also accuses the brewer of removing responsibilities from women, blocking them from top jobs and important committees and excluding them from informal social networks.

She is seeking lost wages and benefits, and compensatory and punitive damages.
This is from "one of the most A-B-loyal execs we've known," newsletter Beer Marketer's
Insights said Tuesday.

Anheuser-Busch, however, strongly disputed the allegations, emphasizing that the brewer believes in treating em-ployees fairly and that it prohibits discrimination.

Before Katz resigned from A-B, she was "compensated fairly for her roles and responsibilities at Anheuser-Busch and treated in compliance with all relevant laws and internal standards," the company said in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch wouldn't elaborate on the specific allegations.

The lawsuit alleges that trouble has been brewing for some time.

One complaint is that when Katz was promoted in July 2002 to take on the duties formerly assigned to John Jacob, A-B's retiring executive vice president and chief communications officer, she did not get the same salary.

Jacob was paid a base salary of $605,000 and a bonus of $645,000 ($1.25 million total) in 2001, his last year at Anheuser-Busch, according to the suit. By contrast, Katz received $300,000 in base salary and a bonus of $200,000 ($500,000 total) in 2002, her first year in the new position.

Katz received annual raises and bonuses. But by 2007, she still made only 46 percent of what Jacob had earned in 2001, the suit says.

"The magnitude of the difference between what she was making and what her predecessor was making is pretty breathtaking," said Pam Tolbert, professor at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. "Half? Amazing. You would think for a given job, you might adjust on the margin. I've never seen that much of a difference in wages paid for a given job."

The suit also says that in 2008, Katz's base salary and target bonus were less than the base salary and target bonuses of every male member of the strategy committee. Katz said she discovered that she and the only other female committee member - Marlene Coulis, vice president of consumer strategy and innovation - would be the lowest paid committee members in 2008.

Katz said she first learned about the alleged gender gap when Anheuser-Busch filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with InBev's buyout. The Sept. 19, 2008, filing disclosed the compensation of members of the strategy committee.

"It was at that time that I discovered I had been treated differently than my male colleagues both in terms of com-pensation and in the enhanced severance and benefits," Katz said in a statement.

As a result of her lower pay, Katz's enhanced severance package tied to InBev's acquisition was less valuable than her colleagues, according to the lawsuit.

Coulis did not return a phone message. Through a representative, Katz declined to be interviewed.

Katz began her career at Anheuser-Busch in 1988 as an associate general counsel in the legal department.

She took over the company's communications and consumer affairs departments in 2002. That year, she also was named to Anheuser-Busch's top-level strategy committee, a group of 15 to 20 executives. She led the company's alcohol awareness programs and environmental outreach, and was also an aggressive spokeswoman, defending Anheuser-Busch from claims that its caffeine-alcohol drinks appealed especially to minors.

In the lawsuit, Katz claims she repeatedly raised the issue of the unequal pay to several top executives between 2002 and 2007. Those executives included Stokes, August A. Busch IV, Busch III and David Peacock, now A-B's pres-ident.

Katz alleges in the lawsuit that Katz asked "numerous times" to meet with Busch IV - including a formal request on Sept. 12, 2007. Busch, then CEO at A-B, canceled or failed to appear at the meetings, according to the suit.

In December 2007, Katz says she had a meeting with Peacock, who had become her new boss. She told him that she was still not paid what her predecessor made in 2001. Peacock said he would look into her base salary and bonus, but Katz didn't hear from him about the issues after
that, according to the suit.

Before Anheuser-Busch sold itself to Belgian brewer InBev, Katz's attempts to discuss her compensation with bosses "were ignored or met with hostility and misinformation," she said in a statement Tuesday.

In March, Katz filed a charge of discrimination against Anheuser-Busch with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, the suit says.

Katz said the decision to pursue the claim was not easy, citing her "fulfilling career" at Anheuser-Busch.

"As someone who served as a mentor to many women at Anheuser-Busch, I believe it is important to speak up about the disparate treatment I received," she said.

LOAD-DATE: October 28, 2009

The Baltimore Sun, October 27, 2009, Tuesday

The Baltimore Sun

October 27, 2009, Tuesday

The Baltimore Sun

Around-the-clock auto plant shifts good for economy, but what about workers?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Last week, Ford Motor Co. went to a third shift at the Claycomo plant to crank out more of the strong-selling Ford Escape SUVs. In January, the General Motors Fairfax facility will add a third shift, producing the popular Chevrolet Malibu and the new Buick LaCrosse.

Factories running around the clock, workers producing goods that are in high demand. Job security.

That's good news for the Kansas City economy, especially with GM transferring nearly 950 workers to Fairfax from other idled plants across the country. Ford simply shifted about 1,000 Claycomo workers who had been building the F-150 pickup to the new Escape line.

But what is the impact of a third shift on the people working those hours when the body says it's time for rest?

Late-night shifts are not just an auto industry phenomenon, of course. From health care to industrial plants to retailers and call centers, the open-for-business light is increasingly staying on 24 hours as companies try to meet customer needs and compete globally.

"You have Wal-Marts and Walgreens open 24 hours, and you can buy things or pay your bills on the Internet at any time," said Bill Sirois, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Circadian, a Stoneham, Mass., consulting firm for companies that operate around the clock. "Given that we live in a technologically driven, global economy, it's become the norm to have people working at any time of the day."

By culling figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Circadian estimated that there are 24 million shift workers, employees who do a job that gets passed on to another employee working the next shift. About one-half of those work a regular shift, whether it's morning, evening or overnight.

The other half of employees are on rotational shifts, Sirois said, working days for a few weeks before changing to nights and back again.

"Some of us are night owls, but most of us are physiologically wired to be day creatures," Sirois said. "We are designed to peak during the day and evening hours, and to hibernate at night. So while running three shifts maximizes efficiencies, there can be safety and health issues that both employers and the individuals have to work to prevent."

Sirois said studies indicated people are most likely to make a mistake between 3 and 6 a.m., when most people are most inclined to sleep. The mistakes are due to inattention, lack of vigilance and slow reaction times.

Ford has tried to address potential workplace issues by having all three crews work four 10-hour shifts. The third shift works on a staggered schedule, working days on Friday and Saturday and nights on Sunday and Monday.

GM, on the other hand, will run three eight-hour shifts each weekday, with the third shift starting at 10 p.m.

The automakers say three-shift assembly plants are nothing new and have worked without quality or productivity problems in the past. Industry observers generally agree.

Including Fairfax, GM will be operating four plants with three shifts in the United States and Canada by April.

"The third shift is not a new concept, and we've done it in the past during busy periods," said GM spokesman Chris Lee. "It's really just an opportunity to maximize the capacity of a plant. It's an ideal solution when the plant's products are in high demand."

Jeff Manning, president of United Auto Workers Local 31, said he just hopes the Fairfax plant's third shift will be a long-term venture for GM, given that nearly 950 people will be uprooting their lives to live and work in the Kansas City area.

"It's great for the economy, but I just wish they could give us some kind of guarantee," Manning said at a recent meeting of labor and media representatives. "What if a year from the now the economy doesn't come back like everybody hopes it does? Will we keep the third shift?"

Another Local 31 union official said Manning's concern stems from the fact that GM historically has not maintained three shifts at any one plant for long periods.

"The difference this time is that we have fewer plants, and there have been a lot more shifts eliminated through plant closings than there are third shifts being added," said John Melton, the local's bargaining chairman. Melton and others have said maintaining quality will not be a problem with an overnight crew.

"That may have been a problem in the past, before automakers had sophisticated quality-control systems in place," said Art Wheaton, industry education specialist at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. "I don't think it's a problem with today's auto plants."

Productivity also is not a concern. Both GM and Ford's factories will produce the same number of vehicles per hour on their third shifts as the first and second shifts.

"I think the main issue with three-shift plants is when they can get the preventative maintenance done, whether it's on the weekend or during breaks," said Michelle Hill, vice president of Oliver Wyman, which produces the annual Harbour Report on the productivity of the automakers. "With auto plants increasing their flexibility and the ability to produce different models, I think you'll see more three-shift operations as capacity continues to be taken out."

But Ford's decision to go to three crews on the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner SUV was not without controversy. The plant went to the three-shift system for four months last year on the SUV line when gas prices soared and crippled pickup truck sales.

United Auto Workers Local 249 wanted to negotiate a different three-shift schedule this time, but ultimately no changes could be agreed upon, said local president Jeff Wright.

Wright said the third shift, known as the C-crew, works 10-hour days on Fridays and Saturdays and returns to work 10-hour evenings on Sundays and Mondays into the wee hours.

"It affects your body clock when you have to change your work schedule like that," Wright said. "It can be really brutal. We think it affects the quality of the products and the morale of our members."

But the bottom line, for the auto industry and its workers, is that a three-shift plant is a sign of prosperity.

"Two-shift plants are always worried about whether the company is going to cut a shift, particularly if their vehicle's not selling," said Gary Chaison, industrial relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "So when a third shift is added, it's a very positive sign. It speaks well for the products that are made there as well as for the work force. Kansas City is lucky to have two auto plants with three shifts."

New York Post, October 23, 2009, Friday

New York Post

October 23, 2009, Friday

New York Post

Waiters' $3M beef
Settle tip suit with famed steak house

Stick a fork in it -- Sparks Steak House has settled a class-action lawsuit accusing the famed Midtown eatery of shorting waiters on tips for over $3 million.

"What're you going to do," Sparks' owner Michael Cetta said of the deal, which will be divvied up among 200 current and former waiters.

The suit charged the restaurant had illegally deducted money from the "tip pool" -- which was supposed to be shared among about 60 waiters -- to pay other workers, including bartenders, the pastry chef, the wine-cellar master and banquet manager.

It sought $5 million for the shorted waiters, and settled for $3.15 million.

"This is a great settlement for both the waiters and the restaurant. It's good to have these issues behind us," said the lawyer for the waiters, Lou Pechman.

The deal is believed to be the largest ever for a single restaurant in a tip-skimming case.

The money will be distributed in proportion to how long a waiter worked, and more than 40 waiters should receive over $20,000, court documents show

The deal was approved by Manhattan federal court Judge Paul Crotty, who at a hearing last month called the settlement "the right thing to do."

"It addresses mistakes that were made over time and corrects them -- puts the defendant on a better course to follow in the future, one that will hopefully eliminate any further disputes."

Cetta wasn't as upbeat.

"We sort of feel badly that people think, 'You cheated your waiters,' " he said, adding that he had not done so. He noted that many other restaurants have been hit with similar lawsuits.

"It's an unfortunate circumstance," Cetta said, saying the waiters' case was built on "super-technicalities" but "the law is the law."

"I've got nothing bad to say. I also have nothing particularly good to say," Cetta laughed. "We're just going to go on our way and keep selling the best steaks in New York."

It was named the city's greatest steak house by The Post in 2001, and gained some unwanted notoriety in 1985, when mobsters Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti were gunned down as they approached the restaurant.

According to an industry survey released earlier this year, it's the fifth-highest-grossing restaurant in the city and 14th-highest in the country, having raked in $19 million in 2008.

CBS News, October 23, 2009, Friday

CBS News

October 23, 2009, Friday

CBS News

Will Job Tax Credits Put America Back To Work?

Check out this Forbes piece by Newt Gingrich and Dan Varroney on how to reignite the jobs market. Unfortunately, there's little new here as Gingrich and Varroney essentially offer a best hits compilation left over from the Bush era. Don't claim surprise. (After all, the publication does call itself a "capitalist tool.")

But at least they've got their thinking caps on and with the unemployment rate nearing the 10% mark, the administration's hardly in a position to peremptorily dismiss good advice. The trick is to find an economic recipe that will work in what are admittedly extraordinary economic times. Even after monumental adjustments in fiscal and monetary policy, the latest data from the government show that federal spending has saved or created just 30,383 jobs. (On MSNBC's "Morning Meeting" Friday, the chief economist for Vice President Biden, Jared Bernstein, said the snapshot was a preliminary estimate and that a more accurate number would be closer to 1 million jobs saved or created, or roughly 2 to 3 percentage points of GDP growth in the third quarter.)

Whatever the final tally, however, the employment outlook remains grim. That's why a tax credit proposal by a couple of labor experts writing a paper for the Economic Policy Institute - where, parenthetically, Bernstein used to work as a director - is starting to garner attention. Timothy J. Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and John H. Bishop of Cornell University make the (I think correct) argument that traditional stimulus policy does little to put people back to work in a hurry.

In their paper, Bartik and Bishop lay out an argument for a new tax credit targeted at businesses. For a nation weary - and wary - of taking on more debt, this is not another TARP-like giveaway. The cost of a marginal cut in the cost of hiring would be $28 billion in the first year. Uncle Sam would recover half that amount because it would be spending less on social welfare programs such as unemployment insurance or Medicaid.

The credit would be equal to 15% of expanded payroll costs and the payoff, according to the authors, is another 2.8 million people hired over the next couple of years.

"In the first year the credit would be equal to 15% of the net increase in that portion of a firm's payroll subject to Social Security taxes," they write. "In the second year the credit would drop to 10%. This would encourage firms to hire sooner rather than later, and would provide a significant incentive for expanded employment. Furthermore, this is a time period when new jobs are clearly needed."

What with Democrats and Republicans sniping over everything from health care regulation to Afghanistan to Roger Clemens, might this be one policy proposal both sides of the aisle can rally around? On the one hand, it has the appeal of a grass-roots incentive where entrepreneurs and businessmen decide, not some faceless bureaucracy in Washington. Music to Republican ears. At the same time, it would put more people back to work at a time when the lingering effects of the longest recession since World War II keep pushing up the unemployment rate — or at least it would in theory. What Democrat could say no to that?

In The Atlantic, Derek Thompson correctly notes that tax incentives are vulnerable to being gamed. He points out that "employers might try to rig the system and apply for tax credits for existing hires or ones they already planned to make. Another potential hitch: Firms that "fire workers before the start date of the credit and hire them back when the credit kicks in, which would effectively mean the government's just handing out money to the companies."

I suppose that's why we have regulations. Sometimes the connivers do get away with murder but that's hardly sufficient reason for inaction. Fact is that the Fed, which has already cut short-term interest rates virtually to zero, can't do much more to stimulate investment demand. Wall Street may be living large(r) with the Dow back around the 10,000 level, but the runup in the stock market is not doing much for Main Street. Whatever "green shoots" are peeking through the ground, it's still slim pickings out there. Bartik and Bishop sum it up this way:

"The freeze of financial markets last fall destroyed business confidence and led to big cuts in employment and capital investment...Is it realistic to hope that the (job creation tax credit) will help reverse the pervasive pessimism that is undermining employer confidence that investing in new products and services will be profitable?"

Worth a shot, no?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inside Higher Education, October 15, 2009, Thursday

Inside Higher Ed

October 15, 2009, Thursday

Inside Higher Ed

Union U

SILVER SPRING, MD. – Ethan is indeed a rare breed. Trotting through the administrative offices of the National Labor College on a recent Tuesday morning, the German Shepherd/Chinese Shar Pei mix is just about the only “worker” on campus who has yet to secure a contract with management.

“He works off of love and bones,” says Carol Rodgers, Ethan’s owner and the college’s associate provost for external relations.

Welcome to the National Labor College, where library visitors are greeted by a bronze sculpture of George Meany, the plumber turned A.F.L.-C.I.O. president who first envisioned the campus. But much has changed in the labor movement since Meany started building it up more than 50 years ago. Unions are at a crossroads, and many question how they will retool themselves for the 21st century. Membership fell to about 12 percent of the workforce in 2008, down from 20 percent in 1983 when comparable data first became available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is with the challenges facing unions in mind that the Labor College seeks to transform and rebrand itself. Founded as a training center for organizers in 1969, the college became accredited in 2004 and has placed renewed emphasis on awarding bachelor’s degrees and broadening its curriculum.

“Things are changing,” says William E. Scheuerman, the Labor College's president. “Muscle power isn’t where it’s at. It’s about brain power.”

Scheuerman became president two years ago, following 14 years as president of the United University Professions (UUP), the nation's largest public higher education union and an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

A key addition to the Labor College's curriculum is a newly required course called Labor and the Economy, which is designed to give students a broadened view of what Scheuerman describes as the global forces that influence the lives of workers. The course explores the economic and global dynamics that instructors say led to the current economic crisis, as well as Keynesian economic policies that were often cited by supporters of the stimulus package Congress passed in February.

Unions' Struggles Mirrored at College

In many ways the Labor College’s new programs – including a certificate for workers developing a green workplace – are intended to position graduates for success in a rapidly changing economic and political landscape. But any such effort would necessarily include an objective presentation of the challenges unions face in the 21st century. While about 20 percent of the college’s budget comes from the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Scheuerman says students aren't given a sugarcoated version of labor’s problems.

“We still make the distinction between preaching and teaching,” he says.

It’s also a misconception to suggest all unionized workers and labor leaders are of one mind about the movement’s future, Scheuerman adds. That dissension was manifest in 2005, when a coalition of powerful and populous labor unions split with the A.F.L.-C.I.O, citing intractable differences. But if there is a philosophical chasm between the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the more recently formed Change to Win Federation, which includes the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Teamsters, it hasn’t limited the pool of students coming to the Labor College, Scheuerman says. Students affiliated with Change to Win are welcome on the campus.

“That kind of street fighting doesn’t play here,” he says.

Some of the challenges facing the labor movement – notably efforts to improve diversity – are mirrored on the college’s own campus. Men have higher union membership than women, and about 80 percent of the roughly 200 degree-seeking students enrolled at the Labor College are male, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. White students make up nearly 80 percent of the student population.

“We’re doing very active outreach to increase diversity,” says Tom Kriger, the college’s provost.

Unions have also struggled to recruit young workers, and the average age of Labor College students is 47. That statistic makes Peter Kennedy an exception to the rule. Kennedy, a 25 year old arbitration staff assistant for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, is seeking a bachelor’s degree at the college. The Brotherhood, which is affiliated with the Teamsters, represents CSX Railroad workers.

Far from seeing any evasion of the challenges facing labor, Kennedy says they are “brought up in every class.” The auto industry’s problems, for instance, have been a fertile source of debate and discussion, he says.

“The majority of us agree that there’s got to be changes,” says Kennedy, who is majoring in the Political Economy of Labor and Union Administration and Leadership.

“Some old methods are obviously not working,” he adds. “[Professors] don’t try to promote how we’re supposed to change, but they give us suggestions and let us decide.”

Like many students at the college, Kennedy does much of his work online. A Chicago resident, Kennedy visits the campus once a semester for a week of residential study. The Brotherhood has supported his academic pursuits, giving Kennedy scholarships and time off to attend on-campus classes.

Students enrolling in the bachelor of arts program are required to enter the college with at least 56 credits, roughly the equivalent of an associate degree. They can accumulate up to one year’s worth of credits, however, by applying for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credits, which are awarded to students who demonstrate past experiences that meet the learning objectives of courses offered by the college. Kriger says the PLA application process is difficult, but he was unsure when asked what percentage of students applying for the credits are actually awarded them.

“When I talk to my colleagues (at other institutions), they say that’s lightweight,” he says. “It’s not. It’s rigorous.”

Practical Skills for Workers

While the college has made efforts to broaden the focus of its bachelor of arts degree program, there’s still plenty of time devoted to practical issues unionized employees are likely to face. Some of that instruction comes through the college's union skills courses, which are offered in addition to degree programs. But even within degree programs, students wrestle with issues they could potentially encounter back on the job. In a recent Employment Law class, for instance, students spent hours discussing how to collect evidence in an asbestos contamination case. The case was based on the real-life experience of one of the students, who says he lost his job working with a Philadelphia school when he complained about asbestos.

Photo: Jack Stripling / Inside Higher Ed Morty Simon, an adjunct professor at the National Labor College, challenges students to think about real-life issues confronting unions.

Instructing the course is Morty Simon, a longtime labor lawyer who directs the college’s Southwest Organizing School in Santa Fe, N.M. Wearing blue jeans and sneakers, the white haired and bearded adjunct professor says his goal is to get students thinking about public records and other tools they’ll need in arbitration.

“This is getting them to think more broadly, and to cast a wide net, as we say here,” Simon says.

Derek Willingham, a student in Simon’s class, says he’s been surprised at how rigorous the courses actually are.

“I thought it was going to be really easy,” says Willingham, a labor relations specialist with the American Federation of Government Employees, an A.F.L.-C.I.O.-affiliated union. “But they push you to do a lot of reading, a lot of writing.”

Harry C. Katz, dean of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says the Labor College has garnered a strong reputation for what it does.

“I think they are a very solid institution teaching labor studies,” Katz says. “They clearly have a strong pro union bent in how they teach it, but there aren’t many labor studies programs that don’t.”

But the work students and faculty do at the Labor College has a different focus than Cornell’s school, which features more traditional academic programs, Katz says. The Labor College’s students are mostly refining skills to be used in unions, and faculty are publishing “action research” that is often based on their own experiences in organization or arbitration. At Cornell, however, a significant number of students are taking labor courses because they plan to work in management careers and want to understand union tactics.

“We certainly have students taking [courses] whose goal in life is to be an attorney to help defeat unions,” Katz says.

Labor College students are more likely to be union members, in part because non-union members pay significantly higher tuition. An A.F.L.-C.I.O member pays $174 per credit hour, compared with $1,137 per credit hour for non-union members. The bachelor of arts and bachelor of technical/professional studies degrees both require 120 credits.

Despite the large concentration of unionized students at the college, Willingham says he’s seen classmates express critical views of labor.

“It’s not like you can’t come here and be a Republican and take the management side,” he says.

Part of the role of the college, however, is to bolster union membership. Unionized students pay less, but even non-unionized members can get a substantial discount if they agree to join Working America, an affiliate of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. that aims to form alliances between union and non-union employees. Working America membership is only $5, but students who go through the college are more likely to join a union after graduation if they haven’t already, Scheuerman says. In essence, the Labor College is drawing students from unions, and helping bring new members in as well, he says.

“That symbolizes the role we play in the labor movement,” Scheuerman says. “We feed off each other.”

— Jack Stripling

Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2009, Wednesday

Wall Street Journal

October 14, 2009, Wednesday

Wall Street Journal

New Research on Spanking Might Need a Time Out

Studies Aim to Settle the Longstanding Debate Over the Disciplinary Practice's Effects, but Statistical Shortcomings Persist

Three recent, widely reported studies on spanking children claimed to show that the disciplinary practice impairs cognitive development in children. Together, they held out the promise of providing the latest, definitive word on a passionate debate.

Numbers Guy Blog
Why It's Hard to Measure Spanking's Effects Yet the three aren't likely to resolve anything. Many statisticians say they find in them less a firm conclusion than further proof of the difficulty of measuring spanking's impact.

Getty Images
Statistical analysis of spanking's effects on cognition are clouded by many complicating factors. Effects can be attributed to the wrong cause, statisticians say; rather than spanking causing problems in children, it is possible that their existing cognitive problems can make spanking more likely. Moreover, any effects of spanking are difficult to measure and probably small. And unlike, say, a study on prescription drugs that removes a misleading placebo effect, no ethical study can assign some children to be spanked. Instead, parents must be trusted to remember and share their disciplinary practices.

Spanking studies have a long history of fueling rather than settling the corporal punishment question. Earlier findings that spanking can contribute to aggressive behavior in children helped spur the American Academy of Pediatrics to study the issue and recommend against spanking in 1998 -- a conclusion that is still disputed.

For instance, the American College of Pediatricians, which split from the academy over its backing of adoption by same-sex couples, supports spanking in certain instances. Den Trumbull, vice president of the group, says studies need to distinguish between appropriate spanking -- following a warning and done in privacy following specific, proscribed misbehavior -- and reactive, anger-based spanking. "Spanking gets a bad name of late, because parents tend to use it reactively, when having a bad day," Dr. Trumbull says.

The most methodologically sound of the new studies, a number of researchers concur, was conducted by Lisa J. Berlin, a developmental psychologist at Duke University and published in the journal Child Development. She and her co-authors examined survey and observational data about 2,573 low-income toddlers, tracking the punishment they received and their scores on cognitive exams at ages 1, 2 and 3.

The researchers were able to trace relationships over time, for instance showing that spanking, but not verbal punishment, at age 1 predicted aggressive behavior at age 2 and lower mental development scores at age 3. Conversely, they found that kids with underlying problems such as aggressive behavior aren't later spanked more frequently. So the point of criticism of many studies -- that problems cause spanking and not the other way around -- is addressed in this research.

But researchers noted that the study didn't remove all possible explanations for why some children develop faster than others, such as their parents' intelligence. Dr. Berlin used maternal educational levels as an imperfect proxy for parents' intelligence.

Daniel Mundfrom, a statistician at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, says that even without accounting for other factors, spanking at age 1 explained less than 1% of the variation in cognitive ability at age 3. In other words, maybe spanking does lower intelligence, but not by much.

Dr. Berlin, who says she isn't an advocate for or against spanking, says she conducted the study because prior studies raised alarms over spanking but also because she hoped to address their shortcomings. Prior studies may have been flawed, she says, but their conclusions may not have been, she says. Her results "are highly consistent with the large majority of the spanking research showing spanking's negative effects."

Two other studies released last month were too flawed to help settle the debate, some researchers say. They were conducted by Murray Straus, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire and an outspoken antispanking advocate.

In one peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, Prof. Straus and Prevention Research Center senior research scientist Mallie J. Paschall examined how 1,510 children were disciplined and how they scored on standardized cognition tests.

The researchers found that children aged 2 to 4 who weren't spanked gained an average of five points, equivalent to points on an IQ test, four years later compared with those who had been spanked three times or more per week.

While the researchers made efforts to assure that other explanations weren't possible, they didn't go as far as Dr. Berlin did. They didn't take into account whether the children exhibited signs of being difficult or oppositional, and whether children received physical punishment beyond spanking, which could create emotional problems that affect their development.

In addition, the study failed to dispense with an alternative explanation for reasons why some kids scored lower on cognitive tests. "It also could be that kids who got spanked more...were already developing at a slower rate," says Marjorie Gunnoe, a professor of psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Berlin study addressed this concern by showing that kids who were developing slower at one age weren't getting spanked more later.

In an email, Prof. Straus defends the research, saying it is "a very solid study methodologically." A press release from his university about the research noted that the sample was "nationally representative."

A second study of his, which was widely reported in the press and presented at a conference about violence, shows that people in countries where spanking is most prevalent have lower average IQs.

Prof. Straus concedes that the methodology was flawed and that spanking may not account for the differences in average national IQs. He says he presented the data on national IQ in part because it corroborated his other study. "The questionable statistics are so consistent with the statistics in the other paper," he says, adding that his second study can provide "a field day writing about questionable statistics."

Some statisticians agree. For one thing, the results are skewed by a relatively small number of countries with high rates of spanking and especially low average IQs, particularly Tanzania and South Africa -- where about a third of university students reported being spanked a lot before age 12, and where average IQ rates stood at 72. Excluding these countries, "the line would be much closer to flat, indicating little or no relationship," says Dr. Mundfrom.

Attributing cognitive problems in children to spanking is hard enough. But then saying it is a major reason behind the lower IQ of a nation's entire population is even trickier because there could be a new raft of potential causes.

Martin Wells, a statistician at Cornell University, re-ran the statistical test to check whether regional variations in IQ -- which is lower in Latin America and Africa -- could account for the IQ differences Prof. Straus found. After accounting for regional variations, Dr. Wells found the effect of spanking vanished. Dr. Wells plans to use the Prof. Straus's research in the classroom to demonstrate why it is important to consider alternative explanations.