Sunday, April 10, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Note From Natixis

Found it on the bed in the hotel room:

"Natixis CEO urges counsel to keep protesting Calif. hotel workers at bay" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  April 08, 2016

It’s a long way from cleaning hotel rooms in southern California to occupying a corner office in Paris.

But apparently not far enough for Pierre Servant, chief executive of Natixis Global Asset Management. When union organizers for 150 workers at the Westin hotel in Long Beach, Calif., asked for a meeting at the $870 billion investment group’s Paris headquarters, Servant’s answer was a definite non merci, internal e-mails show.

“We need to get those guys off the back of Natixis,’’ Servant wrote to an underling. “Who knows what will happen if they come to Paris?”

The union is pursuing Natixis, with US operations in Boston, because it manages the hotel through a subsidiary.

For more than a year, cleaners, banquet servers, and front desk staff at the Westin have complained that they are denied overtime pay and meal breaks. Some cleaning staff are required to show up ahead of their shifts without pay, they say, to prepare supplies on their carts.

A large Los Angeles union local is trying to organize the workers, who have been holding protests in front of the hotel, steps from the Pacific Ocean. Negotiations have failed so far, union officials say.

The workers have had to navigate a complex chain of players, from the pension fund that owns the hotel to an investment adviser owned by Natixis, with top executives in Paris and Boston.

“People are outraged,’’ said Lorena Lopez-Masoumi, an organizer for Unite Here, Local 11. “A French bank now coming to smaller communities, breaking the law and should not get away with it.”

Fine them and let's move on.

The hotel is majority-owned by the Utah Retirement Systems, which manage $27 billion for more than 200,000 public employees.


The Utah system relies on an outside adviser, AEW Capital Management — a unit of Natixis — to handle its hotel investment, pension spokesman Brian Holland said.

“But we have been clear that we respect the employees’ right to a fair and legal process to decide whether to unionize,” Holland said in a statement.

That message may not be getting through. Yet another company manages the hotel day-to-day for AEW, Noble-Interstate Management Group. Noble was named in the lawsuit.

In March, Unite Here started writing to Natixis in Paris to request a meeting. Jim Kane, a research coordinator for the labor group, first contacted shareholder relations. When he didn’t hear back, he took it up a notch. In an e-mail to Paris executives Monday, Kane suggested that a union representative and a Long Beach hotel worker could travel to France for a meeting.

That request made it to the radar of the chief executive. In an e-mail exchange this week, copies of which were reviewed by the Globe, Servant wrote to Natixis’s general counsel, Jeffrey Plunkett, asking, “Jeff, What do we do?”

Plunkett responded that this sort of thing has happened in the past. “We have talked with AEW and I believe we have ignored the request from the union,’’ he wrote.

Because the union has sued the hotel, Plunkett said, “all the more reason to stay out of the discussion.”

That’s when Servant urged him to make the problem go away, expressing concern over what might happen if the workers arrived in Paris.

In response to an inquiry about the e-mail exchange, a Boston spokesman for Natixis, Ted Meyer, said, “We take inquiries from our stakeholders very seriously, and each is reviewed by the personnel best equipped to address the issue.”

Natixis executives in France referred the matter to US attorneys....


See: Nasty Natixis

They f*** more than just unions.


"More firms adding student loan repayment as benefit" by Deirdre Fernandes Globe Staff  December 08, 2015

Company benefits used to be pretty standard fare — life insurance, retirement, maybe some paid parental leave. Now, companies desperate to hire the best and the brightest young workers are starting to offer a new perk: help paying off college loans.

It’s a powerful lure for a generation of graduates struggling to pay off college debt as they set out on their own. The number of companies offering loan help is small, but on the rise.

Natixis Global Asset Management S.A., a Boston-based unit of the French financial firm Natixis, announced Tuesday that it will contribute up to $10,000 to pay federal student loans of employees who have worked there at least five years.

I wonder where that money is coming from. 

Off the backs of hotel workers?

Fidelity Investments said it will launch a student loan assistance program early next year, also offering $10,000, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global auditing and consulting firm with 3,000 employees in Greater Boston, will roll out a plan on July 1. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Bright Horizons Family Solutions LLC, the Watertown early childhood education provider, said they are considering their own programs.

“We think this is going to be a strong benefit,” said John Hailer, president of Natixis in the Americas and Asia. “I’m hoping that it’s going to be like the retirement account.”

They going to make those go away, too?

"The retirement landscape has changed over the last decades, with company pensions disappearing and more people responsible for building their own retirement savings."

What do you mean they were serving themselves before you?

Student loan help as a workplace perk was pioneered by the federal government, which offers debt forgiveness to attract people to lower-paying public service jobs such as teaching. Private firms are now following suit, underscoring how big an issue student debt has become as college costs balloon and more people seek degrees to compete in the knowledge economy. 

What a load of CRAP!

Economists say that outstanding college debt — which has more than doubled to $1.2 trillion since 2007 — is hindering young adults and forcing them to delay starting families, buying homes, and saving for retirement.

That's under your "friend" Obama, kids. 

Thankfully, he is finally acting on it in the last year of his administration.

Companies, however, aren’t tackling the student loan problem just to boost the finances and morale of their workers, analysts said.

I didn't think that was it anyway.

Millennials — adults in their 20s and early 30s — are now 83 million strong and outnumber baby boomers. As the economy improves and the labor force tightens, employers are seeking ways to attract young workers and retain them, said Bruce Elliott, a manager for compensation and benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management, a Virginia-based trade group.

“Employers don’t do this to be nice,” he said. “It’s absolutely an investment.”

Such benefits promise to be popular. Fidelity is still cementing details of its program, aimed at employees at the lower end of the pay scale, but the initial reaction has been more than enthusiastic, said Jennifer Hanson, the senior vice president of human resources at the Boston-based fund giant.

“You don’t usually get high fives in the hallway,” she said.

Or backslaps from yourself.

Only 3 percent of companies offer student debt repayment, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, but the trade group expects it to become widespread in the next five years. Supporters of repayment programs are lobbying Congress for legislation to make these employer contributions tax exempt for workers. Such contributions are now considered taxable income.

Oh, the "good will" is so they can receive more tax breaks!

Meanwhile, technology companies that provide the software to manage student loan repayment benefits for companies are flourishing. The Boston startup Gradifi Inc., which is working with PricewaterhouseCoopers, expects to double its workforce to 32 in the next nine months, said Tim DeMello, the company’s chief executive.

In November, MassMutual led a group of investors that put $5 million into Inc., a California student loan management company that specializes in company-sponsored repayment programs. MassMutual, which sells life insurance and manages 401(k) plans, backed because it is hard to persuade young adults to save for retirement and set aside money for life insurance when they are burdened by college loans, said Mark Goodman, managing director of MassMutual Ventures, an investing arm of the company.

Student loan repayment benefits are “going to be a big market,” Goodman said. “It’s hard to save for the future when you’re worried about student debt.”

And after you have been kicked in the balls!

But whether these workplace debt repayment programs will make a dent in the student loan problem is unclear.

What's this in the fine print after more than 3/4 of the article?

Companies rolling out these programs are likely ones that already compensate their employees well, making these workers less at risk of defaulting on student loans, said Lauren Asher, president of The Institute for College Access & Success, a California nonprofit that advocates for more affordable education.

And they don’t address the underlying problem of skyrocketing college costs, she said. Average student debt has climbed 60 percent to about $29,000 from about $18,000 in 2007, according to the US Department of Education.

“It’s not solving the larger issue,” Asher said of corporate loan repayment benefits. “It doesn’t address what’s driving the need to borrow in the first place.”

But it will get those financial firms and good old tax cut!

Some workers say they would prefer higher pay to student loan contributions. Lauren Pespisa, a 27-year-old Web developer in Somerville, said she can see the benefit helping those with big college debt. But Pespisa’s credit card balance is currently larger than her $8,000 in student loans.

“So it’s a nice perk, but not a huge draw for me, much like free dry cleaning and maternity benefits also aren’t,” Pespisa said. “I’ll take a higher paycheck or more equity [in the company] instead any day.”

Oh, that's also what it is: a way to lower wages!!!


Maybe you would be better off going out of state:

"UMaine cuts cost for out-of-state students" by Jennifer Fenn Lefferts Globe Correspondent  December 14, 2015

The University of Maine, in a first for a New England flagship campus, will be slashing tuition for students from Massachusetts and other Northeastern states as it tries to combat dwindling revenue and enrollment.

Qualifying students from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will pay the same tuition and fees at UMaine in Orono as they would at their home state’s flagship institution. That means some students can cut tuition costs in half....


Related: Holiday Bowl Game 

“Deceptive marketing practices with respect to student loans will not be tolerated,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in the central bank’s statement." 

As they tolerate them from the banks they front for and just about any other institution in this country. 

The whole thing is built on deceptive marketing these days, from the lowest looting schemes to the wars based on lies. 

Note was longer than you thought, wasn't it?

And with that, I will be signing off for the day.