PENSIONS

Panel warns of tailspin ahead

The pension crisis that threatens the retirement savings of 1.5 million Americans including 60,000 Ohioans also poses the risk of driving the U.S. economy into a tailspin, a panel of witnesses told a congressional panel Wednesday in Washington.

Witnesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses including UPS told the Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans that should the 130 multiemployer pension plans become insolvent, the companies that paid into the plans will be held liable — a situation that will drive many companies into bankruptcy. Under current rules, employers can’t leave plans in crisis without paying large sums or declaring bankruptcy.

“This is not a future crisis,” said Aliya Wong, executive director of retirement policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It is a current crisis.”

While some 10 million workers are served by 1,400 multi-employer plans nationwide, some 150 to 200 plans, covering 1.5 million workers and retirees, could run out of money within the next 20 years, according to the Pension Rights Center. Among them: Central States, a pension program that claims some 50,000 members in Ohio.

The committee, co-chaired by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has until late November to find a solution. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also serves on the committee.

— GateHouse Media

Washington Bureau

WORKPLACE

Pet friendliness a rising value

Just like their four-legged companions are to their owners, workers of companies considered pet friendly are more loyal and feel more connected to the company’s mission than workers of other companies.

A survey by Nationwide, in partnership with the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, finds that 90 percent of employees in pet-friendly companies feel fully engaged in their work compared with 65 percent of workers of other companies.

A pet-friendly company is defined as one that allows workers to bring their pet to work at least once in a while or offers employee benefits such as pet insurance.

The survey also found workers at pet-friendly companies are more likely to recommend their company to others and stay with the company.

Nationwide is the No. 1 pet insurer in the U.S. with policies on more than 700,000 pets. Nearly half of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 companies overall offer Nationwide pet insurance as a voluntary employee benefit.

— Columbus Dispatch

GateHouse Media Ohio

LOGISTICS

Ohio gets ‘powerhouse’ rating

Ohio is raising its game in serving as a home to logistics companies, a new university report said.

The Dayton Daily News reported that Ohio raised its “grade” as a home for logistics businesses to an “A,” according to the 2018 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card released by the Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research and Conexus Indiana.

Ohio improved from “B+” to “A” in its logistics and “B-” to “B” in its diversification grades, the report states. The state maintained a grade of “B” in manufacturing, “C” in tax climate and liability gap, and “C-” in human capital.

However, Ohio declined from “B” to “B-” in global position, “C+” to “C” in productivity and innovation, and “C-” to “D” in benefits costs.

Ohio experienced an increase in assisted living costs from 2016 to 2017, the report said.

CLOTHING

Gap Inc. names new CEO

Gap Inc. says it has named the former CEO of Billabong International and Eddie Bauer as the new head of its struggling namesake brand. Neil Fiske replaces Jeff Kirwan, who left the company in February after being at the brand’s helm for nearly four years. Fiske will begin his new role as CEO and president of the Gap brand on June 20. Brent Hyder, executive vice president of global talent and sustainability, had been serving as interim brand president.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.