Timesizing® Associates - Homepage
Timesizing News, July 31 + August 1-10, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
8/10/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/09 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #3,4,5 which are from 8/10 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- The Euro-American dream, Berkshire Eagle Online, MA.
A recent letter-writer to The New York Times, Heather Hickox of Miami, observed that "it is the Europeans who are truly living the American dream," not us Americans. This arguable but compelling commentary was in response to an August 1 Times story on how the European economy is not so robust as ours in terms of productivity, expansion and wages. And yet Europeans, by and large, are far more contented people, according to polls and the observations of Americans who visit Europe. Most Europeans work fewer hours, take far more vacation time, and have a vast and sturdy social safety net, including universal
health care. Europeans are poorer overall than Americans - much of their wealth goes to taxes to support social programs
- and yet their response to those who tut-tut over their weaker economy seems to be, "So what? We enjoy our lives - a lot."
This picture of a more contented Europe ought to interest U.S. policymakers, especially those who go on at great length
about "family" and the laws and institutions that support families. Europeans have families, too. Some of the Europeans
quoted in The Times emphasized, in fact, that since they work less they spend more time with their families. Family life
there is generally fuller and more relaxed, since families must not cram the time they have together into so few non-working
hours. Europeans are less likely, too, to work two or more jobs just to survive. Social programs keep them afloat, when
Europeans have less disposable income than Americans, but they spend it on things that apparently make them happier. They'll
go on a nice trip instead of buying a bigger car. Thomas Levassar...a Frenchman, said he worked in Silicon Valley for
three years but when he wanted a family he moved back to France. "There is a window of maybe five years," he said, "where
the American lifestyle is great - when you're young and healthy and ambitious and single. After that, other things become
more important, like culture and family, and then you're much better off in France."
Culture and family. American policy-makers talk endlessly about the second in a superficial way, but rarely about the first,
and almost never about the connection between the two. The Times letter writer, Ms. Hickox, did a nice job of making the
connection in a non-academic way. She wrote: "Europeans don't live at their jobs, and with good reason. In places like
France and Italy, people still appreciate the simple things in life: a beautiful sunset, a walk in the park, a good cup of
coffee. Europeans have time to watch their children grow up, witness the leaves on a tree change color in the fall and sit
down to some good conversation over a home-cooked meal."
A walk in the park doesn't do anything to juice up an economy. But unpressured leisure is made possible by social and
economic policies - a living wage, lots of time off, health care for all - that people who live with them find deeply gratifying, and civilized.
- Germans protest Schroeder's social-welfare cuts, WSJ News Roundup, WSJ, A8.
BERLIN - About 40,000...demonstrated yesterday, with the fiercest protests occurring in east German cities that have been hard hit by unemployment and continue to lag economically behind the rest of the country, [where] unemployment is 18.5%, nearly twice the national average.
[They should be demonstrating FOR further work sharing and spreading via downward-adjusting workweeks, especially now that Siemens, DaimlerChrysler, and other German companies are in a full media blitz to relengthen workweeks and reconcentrate the market-demanded employment income of the nation on even fewer shoulders.]
Over the past year, the number of people getting social-welfare benefits grew 2%, to 2.81 million, a number blamed largely on growing unemployment.
[Well, the USA currently has 2 million families on welfare, which means at least 3-4 million people, plus 5.7m disabled, 2.2m incarcerated, 930k youth homeless meaning 2-3m total, and 30k/yr suicides - all in addition to regular unemployment of '5.5%'.]
..\..The demonstrations are testing the government's resolve to implement new laws next year that will scale back benefits for the long-term jobless to the level of payments for people on welfare....
[Never mind solving the problem of outdated, overlong workweeks relative to current levels of technology by rationing market-demanded employment - "just ration the bandaids!"]
The rallies have drawn parallels with the "Monday Demonstrations" that helped bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989 [when?] 10,000 people marched in Leipzig, the focus of unrest that helped topple the East German regime.
The benefit cuts are part of a package of trims in social programs and tax cuts that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder launched last year in a bid to lift Europe's largest economy out of 3 years of stagnation.
[And just why does Schroeder think that further concentrating Germany's workload and national income, and thereby further weakening its consumer base and effective demand, is going to do anything but deepen its stagnation? Marginalism rules! Or as Will Rogers put it, "Money's like manure - it's no good unless it's spread around" - to the people who spend it immediately.]
"The fact is that reform is meant to get more people back to work," government spokesman Hans-Hermann Langguth said.
[Oh yeah? WHAT work? Unemployment is over 9% in the west, 18% in the east, and Schroeder isn't even mounting government makework programs or our usual unemployment 'solution', world wars.]
The protests came after jobless households last month received complicated forms probing their personal financial situation to determine future eligibility for state support.
[Charity from taxpayers should always and only be means-tested. Otherwise the wealthy get themselves into plenty of budget-busting 'corporate welfare' and 'welfare for the rich.']
The government, accused of failing to do enough to sell the 'reforms' [our quotes], said it would launch an information campaign to explain the changes. But the protests look set to continue for at least two more weeks.
[There is almost no human problem that can't be solved by greater sharing between people. The trick is to identify the current top-priority value-variable to share, and to design the least parasite-producing, most market-oriented sharing system. Market-demanded employment is the current top-priority value-variable to share, and Timesizing is our candidate for the least parasite-producing, most market-oriented sharing system.]
- [And if there was any question about whether long hours adhere to the poor or the rich....]
Crucial unpaid internships increasingly separate the haves from the have-nots, by Jennifer Lee, NYT, A17.
[- because the haves can afford to not get paid, but the have-nots can't.]
WASHINGTON - Susan Lim...a Georgetown University student, is working 89 hours a week this summer:
Her schedule -
- two part-time jobs
- and an unpaid internship offered through the Public Policy & International Affairs Program.
- is a sharp contrast to that of her Georgetown classmates. Many of them have parents who support them through unpaid summer internships, or they have qualified for paid internships because of experience as unpaid interns during high school....
- working for money as a clerical assistant and a summer school resident adviser
- and without pay as a researcher at the Public Policy Program
- They've been working on the railroad..., letter to editor by H.M. Irvin III, WSJ, A11.
...I question [Union Pacific]'s assertion that they will be able to hire and retain the new workers they require. At a recent group hiring session in Oakland CA, Union Pacific representatives cautioned applicants about the rigors of the work: long hours, hazardous work, low pay for new hires, extended time away from home, inability to plan one's schedule while awaiting calls for service at all hours [of the] day or night....
- Millions wave overtime bye-bye - Experts are unsure what workers will be affected by the new labor rules, by Linda Lipp, Fort Wayne News Sentinel (IN).
The new rules governing who is eligible for overtime and who isn't will go
into effect Aug. 23. But it may take awhile before the true impact of those
rules is known.
Ross Eisenbrey, author of an Economic Policy Institute study that claims
the new regulations could cost 6 million workers their eligibility for
overtime, doesn't expect a big rush from businesses to adopt the rules this
"You don't know when it's going to happen, but employers now have the
ability...so it will happen," Eisenbrey said during a telephone interview
Elaine Chao, President Bush's secretary of labor, has vigorously defended
the new "Fair Pay" rules, which were released four months ago.
"The department's new rules guarantee and strengthen overtime rights for
more workers than ever before," Chao said when the regulations were
announced in April.
"There's no doubt there probably was some need to update some of the
rules," said Mark Crouch, an associate professor with the IU Department of
Labor Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
"But they took the form of being anti-worker and reflected the Bush
administration's favoritism toward business," Crouch said.
"It's going to make life harder for a whole lot of people," Crouch added.
The rules are based on the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was passed by
Congress to stimulate hiring during the Great Depression. The new law
created the 40-hour work week and required employers to pay wages at a rate
of time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond that. The idea was to make it so
expensive to pay overtime that employers would hire additional workers
The FLSA always has exempted certain executives, administrators,
professionals and outside salespeople from overtime requirements, based on
the belief those individuals had enough control over their work and enough
clout to establish their own work hours and conditions.
Congress also gave the Labor Department the power to define, and
occasionally redefine, which workers were exempt from overtime provisions
and which were not. And that's exactly what the department decided to do
after Bush took office.
Despite that, there were several failed attempts by Congress to pass
measures to block the department from changing the rules through the
"It's disturbing how sneakily this was done," said author and labor
activist Barbara Ehrenreich, who was in Fort Wayne a week ago for a workers'
conference. "This just should not happen through an administrative change."
The new rules may allow employers to reclassify some workers in white
collar professions as exempt from overtime. The first draft of the proposed
rules, revealed in 2003, set off a firestorm of complaints from unions and
like-minded groups, such as the Economic Policy Institute.
Some of the most vigorous protests came from veterans, who were afraid
their military experience might be used elevate them to the ranks of exempt
employees; and first responders such as police, firefighters and paramedics.
The Labor Department responded, and the final rules offered additional
protections to keep those two scenarios from happening.
Conspicuously, however, the final rules failed to offer the same protection
to nurses, Cheryl Johnson, president of United American Nurses, told a U.S.
House of Representatives committee.
"These new regulations will exacerbate the registered nurse staffing crisis
in America," warned Johnson, whose union was involved in a failed attempt to
organize nurses at Parkview Hospital last year.
But Barbara Berens, director of compensation and benefits at Parkview
Health Systems, said the revised regulations won't have any effect here.
"In the end, it isn't changing the rules that much," Berens said. "I think
we may have had one person we made exempt."
Part of that is due to Parkview's more "conservative approach," however,
Even the old rules might have allowed some registered nurses involved in
patient care to be exempted, Berens said, but Parkview historically has
chosen not to exempt them.
Lutheran Health Network also has been reviewing the new rules to see what
impact they might have on nurses, medical technicians and other employees.
There were no surprises in the new rules and Lutheran doesn't expect any
changes, said Bruce Hamilton, Lutheran's vice president of human resources.
And, as he noted in a discussion of the proposed rules a year ago, "Just
because we can do it doesn't mean we should do it," Hamilton repeated.
The impact of the new rules on journalists also has been debated.
"We have not finalized our approach on compliance with the new
regulations," said Marshall Anstandig, vice president of labor and
employment law for Knight Ridder, which owns The News-Sentinel and partners
with the Journal Gazette Co. in Fort Wayne Newspapers Inc.
Reporters, photographers and other news media and advertising workers are
among those who may be reclassified as exempt from overtime by being placed
in a category of exempt workers known as "creative professionals."
"For the first time, classifying them as professionals is discretionary,"
Another debate has raged over whether new language in the rules means
white-collar workers who are "team leaders," but not truly managers, could
be exempted from overtime requirements.
The Economic Policy Institute and an AFL-CIO-commissioned study of the new
rules contend that one provision could mean denial of overtime to as many as
2.3 million workers.
The Labor Department's response said the "team leader" concept is not new
to the rules and won't constitute a blanket exemption.
Although the rules changes were designed to deal with white-collar workers,
the final rules also added a specific provision promising blue-collar
workers would not lose any entitlement to overtime.
One item not in contention is a provision that raises the minimum salary
level before an employee can be exempted to $23,660 a year. The previous
minimum was just $8,060.
"With the sole exception of the salary level adjustment, in every instance
where the Department has made substantive changes to the existing rules, it
has weakened the regulatory criteria for and thereby expanded the reach and
scope of ... exemptions," concluded the three former labor department
executives who authored the AFL-CIO study.
The state of Illinois didn't wait to see whether the Department of Labor or
its critics would prove to be right. In April - even before the final rules
were published - Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill that blocked the
implementation of new rules and preserved the old ones in that state.
Indiana took no such action.
For more information on the new overtime rules, visit the Labor
Department's Web site at www.dol.gov/fairpay and the Economic Policy
Institute's site, www.epinet.org.
- An ode to liberal 'treason', by James Scott, The Daily Texan (TX).
These days, calling yourself a liberal is like admitting that you eat
That's a shame - I'm a proud liberal, and I think you should be one, too. So
if you're with me, let's reclaim the L-word as a legitimate part of the
We face an uphill battle, of course. In the popular imagination, liberals
are people who want to take your guns, presumably to leave you defenseless
so they can bludgeon you with tax increases. They're soft on terrorism, they
hate America, and they think government can solve everyone's problems. They
are elitist, foppish, morally permissive Francophiles who live in Harvard
Square, or Hollywood. And they sure as hell don't share your values.
Just peruse the titles of a few recent bestsellers, and you'll see what I
mean. From Ann Coulter, there's "Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold
War to the War on Terrorism" and "Slander: Liberal Lies about the American
Right." Sean Hannity offers the asinine tome "Deliver Us from Evil:
Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism." And radio host Michael
Savage penned his own manifesto entitled "The Savage Nation: Saving America
from the Liberal Assault on Our Borders, Language and Culture."
These are all standard-issue perversions of truth from the conservative spin
machine, and it feels vaguely ridiculous to be in a position of even needing
to rebut them. Yet, in the last few decades, they've gained widespread
traction. The L-word killed Dukakis in 1988 because it fostered the
perception that he was weak on crime. And, one by one, the 2004 Democratic
challengers rushed to disavow their liberalism.
Erik Potholm, a consultant for the Republican media firm of Stevens Reed
Curcio & Potholm, put it succinctly: "Democrats are terrified of the
labeling. That's why President Clinton talked so much about welfare reform
and 100,000 more cops on the street."
Even CNN, supposed bastion of liberal media sympathies, has bought into the
lies. During the Democratic convention, blue-staters everywhere found new
foot-shaped holes in their TV sets as Judy Woodruff - an ostensibly
objective anchor - asked one guest after another whether Sen. John Kerry,
D-Mass., wasn't just another one of those "tax-and-spend Northeastern
I say enough's enough. Americans may not call themselves liberal, but giant
mounds of survey evidence prove that they are - and on just about every
major national issue.
Salon.com columnist Joe Conason compiled the research behind that claim.
Support for national health insurance, for example, comes in somewhere
between 60% and 85% in every major poll. And an ABC News
survey from the 2000 election cycle showed that 67% felt that
financing Social Security was more important than cutting taxes.
As Conason himself puts it, "Similar figures gathered by every reputable
polling organization reiterate the same themes. Americans consistently and
overwhelmingly support environmental regulation, consumer protection,
spending on infrastructure and education, increasing the minimum wage,
extending unemployment benefits, providing food stamps and nearly every
other liberal priority and program."
This really shouldn't be all that surprising, considering how much of the
American dream has been built on liberal policies. How many in our
grandparents' generation went to college on the GI Bill? And how many in our
own are here because of Pell Grants?
Let's not forget the sweeping programs of the New Deal and the Great
Society, the Civil Rights movement, the right to unionize and the 40-hour
work week. These are all part of the same story: liberals fighting
conservatives, and winning.
So call me a liberal any day. I'm proud of that legacy, and I want my own
grandchildren to be proud that I did my best to help pay it forward.
8/07-09/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/06-08 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, with backup from currently-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
8/06/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/05 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except ## & 4 which are from the 8/06 newspaper hardcopy), with backup from currently-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- 8/8 Netherlands debates longer work week, by DW staff (ktz), Deutsche Welle, Germany.
[To lengthen your workweek when people are unemployed is suicidal. The length of your workweek is not really a matter for debate. If you want to optimize your economy, you must determine your workweek length by your comprehensive unemployment rate; in other words, by your current number of hours of market-demanded domestic employment divided by your working age population. This is what the fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment, articulated by Walter Reuther at least as early as 1962 and embodied in our Timesizing Phase Four, implements. If you do not implement this relationship in your economy, you will be deactivating a quantifiable amount of domestic consumption and deactivating a quantifiable number of domestic consumers. In short, you will be operating at less than your full potential domestic GDP. So your first decision is, how dependent do we want to be on the vaguaries of foreign demand and exports? If your answer is, as much as possible, stop reading here - we wish you a pleasant trip to the Third World under the increasing stranglehold of the IMF and the World Bank. If your answer is that you want to use exports as only icing on the cake while you're essentially self-sufficient, similar to France which is only about 10% dependent on exports, read on. The question then becomes, how do we maximize our domestic consumption and ensure we're not unintentionally deactivating any of it? Answer: you maximize participation in the job market by the maximum number of your working age population; that is, you achieve and maintain full employment. Q: How do we accomplish that? A: Reread the first 3 sentences in this paragraph. Q: How do we then achieve the necessary super-efficiency in skill transfer? A: So far you've defined overtime - now you have to efficiently design your treatment of it, because your overtime design can achieve super-efficient skill transfer if you design it correctly - we demonstrate in Timesizing Phase Two and Phase Three. Q: But then how, with full employment, do we avoid runaway inflation? A: Your overtime design, if done correctly as demonstrated in the Timesizing program phases just mentioned, takes care of this for you by enhancing and harnessing deflationary incentive (e.g., voluntarism, job satisfaction) throughout your economy and pitting it against deflationary incentive (the money motive) in a dynamic homeostasis - there is no further need for interest-rate fiddling by the central bank to "cool" an "overheated economy" by actually curbing growth and fostering (costly) unemployment - that embarrassing excuse for an economic control policy can be consigned to the dumpster where it so rightly belongs.]
As the discussions on returning to a 40-hour work week continue unabated in
Germany and France,
[hey, just like the US Senate proposal for our welfare recipients! - and there are plenty of above-40 workweeks to return to if you reallly want to go there - slavery, for instance, makes available all (24x7=) 168 hours of the week for work work work]
the Netherlands, which introduced shorter work weeks in
the 1980s, is also pondering a return to eight hour days.
"It is the hot topic of this summer," Agnes Jongerius, vice-chairman of the
Netherlands' largest labor union, FNV, told the AFP newsagency.
Following politicians and business leaders in Germany and France, who set
off a heated debate in their countries by urging a return to the 40-hour
work week as a means to improving economic competitiveness, Dutch Economic
Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst entered a similar fray in his country.
[Economies with longer working hours are regarded as more competitive. That would mean that economies with the longest working hours are to be regarded as the most competitive. That would mean that Third-World economies are the most competitive economies. That, in turn, would mean that the Third World is the measure and standard of economic competitiveness. If you find this in any way absurd, then you get some sense of the bankruptcy to which mainstream economics has declined in our times.
[Our view, on the contrary, is that economies with shorter working hours are more competitive, and economies with the shortest working hours are the most competitive. Why? Because even if we're stretching the word "economies" and talking about Trobriand Islanders still in the Stone Age, shorter-hour economies have more of the most basic freedom, free time, and therefore their employees have the most fundamental versatility. They're not all tied up with the generally petty agendas of employers - they have more time for learning about looming threats and dangers and preparing for them. Unstretching the word "economies" back to just the so-called "developed" nations, we're talking about economies that have a lot of work-saving technology, so that, on average, each employee wields a lot of power and produces a lot of output, and if comprehensive employment is also low (as it is in Europe and as it is not in the USA with its 2m welfare families, 5.7m disabled, 930k youth homeless meaning est. 2m total homeless, 2.2m incarcerated, 30k suicides annually, and completely unquantified millions underemployed on forced early retirement, clientless self-employment and single-job part-time), that economy has maximized its domestic demand and its self-sufficiency, and is minimally vulnerable to the vaguaries of foreign demand for its exports, and also minimally vulnerable to the absurdities of mainstream economics which are guiding the current economic ambulance corps of the World Bank and the IMF, by succumbing to whose blandishments many economies are discovering they are locked under the suicidally shortsighted and nearsighted American political hegemony. But back to the rising fashion of economic suicide in Europe, even in the Netherlands -]
"A normal work week of 40 hours should be the norm," he said in late July.
[Tautology. But as we pointed out, this is not a matter of "should" or political discretion. This is a matter of maximizing your domestic demand and your economic self-sufficiency.]
According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, the Netherlands has the lowest number of hours per worker: on
average each Dutch employee puts in 1,340 hours yearly. This figure is
largely explained by the fact that 33% of the population works
In a "letter on economic growth" outlining his plans for supporting the
Dutch economy, Brinkhorst advocated the return of the 40-hour work week for
civil servants and government officials, saying it would prevent the loss of
jobs to more competitive markets in Asia and Eastern Europe. He also called
for the opening of collective bargaining agreements and the liberalizing of
dismissal protection laws, which make it virtually impossible for employers
to fire people.
Brinkhorst's suggestions are right in keeping with the tone set across the
border in Germany, where similar plans are being crafted by the Federal
Employer's Association and opposition politicians. And as in Germany, Dutch
labor unions are protesting the proposed changes.
Polder Model falters
Ton Heerts, a senior official with FNV, was quoted by Radio Nederlands as
saying he feared a rolling back of the so-called "Polder Model" of consensus
decision-making between the government, employers and unions on labor
issues. The model, which has been in existence since 1982, lowered the work
week to 38 hours, and in 1994 to 36 hours for several sectors.
If recent events in the business world are any indication, the Polder Model
may soon be a thing of the past. This week the chairman of ABN Amro, the
Netherlands largest bank, echoed the minister in calling for a return to the
40-hour work week for the bank's 20,000 employees. Dutch electronics and
appliance giant Philips has also indicated an interest in putting the
increased work week on the table for upcoming contract negotiations.
In another sign that the Polder Model could be breaking up, Dutch office
furniture manufacturer Smead Europe announced in mid-July that it would
impose the 40-hour work week without additional pay in two of its three
Dutch factories. Although the unions took Smead to court and won last Friday
when the judge ruled the conditions of the collective agreement could not be
violated, the road has been paved for other companies to try the same.
"The 40-hour week is not the answer for an economy which is lagging behind.
Instead of working more we should be working smarter," Jogerius of the trade
union FNV said.
[He's right, but not only working smarter, but as long as there is any unemployment, working even shorter.]
A European trend?
Philippe de Buck, secretary general of Unice, the umbrella organization of
European Employer Associations, told Radio Nederlands that what is needed is
a better balance between the rights and benefits acquired over time by the
working population and today's economic reality.
["Today's economic fashion" would be closer to the truth and that fashion is economically destructive, since it shrinks consumer bases. This whole fashion is simply a function of employers spoiled by labor surplus and an ineffective and confused employee "opposition" who are too uninformed and misinformed to stand up for their economic future or even know what their positive economic future would look like.]
The "European model" with
all its rights and benefits for workers is no longer able to cope with all
the modern problems of globalization, de Buck said.
[Sure it is. What's no longer able to cope with all the modern problems of globalization is the simplistic assumption that free trade is superior to fair trade, and that trade is the be-all and end-all rather than a firm foundation in economic self-sufficiency. The principle that most urgently needs to penetrate the skulls of CEOs in each and every developed economy, particularly in Europe before they totally shrinkwrap themselves with backward economic fashions under the guise of "new economic reality," is the principle that you don't get to access our rich consumer markets unless you contribute to them with well-paying jobs. Right now CEOs everywhere are scouring the world for consumer markets in their product or service areas that have as yet not been depleted by downsizing and outsourcing. It's a sort of slash&burn approach, a scorched-earth strategy - they downsize and outsource their own workforces (and consumer bases) while zooming around trying to find a patch of CEOs who still haven't gone quite that far with their own workforces (and consumer bases) and are still too confused to notice the "Rape Me" sign that the free-trade orthodoxy has pinned to their backs.]
"We should be grateful to those business[es] which have made agreements about
flexible working conditions," he said, referring to businesses who offer to
not move abroad in exchange for lower pay or longer working hours. "It's a
constructive approach for everyone: the business itself, the region where
it's based, and the people who work there."
[De Buck sure sounds confused, don't he. Now in a moment of lucidity, he's jumped to the other side and is taking the part of employees and consumers.]
Ton Heerts from FNV said there's still room for improvement. "When there's
an [critical] situation, trade union leaders in the Netherlands, France and
Germany are concerned enough to help find a solution."
- 8/8 The vacation gap - Long vacations are de rigueur in France, but many in France can no longer
afford them - Statisticians say American vacations are the shortest in the industrialized
world: 8.1 days a year, by Sr. European Correspondent Tom Fenton, CBS Broadcasting Inc. via CBS News.
LONDON - Europeans have long prided themselves in having what they believe is a
fairer society than Americans. Social benefits are more generous and
everyone has medical coverage, in addition to long vacations.
The ideological arguments between the New World and Old Europe are not
limited to the invasion of Iraq and America's role as the sole superpower.
There is another profound gulf between the two sides of the Atlantic. It's
the vacation gap.
[AND the workweek gap.]
Europeans take lots of them, and seem to think that's what life is all
about. Americans take far fewer vacations, and even feel a little guilty
One of the broadsides Michael Moore fired at President Bush in "Fahrenheit
9/11" was the charge first reported by The Washington Post that he spent 42
% of his first eight months in office on vacation. How dare he!
Europeans, on the other hand, think vacations are a basic human right.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer recently announced that the government
criteria for defining poverty will be broadened to include families that
cannot afford a week's vacation every year.
In the European Union, at least four weeks a year is considered normal, and
most people take more. Many Europeans need six weeks of vacation time so
they can fit in those family skiing trips in the winter in addition to the
beach in the summer. Even the Chinese take three weeks.
Statisticians say American vacations are the shortest in the industrialized
world: 8.1 days a year. That's just enough to be above the British poverty
[Huh? What does poverty have to do with vacation stats, Tom, and what's the 8.1-day-comparable statistic for France? Are you "having a senior moment" already or what?]
The result, says the International Labor Organization, is that Americans
work twelve weeks a year more than Europeans.
You probably know that the French Socialists, a few years ago before they
were voted out of office, enacted a statutory 35-hour limit for the work
week. The Germans have the same limit.
[No they don't. Unlike France, Germany has no statutory workweek limit; however, the unionized sector generally has a 35-hour workweek in western Germany and a 38-hour workweek in eastern Germany.]
What you may not have heard is that the European 35-hour week is not working.
[Don't be ridiculous. How could we not have heard this giant piece of deception, now that the hyperconsolidated English-language media has jumped upon it to justify the dysfunctionally long and generally unregulated workweeks of their own economies and strut, against all common sense, as Better and More Competitive and More Productive than Europe? You can always tell when you're doing something right in the direction of power-building because jealous and sensitive American elites will start attacking you with every 'truth' they can stretch.]
It was supposed to create more jobs.
[Implying that it didn't, but where's the data? Here's the data. The reduction of the French workweek from 39 to 35 hours which was voted-in in 1997 and generally accomplished by 2001 corelated to a drop in French unemployment from 12.6% in the spring of '97 to 8.6% in the spring and summer of 2001 when the US-led recession began to drag France down, the last of the big economies of Europe to succumb.]
What it has done is damage the French and German economies.
[Where's the data?]
Businesses can no longer afford it,
[where's the data? - French businesses are doing fine because France is only 10% "dependent" on exports and they reactivated a lot of their domestic demand by going nationwide to a 35-hour workweek; they'd do better with an even shorter workweek - German businesses are only hurting because they refuse to go nationwide to a 35-hour workweek (they're keeping even the unionized sector of east Germany at 38) and because with 50% export dependency they stuck their chin out and are living beyond their means anyway -]
and several German firms have already convinced their unions to agree to a longer working hours
with no increase in weekly pay.
[This statement is a non-sequitur. It does nothing to prove either of the foregoing points. The ability of clever decision-makers to convince ordinary people in general and labor union members in particular to agree to changes against their own interests is well-documented, and is being currently demonstrated by the number of working-class dummies in the US who vote Republican, despite Republicans' massive transference of the tax burden to them from the wealthy. The tragedy is that their stupidity is dooming the consumer base and the whole economy to contraction.]
That is a small revolution
[It's still small but it's getting the hell sold out of it at least by the superconcentrated anglophone media - and to a lesser extent by the less concentrated Euro media.]
and it may be a harbinger of a profound change in European thinking.
[= case in point. Keep pushin', Tom!]
Europeans have long prided themselves in having what they believe is a
fairer society than Americans. Social benefits are more generous and
everyone has medical coverage, in addition to long vacations. America, by
contrast, is painted in popular European mythology [some mythologies are true] as the land of savage
free market capitalism, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
[= case in point. There are regular articles in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times about the widening income gap in America.]
Well, the highly respected Organization for Economic Cooperation &
Development has just published a report that claims that inequalities in
living conditions are greater in the Euro zone than in the United States.
[Where's the data? This claim may depend on the recent inclusion of 10 poor eastern European economies in the EU. The widespread figures on executive pay and the widening income gap in the U.S. however make the claim dubious.]
In addition, the report states, "U.S. [average!] income per capita is 30% above the
Euro area's and is widening."
[That would be the tremendous runup in US executive pay and wealth concentration due to 3½ years of serous welfare for the rich.]
I have just come back from a seaside vacation in a popular French summer
resort. The tourist business there is down 30% this summer. The
problem, say local businessmen, is not a shortage of foreign tourists. It's
the French who are staying away. They can no longer afford those long
[Why? Because the 35-hour workweek was implemented poorly (spottily and leakily), it didn't go down far enough to create a perceived labor shortage that would flexibly raise wages and benefits, and it didn't include a redesign of overtime that would accelerate skill transfer and provide job options at the necessary higher levels.]
- 8/06 Welfare overhaul needed, group says, by Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service via Dallas Baptist Standard, TX.
WASHINGTON - A coalition of Christian and Jewish groups urged Congress
to stop keeping welfare alive with temporary extensions and instead move to
a long-term overhaul of the program.
Ten mainline Protestant churches were joined by anti-hunger groups, Jewish
organizations and a Catholic social justice group to urge a five-year
reauthorization of the 1996 welfare law.
"Congress is denying the states the certainty of funding and clarity of
program direction that they need to operate their programs most
effectively," said a recent letter to senators from the Interreligious
Working Group on Domestic Human Needs.
Temporary Aid to Needy Families originally was set to expire in September
2002. Unable to reach agreement, Congress has passed seven temporary
extensions. The most recent, in late June, funds the program at current
levels through Sept. 30.
The House has passed one version that increases weekly work requirements
for welfare recipients from 30 to 40 hours per week and provides marriage
The Senate version proposes a 34-hour work week but adds increased money
for child care. That measure has not reached the Senate floor because of
disputes on whether to include an increase in the minimum wage from $5.15 to
$7 per hour.
"We are extremely disappointed that Congress has not yet passed a long-term
reauthorization to strengthen the program so families can move out of
poverty," said the letter., which was signed by the Washington offices of
American Baptist Churches USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
Presbyterian Church (USA), the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Friends
Committee on National Legislation, the National Council of Churches and
NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, among others.
- 8/06 Deficit study looks at cuts, by Amy Peck, Shirley Oracle, MA.
SHIRLEY, Mass. - The FY05 Deficit Committee learned Tuesday night that the school
has lowered its deficit amount to $225,000. Initially, the committee's goal
was to solve the school's $425,000 deficit for the new fiscal year.
Committee Chairman Chip Guercio said what began as a committee to solve
this one time problem, has evolved into "identifying other cost centers in
town for FY06 and beyond." He said they are thinking now about next year's
budget to have a better financial picture for the future.
The school administration reduced the figure through layoffs and revised
high school tuition costs, Guercio said.
The Deficit Committee spent the majority of the meeting prioritizing a list
of previously suggested items that could possibly help reduce the deficit.
Using a scale from 1 to 5, they identified whether each: 1.) was a public
safety or education item; 2.) an infrastructure cost; 3.) an administrative
and/or cost of operations expense; 4.) affects quality of life; or 5.) would
not be considered because of the negative impact associated with it, or that
numbers 1 to 4 applied.
Only one item, to defer debt principal payments, was identified as a number
5. Most of the items were labeled 3's.
Several items were marked with a 4. Guercio explained that these items
would be reviewed first to discuss their implementation. Included as 4's
were reducing library hours, privatizing trash collection (taking it off the
tax roll would save $364,000), considering a pay-per-bag trash collection
system (a cost of $240,000), elimination of the Memorial Day parade subsidy
(a savings of $2,400), elimination of recreation subsidies (totaling
$11,600), and closing the pool for one year or permanently (saves $6,000
annually), and deferring the building of athletic fields.
Those considered a safety and educational issue were the closing of the
library, returning to a volunteer fire department, reducing school staffing,
adding the Special Education director's duties to the superintendent's
responsibilities, eliminating a police cruiser, deferring road paving and
painting, turning off the street lights, and increasing in-house special
education out-of-district placements.
Off the list was the suggestion of reducing the number of school days to
four days a week to hopefully save on heating, bussing, and food services at
school. Superintendent Dr. Tom Scott explained that students are required to
attend 180 days of school.
Another item removed from the list was the transfer of town buildings onto
Devens utilities because they are already using Devens services.
Over two dozen items were identified as a number 3, an administrative item
or cost of operation. Among the suggestions were reducing town departments
to a four-day work-week, reducing town staffing, deferring sewer
betterments, turning off the air-conditioning in town buildings, locking all
town phones, making the middle school a junior/senior high school,
privatizing the Center School preschool program, wage increase reductions,
wage freezes, adjusting town employee insurance co-payments and/or
contributions, and implementing a residential building moratorium.
The committee adjourned shortly after completing the list, but it was first
suggested that members take some homework for their next meeting on August
9. Members were asked to figure out how to arrive with a dollar impact
amount for each item, and to bring questions and tasks for the consultant.
The Deficit Committee is hoping to appropriate money at the fall Special
Town Meeting to hire a consultant for a peer review of the school business
and management practices.
Guercio explained that funds have been identified and that the Deficit
Committee is in agreement that they will draft an article for the fall Town
Meeting that would request $70,000 of additional funds from the Cherry Sheet
and $150,000 in unanticipated lottery funds, earmarked for the school.
In the meantime, the school has reduced the figure to $225,000.
Guercio added that there has also been discussion on the capital items at
Town Meeting that were to be purchased with MCI mitigation funds or by
borrowing. He said they could use the MCI money to help with the deficit and
borrow for the capital items, if necessary.
- 8/07 Young doctors choosing less stressful route, by Jennette Barnes, New Bedford Standard-Times, MA.
It's the new[?] face of competition.
Long hours, high stress and the threat of lawsuits are driving top young
doctors into specialties that offer an easier lifestyle.
No longer is the prestige of being a surgeon enough to lure the cream of
the medical school crop into a career of 63-hour work weeks.
Instead, topping the list at many schools are jobs in dermatology,
radiology, orthopedics and urology.
"Certainly, we're seeing more students interested in specialties that
provide a better lifestyle," said Alexandra Morang, director of medical
student affairs at Brown University Medical School.
Even emergency medicine, which is a high-stress environment, offers a
lighter workload than general surgery or internal medicine, according to
American Medical Association statistics.
"Emergency medicine is shift work," explained Dr. Mai-Lan Rogoff, associate dean of
student affairs at UMass Medical School in Worcester. "When you're off,
Some of today's specialties are attractive because of the low risk of
lawsuits and lower premiums for malpractice insurance.
Others offer high income, a relaxed setting or just the chance to get home
in time for dinner.
New Bedford native Joseph McLaughlin, a fourth-year student at UMass
Medical School, was tempted to focus on emergency medicine.
"It's hard to resist working 30 hours a week and getting paid a ton of
money," he said.
But he did. He must make a final decision in the next few months, and the
ER is pretty much out of the picture. At large medical centers especially,
emergency work is a series of triage events, he said. Patients are
stabilized and admitted, and other physicians do the follow-up.
Mr. McLaughlin wants his work to be more rewarding.
"Seeing patients come in sick and leave well is the kind of thing I need to
keep me going for three decades of work," he said.
A graduate of Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and UMass Amherst,
he hopes to stay in the Northeast for his residency. His parents, attorneys
David and Mary Alice McLaughlin, live in New Bedford.
Despite the taxing schedule of a surgeon,
["I'm busier than you - therefore I'm more important than you"]
Mr. McLaughlin is considering
general surgery, pediatric surgery and orthopedic surgery. He likes the idea
of being able to fix a problem right away.
One hallmark of a competitive field is how many of its residency slots are
filled by graduates of American medical schools, said Mona Signer, director
of the National Resident Matching Program. Another indicator is the number
of applicants in relation to the number of slots in training programs.
The matching program's data for 2004 show high rates of U.S. graduates
going into radiology, dermatology, orthopedic surgery and pediatric
In dermatology, 97% of residencies were filled by U.S. graduates.
Radiation oncology had 100% U.S. graduates, and diagnostic radiology
"If it's overwhelmingly (filled) by U.S. seniors, I would say that that's a
more competitive specialty," Ms. Signer said.
Students have a nickname for the so-called lifestyle specialties, according
to Mr. McLaughlin: They are the "E-ROAD" - an acronym for emergency
medicine, radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology and dermatology.
In the 2004 match, family practice residencies had one of the lowest rates
of U.S. graduates, 41.4%.
Dr. David Blumenthal, director of the Institute for Health Policy at
Massachusetts General Hospital, said primary care programs have seen fewer
applicants, although students' academic credentials have not suffered.
"There is a lot of speculation about how far applications could go down
without sacrificing quality," he said.
His colleagues in primary care are stressed out and not very happy, not as
happy as subspecialists, he said.
Less specialized fields such as primary care and even general surgery tend
to pay less. The E-ROAD fields, he said, are highly specialized, less
general and somewhat less demanding.
General surgeons might make good money, but the lifestyle is miserable,
said Dr. Rogoff of UMass Medical School.
"The thing that's tanking is general surgery," she said, especially with
the early morning hours.
"Your life is truly not your own. You really sell yourself to surgery," she
The net result is a shift in some students' top choices.
"The absolute top of the class probably is going into dermatology,
orthopedics or surgical subspecialties," Dr. Rogoff said.
Although general surgery is still competitive, students choosing it are
"not the creme de la creme like they used to be," she said.
Still, residency programs would rather be short a resident than take
someone they feel is not qualified.
"As an attending physician, you're better off taking the time to do it
yourself versus being sued because you took a resident out of the bottom of
the class," Dr. Rogoff said.
Starting last year, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical
Education established a maximum 80-hour work week for residents. But the
limit is averaged over four weeks, and some specialties are exempt.
The limit has helped, said Dr. Morang of Brown University Medical School.
"We went through a period where surgical programs were wanting for
students, and now that the 80-hour work week is in place, programs are
filling again," she said.
Louai Razzouk, a fourth-year student at Brown University Medical School, is
deciding between general surgery and cardiology. He is part of the
Dartmouth-Brown program in which students spend their first two years at
Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire and then transfer to Brown.
Cardiology was Mr. Razzouk's first love at Dartmouth, but now the
excitement of surgery is tempting. The schedule, however, is not tempting. He gets up
at 4:30 a.m. to get to the hospital on time, and usually finishes late in
Already, he sees symptoms of the time crunch. His relatives are visiting
from Syria, and he has little time to spend with them.
"It's the summer. It's Rhode Island. There are so many things to do," said
Mr. Razzouk, who lived in Syria, Beirut and France before coming to the U.S.
for medical school.
He worries that the lack of free time will continue in the future, when he
might get married and have children.
The lure of a better schedule prompted him to try a number of surgical
subspecialties, but he didn't take well to the fragmentation, dealing with
only a single organ or group of organs.
"You don't feel at the center of the patient's care," he said.
His top five considerations are these: enjoyment of the work, a flexible
schedule, exportable skills so he can work abroad, the attitude of his
colleagues and salary.
Dermatology is known for the high salary, easy schedule and low risk. But
it is not his style.
"Dermatology is a dream for everyone - if everyone could like it," he
Dr. Blumenthal of the Health Policy Institute said all the talk about
lifestyle has bred a generation of medical students who view medicine as a
"They're much more questioning of the value of medicine as a calling,
instead of as a sort of occupation," he said. "They expect to get paid less
and work less hard."
But patients will not suffer from the changing tide of popular specialties,
argued Dr. Robert Meenan, dean of the Boston University School of Public
When he left medical school in 1972 to specialize in rheumatology, the
specialty was relatively prestigious. By the time he stopped practicing,
recruiting doctors into rheumatology was becoming difficult. Rheumatologists
had few good arthritis medications in their arsenal, he said. Other
specialties had taken the limelight.
In the 1970s, his classmates who chose orthopedic surgery were viewed as
"Strong as an ox and twice as smart" - that was the joke about orthopedic
surgeons at the time, Dr. Meenan said.
But advancements led to better joint replacements, making the field more
satisfying and more lucrative.
"I just see this stuff as having an ebb and flow," he said.
Experts say plenty of qualified people are still going into the less
"It can look like the bottom's going to drop out, but it tends to
self-correct," Dr. Meenan said. "I'm not worried about the health of the
- 8/07 Standard issue for Army moms, by Jill Radsken, Boston Herald, MA.
If there is ever a time in a woman's life when she wanted to wear
camouflage, it's probably during pregnancy.
So while PFC Lynndie England faces charges of abusing prisoners at Abu
Graib prison in Iraq, the pictures of her bulging belly raise the question:
What does the military do for pregnant women?
"It's common sense,'' said Army spokeswoman Maj. Jenny Davis, who says
each pregnancy is handled on a case-by-case basis, but some standard
procedures apply. If a woman is halfway to term, she is allowed to take more
breaks during formation. At 28 weeks, her work week is limited to 40 hours.
Policies relating to pregnancy vary from branch to branch of the
military, but all enlisted servicewomen are given an additional stipend for
maternity uniforms. Female officers are required to pay for their maternity
Davis has worn two different maternity uniforms during her time in the
Army. During her first pregnancy, when she worked at the Pentagon, she wore
maternity Class B's - semi-formal light green shirt and dark green pants.
Later, when stationed at Ft. Lewis, Wash., she wore loose-fitting maternity
"You're not standing out, uniform-wise,'' she said. "You're sticking
- 8/07 Position of Ben Lomond fire chief up for grabs, by Jondi Gumz (firstname.lastname@example.org), Santa Cruz Sentinel, CA.
BEN LOMOND, Calif. - After just seven months as the Ben Lomond fire chief, Bryan
Weber is stepping down.
Weber...has been juggling his part-time duties in Ben Lomond with his
full-time job with the California Dept. of Forestry & Fire
He puts in a 72-hour work week for the state, and the Ben Lomond job is 20
hours a week.
"It's too many hours," Weber said. "I need about nine days in the week."
He followed Steve Sanders, who resigned after 17 years as chief. Sanders
had worked full-time.
Weber said he took the chief's job thinking it could be handled on a
part-time basis. He's changed his mind.
"I've seen what it takes," he said, explaining that 20 hours is not enough
time to attend meetings, respond to the public and provide supervision for
volunteer firefighters who respond to calls.
Weber retired from the Air Force Reserves in February, which gave him more
time, but he said he wanted to spend weekends with his family. He and his
wife, Susan, have two school-age sons.
When he's at work at the state fire agency, he said can hear calls for Ben
Lomond on the radio "but I can't go." So far, he said, that hasn't been a
problem, but there's no telling what the future will bring.
Weber recommends the fire board expand the job to 32 hours, or four days a
week. Other fire districts with a similar arrangement pay $3,000 a month.
Weber's salary has been $2,400 a month.
The board hasn't decided whether the job will include benefits.
- 8/07 Her work in the slow lane is measured in ... smiles per hour, by Matt Buedel, Peoria Journal Star, IL.
Joey Piper works with unrivaled zest.
Her construction site performances are undoubtedly familiar to thousands of
area motorists who have witnessed her in action, working to bring at least a
fleeting smile to even the most road-rage infected drivers caught in snarled
A flagger directing the flow of cars through potentially dangerous job sites
for the last 16 years, Piper's self-styled method of maintaining motorists'
attention involves the type of etiquette no one expects.
It's what makes her effective, and it appears to have cost her a job on
the Interstate 74 upgrade.
She curtsies when waving on halted traffic, hands out suckers to stressed
out parents trapped with anxious children in the car, and smiles. She always
"It's a very rewarding job - everybody thinks it's easy money, but it's
"You have to pay attention to everything."
Her primary purpose is safety, keeping cars and construction workers out of
each other's way, but she noticed something that made her uncomfortable when
she first took her roadside post.
"I saw how upset everybody was when they went through construction zones,
and it really bothered me," Piper said. "They have so much stress."
So she developed her attention-grabbing techniques with the hope she could
keep drivers focused on what's in front of them while at the same time
taking their minds off their troubles.
Her audience has taken note.
"Thanks, Joey! You're bringing smiles to many hot, harried motorists," one
motorist wrote to the Journal Star's Random Acts of Kindness column in 2002.
In the same newspaper space a few months earlier, another had said, "Thank
you, Joey, for blessing all of us who traveled your way with your gifts of
The Illinois Dept. of Transportation also honored Piper for her
excellence on the job a couple of years ago, a humbling award she graciously
accepted, but she said the honor should have gone to one of the guys
performing the back-breaking labor.
Just as her work ethic has garnered praise, so too has it drawn disdain from
one of her most recent employers, Chicago-based Walsh Construction, the
contractor in charge of renovations for the first stage of the I-74
Piper started working what is downstate Illinois' top road project to date
in June 2003. She put in 12- to 14-hour days, six days a week.
Early this year, she began hearing stories about what her Walsh supervisor
thought of her friendly flagging and was told her job was in limbo.
"He told my business agent, 'Why can't she just stand there and act
normal?'" Piper said. To that she thought, if making the site safer by
smiling isn't normal, "I'll still take it any day of the week."
Then her work week was cut to two days a week, and then to a single night
shift. Early in May, Piper said she was taken off the schedule altogether.
A Walsh representative in the company's Peoria office said no one was
available to comment on Piper's situation Friday.
"I never thought in a million years someone could lose their job because
they had a positive attitude," Piper said. "Unfortunately, it's hurt my
pocketbook standing up for what I believe."
Work has been scarce this summer, with most people in her field laboring on
She's now working on an "as-needed" basis for Tremont contractor R.A.
Cullinan & Sons, the company that will likely take over the second stage of
Cullinan was the apparent low bidder on four contracts worth more than $170
million when bids were unsealed June 11, a nervous day for Piper.
"Nobody was praying any harder than me," she said. "And when I heard
(Cullinan had the low bids), nobody could have been any happier than me."
- 8/8 OT overhaul: New federal overtime rules may make it harder for Montanans to
boost their paychecks, by Jan Falstad (406-657-1306 or jfalstadbillingsgazette.com), Billings Gazette, MT.
Overtime pay - used for everything to help with life's frills or to fund
basic needs - may be a luxury of the past under federal rules that kick in
New U.S. Dept. of Labor regulations, backed by industry and the Bush
Administration, dramatically change the rules for the 80% of American
wage and salary workers who currently are entitled to overtime pay.
An estimated 1 million to 2 million lower-income Americans who currently
don't get overtime will now qualify.
First, the good news, from a worker's perspective.
Under current law, a worker labeled an "executive" who regularly supervises
two or more employees and makes $155 a week generally cannot receive
overtime. These workers also are called "exempt," meaning they are exempt
from overtime pay.
The new rules say employees must earn at least $455 per week (not $155) or
they are eligible for overtime pay.
Diana Ruff, president of Associated Employers of Montana, said since wages
in this state are at the bottom of the national average, this change may
mean more pay for some.
"If you truly have an exempt employee, they have to pay them $455 per week
by the Aug. 23 date, or you'll have to pay them overtime," Ruff said.
Ruff has no idea how many Montana employers will need to boost the pay of
their exempt employees to avoid paying overtime. Social workers or welfare
workers may be the most impacted.
Associated Employers, which started doing business in 1916, acts as an
outside human resource department for employers, both large and small.
While praising the department for raising the minimum salary to a more
realistic level, three labor specialists in Washington D.C., said all the
department's other changes weaken overtime protections for workers. The
report was written by three former top Dept. of Labor officials, John
Fraser, Monica Gallagher and Gail Coleman, at the request of the AFL-CIO.
Their 40-page critique of the rules called the definitions "vague and
internally inconsistent" and said they will likely "result in greater
confusion and a profusion of litigation."
Because of the vague language, their report said these changes could
eventually impact as many at 53 million Americans.
Bad news for most
The bad news from the worker's perspective is that in two weeks as many as 6
million workers will be reclassified as exempt: clerical workers who
supervise no one, cooks and even reporters and photographers.
The original Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938 established the
40-hour work week and this is the first major revision of the rules since
the 1970s. All these years, workers who put in more than 40 hours a week
generally received "time-and-a-half" pay.
With a strike against the city of Billings on his mind last week, Teamsters
Local 190 President Joe Dwyer wasn't thinking much about overtime rules.
Union workers aren't affected because their overtime rights are protected in
their bargaining agreement.
However, Dwyer said when workers see the pay cuts or see they're being
asked to work extra hours without pay, they may seek union protection.
"I think the Bush administration is off base on this and I wish they'd
reconsider, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen," Dwyer said.
Add a layer of complexity
Good luck trying to decide if your Montana paycheck is affected by the new
That's because Montana is one of 18 states that has its own wage and hour
laws. This mean employers must analyze federal law versus state law and give
their workers the better deal.
John Andrew, chief of the Labor Standards Bureau for the state of Montana
in Helena, has been trying to decipher and explain the complex law to local
employers. He's developed a draft version of a comparison chart of the
existing and new federal laws versus the state law to help companies. The
chart has 35 boxes to explain the changes.
Given that complexity, Andrew is telling employers to cool their heels
"until we see what happens."
Montana law generally agrees with the current federal law. But it won't in
two weeks when these changes take effect.
"One possibility is Montana would change its laws to dovetail with the
federal law," Andrew said.
Like Andrew, Webb Brown, president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce in
Helena, said he's been putting a lot time in on the new information.
"Only the workers don't know what's going on," Brown said.
Crackin' down on the paycheck
The federal rules kicking in Aug. 23 set three tests employers must meet to
exempt workers from overtime pay.
Again, "exempt" employees must be paid a minimum salary of $455 per week or
$23,660 per year or they get overtime pay.
That level is about $5,000 above what a family of four can earn before
hitting the federal poverty level. This minimum salary is not indexed for
inflation. So, as the years pass, more and more workers will earn more due
to inflation and be ruled ineligible for overtime.
The second test is called the "salary-basis." The worker must be paid a
salary, not by the hour.
The last test is called a "duties test." This is where most of the overtime
pay could be taken away.
If a worker performs duties that are classified "executive," "professional"
or "administrative," they can be exempted from overtime.
Chefs can be labeled "learned or creative professionals" and be exempt.
Production employees who supervise no one can be exempted as
Nursery school teachers, insurance agents, mortgage loan officers, computer
employees even reporters will be exempted from overtime pay, according to a
briefing paper by Ross Eisenbrey published in July. Eisenbrey is policy
director of the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit formed 18 years ago
in Washington, D.C.
"The administration is intent on handing a huge windfall to employers - one
that will be paid for out of the paychecks of millions of workers," he
wrote. "Those who will lose outnumber those who will be helped by 16 to
Retail businesses must have $500,000 or more per year in sales to be
affected by these overtime changes.
That threshold isn't as high as it sounds.
"If in your retail business, you have a person who takes credit card
transactions or sales in interstate commerce, that person can be covered by
the federal law," Andrew said.
A dozen Billings area business leaders generally were confused and
uninformed about the changes. Most said they wouldn't be affected much.
Mike Kautzman, owner of Billings Overhead Door Co., and Andy Wick, vice
president of Hardy Construction, said they don't think the overtime changes
will impact their employees much.
Kautzman said construction employees working on federal contracts are paid
the prevailing wage in the geographic area of the job under the Davis-Bacon
Heidi Saunders, human resources administrator at Computers Unlimited, said
the impact will be slight because most of that company's employees already
"For those who aren't, their salaries are high enough," Saunders said. "We
might have to adjust a couple of positions."
Specific job descriptions will become more important to define exempt
Congress has voted on different bills and amendments ranging from killing
the coming Labor Dept. restrictions to preserve overtime pay for most
American to eliminating overtime altogether. No bill has become law yet, but
the changes may be overturned by Congress.
Andrew said these kind of complex changes take lots of interpretation.
"No one is really going to know how good or bad they are until they are
tested in court cases," he said.
No overtime pay if...
Source: The Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan and nonprofit economic
think tank founded in 1986.
To read the full study, go to: www.epinet.org
- You are a "learned professional." That is if you have a college degree or
higher (which is the current law) or you do substantially the same work as
someone with an advanced degree (the new language).
- Cooks and chefs who will be called "creative professionals," teachers,
computer programmers and financial services workers may lose their right to
- Employees doing mostly routine work, including clerical work, can be
classified professionals even though they don't supervise anyone.
- Team leaders may be exempt even if they don't have supervisory authority.€
Top earners making $100,000 or more per year will be exempt.
- 8/06 A return to childhood - The new immaturity, by Hoover Institution fellow Victor Hanson, an NRO contributor, (www.victorhanson.com), National Review Online.
[Here's an astonishing rant that indicates the kind of illogical and non-sequitur thinking the Hoover Institute is apparently willing to pay for. Again and again, Hanson makes a controversial statement and then follows it up with nice soundbytes that upon a moment's reflection, make absolutely no contribution to supporting the statement. Anyone's main response to his many assertions would be, where's the beef? - where's the data? For example, he thinks he's rebutting the fact that America has lost its friends by pointing to the desperate 3rd-world immigrants who are scrambling to get here - ah, Victor, that's not the kind of "friends" we're talking about! - or by talking about foreigners' taste for some aspects of American culture - as if our taste for Soviet vodka during the Cold War made us friends of Communism! This was our first experience of the real idea-disassociation problem of the Hoover Institute - we will certainly think twice before wasting time commenting further articles from them!]
I would never have imagined that journalists, academics, actors, artists,
and the intelligentsia [Hanson isn't a member of the intelligentsia? or at least of the neo-con artists?] in general would have so opposed the end of dictatorship and promotion of democracy abroad.
[What we oppose is unprovoked invasions based on family vendettas and oil greed, and as for the promotion of "democracy," Republican cheating in 2000 and subversion of voting machines in 2002 leaves them no standing for the promotion of democracy anywhere. What fools do they and Hanson take us for?]
And who would have thought that Vietnam would become the source for Democratic nostalgia, rather than
the usual recrimination?
[It's not nostalgia and it's not affection for Vietnam. It's desire for a leader who fights for the country instead of going AWOL and preference for a leader who, when he finds out that a war was a mistake, has the courage to admit it.]
Did anyone think the appointment of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice,
[it wasn't their appointment but their performance that evoked criticism]
promises of $15 billion in grants to combat AIDS in Africa,
[$15B would easily provide universal single-payer health insurance for all Americans - this is a mistaken priority - "charity begins at home"!]
and lectures to the politically powerful Arab world to cease the
genocide of black Sudanese
[lectures are ineffectual - where's the military intervention? - Bush rationalized the Iraq invasion based not on current killings but killings 15 years ago (when USA supported the killer) - "where's the beef" in Bush's tut-tutting about the Sudanese?]
would earn George Bush slurs evoking the Taliban, the old Confederacy, and fascism?
[Those aren't the actions that earned Bush these slurs, as Hanson well knows.]
Have we become children who live in a
world of bedtime stories, afraid to face the cruel truth around us?
[Hanson apparently has. He has such an awe of authority that he just can't believe the depths to which this administration has sunk.]
Poor us - we are all alone?
It is disturbing to see John Kerry insist that America has lost its friends
and, through imbecilic diplomacy or worse, alienated those abroad.
["Insistence" is irrelevant - all you have to do is listen to our historical allies to hear how alarmed they are by Bush.]
The world I see would beg to differ.
[Hanson apparently sees only desperate parts of the world which have nothing to do with America's losing its friends.]
Emigrants strive to reach American shores more
often than all other destinations combined.
[These desperate emigrants are from Third World countries which are generally not among the first ten or twenty former "friends of America" that anyone would list, because "friendship" that you purchase with millions in foreign aid is hardly worth the name. And desperate emigration from Africa to Europe is increasing - it's just that Europe is a lot smarter about returning illegal immigrants, since they realize their both their ecological and cultural limitations and respect their own immigration laws, unlike Bush's America.]
Globalization is now synonymous with Americanization itself.
[Hanson is a little behind in the news. Bush administration policies have greatly lowered foreign enrollments in American universities and greatly increased them in European universities. Globalization is now more synonymous withEuropeanization than with Americanization. Bush's America has gone nuts, and the rest of the non-desperate world is standing back, holding its breath for a change in November.]
The world's preference for American food,
music, travel, popular culture, fashion, and entertainment all suggest a
dynamism in the United States found nowhere else.
[Again, Hanson is behind in the news. Has he not noticed the current distress about American food, even in America, because of its promotion of obesity? And as for the rest of the American cultural chauvinism, Hanson apparently doesn't travel much. The world reaction against American culture etc. has not been as severe as Bush's over-reaction against France and Germany for not supporting his unprovoked Iraq invasion, because many abroad are still giving Americans the benefit of the doubt because of the Supreme Court's pre-emption of democracy in the 2000 election. If Bush gets re-appointed, however, the rest of the world will give up on America, quietly unite to protect themselves from our increasingly erratic behavior, and move on without us.]
One third of the planet - India and China - has evolved from being
impoverished and bitter neutrals or outright enemies into capitalist
powerhouses dependent on American free trade and outsourced jobs.
[Strange that a "conservative" like Hanson would be calling former-outright-enemy Communist China "capitalist"! Or that he would describe India as a formerly "bitter neutral." As far as we know, English-speaking Indians have always been on our side with no particular bitterness, even though we have largely ignored them. Now, only small minorities in India and China have benefited from recent economic development. The huge majority in both countries is still dirt poor and both countries have millions of unemployed people. Neither country can be called an economic powerhouse without considerable consolidated-media exaggeration. And if break through Hanson's tunnel vision and include Russia in our scan, Americans like Jeffrey Sachs ruined Russia with economic "shock therapy" and converted it into a poverty-stricken gangster economy. And as for "free trade," we only trade freely when it's in our interests, as Bush's steel tariffs and commodity subsidies prove. And as for India's and China's dependence on the outsourcing of our jobs, why is Hanson boasting about something that has brought increasing economic anxiety and poverty to our own economy? Isn't that what we used to criticize Communism for = reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator?]
If we used to argue in the 1940s about whether millions of dollars in U.S. grain aid
really did any good in feeding the starving of China and India, we can all
agree now that American liberality in letting consumer goods in and jobs out
has done more for the world's hungry millions than a century of American
[We cannot "all agree" on this because there are no measures to back it up, and because supposedly increasing well-being abroad while measurably decreasing it at home is self-destructive and merely a cover for the extension of undemocratic economic control over other countries by our financiers and military planners.]
Without $12 billion a year in remittances from illegal aliens in the United
States and American tourists south of the border, the economy of Mexico
would be in ruins.
[Praising illegal immigrants and thereby condoning illegal immigration? Well well, the Hoover Institute is here on record supporting the violation of American law! This is the last of their output we will countenance. They are a criminal thinktank. And no, the economy of Mexico would not be in ruins without these bandaids. On the contrary, the Mexican elite would be forced to centrifuge the income and wealth of the nation and gain economic self-sufficiency instead of limping along as a parasitic remora on the great American shark next door.]
For all his party's juvenile rhetoric [this indicates how little respect or concern Hanson really has for Mexico], Vicente Fox realizes that America is about as liberal and humane to Mexicans who head
north as his country is harsh and cruel to Latin Americans who cross its own
borders from the south.
[Speaking of "juvenile rhetoric," Hanson evidently has no respect for our immigration laws, or Mexico's!]
European elites [and ordinary Europeans as well!], it is true, are angry at the United States. But that pique
is more a result of projection and scapegoating rising from its own
problems, not ours
[again that petulant and ignorant arrogance that assumes Europeans are as poorly informed about us as we are about them]
- as it struggles with demographic crises,
[has Hanson visited Arizona or southern California lately?]
[has he not noticed the ill-conceived push for bilingual education in America?]
[our impotence in nation building and democracy planting in Afghanistan and Iraq leave us in no position to criticize in this area]
an embarrassing desire for free American protection
[from whom? Hanson is still stuck in the Cold War - and overlooks the many Europeans who would like to see our backs, not to mention the Cubans who would like us to get the hell out of Guantanamo, and the citizens of that Japanese island where our troops are always raping local women]
despite concomitant resentment and envy,
[why does Hanson find it necessary to repeatedly impute self-serving emotions to other people? where's the evidence? why not let them speak for themselves?]
and a growing realization that while the world talks up the EU, when it has real problems, it goes to Washington.
[No, it goes to the Bush-despised U.N. - where even Bush goes when he's in real trouble, as now in Iraq. And a second Bush term in office will leave Washington deserted except for the parasites and beggar-nations that Bush propaganda elevates to "allies" in his hyped-up "coalition."]
In this regard, Greece is a metaphor for the entire ambivalence of the
[= ambivalence that will be resolved against us if we don't somehow manage to put a stop to the Bush insanity in November.]
It now worries about Arab terrorists in Athens, despite courting
Middle East dictators for decades....
[The U.S. is in no position to criticize "courting Middle East dictators for decades." It not only courted the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein himself but is still currently courting the Saudi royal family, despite the Saudi nationality of most of the 9/11 hijackers. There is no standing for the rest of this distraction with Greece. Our job is to first pull the planks out of our own eyes so we can see clearly enough to pull the splinters out of others' eyes.]
There are dozens of countries participating in the reconstruction of Iraq,
perhaps more than were willing to get on board in Serbia to oust Milosevic.
[Bushie boasting about all the token "participation" from tiny countries in his Iraq adventure cannot be taken seriously. And are we really talking about the reconstruction of Iraq, or a feeding frenzy of quasilegal looting? And all such makework-tainted "reconstruction" would have been unnecessary if Bush and his group of oil-industry confederates in the White House and Texas hadn't gratuitously invaded Iraq in the first place, based on whatever excuse they could find.]
The Arab world's anger at the United States - not evidenced by a precipitous
decline in immigration to Detroit [data?] or new alliances with France [a silly and irrelevant stretch on both the Arab and French sides] - arises out of hurt and shame.
[Again Hanson presumes to read the minds and emotions of foreigners when he doesn't even speak their languages!]
We choose to prefer a democratic Israel
[how democratic can a country be which is twisted by the infusion of $3½ billion a year from another, bigger country?]
to its own [ie: Arab world's own?] autocratic tribalism.
[And what is the Bush administration if not an "autocratic tribe" - foist upon the nation by the unnecessary presumption of an autocratic, one-party-dominated Supreme Court?]
Yet Middle Easterners privately know that should they
adopt democracy they would win equal treatment from Washington.
[Ain't it amazing how Hanson knows what Middle Easterners privately know?! Hanson's arrogance and ignorant isolation makes him think it's all about us/US. This is what is so naive and ugly about Bush and his defenders and apologists. They think it's all about them.]
And they also grasp that to do such a revolutionary Western thing, they would have to
embrace religious tolerance, gender equality, free speech, and an end to the
pathologies of the Arab Street.
[Hanson is the type of person who is on such weak ground with such poor arguments and weak logic, that he has to build himself up by tearing other people down.]
And so they are stuck with the nagging truth that the Middle East will have to become more like the West - rather than the West like traditional Arab society - for real friendship to emerge.
[Why should they want real friendship to emerge when the likes of Hanson arrogantly insults them up and down, even having the gall to claim impartiality in the Israeli-Palestinian mess while giving Israel billions each year and supporting whatever Isreal does? Hanson and the Bushies think they're God's Gift. The Arabs don't. The Arabs think Hanson and his ilk are Satan's curse. Hanson needs to get that through his head, because a lot of Americans agree with the Arabs. Bush is an angel of darkness masquerading as an angel of light. Would an angel of light take from the poor and give to the rich? cut homeland security's budget? cut the budget on active-duty and veteran soldiers? grasp for pretexts to invade countries at peace instead of pursuing our real 9/11 enemies? defund and expose our environment? defund our national parks and endanger our overworked rangers? deny support to international treaties. including the nuclear test-ban treaty? pursue a fear-spreading strategy of Perpetual War, with repeated politically timed alerts supported by no public data? withhold the most public information from the public in American history? repeatedly subvert the voting process in Florida and other states? - the list goes on and on and on - it's hard to keep it all in one's head at the same time. Kerry isn't perfect but unless Bush and his crowd are stopped in their tracks, America is, nothing as dramatic as roadkill, just something on the level of greasy fry bread.]
Poor us - why do they hate us...
[This is getting repetitive and tenuously silly. Hanson launches into an imagination-straining 1941 scenario that would seem to compare Bush to FDR, Iraq to World War II, and the Arab world to the Third Reich - talk about delusions of grandeur!]
The best way to sum up this now-popular leftist analysis
[ah, commenter Phil Hyde ran as a moderate Republican against Joe Kennedy in 1996 and 1998 - this "now-popular analysis" ranges across the aisle and includes both left and right]
of the rage of Islamic fascists and their sometime supporters in the Middle East would be
simply to imagine a different America, in, say, January 1941.
[Bizarro. Hanson ignores the fact that Saddam only invaded neighboring Kuwait and when he was kicked out in 1992, he stopped invading neighbors. But Hitler turned Germany into an invasion machine and with one Blitzkrieg after another, just kept invading neighbors. There is no comparison. Let's scan down and see if there's anything else worth mentioning in Hanson's overblown outpourings.]
...Hitler, like bin Laden and his epigones, was the problem, not us.
[If bin Laden was the problem, Victor, why did your darling Bush attack Saddam?]
The only difference is that our grandparents knew that and we don't.
[Even those of our grandparents who realized we were part of the problem - in suggesting and then shunning the League of Nations and thus failing to stop the massive, vengeful, economy-breaking reparations laid on post-World War I Germany - also saw Hitler's armies actually invading one ally after another despite his assurances to the contrary. We on the other hand also know that we're part of the problem with our costly support of Israel, however provocative and oppressive they become, and we also see that bin Laden, not an Iraqi but a Saudi, used not armies but only box cutters, and that Saddam, an Iraqi who did use armies on Kuwait, was no longer in Kuwait and had not used armies for over a decade.]
Yes, we really can have it both ways
The best evidence of the new childishness is its [presumably the Democrats'] persistence in
[Look who's talking - first there are WMDs, then not; first Chalabi is our buddy, then not; first no to nation-building, then yes; first small government, then large; first fiscal responsibility, then none; first don't need the UN, then do need the UN - the list goes on and on.]
Thus, Howard Dean hints that the recently elevated alerts might be politically motivated terrorist hype
[what do you expect when the timing is so repeatedly "coincidental" and the evidence is always so "classified" - the message is always "trust us, trust us" - but why should we trust an administration that has had so many flipflops and mistakes and brushes with corruption? can Hanson really be this naive, or is he simply hand-in-glove with the neo-con putsch?]
- even as John Kerry insists that we haven't done enough to stop the fascists from planning our
[We haven't. We're wasting time and money on irrelevant Iraq instead of reforming and improving our intelligence and doing "laser surgery" on bin Laden and the Saudis, and distancing ourselves from Islam-dissing and Palestinian-oppressing Israel.]
Similarly, the Iraq war was at times necessary, completely uncalled for,
poorly planned, nevertheless worthy of staying the course in, and more still
- depending on the particular level of support voiced for the war in the
polls of the week.
[The Iraq war was only "necessary" to those who let themselves get distracted from its irrelevance to 9/11 by Bush's trumped up "evidence" of WNDs or any of his other pretexts. Whether or not it is worthy of "staying the course in" seems to be a function of Americans' naivete about the infinity of our own financial resources, just as "staying the course" was in Vietnam.]
The New York Times in April decries brutal American force in Fallujah, only by summer to scoff that our forbearance there had created a terrorist heaven.
[Bush's "war on the cheap" that has victimized our National Guard and Reserves with unprecentedly prolonged and repeated tours of duty was the original problem here, not to mention the neo-cons' exhaustive planning of their Y2K takeover, subsequent serial assaults on one international and ecological initiative after another and careful watch&wait for a Pearl Harbor Incident to cover their vendetta against Saddam and their takeover of Iraqi oilfields, planned in March 2001 by evidence gathered by a conservative group and shown on Bill Moyers' NOW last summer. After all this front-end planning, the neo-cons collapsed and did not back-end planning. Ergo unending Fallujah's.]
The modern Left [and what remains of the progressive and moderate Right] was created on the premise that Vietnam was both a strategic mistake and a moral catastrophe - and now has come full circle in
praising men like John Kerry, Max Cleland, and Wesley Clark for their combat service.
[Yeah well George W. Bush didn't have any combat service to praise, did he, nor did any of the other members of his administration, so we don't have much choice when it comes to praising people for their combat service now, do we.]
Are they heroes of a noble cause that to win deserved more support at home?
Are they tragic fighters whose bravery was not properly appreciated?
Or are they participants in what John Kerry once assured the American people was an illegal war in which soldiers routinely committed war atrocities? All or none?
[Hanson's transparent attempt to frame the issue (practically ANY issue!) is typical neo-con/fundamentalist black&white "all or none" thinking that has about as much validity as a fly trying to deal with a windowpane. They're people who served their country when they thought the war was a noble cause, instead of ducking even their peacetime service like George W. Bush in the 1970s. Then when they got a little better informed and less naive about the war, they had the honesty and flexibility and courage to say so, unlike George W. Bush today. Bush is a ducker and a distractor and a fear-fosterer, as well as a multiple flipflopper in power with life&death consequences. Kerry may have flipflopped on a few things, but he wasn't in power with life&death consequences at the time, and he's not a ducker, a distractor or a fear-monger. As even the Wall Street Journal said last week, "Bush ducked, Kerry fought." Face it, Hanson. Your boy is a coward, and like so many cowards, he's also a bully. Bush ducked his service to his country, even though it was in peacetime! Kerry fought. This egg can't be rubbed in enough.]
The war made it worse for us?
...This story...runs something like this. After 9/11, instead of pursuing the culprits through the proper domain of law enforcement
[and imaginative and laser-sharp intelligence matching boxcutters and commercial hijackings], Mr. Bush embarked on two [blunt] wars [the second of which was totally irrelevant to 9/11 and gave pressure-relief and recruitment-acceleration to all terrorists not in Afghanistan]....
[We're going to skip most of this strained section.]
Why do we [he means 'they' - we would agree with his application of the question to the neo-con group that includes himself] embrace these flawed concepts and exhibit such wild swings of mood and logic?
In a word, we [ed: let's continue applying this to the neo-cons and the many Americans who have slid back into fundamentalist religion] have devolved into an infantile society in which our technological successes [and/or Christian fundamentalism] have wrongly suggested that we can alter the [sinful?] nature of man to our whims and pleasures - just like a child who expects instant
gratification from his parents. In a culture where affluence and leisure are
seen as birthrights [not any more, thanks to the hyperconcentration of income and wealth spurred by Reagan & the Bushes, and also by Clinton], war and sacrifice or even the mental fatigue about
worrying over such things wear on us. So we construct, in a deductive and
anti-empirical way, a play universe that better suits us.
[We'd include in the culprits the isolationism and arrogant elitism of many scientists, who sneered at and passively envied popularizers instead of pitching-in to educate the public, for example, about evolution. We'd also include ignorance of history, and beyond that, scientists' failure to articulate an analysis of social evolution, including history and prehistory, that would provide a simple and elegant guide to the periods of human development to which various behaviors belonged. In short, we might agree that the world is not so much a matter of different geographic zones as different developmental timeframes in which various populations are simultaneously living out their lives. However, we have no generally accepted framework within which to understand our own human development and serial timeframes. Probably the least controversial example of such a framework would be a linearization of the social sciences themselves, as we have presented in the booklet, The Football of Time.]
In that regard [what regard?], for the moment, George Bush is a godsend.
[Here Hanson's sarcasm gets multilayered and obscure. Geo.W.Bush is simply an embodiment of naive neo-con audacity, ignorant idealism and naive arrogance. This is a guy who admitted he didn't read newspapers.]
His drawl [carefully cultivated to disguise his Yankee upbringing], Christianity [carefully shouted at street corners, like the Pharisees], tough talk [carefully avoiding any actual danger to himself], ramrod straight strut [peacocks strut, but aren't too smart] - all that and more - become the locus of our [whose?] fears: French and Germans on the warpath?
[This is getting disconnected. It was Bush who was on the irrelevant warpath against Iraq, and then the neo-cons who mounted a silly jingo campaign against the French and Germans for having the sense not to join in. The neo-cons also came close to accusing Americans who disagreed with this absurd and costly war of traitorousness. Hanson's next sentence has so many problems, let's throw it in uninterrupted first, and then put in the comments and rebuttals -]
They must have been Bushwhacked, not angry that their subsidized utopia - from a short work week, looming pension catastrophe, and no national defense - is eroding.
[Now, commented -]
They [who? the French and Germans?]
must have been Bushwhacked [the French and Germans weren't 'whacked' in the sense of 'duped into a costly unnecessary invasion' by Bush and the neo-cons, but many Americans including Hanson were],
not angry [so the rest of the world should be angry at themselves and not at uncooperative, deceptive, and belligerent neo-con Bushies?]
that their subsidized utopia [as our makework pages show, America is also a heavily subsidized 'utopia,' but it's far from utopian - the French and Germans are getting a lot more utopia for their subsidies than we are, because we're subsidizing the top income brackets with billions in corporate welfare, while the rest of America sinks into the Third World]
- from a short work week [as if a long workweek in an age of automation is anything to boast about, not to mention the accompanying loss of the most basic of freedoms, free time],
looming pension catastrophe [as if Americans are in any position to criticize, as our eroding-retirement pages show],
and no national defense [untrue, as shown by Bush's own attempts to get French and German military support at the beginning of his Soviet-style invasion and again after his trumped-up Iraq invasion turned into a quagmire - and by the way, who is now the national-defense danger for France or Germany? from recent neo-con rhetoric, it's none other than expansionist, neo-con, save-you-over-your-dead-body America]
- is eroding.
[It wouldn't be eroding if they had the courage of their convictions and simply continued to shorten their workweeks and workshare till all their potential employees were employed and all their deactivated consumers fully reactivated.]
Bombs going off in Manhattan or stuck in a tunnel while cops search every
truck? Either way, Bush is the problem.
[Correct. He and his fear-mongering neo-cons have espoused the Doctrine of Perpetual War to keep Americans distracted, cowed and anxiously clinging to his administration regardless of costs or common sense.]
Either he foolishly went into Iraq
and let down our guard, or he is trying to scare us into believing that a
nonexistent terrorist is under every bed.
The television still blares about
suicide bombers and repugnant thugs tormenting bound hostages? Surely Bush
set them off.
[He certainly did in Abu Ghraib prison. That was Americans tormenting bound hostages in an American-run prison. How soon Hanson thinks we forget!]
The proper response? Presto! Elect a less confrontational John
Kerry, and thus cease a long, difficult war to defeat and to discredit all
who would embrace such odious ideas.
[It's a start. Re-electing the monster Bush and all his twisted-thinking remoras, like Victor Hanson, will guarantee a quick end to American power and influence.]
Liberal civilizations often tire of eternal vigilance [19 guys with boxcutters got 'lucky' thanks to the vulnernable structure of two skyscrapers, OK? that's all - unless you want to go into slack security at Logan Airport or further, into the likelihood that the neo-cons were just waiting and praying for a Pearl Harbor event to support their Iraq ambitions] and in the midst of
peacetime affluence work themselves into mass hysteria when challenged.
[The repeated Bush terror alerts, unsupported by public evidence or by changes in Bush's own color-alert system or by Bush's own funding of homeland security, put the lie to the idea that we worked ourselves into mass hysteria. This work was carefully planned.]
Such is the picture we receive of the Athenian assembly around 340 B.C. [oh brother] when
Demosthenes desperately warned that Philip was not a national liberator. Few
thought Hannibal really would cross the Ebro. Churchill in the 1930s wasn't
listened to very much - after the Somme, who wanted lectures about
[This Hanson guy really has delusions of grandeur on behalf of the Great Neo-con Invasion of Iraq. Has he forgotten the Bush's own admission that it had nothing to do with 9/11? Does he think we have? We have got to stop these crazy people from their save-the-world-over-its-dead-body crusade.]
Ronald Reagan's earlier prescience about the Soviet threat in
the post-Vietnam era prompted Hollywood to turn out cheap TV movies warning
of Reagan-inspired nuclear winters.
[Reagan was no more aware of the Soviet threat than anyone else, and in the light of history, there was no prescience involved because the threat turned out to be hollow. If he was prescient, he wouldn't have bothered with it - they were decades behind in computers and the CIA's own intelligence missed that - and Reagan would have got on with improving things in America instead of burning through
billions and jacking the national debt into the trillions for, again, what turned out to be a hollow promise of hammering swords into plowshares. All we got in exchange for standing down our costly military-industrial complex was standing up our costly prison-industrial complex. "One-two-three, organized cheer." Whoo-pee.]
We too [who, neo-cons or Dems or who exactly?] are reverting to our childhood and thus are in the same weird mood
preferring fantasies and stories to reality. The Democrats know it. And so
the unifying theme of their otherwise contradictory messages [ha] is that we can
return to the infantile delusions of September 10, and not the crisis-filled
adult world of post-September 11 that now confronts George W. Bush.
[Oh c'mon. You and Bush created the crisis-filled "adult" world of post-9/11 with your own paranoia - or maybe it was cynical Perpetual War constituency-control strategy. Recall that we had the sympathy and support of the whole world after 9/11, and even through the Afghanistan invasion. Bush squandered it all by the admittedly 9/11-irrelevant invasion of Iraq. Bush and you have made yourselves a bigger problem than 19 mostly Saudi guys with boxcutters - you're responsible for the unnecessary deaths of over 1000 Americans in Iraq and you won't even tell us the toll on innocent Iraqis. You must be stopped. If the parties had been reversed, there would have been screaming calls for impeachment even before 9/11. The prostrate opposition neglected to mount those calls throughout, instead lamely leaving it to the subversion-vulnerable 2004 election. Now all we can do is hope that enough Americans see through the tissue of neo-con lies to vote to stop you, and that you have a surviving grain of Americanism to accept your defeat instead of twisting it into an unearned victory, as you did in in 2000 and in some cases, in 2002. And as for badmouthing "a return to childhood," what would your "Christian" dupes say when comparing that to certain well-known words of Christ; namely, "except ye become as a little child, ye shall not enter God's kingdom"?
[Again, we can't believe the Hoover Institute pays people to write this kind of continuous non-sequitur. With this kind of strained and stretched and broken logic, the neo-cons better sharpen their hacking skills to change and invent votes in November's electronic voting machines, because Bush ain't gonna win with this kind of thought-dissociation to support him. PS - we promise not to tax our readers with more of this without a huge quality upgrade from the Hoover Institute.]
8/05/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/04 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from the 8/05 newspaper hardcopy), with backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Now in the front office: Job sharing, by Lynn Stevens (email@example.com), BDW Business via MLive.com, MI.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - For the past five years, the branch manager of Comerica Bank's Plainfield
office in Grand Rapids has changed with the days of the week. And Dan Dunn,
Comerica vice-president for human resources for western Michigan, says it
makes good business sense.
Lisa Cummings is the manager on premises Mondays and Tuesdays. Marci Chapin
is the manager on Thursdays and Fridays. Both bank vice presidents are in
the branch on Wednesdays.
The two long-time Comerica employees — who did not know each other prior to
their job-sharing — requested part-time work to manage their family
responsibilities. Cummings, who has worked for Comerica for more than 15
years, has three children, aged 11, 9 and 3. Chapin, with three daughters at
11, 7 and 3, celebrates her 17th year with Comerica this month.
"We've just been an organization that tries to work with people so long as
it works with the needs of the business," said Dunn. "That's part of the
reason I've been here 25 years. You stay with an organization that treats
you well, and Comerica does that."
Detroit-based Comerica Inc. [NYSE: CMA] has offered alternative work
arrangements for as long as he has worked for the company, Dunn said. It
isn’t mandatory. It isn't trendy. It's good business, he said.
"The Society for Human Resource Management and some other organizations
have calculated turnover costs at one and one-half times the annual salary
for entry level — for more senior levels, the cost is about two and one-half
times the annual salary," Dunn said. "You can get some pretty hefty costs in
there — not only recruiting costs, but lost customer service during the
training periods and lost sales opportunities."
"We're not going to be in an era of lots of workers for a long period of
time," Dunn said. "People are going to remember how they were treated when
times were tougher for job seekers. They're going to remember the
organizations that operated as if people were important."
Benchmarks of how they have managed their position are monthly and annual
sales targets. The Plainfield branch has reached or exceeded 150% of
annual sales goals every year of the five years the manager position has
been shared, Chapin said.
"One of the huge benefits we have seen on the job sharing side is having
the creativity of two people working on the same job," Chapin said. "It's
amazing what happens when two creative minds look at the same customer, the
same issue. You might think of different solutions ..."
Knowing that there will be weekdays available for doctor appointments,
teacher conferences and similar responsibilities allows more concentrated
focus on work when they're in the office, Cummings said.
"When I worked full time, you only have so much time in the day," Cummings
said. "Now when I'm at work, it's 100% work. I'm not worrying about
squeezing in a doctor appointment or making phone calls you can only make
during the day, because I have my home time."
Both take work home, however. Cummings reads corporate memos at home
because, she says, she prefers to spend her working days developing
business. She occasionally calls customers from home if there is an item she
wants to follow up or if the customer is available only on days she is out
of the office.
The two e-mail each other regularly. If one gets an idea on her day off,
she sends a message to her counterpart.
"We keep files we can both access," Chapin added. "Wednesday mornings, we
sit down and go over what's going on — loans pending, staffing issues, new
program roll-out issues.
"At the end of the day on Fridays, Lisa gets a pending stack. Here are
things that are active now, here's what needs to be worked on Monday."
Cummings and Chapin are the only job-sharers in the Comerica system, Dunn
said. Another pair of job-sharing branch managers worked prior to their
arrangement, but one moved away and no one applied to replace her.
Of the 400-plus people in Comerica's western Michigan division, 86 work
part time. Only one of the employees who works alternative hours in the
region is male, Dunn said.
[So maybe women are the hope of the world after all.]
Alternative schedules may be flex-time, compressed work weeks or
telecommuting, Dunn said. Only one person telecommutes, Dunn said — her
business mail is sent to the branch in Plainfield, where she collects it.
Except for major meetings, that is her only physical time in the bank — for
"These arrangements allow us to keep individuals in the workplace who are
doing a great job, but because of whatever life situation they have they
can't do it in a 40-hour work week," Dunn said.
According to the Families and Work Institute’s 1998 Business Work-Life
Study, some industries are more willing to offer work-life support than
others. Finance/insurance/real estate was termed the most generous industry
while wholesale and retail trade was the least helpful.
The study also found that companies with a larger proportion of top
executive positions held by women offered greater work-life assistance than
companies with few women executives.
- Forming union proves difficult, by Peggy Breister (firstname.lastname@example.org), The Fond du Lac Reporter, WI.
FOND DU LAC, Mich. - Union corruption in the 1970s, corporate lawyers, and conservative arguments
that union employees make too much money have made it very difficult for
unions to form in 2004, says a local union consultant.
[Check it out. "Conservatives" like robust financial and industrial markets, all of which come back, directly or indirectly, to job markets and consumer markets, and the more employees who make a lot of money, the more consumers there are who have the more spending money, and the more and stronger consumer markets and derivative industrial and financial markets there are. But some so-called conservatives can't connect the dots. They aren't happy unless they have more than union employees, regardless of how little work they themselves, the "conservatives" who pay lip service to hard work, do. This is classic Chesterton Trap. It will be a problem as long as our species is too primitive to do without a pecking order. This subject relates to books on classism in America. For example, Fred Hirsch speaks about it in Social Limits to Growth - he calls the goods and services that symbolize class "positional goods." It is indeed our subtlest and strongest growth-limiting agent, because it limits and erodes the centrifugation mechanisms in our socioeconomy and invokes the law of the marginal utility of concentrated value in ever stronger and more widespread forms. It may be said to be the chief factor in the fall of civilizations. And right now, the "neo-conservatives" in the White House are spreading the growth-strangling power of that law as fast and wide as they can.]
"Only 9% of the private sector and 13% of the public sector
is unionized," said Todd Schmitz of Fond du Lac, a consultant with the
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees and a member of
the Fond du Lac County Board. "I think there is a conscious effort to do
away with unions."
Even Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao is helping write rules that would not
require overtime pay for employees who work more than a 40-hour work week,
But changing times have made the protection unions offer even more
important, especially to families, he said.
"We went from the 1970s where one person could work, support a family and
send the kids to school, to what we have now: Two people working and hardly
able to make it on 40 hours a week each," Schmitz said.
Instead of increasing the number of hours employees can work without
receiving overtime, this country should be pushing for a reduced work week —
35 hours a week, he said.
"If we are really concerned about families, then we should do this," he
It is scary for employees to take the steps they need to take to form a
union where they work, Schmitz said.
But organized labor can be good for counties, he said. Schmitz recently
attended hearings in Madison on the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TaBOR), a
program that counties, including Fond du Lac, do not support because they say it
would tie their hands when it comes to making financial decisions....
Still, unions are not a "fast food" answer to our problems, Schmitz said.
"Unions don't work that way," he said. "If you want protection for your
job, then you have to be active in the union — and for people already
strapped for time, that adds on to a 40-hour work week."
[If unions had focused on their one power issue, shorter hours, they wouldn't have this to complain about.]
- Unemployment undermines German recovery, Dow Jones Newswires via WSJ, A7.
[Then cut the workweek further and spread the market-demanded work, instead of relengthening the workweek and funneling the work onto even fewer people.]
- Data point to prolonged South Korean slump, Dow Jones Newswires via WSJ, A7.
[Then implement the current reduction to the 40-hour system faster and spread the market-demanded work, instead of taking till 2011 to complete it.
Funds hesitate on South Korea - Shares stall over weak local economy, despite low valuations, by Anusha Attygalle, Dow Jones Newswires via WSJ, B14.
[Spread that work and those wages and deconcentrate and dynamize that domestic demand and spending!]
- Head for the exits! - Calgary Flames feeling effects of labour doom through front-office exodus, by Eric Francis, Calgary Sun, Canada.
CALGARY, Alta. - While discussions between league and player officials continue to lag, the
NHL's pending lockout is already taking a toll on the Calgary Flames' front
[This is another example of one group of self-styled elite - in this case, hockey players - screwing others, themselves and both their future's with wanting more than their share, a la Chesterton Flaw.]
Informed by the club months ago that a mid-September player lockoutwill force full-time employees to move from a 5-day work week to a
3-day work week with a matching 40% reduction in pay, several staff
members have already left in search of greater job security.
"We've lost some good people and we'll have to deal with the consequences
of that," said Flames president and CEO Ken King.
"Because of the uncertainty, some have taken jobs that wouldn't otherwise
With the high of the team's playoff run now a distant memory, employees say
the main topic of conversation at the club's Saddledome office revolves
around the uncertainty they all face.
"It's definitely top of mind for everyone," said one nervous employee.
"We've already lost a lot of good people in customer service, food service,
finance ... almost every department. People in junior positions are going to
go waitress on the other 2 days of the week to help make up the 40% cut in
While frustrated by their predicament, many full-time employees are full of
praise for the way King has [prepared for] the labour stoppage that's sure to
follow the collective bargaining agreement's expiration on Sept. 15.
King sent a letter to the club's 120 full-time and 1,200 part-time
employees five months ago outlining exactly how the club will operate if the
puck isn't dropped to start the NHL season in October.
...Said King, "We most definitely have a contingency plan - it would be irresponsible
for us not to have one.
Everything is predicated on 'if.' We don't think there will be a labour
disruption and we don't want one, but these are people's lives. We can't have
people waking up on Sept. 16 without a job."
Stressing no one has been laid off in anticipation of the lockout, King has
plenty of sympathy for those in his organization trying to figure out if
they need to find new employment to make ends meet this fall.
"I'll even help people find jobs because that's the type of organization we
are," said King.
"We gave them lots of lead time but it's hard for them to look into the
future with all this uncertainty and figure out what's best for them and
their families. I want them to have security and we owe it to them to help
them find that."
According to those inside the office, he's made good on that promise.
"When they sat down and told everyone, Ken said he'd try to help everyone
and that he'd use all his contacts to get them other work," said another
employee. "He has helped people already."
One third of the National Hockey League's 30 clubs have already handed out pink slips to
more than 80 employees, while other teams [= clubs] are choosing not to replace
departed workers. More layoffs are expected in other cities including
Edmonton where a number of employees quit first. Other clubs like Ottawa are
giving employees 80% of their wages but asking them to continue working full
time [= a 20% wage cut while the owners and the players rake in millions = not an incentive].
- While trying hard to maintain a "business as usual" atmosphere, the club is
encouraging employees to seek out supplemental sources of income.
- The club is also hosting a personal financial seminar for staff
- and is bringing in an expert to help employees prepare their resume.
- Employees have also been
given the option of taking an unpaid leave of absence.
- In a letter obtained by the Sun, King told staff members the club is
working hard to bring "alternative events" to the 'Dome to keep some
part-time employees busy....
- City's budget woes flow over into day-to-day operations
CUMBERLAND, Ky. - One eastern Kentucky city's budget woes have flowed over into it's day-to-day
operations resulting in city employees striking.
Cumberland city officials say council members can't decide what to cut.
The streets are back to normal in the city of Cumberland after city
employees took the day off Wednesday to protest because city officials had
shortened their work week by three hours.
Gary Duncan [a city employee] said, "Every time the city has a financial difficulty, they want
to either lay off a city employee or cut back on the city employee. Why
should we suffer every time a problem comes up? Why should we have to pay
for somebody else's mistake?"
Mayor Jeff Harrison says old city bills are mounting up, fewer dollars are
coming in, and some council members will not decide what they want to do.
"Council has had seven meetings over the last month and a half and has not
made a decision on anything."
City workers say even though their hours have been restored temporarily and
they are back at work for now , the minute cuts come down the pike they'll be
back in front of city hall with their picket signs.
"I hope to see the mayor and the city council stop acting like children and
get along and get something done instead of bickering back and forth and
taking it out on the city employees," Terrance Huff Jr. said.
The mayor says he has been straightforward during this event. "I've been
very clear to the department heads, employees and council. If we don't have
more revenue, I don't have a choice but to cut. They're not giving me the
money I need to operate the city."
Department heads will meet with city leaders on to discuss the situation.
They hope that a compromise can be reached before Tuesday's council meeting.
City leaders will discuss implementing an occupational tax as a possible
solution to bring money in to the city at the Tuesday night council
[Stupid. Don't tax things you want. You want people to have occupations and support themselves? Don't tax occupations. You want lots of sales and business? Don't tax sales. You don't want a huge gap between rich and poor? Tax the rich. As Will Rogers said when asked where the gov't was going to get the money to solve the Depression, "Wal, I guess they're gonna git it from the rich cuz they's the only ones that's got any!" You don't like overwork and familty neglect? Tax overwork and overtime - and make sure you use the money for on-the-job training and hiring to ensure the overtime is unnecessary in the future.]
- Playing their part in the workforce - Number of Germans who have shorter schedules on the job is climbing with the
help of employers, by Uta Rasche, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany.
Five-year-old Julia-Sarita Brand had a question for her mother recently. "Mommy,
what's a housewife?" the child wondered. Andrea Brand, a department manager
at Lufthansa, may not have been the best person to ask.
After all, Brand is not your typical housewife. She works four days a week,
from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Lufthansa. In doing so, Brand joined the ranks
of a growing group in Germany - that of the part-time worker.
Federal statistics show that Germany had 4.7 million part-time workers in
1997. That total jumped to 7.2 million by 2003. The majority of these
workers are women. But there are still approximately 1 million men who have
also opted for a shortened work week.
The possibility of working a flexible schedule varies considerably from
profession to profession. Employees in certain careers, especially public
service, do not usually find it as difficult to reduce their hours as
workers in some other fields [such as] the banking and insurance businesses....
But part-time jobs are usually scarce in accounting agencies, management
consultant firms, and law offices.
For those companies that have implemented reduced-hour work weeks, the
programs are often not viewed as an altruistic gift - merely to help working
mothers (and fathers) better handle the pressures of family and career
- but as a critical factor in efficient business management.
Lufthansa and the Victoria Insurance Co. are two companies that have opted
to reduce hours rather than impose general layoffs.
[This has to be the future - for any economy that wants a future =
timesizing, not downsizing.]
Executives at these companies say they think that part-time work schedules will result in
[But the real solution is for "full time" to be redefined downward.]
"For us, the further use of part-time work and unpaid
special leave was an answer to the economic crisis after 9/11,
2001," said Monika Rühl, director of Change Management and Diversity at
Lufthansa. Being more flexible with workers' hours, core businesses and, to
a certain extent, activities on the periphery, can help their
employees and themselves weather difficult economic times.
"When the economy picks up again [dream on], we will have an employee reserve, and we
will be able to restructure part-time positions into full-time jobs," Rühl
[Ruehl has still not realized the implications of automation and robotization, as evidenced by her rigid attachment to a frozen and obsolete concept of full-time job.]
In this way, Lufthansa hopes to have a competitive edge over rival
companies, which have been forced to reduce their workforces as a result of
the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the SARS epidemic.
A government study says the process of laying off workers and later hiring
new employees costs between EUR6,000 ($7,450) and EUR45,000, depending on
the experience required for the position. These figures do not include
additional compensation packages for employees who have been laid off or
costs from possible litigation. Keeping numbers like these in mind, Rühl
says, "It is clear to us that a temporary transition to part-time employment
creates a 'win-win' situation - the company saves on costs, and
employees can better adjust their personal time to their jobs."...
- July jobs data may dispel, confirm June gloom, by Jonathan Nicholson, Reuters via Macon Area Online, GA.
WASHINGTON - Depending on who's talking, Friday's U.S. July
employment report will either confirm June's weakness was a one-time
aberration [no] or open the door to a longer economic "soft patch" than
previously thought [yes].
[But more accurate than the constantly upspun "soft patch" would be "permanent and deepening depression" - unless we replace downsizing with timesizing.]
Analysts were caught by surprise when nonfarm payrolls grew a much
lower-than-expected 112,000 in June.
Up until Wednesday, July's number was universally expected to be much
stronger. According to a Reuters poll of 24 forecasters taken on Friday,
payrolls were seen growing by 228,000 in July, with unemployment stable at 5.6%.
[243,000 according to yesterday 8/05/2004 #3 below, and only 32,000 actual.]
The Labor Dept. is set to release the report at 8:30 a.m. EDT Friday.
During a visit to the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, Treasury
Secy. John Snow did not back away from prevailing estimates despite a
weak jobs measure in the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing
index that worried some economists. "Private-sector estimates are strong and
look reasonable to us," Snow told reporters.
[This is how wrong you can be when you drift through your professional economist's life without worktime economics.]
Mark Vitner, chief economist with Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, N.C., is
also among the bulls on the July number.
"I think the July employment report will be so strong that people will
question whether we had a soft spot at all in June," Vitner said.
"We think the risk is all on the upside, as far as the July number goes, and
it's quite possible that (the new jobs total) will be well over 300,000," he said.
[Get the towel ready, Mark - there's gonna be a lot of egg on your face.]
Other analysts are less certain July will bring good news - particularly
after Wednesday's news that ISM's index of employment in service industries
in July slid sharply.
"We officially forecast 250,000, but the risks lie to the downside in our
opinion. We would not be surprised to see the print come in closer to
200,000," David Rosenberg, chief North American economist with Merrill
Lynch, wrote in a research note.
[Still wildly optimistic.]
BMO Financial Group Chief Economist Tim O'Neill said whatever the level, the
July payrolls number will be key.
"Anything north of 200,000 will pretty much confirm that the strength that
we saw in the job market over the last several months is in place," O'Neill
said. He sees that scenario as the most likely one.
Anything below 150,000 would fan worries about a prolonged weak patch and
might make the Federal Reserve rethink its expected rate rise in August, he
Michael Moran, chief economist with Daiwa Securities America in New York,
was less confident of his forecast for a 235,000 job gain and a 5.6%
unemployment rate given the ISM non-manufacturing data.
"It could provide support that it's more than a one-month slowdown," he said.
[How right you are, Michael.]
But Moran said the [average] length of the work week should jump, after being held
back by a federal holiday in June to mark the death of former Pres. Ronald Reagan.
[Ideally, the employment index would jump instead, to activate more consumers and correct the slowdown.]
The report is likely to loom large in the minds of Fed policy-makers as they
meet next Tuesday to mull interest rates. Wachovia's Vitner said he expects
a strong July report to bolster chances for a quarter-percentage point
increase at the meeting.
"I feel pretty certain about that," he said.
[Better stop diggin', Mark.]
8/04/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/03 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA, with backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Language of opportunity, letter to editor by Chairman Mauro Mujica of US English in DC, NYT, A22.
As a naturalized citizen whose first language is Spanish, I read your account of the immigrants who are filling English-language courses ("Lingua franca?" 7/29) with a mix of pride and sadness. My pride is in the strivers from all corners of the globe, who, while working overtime and raising families, put in extra hours each week to make a better life....
[Here's another benefit of More Free Time = more time to learn one another's languages now that technology has shrunk the world.]
- Job burnout: Symptoms and remedies, by Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com.
[But let's not lose sight of the basic reality that longer hours and job burnout are just going to be increasing in any technologizing economy until it implements timesizing, not downsizing.]
Today's work culture of heavy workloads, longer days at the office, less
time spent at home and fewer vacation days taken is causing rampant job
In fact, 68% of workers report feeling burned out at the office,
according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey.
So what are some symptoms you're suffering from job burnout?
Mary Rose Remington, author of "Career Quest, a Practical and Spiritual
Guide To Finding Your Life's Passion" (Heartwood Publishing), says there are
10 signs that it's close to quitting time - concrete indicators that you
Career and life-transition coach Leslie Godwin says that those who suffer
from burnout fall into three categories.
She identifies them in her book "From Burned Out to Fired Up: A Woman's
Guide to Rekindling the Passion and Meaning in Work and Life" (HCI Books).
- Sunday evenings depress you.
- The quality of your work has suffered, but you don't care.
- You arrive consistently late to work.
- You call in sick when healthy.
- You've become emotionally distant from your coworkers.
- Your job has taken a toll on your mental and/or physical health to the
point where friends and family have expressed concern.
- Upon hearing rumors of layoffs, you pray, "Please, God, take me!"
- You don't have enough work to keep busy, but lack motivation to seek new
- Time drags and you constantly watch the clock.
- The lights around your desk or workspace burn out frequently.
"I think the most important thing about burnout is to recognize it's a cry
for help from your poor, exhausted body and untapped spirit," says
"They say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
If you are burned out and continue working in the same job at the same pace
for the same long hours, you will only get an increased feeling of burnout.
It's time to try something - anything - different."
There are at least 50 ways to fight burnout, adds Remington. They include:
You're a passionate workaholic: You are so driven that you burn out even
though you're doing something you feel is meaningful.
"As a passionate workaholic, I felt driven to be externally successful so I
could feel like I was a worthwhile person inside," Godwin admits.
Following your natural "flow" is the antidote to being driven and a
passionate workaholic. Burnout can be a gift if you use it as a wake-up call
to change your life.
You're climbing someone else's ladder: If you don't redefine success based
on what you want out of life, you'll point yourself toward someone else's
There are several reasons we find ourselves on the wrong path:
We may have chosen our path at a young age when our values and priorities
are not fully conscious and consistent;
we were influenced by our family's
needs for us to fulfill their dreams and expectations;
we were rebelling
against our family's needs for us to fulfill their dreams and expectations;
fear, insecurity, and/or anxiety have influenced our choice of goals and
paths; we aren't listening to our calling.
Your spark is being extinguished by a toxic workplace: If you believe that
your job is burning you out, first check yourself to see what you're
bringing to the situation. Then see what changes you can make in your work
relationships and/or job description. Finally, leave if you need to.
If you need to leave, make a short-term plan and a long-term plan. Break
down your long-term plan so you can work on it day-to-day. Don't keep your
dreams safe by keeping them in the future. Do something to make them real in
It's summer, so take a vacation. Ideally two weeks, but one will help.
Sometimes distancing yourself from your job will help you discern what you
can do differently when you return. When you do start back, try and identify
specifically what is causing you the most stress: Impossible deadlines?
Difficult clients? Constant interruptions? The drudgery of the work?
Then schedule a heart-to-heart with your manager and present a couple of
solutions to try. This can be delegating more work to others, a reduced work
week, work from home one day a week, or different assignments.
If there is not much support or change on the horizon, start your
soul-searching process. Write down what you like about your job (if
anything) and what you dislike. Consider the help of an employment counselor
who can help you update your resume and job hunting skills, focus and get
more of what you love in your next position.
Crunch your personal budget numbers and see how long you could float.
If you are an educator, you might be eligible for a sabbatical. Even the
corporate sector will sometimes allow employees to take extended leaves.
Always take a lunch break, even if it's just a 20 minute walk around the
Focus on things you can control, such as getting enough sleep, eating right,
exercising and connecting with friends in your support network.
- German unemployment rises to 11-month high in July (update4), by Rainer Buergin (email@example.com) with Catherine Hickley (firstname.lastname@example.org) as editor, Bloomberg.
[The issue is no longer laziness or enviable leisure. The issue is, are you going to stand up to the Lump of Labor sneering and spread around around the shrinking market-demanded employment? Or are you going to maintain or increase worktime per person, further concentrate your economy's natural employment income, marginalize more of your workforce and de-activate more of your consumer base?]
Germany's unemployment rate rose to an 11-month high
in July, reducing the chances that consumer spending in Europe's biggest
economy will recover from two years of stagnation.
The unemployment rate rose to 10.6% from 10.5% in June, the
Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said. The number of jobseekers rose a
seasonally adjusted 11,000 to 4.39 million, the sixth straight monthly
An export-led recovery in Germany hasn't been strong enough to persuade
executives to take on more workers, keeping retail spending subdued as
consumers worry about job prospects. Companies such as DaimlerChrysler AG
and Siemens AG are demanding staff work longer hours or risk jobs being
relocated to lower-cost countries.
"It's a vicious circle,'' said Joerg Lueschow, an economist at
Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale in Dusseldorf, who forecast the number
of jobseekers would rise by 10,000, in a telephone interview. "We need more
employment for consumer spending to rise, but companies won't hire as long
as domestic demand [aka consumer spending] is weak.''
[And the only efficient way to break this vicious cycle, Joerg, is to reactivate all the consumers you've pushed into marginalized employment or unemployment. And that means (A) enforcing your workshare per person in a way that sets up easy access to well-paying full-time jobs for everyone = Timesizing Phase Two and Phase Three, and (B) redefining "full-time job" downward to a level that balances your technology-enhanced production capacity and your technology-unenhanced consumption capacity = Timesizing Phase Four.]
The labor agency today revised an originally reported fall of 1,000 in
unemployment in June to an increase of 2,000. Employment in May fell 10,000
from April. The number of people with a job has risen in only one month over
the past 2 1/2 years. Employment figures lag those for joblessness by two
months. Labor agency board member Heinrich Alt told reporters in Nuremberg
he doesn't expect an increase in employment this year.
U.S. job growth
[These English-speaking reporters think they have God's Gift in economic models in workaholic U.S.A. They don't. The employment growth figures came in way WAY below what is described here as 'probable':]
Falling job numbers in Germany contrast with employment growth in the U.S., where a report to be released Friday will probably show 243,000 jobs were created in June [reporter Buergin means July, not June, and editor Hickley failed to catch it] and an unchanged unemployment rate of 5.6%, the median of 70 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey showed.
[In fact, the U.S. report to be released Friday will show "Only 32,000 jobs created in July as hiring slows," NYT 8/07/2004, front page. The 32,000 new jobs are only "a fraction of what forecasters had expected and far below the robust[?] gains in employment earlier this year. In a further sign that the economy has weakened, the Labor Dept. also announced that job growth in May and June was less than initially estimated. The unemployment (UE) rate, however, fell slightly last month, to 5.5% from 5.6% in June. The UE rate is based on a smaller survey than the job growth numbers, which are widely considered the more reliable gauge of employment." NYT 8/07/2004, B1. So maybe it's time German reporters of American media moguls like Michael Bloomberg began cutting through their boss's American chauvinism and telling the truth. The US economy is going nowhere, and its long hours have left it with a "little something" that shorter-hours Europe lacks; namely, 2m American families on welfare , 5.7m Americans on disability, 930k homeless American youth meaning at least 2m homeless Americans total, 2.2m incarcerated Americans, and 30k American suicides annually. And we don't even track the number of Americans forced into or out of retirement, into "self-employment" and into single or multiple part-time. Wakey wakey. Shorter-hours Europe is much closer to the future than longer-hours America. All Europe lacks is -
"All the signs point to the German economy recovering but it hasn't
affected the labor market yet,'' the labor agency said.
- flexible adjustment of the workweek downward as far as it takes to achieve full employment, instead of simply a drop to another rigid, though shorter, arbitrary workweek and
- inflation control via converting inflationary work-incentive (money motive) into deflationary work-incentive (job satisfaction) at the workweek ceiling, instead of simply letting it build up hours (and raise-demanding resentment or self-importance) totally unconstrained except by the total (24x7=) 168 hours of the week and then trying to scare workaholics out of demanding raises by hiking interest rates and fostering unemployment.]
[Sheer happytalk. Most of our economic signs and measures, worldwide, are so slanted toward optimism that we might as well save the effort and intravenously feed investors a steady stream of Valium spiked with Prozac.]
Economists had expected the number of [German] unemployed to increase by 5,000 in July, according to
the median of 34 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey.
While German exporters have been reporting sales increases, companies that
rely on the domestic market are cutting costs and shedding staff.
BMW, the world's No. 2 maker of luxury cars, today said second-quarter
profit rose to a record on "strong growth'' in all its main export markets.
By contrast, KarstadtQuelle AG, Germany's largest department-store operator,
plans to reorganize after its second-quarter loss widened more than analysts
Germany's biggest companies are also pressing their staff to work longer
hours. In June, Munich-based Siemens won an extension of the work week at
two phone factories to 40 hours from 35 hours at no extra pay, after
threatening to cut 2,000 jobs there. DaimlerChrysler employees at Mercedes
factories in Germany agreed last month to smaller pay increases and longer
hours to save 500 million euros a year.
The BDI industry association, which represents 107,000 German companies,
has raised its forecast for export growth from the world's No. 2 trading
nation to 8% for 2004, its president, Michael Rogowski, said July 21.
[So Germany, not Japan or Britain, is now the world's No.2 trading nation??]
Service industries in the 12 countries using the euro expanded for a 13th
month in July as accelerating economic growth led to increased spending on
banking and travel, an index based on a survey of 2,000 purchasing managers
compiled for Reuters Group Plc by NTC Research Ltd. showed today.
Such growth has yet to filter through to German consumers, whose confidence
sank to a one-year low in July, a report by Nuremberg-based consumer
research group GfK showed last week.
[How can such "growth" possibly filter through to German consumers when "companies that
rely on the domestic market are cutting costs and shedding staff"? This is a downward spiral. German CEOs are slamming German consumers via German employees, and they think they're going to get consumer confidence out of this? What is it about Connecting the Dots that they can't handle?]
Retail sales in the first six months fell an inflation-adjusted 1.4% from the same period a year earlier,
the Federal Statistics Office said Friday.
"Companies want to see more improvements in the economy before hiring
again, especially in the current situation, where the recovery is export-led
and has failed to gain a foothold in the domestic market,'' said Stephan
Rieke, an economist at ING BHF-Bank AG in Frankfurt, who forecast the
number of jobseekers would remain unchanged.
Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker, plans to cut 5,000 jobs by 2005
to boost profit. Nestle Deutschland AG, the German unit of the world's
largest foodmaker, said it will eliminate about 230 jobs by the end of next
year because of the "extremely difficult'' situation in the German economy.
Consumer spending accounts for more than half of the German economy, while
exports make up less than a third. The Essen-based RWI institute, which is
forecasting economic growth of 2.1% for this year, expects foreign
trade to contribute 1.3 percentage points to growth, with consumer spending
only adding 0.2 percentage points.
`Need for growth'
The RWI growth forecast is more optimistic than those of the five other
leading state-funded economic institutes and of Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder's council of economic advisers, who expect 1.8% growth this
year. "We clearly need more than 2% growth for a significant reduction in
unemployment,'' Ludwig Georg Braun, president of the DIHK industry lobby,
said in an interview in Berlin today.
The labor agency report said Germany's unemployment rate, adjusted for
European Union standards, rose to 9.9% in July from 9.8% in
June, when only Spain had higher unemployment levels in the euro region.
The number of people out of work in western Germany, which accounts for
more than 90% of national output, rose by a seasonally adjusted
15,000 in July, while the number of unemployed in eastern Germany fell
[- probably only because they moved to western Germany.]
- Criminal charges vs. Kitchen eyed, By Mike Ivey (email@example.com), The Capital Times, WI.
The union representing workers at CUNA Mutual Group plans to push for
criminal charges against ousted CEO Mike Kitchen.
Kitchen was forced to resign this week after the company's board discovered
he had offered to pay legal expenses for employees seeking to separate from
Local 39 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union.
Kurt Kobelt, an attorney representing Local 39, said Tuesday that if true,
those actions represent a violation of both federal labor law and criminal
law. He said it is illegal for management to offer "something of value" to a
member of a labor union.
"Bribing an employee is a criminal action," Kobelt said....
A tough-talking Canadian, Kitchen had made no secret of his desire to change
what he had called the "country club atmosphere" at CUNA Mutual Group. He
had pushed to move workers from a 37- to a 40-hour work week and to
eliminate a bonus program that rewarded employees for length of service.
But union officials maintained that Kitchen was bent on breaking the union....
[There's no better way to break a union than to lengthen the workweek - thus concentrating the technology-diminished employment of the nation just a little more, and creating just a little more labor surplus for market forces to devalue. 'Death by a thousand nicks.']
8/03/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/02 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #7 which is from the 8/03 newspaper hardcopy), with backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] (and #3 from 8/02 hardcopy) are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Dutch unions fight 40-hour week - Labor unions sue U.S. office supplier over plan to extend work hours without extra pay, Reuters via CNN.
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - Dutch trade unions took U.S. office
supply maker Smead to court Tuesday over its plan to extend the work week to
40 hours without extra pay at its plants in the Netherlands.
The row indicates the difficulties companies face as they try to cut costs
and increase productivity, especially in the heavily unionized Netherlands
where the average employee works several hundred hours less per year than in
other European countries.
[And Netherlands has a very high GDP for a small population. Could there be some corelation?]
A court in the northern Dutch city of Groningen heard the case Tuesday, and
Wendy Melchior, head of human resources at Smead Europe, said it would issue
a ruling Friday.
Family-owned Smead says a majority of some 140 employees at its northern
Dutch plant in Hoogezand had agreed to work longer than the 36 hours
stipulated in the collective wage agreement.
[Another group of employees betrays their own and their fellow employees' interests. Truly labor is its own worst enemy.]
The company believes it is no longer bound by the collective wage agreement
for the graphical sector, because that part of its business has shrunk over
the years, Melchior said.
But legal experts say the unions' case is strong.
Under Dutch law, companies cannot deviate from a collective labor agreement
even if employees give their consent, said Paul van der Heijden, professor
for labor and company law at the University of Amsterdam, in an interview.
"If you want to change working hours, you should do it in the negotiations
for the new labor contract," he said.
[Never mind 'should.' What about 'must'?]
Dutch bank ABN AMRO plans to do just that when wage negotiations resume in
September, spokesman Jochem van de Laarschot said, confirming media reports
that the bank was aiming for a 40-hour work week.
"There is one big business reason ... Controlling costs is one of the key
themes and will continue to be a key theme in the months and years to come,"
Van de Laarschot said.
[Control costs in the wage area and prepare to start wondering what happened to your markets.]
He would not say whether ABN AMRO would be willing to pay its employees
extra for any additional hours worked, saying this would be part of the
Dutch workers not convinced
The discussion over working hours heated up in the Netherlands after some
workers in Germany and France agreed [ie: were forced] to work longer to save their jobs.
While these agreements are driven by cost-cutting, economists say people
across Europe will have to work harder in the future to counter the effects
of aging societies, in which fewer workers must support a growing number of
[Clearly these economists have not spared a passing thought for the effects of automation and robotization.]
Dutch workers are not convinced. In a poll for local broadcaster RTL published last month,
The Netherlands is the country with the shortest working hours per year in
Europe, partly due to the relatively high number of Dutch workers on
- 57% of workers said they believed employers and the government exaggerated the
country's economic problems.
- Less than half of those surveyed - 45% - said they would work longer at no extra pay if their own job was at stake,
- while 42% said they would not.
[Again, Netherlands has a very high GDP for a small population. Could there be a corelation between its very high domestic demand and its very high employment/low unemployment and its very low working hours per year per person?]
- the average Dutch employee worked 1,223 hours,
- compared with 1,546 in Britain
- and 1,816 in Greece, according to OECD data.
[What about France and Germany?]
- Don't go beyond duty hours, by Dr KK Aggarwal, Hindustan Times, India.
NEW DELHI, India - Junior doctors are often exploited in most medical institutions, especially
the private ones, all over the world. The exploitation is rampant in
India. Many studies of late have shown that more patients die during the
night time and on holidays.
A recent report from Colorado-based Health Care Inc. has shown that as many
as 1,95,000 people [probably a typo for 1,950,000] in a year could be dying in US hospitals because of
easily preventable errors. One of the main preventable errors is the long
duty hours. The same is true for the nurses.
Duty hours are defined by the [U.S.] Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical
Education (ACGME) as all the clinical activities related to the residency
programme that includes patient care, both in-patients and out-patients,
administrative duties related to patients' care, the provision for transfer
of patient care, time spent in house during on-call activities and scheduled
academic activities such as conferences. Duty hours do not include reading
and preparation time spent from the duty site.
According to international guidelines,
[this is the first we've heard about any international guidelines from our standpoint in the U.S., and we've been monitoring this area for 3½ years = a function of American arrogance, time blindness, and media consolidation?]
junior doctors' work week must not
exceed 80 hours averaged over four weeks period inclusive of call.
[What international body set these guidelines?]
After every seven days duty they must get one day off.
[Whatsamatter with after every six days of duty, so they can align their lives with everyone else's? The healthcare industry still suffers from a martyr complex - 'gotta be different' - 'gotta be more self-sacrificing' etc.]
One day is defined as one continuous 24-hour period free of all clinical, educational and
In-house call is to be no more frequent than every third night averaged over
a four-week period. There must be 10-hour period provided between all daily
duty periods and after in-house call.
Continuous on-site duty including in-house call must not exceed 24
consecutive hours. However, residents may remain on duty for up to six
additional hours to participate in didactic activities, personal care of
patients, conduct out-patient clinics and maintain continuity of medical and
surgical care. No new patient may be accepted after 24 hours of continuous
hours of duty.
In US there are one lac medical residents and in India over 1.5 lac
residents at any given time.
They are the backbone of any patient care. All
over the world, Asian doctors, to earn more money, have a habit of joining
extra duties on weekends called moonlighting hours. The same has now been
included in the 80 hours workload.
The international guidelines also restrict doing continuous duty in
intensive care areas and emergency units continuously for 12 hours.
In house call is defined as those duty hours beyond normal week day when
residents are required to be immediately available in the assigned
A recent survey in US has shown that nurses at US hospitals for about 40%
of the time are working wrong shifts that raise the risk of medical
mistakes such as giving the wrong medication or the wrong dose.
According to a study published in the Journal of Health Affairs in July
2004, the likelihood of a hospital nurse making a mistake was three times
higher once the shift stretched past 12.5 hours. The study was led by
researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to the study one who works more than 40 hours per week or works
unscheduled overtime is likely to make more errors. According to their
suggestions, routine use of 12-hour shifts should be curtailed and overtime
especially if associated with 12-hour shift should be eliminated.
In India, many private hospitals may be engaging B or C grade nurses who are
not completely qualified. If such nurses are made to work long hours the
error rate is likely to be very high. Most junior doctors in India doing a
residency programme accept jobs with the intention of financial survival but
their mind is always in preparation for a PG. When the mind is not 100 per
cent in patient's care, the mistakes are likely to be higher. Many junior
doctors for earning more money work double shifts - one in a government
hospital and one in a private hospital or in a small nursing home.
[Should be illegal for "healers."]
Double duty invariably ends up in making more mistakes.
But not all hospitals are like that. One can find a mix of medical
establishments in the Asian countries. Some adhere to international
guidelines and some do not.
When choosing a hospital in India it is advisable to choose one which has
not only good technology but also good employee policies. Most of the newer
hospitals today are adhering to the international guidelines regarding work
(Dr. Aggarwal is President, Heart Care Foundation of India, Deputy Dean,
Board of Medical Education, Moolchand Hospital and President Elect, Delhi
- Robber barons have returned under free-trade banner, letter (to editor?) by Harriet Russell, Press & Sun-Bulletin, NY.
A July 7 letter states, "In the last hundred years it has been demonstrated
... that capitalist countries ... have provided the highest standards of
living ... for their people."
[This is pure arrogant American ignorance of other countries, where many socialist countries provide much higher living standards than capitalist countries but are carefully under-reported in the lockstep Pravda- and Izvestia-style American media.]
Remember the term "robber barons"? = American capitalists of the latter part
of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (of natural
resources, governmental influence, low-wage scales)? It was those pesky
unions that outlawed child labor, standardized the 40-hour work week and
promoted safety in the workplace.
The robber barons are back. Over the last two decades, under the banner of
"free trade," corporations have again been allowed, even encouraged, to
exploit resources, influence and wages [and longer workweeks!]. While public policy aggravates the
income gap between the super-rich and the rest of us, it ensures that those
in poverty fall behind most other (industrial) nations in purchasing power.
Look at a map of world resources; I suggest that the relatively high
standard of living many Americans enjoy is due more to the incredible
richness of our natural resources than to capitalism.
- CUNA Mutual ouster a stunner, by Mike Ivey (firstname.lastname@example.org), The Capital Times, WI.
Labor leaders are hopeful the stunning removal of CUNA Mutual Group's CEO
for allegedly offering money to union members will move stalled negotiations
Mike Kitchen, who has headed the city's second largest private employer
since 1995, was asked to resign after the company's board discovered he had
offered $1,000 to employees seeking to break from Local 39 of the Office and
Professional Employees International Union.
The union representing about 1,400 workers has been involved in a bitter
labor dispute with CUNA Mutual, which provides insurance and other financial
services to credit unions worldwide. The parties have been without an
agreement since March 31.
The issue that led to Kitchen's removal stemmed from two union employees in
the Information Technology department seeking advice on how to break away
from Local 39 and form their own separate bargaining unit. Those employees,
who have not been named publicly, sought legal advice from the Michael Best
& Friedrich law firm, which has worked in the past on union decertification.
Kitchen allegedly attempted to pay $1,000 from his own pocket to cover those
legal expenses, according to the company.
Jim Cavanaugh, who has served as president of the South Central Federation
of Labor since 1986, said the announcement Monday of Kitchen's removal left
the entire labor community stunned.
"I've been around a long time and can never remember anything like this
happening before," he said.
Cavanaugh said he was not familiar with Kitchen's replacement, current chief
financial officer Jeffrey Holley, but said any changes can only breathe some
fresh air into the negotiations.
"There has been an anti-union atmosphere over there ever since Kitchen was
hired," said Cavanaugh. "Maybe this will give the board a chance to go in a
Company leaders suggested as much in a statement regarding Kitchen's ouster.
"CUNA Mutual Group's employees have the right to make their own decisions
concerning bargaining and union issues, even when different employee groups
may not agree," said Loretta Burd, president of the CUNA Mutual board of
Holley, who has 17 years experience in the insurance and financial services
business including two stints at CUNA Mutual, also reaffirmed what he called
the company's "decades-old commitment to collective bargaining."
"I embrace and reaffirm the right of all CUNA Mutual Group employees to
decide for themselves how their interests are best addressed," said Holley,
who began his career at CUNA Mutual in 1994 as senior manager of financial
reporting. He was named to CFO in 1999.
A tough-talking Canadian, Kitchen had made no secret of his desire to change
what he had called the "country club atmosphere" at CUNA Mutual Group.
[So the only ones who can enjoy a "country club atmosphere" are his own executive class? This kind of "I'm not happy unless other people are unhappy" is a big weakness of current economic designs.]
He had pushed to move workers from a 37- to a 40-hour work week and to
eliminate a bonus program that rewarded employees for length of service.
[Here is one of the real killers of capitalism at work, a dramatic demonstration of the need for The Discipline of Management and not just The Discipline of the Workforce. This miserable excuse for a humanoid does not want to share. He just wants to grab as much as he can and let everyone else starve. Any extravagance of bonus is OK when directed at him and his executive ilk but, not OK for anyone else. What a pathetic embroidery on the Chesterton pan-Utopian flaw.]
While some workers embraced the changes, many long-term employees bristled
under Kitchen's leadership, according to John Peterson, business manager of
Local 39 .
"While everybody is stunned like I am, I think employees for the most part
are reacting positively" to the move, said Peterson.
In a statement, the board said it learned that on one occasion Kitchen made
financial assistance available "to individuals who sought legal
representation and who have expressed interest in having professional
employees separately represented at CUNA Mutual Group."
"The financial assistance, which involved Kitchen's own funds, was
declined," Burd said.
Management offering money to union members is a clear violation of national
labor laws, said Cavanaugh, but he said it was unclear whether the action
would be considered criminal.
"If it was bribery, then we're talking about a whole different set of
circumstances," he said.
In a statement, Kitchen said his lawyer had assured him he had not broken
"My only thoughts were for my employees and their concerns," Kitchen said.
"I thought then and now that they should receive advice and counsel from
During the nine years that Kitchen served as CEO, the company's revenues
grew from $1.5 billion to over $2.4 billion and its surplus grew from $500
million to $1.4 billion. In addition, the company's assets under management
grew from approximately $5 billion to $12 billion.
The moves came after it appeared there had been some cooling of tensions. In
July, the president of the OPEIU International, Michael Goodwin, flew from
New York City to Florida to meet with Kitchen, who was vacationing there.
When the two emerged from the closed door meeting, they announced a 30-day
"cooling off" period and a commitment to return to the bargaining table.
It was the first positive development since April, when nearly 75% of
union workers rejected what the company had called its "best and final
offer." A crucial point in the breakthrough was getting the AFL-CIO to call
off an orchestrated campaign to lobby credit unions nationwide to
potentially withdraw their business from CUNA Mutual. The company provides
insurance and financial services to 95% of the nation's 9,500 credit
unions. AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Rich Trumka had written a letter to over
5,000 credit union officers nationwide, warning of CUNA Mutual's "union
In addition, the union agreed to stop picketing in front of the company
headquarters at 5710 Mineral Point Road. Pickets have been a familiar sight
outside the sprawling complex over the past months. With nearly 2,600 total
employees here, CUNA Mutual is the second largest private sector employer in
Madison behind American Family Insurance.
- Madison CEO loses job over labor offer - $1,000 would have helped union break-off, by Paul Gores (email@example.com), Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WI.
[Terrible and incomprehensible headline and subhead, so read on.]
MADISON, Wisc. - A questionable tactic during a labor dispute has cost the chief executive of
one of Madison's biggest employers his job.
Michael B. Kitchen, president and CEO of CUNA Mutual Group, retired after
disclosing he had offered $1,000 of his own money to help some employees
explore breaking away from the company's union, CUNA Mutual spokeswoman
Sydney S. Lindner said Tuesday.
The employees turned down the offer, but when Kitchen told the company what
he had done, the board of directors asked for his resignation. Kitchen, who
had been CEO since 1995, opted to retire.
"It was an unfortunate and isolated incident," Lindner said.
The company's management reported the incident Monday to the National Labor
Relations Board in Milwaukee. Irv Gottschalk, acting regional director for
the government agency, said the new report was added to an unfair labor
practices complaint already filed by CUNA Mutual Group's union against the
company over current negotiations.
"The whole matter remains under investigation," Gottschalk said.
A letter from the CUNA Mutual Group board to its customers said Kitchen's
action was "inconsistent with federal labor law and is contrary to CUNA
Kitchen could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
CUNA Mutual Group, which employs about 2,600 workers in Madison, provides
insurance and other financial services to credit unions and their members.
It does business with about 95% of the nation's 9,500 credit unions, Lindner
said. The company had net income last year of $134 million, compared with a
$9 million loss in 2002.
CUNA Mutual Group is in negotiations with Local 39 of the Office and
Professional Employees International Union over a new labor contract. The
old contract expired March 31.
The union represents about 1,400 employees, including the company's
information technology employees. The information technology employees have
considered trying to form their own bargaining unit, said John Peterson,
business manager for Local 39. Kitchen's $1,000 would have helped pay for
them to look into that possibility.
The company is trying to get all of its full-time employees to switch from a
37-hour week to a "standard" 40-hour work week.
[Our quotes. The 40-hour workweek is a historical accident, like all the longer workweeks from 1776 to 1940.]
The 37-hour week has been the norm at CUNA Mutual for more than 50 years, Peterson said.
[So, the battle of the "norm" vs. the "standard," both irrelevant to technology levels and the need to balance production capacity and consumption capacity by making it easy for everyone to support themselves and earn an honest living. Only fluctuating adjustment of the workweek that automatically maintains full employment is worthy of intelligent species or capable of carrying further progress. There is no fixed and eternal "standard workweek" or "normal workweek" or "perfect workweek." There is only optimizing the match of production and consumption, a capability unknown to currently operational economic designs, primitive as they are. What about the danger of inflation in conditions of full employment? Current primitive inflation controls actually fight economic growth by fostering unemployment and stagnant consumption. All that is necessary is to balance inflationary incentive (money motive) and deflationary incentive (job satisfaction) in the economy, which can be done with a carefully designed workweek cap that blocks the money motive at the top of the workweek and nudges it to experiment until it finds job satisfaction and is safe to unblock. That is the effect of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Timesizing Full Employment Program.]
The information technology employees already have converted to a 40-hour
week but were paid more to do it, he said.
[What a slur on the much-hyped intelligence of our species - that IT employees, who are in the forefront of worksaving technology, have been fooled into going back from a shorter workweek with more of that most basic freedom, free time, to a 64-year-frozen 40-hour workweek. The rigid obsession of many CEOs with the long-outdated 40-hour workweek guarantees that none of the worksavings of any new technology will ever benefit any of their employees.]
Peterson said both Kitchen's offer to the information technology employees
and his subsequent forced retirement came as a surprise.
"I guess we expected he would be more knowledgeable about labor law and not
do it in the first place, but the fact that he did it surprised us. We had
felt there were things afoot with CUNA Mutual trying to get rid of the union
anyway, so it was an interesting development," Peterson said.
Said Lindner, "The company has a decades-old commitment to collective
bargaining, and we affirm the right of all CUNA Mutual Group employees to
decide how their interests are best addressed."
Jeff Holley, CUNA Mutual's chief financial officer, was named acting
president and CEO while the board conducts a national search for a
replacement for Kitchen.
Peterson said the union was looking forward to dealing with Holley.
"As a union, we're excited about the appointment of Jeff Holley as the
acting CEO because we respect him and we're hoping to get a resolution - to
sit down and negotiate a fair contract," Peterson said.
- A week of Saturdays, by Rev. Tom Barrett, American Daily, OH.
My family and I took last week off. We travel a lot, but although Ana and
Sarah get to take in the sights, I am usually working. I am on a speaking
engagement, teaching seminars on how to invest in the stock market, or
attending a convention or workshop. Last week I relaxed. And I learned some
important lessons while doing nothing.
First, let me explain what a "week of Saturdays" means. In order for my
wife and me to relax, we needed the cooperation of our six-year-old
daughter. She needed to understand that we needed some time to do the things
that are normal for her; things like waking up when we wish, doing somethingwhen the spirit moved us, and doing nothing when we felt like it. Sarah
knows that Saturday is the only day we can sleep in, because I have to be up
to trade the stock market Monday through Friday [oh how useful!], and up for church on
Sundays. So she is supposed to stay in her room and play quietly until we
wake up. Under no circumstances is she to knock on our bedroom door on
She also knows that Saturday is the one day of the week that we all get to
do pretty much what we want to do. Usually I cook a special "Daddy
breakfast" for everyone. We may read, go for a ride or play with Sarah's
building blocks. Ana may practice her violin or cello, Sarah may visit a
friend, and I may catch up on my Conservative Truth writing or editing. The
main rule for Saturdays is that there are no rules.
[Don't expect any breakthrough on big human problems from this Christian.]
So this is how I explained what a vacation was to our little girl. "We're
going on a trip. We're going to be gone a week, and every day of that week
is going to be Saturday!" She found this a little confusing at first, but
then she got into it. Every day I would say, "What day is today?" "It's
Saturday, Papi!" "And what day will tomorrow be?" "Saturday again!"
So, on to the lessons I learned.
By the way, God (as always) knew what He was doing when he commanded us to
work six days and rest one. Several years ago I read about a study done in
Great Britain to determine the ideal work week in terms of worker
satisfaction and maximum productivity.
Lesson Number One: I have so much to be grateful for. The occasion for the
vacation was our tenth wedding anniversary. I spend almost twenty-four hours
a day with my beautiful bride, Ana. We work together, home-school our
daughter together (although Ana does most of the work on that score), eat
and sleep together. Sometimes one of us will go into town alone, but often
we go together because we like being together. But most of our conversations
have to do with child-rearing, church, investing or work. This last week we
were just together. Sarah spent 90% of her time in the pool (she
is a real water baby), so Ana and I had a lot of time to just be. I
discovered anew what a wonderful blessing the Lord gave me when he sent Ana
into my life. My friend Dave says Ana deserves hazardous duty pay for
putting up with me. But for my part, Ana has made these last ten years the
best of my life.
Lesson Number Two: We need time away from our normal routines to be with
our families. It has been so long since we have done this that I had almost
forgotten how much we needed it. I am like you. I have many
responsibilities, including taking care of my family, ministry, work that
pays and volunteer work like ConservativeTruth.org. Sometimes the load gets
to be too much, and we need to get away. It needn't be expensive. In our
case we drove to the other coast of Florida and stayed in a beautiful home
lent to us by a dear friend. We could have just stayed home for a week and
tried to do nothing, but in our case that would be hard because we work from
home. So we went where the phones couldn't find us and spent time finding
Lesson Number Three: Our bodies, minds and spirits need rest. There is a
reason why God worked six days to create the world, and rested on the
seventh day. News flash: It wasn't because He was tired. He rested as an
example to us. He created us, so he knows what we need. Your day of rest may
not be on Sunday. When I was a full-time Pastor Sunday was my main work day.
Saturday was usually spent doing sermon preparation, so like many Pastors I
took Monday off. Whatever your schedule is, make sure you take one day off
to honor the Lord, rest, and be with your family. And periodically, take a
week or more off. Just as we need that one day each week to refresh
ourselves, once or twice each year we need to take a longer time to get away
from our normal routines and find rest for our spirits and our bodies.
[Yet another quest for a rigid and simplistic one-size-fits-all-levels-of-technology&unemployment concept.]
The study designers experimented with
and many other combinations.
- five days on and two off;
- five on and one off;
- seven on and two off;
- ten on and two off;
[Notice the absence, among those specified, of shorter workweeks such as four on and two or one off, three on and two or one off....]
The final conclusion? The most
productive combination was six days on and one off.
[Oh what a coincidence. For this workaholic, puritanical and technology-ignoring religionist, the system of Exodus 20, a 6-day workweek pioneered by Moses about 3½ millennia ago, is the best. As we said, don't expect any breakthroughs in human progress from this specimen.]
Five days on and two off
made workers happier [but who cares about workers' happiness, right?], but lowered overall production.
[And God forbid we should waver from our fixation on Sacrosanct Production, regardless of marketability or consumability.]
Working with no days
off made for lower productivity because the workers needed that one-day
break that God so wisely provided for us to rest and refuel. So, like the
old TV show title, "Father Knows Best."
[Pass the barf bag.]
We all have much to be grateful for.
[Check out the examples this 'Stepford' husband provides of things "we all have to be grateful for" -]
[Apparently he thinks we all have to be grateful for our needs. Wierd.]
Simple lessons, but ones that will help us to live longer, happier lives.
- We need to spend more time with our families.
[- but only one day a week.]
- We need to listen to our bodies and our spirits and give them time to rest.
[- but only one day a week.]
[Now the "needs" have transmogrified into "lessons." Anyone get the feeling this dude is floundering for a flashy finish?]
7/31-8/02/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 7/30-8/01 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 & 2 which are from the 7/31-8/02 newspaper hardcopy, & backup from recently- & soon-again-to-be-vacationing Alan Applebaum of Brookline MA), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Some workers getting better deals - Recruitment company Hays finds skill shortage leading some employers to cater more to lifestyle needs of staff, NZ City, New Zealand.
NEW ZEALAND - The skills shortage is forcing some employers to be more flexible.
Recruitment company Hays has surveyed more than 1,700 clients and finds that
65% have found they need to bend traditional work practices to get
the staff they want.
General Manager Jason Walker says that includes being flexible about work
hours to accommodate parenting duties, part-time study or other lifestyle
choices of their staff.
While in the past concepts such as job-sharing have been a mainly female
preserve, Mr Walker says that is changing, with more men now job-sharing or
seeking part time work.
He says it is particularly noticeable in the construction industry where
many workers are negotiating contracts based on lifestyle working hours
rather than straight salary.
Mr Walker says the more options employers allow, the better their chance of
getting the best person for the job.
- Olympic hopefulls seeing orange, KOAA, CO.
When you think about the Olympics, the hardware store probably doesn't come
to mind. As it turns out, a Colorado Springs Home Depot may be just the
place to meet an Olympic athlete. That's because a large number of athletes
who live in the Springs also work at the city's four Home Depots.
The Home Depot's jobs opportunities program allows the Olympians to work a
flexible 20 hour work week, while still providing fulltime pay and benefits.
Overall, Home Depot employs nearly 200 Olympians, Para-Olympians and Olympic
hopefuls, more than any other company in the country.
- Unfair pay, long hours irk employees, Knight Ridder via Toledo Blade, B6.
SAN FRANCISCO - Workers cite long hours and unfair pay as top complaints, and some are moving to new jobs, according to two new surveys.
[Nice if they can find them!]
6% of workers said they quit their job voluntarily for a new job in the second quarter, up from 5.3% in Q1 of this year and 3.8% a year ago, according to a survey of 1,019 adults conducted for Lee Hecht Harrison, the HR consulting firm.
Those leaving their jobs might have been seeking an alternative to long workdays and unfair pay, top complaints cited by workers in two separate surveys....
[The other survey, conducted for Hudson staffing services, concerned only pay, according to this article. And as you've heard us say before, of employees' two main traditional demands, if they can just get one and it's higher pay, they wind up with neither, but if they can just get one and it's shorter hours, they wind up with both. Why? Because they buck market forces with pay demands in a climate of labor surplus, but they change the climate to one of labor shortage with shorter-hours demands and harness market forces to raise pay and benefits.]
- State summaries from the Mid-America Business Conditions Survey, AP via Kansas City Star, MO.
OMAHA, Neb. - State summaries from the Mid-America Business Conditions
Survey conducted for July at Creighton University, with comments from
economist Ernie Goss:
- Arkansas: The Business Conditions Index dropped to 64.6 from June's 67.
Components of the overall index from the survey of supply managers in the
state were: new orders at 66, production at 68, delivery speed at 76,
inventories at a regional-high 60 and employment at 52. Durable goods
manufacturers, in comparison to other sectors, report much stronger growth
with increasing employment, a longer work week and higher new orders. This
will show up in improved wage growth in the second half of the year as
Arkansas' higher wage sector experiences expanding economic conditions....
- Continental AG Boosts Profit Target on Surging Demand (Update5), by Jeremy Van Loon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bloomberg.
FRANKFURT - Continental AG, the best performer this year on
Germany's benchmark DAX index, increased its full-year profit target because
of rising demand for truck tires and electronic components for cars.
Full-year earnings before interest and tax will rise this year, including
costs to suspend production at a factory in the U.S. The Hanover,
Germany-based company said in May that full-year profit would rise, not
including costs for reorganizing the U.S. operations. Sales this year may
rise as much as 9%, Chief Financial Officer Alan Hippe said in an
Continental, the world's fourth-largest tiremaker, cut costs by moving
production to countries such as Mexico and Romania, where wages are lower
than in the U.S. and Germany. The company benefited from increased demand
for electronic components and replacement tires for commercial vehicles from
customers such as DaimlerChrysler AG, the world's largest truckmaker.
``Overall this was a fantastic set of results,'' said Patrick Juchemich, an
analyst at Sal Oppenheim in Frankfurt. ``From an operating point of view
there's nothing to complain about.''
Shares of Continental rose as much as 1.07 euros, or 2.7%, to 40.26
euros and were up 2.2% at 40.05 euros as of 4:56 p.m. in Frankfurt.
The stock has gained 33% this year compared with a 2.9%
decline in the DAX.
Continental raised its earnings forecasts after reporting net income in the
second quarter fell to 91.9 million euros ($111 million), or 61 cents a
share, from 108 million euros, or 75 cents, a year earlier, Continental said
on its Web site. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected net income
of 85.5 million euros....
The operating margin, or earnings before interest and tax as a percentage
of sales, increased to 7.9% in the first six months from 7.1%.
The company posted a free cash flow of 111 million euros in the first half
compared with a deficit of 187 million euros.
``The pipeline is well filled for business for the next few years,'' said
Hippe during a conference call with analysts. Demand for electronic
stabilizing programs gained 31% in the first half, while demand for
airbag control systems jumped 21%.
Hippe expects the company's tax rate to fall to about 44% by the end
of the year from 48% now. A share buyback is ``not ruled out,'' he
The company is using an exchange rate of $1.15 per euro for its ``future
plans,'' Hippe said, without providing a time frame.
[All this good news makes the threats against employees and the longer workweek unnecessary - but this is how some smart-alec CEOs cannibalize their own customers and customers' customers.]
Moving to Romania
Continental plans to move some research and development operations to
low-cost countries and will start with an engineering operation in Romania,
said Hippe. The company is aiming to introduce a 40-hour work week at its
German factories and has no plans to make acquisitions.
Earnings before interest and tax in the quarter rose 10% to 237.7
million euros from 215.7 million euros. The gearing ratio, or level of
indebtedness, declined to 52.6% at the end of June from 113% a
``We have once again demonstrated our powerful ability to grow in a phase
when the global automotive economy continues to be rather sluggish,'' Chief
Executive Officer Manfred Wennemer said in the statement.
Profit at the truck-tire division rose by almost a third in the second
quarter to 30.3 million euros. Sales gained 17% to 374.7 million
Truckmakers are benefiting from a rebound following ``a number of difficult
years and radical restructuring,'' the German carmakers association, or VDA,
said. Improving economies and rising employment in Europe are helping boost
demand for commercial vehicles from delivery companies....
["Improving economies and rising employment in Europe"? Then why all the hew and cry for more competitiveness, longer workweeks, less freedom in terms of the basic freedom, free time, and consequent lower quality of life?]
- Dog days of August can surprise - 'Sleepy' time for markets has often been volatile in past, by Martin Cej (email@example.com), Toronto Globe and Mail, B7.
Investors packing up the car in August for a few weeks at the cottage may
want to keep an eye on the news, according to Goldman Sachs. Often labelled
as a tranquil - even sleepy - month for financial markets, August is in
fact a volatile period particularly prone to shocks, and this summer may be
Goldman Sachs' London-based Global Economics team says that while volatility
in the equity, bond and currency markets has diminished in recent weeks,
surprise events, coupled with lower levels of liquidity in August, could
produce significant swings in asset prices.
They point out that the Mexican debt crisis in 1982, Iraq's invasion of
Kuwait in 1990, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and the financial
meltdown of Russia in 1998 - not to mention President Richard Nixon's
resignation and the raising of the Berlin Wall - all played out in August....
Britain's housing market is overvalued and vulnerable to collapse, according
to Goldman Sachs. A sudden decline in house prices as a result of higher
interest rates and a drop-off in demand could drive the British pound lower.
That could in turn wallop the British stock and bond markets. Also in
Europe, German companies and unions are in a pitched battle that could see
the average work week go to 40 hours from 35. Goldman Sachs says a move of
that magnitude could add strength to Europe's largest economy and a boost to
European stocks, bonds and the euro....
- Bush's new plan on overtime pay cites 'comp' time - ...Certain to intensify the current political divide, by Greg Hitt, WSJ, A2.
WASHINGTON - pResident Bush is urging Congress to help make American workplaces more "family-friendly" by giving private-sector workers new flexibility to take time off instead of overtime pay....
[Net effect for sharing the free market's technologically vanishing employment and balancing our upsizing producer base and downsizing consumer base? Zero.]
[And a little feedback for the Bush worshippers -]
- Bush changes to overtime rules hurt many in working class, letter to editor? by Debbie Kennedy of Keizer, Salem Statesman Journal, OR.
OREGON - I have been working in the union/labor relations field since 1983. I am
totally confused about why the Bush administration felt compelled to modify
the Fair Labor Standards Act to deny certain workers overtime pay.
The overtime rules have been unmodified since 1949, and all of us in the
union/labor relations field have always known exactly what the old law
meant. It created an American middle class and gave workers a decent [ie: shorter] work
For no apparent reason, except to reward his corporate donors, George W.
Bush has seen fit to deny overtime pay to millions of workers.
John Kerry promises to rescind these changes if elected. When I see beat-up
old cars with Bush-Cheney stickers on them, I wonder about the intelligence
of some of the working class.
- 8/02 Southwest Airlines - [7,400] flight attendants approve labor pact by 5-to-1 margin, WSJ, B6.
...giving them pay raises of 31% over six years. [They] will also reach their maximum pay in 14 instead of 17 years, and get improved payment for late-night flights and better pay and rules for overtime work....
- 8/02 Auf Wiedersehen to the 'leisure economy', op ed by Daniel Schwammenthal, WSJ, A11.
[This article is a total crock, claiming such fallacies as -]
...If you pay people the same money for doing less work, employers have less money, not more, for hiring.
[Budgeting for hiring is not carved in stone but totally discretionary, and nobody's ever claimed that employers will have more for hiring under their existing budgets. The whole point of cutting hours without cutting pay is to make employers change their budgets to make more for hiring and less for themselves. There is, of course, considerable offset from higher consumption once employees have more time to shop, and from lower unemployment, welfare, homelessness and prison taxes since cutting hours instead of cutting jobs keeps people self-supporting so that taxpayers don't have to support them. Employers have been concentrating a higher and higher percentage of the national income as the lethal formula of technology-downsizing-wageflattening continues its almost 34-year run. And during this period, employers have had less and less money for hiring anyway, because they've been introducing technology expressly to achieve that result - except of course in the case of their own pay and perks and for hiring other top executives with whom they can mutually price-fix their own pay and perks. The most significant factor in the picture of Germany's slow growth is not even mentioned here, and it is consumption. When you pay people the same money for doing less work, you maintain your consumer base and people have more time to shop. The national income is centrifuged out of the hyperconcentration in the topmost income brackets where it is wasted, and spread out into the middle and lower income brackets where it is immediatey spent. Ergo, wage-push prosperity.]
Unemployment rose instead of falling.
[Funny they never provide the figures for this claim.
France's unemployment was 12.6% in 1997 before the 4-hour cut in the workweek and 8.6% in 2001 after the 4-hour cut in the workweek. That's a corelation of 1% drop in unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek. The USA achieved the same corelation in 1938-40 in going from a 44 to a 40 hour workweek and from 19% to 14.6% unemployment. But some German CEOs are determined to ruin their economy with twisted thinking -]
...Retailer Karstadt wants to go to 42 hours. "...We'll soon be talking about 43 hours," said Continental Chairman Manfred Wennemer from his office in Frankfurt....
[If that happens, you'll then be talking about 44, 48, 54, 60, 70, 80, 100, 120, 168 = slavery. You'll be talking about 30-60% unemployment just like the Third World, and a prison population that rivals the USA's. And all because some German CEOs decided to concentrate the national income of market-demanded employment more and more and more, making it harder and harder for Germans to support themselves and earn an honest living.]
- 7/31 Left margin - The 'global economy' threat moves to France, by Carl Bloice, Bonus via Portside.
It was, as French trade unions have said in no
uncertain terms, blackmail. In mid-July the 820 workers
at the Robert Bosch plant voted to accept a new
contract that increases their work week by one hour -
with no increase in pay - cuts bonuses and freezes
their salaries for three years. The company, Bosch
France, a subsidiary of the German Bosch parent, had
placed an ultimatum to the employees: accept the
proposal or a slated new production line will be
relocated in the Czech Republic. The move came quickly
on the heels of a similarly coerced decision by 41,000
workers at a Chrysler-Daimler plant at Sindelfingen,
Germany to give up $620 million in wages and unpaid
hours or see 6,000 of their jobs moved to factories in
Bremen, in northern Germany, where the hours worked per
year is 72 hours longer than at Sindelfingen, or to
The previous month in Germany, Siemens AG put a take-it-or-leave-it demand to phone factory workers: five
more hours a week with no additional pay or the jobs go
to Hungary. 'They chose to keep their jobs,' the
Associated Press reported. Surprise.
The drive by the bosses of Europe to extract more hours
work for less pay per hour, to compel employees to give
up break times and accept shorter vacations, is
spreading and the capitalists conducting it are united
in their determination to see it through. It is, in
essence, a move to suddenly wipe out the gains workers
have made in pay, benefits and available leisure time
over the past half century. The aim is to maintain
profits, not by raising prices (they make Mercedes at
Sindelfingen and put together fancy phones at
Venissieux) but by making production workers toil more
hours for no more pay. The BBC recently reported on
'new research' that revealed that 93% of
corporate heads surveyed said they would like to do
away with the mandated 35-hour workweek that became law [in France]
in 1999 [implemented in 2000-2001].
Incidentally, the plant at Venissieux is reported to
have turned in 1.1 billion euros last year.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, this is all being
carried out under the banner of 'the reality of the
global economy.' [Ref.lost.] It comes in the context of the larger
process of economic globalization and the situation
created by the enlargement of the European Union. 'Most
of the 10 new member nations in the European Union
trade bloc - including the Czech Republic - are in
Eastern Europe, where the work force is hungry for
employment,' reported the BBC July 20. 'If France does
not move quickly, the jobs could move east in droves.'
Across the continent, European workers are being
unfavorably compared to those in the U.S. where we work
longer hours with less time off. Another surprise.
You'd hardly know it by the media reporting,
particularly in this country, where the illogic of the
employers' arguments shapes the story line, but there
is major resistance to the longer hours drive on the
part of the workers affected and their labor
organizations. "This has to end - us competing with the
last country that joins Europe [or the lowest-standard country that can be found on the globe],' said Rene Fraresso, an official of the General Confederation of Workers (CGT)
at Bosch. 'If this is what they made Europe for, it's
not worth it."
In France, the move to lengthen time on the job through
hard-nosed contract demands and threats to move
production to low-wage areas abroad is being combined
with a more general assault on the 35-hour workweek law
enacted in 1999. French President Jacques Chirac says
the law should be relaxed, but so far has not suggested
reversing it. French observers are predicting that such
a move would evoke massive protests and a major
"When the school year starts in September, we are going
to organize union actions to win back our rights," CGT
union official Serge Trucello told Reuters. "It [the
vote at Venissieux] must not in any case be applied to
other Bosch plants in France," said Jacques Le Bars, a
leader of the other union at Bosch, CFE-CGC.
The Communist daily l'Humanite has termed the longer
workweek drive 'part of a project lowering the
collective guarantees of the workers,' noting that 'in
the thirties the Comité des Forges, a manufacturers
association, vilified the 40 hour work week and the
'Today right wing politicians, business leaders and
neoliberal thinkers condemn 'libertarian hedonism,'"
the paper went on, 'They want to change completely the
labor code, take away guaranteed jobs, claiming to
defend the 'work ethic.' These big strategies against
all the social rights have Europe as a battlefield.
'The blackmail is the same in France and Germany; the
response of the working people will be strong on both
sides of the Rhine River, and well beyond!'
- 7/31 Economy slowed in 2nd quarter, US report says, by Eduardo Porter, NYT via Lakeland Ledger, FL.
USA - The pace of economic growth slowed abruptly in the second quarter of the
year as consumers forced to pay higher energy bills curbed their spending on
just about everything else....
The Commerce Dept. estimated that the nation's GDP
- the broadest measure of economic activity - expanded at an annual rate of
3% in the April-to-June quarter, sharply below the 4.5% growth
achieved in the first quarter of the year and less than the expectations of
Wall Street analysts....
The slowdown was a setback to efforts by President Bush to point to solid
growth as a validation of his administration's economic policies, and played
into the hands of his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry, who has
criticized the White House's economic approach....
Personal consumption spending slowed to a 1% annual growth rate, the
most sluggish pace since the second quarter of 2001, when the economy was in
the midst of a recession, down from a rate of 4.1% in the first three
months of the year. Sales of durable goods - things like cars, furniture and
appliances - actually fell slightly. "The consumer is overextended," said Charles Dumas, chief international
economist at Lombard Street Research in London....
Job growth...took a dip in June, expanding by barely 112,000, less
than necessary to absorb the natural growth of the labor force. Wages,
adjusted for inflation, declined and the average number of hours in the work
week fell. "The negative factors are building up," Mr. Dumas said....
- 7/31 Personal time - And the seventh day was a day of rest? - Maybe America's old blue laws weren't so crazy after all, by Nancy Gibbs, Time Canada.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Once upon a time, in the "Dominion of New Haven," it was illegal to kiss
your children on Sunday. Or make a bed or cut your hair or eat mince pies or
cross a river unless you were a clergyman riding your circuit. If you lived
in Connecticut in 1650, there was no mistaking Sunday for just another
shopping day; regardless of whether you'd go to hell for breaking the
Sabbath, you could certainly go to jail. Centuries later, the sense that
Sunday is special is still wired in Americans, a miniature sabbatical during
which to peel off the rest of the week and savor ritual, religious or
otherwise: Sunday worship, Sunday football, Sunday papers, Sunday brunch,
the night the family gathers around the TV to watch, once upon a time, The
Wonderful World of Disney and, now, The Simpsons.
The idea that rest is a right has deep roots in U.S. history. Blue laws were
a gift as much as a duty, a command to relax and reflect. That tension,
explains Sunday historian Alexis McCrossen, has always been less between
sacred and secular than between work and respite; America does not readily
sit still, even for a day. The Civil War and a demand for news begat the
Sunday paper; industrialization inspired progressives to argue thatlibraries and museums should open on Sundays so working people could elevate
themselves. Major league baseball held its first Sunday game in 1892. Joseph Pulitzer realized
the Sunday paper was less about news than about fun, comics and book
reviews, and soon the theaters were open too, as well as amusement parks and
Over time, Sunday has gone from a day Americans could do only a very few
things to the only day they can do just about anything they want. The U.S.
is too diverse, Americans' lives too busy, the economy too global and the
country's appetites too vast to lose a whole day that could be spent working
or playing or power shopping. Pulled between piety and profit, even
Christian bookstores are open. Children come to Sunday school dressed in
their soccer uniforms; some churches have started their own leagues just to
control the schedule. Politicians recite their liturgies in TV studios. Post
offices may still be closed, but once that first Sunday e-mail from the boss
goes unread, it becomes forever harder not to log on and check in. Even the
casinos are open.
If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan, Albert Schweitzer said -
which raises a question for these times: What is lost if Sunday becomes just
like any other day? Lawmakers in Virginia got to spend part of their summer
break debating that question, thanks to a mistake they made last winter when
they inadvertently revived a "day of rest" rule; hotels and hospitals and
nuclear power plants would have had to give workers a weekend day off or be
fined $500. After a special legislative session was convened to fix the
error, Virginia's workers, like the rest of America, are once more
potentially on call 24/7. Meanwhile, Rhode Island just became the 32nd state
to let liquor stores open every Sunday; until this month, they could do so
only in December, perhaps because even George Washington's eggnog recipe
called for brandy, whiskey and rum. Social conservatives may want to honor
the Fourth Commandment, but businesses want the income, states need the tax
revenues, and busy families want the flexibility.
With progress, of course, comes backlash from those who desperately want to
preserve the old ways. Mom-and-pop liquor stores in New York fought to keep
the blue laws to have more time with their families. Car dealers in Kansas
City, Missouri, pushed for a law to make them close on Sundays so they could
have a day off without losing out to competition. Chick-Fil-A, a chain of
more than 1,100 restaurants in 37 states, closes on Sundays because its
founder, Truett Cathy, promised employees time to "worship, spend time with
family and friends or just plain rest from the work week," says the chain's
website. "Made sense then, still makes sense now." Pope John Paul II even
wrote an apostolic letter in defense of Sunday: "When Sunday loses its
fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a 'weekend,'" he wrote,
"people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see
In an age with no free time, Americans buy it through hard choices. Do they
skip church so they can sleep in or skip soccer so they can go to church or
find a family ritual-cook together, read together, a Parcheesi challenge -
that they treat as sacred? That way, at least some part of Sunday faces in a
different direction, whether toward heaven or toward one another.
- 8/01 More dads adjusting hours for kids, by Meg Richards, AP.
USA - When John Beatrice was a boy, his father quit his job with a big accounting
firm and started his own business so he'd have more time with his family.
Years later, Beatrice found himself in a similar situation, but with an
important difference: A flexible work arrangement at Ernst & Young has
allowed him to keep his job without sacrificing time with his kids.
'I remember listening to my father's calculator going between midnight and
4 in the morning, just so he could be there for us during the day,' said
Beatrice.... 'I played hockey, and he never missed a game when I was
growing up. I knew when I was having kids, I wanted to do the same.'
Beatrice, a partner in his firm's audit practice, now spends part of his
mornings and afternoons coaching a high school hockey team. He's one of a
growing number of men taking advantage of such arrangements, defying the
traditional belief that dads who put their families first can't come out
ahead at work.
Long considered tools for women, flexible scheduling, job sharing, reduced
hours and telecommuting options are becoming increasingly necessary for men.
With many families relying on both partners to produce incomes and
contribute at home, there are signs that both sexes are looking for
innovative ways to achieve a balance between work and life.
And anecdotally, there's evidence that companies that promote such policies
win loyalty from their workers.
Brian Abeyta...an executive in charge of project management at medical
insurer AFLAC Inc., has an informal arrangement that allows him to spend
more time with his kids, ages 3 and 6. He also took several weeks off
recently to care for his ailing mother before her death.
Abeyta left a competitive job with a telecommunications company in Atlanta
to work for AFLAC in Columbus, Ga., in part because he found it difficult at
his old job to carve time away for anything but work after his first child
'I really enjoyed my previous job, but the thought of being able to move
to a place that was a little bit smaller, and work for a company that
endorsed family values and work-life balance ... was very appealing,'
Abeyta said. 'I think, by letting me work flexibly, they wind up getting a
couple hours more out of me than they might otherwise. But if they let me
coach my son's T-ball team, I'm more than happy to give that time back, for
them giving me that privilege.'
A recent survey of male and female executives by Catalyst, an advocacy
group for working women, found that while flexibility is often seen as awomen's issue, both sexes expressed a desire for a variety of formal and
informal arrangements to help them balance their lives. Of those surveyed,
51% of women and 43% of men found difficulty achieving such a
There's a stigma for those who take time off for personal reasons, however.
Just 15% of women and 20% of men said they thought they could
use a flexible work arrangement without jeopardizing their career
advancement. That negativity might diminish if men start taking advantage of
flextime policies in greater numbers.
'As men become more sensitive and are expected to be greater and greater
partners at home, and want to be, will there become the equivalent of a
'daddy track?'' asked Nancy Halpern, senior vice president of the
Strickland Group, an executive coaching firm. 'And what's the pressure on
companies to change, to retain talent for the next generation?'
At this point, even taking time off for the birth of a child is seen as
potentially career-damaging. Dads who take paternity leave, or other time
away from work for child care issues, often work it out quietly, out of
concern that they'll be seen as less competitive than the guy at the next
desk or in the next office.
It's a valid concern. A Wake Forest University business professor found
that men who take time off for family are generally viewed more negatively
than women who do the same. In the study, 242 undergraduate students were
given mock personnel files with resumes, job descriptions, performance
evaluations and forms requesting time off under the Family Medical Leave
Act. Male employees who took leave to care for a newborn or ailing parent
were generally rated less favorably, said Julie Holiday Wayne, adjunct
assistant professor of business. Male evaluators were toughest on male
A closer look at Ernst & Young's flextime records provides a snapshot of
mens' growing interest. Of 23,000 workers in the United States, 2,400 havetaken advantage of formal flextime options that allow them to work from
home, work reduced schedules or compressed weeks, including 55 partners and
directors. As of June, 23% of the total were men, up from 17%
in October 2003, and 13% in October 2002. It's hard to track the
number of full-timers working flexibly, like Beatrice, but there's evidence
that less formal arrangements are gaining acceptance, as well.
In his early years with the firm, Beatrice put in close to 1,000 hours of
overtime each year. 'It was crazy,' he recalls. But he felt the culture of
the firm starting to change, and when the hockey coaching job became
available at his local high school in 1992, he took a chance and asked his
boss if his schedule could be adapted so he could take it. His boss said he
should go for it.
Over the years, he's dealt with some resentment from colleagues -
particularly those who still see working hundreds of hours of overtime as a
badge of honor. But he feels he's playing an important role by showing it is
possible to do something you love while still being successful at work.
'I love my job. But one of the reasons I love it is because I get to do
these other things as well,' Beatrice said. 'If I just did this, I'd be
burnt out by now. This is my 19th year here, and this is one of the reasons
I still like what I do.'
- 8/01 Other views: Opinions from around the world, Christian Science Monitor in Boston via International Herald Tribune in France.
...Rethinking [ie: backthinking] the work week in Europe
European workers, so envied by Americans for their 35-hour workweek
and five- and six-week vacations, are 'having to' [our quotes] put in more hours.
In Germany, DaimlerChrysler persuaded support staff at its Mercedes division
to work longer hours without more pay. The deal was preceded by a recent
agreement at the conglomerate Siemens, which extended the work week at one
of its divisions from 35 hours to 40 hours.
Europeans have a point in that their work ethic allows for more balanced
living. But there's plenty of room for change before their cherished
lifestyle is in serious danger. One thing that can ease the transition is
for executives to make sacrifices along with workers. In their deal last
week, Mercedes management agreed to salary cuts when their unions said they
would forgo a planned wage increase. That's a model for America, too....
- 8/01 European companies demand longer hours; Labor unions may comply,
by Christian Baumgaertel (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bloomberg News.
Europe's anemic growth rate is prompting companies to
press for longer hours and smaller wage raises in what may augur a shift in
labor relations similar to that in the U.S. two decades ago.
Agreements at German companies including DaimlerChrysler AG, Siemens AG and
Robert Bosch GmbH in the past month to lengthen hours and delay pay
increases are "ground-breaking deals,' said Julian Callow, chief European
economist at Barclays Capital in London. Companies are seizing on weakened
labor unions in a region where unemployment is 9%, the highest since
1999. Growth in the 12-nation area is lagging the U.S. for the 12th year in
[But only when you include as positives in US "growth" all the deterioration caused by the hyperconcentration of the national income over the last 13 years in terms of, for example, massive prison building and the violent, costly, and gratuitous takeover of Iraqi oilfields.]
Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest carmaker, and MAN AG, the region's
third-biggest truckmaker, start negotiations with unions over contracts for
more than 100,000 workers next month. In France, where the 35-hour week was
introduced six years ago to boost employment, cable producer Nexans SA said
it may follow Robert Bosch in asking staff to work longer for no additional
"What's interesting is it may represent the first signs of a much larger
shift, where the reform process - instead of being driven by government
actions - is driven by the market actions of individual companies,' said
Martin Baily, chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers during Bill
Clinton's administration, in a telephone interview.
U.S. auto shift
Harley Shaiken, a University of California at Berkeley professor who
specializes in labor economics, said the changes in Europe are reminiscent
of the shift in the U.S. auto industry in the early 1980s, when competition
from Japan prompted unions to agree to change their contracts and make some
concessions on work rules and compensation to help preserve jobs. The trend
soon spread "throughout U.S. manufacturing,' he said in an interview.
The performance of the Europe's economy over the past decade has made cost
cuts at companies more urgent. The International Monetary Fund forecasts the
euro region will expand 1.7% this year, at least half the rate
projected for the U.S., Japan and the U.K. Growth averaged 2% over
the past decade, compared with 2.9% in the U.K. and 3.3% in
the U.S., Bloomberg calculations show, based on European Union figures.
Since 1970, hours per worker in the EU have dropped 17%, more than
five times the rate in the U.S., according to a study by the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.
- German employees put in an average 1,446 hours last year and
- their French counterparts worked 1,453 hours, about a fifth less
- than the 1,792 hours worked in the U.S., the study showed.
German manufacturers are also demanding more cost cuts because they have
had to pay workers for a 40-hour week even though they worked only 35, said
Sean McAlinden, director of the economics and business group of the Center
for Automotive Research, a research group headquartered in Ann Arbor,
At 25.20 euros ($30.40) per hour, German manufacturing wage costs were some
12% higher in 2002 than hourly costs in the U.S., more than a quarter
higher than in the U.K. and 6 times as high as in neighboring Poland,
according to figures from the industry-sponsored IW economic institute in
Net income per 1,000 Siemens employees was 5.9 million euros in the
company's most recent fiscal year, compared with $49.2 million at General
Electric Co. in 2003, according Bloomberg data. Sales per 1,000 Siemens
employees stood at 178 million euros that year, half the tally for General
`Break the ice'
Munich-based Siemens won an b at two phone
factories to 40 hours from 35 hours at no extra pay, after threatening to
cut 2,000 jobs there.
[As Ben Hunnicutt's subtitle has it: "Work Without End - Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work." Intelligent life on this planet is advancing no further until we move self-supporting work from the category of Deniable Right to the category of Fundamental Entitlement. And we can do that by proceeding with the Timesizing full-employment program.]
The accord applies to more than 4,000 workers
assembling phones at the Kamp-Lintfort and Bocholt factories and will allow
the company to cut costs by 30%. Siemens is still negotiating wage
accords for about 2,300 workers at other units threatened by relocation
"In Germany, we were really able to break the ice with this 40-hour
week,' Chief Executive Heinrich von Pierer...told analysts on a
conference call to present fiscal third-quarter earnings on July 29.
[Nonsense - he's just freezing Germany in the worktime ice of the past.]
Sales growth of 4.8% in the period "is coming from almost every region in
the world. Unfortunately it's not coming from Germany,' von Pierer said.
Companies' leverage in pushing for concessions is increasing as
unemployment rises and union membership wanes. Between 1980 and 2000, union
membership among workers dropped to 25% in Germany from 35%
and to 10% in France from 18%, though union agreements still
apply to more than 90% of all workers in France. In the U.S., union
contracts cover just 14% of workers, according to the OECD.
`Cowering in the basement'
In Germany, the number of workers covered by union contracts has dropped to
68% in 2000 from more than 80% in 1990, as companies left the
collective-bargaining system Germany put together after World War I. IG
Metall, the country's second-largest union, last year suffered its worst
defeat since 1945 when it failed to get eastern German employers to pare
Companies such as DaimlerChrysler and Siemens that remain within the
bargaining system - where wages are negotiated in one region and then
adopted industry-wide - are using a clause in their union contract, agreed
in February, that lets them deviate from the accord to safeguard jobs or
"We never felt that we were looking eye to eye with Siemens during the
talks,' said Michael Stahl, the head of the works council at the Bocholt
phone factory, in a telephone interview. "It always seemed like Siemens was
standing on the table and we were cowering in the basement. But current
market conditions don't allow us to voice our side of the story.'
[Then get out of the basement and reframe the market, while you still have 68% of the workforce! It's going to be a lot easier to do now than when you only have 14% of the workforce as in the U.S!]
That pressure is set to continue as executives point to lower wage costs in
the new members of the European Union and threaten to relocate east of
Germany's border. Ten nations, including Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic, joined the EU on May 1.
"The accession of the new EU countries has brought China to our doorsteps,
bluntly speaking,' said Roland Fischer, managing director for personnel in
Germany at United Technologies Corp.'s Otis unit, in an interview. "The
advantage we have in terms of productivity is far outweighed by the cost
advantage we have a few kilometers away - in Poland, the Czech Republic,
Otis, whose German operations are based in Berlin, has decided to cut about
400 jobs in Germany this year when its moves escalator production from Lower
Saxony to the Czech Republic, Fischer said. For those sites that stay in
Germany, an extension of the work week "is something we might want to
Buoyed by the Siemens agreement, Stuttgart-based DaimlerChrysler on July 23
won 500 million euros in cost cuts from workers after threatening to shed
6,000 jobs. Robert Bosch, the world's second-largest auto-parts maker,
reached an accord with workers at its German power-tools factories to cut
costs by 7 million euros a year and increase "work-time flexibility.'
Bosch, which is closely held, is also based in Stuttgart.
In France, where the government is pushing to loosen a law capping the work
week at 35 hours, Bosch won an extension of the week at its plant near Lyon.
Nexans, the world's biggest cablemaker, said July 21 it may seek to copy the
accord. At its German plants, the Paris-based company raised the work week
to 39 hours from 35 hours two years ago [actually 3-4 years ago depending on "big" (over 20 employees) company = 4 yrs ago, or small company & gov't = 3 yrs ago].
"The push for longer hours will gain momentum,' said Martin Werding, head
of labor market research at the Munich-based Ifo economic institute, in a
telephone interview. "Longer hours without wage adjustments are a way to
lower wage costs without taking money out of workers' pockets.'
In the U.K., where former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher took on the
unions in the 1980s, the change in labor relations was driven by the
government rather than companies.
Economists including Richard Jackman of the London School of Economics say
that Thatcher's efforts to break the power of the unions helped pave the way
for the economic recovery in the 1990s. While the U.K. didn't have
legislation minimizing the length of the work week before Thatcher came to
power, the bargaining power of union leaders had the effect of bolstering
wages without increasing production, he said.
At 4.8%, the U.K.'s unemployment rate under the International Labor
Organization's calculations is the second- lowest in the Group of Seven
after Japan at 4.6%.
Any change in European labor relations is likely to be more gradual than in
the U.S. or the U.K., said Marc Touati, chief economist at Natexis Banques
Populaires SA in Paris. "We haven't got the same social model as the U.S.,
but we have to make changes in the labor market.'
European governments, which have pledged to make the region the "most
competitive' by 2010, say they won't stand in the way of longer work hours.
French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy...last month said he wants to
give people the option to work more than the legal limit of 35 hours.
President Jacques Chirac...said July 14 there should be "more freedom
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder...has hailed the accord at
DaimlerChrysler as a "a victory for reason.' Schroeder has already eased
firing laws, overhauled the labor office, and cut welfare benefits and
taxes. Last month, the Bavarian Cabinet approved a regulation to increase
the working week to 42 hours from 40 for 180,000 civil servants without any
increase in pay.
[Poor dumb Bavaria, the Dixie of Deutschland.]
"We will see an extension of the work week in the public sector, too,'
said Ifo's Werding. "The pressure came from the market. Now we have an open
Wolfgang Wiegard, who heads Schroeder's five-member council of economic
advisers, said while longer hours are "positive' for the economy, they
won't be enough to boost employment as long as non-wage labor costs aren't
reduced. Income taxes and social security contributions amount to about half
of all labor costs in Germany and France, compared with a third in the U.S.
and the U.K., according to the OECD.
The recent pay "accords will make existing jobs safer without improving
the prospects for new jobs,' Wiegard...said in an interview.
Smaller companies such as Grammer AG, a supplier of train and car seats for
companies including DaimlerChrysler, Siemens, and Deutsche Bahn AG, have
already implemented longer hours after being pushed by their customers to
lower costs. Grammer this year reduced bonuses for executives and went to a40-hour work week from 35 hours for factory workers.
"It's the beginning of a sea-change' in the way the German economy
functions, said Josef Trettenbach, vice president for finance at Amberg,
Germany-based Grammer. "People realize that it's more important to have
jobs than to have more leisure time.'
- 8/01 Stormy days lie ahead for labor, by Milt Neidenberg, Workers World.
... According to a headline in the July 21 New York
Times, "Greenspan Says Rates Could Rise Quickly."... This is bad news for the workers... The lead front-page article in the July 18 New York Times spelled this out in its headline: "Hourly Pay in U.S. Not Keeping Pace With Price Rises." The article explained that "hourly earnings of production
workers - non-management workers ranging from nurses and teachers to
hamburger flippers and assembly line workers - fell 1.1% in June after
accounting for inflation. ... Coming on top of a 13-minute drop in the
average work week, the decline in the hourly rate last month cut deeply into
Robber barons hoard profits
Even Greenspan noted in his testimony before Congress that "corporate
profits have been so high that businesses have ample room to offer higher
wages without raising prices to consumers."
The non-financial companies listed in the Standard and Poors 500 stock index
are sitting on $550 billion in cash and short-term securities. "U.S.
companies have more cash on hand today than they have had since World War
II," wrote one financial analyst. (New York Times, July 22)
General Motors reported second-quarter earnings of $1.3 billion, up 49%
from a year earlier. The corporation made a payout of $7 a share to
its top shareholders.
General Electric confirmed that it had $138.3 billion in cash and
marketable securities like Treasury bills, as well as stocks that could
easily be turned into cash.
Microsoft's decision to pay out $32 billion in bonuses and dividends to its
high-income shareholders is a bonanza that is by far the largest payout in
corporate history, abetted by Bush's tax relief on dividends.
The CEOs and board members of these corporations have become bankers,
hoarding immeasurable cash flows in hedge funds and other forms of
speculation that are totally unregulated. They are in competition with banks
like Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and other financial institutions that
invest and speculate in the markets.
In the last year, GM, Ford and GE have made most of their profits from the
financial arms of their industrial empires.
Overproduction, due to the unprecedented increase in productivity, speedup
and technology, has glutted world markets. 25% of U.S.
industrial capacity lies idle. The industrial tycoons are being forced to
merge their corporations or pull back on investing in plants and other means
These corporations are at great risk. Marxism calls this concentrated form of buying and selling securities...and other instruments of money..."fictitious capital." During crises and other upheavals like...wars and recessions, fictitious capital depreciates with catastrophic speed.
[No it doesn't. It gets centrifuged, by labor shortage, out to the people who spend it immediately, thus beefing up consumption to match the unprecented increases in productivity, and turning the unsustainable or "fictitious" capital investments into sustainable ones. Cutting the workweek accomplishes the same desirable goals without the killing, waste and risk. Milt Neidenberg and the Workers World should quit whining and start crunching the numbers for workweek reduction. Then they should start translating the benefits of workweek reduction and higher wages into the self-interest of top executives in terms of stronger consumption and sustainable profits.]
The parasites of high finance are ignoring these dangers.
[Actually they are not ignoring these dangers. They are responding to them by pulling money out of investments and back into cash.]
They are sucking the equity from the corporations through obscene executive salaries, bloated
bonuses and stock options while they downsize the workforce and wages, pensions and health care.
[Actually top executives in all industries are doing these things, not just top execs in the financial industry. And they are doing them because socialists and other labor leaders have taken their eyes off the prize, shorter hours, and let labor drift into gross global surplus and commonness, and resulting powerlessness and cheapness.]
They have no intention of rehiring laid-off workers or adding workers to the
[And that won't change until the left cuts through their unthinking outdated rhetoric and start "doing the numbers" to prove to top executives that their own positions would be greatly securified if they submitted to the discipline of workweek reduction, and centrifuged their wastefully concentrated capital into their consumer base via their workforces. See "Why UK stock market is so dreary - regulators press insurers, pension funds to shift out of stocks," WSJ, C14, and in the US, fund managers have recently been doing it on their own because the hyperconcentration of income has vacuumed the markets away from their own potential mega-investments.]
Capitalist exploitation intensifies
[Oh cut the mindless cliches and name-calling! It is labor's own stupid mistake that has allowed this to happen. It is labor's own failure to realize which of its two traditional goals, shorter hours or higher pay, leads on to sustainable prosperity for all and which leads to unsustainable hyperincome for a few and deepening poverty for the many. It is labor's own shortsighted focus on higher pay, regardless of bucking market forces, that has sabotaged it, instead of focusing on shorter hours for all, which harnesses market forces to raise wages in response to a perceived labor shortage.]
Technological innovation [and the common downsizing followup thereto], restructuring, sub-contracting, prison labor and outsourcing to non-union sweatshops here and abroad have forced workers out of higher-paying manufacturing jobs and into lower-paying jobs or onto the streets.... They can no longer buy back the necessities and pleasures of life that they produce, especially in an inflationary period....
[The imbalance between high production capacity and low consumption capacity determines that this is a deflationary period, not an inflationary one. The fact that certain underlying necessities such as oil have been monopoly-manipulated into perceived scarcity does not alter the fact that demand for most goods and services is weak and so prices are flat or falling - except where directly or indirectly constrained by energy costs.]
- 8/01 Flexible staffing approaches on the rise, press release by Hays Co., Scoop.co.nz, New Zealand.
NEW ZEALAND - 65% of employers have noticed a need to adopt a more flexible staffing
approach over the last 12 months, according to a survey of over 1,700
clients by Hays, the leading specialist recruitment group.
Of these employers, the most common flexible approaches used were
"While a large part of the workforce maintains the traditional concept of a
full-time job, there is a notable number of potential employees with a
preference or need for employment with flexible options," said Jason Walker,
General Manager of Hays. "...As the candidate market tightens,
this employment flexibility becomes
especially important as a valuable attraction strategy. In Auckland,
Wellington and Christchurch, we've noticed a steady growth of flexible
approaches over the last five years, and we expect this to continue,
particularly as the candidate market tightens."
- employment of part-time staff (offered by 42%),
- employment of casual staff on their own payroll (offered by 48%),
- temporary or contract staff employed through an employment agency (offered by 45%)
- and job sharing (offered by 20%).
Hays [is] are Australia and New Zealand's largest specialist recruitment and HR services company....
- 8/01 Migrant makeover - Migrating from rural China to the big city and working at a salon has become a popular route out of poverty and stifling tradition - Such service workers are fueling China's growing capitalist-style economy - But disappointing and sobering revelations await those with high hopes, by Michelle Chen, InTheFray Magazine via InTheFray.com, MA.
SHANGHAI - Under the salon's sterile lights, the hairdressers sat in the waiting area -
some in chairs, some squatting in a typical Chinese fashion that hinted at a
provincial upbringing. Despite their neat hairdos and smart maroon polo
shirts, the girls at Jin Mei, a salon in Shanghai surrounded by construction
zones and high-rises, could not escape their slightly country looks, having
migrated from rural villages in other provinces into the city.
They were celebrating the first night of Chinese New Year, or Spring
Festival, in front of the television in the near-empty salon, busily gnawing
guazi or sunflower seeds, spitting the shells in a garbage can while glaring
impatiently at the last customer of the day. Since Chinese New Year is the
biggest holiday of the year, they were supposed to get off work at 5p.m.,
but at 8 p.m., Xiao Yanzi, the stylist, was fixing the last hairdo of the
Lunar Year. The boss always orders them to keep serving customers as long as
they keep coming.
Jin Mei's employees mostly hail from Anhui Province, a relatively poor
region that exports a large portion of its farming population to Shanghai,
several hours away by bus or train. Most of these girls migrated around age
18 or 19 after leaving school. Most ended their schooling at middle or high
school; the prospects of attaining a higher education in the impoverished
rural school system are few, so extra years of school tuition seem like a
waste when city jobs are readily available.
Shanghai's booming economy, which grew 15% this past year and leads
China in gross domestic product, has been drawing thousands of hopeful youth
from the countryside for over a decade. Before the Reform Era began in 1979,
peasants were essentially chained to the land. The government, fearing
disorder, used a draconian household registration or "hukou" system to
enforce a huge economic gulf [huh?] between the countryside and the industrialized
cities. But over the last two decades of frenetic modernization in China,
regulations have been loosened to facilitate economic development, and the
massive tide of labor in the cities has inflamed the cultural and economic
tensions along the rural-urban divide dating back to Chinese antiquity....
With no dependents, young migrants feel less pressure to remit income to
families back home, so they can instead save toward a new apartment or a
long-term goal of starting their own business. But the work schedule and
relatively low income means that employees are usually too worn out by the
70-hour work week to do anything on off-days but rest and spend extra money
on Western fashions, cell phones, and Internet bars.
Yet such jobs, with set hours and wages, are coveted among migrants. Other
jobs in restaurants and construction entail dangerous working conditions and
perhaps even less possibility of advancement. Since kids are constantly
trying to find ways to enter the city workforce, Jin Mei has easy pickings.
Workers are acquired by Jin Mei's boss, Liu Bing, a former lawyer who found
entrepreneurship more promising than the legal bureaucracy. His wife,
herself a migrant who worked her way up in the salon business to the
managerial level, provides valuable connections to friends and relatives in
villages in her home province, Anhui. The husband-wife team prefers youth
who display a certain measure of suzhi or "class," with some schooling and
good Mandarin rather than a rural dialect, displaying docility as well as
competence. The further they seem from the city dweller's stereotype of the
unkempt farmer girl, the better they are for business. As their boss and
their caretaker, Liu is proud of the relationship he has with his staff. "We
give them a stage," he said, and they cultivate their own abilities until
they are ready to "take off" on their own. If workers prove themselves
competent enough, he gives them a share of his salon franchise....
Passing the New Year and passing time
Back in Shanghai, on New Year's night, the Jin Mei workers were rewarded for
their overtime with a night of singing-along to overproduced Chinese pop
music in a crowded multi-story entertainment center down the street.
Shanghai does not offer much variety in terms of nightlife for youth of
modest means, just a chance to croon along to your favorite pop singer in a
cramped rented room or converse in a cubicle with a net friend or wang you.
But despite the crushing density of the city, youth who are feeling out
their new home manage to locate pockets of privacy, or at least anonymous
Shanghai spreads out before its migrants like a spilled toy box. For many,
it offers at least a temporary oasis of social indulgences that make the
countryside seem unlivable in comparison. For others, the city cuts deeper
into them, and they enmesh themselves in a Hades of organized crime, drugs,
prostitution, and gambling to obtain wealth and prestige.
Whether they are escaping pressures at home or chasing the fantasy of
wealth, urban youth migrants are discovering that China's developing economy
has opened up a platform for self-exploration that never previously existed
for their demographic. The decision to return home or to stay in the city
for the Spring Festival plots a migrant youth on a matrix of space and time,
on which two generations and two wildly different environments cross. At the
crux of this clash between rural and urban cultures, migrant youth work,
play, and carve out a place for themselves, and the beauty and peril lie in
the fact that no one can tell just how long it will last. Whether or not the
youths' dreams ever materialize, the sense of individuality that flowers in
the struggle to find one's place in this congested city is priceless.
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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