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New Labor Department Guidance Takes Aim at ESG Investing

A new proposal by the Labor Department will require retirement-plan fiduciaries to choose investments “based solely on financial considerations” and is aimed to slow the interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, analysts say. There is $10.7 trillion in private pension plans. The DOL administers and enforces Erisa, the federal law governing private retirement and health plans. The proposal will have a 30-day comment period. In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia cited the swift growth of ESG investments, including soaring inflows and the signing by investors and businesses of the United Nations Principles for Responsi

DOL Proposes Rule to Crack Down on ESG

On June 23, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a proposed regulation (the “Proposed Rule”) defining plan fiduciaries’ duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) when considering economically targeted investments or those that incorporate environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors. The Proposed Rule embodies some of the prior guidance and adds new recordkeeping requirements setting forth how plan fiduciaries can meet their fiduciary obligations when making ESG investments. The Proposed Rule, in conjunction with recent enforcement activity, demonstrates a renewed interest and skepticism by DOL about ERISA plans’ ESG investing practices. Be

US SIF Releases Statement On Department Of Labor Rulemaking Related To ERISA And ESG Considerations

The DOL proposal is out of step with professional investment managers, who increasingly analyze ESG factors precisely because of risk, return and fiduciary considerations. WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2020 – Yesterday, the US Department of Labor (DOL) released a proposed rulemaking to revise the fiduciary standard for ERISA-governed retirement plans. The proposal attempts to clarify when retirement plan fiduciaries may consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in investments covered under ERISA. In so doing, DOL creates a schism between its narrow definition of ESG related economic business risks or opportunities and the financial markets themselves, which saw a 38% increase

USW Backs BlueGreen Alliance National Manufacturing Agenda

PITTSBURGH, June 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) union, along with other members and leaders of the labor-environmental partnership BlueGreen Alliance (BGA), today launched the group's ambitious agenda to rebuild American manufacturing while fighting the effects of climate change. The BGA, founded in 2006 by the USW and the Sierra Club, now includes more than a dozen unions and environmental organizations committed to fighting for good jobs, clean infrastructure and fair trade. The group's proposal, released today, outlines a set of national actions necessary to create a manufacturing economy that is globally competitive, clean, safe and fair for workers and communitie

Adjusting to a Post-Coronavirus Economy Requires Just Transitional Workforce Strategies

The crush of layoffs and business closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc for workers who were already facing a structurally vulnerable workforce and employment system. The combined magnitude of the current public health, economic, and political crises provides an opportunity for bold and robust interventions that will make the United States a more resilient country moving forward. Any massive job creation push to achieve a just transition to economic recovery must ensure access to better jobs for all workers and should also require a different workforce approach to worker training and labor force adjustment. Expanding workshare, subsidized employment, national service, an

Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor Working-Class

Millions of people in the UK have been furloughed during the COVID pandemic, but the government has been paying up to 80% of many workers’ salaries. As Tim Strangleman writes in Working-Class Perspectives this week, the pandemic shutdowns and the furlough scheme encourage us to take seriously the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Over the next decades, economic, technological, and social changes are likely to leave many workers jobless, much like those whose jobs have been put on hold as a public health measure now, but the furlough scheme shows that UBI can sustain people when jobs aren’t available. It can also bring some important benefits, to workers, society, and the environment. T

Investing in a More Inclusive, Resilient New Reality

Working families face a unique set of crises today. It has been an exhausting, anxious, and, for some, heartbreaking few months. Shockingly, forty-five million workers lost their jobs and the UI rate shot to the mid-teens—the worst since the Great Depression. The COVID-19 crisis has devastated many economic sectors and entire communities. The protests around the tragic killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans have exposed the deep faults of racial violence, systemic discrimination, and income inequality. And then there’s all the other troubles right here in river city that never went away. The last time this country faced such an existential crisis was the Great Depression and WWII

Knee On The Neck: What Investors Can Learn From ‘Black Lives Matter’

Is it controversial that I’m tired of Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd? That’s not quite right. It’s more accurate to say that I’m just tired, full stop. It’s hard to watch the videos. I know how they’ll end before I press play. Being a minority is not easy for anyone, but being black has always meant cleaning up behind those at the back of the queue. Growing up, I knew many people saw me as inferior and even sub-human. My Auntie Joy would counter this daily barrage of negativity by brainwashing me: “Gary, you are as good as any, better than many, and inferior to none.” It worked. As a freshman at Yale College, I didn’t yet know what an “entrepreneur” was, but

PRI blog Responsible investors must unite for racial justice

For months the human and economic devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic has been hitting ethnic minority communities around the world with disproportionate force. Now, in the wake of the crisis, demonstrations have reverberated across the United States and the world after yet another brutal killing of a black person—George Floyd—in police custody. These protests against entrenched racial injustice are focussed on exposing systemic inequalities which are so deeply and painfully engrained in society and the everyday experiences of ethnic minorities around the word. It’s long overdue for us to stand up and work together to shape a future which is just, equal, inclusive and deeply grounded in f

Why eliminating racial inequities is key for the post-COVID-19 economy

Racial economic disparities are front and center in the United States right now, as protesters take to the streets to call for equal justice for Black people, and the coronavirus continues to kill disproportionate numbers of people who are Black and brown. The “Marketplace Morning Report” has been talking to experts on how we should “reimagine” the economy after COVID-19. Narrowing racial economic disparities will be imperative going forward, says Andre M. Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution and author of “Know Your P rice: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.” Perry spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

Black Lives Matter

"We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For." Alice Walker Kristen Estell, Heartland Capital Strategies Two weeks ago The Expresso wrote that America was facing a crisis. We were talking about food and the safety of the workers who harvested, transported, stocked, and sold that food. The truth is, the majority of those workers are black and brown people. As I sat in the safety of my suburban home, I was writing about a crisis without being a part of that crisis. It was academic. The closest that crisis would come to me would be higher food prices or a lack of selection in my local store. My body wasn't on the line. It never has been, because I am white. In the time that followed that Expresso

Here's How a Soybean Field 40 Miles East Will Power the City of Cincinnati

It's just a soybean pasture now 40 miles east of Cincinnati, but soon it will keep the lights on at Cincinnati City Hall and thousands of buildings in the city. Two energy companies over the next year will build in Highland County a massive array of solar panels: 310,000 over 1,000 acres. A photo illustration, created by the city of Cincinnati, of Lunken Airport covered in solar panels. (Photo: Provided by the city of Cincinnati) The City of Cincinnati will enter into a 20-year contract with those two companies, Cincinnati-based Creekwood Energy and Chicago-based Hecate Energy, to get energy from these solar panels. Mayor John Cranley on Thursday hailed it as the largest municipal solar proj

Cincinnati plans to power city government with massive new solar array

The city of Cincinnati plans to buy enough energy from a new solar plant to be built in Highland County to power about a quarter of city government year-round, Mayor John Cranley said on Thursday. A company is building a 400-megawatt plant on 1,000 acres of soybean fields in the county, which is east of Clermont County. The city will buy energy generated by 100 megawatts of the array, and city officials projected that Cincinnati either will break even or save up to $1.7 million over 20 years based on current energy prices. There also is room at the plant to add additional panels, so other cities or businesses could join Cincinnati. At a news conference on Thursday at the city’s West Side pol

Details About City of Cincinnati's Massive Solar Array Announced

The 1,000-acre, 310,000-panel array will power buildings across the city, including all of the city's municipal facilities The City of Cincinnati will get a lot more green under an ambitious solar energy contract announced Nov. 21. A 1,000-acre, 310,000-panel array will power buildings across the city, including all of the city's municipal facilities, and provide 25 percent of energy used by municipal functions from 40 miles away in Highland County, Mayor John Cranley said at a news conference about the effort. The array will be funded and built by Cincinnati's Creekwood Energy and Chicago-based Hecate Energy, which will provide the renewable energy to the city at a fixed rate via a 20-year

The Biggest Municipal Solar Farm in the US Is Coming to…Cincinnati?

“This really is a big deal.” In 2017, when the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement—an international treaty that attempted to avert climate catastrophe by cutting global emissions—John Cranley, the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, joined other mayors across the country to announce his intention to remain faithful to the agreement’s primary goal of keeping the rise of global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius in this century. Cranley and leaders from from dozens of cities like San Francisco and Chicago even went a step further, promising to work toward a 100 percent transition to clean energy sources, with ambitious deadlines. So, in 2018, Cincinnati an

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