Timesizing® Associates - Homepage
Timesizing News, March 11-22, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
3/20-22/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/19-21 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 3/20-22 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
3/19/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/18 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 3/19 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- 3/21 Frank's alternative plan, letter to editor by Hans Despain of Holyoke MA, Boston Globe, C10.
[Refers to 3/13-15/2004 #3 below.]
...It is not that government is too little, nor has the system necessarily become technologically noxious. Rather, it has become politically skewed toward (corporate) wealth and power. The [official] unemployment level has remained relatively low.
[But, there's a big but here....]
Far more disturbing than [official] unemployment is that average annual income for 90% of Americans has been flat for 30 years, while the hours they work have increased.
[See, for example, next story below. Despain apparently does not realize that these increased hours are connected to the high unofficial unemployment level, which would include welfare (2m US families), disability (5.7m Americans as of 2003), homelessness (0.94m US youths + unspecified others), incarceration (2.2m), forced self-employed and early retired and interrupted retirement.... In short, if we ran this operation with a labor shortage instead of a job shortage, we'd have no problem with flat pay and longer hours.]
The average income of the top 10% of Americans has increased from $119,249 to $224,877, or nearly 90%. Bigger government [is] not the agenda [that's needed]. Better governance, citizen oriented and people-first...is what is desperately needed.
- 3/20 Job demands pull on family ties, by Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
[See similar article tomorrow, "Stressed parents report on-the-job problems," by Anne Marie Chaker, 3/23/2004 WSJ, D2.]
Try earning a living and raising a child.
Note all the ways it pinches to keep those tasks apart.
Joan Williams, a leading scholar on work/family dynamics, says it's wrong to think that one mother made a good choice and one did not. "We have a system that is bad for men, worse for women and disastrous for children," Williams told an audience recently at Cleveland State University. "Somebody working full time rarely sees their children on workdays, and anybody working overtime rarely sees their children awake."
- Annie Lewis can take her preschool son to work.
- Tangy Kirtz - like the vast majority of parents - cannot.
Williams observes parents mowed under by two irreconcilable ideals: Kids should come first, and workers should be unfettered by outside obligations. The result is a system that is broken for a lot of the 60 million American parents of children under 18 in the contemporary workplace.
One reason is Americans are working 10% more than they did just a decade ago, and six to eight weeks longer annually than in the 1950s. Millions of cell phones and laptops blur the distinction between work and home. With a porous work week and little job security, the pressures of work continuously erode the fragile isthmus of family.
Forget the 40-hour workweek. The typical working American was putting more than 48 hours into the job weekly before the new millennium even got started, according to the National Study of the Changing Workforce conducted by the Families and Work Institute.
Times harder now than 25 years ago
Tangy Kirtz likes her job. Still, she wonders why her life is harder now than when she became a teen mother in 1979. Kirtz is proud that she never accepted welfare, that she pays all her taxes. After her baby was born, Kirtz climbed into a uniform, pulled on a hairnet and hired on as a cafeteria food server. Her mom and a church day-care center helped tend her daughter. Twenty-six years later, Kirtz has worked her way up to a technician at the Cleveland Clinic, earning more than $30,000 annually. Her daughter is grown.
But Kirtz finds paying the bills a struggle. Her partner's trucking work petered out after Sept. 11. His attempts to start his own business foundered. Child care for their 4-year-old son costs $154 per week. Kirtz worries their finances will not hold out until Amir starts kindergarten in South Euclid this fall.
"People ask why did you have the child if you can't take care of him, but it's not like that," Kirtz said. "I'm not looking for a handout. We are working-class, and it seems society is forgetting us. You have to be very, very poor to get help from the government or very, very rich not to need it."
At 42, Kirtz's community network has shriveled: Her mother has died, and the church center has closed. Supports also have weakened in the wider world, Williams says. Work-force mobility has diminished family ties.
Annie Lewis is able to help women such as Kirtz because Lewis gets support at work. She spends much of her day troubleshooting for those parents struggling to find options to their vanishing county child-care vouchers - a program cut in the state budget squeeze.
Ohio funding cuts have pushed 2,500 Cuyahoga County children off child-care vouchers, says Sandy Foster, a manager in the county's Department of Children and Family Services. These sliding-scale vouchers, averaging about $93 a week, are the same ones that enabled thousands of impoverished parents to move off welfare into work during the big push four years ago.
Panicky mothers are surprised to walk into Lewis' office, on the 15th floor of a downtown highrise. A play table juts across the beige carpet, and crayons are scattered underfoot. Lewis' 2-year-old son, Zachary Wolfe, accompanies his mom to Starting Point, a United Way agency, about once a week. This flexibility, and some work from home, allows Lewis to put in more than 50 hours a week.
Children and grandchildren of all 36 Starting Point employees are welcome at the office. Instead of disrupting productivity, says executive director Billie Fears-Osborne, the presence of children means less absenteeism, little turnover and a work force so ferociously loyal that it would go through a wall for her.
"I have to send them home. I have to threaten their lives," said Fears-Osborne, laughing. She lowers her brow: "You will go on vacation. I will break your arm if you take home that laptop. I tell it to their husbands. Most directors would love to have my problems."
Turning to lawsuits to solve the problem
Instead, employees with families are more likely to have problems. One response to their dilemma is characteristically American: the lawsuit.
Workers are starting to seek damages, and win, against companies that punish them for having families, says Williams, executive director of the WorkLaw program at American University.
A jury awarded a woman $3 million when her boss responded to her pregnancy with, "I was going to make you head of the office, but look at you now." Ernst & Young lost a federal case after it hired every single qualified applicant it interviewed except the mother who had a child with disabilities.
Candice Hoke, a CSU professor of law, knows of no local litigation but says there might be grounds. She described nurses at a local hospital forced to accept two 16-hour shifts per week - in addition to their three eight-hour days - as a condition
of keeping their jobs.
[With the nationwide shortage of nurses, nobody can force them to do anything unless they're in serious need of assertiveness training, because they can always just walk, and find something better. They're about the only skill area that currently have this luxury.]
She knows of children told to stay away from school nurses because a parent cannot be excused from work to pick up a sick child.
These tensions trip up the full spectrum of American workers. Hoke herself concealed her pregnancy 10 years ago when she interviewed at Cleveland State. She assumed maternity would make her a less appealing candidate.
Her colleague, Kathleen Engel, had two daughters by the time she joined the law-school faculty. Engel showed her mettle early by bringing a breast pump to work as a clerk for a federal judge in Texas.
But Engel, a specialist in sex-discrimination law, is skeptical that suing will revolutionize the predicament of American parents working and caring for children under 18. "Unless men take advantage of family-friendly policies, then it will become marginalized as the mommy track even if it isn't called the mommy track," Engel said.
Williams says the evidence is already there. Childless women now earn about 90% of what childless men earn. But mothers earn about 60% of what fathers earn. "The glass ceiling is alive and well out there," Williams said, "and most women never get near it because they hit the maternal wall."
Northeast Ohio businesses slow to make changes
Northeast Ohio lags behind both coasts in offering family-friendly work environments to help break through that wall. In a 2002 survey of 400 local businesses, one employer wrote, "Only large companies (monopolies) can afford this liberal concoction. I'm not in business to pay for other families' responsibilities. That's socialism."
Lois Goodman, the survey's author, says innovation is most noticeable in the smaller settings. Replacing a worker can cost a company between 75% and 200% of that person's annual salary.
Polling indicates that people under 40 - both women and men - are reluctant to fling themselves into the standard rat race. 80% of men between 20 and 39 tell pollsters they would choose a work schedule that enables them to spend more
time with family over a higher salary or more challenging work.
Fears-Osborne, who is divorced, says there is a deeper reason for creating saner work environments. "My daughter is 26, and she says she will never, ever work like I worked. It was easy for me to work a 14-hour day. It broke up my family. "I wish I could tell every employer that [a saner work environment is] the right thing to do, for the next generation, for his or her grandchildren. Sure it makes business sense. But it is also the right thing to do."
- 3/21 Employees filing lawsuits over wage, hour issues, H.J. Cummins, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Debbie Simonson was introduced to the Wal-Mart work pace soon after she punched in as the new lawn and garden employee in the Brooklyn Park store. That was spring four years ago, as the ground thawed to mud and customers crowded the aisles searching for flower peat pots, bulbs, fencing and mowers.
Simonson said she saw her day shifts stretch into night and her breaks disappear, often as the lone cashier. "The door was right by the register, and anybody could walk out with anything," she said. "How could you leave?"
It hurt. "I was crying going into work in the morning, and I was crying coming home at night," said Simonson, who quit the job after a year, in May 2001. Now she's a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the Arkansas-based retailer - with 1.4 million employees and about 4,800 stores, the world's largest. The suit charges hundreds of thousands of hours in unpaid work and missed breaks.
Wal-Mart disputes those claims. "We certainly strongly deny the allegations in the lawsuit," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher in Bentonville, Ark. "Wal-Mart's policy is to pay every employee for every minute they work."
The case is expected to go to trial next year. It and lawsuits against two poultry processors in Minnesota are part of a wider trend that is changing the face of employment litigation across the country.
When it comes to big cases - large groups of employees suing their bosses - "wage-and-hour" suits now outnumber discrimination suits in federal courts.
Labor experts say the development is fueled by converging trends. As loyalty disappears from workplaces, employees are less inclined to swallow extra work without complaint, they say. Also, outdated labor laws confuse employers, as they try to
figure out which workers go in their "overtime" versus "no overtime" payroll columns.
The law also gives them no reason to fix errors until they're forced to, said Minneapolis employment attorney David Goldstein. It's not the same as discrimination claims, where a boss and employee come to an agreement, then the employee takes the settlement and promises not to sue. Employers can take the initiative to fix possible pay errors, trying to do right by workers, but "wage-and-hour regulations basically prevent you from getting a valid release - you get no guarantee you won't be sued anyway - so employers who aren't sure they're doing something wrong have a real incentive to sit
quietly," he said.
But the most common reason cited is a persistent push by employers over the past few years to "do more with less." The force that raised U.S. productivity levels by up to 7% annually for the past four years simply went too far, they say.
"The reason these cases are happening seems fairly clear to me," said Richard Seymour, a plaintiffs' attorney in Washington, D.C. "American business got leaner by getting rid of employees they really did need, and meaner by making the people left behind do the work. But there's no saving, unless they see that the employees don't get paid for all their time."
Seymour spotted the flip in cases, nationwide, in 2001. The year before, collective action discrimination suits under Equal Employment Opportunity laws numbered 89, compared with 71 collective action wage-hour cases under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). By 2001, discrimination cases had dropped to 77, and wage-hour rose to 79. And the gap keeps growing. It was 121 to 82 last year.
At the same time, he said, there's anecdotal evidence of wage-hour cases booming in state courts - where the laws typically make it easier to collect big pools of plaintiffs. Of the three Minnesota suits, the one filed against Gold 'n Plump Poultry is in federal court. The suits against Jennie-O Turkey Store and Wal-Mart are in state court. Both suits against poultry processors seek pay for workers for the time they spend putting on and taking off all their work gear each shift - what the industry calls "donning and doffing."
The Wal-Mart case is the biggest, and part of an even bigger phenomenon: As of December 2002, there were 39 class-action lawsuits against Wal-Mart in 30 states, according to a congressional report released last month. The Minnesota case, filed in state district court in Hastings, charges that since 1998, up to 65,000 employees of the 58 Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs in the state weren't paid for all the time they worked.
Plaintiffs' lead attorney Jonathan Parritz said Wal-Mart's own spot audit of 127 stores, including six in Minnesota, turned up 76,000 missed rest and meal breaks for one week in June 2000. Also, a statistician hired by the plaintiffs checked the payroll records of 12 Minnesota stores and came up with 7,865 hours in missed breaks. Extrapolating that to all Minnesota stores would indicate almost 500,000 missed hours that year, their report says.
The inquiry also found company payroll sheets that managers had "edited," adding breaks to employees' schedules that the employees had not recorded, Parritz said.
"With a company this large there will inevitably be instances of managers doing the wrong thing," said Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice president of communications. "But any manager who requires or even tolerates off-the-clock work would be violating both Wal-Mart's policy and labor laws ... and he or she would be disciplined and possibly even fired. Depending on the situation, we have fired store managers for doing that."
The company discounted the internal audit on missed breaks, Williams said, because "the auditors incorrectly assumed that a break was not taken if there was no record of it. And in most instances associates [what Wal-Mart calls its employees] had taken the required breaks but simply failed to record them."
That's because it's a hassle to clock in and out for their 15-minute rest breaks, she said. So now Wal-Mart requires employees to clock out only for their 30-minute meal breaks. Not so fast, Parritz said: "That means that instead of fixing the problem, they turned the clock off. Wal-Mart basically said, 'Let's quit creating this evidence against ourselves.'"
The underlying problem is chronic understaffing, said Simonson, 56, a grandmother of five, now caring for a sick grandson. Once she was promoted to supervisor, she said, she'd get orders to cancel her cashiers' breaks, or to cut them short. She also called employees who had called in sick, relaying the message that they had to come to work or they'd be fired. Some were teenagers.
"I'd tell managers, 'People are going without lunches, people are going without breaks. There aren't enough people to do what you want me to do,' " Simonson said. "They'd tell me to do the best I could, that it was my responsibility to make sure they got lunches and breaks, but they were also saying, 'Do what you have to do to keep those [checkout] lines running smoothly. And the customer comes first.'"
A beef with poultry processors
The Jennie-O and Gold 'n Plump cases in Minnesota also seek class-action status, charging unpaid work hours. Marsha Winter, a plaintiff in the Jennie-O case, is a "floater" at the Melrose plant, one of six in Minnesota. That means she moves among
departments as needed. Married and the mother of two, Winter started working for Jennie-O after she moved from Oregon seven years ago.
She works the morning shift, when the processing belts start moving the turkeys at 6 a.m. Winter described the process: The "hang and kill" department takes the birds off trucks, kills them and hangs them on a line. The "eviscerating" department guts them and cuts off their necks and feet. They move on to the "chill room," where their legs are tied and the birds are separated by weight. If they show any bruises, they're directed into "cut up," where the good parts are packaged; birds with no spots are packed whole.
But before the crew lines up along the various processing belts, they all have to put on protective and sanitation gear. Winter said it's a minimum of gloves and a jacket. Some wear aprons, hair nets and hard hats. Anyone who cuts needs arm and chest shields. To collect some of the gear, workers stand in a line every morning. Some of it, they take home and clean for themselves. Paid time starts and stops with processing lines; everything else is off the clock.
Even if that amounts to just 10 minutes a day for each of them, Winter calculated that most employees are losing about $500 a year. Multiplied by 5,500 employees, that's $2.75 million a year. "It's a very physically demanding job," Winter said. "To not get paid for some time is very upsetting."
The Jennie-O case was filed last December. Last month, Gold 'n Plump employees filed for a class action that could cover about 1,600 employees, said the Minneapolis-based attorney for the plaintiffs, J. Gordon Rudd Jr. The St. Cloud company has two plants in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin.
A sanitation worker there said he has been told to be at work 20 minutes before his shift begins. "Sometimes I got paid for that time, and sometimes not," said the worker, who asked not to be identified. "It was always a mystery." He also is required to call into a computer before 11 a.m. on workdays to find out what time his shift begins - and that can vary from 12:30 to 3 p.m. So to be safe, he can't plan anything else during that time.
A Jennie-O spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation. Gold n' Plump released a statement saying it believes it is in compliance with "all applicable wage laws."
The National Chicken Council opposes "donning and doffing" pay, said Richard Lobb, spokesman for the industry group in Washington, D.C. "It's pretty minimal in most cases," Lobb said, "a smock, a hairnet, sometimes boots, just something to cover your street clothes. "The question is whether people ought to get paid for putting on a smock while they walk down the hall going to work," Lobb said. "So far, the courts have ruled repeatedly that 'donning and doffing' not only is minimal, it isn't even really work."
In fact, the legal precedent is divided. There have been judgments in favor of companies, including two in Texas for Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and Sanderson Farms Inc. On the other hand, in 2002 Perdue Farms agreed to pay its employees for "donning and doffing" time after it was sued by the U.S. Department of Labor. The department has also filed a similar suit against Tyson Foods.
The productivity squeeze shouldn't take all the blame for the boom in wage-hour cases, according to several attorneys who represent companies. They also blame a lower level of loyalty in today's workplaces. "It's hard to say if employers are being more aggressive in avoiding paying or employees are being more aggressive in asserting their rights, resenting every two minutes off the clock," employment attorney Goldstein said. "But there's no doubt that in many workplaces there is some breakdown in the relationship between employer and employees."
There's also the problem of figuring out which employees qualify for overtime pay, and which do not, Goldstein said. Broadly, the FLSA exempts professionals and managers, while guaranteeing overtime pay to people who follow orders and do routine work. But it can be hard to classify some modern jobs: Coffee-shop managers who also run the espresso machine, or office managers who also handle some word processing, for example.
Starbucks, Pacific Bell and RadioShack have all had to pay up after being sued in California.
Minneapolis attorney Joseph Schmitt said employers must be certain of their wage-hour compliance. Many small companies have just started to pay attention, he said; big companies are busy reviewing their job categories, their work-documentation
records, and their supervisor training. "This issue has not been on the radar screen, but now has become very significant," Schmitt said. "My guess is there are some companies where supervisors are not paying good attention, or they're not well informed. "Many employers could have huge problems," he said.
3/18/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/17 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Only machines need apply - It's easier and cheaper to buy stuff than to hire people, op ed by former Bush Sr. economic adviser Todd Buchholz, NYT, A19.
[Here's an article that dances around the Ford-Reuther paradox without ever grappling with it. Reminder: Henry Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Walter Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars."]
The GDP is going up, but hiring looks sluggish. Credit cards bills go unpaid, but big-screen TV's are flying off the shelves. With statistics so contradictory, maybe economists should ditch their spreadsheets for dart boards.
Let's leave aside all the estimates and extrapolations for a moment and ask a simple question that may help cut through all the confusion: if you were a manager, why would you hire a human being instead of [buying] a machine? Humans get sick. They daydream. And they take coffee breaks.
[Answer: Because when all is said and done, you want a market. You need a consumer base. And somebody has to hire your customers' customers. A jobless 'recovery' is inherently temporary.]
The cost of capital equipment, meanwhile, from laptop computers to lathes, has plummeted since 1995. Moreover, the cost of leasing and financing new tools has fallen to the lowest levels since, well, before there were laptops and lathes. At the same time, federal tax policy has been tilted toward capital spending, with taxes on most dividends and capital gains falling to 15%. Changes in the tax law 2 years ago allow small businesses to write off $100,000 in new equipment immediately, while big firms get a temporary 50% write-off.
People, however, remain relatively expensive. Let's say an applicant can deliver $35,000 of value for the firm - and she is willing to work for $35,000 a year. Great match, right?
Not exactly. In addition to her salary, the employer also has to pay a 7.65% Social Security and Medicare tax, and contribute to workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. And then there's health insurance costs: employers paid an average of $6,600 per family last year. pResident Bush's taxcuts chipped away at these barriers, but they are still rising - just when the hurdle for capital has shrunk to the height of a sidewalk curb.
[And so has the incentive for risking it.]
Can anything be done? Well, we certainly shouldn't dissuade businessmen from investing in machines.
[But should we passively persuade them to invest in machines by actively dissuading them (as mentioned in the SS-Medicare paragraph above) from investing in people - and the markets people represent? For that matter, should we passively persuade businessmen to invest in the relatively few top-income people (including themselves) and the relatively small consumer base they represent, while actively dissuading them (as mentioned in the paragraph above) from investing in the relative myriads of middle- and lower-income people and the relatively huge consumer base they represent?]
Huge productivity gains help raise our standard of living.
[Whose standard of living? That of the top brackets? There's no challenge in that. And there's no reason for the myriads of middle- and lower-income people to care about huge productivity gains when they no longer receive substantial benefit from such gains.]
Congress should make it less costly to hire workers by reducing the amount an employer is required to contribute to Social Security taxes for new employees. Then management might be less likely to view a job applicant like a walking bill from a collection agency.
[OK, so who or what is going to make up for those reductions? If employers don't contribute to those Social Security, that means their cost has to be recharged to the top brackets or Social Security has to be terminated in a move that would greatly accelerate the shrinkage of the American consumer base.]
Barring action by Congress, however, there is still hope for job seekers. Stein's law, named after the economist Herb Stein, declares, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."
[If this is supposed to be an appeal to the cyclicality of business, it's of dubious value, because there is a good argument that business is not a cyclical up and down but a secular down and down with frequent non-business interruptions and occasional reversals (like World Wars I and II). In that case, as Buchholz should have learned from the Great Depression, something indeed cannot go on forever but we might not like it to go on (ie: down) so far before it stops. And the peacetime solution that really worked during the Depression when New Deal job creation allowed unemployment to slip back from its best result of 14.3% in 1937 (not even half the 24.9% of 1933) to 19% in 1938, was worksharing. A nationwide standard workweek was established for the first time in 1938 at the 44 hour level and lowered by 2 hours a week each of the following two years. Resulting, or at least co-related, unemployment the next three years fell to 17.2% ('39), 14.6% ('40), and 9.9% ('41). Rounding off these figures, we get
It is no strain to see in these figures a 2% drop in unemployment for each 2-hour cut in the workweek, with an additional 3% drop in 1941 co-relating to 1940's mounting war demands due to France and Britain's declarations of war four months earlier (Sept/39).]
- 19% in 1938 and 44 hr workweek set,
- 17% in 1939 and cut to 42-hr week,
- 15% in 1940 and cut to 40-hr week,
- 13%-3%= 10% in 1941.
Over the next year, as American businesses take delivery on all the technology and machines they have ordered, the "Help Wanted" signs will finally go up.
[Why in the world would American businesses 'finally' want to hire human labor when they've just taken delivery of all kinds of efficient, productive, labor-saving technology and machines?]
Human workers are not yet an endangered species. After all, somebody needs to operate the equipment - or at least turn on the coffee machine.
[Buchholz has totally lost it. Starting at the end, robots don't drink coffee so nobody is needed to turn on any coffee machine. True, somebody needs to operate the equipment but if Buchholz had taken a tour of an auto plant recently, he would see hundreds or even just dozens of humans operating thousands of sophisticated pieces of equipment, where there used to be thousands of humans operating thousands of unsophisticated pieces of equipment.] He would indeed also see completely unmanned, automatic, 24/7 manufacturing facilities, for example, in Connecticut, several facilities each several miles distant, presided over by one human being at a time watching a computer screen for automated signals warning of any trouble - need for grease, need for more raw materials, need for scooping away finished products. Has he been to supermarkets lately and seen the creep of automatic cashiers replacing human cashiers across the check-out area? This is also happening in big stores like Home Depot. Then there are all the self-serve gas pumps in our cities, the self-serve insurance machines at airports, the maddening automatic phone receptionists at companies, large and small. How long is Buchholz going to hold off declaring human workers an endangered species? He's already living in a dream world of the past. In Europe and especially in Japan, the automation process has gone further than it has here. It's already been nearly a decade since Jeremy Rifkin tried to wake up the slumbering or blind (willfully?) Buchholz's of this world with a book titled "The End of Work" (1995). What does it take to shock Buchholz, author of "Market Shock," with downsizing shock? Offshore outsourcing is just the toxic "icing" on this process. And we can't repeat often or loud or diversely enough - no employment, no consumer base - no employees, no customers.... The only already experienced (or at least "co-related") peacetime way out of this dilemma is to cut the strain of government makework which by perpetuating the historical accident of the 40-hour workweek simply denies us forever the added freedom (free time!) of all our wonderful worksaving technology, and cut the workweek. And Timesizing is the most gradual, flexible, non-arbitrary, and market-oriented way to do that, guaranteeing, as it does, that we never get more solution than we need at any stage of what would quickly prove to be a solid, self-feeding full-employment recovery. And all from losing our arbitrary and rigid definition of "full-time job" and flexing it up to respond to inrushing advances in technology telegraphed via a comprehensive unemployment rate. Wouldn't pay go down when hours went down? Not unless market forces suddenly started rewarding scarcity (eg: perceived scarcity of labor once employer access to talent was rationed by shorter hours per person) with paycuts instead of raises. Wouldn't inflation run away? Not with the harnessing of qualitative, deflationary, volunteer incentive throughout the economy and the counterposing of it against quantitative, inflationary, money motive ( Phase 3). Timesizing is the way high-tech capitalism was supposed to be managed so it wouldn't cannibalize its own consumer base. It's the thing concentrated capital was supposed to use to avoid consolidating past the point of diminishing returns and suctioning the markets away from the productivity it wishes to invest in. And in fact, Timesizing is the only policy that could possibly support Buchholz's otherwise empty optimism.]
3/17/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/16 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Academically trained staffs demand overtime recognition, YLE24 Online [Finland].
FINLAND - The Confederation of Academically Trained Staff (AKAVA) has demanded greater recognition of overtime. A union confederation survey shows that half of its members complain employers do not recognise their overtime.
Coping at work was a problem for half of those surveyed. The greatest problems were faced by those working more than 40 hours per week.
Although two-thirds of AKAVA members do overtime, only one in five wanted to actually shorten their working hours. Job independence was seen as the most decisive factor in their work rather than actual working hours.
AKAVA wants employers to follow recently-agreed working hour procedures. Employees have the right to save overtime hours and receive either time off work later or a payment. However, about one-half of employers do not recognise their employees' overtime at all.
The confederation's Chairman Risto Pieka says more work is being done with reduced human resources to the detriment of employees' health. AKAVA says it is unacceptable that employees' are fired while those retained in a company have to work overtime without legally stipulated compensation.
Last year the average length of the working week for academically trained staffs was estimated at 41.5 hours.
- Michigan firms cut overtime - Reductions hurt lifestyles, state economy, by Karen Dybis & Ed Garsten, The Detroit News.
Metro Detroit companies are taking the cost-cutting knife to overtime, sharply reducing the lucrative benefit that for years has helped workers pay for boats, vacations and college tuitions. Automotive companies in particular — including Visteon Corp. and General Motors Corp. — are slashing overtime pay, especially among salaried employees. These white-collar workers, who are often exempt from federal overtime laws, have little choice but to accept the policy shift.
The cutbacks are reverberating through a local economy that increasingly has taken the time-and-a-half wage bumps for granted. Paychecks boosted by 10, 20 or 30 overtime hours a week have for decades ballooned the standard of living in many Michigan households by tens of thousands of dollars each year. “It changes your lifestyle,” said Sam Kerimovski, a 30-year Ford Motor Co. veteran who works at the Wayne Assembly plant.
Kerimovski said overtime is way down from the good years when a worker could make $20,000 in extra pay. “I know some guys who say they may have to put their homes up for sale,” he said. “I know some guys who are selling their toys. When you get used to overtime, you start buying cars, boats and stuff like that.”
Visteon recently informed about 500 salaried workers they would no longer receive overtime pay, according to an internal memo obtained by The Detroit News. The company had paid salaried employees in manufacturing operations overtime because they worked alongside hourly employees in Visteon plants.
GM has set a goal of reducing total overtime in its manufacturing operations by 15% this year, according to a separate internal report obtained by The News. GM’s targeted cuts include so-called nonscheduled overtime, which is incurred to fix unexpected quality problems.
Many companies who have cut their work force to the bone over the past few years are eyeing the paychecks of their remaining employees. A 2003 survey by the American Society of Employers of 367 companies in Southeast Michigan found 49% had eliminated or reduced overtime for some segment of their work force. Last year, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group trimmed overtime for thousands of white-collar workers to reduce salary-related costs. Other local companies that have limited overtime pay include software company Compuware Corp. and auto parts maker Collins and Aikman Corp.
“This is a bellwether with what’s happening with the economy,” said Tom Juravich, a professor and director of Labor Relations & Research Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “Companies like Visteon are looking around for places to save money. These mid-level folks really have no protection.”
Overtime cuts are becoming a practical reality here even as the issue has become a topic of political debate in Washington. Anticipated updates in who is eligible for overtime by the U.S. Department of Labor could make many of these changes permanent.
Not high on the radar
As overtime has waned over the past several years, workers who once depended on it to feather their nest egg or to simply pay bills have had to learn to live without it. UAW Local 22 Vice President George McGregor worked at GM for 35 years at the old Fleetwood plant and then at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. He has seen overtime shrink to the point where it is barely something younger workers think about. In fact, there hasn’t been any scheduled overtime at Detroit-Hamtramck since December, according to GM spokesman Dan Flores.
“When I came up, the overtime was there,” McGregor said. “When younger workers are hired now, the overtime is not there, so they don’t get addicted to it.”
Workers use to overtime find that living on base pay can mean lingering debt, foreclosure or even bankruptcy. Not long ago, some auto plant workers could expect six-figure annual incomes and the commensurate lifestyle amenities, including vacation homes, travel, recreational vehicles and sports season tickets.
Over the years, even Metro Detroit lenders bowed to the convention and began to regularly include overtime pay in their calculations, allowing this extra income to determine how much workers could borrow toward a new home, said Dan Smith, senior vice president for Republic Bank in Plymouth. “When I started in this business 22 years ago, you never even gave consideration to overtime pay. Never,” Smith said. Now, overtime is typically included in income, which ranks in the top four considerations for a mortgage, he said.
Overtime mostly avoided
In this sluggish economy, even overtime for autoworkers has become a sporadic perk. Only those workers at plants that produce the most popular products are likely to see any scheduled overtime to keep up with orders. “Overtime is one way we can manage market fluctuations without adding shifts or manpower,” GM’s Flores said.
[Temp agencies are a better way.]
David Youngman, director of corporate communications for Collins & Aikman, echoed the sentiment. “We try to schedule so we avoid overtime if we can. However, if there’s a hot demand for a vehicle, you may have to incur some overtime.”
At struggling Visteon, the cuts come a year after the company revised its corporate overtime policy to permanently eliminate overtime for 9,000 salaried employees. The Dearborn company expects “significant savings” worth several million dollars annually from the change, said Greg Gardner, Visteon’s corporate communications manager. “It goes without saying that this is a pivotal year in our brief history as an independent company,” Tom Burke, Visteon’s vice president of North America and Asia operations, said in a March 1 memo to workers. “If we fail to achieve our financial targets, we will be forced to consider additional actions ... I once again need to stress how critical it is that we (manufacturing) hit our financial
commitment — quarter over quarter. We are all held accountable for achieving those results.”
Experts predict overtime will become a battleground between workers, employers and the government. The Department of Labor has proposed sweeping changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, a New Deal-era law whose goal was to make a 40-hour work week the U.S. standard.
Current regulations exempt employers from paying overtime to certain classes of workers. These categories include professional, administrative and executive workers, who theoretically have control over their work schedule.
Changes endorsed by the Bush administration would expand these definitions. The proposal also adds a new category of highly compensated employees who would be automatically exempted from receiving overtime if they make more than $65,000 per year.
Critics say these changes would enable employers to deny overtime to millions of skilled trades, engineering, medical and other workers. The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, claims 8 million white-collar workers would lose their overtime benefits under the proposed rule changes, and only 700,000 salaried, low-income workers would benefit. The new rules would allow salaried workers who make $22,100 or less annually to automatically qualify for overtime benefits, up from $8,060.
The Labor Department says the new rules apply to white-collar workers only, and not to blue-collar workers, such as those in production, construction and similar industries or occupations covered by collective bargaining agreements. It says the changes would give 1.3 million low-wage workers overtime protections, while only 644,000 paid hourly workers would lose overtime benefits under the proposed new definitions.
Some change is needed in this post-Depression era employment model, said Patrick Anderson, founder and principal of Anderson Economic Group LLC, an economic consulting firm in Lansing. “It’s an area of the law that’s not kept pace with changes in the workplace today,” Anderson said. “With our service-orientated work force, there’s a gray area between hourly production workers and supervisors that the law fails to address.”
Employers do not have to pay overtime for night shifts, weekends or holidays unless the hours worked exceed a total of 40 in a work week.
Legal experts warn employers and employees not to sidestep the law by asking their employees to work overtime without pay. In recent years, Starbucks Corp., RadioShack Corp., Big Lots Ltd. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have all been targeted in overtime lawsuits, paying millions in settlements to employees who did not receive the pay they deserved.
“When it’s convenient, people love overtime,” Juravich said. “But at a certain level, it becomes overwhelming and burdensome.”
[That's why Timesizing stops playing around with overtime and makes it overwhelming and burdensome right from the start - for the money motivated. Only those who love their work are allowed overtime, and that love must be proven by 100% overtime reinvestment in training and hiring.]
3/16/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/15 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Brazil police dispute brings chaos to airports, by Raymond Colitt, Financial Times [UK].
SAO PAULO - Brazilian federal police officers protested outside the justice ministry on Monday as part of a strike that signals worsening relations between public sector workers and the leftwing government. The week-long dispute has caused havoc at the country's international airports, the main focus of the industrial action.
Instead of a complete work stoppage, the police have adopted what local media have dubbed "turtle operation" for the delays caused by their meticulous scrutiny of documents and baggage.
The action - involving 70% of the country's 10,000 officers - is indicative of growing dissatisfaction among public sector workers towards the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, himself a former union leader. During his election campaign Mr Lula da Silva had promised to restore "dignity" to public sector workers with wage increases and more job opportunities. "We are just holding Lula to his promise," said Francisco Carlos Sabino, head of the São Paulo chapter of the federal police union. Instead, wages have fallen in real, or inflation-adjusted terms, and unemployment has risen.
Several unions have until now put off industrial action and grudgingly accepted last year's unpopular benefits cuts in exchange for promises of economic growth. But with increasing uncertainty over this year's economic recovery and with municipal elections in October, unions are ready to step up industrial action.
The opposition-linked Força Sindical, one of the largest union federations, is holding nationwide protests on March 24 against economic policies and rising unemployment. In addition, the six largest union federations on Monday launched a campaign to back reforms reducing the legal work week from 44 to 40 hours without cutting pay.
[Compare South Korea which is doing a 44 to 40 drop starting in July. France just cut from 39 to 35 hours without cutting pay in 1997-2001. Unions in New Zealand want to cut from 40 hours to 37½ and in Taiwan they want to cut from 48 to 44 hours.]
Adding to recent criticism from union and industrial leaders, Valdemar Costa Neto, head of the Liberal party, a coalition partner, on Monday made an unusually harsh attack on Antonio Palocci, finance minister. "Palocci knows nothing about the economy, he's still learning," he said.
The strike has provoked public anger. "This is scandalous," said one businessman. "The government and police should be helping us, not keeping us from work."
The police are demanding the enforcement of legislation passed eight years ago, which grants them more pay in exchange for higher education requirements. PF officers take home about R$3,400 ($1,173; E959; £650) a month, compared with a minimum wage of R$240.
3/13-15/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/12-14 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1-4 which are from the 3/13-15 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Cut hours, create jobs: demand in paper talks, www.cep.ca.
VANCOUVER, B.C. - CEP [Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada] is challenging the trend to downsizing and job losses in the forest industry with bargaining demands to create new jobs. Together with the Pulp Paper & Woodworkers of Canada (PPWC), CEP is at the bargaining table with Fletcher Challenge Canada [= a company name?] in B.C. [Province of British Columbia] to achieve a pattern contract for 10,000 pulp and paper CEP members in Western Canada.
Heading the unions’ joint agenda is a call for the creation of 10% new, regular jobs to be achieved through a reduction of working time.
"We have 21st century technology and productivity, and 19th century hours of work," says CEP Western Region VP Brian Payne, spokesperson for CEP in industry talks. "We believe that it is time to put the jobs issue on the bargaining table and to force the industry and government to do their part in creating new jobs."
B.C.’s NDP Premier, Glen Clark, has also spoken out on the jobs and working time issue and has challenged the province’s major industries to find ways to reduce the work week and create jobs. Clark has also been pressing the forest industry to create up to 20,000 new jobs in B.C.
Reducing overtime is a key part of the CEP bargaining agenda. According to CEP research, average weekly hours of overtime in the B.C. pulp and paper industry have increased from 1.6 hours per week in 1983 to 4.2 hours per week in 1995.
With the industry coming out of a year of weaker markets, a tough round of bargaining is expected. However, Canadian pulp producers are operating at 99% capacity and some price increases for market pulp have been announced for this spring.
"The key to a successful outcome this year is the same as in past years," says Payne. "It is the solidarity of the local unions in our joint caucus that makes the difference. If we maintain our unity and discipline regardless of the obstacles that the employers put in our path, we can win some important new ground for our members and their communities this year."
- Auckland unionists in call to cut hours, by Mathew Dearnaley, New Zealand Herald.
New Zealand's largest trade union is marshalling forces for a shorter working week in the private sector - and a hefty pay increase. About 400 workers rallied in Auckland yesterday to sign off claims by the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union for negotiations with metal trades employers.
They added their voices to similar meetings in Wellington and Christchurch for higher pay, more time off, and longer tea breaks in a renewal of the industry's influential multi-employer collective agreement.
The 50,000-member union intends pushing at talks due to start in a fortnight for what it terms a "substantial" wage rise of 5% as well as an average working week of 37½ hours.
Its bullish stance angered National's industrial relations spokesman, Roger Sowry, who saw it as a foretaste of what employers could expect under beefed-up employment legislation. "This union views itself as the one that will set the trend for all other claims in the country with the amendments (Labour Minister) Margaret Wilson is pushing through Parliament," he said. "It will be bad for productivity and will ultimately cause job losses."
[Sowry is evidently ignorant of, or ignoring, the history of the workweek between roughly 1790 and 1940 when it was halved. Bad for productivity? No. Caused job losses? On the contrary. Some short-sighted employers have always had to be dragged kickin and squealing into a future with a stronger consumer base and more time for shopping.]
Union secretary Andrew Little said a better "work-life" balance would give workers greater incentive to lift productivity within a shorter week.
[That's right. What's the use of technology if it only makes Roger Sowry and his ilk more uselessly rich, and doesn't realize its promise of making life easier for everyone?]
He cited a survey of about 1000 adult New Zealanders, of whom 73% said they would prefer more spare time than more money.
- 44-hour work week within two years, Economic Daily News, Taiwan Headlines.
TAIWAN - The new administration passed a decision yesterday to reduce the length of the work week from 48 to 44 hours within the next two years. This measure will be implemented gradually, until eventually weekend holidays will alternate between one-and-a-half and two-day weekends.
The new administration also stated that there is as yet no timetable for the implementation of a 40-hour work week.
As such, this decision appears to be a compromise of President-elect Chen Shui-bian's, campaign promise to reduce the work week to 44 hours by the end of this year, and to 40 hours by the year 2002.
[Huh? Is this a typo for 2012 or is this an old story?]
Although it is known that the business community would like to see any changes implemented gradually, Chung Chin, Director-designate of the Government Information Agency, stated yesterday that any final decision on this matter would be based on the interests of the people. Chung went on to note that although at present there is a discrepancy between a current policy and previous campaign promises, this issue has still not been finalized.
The designated chairwoman of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), Chen Chu, conferred yesterday with the future chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), Chang Po-chih, reaching an agreement to reduce the work week to 44 hours within the next two years. Chen Chu pointed out that it was difficult to get the CEPD to agree to reduce the work week to 44 hours. Further, she also noted that the speed with which such changes can be implemented depends entirely on how fast the Legislative Yuan can revise the Labor Standards Law. The future CLA chairwoman therefore suggested that it would be most feasible for workers to begin the process of reducing their working hours by enjoying two-day weekends every other week.
Reducing the work week was a hot topic in this year's presidential campaign. Each of the candidates put forth plans to reduce the legal work week to 44 hours by the end of this year. At that time a group of legislators even drafted a bill to amend the Labor Standards Law to legalize these proposed changes by May of this year. However, under strong opposition from the business community and lack of support from the CEPD, this draft bill did not pass even its early deliberations.
- Balancing act: Part-time jobs make moms' lives work, by Ellen Miller, Indianapolis Star.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Many mornings, my 3-year-old pops out of bed, hustles to find me, and asks: "Is it Mommy-Sammy Day?" If it's Thursday or Friday, the answer is yes, and his response is a joy to behold.
Nothing's perfect, but a good part-time job comes close.
"I'm home 3½ days, and I work 3½ days," says Amy Biehn, a Southport mom and Downtown legal assistant. "I feel like I have the best of all worlds."
A Catalyst report in 2002 found that most working mothers said being able to work part time was key to maintaining career momentum.
The obvious upside is more time at home; the clear drawback is less pay. But there are other considerations:
Biehn's bosses arranged her job-sharing deal after she told them another law firm had offered a four-day schedule. Three years later, she loves how her week flows. On Mondays, she does preschool carpool duty, and then heads to the grocery with her 4-year-old. She works Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and spends her lunch hour at a nearby gym. On Fridays, she leaves at noon, picks up the kids and catches up on housework. "I feel like I have Saturday and Sunday to have fun," Biehn
says. "Last weekend, we went to the circus."
- Lack of benefits.
"The 'best practices' companies in the Fortune 100 provide full-time benefits when workers work 20 hours or more," says Julie Shields, author of "How to Avoid The Mommy Trap" (2002, Capital Books). But most employers aren't on that list.
Kim Smith, who works 30 hours a week managing the media center at Forest Dale Elementary School in Carmel, has no insurance
or employer match for her retirement fund. Her husband's job provides insurance for the family. But Smith loves being home when her 10-year-old is off school. "I get off at 3 p.m., two hours before the mad rush of homework and dinner."
- Feeling out of the loop.
"Sometimes you miss some of the camaraderie with the people who are full time," says Smith. "A lot of times, you're playing catch-up with rules or conditions that change. You might not see the e-mail until the next day."
- Keeping the "part" in part time.
Sharon Jordan-Evans, co-author of "Love It, Don't Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work" ($17.95, Berrett Koehler), worked part time as a dental hygienist when her kids were small. In her second career as a consultant, she negotiated for reduced hours. "From the start, I would draw the boundaries: 'On Fridays, I'm not plugged in to work.' But on the days I was working, I wowed them by performing amazingly well."
Still, says Jordan-Evans, "occasionally, you have to remind them you are working part time and being paid accordingly. And be clear with your boss about having measurable objectives. It's absolutely critical to have those objectives laid out and in stone."
- Finding a good part-time job.
Most jobs aren't presented as part time. It may be easier to create your own opportunity, says Elizabeth Wilcox, author of "The Mom Economy" ($14, Berkley). "Some hard work and hard thought need to go into how you will make your position work. You need to think about breaking down the responsibilities of your job - how will they be met? If you can't meet them, who can?" When you're ready, make your pitch. If you don't succeed, ask when you can raise the issue again.
[Contrast no-life, workaholic CEOs who try to pressure everyone into workaholism, for example, Home Depot's CEO, Bob Nardelli "often works 80-hour weeks," which takes him right back to 1840 (3/16/2002 WSJ, B1).]
3/12/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/11 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3-4 which are from the 3/12 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- 3/14 Balancing acts - Parent's stress over care gap often disrupts work, by Maggie Jackson (maggie.jackson(at)att.net), Boston Globe, G1.
If you're a working parent with school-aged children, you know the feeling. You stitch together a fragile quilt of after-school care for your kids, but an illness, snowstorm or last-minute overtime unravels the plan, leaving you stressed and your workday in tatters.
Now two Brandeis Univ. researchers have completed the first study measuring how parental angst over after-school arrangements translates into on-the-job disruptions.
Parents who were somewhat or extremely concerned about after-school care missed 8 days of work annually, not including vacation days, compared to 3 days...lost by parents with the lowest stress levels, according to...Rosalind Barnett and Karen Gareis of the Community, Families & Work Program at Brandeis.
...Higher stress levels translate into more job disruptions regardless of a child's age or parental income, work hours, and gender....
[Ah, isn't that putting the cart before the horse? The job disruptions create the stress levels, not vice versa. Shore 'nuf -]
"It's a source of stress that hasn't been talked about before [maybe not by eggheads!] and it has an impact on parents' mental health and on the bottom line for employers," says Barnett, who surveyed 243 parents, mostly mothers, at all job levels at JP Morgan Chase & Co.... Most stressful...are arrangements where younger children routinely spend time unsupervised or parents have both an inflexible job and a long commute.... Joy Bunson, a senior VP at Morgan Chase said..."We now have a clear link between parental stress and employee productivity.
[Congrats, Barnett & Gareis. You have just given employers the ammo to start laying off parents, especially mothers, first. Or, you could redeem yourselves and start researching and talking up work sharing. This first example, outside the study and a father, isn't going to cut it -]
John Howat, a policy analyst at a Boston nonprofit, wasn't part of the study but describes himself as "forever stressed" about the mix of sports, grandparents, and other care he and his wife have for their 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter. "Because of the need to fill in the gaps, we end up having to work on weekends and at night," says Howat, whose wife works for the city [Boston] as a planner for school construction....
[And these people even have care help from grandparents?? This is all sooo ridiculous in the age of robotics! If instead of freezing it at the arbitrary 1940 level, we had been gradually cutting the workweek over the last 64 years as the technology flooded in, we'd have plenty of time for kids and church and travel and everything else. Instead, we've clung to the sacred 40-hour a week definition of "full-time job" as if it was carved on a stone tablet and given to Moses on Mount Sinai by God upclose & personal. This has made us a surplus commodity, and surpluses are punished, not rewarded, by market forces. Only shortages get rewarded with higher prices, or in the case of working hours, with higher wages. We, by contrast, have become common as dirt and cheap as dirt. Our efforts have been devalued, job insecurity has spread, and since no one wants to be the first to leave the office at night, the workweek is getting longer, not shorter, thus surplusing and devaluing us even more. Now the continuation of our whole way of life is in jeopardy because we can't take care of our own children. And all because we let lazy and short-sighted employers get away with cutting jobs for a few, then a few more, etc. etc. instead of trimming hours for everyone and keeping everyone employed. Why "short-sighted"? Because these morons have, surprise! surprise! been cutting their customers' customers and their own markets by disemploying their employees. A nation can't cut its workforce without cutting its consumer base. What's the answer? Cut the workweek, not the workforce. Isn't that Communist? Back to Mount Sinai. Ever notice the Fourth Commandment? It cuts the workweek from seven days to six. If cutting the workweek is communist, then the Ten Commandments are communist, the God of Moses is communist, Moses is communist, Judaism
is communist, Christianity is communist and the whole foundation of our nation is communist. No, it isn't communist. Communism is a burgeoning maximum of stifling detailed controls. Cutting the workweek, timesizing not downsizing, is a stable minimum of freeing general rules, just (A) convert overtime into training and hiring and (B) cut the workweek until unemployment is zero. But if we have full employment, won't that trigger runaway inflation? - since despite the six-figure-pay geniuses running our economy, our best inflation control is still fostering unemployment and recession! - No, because our overtime conversion design caps the hours per week from which you can derive personal unaccountable spending power and defines a threshold beyond which you must start reinvesting your pay in training and hiring. That faces everyone with a question every week - "Do I like this job well enough to keep working after 40 hours (or 38 or 36 or whatever it comes down to) getting any further personal spending power out of it? - since I have to reinvest it all from this point on for the rest of this week in training and hiring. And that question brings up the issue of "Do I have enough job satisfaction to keep working now or am I just doing it for the money?" Because if you're just doing it for the money, you're going to quit at this point and leave the extra hours for someone else. You're only going to keep working if you love your job and want to spend some extra time doing it for free while sharing it with others. In one case, you're just in it for the money. In the other case, like the little toymaker who "never worked a day in his life," you're in it for love. In the first case you have external, monetary, mercenary incentive. In the second case, you have some kind of inherent, intangible incentive. Since the first kind of incentive is external - you have to wait for tonight or this weekend or next vacation or retirement to spend the money - you're sacrificing the here and now and really, no amount can compensate for sacrificing the here and now - you want more pay and you can never get enough. This type of incentive is inflationary. It leads you to keep asking for more raises in pay - and off goes the wage-price spiral of inflation. The second kind of incentive is different. You're doing what you love here and now. It's existential. You're living in the present and having fun. You love your job and enjoy sharing it with others. This type of incentive is deflationary. You'd do this fun job for nothing. In fact, after 40 (or 38 etc) hours per week, you are doing it for nothing, except you're having a damn good time and maybe getting "supervisor" on your resume. This type of incentive harnesses the volunteerism throughout the economy and instead of letting it continue to compete with the job market and reduce wages (similar to prison work currently), it integrates the nation's volunteerism into the job market and pits it against the nation's mercenary gold-digging "just in it for the money" incentive that's always threatening to trigger runaway inflation. So guess what, folks. Stopping everybody at a certain point in the workweek and facing them with the question of why they're doing this and whether that's reason enough to keep going this week without freely spendable earnings - these two things constitute an inflation control that's one helluva lot smarter than fostering unemployment and job insecurity and consumer unconfidence and recession, the way we do now. Oh we don't really, do we? Yep, it's standard policy on the part of the Federal Reserve Bank, Greenspan and his goonies, now they've completely lost sight of their second mandate (1.control inflation and 2. control unemployment) except to say "have faith and wait". In fact, back in the mid-90s they used to believe that at least 6% unemployment was necessary to keep inflation under control. And they even had a name for that magic inflation-controlling 6% level - they called it the NAIRU = the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment - and they targeted and fostered it. Talk about sick! Contrast Timesizing, which offers a healthy sustainable alternative in Phase Two, the tax on corporate overtime with the exemption for reinvestment in overtime-targeted training and hiring, and Phase Three, the tax on individual overwork (regardless of whether a person works several jobs for several companies) with the exemption for reinvestment in training and hiring. Then in Phase Four, you slowly adjust downward the reinvestment threshold = the ceiling on the freely-spendable-earnings workweek - as far as you need to in order to get right down to just "frictional unemployment" - the kind you'll always get because people do change jobs.]
- 3/14 It takes a lot of [effort] to keep him away from the office, by David Gianatasio, Boston Globe, G8.
...I oversee Web operations for a diverse and farflung [NY-LA is 'farflung'?] trade publishing company..\..
I don't think of myself as a workaholic.
[Neither do alcoholics think of themselves as alcoholics. The first step in the AA program is to have them admit it.]
I'm not married to my job or addicted to work.
[Oh no? Read on -]
I just don't like taking time off. Except for those occasions when I need to nurse an occasional illness or to deal with a family emergency, I prefer to go into the office. Rain or shine. Ill or healthy.
[Ah, what was that about "except for...an occasional illness"?]
Twelve hours a day. OK, 13 hours sometimes. Fourteen only rarely. Very rarely.
[Yeah sure. As if you're counting.]
And on...rare occasions that I...take time off, I usually take some work home. So it's really not like working at all.... My girlfriend recently convinced me to take a week off from work. It would've been my first such vacation in a dozen years, had it actually happened.... But I just couldn't do it. I needed to ease into taking that much time off. Instead, I decided to stay home one day in February....
[Workaholics, tantamount to willing slaves since they aren't getting paid for 12x5= 60 hour weeks, assuming we're only talking 5 days a week, are a big obstacle at this point in human evolution because they're hogging the most precious vanishing resource in modern automated economies = natural, market-demanded human working hours. They're like the wimpy drivers who suddenly jam on their brakes, never mind the cars behind, for a pedestrian who's still on the sidewalk five feet from curb but might possibly want to cross the road. And never mind the dangerous expectations they give such pedestrians in the future. They're like people who patronize spammers, like the idiot featured tomorrow in "For Orlando Soto, no day is complete without some spam - Lovers of unsolicited email keep industry afloat; 'It's like a treasure hunt,' 3/15, A1. They're people who should be fined, severely, for all they cost others by encouraging bad behavior. And indeed, workaholics are people on whom Timesizing levies a 100% tax on overtime earnings - with a complete exemption if they're safe workaholics in the sense that they're willing to - and do - reinvest overtime earnings (or the correspondingly prorated part of their salary) in overtime-targeted training and hiring.]
- 3/14 Frank talk about jobs, government - Taxing wealth to create jobs, op ed by David Broder, Boston Globe, H11, flagged by Colleague Kate.
On the left of the Democratic Party, they don't come any smarter than Barney Frank, the 12-term congressman from Massachusetts. Republicans enjoy debating him, because if you've beaten him, you know the next liberal will be easier.
In a speech on March 4, Frank took...the frustrating job market and probed it in a depth one rarely hears from a politician. By doing so, he carried the jobs debate to a level where the policy choices become so basic - and challenging - that ordinary pols and pundits fear to tread. While most...suggest that tweaking the economy iwth modest measures such as more job training [in what? no skill area is safe!] or new tax incentives [hasn't worked for Mass. with Raytheon or Fidelity!] will revive the great job-growing engines of the 1990s, Frank offers a more sweeping and distrubing hypothesis.
A fundamental shift has occurred, he says.
[He's right. Cumulative downsizing in response to productive technology has finally gone past a threshold where it's in a visible self-fueling down-spiral.]
"The ability of the private sector in this country to create wealth is now outstripping its ability to create jobs."
[We're a little uncomfortable with the simple phrase "create wealth" here because the wealth that it's creating is so concentrated as to be self-undermining - hence the lack of centrifugation of the national income to an extent that would create jobs. So we would translate this striking phrase like this -
"The ability of the private sector in this country to concentrate the national income is now outstripping its ability 'trickle down' the national income or centrifuge it sufficiently to maintain the nation's workforce and consumer base - on which the whole economic edifice rests."
We might also get a little cynical and translate it -
"The ability of the private sector in this country to publicize wealth creation is now outstripping its ability to hide job loss."
It would sure be nice if a few economists would wake up to the application of their own marginal theory to this issue. Then we could translate it -
"The ability of the private sector in this country to achieve astronomical concentrations of capital is now outstripping its ability to maintain the velocity of monetary circulation and avoid starving the spending power away from the markets for its own investments."
Barney Frank continues -]
"The normal rule of thumb by which a certain increase in the GDP would produce a concomitant increase in jobs does not appear to apply."
That is the basic reason, he suggests, for this jobless recovery - why month after month the economic growth figures spell boom, and month after month unemployment remains stubbornly high and more thousands become so discouraged they give up the search for work.
Frank buttresses his argument by pointing out that the boom in corporate profits and the rise in the stock market [ah, better go light on that one] have been accompanied not just by joblessness, but a decline in real wages, a falloff in private health insurance, and a rise in income inequality....
[Barney is digging his way into this, but he needs to add in -
Toward the end of his speech, Frank uttered a sentence one can hardly imagine coming from the mouth of a 21st-century American politician. "Our problem today," he said, "is too little government."... His proposal is to tax some of the wealth the private sector is now producing so abundantly - "a fairly small percentage," he said, without being specific - "and use it to employ people on socially useful purposes."...
- some thinking about the self-undermining effects of money concentration (his "income inequality") beyond a certain "point of diminishing return,"
- some thinking about the whole purpose of technological innovation being to take over the work and free people up, a purpose frustrated by downsizing instead of " timesizing" = cutting the workforce instead of the workweek,
- and some thinking about the scarcity and surplus of labor ("labor" meaning the total working hours on offer in the job market compared to the total employment hours or "jobs"), the resulting effects on wages (if scarcity, wages go up; if surplus, wages go down) and the real and potential impact on that scarcity/surplus of the standard workweek, which fell from over 80 hours in 1776 to 40 hours in 1940, but which has remained stuck at the 40-hour level for the last 64 years regardless of wave after wave of worksaving technological innovation.]
[Hooboy. Here we are again, making FDR's admitted mistake and going for government makework or "job creation" instead of sharework or "worksharing." Peacetime makework failed in the 1930s, though you'll never hear it from mainstream economists. FDR's New Deal succeeded only in reducing the 24.9% unemployment of 1933 to 14.3% in 1937 (ie: not even by half) and then it slipped back to 19% in 1938. FDR admitted already in 1935 that he should have tried the worksharing approach instead and "get behind the Black-Connery Thirty Hour Week Bill and push it through Congress." In fact, all the disparate stuff he'd thrown together into the New Deal was just a series of desperate grabs for anything and everything he could latch onto for blocking the 30-hour workweek bill. FDR managed to correct his mistake when he pushed through a nationwide 44-hour workweek in Oct/1938 (in the Fair Labor Standards Act) and a two-hour reduction in each of the next two years to the 40-hour level in Oct/1940. You will hear economists say that worksharing has been tried and failed (eg: Lester Thurow in a public lecture at BU in 1982) but, funny, when we tried it nationally in 1938-40, unemployment went from 19% in 1938 to 17.2% in 1939 to 14.6% in 1940 to 9.9% in 1941. Now in 1940-41, some of that clearly corelates to the declarations of war in Europe in Aug/39 and the Lend-Lease Act of Mar/41. But it seems conservative to say that there's plenty of room there to claim that each two-hour cut in the workweek corelates (you can never get them to admit causation, not even between unemployment and crime!) to a 2% drop in unemployment. And it also seems thick-headed and close-minded, in view of these figures, to claim, with most mainstream economists today, that "workweek reduction has been tried and has failed." In this country between 1938 and 1941, it was tried and it succeeded. In France, between 1997 and 2001, it was tried (workweek cut from 39 to 35 hours) and "corelatively" (economists night try to dilute this further to "coincidentally") unemployment went from 12.6% to 8.6%. And unless the undemocratic self-undermining forces of impeachent in South Korea derail it, that economy will be trying it starting this July.
The Democrats need to learn from history, especially from FDR's corrected mistake. They need to move back from big ineffectual government to smart strategic government. They need to drop the New Deal, Great Society etc etc. and move to Timesizing. Timesizing achieves liberal full-employment goals with conservative small-government means. God didn't deliver the 40-hour workweek to Moses on Mt. Sinai. But s/he did deliver the concept of workweek reduction in terms of cutting from a 7-day to a 6-day workweek (see the Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20). It's past time to quit straining to support a 1940 level of the workweek with government makework that will forever deny us the greater freedom promised by technology, and just ... share the vanishing work. Won't wages fall? Not any more than it did between 1776 and 1940 when we cut the workweek in half, because wage levels are a matter of supply and demand and when you cut the workweek, you create a perceived shortage of labor hours and market forces reward shortages with higher prices, which in the case of labor prices means higher wages. It's the long-hours sweatshops of the Third World that have the low pay - why? because there's a surplus of people looking for a shortage of jobs. Remember the old union verse:
Whether you work by the piece or the day,
Decreasing the hours increases the pay."
Won't the discipline of labor be lost? Some will, but there are three offsets.
- It's really the discipline of management we're short of today. Look at the 400:1 ratio between CEOs' and regular employees' pay. Look at the endless string of frauds and cooked books. And couldn't today's CEOs and managers use some skill improvement? All today's CEOs seem to be able to do is merge, acquire and reorg. This is not management. This is just change for the sake of change. Or rather, change for the sake of seeming to do something and look busy, regardless of downstream costs (and at least 50% of mergers result in diminished shareholder value in subsequent years - Chainsaw Al Dunlap actually finished off quite a few good companies, like Sunbeam - and Bob "Reorg a Month" ___ who wrecked DEC and sold it to Compaq, Carly Fiorina who's in the process of ruining HP, Kozlowski who wrecked Tyco, the guys at IBM....)
- Today we have all kinds of costs to employers in terms of employee stress (see first article today, above), sickout, burnout, pilferage and downright workplace sabotage and even murder- suicide. More free time, the most basic freedom, would mean more rested and relaxed and focused and prioritized employees, and that would compensate for some of the diminished "discipline of labor" in terms of greater job mobility.
- The greater job mobility itself would result in the gravitation of more employees into jobs they like better. We'd have a better mix of money-motivated employees (inflationary) and job-satisfaction-motivated employees (deflationary) throughout the economy, not to mention a better balance of these two types of incentives within each employee as a microcosm. All of which provides a better inflation-control tool than our current fostering of unemployment, as mentioned in article #1 above.]
- [This headline is B.S., but the 2d sentence gets off a good soundbyte -]
3/14 Breaking France's final taboo - Filming sex isn't dirty, but making movies about money is, by Kristin Hohenadel, NYT, 2:13.
If sex is the great taboo in American life and movies [huh?], money is the subject that can shock the pants off a Frenchman [yeah sure]. In a country where fortunes are more often inherited than made [same in the US but you just don't hear about it cuz heirs tend to feel very vulnerable and/or slightly guilty], and where most people work to live rather than the other way around,
[bingo, a slogan of the shorter-hours movement - vive la France!]
money is viewed primarily as a necessarily evil.
[Gee, same as Jesus viewed it - "You cannot serve God and Mammon (= money)." - "It's easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter God's kingdom."]
Talking about your finances, even among friends and family, is considered indiscreet [same here], tactless, vulgar [if your income is excessive] and vaguely American....
- [excising excess workhours before timesizing (besides by war) -]
3/14 Virus alert - review of John Barry's The Great Influenza: The epic story of the deadliest plague in history, by Barry Gewen, NYT Bk Revu 3.
The numbers astonish and horrify. According to the earliest estimtes, 20m people died during the flu pandemic of 1918. ...But...it's certainly too low. Modern experts say that 20m may have died in India alone, [resulting in the centrifugation of spending power to laborers that supported a decent 5% growthrate in India throughout the 1920s but that was eventually swamped by incontrolled population growth]
and they calculate the total number of victims at somewhere between 50m and 100m worldwide. No disease in human history has caused so many fatalities, not even the Black Death [which carried off 1/4 to 1/3 of Europe].
The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has in 24 years. In the U.S., about 25% of the population, more than 25m people, took ill, and about 675,000 died (a comparable figure for today's population would be 1,750,000). Undertakers ran out of coffins. Morgues ran out of space. Corpses were placed in spare rooms, in closets, on porches, until they could be collected for mass graves. The odor must have been unbearable....
[The Black Death had the same positive effect on the economy. And as during World War II, no attempts by monarchs at the time could restrain the free-market rise of wages in response to the shortage of labor. It was the major point where the English middle class was born, as serfs, whose labor was newly precious, fled their ancestral fiefs and sold their labor to the highest bidder, immediately buying bread and wine, accelerating the velocity of monetary circulation, raising the dynamism of the economy and - "the rising tide floated all ships," even those of the rich who wound up with less distance from other people, more money and more secure and sustainable investments. Some wealthy humans tend to only share when the market forces them to, but from the resulting prosperity, repeated so many times in history, you think they'd learn that, as Will Rogers said, "Money is like manure - it's no good unless it's spread around."]
- 3/12 Longs slapped with overtime lawsuit, by Jessica Guynn, Contra Costa Times [CA?].
Three Alameda County store managers contend Longs Drug Stores Corp. improperly denied them overtime pay - the latest in a spate of such lawsuits to hit California retailers.
Darien Goddard, William Swift and Michael Anselmo allege Longs misclassified them as exempt from overtime pay when they spent more than half of their time performing basic duties, from stocking shelves to manning the cash register. Oakland
lawyer Peter Rukin said his clients would seek class-action status in Alameda County Superior Court. If granted, he estimates that as many as 1,000 current and former Longs assistant managers and managers who work an average of 60 to 70 hours a week could be eligible to collect unpaid wages.
Longs spokeswoman Phyllis Proffer said the company does not comment on pending legal matters.
The Walnut Creek-based chain was the target of a federal lawsuit in March 1999 that alleged it had misclassified assistant store managers and others, denying them overtime pay. At the time a Longs executive blamed the lawsuit on union efforts to organize its employees. That suit came one year after Longs agreed to pay $3.1 million in retroactive overtime pay to pharmacists after the U.S. Department of Labor investigated their complaints.
Longs is just one of a growing number of retailers dealing with an explosion in overtime cases. Such cases have tripled over the past five years, surpassing employment discrimination cases for the first time in 2001. Workplace squabbles over time and money are common but have grown increasingly contentious during the economic downturn as companies facing mounting competitive pressures to push fewer workers to do more work, observers say. The average work week is now longer than 40 hours in most industries, reports the Economic Policy Institute. The pro-labor research group estimates that in 10 industries, more than 20% of workers consistently work overtime.
"There is a great rise in this kind of litigation," said William B. Gould IV, an emeritus law professor at Stanford University and a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board during the Clinton administration. "Employers, rather than hiring new employees, are attempting to have a more flexible work force and are in some instances crossing the boundary lines between exempt and nonexempt work."
The stakes are much higher in California, the only state to require overtime pay after an eight-hour day, not just after a 40-hour week, said Mark Terman, a Los Angeles lawyer who represents employers. Hundreds of suits have been filed in California as employers run afoul of California's tougher wage standards that afford employees greater protection than federal law, said Steven Tindall, another lawyer representing the Longs store managers. Under California law, managers are eligible for overtime pay at time and a half if they do not spend most of their work day supervising workers and other exempt duties.
Recent changes in California law also have made these cases even more lucrative territory for lawyers representing workers, Terman said. Particularly vulnerable are retailers and restaurants who have "working managers" who spend some of their time
on non-managerial tasks such as helping customers.
These class-action suits have resulted in multimillion-dollar payouts. Last month, Big Lots Inc. agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims brought by California store managers who claimed they were stiffed overtime pay. In 2003, Peet's Coffee & Tea settled claims that alleged the Emeryville chain misclassified its salaried workers, a year after Starbucks Corp. paid $18 million to settle a suit with store managers in California.
RadioShack Corp. paid $29.9 million to settle overtime cases in California in 2002 but still faces another such class action in Chicago, where store managers allege they should be paid overtime because they spend most of their time selling
electronics, not managing employees.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. faces 39 such cases in 34 states, a company spokeswoman said. In 2002, a federal jury in Portland, Ore., found that Wal-Mart forced employees to work unpaid hours. A class-action suit in Alameda County accuses Wal-Mart of
forcing hourly employees to forgo lunch breaks.
The case against Longs also contends that assistant managers and managers were wrongly denied meal breaks and rest periods. California law entitles hourly employees who work more than five hours a day to a meal break of 30 minutes and a rest
period of 10 minutes for every four hours worked. Overtime lawsuits now increasingly allege this kind of violation since a new labor code went into effect in 2001 requiring employers to pay the employee one additional hour of pay for each day of
- 3/12 Selectmen: Drop part-time benefits - Library, Senior Center asked to change staff hours to save insurance, retirement costs, by Rob Borkowski, Hopkinton [MA] Town Crier.
HOPKINTON, Mass. - The Selectmen's office has sent letters to the Library and Senior Center asking them to re-arrange their staff's positions so each works 19 or 40 hours, saving the town the obligation of paying health and retirement benefits for
For the staff and leadership of at least one department, the deal is no bargain. "I can understand their way of looking at things," said Cindy Chesmore, director of the Senior Center, which runs the basics food pantry and provides outreach services to about 187 residents, "However, it's not feasible for the type of organization we are."
The letters, dated March 2, state there are seven employees at the library working 23 to 27 hours a week and five employees at the Senior Center working 25 to 30 hours a week. Each of these employees, said the letter, costs the town in payments to health insurance and retirement payments. "It would be beneficial to the town if your department would determine how to restructure the hours of your employees to reflect a work week of 40 hours or 19 hours per week to create the highest efficiency of benefit use and still maintain the current hour coverage to fulfill the running of your department," the letter said.
The gist of the plan, the letter states, is to avoid reducing services to library patrons and those depending on the Senior Center's outreach workers.
No other departments have received the letters, said Selectman Secretary Ted Kozak. "They're (the Library and Senior Center) the departments with the majority of employees in the 20 to 40 hour range," Kozak said.
Town Treasurer Maureen Dwinnell said the town pays about $5,000 in health insurance payments per year per employee. Savings on retirement, she said, depend on the individual employee and how much that person makes per year, she said. But while that strategy will save money, Chesmore said, it won't allow her department to maintain the same services it provides to Hopkinton residents. The plan, she said, will cut down on the number of people working at the center, limiting the department's ability to respond to more than one thing at a time. "We tend to have multiple problems or situations going on at the same time," Chesmore said.
Chesmore said she's put her views in a letter she intends to send to the Selectmen's office today, but has already discussed the situation with Selectman Mary Pratt. "She's on our side," Chesmore said.
Library Director Carol Walsh said she needs to discuss the situation with the library's Board of Trustees before commenting on the situation.
The requests come during lean times for all Hopkinton departments, which are struggling to bring their budgets in at level-funding from last year at the request of the Appropriations Committee. Appropriations Committee Chairman Ron Eldridge has stated his board will not recommend an override to fuel the budget this year.
Further complicating the town's financial situation is the re-negotiation of several contracts with unions. Police, fire, public works and teachers all have contracts which expire in June.
3/11/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 3/10 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialled -
- Work share agreement at Nipigon mill, Tb News Source via Thunder Bay Post [Ont., Canada].
A work-sharing agreement is saving the jobs of about 100 employees of Nipigon's Columbia Forest Products mill.
The members of IWA Canada are being paid by the company for three days a week, and receiving Employment Insurance the other two.
The temporary arrangement gives Columbia time to investigate options for keeping the plywood mill running.
- Activists urge Americans to take more vacation time, by Faiza Elmasry, Voice of America [DC].
WASHINGTON - The United States was established on the principle that among our inalienable rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But in modern America, that last quality is often pushed aside in favor of the pursuit of making a living. Americans spend more time on the job than workers in other industrialized nations. But leisure time activists say it doesn't have to be that way.
Americans don't get enough vacation time, according to Joe Robinson. So he started a campaign to get Congress to pass a minimum paid leave law. "We are the only industrial nation that doesn't have a law that protects vacation time," said Mr. Robinson. "In Europe they get four and five weeks by law. In Japan they get two weeks. In China they have three weeks. But we have none here."
The journalist says 13 percent of American companies do not include paid vacation time as an employee benefit. Since he started the Work to Live Vacation campaign in 2000, he's heard all sorts of stories about the effect of spending too many hours on the job.
"I literally got thousands of e-mail from people across the country telling me how desperate their situations were, and their working lives, that they work 60 to 70 hours a week, no time for families, health problems, depression," said Mr. Robinson. "I got e-mail from doctors and nurses. I started to realize that there's a much bigger problem here than simply a lack of vacation time. There is an overwork culture here that believes that there's no limit to how much people can be worked."
Society actually rewards people who devote themselves to their jobs, according to organizational consultant Diane Fassel. In her book, Working Ourselves to Death, Ms. Fassel calls work 'a very seductive and powerful drug.' "It has a physical form; that's the production of the adrenaline," she explained. "It also has a psychological form; that's when the constant working getting rewards, getting praised from co-workers. So it's probably one of the few addictions of our society where people are actually praised for it. People who are working excessively are as much in danger as traditional alcoholic."
The American work ethic has transformed the United States into the richest nation on earth. Work to Live Vacation Campaign organizer Joe Robinson says cutting back on work hours doesn't mean cutting down on that productivity. "We are in the process of getting some studies done that will show that more time off is actually a good economic stimulus because when people have time, they travel, they spend money," said Mr. Robinson. "This is what the Chinese did. They had a lot of people saving money and they gave them three weeks off, then they started to travel around the country, patronize restaurants and local attractions. We think the same thing will happen here."
More vacation time could even have a "political" effect, especially if election day was declared a national holiday. "We believe that the reason Americans vote is small numbers is not only that that day they often feel they haven't enough time to vote, but they don't have the time to become aware of the issues," said John de Graaf, national coordinator of another movement for more leisure time. His group started a new tradition last year, observing Take Back Your Time Day on October 24 with debates and speeches about life and work, and letter-writing campaigns urging Congress to pass a minimum paid vacation law.
"The date of October 24 partly because it falls nine weeks before the end of the year and it symbolizes the nine weeks more that we work compared to Western Europeans. Also, at that day in 1941, the United States cut the 40-hour work week. Our point is how is it that our workweek has expanded beyond the 40-hour today nearly 60 years later at a time where we five times, at least, more productive? Can we somehow take a portion of that productivity and give it to people in the form of time instead of money?"
Among the organizations planning to participate in this year's Take Back Your Time Day is the Center for a New American Dream. Its president, Betsy Taylor, says the fight for working families fits well with the Center's focus on social justice. "We now have 30,000 people who together write letters to pResident Bush and the expected Democratic nominee Senator Kerry asking our political leaders to really consider how can we help Americans get more time," said Ms. Taylor. "Can we consider a family friendly workweek, a 4-day workweek? We want Congressional hearing on this. We want real discussion about the fact that Americans are working longer hours than any other group on the industrial world." Leisure time advocates say the pursuit of happiness is as important as life and liberty… and they hope that making vacation time an
issue will energize voters and politicians and help shape a new workplace.
- [well, here's a group of people who are taking a lot of vacation -]
Political hot-dogging in the House, editorial, NYT, A20.
Call it legis-lite: the Republican leaders of Congress have been running one of the least demanding workloads in decades, politicking most of the year while scheduling only 94 days in session, 40 fewer than four years ago. Yet the House still invested a day's debate in passing what is known as the cheeseburger bill - a supersize sop to the fast-food industry [giving] immunity from being sued [for]] marketing...obesity....
The cheeseburger bill reflects the trivializing agenda of late-night TV comedy and talk-radio rants more than the public interest.... But then, with the House in legis-lite mode, it must be hard to find the time to grapple with real issues.
- South Korea Parliament votes to strip President [Roh] of powers, NYT, A6.
SEOUL - [The] opposition-dominated Parliament on Friday passed an unprecedented bill to impeach Pres. Roh Moo Hyun, accusing him of illegal campaigning....
[Hope this doesn't shelve the downshift to a 40-hour workweek planned to start this July. Oh surprise surprise, guess who "happened to be present" during this slap in the face of democracy -]
A steady hand promises calm amid the furor in South Korea, by James Brooke, 3/14/2004 NYT, A10.
...Tom Ridge, the secy. for homeland security, who is visiting Seoul, remarked Saturday on the general sense of calm in the country....
[Yeah, like the general sense of calm in Iraq, eh, Tom? - that led to a protest march on DC on Monday (3/15) by US military families. Or the general sense of calm in Haiti now that Bush is meddling his brains (if any) out there as well -
Ya know, there are more and more people inside the U.S. and around the world who wish to God that "U.S." - whether Bush or his twitchy neo-cons or the meddling background of busybodies - would just siddown and shaddap! Go have some sex, you nose-into-everything megalomaniacs! Yet more pour in, where slimeballs already clot - "Newcomers provide fuel for Bush money machine," 3/14/2004 NYT, A1.]
- "Aristide says he was duped by U.S. into leaving Haiti - Recalls turbulent last hours of presidency," 3/14/2004 NYT, A6.
- "Aristide presence in Jamaica will harm Haiti, U.S. [ambassador to Haiti, James Foley] warns," 3/14/2004 NYT, A6.
- Government taken to court over working hours, Health & Safety-Centre [UK].
The Government is being taken to the European Court of Justice over claims that people are working too long and not taking breaks they are entitled to. Trade union Amicus, which first complained four years ago that the Labour administration was not enforcing the Working Time Directive, has received confirmation from the European Commission that its grievances have been upheld.
The European Court of Justice will now investigate the practice, apparently prevalent in Britain, of employees working "voluntary" hours on top of their 48-hour week, as well as looking into UK regulations that state employers are not responsible for breaks being taken.
Amicus believes that British regulations actually dissuade workers from taking breaks. A spokesman for the union stated: "While we welcome the legal action, we would rather the UK Government had chosen to apply the Working Time Directive by agreement. However, we have waited too long and there is now clearly no alternative."
[Apparently the US isn't the only place where the working people's party has stopped representing working people.]
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
Nov.21-30/2003 + Dec.1
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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