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Timesizing News, April 16-30, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

4/30/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/29 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Partisan battle rages on overtime, by Laura Smitherman, Bloomberg News.
    U.S. Labor Secy. Elaine Chao said yesterday that labor unions and Democrats are waging a "campaign of misinformation" against new overtime-pay regulations, disputing critics who say the rules erode eligibility.
    The rules, issued last week, will mean $375 million more a year in overtime pay for 1.3 million workers and will bring clarity to outdated regulations that have drawn workers and employers into costly lawsuits, Chao told the House workforce committee. "It will mean real money for workers," she said.
    The overtime regulations have been the subject of partisan fights in Congress for months. Workers have reason to be worried because the rules "artfully" weaken eligibility, Karen Dulaney Smith, a former wage investigator for the Labor Dept. through the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, told the panel. Democrats have vowed to stop any of the rules that deny overtime from taking effect in August, and are pursuing legislation to do so in the Senate next week.
    The rules guarantee overtime pay to salaried workers making less than $23,660 a year. Workers earning more than that, up to $100,000 a year, must be paid overtime unless they perform the duties of an executive, administrator or professional, Chao said. Most workers making more than $100,000 a year won't qualify.
    The Labor Dept. has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several business groups, while Democrats and the nation's largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO, say the Bush administration is trying to take away the extra wages to appease corporations.
    Chao told "half-truths about whether workers are at risk of losing overtime pay," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. The AFL-CIO has endorsed pResident George W. Bush's opponent in the November election, four-term Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
    "The new regulations open a floodgate of new litigation, confusion and fear," said Rep. George Miller of California, the committee's senior Democrat.
    Republicans say Democrats are trying to agitate workers in an election year. "Democratic Party leaders are overplaying their hand in trying to make this a political issue," said the workforce committee's chairman, John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
    The overtime regulations under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act were last changed in 1975. The regulations determine who gets paid for working beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.
    Some wording in 535 pages of regulations "artfully weakens current regulation in very subtle, but significant ways that will surprise employers and employees when businesses begin the implementation process," Smith said.
    Workers earning between $23,660 and $100,000 a year are at risk of losing overtime, Smith said.
    Chao said many of the rules are misinterpreted and the Dept. took the extra step of changing its original proposal to explicitly protect overtime for police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and factory and construction workers.

  2. City hospitals still overworking residents - Eyewitness news exclusive, by Jim Hoffer, New York-WABC via 7Online.com.
    NEW YORK — An Eyewitness News investigation has uncovered widespread and disturbing problems in some of Manhattan's most prestigious hospitals.
    We found several teaching hospitals are pushing resident doctors to the brink. In fact, they're even pushing them beyond the law - and risking the lives of their patients....
    We spent the last four months getting documents that the hospitals never wanted you to see. Violations of the health code designed to protect patients from deadly medical errors. We found some of the city's most reputable hospitals working some of its resident doctors dangerously long hours.
    This resident doctor at Mt. Sinai came to us out of fear that fatigue among colleagues may lead to deadly mistakes. We are concealing the doctor's identity.
    Resident Doctor: "I think the longest day I ever worked was 34 hours."
    Resident Doctor: "If something isn't changed something devastating is going to happen."
    Jim Hoffer: "Convinced of that?"
    Resident Doctor: "For sure, if it hasn't already and we just didn't recognize it."
    At least once a week, this resident claims to work well-beyond the state health code limit of 24 consecutive hours.
    Resident Doctor, Mt. Sinai: "I am put in a position in a lot of times where me harming someone is a very, real possibility and it scares me. ... I just don't think I could live with myself if I caused someone harm or pain, or God forbid, death."
    And documents we've obtained from the health department underscore the doctor's fear. Last year, the department sited Mt. Sinai for breaking the work-hour rules with 10 resident doctors for working beyond the legal 24-consecutive hours.
    And in another violation, a resident doctor gave a patient the wrong dose of medication and Mt. Sinai was cited for failure to have an attending physician supervise the trainee.
    The resident we spoke to almost made the same mistake.
    Resident Doctor: "There are times when the pharmacy calls me and says, 'Did you intend to order this medication or did you mean to order the immediate release instead?' And I've said, 'Oh thank you. You're correct. I clicked on the wrong medication.'"
    Mt. Sinai declined an on-camera interview. But in a statement emphatically refutes any chronic, on-going, or serious violations, and rejects the claim that patient care is being compromised. The hospital says these were minor infractions among 10 of their 800 trainees. And added that no fines were imposed and corrections were made.
    But Mt. Sinai is not alone. Our investigation has discovered that last year at least four other hospitals in the city violated resident work hour rules.
    But by far, the biggest violator is New York Presbyterian Hospital. Documents obtained by Eyewitness News show that the health department last year fined the hospital $37,000, for allowing more than 100 resident doctors to illegally work more than 24 straight hours. Or in some cases, more than 80 hours a week.
    Sydney Zion: "This is life and death stuff. You go into a hospital it's not supposed to be dangerous to your health." For Sydney Zion, the violations at New York Presbyterian's Weil Cornell Center are especially painful. Twenty years ago, his daughter Libby died at the hospital when given the wrong medication by an exhausted, unsupervised resident. Libby's death led to the laws restricting resident work hours. For the hospital to still be the biggest violator, cuts deep.
    Sydney Zion: "They just sit there and thumb their nose at the laws that were passed in her name and they don't care and they're the very hospital! It's sickening, it's just horrible."
    New York Presbyterian declined an on-camera interview, and in a statement did not respond directly to the violations but said: "We regularly review our systems to determine where further improvements can be made."
    Sydney Zion says the hospitals have already had 20 years. "They're holding hearts in their hands while they're asleep, and they're telling us it's okay."
    Other city hospitals fined thousands of dollars for resident work hour violations include St. Mary's in Brooklyn, St. Vincent's Hospital in Staten Island, and Montefiore.
    Those hospitals say all violations have been corrected and they are now in compliance.

  3. EU rules could force hospitals to break the law, by Sam Lister, The Times [UK].
    UK - A quarter of all hospitals will have to break the law to maintain standards of care with the introduction of new EU rules restricting work hours, a survey has revealed.
    When the European Working Time Directive comes into force in August, restrictions will be imposed on junior doctors’ hours, posing serious staffing problems for hospitals.
    According to the Royal College of Physicians, 23% of hospitals in England and Wales would probably or definitely be unable to comply. The law will limit the number of hours trainee doctors can work to 56 hours per week — far less than currently worked by many junior doctors.
    But ministers and leaders of the medical profession say that staff shortages and financial constraints mean that many hospitals cannot cut their hours. The RCP advises that each hospital needs a “cell” of ten junior doctors working 13-hour shifts to provide safe[??] and effective 24-hour cover. But there are fears that many doctors will be upset at the prospect of doing full nightshifts for up to seven days in succession.
    Hugh Mather, specialist registrar adviser at the RCP, said: “This survey shows that a significant number of hospitals still have insufficient experienced middle-grade staff to comply fully with the directive.” Dr Mather said that two judgments made in the European Court that time spent sleeping on call should count as working time were “proving to be unrealistic and very damaging”. “We welcome the recent statement from the Government and the European Commission that they intend to review the implications of these judgments this summer.”
    Roy Pounder, vice-president of the RCP, said: “The majority of junior doctors in the NHS already work less than 58 hours a week under the New Deal, but it is the precise details of the directive and the European Court judgments that make the situation extremely difficult. France, Germany and the Netherlands are in similar difficulties, and it is imperative the European Commission introduces new regulations without delay.”
    This month the Lords European Union committee said that the rulings could have a dramatic effect. Lord Williamson of Horton, the committee chairman, said that the effect could be “tantamount to losing the equivalent of 3,700 junior doctors”.

  4. Reduced hours for freight drivers: 'consumers to pay', by Peter Woodman, PA News via The Scotsman [UK].
    UK - New driver-hour regulations announced today by the Government were welcomed by freight companies. But hauliers warned that the announcement on how EU working time regulations will be applied in the UK will still mean the freight industry will face extra costs of £1 billion.
    [That's £1 billion that can come straight out of CEOs' hoards with nothing but increased prosperity for the economy.]
    And this will almost certainly mean a rise in the price of goods to the consumer.
    [There are worse things - like the descent of the whole economy into the Third World because there are no consumers because there are no jobs.]
    The current average working week for hauliers in the UK is 55 hours, while EU road transport directive limits the figure to 48 hours.
    Today, Roads Minister David Jamieson set out how the directive will be implemented in the UK. The new rules are due to take effect by March 23, 2005.
    To help companies cope with the directive Mr Jamieson announced less-rigid rules about night work as well as allowing the 48-hour week to be “averaged out” over a half-year period. Also, self-employed drivers will not be covered by the new UK regulations until March 2009, while voluntary work will not contribute towards the working time of transport drivers.
    David Jamieson said: “These regulations will provide drivers with clear guidance on working conditions and provide them with the level of protection enjoyed by employees in other sectors, without imposing an unfair burden upon employers. “Drivers will benefit from lower work-related stress levels and we expect to see road safety benefits for both drivers and other road users. This legislation will bring benefits to all those who work in the industry as well as making the industry more attractive to new recruits.”
    Freight Transport Association chief executive Richard Turner welcomed the announcement and said Mr Jamieson had recognised “the enormous problems imposed on the transport industry by the compulsory reductions in the working week”.
    [Oh quit your belly-aching, grow up, and learn how to time-manage! Today's excuses for managers are evermore pathetic!]
    Mr Turner went on: “The Road Transport Directive is the most serious and expensive compliance legislation the industry has ever faced. The difficulties of reducing a current average working week of 55 hours down to a maximum of 48 hours – a loss of almost 15% – simply cannot be over emphasised.
    [That's not a "loss", that's a savings.]
    “Complying with this legislation will be a big challenge for the transport industry and its efforts to minimise the inevitable costs imposed on its customers and, consequently, the consumer.”
    The Transport and General Workers Union today broadly welcomed the Government announcement. The union, the largest trade union representing professional drivers, said the legal protections were long overdue but added that a full appraisal would have to wait until all the details had been announced.

4/29/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/28 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 which is from the 4/29 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. German companies press employees to be flexible [ie: masochistic], Journal says, Wall Street Journal Europe (A1, A8) via Bloomberg.com.
    German companies such as Siemens AG are exerting pressure on their employees to accept more flexible working conditions, such as longer hours and vacation time based on performance, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Union officials and economists.
    Siemens, Germany's largest engineering company, came to an agreement with 224 employees to work more hours without a pay increase and accept performance-related vacations after it threatened to move 2,500 jobs to Hungary, the paper said.
    Economists argue that Germany's 35-hour working week, introduced in 1995, and other labor policies restrict the country's economy, the paper said. According to Holger Fahrinkrug, an economist at UBS AG, the threat of European enlargement means that employers are more able to demand flexibility from their workers, the paper said.

  2. [and the US version -]
    More work, same pay, and Germans say: OK, pointer summary (to A14), WSJ, front page.
    [They're poets and they know it, cuz their noses show it - they're Longfellows and they smell like the Dickens.]
    With globalization in full swing, Siemens threatens to move jobs to lower-wage nations.
    [Fine. No German jobs, no German markets is the only simple self-determining solution.]
    Workers agree to a 40-hour week, parting with Germany's hallowed 35.
    [Leaving "the French exception" even more unique. Here's the target article -]
    Clock ticks on Germany's 35-hour week - Seeking flexible conditions, employers are threatening labor unions' proudest feat, by Matthew Karnitschnig with contribs from Christopher Rhoads, WSJ, A14.
    [And thereby also further weakening their own domestic markets in Germany. Brilliant.]
    MUNICH - When Siemens AG announced last month it might need to shift nearly 2,500 jobs at two small telephone plants in northwest Germany to Hungary to save money, union reaction was swift. IG Metall, Germany's dominant industrial union, organized demonstrations at the gates of the plants to protest the move. A senior union boss promised there would be "trouble."
    Then the unexpected happened - the union backed off.
    In return for guaranteeing workers it wouldn't cut jobs for two years, Siemens wrenched out more work hours with no pay increase for 224 workers in one of the plants' service divisions, a key first step toward a broader deal.
    [Once again, a self-destructively confused union, not only unfocused on the big bargaining chip, access to markets, but also uninsistent on the all-points priority of controlling and cutting worktime as worksaving technology rolls in.]
    Workers also agreed to base Christmas and vacation payments, previously guaranteed to all workers, on performance.
    [If this is Euro for "bonuses," they should have been based on performance all along anyway. If they weren't, it's just another example of labor having wasted some of its political capital on trivia.]
    Altogether, the agreement (similar terms are under discussion for the remaining employees at the 2 plants) will cut costs by about 30% a year at the plants, the same amount Siemens would have saved by going to Hungary. (Related article on page B4 "Siemens profit rose in quarter with sale of a stake in Infineon" by Taska Manzaroli of Dow Jones reminds us that "Siemens has reorganized over the past 3 years and cut about 35,000 jobs.")
    [So Siemens is definitely into cannibalizing and downsizing its erstwhile high-quality German consumer base for short-term goals.]
    Such deals are heralding a power shift in German industry that could sound the death knell for one of the labor movement's proudest achievements here - the 35-hour work week.
    [And many employers just can't stand the thought - sensing, perhaps, that it holds the potential to create a labor shortage which would discipline them, the employers, by market forces, and centrifuge profits out of their astronomical concentration in the top brackets to the other brackets where people actually spend it, and provide wartime-level prosperity without the war, and employers are just too short-sighted and spoiled to venture that. So they'll go on, punishing their own markets, stifling their domestic demand, and eroding their own management skills. Because - who needs management skills when labor is cheap and at your mercy - just toss your current expensive old employees in the dumpster and hire half as many young employees at half the pay. And if the erosion of corporate experiential knowledge starts to be a problem, just reorganize again and get everyone so buzzed up and unproductive that the last thing anyone will notice is your own incompetence in the executive suite.]
    Germany's short work week
    [short? 35 hours a week "short"? in an age of wall-to-wall automation and robotization? at the dawn of the Third Millennium? when colleges and insurance companies and many advanced high tech firms like Lotus in the 1970s and 80s had standard 35-hour workweeks? Employers and the employer-controlled media are out of their tiny minds! The US Senate passed a 30-hour workweek by a huge majority in 1933! Dahlberg was advocating a 30-hour workweek in 1932! Kellogg Cereals had implemented a 30-hour workweek in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1930! The Technocrats were advocating a 16-hour workweek in the 1920s! And this clown has the naivete to call 35 a "short" workweek in 2004!? How pathetic is that?!]
    ...and generally restrictive labor policies
    [the only one labor (and domestic demand) needs is the shorter workweek, which should automatically adjust against unemployment - watch Germany descend deeper into recession as their union-sector workweek re-lengthens and the shrinking amount of market-demanded employment gets reconcentrated on fewer and fewer longer-workweek employees. Watch taxes go up to support the disemployed. Watch German employers start to dilute their government's unemployment rate to hide the fact that their economy is a much bigger failure than they care to contemplate. Watch the crime rate rise, and homelessness and ' disability' and suicide, and all the other stuff that our mainstream economists have conveniently 'externalized' to conceal their own bankruptcy of ideas. In a word, watch these Dummkopfs follow the U.S. and U.K. downdowndown in the Race to the Bottom.]
    ...are often cited by economists [speaking of bankrupt economists!] as the main factors crippling its economy.
    [The only thing crippling its or anyone else's economy is the concurrent introduction of technology, the downsizing of the workforce and the consumer base, and the concentration of employment on fewer and fewer, increasingly insecure employees.]
    Squeezing more flexible [ie: unfavorable] conditions out of workers would provide cost relief for many companies [ie: CEOs, who don't need cost relief] and benefit the economy as a whole [if the economy as a whole really benefits from a smaller consumer base and weaker domestic demand - we think not].
    Germany's whole economy has been stagnating for the better part of the past decade [so has Japan's, and for the same reason - rapid technologization followed by downsizing instead of timesizing, and consequent chronic damaging of consumer demand. So has the USA's and Britain's, but we're ever so much more advanced at hiding the stagnation in off-the-books welfare, disability, homelessness, prisons; forced early, delayed and interrupted retirement; forced single and multiple part-time, and today's new category, the 'Kramer' lifestyle.]
    Several of Germany's largest employers, ranging from DaimlerChrysler AG, tire maker Continental AG and car-parts giant Bosch Group, are now pursuing more working hours for some of their German workers.
    "Employers are gaining power because of the threat of EU enlargement" and the possibility of shifting work to Asia, says Holger Fahrinkrug, an economist at UBS AG in Frankfurt. "Siemens is a model case for large manufacturers."
    [Here's where the EU really screwed itself. Instead of learning from Germany's negative results from reuniting with poverty-stricken East Germany - before at least lowering the workweek on both sides of the former Iron Curtain to achieve full employment and fully activated consumer demand - and then gradually aligning the workweeks of the east and west - the EU took on a giant version of German reunification with the additional huge problem of language diversity. And the EU was in no great shakes before the addition of the latest poverty-stricken 10, because both the biggest members, Germany and France, were verging on or over the EU's 3% deficit targets - indicating that, far from learning from their own success with worksharing, they were still straining far too much for job creation and makework and income supports - and the high taxes they require. Employers need to face the fact that unless they make it easier for people to support themselves, taxpayers are going to have to support them, and if the taxpayers that support them are the wealthy who are already spending all they care to, fine, but if they're the middle and lower income brackets, there'll be an immediate negative impact on domestic consumer demand.]
    The 35-hour work week has come under fire elsewhere in Europe, most notably in France. Unlike Germany, however, where the rule applies only to union workers, France extended the 35-hour week to white-collar workers and smaller companies.
    [ie: to everyone, including non-union workers - this reporter seems to have difficulty making his point - probably part of Chris Rhoads' contribution cuz he's been totally suckered by the near-sighted employers' worldview]
    The [French] government even dispatches inspectors to make sure the rule on the shorter week is obeyed.
    [Gee, a nation that actually enforces its laws! Too bad the U.S. can't seem to do that with its immigration laws.]
    Despite howls of protest from company managers who say they can never compete in today's global economy under such restrictions [but with the resulting strong French domestic markets they don't have to] - and promises by the government to 'improve' [ie: loosen] them - the rules remain in place.
    [Because they are sooo popular and have become an nationwide entitlement and hopefully, a national badge of pride because they are the most advanced economy in terms of working hours in the world. No need to look any further for the elusive "French cultural exception" - this is it, and it's a beacon and example to all the world, most of which is intent on going backwards into longer hours instead of forwards into shorter hours, thus getting absolutely no benefit from technological innovation.]
    As West Germany went through its "economic miracle" in the decades after World War II,
    [helped by the tremendous kill-off and labor shortage of the war with consequent high wages and relatively low executive pay and therefore extreme activation and optimization of the consumer base...]
    unions managed to win ever more generous terms for workers across whole industries.
    [Hey, in a labor shortage, unions have power, and world wars are the stupid way to achieve a prosperity-yielding labor shortage.]
    The 35-hour work week, first introduced in 1995, counts as a crowning achievement.
    [And seemed pretty tame in comparison to the 1994 workweek cut by Volkswagen from 35 to 28.8 hours a week to save its HQ town of Wolfsburg. Too bad GM didn't do that in Flint, Mich. - there might still be a Flint.]
    Companies went along as long as they could compensate for the higher costs by improving productivity through automation.
    [Nonsense. Companies went along because they had relatively high consumer demand for the postwar German population, because so much of the national income was being centrifuged (purely by market forces responding to labor shortage) to the people who spent it instead of "saving and investing" it. The automation and subsequent roughly-compensating worktime reduction, at first mainly in terms of longer vacations, simply kept the whole 'miracle' going until it got clobbered by the long-hours stagnation (socialist long hours this time!) of East Germany after reunification.]
    More recently, however, price pressure from foreign competitors has increased to such a degree [thanks to the simple-minded succumbing to the fad of free trade] that many German companies are giving their workers a simple option - work longer for the same pay or lose your job.
    [Whereupon workers, either way in this false ultimatum, support and offer back to German companies a diminishing German consumer base.]
    Many German manufacturers already have operations in Eastern Europe and Asia, lending such threats enough credibility to make workers buckle.
    [The more workers buckle, the more foundational consumer markets buckle. And the more employers talk threats and inject fear into the workplace, the more creativity vanishes and low-profile pro-forma facetime-serving and yes-man-ism appears. Deming's central (8th) Point for Management: Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.]
    Confronted with the choice [ie: intimidation-laden ultimatum] of earning less or joining the jobless rolls in a country with more than 10% unemployment, many workers are choosing the former.
    [And many are being forced into the latter - with resulting higher unemployment taxes on uncreative and near-sighted employers.]
    "The threat is real and has to be taken seriously," says Heinz Cholewa, an IG Metall official who helped negotiate the Siemens deal.
    [A scaredy cat without his eyes on the prize - full employment and employer discipline.]
    "The ability of companies to blackmail employees has increased."
    Union officials and economists alike say Germany's flagging economy and globalization are giving companies the ammunition they need to chip away at the "social contract" between employers and workers that has made direct confrontation rare in the past.
    "I think you're going to see these deals spread out, the worse the economy gets," says Mr. Fahrinkrug, the economist. "Perhaps we've passed a pain threshold where the social-contract model is becoming less meaningful."
    Siemens CEO Heinrich von Pierer, recently referred to as "Rambo" by an IG Metall official for his hard stance on working hours, says companies like his are only doing what is necessary to remain competitive. While he has no desire to institute the 40-hour work week across the board, he says Siemens needs to have the option to do so in areas where it can't otherwise compete.
    "The goal is to preserve as many jobs as possible," he says, adding that most employees understand why extending hours is sometimes necessary.
    Siemens employs about 415,000 people worldwide. Of those, 167,000, or 40%, are based in Germany. "We must find solutions that improve the competitiveness of our German locations, and first and foremost here is flexibility," Mr. von Pierer says.
    Mr. von Pierer has by no means won the battle. Despite the recent agreement at the phone plant, the unions are likely to fight future requests. "We're not willing to surrender altogether," Mr. Cholewa says. "After all, we do live in a high-wage country."

  3. One in four hospitals unable to cut doctors' hours, by Lyndsay Moss, PA News via The Scotsman [UK].
    UK - A quarter of hospitals are unlikely to be able to meet new rules restricting the number of hours junior doctors can work, a survey revealed today.
    The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said 23% of hospitals in England and Wales would probably or definitely be unable to comply with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) which comes into force in August. This will limit the number of hours trainee doctors can work to just 56 hours per week – some currently work much longer.
    But ministers and doctors’ leaders have voiced concerns that staff shortages and financial restraints will mean many hospitals will not be able to cut the hours of their junior doctors.
    The RCP advises that each hospital needs a “cell” of 10 junior doctors working 13-hour full shifts to provide safe and effective 24-hour cover.
    But there are fears that many doctors will be upset at the prospect of doing full nightshifts for up seven days in a row. Dr Hugh Mather, specialist registrar adviser at the RCP, said: “This survey shows that a significant number of hospitals still have insufficient experienced middle-grade staff to comply fully with the EWTD in acute medicine. “The situation is worse in paediatrics and obstetrics.”
    Dr Mather said two judgments made in the European Court ruling that time spent sleeping on call should count as working time were “proving to be unrealistic and very damaging”. “We welcome the recent statement from the Government and the European Commission that they intend to review the implications of these judgments during the summer. “Unless they are remedied, the maintenance of safe levels of acute patient care will become very difficult in some hospitals.”
    Professor Roy Pounder, RCP vice-president, said: “It is strange that regulations to improve the lives of workers would force most junior doctors to work seven consecutive 13-hour night shifts without a break. “The majority of junior doctors in the NHS already work less than 58 hours a week under the New Deal, but it is the precise details of the Directive and the European Court judgments that make the situation extremely difficult. “France, Germany and the Netherlands are in similar difficulties, and it is imperative the European Commission introduces new regulations without delay.”
    Earlier this month a House of Lords committee warned that hospitals were facing a major staffing crisis as a result of the European legislation and court rulings on doctors‘ working hours.
    The Lords‘ European Union committee cautioned that the extension of the EWTD to junior hospital doctors, combined with the two judgments, could have a dramatic effect on the NHS.
    Committee chairman Lord Williamson of Horton said they had been told that the effect would be “tantamount to losing the equivalent of 3,700 junior doctors”.

  4. Bush administration defends new overtime rules, by Thomas Ferraro, Reuters.
    [The 'infoganda' rolls on.]
    WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Wednesday defended its new overtime rules for white-collar workers against Democratic-led charges the regulations could cost millions of employees overtime pay.
    "I am deeply concerned about this campaign of misinformation," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao told a congressional hearing, insisting the regulations would increase, not decrease, overtime protection.
    "That's your story and you stick to it," a dubious Rep. George Miller, California Democrat, said in an exchange with a top Chao deputy, Tammy McCutchen. Miller argued millions of workers - including chefs, "team leaders" and people in financial services - could lose overtime pay. McCutchen denied it.
    "That's not my story. That is what the regulations say," McCutchen said after her appearance before the U.S. House of Representatives Education & Workforce Committee.
    The administration, under election-year pressure, last week revised its new rules - saying they would guarantee overtime protection for more workers and take it from less than it had initially proposed last year. The administration has estimated that about 107,000 workers will lose overtime protection, all of them now earning more than $100,000.
    Critics contend the regulations - set to take effect in four months - could actually cost million of workers overtime pay - although likely not as many as the 8 million they had earlier predicted.
    The 13-million member AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor organization, has said it may challenge the regulations in court. Democrats plan to take another crack at blocking the regulations in the Republican-led U.S. Congress, but seem certain to have problems mustering the votes.
    The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act created the 40-hour work week by guaranteeing overtime pay for each additional hour. It exempted administrative, professional and executive workers based on duties tests, which the new rules revise and update.
    In addition, the new rules say police officers, firefighters and other "first responders" are entitled to overtime.
    A former Labor Dept. wage-and-hour investigator, Karen Smith, said she feared many workers could lose overtime protection under the rules. "Some of the wording in the final rule. ... I am disappointed to say, artfully weakens the current regulations," Smith said.

4/28/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/27 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Ontario to get tough on 'bad employers', by Richard Mackie, Toronto Globe & Mail.
    TORONTO, Ont. - The Ontario government is promising tougher enforcement of labour laws in the province, including the pursuit of fines of up to $500,000 to crack down on what Labour Minister Chris Bentley calls "a few bad employers" who fail to pay salaries, overtime or benefits.
    His promise, which was announced yesterday along with an end to the 60-hour workweek, drew critical reactions from two different camps.
    Len Crispino, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the increased enforcement of the Employment Standards Act will hit businesses with unnecessary additional bureaucracy when only a few employers are in violation of the legislation. "The issue is not as blatant and as difficult as people might say," he said.
    Wayne Samuelson, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, said that Mr. Bentley is not doing enough to toughen enforcement of existing laws and complained that the reductions in the length of the maximum workweek do not go far enough. "In any other department, if there was going to be an increase in enforcement, there would have been an announcement about directing more resources [to it]. The very suggestion that we are not going to put any more resources into it . . . it just is not credible."
    Mr. Samuelson said the maximum workweek should be set at 40 hours instead of Mr. Bentley's announcement of 48 hours, with overtime to be paid after 44 hours of work.
    Legislation passed by the Progressive Conservative government in 2000 allowed employers to keep their workers on the job for up to 60 hours without getting Labour Ministry approval.
    Workweeks longer than 48 hours still will be possible if the employer obtains the consent of the workers and receives a permit from the Labour Ministry.
    The workweek is 40 hours in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland. In Alberta and New Brunswick, it is 44 hours. It is 48 hours in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
    Mr. Bentley argued that his ministry will be effective in ferreting out abuses of workers rights because the priority will be put on being proactive, not just on waiting for complaints. As well, penalties will be levied quickly with a minimum of bureaucracy.
    He noted that fines under the Employment Standards Act start at $100,000 for a first offence and climb to $250,000 for a second offence and $500,000 for a third. And he suggested most employers probably do not know about these fines or seriously considered them.
    "The way that the Employment Standards Act has been enforced, there has not been much need for them to know. There have been virtually no prosecutions. If there is no risk of prosecution, then why would you worry about the fines. Now, maybe people will pay more attention."
    As an example of the unenthusiastic enforcement of the law, Mr. Bentley said: "Last year, there were 15,000 claims against employers and only one prosecution was started. Beginning today, enforcement is back in style."
    The minister argued that tougher enforcement should benefit most employers, who abide by the laws, because it will counter unfair competition.
    And he said that this year he wants to see 2,000 inspections where investigators go to specific high-risk workplaces, especially those that employ low-skilled people who often are new to Canada and speak neither French nor English. In recent years, there have been only a few hundred inspections each year.

  2. Labor union vows June offensive, Korea Herald.
    SEOUL, South Korea - A major labor group yesterday vowed to stage strikes in June if its demands for working conditions, including a hike in minimum pay and other labor issues, are not addressed during with wage negotiations.
    The labor group's plan suggests this could be the toughest battle yet between labor and management, as the union built up some legislative backing with the Democratic Labor Party's successful showing in the recent parliamentary elections, where the union-backed party clinched 10 seats and was represented in parliament for the first time.
    The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the nation's two sprawling labor groups, is calling on the government to implement a five-day workweek system without a pay cut, or any deterioration in present working conditions.
    Starting July 1, private companies with more than 1,000 employees are to adopt the five-day workweek system, while those with 300 employees or more will do so a year later. The shorter workweek must be implemented in all workplaces by 2011.
    [It seems that S.Korea has designed a better set of gradations here than France, which incomprehensibly had only two gradations, large companies and small companies, with the borderline at 20 employees (and then they delayed implementation on government to go along with small companies?!). Here we learn that Korea seems to have at least two three gradations, and to take all the time till 2011, we extend their system and estimate further gradations:
    1. more than 1000 employees start implementing the four-hour workweek cut (44 to 40 - still too many hours at once, one hour a time is enough of an adjustment) in July, 2004
    2. 300-1000 employees in July, 2005
    3. 100-300 employees in July, 2006, applying the same principle of 33% as a pure guesstimate on our part
    4. 33-100 employees in July, 2007
    5. 11-33 employees in July, 2008
    6. 3-10 employees in July, 2009
    7. 2 employees in July, 2010
    8. 1 employee/proprietor in July, 2011]
    It is also urging the government to bridge the wage gap between regular and temporary workers and to guarantee the basic labor rights of public servants. Currently, non-regular workers, who account for more than 4.6 million or 32.6% of total wage earners, receive less than half the wages of regular workers are paid.
    "We will wage an all-out effort in June to meet our demands," Kim Young-jai, assistant director of public for the KCTU, told The Korea Herald.
    But the umbrella union is apparently taking prudent steps before embarking on a full-scale strike in a bid not to lose credibility. "Our strike will fall short of a general strike, but it is likely the union's subordinate member groups will launch their own strikes that could lead up to a massive fight tantamount to a general strike," Kim said.
    The Korean Federation of Hospital Workers Unions is said to be the first to be planning to lead a strike around mid June, as collective bargaining and wage negotiations have so far made no breakthrough.
    The Korean Metal Workers Federation, if its demands are not met, is also likely to resort to strikes around June. Other unions, such as the Korean Federation of Chemical Workers Unions, Korea Cargo Transport Workers Federation, Korean Federation of Construction Trade Unions, are expected to join a series of strikes.
    But before waging a strike, Kim said, the union will coordinate its policies at a regular meeting with the DLP.
    The labor party supportive of the collective union maintains a position that it will help legislate the group's reasonable proposals, said DLP spokesman Kim Seong-hee.
    As for the party's participation in the envisioned rallies, Kim said that the party's primary goal is to reflect the needs of blue-collar workers and persuade other political parties in parliament to pass helpful proposals. "The decision whether to stage a strike or not is entirely up to the union, but we will try not to drive them to resort to the last means of labor rights," Kim said by telephone.

4/27/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/26 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 4/27 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. The jungle, by Kris Maher (Kris.Maher@wsj.com), WSJ, B6.
    Are you entitled to overtime pay? For many workers, the answer could change over the next few months.
    Last week, the US Labor Dept. announced the first major reworking of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime-exemption rules in 50 years. The new rules provide guidance for overtime eligibility - one of the most tangled employment issues in recent years - based on salary levels as well as the duties that workers regularly perform on the job.
    [Now professional consultants and CEO-level temps have proliferated, using the concept of billable time, the whole idea of time unaccountability alias overtime-pay exemption is an anachronism anyway, and the whole concept should be abolished. There's no such thing as time unaccountability in the economy of the future, and perpetuating this irresponsible myth has fed into the subsidiary destructiveness of the "specialness" of top executives and "professionals" in terms of - ...Susan Meisinger, president and CEO of the Society for HR Management [in] Alexandria VA...says the organization fields 80,000 a year from HR professionals, and...by far the No.1 question involves whether an employee qualifies for overtime pay.
    The new rules are also intended to quell the rising tide of overtime-related litigation.... Meanwhile, some lawyers express doubts that lawsuits on behalf of workers who say they have been wrongly denied overtime pay will be much diminished by the clarifications in the rules.... The new rules will "increase the number of workers who are found to be exempt, but there will still be fights," says James Finberg, a partner in Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, a San Francisco lawfirm. "It will just change the battleground"..\..
    Secy of Labor Elaine Chao...emphasized that the rules strengthen overtime protections for 6.7m low-wage workers, including 1.3m salaried white-collar workers who weren't previously entitled to overtime pay. Yet how many people will lose their overtime eligibility is still being intensely debated. Many labor groups say the rules will unfairly make more workers exempt from overtime pay....
    Further complicating matters, the new federal rules will have no effect at all in a few states such as California, where employers must follow state overtime rules that are more favorable to workers....
    The best place to learn more about the rules is the Dept. of Labor's website, *DOL.gov/fairpay....
    Employers have 120 days [c.3 months] to comply with the new rules....
    Some key aspects.... [The Timesizing Program's overtime design is embodied in its Phases Two and Three. The basic differences are -
  2. Task force to protect overtime eligibility, Associated Press via www.chron.com.
    WASHINGTON — The Labor Department, facing political heat over new overtime pay rules, is creating a new enforcement task force that will focus on protecting workers' eligibility rights.
    Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is to announce the new group this afternoon after meeting in New Orleans with Wage & Hour Division managers and district directors.
    The new rule, announced last week, overhauls the regulations that determine which white-collar workers are eligible for overtime pay under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. It takes effect in August and does not require approval from Congress.
    The new rule and the task force "reinforce our proven commitment to protecting workers' rights," Chao said in a statement.
    The task force, made up of Wage & Hour Division officials, is being created because of "our concern that the massive misinformation campaign against the new overtime security rules could undermine efforts to make employers live up to their new obligations under the rule and jeopardize workers' overtime pay protections."
    The department first proposed changes in March 2003, and was heavily criticized by labor unions and Democrats as an attempt to take away overtime eligibility for workers. The department said its plan would have cut overtime pay for about 644,000 workers, while critics said the number was closer to 8 million.
    Officials heavily revised the plan, claiming most white-collar workers earning between $23,660 and $100,000 will not lose their overtime eligibility. To help sell the plan, the department has tried to shift focus to protecting workers' eligibility.
    More than 340,000 workers received a record $212.5 million in back wages as a result of Wage & Hour Division investigations last year. That compares with 263,593 workers who received $175.6 million in back pay in 2002.

4/24-26/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/23-25 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4 which is from the 4/24-26 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 4/25   Revenge of the jobless - French activists are up in arms about cuts in unemployment benefits — and some are winning in court - Can France afford to pay those out of work?, by Bruce Crumley, Time.com.
    PARIS - 'Reform' in France [our quotes - this is a politicized word here referring to regress, not progress] has always been dramatic, but never quite like this. The nation's annual Molière theater awards went unplugged last week, after performing-arts workers protesting a cut in their unemployment scheme stormed the Paris event and convinced stage hands to walk out. The scene verged on the surreal as actors collected their awards without music, backdrops, professional lighting or even microphones.
    All over France, unemployment has taken center stage. The spat over unemployment compensation in performing arts threatens to disrupt the Cannes film festival in mid-May. And two weeks ago, a Marseilles court overturned a 2002 'reform' that slashed jobless benefits from 30 to 23 months. The judges ruled that the move breached the contract workers entered into when they got their jobs, and ordered that full payments be restored and each of the 35 plaintiffs get E1,000 in damages.
    The Marseilles decision could unleash a legal tsunami. Around 2,000 of the 265,000 people who have had their assistance cut off have already filed similar litigation in French courts; the first verdicts in these cases are expected early May. With an additional 600,000 jobless expected to see their payments slashed over the next two years, the Marseilles precedent could carry costly consequences.
    Last year, the state unemployment insurance administration was in the red to the tune of E4.3 billion. The agency's plan to limit the shortfall to E1.2 billion this year under the 'reform' is now in jeopardy. It has appealed the Marseilles ruling, but if the initial judgment is upheld, chances are high that more and more jobless will be heading to court — or forcing a government climb-down through protests like that of the performing-arts workers. That would effectively neuter any hope of tackling the deficit.
    [No it wouldn't. If the wealthy power elite are that concerned about the deficit, they can tackle it at the point where it will have the most neutral, instead of the most negative, economic consequences - and that is in their own pockets. They are rich enough to be already spending all they care to, so further taxes on them, unlike further taxes on everyone else, will have no recessionary effects on domestic spending.]
    "A rich nation can't brazenly economize at the expense of its poorest members, as though society owes them nothing," warns Charles Hoareau, a Marseilles union official who organized the court case. Perhaps.
    [The sooner union officials cut the cloying boohoo arguments-from-weakness about "owing" the "poorest" etc. etc., the faster they will achieve their market-balancing goals! It's the poor who keep the consumer base going, and any transference of burdens to them and their consumption - beyond the considerable relative burdens they're already bearing - is going to have quantifiable effects on economic sustainability let alone growth - except to rightwing economists determined to justify uncapped concentration of the national income, regardless of diminished fortunes for everyone including the top brackets.]
    But the French nation won't stay as rich if it can't figure out how to reduce unemployment and its costs.
    [They've already figured that out, further than any other economy - namely, share the vanishing work by cutting hours and make it A LOT easier for EVERYONE to earn a good living and support themselves. Because when everyone can easily support themselves, taxpayers don't have to support them. That means that unemployment and welfare taxes can be drastically reduced or eliminated, and the whole huge shaky scaffolding of modern government - that includes 70-80% makework - can be dismantled. In the USA that includes block grant, enterprise zones, corporate welfare such as agricultural subsidies, sugar subsidies, lumber and mining industry coddling, tobacco subsidies, no-grow fallow-land subsidies, "industrial policy", non-basic or basic research subsidies (NSF etc.), art subsidies (NEA etc.), housing subsidies (too many to list), public works (particularly favored in France and Japan but now funnelled through the Pentagon and the Army Corps of Engineers in the U.S.) - on and on and on. It's just that France does not yet have a flexible worksharing design such as fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment dba Timesizing and it does not yet have automatic overtime&overwork-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    The French jobless rate of 9.8% is expected to reach 9.9% by the end of the year, much higher than the anticipated 8.2% E.U. average and more than double Britain's 4.8% level.
    [We suspect that "low" Britain's 4.8% unemployment rate, like America's, will not bear close inspection - or valid comparison with the unemployment rates of continental Europe.]
    But despite the drag of 2.5 million jobless adults on the economy, neither the private nor the public sector seems capable of doing anything about it. Last month's spectacular rout of conservative politicians in regional polls was widely interpreted as an expression of anger over Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's 'reform' policies, which some see as downright counterproductive. "We'd all rather be working than scrambling to find a job," comments Jean-Michel Florand, one of the victorious Marseilles plaintiffs. "But it's virtually impossible if our entire day is spent trying to scrape enough together to simply survive."
    It often seems the government itself is in survival mode when it comes to controlling spending. Though Raffarin and his conservative partners swept into office on a 'reformist' platform in 2002,
    [nonsense! they eked their way into office because the French diffused their progressive votes among a lot more choices than the their rightwing votes, and were left with a choice between two Neanderthals in the final election, racist&fascist Le Pen or corrupt Chirac; the French picked the lesser of two evils and returned Chirac, whose only value since then has been to decline to get enmired with Bush's unprovoked, terrorism-irrelevant aggression against Iraq and the predictable quagmire that followed - would that Blair had had the same common sense...]
    they've become caught in the pincers of economic stagnation and growing public dissatisfaction. Efforts to nurture growth and job creation by cutting taxes and employee payroll charges and tightening pension schemes have done little more than further bloat France's budget deficit well beyond the 3% of GDP limit imposed by euro membership.
    Even the effectiveness of earlier attempts to attack unemployment remains a hot topic. Earlier this month, conservative parliamentarians issued a scathing report denouncing the nation's 35-hour workweek, introduced in 2000 by the Socialist government and designed in part to encourage hiring. The study countered contentions that the scheme had created 350,000 jobs and new tax revenues with claims it had produced virtually no new posts and had cost taxpayers E15 billion in subsidies. The findings were widely seen as politically partisan. Still bruised from the polls, Raffarin swiftly reassured the public that no 35-hour 'reform' was imminent.
    That doesn't surprise many French business owners. "The ability to adapt [the] workforce to peak and slack periods was good, but I knew when I applied the 35-hour week that I wouldn't make new hires," says Patrick Roos, who employs 38 at his custom-made shutter company in Burgundy. Though he says he'd love to see more flexible rules, Roos predicts that reform of the 35-hour week is unlikely: "It's now considered an entitlement." That's just how most French regard the social protections that the Marseilles court backed and the arts workers want restored. The question now is whether Raffarin can convince voters he wants to rationalize, not pulverize [alias 'reform'], those protections.

  2. 4/25   Ontario ends 60-hour work week - Employers must get OK beyond 48 hours, Toronto Star.
    TORONTO, Ont. - The Province of Ontario is introducing legislation Monday that will end the 60-hour work week, forcing employers who want their employees to work more than 48 hours in a week to get permission from both their staff and the government.
    In addition, employers will only be allowed to ask for an extension up to a maximum of 60 hours a week, The Canadian Press has learned. "We want to be able to give people the choice, so they don't feel undue pressure," from employers to work long hours, a government source said. "It ensures people aren't forced to work longer hours than they want to."
    In January, Labour Minister Chris Bentley began consulting with workers and businesses on how to replace the 60-hour work week. At the time, Bentley said the changes had to "balance the needs of workers and employers." The former Conservative government put in place the 60-hour week in 2000, and it was swiftly condemned by labour leaders.
    That legislation let companies and workers enter into written agreements that permitted a work week of up to 60 hours. Government permission was only required for a work week longer than 60 hours. It also allowed vacations in segments as small as a day, and relaxed rules so the work week was averaged and didn't accumulate overtime. Under the new legislation, companies will need approval before they can average overtime.
    "It's going to be balanced. We don't want to tie up business in red tape so it's not a return to the old system," the source said.
    The system in place before the Conservatives brought in the 60-hour work week required employers to get a special permit to ask employees to work extended hours. Businesses trashed that system as it included too much paperwork, was too time consuming and bureaucratic.
    While most employers don't ask employees to work such long hours in a week, some do so the protection needs to be there, the source said.
    Under the new legislation, businesses that want an employee to work beyond 48 hours a week will have to file an application, online or in writing, to the Labour Ministry. Included must be written consent from the worker. There won't be any fees to file the application.
    If the employer doesn't hear back from the Labour Ministry within 30 days, then they'll be able to go ahead with the extended work week.
    The system will be phased in, with a target start date of Jan. 1, 2005.
    There will be some exceptions that will let employers ask staff to work beyond 60 hours in a week, however they'll be special circumstances. An example is a mining company that flies a work team to a remote area for a short time. In such cases, employers will be more stringently assessed.
    When Bentley began his consultations, on top of ditching the 60-hour work week, labour representatives pushed for a 40-hour work week, higher overtime pay and more vacation time.
    Employers demanded that any new system be flexible so they could deal with sudden surges in business or a lack of staff due to illness.
    Elsewhere in Canada, the work week is 40 hours in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland. It's slightly longer in Alberta and New Brunswick at 44 hours, topping out at 48 hours in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
    [Note that the 3 long-hours "maritime provinces" of Canada, NS, PEI and NB are among the economically poorest provinces.]

  3. 4/25   Overtime not at risk, reassures European Commissioner, by Pierre Mejlak, MaltaMedia.
    MALTA - European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Stavros Dimas said Maltese workers could still work more than 48 hours every week once Malta joins the European Union (EU). Speaking to MaltaMedia.com, Commissioner Dimas said Malta decided to make use of an opt-time of the Working Time Directive and Maltese workers should not worry about this directive. The Working Time Directive sets a framework for a number of aspects of time spent at work, including annual holiday, rest periods and a maximum-length working week of 48 hours.
    Under the directive, EU member states can also put in place a system to allow individuals the right to opt-out of the directive - that is, work more than 48 hours a week - under certain conditions. Commissioner Dimas said that principally these conditions safeguard the individual’s choice. “In its implementation of the Working Time Directive, Malta will make use of this opt-out. In addition, the Accession Treaty signed in 2003 allows for a phased introduction of the 48 hour week in certain sectors, such as manufacturing and textiles, and when working time is the subject of existing collective bargains.” The Commissioner said that even within the 48-hour week, there is room for over-time, as many companies have a working week of less than that figure....

  4. 4/25   Balancing acts - Road to flexible workplace potted with obstacles, by Maggie Jackson (maggie.jackson@att.net), Boston Globe, J1.
    After 11 years as a part-time lawyer, Pamela Berman was so fed up with getting second-rate cases and disproportionately low pay that she was poised to quit practicing law. A Boston firm's offer of a full-time job at competitive pay, however, salvaged her career.
    "I didn't like being marginalized, which happens to a lot of people who stay part-time," says Berman, a Canton MA mother of three children...who joined Adler Pollack & Sheehan as a partner in litigation last year. The "flexibility penalty" is hard to escape....
    A 7-year study of 324 working mothers by sociologist Jennifer Glass found that managers and professionals who teleworked or worked part time even for some part of those 7 years suffered dramatic wage gaps compared to their peers....
    The idea that teleworkers or part timers are often overlooked by management was bolstered by Glass's finding that wage gaps virtually disappear when women change firms and resume full-time, in-office work. Those who...stay with the same employer continue to show wage losses over time. "You're kind of marked," she said.... Her 1992-1999 study, the first of its kind, will be published in August in "Work and Occupations" journal....
    Some firms are working to iron out the penalties. KPMG recently changed how the tax and audit firm evaluates professionals on reduced schedules, by adjusting performance expectations to reflect reduced hours of work.
    For some, the penalties...are worth it. "I won't earn as much and down the road, it will cost me to have made this choice," says Lara Stone, a mother of three who works part time as assistant director of the non-profit Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board Inc. But "I want this time with our kids enough."

4/23/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/22 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1,4,5 which are from the 4/23 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Washington wire - Minor memos - ...Pot-to-kettle, by John Harwood, WSJ, A4.
    The National Assoc. of Manufacturers, fervent backer of revamping federal overtime regulations, blasts the AFL-CIO's "near-hysterical" opposition to the Bush administration's changes.
    [The "pot-to-kettle" subhead comes from the old English saying, "the [black] pot calling the kettle black," referring to situations where people criticize others for faults of which they themselves are guilty. A related idea hook for this situation in English literature is the saying in the King James Bible (John 8:7) ascribed to Jesus, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" - as in, stoning to death a sinner (in this case, a prostitute).]

  2. New overtime bill will not have any effect on police, fire supervisors, by Aubrey Fleischer, Fond du Lac Reporter [WI].
    FON DU LAC, Wisc. - Fond du Lac Fire Chief Joe Clow said Fond du Lac Fire Dept. employees in supervisory positions could have been affected by a proposal from President Bush to restrict overtime pay for certain white-collar workers. But yielding to pressure, the Bush administration announced Tuesday that more workers than expected, including firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and licensed practical nurses, would continue to be eligible for overtime under the regulations released.
    Clow said depending on how supervisory levels are defined, lieutenants, captains and battalion chiefs, who are all currently eligible for overtime, could have been affected if overtime hours were restricted. He said he is the only person in the Dept. who is exempt from overtime.
    He said essentially everyone on the fire Dept., including firefighters, lieutenants, captains and battalion chiefs, works on salary, because they don’t have an hourly rate calculated. Instead, he explained, rates are calculated per pay period, which is every two weeks. All of those positions work a 56-hour workweek and are overtime-eligible, Clow said.
    “This has the potential to be negative,” Clow said. “The availability of overtime allows us to use our off-duty personnel to supplement our on-duty personnel.”
    Clow said overtime is only used during a big incident that requires additional staff, or when the Dept. is short-staffed because of illnesses, vacation or other special circumstances.
    Eliminating overtime eligibility for the Dept. has the potential to harm the community, Clow said. “We may not be able to provide adequate resources when those instances occur where we need extra staffing, and that’s what overtime provides us,” he said, adding that extra events the Dept. participates in for the community could potentially suffer as well.
    Fond du Lac Police Dept. supervisory personnel will not be affected by the new proposal, said Chief Tony Barthuly. Barthuly said supervisors in the Dept. are salaried employees and don’t receive overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. “(The proposal) will have no impact on our supervisory staff from what I have heard,” he said.
    He said City Human Resources Manager Ben Mercer and the Fond du Lac City Council saw overtime restrictions as a potential conflict and took action to protect police Dept. supervisory employees in their 2004 working conditions agreement.

  3. Employers: Impact of OT rules unclear - Workers earning less than $455 per week guaranteed overtime pay under Bush plan, by Sylvain Metz (smetz@clarionledger.com), Jackson Clarion Ledger [MS].
    JACKSON, Miss. - With 28% of Cellular South's 650 workers exempt from overtime pay, the company's vice president of human resources is anxious to see how the new overtime rules President Bush approved Tuesday will affect payroll. But like many Mississippi business people surveyed Wednesday, Barbara Miller can only speculate on the impact.
    It may be some time before local businesses and industries realize the impact of revamped regulations governing overtime.
    On Tuesday, the Bush administration released updated guidelines regarding who would be exempt from overtime pay — time-and-a-half pay for work over 40 hours in a seven-day[?] work week, and who would not.
    Several businesses contacted in the metro area had not seen the overview and were unprepared to comment. The complete guidelines are to be published Friday.
    Under what the administration calls the FairPay guidelines, anyone earning less than $23,600, or $455 per week, is guaranteed overtime, according to information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Web site. The current regulations cover those who earn up to $8,060 annually.
    After the company has a chance to review the law, Miller estimates that less than 5% of the employees will be affected. Some may be reclassified as exempt, while other may become nonexempt. "I don't think they are going to impact us that much," she said.
    The updated guidelines will "strengthen overtime rights" for 6.7 million workers, including 1.3 million employees the government said were not covered under the old rules, according to information provided by the Labor Dept.'s Web site.
    "White collar" professionals who earn $100,000 or more annually in compensation, including a salary of at least $455 per week, are exempt from overtime pay while manual laborers, or "blue collar workers" who perform repetitive tasks are not, according to the guidelines.
    Firefighters and police will be eligible for overtime, although local governments already provide overtime pay for them.
    A review of FairPay Fact Sheets on the Labor Dept.'s Web site that summarizes the revisions according to position and job classifications reveals the exemptions for professionals may not be as cut-and-dried as the administration hoped. For example, nurses, who are paid on an hourly basis, "should receive overtime pay," according to the new guidelines.
    "However, registered nurses who are registered by the appropriate state examining board generally meet the duties and requirements for the learned professional exemption, and if paid on a salary basis of at least $455 per week, may be classified as exempt," the guidelines state.
    "Licensed practical nurses and other similar health-care employees, however, generally do not qualify as exempt learned professionals, regardless of work experience and training, because possession of a specialized advanced academic degree is not a standard prerequisite for entry into such occupations, and are entitled to overtime pay," the guidelines further state.
    "There will (probably) be new litigation to determine what those (guidelines) are," said Jackson labor attorney Durwood McGuffee, who said he has only seen published reports on the changes.

  4. Nucor's quarterly earnings, pointer blurb (to B4), WSJ, front page.
    ...surged sixfold due to higher steel prices, which have sparked an industrywide recovery.
    [Note that higher steel prices were largely the result of tariffs on cheap foreign steel, and therefore we're seeing positive effects on an American industry of fair trade, not 'free trade.' Nucor is one of the major American timesizing companies.]

  5. [Employee ownership as promoted by the *International Cooperative Assoc. is no substitute for timesizing as practiced by rival Nucor, as this article in contrast to the above article demonstrates -]
    Weirton Steel Corp. , WSJ, A11.
    ...US Bankruptcy Judge Edward Friend...studied the company's history and was stunned to discover that as of Dec. 31, 2003, it had a negative accumulated surplus of $1.7B. That means since 1984, when employees bought the company from its previous owner, Weirton has lost an average $100m per year....

4/22/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/21 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. NHS [National Health Service] 'not ready' for doctor hours, BBC News [UK].
    UK - Speaking in a Commons debate on Wednesday, Tory Andrew Lansley said Labour was complacent about the impact of the European Working Time Directive. While the government had estimated it would cost up to [£1m?] to implement, it had provided only over three years for specific action, Mr Lansley said.
    Health Minister John Hutton dismissed Tory claims as "without foundation".
    The directive concerns junior doctors' hours and the out-of-hours part of the new GP [general practitioner?] contract....
    Mr Hutton said all EU member states and accession countries, with the exception of Greece and Lithuania, had "expressed concerns" over the European Court's rulings on the directive and had supported a review of some of its aspects.
    The European Commission has agreed that the directive needs to be amended and proposals would be brought forward before the summer, he said.
    He said there has already been "a very substantial fall" in the hours that junior doctors worked, with 95% working 56 hours or fewer, which is less than the 58 hours specified in the directive..\.. 'Complacency'
    Mr Lansley said: "The GP out of hours service looks like it will cost nearly double what it has cost up to now. "But most PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) are going to get only about 60 or 70% of that additional cost and many of them cannot afford that additional cost." He said: "The government amendment - complacency is written through it like sugar through a stick of rock."
    He listed issues that the government had not mentioned in its amendment to the directive, including "the impossibility of compliance by August 2004 and the need for urgent interim action as recommended by the House of Lords". He said there was "no reference to the things that the government have found too difficult".
    Mr Lansley said his party supported the reduction of junior doctors' hours to levels consistent with patients' safety but added that this could be better done without the European directive.
    "Without foundation"
    He accused the government of a complacent reaction to two European Court of Justice judgments, one concerning primary care doctors in Spain and the other about doctors in Germany.
    Health Minister John Hutton said Tories' fears over GPs' out-of-hours services were "completely without foundation". He said the directive was "crucial" to "ensuring frontline staff work reasonable hours and have proper rest periods".
    However, he acknowledged that its present form, together with the recent rulings, would make the task of running the NHS "immeasurably more difficult". He said implementing the directive "presents a very considerable challenge to the NHS and in particular to specialities such as paediatrics and obstetrics" but insisted the government would not implement it by reducing services.
    "Our priority is to implement the directive in a way which maintains both the quality and the accessibility of NHS services," he said....

  2. Overtime changes only good on paper, by Craig Stern, Daily Trojan Online.
    USA - The Bush administration has just proposed a plan to extend overtime pay to more low-wage workers.
    As The Washington Post reported Tuesday, "The changes could give up to 1.3-million low-wage 'white-collar' workers an additional $375 million in compensation each year. Under the current rules, workers who earn less than $8,060 are automatically eligible for overtime - a level set in the 1970s ... under the final rule, however, workers who earn up to $23,660, or about $455 a week, will be automatically eligible for overtime."
    That sounds pretty good to me. So why are so many people complaining about it? The AFL-CIO, for example, has been quite vocally opposed to the changes. It has constructed a Web site, SaveOvertimePay.org, which references an Economic Policy Institute report criticizing the proposed changes.
    EPI, in turn, is a self-described "nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to broaden the public debate about strategies to achieve a prosperous and fair economy." Its report: "Eliminating the right to overtime pay."
    The truth is, like so many Bush administration policies that look good at first glance, the rules changes to overtime pay would take away with one hand what they give with the other.
    The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, requires employers to compensate employees with time-and-a-half pay for work that extends beyond the standard 40-hour work week. Everyone is eligible for overtime pay, with a few exceptions. In order to be ineligible, you must meet all three of the following criteria: You must be a salaried worker; you must be a professional, administrative or managerial worker, and you must be above the protected salary level. Only if all three of these apply to you are you not allowed to collect overtime pay.
    Despite raising the protected salary level, the new Bush rules would actually make it much easier for most workers to be considered ineligible for overtime pay. The biggest change: The new rules would broaden the definition of "professional," "administrative" and "executive" work. They would make a supervisor at Wal-Mart, without the authority to do so much as hire or fire an employee, an "executive." If he had a yearly salary greater than $23,660, he would not be eligible for overtime pay.
    The new rules also lower educational standards used to define a professional or administrative employee. The EPI report states that this will allow employers to deny overtime pay to "paralegals, emergency medical technicians, licensed practical nurses, draftsmen, surveyors and many others who currently have the law's protection."
    Adding insult to injury, the new protected salary level - $23,660 - is not even indexed for inflation. As prices and wages rise over the years, it will shrink relative to everything else. In a few years, it will be as obsolete as the 1975 level of $8,060 is now.
    Perhaps strangest of all, the new rules would introduce an eligibility ceiling, where anyone making more than a certain amount of money per year would automatically be disqualified for overtime pay, without recourse to the three criteria that determine eligibility for everybody else.
    Up until Tuesday, the Bush administration proposed setting this ceiling as low as $65,000. The EPI report estimates that a $65,000 ceiling would have single-handedly exempted "an estimated 1.3-million employees who currently are entitled to overtime pay" and canceled out the gains from raising the protected salary level.
    Reacting to a recent outpouring of criticism, the Bush administration has since amended the ceiling to a more palatable $100,000 per year. It's not yet clear how many workers this new ceiling would affect.
    So, how many Americans, exactly, are going to lose their right to overtime pay under the new rules? The EPI report presents these figures: "We estimate that - just in the 78 occupational groups we studied (out of 257 'white-collar' occupations) - 2.5-million salaried employees and 5.5-million hourly workers will lose their right to overtime pay if the proposed rules are adopted. The total effect of the proposed rule on all occupations is undoubtedly much greater."
    But this reflects an earlier version of the proposed rules changes. So in an unrealistically conservative (if somewhat outdated) estimate, 8 million white-collar workers lose their right to overtime pay; the EPI report doesn't even begin to address blue-collar workers. Meanwhile, an optimistic estimate coming from the White House states that 1.3 million workers total would gain the right to overtime pay.
    Where exactly does that leave us? It's hard to say, but just glancing at the numbers, it sure does look like a lot more people are going to be losing overtime eligibility than gaining it. Unfortunately, these rules changes seem to be simply another iteration of the "Clear Skies" initiative that weakened clean air protections, or the USA PATRIOT Act that undermined civil liberties or the "Healthy Forests" bill that could actually make forest fires worse through increased logging.
    Hooray - they're increasing the weekly chocolate ration from 30 grams to 20!
    And amazingly, papers such as The Washington Post continue to fall for this ruse, running stories such as "Plan Expands Eligibility for Overtime Pay."
    If the Bush administration were to get a law passed tomorrow which gives you a new bicycle but takes away your car, the newspaper headlines would surely read, "New Law Gives Us Bicycles." Thank God the AFL-CIO is paying attention, at least.

4/21/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/20 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1,2,3,6 which are from the 4/21 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Could Sept. 11 have been averted? letter to editor by Patricia Shillingburg of Shelter Is. Hts. NY, NYT, A22.
    Nicholas Kristof, in "Why didn't we stop 9/11?" (column, Apr.17) is correct. It has been obvious for quite some time that if pResident Bush had exercised a bit of intellectual curiosity after his Aug.6, 2001 briefing, he might have stopped 9/11. We will never know what real leadership might have accomplished.
    What we do know is that in those first 7 months of his pResidency [our mixed casing], he did not take his job seriously. He had short workdays and short workweeks, and spent most of August 2001 on vacation.
    [Just our luck that the most disgraceful usurper of American power for decades has worklife balance.]
    His job was to do everything in his power to protect the nation, and instead he played....

  2. New rules on overtime are established - First revamp in decades raises bar for some to get extra pay, by Kimberly Pierceall & John McKinnon, WSJ, D1.
    ...Overtime overhaul [graph]
    In its new overtime rules, the Dept. of Labor: ...

  3. Labor Dept. revises plans to cut overtime eligibility - Critics said millions would have lost a chance for extra pay, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A14.
    Facing a deluge of criticism in an election year, the Bush administration yesterday scaled back its plans to deny overtime coverage to hundreds of thousands of American workers....

  4. Labor Department's plan to change overtime pay gets a going-over, by Stephen Barr, Washington Post, Wednesday April 21 2004, B02.
    Compensation experts went into overtime mode yesterday as they sorted through the fine print of a Labor Dept. plan to overhaul overtime pay.
    A preliminary analysis suggested that most federal employees should not overreact to the Labor Dept.'s new rule, said officials at the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees federal pay policies.
    From an overall standpoint, "we don't believe there will be a dramatic impact," said Doris Hausser, a senior adviser to the OPM director.
    While the Fair Standards Labor Act, which the Labor Dept. administers, applies to federal employees, most federal employees also are covered by separate civil service laws that regulate their overtime pay, Hausser said. "The starting point is that we assume you get FSLA overtime unless there are certain duties you have that would cause you to be exempt," she said. "We use a thorough approach to ensure that there are no problems in making the coverage determination."
    Hausser said an undetermined number of the government's blue-collar supervisors may lose their FSLA overtime under the Labor Dept. plan, but said the supervisors should not suffer any pocketbook losses because they will shift to civil service coverage and receive premium pay for extra work hours. She noted that Congress moved last year to redefine civil service overtime in a bid to make those rules more fair to federal supervisors and managers.
    In the past, civil service law had capped the overtime pay of some supervisors and managers at 11/2 times the rate for General Schedule 10, step 1, which resulted in those above GS-12, step 5, making less for overtime work than for regular hours. Congress revised the civil service formula to guarantee that they will make at least their regular rate of pay for working overtime.
    Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao outlined the Bush administration's plan yesterday at a briefing. The plan will take effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register later this week. Officials have contended changes are overdue and would make more private-sector, white-collar employees eligible for overtime.
    Congressional Democrats said they remain skeptical about the plan, which underwent modifications after a dispute developed with unions over salary thresholds and whether firefighters and other emergency responders might lose their overtime coverage.
    Federal unions said they will be examining the proposed rule to see how it affects the government's workforce. "We really don't know what impact the new overtime regulations will have on federal workers. That remains to be seen as more information unfolds," said JohnGage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "What we do know is that the regulations will have a negative impact on the middle class, and that includes our families, friends and the public who do not work for the federal government."
    Hausser said the OPM, depending on the results of its review, may have to amend some civil service overtime rules to conform with the Labor Dept.'s plan. If that happens, she said, federal employees and employee groups will be given an opportunity to comment on the amendments.

  5. Family first? Firms say yes - 'New concept' shift is a boon to moms, other part-timers, by Jillian Doria, Deseret Morning News [Utah].
    PROVO, Utah — One of the first things attorney Kim H. Buhler tells her clients is that she has children. "I try to make my work revolve around my husband and children," said Buhler, who has five children all under the age of 10.
    When not reading legal briefs and consulting with clients, she volunteers at a school, leads a den of Cub Scouts and shuttles kids to piano lessons, gymnastics and basketball practice. Buhler's day is split between the firm and her family.
    How does she do it? She works part time.
    It may seem rare in today's dog-eat-dog business world that Buhler would be allowed by her firm to focus more on driving kids to soccer practice than racking up billable hours. But according to E. Jeffery Hill, a Brigham Young University professor, some businesses have seen the benefits of offering flexible work schedules to productive workers who want to maintain their high-status jobs yet are leery of spending so much time away from home.
    Hill's study in the current Journal of Family and Economic Issues notes that businesses offering "new-concept" part-time shifts have happy and productive workers. Those workers felt like they were striking a nice balance — meeting demands of the home and workplace.
    The studies took a look at 375 part-time IBM female employees and 312 full-time IBM female employees. The participants in the study were mothers with children in pre-school.
    Part-time employees worked an average of 26 hours a week, while full-time employees worked 49 hours a week. "The study didn't address between staying home full-time or working part-time," Hill said. "The study was of employed women."
    Traditionally, part-time employment has meant lower job status, less pay and hindered career advancement — all reasons many women shunned part-time jobs in their fields. However, new-concept employment means that employees work a part-time schedule with a prorated salary. The term "new concept" was made up by economists to distinguish the schedule from other 20-hour-per-week shifts, which are usually non-professional jobs.
    New-concept employment is for professional, highly skilled workers such as doctors, nurses, accountants or lawyers who ask for a part-time schedule.
    For example, if a full-time lawyer makes $100,000 working 40 hours a week, a "new-concept" member of the firm doing the same tasks would make $50,000 because he or she is working 20 hours a week.
    Hill said he first saw this concept when he worked for IBM. There were two highly valued female members of his work team who both worked part-time jobs while rearing children. One of the women initially took time off from work when the child was born. As the child grew, however, his female colleague worked part time from home so she wouldn't have to spend time commuting. Although she had the help of an in-home care provider while she was working, the new-concept part-time schedule enabled her to spend more time with her young child, Hill said.
    Another female colleague has three children and worked part-time for several years. "The comments I hear about her is that she is able to get more done in part-time time than most people get done in full time," Hill said.
    Hill's study found that the flexible schedules help employee focus. Because they have less time, employees prioritize tasks, thus becoming more effective employees, Hill said. "These flexible work options benefit businesses, benefit families, and they don't cost businesses that much," Hill said.
    Statistically, businesses are more family-friendly than people may think. According to a 1998 study conducted by the Businesses Worklife Studies Institute, more than 50% of businesses offer such part-time schedules. Researchers also found that 81% of businesses nationwide allow gradual transition to full-time work after childbirth.
    57% of businesses have enabled people to go full time, cut back their hours, then back to full time in the same position. Some 88% of businesses, according to the study, allowed employees to take time off for school and child-care functions. An updated study will be released later this year.
    Buhler said when she was looking for a job in 1995, she found that most firms wanted full-time attorneys. She also knew that meant a 60-hour workweek. But she knew she wanted a part-time schedule because by the time she graduated from law school, she had one child. "I didn't worry about the partner track," Buhler said. "I'm on the mom track."
    Buhler was the first woman at her firm to propose a part-time schedule, and has been working there since. The firm was more than willing to work with her because "she was a good attorney who could get her work done," said James Brady, partner in the firm that hired Buhler. "I think employers are flexible with males or females if the company's goals and deadlines are met," Buhler said.
    That is another aspect of part-time work Hill addresses in his study: Businesses have moved from a face-time culture, where businesses value seeing someone at work, to a result-oriented culture, where businesses care about the results employees produce, Hill said.

  6. No yearlong crews for space station, NYT, A15.
    DC - NASA has turned down Russia's request to extend the stay of the next International Space Station crew to a full year from 6 months but is open to the idea for later missions....
    [Talk about 'stir crazy.']

4/20/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/19 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 & 3 which are from the 4/20 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. The administration is expected to offer modifications to overtime-pay rules today, pointer summary (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...Critics are already calling them window dressing.
    [target article -]
    U.S. plans to issue new set of rules on overtime pay, by John McKinnon & Kimberly Pierceall, WSJ, A2.
    ...extending rights for overtime pay to more low-wage workers, but reducing or eliminating that protection for many white-collar and middle-income employees.
    A draft of the rules last year drew a strong reaction, with the Labor Dept. receiving more than 80,000 letters from workers fearing they would lose their overtime rights. The final rules are certain to further inflame opponents, including congressional Democrats and their organized-labor allies, who are seeking to overturn the restrictions. A legislative defeat on the issue - or even a protracted battle - could do election-year damage to pResident Bush.
    To temper the outcry, the Bush administration is widely expected to boost protections for low-wage workers in the final rules, according to people familiar with them. It would do so primarily by raising the salary floor below which workers are generally guaranteed the right to overtime [pay]. The current floor, which hasn't been modified since the early 1970s, is as low as $8,000.
    [No fundamental progress will be made by economies that mess around with overtime. Essentially, all overtime is objectionable and destructive to a highly automated economy. In the future, no overtime will be mandatory except in aggressively monitored, defined, limited, brief, and temporary first-phase emergencies. And anyone who accepts voluntary temporary overtime will give proof of their deflationary incentive by reinvesting 100% of their overtime earnings in training and hiring in overtime-targeted skills (= Timesizing Phase Three). Companies who offer overtime will guarantee its temporary emergency nature by reinvesting overtime-vs.straight time profits in training and hiring in overtime-targeted skills (= Timesizing Phase Two). How can we say this with confidence? Because we're currently in the dark ages of skill transfer, we need a much more "fluid drive" in this area, and that means moving away from kludgy cloistered sites and ivory towers, and moving back toward on-the-job training.]
    In last year's draft of the regulations, that figure would have been lifted to $22,100. In the final version, the level was expected to increase further, possibly to as much as $25,000.
    [This is just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.]
    The administration also was thought by some experts...to be considering an increase in the salary ceiling, above which overtime would be harder to win. That ceiling was originally set at $65,000 when it was introduced in last year's draft.
    [Any ceiling that uncaps higher-pay employees' worktime is counter-productive because it associates the prestige of higher pay with lack of time limitations and accountability. It also encourages poor prioritization and time-management skills among higher-paid employees.]
    But union officials predicted the modifications would amount to window dressing. "There are still going to be millions of workers that are going to be affected" by the new restrictions, said Bill Samuel, legislative director of the AFL-CIO.
    [Does the above paragraph have any meaning whatsoever??]
    The Bush administration is taking a substantial political risk in attempting to re-engineer the complex overtime rules, many of which date from soon after the passage of the overtime law itself, in 1938, and which are littered with anachronistic terms such as "straw boss." The government's failure to change the rules through the years has led to increased litigation on overtime eligibility.
    One of the biggest impacts of the proposed rules would be to sharply restrict such lawsuits. The new rules also are expected to make it much easier to reclassify workers as ineligible based on their status as executive, professional or administrative workers.
    As a result, labor-union officials have been talking up the potential harm for some politically sensitive groups such as firefighters and nurses, as well as military veterans. Republicans say these concerns are exaggerated. But as a precaution, the rules also are likely to contain further protections expressly for those groups.
    [Dumb micromanagement. Once you start this kind of sharpshooting, there's no logical end.]
    Greg McGillivary, the lead counsel on a new overtime lawsuit, filed yesterday on behalf of New York police sergeants, said he expects the new rules to be beneficial for officers.
    [So what's he suing for??]
    He said he has been assured by the Labor Dept. that the rules will more clearly state than police sergeants are considered eligible for overtime.
    [And if he believes anything the Bush regime assures him of, we've got a bridge to sell him.]
    The administration estimated last year that the new rules would extend overtime protection to 1.3m workers by lifting the salary floor to $22,100. But organized-labor analysts said the figure was likely no more than about 700,000, and possibly much lower. By contrast, labor officials said, the changes for white-collar and middle-income workers could strip overtime rights from as many as 8m workers. The exact impact could be further complicated by a patchwork of state rules on overtime.
    Under federal law, the Labor Dept. has wide discretion to interpret whether overtime protection applies for different jobs.
    [Stupid, dysfunctional, arbitrary, autocratic micromanagement. Any overtime "protection" should apply to all levels of all jobs.]
    But even before the new rules are final, Congress has been considering a proposal by Democrats to overturn the provisions that would take overtime [pay] away from some workers.
    [Yes, you'd think they'd have the sense to just clarify it at the bottom and leave the top alone for the time being.]

  2. [And here's the Reuters version of the above WSJ article -]
    Bush administration revises pending overtime rules, by Thomas Ferraro, Reuters via Forbes.com.
    WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, under bipartisan election-year pressure, has revised pending work rules to protect overtime pay for police officers and firefighters as well as many white-collar employees earning up to $100,000 a year, sources said Monday.
    But Democratic members of Congress remained skeptical, and organized labor said it may challenge in court the regulations, expected to be made public as early as Tuesday. "We still think millions of workers would lose overtime protection, including many earning barely above $22,000," said Bill Samuel, a lobbyist for the 13-million member AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor group.
    The U.S. Labor Dept. proposed regulations last year, and then revised them following public comment and opposition in Congress from Democrats as well as some Republicans. Democrats promise to make it an issue in the November White House and congressional elections.
    Backers contend the regulations would update and clarify antiquated work rules while foes warn they would result in companies forcing employees to work longer hours without pay.
    The final regulations are expected to be published within a few days in the Federal Register, and take effect within a few months, sources familiar with the rule said.
    Despite arguments by the Labor Dept. to the contrary, critics charged that the initial proposal would cost police officers and firefighters overtime protection. In an effort to mute such criticism, the new regulation specifically states that these and other so-called first responders would maintain overtime pay, sources said. Yet critics questioned if they could still end up losing it.
    Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, said, "The Bush administration simply is not trustworthy on this issue, and I am beyond skeptical about these so-called revisions."
    More than a half century ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act created the 40-hour work week by guaranteeing overtime pay for each additional hour on the job. Administrative, professional and executive employees were exempted.
    The Labor Dept. last year proposed allowing more employees to be reclassified as administrators, professionals or executives, provided they met certain criteria.
    As initially proposed, employees earning more than $65,000 a year could be exempt if they met one or more of the proposed duties tests. The revised regulation raises the figure to $100,000, the sources said.
    Yet opponents voiced fears that millions earning less than that would still lose overtime protection. "No amount of White House rhetoric will stop employers from applying this shameful anti-worker rule just as Republicans planned it - to boost business profits [short-term, and cut business markets long-term] by forcing employees to work longer hours for lower pay, instead of hiring more employees to do the work," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.

  3. Coffee, tea and fatigue: Airline job loses its allure, by Joe Sharkey, NYT, C6.
    ...Today, as airlines battle furiously over fares while desperately cutting costs, the flight attendant's job on major airlines has gone from glamour to grind.
    "We're tired," said George Price, a flight attendant for 20 years. "We're worn out. Every day we get reports of flight attendants working completely fatigued. First and foremost, that contributes to a safety issue. And yes, it does also diminish the level of customer service that we provide." Mr. Price is the spokesman for the Assoc. of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents 19,500 working flight attendants and an additional 5,700 furloughed ones at American Airlines.
    ...A memorandum from...John Tiliacos, American's Northeast regional managing director...enumerated a long list of complaints he said business travelers have been making about American flight attendants.
    Among them, according to the memo: "Flight attendants are not enthusiastic, friendly or helpful." They gripe in front of passengers about "internal issues" like "minimum rest, crew meals and salary reductions."...
    [This kind of complaint is entirely the fault of management and the responsibility of leadership - or lack thereof. Flight attendants made pay concessions out of their modest salaries while American executives continued to pull hundreds of thousands. And on the time issue -]
    "One of the concessions we made was to allow them to reduce our layovers, if needed, to as little as 8 hours" between flights, [Price] said. The 8-hour layover, which he said is now standard on some routes ["give them an inch and they'll take a mile"], begins 15 minutes after arrival at the gate and ends an hour before departure the next day. Given travel time from airport to hotel and back, that can effectively be a 5- or 6-hour layover, he said.
    [Employees should never ever grant concessions on worktime, because that is the controlling variable and the doorway to management sloppiness and deterioration.]
    Another concession: Flight attendants don't get meals any more. "You can literally go 12-15 hours with no food. You can fly from Dallas to Tokyo and not get a meal unless you brought something yourself."
    Pay cuts, lousy hours, bad sleep patterns, hunger, unappreciative bosses, grouchy customers - all in an industry that's losing billions. Right now, "there's no way you can work to 100% capacity," Mr. Price said.
    [It might be nice to ram some advice from a real manager, W. Edwards Deming, down the likes of Tiliacos' throat - "Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively for the company.... Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.... Remove barriers that rob people...of their right to pride of workmanship." Pp. 23-24, Out of the Crisis.]

4/17-19/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/16-18 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1-4 which are from the 4/17-19 WSJ &/or NYT &/or Boston Globe hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. 4/18   China sees surge in factory accidents - industrial machinery will maim some 40,000 workers this year, according to Chinese media, by Tim Johnson, Boston Globe, A8.
    Zhu Qiang, who lost his hand in a factory accident during his 16-hour shift, sat in his lawyer's office in Shenzen, China, on April 10.... [photo caption]
    SHENZEN, China - ..."We were extremely tired. We were nodding our heads, almost asleep," Zhu said. "My hand got tangled with the plastic and got burned. I was rushed to the hospital. There was no way to save my hand."
    For the loss of his right hand, 22-year-old Zhu was given about $4,800.
    China's state-owned media are mentioning more frequently the staggering number of workplace injuries, especially in the region that includes Shenzhen, near Hong Kong..\..
    [But are they mentioning the role played in those injuries by long hours? and the role played in long hours by disempowering labor surpluses, which shorter hours would solve?]
    In one room \of\ the Pingshan People's Hospital...Yan Kaiguo, 23, cradles his bandaged right hand. On April 8, a machine at an electronic circuit board plant had crushed part of his index finger.... "Every day we get 5 or 6 cases like this and sometimes over a dozen," said a surgeon at another large Shenzhen hospital, who asked that neither he nor his hospital be identified for fear of reprisal from city officials....
    In Shenzhen's hospital wards, maimed factory workers tell of managers who've removed the machine safety guards that slowed output, and of working with on unsafe equipment. Workers toiling 100 hours a week grow dazed from fatigue, then lose their fingers to machines..\..
    Yan feels lucky that he lost only part of his finger, down to the first knuckle. He's confident he won't lose his job, which pays about $96 a month....
    [Most aren't that lucky -]
    Chinese media call Yongkang in coastal Zhejiang Province the "finger-cutting city." Yongkang's 7000 small factories make tools, and some 1000 workers in those factories lose fingers or hands each year, the Metropolis Express newspaper said on Feb. 18.
    "The majority of them will be immediately fired by the owners," said the website run by the Communist Party's national newspaper, People's Daily. "The compensation for each cut-off finger is 500 yuan," or about $60, roughly a month's salary.
    For a young person, losing a hand spells doom. With as many as 20 million healthy people clamoring for jobs each year, factory owners never hire disabled people. Dismembered workers are condemned to destitution - and often loneliness. "With no money, it's hard to find a girlfriend," said Sun Hongyuan, 28, a worker who lost his right hand several years ago..\..
    Local officials routinely overlook appalling safety conditions, worried that factory owners will relocate. They send mutilated migrant workers back to distant rural villages, shunting the burden of workplace injuries onto poorer inland provinces....
    Chinese Communist Party leaders are so eager to maintain high economic growth, and to create jobs for tens of millions of potentially restive Chinese [if they really wanted that, they'd have 40-hour workweeks, not 100-hour ones], that they now preside over a savage form of capitalism in which maimed workers are readily discarded.
    [Al "Chainsaw" Dunlap, the butcher of Sunbeam, would love this!]
    Independent labor unions are banned....
    Industrial accidents also are disasters for rural parents, most of whom have only one or two children because of China's strict restrictions on births, and they rely on their children for support in old age.
    Some [maimed] workers would prefer to die because their parents would get a larger-one-time compensation, said Luo Yun, professor of workplace safety at Beijing's University of Geology. "There's a popular saying now: 'We can afford to die, but we can't afford to be injured,' Luo said.
    [= America's longer-hours, lower-pay, uncontrolled-immigration future?]

  2. [Couldn't happen? Check out the scene in Boston today -]
    4/18   Racing to stay in place - Long hours and multiple jobs become the new costs of living in Boston for young people struggling to keep up with college loans, other expenses, by Johnny Diaz, Boston Globe, City 1.
    Pardon Kristen Risley. She doesn't have a lot of time to chat.
    20 hours a week she plans events for a Fenway-based HIV outreach program.
    16 hours a week she counsels homeless youths at a Somerville shelter as part of a work-study class at Boston University [BU], where she is tackling 6 graduate courses.
    And when she needs extra money, she chauffeurs passengers to Logan in a limo.
    With her schedule, it's easy to understand why she looks forward to pulling into the parking space she rents in South Boston, usually around 10 pm, and calling it a day. ...Said Risley, "I look forward to a less hectic lifestyle upon graduation. However, I will probably, and unfortunately, still be making the same amount of money I do now."
    [And we hate to mention this, but the lifestyle probably won't really be any less hectic.]
    ...The social and financial pressures of living in Boston require that some young people juggle a full-time job and a temporary or part-time job to support themselves. They struggle to stay afloat while weighed down by school loans and sometimes mounting debt.... Moonlighting is the cost of independence. One professor likened it to a fiscal treadmill. "There is a lot of running in place going on in Boston," said Daniel Monti, sociology professor at BU.
    [- in Boston and across the entire world of downsizing, uncapped-worktime capitalism! The alternative is timesizing, shorter-worktime capitalism.]
    "The housing market is so tight and expensive here that adults end up living the life of college students, in the sense they find roommates. They are unmarried, unattached, and they have roommates into 30s and older, just so they can maintain residence in Boston."
    [Ah, shouldn't that be "just so they can find a job"?!]
    ...Some take on additional jobs so they can afford a better apartment...but as they work more, these "apartment poor" aren't home enough to enjoy their beautiful living places. "They have these lovely apartments, and they are working 2 or 3 part-time jobs in order to pay for this luxury," Monti said. "They are in way over their head."
    ["What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"]
    Newspapers are full of want ads seeking bartenders, dogwalkers, nannies, sperm donors, and even focus group participants. Many recent graduates are getting such jobs to fill their financial holes, but aren't finding the kinds of full-time positions that would financially anchor them.
    [and provide health insurance and other benefits?! So there just aren't enough 40-hour-a-week jobs to go around - in the Boston area, for one.]
    Among 1.1m US college students between 25 and 35 years old, the rate of employment was lower in 2003 than at any other period since the economic downturn of 1979, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a research group in DC. For the same demographic in Greater Boston, the employment rate last year also dipped by more than 2% compared to 3 years earlier, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    For newly degreed jobseekers over 25, the ability to find stable and solid work remains challenging these days, because the industries that would have hired them, such as telecoms, finance, and educational services, were crippled by the recession....
    Even for those who did find work in their fields, entry-level salaries are often not enough to cover the cost of living and pay off student loans....
    Adding to the stress are occasional demands to work overtime at her full-time job \as\ a benefits specialist for a Cambridge engineering firm, \says\ Gale Marticio, [who in 1999] graduat[ed] with a business administration degree from Northeastern University. [She] finds she can't survive on that salary alone \and\ keep up with her student loans.... So for the past year and a half, Marticio has been picking up an additional 15-20 hours a week as a cashier at Linens 'n Things in Braintree. She may have to take on more hours or cut expenses further, because her live-in boyfriend was recently laid off from his contruction management job.
    ...South Boston's Risley [says] pinching pennies and working long hours are part of Boston life....
    [God forbid.]

  3. [& more of America's backward leadership on worktime is being demoed just west of Boston -]
    4/18   Bus drivers' union fined over overtime standoff, AP via Boston Globe, B3.
    WORCESTER, Mass. - A federal judge has ordered a Worcester bus drivers' union to pay a $1,000-a-day fine because drivers are refusing to work overtime.
    US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton fined the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22 $5000 on Friday, and said the fine would increase $1000 each day that workers refuse to work extra hours to fill uncovered bus routes.
    After a 2001 strike, Local 22 signed an agreement that the union would not strike of stop work for the remainder of the contract with the Worcester Regional Transit Authority.
    [What has that to do with overtime?!]
    The contract expires June 30.
    The union has said it has not told members to stop taking overtime. RTA Services said the rate at which workers accepted maintenance overtime job offers dropped from 42% before April 1 to zero between April 1 and April 9....
    Alex Roman, RTA Transit Services general manager...suggested..\..the work stoppage...would end if the company would rehire a recently laid-off driver and allow mechanics greater flexibility in their overtime schedules.
    [Sounds like the workforce has enough solidarity to object to downsizing, especially when it involves worktime upsizing.]

  4. [It's the weekend of long-hours articles in the Boston Globe -]
    4/18   Layoffs, stress, pay cuts, long hours - For many, the job has turned into a pressure cooker, by Katherine Yung, Dallas Morning News via Boston Globe, G1.
    When Dean Xeros entered corporate America in the late 1980s, he didn't think twice about job security.
    "There was still a lot of employee loyalty. You never worried about layoffs or even expense freezes," he said.
    But for the technology sales veteran, everything changed in the late '90s. Within a 2-year period, he weathered 2 layoffs and his earnings dropped by nearly half from their peak at the height of the dot-com frenzy. He even worried about whether his travel and other business expenses would get reimbursed. "It was pretty much everyone out for themselves," he said.
    The 2nd-generation Greek American had had enough. In July 2002, he launched his own company. Opa Foods, which sells a line of Greek food seasonings that he created.
    [Aha, forced self-employment ... regardless of clients or lack thereof -]
    Though Xeros...wound up having to take another sales job, he works on his food company nights and weekends and dreams of one day spending all his time running it.
    "I'm getting tired of having my destiny, my future, and the welfare of my family controlled by others," he said....
    [Buddy, it ain't gonna get any better until we systematically share the vanishing work, and start systematically centrifuging the unprecedentedly concentrated economic dimensions of skills, employment, income and wealth per person.]
    ...For many workers, life in corporate America is increasingly turning into a pressure cooker loaded with nonstop stress, long hours, and never-ending fears about the next layoffs. Workers are being asked to do more with less and at faster speeds even as they contend with downsizings, restructurings, and now offshoring.
    [And if they stay this unorganized and passive, there's unending "worse" ahead.]
    As if the wage freezes and paycuts of recent years weren't enough, many are now forced to shoulder more of the cost of rising healthcare premiums. Some stand to lose overtime pay, thanks to new government rules soon to go into effect....
    [Aha, the key bit of suicide in workers' thinking. Mess with overtime and you uncap worktime per person, open up to the concentration of vanishing employment, plunge themselves into deepening surplus and deteriorating wages, and guarantee a self-fueling downward spiral. Unless employees smarten up considerably about the lethal self-destructiveness of overtime, they're roadkill.]
    "It used to be working hard meant you got a promotion," said Mitchell Marks, a San Francisco organizational psychologist who helps companies cope with mergers and other workforce changes. "Now working hard means staying in the same place."
    [Well, insofar as working hard means working longer hours, it does not mean staying in the same place - it means gradually losing ground. Employees need to get back to "working smart, not hard."]
    The more demanding and intense corporate environment - a dramatic switch from 15 years ago [and a result of accelerating and cumulative downsizing] - can be blamed on a number of forces, from technological change to globalization and companies' focus on meeting Wall Street's short-term demands, workplace specialists say....
    In a recent study..\..Rainmaker Thinking Inc. in New Haven...found that employers are less tolerant of employee error, waste, and inefficiency [but much more tolerant of their own!]. At the same time, workers are getting less management guidance and support and less downtime.
    [Here is corroboration of the contention that as labor surplus deepens, management skills deteriorate. Who needs management skills in a situation where, any turbulence whatsoever from an employee and s/he's disposable, and replaceable by somebody cheaper. Labor surplus is multidimensionally destructive because of its negative effect on the discipline of management. "Discipline of management" is a phrase almost unattested in economic discourse over the last 200 years - but "discipline of labor" is quite another story - and much less of a concern.]
    They also are grappling with a greater fear of immediate job loss.
    "There's a lot of grumbling on the front lines like, 'I don't know how long I can do this,' " [said Rainmaker's CEO,] Bruce Tulgan. "Market forces are like a steamroller. Market forces leave casualties."
    [Not if the framework of the market is designed to automatically adjust for a more level playing field between employee power and employer power. This is the main function of the Timesizing Full-Employment Program and its successors, Income-sizing, and Wealth-sizing. As Art Dahlberg said, some 72 years ago, "Never - with the exception of a few years during the World War[s] - has Capitalism been permitted to function under a chronic 'scarcity of labor' {under which} Capitalism is potentially almost an ideal system of economy..\.. It has always been forced to operate under a scarcity of job and business opportunity {under which} Capitalism is necessarily in unstable equilibrium" - and ultimately, as Marx predicted, in a self-accelerating, self-disintegrating, downward spiral. That labor scarcity was achieved in the worst possible way during the World Wars - by killing and maiming large segments of the global workforce - worktime reduction aka worksharing aka timesizing achieves the necessary labor scarcity in the best possible way - by granting more of the mother of all freedoms, free time.]
    ...Many are on call 24 hours a day, rising early or staying late at the office to talk to colleagues in other countries.
    [The way labor surplus functions to relengthen worktime is via job insecurity: employees feel so insecure that no one wants to be first to leave the office at night.]
    And these days, only top executives get assistants.
    In addition to all that, technology hasn't reduced many employees' workloads.
    [This has resulted in a systemic self-destructive mechanism that Marx didn't foresee: as technology boosts productivity, if the CEO response is one of downsizing instead of timesizing, the consumer base necessarily downsizes too, and a huge gulf gradually opens up between productivity and consumability, between production and consumption = a classic depression.]
    "There's still more pressure on you as an individual to take on more because of [or in spite of?] the advances in technology," said an employee of a Dallas real estate company. The worker, who did not want to be identified [gee! just like the doctor in repressive, dictatorial China, above], said his firm is getting by with 70 employees instead of the 300 normally associated with a company its size.
    [Note the support here for the contention that the single most ameliorating and balancing action we could take would be to reduce worktime per person, via e.g. a reduction in the workweek.]
    These kinds of demands are making it nearly impossible for people to achieve the work-life balance that a host of management specialists touted as the model for life in the '90s. Employees were supposed to work hard but also have a life, with flexibile schedules and understanding bosses.
    [Ha. Gross global labor surplus makes that unnecessary and unlikely.]
    Instead, jobs have become so demanding that more than 3/4 of employees go into work when they're sick, according to ComPsych Corp., a provider of employee assistance programs. Unscheduled absenteeism fell to a record low last year, said CCH Inc., an employment law and HR firm.
    In fact, working 60-hour weeks and taking only one week of vacation is now perceived to be a good thing, said Frank Kenna III, the president of the Marlin Co., an employee communications firm in North Haven CT....
    Many employers recognize the importance of employee morale. And they are seeking to improve it....
    [Ha. Unnecessary in a labor surplus.]
    But during tough times, morale often takes a backseat to cost cuts. In recent years, many employers stopped dangling hefty bonuses, and many of them cut the free massages that had popped up during the '90s economic boom.
    [Free massages nothing! What about the health insurance and the pension benefits?!!]
    Pay cuts, wage freezes, and layoffs took their place. The shift has made many workers less loyal to their employers than they used to be....
    [No kidding.]

  5. 4/18   French battle over 35-hour week, Guardian News Service via Hindu News Update Service [India].
    PARIS - French leftwing groups and trade unions howled down a proposal to touch one of the most sacred tenets of French life: the 35-hour week.
    [As it should be for the whole world - or at least any economy that wants to make any meaningful human progress.]
    Members of the ruling centre-right party proposed that the law, inherited from the last Socialist government, be altered to allow companies rather than the state to set their own ceilings on working hours.
    [Brilliant. With today's labor-surplus-spoiled, near-sighted, crisis-oriented (or -generating) CEOs, they'd all set their ceilings at 168 hours a week like owners of slave plantations.]
    But critics said the proposal from the Union for a Popular Movement was tantamount to scrapping the much cherished law, introduced in 1998 to create more jobs and redress the balance between work and family life.
    Government figures say that the law helped create 350,000 jobs between 1998 and 2001. But Herve Novelli, a centre-right 'reformist' [our quotes] and co-author of a report presented yesterday, argued that the effect of the law on jobs remained "doubtful".
    The report said that the law was "a complex monster" which had created a "two-speed France" with serious inequalities between companies.
    [Whoa, inequalities between companies, favoring the small ones for a change - now that's really going to wreck an economy - for those who aren't satisfied until everyone else is starving!]
    The law cost France E10B last year, it was claimed.
    [Let's see the breakdown, and then let's see the money they're saving on unemployment insurance benefits and welfare and prisons and homelessness....]
    The chief of the committee set up last year to assess the law, Patrick Ollier, argued that the government had no intention of changing the law, but was considering "relaxing" it. But Maxime Gremetz, of the French Communist party, who sat on the committee and refused to endorse a change in the law, said it aimed to "dismantle the 35-hour [week]".
    The leading trade union Forces Ouvrieres suggested that the government should "put the report in the freezer", saying that its sole purpose was to "leave employees alone to face their employers".
    Critics of the 35-hour week argue that it is "devaluing the concept of work" and holding back France's economy,
    [what nonsense, - a shorter workweek rather values work more because it absorbs the unemployed, raises wages and centrifuges the extreme takings of the top executives who vast sluggish hoards are stifling economic growth all over the world.]
    compared with Britain, which has the longest hours in the EU.
    [So these morons want to be more like the inefficient, unproductive British who, like the Americans and the Japanese, are too stupid to use their advanced worksaving technology for anything but marginalizing more employees and consumers? Brilliant.]
    Attempts to rein in national spending ran into trouble yesterday when a court in Marseille ruled in favour of 35 people whose unemployment benefits had been slashed. Reforms introduced in January cut the payment of some benefits for France's 9.6% unemployed from 14 months to seven. But the court ruling could force the government to pay the withheld benefits.
    The government of the French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, is forging ahead with budget-trimming reforms, despite widespread public discontent and street protests which culminated in the ruling parties being voted out across the country in last month's regional elections.
    Francois Hollande, secretary of the Socialist party, said if the government tried to scrap the 35-hour week, it would face an "electoral catastrophe".
    [It will probably face an electoral catastrophe anyway, now that the French have learned the dangers of splitting up the progressive vote among too many progressive parties, enabling the more unified regressives to win power.]

  6. 4/17   Government plans to expand categories of professions for part-time jobs, by Sanaa Maadad, Khaleej Times [UAE].
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates [UAE] -The existing 19 categories of private- and government-sector employees allowed to seek part-time and temporary jobs will be expanded to include more professions, according to Mattar Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of Labour & Social Affairs.  Responding to a Khaleej Times question on the authorities' move to review the existing, not-very-successful regulations for such jobs, Mr Tayer said that a study had been conducted by the Labour Market Research Centre of the National HR Development & Employment Authority Tanmia in accordance with a recommendation by the UAE Cabinet.
    "The study is almost complete. A team of experts is conducting it. The move aims to introduce a system of job sharing as a means to create more job opportunities for UAE nationals and enable them to legally work at different jobs," Mr Tayer said, adding that many UAE nationals working in the government sectors have lots of free time after the official working hours which end by 2.30pm.
    "This will give them a chance to perform other jobs in private establishments and provide them with more financial and professional benefits." The proposed amendment to the existing regulations for part-time and temporary jobs will benefit both UAE citizens and expatriates, said Mr Tayer, adding that the categories will be expanded to cover more professions, but he refrained from giving details about the new categories.
    "This is one of the solutions for many problems hindering the employment of UAE nationals in the private sector. The job-sharing concept allows different people to perform the same job at different times, in which case the pay for the job is split amongst them. This solution mostly suits employed female UAE nationals who prefer to work part time due to social and family circumstances," Mr Tayer said.
    Improving the working environment, particularly for UAE women is one of the objectives of this policy, he said, adding that other advantages include the fact that UAE nationals, in particular, will have more sources to increase their income. They will also be able to gain experience in different fields of businesses and jobs, the thing that will boost the prospects of their career development and growth," the Minister, who is also Chairman of Tanmia's Board, said.
    Flexibility in filling positions on a part-time or temporary basis will also lead to curbing the recruitment of expatriate manpower from abroad and accordingly control the inflow of foreign workers and contribute to stabilising the labour market, Mr Tayer said.
    Under the existing part-time and temporary job system, the categories allowed to take up part-time or temporary jobs include: doctors, medical consultants and specialists; pharmacists and nurses; engineers and consultants; legal consultants and financial experts; teachers at all educational levels; auditors and accountants; translators; technicians working in IT field and laboratories; students in schools and colleges; workers in promotions, shopping malls and exhibitions; sales people; technicians in the field of installation, repair and maintenance of fine equipment; sports people and coaches; holders masters and doctorate degrees in rare specialisations; experts invited to the country by a licenced company; women sponsored by husband or father provided they obtain labour cards; employees or federal and local government departments; drivers of heavy vehicles; and other categories specified by the Minister of Labour & Social Affairs.

4/16/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 4/15 via GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 & 2 which are from the 4/16 WSJ &/or NYT hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. South Korea's [frivolously] impeached president gains support in vote - a liberal party wins control of the Parliament in Seoul, by James Brooke, NYT, A5.
    In a sharp political reaction against the impeachment of Pres. Roh Moo Hyun, South Korean voters tripled the size of his parliamentary delegation on Thursday, ensuring liberal control of the legislature. ...Thursday's vote means that for the first time in recent years a president's supporters will control the National Assembly. Mr. Roh has four more years in his term if the Constitutional Court overturns his impeachment [which many believe is now likely]....
    [This means that South Korea's seven-year process of cutting from its current 5½-day, 44-hour workweek to a 5-day, 40-hour workweek starting this July will stay on track.]

  2. Brazil's da Silva is victim of high expectations, by Matt Moffett & Geraldo Samor, WSJ, A8.
    RIO DE JANEIRO - Just 16 months into a presidency that promised to remake Brazil with a tropical-style New Deal, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva finds himself besieged on all fronts and with very few answers....
    [Sounds like a job for Mr. Timesizing!]

  3. French deputies call for changes to 35-hour week, by Christine Ollivier, AP via San Francisco Chronicle.
    France's 35-hour working week is hampering economic growth and hurting small businesses, according to a parliamentary review issued Thursday that urged massive reform. The government immediately distanced itself from the report.
    The parliamentary committee, led by deputies from the conservative ruling party, the Union for a Popular Movement, said the shorter workweek introduced under the previous Socialist-led government had proved to be a "handicap" to the economy. However, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's government - which recently suffered a heavy defeat to the left in regional elections - said it did not foresee any immediate changes. An aide to Raffarin said any future modifications to the workweek could happen only by agreement with France's trade unions.
    "I don't have the impression that the government is now in any position to go back on the 35-hour week," said Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande.
    Since the elections, Raffarin has pledged a more consensual approach to labor reform. Ministers are also preparing for a shake-up of France's generous public health insurance system, which is running an annual deficit of 10 billion euro ($12 billion).
    The shorter workweek was the signature achievement of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, whose government cut the hours from 39 to 35 to create jobs at a time of record unemployment.
    In its report, the parliamentary committee said the cost to public finances of the 35-hour workweek came to 10 billion euros ($12 billion) in 2003 excluding public sector companies, and was expected to rise to 15 billion euros ($18 billion) in 2005.
    The committee also cast doubt on labor ministry statistics suggesting about 350,000 new jobs had been created by the workweek law, and called for new measures to allow companies to negotiate opt-outs with their own workers' representatives.
    France's conservative government has already pushed through measures to slightly soften the 35-hour legislation [as if shorter-hour legislation is "harder" than longer-hour legislation?!] by, among other things, raising the limit on overtime hours allowed from 130 to 180.

  4. Strategies could make for safer shift changes at hospitals, Medical News Today [UK].
    As hospitals across the United States develop policies to prevent worker fatigue and ensure patient safety, a study at Ohio State University has identified key strategies that might make the job easier. Culled from high-risk environments as diverse as a railroad dispatch center and the NASA Johnson Space Center, the strategies address the most critical time during any workday - the shift change - when incoming and outgoing workers have to exchange information and hand-off important duties.
    Shift changes have became even more important for hospitals since the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education instituted new rules in July 2003 cutting back residents’ workload to 80 hours per week and giving them one day off in seven.
    [At the dawn of the Third Millennium? What an insult to intelligence!]
    Systems engineers at Ohio State are examining the situation, with the idea that a safe and efficient hospital can be run on a shift basis just like other businesses, said Emily Patterson, a visiting researcher at Ohio State’s Institute for Ergonomics. “When research showed that extreme fatigue was causing medical residents to make errors, one of the arguments against letting them work shorter hours was that patients may not get continuity of care,” Patterson said. “But there are other high-risk industries that already have a shift mindset. They could have forced people to work longer hours for continuity’s sake, but they didn’t. We looked at those industries to see what they could teach health care.”
    She and her colleagues watched workers change shifts at NASA Johnson Space Center, two Canadian nuclear power plants, a railroad dispatch center in the United States, and an ambulance dispatch center in Toronto. Hundreds of hours of observation yielded common strategies for safety and efficiency, which the authors report in the current issue of the International Journal for Quality in Health Care.
    [It's time for the healthcare industry to wake up and grow up, and cut through their patient-endangering culture of phony martyrdom.]
    Of the strategies they identified, Patterson highlighted four as especially important:
    1. Face-to-face verbal update with interactive questioning. In all four industries, the outgoing employee met with his or her replacement before leaving. That allowed for quick verbal and non-verbal (gesturing) communication of the previous shift’s events, and gave the incoming employee the opportunity to ask questions. “That strategy may seem obvious, but healthcare workers don’t often see their replacements, just because of the way the work has been designed,” Patterson said. “Yet the attitude we encountered from these other industries was, ‘how else would you do an update?’”
    2. Unambiguous transfer of responsibility. The person who is taking responsibility should know that they are responsible, but everybody else should know it, too. At the ambulance dispatch center, for instance, everybody knew that incoming dispatchers hadn’t officially taken over until they plugged their headphones into the control desk. In fact, one dispatcher felt that it was “almost insulting” for an incoming person to plug in headphones before the outgoing person had officially transferred responsibility, because it was “a sign of taking over.”
    3. Make it clear to others at a glance which personnel are responsible for which duties at a particular time. In each industry studied, the outgoing person always maintained responsibility until the handoff of duties was complete, and he or she would stay to work through any crisis that emerged during the handoff.
    4. Overhear others’ updates. Employees besides the incoming and outgoing ones can benefit from hearing others discuss the current state of events. They can also speak up when they hear information that isn’t correct, to help prevent errors during the next shift. At Johnson Space Center, for instance, all the employees overhear these exchanges on a continuous audio feed.
    The last item highlights one of the potential benefits of shift changes, according to study co-author David Woods, a professor in the Institute for Ergonomics and co-director of the Cognitive Systems Engineering Lab at Ohio State. “Changeovers can bring dividends,” he said. “They offer opportunities to catch mistakes. If you handle them badly, however, things can fall through the cracks. You can have a discontinuity of care. But the problem isn’t the changeover itself, it’s just that you need new techniques to do the changeover better.”
    One dividend: the incoming employee often has a fresh perspective. “The outgoing person may have been working on a problem for a while, and they’ve fixated on only one possible solution. One way to break that fixation is to bring in a new person,” Patterson said. “So these strategies can do more than just make shift changes possible, they can also improve operations overall,” she continued.
    [In short, long-hours grunts are not creative. Well-rested, shorter-hours employees are creative.]
    The researchers were surprised by two findings.
    1. ...Even though experts have suggested that incoming employees should read back information that was given to them to prevent misunderstandings, none of the businesses in the study followed this practice.
    2. ...Rather than discuss a standard list of items during every changeover - to make sure nothing was missed - the employees preferred to pick and choose topics depending on what they deemed most important.
    Technology may help hospitals adopt some of these strategies, Patterson said. Some medical residents now carry personal digital assistants (PDAs). Nurses could benefit from a similar system, with outgoing nurses passing PDAs with audio and text notes to incoming nurses. The PDA would then be a clear signal of who was on or off-duty - fulfilling another one of the strategies for good shift changes.
    The study was sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Patterson was supported by a VA Health Services Research and Development Merit Review Entry Program award. Other co-authors on the paper included Emilie Roth of Roth Cognitive Engineering in Boston, Renée Chow of the University of Toronto, and José Orlando Gomes of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

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
Aug. 28-Sep.1/2003
Aug. 16-27/2003
Aug. 8-15/2003
Aug. 1-7/2003
July 29-31/2003
July 22-28/2003
July 16-21/2003
July 5-15/2003
July 1-4/2003
June 28-30/2003
June 21-27/2003
June 14-20/2003
June 6-13/2003
June 1-5/2003
May 27-31/2003
May 20-26/2003
May 1-20/2003
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.

Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.

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