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Timesizing News, June 21-27, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

6/27/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news this weekend = glimmers of strategic hope -

  1. East German strikers say sick of being 2nd class, by Kerstin Gehmlich, Reuters 06/26/03 09:57 ET via AOLNews.
    LUDWIGSFELDE, Germany...- Auto workers in eastern Germany striking for shorter hours shrugged off attacks that they are hurting the region's weak economy on Thursday, vowing to fight as long as it takes to get better conditions. Workers manning a picket line at a DaimlerChrysler plant in Ludwigsfelde near Berlin said they were sick of being treated as second-class citizens compared with their western counterparts who work three hours less a week [for the same pay], 13 years after German unification.
    "We're doing the same work as people in the west but we have to work more and get paid less. We feel like second class workers. We just want some equality," said Uwe Maaske, a 59-year old worker standing outside the factory gates. Workers at Ludwigsfelde and other east German plants have been on strike for over three weeks, demanding a cut in the working week from 38 hours to the 35 hours standard in the west.
    "We'll strike until the bitter end - until we get the 35 hour week," said Andreas Schaare, another workers....
    [And that's sometimes just what it takes. If American labor had stood firm in 1933, we'd have installed a meaningfully short workweek 70 years ago. It wasn't perfect. It was rigid, arbitrary, unidirectional.... But we could have been tinkering in the right garage of worksharing for the last 70 years instead of completing wasting our time careening back and forth between the dead-end of Keynesian makework, ever too little too late, and the dead-end of blind supply-side-ism which is really nothing more than dolled-up do-nothing-ism, both dead-ends resulting in wasteful, unsustainable and unuseable astronomical levels of income concentration to the point of starving the markets away from the productivity it's invested in.]
    Engineering union IG Metall says recent improvements in productivity in the east warrant equal working hours. ...Shorter working hours now would drive investors to neighboring Poland or the Czech Republic, economists say.
    [In a recession, it's not about investors; it's about markets. And shorter hours would maintain and increase markets.]
    The strike is dividing east Germany itself, with a recent survey showing 52% of east Germans are against the strike, while 39% support it.
    [Bad leadership and compliant media can always get the naive to vote against their own interests.]
    ..\..The rate of employment at about 19% [in the east] is more than double...the 8% in the west. ...Said Stefan Kurze, shopping at a supermarket a few streets away from the car plant [and] working 40 hours a week for customs..\.."People here can be lucky if they have a job at all. And DaimlerChrysler might decide to move production elsewhere if the 35-hour week gets introduced."...
    [Continuing to concentrate the limited employment by perpetuating a 13-year outdated workweek is only going to make people with any job at all even rarer, and luckier.]
    Standing on the picket line with about 200 fellow workers, Schaare said it was an unfortunate side effect that workers in the west had also become affected by the strike. But he called on these colleagues to support the fight for equal conditions. "In the end, what we are fighting for is the unification of Germany - 13 years late," he said.

  2. German union, employer heads in talks to end strike, Reuters 06/26/03 07:32 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN - ...IG Metall engineering union chief, Klaus Zwickel, and Martin Kannegiesser, head of employers' federation Gesamtmetall, are meeting at a secret location \in\ closed-door talks on Thursday [6/26] aimed at preparing the ground to end a strike in eastern Germany that has hurt the country's key car industry.
    [No it hasn't. If it had, the employers would have cut the posturing and given the engineering employees the same kind of measly 3-hour cut phased in over SIX YEARS that the steel industry just negotiated.]
    ...They are seeking to hammer out the basis of a deal ahead of formal negotiations on Friday.
    Engineering workers in the formerly communist east have been on strike for over three weeks, demanding a reduction in the working week by three hours to the 35 hours which is standard for their western colleagues. The strike has hurt [unneeded(!)] output at the country's top carmakers Volkswagen and BMW. IG Metall on Thursday reiterated its calls for a 35-hour week in the east, but said it would not press for a blanket enforcement of shorter working time.
    [Huh? Here's the explanation -]
    "(A deal) could take account of a company's earnings and we might also consider more flexible working hours," IG Metall's chief negotiator, Hasso Duevel, told German TV on Thursday. "However, we will end the strikes only if an agreement is reached and is approved in a ballot," he added.
    [And here's some same-day followup -]
    German union, employers still far apart after talks, Reuters 06/26/03 13:08 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- Germany's IG Metall engineering union said on Thursday exploratory talks aimed at stopping a strike in eastern Germany ended with the two sides still far apart. ...IG Metall said it still planned to resume formal negotiations with employers on Friday [6/27] and the negotiators would explore all possibilities to resolve the conflict at the negotiating table.
    Engineering workers in the former communist east have been on strike for over 3 weeks, demanding a reduction in the working week by 3 hours to the 35 hours which is standard for their western colleagues.... IG Metall says recent improvements in productivity in the east warrant equal working hours [with the west, whose higher productivity in 1990 was the basis for setting the east back at a 38-hour workweek at the time of German political reunification].
    But economists warn that the region, where the rate of unemployment at about 19% is more than double...the 8% in the west, needs a lasting competitive edge to catch up with the west.
    [What near-sighted B.S.! This is exactly the same empty argument that US steelmakers used in the early 1920s to justify keeping the EIGHTY-FOUR (84) hour workweek! See 6/28-30/2003 #1 above. What the carmakers primarily need is stronger markets, not more investment or longer manhours, and they can get stronger markets in the east by cutting hours, sharing the vanishing work as robotics takes over, hiring more people, and reactivating all the unconfident consumers currently "iced" in that 19% jobless rate.]
    And shorter working hours now would drive investors to neighboring Poland or the Czech Republic, economists say....
    [We repeat, the east doesn't need investors, it needs customers, purchasers, buyers, spenders, shoppers, consumers. These economists have replaced science with accommodation - of the near-sighted in-a-rut-thinking CEOs who indirectly pay their undeserved salaries.]

6/26/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news this weekend = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Kahnert, AP photo/Sven Kaestner June 25 2003 via AOLNews.
    Andreas Kahnert of German union IG Metall carries a union flag in front of the entrance of DaimlerChrysler car plant in the eastern German city of Ludwigsfelde south of Berlin during their strike Wed., June 25, 2003. The metal workers union IG Metall has targeted this company in a strike, seeking to force a reduction in the average [no, maximum!] workweek from 38 hours to 35 hours, the same as in western Germany. [photo caption]
    [and also -]
    Picketers, AP photo/Sven Kaestner June 25 2003 via AOLNews.
    Members of German union IG Metall blow whistles during the strike in front of car supplier factory ZF Getriebe in the eastern German city of Brandenburg, west of Berlin, Wed., June 25, 2003. The metal workers union IG Metall has targeted this company in a strike, seeking to force a reduction in the average [no, maximum!] workweek from 38 hours to 35 hours, the same as in the west. Because of missing [ie: unavailable due to strike] supplies, BMW and Volkswagen plants had to stop or reduce their production. [photo caption]

  2. New York City budget accord reached - Mayor and council devise a plan with fewer cuts than expected - Zoos, child care clinics and meals for the elderly are saved in a deal, by Michael Cooper, 6/26/2003 NYT, C15.
    ...The final plan differed in several important respects from Mr. Bloomberg's original budget proposals. [But soft... can it be? - the mighty New York City hath lately seen a mayoral request for work-sharing! But alack, 'twas "balked at," ill-starredly having fallen 'pon the wax-filled ears of that block-headed half of labor that doesn't "get" its own longer-term self-interest in timesizing and unemployment reduction.]

  3. Britain and U.S. top fatcat league, Reuters 06/25/03 19:01 ET via AOLNews.
    LONDON...- The United States and Britain have the "fattest cats" in terms of executive pay, topping the league in a new global salary survey, published on Thursday. The study by Management Today magazine, shows that chief executives in the U.S. get an average package of £1.18m ($1.97m), more than double their counterparts in Britain, where bosses earn £480,000 on average. ...Australia ranked third, [at] £334,691, while Sweden was at the bottom of the list of major industrialized countries [at] £253,205....
    But high pay could also mean high stress. The U.S. and Britain also took the top two slots for rates of obesity and the lowest life expectancy out of the countries surveyed.... The survey found people [in general or CEOs??] in Hong Kong work the longest hours, with a 45-hour week, closely followed by Britons, who work 43.5 hours, just ahead of the U.S., where the average working week is 40 hours.
    Germans enjoy the most paid holiday out of the countries surveyed, with 29 days a year. Hong Kong workers get a meagre 7.14 days. In the U.S. people only get slightly more at 9.20 days....
    [And on executive hours specifically in the U.S. -]
    Faster financial reporting could boost shareholder value - Parson Consulting study finds firms that post earnings earlier see [11.2%] higher P/E ratios, PRNewswire 06/25/2003 14:00 EDT via AOLNews.
    CHICAGO -...Nearly 49% of US companies listed on the S&P500 roster don't meet the shorter 10K filing deadline of 75 days for 2003, while 86% don't meet the 2004 cut-off date of 60 days.... Companies that must retool their reporting systems to meet these deadlines are already facing significant costs. More than half of the companies' finance budgets have increased by up to 20%, and senior finance executives are adding an average of 3 extra hours to their workweek to comply with and make sense of the [deadline shortening] Sarbanes-Oxley Act, another recent study by Parson Consulting indicated....

  4. Why tax cuts will not pay off, pointer digest (to C2), NYT, C1.
    Supply-side economics says people will work more [i.e., longer hours] if their take-home pay rises. They do, but only slightly, which means that tax cuts will clearly not pay for themselves.
    [and the indicated article -]
    Economic scene - Do workers really make hay [i.e. work] while the sun shines [i.e., taxcuts roll in], or merely clock out sooner? by Prof. Alan Krueger of Princeton Economics (akrueger@princeton.edu), NYT, C2.
    [Gawd, when it takes that much to explain the metaphor, it ain't worth it! "Louzy headline" alert.]
    A study of cabdrivers suggested that the average cabby worked with a "target income" in mind, but more-experienced drivers worked more when it was especially profitable. [photo caption]
    A core tenet of supply-side economics is...the substitution effect..\.. Workers substitute more hours at work for time spent in leisure if the wage rate rises, as leisure time has become relatively more expensive..\.. Support for this proposition has proved surprisingly[?] difficult to find, however, especially in regard to men.
    Studies of annual hours worked among individuals turn up a wide range of estimates of the effects, but typically indicate that work hours are only weakly associated with pay. To the extent [that] there is a consensus among economists - and there is more than the usual amount of disagreement here - it is that a 10% rise in wages leads to less than a 1% increase in work hours for men and a 3% increase for women. With such small responses, tax cuts clearly will not pay for themselves.
    [Especially if most of them benefit a much smaller number of superwealthy anyway, who are already firmly entrenched in a schedule of either work or leisure that they don't have to change for anything, especially something they already have more than they can spend of, like money.]
    Why is the supply of labor so unresponsive to pay?
    [An unnecessarily contorted and dehumanized formulation of the question, and a good example of why economists have so little human progress to show for their big salaries. How about just, "Why do people work so little extra in response to the equivalent of higher hourly wages?")
    ...If workers are paid more, [the reasoning goes,] they like to use their extra income to consume more of the things they enjoy, including leisure time. This is known as the income effect. The income [effect] roughly offset\s\ the substitution effect....
    [Big deal. Let's finally get to some factors that really weigh.]
    Another factor is that many employers dictate the number of hours employees must work, so they cannot work more or fewer hours if they want to. And, of course, in a weak economy unemployment prevents some people from working at all.
    [And it's not just 26-30 week unemployment. There's also welfare (up to 5 years), disability (indefinite for 5.4m and rising), homelessness (indefinite for 0.6m and rising), and incarceration (indefinite and repetitive for 2.1m and rising). Basically, though the original question connects to worktime economics, it is unimportant, since it does not address either the urgent need for, or the best design of, worksharing. But that's standard economics for you = a maximum investment at points of minimum return.]

6/25/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news this weekend = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. German employers, union to resume talks, AP 06/24/03 15:59 EDT via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Employers and a union for east German industrial workers will resume talks to end a three-week strike over working hours, a dispute that has forced automakers such as BMW and Volkswagen to close plants. The IG Metall industrial union, Germany's largest, and negotiators for employers agreed to meet Friday [6/27], Werner Riek, a spokesman for the Gesamtmetall employers' association, said Tuesday [6/24].... Employers have resisted shortening the workweek, saying it is key to drawing investment to a region where the unemployment rate is twice that in the west..\..
    [If they cut the workweek enough, it would be half that in the west - or less!]
    IG Metall has targeted auto plants and suppliers for selective strikes on its demand for the workweek in the east to be cut to 35 hours, the same as in the west.... The union argues that productivity in the region has improved enough in the 13 years since Germany was reunified for eastern employees to have the same work conditions..\.. Currently, employees in the east work 38 hours for the same base pay because employers say the formerly communist region's depressed economy won't support more....
    [And as long as they put off workweek reduction and worksharing, it never will.]
    ...Altogether, about 9,400 workers took part in the strikes Tuesday, IG Metall said..\.. The union is seeking a deal similar to one reached with the eastern steel industry June 7 that will cut the workweek to 35 hours by 2009. The union says reductions could take place gradually in hard-pressed companies but has pushed for quicker implementation in more profitable industries....

  2. South Korea: Hyundai strike planned, by Don Kirk, NYT, W1.
    Workers at Hyundai Motor, Korea's dominant vehicle manufacturer, voted to strike today, seeking...a 40-hour workweek, down from the current 44 hours \and\ an 11% wage increase....
    [Which, if they got their national workweek down far enough, workers, now a scarce commodity, would have a lot easier time winning.]
    The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions said the 30,000 workers at Hyundai plants would stop work for 4 hours, along with thousands of workers at smaller companies elsewhere....

  3. [and going backward -]
    Atlantic Coast Airlines [ACA] Holdings, Dow Jones via WSJ, B10.
    ACA's pilots ratified a revised contract that cuts their wages and increases the percentage of their hours spent flying, conditional upon the renewal of the regional air carrier's contract with UAL Corp.'s United Airlines....
    [So when do they do their paperwork? But this case does directly illustrate the connection between longer hours and lower pay as in s-w-e-a-t-s-h-o-p. Contrast the nearby good article on Rio Tinto mining where the union won a raise, continued health insurance for retirees, and improvements in health insurance for both active and retired workers. Compare the 3 nearby bad articles about airlines: Air New Zealand is making noises about needing a government bailout, Swiss International is eliminating 3000 jobs, and Hawaiian Air is looking for a new court-appointed trustee to see it through bankruptcy. Back to Atlantic Coast -]
    Atlantic Coast Airlines is a 148-aircraft regional airline that operates under the United Express and Delta Connection brands in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. and Canada....

  4. [and another reason why American lawmakers don't "get" this issue -]
    The Hill: Lawmakers find themselves in a fundraising frenzy - Cash shortage prompts June fundraising picnic, by Alexander Bolton, US Newswire 06/24 19:15 via AOLNews.
    WASHINGTON - ...Individual lawmakers are holding up to seven fundraising events this month, making hundreds of phone calls a week, and even scheduling events beyond the traditional three-day congressional workweek, a departure from past custom....
    [These "representatives" have a 3-day workweek?! They have very nice health and pension plans too. They won't represent anything again until they are forced to have the same work conditions and perks as average Americans. But who is there to force them? But what about their "need" to raise campaign funds? Easy, ban ALL money from American politics and mandate that "news" media do their job for a change and cover all candidates equally.]

  5. Cubicle culture - Why the truth can be the worst excuse for taking a day off, by Jared Sandberg, WSJ, B1.
    ...We go to elaborate lengths to construct credible excuses when, in reality, we're just too tired, too disorganized or too busy to show up. Ironically, these fictional excuses, and our complicated lives, make the legitimate [excuses] look like bald-faced lies. The truth, which should be welcomed, instead seems poorly scripted....
    [All this silly game-playing when, at our technological levels - mechanization, automation, computerization, robotization, cybernetics - we should all be working such short workweeks that all this would be unnecessary. The Technocrats called for a 16-hour workweek in 1931. Arthur Dahlberg called for a 20-hour workweek in 1932. The U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933. Seventy years later we're still working 40 or more hours a week with louzy two-week vacations - if we're lucky enough to still have a full-time job (with benefits) at all. Pathetic.]

6/24/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news this weekend = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [finally the big eastern German timesizing story makes the Wall Street Journal -]
    German economy is under strain of strikes in east, by David Scheer with Neal Boudette & Charles Fleming, WSJ, A14.
    [No, the German economy is under the strain of an overlong workweek in the east, which is concentrating work and wages, elevating already high joblessness, and stifling spending.]
    BERLIN - Labor strikes for shorter work hours in eastern Germany have prompted unusually sharp criticism from politicians who fear the action will hinder growth in the region's feeble economy - and stymie the overall German economy, the world's third-largest.
    [No, the politicians merely fear for their own miserable careers. If long hours were going to help growth in the region's feeble economy, they've have 13 years since reunification to do it and the economy is still feeble, with 19% joblessness.]
    The strikes come as Germany faces a second recession in two years. In the east, unemployment is nearly 19%, more than double the west's. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has appealed to unions and employers to hash out a deal quickly....
    [Here's some additional evidence that many Germans just don't "get" the worksharing imperative, even though it was to Germany that the Japanese labor minister headed a couple of years ago to study worksharing systems -]
    Five mayors from the eastern state of Saxony signed a letter Friday accusing the striking workers of "complete indifference toward common interests" and dragging down a region "where it's already bad enough."... And Germany's influential newsweekly, Der Spiegel, called the labor unrest "the insanity strike."
    [Geee, wonder when Der Spiegel was figuring on giving Ossies (east German) equal pay for equal time. Right now they're getting the same pay for 38 hrs/wk that Wessies (west Germans) are getting for 35. Some concern "toward common interests" that is!]
    IG Metall, one of Germany's largest and most powerful unions, insists that the strikes are necessary to put eastern workers on par with their western counterparts, by lowering their workweek to the 35 hours that is standard in much of western Germany from the current 38 hours [in the east]. The union estimates a shorter workweek would create 15,000 jobs.
    Since reunification 13 years ago, unions in western Germany have fought vigilantly to keep wages and benefits high, and for several years eastern workers were gaining on them.
    Economists argue that the east's low wages and longer working hours are its primary investment advantage.
    [Hey, why not go back to a 48 or 60 or 84 hour workweek then, and 29 or 41 or 65% unemployment for a REAL "investment advantage." Hell, go right back to the 24/7 of slavery and watch them investors pour in. Of course, you won't have any consumer base left in the east....]
    But eastern workers are still less productive than western workers.
    {Who cares if there's a recession and they can't sell the stuff anyway?!]
    By cutting work hours, the region would become even less attractive for companies, said Klaus Baader, European economist at Lehman Brothers in London.
    [Those are the kind of companies you don't want in the technological age anyway, because they still think productivity is a matter of "face time" - which was true in pre-technological agricultural societies 200 years ago. And isn't it funny that this article has not yet mentioned that the east-German steel companies have already agreed to cut the workweek by one hour every two years for the next six years?!]
    "To call it bizarre would be kind," he said. "Economically, it is the worst thing they could possibly do."
    [The only bizarre thing here is this representative of mainstream economics, that despite a century and a half of cutting hours and increasing wages, despite America's only remaining profitable steel company, Nucor, cutting hours instead of jobs, and Hooker Furniture in the first example this weekend 6/21-23 below (not to mention Lincoln Electric and even VW itself in 1994), and despite France's 4% reduction of its unemployment rate between 1997 and 2001 while it cut its workweek 4 hours (from 39 to 35), still chants, "Oh that's never worked. Oh that's never worked. Oh that's never worked." like Lester Thurow at B.U. in the early 1980s. (Probably a mercy that we don't hear too much out of him any more.) Hey, it's not as if it's unBiblical - check out the Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20!]
    As the strike enters its fourth week, there are signs that patience is waning among strikers as well. In at least one case yesterday, several hundred workers crossed picket lines to resume work.
    [If they don't use their only weapon, unity, to win parity with the west and now with their fellow eastern workers in the steel industry, they're dooming not only themselves but east Germany.]
    [Here are two related articles from Reuters -]
    German auto industry sticks to flat sales forecast, by Peter Wuebben, Reuters 06/23/03 08:01 ET via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- German auto industry association VDA on Monday [6/23] kept to its forecast of roughly flat car sales in Europe's biggest auto market this year, pinning its hopes on a recovery in demand in the second half....
    [Without major advances in worksharing/timesizing, "dream on" or "träumen Sie weiter!"]
    Strike damage?
    ...German carmakers are also [besides in stock prices] suffering from a strike in some eastern German states over the length of the working week which threatens to halt output of some important models....
    [Ooh, grammar checker! "Incorrect antecedent"! Vake up, Vuebben!]
    "The main competitive advantage of eastern Germany [long-hours labor in the most robotized industry in the world? "tu parles, Charles!"] is put at risk (by the strikes).... There will be negative effects on investment in eastern Germany," said..\..VDA President Bernd Gottschalk.
    [Oh, we're sooo scared, Bernie!]
    However, one German bank [which, uttering heresy, apparently wished to remain anonymous] said it believed the impact of the strikes on companies' profits would be "very small" as long as the stoppages lasted only one or two weeks.
    [So this is why the carmakers are being tougher than the steelmakers on what should be a no-brainer!]
    "All the vehicles impacted by the strike are currently not running at peak volumes and it should be easy to catch up lost volumes in coming months if needed," said the bank in a note.
    [Geez, even the non-peak volumes they were running aren't necessarily needed because of the "flat sales forecast" heralded in the headline. The automakers are just getting hysterical for dramatic effect. Here's one of them now, one that should know better -]
    VW says the strikes will cost 20,000 units of output [that they don't really need right now!], Reuters 06/23/03 17:35 ET via AOLNews.
    PARIS -..."We will lose 20,000 cars at least by the end of this week," Bernd Pischetsrieder [VolksWagen CEO] said on the sidelines of an auto industry conference [here], but said it was too early to say whether the loss of production could be caught up in the course of the year.... Members of the engineering union IG Metall are striking in support of a campaign to reduce the working week in eastern Germany by three hours to 35, the standard in western Germany....
    [And VW and the other carmakers are being big babies about it.]
    The industrial action comes at a time when VW is in any case slowing production of the Golf, its best-selling model, ahead of a replacement due later this year....
    [There it is explicitly. These executive morons don't even need the production, yet they're fighting a Germany-unifying workweek adjustment? Jerks! Here are a couple of AP photo captions on another carmaker -] BMW - No sales, APphoto/HO 6/23/2003 via AOLNews.
    The body of BMW 3-series car is covered by plastic in the BMW plant in Munich, southern [west] Germany, Monday, June 23, 2003. Due to strikes for a shorter workweek at a supplier in Brandenburg, BMW has to halt production of the 3-series for lack of gearboxes. [photo caption]
    Streikende flaggen BMW [BMW strike flags], APphoto/Sven Kaestner 6/23/2003 via AOLNews.
    An employee of car supplier factory ZF Getriebe in the east German cityi of Brandenburg/Havel, west of Berlin, passes striking workers in his BMW on his way to the factory Monday morning, June 23, 2003. The metal workers union IG Metall has targeted this firm in a strike now in its 4th week, seeking to force a reduction in the average workweek from 38 hours to 35 hours.

  2. A case for family - Law firm driven to rein in associates' workload, by James Collins (collins@globe.com), Boston Globe, D1, flagged by colleague Kate.
    When one of Boston's top law firms offered him a job for the summer, Antonio Delgado, a...student at Harvard Law School, set out to see if first-year lawyering really deserved its reputation: grueling 14-hour workdays and endless dinners spent over pages of legal briefs. At schools like Harvard, Delgado said, there's a "badge of honor" mystique surrounding 1st-yr employment. Sacrifice part ["part"??] of your social life for the firm, learn about the law, and you get to take home a $117,000 salary....
    [We knew this was the sicko situation in American medical training. It "just figures" it's also the sicko situation among, yuk, American lawyers. However, the backlash cometh -]
    A trio of Boston lawyers who are founding a law firm this summer [Lowrie Lando & Anastasi LLP] say such jobs come with another, more troubling sacrifice: At many top firms, associates work so hard [i.e., long] that friends, family, and personal interests are cast aside completely. Matthew Lowrie, Peter Lando, and John Anastasi say they will require their firm's first-year lawyers to log only 1,600 billable hours of work per year, about 200-400 fewer hours than is usually required of associates.
    "People don't feel like you can have an adequate family life and be a lawyer," said...Lawrie, who is married and two children.... The three men, formerly partners at the intellectual property law firm Wolf Greenfield & Sacks P.C., have 8 associates on board - a number that pales alongside Hale & Dorr, with more than 500 lawyers - but they plan to expand to 20-25 employees by December. The partners' plan tries to address one of the legal profession's most challenging questions: How can lawyers balance intense dedication to their work with the equally demanding task of raising a family?... Many law students and attorneys like the partners' plans, but others maintained that long hours are a fundamental part of being a good lawyer.
    The 3 men point to a 1999 report by the Boston Bar Assoc. that found the legal profession was "in danger of seeing law firms evolve into institutions where only those who have no family responsibilities" can thrive.... Nancer Ballard, a lawyer at Boston firm Goodwin Procter LLP and a co-author of the [report], said some smaller firms adopted its recommendations, but that practices at the larger firms haven't changed substantially.
    Lawyers at Boston firm Sullivan Weinstein & McQuay are not generally permitted to work more than 1,800 billable hours per year, yet the firm is still able to turn a substantial profit, said partner Robert Sullivan. The system works, [he] said, because the firm's 17 lawyers do most of their own typing and clerical work, eliminating the need for costly paralegals.
    [And how many unbillable hours does that add per year?]
    While other firms of a similar size might employ 20 such workers. Sullivan's firm employs a handful, he said. Lawyers at the firm are also strongly encouraged to work from home....
    61% of US law firms require their associates to log at least 1,800 billable hours per year, according to a 2001 study by the National Assoc. for Law Placement, an organization that represents legal employers and law school career counselors. In the same study, 23% of firms sought a minimum of 1,900 billable hours, and some demanded up to 2,160 hours.
    "There's a constant struggle in this business to find a balance between how hard [ie: long] we work and how we live the rest of our lives [if any!]," said Jeffrey Jones, managing partner at one of Boston's largest law firms, Palmer & Dodge LLP.
    Thomas Peisch, managing partner at the Boston law firm Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford LLP, said associates are supposed to work long hours. "A law firm's profitability is directly tied to the number of hours" people work, said Peisch, whose firm employs about 30 lawyers.
    [Oh really? What about reputation, that allows a law firm to bill at a much higher rate per hour? And what about creativity and oratory and timing, that are increased by detachment and rest, and that build reputation faster than mere plodding through billable hours?!]
    "I don't think lawyers have any more difficulty finding time to spend with their families that investment bankers or doctors or any other highly skilled professional."
    [And what good are "high skills" in a zombie? No wonder so many doctors are sued for malpractice. It's a wonder zombie lawyers aren't suing one another for malpractice.]
    Some area law students praised the idea of logging fewer billable hours, but others - like Delgado and Jocelyn Benson, who is entering her third year at Harvard Law School - placed more value on other aspects of employment. Benson said challenging work, a firm's clients, its reputation [aha!], its location, and the personalities of prospective colleagues might be more important to many recent graduates....
    [The real question is, what's more important to recent clients, and that depends on reputation, and that depends on creativity, and oratory, and timing, and detachment, and rest.]
    The average salary for first-year associates at top law firms in Boston last year was around $117,000, according to data from FindLaw.com..\.. While the new firm, Lowrie Lando & Anastasi LLP, does not have the name recognition many students value, Lando said, the firm's first-year associate salary, $116,500, was "highly competitive." If associates work for more than 1,600 hours, salaries will increase based on a 50% hourly bonus, Lando said....
    [Ah, we thought the whole point of this article was to point out that this new firm was "requiring" a cap on billable hours at the 1600 level!?]
    The partners are offering the bonus to "acknowledge" employees who work beyond 1,600 hours - which they admit will be necessary at times [if they're louzy managers] - but they say they do not want to encourage the practice.
    [We'll believe it when we see it. Better develop some time management skills, boys.]
    Most law firms allow associates to take fewer hours, Lando said, but such allowances are granted as exceptions. Some law firms allow associates who want to raise families to work fewer hours if they agree not to seek partnership.
    The [new] partners say their plan will allow associates to take time for families and other personal pursuits without hurting their chances for partnership.
    [If they really deliver, they'll attract the most creative newcomers - people who have a life, unlike the standard grunts in the field.]
    At their new offices in Cambridge, the partners' plan for shorter hours exists, for the moment, only on paper.
    [Hey, maybe 1,600 billable hours per year work out to less than the 80-hour-a-week maximum that American medical students have recently won.]
    Some of the firm's new associates say they may have to work up to 2,000 hours because there is so much work to be done.
    [Especially when you're in the grip of self-importance, the myth of indispensibility, and a lack of time management skills, prioritization and good management.]
    Bob Skrivanek, who signed on after working with the partners at their previous firm [and] who has a wife and 3-year-old daughter [said,] "There's an ability here to lead a balanced life."...

  3. [then the Journal has this potential juicy one today -]
    Keeping vacation the break it's supposed to be, by Jane Brody, NYT, D7.
    [but Jane Brody must be a little out of touch, cuz a cursory reading reveals no references to leaving cellphone and work behind.]

6/21-23/2003  primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news this weekend = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [please patronize our featured timesizers and buy their stock - the saner, juster world of worksharing ain't gonna start by itself!]
    6/21   Hooker Furniture reports new quarterly sales record, press release by Douglas Williams & Larry Ryder (276-632-2133) & Kim Shaver (336-454-7088 or -880-1230), Business Wire 06/20/2003 16:49 Eastern via AOLNews.
    MARTINSVILLE, Va...- Hooker Furniture (Nasdaq-SCM: HOFT)...reported record sales [but] lower earnings for its second quarter ended May 31, 2003. Net sales of $80.1m, a new quarterly sales record for the Company, increase 28.7% from $62.3m in 2Q02.... Profitability for the quarter was negatively impacted by a one-time $1.5m pretax restructuring and asset-impairment charge related to the previously announced closing of Hooker's Kernersville NC mfg facility, scheduled for August 2003....
    The Company expects to stay on 35-hour workweeks for the foreseeable future and will shut down its wood furniture factories for the traditional July 4th week to conduct required annual maintenance on its facilities. In addition, Hooker expects to shut down selected facilities for an additional week in July and all facilities for an additional week in each of August and September. The Kernersville facility will operate on reduced, 35-hour weekly work schedules beginning the week after the July 4th shutdown until its operations wind down in early to mid-August 2003.
    Bradington-Young's upholstery facilities continued to operate on reduced, 36-hour work schedules during the 2003 second quarter. The Company expects Bradington-Young to continue working on reduced schedules of 31-36 hours per week through July 2003. Additionally, the upholstery facilities will shut down for two weeks in July 2003....
    [Followup - speculators dumped Hooker shares on Monday, long-termers held -]
    Shares of Hooker fall on lower-than-expected results, by Frank Tang, Reuters 06/23/03 18:31 ET via AOLNews.
    NEW YORK...- Shares of Hooker Furniture Corp. {HOFT.O} fell as much as 19% on Monday to a new 3-month low after the home and office furniture maker on Friday posted lower second-quarter earnings due to a restructuring charge...for the closure of its Kernersville NC plant. The company also said it will stay on reduced working hours for most of its employees and shut down some facilities due to soft customer demand....
    [Frank Tang didn't read the press release too closely. He should have said "and shut down some facilities for two weeks due to soft customer demand." He's portrayed the situation as worse than it is. Smarten up, Frank; you're liable to get sued, or canned, like Jason Blair.]

  2. [general German news -]
    6/21 German producer prices fall on lower fuel costs, by Clifford Noonan, Reuters 06/20/03 07:09 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- News of a fresh fall in German producer prices in May added to nagging deflation fears on Friday although analysts pointed out that cheaper oil was the main reason for the drop. Prices at factory gates in Europe's largest economy fell 0.3% on the month, the biggest fall since last July, and rose 1.3% year-on-year, the state statistics office said....
    [Prices worringly low? Need more consumers? Quit downsizing and start timesizing. Cut the workweek to 35 hours for all Germans instead of just for unionized Germans. Vacuum those millions of consumers deactivated by unemployment back into the workforce and fully confident consumption. Drop the technologically outdated "work hard to get ahead" routine and get with the modern "work smart to get ahead" thinking.]
    In a gloomy omen for the economy, the IG Metall union has vowed to continue strikes in support of a shorter working week in eastern Germany despite evidence the action was beginning to hurt the car industry, which accounts for 10% of total industrial output and hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany....
    [This isn't gloomy. This is the only way Germany is going to centrifuge its over-concentrated and de-activated national income and revive its sagging domestic demand and consumption. What's it supposed to do, keep making more and more cars for fewer and fewer customers? Wake up, Reuters' Clifford Noonan! And Chancellor Schroeder as well! -]
    6/22 Germany's Schroeder pushes end to strike, by Geir Moulson, AP 06/21/03 11:39 EDT via AOLNews.
    BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder appealed [to both sides] Saturday for a swift end to 3 weeks of union strikes demanding a shorter workweek in formerly communist eastern Germany, warning of further damage to the already weak economy.
    [By mentioning communism, they're trying to imply that a shorter workweek is commie, not capitalist, when in fact, capitalist western Germany has had a shorter workweek in the unionized sector for decades! And the east German steel industry has already agreed to the 35-hour week.]
    Workers in the east have staged the walkout to demand their 38-hour workweek be shortened to match that of western Germany, 34 hours. Corporations have warned that the strikes and a shorter workweek could lead them to reconsider investments in the east....
    [The east doesn't need their oppressive investments. It needs to activate and dynamize its own consumer base by resorbing its 19% unemployed back into the workforce and the confident-consumer base, and this it can only do by sharing the technology-eroded human employment. You expect them to continue straining to create 38-40 hour jobs on some kind of giant taxpayer-burdening makework policy like Japan? Oh yeah, that's been sooo successful - not!]
    On Friday, an estimated 11,000 workers stayed off the job, and IG Metall - Germany's largest industrial union - called on employers to return to the negotiating table by Wednesday or face an escalation of the strikes. IG Metall called the walkouts [after ballot approval by over 75% of members!] to force employers to lower the eastern workweek without reducing pay....
    [So get with it, east German engineering CEOs! Your 38-hour workweek is not only pro-unemployment and anti-markets, it's anti-reunification and un-German!]
    The employers' association, Gesamtmetall, said it was prepared to consider cutting working hours "as soon as the economic conditions are in place."...
    [Good God, if they aren't in place now 13 years after reunification, it's nobody's fault but Gesamtmetall's! They're just half asleep, dragging their feet.]
    "If the advantage of the 38-hour week is given up, then the sites we have there will look different from a cost point of view," spokesman Eberhard Posner was quoted as saying in the daily Die Welt.
    [What poppycock. A 3-hour "advantage" in a robotized world? With "advantages" like second-class citizenship and 19% unemployment, who needs disasters? Cut the excuses and reunify the German workweek!]
    "In the long term, IG Metall's action could well have consequences."
    [If Gesamtmetall knew anything at all about the long term, it would have cut the eastern German workweek 5-10 years ago and achieved lower unemployment and higher consumer demand in the east parallel to the west! There are only positive long-term consequences from work sharing in the technological age.]
    The union argues that productivity gains in the east mean it is time to level working conditions [chief of which is working hours], nearly 13 years after German reunification. Employers say the extra hours are still key to attracting investors in a region that still suffers unemployment more than twice as high as that in the west.
    [Employers still think it's all about them and about investors. If that were true, the east wouldn't have the higher joblessness and lower consumer markets that it has. It's about millions of employed and confident consumers, not one or two dozen investors.]
    Schroeder's economics & labor minister, Wolfgang Clement, expressed doubts about the wisdom of a 35-hour workweek in the east. "I fear that it would cost jobs," he said in an interview with n-tv [sic] television. "This is a dispute about the wrong issue, at the wrong time and in the wrong place."
    [No, Clement is a labor minister with the wrong vision at the wrong time and in the wrong place. We'd say he'd do just fine in the pre-industrial feudal period, haranguing the peasants. The last gasp of his type of thinking was Jefferson's vision of an unmechanized, unindustrialized, untechnologized and agricultural America in the early 19th century. Clement, siddown & shaddap! You're a disgrace to your party and an embarrassment to modern Germany. Here's the Reuters version of this story -]
    6/22 Schroeder urges end to eastern German strikes, Reuters 06/21/03 04:02 ET via AOLNews.
    PORTO CARRAS, Greece...- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged engineering unions and employers on Saturday [6/21] to end a dispute over working hours in eastern Germany and not damage growth in the depressed region with more strikes. "They should come up with a deal sooner rather than later," Schroeder said on the fringes of a summit of EU leaders [in Greece]....
    The engineering union IG Metall said on Friday it wished to resume talks with employers by Wednesday to resolve a dispute over working hours and did not plan to extend strike action. Some 11,000 workers downed tools in east Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony on Thursday as IG Metall, Germany's biggest union, fights to cut the workweek for east German engineering workers by three hours to match the west German standard of 35 hours.... The engineering employers' federation, Gesamtmetall, said on Friday it supported harmonising working hours in east and west Germany once the economic conditions were right.
    [Which, after THIRTEEN (13) years of foot-dragging and sand-bagging on mechanization and robotization of production in the east by these clowns, means "never."]
    6/23 Schroeder seeks end to strikes amid economy gloom, by Clifford Coonan, Reuters 06/22/03 06:58 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder wants a swift end to strikes by eastern engineering workers which are damaging the country's vital car industry as Europe's largest economy teeters on the brink of recession.
    [Well maybe Schumpeter's "creative destruction" works for labor as well as management. In fact, maybe it works better for both of them in terms of long-term labor-favored policies than short-term management-favored strategies, like long hours, high unemployment, low wages, and shrinking domestic demand. Management always thinks salvation is going to come from somewhere else - like exports to outside markets or capital infusions from outside investors. What a pathetic bunch of whining and inadequate performers, who want to take the money without taking the responsibility.]
    Speaking on the fringes of a weekend summit of European Union leaders in Greece, Schroeder urged unions and employers to end the strikes over cutting working hours in eastern Germany and not further damage growth in the already depressed region.
    [Schroeder should be conducting himself like Harding's Secy of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, and embarrassing industrial leaders to get their workweek in line with standard German practice. Instead, he lets his labor minister put all the pressure and blame on labor leaders -]
    Economy mininster Wolfgang Clement told SWR radio on Sunday that the strikes were "completely or of order" and could hit badly needed investment in the former Communist region.
    Thousands of workers downed tools in east Berlin, Brandenbury and Saxony last week as IG Metall, Germany's biggest union, fights to cut the working week for east German engineering workers to 35 hours. Workers in the east currently have a 38-hour week, three hours longer than their counterparts in the west, a difference employers say is justified because of lower productivity.
    [Again, if it's still got lower productivity after 13 years of reunification, employers are actively maintaining a little slice of the Third World in eastern Germany, a nasty little banana republic so they can goosestep around in a desperate land of high unemployment, enjoying the suffering. This is not only sick, but it's cramping their own profits, impinging upon their own personal security and disgracing Germany.]
    ...BMW has said that because of the strike it may...reconsider the scale of an investment in the eastern city Leipzig, where it is building a new factory which would create 5,500 jobs in an area with 20% unemployment.
    [5500 jobs are going to do squat in an area of 20% unemployment. Employers don't seem to grasp the scale of the problem here. They're trying to win a hockey game with toothpicks instead of hockeysticks. An appropriate-scale response would be a slowly fluctuating workweek that reduces working hours and spreads the extremely technology-limited employment as long as joblessness remains high and foundational consumer-markets remain low. And "by sheer coincidence" this is exactly the kind of solution that steel industry leaders in east Germany have just agreed to, reducing their workweek one hours very two years so they'll be aligned with western Germany in six years as they step from 38 to 35 hours a week.] The German economy is registering only feeble growth....
    [Then it should be gradually stepping down further from 35 to 34 to 32 hours a week, as low as it takes to re-employ its 10% jobless population and re-enspirit and re-activate them as domestic consumers.]

  3. [then we get a couple of side mentions in company-specific articles -]
    6/21 German stands firm on controversial VW law, by Clifford Noonan, Reuters 06/20/03 07:33 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- Germany told the European Union [EU] on Friday it was holding to its stance that a law protecting Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen [VW] from takeover is consistent with EU law.... "...The government still holds the view that the VW law...does not restrict the free movement of capital," an economy ministry spokesman told a news conference, confirming what government sources told Reuters earlier....
    [This is a lie, but since the EU is still in the grip of some pretty economically corrosive ideas, Germany is right to do anything necessary to tell the EU to go destroy somebody else's economy. The EU is acting in many instances like the kind of "typhoid Mary" we see in the IMF and the World Bank. Outdated, disastrous ideas that'll sink you if you're doin' fine, or finish you off if you're already flailing.]
    VW, battling with falling demand, an ageing model line-up and unfavourable currency effects, is under pressure this year and does not expect to match last year's operating profit. Separately on Friday, the carmaker said it would halt production of its Golf model at its main Wolfsburg plant next week if strikes over the working week in eastern Germany continued....
    [Then push for cutting the freakin' workweek in east Germany, you morons. It's not as if you're unfamiliar with the advantages on work sharing since you saved your hometown of Wolfsburg from economic disaster by cutting your workweek from 35 hours to 28.8 hours - and wages to the 32-hr level - back in 1994 to avoid 30,000 layoffs (see our working models page). Here's another mention -]
    6/21 VW says Golf output to be hit by strike, Reuters 06/20/03 11:13 ET via AOLNews.
    Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen AG said on Friday it would stop production of its flagship Golf model at its main Wolfsburg plant next week if strikes by engineering employees in eastern Germany continue.... The action by about 11,000 workers has halted production at some important auto [parts] suppliers in Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony..\..
    Members of the engineering union IG Metall are striking in support of a campaign to reduce the working week in easter Germany by three hours to 35, the standard in western Germany....

  4. 6/23 Newsweek cover: No sex, please, we're married - Are stress, kids, kids and work killing romance? - 'Sexless marriages' on the rise: 15-20% of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, PRNewswire 06/22/2003 11:22 EDT via AOLNews.
    ...reports Asst Mng Editor Kathleen Deveny in the June 30 Newsweek [issue] on newstands Monday, June 23. And even couples who don't meet that definition still feel like they're not having sex as often as they used to. Despite the stereotype that women are more likely to dodge sex, it's often the men who decline. The number of sexless marriages is "a grossly underreported statistic," says therapist Michele Weiner Davis, author of "The Sex-Starved Marriage."
    Deveny examines the trend that many married couples seem to just not be in the mood, and talk[s] to couples who are overworked, anxious about the economy - and have to drive kids to way too many T-Ball games....
    [We've already had an article about lengthening working hours impacting sex for Americans, and an earlier one about Britons. In our copious spare time (ha), we'll search & link. Meanwhile, for those married couples who do happen to have sex, and do "get in trouble" = pregnant, for their time-off pains, there is an article this weekend that offers hope -]
    6/22 Giving men benefit of fatherhood - More companies are offering paid work leaves to male employees, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, J1.
    all have instituted paid leave programs for new fathers in recent years. Currently, about 13% of companies with more than 100 employees offer the benefit, up from just a handful 10 years ago, according to the Families & Work Institute in New York. ...Kathie Lingle, national work-life director for KPMG LLP, an accounting and tax services firm based in Montvale NJ...noteds that 50% of the 700 or so male KPMG LLP employees who became fathers each year are relying on the benefit, a far higher percentage than the 5% participation at most big firms.
    Since 1993 \when\ Congress enacted the federal Family and Medical Leave Act...which granted US workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child...about 35 million workers have been granted leaves under the...Act, with men making up 42% of that figure, according to the US Labor Dept....
    [HOWEVER, we must not lose sight of the fact that with as much worksaving technology as we have, reversing the longterm trend toward shorter working hours instead of continuing it to the point where we'd not even need special leaves for parenting, and making up for that reversal with micromanaging and overpopulation-subsidizing parenting leaves, together constitute a bizarre tangent in social evolution and a dead-end in the march (or rather, meandering) of human progress. The Timesizing Program handles birth policy via regular public referendums in Phase Five.]

  5. [meanwhile, here's a related article from Japan -]
    6/21 'Stress' most known foreign word in Japan, AP 06/20/03 03:23 EDT via AOLNews.
    TOKYO - In a country where worn-out commuters fall asleep on their feet in trains and employees demonstrate their loyalty by passing up vacation [sound familiar to Americans?!], the foreign word most recognized by Japanese is "stress," a government survey said. Of 2,200 people polled nationwide, 97.4% said they were familiar with the word, adopted into the Japanese language as "sutoresu," the Cultural Affairs Agency said in a report released Thursday.
    [Betcha it's not nearly as frequently used as the Japanese word for "thankyou" = arigado, borrowed and adopted from the Portuguese word for 'thankyou' = obrigado. But maybe that one's become so common in the last couple of centuries that it's not 'beneath the radar' - it's become part of the radar.]
    Other foreign borrowings that made the top 20 were "document," "leadership," "staff," "performance," "project," and "full-time." A total of 120 words were on the quiz.
    Hard work has long been considered a virture in Japanese culture. But the zeal with which it can be upheld has sparked concern. Earlier last week, the health ministry said a record number of Japanese died of overwork last year, showing that the country's economic slump hasn't reduced pressures on Japanese to work long hours....
    The poll was conducted last November and December [2002] among Japanese 16 years or older....
    [The future of mankind doesn't look too bright if it is now economically necessary to cut working hours to spread and share the vanishing human employment, yet even in the most highly technologized economies, such as Japan and Germany, international technocracy has failed to make the case for the technological imperative of worksharing for efficiency and markets - "work smart, not hard" - and instead, international puritanism dba 'guilt hydraulics' prevails with its too little, too late straining for government makework ("job creation") and patronage & private-sector pork and featherbedding.

  6. [and for a little comic relief, here are some evidently employer-funded agencies spinning fears of worker shortage in the midst of a global worker glut -]
    SHRM survey shows organizations slowly preparing for worker shortage in 2010, press release by Will Gray of Society for HR Mgmt (SHRM) and Morgan Broman of Committee for Economic Development and Larry Anderson of National Older Worker Career Center, USNewswire 06/22 18:00 via AOLNews.
    [Maybe they're preparing "slowly" because there is no such shortage now and unless we start timesizing instead of downsizing, there won't be in 2010 either, or 2020, or 2200, or 3200....]
    ALEXANDRIA, Va....- The number of workers age[d] 55 and over are expected to increase by 47% over the next seven years,
    [THIS is "worker SHORTAGE"???]
    and nearly two-thirds of human resource (HR) professionals say they are preparing for the demographic change.... 78% said phased retirement enabling older workers to reduce hours and responsibilities would be helpful....
    [It hardly matters what "would be helpful," if employers continue in shortage, and employees and job seekers continue in gross and growing surplus, then the power gradient dba market forces mean that employers don't have to, and seldom will, do anything for employees, helpful or not.]

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