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Timesizing News, April 1-10, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

4/10/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -

4/09/2003  timesizing consciousness & primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 4/08/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 4/05-07/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - nothing current so we pick a late arrival - 4/4/2003  timesizing consciousness & primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [how's our little attack on a finite workweek going?]
    Reducing overtime pay, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A12.
    A House subcommittee approved a bill that would make it easier for employers to offer tens of millions of workers comp time instead of paid overtime. In a party-line vote, the subcommittee of the Education & Workforce Committee voted 8 to 6 for the bill, which would ease provisions that bar companies from offering comp time instead of overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours a week.
    [Actually this kind of flexibility is necessary in seasonal industries such as agriculture, but it's so expensive to monitor and enforce that it should not be generally available. Management in general needs more time discipline, not less. We don't want to turn America into a "Latin sweatshop" too quickly -]

  2. Latin sweatshops pressed by U.S. campus power - Dominican Republic plant signs labor pact - Top brands work...to improve conditions for the employees, by David Gonzalez, NYT, A3.
    VILLA AL TAGRACIA...Workers \at the\ BJ&B hat factory...which employs about 1,600 people [and] has made caps for major companies like Nike and Reebok and for athletic powerhouse schools like Penn State and the University of North Carolina...said they had tried to form a union about 6 years ago because managers were forcing them to work overtime, sometimes dismissing them without reason when they tried to leave early to attend night school.... Said Jenny Perez, who used to work at the factory, "[Supervisors] would humiliate you verbally, but you took it because there was no other place to work."...
    [Employee powerlessness, brought to you by the miracle of job shortage/labor surplus/frozen 1940-level workweeks.]
    The stateside [student] groups began to lobby the brands that had contracts with the factory. United Students Against Sweatshops, a group that at one point sent thousands of letters to the factory, also sent a student volunteer for most of last year to help the union organize.
    [Anybody see the name of the union in this article???]
    University officials, brand executives and officials from a consortium of campuses, unions and students visited with the union and factory managers.
    [This sounds like a very big deal. We haven't heard of a student success like this since the video on the student organizations in Serbia that organized to vote out Milosevic and his party in 2000(?).]
    ..\..The union at BJ&B was the first formed in a free zone in 5 years..\..
    [Yet this is the first time it's surfaced in the Times or the Journal?]
    The zones were set up in recent decades with tax breaks and other incentives to create jobs by attracting international manufacturers.
    [Again the desperation to create jobs in a world with downwardly inflexible workweeks - the hellish strain of makework instead of the heaven of automatic worksharing.]
    ...Said Scott Nova, the exec. dir. of the Worker Rights Consortium, "Gradually, the factory came to recognize..\..through ongoing pressure from Nike and Reebok that it was not in their interest to allow this to continue...and we eventually persuaded them to produce a public letter signed by managers pledging neutrality, no intimidation and that the workers had the right to make their own choice."...
    The campus groups said that the large American brands had to be pushed several times to be more aggressive in responding to concerns over the treatment of workers..\..
    [No kidding.]
    Still, the process was not easy - the factory had to be pressured several times into rehiring union members who were dismissed on the flimsiest of pretexts. At one point, the American brands brought in outsiders who spoke about the rights of workers to choose a union or not. Yet it was [all] accomplished without the kinds of violent clashes or shutdowns that have marked organizing efforts elsewhere....
    Alberto Yang, the factory administrator, said..."With global companies, you have to accept global standards, not just local ones."...
    [Whatever makes it easier for you to accept, Yang - it ain't all Yin.]

  3. Aid to airlines from Europe is unlikely - Europe is unlikely to aid its airlines in travel slump - Cutbacks and layoffs as war and illness deter passengers, by Christine Whitehouse, NYT, W1, W7.
    ...Lufthansa...has grounded 31 aircraft and cut $200m from its capital spending plans. \However, it\ has less freedom [than Dutch KLM] to shed staff because of German labor laws, but it is talking to its unions about reducing flight attendants' work hours and pay....
    [Timesizing, not downsizing. See also Lufthansa mention below on 4/01 #4.]

4/03/2003  primitive timesizing & timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Whirlpool Corp. to lay off 315 workers, WSJ, B2.
    ...temporarily...at a dishwasher plant in Findlay, Ohio, because it has high inventory levels. The maker of home appliances...expects the layoffs at the plant - the largest dishwasher-manufacturing plant in the world - to be short term, lasting 5 or 6 weeks.
    [Hooboy, here we are right on the fence between downsizing and timesizing. This is apparently the old usage of the word "layoff," which was always temporary. We're going to give them the benefit of the doubt and regard these "layoffs" as leaves of absence. Our criterion is, a leave has to be short and specific, and this one is over a month in length and slightly fuzzy in expected duration, which leads us to believe that it could stretch to 7 or 8 weeks. But the rest of the article suggests this is also an "old-economy" company with considerable employee-to-employer loyalty, suggesting considerable employer-to-employee loyalty, so we'll count it as a primitive kind of timesizing to avoid real, permanent layoffs.]
    About 100 workers volunteered for the layoff, a company spokeswoman said. Another 81 are temporary workers, she said. At the end of last year, the plant had 2,050 workers.
    [Making this a 315/2050= crude 15% timesizing, which should have been done more sustainably via a weekly adjustable 15% workweek cut for all employees, with heightened overtime-targeted cross-training. Whirlpool makes high-quality, long-lasting washing machines so rush right out and buy one.]

  2. Not tonight, honey: The plight of the dual-income, no-sex couple, by Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, D1.
    Remember..."YUPpies," for young urban professionals? Or "DINKs" [for] dual-income, no-kids couples? Here's a new one: "DINS" for dual-income, no-sex couples.
    The label drew a laugh when former Labor Secy Robert Reich, a professor at Brandeis University in Waltham MA, cited it as one of the hazards of overload in a speech at a recent work-life conference. ...Says Susan Seitel, a Minnetonka MN publisher who attended, "It's really tough. People don't have time" for sex....
    [What's the song, "No time for a summer rain.... No time left for yoo -ou."]
    Dual-earner lifestyles aren't the root cause, says Janet Hyde, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Fatigue is a better predictor of low sex desire in women than work roles, Dr. Hyde [not Jeckyll!] and others found in a study of more than 500 women and their households.... Here are some useful suggestions from the experts on keeping the love alive: [We are not alone - see "Workaholic Britain too tired for sex" (3/06/2001, and here's part of the reason, "All work and no pay? - New U.S. poll shows more Americans taking their work home" ( 6/27/2002).]

  3. Corps headquarters - Second thoughts and very long hours, by Bernard Weinraub, NYT, B5.
    [How much intelligence are they getting out of this intelligence officer? -]
    Col. Steven Boltz, intelligence officer for V Corps, spends very little time in his tent. Instead, he is at his Tactical Operations Center from morning to night. [photo caption]
    V CORPS HEADQUARTERS, in northern Kuwait...- It has been the toughest week in Col. Steven Boltz's career. Col. Boltz...has been spending very little time in his tent these days. From 6 am until past midnight, he can be found in V Corps Tactical Operations Center, an enclave within the enclave that is this desert base....
    [Let's see, 6 am to say, 12:30 am is 18½ hours a day, and if we can assume even just six days a week, we're talking about a 111-hour workweek, but we're probably talking about a seven-day, 129½-hour workweek. Maybe those of us who think this war is one of the five stupidest things this nation has ever done should be grateful that some of our key troops are crippling themselves in this way.]
    The operations center is surrounded by barbed wire and guarded round-the-clock by soldiers....
    [Presumably on shifts. At least two = 12-hour days = only 84-hour workweeks even if seven days a week.]
    Col. Boltz...is a brooding, almost dark figure as he prowls the operations center. He rarely leaves, except to sleep or fly by helicopter for periodic meetings with senior officers. He doesn't even bother to go to the mess hall. ...He rarely smiles; in fact his mouth seems set in a permanent frown....
    [A posterboy for overwork.]
    Before the war started, Col. Boltz had said that he believed that Iraqis would welcome American troops. He believed that the war would...not get bogged down in southern cities like Nasiriya and Basra. And [he] believed that Iraqi forces would surrender in large numbers in the American sweep from the south. Things haven't proceeded exactly as he had envisaged.... He said..."I know it will work out. It will just take longer than we thought."

4/02/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - nothing current, so we plumb the barrel of late arrivals - 4/01/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Giving 'family friendly' workplaces new meaning - Ms. Foundation for Women launches new, expanded program: Take Our Daughters And Sons To WorkSM , PRNewswire 03/31/2003 via AOLNews.
    New York...- From 1993 until 2002, 71 million American adults participated in the Ms. Foundation for Women's Take Our Daughters to Work® Day and demonstrated their commitment to "girl power." According to a national study conducted by the Families and Work Institute,...81% of girls and almost 60% of boys said they will reduce their work hours when they have children. [However,] through Take Our Daughters to Work Day, the Ms. Foundation learned how difficult it will be for children to realize these expectations. [And] men's stories echoed those the Ms. Foundation had heard from working women for decades - working adults [of both sexes] want to be more involved in their families' lives, but fear caregiving responsibilities limit their job possibilities and chances for advancement at work.
    \So\ after a decade of success [with Take Our Daughters to Work Day], the Ms. Foundation is evolving the program and [officially] launching Take Our Daughters And Sons To WorkSM on Thursday, April 24.... Men [already] participating in the program thanked the Foundation for creating a day when they could be "public fathers" in the workplace.... "Girls and boys see how difficult it is for adults to meet the challenges of work and family, and want their lives to be different"..\..said Marie Wilson, President of the Ms. Foundation for Women.... "This program will help make their vision of the future [a] reality."...
    [Then they better put some thought into how they are going to have the power and leverage in negotiations with management to get more family time, because the overall trend over the last two generations has been in the opposite direction. The downsizing response to technological innovation has created a huge hidden labor surplus and damaged markets in every industry except extreme-luxury, security, the military, and prisons. The only non-war technique of redressing the extreme power gradient between employees and employers is reversing the labor shortage into an engineered perception of labor shortage - by strictly limiting worktime per person per time period - in other words, by cutting the workweek. (Legislating longer vacations and earlier retirement is simply not flexible and adjustable enough.) The most gradual and market-oriented strategy for cutting the workweek that we know of - with the "moneyback guarantee" of bidirectional flexibility for special situations - is Timesizing.]

  2. Media giant Clear Channel sued for policy of working employees off-the-clock without pay, US Newswire 03/31 14:45 via AOLNews.
    [shades of Wal-Mart (6/25/2002 #1). And Clear Channel is the gang that's stifling sane broadcasts about the war to 61% of American radio listeners (3/25/2003 #3, 5th bolded subhead). Clearly these people are straight out of the 19th-century.]
    ...Clear Channel Communications and Clear Channel Broadcasting Inc. are being sued by former employees who claim that the media and communications giant violated Federal law by refusing to pay its hourly production workers overtime compensation. The collective action lawsuit [different from class action??] [was] filed in the US District Court in Nashville, Tenn.... Clear Channel controls the programming for over 1200 radio stations and 19 TV stations throughout the U.S. [It] reported earnings of approximately $8.4 billion in 2002..\..
    "Even though we routinely worked 60 hours or more per week, we were not allowed to earn overtime pay," said..\..lead plaintiff, Thomas Bland.... "The company simply refused to accept time sheets reflecting more than 40 hours per week."
    [And why didn't they just quit?   Probably no job alternatives given the recession and the uniiversal labor glut.]
    ...The employees claim that Clear Channel's policy was designed to cause confusion as to whether the employees were [included in or] exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA [Federal Labor Standards Act]. "The FLSA requires that workers be paid one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours over 40 in a workweek, unless a specific exemption applies"..\..according to Nashville attorney Charles Yezbak, who represents the employees.... "Clearly, these employees are 'non-exempt' [i.e., included]."...

  3. [a glimpse of how & why Mexico is still third-world -]
    Maids in Mexico targets of racism, abuse, by Lisa Adams, AP 03/31/03 12:22 EST via AOLNews.
    MEXICO CITY - ...Mexico remains in the dark ages when it comes to the treatment of domestic workers - despite repeated efforts by activists to reform antiquated labor laws and Pres. Vicente Fox's recent promises to improve conditions for female workers.... The full-time, live-in maids - many of them in their lower teens despite Mexico's minimum employment age of 16 - generally abandon poor, rural, Indian communities to work in city homes. ..\..Many Mexicans don't know how to live without their maid. Take a look inside nearly any middle- or upper-class household - and even occasionally a lower-class one - and you will find a domestic worker....
    "They are working practically in slavery," said Julia Carapia, coordinator of the women's studies program at Mexico's National Autonomous University. "They have to be on top of everything, from early in the morning until nighttime, and they are totally dependent on the familiies they work for. Sexual harassment and abuse is very common."
    Live-in maids working for upper-class families earn at least the federal minimum wage - about $140 a month - while also receiving room and board. The average salary for employees in other professions in Mexico City is two or three times the minimum wage.
    [Hence the impotence of the minimum-wage without maximum-workweek approach in improving conditions for all employees, not just those who don't need it. In short, of the two traditional union goals, higher pay and shorter hours, focusing on higher pay winds up getting you neither, but focusing on shorter hours winds up getting you both, because it gets the free-market on your side - market forces see a shortage of labor and respond by raising pay levels. Thanks to FDR's huge error and subsequent anti-SWT (shorter worktime) campaign in 1933 and subsequent years, labor picked the wrong horse and is now "in the toilet." Labor picked minimum wage (and maximum makework! - but somehow always too little too late) instead of simply staying on task and DRIVE-DRIVE-DRIVE-DRIVING for shorter hours. And unless somebody starts doing that soon, there are going to be no first-world economies left. The whole 'globalized' world is going to be 'third world' - like Mexico, and we're all going to be wearing "rape me" signs like these Mexican domestic workers. Bush&Cheney's disgusting military adventures are not going to succeed in creating the levels of labor shortage that gave World War II its 'wonderful' depression-solving role.]
    ...The current [federal] law says that live-in maids should have a decent place to live, good food...and adequate time to rest. "For some employers, a decent place to live could mean a space under the staircase or in the washroom, good food could be beans, tortillas and coffee, and sufficient rest might from four to six hours (a day) for a 45-hour workweek," [Raquel] Guadarrama said \after spending\ more than three decades [as] a domestic worker.
    [Bad math. 24 hours a day minus 6 hours for rest is 18 working hours a day. Even with only a five-day workweek, that's still a 18x5= 90-hour workweek. What can she be thinking?]
    ...Women who have their own families to take care of but are forced by economic circumstances to provide a second income to their household often take maid jobs that aren't live-in, earning about double what a live-in maid makes. Although they do receive free room and board, the live-in workers are generally poorer, less educated and less apt to fight for higher wages. The domestic worker field is now divided nearly evenly between the two groups. ...Federal law addresses only the live-in maids [but] only in vague terms. That means salary, benefits, hours and personal treatment are determined arbitrarily by...employers. The women, who desperately need the work, have little choice but to take what [little] is offered to them.
    ...The Atabal Collective, a Mexico City-based group...was established in 1987 to raise awareness about the maids' poor working conditions and to help them fight for their rights. The group...holds yearly marches to recognize maids.... Yet years of efforts to get maids legally recognized as part of the workforce, with guaranteed hours [the phrase we need to see is enforced-maximum or capped hours], wages and benefits, have gone nowhere. Activists say they are up against a slew of prejudices still embedded in Mexican society....
    [Well there were a slew of prejudices against all poor people in England in 1347, so in 1348 they had the Black Death, created a labor shortage in the stupid but effective way, and raised respect and pay for employees like you wouldn't believe and couldn't stop with wage controls (they tried!). Regulating the workweek and cutting it until everyone who needs to support themselves decently, can, is the smart way to create a tonic labor shortage. And if that means holding the cutting it so far that we have to start alternating workweeks, or even just working one week a month, or one week a year, SO BE IT.]

  4. European airlines face 'worst crisis', AP 03/31/03 17:34 EST via AOLNews.
    [So it's not only U.S. airlines, unfortunately.]
    BRUSSELS, Belgium - European airlines appealed Monday for governments to help carriers survive the loss of business from the Iraq war, which the industry blamed for compounding the "worst crisis in history." The Association of European Airlines said its 30 member airlines reported a 12.3% drop in international passengers from March 17 to March 23, the week when the US-led invasion of Iraq began. It said the war was compounding losses from the prevailing economic downturn and the impact of 9/11/01....
    [So Cheney, Bush, ARE YOU SATISFIED?!]
    ...Meanwhile Monday, Lufthansa said it is in talks to reduce hours for 13,500 flight attendants as the German airline seeks to cut costs.... Lufthansa could use German law, which permits cuts in worker hours when there is 10% less work for at least 30% of workers. The government then pays compensation to the workers.
    Alternatively, a crisis clause in the airline's collective contract allows cutting the workweek from 37.5 hours to 36 hours without compensation.
    [In short, a real effort to trim hours instead of chopping jobs and markets.]

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