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Timesizing News, May 15-31, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

5/29-31/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/28-30 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 5/29-31 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 5/29   Allen-Edmunds keeps its factory in the U.S. - Wages are high, but the company has adapted to a competitive market, by Aaron Nathans, NYT, B14, B1.
    ...Allen-Edmunds, founded in 1922, gained much of its following by providing the Army and Navy with shoes during World War II. Many men continued to wear the shoes for the rest of their lives. The company...makes small batches of men's dress shoes in a variety of widths that sell for upwards of $200....
    In 1968, just before worldwide tariffs on footwear were reduced, 642m pairs of shoes were manufactured domestically. In 2003, that number was down to just 60m [less than 10% of 1968], mostly specialty products made in the Upper Midwest, Southwest and North Carolina..\..according to the American Apparel & Footwear Assoc...based in Arlington, Va....
    The most obvious competitive disadvantage at Allen-Edmunds is that it pays its workers well, even by domestic standards. The average worker in the Port Washington WI plant makes about $15 an hour [$600/forty-hour week] before benefits..\.. Fawn Evenson, president of the Assoc's footwear division...said [at] Chinese shoe factories...workers make as little as $100 a week and put in 10-hour days....
    Most shoe retailers need quantity, said [Ms.] Evenson.... Mr. Stollenwerk acknowledged that he has felt tempted to move operations to China, but said that could lead to a decline in quality..\..
    Ms. Evenson said the company's loyal following flowed from its unique manufacturing process [using] a strip of leather [instead of] a rigid metal shank. [Also,] the company takes special orders, which it can turn around fast, said Jim Kass, director of operations, [and it does repairs, such as resoling.]
    Sales reached their highest point in 1999 at $95m. Sales in [fiscal?] 2003 are estimated to reach about $88m, up 10% from 2002....
    To keep things in the black, Mr. Stollenwerk is making big changes at his main factory. He is shutting down one of four Allen-Edmunds plants and consolidating it with the Port Washington site. The company will maintain plants in Milwaukee and Lewiston, Me.
    The old assembly line in Port Washington is being replaced by a system of employees working in groups, with each person doing several jobs, each trained to do the others' tasks. The new method will cut down on time wasted on picking up and putting down shoes, as well as mostly eliminating overtime, Mr. Kass said.... That should cut down on spoiled shoes, allow workers to fill in for sick colleagues with more ease, and lessen repetitive strain, said Tim Goetsch, lead worker at the factory.
    The changes will also include installing computerized machinery left behind by the Dexter Shoe Co., which left Maine for China in 2001..\.. The company has cut about 10% or its workforce through attrition over the last 5 years, but turnover dried up recently as workers realized they did not have many options left in the manufacturing sector, Mr. Stollenwerk said. [He] said the women in Maine who performed the fancy, detailed side stitching on Allen-Edmonds penny loafers were nearing retirement age, with no one to replace them [huh? that's a management decision, not an act of god!] That work may someday have to be sent to the Dominican Republic, he said [= another management decision, not a divine decree].
    Mr. Stollenwerk...said it was sadly amusing to see university students marching against low wages, factory closings and other social problems brought on by globalization. "Those very people are walking around in shoes made in China with 64-cent-an-hour labor and no benefits," [he] said. "The very thing they're marching against, they're supporting."...

  2. 5/31   Western Europe sees jobs moving eastward - Low-wage countries a magnet for business, by Paul Geitner, AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
    GENK, Belgium - In its heyday, the Ford Motor Co. plant in this verdant corner of rural Belgium was the company's biggest in the world. About 14,000 well-paid workers cranked out 2,200 family cars and 500 commercial vans every day.
    Less than a decade later, there are only about 5,000 jobs, and car production is less than half what it was. The best-selling vans are now built in Turkey, where wages are a third of Belgian levels and people work six days a week with no bonuses.
    Although Ford has pledged two new car models by 2006 to keep Genk's factory alive, workers worry about the promise being kept. "People understand that Ford has financial problems ... but they are asking themselves, how will it end?" said Ludo Copermans, a burly shop steward with 28 years at the plant.
    It's a question more Europeans are asking as the continent remains mired in economic doldrums for what looks like a third straight year. Europe has the industrialized world's slowest growth and highest unemployment.
    ["Growth" for whom and by what measures?]
    Even Britain, where growth is stronger and joblessness is half the continental average of 9%, unions are unnerved by recent job shifts in companies ranging from financial institutions to the British railway information service.
    Complicating the job outlook is the European Union's addition on May 1 of eight former Soviet bloc countries, which have largely transformed themselves into low-wage, low-tax magnets for Western jobs.
    West Europeans who that feared expansion would lead to a flood of job-stealing migrants are being jolted by the discovery that in many cases, it's the jobs themselves that are heading east. "Our politicians tell us we're getting 75 million new customers" in the new EU countries, noted Alfons Thijs, a shop steward for Ford Genk's midlevel management. "But at this moment, we realize we have 75 million potential new employees who will take our jobs."
    After years of avoiding the issue, politicians in some of the hardest hit countries are starting to talk tough. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder labeled outsourcers unpatriotic in March after Ludwig Georg Braun, president of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, advised companies to "use the opportunities offered by the eastward enlargement," rather than wait for economic reforms at home.
    France's new finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, used his first news conference to promote government action to keep jobs in France and prevent Western Europe from turning into an "industrial desert."
    A report by DATAR, France's regional development agency, counted 100,000 jobs lost last year.
    The EU boasts of 6 million jobs created since 1999 - the bulk in services such as health care and tourism - but no one tallies how many jobs are being lost because of relocation of factories or outsourcing of business functions, such as call centers or bookkeeping.
    "You can't pin it down in the figures," said David Kernohan, senior researcher at the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies.
    [Ha - if they can pin down jobs created they can pin down jobs lost.]
    European employers say they were forced to outsource jobs. Ford said it had to shift van assembly to Turkey because of disappointing sales in Europe. "What we are looking for is to cut waste," spokesman Wilfried Baekens said.
    The chief executive of France's PSA Peugeot Citroen, Jean-Martin Folz, dismissed worries that a new factory in Slovakia is a threat to jobs at home, arguing it will not reduce the company's French production capacity.
    But some economists say that misses the point. "Before, when you had an order book for the U.S. market, the cars were produced in France. Now they're produced abroad," said Marc Touati of Paris-based Natexis Banques Populaires.
    Despite the dwindling of manufacturing jobs in Western Europe, research shows little evidence of complete "deindustrialization" except in a handful of depressed sectors such as textiles and shipbuilding. The DATAR report said France lost 1.5 million jobs between 1978 and 2002, but the country's industrial sector was still around 20% of the economy.
    Increases in productivity, while lagging recent U.S. performance, have helped Europe offset higher costs and shorter hours to keep some jobs, as have improvements in skills and quality.
    [Note that all this silly hair-tearing consists of two problems - outsourcing which is only possible as long as we maintain the current silly myth of the universal wonderfulness of free trade and horribleness of tariffs, and unemployment which is only possible as long as we maintain the current silly myth of the the sacrosanct untouchability of the overlong outdated 40-hour workweek and horribleness of a shorter-hours and adjusting definition of "full time job."]
    Yet unions wonder how much longer that can continue. Technicians at a phone repair lab in Germany recently agreed to add five more hours to their long-cherished 35-hour work week to keep Siemens from moving their jobs to Hungary.
    [200 technicians who raised their hours this spring are getting more publicity in the two-rich-guy media than 15000 East German steelworkers who cut their hours from 38 to 35 last spring.]
    Andrew Watt, senior researcher for employment policy at the European Trade Union Institute, sees that trend continuing. "This exit option is increasingly being used at the firm level and also in the political arena to force through changes," he said.
    He and other union officials also worry that the type of jobs being moved is no longer confined to low-skill assembly jobs but increasingly spreading to the service sector, which has been Europe's lone bright spot.
    On top of the usual call center jobs to India - 1,000 by Prudential, 2,000 from British Telecom - administrative, finance and even high-tech research and development posts are starting to migrate.
    "Language is not of the essence in science and numbers," Kernohan said.
    [Not until you dial Customer Service and can't understand a word they're saying.]
    Take Hungary, one of the new EU members, where one in four workers is employed by a company at least partly foreign-owned, according to the union institute. Finland's Nokia has set up a major mobile phone production site in Hungary as well as a research and development center that is reportedly its biggest outside Finland. General Electric Co. relocated the European headquarters for its lighting division from London to Budapest, Hungary. In April, ExxonMobil opened an office in Budapest to consolidate accounting and information technology support for its offices across Europe.
    But Hungarian wages have been creeping up, going from about a quarter of German levels a decade ago to a third now, said Bela Galgoczi, another researcher at the institute. The result is that Hungary already is seeing jobs leave. IBM closed a hard-disk factory outside Budapest, and Philips shut a plant making computer monitors, together moving about 4,000 jobs to China.
    Ford insists it is committed to Genk, a city of 63,000 people that already went through one upheaval in the 1980s, when the region's coal mines closed. One in three jobs is tied to Ford. Mayor Jef Gabriels wants to keep them.
    "We are living in a region where the wage costs are very high," he concedes. "That means we have to produce more with less people.
    [Do that and you'll have to consume more with less people, because more people won't have jobs or money once the inevitable crash in unemployment benefits arrives.]
    " ... We have to give the best quality at the lowest possible price." On top of that, he adds, "We also have to look for other employment."
    [In short, the usual unimaginative portrayal of an unsolvable problem.] What "we" really "have to" do is quit straining for enough makework to keep everyone spinning their wheels at 35-40 hours a week, adjust the workweek downward as much as it takes to absorb all the high unemployment and just share the vanishing work.]

  3. 5/29   Peugeot workers in talks on hours, by Fiona Scott, ic Coventry [UK].
    Managers and union leaders at Ryton's Peugeot plant are to hold talks over plans to alter workers' hours.
    Staff are split over proposals to change their hours after the scrapping of the night shift earlier this year. Bosses want them to put in an extra 44¼ hours a year and to vary their weekly working hours according to demand.
    The firm gave workers two options - to make up extra hours
    1. by sometimes working an extra day or
    2. by working longer shifts of nearly 12 hours.
    And in a secret, postal ballot held by unions, workers favoured the first option by just four votes - 816 to 812. Almost 600 workers didn't vote.
    The firm favours the second option and now bosses and unions will have to meet to decide a way forward.
    Peugeot spokesman Bob Fenton said this week: "We're in a state of limbo and carrying on working to the existing arrangements. It's not the best position to be in and we're trying to work out the best way forward."
    Unions want more reassurances about Ryton's future.
    The government wants to give Peugeot a £50 million EU grant, if the EU Commission agrees. The grant will only be available if Peugeot gives the plant a new model.
    Jimmy O'Boyle, deputy chairman of the joint shop stewards committee and a T&G member, said: "We recognise we need to go forward with the workforce on side, and the fact that we still don't know what the long-term future of Ryton is continues to cause us concern."
    At a meeting in Madrid recently, Mr O'Boyle asked top PSA Peugeot Citroen boss Jean-Martin Folz about a new model, but got no commitment to one.
    Mr Fenton said: "We're not able to make a decision about a future model at the moment. It's projected we'll be making the 206 until 2008 and possibly beyond. We're going to be fully occupied on the three shifts building that car."
    * Currently there are three shifts, with two working Monday to Thursday and the weekend shift working Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
    [Too bad. We thought they were three 6-hour shifts M-F = 30-hour workweek.]
    Under option one, in heavy weeks workers would do Monday to Friday and weekend shifts would include some work on Mondays.
    Under option two, workers would get the same days off as at present, but some of their shifts would stretch to nearly 12 hours long.

  4. 5/28   Working towards a shorter day, by Julles Hunter, PA Features via Scotland on Sunday [UK].
    Struggling home at the end of a long day, it’s not hard to believe that we are a nation of workaholics compared to our European counterparts.
    Some 16% of us spend more than 48 hours in the office every week, the Department of Trade & Industry [DTI] has found. And full-time workers in the UK clock up a weekly average of 46 hours compared to 41.6 across the rest of the EU, according to the latest EU statistics.
    But now bureaucrats in Brussels could be about to cut our time in the office, after promising a review of legislation concerning the number of hours we work.
    Britain is the only country to widely use an opt-out from the Working Time Directive, which sets a 48-hour limit on the working week.
    [EU better hurry and get Britain in line or out of the Union, cuz little Malta is thinking about opting out too. And not so little Cyprus. See below.]
    Concerned about the exploitation of staff, EU employment supremo Stavros Dimas has given us nine months to consider how we are going to deal with the problem – by either removing or adapting our opt-out.
    The government says it’s trying to adopt a pragmatic approach to the revisions by keeping the status quo and continuing our flexible working hours. Ministers argue it not only keeps our businesses competitive, but allows people the freedom to top up wages through overtime.
    [Overtime is not the way to top up wages. Skill upgrade is.]
    As the law stands, any employee expected to work long hours is offered the choice of signing forms opting out of the 48-hour EU limit when they are first employed. Legally we are protected from ‘suffering any detriment’ if we refuse.
    Admitting the system has certain weaknesses, the DTI is to look at ways of making the opt-out work better.
    [Huh? It can "work better" by vanishing!]
    Suggestions include ensuring new employees don’t have to sign a waiver at the same time as their job offer, to allow individuals to have regular reviews of their opt-outs.
    [Oh that would make it work better, all right - for short-sighted employers who want to reconcentrate work and further weaken their domestic markets.]
    The UK negotiated this clause in 1993 when the original law was passed, and although we’re not the only country to use it, we are the only country to use it widely.
    Luxembourg uses the opt-out for its hotel and catering sector, to cope with seasonal fluctuations. Germany, the Netherlands and Spain have incorporated it into the health sector. France has amended its decrees relating to hospitals and public health departments, allowing staff to work beyond their usual weekly duties [ie: hours] in return for time off in lieu or compensation.
    And of the new member states, Malta and Cyprus have already chosen to include the opt-out in their national legislation, with Slovenia applying it to doctors.
    So what are the effects of working such long hours? It’s long been documented that work-related fatigue increases depending on the number of hours we do. But according to occupational health director Jenny Lesser, it only has serious long-term implications when we do more than 48 hours a week for at least five consecutive months.
    “If we have enough sleep then we can handle longer hours,” says Lesser. “It’s all about the right work-life balance. Taking control, using energy wisely.”
    But working long hours is causing the break-up of marriages and damaging health, according to studies by Relate. This is backed up by research from the University of Hertfordshire, which found a third of all fathers surveyed are struggling to balance home and work as they spend more than 50 hours a week in the office.
    A huge eight out of 10 men also admitted having difficulty fulfilling family duties and household tasks.
    One country where this stressful situation has gone a stage further is Japan. The average worker now does between 60 and 80 hours a week, and more than a fifth of men clocking up 80 hours overtime a month.
    [Let's see. 4 weeks per month. 80 hours per month. That's 20 hours overtime per week, or a 60-hour workweek starting with overtime above 40.]
    This excessive workload has led to death from exhaustion ['karoshi'], and the Japanese government has now officially recognised the problem of ‘karoshi’ – people committing suicide due to work-related exhaustion.
    [It's not necessarily suicide.]
    Around 16% of the UK workforce does more than 48 hours per week – 350,000 more than in 1992. Of those, about 8% do more than 55 hours per week, while 3.2% do over 60 hours per week, with 1% working over 70 hours per week.
    The UK is the only member state where weekly working time has increased over the last decade. Approximately 46% of those who work over 48 hours are in managerial positions and are covered by an exemption relating to managers.
    The Citizens Advice Bureau has called for a Fair Employment Commission to be set up to enforce workers’ rights, similar to the enforcement arm of the National Minimum Wage. The UK is the only EU country without an enforcement body charged with ensuring employers comply with their legal obligations.
    All UK employees are subject to the following rules and regulations, and if your employer breaks any of them you have the automatic right to appeal to an employment tribunal.
    Those aged 18 and over are entitled to one day off a week.
    Adult workers are entitled to 11 hours consecutive rest per day, and a minimum 20-minute rest break if their working day is longer than six hours. There are special rules for young workers (under 18), agricultural workers and cabin/flight crew.
    If you are dismissed or selected for redundancy because you refuse to work more than 48 hours per week you can claim unfair dismissal.
    [Some consolation. What pathetic enforcement when an unemployed person is burdened with a huge legal battle.]
    If an employee’s hours are reduced or increased without their consent, the employer may have fundamentally breached the employment contract. The employee can write to the employer saying that they do not accept the change and work ’under protest’. However, the employee must seek advice if they are in this situation, as they may be in danger of losing their job.

5/28/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/27 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4 which is from the 5/28 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. CEO to spearhead `work-sharing' policies of government, by Yoo Dong-ho, Korea Times.
    A chief executive officer, famous for his unique ``work-sharing’’ methods in running his company, will now spearhead the government’s efforts for new labor-management relations.
    Moon Kook-hyun, president of Yuhan Kimberly, received high marks for introducing a system that consists of both work and education, which led to innovative manufacturing processes and guaranteed employment. The 55-year-old CEO, often cited by President Roh Moo-hyun as an exemplary model for work-sharing policy, was appointed on Thursday as the head of a 12-member special presidential commission to increase competitiveness of the nation’s work forces and to create more jobs.
    The commission will aim at drawing up strategies for new projects together with the heads of businesses and drives, encourages and supports them so that investment and jobs can be created. It will also seek to establish wide-ranging innovative systems to secure knowledge-based working environment and employees’ stress management.
    He transformed the conventional way of just cutting back on employees and labor costs to a lifelong educational system, in which employees constantly learn and digest rapidly changing technology for labor-management co-existence.
    Moon took the unusual steps to report the company’s financial status to his employees in a bid to share more authority. Moon has long upheld the notion that the country should increase its productivity by investing in the labor force and running the management more effectively saying, ``Workers should not demand higher wages without developing their skills.’’
    Yuhan Kimberly runs its plant lines every day of the year except for the Lunar New Year and Chusok holidays. Using the same facilities, production increased by 50%. Employees said they felt more rested on the new schedule and were more productive.

  2. Challenge to finance employers over stress, Union Network International [UNI].
    UNI-Europa Finance is to challenge European finance employers to take joint action against growing levels of stress at work.
    A European - or even global - day of action is under consideration to highlight the stress levels faced by finance staff internationally. A campaign to bring down working hours by tackling unpaid overtime in the European finance industry is also on the agenda.
    European finance employers have refused so far to take action with unions on the issue but delegate after delegate to the UNI-Europa Finance conference in Luxembourg called for an initiative in the social dialogue at a European level between unions and employers. Growing workloads, fewer staff, outsourcing, a lack of control of working lives, targeting, measurements and longer working hours (often through unpaid overtime) are all identified as factors contributing to record levels of stress in the industry. "Stress is not a personal issue, it's a structural issue and it's not a coincidence," said Paul Schroder of FSU Australia.
    "We need a greater understanding of the effect of the work environment on people's health," said psychologist Fredrik Bengtsson who has been involved in a project to identify and combat stress levels in the Swedish finance sector and SEB in particular.
    The project launched a rehabilitation programme to help individuals suffering long-term absences from stress, along with education for middle managers on the illness and rehabilitation process and top management on the effects of their policies. "It's important to have a goal of no stress related illness because of the working environment - it's a long term goal."
    In Italy Dr Paulo Pappone has been working with unions and employers over stress and told delegates that "changes that have taken place in working conditions in modern industries have given rise to a genuine epidemic of depression". 50% of workers suffer from some depression and 30% have exceptional symptoms. "Only 30% feel in a good state of health," he said.
    UNI-Europa President Sandy Boyle called stress "this cancer which is eating away at our workplaces". Mario Ongaro of FISAC-CGIL Italy told delegates "the policy to reduce costs is the most crucial factor".
    The pressure for action against stress is coming from the members - "this is a bottom-up issue". "We need to breakdown this barrier that exists with the employers who do not want to acknowledge the causes of stress - it's in their own interests, they can gain from tackling stress," said Mario.
    In Europe occupational stress ranks second among work-related health problems and affects over 40 million people. 500 million working days were lost in 200 and the cost to the European Union is running at 20 billion euros a year.
    "We see that the pressure to perform is the real form of stress at the workplace - triggered off by job losses and mergers,' said Hans-Jurgen Kummetat of ver.di Germany. He urged Works Council to be more active in tackling the issue of stress in their companies. "We have the research, what we now need is to reach agreements to reduce proven stress factors," said Tjeu Tijskens, of LBC-NVK Belgium.
    Staff in banks in Brazil are under growing pressures from "extremely harsh" employers and 40% feel they are not being respected, said Marcio Monzane of CNB-CUT. "We are going to have to deal with this issue - we are going to have to reduce hours and change shifts and people need to be respected."
    In Belgium recent surveys of banks and insurance staff showed increasing levels of stress, said Pierre Fafchamps of CNE-SSC.
    "We need to negotiate changes in behaviour, the way work is organised, communication and time management," he said. "We have to prevent stress, we have to contribute to the reduction in stress, we have to promote best practices and we have to help workers fight this disease," said Joao Rocha of SBC Portugal.
    In France headway needs to be made to get better legal recognition of stress, said Serge Legagnoa of FEC-FO.
    Trevor Johnson, of BIGWU Trinidad & Tobago, urged all UNI unions to campaign for the decent work principles of the International Labour Organisation. "We will never eliminate stress from the workplace but we can significantly reduce factors that contribute to stress," said Trevor.
    Kirsi Kovanen of Vvl Finland said workloads and measuring systems had grown in recent years. "Employees have the right to know what measurement and control is going on and why this takes place."
    CGT Finance in France is targeting young people in a decate on stress - concerned at the drop out rate of young staff within their first five years in the industry. "The solution we are promoting is not to resign but to stay and fight - only by taking action can we change things," said Isabelle.

  3. Unisys: Young workers demand flexibility as work pressure hits friendships and home life - UK survey reveals one in three first jobbers suffer due to inflexible working practices, Business Wire via 'Scotland on Sunday' [UK].
    LONDON – Survey results released today by Unisys, the global IT services company, reveal that 16-24 year old workers in the UK are suffering from stress and relationship problems due to inflexible working practices and long working hours.
    29% of young workers in the UK have no access to flexible working such as flexi-time, working from home or working a core number of hours throughout the week. Despite government legislation, UK companies are not extending flexible working practices to their young workers, seriously affecting their ability to attract the best employees.
    2,000 UK employees were interviewed to establish the adoption of flexible working practices. Unisys was keen to identify UK attitudes to flexible working and understand the effect on its employees.
    Long hours and stressful workloads are blamed for 30% of young workers losing contact with friends and 31% agree that work commitments affect relationships with a partner. Furthermore, UK employers are encouraging an ’acceptance culture’ – 52% of young workers agreeing that employers expect them to work beyond their core, contracted hours. 70% agree that something could be done to make sure that work and home life are blended more effectively.
    The research highlights changing priorities for young workers when choosing an employer. Whilst salary remains a key priority (39%), increasing numbers of young workers appreciate progressive working opportunities with 1 in 4 (26%) prioritising flexible working, part time options and holiday benefits when looking for a job. This suggests a shift away from materialistic work values towards lifestyle and holistic work choices.
    Bob Illingworth, HR Director, Unisys outlines, “Blend and flexibility, not just balance, are imperative for employee retention. Companies should offer a host of options for each employee so that they can mould and adapt working patterns to suit their needs, providing tailored solutions for workers whatever their home situation, family or lifestyle.
    “First jobbers [presumably meaning people in the first job of their life] often move to a new city in order to begin their working life and a blend of work and home life is imperative to allow time to create and maintain friendships. Young workers are a critical element and source of fresh ideas for an organisation and should be nurtured and encouraged in order to grow into effective and productive employees.”

  4. [meanwhile back in darkest America -]
    In Utah, 12-hour school days (four on the bus), by Sam Dillon, NYT, front page.
    [Gotta toughen up the little devils to endure adult life in 21st century America?]
    The sky is still dark over the canyon lands of southeastern Utah at 5:30 am, but two dozen Navajo students are already preparing for school...Lyman Middle School and San Juan High School in Blanding, a 67-mile trip....
    Every morning 440,000 yellow buses carry 24 million American students to school.... But because school districts are closing down thousands of small country schools across the nation, experts say the bus rides taken by poor rural students...are getting longer and rougher.
    The average one-way commuting time for American adults is less than 25 minutes. But Craig B. Crowley, professor at Ohio University, found in a 2001 five-state survey of elementary principals that it was common for rural students to spend 90 minutes on buses getting to school....
    ["The richest nation in the world"? Ha! We're a laughing stock.]

5/27/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/26 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 & 2 which are from the 5/27 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Chaebol edgy over switch to 5-day workweek, Korea Times.
    Korean chaebol resolved Tuesday to implement the five-day workweek, as scheduled, beginning next month.
    ["Chaebol" refers to the family-owned conglomerates that dominate the S.Korean business community (see 12/18/2002 #1.]
    The resolution was made at a meeting of managers in charge of labor affairs in the conglomerates, which are members of the nation's largest business lobby, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI).
    However, those attending warned that the reduction in working hours would inevitably weaken the nation’s corporate competitiveness and increase unemployment unless various fringe benefits guaranteed under current labor laws, including leave, are curtailed on the basis of the amended Labor Standards Act.
    [Or unless top executives take a less gargantuan slice of the pie?]
    Accordingly, the managers decided to negotiate with their labor unions to reduce various allowances and leave in return for the five-day workweek. They also resolved to go ahead with wage negotiations with the unions this year with the aim of introducing wage freezes or minimal rises, in consideration of increased costs due to the shortened workweek.
    "It is desirable for unions not to push excessive demands unilaterally," one of the managers said, while also calling for the government to enforce laws strictly to combat illegal labor actions.
    [Make up your minds, big boys - you want big home markets or big homelessness? Your warnings were given at every workweek stepdown from 80-84 to here. If you don't think the workweek has any effect on employment and consumer base, try going back to 84 hours a week and watch your economy collapse.]

  2. Family-friendly job picture unclear, by Bonnie Erbe, Scripps Howard News Service via newsday.com.
    So which is it: Has the combination of the recent recession and today's successor neo-robust economy-cum-tight job market doomed family-friendly corporate programs? Or, conversely, are American workplaces becoming family-friendlier?
    To hear the news media tell it, family-friendly policies borne of women's lemming-like mass migration from the home front to the work force three decades ago are receding like a waning tide. Consider this May 2004 missive from USA Today: "The percentage of employers offering paid family leave dropped from 27% in 2001 to 23% last year, according to (the) Society for Human Resource Management. ... Those offering flexible work hours tumbled from 64% in 2002 to 55% in 2003. Job sharing dropped from 26% in 2001 to 22% last year."
    The newspaper went on to cite a Commerce Clearing House report showing, "Telecommuting fell from 47 percent to 45% (between 2002 and 2003). And those offering compressed workweeks, which generally let workers put in their hours over four days rather than five, slipped from 49% in 2002 to 40% last year."
    As if that news weren't bad enough for second shifters (those juggling work and family), The Wall Street Journal reported last week another seemingly regressive trend. The Journal noted new, apparently insurmountable obstacles faced by formerly high-powered career women trying to resurrect careers - after taking years off to raise young children. "The sluggish economy has made jobs scarce for many well-qualified candidates, let alone those with gaps in their resumes. With advances in technology, women who have taken even a few years off likely have fallen behind or feel out-of-touch. The job-hopping of the past decade has meant many of their old professional contacts, mentors and networks are dispersed."
    Reading these stories, one comes away with this impression: The future of "family-friendly" policies is about as sanguine as the future for velocipedes.
    Explanations and theories for this trend abound. Perhaps job scarcity has muzzled the formerly burgeoning family-friendly industry. Perhaps corporations are merely responding to national politics (that is, the Clinton-era "feminized" politics, whereas President George W. Bush has steered the nation in a decidedly macho direction). Perchance some corporations found the onslaught of flextime, telecommuting and four-day workweeks not to be the money-maker and profit-booster they were touted to be.
    Lastly, perhaps now that we're supposedly in economic expansion mode, family-friendly policies such as flextime and job-sharing will come back with volcanic force.
    While drumming one's fingers waiting for that comeback, however, nothing succeeds like duress. If women want the freedom to waltz in and out of the work force as it suits them (and their care-giving responsibilities), there is one sure way to obtain it: Make sure men want and make use of that same freedom.
    The media made much of a 1993 Census report claiming there were some 2 million "stay-at-home dads." In fact, the latest Census report on family living arrangements (March 2002) notes 1.6 million of those "full-time dads" worked outside the home. These same "stay-at-home" dads did, actually, provide their kids with more childcare than anyone outside the nuclear family. But this, "while their spouses were at work." Thus they were hardly full-time dads.
    Actually, the latest Census reports "children under age 15 living with both parents were 56 times as likely to live with a stay- at-home mother while their father was in the labor force" as the other way around. As long as the proportions differ so radically, so, too, will workplace opportunities.
    Granted, many working mothers of young children feel driven to quit work. Fathers less so. Many women returning to work when their kids are older are doing so more out of economic necessity than out of desire for high-powered careers.
    At the same time, full-time parenthood for men is still stigmatized by society and thus less of an option for them, even for those who would prefer it. But, until women insist on shared responsibilities at home, they won't achieve shared opportunity at work in anything close to reasonable percentages.

5/26/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/25 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 & 2 which are from the 5/26 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. SBC Communications Inc. - Labor agreement is reached with wage raises, job security, WSJ, A12.
    ...five-year labor agreement with Communications Workers of America union after more than 100,000 SBC workers completed a four-day strike Monday night.... The agreement includes [Employees are deluded if they think they're getting job security without shorter hours.]

  2. Wal-Mart and other retailers, pointer summary [to col.5], WSJ, front page.
    ...face suits alleging they use managers to do the work of regular employees to avoid paying overtime.
    Big retailers face overtime suits as bosses do more 'hourly' work, by Ann Zimmerman, WSJ, front page.
    Some of the nation's biggest and most cost-sensitive retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., RadioShack Corp. and Dollar General Corp., are battling a raft of lawsuits accusing them of using low-level managers to do the work of regular employees, in order to avoid paying overtime [premium].
    Wal-Mart, a retailing giant with about 3,500 stores and 1.2m workers in the U.S., and a well-known focus on lean margins, already faces 30 overtime-related suits on behalf of hourly workers in 28 states. Assistant managers who filed suit in Michigan and California, seeking back pay and damages say they spend much of their days on the same tasks assigned to hourly employees entitled to overtime.
    The suits claim there is very little difference between the job duties of the hourly workers and the assistant managers, especially the nighttime assistant managers, who, "in most cases, are simply glorified stockers who unload trucks, move products into the store and stock shelves," according to legal documents.
    Such practices could be illegal, although the retailers deny wrongdoing. Under federal law, mangers may be entitled to overtime pay if more than 40% of their time isn't spent supervising or if their jobs don't include decision making.
    Wal-Mart disputes the assistant managers' claims, saying that its managers' time is taken up largely with interviewing job candidates, making out schedules and handling other supervisory duties. "Wal-Mart does manage its costs carefully," the company said in a statement. But it said it wouldn't ask its most expensive workers to spend most of their time on hourly tasks.
    [Unless it gave them a blank check on their time...? And here's another consideration -]
    Cost management can lead to understaffing. At a managers' meeting last August in Houston, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott complained about stopping at one of his local Wal-Marts on a Friday afternoon to buy formula for his granddaughter and finding impossibly long lines at the registers.
    [Serves him right.]
    A district manager told him the store had overspent its labor budget for the month and had sent workers home.
    [Gee, why didn't they just use slave labor like they used to (see 6/25/2002 #1) - or did the fuss actually put a stop to that?]
    Mr. Scott was unavailable for comment.
    As businesses try to control labor costs, the practice of excluding low-level supervisors rom overtime pay has accelerated across many industries, including restaurants, insurance and financial services, says Ross Eisenbrey, VP of the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank funded by labor unions.
    Who should be eligible for overtime is a hot economic and political issue.
    [It shouldn't be. Everyone should be, and eventually will be, subject to a non-arbitrary workweek maximum adjusted to offset comprehensive unemployment, and enforced by a reinvestment threshold - above which first companies and then individuals must reinvest their overtime profits or earnings in overtime-targeted training&hiring, or have it taxed away from them so a government agency can try to approximate the reinvestment they should have done.]
    For companies in the intensely competitive retail sector, labor costs can have a big impact on the prices retailers can charge. While the weakened economy of recent years kept prices down as shoppers looked for bargains, for retailers the lack of pricing power was partly offset by the large pool of job-hungry workers willing to do more to keep the paychecks coming.
    {Sounds like a self-fueling downward spiral to us.]
    Wal-Mart tries to hold labor costs to a slim 8% of sales, according to legal documents, compared with 9-10% on average at other large-store retailers. The company also encourages store managers to reduce their labor costs each year by about 0.2-0.3%, according to legal documents. Last year, Wal-Mart posted sales of $256B and net profit of $9B.
    Last month, the Labor Dept. unveiled a major revamp of the overtime rules, in part to clarify the numerous lawsuits concerning who is entitled to such pay. The new rules ensure overtime pay for managers earning less than $23,660 a year and deny it to most administrative personnel earning more than $100,000 annually. The rules also exclude a number of employees within that range from claiming overtime.
    The new rules sparked controversy in the U.S. Senate, as Democrats and some dissident Republicans passed an amendment to the corporate-tax bill that would exempt 55 job categories from the regulations. The amendment is expected to stay intact as the tax bill makes its way through the House and is signed into law.
    Those distinctions matter at retailers. Managers with RadioShack, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, sued their employer in federal court in Chicago last year, seeking overtime back pay. The managers, who are required to work at least 52 hours a week, say that they spend most of their time selling merchandise and have very little supervisory authority. About 40% of the company's approximately 7,000 managers have joined the suit, which is seeking class-action status. RadioShack paid $30m to settle a similar suit in California state court on behalf of 1,200 managers in 2002. RadioShack denied wrongdoing in that suit. It has declined to comment on the pending litigation.
    In March 2002, a Dollar General manager filed suit in federal court in Birmingham, Ala., claiming that she worked up to 90 hours a week without receiving overtime pay, bonuses, vacation or sick time. In January, the federal court certified the suit as a class action for those who want to opt in. In these and the various Wal-Mart suits, the companies have denied the allegations.
    For Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., the allegations from assistant managers are just one of many issues that the world's largest retailer faces. While the staunchly nonunion company has been as major target of labor organizers in recent years, the assistant managers' suits related to overtime pay aren't part of those broader unionizing efforts. The actions generally stem from individuals or groups of staffers seeking legal advice about a potential grievance and the representation usually of contingency lawyers, who work for a percentage of any settlement.
    The more than 30 lawsuits pending in 28 states allege that the company required hourly employees to work extra hours for no pay. In 2000, Wal-Mart settled for $50m an overtime-related suit filed in Colorado on behalf of 67,000 hourly workers.
    The average store manager earns about $100,000 a year before any bonus. Assistant-manager salaries range from around $30,000 to more than $45,000 a year, and they aren't eligible for overtime pay. Full-time hourly employees are paid about $9 an hour for a 34-hour week, or about $16,000 annually, and they rarely are allowed to work overtime.
    To stay within budget, according to people familiar with the matter, Wal-Mart district managers have encouraged store managers to send hourly workers home before their shift is over. Meanwhile, many assistant managers, who are required to work at least 48 hours a week, say they may stay on the job for as much as 75 hours a week, trying in part to cover for the employees sent home.
    In one Wal-Mart suit filed in Marquette, Mich., in late 2002, Vickey Ramsey, a former Wal-Mart assistant manager, said she was required to work more than 48 hours a week and spent most of that time on tasks routinely performed by hourly workers. Ms. Ramsey, at her request, is now an hourly worker. In February this year, a second Michigan suit was filed. Since the filings, about 50 Wal-Mart employees have joined the two suits, says John Underhill, one of the attorneys in the cases.
    To keep the stores on budget, managers sometimes sent as much as a third of the employees home in the middle of their shift, says Kim Comer, a plaintiff in the second Michigan suit, who spent 13 years as an assistant manager at Wal-Mart stores in Texas and Michigan before quitting last August. In addition to telling employees not to come in, she says she and the other assistant managers were expected to do the jobs of hourly workers. Some days, she spent a full 8-hour shift on the cash register, the job she had when she first started at Wal-Mart as a college student. Although she believed her job was to train, counsel and supervise hourly employees, she says she spent no more than 30% of her time on those tasks.
    This past January, three assistant managers sued Wal-Mart in Los Angeles, claiming they were unfairly denied overtime. Under California law, managers who spend less than 50% of their time supervising other employees and doing other administrative tasks are entitled to overtime pay. All three lawsuits seek class-action status. Wal-Mart employs about 17,000 assistant managers in the U.S.
    The lawsuits say assistant managers are in a bind: To get the required work done, they have to either force hourly employees to work off the clock [see 6/25/2002 #1] or pick up the slack themselves, which may require them to put in very long hours. They say it is futile to complain to store managers, who have a strong incentive to keep labor costs low; a portion of store-manager compensation comes in an annual bonus pegged to store profits.

  3. Non-traditional hours harm families, health: study, by Oliver Moore, Globe & Mail [Canada].
    People who work non-traditional hours run a risk to their health and their family life that must be addressed by government, a U.S. researcher argues in an article published Tuesday.
    The burgeoning service industry has led to an increasing number of people working evenings, nights and weekends, says sociologist Harriet B. Presser, raising dangers that need to recognized and reduced.
    “The economy that never sleeps poses risks to the workers who staff it, and to their families,” said Dr. Presser, a professor at the University of Maryland-College Park. “Such schedules undermine the stability of marriages, increase the amount of housework to be done, reduce family cohesiveness, and require elaborate childcare arrangements.”
    Couples in which one person works off-hours are more likely to divorce or separate. Such work has also been linked with higher risks of gastrointestinal disorder, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer. Health can be further degraded in people who skip sleep in order to be available for their children.
    Dr. Presser writes that the risks posed by non-traditional work schedules, which languish far down the political agenda, need to be addressed. “When two out of five working Americans are on nonstandard shifts, employment in a 24/7 economy and its effects on them and their families clearly need to be put higher on the public agenda.”
    In her article – published in the spring issue of Contexts, the journal of the American Sociological Association – Dr. Presser suggests that the repercussions of shift work could be lessened by higher wages, reduced hours, child-care assistance and the regulation of night work.
    In the article, Dr. Presser surveys existing literature and draws conclusions about the effects of non-traditional work schedules.
    She notes that the competing demands of spouse and children can be particularly damaging to couples in which one person works non-traditional hours. While the arrangement may be economically necessary, having little time for each other can leave couples with “a spiritual separation.”
    These competing schedules can lead to a reliance on complex child-care arrangements. Fathers may play a bigger role in caring for children, but the gaps must often still be filled with a patchwork system of relatives, neighbours and formal child-care systems.
    Even banal issues such as the divvying up of chores have the potential to cause more angst in household with competing schedules. Typically in such situations, Dr. Presser notes, spouses tend to fend for themselves, increasing the amount of work that needs to be done around the house. And while the man thus takes on a greater share of the housework, he still does substantially less than half.
    “Working late shifts may not be the ideal way of achieving gender equality in housework, but it may be considered a good change by many wives in this situation,” Dr. Presser writes. But she adds: “Men who have a traditional expectations may see it differently, making housework a potential source of friction.”
    Although she cites Belgium as an example of a country that has banned working at night, Dr. Presser is not willing to go so far. But she calls instead urgent action to reduce the risks posed by off-hours work. “As consumers, we like our stores to be open around the clock, medical services to be available continuously and people to answer the phone when we make travel reservations late at night,” she writes. “...Given that difficult work schedules are currently a fact of life in our economy, it is obvious that we need to think about how to mitigate their harm.”

5/25/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/24 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 which is from the 5/25 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. [Another angle on US workaholism -]
    All stressed out and everywhere to go - The psychological and physical toll of being often on the road, by Alina Tugend, NYT, C8.
    ...Michael Stewart...director of external relations for McKinsey & Co...spends about 50% of his time traveling.... "Every time I take a flight of mor than six hours, I have a distinct chest cold from the recirculated air, and people near you are always sneezing and coughing and then touching things," he said. He sometimes loses weight from irregular eating, he says, and wages a mostly losing battle with insomnia.
    Diana Fairechild, a former flight attendant who writes about and does consulting on the health risks of flying, says some frequent travelers often fail to connect the dots between their travels and chronic ailments like fatigue or allergies. It took her years to figure out that she was allergic to the pesticides sprayed inside airplane cabins, she said. Her website is flyana.com..\..
    Niels Iversen...general manager of Beacon Shipping, who is based in Cypress...concedes that traveling could be more exhausting in the 1960s, when flying to Tokyo from Copenhagen took 30 hours, compared with 14 hours today. But, he said, back then nobody expected executives to take a shower at the airport as soon as they landed and then head off to a business meeting. "When going to the Far East, you sometimes took a whole day off," he recalled.
    The stress does not end when the trip ends, either. Researchers say many executives suffer from "travel hangovers" back home, displaying symptoms like absenteeism, poor performance, illness and difficulty in readjusting to family life. Mr. Stewart, who has two young daughters, has experienced that last form of re-entry shock.
    "I feel guilty about being away from the kids, but when I come back into the routine, I either overcompensate by paying too much attention to them, or I'm much more short-tempered," he said....
    To ease the strain of hitting the road, specialists recommend that companies set clear curbs on executives' schedules. For instance, Dr. Jim Striker, senior clinical psychologist in the Health Service Dept. at the World Bank, says the bank recommends that an employee be limited to 90 days of travel per calendar year, with no single trip to surpass 30 days. And, if any flight lasts more than nine hours, the employee has the right to take 24 hours off. "It's a matter of looking at the work culture...," Dr. Striker said.

  2. University faculty work week averages 60 hours, Sioux City Journal [IA].
    IOWA CITY, Iowa - Faculty at the state's three public universities work at or above the national average, but lag behind in salary, a report from the state Board of Regents shows.
    The report on faculty activities is based on random surveys of faculty each year. How faculty spent their time varied more between the universities, the report showed. Professors at the University of Iowa spent 45.9% of their time teaching. At Iowa State they spent 40.2% of their time teaching and Northern Iowa professors spent the most time in the classroom at 57.2%.
    The University of Iowa produced the most in research funded by the federal government at $353.3 million. At Iowa State, professors produced $230 million in sponsored research, while their counterparts at Northern Iowa produced $18.1 million in sponsored research, the report showed.
    Katherine Tachau, a history professor and president of the Faculty Senate at Iowa, noted that the report also highlighted lagging salaries.
    Professors at all three universities work at or above the national average but their salaries rank near the bottom when compared to their peers at other institutions, she said. "That's a worrisome combination for faculty retention," Tachau said.
    Regent David Neil, of La Porte City, said the most recent report has limited value. It's difficult to quantify whether someone performs well in the classroom, he said. He suggested the regents check with other universities to determine the best way for conducting such studies.
    Neil also was concerned that the universities are depending more on teaching assistants to teach courses - a practice many universities consider to be bad omen for teaching quality.
    "It goes to the underfunding by the state," he said. "You are stretching your dollars to teach kids, and it's starting to affect quality."

  3. Western Europe having its outsourcing woes, too - Poor economy, new members of EU add to workers' worries, AP via Winston-Salem Journal [NC].
    GENK, Belgium - In its heyday, the Ford Motor Co. plant in this verdant corner of rural Belgium was the company's biggest in the world. Some 14,000 well-paid workers cranked out 2,200 family cars and 500 commercial vans every day.
    Less than 10 years later, there are only about 5,000 jobs and car production is less than half what it was. The best-selling vans are now built in Turkey, where wages are a third of Belgian levels and people work six days a week with no bonuses.
    Although Ford has pledged two new car models by 2006 to keep Genk's factory alive, workers worry about the promise being kept. "People understand that Ford has financial problems ... but they are asking themselves, how will it end?" said Ludo Copermans, a burly shop steward with 28 years at the plant.
    It's a question that more Europeans are asking as the continent remains mired in economic doldrums for what looks like a third straight year. Europe has the industrialized world's slowest growth and highest unemployment.
    Even Britain, where growth is stronger and joblessness is half the continental average of 9%, unions are unnerved by recent job shifts in companies ranging from financial institutions to the British railway information service.
    Complicating the job outlook is the European Union's addition on May 1 of eight former Soviet bloc countries that have largely transformed themselves into low-wage, low-tax magnets for western jobs.
    West Europeans who feared that expansion would lead to a flood of job-stealing migrants are being jolted by the discovery that in many cases, it's the jobs themselves that are heading east.
    "Our politicians tell us we're getting 75 million new customers" in the new EU countries, notes Alfons Thijs, a shop steward for Ford Genk's midlevel management. "But at this moment we realize we have 75 million potential new employees who will take our jobs."
    After years of avoiding the issue, politicians in some of the hardest-hit countries are starting to talk tough. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder labeled outsourcers unpatriotic in March after Ludwig Georg Braun, the president of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, advised companies to "use the opportunities offered by the eastward enlargement," rather than wait for economic reforms at home.
    France's popular new finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, used his first news conference to promote government action to keep jobs in France and prevent western Europe from turning into an "industrial desert."
    A report by DATAR, France's regional development agency, counted 100,000 jobs lost last year.
    The EU boasts of 6 million jobs created since 1999 - the bulk in such services as health care and tourism - but no one tallies how many jobs are being lost because of relocation of factories or outsourcing of business functions, such as call centers or bookkeeping.
    "You can't pin it down in the figures," said David Kernohan, a senior researcher at the Center for European Policy Studies, based in Brussels.
    European employers say they were forced to outsource jobs. Ford said it had to shift van assembly to Turkey because of disappointing sales in Europe. "What we are looking for is to cut waste," spokesman Wilfried Baekens said.
    Despite the dwindling of manufacturing jobs in western Europe, research shows little evidence of complete "deindustrialization" except in a handful of such depressed sectors as textiles and shipbuilding. The DATAR report said that France had lost 1.5 million jobs between 1978 and 2002, but the country's industrial sector was still around 20% of the economy.
    Increases in productivity, although lagging recent U.S. performance, have helped Europe offset higher costs and shorter hours to keep some jobs, as have improvements in skills and quality. Yet unions wonder how much longer that can continue.
    Technicians at a phone-repair lab in Germany recently agreed to add five hours to their long-cherished 35-hour work week to keep Siemens from moving their jobs to Hungary.
    Andrew Watt, a senior researcher for employment policy at the European Trade Union Institute, sees that trend continuing. "This exit option is increasingly being used at the firm level and also in the political arena to force through changes," he said.
    He and other union officials also worry that the type of jobs being moved is no longer confined to low-skill assembly jobs but increasingly spreading to the service sector, which has been Europe's lone bright spot.
    On top of the usual call center jobs to India - 1,000 by Prudential, 2,000 from British Telecom - administrative, finance and even high-tech research and development posts are starting to migrate. "Language is not of the essence in science and numbers," Kernohan said.
    Take Hungary, one of the new EU members, where one in four workers is employed by a company at least partly foreign-owned, according to the union institute.
    Finland's Nokia has set up a major mobile-phone production site in Hungary as well as an R&D center that is said to be its biggest outside Finland.
    General Electric Co. moved the European headquarters for its lighting division from London to Budapest. In April, ExxonMobil opened an office in Budapest to consolidate accounting and information technology support for its offices across Europe.

5/22-24/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/21-23 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1-4 which are from the 5/22-24 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. 5/24   GM to close plant for a week, slowing supply of 3 SUVs, WSJ, B4.
    ...DaimlerChrysler AG said Thursday that it was reducing operations at its Durango plant in Newark, Del., by one day a week, but said the change was a test of a nontraditional workweek intended to increase efficiency.
    [32-hour workweek comin' up = classic timesizing, and for a classic reason.]
    A spokeswoman for the US-German automaker declined to say whether the altered work schedule, which will remain in effect during June and July, would reduce production of the [Durango?] SUV.

  2. 5/24   GM to close plant for a week, slowing supply of 3 SUVs, WSJ, B4.
    DETROIT - General Motors Corp. is shutting down its Moraine, Ohio, assembly plant for a week, temporarily laying off 4,000 workers. The suburban Dayton plant is to close June 14 through June 21.
    [Timesizing, not downsizing.]
    GM spokesman Dan Flores said the temporary closure will slow the supply of three midsize sport-utility vehicles made at the plant: the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet TrailBlazer and Buick Rainier.
    An Oklahoma City plant that also makes midsize SUVs was temporarily shut down last week.
    As gasoline prices have hit record highs, the Detroit automaker has raised discounts on its largest SUVs twice this month. Industry inventories of midsize and large SUVs at the end of April were enough to last for more than 100 days at April's sale pace, according to Autodata Corp. figures, above the 60-65 days' supply the industry prefers.
    Mr. Flores [said] that the temporary closure will help the company adjust to market trends....
    [Think how easy it would be to adjust if they constantly modulated the workweek instead of jerking in and out of week-at-a-time closures. Compare the economy-wide version, "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment" = Walter Reuther's phrase.]

  3. 5/22   Volkswagen workers on strike in Brazil, Bloomberg via NYT, B3.
    Workers at a Volkswagen plant in Sao Jose dos Pinhas, Brazil, will continue a strike that began Wed. after negotiations to reduce working hours stalled, a union representing the plant's workers said yesterday.
    Workers decided to extend the strike to at least Monday after failing to reach an agreement with the company to reduce working hours to 40 hours a week from 42 hours, the union said.
    Volkswagen is resisting pressure for wage increases and a reduction in working hours as it seeks to break even in Brazil after five years of losses.
    [VW of all companies should know better.]
    Earlier this week, a labor appeals court granted the company an injunction allowing it not to comply with a lower court decision that called for workers' hours to be cut.
    The strike is the second in two weeks at the plant in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, in southern Brazil. The first strike lasted four days and ended May 14 after the labor court ruled that the company must cut working hours and icnrease its profit sharing offer to the 2,500 workers at the plant, which makes Fox, Golf, and Audi A3 cares. The plant makes 450 cars a day, the unions said.
    The second strike began as workers protested the injunction holding off any 'adverse' ruling for Volkswagen [our quotes] until its appeal was analyzed by the court and allowing it to withhold pay from the first strike.

  4. [contrast this article with our first article today involving timesizing for efficiency]
    5/24   Capacity question hovers over industry, by Timothy Aeppel, WSJ, A2.
    [Another article displaying mainstream economists' confusion about capacity and productivity, including such silly statements as -]
    ...In simple terms, there were too many companies supplying the world with more products than were needed....
    [Anything but admit to the weakening consumer markets caused by CEOs' kneejerk downsizing instead of Timesizing. And more straining to hide spreading depression, especially from investors.]

  5. 5/24   Indian IT pros to earn more in the US, by Sangeeta Kulkarni, The Economic Times via Times News Network [India].
    MUMBAI [erstwhile Bombay] - The new FairPay regulations announced by the US Department of Labour, governing overtime eligibility for white-collar workers under the Fair Labour Standards Act could impact salaries that Indian IT companies pay to their onsite staff.
    The FairPay regulations, which had not been updated for 50 years, expand the number of workers eligible for overtime by nearly tripling the salary threshold. Under the old regulations only workers earning less than $8,060 per annum were guaranteed overtime. The new rules, while expanding the threshold, ensure that workers earning $23,660 or less are guaranteed overtime payments. This also includes white-collared workers such as executives and administrators who were not entitled for overtime earlier.
    Though Indian companies mostly depute a large number of employees with H-1B and L1 visas , they do recruit local executives for onsite jobs. Industry estimates suggest that of all the H-1B applicants every year, 30-40% happen to be Indian. Valid for six years, emoluments for H-1B visa-holders stand at $60,000 per annum.
    “If companies pay an H-1B visa-holder below $60,000 annually, an undertaking needs to be given to the government department along with an approval stating that such employees will not be fired from the company. This rarely happens, as second-rung companies are rampart at circumventing this clause,” said a senior official from a Bangalore-based software company who did not want to be named. It’s no surprise that onsite wages took a hit when the US government tightened rules for H-1B last year, preventing Indian companies from using the L1 visa route to depute workers onsite.
    The regulations, expected to protect salaried employees in the US from pay discrimination, will make it compulsory for Indian IT companies to stick to regulations laid down by the US Labour Department. This will make it mandatory for companies to conform to new pay structures and extra allowance for hours of work overtime. The new regulations are expected to strengthen overtime protection for 6.7m low-wage salaried workers, including 1.3m salaried white-collar workers, who were not entitled to overtime pay under the existing regulations. The changes are expected to take place within 120 days from the publication of the regulations and will require all employers to review their existing job classifications and wage levels to ensure compliance with the new rules.
    Human resource consultants at Hewitt Associates suggest that employers will be expected to comply with the new regulations by mid-August ’04. They will need to determine which employees need to be classified as eligible for overtime and also identify which employees qualify for the highly-compensated employee exemption. This might call for revamping the existing compensation package to arrive at changes in the new salary thresholds.
    Most top-rung Indian companies have close to 50% of their total revenues emanating from onsite work.
    Revenue from onsite services for Infosys were higher at 55.1% during the March ’04 quarter, compared with 53.4% in December ’03. The company billed 14,796 people during March ’04 against 12,978 in December ’03. Wipro’s onsite revenues during the March ’04 quarter stood at 58% against 59% in December ’03.
    According to Wipro’s chief executive, talent transformation and external relations, Laxman J Badiga, “The fixed emolument of $60,000 for H-1B visa-holders had been done away with earlier, but was reintroduced after the number of visas issued in a year dropped to 65,000. The government has not specified anything yet.”
    “We do not see a major issue with employees working ‘overtime’ and are not averse to paying for work done over and above regular work hours,” Mr Badiga told ET.
    Companies can pay below $60,000 per annum as long as they comply with respective state laws for specific skill sets and designations, salaries of which vary from one location to another. “Whether this regulation impacts the labour category or the knowledge worker is yet to be seen. However, if the need arises, employees would be compensated,” Mr Badiga said.
    If an employee works overtime, compensation would be arrived at depending on the project work, company regulations and a mutual agreement between the employee and the company.

5/21/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/20 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 & 3 which are from the 5/21 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. European Commission's working time proposals cause alarm, MaltaMedia Daily News.
    European Trade Unions have expressed alarm at a new proposal from the European Commission, which they claim opens the door to the lengthening of working times in the EU. Trade unionists are alarmed by the fact that the Commission is still considering preserving a much-debated exemption clause in the directive, known under the term 'individual opt-out'.
    EUObserver.com says the individual opt-out offers workers [or rather, worker-pressuring employers] the possibility to be exempted to the EU rule and work longer than 48 hours. In Britain, where the opt-out can be generally applied, more than 16% of employees work longer than the EU maximum, research by the Commission has shown.
    The Commission’s document released on 19 May, sets out different approaches to reform the "working time directive", an EU law adopted in 1993 which sets a maximum of 48 working hours a week for employees in the EU, the EU Observer reported.
    The Commission has said it may follow these approaches if trade unions and employers do not agree to a common position after nine months of negotiations. In other countries, the opt-out is applied in specific sectors which require long and fluctuating working hours, such as health and tourism.
    European business groups are also worried, the EU Observer continued to say. A spokeswoman for Eurochambers, a pan-European Commerce and Industry group, stated that it was "frightening" that the Commission still considered abolition of the opt out.
    She pointed out that two new EU member states, Cyprus and Malta, had immediately implemented the opt-out on a sector-wide basis when joining the Union, reflecting the necessity to retain the clause.
    Eurochambers also says the opt-out is especially crucial to preserve, following recent judgements by the European Court of Justice. The Court ruled in 2000 and 2003 that time spent on call by doctors at the workplace constitutes working time. This has driven up costs for European hospitals, which now have to pay full pay to doctors who rest or sleep while on call.
    To circumvent the Court rulings, France, Spain and Italy are now applying the opt-out from the maximum working week to their health sectors.
    Despite the divergent positions of trade unions and employers, the Commission is pressing social partners to engage in negotiations. If they decide not to do so, the EU executive is set to propose its own revision of the working time directive to EU member states in the near future.
    Trade Unions and socialist politicians had pleaded for total abolition of the opt-out, which would make the 48-hour maximum generally binding in the EU, the EU Observer said. The General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation John Monks said, "Not only does (the Commission) still see the retaining of the opt-out as a legitimate possibility, it also considers to further increase the scope for companies to opt out from regulations on maximum working time through collective bargaining".
    However, the Commission also mentions another option in its strategic document - a "phasing out" of the opt-out, meaning an abolition in the longer term, EUObserver said.

  2. Fed shifts focus to inflation from job growth, WSJ, A2<1.
    [Timesizing has a better way to fight inflation than neglecting job growth or even encouraging unemployment, as the Fed does with its NAIRU targets (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment): Force inflationary incentive (money motive) to transform into deflationary incentive (job satisfaction) after a certain point in every corporation's and individual's workweek, or stop work there. This is the effect of Timesizing Phase Two and Phase Three - at last a balance of inflationary and deflationary incentives.]

  3. [another union adrift -]
    SBC Communications Inc., WSJ, B5.
    ...More than 100,000 prepared for a 4-day strike starting this morning as neither side would come to the bargaining table.... Since Feb., the Communications Workers of America union [CWA] and SBC conducted more than 60 days of negotiations to reach a labor agreement. But differences over everything from healthcare, pensions and salary levels to job security persisted when the last round of talks ended on Tuesday.
    [The stupid half of the labor movement is still using a disordered 'grocery list' of demands instead of a prioritized and strategic list that starts with work sharing via shorter shifts and fuller employment. They just don't get how weak their power is now they've neglected the 'shorter hours - fuller employment - no labor surplus' issue for so many decades in favor of bucking market forces in a surplus by fighting for higher pay.]
    The CWA wants SBC to provide job security to its members in the company's core local-phone business, which is in the midst of a decline.
    [Note that it's in the midst of a decline largely because of the failure of the union movement in America, which have failed to stop the inrush of worksaving technology a la Luddism, failed to stop CEOs' kneejerk downsizing in response to technology (downsizing which necessarily includes CEOs' own markets!), and failed to substitute timesizing for downsizing so that workforces and consumer markets would at least remain stable, if not grow by deeper timesizing to spread the vanishing employment and skills further.]
    The CWA says SBC has laid off 29,000 workers in the past 3 years....
    [And still the CWA is on the 'bad mgmt!' tantrum waveband instead of 'what's the next step in our long-term strategy to mop up the gross surplus of labor hours in the job market in this area' waveband.]
    The union would like its members to get access to potential jobs in growth areas of SBC's business, including Wi-Fi, Digital Subscriber Lines, data and video.
    [Timesizing includes overtime-to-training&hiring conversion. One of labor's biggest problems is its ambivalence about overtime, but overtime is the most pervasive locus of growth areas in business. If unions continue to cede arbitrary hiring power to management instead of fighting for the automation of hiring as dictated by market forces acting through the incidence of overtime throughout the economy, unions will continue to be useless in the grand scheme of human evolutionary progress, and will continue to weaken as an irrelevant force representing mere overhead. Note that employer-targeting overtime-to-hiring conversion also requires followup with employee-targeting overwork-to-hiring conversion, where overwork is 'total overtime from all jobs' for multi-job employees, and that includes any self-employment on the side. This is the kind of discipline that is required of an effective labor-union movement today, always has been. European unions have remained closer to prioritizing shorter worktime and have kept labor hours in less of a surplus and themselves in greater strength and influence. American unions were a lot closer to this kind of solidaritous discipline in the 1930s until the CIO (higher pay first) around 1935 split off from the AFL (shorter hours first) and thereby 'cooked the goose' of the labor movement in America for the next 70 years and counting, despite the reunion of the two groups in 1955.]
    Should a strike occur, the company will bring back some retirees and work with vendors that can substitute for workers on strike....
    [The unions don't even have the loyalty of their own retirees???]

5/20/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/19 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2 which is from the 5/20 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Commission tries to cool debate on UK working hours opt-out, by Raphael Minder, Financial Times [UK].
    [The EU taps its fingers and rolls its eyes some more while its prima-donna 'gimme special treatment' member, Britain, demonstrates the near-sighted employer attitude that has given it deteriorating living standards throughout the last few decades. The other members should just toss it out. (And we're anglophiles! 'The British, the British, the British are best - we wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest.' But enuf's enuf!]
    BRUSSELS - The European Commission sought yesterday to take the heat out of the debate about whether Britain should be allowed to keep its right to opt out of legislation limiting the working week to 48 hours, by keeping all options on the table.
    The European Union's executive proposed 4 approaches to improving use of the opt-out, blamed for giving Britain the EU's longest working hours and making it the only member state where weekly working time has increased over the last decade.
    1. ...tighten the conditions under which individual workers can opt out of the 48-hour limit on their working week.
    2. ...allow derogations from the limit on the basis of collective agreements between employers and employees.
    3. ...retain the possibility of an individual opt-out in cases where no collective agreement is reached.
    4. ...the option judged unacceptable by the British government - is gradually to remove the opt-out altogether.
    By presenting such a wide array of options, Stavros Dimas, the EU's employment commissioner, said he hoped to encourage the Union's social partners - employers' federations and trade unions - to come to an agreement among themselves, without requiring the Commission to act as final arbiter.
    The social partners are expected to report in 6-8 weeks on whether they believe such an agreement can be found. If their answer is positive, they will then have nine months to finalise a deal.
    The EU working time directive sets a maximum working week of 48 hours. It was agreed in 1993 under the proviso that it would be reviewed a decade later. Britain was the only EU country that decided to apply a general exemption from the legislation and permit individual workers to opt out of the 48-hour limit.
    [So do they permit individuals to opt out of stopping for stoplights? to opt out of stopping at the one-person one-vote limit? the one husband, one wife limit?]
    Although the Commission's review published in January also highlighted other problem areas, such as the treatment of working hours in the health sector, the British opt-out has proved a particularly sensitive issue.
    Mr Dimas might be more open to arguments that a flexible approach to working time is needed in times of economic difficulties than his predecessor, Anna Diamantopoulou, who felt British companies were using the opt-out in a "very abusive" way. Mr Dimas said yesterday: "We should improve the directive, but we should also choose a solution that strengthens the competitiveness of our economies."

  2. Benefit cuts at Microsoft, Bloomberg via NYT, C5.
    The Microsoft Corp. will cut vacation time for new employees....
    [Longer worktime, same annual salary = hourly wage cut. Compare neighboring story -]
    Strike planned at SBC, Bloomberg via NYT, C5.
    ...The union, the Communications Workers of America...has criticized the company's positions on wages, healthcare costs, and job security....
    [Where's the biggest issue, worktime??! Compare also -]
    Norway: Brewers on strike, Reuters via NYT, W1.
    ...Oystein Gaare, the negotiator for the workers, said unions wanted a say in decisions about hiring to assuage concerns that breweries would bring in workers from the eastern European countries that joined the EU on May 1....
    [Again, where's the most important demand in the age of automation, shorter worktime??!]

  3. Businesses: Prepare for new rules on overtime - Congress could block the revisions, but at seminar, lawyers say don't bet on it, by John Reid Blackwell, Richmond Times-Dispatch.
    Businesses in Virginia - and their employees - should get ready for new federal overtime regulations expected to take effect in August, despite attempts in Congress to derail the changes, several labor lawyers said yesterday.
    "At this point . . . assume they are going into effect," Gregory B. Robertson of the law firm Hunton & Williams told about 50 business executives and other professionals at a seminar in Richmond.
    The new rules, drafted by the Labor Dept. and issued in April, will give employers more flexibility in determining whether white-collar workers are eligible for overtime pay. The changes could affect a range of workers, including nurses, musicians and fast-food restaurant managers.
    The new regulations "are going to impact practically every employer in Virginia," said Keith Cheatham, director of government affairs for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
    The Bush administration says that the new rules are needed to update regulations established under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Those rules haven't been changed substantially in 50 years.
    Labor unions and Democrats are opposing the revisions, arguing that many middle-income workers will lose their right to overtime pay when the changes take effect Aug. 23.
    Congress could block the new regulations. The Senate approved a Democrat-sponsored amendment this month that would, in effect, gut the revisions. Democrats want to force a vote in the House, too, but Republicans are resisting that.
    The labor lawyers at yesterday's seminar - all of whom have represented business interests - said the changes would benefit employers by simplifying rules that are outdated and that have prompted too many lawsuits. "These regulations are a lot better than what we had [before]. They are clearer," said Clinton S. Morse, a partner in the LeClair Ryan law firm.
    Morse and three other lawyers spent about four hours explaining the regulations, which aren't as far-reaching as the initial revisions the Labor Dept. proposed in early 2003.
    Under the new regulations, the minimum weekly salary required for exemption from overtime pay would increase from $155 to $455, which supporters have said would secure overtime pay for thousands of workers. The new regulations would simplify the definition of executives and administrators who are exempt from overtime. It also would exempt "highly-paid employees" and professionals who earn more than $100,000 per year, except for those in jobs that involve manual labor, such as construction and maintenance.
    Other jobs that would be affected include "learned professionals" such as architects and accountants and "creative professionals" such as musicians, artists and writers.
    The "biggest win" for employers, Morse said, is a change in the regulations for salaried managers and supervisors who perform "concurrent duties." That would include employees such as restaurant and store managers who, in addition to managerial tasks, also spend some time doing work that is typically overtime-eligible, such as working at checkout counters. "I think retailers are going to be huge beneficiaries of this," Morse said.
    But the lawyers also cautioned employers against implementing the changes in a way that takes advantage of workers. "If you leave [employees] doing exactly the same job and you reduce their pay, you know somebody is going to go see a lawyer," said John Barr, a partner at LeClair Ryan and the former state commissioner of labor and industry.
    The seminar was organized by the Virginia chamber, which supported the changes in overtime regulations, and the law firms.
    "I don't think anybody benefits from having the regulations that we have now that are so complicated," Cheatham said.

5/19/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/18 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. Unions in fresh working hours campaign, Ananova [UK].
    BRITAIN - The TUC [Trades Union Council] is stepping up its campaign for shorter working hours with a fresh attack on the Government.
    The group has hit out at the decision to keep an opt-out from a European directive which aims to limit hours to 48 a week.
    [When a so-called Labor Party is in power and they're representing management, not labor, you're really in trouble. Especially when the "leader" of this "people's party" disses the anti-war feelings of the people and supports Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq. But then astonishingly, the same also happened in Spain and Japan. It's like people are so stunned by the new Millennium or something, that they can't change their leaders any more. Whatever happened to the Vote of Non-Confidence in the parliamentary systems? Whatever happened to the calls for impeachment in the U.S? You KNOW that if the parties had been reversed, the Republicans would have been calling for Bush's impeachment within his first six months!]
    The European Commission is meeting in Brussels to discuss the Working Time Directive and the Government's case for maintaining the opt-out.
    The TUC said the Government was denying that long hours affected health and safety despite official research showing "clear grounds for concern".
    The reduction in working hours was so slow that it would take 40 years for the UK to reach the European average, said the organisation.
    TUC General Secy Brendan Barber said: "The UK Government's evidence is riddled with errors, inconsistencies and sloppy argument. Trade unionists will fail to understand why the Government is arguing to reduce employee rights when they are arguing that people at work should support them in the European elections."
    ["Will fail" to understand? Why are trade unionists pulling their verbal punches and talking wimpy like this? They already DO "fail" to understand! Say it! Cut the mealy mouth!] The Dept. of Trade & Industry said the Government was dealing with the UK's long hours culture but stressed that a flexible labour market was important.
    [More important than longer hours are stronger markets, and that's what you get from stronger consumers, and that's what you get from fuller employment, regardless of working hour levels. As it happens, when you raise worksaving technology, you must lower working hours per person OR employment-consumption-markets; pick one.]

  2. France says 35-hour week is failing, Chicago Sun-Times.
    PARIS - The [short-sighted] French government Monday described the 35-hour working week as a financial disaster that was costing the state billions of dollars and promised to reform the system despite fierce union [and public] opposition.
    The finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the 35-hour week had burdened the state with additional social charges and that it had demoralized millions of workers.
    [ignoring the fact that it had unburdened the state from billions of social charges such as unemployment benefits and raised the morale of millions of workers and dependents who could now find a job that didn't erase their family and spiritual lives.]
    "The Socialists made a decision which is not compatible with our responsibilities to Europe," he said.
    [If working long hours has anything whatsoever to do with anyone's "responsibilities to Europe," we suggest this troglodyte push right back to seven 12-hour days, and reverse France's world leadership on shorter hours into world leadership on first-world sweatshops.]
    He suggested a system whereby those who wanted to stay on the 35-hour week could do so, but those who wanted to work and earn more had greater latitude.
    [This moron can't see the forest for the trees. On a whole-system basis, earnings vary not with individual-employee hours but with supply and demand of labor hours, and France, with over 9% unemployment, has a surplus of labor hours on offer in the job market, and therefore an already strong downward pressure on earnings. Re-raising the workweek would result in downsizing, further concentrate human employment in France, further raise unemployment (it was 12.6% in 1997 before the 35-hour workweek began to be implemented), further raise resistance to technological efficiencies and re-weaken French domestic consumer demand, which has made France relatively independent of exports. This government deserves to be kicked to the moon for its contempt of the public will and for what has become the locus and center of "l'exception francaise" = for all its imperfections of design, the shortest nationwide workweek on Earth at the dawn of the Third Millennium.]
    The 35-hour week came into effect in 1997, as the Socialists' idea for reducing unemployment. Unemployment now is just under 10%.
    [And this near-sighted government, who got into power merely because of the greater variety of interest and opinion on the side of progress and a dysfunctional voting system that gives more weight to indiscriminate one-party votes than overall party orientation, is doing its damnedest to push unemployment over 10% and maybe even beat the 1997 record of 12.6%. Brilliant - not.]

  3. [Here's the Bushies' "party line" on their own "wonderful" overtime changes.]
    Labor regulation in the 21st century economy - Heritage Lecture #836, by Steven J. Law [a Labor Dept. official?], Heritage.org [a rightwing thinktank].
    [Ah, doesn't he mean in the 18th century? because that's where all his ideas are from.]
    USA - I'm going to talk to you today about three things:
    1. the phenomenon of change in America's workforce and economy,
    2. right responses to change,
      [doesn't he mean 'rightwing' responses? There may be better and worse responses, maybe even a best of imperfect responses, but certainly no single 'right' response except to someone whose ideology and narrow&shorter-term self-interest has set him up for black&white thinking]
    3. and the alternative of resisting change at any cost.
    Well over a decade ago, the Dept. of Labor commissioned a study of trends that would affect and shape the workforce of the future. Much of that report reads as if it were written yesterday. Among the trends it identified were the transition to a worldwide economy, the widespread use of technology, and diversity in the workforce.
    The Dept. recently did another study of workforce trends that confirmed the accelerating impact of these trends - changing our economy and our workforce.
    Today, labor markets look nothing like they did two centuries ago, when most Americans were employed in agriculture. In just the last 60 years, our labor force has remade itself again. As jobs in manufacturing declined during the second half of the 20th century, workers transitioned to a booming service sector that continues to grow.
    In the 21st century workforce, change is the norm. People change jobs an average of nine times during their career. In 2002 alone, there were 50 million job separations - and 50 million new hires. That is over one-third of the entire workforce, and even in a challenging economy, the majority of these job separations involved workers who left their jobs voluntarily to seek better opportunities.
    1. The positive impact of change
    Change is an uncomfortable word to some, but the truth is that, for the most part, the impact of the changes shaping our 21st century workforce is positive. The transition to a worldwide economy and the use of technology have reduced the cost of consumer goods for families. They have made our economy and workforce more productive - and that has helped raise our overall standard of living.
    In most recessions, for example, wages fall considerably. Yet in the 2000-2001 recession, the exact opposite happened: Real wages continued to climb, probably buoyed by record-high productivity.
    Some people also assume that the transition from manufacturing to services means nothing but low-wage, low-skill, no-benefit jobs.
    [People don't 'assume' this. They have no biassing self-interest to protect and they just look around them.]
    Again, the opposite is coming true.
    [Sure - if you look very carefully.] One of the great advantages that American workers possess over their foreign counterparts is flexibility.
    [This kind of flexibility is not a 'possession' of American workers but of a relatively few big-company American CEOs.]
    We have adapted [=been slammed?] to these massive economic changes, transitioned to [=flushed away?] new careers and fields, and taken advantage [in the top income brackets anyway] of the benefits of technology and worldwide trade.
    As a result, our workforce is better off than the change-resistant workforces of other modern economies.
    [Boy, is this guy insulated.]
    For example, while the unemployment rate in the United States is now 5.7%, it is above 9% in both France and Germany.
    [Never mind that we count a lot less of the problem of dependency and non-self-support than France or Germany. For example, in the early 1990s we started counting a part-time job the same as a full-time job, no matter how few hours per week, instead of just as a fraction of a full-time job as previously.]
    An even better measure of economic vitality is how long workers stay unemployed.
    [This is not a measure of economic vitality but merely of duration of unemployment benefits.]
    In the U.S., [only] 8.5% of workers were unemployed for a year or longer.
    [in 2003??]
    That compares with 34% in France and a stunning 48% in Germany.
    [- because they have much longer-lasting unemployment benefits. To get a more valid comparison here, we need to include in the US percentage all our long-term unemployed whom we have carefully hidden in welfare, disability, homelessness and incarceration. Then there's our 30,000 suicides per year. And then there's our milder cases of forced retirement, forced un-retirement and forced self-'employment.' All in all, with generally much shorter annual working hours (shorter workweeks and longer vacations), European economies get a much bigger consumer base out of each of their national populations than the U.S. does, because the U.S. is 'icing' so many of its consumers in categories that its mainstream economists ignore ('externalize') and don't want to hear about.]
    That is clear evidence that though change is hardly risk-free, the price of resisting change is much higher.
    [The only clear evidence we see is that American living standards are deteriorating a lot faster than continental Western Europe's. One measure: prison population per capita. Another: rate of growth of 'disability.' Of course, Western Europe's rate of deterioration may speed up now that they've admitted poor Eastern Europe to the EU. By the way, he says upfront that his third point is going to be about the alternative of resisting change at any cost, but this is his only mention of this phrase.]
    2. The right response to economic trends
    [While there may be a best response, there is certainly not one 'right response' and this certainly isn't it.]
    We believe that the right response to powerful economic trends is to constructively engage them, modify our laws and regulations to ensure that we are reaping the maximum benefit from them, and reach out compassionately to those in our workforce who need assistance in managing the transition.
    [A well-designed transition does not require compassion from a wealthy elite and does not push the burden of managing the transition onto the powerless.]
    That has been the guiding philosophy of this Administration and this Dept. of Labor, but in pursuing these goals, we have encountered a very different response to change.
    Change comes infrequently to the world of labor and employment law because it is a highly polarized and politicized environment. There are entrenched constituencies on either side, and they have opposing views on just about everything.
    When my predecessor, Cam Findlay, came here [where's 'here'?] to speak a couple of years ago, he referenced the Seal of the Dept. of Labor as a symbol for the lack of dynamic change in this area. The Seal has not been modified in many, many years, and most of the images of work depicted on the Seal are from a bygone era.
    3. A different Dept. of Labor [and the alternative of resisting change at any cost]
    I'm here to confess today that we still have the same Seal - but behind that Seal is a very different department. We have pursued dramatic, positive reforms of our programs and regulations to ensure that America's economy continues to grow and American workers continue to benefit.
    [Or American CEOs anyway, especially big political contributors and Bush croneys.]
    But it hasn't been easy, and we are not all the way there, because at every step of the way we have encountered intense resistance - not just to the specific reforms we were pursuing, but also to the underlying currents of change that necessitated them.
    [No kidding. Why on earth could that possibly be?]
    Let me give you a couple of examples. Over the last three years, there has been a wave of financial scandals and a corresponding demand for increased financial transparency and accountability.
    [Guess a lot of CEOs thought figured Bush had brought-in the Wild West.]
    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act [wasn't that opposed by Bush?] imposed a panoply of new financial and governance controls on public companies, following the collapse of Enron [led by Bush-buddy Ken Lay - still unprosecuted] and other high-profile cases.
    The Dept. of Labor is the only government entity - the only one - that regulates the financial integrity of unions. Most labor leaders, like their corporate counterparts, are people of integrity, but there are bad apples, and weak financial reporting requirements have enabled them to conceal misconduct until the damage was beyond repair. In recent years, our Office of Labor Management Standards has averaged 11 criminal convictions for union corruption per month.
    [Too bad this administration doesn't prosecute OSHA violations this vigorously.]
    The recent Washington Teachers Union case shows the harm that can be done to union members when there is no transparency or accountability. Late last year, we issued new transparency reforms that will give union members meaningful information about how their dues money is being spent. In the past, union members had to ask the head of their local for a copy of the union's disclosure form [such a burden!]; now they will be able to access it on the Internet.
    [Big deal.] Sadly, these needed reforms have been blocked every step of the way.
    [He's only given one trivial example. What other 'reforms' is he not talking about here?]
    Staggering amounts of misinformation were disseminated to union locals. Massive comments were submitted to the Federal Register, not just arguing against specific changes or constructively suggesting alternatives, but insisting that the Dept. of Labor had no right to improve financial transparency on behalf of rank-and-file union members.
    When we issued our final rules, we were taken to court - and we won, hands down, in front of a judge that many assumed would be skeptical of our approach. The most significant part of the judge's opinion was its explicit recognition of the reality of change: The financial regulation of institutions has changed. We now have higher expectations of transparency and accountability, and when we see financial misconduct, stronger disclosure is a reasonable antidote.
    Change necessitated financial transparency reform for unions. Many individual unions have embraced these reforms and are preparing to comply. They deserve a lot of credit. But we expect opposition to these reforms will continue as well.
    [Now having softened up his audience by blowing up and going on and on about slightly increasing transparency, he moves on to some downright deforming 'reforms' -]
    Modernizing "white-collar" overtime rules
    We have faced similar epic battles over our 'reforms' [our quotes] to workplace regulations - in particular, our modernization of the "white-collar" overtime rules.
    When Secretary Elaine Chao came to the Dept. of Labor over three years ago, one of her chief goals was to ensure that our programs and regulations reflect the realities of the 21st century economy. American workers are among the most productive in the world [on a per-employee, not per-hour basis!], but outdated, excessive workplace regulations [such as hours-per-person limits?] can hamper that productivity and make us uncompetitive [in the race to the bottom?].
    The right response to the new worldwide economy should not be isolationism.
    [except for Bush who doesn't read newspapers and now Rumsfeld too.]
    The world will not go away, even if we wanted it to.
    [But we, including Republicans, have always controlled its deteriorating influences with tariffs = fair trade, not free trade, and still are in many industries.]
    Instead, we need to do everything we can to make our economy and our workforce more competitive.
    [Not when that means steepening the already steep power gradient between hundreds of millions employees and only tens of thousands of employers - and thereby more tightly concentrating the national income, further slowing the velocity of currency circulation and further weakening domestic consumer demand.]
    At the Dept. of Labor, that means reforming our job training programs to ensure that we are producing the most highly skilled and adaptable workers in the world.
    [WHAT 'job training programs' - we may have the fewest in the developed world.]
    It also means bringing our workplace regulations, most of which were conceived before the Second World War, into the 21st century.
    [We jump down to pick up a later quote: "The mere fact that something was enacted in 1938 does not make it bad policy." Here we have another Bush official who doesn't realize that "before the Second World War was the Great Depression, from which we learned a lot of things the hard way, things that short-sighted CEOs and their lobbyists and their Bushwhackers are now forgetting and dismissing and thereby setting us up to learn them the hard way AGAIN, such as "keep brokerages, insurance companies and banks separate" (but they went and repealed the Glass-Steagal Act anyway) and "go easy on bankrupt individuals" (but they went and made it tougher anyway).]
    Nowhere is the dichotomy between our regulations and current reality starker than in the "white-collar" overtime rules. These rules have not been substantially updated since 1949 - more than 50 years ago. They reference jobs that no longer exist and use tests that have become badly outdated.
    [That's right. The overtime rules should apply to everyone, regardless of collar color and regardless of employee or employer.]
    This confusion has created a legal nightmare. In fact, overtime class actions are among the fastest growing areas of employment litigation today. Class-action lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act have more than tripled since 1997, and overtime class-action lawsuits in federal court now outnumber class actions for discrimination.
    [Whoa, maybe Americans are wising up about the all-points-top-priority, key and critical importance of the issue of worktime per person in all its power and pay implications.]
    The explosion in overtime litigation is taking place at the state level as well, with cases increasing into the tens of millions of dollars. All of this litigation benefits plaintiffs' lawyers, but is it really helping workers?
    [Damn right it is!]
    The reality is that workers typically have to wait two years to get their overtime when they go to court, and that's only after the plaintiffs' lawyers take their share.
    [Better than nothing and better than never!]
    In a recent set of cases involving Taco Bell, Oregon workers each received only about $1,300 while their lawyers took away $1.5m.
    [Misleading figures. What was the total amount the workers received that alone compares with the total amount the lawyers received?]
    Taco Bell workers in California each got about $2,800, while their lawyers received close to $4m. That's why some lawyers recently described overtime litigation as a "gold mine" and a "sleeping giant" and boasted that defendants are usually willing to "roll over and pay." That's also why there is so much resistance to any changes that would clarify the rules and reduce the potential for litigation. We strongly disagree. It is simply wrong for people to be making thousands of dollars an hour in legal fees off of workers who make less than $10/hr [especially when they're fighting for our employees instead of for us?]. For the sake of American workers [but especially for us CEOs, who want 1000 times what average workers make and not just current 700 times!], the regulations need to change.
    Bringing certainty and clarity to overtime security
    [Beware of "certainty" warns Jacob Bronowsky near the end of his monumental "Ascent of Man."]
    The new rules we announced yesterday will strengthen overtime security for workers while giving employers needed certainty and clarity regarding their legal obligations. The new rules expand the number of workers eligible for overtime by nearly tripling the salary threshold: But that's only part of the story. In fact, the new rules clarify overtime rights for workers in all income categories. And we believe that, when workers clearly understand their rights and employers understand their responsibilities, everybody wins.
    We also took the extra step of spelling out who is not affected by the new rules.
    [Here they are spinning their top priority as an afterthought. But there's no further discussion about this here, regardless of the fact that's this is what everyone's objecting to. So quick, distract back to terrorism! Start mention firefighters and police officiers!]
    For the first time in the history of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the overtime rights of police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and licensed practical nurses are explicitly guaranteed in the regulations. Blue-collar workers, such as construction workers, longshoremen and factory workers, members of unions, veterans, and others who currently receive overtime will continue to receive overtime under the new rules.
    You would think that everyone would embrace stronger overtime protection for millions of American workers, but the Dept.'s stronger overtime rules are not good news to plaintiffs' lawyers who have profited under the old system.
    In addition, as I pointed out earlier, the world of labor policy is a highly polarized and politicized environment. Just as we saw with our proposed rule, we expect there will be the same kinds of false attacks and misinformation about our final overtime security rule.
    [Speaking of misinformation, "overtime security"?? Ya mean this will stop terrorists?!]
    Of course, anyone has the right to oppose stronger overtime protection for millions of American workers, but it's wrong to scare workers with false information.
    [Or lull them with selective discussion.]
    Some of the outlandish charges we have heard recently include the following: Conclusion
    Not surprisingly, even before the final rule was released - before anyone had any details about it - one organization had already cut a TV ad attacking it and has been soliciting money on the Internet to put it on the air. That's certainly resourceful.
    But American workers deserve better than false information and partisan attacks.
    [and better than information selection and withholding, and partisan promotion.]
    They deserve workplace regulations that reflect the realities of the 21st century economy - and that protect their rights effectively and efficiently.
    [That would be overtime laws that move us from strained and lame makework to systemic and automatic worksharing, including everyone.]
    Our world continues to change. If we simply resist it, working families will suffer in the long run.
    [The main change the Bushies are resisting is the centrifugation of the national income instead of its further dysfunctional consolidation in the Black Hole of the very top income brackets. As Will Rogers said, "Money's like manure - it's no good unless it's spread around."]
    On the other hand, if we respond to these changes by making our economy and workforce more competitive [but not in a race to the bottom!], and help those who are negatively affected [that will be virtually everybody except a few thousand astronomically wealthy as we enter the Third World], America will continue to be the economic leader of the world.
    [Dubious. Not every economy will be as stupid as us. Some will learn from our mistakes.]

5/18/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/17 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1, 2, & 4 which are from the 5/18 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. You can take this job, by Daniel Akst, WSJ, D10.
    ...You probably expect to derive satisfaction and even status from \your\ career...as well as a livelihood. It probably consumes the bulk of your waking hours. ...But Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine think you are nuts. In "Fire Your Boss" they lay out a radical and dismayingly persuasive vision for rethinking the whole idea of what a career is and what can be expected from it.
    The book's provocative thesis is that babyboomers are in thrall to a fantasy: Unlike their parents, who toiled stoically from 9 to 5 at a mere job and contented themselves with finding satisfaction at home, boomers have set out to find a more meaningful life by finding satisfying work adn investing themselves in it.
    [But -]
    "The search for work that offers both financial and psychological satisfaction has left most people with neither," the authors assert. "Having made such a strong commitment to their work, people today are working longer and longer hours. Meanwhile, they are spending less and less time at home, with their family, in church, in their community, or pursuing their hobbies.
    And despite this incredible time commitment, their income isn't secure."
    [In fact, because of the blank check they have given employers on their time and the resulting huge surplus of manhours on offer in the job market, especially with millions of machine hours being injected every year by waves of new technology, neither their jobs nor their income is secure.]
    Messrs. Pollan and Levine have a solution: "The best route to emotional satisfaction is to stop looking for it at work."...
    [Hear hear! Sounds like another way of saying, 'Work to live, don't live to work' - if you have the choice.] [Followup - here's a case in point of straining to find meaning in the workplace -]
    What Studs Turkel's 'Working' says about worker malaise today - It's hard to find meaning in the modern workplace, editorial observer by William Cohen, 5/31/2004 NYT, A20.
    [So don't even try, says the above article. Just find money and get a life!]

  2. [It seems progressives all over the world are lying down and saying to the forces of self-destructive near-sightedness, "Roll over us. Take us down to the Third World. Take us back to the 'dark Satanic mills' and sweatshops of the 1830s. Nay, make us again those 'happy slaves' of the 1820s." Since Tip O'Neill died, no great voice has emerged in America to envision and lead the fight for progress. Maybe we need to split apart those functions. Tell you what. We at Timesizing.com will do the vision thing. We tried to lead the fight but each time we stood for election, we got half the votes of the previous time (roughly 28000,14000,7000 in 96,98,00). But we're good at envisioning. We trace the grim realization that Democrats, liberals, progressives and greens were 'running on empty' in the Vision Dept. back to Jimmy Carter's loss in 1980. All he had was a dust-off of the New Deal. More and more makework on the assumption that the 40-hour workweek would last forever and we would never get the time-freeing effects of technology. People were already working longer for less in 1980. Women were entering the job market to help out the family and just making it worse by boosting the surplus of labor hours and deepening the cheapening of labor. We needed worktime economics. We needed a developed vision of flexible worksharing or what Walter Reuther called, fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment. But Timesizing.com was nowhere then as was the Internet. Timesizing then had already gone through the stage of Taproots Research and Groundwork Ideas and was poised on Policy Bridges. We were messing around with ecological economics and Herman Daly, even though we already realized, as of 1976, that you couldn't start with redistributing money, standing or flowing. You had to start with rebalancing time, work time - because if you took some away from A to give to B, you were inherently compensating A with something of value = more free time to do whatever s/he liked. You were freeing his/er time from someone else's control or in the case of the self-employed, from the dictatorship of the market. But it took us till 1991-92 and Juliet Schor's "The Overworked America" to discover the embryo of worktime economics, Ben Hunnicutt, and Art Dahlberg (who had just died in 1989). Now we have the most and furthest development of worktime economics anywhere (correct us if you find anyone with more, timesizing(at)aol.com) and it's up to you, dear readers, to push it further. Like Mary McGrory, we're a lot older than we sound (well, OK, not Mary-McGrory-old, yet). This is a complete vision for our future. It's a philosophy of measurement and a philosophy of history and evolution. Grab it. Run with it. Improve it. Bulletproof it. We can't do it all, messianic tho we be. Get some bejeezelly human PROGRESS for a change - if not for your own self-respect as a self-professed intelligent lifeform than if for no other reason, to cut the BOREDOM with the saaame ooold problems year after year, decade after decade, century after century! Cuz here's yet another example of our persistent stupidity, despite our toehold in a new millennium -]
    Right now, somewhere in the world, it's quitting time, full-page ad by EDS.com, WSJ, B4.
    ...Right now, over 130,000 EDS employees are burning the morning, noon, and midnight oil. Right now, while others are punching out, we're just digging in. Right now, it's crunch time....
    [Perpetual "crunch time"? Sounds like bad, constant-crisis management to us.]
    EDS. Manpower. Brainpower. Willpower.
    [And fatigue. All spoiled by hyper error-prone fatigue of these damnfool, self-flagelating, incapable of separating business and pleasure, 24/7, con artists. Timesizing.com to EDS - GET A LIFE! - not to mention some rest. You don't make creative breakthroughs by rubbing your nose and staying myopic against the problem all the time. You'll never see the woods for the trees.]

  3. Siemens of Germany shifts jobs and cuts wages, by Eli Zimmermann, World Socialist.
    At the start of May, Siemens management announced the relocation of 2,000 jobs from its factories at Bocholt and Kamp-Lintfort am Niederrhein to Hungary, where, due to significantly lower wages, production costs are considerably lower than in Germany. Siemens currently still employs 4,500 workers in the production of mobile phones at the plants.
    Alternatively, management offered to allow employees at Bocholt and Kamp-Lintfort to work longer hours without compensation and to forgo their guaranteed annual leave and Christmas pay. Negotiations on the retention of jobs at the plants would be considered on those terms. Even so, 288 production workers at the Bocholt factory were given notice on March 15.
    Stung into action by the well-advanced plans for the relocation of the mobile telephone production, part of ICM (Information & Communication Mobile), IG Metall union representatives revealed that more than 10,000 jobs at Siemens were threatened by cutbacks or relocation to eastern Europe or Asia. Additional areas likely to be affected are Network Parts (ICN), Communication Technology (TS), Automation Technology (A & D) and the area of Power Transportation and Distribution (PTD).
    According to a March 29 report in the magazine Der Spiegel, Siemens head Heinrich von Pierer had ordered all manufacturing bases in Germany to determine “how much more cheaply production could be carried out, if labour costs were based on the lower rate, for instance that of the new EU member Hungary.” Result: the approximately 25-percent-cheaper labour costs correspond to around 10,000 jobs situated in Germany.
    The threat that Siemens management is holding over the heads of its German employees is unmistakeable: either they agree that the difference in the cost of production be recouped through the lowering of wages and longer working hours or the company will shift production elsewhere. The immediate bottom line for the retention of the jobs is the reintroduction of the 40-hour week without compensation (the standard week for engineering workers in west Germany is 35 hours) and relinquishing annual leave [ie: giving up some or all vacation days?] and Christmas pay. Making Saturday a regular working day (with no extra pay) is also being considered.
    Shifting jobs to low-wage countries and taking advantage of the poor working conditions of workers in eastern Europe, China, India or South America are not new for the transnational Siemens company. From the start, it used these methods single-mindedly to exploit the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in eastern Europe after 1989 and the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, in order to establish itself in these countries and take over existing concerns. Wages are often only one fifth or even less than those in Germany or western Europe. The number of workers employed by Siemens in Germany was 238,000 compared to 153,000 employed in other countries in 1993. By 2003, this had altered to 167,000 in Germany and 247,000 elsewhere.
    Even so, the attacks on jobs and social conditions, such as those being demanded and implemented by Siemens management, have undergone a qualitative change. Recently, von Pierer made repeated threats to quit the employers’ federation, so that he would no longer be bound by pay agreements worked out with IG Metall. At the same time, he used flexible working conditions, proposed by the union itself, to ruthlessly push through his plans. In this respect, a recently concluded wage round, allowing enterprises to extend the working week for up to 50% of its employees to 40 hours on demand, has received little publicity.
    The fact that enterprises such as Siemens feel emboldened to go on the offensive against workers is directly related to the expansion of the EU to the east, which came into effect on May 1. In its statement for the European elections, the PSG (Social Equality Party), warned of the consequences of the EU expansion to the east: “The expansion of the EU from 15 to 25 member states on May 1 will intensify the social crisis. The gulf between the richest and poorest countries will increase, under conditions where, in contrast to earlier rounds of European expansion, no significant measures exist to compensate for such tendencies. Extremely low wage levels in eastern European countries will be employed as a lever to undermine wages and living standards in the wealthier countries.”
    Protests by Siemens employees in Bocholt and Kamp-Lintfort
    The workers at the Siemens factories in Bocholt and Kamp-Lintford took part in several protests after plans for the relocation of the mobile phone production facility, became known. On April 1, 1,000 workers at Kamp-Lintfort and 800 at Bocholt were involved in demonstrations. Delegations of Siemens employees, who were affected or concerned, took part in the Europe-wide day of action on April 3, organised as a protest against government attacks on welfare state provisions.
    The factory at Kamp-Lintfort was established in 1963 and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Mobile phone production started in 1985. It was at this factory that Siemens first began the mass production of mobile telephones.
    The European Union, the state of North Rhine Westphalia and the city supported the expansion of the factory, because the region had been particularly hard hit by the decline in mining and the steel industry. For the workers affected by retrenchment and downsizing, it is becoming nearly impossible to find other employment in the area, which currently has a high rate of unemployment.
    Despite the public protestations of IG Metall representatives and works committees against the stand-off tactics used by the Siemens management, they affirm that they are still willing to participate in further negotiations on the introduction of flexible working conditions. It is evident that work at the Kamp-Lintford factory is already highly flexible, due to previous restructuring. In a workplace agreement signed in 1996, it was agreed to make maximum use of production lines: “Subsequently, production is carried out in continuously, in 18 shifts, Monday through to Saturday. Management had assured them this was the only way to keep the site open” (Der Spiegel, March 29, 2004).
    The wage contract for the service and repair workshop for mobiles and cordless phones in Bocholt, concluded at the end of March, illustrates the nature of ongoing concessions. The threat to relocate around 220 jobs to Hungary had ended with the signing of the agreement, said Heinz Cholewa, the leading official of IG Metall in Bocholt. In an exception to the wage agreement, the annual working hours for the affected workers are fixed at 1,760 hours without annual leave or Christmas pay. Annual leave and Christmas pay (which taken together amount to approximately a month’s wages) are abolished in favour of a productivity bonus amounting to 45% of the monthly wage. The contract’s duration is two years, from May 1, 2004, to April 30, 2006.
    According to Siemens’s calculations, shifting its repair workshop to Hungary would have amounted to savings of around 4 million euros. The extra-contractual agreement allowed 3.6 million euros to be saved. IG Metall and the works committee tried to justify their agreement to the massive wage cut and increased hours by claiming that management had shown them draft contracts for the relocation of the enterprise.
    [Labor is stupid and self-defeating and doesn't even understand its own economics, history or power source = controlling its own surplus via worktime-per-person adjustment. IG Metall should have just let Siemens relocate, then fought to limit Siemens' access to the rich German consumer markets that it is no longer supporting, and to get a fluctuating adjustment of the workweek for all Germans against all-inclusively defined unemployment, instead of a rigid and arbitrary 35-hour workweek for only unionized west Germans and 15000 east German steelworkers (plus automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion).]
    Similar agreements have also been made at other areas of the Siemens group. According to a March 31 report in the Frankfurter Rundschau, 1,000 jobs out of a total of 15,500 were cut at the Bosch Siemens Appliances joint venture (BSH). The relocation of 450 jobs to Turkey from the BSH refrigerator factory in the Baden-Wurtemberg city of Giegen was recently prevented by an agreement that involved the giving up of all additional wage subsidies. There is virtually no end to similar examples.
    Eight thousand jobs at the subsidiaries Siemens VDO, Bosch and Siemens Appliances, Osram, and Siemens Business Services are under threat, as well as another 5,000 at Siemens AG, which includes the 2,000 threatened with relocation at ICM at the Kamp-Lintfort and Bocholt factories. The area of Power Transportation and Distribution (PTD) has plans for the total closure of its transformer factory at Kirkheim/Teck, threatening 250 jobs. The production of transformers is to be moved to Hungary.
    Moreover, Siemens is also withdrawing from training and development. The abandonment of the concept of “Zukunft durch Ausbildung” (securing the future through training) means the closure of Siemens training centres at Sachsen-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland. The business college at Essen is to be closed. The 180 trainees affected are to continue their training at Berlin, Erlangen or Munich. According to IG Metall press statements, Siemens had already cut training by 25% in the previous three years. The number of trainees employed fell from 2,900 in 2001 to 2,200 in 2003.
    Besides the thousands of jobs in manufacturing and production being sacrificed through mergers and relocation, more and more jobs in virtually all areas and departments of Siemens are affected.
    According to a report by the chairmen of the leading trade union at Siemens dated April 1, 2004: “The relocation not only affects production workers, as was previously the case, but also employees in all areas of work, for instance in development and administration. In the service areas, a differentiation will be introduced between activities tied to the location and those independent of the location, the latter of which will be brought together into larger units to be relocated.” The relocation of 180 jobs from finance and accounting to Prague is likely to be just the start for the outsourcing of service areas to low-wage countries.
    Last December, Johannes Feldmayer, a Siemens board member, who is also on the board for eastern European operations, gave an interview in Financial Times Deutschland, in which he stated that in the future up to one third of software development is to be carried out in low-wage countries in eastern Europe. Siemens intends to use the eastward expansion of the EU in order to build up its software development, manufacturing and accounting operations in the new member states—in a big way. “We must follow this trend, like all of our competitors, and also partially shift our operations there.” As well as the growth expected in this region, as a result of the lower production cost, there is also the potential to recruit highly qualified software engineers. “We are coming across really fantastic employees with outstanding qualifications,” he said.
    According to the FTD report, Siemens has more than 50,000 employees in the area of research and development, with approximately 30,000 in Germany and most of the others in high-wage countries. “Around 30,000 of the employees in research and development are software developers because Siemens uses software in all areas—from communications technology, industrial automation to information technology. Siemens has around 2,700 developers working at 21 locations in eastern Europe.” Feldmayer told the FTD that this area was expected to expand enormously. The proportion of programmers working for Siemens in India would also expand from about 3,000 to 10,000, according to the March 23 issue of Spiegel Online.
    Last December, Feldmayer made threats similar to those now being made by Heinrich von Pierer: that these developments, the “offshoring” of research and development and especially of software development to low-wage countries, will increase the pressure for restructuring in Germany.
    Feldmayer declared: “Ultimately, Germany will benefit, because we will become more competitive.” The message is clear: either employees in Germany, including highly qualified specialists and engineers, accept longer working hours, lower wages and the destruction of welfare provisions, or production, administration and development will be relocated.
    [Brilliant. The rich and greedy of Germany are designing a return to high-unemployment hell and the destruction of their own relatively maximized consumer base.]
    An example, cited repeatedly by von Pierer, is China, where the employment of 12,000 engineers costs the equivalent of 2,000 in Germany. In Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam or Cambodia. the costs could be even lower. Capitalism has no barriers in the race to the bottom.
    Workers and employees who want to fight to defend their jobs must not let themselves be drawn into the stand-off [ie: confrontational?] tactics of Siemens management, nor the assurances of the unions and works committees, which are often motivated by nationalist considerations. In connection with the discussion on the relocation of jobs, several SPD politicians have accused Siemens of behaving “unpatriotically,” even “as though they had no fatherland.” To be sure, these comments quickly disappeared from public debate, as it is an indisputable fact that German industry and German companies were among the main beneficiaries of the EU expansion, and large areas of industry produce mainly for export. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer recently boasted that German trade with east European countries now exceeded its trade with the US.
    [Wasn't the expansion of the EU supposed to bring the poor up to the rich countries' level, not vice versa? Wasn't "reduction to the lowest common denominator" the main criticism that capitalists had of communism, and now the capitalists are doing it?! That makes them no better than communists.]

  4. Chirac backs longer hours for French workers, AP via WSJ, A17.
    PARIS - Pres. Jacques Chirac gave his backing for moves to alter the country's 35-hour workweek, setting the stage for a showdown with France's powerful trade unions.
    [And the vast majority of its citizenry, with whom the 35-hour week is very popular and now regarded as an entitlement, if not the key to the "French cultural exception" - they're certainly leading the world in this top-priority area.]
    Mr. Chirac said employers and labor groups could be asked to agree on "legal changes" to rules put in place under the previous, Socialist government.
    [What if employees say NO? And as a matter of fact, the previous Capitalist government had already enacted in summer 1996 a voluntary shorter-hours workweek called the Robien Law that just wasn't gaining traction fast enough because unemployment was still climbing to a peak of 12.6% in the first half of 1997.]
    "I've never been convinced of the positive effect of the 35-hour week," Mr. Chirac said.
    [People just do not comprehend the cumulative effect of incessantly inrushing technology. But what does it take for them to "get it"? What does it take to convince them that if you don't want higher and higher unemployment welfare 'disability' homelessness incarceration endless-irrelevant-education ever-earlier-or-delayed-retirement parasitism-supporting-taxation split-society and taxation, you must FLEXIBLY SHARE THE VANISHING HUMAN EMPLOYMENT. And France is currently the world leader on this top-priority issue. French unemployment went from 12.6% in 1997 when the 35-hour workweek concept was voted in to 8.6% in 2001 when substantially all companies and gov't departments had or were trying to implement it and before the US-led recession cut in, and even then unemployment climbed back only to 9.5% - and meanwhile French economic growth has recently been exceeding economists' estimates - thanks to the consumer-base optimization and maximization of the shorter workweek. Apparently clueless Jacques "The Hack" Chirac wants to "fix something that works."]
    "I feel it's been a brake on economic development and therefore a brake on overall employment."
    [Then how come France was the last economy in the EU to succumb to the recession of 2001 except for Ireland? And how come France's first-quarter growth, still bolstered by the additional employment of the greater work spreading and sharing of the lower workweek, grew 0.8% from 4Q03, which in turn grew a revised 0.6% from 3Q03 (5/13/2004 #1)? Economists had predicted only 0.5% growth for 1Q04.]
    Mr. Chirac's comments came amid growing pressure for change from his outspoken finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy,
    [so how much pressure can one loudmouth minister exert? - just tell his to ferme sa gueule (=shaddap!)]
    as well as from industry leaders such as Edouard Michelin, head of French tire giant Michelin SA.
    [There are a lot of ignorant industry leaders, even in shorter-hours hours France. They need to take a look at the writings of smarter industry leaders before them, such as Lord Leverhulme (The Six Hour Day and Other Industrial Questions, 1919) and Edward Filene (Successful Living in this Machine Age, 1931) which states, "For selfish business reasons...genuine mass production industries must make prices lower and lower and wages higher and higher, while constantly shortening the workday and bringing to the masses not only more money but more time in which to use and enjoy the ever-increasing volume of industrial products." (Page 1). Reveillez-vous, Edouard! Wake up and smell the coffee!]
    Since its defeat in March regional elections, the conservative government had resisted calls to scrap or overhaul the 35-hour workweek enjoyed by workers below middle management.
    [Guess so, but there's a fashion among some leaders these days, whether self-misnamed "conservatives" like Bush or Aznar or Chirac or the South Korean opposition, or self-styled "liberals" like Blair or Schroeder, to suck up to short-sighted business "leaders" regardless of the opposition of the majority of the voters. They talk democracy and walk dictatorship.]
    The law was introduced by the Socialist-led government of former PM Lionel Jospin as a way of creating jobs,
    [and create them it did, as unemployment declined 1% for each of the four hours cut from the workweek (from 12.6% to 8.6%, same as the US results 1938-40 when we cut from 44 to 40 hours a week]
    but some employers and right-wing politicians say it has done more harm than good to the economy. Mr. Sarkozy said the law would soon cost the state E16B ($19.2B) a year in social-charge cuts promised to companies that implement it.
    [Ah, why aren't we setting that against the amount the state is saving each year by having hundreds of thousands of people employed instead of on unemployment or the dole? And does Sarkozy want a return to 12-13% unemployment?]
    If the government persists [in trying to re-raise the 35-hour workweek to 39 or 40], said Maryse Dumas, the No.2 official at France's CGT union, "then obviously we'll take action."
    [Our advice: don't wait. Roll out the charts and econometrics to refute Sarkozy's one-sided nonsense.]
    The CGT and Force Ouvriere unions - which command a strong following in transportation, power, municipal services and other strike-sensitive sectors - want the 35-hour week extended to cover more, not fewer, employees.
    [That would certainly lower the current 9% or so unemployment rate and save taxpayers more money.]
    About half the workforce is excluded, they say, after the government passed a law early this year adding 'flexibility' [our quotes] for the smallest employers.
    [France did not really make enough different gradations of company size in the transition to the 35-hour workweek. South Korea is pioneering a better set of gradations in its cut from 44 to 40 starting this summer (see 4/28/2004 #2). Also, if the general workweek is gradually brought down lower and lower to absorb all the unemployed, competitive pressures will flexibly force smaller and smaller employers to cut their workweeks without the government having to shove it down their throats with legislation. The unions should be fighting for FLUCTUATING adjustment of the workweek against comprehensively defined unemployment instead of trying to crack the whip on little employers. Also, it would greatly facilitate their leadership on shorter hours if they got a better overtime design along the lines of automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]

  5. [Here's a longer, more strident version of the French story -]
    French 35-hour week 'a disaster', by Philip Delves Broughton, telegraph.co.uk.
    The French government yesterday described the 35-hour working week as a financial disaster that was costing the state billions of pounds and promised to reform the system despite fierce union opposition.
    In an interview in yesterday's Le Figaro, the finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the 35-hour week had lumbered the state with £10 billion a year in additional social charges and that it had demoralised millions of workers.
    "The Socialists made a decision which is not compatible with our responsibilities to Europe," he said. He suggested a system whereby those who wanted to stay on the 35-hour week could do so, but those who wanted to work and earn more had greater latitude.
    "At a state level, we must make productivity gains, but I also want to reward those who work harder…to increase their buying power. This question of buying power is not a taboo."
    M Sarkozy was appointed finance minister last month, following the heavy defeat inflicted on President Chirac's ruling Union pour un Mouvement Populaire in regional elections. He hopes to use the post as a springboard into a campaign for the presidency in 2007, whether or not M Chirac decides not to run again. M Chirac and his prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, have backed off any controversial reforms for fear of agitating the unions, but M Sarkozy's ambition is likely to force the pace.
    The 35-hour week came into effect in 1997, as the Socialists' big idea for reducing unemployment. Unemployment fell until 2000, while the economy boomed, but has since risen again, to just under 10%.
    Employers despised the plan from the start, as they were forced to keep salaries at the same level while getting less work from their employees.
    Government aid and repeated promises of flexibility have scarcely helped and the employers' union has not let up in lobbying for the system's repeal.
    Employees, however, enjoyed the extra time off allowed by their shorter working week. Working mothers were especially pleased, as it allowed them to see their children on the Wednesday school half-day, gym memberships soared, as did interest in home improvement, gardening and other hobbies.
    But with France's economy sputtering, smaller businesses in particular have clamoured for help. A system that once seemed a leap forward in working conditions is now attacked as yet another regulatory burden on those wanting to pull themselves up the economic ladder.
    Last August's heat wave also showed the flaws in the system. While almost 15,000 more people than usual died in the first half of the month, hospitals complained that the 35-hour week had left them with severe staff shortages.
    In addition to easing France's restrictive labour laws, M Sarkozy is also pursuing an economic nationalism, pressing for changes to European Union rules so that governments can support big companies at times of distress and help to give them a competitive advantage against global rivals.

  6. [Bonus -]
    New overtime changes spark confusion, by Leigh Strope, AP 05/17/04 08:33 EDT via AOLNews.
    [This whole discussion is off the mark in two ways - Only economies that implement these principles will be short-term competitive and long-term sustainable.]
    WASHINGTON - New federal overtime regulations will not take effect automatically in 18 states, provoking widespread confusion among state officials, employers and workers, and sparking political battles over how to respond.
    Those states have their own overtime requirements, some of which mirror the old federal rules being replaced in August. Legislative action is required in some states to make changes, complicating an already complex and politically turbulent issue in an election year.
    ``It's absolute craziness,'' said Camille Olson, a labor lawyer with the firm Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago.
    The Labor Dept. regulations issued last month will go into place automatically in 32 states and the District of Columbia, according to a Seyfarth Shaw analysis. Elsewhere, it is not so simple.
    ``We're in a wait-and-see mode,'' said John Andrew, chief of the Labor Standards Bureau in Montana's Labor & Industry Dept.
    New federal definitions of some white-collar jobs would not apply in Montana without changes to state law or state administrative rules, he said. The Legislature may have to act, but it does not meet again until January. The federal rule is a minimum standard. States can have their own requirements, but they cannot be less generous with overtime eligibility.
    The rule rewrites definitions of white-collar workers exempt from overtime pay under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.
    Labor Dept. officials say the changes were needed for clarification and to reduce the number of workers' lawsuits against employers. The rule, which takes effect Aug. 23, will exempt about 100,000 workers now eligible for overtime pay, officials said. Democrats and labor unions say the number will be much higher.
    Underscoring the election-year importance of pocketbook issues, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to require that overtime eligibility be guaranteed for all workers who currently qualify. Democrats want to force a vote in the House; GOP leaders acknowledge it will be close.
    Department officials said they are working with states, employers and workers to answer questions and ease the confusion. An enforcement task force was created. Fact sheets and videos are posted on the department's Web site - http://www.labor.gov/
    In Wisconsin, which has its own overtime requirements, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's administration said the state may chose to ignore the new federal rules in favor of the old.
    Watching closely is Barb Altschwager, the human resources manager of BelGioioso Cheese Inc. in Denmark, Wis.
    ``I'm trying to get my hands on guidelines so that I don't charge down a path that really isn't the right path,'' Altschwager said. ``I think if they're trying to reduce litigation, I do think they could have done a better job of providing a full package for human resources professionals.''
    Workers, too, are looking for answers.
    Chris Vota, who has worked for the Pathmark grocery store chain for almost 30 years, is concerned he might lose his overtime pay when his union negotiates a new contract next year.
    He wonders if some of his duties might be considered supervisory, and therefore exempt, under the new rules, and whether New Jersey's overtime requirements would nullify changes.
    ``As time goes on, it gets more and more confusing,'' said Vota, 46, of Eastampton, N.J., who stocks the store's frozen food section, has customer service responsibilities and fills in for his department manager.
    Some states may decide not to act, viewing parts of the old rule as more favorable to workers. As a result, employers in those states ultimately could be required to comply with portions of state law and both the old and new regulations, said Olson, the labor lawyer.
    The Bush administration thinks the new federal rules are more favorable to workers than the old and should be followed. But officials acknowledge they cannot force states to make changes.
    ``There may be a few states where their existing rules may provide more protections, but those who claim that the old federal rules are more protective than the new federal rules are just wrong,'' Labor Dept. spokesman Ed Frank said.
    Among the states: Other states where the federal rules will not take effect automatically: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia.

5/15-17/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/14-16 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3 & 4 which are from the 5/15-17 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts [& comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
  1. 5/16   Long hours sap fathers' satisfaction, by Nadia Miraudo, Sunday Times [Australia].
    Fathers working long hours are less satisfied than those working an average week, a study has found. But those putting in more than 60 hours a week were less inclined to reduce their workload because it would result in less pay.
    The Australian Institute of Family Studies research paper found dads working more than 48 hours a week reported a lower sense of "vitality". And there were more negative effects on their family life than fathers who worked 35 to 40 hours.
    With average hours worked by full-time employees continuously increasing since the 1970s, the survey of more than 14,000 people across the country was prompted by concerns on men's wellbeing.
    Results of the study showed satisfaction with work decreased as the numbers of hours increased. "In addition, long work hours may increase stress indirectly by prolonging workers' exposure to other sources of job stress," it said. "Examples would include prolonged exposure to work hazards, management practices perceived as unfair, interpersonal difficulties, and work overload (which might be responsible for the long work hours in the first place).
    "Increased hours spent at work necessarily reduce the amount of time available to spend on non-working activities, raising concerns about the ability of workers to have enough time to "unwind" when away from work; nurture family relationships and parent effectively; provide non-financial support to extended family members; and engage in voluntary community activities."
    The report found that productivity was also likely to fall while disability claims, absenteeism and staff turnover might increase.
    More than 63% of fathers working 35 to 40 hours said they were highly satisfied as did almost half the men working up to 48 hours and a third working up to 59 hours. Only one in four fathers working 60 or more hours was satisfied.
    "Over half the fathers working more than 48 hours a week report that they would prefer to work fewer hours, with very few reporting that they would like to increase their work hours," the study said. "Nevertheless, 44.2% of those working 49 to 59 hours and 41.3% of those working 60 or more hours indicate that they would not change their work hours.
    "Some fathers who may be unhappy about their long hours, perhaps because of the impact on family life, may nevertheless prefer not to change their hours because it would lead to a reduction in income." The study concluded that finding the "right match" between workers and employers could have a very powerful and positive effect on productivity, job satisfaction, relationships at home and enjoyment of life.

  2. 5/14   Working lives 'must be extended', by Sandra Haurant, Guardian [UK].
    Employees need to face up to a longer working life and get realistic [ie: dismissive] about early retirement, a group of economic experts said today.
    [Just one little problem - where are the 40-hr/wk jobs going to come from, especially with rampant agism and in the US, lack of health insurance?]
    According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development [OECD], nearly all 30 countries covered by the body need to take a serious look at their pension systems, and in many cases this will mean people working for longer.
    [= strange homey British dialect; most US-Can. dialects would just say, "working longer."]
    "If nothing is done quickly to extend working lives," said the OECD, "living standards will fall in the course of the coming decades."
    The organisation estimates that the ratio of older people (those over the age of 65) as a proportion of those aged 20 to 64 will increase from the current figure of 22% to some 46% by 2050, meaning that there will be fewer and fewer people of working age to support more and more people of retirement age.
    [Again blatant fear-mongering that ignores technology's role of vastly multiplying human effort.]
    According to the OECD, solutions to this "not insurmountable challenge" include making sure countries get rid of subsidies for people retiring early, and encouraging, or even obliging, older people stay in work longer.
    [Is this yet another scheme by which the wealthy have short-sightedly schemed to keep labor hours in surplus on the job market, regardless of its weakening effect on the consumer base?]
    The OECD urged governments and enterprises alike to adapt their employment policies to make it more realistic for people to stay in work for longer. "They will need to eliminate discrimination against older workers, invest in their training and adapt working hours and conditions to meet their needs," the organisation said.
    Lastly, it cautioned workers to face up to the fact that "early retirement is not a vested right and that they must get used to the idea of a longer career, perhaps taking on different jobs towards the end of their working lives."
    [You can bet that most of the people in the OECD are millionaires or close to it. As Dave Barry defined the US Senate, "white male millionaires working for you."]

  3. 5/16   As technology evolves, so will our jobs, by Charles Stein, Boston Globe, C1.
    ...In March 1964, a group of top scientists sent Pres. Lyndon Johnson a letter warning that the growing use of computers would lead to mass unemployment.
    [And it has, though it is hidden in many different categories and under many different names in the USA and Britain: unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration, "Kramer category," prolonged "education," premature retirement, forced self-employment, forced part-time, etc. etc.]
    The scientists said smarter machines would create a society that requires "progressively less human labor."
    40 years later, we are still worried about our jobs in a world in which improving technology and outsourcing are making business ever more productive. And we are asking essentially the same questions: Frank Levy is reasonably hopeful things will work out all right. "We are going in the right direction,
    [if "we" is the US, Britain, or Japan, we most certainly are not going in the right direction by cutting jobs and markets in response to technology instead of cutting worktime per person and keeping everyone employed and self supporting, by downsizing instead of timesizing. By downsizing, we are creating an employee-disempowering labor surplus that leaves people so job-insecure that no one wants to be the first to leave the office at night and so worktime per person is actually rising for the "full-time" employed, not falling.]
    ...but getting there won't be pretty," said Levy, an economist at MIT.
    [Does Levy have any idea where "there" is or what it looks like? Has he designed a flexible, automatic, market-oriented worktime-sharing mechanism like Timesizing? None of this happens without deliberate design and implementation.]
    Levy and Richard Murnane of Harvard have written a book, "The New Division of Labor," that tries to explain how technology influences the job market.
    [Sounds like another brain-dead rehearsal of the prevailing rationalization of the deteriorating status quo; either the old fading line that more technology = more productivity = higher wages = greater prosperity for all. Or the new, more brazen line that more technology = more productivity = higher executive 'compensation' and shareholder returns = more hiring of servants, household maids, gardeners, yardsmen, gamekeepers patronizing more Wal-Marts and McDonald's, aka more jobs = greater prosperity for all. Yep -]
    The reason for their optimism is pretty basic.
    [Yeah, their academic employers are dependent on wealthy donors who want to hear that the kind of world that made (and keeps) them rich is basically jim dandy and operating smoothly. Here's Levy & Murnane troweling-on the hopefully intimidating doubletalk -]
    Computers and outsourcing cut costs and boost productivity.
    [Aha, there's the productivity connection - though how outsourcing to long-hours sweatshops in low-wage economies boosts output per employee hour we better not ask - they would have no answer.]
    Over time, rising productivity creates new wealth and new job opportunities.
    ["New wealth" is precisely the "higher executive 'compensation' and shareholder returns" we mentioned above. What these brahmins don't "get" is that the automatic link from productivity to wages, from wages to jobs, or from productivity to executive pay to investment to jobs, does not exist. Quite the contrary. Contemporary economists completely ignore their own neo-classical principle of the marginal utility of concentrated income and wealth. They would try to dig up examples of those few higher-tech higher-pay "new job opportunities" that make everything sound ducky, but we would have to redirect their self-satisfied gaze onto the manymany-more crummy jobs they're externalizing.]
    It is a scary process because you never know what those new jobs might be.
    [No, it isn't. It's scary because most of the new jobs are lower-pay and less urgently demanded.] "Good jobs will increasingly require expert thinking and complex communications," the authors write.
    [Ergo there will be few of them - at 40-plus hours a week.]
    That is good news for people with the requisite education and talent.
    [= a distinct minority in a 40-hour workweek economy.]
    Here's the bad news. "Jobs that do not require these skills will not pay a living wage."
    [Leaving it there means Levy is advocating makework, not sharework, and since makework has always been too little too late, he's got no sustainable vision. And in fact, he now starts arguing against his initially heralded "reasonable hopefulness that things will work out all right" -]
    30 years ago, half of all Americans held blue-collar or clerical jobs. Those jobs are the ones that have disappeared and the trend is likely to continue. If a job can be reduced to a set of predictable rules, Levy says, it is in danger of being eliminated. Think of a woman who works at a call center [sexism?]. She might be displaced by a lower-paid equivalent in India or by a piece of voice recognition software. Either way, her job is gone.
    [Yep, more technology, less service - until we get into the Timesizing full-employment economy.]
    "You have to start talking about more of a safety net," Levy said.
    [If Levy doesn't start talking about flexible worksharing at some point, the numbers of people on the safety net are going to grow larger than the workforce and become very vulnerable, like the Eloi relative to the Morlocks.]
    Universal health insurance would be a step in the right direction.
    So would wage insurance
    [huh - who pays for that? - it's unnecessary under a responsive system of fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against comprehensive unemployment, like Timesizing]
    and more generous job retraining.
    ["Generous"? Do employers want constantly shrinking markets? If not, they must sooner or later embrace overtime-targeted on-the-job (re)training that dispenses with lag-inserting ivory towers and middlemen.]
    Without such help, Levy warns, support for free markets and free trade could erode.
    [Too late. But then the article ends in a final statement of blind faith, with no real design ideas -]
    On the whole, I take comfort from the message Levy and Murnane deliver: Technology isn't going away, but neither are our jobs....
    [What about his statement above, "Either way, her job is gone." This article is still ignoring the elephant in the room. There aren't enough 40-hour/week jobs for everyone in a constantly technologizing socioeconomy. Therefore we either split our society into workers and drones - unsustainable unless you're cool with killing off drones - or we set up an automatic system of adjusting the workweek against unemployment, relying on market forces responding to declining labor surplus and increasing labor scarcity to adjust wages upward and maintain or grow our consumer base.]

  4. 5/17   With Roh's return, South Korea liberals gain, by Gordon Fairclough, WSJ, A19.
    [Suicidal Wall Street Journal favors self-undermining misnamed conservatives, but Roh is Our Man who's reducing the S.Korean workweek from 44 to 40 hours starting this July.]
    ...The progressive Uri Party...backs the president [Roh]. The rise of left-of-center forces in South Korea, coupled with the ascendancy of the younger, less experienced [and closed-minded, and corrupted?] politicians who dominate the progressive movement, has alarmed many 'conservatives' [our quotes] who fear the change will lead to strained relations with Washington [ie: Bush? the straineder the better!], overly close ties to Pyongyang [they do speak the same Korean language in N.Korea], and an antibusiness bias at home.
    [A desire to strengthen the centrifuge mechanisms on the national income is a PRO-BUSINESS BIAS because it builds up the national consumer base and strengthens domestic demand. Cutting the workweek is the most flexible, rebalancing, and market-neutral way of doing that. Generally the concentration of income across the globe has become so astronomical that it is cannibalizing its own consumer base and suctioning the markets away from its own investments. You can get too much of any good thing, and we are way past the point of diminishing returns on this one. It's high time economists globally respected their own principle of the marginal utility of concentrated money whether 'capital', income or wealth.]
    South Korea is a critical ally in US efforts to disarm North Korea and is one of America's most important trading partners.
    [How lucky for them, then, that America is being so distracted and weakened (financially, militarily and public-opinionly) by Bush's damn-fool 'war of choice' in Iraq!]
    Washington [ie: robopath Bush] also is counting on Seoul to send more than 3,000 troops to 'help in the reconstruction' of Iraq [our quotes], despite rising public opposition to such a move in the wake of revelations about U.S. soldiers' mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.
    [Perhaps a national S.Korean referendum on the subject would set the record straight and make it clear that any further pressure from Bush would further expose his hypocrisy about favoring democracy.]
    Uri Party leaders say they will work to maintain South Korea's strong alliance with the U.S.
    [both Japan and South Korea, which have both been rolled over militarily by the US godzilla, are experts at making the right noises to unnuanced US leaders - and then doing whatever they please]
    and continue to push for an end to all of North Korea's nuclear programs through multilateral negotiations....
    A small left-leaning labor party has said it will introduce legislation to block..\..the dispatch of S.Korean troops to Iraq.... A number of Uri members have also expressed their opposition to the troop dispatch. But Uri's..\..Chung Eui Yong, chairman of the party's foreign-affairs committee...said: "There will be no change in our commitment to sending the troops to Iraq."
    [Not yet, anyway. For now, they can just indefinitely postpone the move and watch the exposure of the total suicidal stupidity and fraud of the war unfold, one layer after another. Note neighboring articles, "Contrite Powell fails to placate some Arab Leaders" and "Clashes threaten Iraqi Shiite...holy cities - May bolster radical cleric, undermining [Bush] strategy," WSJ, A19. And overleaf, a WSJ editorial titled, "No way to run a war"! WSJ, A20 = in Barbara Tuchman's phrase, "The March of Folly." Looks good that the Dems (and more and more GOP) want to get rid of Bush more than the Repubs want to keep him.]

Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
May 1-14/2004
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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