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Timesizing News, August 21-26, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


8/26/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/25 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #8 which is from 8/26 hardcopy, & Australian & Far East stories which are 8/26), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Brits long for the expat life, by Quentin Reade, Personneltoday.cim, UK.
    UNITED KINGDOM - More than 80% of Brits would consider working abroad, according to research. And the study, by recruitment company Manpower, shows that for many people their holidays abroad give them a taste for European working practices. Hazel Detsiny, director at Manpower, says: "Many people travel during the summer, often giving them an insight into the work cultures of our European neighbours. With the recent EU expansion there has been increased awareness of the possibilities of working abroad. However, people should remember that foreign working might not be plain sailing. People have to overcome language and cultural barriers, have to make new friends, and have to get used to new ways of working - it's not a decision to be taken lightly."
    [And Brits are almost as bad at learning languages as Yanks. See "Britain's language gap - Oh la la! - No funny languages please, we're British" in The Economist, 8/07/2004, p.42.]

  2. Work ethic primary conflict among different generations, Honeycomb Connect, Canada.
    ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A new survey finds that 40% of human resource (HR) professionals have observed conflict among employees as a result of generational differences. In organizations with 500 or more employees, 58% of HR professionals reported conflict between younger and older workers, largely due to differing perceptions of work ethic and work/life balance.... The Society for HR Mgmt's [SHRM's] 2004 Generational Differences Survey asked HR professionals about employees from different generations working together, the quality of their work, types of conflicts, retention factors, and strengths and weaknesses of each generation. The survey identified four generations:
    1. Veterans, those born before 1945;
    2. Baby Boomers, born from 1945 to 1964;
    3. Generation X (GenXers), born from 1965 to 1980;
    4. and Nexters (aka Millennials, or Generation Y), born after 1980.
    ...Nearly 25% of HR professionals say differences over acceptable work hours are the primary sources of conflict, which reflects different perceptions of work ethic and benefits like telecommuting and flextime. Frequently, these complaints came from older workers about younger employees' willingness to work longer hours. Past SHRM research finds that work/life balance is among the most important job satisfaction factors for younger employees and is typically not as important among older workers....

  3. Doubletalk, by Kathleen Faraday & Joan Stevenson, Contra Costa Sun, CA.
    USA - ...Joan writes:
    The suitcases are finally unpacked and I am savoring the memory of 10 wonderful days in Maui with my family. One by one, children and grandchildren arrived for a rare gathering. The languid days were a mixture of sunscreen and swims.... At sunset as the coals on the grill were lighted and the embers reached a perfect glow, we watched as the younger set draped in beach towels...wandered in from the surf.... All seems quiet, tranquil even, the perfect place to restore oneself from the demands of life on the mainland.
    Until a cell phone rang.... We all scrambled to reach into our beach bags. We had not one or two cell phones with us. We had six, each with a different, distinctive, annoying ring. And they each had voice mail. Perish the thought that we would be out of touch. And we all had laptops that were checked several times a day.
    It is ironic that the dire predictions of Alan Toffler in Future Shock of a new order with infinite leisure time is the antithesis of 'free time' in the 21st century. We don't have more of it, we have less. My husband, son and son-in-law conducted business as usual, miles from the office, trying to find at 11:30 pm in the hotel lobby the queue for a DSL line. Instead they met at Kinko's in Lahaina when it opened at 4 am. They grabbed coffee from a nearby Starbucks and got down to work. Connected, communicating, tied by a wireless cord to the entire world. Access? - well, I think it might be excess....

  4. A household name in Germany: Peter Hartz - The father of Germany's labor 'reforms', Deutsche Welle, Germany.
    GERMANY - Volkswagen's Peter Hartz is famous for his innovative labor initiatives. But Berlin his taken his name off the labor 'reforms' [our quotes] he penned, fearing Germans will confuse Hartz with "hard." For most Germans, Hartz IV evokes the word hart ("hard"). That was the government's logic when spokesman Bela Anda announced in Berlin on Monday that the package of labor market 'reforms' currently provoking massive demonstrations across the country would be called "reforms on the labor market" from now on. That's not likely to bother the father of the 'reforms', Peter Hartz, though. After having announced a wage freeze for employees at carmaker Volkswagen's German plants on Monday, the HR chief is likely to be more concerned with avoiding a labor dispute. Hartz has been known internationally for his innovative HR andlabor-market policies as a member of Volkswagen's executive board since the early 1990s. The broader public only became aware of him in 2002 with his slogan "5,000 times 5,000." Hartz's idea, which was successfully implemented, called for Volkswagen to employ a flexible occupational plan to produce the minivan Touran at VW's HQ in Wolfsburg.   5,000 previously jobless workers were paid 5,000 DM a month (E2,556/$3,088) to manufacture the vehicle. Hartz showed that modern manufacturing procedures, new distribution routes and innovative training programs could be used to produce internationally successful and competitive cars.
    [In short, he reinvented the wheel that the Japanese had invented in the 70s and 80s. Big deal.]
    In the political arena
    Hartz's achievement was the beginning of his career in the political arena. The Social Democrat became a member of a commission of experts engaged by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government to draft plans for reforming the German Federal Labor Agency. Hartz was sober about the task. "We won't get the gift of the great miracle with the hundreds of thousands of jobs," Hartz said at the time. "Rather, we will only reach it with an ant's strategy in which we see to one job after another, in which we look at competitive and marketable products and services. For that we need resources, for that we need an infrastructure."
    [No, for that you need worksharing. By the time an ant's strategy "sees to" one job after another, technological innovation has shouldered 100 jobs after another 100. It never ceases to amaze us how totally clueless these guys are about the glaringly obvious implications of technology for worktime per person, EVEN when they work for VW which workshared from a 35-hr workweek down to a 28.8-hr one ten years ago to save 30,000 jobs and their HQ town of Wolfsburg.]
    The...economist from the western German state of Saarland has worked as a top manager for numerous companies. At Volkswagen, Hartz attracted attention with another innovation: the four-day work week in what he dubbed the "breathing company." The idea was to cut work hours and pay to avoid massive layoffs.
    [The more's the irony! So Petey, how about connecting the dots from there to cutting working hours and pay to employ Germany's 10.5% unemployed? That will increase consumer confidence and domestic consumer markets, and the loss of labor surplus will harness market forces to restore pay. Germany will become recession-proof and export-independent.]
    Ambitious aims
    Hartz's experiences catapulted him once again onto a commission charged with designing reforms for Schröder's government. Shortly before German parliamentary elections, on August 16, 2002, Hartz announced the results of the body named after him and its ambitious goal of creating jobs for millions of unemployed people. "We have come to the conclusion that it is feasible, (to create) 2 million jobless in three years ... if we fulfill certain requirements," he said.
    [And what good is that, buddy, when the requirements are infeasible?]
    The Hartz Commission came up with a whole series of measures to fight mass unemployment in Germany. Job centers and personal service agencies were devised to better help the unemployed find work.
    [It doesn't matter how efficient the job-finding process gets when there are no jobs.]
    Programs like the so-called "mini jobs" [sounds like covert worksharing], tax-free employment for up to E400, and "Ich AGs" ["Myself Inc." - very funny] subsidies for those who take the plunge into self-employment [regardless of clients?], are meant to ease entry into the working world and independence. But the real feat came only later: Hartz IV fused unemployment and welfare benefits, bringing the former down to the level of the latter. Approval of the law from both chambers of parliament was a show of strength and an important achievement for Peter Hartz.
    [Again, it doesn't matter how big the stick when there's no carrot - you'll just increase disability, homelessness and prisons, as we've done in the once-great USA.]
    "Ideas are only as good as their implementation," Hartz said. "And that's good [duh], because we've come a good bit further today.
    [just a sec till I get my arm untwisted from patting myself on the back]
    The car of 'reform' has started to move."
    [Don't hold your breath until Germany realizes the near-panacea centrality and priority and urgency of its own worksharing track record, and reverses its recent silly infatuation with longer workweeks and more, not less, concentration on fewer employees of the vanishing market-demanded employment of the nation.]

  5. 1-in-6 docs still work long hours, Glasgow Evening Times, UK.
    SCOTLAND - Nearly one-in-six trainee doctors in Scotland are still working excessive hours, it was revealed today. But the figure is an improvement on January, when nearly 20% of doctors in training were not covered by a new deal which bars excessive working hours. And in March last year the compliance rate was only 57%. Today's figures, showing that 84% of doctors in training had working hours complying with the "new deal" for junior doctors, were welcomed by the Executive as a sign of progress but it acknowledged more needed to be done. The deal dates back to 1991 when junior doctors and the government reached an agreement to improve the medics' working conditions. An Executive spokesman said: "NHS boards are making considerable efforts to achieve full compliance on the new deal."

  6. Sarkozy more popular than Chirac, Raffarin, French poll shows, by Emma Vandore (evandore@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.
    PARIS - French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is the most popular member of Jacques Chirac's government, outdistancing the president by 11%, an opinion poll showed. The results help explain why lawmakers in the ruling Union for a Popular Movement are urging Chirac to change his stand and allow the finance minister to keep his job should he win the post of party chief. Sarkozy...has pledged to cut the budget deficit and weaken a law that limits the work week to 35 hours. "The government can hardly make do without the dynamism and pugnacity of Nicolas Sarkozy," Senator Philippe Marini, a member of the upper chamber's Finance Committee, said in a telephone interview in Paris. "Letting the deficit and debt swell will go against good logic and our European commitments and would cost us dearly." Sarkozy scored an approval rating of 60% in the nationwide poll of 954 eligible voters by Paris-based Ipsos SA. The survey, conducted Aug. 20-21, showed Chirac with a 49% rating and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin at 36%. The margin of error was plus or minus 2%.
    Sarkozy's campaign
    Marini, a UMP Senator for 12 years from the northern county of Oise, said he expects Sarkozy to seek the party post, which would pave the way for a 2007 presidential run. Chirac...has said not whether he will seek a third term. Sarkozy has said in appearances in the past month that he will announce his decision by early September. In a July 14 television interview, Chirac said he wouldn't permit Sarkozy to head the UMP while keeping his government post because it would undermine Raffarin. Seeking to box out a possible political opponent may cost Chirac, said Marini. "If protagonists keep marking each other, the majority will suffer and the president's credibility will suffer even more," he said. Raffarin told Le Monde in an Aug. 18 interview that Chirac rejected a possible compromise. The proposal would have had Sarkozy as the number two official in the party under the prime minister, Raffarin said. A spokesman for Raffarin declined to comment, as did spokesman for Sarkozy and Chirac. "Sarkozy's departure from the government would probably have a dampening impact on consumer and business confidence," said Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Natexis Asset Management in Paris, which oversees the equivalent of $81 billion.
    On Juppé’s turf
    At a party rally at the Atlantic coast resort of Arcachon Aug. 17, Sarkozy told the crowd he aimed to unify the UMP. He walked across the lawn of the Tir-au-vol reception center to a standing ovation and cries of "France needs you." As well as being famed for the Bordeaux wine and oysters on offer at the rally, Arcachon is part of the district of Alain Juppe, Chirac's prime minister from 1995 to 1997. Juppe quit as party leader last month to appeal his January conviction on corruption charges. "Alain Juppe will have other opportunities to serve our ideas and our country," Sarkozy said. "By being here at my side, you are not renouncing anyone, you are not fighting anyone, you are not betraying anyone." Sarkozy, finance minister for five months and before that interior minister, has three times the required 3,400 signatures to run. He has until Sept. 15 to declare for office. The winner will be selected at a party congress on Nov. 28.
    Chirac allies
    During August, when official France was on holiday, newspapers carried reports of new support for Sarkozy among Chirac's allies. "Why Gaudin is distancing himself from Chirac," ran one headline in the Aug. 20 Le Figaro. "The party needs a competent, dynamic and rallying leader," Jean-Claude Gaudin, mayor of Marseille and the UMP vice president, was quoted as saying. "Nicolas Sarkozy possesses these qualities." Chirac and Sarkozy have been rivals since 1995, when Sarkozy, then budget minister, supported Edouard Balladur's failed challenge to Chirac in presidential elections. Balladur was President Francois Mitterrand's prime minister at the time. Leaving his post would mean Sarkozy wouldn't be around to claim credit as the economy recovers to an expected pace of 2.5% this year, after 0.5% in 2003. It would also put in doubt France's commitment to bring its budget deficit in line with European Union rules next year, a promise on which Sarkozy has staked his reputation. Raffarin sided with Labor Minister Jean-Louis Borloo when he said Friday that extra government revenue should be used to fund job creation and raises in the minimum wage as well as being used for debt reduction, according to AFP. Sarkozy said in Arcachon that the extra money should be used entirely for debt reduction. After three years of breaking EU rules by running a budget gap greater than 3%, Sarkozy has promised to get France back in line by 2005. "He has this will to get things done, to resolve problems," said Alain Joyandet, a senator from Haute-Saone, in the northeast. "He understands what people need and want."

  7. Shorten the school week now, Ha'aretz, Israel.
    [Don't get your hopes up. It appears that this headline should really read, "Compress the school week now," because not only is no net reduction being proposed, but the compression is merely for the purpose of letting childcarers work longer hours.] ISRAEL - Shlomo Dovrat, who headed the commission for the reform of Israel's educational system, intended to relieve the system of its limitations. In so doing, he succeeded also in working toward alleviating [ie: improving] the status of women. One of the major recommendations of the Dovrat Commission - to change over to a five-day school week - was an enlightened educational and social proposal that also incorporates a feminist revolution.
    [Don't tell us that Israel still has a SIX-day school week?! - or are they folding sabbath school in with secular school? = yet another problem in a primitive theocracy where religion and politics are still unseparated.]
    Women are currently hostages of the school system's hours. A short school day, one that ends at 1 pm, ties the woman down to a 4- or 5-hour job.
    [And how come we're still talking exclusively about women taking the hit for childcare? And why in the world are we American taxpayers still subsidizing this primitive society, stuck in the first Religious Period of the Economic Age, or worse, in the last Theocratic/Imperialist Period of the Geographic Age (see our Football of Time) to the tune of $3½ BILLION a year - $9 billion last year! - which just gives these backward-brains no incentive to advance? Not that we're exactly advancing with the backward theocrats of the Bush family & friends squatting in the White House!]
    Once upon a time, they called it "a half-day job," and today it is the kind of job that very few employers are prepared to allow. The result is that many women have to resign themselves to inferior positions, or else give up working outside the house. This is particularly true of women from the weaker sectors of the population, who cannot pay for afternoon care for their children.
    The transition to a long school day that will end at 4 P.M., as the Dovrat Commission proposed, will immediately remove the restriction on long work hours for women. For the first time, women in Israel will be free to work a full day and, in effect, join the work force as full participants.
    Moreover, a long school day, which in disadvantaged neighborhoods will also be accompanied by a free hot meal, will make a concrete contribution to the health of the children in these areas. In addition, there will be less concern for children who have no one to care for them after school until their parents come home from work.
    The trend to move to a five-day week, followed by a long school day [??], received a boost on Tuesday when the Knesset's Education Committee approved regulations making it possible for those schools that receive permission to already make the transition at the beginning of the school year that starts next week. Next year the entire school system is expected to make the transition to a shorter school week.
    It has not yet been decided to adopt the commission's recommendation that the entire system go over to a long school day, but the Knesset committee's approval is a step in the right direction. It is essential to ensure, however, that schools which make the transition to the shorter school week will spread over the remaining five days the hours that the children will lose on Friday. Another essential condition for the transition is that the school hot-meal program be fully implemented.
    A short school week will bring in its wake welcome changes in the job market. At present, only some 35% of the labor force is still employed on Fridays, and the move to the shorter school week will reduce this to 25%. It can be assumed that the number of people employed on Fridays will drop even further. With the exception of those involved in services and commerce, it is likely that most of the labor force will stop working on Fridays.
    A shorter school week can therefore be expected to speed up the transition to a shorter work week, as is common in most of the world. There are many advantages to this, provided that the shorter work week is not translated into fewer working hours, a move that would affect productivity.
    [Error - fewer working hours does not translate into lower productivity in the Age of Automation & Robotics - in fact, a decrement in working hours often translates into a upward bump in productivity, as documented by Juliet Schor in The Overworked American, p.154 ff. When are these 'talking heads' going to wrap their brains around the technological revolution?!]

  8. U.S. wins back pay for janitors, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A14.
    USA - The U.S. Dept. of Labor announced yesterday that it had reached a $1.9m settlement with a contractor for the Target Corp. [Global Building Services of Newhall CA] after finding that the contractor had not paid overtime to [775] immigrants janitors who often worked 7 nights a week cleaning Target stores...in Calif., Ariz., Nev., N.M. and Tex..\..
    ["Shucks, what's the use of lettin' all them illegal immigrants in if us boys kin't exploit'em?!"]
    Several janitors said...that the Target contractor was doing much the same as contractors for Wal-Mart had done before an immigration raid at Wal-Mart stores last October - making...janitors work nearly 365 [nights] a year without paying overtime or Social Security or other taxes....
    The Labor Dept. was tipped off to the violations by an L.A. group, the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, which monitors whether employers are breaking the law when they use janitors. "We investigated 50 Target stores and we saw that janitors were being paid in cash...with no overtime, no payroll taxes, no workers comp," said Lilia Garcia, the trust fund's exec. dir. "It's a cancer in the industry...."
    ["Them damm wimmin - pokin' their little noses into men's bizness an' stirrin' up a peck o'trubble (fer us)!"]
8/25/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/24 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #18-21 which are from 8/25 hardcopy, & Australian & Far East stories which are 8/25), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - he's experimenting with two search runs because of erratic one-run behavior:
"work sharing", OR "work-sharing", OR "job-sharing", OR "job sharing", OR "work week", OR workweeks, OR "work-week", OR "work-weeks", OR "working week", OR "working weeks", OR "work-time", OR "cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "reduce hours", OR "reduced hours", OR "reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours reduction" -sports
"free time", OR "long hours", OR "long work", OR "long days", OR "long workdays", OR "long workday", OR "decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule", OR "schedule reduction", OR overtime, OR overwork, OR overworking, OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln Electric" -sports )

  1. [We start today with are a couple of articles where the South Koreans, new to the 40-hour workweek, are teaching us a few things we may have forgotten about the value of shorter working hours and more free time -]
    (51st anniversary [of South Korea?] -)  Five-day workweek prompts new consumer trends, by Yoo Soh-jung (sohjung@heraldm.com), Korea Herald, South Korea.
    The five-day workweek officially adopted in July brought a new rhythm of life to some of the working population in Korea. Breathing in a more leisurely lifestyle, people are expected more and more to seek diverse and new ways to spend their extra time, thus increasing demand for venues [e.g.?], activities and products. For the business sector, this has called for a change in services and prospects for new consumer trends.
    Among the areas to undergo a significant change is retail and department stores in particular. The Samsung Economic Research Institute says in a report that department stores will have to break away from their traditional roles. According to the think tank's report titled "Five-day Workweek and Changes to Soft Industries," retailers will change to become a leisure-oriented resource rather than simply acting as a place to shop.
    [Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill - they've only come down to a 40 hour workweek for God's sake!]
    SERI says it issued the report in 2002 when banks were thinking of introducing a five-day workweek. The issue of a shorter workweek, or 40-hour system, was first raised in 1998 [by whom?] and banks were the first to implement it in July 2002.
    The think tank's report also says that more and more multifunctional shopping complexes will sprout up in both urban and rural areas. "More retailers will provide cultural events and activities as they focus on entertaining rather than just serving as a shopping stop," said Im Bock-soon, director of the distribution and logistics team of the research division at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "They will become pervasive in the years to come." Shoppers can thus expect retailers to become better hosts by providing more personable services and engaging events in a comfortable environment. Some major retailers are already ahead of the game. Hyundai Department store in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, is an annex of the Convention & Exhibition Center that features a shopping mall, aquarium, restaurants and a movie theater. Another is Shinsegae Department Store, also in southern Seoul and nestling within Central City, an amenity featuring a mall with shops, arcades, cinema and educational attractions. While large entertainment complexes should provide more reasons to draw visitors to the department store, Shinsegae said it has plans of its own to attract customers rather than simply relying on Central City. "It's a win-win situation for both parties," said Yoon Sun-woo, marketing manager of the general affairs department at Central City Co. "Our location no doubt prompts more people to drop by and shop, but we plan to organize more cultural prize giveaways and gift certificates, as well as cash-back events," said Kwon Tae-woo, assistant manager of the marketing team at Shinsegae. He said that more leisure time for consumers translates to offering prizes and gift certificates related to concerts and performances, as well as travel.
    Solo department-store branches with no accompanying entertainment facilities - which are in the majority - have another plan of action. Lotte Department Store's main branch in downtown Seoul, for instance, says it is renovating to provide a more spacious environment and a leisurely, yet high-quality, atmosphere. Part of the rebuilding involves setting up more rest areas with cultural themes such as an art gallery and musical events. It also includes a more spacious food court where visitors will be able to sit back and relax, while restaurants will offer the ambiance of a five-star hotel. Taking advantage of the adjoining underground shopping arcade and renovating it into a multi-store facility catering to a wide age range of shoppers, the main branch plans to be reborn as Lotte Town by the end of this year. All of this is part of its fight for survival. "We're competing with the discount retailers, such as Carrefour and Samsung Tesco's Home Plus. These days, people can get everyday items at low prices, so operations like ours will have to offer a more extravagant place to spend time," said Ha Soo-yeon, head of the public affairs Dept. at Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul. "It would be great if my family could seek out the department store for cultural and leisure activities," said homemaker Kim Su-kyung. "It's definitely a reason to spend the day there, even if we don't do any shopping."
    For smaller outlets like Migliore, a thrift market comprising hundreds of independent retailers, it is a different ball game. "As we have many competitors, we're going to emphasize the practical aspect of our business," said Ryu Jun-sub, director of general affairs at Migliore in Myeong-dong. "We also plan to provide more specialized products, such as in the recreation area." This practical aspect, he said, means offering fashionable items at affordable prices. With other retailers highlighting the leisure aspects of shopping, Migliore must set up more rest areas for shoppers. It is now upgrading its appearance and Ryu admitted that competition will be tougher for Migliore.
    With the department store concept changing nationwide, a society growing more aware of a better quality of life that balances work and leisure will have more options to spend its free time in a more fulfilling way, especially for those living in crowded cities like Seoul. Whether the economy is good or bad, department stores will try to find more ways to attract visitors, although this does not guarantee that people will spend their money. "I look forward to the changes, which will give me more reasons to visit the department store for fun rather than for spending money because I need to buy something," said Lee Hye-sook.... "I'll go more for the experience."
    Evolving consumption
    As the economic climate will be a major factor determining the pace at which society adopts a shorter workweek, after decades of toil that won Korea its status as an economic miracle nation, experts predict consumers will only adapt to the new lifestyle gradually and the change will only affect fewer than one in eight workers. According to the Samsung Economic Research Institute [SERI] report, the phases in which people may adapt to a leisurely lifestyle can be categorized into three types:
    1. cocoon - describes individuals who will pass their time at home enjoying hobbies or watching television
    2. active - refers to those who will take part in activities outside the home
    3. and practical - refers to those who will use the extra time to expand their knowledge and seek ways to increase their income
    The SERI report says that in the early stages, the majority of workers will be in the cocoon category (1) due to income factors, lack of information and the need to get used to allocating time wisely. And as the shorter workweek gradually becomes a part of their lifestyle, individuals will shift to the active type (2) and invest more in themselves in order to become the practical type (3).
    [If this progression is true, S.Korea is going to need a better overtime design to prevent stage 3 from wiping out gains against unemployment.]
    But despite these theories, employees like Baek Yong-gy, a manager at Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., may defy the phases and go straight from the cocoon phase (1) to the practical (3). The 41-year-old says he will use the extra time to invest more time in himself and focus on self-improvement.
    [This aspect of stage 3 would not necessarily worsen unemployment.]
    "Even if it means a little sacrifice in my finances and working harder on weekdays to keep my weekends open, I plan to expand my hobbies and explore Korea," he said. "I also plan to strengthen my work skills by reading related books and improve my English by joining a conversation club," emphasizing that it will be an investment for himself and will improve productivity at work.
    For businesses, the changes will mean more opportunities to drive up sales.
    [Now there's the attitude we like to see in regard to shorter hours!]
    As Korean society strives to integrate the value of personal free time with the traditional national work ethic, industries expect to see an increase in consumption tied to leisure.
    Retailers such as E-Mart and Carrefour pinpoint recreational equipment and clothing, as well as consumer electronics. "I can't wait to take up inline skating and do more traveling," said Choi Sung-kyu, an...investment policy manager for Gyeonggi Province. With traveling becoming ever more popular, the retail sector predicts that demand for auto accessories will grow and the auto industry forecasts that demand for sport utility vehicles [SUVs] will continue to rise as the value of leisure time permeates through society.
    [Yuch - God forbid!]
    Hyundai Motor Co., for instance, says it has seen a growing trend toward SUVs from 26.4% of its sales in 2000 to 33.4% in 2003.
    [Argggh.]
    "This preference can be attributed to a society growing more conscious of the value of leisure time," a manager at Hyundai Motor said. "We expect the rising trend to continue, especially with more companies adopting the shorter workweek."
    In addition to growing demand for products related to recreation and travel, the "do-it-yourself" concept is also expected to gain in popularity here. "We predict a sales increase for home improvement items not only because people will spend more time at home and want to improve their living environment, but also because of rises in labor costs," said a Carrefour spokeswoman.
    [Well lookee that - finally somebody connecting the dots between rising wages and increasing sales. "What goes around comes around" and "if you want a rich consumer base, you have to have good jobs."]
    But while consumer trends may sway, most businesses do not expect a dramatic rise in sales but predict a gradual change in consumption, mainly because the five-day week concerns only a part of Korea's working society.
    [What "part"?]
    The corporate community is also realistic about social unease and the effects the move will have on the unstable economy. "Given the stagnant economy that shows no sure signs of letting up any time soon, we don't expect consumers to suddenly spend their money, nor will we generate high profits," said Kim Dai-sik, public relations manager at Shinsegae Co., in reference to the company's E-Mart, the nation's largest discount chain store.
    [We think you'll be positively surprised, and the positive surprise would be enhanced if you dropped the fixation on the arbitrary "40"-hour figure and were prepared to let unemployment determine your workweek-length.]
    Industry experts agree. Im from the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry says the five-day workweek for public institutions and conglomerates adopted in July will affect only a small percentage of the working population.
    [Why? Is this because of the 7 steps to completion? - the fact that only companies of over-1000 employees have got this workweek-reduction process started as of this past July 1?]
    According to the Ministry of Labor, it will account for 13.6% of employed people. "With the five-day week to affect only a portion of our society [why?], it's hard to say that it will actually be a regular system affecting the masses and bring about sweeping changes," Im explained. He said that the sluggish economy, added to the high unemployment rate, should rather discourage consumption.
    [True, but better to spread out the workweek reduction process like South Korea than try to jump it down four hours in only two stages (companies {1} above and {2} below 20 employees) like France!]
    "Also, with our per-capita income standing at $10,000, businesses can't expect many people to spend much."
    [That ain't much, but then, their cost of living might be low.]
    He said that some working people may want to spend their extra time improving their skills to reinforce their competitiveness in the labor market.
    [That's what Timesizing's Phase 2 facilitates.]
    Underscoring the fact that a shortened workweek does not necessarily prompt spending, even before it became law, the banking industry had implemented a five-day week from July 2002.
    [Presumably because if it necessarily prompted spending instead of saving, banks would not want to be first. However, we disagree on both counts. We believe that a shortened workweek does necessarily prompt more spending, because it decreases the labor surplus, heightens the competition for labor, raises wages and benefits, and centrifuges some of the concentrated national income out of the top brackets where it is saved/invested rather than spent and gets it out to the middle and lower income brackets where it is spent immediately rather than saved or invested. But we believe this is in the banks' self-interest because the added spending evokes increased production and provides banks and securities firms with stronger and stabler investment targets.]
    Securities and insurance firms followed suit, while conglomerates like Samsung and Hanwha joined this year.
    "We have witnessed a [rising] trend in consumption for leisure-related items but we didn't see a leap in profits when the banks changed," Shinsegae's Kim said.
    [Maybe he should stop looking for unstable leaps and stick to looking for stable rising trends.]
    Even though travel ranks high among leisure activities, socioeconomic conditions will still dictate travel behavior. "Domestic journeys totaled 300 million last year and we expect the figure to increase by 7% this year, given the GDP should grow at least 5%," said Choi Sung-woo, director of domestic tourism promotion at the Korea National Tourism Organization.
    The country's struggle to cast off its old labor culture and raise itself above the status of a developing country will not be the main influences affecting the way people adapt to a working life with more free time.
    [Then what will be the main influences? Consumer caution? -]
    Naturally, with the uncertain economic outlook straining consumer confidence, many will want to play it safe rather than discover too late that they have jumped the gun. The Chamber of Commerce's Im said, "At a time like this, I think one would need a lot of courage to spend."

  2. (51st anniversary [of S.Korea?] -)  Well-being, a new way of life for Koreans - Enjoy a happy and healthy life in your own way, by Kim So-young (soyoung@heraldm.com), Korea Herald, South Korea.
    The time has passed when Koreans were praised for working hard without taking care of themselves. [But now,] "Don't struggle to make ends meet, what matters is your physical and mental health," has become the norm in Korea. And, an increasing number of Koreans are more than willing to change their lifestyles in exchange for a sound body and fresh mind. Corporate employee Paeng Jae-hee says, "I am so happy with my new lifestyle, eating natural food and working out regularly. Focusing on the quality of life, I feel I now love myself much more than before."
    [Whoah, now there's a powerful testimonial to the value of shorter hours!]
    Her...diet now concentrates on pure and natural food such as cabbage and broccoli, more fiber and less carbohydrate, regardless of whether she dines at home or eats out. At dessert time, she ignores coffee or soda and instead now enjoys tea or fresh fruit juice. Paeng has regular massages of her face and body, and uses a manicurist for her nails and feet. Weekends she jogs around the Han River, which bisects Seoul, and visits galleries or museums. Even during her working hours, she faithfully follows the so-called "well-being" lifestyle by doing stretches whenever time allows. Paeng says everything she does is strictly for what she believes is a happier life. "I decided to live this way when I ran across an article last year about people deciding to reject the pace of modern life and to opt for a life at their own speed [a convert for Carl Honore!]. And it has given me great satisfaction. I will continue, and even upgrade my lifestyle in the way I have chosen."
    [You GO, girl!]
    Today, an increasing number of Koreans are rushing to join the well-being boom, some of their own choice and others largely influenced by the media and friends and acquaintances already practicing this lifestyle trend. The quest for healthier lifestyles is such that the term "well-being frenzy", coined only last year, has fast become the buzzword, topping search words on the Internet, invading numerous commercials and appearing almost everywhere within a person's radius.
    Realizing the trend could also be a golden business opportunity, companies have been quick to reap profits by coming up with a variety of new products targeting health-conscious consumers who care little about the ongoing economic slump. Companies even roll out new products named after well-being, a double-purpose strategy aimed at reminding consumers of the item's health benefits as well as luring well-being addicts who are attracted by anything bearing the magic word. The well-being surge is so powerful that it will not be a surprise to hear about well-being air conditioners, well-being cosmetics, well-being shopping malls, well-being aromas, and so on. Social welfare professor Park Seung-hee at Sungkyunkwan University suggests the trend is being commercially driven in many ways, due to constant media coverage and quick business promotions to capitalize on the growing awareness about health.
    Still, the well-being craze is a clear sign that this nation, after a half century of struggles against poverty since the 1950-53 Korean War, is finally becoming normal, says Park. "Koreans had miserable lives over the past century. After everything was destroyed during the war, they had no choice but to just work with no time for themselves. Such sacrifice was possible because it was a crisis," he said. "But now, they are eventually waking up to the importance of the quality of life, and it means the nation has escaped the era of poverty."
    [Welcome to the better life of developed nations, South Koreans - just as we in America are abandoning it and going backward into the long-hours rat race for the sake of the idols of Globalization and Competitiveness (in a race to the bottom) and now some in France and Germany, incredibly, are joining us.]
    The past half century in Korea was marked by rapid economic development built on the sacrifice of people who had to work hard to rebuild the devastated nation after the three-year war. Having successfully developed one of Asia's most prosperous economies, an increasing number of Koreans now feel they deserve a better quality of life.
    [More power to ya!]
    The time-honored tradition of Korean employees sacrificing themselves, working extra days and giving up holidays for the sake of their companies, is fast giving way to a desire to live a seemingly better life with greater free time.
    [Keep in mind that free time is the most basic freedom, without which the other freedoms mean nothing.]
    "While the quest for money and fast lifestyles to stay ahead of others have been the norm over the past century, Koreans are increasingly looking to something other than the economy.
    [John de Graaf take note! Lower consumption is not something we have to fight for in a global non-recovery - we're getting it for free. We just have to fight for shorter workhours and more free time - even (or especially!) in the name of more consumption - and then with that added economic flexibility, we'll get people "looking to something other than the economy" - including lower consumption when it is no longer a disaster for the economy because we no longer HAVE TO fill 40-hours per week per person with 'productive' work for which we then HAVE TO find consumers. It's almost "seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness - and all these things will be added unto you." Translation: sell shorter hours on the basis of more consumption/spending/sales - and paradoxically you'll then be able to throttle-in consumption with no fatal impact on your economy because you've got that workweek flexibility and have switched from downsizing to timesizing.]
    It can be said that the well-being trend is part of the process of Koreans becoming more interested in non-material values," Park said.
    [Oh baby, you are singing Rev. Ruy Costa's and Rabbi Arthur Waskau's tune! Not to mention Kim Buchheit and Mike Buchheit!]
    There is no clear definition of well-being, but the general consensus is that if you try to do away with stress largely stemming from excessive social competition and use more of your time to please yourself, then you have already acted to change your lifestyle for the better. It's absolutely your choice how to serve yourself during "your own time," experts say, whether it's working out regularly, treating yourself to a vacation at an extravagant resort or filling your diet with organic food.
    But since Koreans are at the nascent stage of their pursuit for a better standard of life, most tend to associate this with regular sports and natural food, thinking little about its mental value. Calling himself a member of the well-being generation, college student Shim Jeong-woo says, "I don't eat fast food anymore. My diet is mostly made up of brown rice and vegetables. And I work out two hours everyday."
    Not surprisingly, sports centers, yoga and meditation clubs are booming thanks to the well-being fever, causing a number of similar operations to spring up. But the well-being fever, despite prompting many time-pressed contemporaries to take a step back and look at their lives, has its ugly face. Rather than finding their own ways to enrich their lives, many people uncritically follow what some media push as the ingredients of a well-being lifestyle: eat only natural yet expensive food, work out at well-equipped gyms, frequent luxurious spas, and travel overseas at least once a year. [What's so ugly about this? Lighten up! "Different strokes for different folks!"]
    Amid the constant stream of commercials about well-being products that feature luxurious images, critics say the true meaning of well-being has largely disappeared, leaving only the slogan, "Let's eat well and live well." "The well-being culture has changed considerably, being incorporated into the capitalist system. If some wealthy people tour abroad to play golf and talk proudly of their trip after coming back, can we say this is a well-being lifestyle?" asks professor Park.
    [Why the hell not?! Let's not get into a rigid new puritanism here!]
    "How to live a healthy life, both physically and mentally, is never a matter of money [what, 'never'?], but many Koreans think they can't afford this lifestyle." For example, a two-hour session at a spa, one of the most popular leisure activities for the well-being generation, costs more than 100,000 won - way too extravagant for most people still struggling under a mountain of debt.
    But experts say well-being is not [necessarily] about material values and that people can ensure and savor their own happiness in a variety of ways.
    [- a variety of ways that includes materialistic - let's drop the insidious incipient intolerance and self-righteousness!]
    Jogging every morning, reading books and sipping tea before going to bed, or arranging a little more free time with your family - all these help build up well-being.
    [Fine, this is all nicey nicey, but some people like going to Vegas, drinking and blowing a wad - let's not just slip from one judgementalism (work hard or you're a bum!) to another (read books and sip tea or you're ugly!).]
    The monetary cost is minimal, and it's more a matter of setting aside a little time and making a conscious decision to forget about outside stress. "Clean your mind first. Water with sweet-smelling bubbles may be more smooth than tap water but it can't clear away all inside stress [neither can tapwater]. Well-being hinges on your mental attitude," Park said.

  3. The third way - Hybrid system is a winning mix, by lecturer Kuseni Dlamini of Wits University International Relations (employed by AngloGold Ashanti employee), Business Day, South Africa.
    As part of our continuing search for a durable staircase to the second economy [in whose scheme?] for current and future generations, "the Third Way" provides an effective path forward.
    This is partly because one of its key defining features is the notion a strong economy and a strong society are mutually reinforcing. You cannot have one without the other.
    The Third Way is an overarching philosophy that transcends the traditional left-right, state-market dichotomy which is increasingly unable to deal with the complex challenges of our world.
    The challenges facing SA [South Africa] and other developing countries require new thinking on the relationship between the state, market economy and society. Above all, we need to find ways to strengthen the efficacy of all three spheres so that they operate in a mutually reinforcing way.
    The Third Way provides that new thinking to enable us to deal with the new circumstances that confront us. That is why we should embrace it to build and grow an economy of our own one that provides a better life for all.
    During his visit to SA in 1999, Tony Blair, a leading proponent of the Third Way (his misguided support for Bush notwithstanding), rightly argued "the driving force behind the ideas associated with the Third Way is globalisation,
    [then this is not a sustainable third way, which must be based on a new value centrifuge, a new sharing mechanism, and not on a premature and overextended integrator cum value concentrator like the empires of the past, or the thin veneers of the lingua francas]
    because no country is immune from the massive change globalisation brings;
    [plenty of countries are immune - look at the rest of Africa for God's sake!]
    what (it) is doing is bringing in its wake profound economic and social change".
    [We'd say superficial, not profound. What great problems is it solving? It's merely puffing the egos of the big talkers. It has no drill-down, no "beef."]
    The Third Way is the only real hope for the unemployed and poverty-stricken South Africans in rural and urban areas.
    [Specifics??]
    Britain's economic success amid decline and stagnation in other parts of Europe has a lot to do with New Labour's passionate commitment to the Third Way.
    [Oops. Britain's economic success? Decline and stagnation in other parts of Europe?? What's this guy smokin'?]
    Unemployment and welfare queues have gone down under Blair's Labour government while economic growth and investment have continued to increase.
    That's what we need: a strategy and policy mix that makes the market work for society and society work for the market to create an endless spiral of success and prosperity for all.
    [Details? All we've got so far is catchy rhetoric.]
    The Third Way provides the means to that desirable end.
    [How?]
    Yet why advocate it now? The end of the Cold War and the advent of globalisation and an information society have challenged traditional conceptions of state, market, politics and ideology in significant ways.
    Simply put, just as the Industrial Revolution redefined society in the 18th century, the Information Age is turning society on its head in the 21st century. The Third Way thus provides us with a new philosophical framework marked, as it is, by profound changes in the class map of industrial and industrialising societies.
    The Marxist concept of a society marked by class conflict was the hallmark of the left-right divide and was seen as the logical basis for the left's belief in a revolutionary socialist alternative to the market economy. Francis Fukuyama's seminal essay on the end of history was widely seen as the final nail in the coffin of the traditional left which is viewed by some as increasingly obsolete in a globalising and competitive environment.
    Is the Third Way not just another political gimmick by apologists of the free market or disillusioned former socialists who want to sell the working class to a neoliberal agenda?
    No. The Third Way is a fresh and new way of building ethical and inclusive societies that balance wealth creation and wealth redistribution. It distinguishes itself by overcoming weaknesses of the "first way" (neoliberalism), with its emphasis on wealth accumulation by a few, and the "second way" (old-style socialism), which focused wealth redistribution and downplayed wealth creation.
    [How exactly?]
    The Third Way seeks to [only "seeks to"?] unlock the inherent strengths in both the neoliberal and socialist projects to provide a solid intellectual and philosophical foundation for policy formulation and execution.
    To single out [either] the rand, interest rates, unemployment, inflation, labour market rigidity or capital controls and suggest that dealing with [or solving] any of these issues, in isolation, in a particular way, would be a panacea to our problems is naïve.
    [Is he starting to prepare a rhetorical escape hatch so he doesn't have to present any difficult specifics?]
    A response to any of these issues needs to be located within a coherent philosophical and intellectual paradigm that defines our vision of the kind of society and economy we want.
    [So what is it?]
    South Korea and Singapore had compelling visions of the future that underpinned their remarkable transformations from Third World to First World societies in the past five decades.
    [No, these inadequate examples just copied whatever they could from the West.]
    The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) provides a golden opportunity to advance Africa's journey toward prosperity for generations. We [Africans?] need a Third Way of our own that takes into account the Nepad imperative and the implications of globalisation to effectively deal with the challenges of our time in the best possible way.
    The German political scientist, Wolfgang Merkel, identifies four Third Ways which have been pursued by different social democratic parties in the European Union.
    1. ...Tony Blair's New Labour model in the UK
    2. ...the "polder" model in the Netherlands which is widely accepted as the most successful policy mix in Europe thus far
    3. ...the reformed welfare state path in Sweden
    4. ...the "statist path" of the French socialists, dominant during Lionel Jospin's government, which was the Europe [huh?] to reduce the length of the legal working week to 35 hours per week.
      [This is the only one of the four that's onto something extendible and sustainable, though still very primitively designed.]
    Aspects of these different positions have been adopted and adapted by centre-left parties in Brazil, New Zealand and SA.
    The "polder" model is regarded as the most successful because in the 1980s the Dutch economy was in a very poor shape marked by a collapsing welfare state and high levels of unemployment and state debt. Carefully thought-out reforms were introduced to create jobs, stimulate investment by tax reduction and reduce high levels of state debt.
    [The Netherlands basically tried a worksharing system that beefed up part time with benefits rather than simply redefining "full time" downwards - and bringing all its benefits with it. We wish them well but suspect that they're currently running into trouble.]
    Although cuts were made in areas of social security and measures were put in place to enhance labour market flexibility, the welfare state and labour rights remain strong in the Netherlands. The country has the best of both worlds.
    It is thus neither an interventionist state nor unfettered markets that will save us. It is the Third Way, because it is pragmatic in its analysis of contemporary society and economics while flexible and open-minded in its willingness to embrace the politics of what works for current and future generations.

  4. Federal overtime law now in effect, by Jeff Ertz, Lansdale Reporter, PA.
    The most significant changes to federal overtime pay regulations in more than 50 years went into effect Monday, but many area employers said they've had to make few, if any, changes to their overtime and salary practices. Some are concerned that the U.S. Department of Labor's FairPay Overtime Initiative ­ which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act ­ may eliminate overtime eligibility for some professionals. Pennsylvania employers will still have to adhere to the commonwealth's Minimum Wage Act of 1968, said John Currie, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor & Industry. "The stricter law in favor of the employee will prevail," Currie said. "The federal law does not affect the Pennsylvania law at all." The sentiments of Kimberly Detwiler, director of corporate communications of Univest Corp. in Souderton, are echoed by other spokespeople and business owners throughout the area. "Univest reviewed everything with our policy and the state law requires more than the federal law," Detwiler said, noting that Univest is already in compliance with the new law because of that. The Minimum Wage Act and the FairPay amendments state that an employee is entitled to at least minimum wage and overtime pay at time-and-a-half of all hours worked over the 40-hour, seven[??]-day work week. Also, salaried employees are not required to be paid overtime. Under the amended federal law, all workers earning less than $23,660 a year ­ or $455 a week ­ are guaranteed overtime protection. According to the Dept. of Labor, this will strengthen overtime rights for 6.7 million workers, because it ups the previous required overtime pay for workers earning less than $8,060 per year, or $155 per week. The labor department has been touting that the amended law will provide overtime pay for more workers, but classification changes ­ such as labeling funeral directors, athletic trainers, nursery school teachers and chefs as executive employees ­ would drop overtime pay requirements for some workers across the country who are reclassified within a category that is exempt from overtime pay. Currie said in instances of salary caps, the state wage law would prevail because, in stating that employers are not allowed to restrict overtime if an employee earns a certain salary, it favors the employee more than the federal law. But there is still uncertainty about what this means for workers and employers. Rebecca Glick-Luby, an athletic trainer at La Crest Health Club in Lansdale, said she had not heard about the new federal regulations. She said no one notified her of the law, and assumed that it wouldn't alter anything for her and other trainers. After working for three other health clubs in the North Penn area, Glick-Luby said few trainers work at just one gym and usually have private clients. Though she works seven days a week, racking up 45 to 50 hours, Glick-Luby said those hours are spread out among private clients and La Crest, so she's never there more than 40 hours a week. "We actually don't get paid overtime," she said. "They want us to work a certain number of hours so they don't have to pay us overtime." Larry L. Anders, director of Anders-Detwiler Funeral Home in Souderton, said the State Board of Funeral Directors, of which he is a member, has been keeping a close eye on the federal overtime overhaul. "I took it lightly because I'm not affected by it," said Anders. "Most fellows that are in the business are small and are owners or partners." Janet Curtis, general manager of Clemens Cleaners Village Inc. in Lansdale, said she has also been watching the law, but said that it wouldn't change their practices. The overtime amendments won't alter the way Philip Christ, owner of the Lower Salford-based Peak Window and Door Co., pays overtime. If any of his eight employees go over 40 hours, he said, they'll receive time and a half. Currie said generally workers who were eligible for overtime benefits before Monday in the commonwealth will continue to be eligible. But the state Dept. of Labor won't be able to determine changes in eligibility until the law is used, noting that an evaluation on a case-by-case basis would be required if employees or employers were to contest the regulations. In cases of registered nurses, said Kitty Fitzgerald, nothing will change. Fitzgerald, the executive director of the North Penn Visiting Nurse Association, said, "Any time there are any changes in the law, you need to pay attention ... I think that's the prudent thing to do." It seems that businesses, especially larger entities, have already checked up on the requirements, and some said they've had to make minor alterations. "The new law minimally impacts the way we approach overtime," said Connie Wickersham, Merck & Co. Inc. spokeswoman in Upper Gwynedd. Merck had to switch some of its overtime requirements for the classifications of workers, Wickersham said, "but those classifications don't apply to us here because we pay above the minimum wage." She said Merck has unions on site that had previously negotiated workers' contracts well before the federal law was a thought, adding that those contracts will remain the same. "We've reviewed the new regulations and have updated our procedures," said Weis Markets spokesman Dennis Curtin. Curtin declined to elaborate, but said that human resources employees at Weis made sure the grocery chain was in compliance. Gerald J. Birkelbach, executive director of the Montgomery County Dept. of Economic & Workforce Development, said he hasn't heard any complaints about the new regulations. Birkelbach said he favors the changes. "Overall I view this as a positive change from the view of the employers and employees," said Birkelbach. Birkelbach said the outdated laws and provisions have been clarified and were changed to reflect the evolution of the work force, from predominantly manufacturing-based to mostly service-based. Jennifer Medley, manager of external communications for Exelon Corp., the parent company of PECO Energy Co., said, "The new regulations were not as significant a change as had been proposed." Medley said the law clarified policies for employees and addresses more modern work practices and policies. Exelon, she said, made some minor changes to adhere to the regulations, but added she couldn't give any examples because Exelon feels that the law's impact was too slim to comment. Currie said the federal law added clarity to a law that hadn't been amended since its 1938 inception. The new regulations will especially benefit lower-income populations, Birkelbach said, and will inform all employees about their entitlements. "What we can't say here is that there won't be any groups of people who, from their perspective, will not be adversely impacted, but if we look at it in totality, overall there are going to be more people who are going to qualify for overtime," Birkelbach said.

  5. Effect of overtime change in Iowa uncertain, AP via Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, IA.
    DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa labor groups were protesting new federal overtime rules that went into effect Monday, saying the laws are ambiguous and could affect more workers than the government claims. "The rules were supposed to clarify things - - and what they did was muddy the water," said Mark Smith, president of the Iowa AFL-CIO. He estimated that at least 60,000 Iowa workers could be denied overtime under the new rules. Federal officials say the new laws exempting certain workers from overtime are aimed at white-collar professionals, but Smith said many blue-collar workers likely will be affected by the rules. The new rules could affect team leaders, or working supervisors who balance their time between supervisory tasks and work done by regular workers. "The team leader thing tends to be blue-collar," he said. Smith said the changes will affect workers not covered by labor contracts and those that are may encounter a challenge when their contracts are renegotiated. He said someone who isn't covered by a union contract who believes they have been cheated out of overtime must file a complaint with the Labor Dept.. "We think a lot of people won't file because they fear that if they file they'll lose their job," he said. Meanwhile, in Washington, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, decried the rule. "The administration says that it is acting to quote-unquote 'strengthen overtime protections.' But if we have learned anything from the Bush administration over the last three and a half years, it is this: Watch what they do, not what they say," Harkin said. "The truth is that the new overtime rule will strip millions of Americans of their right to time-and-a-half overtime pay. It is a frontal attack on the 40-hour work week. If Labor Day is about the dignity of work, Mr. Bush's Anti-Labor Day is about the devaluing of work." Officials with the Labor Services Division of Iowa Workforce Development, declined to comment, saying the new rules are federal regulations. The division works to protect workers' rights to a safe work environment and their right to be paid wages. Roberta Till-Retz, program coordinator at the University of Iowa Labor Center, said the new regulations have workers worried, particularly those whose annual salary or wages total between $23,360 and $100,000. "Employers are confused and workers are scared," said Till-Retz, who said the new overtime rules could hurt labor-management relations. The university's labor center works with unionized employees, teaching them about job-related issues. She said some of the confusion comes in the definitions of who is exempt from overtime pay. "In the revisions, they have a blue-collar guarantee that you will not be exempt, except there are areas that are confusing," Till-Retz said. One example she cited was a reference to non-management production line or construction workers. "Is there such a thing as management production line workers?" she said. "This is going to take a while to shake out," Till-Retz said.

  6. Small businesses applaud overtime overhaul, by Susan Jones, Cybercast News Service via CNSNews.com.
    Labor unions and the Kerry campaign may be howling over new overtime rules that took effect on Monday, but small business owners are cheering what they view as the end of confusion and litigation. "One of the pillars of President Bush's small business agenda is to reduce regulatory barriers for small businesses," said Small Business Association Administrator Hector V. Barreto in a press release. He noted that overtime rules have not been updated in decades, a source of contention for businesses and workers. "These new rules will make it easier for small businesses to comply with overtime regulation," Barreto said. "With these new rules, small business employers will have more clarity should they decide to hire more employees without the fear of additional litigation," added Barreto. "Now, both employees and employers will have ironclad protections. "This is very positive for small businesses in the long term." Sen. John F. Kerry issued a statement calling the new overtime rules "the latest insult" to middle-class Americans: "Today, 6 million Americans across the country could get a pay cut from this administration," Kerry said. (The 6 million estimate comes from labor unions.) "America can do better," Kerry added. "When I am president, we will strengthen the middle class by cutting taxes for 98% of families, reining in the spiraling cost of health care, protecting overtime and raising the minimum wage." Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a furious opponent of the new overtime rules, described overtime as a "right" on Monday: "Overtime rights and the 40-hour work week have been sacrosanct, but the promise has been broken," he told protestors at the Labor Dept.. Harkin and Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, promised to fight the new rules when Congress returns in September.

  7. Unions protest as overtime rules take effect - Say law disqualifies many for extra pay, by Jessica E. Vascellaro (jvascellaro@globe.com), Boston Globe.
    WASHINGTON - Hundreds of workers rallied on the steps of the Labor Dept. yesterday to protest the implementation of new rules they say will cause as many as 6 million Americans to lose their overtime pay. But the Bush administration officials who crafted the complex regulations insisted more workers will actually qualify for extra pay under the plan, which almost triples the salary cap to enable more employees to qualify. Nurses, daycare workers, and hotel and restaurant employees were among the workers who joined Senator Tom Harkin and AFL-CIO president John Sweeney in calling the law, which redefines the type of worker eligible for overtime, a "cruel blow" to the middle class. "Overtime rights and the 40-hour work week have been sacrosanct, but the promise has been broken," said Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa. The new rule is quickly emerging as an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign. Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards devoted his weekend radio address to attacking the Bush administration for the change and yesterday campaigned against it while meeting with workers in Wisconsin. Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry issued a statement calling the guidelines "only the latest insult to America's middle class." Labor unions contend the new guidelines give employers greater discretion in deciding who is eligible for overtime by implementing a "duties test" that allows them to deny overtime pay to workers who perform both manual and administrative work, including some fast-food workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research center in Washington, the new exemption for "an employee who leads a team of other employees assigned to major projects for the employer" could affect millions of workers and bring the total number of employees who will lose their overtime eligibility to more than 6 million. But Bush administration officials deny that the status of such part-time managers is threatened, saying the law specifically protects the rights of "working supervisors" and "low-level managers." They add that the new rule expands the number of workers eligible for overtime by increasing the salary level below which workers automatically qualify for overtime from $8,060 to $23,660 per year. Raising the threshold, they say, will make an additional 1.3 million white-collar workers eligible for overtime. A total of "6.7 million workers will see their overtime protections strengthened under the new Overtime Security Rule," Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a statement. "Under the new rules, workers will know their overtime rights, employers will know their responsibilities, and the department can more vigorously enforce these protections." After an amendment to stop the change passed the Senate, the Labor Dept. proceeded to enact the law, a revision to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The act required employers to pay their employees time-and-a-half for work over 40 hours a week, with an exemption for salaried employees in executive, administrative, and professional positions. While employers and employees attempt to decipher the new regulation, an independent review of the regulation by three high-ranking labor officials from the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton came out against it. Widely critical of the provisions of the regulation and its lack of clarity, authors John Fraser, Monica Gallagher, and Gail Coleman said the law threatens workers' rights. "More classes of workers, and a greater proportion of the workforce overall, will be exempt than we believe the Congress could have originally intended," they wrote. "With the exception of the change in the salary level test, implementation of these new regulations will harm rather than promote and protect the interests of US workers and their families." At the rally, Harkin, joined by Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, promised that Congress would continue its bipartisan fight against the regulation when members return in September.

  8. Southern Nevada employers say new overtime rules will have little effect, KRNV, NV.
    Southern Nevada employers are still sorting out the effect of federal overtime changes that took effect Monday. But some say they don't think it'll make much difference in the Las Vegas area. Under the new rules, workers get overtime pay if they make less than $23,660 a year for a 40-hour work week. But white-collar workers earning $100,000 or more a year are now exempt from federal overtime rules.

  9. Hinchey says OT rules put economy at risk, by Anthony Farmer (apfarmer@poughkeepsiejournal.com), Poughkeepsie Journal, NY.
    KINGSTON, N.Y. - New federal regulations for overtime pay that took effect Monday will harm middle-class workers and, in the end, the nation's economy, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, said Tuesday. Hinchey blasted the Bush administration for pushing the new rules through and said they will essentially result in a pay cut for many of those making between $23,660 and $100,000, who will no longer be eligible for overtime under the regulations. That cut in wages will mean people will have less to spend and a drop in consumer spending will harm the nation's economy, he said. Congressional Democrats will attempt to amend the regulations when members return to Washington in September. Halting the new rules is a top priority, he said. ''It's important because the standard of living of millions of Americans is at stake,'' Hinchey said at a press conference at his Kingston office. ''This administration has made it tougher for working people.'' Critics say the guidelines give employers more discretion to deny workers time-and-a-half pay for duties performed above the 40-hour work week. Labor-backed groups say the rules could result in more than 6 million workers losing eligibility for overtime pay.
    White House in dispute
    The Bush administration says the changes actually expand the number of workers eligible for overtime by increasing the salary threshold, which was 50 years old. Workers now making less than $23,660 are automatically guaranteed overtime pay, up from the previous $8,060 annual salary threshold. A number of salaried workers making above the $23,000 level will also gain the right to overtime, as a result of the changes, administration officials said. Under the new rules, ''6.7 million workers will see their overtime protections strengthened,'' U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement issued this week. ''Workers will know their overtime rights, employers will know their responsibilities and the department can more vigorously enforce these protections.'' The impact on local businesses has so far been unclear. At the Poughkeepsie Area Chamber of Commerce, President Charles North said, surprisingly, none of his members have called with questions about the new rules. It's unclear what impact the overtime changes will have, he said. ''On the surface, it appears that it will help some employers,'' North said. ''But we need to take a wait-and-see attitude to see how it really pans out.''

  10. German social system under attack, AFP via Business Day, South Africa.
    BERLIN, Germany - Long considered a model for other countries, Germany's consensus-based social system is looking increasingly frayed at the edges as both the government and industry seek to impose drastic cost-cutting and belt-tightening measures on a reluctant and resentful population. "What the government describes as 'the biggest social reform' is felt by those affected to be an unprecedented dismantling of the social welfare system," the centre-left magazine Der Spiegel wrote recently in a special feature about "the fear of poverty" in Germany. "The fear of social collapse is driving people onto the streets. But despite all the errors, there is no alternative to the reforms," the influential newsmagazine wrote. On Monday, at least 70,000 people took to the streets in 140 towns and cities in what have become regular weekly demonstrations against the government's labour market and social security reform plans. Most the rallies were staged in eastern Germany where nearly one in five people are out of work. And on Tuesday, angry protesters threw eggs at Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on a visit to the small eastern German town of Wittenberge. Schroeder's "Agenda 2010" package of reforms is as ambitious as it is unpopular, the key components include a reduction in unemployment benefits for the long-time out-of-work, as well as far-reaching reforms of pension entitlements and sickness benefits. The aim is to drastically reduce the financial burden on the state, to abolish social perks that have long been taken for granted and make the allocation of unemployment benefits more efficient. All this is being accompanied by measures to boost innovation and training. Under the old system, someone who was unemployed would still be receiving 80% of his previous take-home wage even after 18 months on the dole. From next January, anyone out of work for more than a year will be put on social welfare, effectively taking a sharp reduction in benefits, a disturbing prospect for many in the impoverished east of Germany where unemployment is more than twice as high as in the west and the likelihood of finding a job is close to zero. The Social Democrat chancellor insists that the benefits of what are now felt as painful sacrifices will begin to be felt in a few years. And, ignoring the slump in his popularity in opinion polls, he was vowed to press ahead with the reforms right up until the next general elections in 2006. But it is not only the unemployed who are being asked to tighten their belts. People in jobs face painful sacrifices, too, such as working longer hours for less pay. And companies are openly using the threat of redundancies or relocations of activities abroad to get what they want. Electronics giant Siemens managed to re-introduce the 40-hour week at two key factories in June, without any corresponding rise in pay, in return for a promise not to move jobs to Hungary, where labour costs are much lower. Car maker Volkswagen is planning similar austerity measures, including a two-year wage freeze, increased working hour flexibility and by tying a bigger proportion of wages to performance. In July, car maker DaimlerChrysler also succeeded in pushing through tough cost-cutting measures in return for job guarantees. The changes are generating a high degree of disillusionment in Germany. According to a study published by the federal statistics office, Destatis, on Monday, many Germans are becoming increasingly bitter and concerned about the future. Young people in particular expressed concern about the future development of the social system. Indeed, one out of every two east Germans do not see the current form of German society as any better than that of the former communist East. And 76% of them believe socialism was a good idea, simply badly implemented.

  11. Study: European behaviour - Is Europe's innovation sleeping away?, EUROPA, Belgium.
    With all the emphasis on innovation, competitive research and the Lisbon agenda, could policy-makers be overlooking something? Maybe Europeans would rather eat, sleep and be merry. At least, this is the impression given by a recent Eurostat survey of how they spend their time.
    Are European men pulling their weight doing domestic chores?
    The latest survey from the EU's statistics office confirms that Europeans make time for the pleasures in life and spend around one third of their day catching up on beauty sleep. But the results of the year-long study of day-to-day lives also shed light on one important trait which may threaten the Union's R&D growth ambitions: that Europeans ­ north and south alike ­ generally work less than their Japanese and American counterparts. European men, according to the survey, spend between 5 and 5.5 hours a day on gainful work or study, while women spend, on average, a full hour less. Across the ten nations surveyed ­ Belgium, Germany, Estonia, France, Hungary, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden, the UK and Norway ­ the biggest chunk of the day was taken up by sleep, where both sexes managed around eight or more hours on the pillow. The Eurostat study, called 'How Europeans spend their time: Everyday life of women and men (data 1998-2002)', asked participants to keep a diary of what they did on one weekday and one day of the weekend for one year. The types of activities were then categorised into six basic groups:
    1. gainful work,
    2. domestic work,
    3. travel,
    4. sleep (including naps and when people are laid up with illness),
    5. meals and personal care,
    6. free time (including volunteer work and meetings), and unspecified time use.
    (2) Domestic chores
    A surprise to some ­ perhaps not to others ­ women spend in some cases significantly more time doing household duties, such as childcare, shopping and cleaning and washing, ranging from 50% more in Sweden up to 90% more in France. In almost all countries surveyed, women spend more time preparing food and washing the dishes than men. Slovenian men, in particular, prefer to be digging in the garden with a pitchfork than digging into the sink for a dirty salad fork.
    In fact, men lived up to their stereotypes in most of the countries: opting for work in the garden or DIY [meaning?] ahead of laundry and house cleaning chores. But their aversion to the kitchen did not extend to playing chef, where they spend in some cases ­ the UK, Sweden and Norway ­ roughly as much time preparing food.
    (6) In all countries, men have more free time than women, ranging from 3% in Norway to 24% in Slovenia. During their spare time, Europeans watch television and videos. People in Norway, Germany and Sweden spend up to one-third of their free time in front of the TV, with Hungarians and Estonians flittering away half of their leisure time watching the box. Women proved to be the more sociable, spending around 20% of their spare time socialising compared with 15% for men.

  12. Workers opt for the dramatic exit, HR Gateway, UK.
    If you are expecting staff members to tell you they feel demotivated before giving notice [of resignation], then you may find yourself with an empty office as the vast majority of people choose the sudden-impact approach. The vast majority of staff in the UK would just uproot themselves from their current position if they felt it was getting stale or if they felt themselves getting demotivated, according to a new survey.
    [We've forgotten the most important "if" = "if they felt they had a better alternative."]
    A huge 97% of the 500 workers surveyed by Begbies Traynor said they would just get up and go rather than offer prior warning - a quarter said they had remained too long in a job once before and would not do so again. With figures from the CIPD suggesting 77% of firms had trouble retaining people over the past year, the survey helps to show how important it is in the current climate to ensure staff are motivated and engaged. Current retention favourites include using improved staff communication and involvement (42%) along with increased learning and development (41%) when it comes to ways of retaining staff through motivation, according to the CIPD. In today's survey most workers (98%) said they wanted to be good at their jobs and to be seen being good at them. However, 30% said that around a quarter of their colleagues were 'just serving time' in an unmotivated state of mind. And, despite the column inches printed on the subject of long hours, most people say they 'work to live' rather than 'live to work'. A sizable 89% said they do not dedicate their life to their job, but employers shouldn't worry, said Begbies' Nick Hood, staff can still be committed if treated properly: Other findings include:

  13. 'HR vital for women,' says TUC second in command, HR Gateway, UK.
    If the workplace is to improve for women, then organisations need to trust in their human resources (HR) department to deliver equality and diversity for business benefit, says the Trades Union Council's (TUC's) Francis O'Grady. HR departments are vital to the growth of women into leadership roles, said the deputy general-secretary of the TUC today, and called on firms to offer HR more support to create equitable and diverse workforces. Speaking to HRG [?] for its upcoming e-book, Women in Leadership, Francis O'Grady said that only HR can change the culture of an organisation to allow women to progress to higher levels: Answering a range of questions over her own personal experiences of being and becoming a female leader, O'Grady says that women need organisations to be more supportive and persistent when it comes to advancement: Interim findings from the HRG/ILM survey into women in leadership suggest that the vast majority of women feel that stereotyping of their roles and skills is the biggest hurdle they face in climbing the career ladder. O'Grady agreed with the findings and said that this was one issue of culture where HR should be putting its efforts. The full interview will appear later next month on HRG.

  14. [This is the first of a pair of articles debating opposite sides of an issue, whose value for us is lessened because they seem to be talking more about a compressed workweek rather than a truly shorter workweek -]
    5-day workweek - Why it doesn't work - 6 shorter days mean better family life, Straits Times, Singapore.
    When Metro Singapore asked its retail staff earlier this month if they wanted a five-day working week, the answer was a surprising 'no'. Mr Edward Tan, director of operations and human resources, said the company found almost 75% of its retail staff were against the five-day week. 'We were toying with the idea of a five-day week because we thought we could give staff the day off and help them save on transport costs,' he said. Metro retail staff currently work 44 hours a week, over six days. Switching to a five-day week would mean spreading the same 44 hours over five days. This meant workers would have to work an extra 88 minutes or so on each of the five days.
    [Ah, that's not the idea. The concept is to work less, not the same amount in less time.]
    However, the retail staff - who are mostly young women - felt shorter working hours over six days a week was more conducive to a good family life. They can pick their children up from childcare centres or schools in the evening, which they would not be able to do if they worked longer hours each day. Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat said Metro is an example of how the five-day work week is not necessarily the best pro-family solution for all companies. 'Not having a five-day work week does not necessarily mean a company is not family-friendly,' he said. Most service-oriented businesses such as food and retail outlets must also open for long hours in order to serve their customers. At Delifrance, for instance, staff in retail outlets work a six-day week while staff at head office work five days a week. Outlet hours are from 7am to 11pm, with some change in staff during the day. Still, Delifrance hopes eventually to offer a five-day work week to all its operational staff. 'If it reaches a situation where we have enough staff strength for a five-day week, the management will not rule it out,' said Delifrance yesterday. At Taka Jewellery, 55 administrative staff are all on a 5 1/2-day work week. The 110 retail staff in its 23 outlets are rostered so they get six to eight rest days a month, although these can fall on any day of the week. Taka general manager Janet Low said: 'It will be difficult for us to change fully to a five-day work week if we do not wish to compromise on quality customer service.' At health-care company Osim, confirmed office staff work a five-day week plus a half day on alternate Saturdays, while retail staff get a day off after every four days. Osim chief financial officer Peter Lee added that there is a need to maintain consistent quality standards by having the same people work rather than hiring extra people. Construction firms said because of tight project completion times, most workers on construction sites work six days a week. Mr Simon Lee, executive director of the Singapore Contractors Association, said: 'Currently, contract time periods do not allow for a five-day work week. The project programme is always very compact and there is a contractual liability to complete within the time specified, otherwise a penalty will be imposed on the contractor.' These penalties can be as high as $200,000 per day on certain projects. However, local contractor Antara Koh managing director Jimmy Koh said a five-day working week has already been introduced in the construction industry in the United States and Australia. He estimated the overall increase in construction costs will be 3 to 6 per cent if a five-day work week is adopted here. Said Mr Koh: 'If other countries can do it, we can do the same. But construction costs will go up and the owner of the development, whether public or private, must also accept that the completion will take a longer time.'

  15. 5-day workweek - Why it does work - Family-friendly without compromising productivity, Straits Times, Singapore.
    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Sunday that the civil service will move to a five-day work week. Audrey Tan and Lorna Tan talk to employers in the private sector who have successfully introduced a five-day week, as well as some companies who say it will not work for them. Home computers, laptops and Internet access made it possible for staff at DBS Bank to work a five-day week. Since employees do not have to be physically in the office to work, they should have the flexibility to plan their working hours and complete their work before the weekend if they can, DBS Bank reasoned. As a result, all DBS employees have been working just five days a week since January 2001. 'It provides a more family-friendly environment for staff to balance their work and play,' said a DBS spokesman. A five-day week also makes the bank more attractive as an employer to those who place a high value on having weekends off to spend time with family and friends, she added. However, the shorter working week does not mean shorter hours and lower productivity.
    [Yes it does. This reporter is talking about the condensed workweek, not the shorter workweek.]
    DBS staff still work about 44 hours a week, unchanged from before. And DBS branches continue to open on Saturdays, as branch employees work a rotating five-day week which means their rest days may not necessarily fall on the Saturday. 'But we ensure employees get at least one Saturday off a month,' the spokesman said. Like DBS Bank, OCBC started a five-day work week in December 2001. 'We launched the five-day work week programme because we believe it is important to provide a work-life balance for employees at OCBC. Introducing this programme is the bank's way of encouraging employees to spend more time with their families and friends,' said Mr Peter Zheng, head of group corporate communications. In fact, as civil servants celebrate Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcement that they will move to a five-day work week, a full two-day weekend is already the norm for most employees in the financial services sector. But they are the lucky few. A study by the Ministry of Manpower found that outside the financial services industry, most workers in Singapore do not work a five-day week. Just 37.5% of employees worked five days a week when the survey was conducted in June 2002, although that is an increase from 35% in 1996. The five-day week is 'on the increase but it is not yet the norm', said Mr Koh Juan Kiat, executive director of the Singapore National Employers Federation. For example, only 17% of retail staff work five days a week, while an even smaller 6.7% of construction workers do so. However, almost two-thirds of full-time employees in the finance sector and close to half of manufacturing staff work a five-day week. Asked if the civil service shift to a five-day week will spawn copycats in the private sector, Mr Koh said: 'Companies will not blindly follow the civil service. Workers have to have a say and there are companies where workers prefer shorter days but to work 5 1/2 or 6 days each week.' However, while many companies would like to give employees a full two days off each week, a five-day week does not mean weekends are sacrosanct, said Matsushita Refrigeration Industries executive director Raymond Ng. With globalisation, companies may have customers in other countries which may not close shop over the weekend, he said. Business is also done at a faster pace these days, which means key staff, such as in sales, cannot afford to take the entire weekend off. Matsushita administrative staff in Singapore now work 44 hours over five days each week. However, Mr Ng said he is trying to persuade his salesmen and engineers they may have to work some weekends and take weekdays off instead. 'But they say no, they want to be paid overtime instead. This is the way most Singaporeans are used to working. We need a national mindset change that rest days may not necessarily mean Saturdays or Sundays,' he said.

  16. Baby [subsidy] - Cost to govt: more than $100m a year - But a chronic low birth rate will cost even more: economists, by Daniel Buenas, Business Times Singapore, Singapore.
    SINGAPORE - The baby plan announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday could cost the government more than $100 million a year. But the eventual cost of not raising the birth rate could be much higher, economists said yesterday....
    [In a tiny land area like Singapore? They've got to be out of their minds! Let's cut almost to the chase -]
    While mothers will be happy with extra maternity leave, employers face possible staff shortages. SMEs, in particular, could find it difficult to cope with the loss of key employees for an extra month. 'In general, the typical SME workforce is relatively small, so longer maternity leave could have an impact on the resources of companies,' said Lawrence Leow, president of the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises [SMEs]. But he believes most will cope.
    [How refreshing to hear the president of an assoc. of small and medium enterprises taking shorter worktime in stride for a change!]
    The government's move towards a five-day working week - also announced by PM Lee on Sunday - was applauded yesterday by HR consultants. 'I think this is a great move,' said Dhirendra Shantilal, vice-president and managing director of Kelly Services Asia. 'A five-day work week, in my view, will enhance productivity. I see this as very positive.'
    [" 'Atta girl!"]

  17. Employers feel the heat of new social conscience, by Fu Jing, China Daily, China.
    The summer heatwave has many areas of China broiling. A recent round of heat-related deaths caused by sizzling summer weather has prompted calls for employers to become more responsible for its workers. South China's Guangzhou, which recorded temperatures of over 38°C just three times between 1951 and 2003, has already been blasted by such temperatures three times this year alone. Workers in clothing factories in Ruibao Village, Haizhu District of the province, are reported to have to work for long hours in damp and air-tight workshops. "There's not even a fan in our factory, let alone an air-conditioner, and sometimes we have to work for 14 hours a day," complained a worker surnamed Huang, who is being treated in hospital because of his terrible working conditions. In Beijing, some workers are forced to toil in unbearable weather without extra pay or precautions. One Tongcheng Express bicycle courier, who refused to give his name, delivers mail regardless of temperatures. "The boss doesn't take any measures to stop us getting sick because of the weather," he said. Researchers have called on lawmakers to look particularly at the plight of workers who are forced to continue working in excessive temperatures. They urged society to rethink standards for good companies as the world moves from a traditional industrial economy to a knowledge-based era. Jin Zhouying, a leading researcher on enterprise innovation with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has been crying out for change. "It's high time for us to have second thoughts about what makes a good employer," said Jin, who is trying to introduce a new system to assess enterprises in China. Jin even challenges the popular enterprise-ranking systems, such as the Fortune Global 500 and China Top 500, complaining that evaluating organizations only concerns economic performances. "They don't give much consideration to their social responsibility," said Jin. She believes today's companies serve not just shareholders, but an increasing array of stakeholders - employees, customers, communities, activists and others who feel they have a stake in the actions of a company. "So making profits and being responsible to stakeholders and the environment should be basic norms for friendly enterprises." Jin and her team are trying to introduce into China the norms of the Future 500, an enterprise evaluation system formulated in the United States and Japan. "My team should spare no efforts in this endeavour because it's essential for the country's sustainable development and humanity's well-being," said Jin. For now, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is in first place on the list of China's top 500 enterprises by the China Enterprise Confederation (CEC), thanks to its turnover of US$45.8 billion in 2002. But last year a gas leak in one of its branches in Southwest China's Chongqing killed more than 200 local residents. "Is it still qualified to enter onto the list? We may need to rethink," said Jin. Jin stressed that good enterprises on the Future 500 will pay more attention to labour standards and environmental responsibility. "We have strict labour standards in which enterprises are judged by work conditions, treatment of workers by management, discipline and compensation," said Jin, adding that the traditional economy is based on natural resources and now knowledge-based industries should rely on human resources. The requirements include prevention of child labour, stipulating that no workers under the age of 15 shall be employed. Meanwhile, it requires enterprises to provide a safe and healthy work environment, take steps to prevent injuries and offer regular health and safety training. A system to detect threats to health and safety and access to bathrooms and potable water are also essential. "All the requirements are either stipulated by, or in line with, China's laws and regulations, but I'm afraid it's hard for many of China's enterprises to translate them into concrete actions."
    As to working hours, the Future 500 evaluating system cited [ie: stated] that enterprises must comply with the applicable laws but, in any event, employees must work no more than 48 hours per week with at least one day off for any seven day period. In addition, voluntary overtime should be paid at a premium rate and not to exceed 12 hours per week on a regular basis....

  18. Workaholics use fibs, subterfuge to stay connected on vacation, by Jared Sandberg, WSJ, B1.
    ...Last March in Hawaii, for example, [Jodi Burack's] husband expressed shock that she hadn't brought her BlackBerry. But "I had it," she admits. "I was hiding it." She used it when everyone else was asleep, and if they weren't, she would sneak into the bathroom or the closet....
    [Perfectly fine under the Timesizing worksharing system, as long as she's reinvesting every penny of her overtime earnings as directly as possible in training and/or hiring assistants - to make sure her particular personality type (workaholic) is not creating a dysfunctional and in some areas possibly national-security-threatening skill bottleneck in the economy. What if she's on salary? Then she must reinvest that percentage of her total salary that corresponds to the overtime portion of her total working hours, or have it completely taxed away from her so the government can attempt to facsimilate the reinvestment she should be doing - if she's going to chronically overwork. Who defines "overtime" per job or "overwork" per person (= overtime from all sources)? "Let the Market decide!" via the comprehensive unemployment rate, which counts the whole problem including welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration.... - all who are not self-supporting or privately supported a la traditional housewives, children and elderly. Who decides what level of comp joblessness is actionable? "Let the Market decide!" in the only way it can decide such things, by regular binding public referendums.]
    Workaholism is nothing new, particularly in a nation founded by people who distrusted idleness. "Everybody who's observed American culture, beginning with de Tocqueville, has said that Americans are uneasy with leisure," says Geoffrey Godbey, a professor of leisure studies at Penn State....

  19. Saving time-and-a-half, editorial, NYT, A22.
    ...The Bush administration has cynically [overhauled] the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime provisions in a manner most likely to hurt millions of Americans....
    [and the economy's base of consumer markets, and all derivative markets: employment, industrial and financial.]
    ...New rules that went into effect this week take an expansive view of the nation's managerial class, which is ineligible for overtime pay....
    ["expansive" unless it involves paying them, in which case it becomes shrinkingly "contractive."]
    ...The Bush administration should have provided more clarity \on\ who is eligible for overtime [pay without] stacking the deck against working Americans.
    [and the consumer markets.]
    The administration [says] that its changes will expand the pool of people eligible for overtime, but research by liberal and labor advocates persuasively argue that the changes would cut the number, by as many as 6m....
    When Congress returns from recess, it should override these rules and [update] the 1938 law in a way that does not hurt hard hard-working Americans....
    [We would prefer that they update the 1938 law in a way that implements automatic overtime-to-training&hiring, first for corporations to provide some on-the-job training options, and then for individual employees.]

  20. Speedy recovery boosts France's tax revenue, Dow Jones via WSJ, A9.
    ...The initial 2004 budget forecast the economy would grow 1.7% this year. After strong consumer spending in the first half of the year, the government has now revised its full-year growth forecast to 2.3%.
    [So the 35-hour workweek and the centrifugation of employment and wages it provides has given France a strong consumer base. How ironic that this performance will be credited to the current rightwing administration, which is doing its damnedest to weaken the shorter workweek, and the consumer base, and return France to the 12.6% unemployment it had in 1997 when the shorter week was first voted in.]

  21. It's Monday in Germany - Time for social protest, by Mark Landler, NYT, W1.
    [Well that's better than a bunch of obese American couch potatoes watching TV while their wages and benefits are clobbered and their civil rights infringed. Recall the increasingly hollow, erstwhile Republican motto, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Reader Kirsten Wever of Arlington MA today writes, "It's not the aristocratic elite but the middle and lower classes whose political power & engagement define the crucial difference between 'them' and 'us' " when it comes to Europe and America (NYT, A22).]
    ...Eastern Germany['s] unemployment rate of 18.5% is more than double that in western Germany, and nearly twice the national average..\..
    Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his government's plan [is] to cut back Germany's generous unemployment benefits. [But] cutting unemployment benefits will not by itself create more jobs. Only a full-fledged economic recovery could do that.
    [Or a full-fledged worksharing system - instead of the reversed worksharing involved in re-raising the workweek to 40 hours and above. How ironic that not even Germany understands the power and urgency of worksharing in the Age of Automation, despite Germany's being one of the world leaders in worksharing systems to the extent that the Japanese labor minister went there and not to France in January 2001 to study worksharing.]
    ...The jobless rate rose to 10.5% in July, from 10.2% in June. Of that number, 39%, or 1.7m people, are long-term unemployed, meaning they have been out of work for more than a year. In eastern Germany, where entire industries have been abandoned, there are 707,000 chronically unemployed in a population of 13.5m.
    In the long run, experts say, the measures [eg: cutting unemployment benefits] will generate new jobs by shaking up Germany's calcified labor market.
    [No they won't. There are absolutely no dots between those two points to connect. All these particular consumer-base-bashing "reform" measures will do is hasten western Germany's slide into the Third World alongside eastern Germany. If they want real reform, they will move toward automatic unemployment-adjusted workweeks and overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    The [new] rules make it tougher for jobless people to refuse work on the grounds that they are too qualified or would have to commute farther than they did in their old jobs.
    [That will depress wages and benefits generally, by deepening the domestic labor surplus. And that will further depress domestic consumer markets and all markets dependent thereon, including industrial and financial.]
    These are the last of 4 sets of measures known as the Hartz reforms.
    [And these are known as "Hartz IV" as in the sign in the photo "Weg mit Hartz IV" meaning Away with Hartz IV.]
    They were named for Peter Hartz, the head of personnel at Volkswagen [VW], who was chairman of the state commission that drafted them....
    [How ironic! He should have known better, since VW was the firm that saved 30,000 jobs and their HQ town of Wolfsburg 10 years ago by worksharing from a 35-hour workweek down to a 28.8-hour one (five 7-hour days to four 7.2-hour days).]
8/24/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/23 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 8/24 hardcopy, & Australian & Far East stories which are 8/24), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Social studies - A daily miscellany of information, by Michael Kesterton (MKesterton@globeandmail.ca), Toronto Globe & Mail (Canada), A12.
    ...Lost leisure
    "We live in a culture that is obsessed with speed," writes Christian McEwen in The Christian Science Monitor. "Here in the United States, where people work longer hours than any other population on the planet, the average person now does the equivalent of a month more work in a year than in the 1970s. . . . A recent study by the University of Michigan determined that kids' free time in the U.S. had decreased by 16% in a single generation. Between 1981 and 1997, children's free time went down from 63 hours a week to a mere 51."..
    [Ask yourself - how much do people really know about freedom, regardless of how much they congratulate themselves for having it, when even their children's free time is decreasing - and these are people surrounded with worksaving technology!]

  2. Edwards pledges to honor overtime as campaign releases new study on effect of new Bush regulations, press release by Kim Rubey of Kerry-Edwards 2004 (202-464-2800 or http://www.johnkerry.com), U.S. Newswire.
    RACINE, Wis. - The following was released today by Kerry-Edwards 2004 regarding pResident Bush's new overtime regulations: On the same day that President Bush's new overtime regulations began to deprive over six million Americans of their right to overtime pay, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards met with workers and families in Wisconsin to assure them that a Kerry-Edwards administration will build an economy that rewards hard work, creates good paying jobs and strengthens the middle class. Thanks to President Bush, the right to overtime pay became a thing of the past for six million workers Monday. By changing the technical language of a few, simple rules, the Bush administration could drastically cut the pay of millions of workers and make it even more difficult for families, already squeezed by the Bush economy, to get by. "Today, millions of workers will find out that instead of getting time and a half; they're going to get a hard time from their government," said Edwards. "More than sixty years of protecting overtime work have been wiped out with the stroke of this President's pen." To illustrate what is happening to workers and families across America today, the Kerry-Edwards campaign released a new study examining how the Bush regulations will affect five different types of workers and their families. The case studies show just how devastating the president's actions are for hardworking families. The Bush rule change eliminates federally mandated time-and-a- half pay after forty hours in a week, making it even harder for America's workers to make ends meet, and ending over sixty years of bipartisan support for the 40-hour work week. Instead of working to help Americans as they struggle to get by in this troubled economy, the current administration even went so far as to create a "How-to-Guide" for employers to advise companies on how to get out of paying workers their earned overtime pay. As noted in today's study, the Bush rules could take thousands of dollars away from families. A police lieutenant may see his paycheck decrease by $10,000. A computer programmer could lose $9,000 a year. A department store worker will likely lose an estimated $3,200 a year. The changes to overtime rules are just the latest in a four year long assault on the American worker. For four years, the minimum wage has not increased, and wage growth has continued to slow. Working families in the middle-class bear a larger share of the federal tax burden, and the tax code continues to give tax breaks to companies taking jobs overseas, instead of companies creating jobs here. "It is a fundamental and time-honored American value that hard work should be rewarded," said Edwards. "Taking away the right overtime pay and doing nothing while paychecks shrink and jobs go overseas makes sense only to someone who does not understand American values and does not respect what work means in this country." While President Bush has gone out of his way to create an economy in which American workers cannot get ahead no matter how many hours they put in, Edwards today pledged that the Kerry- Edwards administration will never turn its back on America's workers. Kerry and Edwards have made the interests of middle-class Americans the centerpiece of their economic plan. Detailed in their book, "Our Plan for America: Stronger at Home, Respected in the World," the Kerry-Edwards plan puts working families first, with detailed proposals to create good-paying jobs here in America, while reining in the skyrocketing costs of health care, energy and tuition. The Kerry-Edwards economic plan will create more than 200,000 jobs in Wisconsin alone. "It is time to build an economy that values work again," said Edwards. "With John Kerry in the White House, Americans can rest assured that their hard work will count. America's workers deserve a president who is working overtime for them, not against them."
    The new Bush overtime rules: cutting pay for workers across America In the last four years, millions of middle class Americans have been working hard - or harder - only to find they are falling further behind. Family incomes have dropped, while the cost of almost everything else - from health care to gas to college tuition - has soared. The result: more Americans are declaring bankruptcy, more are losing their health insurance, more are being priced out of college, and more are getting by with less. When it comes to helping these squeezed families, the Bush Administration has been absent. They have done nothing to help with rising health care costs, higher college costs, or soaring energy costs. Now, to add insult to injury, the Bush Administration Labor Dept. has issued a new rule that will end overtime pay for millions of workers. On August 23rd 2004, the new Bush rule will go into effect and overtime will become a thing of the past for an estimated six million workers. By changing the technical language of a few rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the new Bush rule will dramatically reduce the number of workers who are eligible for overtime and makes it easier for employers to cut the overtime pay of their workers. These new rules will make it even more difficult for already squeezed families to get by in the Bush economy.
    The new study on the effect of the new Bush overtime regulations
    What happens to workers under the new Bush overtime rules
    How Overtime Works Today. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) defined an expectation that the normal workweek is 40 hours. It guaranteed, for most workers, the right to overtime pay, often referred to as "time-and-a-half"for each hour worked beyond 40 in a week. In 1999, the Labor Dept. estimated that almost 80% of the nation's 120 million wage and salary workers were entitled to overtime protection under the FLSA. There are some workers who have been exempted from this FLSA. In particular, the law does not apply those workers who work in an executive, administrative, or professional capacity. New Bush Rules Change the Criteria for Overtime. The Bush overtime rules dramatically expand which workers meet the criteria of 'executive, administrative, or professional' thereby dramatically expanding the number of workers who are not eligible for overtime. For example, the definition of 'executive' is being expanded to include workers who do a minimal amount of supervision and mostly manual work and to workers who only manage a group of employees but have no real authority. Bush's Overtime Rule Eliminates Overtime Pay for 6 Million by Changing the Tests for Exemption. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) issued a study that estimates six million workers will lose their overtime pay. These workers include: Republicans and Democrats Agree Many Will Lose Overtime. As three former employees of the Labor Dept. under Reagan, Bush and Clinton noted in a recent report, the overtime regulation: Bush Administration Advises Employers How to Cut Overtime Pay. The Bush Administration issued guidance to employers on how to cut their workers' overtime pay. The Bush Labor Dept. explained that even if employees technically became eligible for overtime pay under the Administration's new overtime rule, the employers could avoid paying anything extra. Specifically, the Administration said, employers could make a "payroll adjustment" that would cut workers' hourly wage and add the overtime to equal the original salary. (AP, 1/5/04)
    Examples of how overtime will impact families
    Overtime rules might seem like an abstract government regulation. However, millions of Americans will lose thousands of dollars under the new Bush rules. These pay cuts will drastically reduce the earnings of millions of workers placing an even greater burden on middle-class families already burdened by lower wages and higher costs for gas prices, health care, and education. The following vignettes illustrate what will happen to five different workers who could lose their overtime under the new Bush overtime rules. Americans who work overtime work on average 12 hours of overtime a week. By eliminating time-and-a- half pay from workers for the 12 hours of overtime work, it becomes clear how much less these workers will earn a year with just basic pay. This study estimates the weekly wages of a worker based on Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and calculates how much a worker would previously earn with 12 hours of overtime a week. By estimating that the worker would be paid for "time" as opposed to "time-and-a-half" for those extra hours under the new regulatory system, we estimate the pay-cut these workers will endure. The study then demonstrates what this pay-cut will mean for average families by using the Consumer Expenditure Survey to demonstrate average costs for things like groceries, rent, and college tuition.
    Asst. Manager Bob of Shop Right
    Bob...works as an assistant manager at the local department store, Shop Right. He works full-time and often has to put in a little extra to help stock the shelves and fill out some paperwork about his department. He has three employees who report to him, but most of his day he works hand-in-hand with them, doing the same duties and sharing most of the same responsibilities. Now: Bob earns $10.46 an hour with the twelve extra hours paying $15.69 an hour. By working his normal 40-hour work week, he earns about $22,000 a year. It's not really enough to make ends meet. So he really values that overtime that earns him an additional $9,800 a year, topping him off at over $31,000. That extra overtime makes a huge difference in what Bob can afford and makes paying the bills a whole lot easier. Under New Bush Rules: Under the new regulations Bob will stop being paid by the hour and will become a salaried employee. By claiming that his "primary duty" is managing those three employees, Bob is no longer entitled to overtime pay. Even though the majority of his time is spent performing the same tasks as his employees, the store can claim his primary duty is management. Bob will still work the extra 12 hours but he will not be paid overtime for these hours. Under this new rule, Bob will lose an estimated $3,200. What $3,200 Means for Bob: For Bob, this $3,200 will make a significant difference. It is the cost of over seven months of rent; nearly two years of tuition and fees for community college; over nine months of groceries.
    Police Lieut. Peter - Paycut Police Dept.
    Peter is a police officer who has served his community for the past twenty years. He has moved up the ranks and now serves as a lieutenant with some supervisory responsibilities. Peter is still out on the beat fighting crime but he also spends a few hours a day at his desk, filling out paperwork and leading a few fellow officers. With a wife and one kid in college, and another headed that way soon, the overtime he earns makes a big difference in getting the bills paid. Now: Peter is proud of his service to his community and works hard for his paycheck, putting his life on the line every day. He earns $30 an hour and brings home over $60,000 for his family. With two kids and one of them in college, this doesn't quite go far enough so he has relied on his overtime to get by. With his 12 hours of overtime, Peter earned another $28,000 a year making life a lot more comfortable for his family. Under New Bush Rules: With is limited management responsibility, Peter's bosses in the police department - faced with serious budget crunches - will be able to eliminate his overtime pay by saying that his primary duty is management and not crime fighting. By describing his "most important" duty being management they can eliminate his overtime. Peter will see nearly $10,000 less in his paycheck next year because of the new regulations. What $10,000 Means for Peter and His Family: For Peter, the new overtime regulations are going to put a real dent in his family's budget. Nearly $10,000 less a year will make it a lot harder to put his kids through college and pay the mortgage. His family won't be able to take that vacation to see the grandparents for Thanksgiving or make the repairs their car needs to help get through the next winter.
    Computer programmer Julie of Equity Systems, Inc.
    Julie is a...computer programmer. She lost her job in the local textile factory a few years back and took advantage of job training programs and got some basic skills with computers. With that training, she was able to gain access to the trainee program at Equity Systems, Inc., a local data processing firm. She has two kids at home, both teenagers, who will be going off to college in the next couple of years. Now: Julie works hard and with the skills she has learned she earns nearly $30 an hour. A lot of weeks she chooses to work some overtime because she knows those college tuition bills will be high when her two girls go off to college. She earns nearly $45 an hour for the 12 extra hours she works a week. Last year she earned $61,000 before her overtime and with those extra hours took home an additional $27,000. That extra time really helped. Under New Bush Rules: With the new overtime regulations, Julie's bosses at Equity Systems will be able to claim that she is a trainee, eliminating her right to overtime pay. Under this new rule, Julie will lose over $9,000 a year. What $9,000 Means for Julie: For Julie, this $9,000 is really going to cut into her family's budget. It is $9,000 less that she would be able to save on for her kids' college funds. Its $9,000 less that she can use for her car payments and mortgage. It's $9,000 closer to being squeezed into bankruptcy.
    Chef George of Hard Times Grill
    George is a chef at the local bar and grill. He's worked his way up as a line cook, learning the skills to get to the position he has now. ...He's proud of having made his way up without going to culinary school or getting any professional training. He has a wife and a young daughter to support so working hard is not just a choice, it is his responsibility. That means picking up some extra shifts and helping to clean the kitchen for some crucial overtime pay. Now: George cooks up a storm and with the skills he acquired after years in the kitchen. He earns $11.04 an hour. Most weeks he picks up overtime, because the $441 he earns a week without it just doesn't go far enough. With twelve hours of overtime at $16.50 an hour, George earns his family an additional $10,300 a year. It makes a big difference, pushing up his earnings to $33,000 a year. Under New Bush Rules: George's bosses at Hard Times Grill will be able to call George a "Learned Professional" even though he's never attended college, let alone culinary school. By describing him as a learned professional, he can be denied overtime pay. This will drastically cut back his earnings by nearly $3,500 a year. What $3,500 Means for George: For George, this $3,500 a year is going to make a tight budget even tighter for his family. It means over 18 months of child care he can no longer afford, making it harder for his wife to get a second job. It's going to make health care less affordable and takes away eight months of rent for his family.
    Nurseryschool teacher Leslie of Bootstrap Nursery
    Leslie was attending state college but had to drop out to pay the bills. With the classes she had completed, she was able to get a job as a nursery school teacher. The pay is not great but she gets by and with some overtime helping to clean the building and taking care of kids whose parents need some extra time, Leslie gets by. Now: Leslie works hard chasing those kids around everyday, dealing with feedings, lessons, nap time and teaching basic skills. She loves the job but wishes it would pay a little more. She earns $10.70 an hour, but with extra overtime manages to take home an extra $200 a week. It makes it a lot easier to make her car payments on time and get that rent check to her landlord. Under New Bush Rules: With Bush's new overtime regulations, nursery school teachers like Leslie will be exempted from overtime protection. Instead of the extra $10,000 she earned a year with overtime, Leslie will make only $6,500 - $3,000 less to pay for her needs. What $3,000 Means for Leslie: For Leslie, this $3,000 is going to cut into her budget in a serious way. It is $3,000 that she won't be able to spend on rising gas prices and the college loans she built up in the first years at school and she certainly won't be able to go back and finish up.

  3. Via Portside: Rules for overtime pay to take effect - Employers, workers confused by regulations on eligibility, classification, by Amy Joyce, Washington Post via washingtonpost.com.
    After months of heated debate, a major revision, protests and an unsuccessful legislative assault, the most sweeping changes to the nation's overtime rules in more than 50 years take effect tomorrow. Workers who earn less than $23,660 annually will become automatically eligible for overtime pay, a boost from the current threshold of $8,060, set in the 1970s. That change is "the most objective bright line standard" in the dense, complex regulations, said Tom Farmer, a senior consultant with Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm. He predicts thousands of workers will begin earning overtime immediately because of the higher threshold. But beyond that, interpreting the complicated, 154-page document still boggles many employers who must first understand the regulations and then translate the changes into new job classifications for employees. "There is just going to be continued confusion," said Anita Raman, vice president of operations for PrO Unlimited Inc., which helps companies sort out employment regulations. "Employers really thought with the new law, 'I'll definitely be able to figure out who's exempt and who isn't.' They are still wandering around trying to figure out how to classify [employees] correctly." Other than the higher threshold for automatic eligibility, every change in the new regulations means less overtime protection for workers, said a report released last month by John Fraser, Monica Gallagher and Gail Coleman - three of the highest-ranking Labor officials under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. "More classes of workers, and a greater proportion of the workforce overall, will be exempt than we believe the Congress could have originally intended," they wrote. But the Dept. of Labor argues otherwise. "Millions of workers in America will benefit from the Dept. of Labor's new, stronger overtime protections," Steven J. Law, deputy secretary, said in a conference call Wednesday. The rules have been the source of political contention for months. The Senate voted to block the rules in May, in an effort pushed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic presidential nominee, has said he will repeal them if elected. Yesterday, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), the Democratic vice presidential candidate, denounced the new regulations in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "If you work hard, then you should be rewarded for that effort," Edwards said. "Why would anyone support this new rule, which could mean a pay cut for millions of Americans who have already seen their real wages drop again this year?" The battle will continue tomorrow, when the AFL-CIO, along with workers and Harkin, will hold a rally on the steps of the Labor Dept. to protest the rules. Salaried workers who fall between $23,660 and $100,000 a year might lose overtime based on a duties test, which describes the tasks that determine whether a worker can, for example, be classified as a professional ineligible for overtime. Those making more than $100,000 will lose their overtime rights unless they do not regularly perform professional, administrative or executive duties. "It's really in that duties test that the really negative impact is being made," said Baldwin Robertson, a lawyer who works with the AFL-CIO. Robertson helped launch an overtime question-and-answer site called "Ask a Lawyer" at www.workingamerica.org. For example, Robertson said, workers in the food industry who spend most of their time doing manual work, but sometimes instruct subordinates, could be overtime losers under the new duties test. Those workers can be reclassified as team leaders or as executives because they lead teams, or supervise two or more people, Robertson said. Business groups have been proponents of the new regulations. "These reforms provide clearer guidance to both employers and workers on their rights and responsibilities under wage and labor laws," Randel K. Johnson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in a statement when the final rules were announced. "They also address many of the fundamental problems in the previous, outdated regulations that led to numerous compliance questions and needless lawsuits." "We figure if they can find a way to take our overtime away from us, they will," said John Garrity, a naval electronics technician. Garrity, who earns about $5,000 in overtime a year that he uses to help support his wife and three children, believes the new rules would allow his employer to count him as a professional. He testified in support of greater overtime protection before the Democratic Policy Committee after the first proposal in 2003 was released, although his employer has not told him he will lose his overtime. Robertson and other labor organizations say registered nurses are in danger of losing their overtime because unclear language could reclassify hourly workers as salaried. Terry Christle, a registered nurse at a hospital in Minneapolis, receives overtime, and might be one of those workers. "I've read so many different variations that I'm not sure exactly how it'll impact me," Christle said. "But in general, I disagree with it." Several groups have produced studies and reports pointing out what they say are loopholes in the rules through which many white-collar workers - six million, according to Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute - could lose overtime. But the Dept. of Labor disputes that analysis and says it changed the rules because they desperately needed updating. The old rules did not mesh with the new economy, causing increased litigation, officials argued. Overtime class-action suits have doubled since 1997 and outnumber discrimination suits for the first time. Labor recovered $212 million in back wages in fiscal 2003.

  4. E. Europe's low costs erode Germans' 35-hour workweek - Small German firms follow phone giant Siemens by pushing for five more hours per week - without pay [i.e., 5 free working hours from their employees!], by Isabelle de Pommereau, Christian Science Monitor.
    FRANKFURT – The terms were stark: Work five more hours a week - without pay - in exchange for not moving thousands of jobs to Hungary. This was the groundbreaking deal that phone giant Siemens and Germany's manufacturing union hammered out this spring. In a country struggling to reform its rigid labor practices to revive a moribund economy, the erosion of the 35-hour workweek - one of the crowning achievements of German trade unions - sent a strong message. Pressured by lower-wage jobs in the European Union's newest members, German companies are confronting their unions head on, using the fear of job losses to coax them into making concessions, or bypassing them altogether. Companies here are increasingly pushing for longer hours to cut labor costs. "We're seeing a fierce global pressure to decrease costs by lowering wages or increasing the work week," says Harley Shaiken, a professor of labor relations at the University of California at Berkeley. "What underlines the global pressure is the possibility of high productivity, high quality in low-wage countries." In Germany, unions have long been a major force in the economy. Work councils represent workers within a company. But salaries and work rules are negotiated regionally. Over the past decade, different industries have gradually implemented shorter workweeks - to 35 hours in manufacturing and 39 hours in construction. But companies now want out of the collective bargaining system. By offering such a matter-of-fact choice - work more or lose jobs - Siemens has emboldened smaller companies to use the workweek card at the bargaining table.
    [68% of the workforce the unions have in Germany and they still think they have NO CARDS at the bargaining table? How lame is that?!]
    Jan Teichert, chief financial officer at Einhell, a manufacturer of garden tools and outdoor equipment in eastern Bavaria near the Czech border, says the Siemens deal was a powerful symbolic victory. "It signaled to smaller companies that they too can use the threat of job losses to increase the work hours," he says.
    Labor union power slips
    Company leverage has grown as high unemployment has lingered and union influence diminishes, says Hilmar Schneider, a researcher at the Institute for the Study of Labor, in Bonn. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of companies covered by the union bargaining system dropped from more than 80% to 68%. "What's new here is that a big company like Siemens went to the public and announced clearly that thousands of jobs might be lost," says Marcel Thum, head of the IFO economic research institute's Dresden office. "There are so many cases where employees would be ready to accept longer hours to preserve their jobs, but the unions are afraid to lose their bargaining power."
    [WHAT "bargaining power"? If they're giving away 5 free hours of work, they have none.]
    Michael Schminke, head of Panther- werke AG, Germany's best-known manufacturer of bicycles, says if German companies want to survive, they have to produce at much lower costs. "If that doesn't happen at home, they should move east." He's done just that. Over the past 10 years, Pantherwerke has relocated most of its production facilities to Lithuania, which now has 500 employees. Only 140 remain in Germany.
    [OK, then Pantherwerke should only be allowed to sell 140/500 = 28% of their output in Germany now. Ya can't have it both ways - if you're going to uphold the German consumer base, you get to access German markets. If not, ya don't. Why? Because if you keep on the way you're going now, there won't be any German markets. And with apparently no markets elsewhere, that means no markets anywhere - this vacuous Globalization myth is just another Tragedy of the Commons in preparation.]
    "The trend leads toward Eastern Europe," Schminke, who sits on the board of directors of the newly created German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce, says. "That's part of globalization."
    [Ain't it amazin' how the right has hornswoggled so many people into thinking that globalization is "reality" instead of just yet another stupid self-undermining cluster of policies designed by nearsighted CEOs and their academic serviteurs? Globalization is no more "inevitable" than the socialism that Marx claimed was inevitable.]
    Schminke is now negotiating a 40-hour workweek for his German employees with his company's workers' council. "I'm opposed to a discussion with the union because the union represents the interest of workers in the whole country," he says. "We are a small company and have our own needs."
    [Then get out of the country - completely. You wanna play? You gotta pay to play.]
    But union officials say the shorter workweek has fostered more-flexible work shifts and created jobs. [And it has, just as it did when we all cut jerkily down from the 80-hour workweek.]
    Rudolf Welzmueller, a negotiator with IG Metall, Germany's second-biggest union, says it was blackmail that forced the union to accept more hours without more pay for Siemens workers. "We were facing the prospect of losing 4,000 jobs in a region with high unemployment" he says. "The Siemens deal shouldn't been seen as a solution." The union, he insists, won't accept more work without more pay.
    Competing against cheaper labor
    But the gulf between the labor costs of "old" Europe and "new" Europe may be a bridge too far for the unions. According to a study of of large and midsize companies by the consulting firm Roland Berger, German manufacturing wages are 26.34 Euros per hour; the EU's new members average 3.4 Euros per hour. Today, 44% of German companies use Eastern Europe production locations as extended "workbenches" and 90% say they will shift further production abroad in the next five years, the study claims. The Czech Republic and Hungary, two of 10 countries to join the EU in May, 2004, are favorite destinations. They offer both lower wages and lower taxes. The German corporate tax burden averages 36%, compared with 21% in the new EU states. Poland recently cut its corporate tax from 27% to 19%. In Hungary, it's 12%. While German companies such as Opel, Volkswagen, and Siemens started setting foot in Eastern Europe as soon as the Iron Curtain fell, EU membership is accelerating the process. "It made the nature of the market more secure," says Shaiken, the Berkeley labor specialist.
    Changing worker benefits
    "The push toward a longer workweek is going full speed," Teichert says. "We have to work more in Germany - that's common sense." German employees worked an average of 1,446 hours last year, compared with 1,792 hours worked in the United States. The companies' push for more hours from workers comes at a time when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government, despite massive protest, is trying to reform unemployment and welfare regulations. Critics say the effort could shatter the traditional German social model. They claim the changes could pressure the unemployed to accept lower paying jobs and reduce workers' rights against layoffs. "The Schröder reforms are going to make things ever harder for the unions," says Schneider of the Institute for the Study of Labor. "The reality is, when employees have a choice between taking a pay cut or working more," he says, "they'd rather work more."
    [Only about half of employees have always been this stupid - the half that doesn't realize that if you choose shorter hours, you wind up with both shorter hours and higher pay, but if you choose higher pay, you wind up with neither. What makes the difference? Shorter hours spreads the work and reduces the labor surplus, harnessing market forces on your side to raise wages in response to a perceived labor shortage. Go for higher pay regardless of longer hours and you're just swimming against the current of market forces in a deepening labor surplus. Since there's no "land" in this swim, market forces eventually win. What should unions be doing in this situation? Using their 68% of the workforce to threaten companies back - with exclusion from rich German markets if they keep threatening to stop upholding those markets with employment. You wanna take your jobs to China? OK, you better have markets there cuz you ain't gonna have any here any more!]

  5. Doctor shortage looms over Britain, PTI via Calcutta Telegraph, India.
    LONDON - A mass exodus of doctors, including Indians, looms on Britain's National Health Service (NHS) with the introduction of a new contract allowing them to retire early on full pension. The contract is designed to give doctors greater rewards for their working hours, replacing the fixed-salary system. Stephen Campion, the chief executive of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, said pension benefits would encourage doctors disillusioned with the NHS to call time on their careers. The worst-affected specialisations are likely to include radiography, pathology, paediatrics and psychiatry, which suffer from severe staff shortage. The British Medical Association warns that by 2007, nearly 4,000 senior consultants will have little or no financial incentive to continue working for the NHS. "A mass exodus will exacerbate staffing problems in the service, which at present has a shortfall of 10,000 hospital doctors," a spokesman of the doctors' group said. Paul Miller, the chairman of the BMA consultants' committee, said ministers and NHS leaders need to prepare for the possible exodus of "the most senior consultantsŠ who will have had 25 years of invaluable experience". He added: "You could find you go into work on April 1, 2007, and every consultant over the age of 60 in the NHS has retired. The majority will have hit their best point financially, and will want to go. It could be a retirement time bomb." The new contract, which begins in 2005, boosts the salaries of top consultants by £20,000 to £92,000. Their pension contributions will rise in line with their pay, meaning that they will hit the maximum achievable pension - just under half their salary - by their early sixties. Some could even retire as early as their mid-50s with only a slight deduction in their retirement benefits. The pension scheme - which will increase senior consultants' pensions by about £10,000 a year - will be introduced in two waves in 2006 and 2007. More than 700 doctors who have been consultants for 30 years will reach their maximum pension on March 31, 2006, under the new contract. In 2007, 3,000 more consultants who have served between 20-29 years - 10 per cent of England's consultant workforce - will qualify. The BMA's warning comes amid mounting concern about the future staffing of the NHS. Hospital trusts said the introduction of the European working time directive this month, which is designed to curb the long hours of trainee doctors, could lead to a shortage of junior doctors. A new contract for general practitioners, which allows them to take weekends and nights off, has also seen doctor shortfalls, with some primary care organisations resorting to flying in doctors from abroad as emergency cover. There are also fears that an exodus will significantly outpace recruitments over the next five years as a large number of overseas doctors, who settled in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s and took up mainly single-doctor practices, approach retirement.

  6. [Here's what can happen if your medical staff are unhappy -]
    Angry staff put hospital on the critical list, by Mziwakhe Hlangani, The Star via Independent Online, South Africa.
    Natalspruit Hospital is near collapse - and its overburdened and fed-up staff are staging a revolt. More than 95% of staff members at Natalspruit Hospital have signed a petition demanding the axing of its CEO, Dr Daisy Pekana. Staff members pointed out on Monday out that the institution was in crisis mode and had neither anaesthetists nor urologists. On Monday, The Star was shown a list of 290 doctors, radiographers, specialists and nurses who had left in the past two years.
    'Turmoil in the hospital has reached unacceptable proportions'
    A senior official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It is tough here. Nurses often battle for more than three weeks without needle syringes attached to the drips when weak patients collapse." He said the hospital was in such a state of dysfunction that it often operated without disposable materials such as napkins, cleaning materials and toiletries. Shockingly, there was no food for patients last weekend. "At times we are forced to get other institutions to provide us with stock and food until the orders for Natalspruit are authorised," he said. Overflowing medical waste, which is often not removed, poses a health hazard. Shocking allegations have been made by the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), South Africa's biggest health-sector trade union, that the hospital operates on patients with unsterilised medical equipment. Union spokesperson Moloantoa Molaba said on Monday: "Turmoil in the hospital has reached unacceptable proportions. Staff have been instructed to simply use water to wash medical stitching trays." Doctors are forced to work almost 100 hours of overtime a month because of the shortage, he said. A total of 1 270 employees out of a staff complement of 1 336 had signed a Nehawu petition calling for Pekana's immediate suspension, Molaba claimed. When a team from The Star went to the casualty ward on Monday, some patients were lying, unattended, on stretchers outside. Relatives said they had been ignored for more than two hours. One man lay on a stretcher, his eyes clamped shut. He was drooling uncontrollably, had no pillow or bed linen, and nobody paid him any attention. A senior nurse in the hospital's midwifery section said only four professional nurses were employed there. They were forced to work long hours, attending to about 160 patients a day. "Because of the shortage of doctors, we are forced to refer patients to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital," she said. There were long queues in the x-ray and dispensary departments. Gauteng health chief director Dr Frew Benson's angry reaction was that the shortage of medical specialists and nurses "to a large extent is a national problem and not one at Natalspruit alone". When asked to provide statistics of doctors and nurses who had left the hospital, he conceded there were shortages but maintained that it was not severe. He said no critical shortage of basic equipment had been reported, and he denied that there were food shortages. But Benson said the Gauteng health department was looking into the problems at Natalspruit and a special team would be set up this week to investigate staff concerns. He insisted that Pekana would not be suspended from her post, as demanded by staff and union activists. Pekana declined to comment on Monday and referred inquiries to Benson. Democratic Alliance MPL and spokesperson on health, Jack Bloom, congratulated the hospital's staff for blowing the whistle on cases where allegedly unsterilised equipment put patients at risk. "I will raise the issue in the Gauteng legislature because these cases need to be brought to the public's attention," he said.

  7. Long hours and skills don't always equal big pay days, by Jill Pengelley, Advertiser, Australia.
    AUSTRALIA - Although requiring diverse skills, farming is the poorest-paid work while child-care workers and hairdressers also rank low on the list of a national survey of 340 jobs. The community needed to address some of the disparities in wages identified by the survey, Assoc. Prof. Barbara Pocock, of the University of Adelaide, yesterday. The survey, What Jobs Pay 2004-2005, details full-time earnings in the Australian job market by occupation and age. Child-care workers were the fifth-lowest paid, at $444 a week, despite many having TAFE training. "That's a stand-out example of a market that's not working properly," Professor Pocock said. "But I think people follow their interests and I personally think that's appropriate because in the long run you will be successful at what you enjoy and what you're passionate about." Dairy farmers Daniel Martin...and his wife Cassie...agree money isn't the only thing that counts about a job. They stay on the family farm at Wall Flat, near Murray Bridge, because it's their life, not just their living. Mr Martin is the third generation on the farm but he is unsure whether it will still be there for his 16-month-old son, Tyler. "With the climate these days, preparing too far ahead is a hard thing to do," he said. "I'm a cabinetmaker by trade so I've got that to fall back on but it's not all doom and gloom. It's a lifestyle." The new study also found that farmers were among occupations working the longest full-time hours. Caravan park managers were most likely to work 49 or more hours a week, followed by farmers and hotel managers. About two-thirds of medical specialists, general managers and ministers of religion also worked such hours. Topping the pay scale were specialist medical practitioners, who grossed a weekly average of $1851. Pharmacists and dentists placed second and third in the pay stakes. The survey, by Sydney jobs analyst Rodney Stinson, is used by recruiting firms and in industrial relations disputes. Separate research also released yesterday found that workers had a high regard for on-the-job training. An online survey of 1280 Australian workers found that 41% of employees receive no training and development at work but 32% would rather have that than a pay rise. The research, by recruitment company Hays, found that 25% of workers said they were offered excellent training and development opportunities. Entree Recruitment general manager Nicole Underwood said that in today's job market, employers were seeking a combination of skills, experience and qualifications to find the perfect candidate.

  8. Women's low pay linked to hours, by John Masanauskas, Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia.
    AUSTRALIA - Women tend to get lower pay than men because they generally work shorter hours, research in a new book reveals. In a blow to feminists claiming gender bias in the workplace, the book says males often work longer full-time hours than females in the same or similar jobs. What Jobs Pay 2004-05 also found that occupations dominated by men tend to have longer working hours than those monopolised by women. The book, based on census and recent labour force data, was written by Sydney workplace researcher Rodney Stinson. It found that the top earners were specialist medical practitioners with an average weekly pre-tax salary of $1851. Other high earners were pharmacists, dentists, and policy, planning and engineering managers. Poorest paid were mixed crop and livestock farmers, at $402 a week, followed by hairdressers and fast food cooks. Mixed crop and livestock farmers also had among the longest hours of any job, with 77% working at least 49 hours a week. Caravan park and camping ground managers, hotel and motel managers and animal trainers also worked long hours. Jobs with high female participation, such as library assistants, office trainees and switchboard operators, had working weeks of 35 to 40 hours. Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward has raised the issue of equal pay for women, and Opposition Leader Mark Latham has pledged a Labor government would help fund equal-pay cases in industrial tribunals. But Mr Stinson said the extent of working hours was often overlooked in the debate. "It may not suit doctrinaire theorists, but it is a fact that males, on average, have longer working hours in full-time jobs than do females across the occupational spectrum," he said. He said that non-professional jobs with very long working hours tended to have low pay. "Of the 20 occupations with the longest hours nationally, 18 are overwhelmingly male and the other two (lawyers and education managers) have a reasonable and growing number of females," he said.
    Net link: www.whatjobspay.com.au

  9. The jungle - 'Sequencing women,' or those returning to work after taking time off to care for children [or for any other reason], may be able to ease their re-entry through short-term assignments or part-time positions, by Kris Maher, WSJ, B4.
8/21-23/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 8/20-22 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #5a&b & 10 which are from 8/21-23 hardcopy), and excerpting and [commenting] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 8/22 Ten Commandments for a healthier 5-day workweek, by Choi Tae-hwan (highschool English teacher in Kwangju, cth0707@hanmail.net), Korea Times.
    Last Friday afternoon, I was at a loss for what and how to plan for the unexpected golden weekend of getting both Saturday and Sunday off work. During summer vacation, teachers are usually never expected to take an ordinary vacation, as it is well known that Korean high school teachers and students are supposed to submit themselves to oven classrooms, which are full of exhausted students who lack the creativity and motivation to study. It is no wonder that I never dreamed I would have the luxury of a five-day workweek in such a terrible school environment as Korea’s where both students and teachers are continuously driven into exam hell, even on the weekends.
    I said to myself, "What a golden opportunity to be able to enjoy a full weekend by taking Saturday off!" I have good reason for not having any idea of how to enjoy longer weekends, which will be introduced in the Korean working environment later this year. What kind of paradigm shift will this bring about in our society? What kind of change of consciousness should be accompanied by the advent of the age of the five-day workweek?
    According to the Labor Standard Act, the five-day workweek system is legally defined as prohibiting workers from working for more than forty hours a week, compared with the 44-hour revision that had been made in 1989.
    Additionally, it will mean an extension of holidays by reinforcing the restriction of overtime hours by specifically reducing twelve overtime hours to seven hours a week and two hours per day. More than anything else, it is considered to be quite important that within this five-day workweek system the number of overall holidays per year be extended to enable workers to use their holidays freely and effectively, as On the contrary, The introduction of the 5-day workweek system should be expected to result in removing Korea from being ranked first in major work accidents and to improve workers’ quality of life, which should create a happier family life with everyone able to enjoy more free time and leisure activities. It is expected that the reduction of working hours and days will lead to not only the improvement of productivity at the workplace but also provide job seekers with more job opportunities.
    What should we do to get the most out of the five-day workweek in Korea? Not only employers but also employees need to recognize and accept the paradigm shift that is necessary and will accompany the new system such as renovation of the environment and consciousness of all respects of life. Let me introduce the "Ten Commandments" for a healthier five-day workweek life as read in a vernacular newspaper:
    1. Leisure is required as a source of creativity in that competitiveness depends on creativity and imagination.
    2. Workers should do their best to enhance productivity within the shortened working hours on the basis of a specific and detailed daily working table.
    3. Try to create your own time for truly knowing yourself by eliminating all kinds of pressures of work, family, friends and acquaintances.
    4. Design your own well-planned leisure style taking into account your physical type, intrinsic desires and surroundings.
    5. Try to be absorbed in your leisure enough to be professional.
    6. Try to travel as often as possible to return to nature.
    7. Make a well-designed weekend calendar for resting at home, traveling, family events and self-developing plans.
    8. Invest time and money into yourself for the self-development of language proficiency and information and technology.
    9. Create a network of human relationships by taking part in club and study activities.
    10. Eliminate the border between work and leisure by not only seeking pleasure at work but also acquiring knowledge in leisure. That is, enjoy both working and leisure with delight and pleasure.
    The five-day workweek is sure to be a turning point to decide whether or not Korea will step up to a developed country with this milestone of improvement in efficiency and productivity at work, in harmony with employer-employee reconciliation and cooperation, and the support of a company for workers’ self-development. Let’s enjoy the five-day workweek to the fullest by changing our consciousness of quality of work and life, which will greatly help us to survive amidst the stark international competitiveness.

  2. 8/20   40-hour work week 'useless', says minister, Expatica, Netherlands.
    BRUSSELS – Belgian Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx, who oversaw the introduction of the 38-hour work week during her tenure as federal employment minister, said that returning to a 40-hour week would be 'useless', it was reported Friday. In an interview with Le Soir, the Socialist minister said she believes that rather than increasing worker productivity, a 40-hour week would actually do just the opposite. "Belgium is, both at European and international level, already at the top end of the productivity scale," she said.
    [She's right in the only meaningful terms of "output per employee hour", rather than the meaningless "output per employee" regardless of worktime involved.]
    The minister said that for specific companies in financial trouble, there are other options besides forcing workers to work longer. "In Belgium, the social partners at a company sit around a table and search together for solutions to their problems." She also decried the lack of attention to the need for a balance between workers' private and professional lives in the ongoing national debate over the work week. The debate comes as the management of Liege-based smelting works Marichal Ketin attempts to raise firm's work week to 40 hours without a pay rise. Managers have asked the factory's 140 employees to consider the move in an effort to keep the works afloat and save their jobs.
    [Ridiculous. You want to access the rich Belgian consumer base? Then you keep contributing to it. You want to degrade it? Then get out - completely - and find other markets.]
    However, at a meeting Thursday, top union representatives continued to express their staunch opposition to the move.
    [Good!]

  3. 8/22   Free time worth a pay cut, study finds, Associated Press via Chicago Daily Herald, IL.
    [More specifics on the Tickle Inc. survey (see 8/18 #1 below) -]
    Do you work like a fiend? What if you could take a pay cut for better quality of life, somewhat of a cash-for-peace swap at your job? It turns out that most of us would, but how much income would we relinquish for a better work-life balance?...
    For a more flexible work schedule, 48% would take a 5% pay cut, while 24% would take a 15% cut..\..
    The survey \based on\ the responses from a group of 2,000 people...was conducted for San Francisco-based Tickle Inc., an online career, networking and dating assessment company....

  4. 8/22   Productivity or simple life? - Many working Americans are mourning the loss of their free time, by Analisa Nazareno, San Antonio Express-news via Houston Chronicle, TX.
    The United States has something in common with China and the Northern Mariana Islands: Employers aren't required to provide workers paid vacation time. A number of nations - such as Hong Kong, Israel, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Germany and Taiwan - do require paid vacation time. There's a growing movement of people advocating "simplified lifestyles" to try to get the United States more in line with the rest of the world. "We're sacrificing on the altar of productivity and gross domestic product all sorts of values: health, where we're not doing well in this area, longevity, physical fitness and obesity - all sorts of factors that rank the United States in last place among industrialized countries," said John de Graaf, the Seattle-based national coordinator for the Take Back Your Time Campaign and editor of the book Take Back Your Time. The loss of free time This election year, de Graaf is hoping to capture the eyes and ears of politicians who have heard recently from Americans, particularly working women, that the most important issue in their lives is the loss of free time. De Graaf has a legislative agenda that includes providing paid days off on election days, requiring paid family leave time, creating a 48-hour maximum workweek and enacting three weeks of minimum annual paid leave. "We don't necessarily expect them to agree with us," de Graaf said. "There are some politicians who are sympathetic, like Ted Kennedy and Lynn Woolsey. At this point, though, they can't get much out of committee."
    Take Back Your Time Day
    De Graaf last year organized Take Back Your Time Day on Oct. 24 and is planning for a similar event on the same day this year, a week and a half before Election Day. "You cannot have good family lives without people having time to spend together," de Graaf argued. "You cannot have the community participating without the time. You cannot have good civic participation if people don't have time to read. All the social problems that we have are exacerbated by time pressure." That may be the case, said Trinity University economist Barry Hirsch, but for the most part, we chose to not make the time to do these things. "We're choosing to do it. We're doing it to ourselves," Hirsch said. "I have some sympathy with groups that are saying you don't have to do this and are rebelling against consumerism. If people want to argue that, fine, but given that we feel that people ought to choose what to do for themselves, they are choosing this. "If you're mandating more days off, then effectively that's increasing the wage or cost of hiring a worker for the same amount of time you get output," he said. "That basically is like a wage increase at a cost to an employer." And eventually those higher costs will get passed down, he said. "It leads to lower wages, no question about that, for everybody," Hirsch said. "The question is: Do we value those benefits as much as we would the dollars of earnings? In that sense, with paid parental leave the question is to what extent do we want to promote children. Countries that want to increase birth rates tend to have policies that are more parent-friendly." According to a Harvard School of Public Health survey, 163 nations offer guaranteed paid parental leave for women, while the United States does not; 45 nations offer fathers paid parental leave; and 98 countries require employers to give workers at least one full day off of work during the week. In the United States, while paid vacation days are not required by law, 80% of employers do offer them, and 77% offer paid holidays. Eight paid holidays On average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers were entitled to eight paid holidays. After three years of work, most American workers - 81% - were entitled to 10 days of paid vacation days. According to the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, nations such as Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia mandate at least two weeks of paid vacation days for all workers. While nations like Germany and France are considering changing their policies in order to increase their competitive position in the global marketplace, de Graaf doubts that any substantive change to vacation policies will take place. "We're not trying to present Europe as some sort of Utopia," de Graaf said. "We're just saying, the vast majority of the world understands that people need time to live their lives other than just living for their money."

  5. 8/23   Controversial overtime rules take effect - Disputes over how many workers lose pay starting today, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A11.
    The Bush administration's new overtime rules go into effect today.... [Note the new extreme-right campaign against moderate-Republican RINOs = Republican in name only. Compare -]
    8/23   Numbers in dispute as OT rules kick in, AP via Boston Globe, C3.
    ..."To be candid, no one knows," said Jerry Hunter, a labor lawyer in St. Louis and general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board during the first Bush administration....

  6. 8/22   OT rules get overhaul - New FairPay rules are effective Monday - Low-end salary earners may get a pay raise, by Kay Ledbetter (kay.ledbetter@amarillo.com), Amarillo Globe-News, TX.
    New FairPay rules enacted by the U.S. Dept. of Labor go into effect Monday. They could reclassify some workers, putting them on hourly wages instead of lower-end salaries, making them eligible for overtime. Under the new FairPay rules, workers earning less than $23,660 per year - or $455 per week - are guaranteed overtime protection. That's a change from the previous limit of $155 per week. According to U.S. Dept. of Labor statistics, this will strengthen overtime rights for 6.7 million American workers, including 1.3 million low-wage workers who were denied overtime under the old rules. Shawn Twing, a board certified labor and employment specialist and a partner in Sprouse Shrader Smith P.C., said these rules haven't been changed in nearly 50 years. It brings the minimum salary wage up to a more realistic level. What he expects to happen is workers who make, say $18,000 on a salary in a mid-management level position, which is often the case in food service and retail, will have to be paid hourly or their salary will have to be increased. Ron McVean, McDonald's franchise owner/operator in Amarillo, said it did affect some employees he had who had salaries below the new cap. "We raised them up and a little bit past that rate," McVean said. "I would say in total, out of our 400 employees, it affected probably about less than half a dozen." He said in his McDonald's organization, it was primarily for an assistant manager. "We have assistant managers who have a salary base above that threshold and some newer managers who have not been with us as long. Those who were under it, we just went ahead and raised them up at the beginning of August. "This does not affect the hourly workers. We've always paid time and half for overtime with our hourly employees. That was not an issue," McVeen said. Twing said if an employee is taken off salary and put on hourly wages, absent some type of employment contract, the employer can set the hours of work and determine how many hours an employee must work. But, he said, they will have to pay overtime for any hours more than 40 in one week. Some fear it could lower wages for employees such as nurses, Twing said. Under the duties classification, if registered nurses are licensed by the Board of Nursing, they can be classified under the learned profession exemption and could be put on a salary. Nurses traditionally put in long hours and work a lot of overtime, so it would be possible they could have their income reduced, Twing said. Mary Barlow, BSA Health System director of corporate communications, said that won't happen, at least not at BSA. "Our nurses, unless they are in management, which is salaried, will continue to be paid hourly. We've always paid overtime and will continue to pay overtime to our staff nurses," Barlow said. Caytie Martin, Northwest Texas Healthcare System director of marketing, said they too have reviewed 100% of the executive, administrative and professional staff and determined that all the staff are meeting the standards for job responsibilities and weekly salary requirements. "Our nurses, they are hourly," Martin said. "They do qualify for professional status under the Fair Labor Standards Act, however, we have chosen to leave their status on an hourly basis and they do receive overtime pay." Twing said when the proposed rule came out in March 2003, there also was concern about highly skilled blue-collar workers who got their training through the military and the probability they would be classified as exempt. The new rule clearly states a person's status as a veteran cannot be used to make a worker exempt, regardless of the skill level, Twing said. Paralegals and legal assistants were in question, but under the final rule, they will generally not be exempt and will be entitled to overtime pay, he said. This issue is still being questioned and will have to be reviewed by the Dept. of Labor, Twing said. The regulations are clear on blue-collar work, regardless of how high-skilled it is. They will not be affected by these exemptions under any circumstances, he said. "The Dept. of Labor is adamant in their numbers that 1.3 million workers will actually gain overtime protection," Twing said. "Of that group, 54.7% will be women, 24.8% Hispanic, 16.6% will be African-American." Nearly 70% of those who will gain overtime protection have a high school education or less according to the Dept. of Labor, he said. Twing said he does not anticipate the floodgates of courts to be opened on this because regardless of how they change, salaried to hourly or hourly to salaried, there will not be a large shift in the amount of income employees take home. There will be some employees who are paid less than minimum wage who will see a pay increase, he said. And there will be employers who have to change their way of doing business. "It will be an administrative headache, particularly for those employers who have a large number of salaried employees they will have to convert to hourly and they will have to keep track of employee hours, set regular hourly rates and know how to calculate the overtime," he said. "The other part of the headache, the duties test, has changed and they will need to review all of their employees who are classified as exempt now," Twing said. Carolene Poole, Amarillo National Bank vice president, said while they will review each person's job and see whether they fall within the categories of exempt or not exempt, she doesn't expect many, if any, changes. "In looking at the new rules for us, I don't really see that we're going to have a whole lot of impact. We feel like we're in really good shape," Poole said. "Most of our employees are non-exempt and get paid overtime. "I can tell you we will not take away anyone's overtime pay. We will not move anyone to salary under the new laws." Toot'n Totum director of human resources Andy Andreu, said he, too, did not look for changes among Toot'n Totum employees. He said there have been some changes for outside sales persons, but "all the employees will continue to get paid overtime. If you had someone who was misclassified before, you have an opportunity to change that now." "Exempt people are paid as salaried and are not expected to be paid overtime," he said. "Nothing has changed as far as hourly employees are concerned, not here." Danny Lee, co-owner of The Big Texan, said none of his staff falls into the category, but he expects it to hurt the food franchises and chains that have young managers. Target team relations leader Tiffany French said they have no employees who would be affected by the new rules. A Hastings Books Music & Video spokesman said only that they were complying with the federal regulations and he couldn't comment any further.

  7. 8/21   John Edwards - Democratic vice presidential candidate blasts overtime rules, AP via VOA News via Voice of America [VOA], DC.
    Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards has blasted new Bush administration overtime rules due to take effect Monday. In the Democratic Party's response to President Bush's weekly radio address, Mr. Edwards said President Bush is attempting to undermine a system that rewards workers who put in long hours. He says the new rules adopted by the U.S. Labor Dept. could mean a pay cut for millions of American workers. The Democrat predicted Americans will have to tighten their belts after the rules take effect. The Labor Dept. says the overtime rules revision, the first in 50 years, should boost overtime pay for 6.7 million workers, including 1.3 million who earn $155 to $455 a week. But a liberal economic policy group says six million workers will lose overtime pay.

  8. 8/22   Edwards blasts new OT rules - In Saturday radio address, VP candidate says measure curtails pay at a time workers need it, CNN via cnn.com.
    ATLANTA - Calling to mind his days unloading tractor trailers during the summer, Sen. John Edwards blasted the Bush White House Saturday for endorsing a law that curtails overtime pay for some U.S. workers. "Why would anyone want to take overtime pay away from as many as six million Americans at a time when they need that money the most?" Edwards asked during the weekly Democratic radio address. The law, slated to go into effect Monday, redefines guidelines by which employers are required to pay overtime to some U.S. workers. "Working Americans have to tighten their belts in this economy, and on Monday that belt's about to get a whole lot tighter when this new overtime law starts working," the North Carolina Democrat said. Edwards listed a wide range of professions that could be affected by the law including computer programmers, line cooks and police sergeants. "And if you are a nursery school teacher, preparing your classroom for another school year, don't make any number charts that go over forty because anything higher than that just doesn't count in this administration," Edwards said referencing the standard 40-hour work week.
    [Good idea actually, because we don't need or want to keep dissing the already 64-years unadjusted workweek cap in the age of automation and robotics.]
    Edwards vowed that, if elected, he and his running mate John Kerry would not deny workers overtime pay. "We need a president who'll work overtime for you."
    [No we don't. We need a president who can give himself a job description that gives himself work-life balance, and who's smart enough to see the inappropriateness of the Puritan Work Ethic in the Age of Automation. Recall "work smart, not hard"? The Dems are clearly totally at sea when it comes to worktime economics and the shorter-hours imperative of technology. Alas, only half the labor movement was ever intelligent about the shorter-hours imperative - the half that included William Green and the AFL, but not the CIO during the 1930s, and later the half that included Walter Reuther and his plan for "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment." And unfortunately today, the Democrats, or at least Edwards, is spouting the "work hard" rhetoric of the wrong half of the labor movement. What ever happened to the "All-Unions Committee to Shorten the Workweek" in Chicago in the 1970s?]

  9. 8/21   Edwards denounces new overtime rules , AP via CNN.
    WASHINGTON - In blasting new overtime rules that take effect Monday, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards says he can't understand why the Bush administration wants to undermine a system that rewards workers who toil long hours.
    [Well, the whole intent of the FLSA's overtime design was to demotivate long hours and to motivate worksharing, but it was a pretty ambigous design for that purpose, demotivating only employers while motivating employees with a higher wage. So when you say Bush wants to undermine a system that rewards long hours, we'd have to agree with (yeccch) Bush, since the last thing we need is long hours in the Age of Automation since they just concentrate the vanishing human employment and wages, and erode consumer spending and economic recovery.]
    "If you work hard, then you should be rewarded for that effort," Edwards said Saturday in the Democrats' weekly radio address.
    [Only up to a point, and that point should be non-arbitrarily determined by a comprehensive unemployment rate that includes welfare, disability, homelessness and prison.]
    "It is a time-honored tradition. It is what built this country.
    [Actually, it's only part of what built this country. The other part was cutting the workweek in half, from 80 to 40, over the first two thirds of this country's history, so we weren't swamped with dependents as we invented and implemented waves of worksaving technology.]
    "Why would anyone support this new rule which could mean a pay cut for millions of Americans who have already seen their real wages drop again this year?"
    [No one's quite sure yet that this will do that - but, given their track record, we wouldn't expect anything more from the Bushies than sideways "progress" or outright charity for the rich.]
    Democrats, labor unions and worker advocates tried unsuccessfully to block the new regulations - the first overhaul of government overtime rules in more than 50 years. The liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington predicts 6 million workers will lose overtime pay, and only a few will get new rights to premium pay after 40 hours. The administration and business groups counter that the old regulations were outdated and confusing,
    [but that's what they said about the Glass-Steagall Banking Act which they recently repealed, and about the "not tough enough on consumers" bankruptcy bill, and other legislation from the Great Depression designed to prevent it from ever happening again - ergo it will, and is]
    and were sparking lawsuits against employers by workers challenging their eligibility for the pay.
    The Labor Dept. says no more than 107,000 workers will lose overtime eligibility from the changes, but about 1.3 million will gain it. "Today, everywhere in America, families sit at the kitchen table and divide the bills into two piles: one says `pay now' and the other says `pay later,' " Edwards said. "Americans have to tighten their belts in this economy, and on Monday that belt is about to get a whole lot tighter when this new overtime law starts working."
    [Could be. Time will tell. The old overtime design was no prize either, since it was supposed to motivate worksharing, not overwork. Check out our improved overtime design in Timesizing's Phase Two and Phase Three.]

  10. 8/23   British Airways averts strike by reaching pay deal, WSJ, B5.
    ...BA said union leaders had accepted a new policy, under which the airline aims to reduce the present level of sickness absence [US: 'sick days'] from an average of 17 days a worker each year to 10 days within 12 months.
    [Union leaders continue their clueless give-aways on the crucial worktime front, trading away their power issue - as if you can plan your year's illnesses in advance, and as if we want sick people serving us on our airlines.]
    Absenteeism is a major problem for BA, causing staffing problems and increasing overtime costs to pay workers replacing those calling in sick.   17 days is higher than average for British transport workers....
    [But then, British employees in general have almost as long working hours per year as Americans, now the true sweatshop serfs of the industrialized world.]

  11. 8/20   Work and leisure in Europe, International Herald Tribune [IHT], Paris.
    Those vacation-loving Europeans are not pulling their weight in the effort to reignite global economic growth, Americans often grumble, and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] seemed to agree in a report issued earlier this month.
    [By jumping into this debate, the IMF, ever under the thumb of the USA, is simply trying to support American triumphalism, however suicidal. Hopefully some of the suckup European CEOs who are supporting this erosion of living standards in Europe will now wake up and quit betraying their own side. In the age of automation, economic growth is a hardly a matter of long human worktime. Rather, it's a matter of maximum activation of each economy's consumer base and maximum skill liquidity. The best way to maximize your consumer base is to get all your working-age population fully participating in the job market, whatever level of worksaving technology you have attained. And of course, that means worksharing rather than public or private sector makework, plus automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    By calling on Europeans to jump-start their economy by working more, it intensified the trans-Atlantic debate over the increasing divergence in work patterns. As their society has become wealthier, Europeans are working less, while Americans are working more.
    [- the Americans who are still working full-time, that is - but there are fewer and fewer Americans, proportionally, still working full-time and more and more Americans in early retirement, "self-employment" with few or no clients, part-time employment, prolonged "education" (credentialling), unemployment (5.4%), welfare (2m families), disability and "disability" (5.7m), prison (2.2m) and suicide (30k/yr). Why? Because after injecting worksaving technology and adjusting their workweek downward for 72% of their history (1776-1940), Americans continued injecting worksaving technology but stopped adjusting their workweek downward.]
    The longstanding debate over whether Europeans are too easygoing or whether Americans work so hard they miss out on enjoying the fruit of their prosperity - more leisure time - is an interesting one, but it misses one of the IMF's primary concerns. That is, the marginalization in Europe [and America!] of those who want work but can't get it.
    [Don't you just love the brazen way English-speaking economists overlook their own millions of marginalized workers, many in far more serious categories than anything seen in Europe! - what carefully tunnel-visioned liars they be!]
    If Europe [or America!] wants to energize its economy, it should focus on the unemployed [and 'welfare’d' and 'disabled' and homeless and incarcerated and force-retired and force-self-'employed' and forced part-time] rather than those already in jobs, and adapt its labor rules to bring these sidelined workers in from the cold.
    [Here's a simplistic prescription - and it falls right into the Chesterton Pan-Utopian Trap - it assumes no one will want more than his share of technology-diminished market-demanded employment (TDMDE). In fact, it probably assumes that even defining "share per person" is unnecessary because TDMDE is infinite, just like our fisheries, our oceans, our forests, our groundwater, our oil reserves and our ozone layer. How convenient! Then you can sneer at those shorter-hours advocates for believing in the Fixed Lump of Labor Fallacy instead of the "truth" you've been straining so hard to promulgate = that technology creates more jobs than it destroys (never mind ongoing downsizing).]
    The answer for Europe, in other words, is not necessarily to turn its back on its own culture's balancing of economic productivity and leisure. Americans, as a rule, may derive more satisfaction from working longer hours, though recent social research suggests that one of the reasons Americans work almost one-fifth more hours than Europeans do is a fear that if they don't, someone else will take their job.
    [With high hidden unemployment, no one wants to be the first to leave the office at night.]
    Surveys show that Americans would prefer to work less and have more time to enjoy leisure and family.
    In countries like France, meanwhile, the reigning myths concern the 35-hour week. Governments have seen it as a cure for unemployment - if everyone worked a bit less, the argument went, then there would be more jobs to go around. It doesn't work that way.
    [Yes, it does. That is exactly the way it worked all over the industrialized world from 1776 to 1940, when even the currently clueless U.S. was a "deluded victim" of this "pathetic myth" - recall that the workweek as late as the 1840s was 80-something hours per week, and on Oct. 24, 1938, by the Fair Labor Standards Act, it was defined as 44 hours a week - such nationwide workweek definition thereby judged to be constitutional - and it was reduced 2 hours per year on that date for each of the next two years, bringing it down to half of what it was in 1776, and doubling the number of people who could be employed on a "full time" basis, with all the accompanying prestige, perks and benefits - and all the accompanying consumer spending power and confidence.]
    Critics who say the 35-hour week is a failed experiment, on the other hand,
    [oh, so this reporter is suddenly trying to pose as impartial? then perhaps s/he should have substituted the phrase "reigning policies" or some such above instead of the ambiguous "reigning myths"! - not everyone has as much respect for "myths" as ancient-historian Phil Hyde]
    cite the increased hours that some large European companies have recently negotiated from their workers for no extra money.
    [And how can the Tribune reporter let slide these critics' implied linkage of a more successful experiment with lower wages (increased hours for no extra money)?]
    Both sides are chasing a red herring when it comes to economic growth, however. The 35-hour week may be a good way to give workers better lives without wrecking the economy, but it is not a fix to the joblessness issue.
    [Yes it is - once they solve the next-named problem -]
    Europe's problem is not that its workers work too little, but that the system that protects them also makes sure that the unemployed stay that way. discourage hiring, and the people who lose out are usually those who weren't around when the rules were written, such as the young, immigrants and mothers returning to the workforce.
    This is the value of the IMF's call for more work in Europe.
    [The IMF's call for more work in Europe has no value, and the IMF has no standing for such a call.]
    More flexible labor laws, combined with programs that help the unemployed match their skills to jobs, would bolster the economy as lower unemployment encouraged cautious consumers to spend again. And more money flowing into government coffers would help rescue creaking welfare systems.
    [Fine and dandy, but all this is quite different from a destructive call for longer workweeks and more concentration of vanishing market employment on fewer people, and more marginalized workers - though possibly hidden in a host of painstakingly externalized and hidden (but increasingly costly) categories, as in the U.S.]
    For beyond the immediate headache of Europe's sluggish economy [and what about America's sluggish economy?? or "unquestioned economic slowdown" according to "Enough Already" by Hoover Institution's Melvyn Krauss in 8/23/2004 WSJ, A12] lies the long-term nightmare of government pension schemes that face bankruptcy.
    [- only a valid "nightmare" as long as we persist in cutting taxes for the rich and implicitly raising them on everyone else.]
    As for the question of working hours, the answer may be simply to give people more choice - to let them find their own balance of work and leisure, now or later - but give them more responsibility for funding their retirement years.
    [i.e., the current rightwing fad, based on the fallacy that employees still have rough power parity with employers and so "giving employees more choice" is actually a meaningful concept, whereas in the context of the current steep power disparity between employees and employers due to the global long-hours-based labor surplus, such a concept has no meaning or validity whatsoever.]

  12. 8/21   VW wage talks heap more pressure on auto workers, Daily Times, Pakistan.
    FRANKFURT, Germany - Labour union IG Metall enters wage talks with Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest carmaker, next month with a tough task: defending German car workers who command the best pay among peers around the world. The negotiations come at a crucial juncture. Auto workers in western Europe face a fight just to maintain their high wages in a cut-throat sector hit by excess capacity, slack demand, and the emergence of low-cost rivals in eastern Europe. Industry analysts say the VW talks are more important than a deal struck by DaimlerChrysler workers in July that will save the company 500 million euros ($613 million) a year and preserve more than 6,000 jobs in German plants until 2012. VW aims to cut labour costs by 30% in the medium to long term to preserve 176,000 jobs in Germany. Talks could even lead toward a 40-hour week, as some Daimler staff now work, from around 35 hours currently. “The wage negotiations will shape the future of Germany. If we don’t manage to go to the 40-hour week, Germany will continue to lose,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, who heads the Centre of Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen. IG Metall’s leader Juergen Peters has dismissed the idea of generally extending working hours as “the biggest job-destroying programme in post-war history”. The union says it plans to seek some 4% more pay as well as job guarantees from VW. Changing world: But IG Metall failed dismally last year to push through a shorter work week in formerly communist eastern Germany, and experts say it may have to accept more flexible work rules and longer hours without extra pay in return for job security. “The unions and works councils have a strong position in German companies, but these people also see that the world has changed and that Germany competes against lots of other centres that are much cheaper than Germany,” said Willi Diez, head of the University of Nuertingen’s automotive studies institute. “I think unions will be flexible and make concessions.” Volkswagen has shown it can be innovative, launching for instance the “5,000 times 5,000” system that paid new hires by the number of Touran vans they make rather than by the hours they work, making Tourans cheaper to build than Golf hatchbacks. VW personnel chief Peter Hartz, an architect of broader reforms to overhaul Germany’s expensive labour market, wants to save money by making the in-house contract’s work rules more flexible to cut overtime.

  13. 8/23   Markets, not unions, gave us leisure, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Mises.org.
    [Not true. Leisure is the silhouette of worktime per person, and the definition of worktime per person is part of the definition or framework of free markets, which markets themselves cannot step outside themselves and define for themselves. They can level the playing field themselves, but they cannot define the extent of the playing field themselves. Every game has to have basic groundrules, and the fewer the rules that can produce the greater diversity of results, the better the game. This is comparable to Chomsky's definition of the better of two grammars (= the one that accounts for or generates the same or more data with fewer rules). In the case of markets, two additional requirements are that the results be sustainable (rather than, as in the boardgame Monopoly, designed to end the game in several hours) and that the results be growing, at least in terms of "doing more with less" so they don't undermine the natural environment and violate the requirement of sustainability.]
    In Human Action, Ludwig von Mises wrote that labor unions have always been the primary source of anti-capitalistic propaganda.
    [This is irrelevant to the argument. Can we get on with the meat and cut the defensiveness?!]
    I was reminded of this recently when I saw a bumper sticker proclaiming one of the bedrock tenets of unionism: "The Union Movement: The People Who Brought You the Weekend." Well, not exactly. In the U.S. the average work week was 61 hours in 1870, compared to 34 hours today, and this near doubling of leisure time for American workers was caused by capitalism, not unionism.
    [This moron apparently cannot even distinguish between a statutory workweek cap motivated by the worksharing imperative of technology, and an average observed workweek that includes not only millions who work part-time and want to work part-time but millions more who work part-time because they can't find full-time work.]
    As Mises explained, "In the capitalist society, there prevails a tendency toward a steady increase in the per-capita quota of capital invested.... Consequently, the marginal productivity of labor, wage rates, and the wager earners’ standard of living tend to rise continually."
    [Huh? This does not follow. First of all, the setting should be "in a capitalist economy in peacetime," because in a capitalist economic in wartime, i.e., during and immediately after World Wars I and II, the amount of per-capita investment capital decreased and the amount of per-capita consumer spending increased, providing the famed "wartime boom," triggered first by the sending of millions of "capitas" = employees overseas and killing them, and second by the operation of market forces in response to the resulting general labor shortage, in terms of raising wages and benefits more effectively than any unions (except insofar as the cut workweeks). In a capitalist economy in peacetime, the top brackets continuously dismantle the money-centrifuges that were set up during wartime, or redirect them inwards and upwards to the financially central people and the top income brackets (ie: to themselves), and so naturally "there prevails a tendency toward a steady [we'd say jerky] increase in the per-capital quota [we'd just say 'amount'] of investment capital - to the extent that it eventually begins to suction the spending power out of its own consumer base and undermine itself. We guess, like Keynes, we're arguing for a distinction between investment capital and capital invested, though even capital invested, by the law of marginalism, moves around a lot more slowly than centrifuged money, and therefore softens the need for the distinction somewhat.]
    Of course, this is only true of a capitalist economy where private property, free markets, and entrepreneurship prevail. The steady rise in living standards in (predominantly) capitalist countries is due to the benefits of private capital investment, entrepreneurship, technological advance, and a better educated workforce (no thanks to the government school monopoly, which has only served to dumb down the population).
    [Or is this something else? - since Canada's "government school monopoly" educates people a lot better than the United States' "government school monopoly," and since the "private" alternative to the "government school monopoly" is charter schools, and they have recently been found to offer an even worse education than the U.S. "gov't school monopoly." And note the naive linking of monopoly with "gov't", when in fact, it's the excesses of private-sector monopolies which dragged gov't into industries like education where it could be accused of monopoly. Apparently the raison d'etre of a "researcher" at the von Mises Institute is just to repeat words like capital and capitalist and entrepreneur and private as often as possible in positively-charged contexts, and simplistically blackball all their opposites: public, socialist, bureaucrat etc. Never mind putting any actual thought into it and jumping the well-worn tracks of cliched output.]
    Labor unions routinely take credit for all of this while pursuing policies which impede the very institutions of capitalism that are the cause of their own prosperity. [The same could be said of capitalist industrialists who do everything they can to starve their own workforces and consumer bases.]
    The shorter work week is entirely a capitalist invention. As capital investment caused the marginal productivity of labor to increase over time, less labor was required to produce the same levels of output. As competition became more intense, many employers competed for the best employees by offering both better pay and shorter hours. Those who did not offer shorter work weeks were compelled by the forces of competition to offer higher compensating wages or become uncompetitive in the labor market....
    [This vonMisesite disgraces his master by ignoring and denying decades of history - history of union action that pressured employers into implementing shorter workweeks. Without that, the number of enlightened employers who implemented shorter hours on their own, such as the Lever brothers and W.K. Kellogg and Edward Filene and the Lincoln (Electric) brothers and the guys at Nucor, may never have reached the critical mass necessary to wield competitive power and influence. This article goes on with a lot more blahblahblah but let's stop here because von Mises himself would vomit on this tunnel-visioned caricature of his ideas.]

  14. 8/20   Employers act on staff shortages, by Mei Fong, Wall St Journal via Australian Financial Review.
    NANHAI, China - August 3 was a red-letter day for workers at Guangdong Chigo Air Conditioning ["Chigo"]. Minutes after the close of the workday, dozens stood eagerly in line for a rare treat in this dusty industrial town: free run of the shady, company-owned orchard, filled with ripe pomegranates. Pomegranates aren't the only perk at Chigo. In the past five years Chigo's millionaire owner, Li Xinghao, has built a swimming pool, new housing and a reading room for his workers. He has also sought to decrease high employee turnover rates by raising salaries and giving bonuses to workers who stay more than three years. Li isn't alone. After decades of abundant cheap labour willing to put up with long hours and Dickensian working conditions, the Pearl River Delta, China's manufacturing heartland, is facing labour shortages....
    [What a joke. "Labor shortages" in China where there are literally millions of unemployed. Let's call a spade a spade - we're talking about skill illiquidity and training shortages, not labor shortages. And economies of the future will achieve much greater skill liquidity by implementing automatic overtime-targeted training and hiring.]

  15. 8/21   When a part-time job means working 70 hours a week, by Darryl Passmore, Queensland Sunday Mail, Australia.
    STATE OF QUEENSLAND, Australia - Queensland teenagers are putting in 70-hour weeks as they struggle to juggle school, homework and paid casual work. Research gathered by the Commission for Children & Young People for a review of child labour shows many youngsters putting in longer hours than their parents, with up to 30 hours' work on top of their studies. And evidence is emerging that schoolkids who work long hours are less likely to complete Year 12 or go on to further education. The younger they start working and the more hours they do, the greater the risk to their school performance, a study of 3000 students found. "Working shifts of up to eight hours after a full day at school is a pretty regular occurrence," said Devett O'Brien, from the Smart Casual project set up by the Young Christian Workers organisation. It was not unusual for teenagers to finish work as late as midnight or 1am and have to get up for school the next morning. "Obviously, in terms of their schoolwork, they are pretty buggered," he said. "Also, if you are working during the week and often Saturday or Sunday ­ or both ­ there's no time to recover, let alone enjoy sport or do anything fun. "We find some people getting sick all the time, having colds and flu constantly because they are so run down." Mr O'Brien said many young people did not want to work so many hours but were under pressure by employers. Youngsters were afraid to say no. "They know if they refuse that they will suddenly be off the roster. They've seen it happen to other people and, in many cases, it's happened to them before." Youth advocacy and legal groups, educators and unions are pushing for a minimum legal age to be set for employees and for limits on the hours schoolchildren can work. Australia's rate of employment among 15 to 19-year-olds is nearly twice the average for developed countries and the proportion of youngsters combining school and work has risen from 29% to 43% since 1987. In Queensland, it's even higher, at 48%. A survey by the Children's Commissioner in southeast Queensland last year found 72% of students aged 14 to 16 had jobs. More than half had started working when under 15 and 7% were working by the time they turned 11. About one in six work more than 15 hours a week and a study last year by the Young Workers Advisory Service reported: "At almost every school, there were students who regularly worked more than 30 hours a week." Contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Queensland has no minimum legal age for workers and YWAS acting co-ordinator Karen Bull said employers were recruiting younger and younger kids. Mr O'Brien said some fast food operators were even targeting 12 and 13-year-olds. The advantage for employers was that the workers would be on the same low pay rate until they turned 15. Advocates say youngsters do 10-hour shifts, frequently work overtimewithout pay, as well as going without breaks. Ms Bull and Queensland Council of Unions secretary Grace Grace say exploitation of young workers is endemic. Workplace bullying and harassment are also problems. But many are unaware of their rights and don't even know what a union is. Queensland Retailers Association executive director Patrick McKendry said they would oppose moves to limit hours or set a minimum working age as a clear case of discrimination. "Work for young people in the retail industry is fundamentally important to Queensland. Young people comprise a valuable supply of labour," he said. It was preposterous to add schoolwork and paid work together and he could not recall anyone in the industry ­ employers or workers ­ raising concerns. But Ian Baldock of the Queensland Retailers and Shopkeepers Association, which represents smaller traders, said they would have no argument with setting a minium age of 14. On limiting working hours, Mr Baldock said: "As a parent, I would probably say 30 hours would be excessive ­ I would think 20 hours would be more acceptable." The Commission for Children has released its review of child labour for discussion and a forum "Examining the impact of earning on young people's learning", organised by YWAS, will be held in Brisbane on August 31.
    • Do you think there should be a minimum age and limits on working hours for young people? Contact us at The Sunday Mail, GPO Box 130, Brisbane 4001; fax (07) 3666 6787; e-mail smletters@qnp. newsltd.com.au

  16. 8/21   The play's the thing - His militant past behind him, Pat Kane argues that play - not work - is the key to a healthier society, by Peter Ross, Sunday Herald, UK.
    There is both less and more to Pat Kane than there used to be. First the less part. He walks into the restaurant on a stormy-then-sunny Glasgow Tuesday looking toned and tanned, wearing the well-chuffed expression of the born-again slim and a jacket he last had on a decade ago. Pinching the left lapel, he announces: "You see before you the raiment of self-actualisation." This is his uniquely Kaneish way of saying that he has lost loads of weight and is much happier for it. Unconvinced by the deprivations of Atkins (the man loves all forms of complexity, which presumably includes complex carbs), he shed the pounds by examining his consciousness in order to work out why he associated sugar with a sense of well-being, then severing that connection. "The only way I could go on a diet," he chuckles, "was to do it conceptually." That's so Pat Kane. Once famous as half of cerebral jazz-pop duo Hue and Cry, he has become better known as the man with the pointiest head in Scotland, always ready to paint newspaper pages and television screens purple with discussions of dialectics and semiotics. He is certainly an intellectual ­ almost to the point of caricature. There are many who think him pretentious, narcissistic, totally up himself. I know people who collect perfect crystals of Kanespeak, reverently bringing them out at parties, a line at a time, like uncut cocaine. One friend recalls seeing him on a TV phone-in, urging the public to continue calling, with the words "Keep punching those numbers, Sisyphus". Then there is the Scottish website which has preserved in cyberspace Kane's immortal description of Noam Chomsky as "a reliable Chardonnay in the wine rack of geopolitical punditry". Speaking personally, I believe the only reason I was born with ears was so that five years ago, when we first met, I could hear him use the expression "I may be speculating into a vacuum here" as a way of saying he was taking a wild guess. He is not so different to that today: at one point he asks, rhetorically, "Am I a militant postmodernist?" before declaring, "F*** yeah!" Yet, he is clearly a changed man. Where once Kane gave the impression of wanting to show off his intellect to the world like a gleaming set of kitchen knives, he now appears unsure of who he is, what his mind contains and where its edges are. You get the impression that he is holding back. When he talks about his life and work over the last few years, he seems to be hesitantly reporting from a vast and unfamiliar emotional terrain. The last four years have been eventful. He resigned from the Sunday Herald, with which he had been involved back when it was an idea but not yet a paper. He began to work on his new book, The Play Ethic, which will be published next month. His marriage to Joan McAlpine, a deputy editor of The Herald, with whom he has two daughters, ended in 2001. He has a new partner, a woman he has been seeing for 18 months, a deep thinker and creative type like him. He would prefer that she remain anonymous as "the Pat Kane spotlight has curdled and shrivelled quite a few things in the past". We order lunch and start by talking about The Play Ethic. Part biography, part reportage, part cultural theory, it examines Kane's theory that the work ethic is on the way out, that the West is ready for the division between labour and leisure to be less strictly defined, and that the world would be a better place if only we would use free time and technology, specifically the internet, as a way of leading more meaningful and creative lives. That sounds woolly, but there are concrete ideas. Kane proposes a reduction in working hours, first to 35 hours a week and ultimately to between 20 and 25 hours....
    [20 hours was what Dahlberg was proposing in 1932. The Technocrats were proposing 16 (four 4-hour days). But now, enough of this article's bizarre Scottish dip into cult formation.]
    For more information, visit www.theplayethic.com.

  17. 8/22   Personal view: Work-life activists haven't put the long hours in on their homework, by Director Ruth Lea of the Centre for Policy Studies, Telegraph.co.uk, UK.
    [This moron has set up the Race to the Bottom for us - with South Korea the winner with the longest annual working hours in the world - except for the countries even deeper in the Third World. And by the way, Ruth, South Korea is in the process of cutting its workweek, regardless of your pathetic desire for longer hours.]
    There is little doubt that the German and, to a lesser extent, the French economies are under-performing.
    [relative to whom or what? - unspecified? - guess there is doubt then, eh?]
    Growth has been poor
    [by what standard?]
    and unemployment remains stubbornly high.
    [by what standard? the USA? you have no standing until you include all the U.S. hidden unemployment in welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, etc.]
    They are still prosperous countries but their prosperity is under threat.
    [Yeah, from fad-fashioned policy wonks like Ruth Lea.]
    In addition, their lack of competitiveness is being exacerbated by the growing business opportunities in the new EU countries of central Europe as well as the more familiar challenges from China.
    [Interesting how we're suddenly calling Third World economies "competitive" - and even the standards of competitiveness. Is this the best that mainstream economic "science" can do? We'd say their (self-)destructive bias toward their income source in the short- and near-sighted top income brackets is showing through more and more plainly - ripening them for overthrow in a classic "scientific revolution" a la Thomas Kuhn. Once worktime economics is deployed, they're history.]
    If Germany and France are to maintain their competitiveness, they must raise their game.
    [Ah, "raise" a game by lowering wages and living standards - we don't think so.]
    German Chancellor Schröder has already responded to this challenge by instigating a series of 'reforms' [our quotes], including mightily unpopular plans to cut the generous unemployment benefits, and business is responding by effectively calling "time" on the "short hours culture".
    [Sooo clever.]
    Much is made of the "long hours" culture in this country [presumably the U.K.], but the OECD's data on average annual hours actually worked per worker* show a very different picture. The mean for 28 OECD members is around 1,700 hours a year, admittedly a crude statistical exercise, but it nevertheless throws up some interesting findings. Korea works the longest hours, followed by the Czech Republic, Poland and Greece.
    [Note we're suddenly comparing the mighty United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the likes of Third World specimens like Korea and eastern Europe! Birds of a feather? Guess we can write off the UK as a First World economy, if those are the "standards" they aspire to.]
    The UK is 16th with average annual hours of around 1,675 - just under the mean for the OECD members. France and Germany are placed 25th and 26th respectively, both with around 1,450 hours. On the basis of these calculations the UK clearly has an "average hours culture" while Germany and France, equally clearly, have a "short hours culture".**
    Their short hours culture includes, of course, the 35-hour week, which is the legal limit in France and the negotiated norm in Germany. It is, however, being increasingly challenged by businesses 'desperate' [our quotes] to cut unit costs and improve competitiveness.
    [These are businesses that are doing fine, but the CEOs are bored and they want MORE for themselves, like American CEOs who have really reamed their consumer base in aid of bloating their own pay and perks. So now French and German CEOs want to give it a spin. They're going to succeed as gloriously as the Japanese CEOs about whom even Americans were writing scores of adoring management books throughout the 1980s - until the late 80s, when Japanese employers madly betrayed their unique domestic-demand-maximizing lifetime employment policy and started mimicking Amerika's downsizing. From Deming to Chainsaw Dunlap in little over one year. Result? Within a year they had hamstrung their own consumer base and plunged Japan into an economic toilet from which they have yet to emerge.]
    A landmark[?] agreement in June between Siemens and engineering union IG Metall effectively reintroduced the 40-hour week, with no pay increases, after Siemens had threatened to move 2,000 jobs from high-cost Germany to low-cost Hungary. More recently, German employees at DaimlerChrysler and Thomas Cook have also agreed to work longer hours.
    [And now, oh dear, we have to just do anything we can to spin this as a step forward and not a step backward.]
    DaimlerChrysler threatened to close a plant near Stuttgart before securing agreement to implement a 40-hour week and cut break times. And at loss-making Thomas Cook, workers agreed to increase their weekly working hours to 40, initially for a year, accompanied by an 18-month delay in raising pay.
    [Guess Siemens and Daimler were not loss-making then, huh?]
    All in all, it is estimated that about 100 German companies are considering increasing working hours. And, despite their protests, Germany's workers are accepting that they will have to work longer hours to keep their jobs.
    [So capitalism has finally moved on to stage one of Marx's prediction that it would destroy itself by unregulated competition against its lowest common denominators. Say, ain't that what we used to scorn communism for? = reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator instead of bringing everyone up to the highest common denominator?]
    France's 35-hour-week legislation was introduced in 1999 by the then socialist government to curb unemployment. It has failed dismally to achieve this objective and has been particularly onerous for small firms.
    [Data? In 1997 before the 35-hour workweek was voted in, French unemployment was 12.6%. In 2001 after the 35-hour workweek was largely though imperfectly implemented but before the US-led recession hit, French unemployment was 8.6%. That looks like a corelation of 1% unemployment cut for each of the four hours cut from the workweek, Ruth. You can bend over backwards to explain away this corelation, but you're certainly not justified in calling France's 35-hour-week legislation a dismal failure without a lot more data and effort. Are you a scientist or a propagandist? Well, obviously you're a propagandist, but it would work a lot better if you concealed it a lot more.]
    Centre-right PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin is scathing, claiming that the legislation has "killed" economic growth.
    [He's an idiot - elected by a minority of the French people whose majority left-of-center votes were fractionated by more choices on that side and by frustrated by a lack of modern voting technology such as instant run-off voting where you get to select second and third choices in case your first choice is dropped in the primary.]
    He has stated that French employees need to work longer
    [oh "misery does love company" doesn't it]
    and, even though a comprehensive repeal of the legislation looks very unlikely, it has been decided that employees can work longer if collectively agreed.
    [what a privilege! - never mind that employees don't have any option when employers have all the power in the stupidly cultivated global labor surplus.] Some have already accepted longer hours. In July, employees at Robert Bosch's Venissieux plant near Lyon agreed to work 36 hours a week, with no pay increase, to prevent production moving to the Czech Republic. Nexans, Europe's biggest cable maker, has already announced that it may ask its workers for a similar arrangement. Other companies based in France will surely follow.
    And what are the lessons for us? As the data [these are a series of individual, anecdotal cases, not data as in what percentage of French or German companies are doing this] already quoted show, the notion that all, or even the majority of, British workers are "long hours culture, sweatshop workaholics", as painted by the more extreme "work-life balance" lobbyists, is far from the truth.
    [No it isn't, but the top brackets and their PR people, like Ruth Lea - since they're doin' OK in this pathetic excuse for an economic design - are at pains to dress this as the best of all possible worlds - just as the Ptolemaic astronomers were at pains to blacken Copernicus.]
    Of course, some people work long hours - say, more than 48 hours a week. But they are atypical [data??] and include a disproportionate number of the self-employed and/or the highly ambitious in their group. Moreover, and contrary again to the work-life balance propagandists [what in the world does this woman have against work-life balance??? she's betraying her sisterhood, parenthood, humanity, progress and freedom, since free time is the most basic freedom! why? what's in it for her?] who claim that we are working longer and longer hours, National Statistics data show that average weekly hours worked have hardly changed in recent years.
    [But watch them change if this self-fragging fad in France and Germany gains traction.]
    Data from National Statistics¶ show that average hours for men in full-time work were 40.7 in 1996 and 39.2 this year. The figures for women were 34.5 and 33.7.
    Alas, the work-life balance lobbyists are strangers to statistics.
    [No, you're a stranger to the majority of your own economic history, when the workweek was cut in half between 1776 (Adam Smith) and 1940, everyone won, especially the top brackets who then, unlike now, had solid consumer-based investments.]
    They remain vocal in pressing for shorter hours as "we work the longest hours in Europe".¶¶ By implication, it appears we should be working the same hours as those countries "which work the shortest hours in Europe", including, presumably, France and Germany.
    [Or even shorter, since the UK has more hidden unemployment than France or Germany.]
    A glance at the economic realities of the labour markets in both countries shows how mistaken their demands really are.
    [Where's your data for us to glance at? Our data shows 39-hrs/wk France with 12.6% unemployment (1997) and 35-hrs/wk France with 8.6% unemployment (2001). It also shows 44-hr/wk USA with 17.2% unemployment (1939) and pre-war 40-hr/wk USA with 9.9% unemployment (1941). That merits investigation, especially in the light of the previous 150 years of worksaving technology coupled with workweek reduction. So cut the stupid dismissiveness, Ruth Lea, or you'll be forgotten as an epicycling geocentrist instead of remembered as an early heliocentrist.] Footnotes
    * OECD: Employment Outlook, 2004. The OECD warns that the data are not strictly comparable because of differences in definition
    ** Average annual hours worked per worker in the US are, incidentally, about 1,800.
    ¶ or ¶ National Statistics: Labour Market Trends, August 2004
    ¶¶ This is clearly nonsense. The OECD data for the 18 "large" EU countries show that we are 8th in the list behind the Czech Republic, Poland, Greece, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Hungary and Portugal and work very similar hours to Finland.

  18. 8/22   Canada: Rank-and-file rebellion at the Met, by Jeff Shantz, Green Left Weekly via Green Left (Australia).
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Working conditions at Toronto's elite Metropolitan Hotel have been so brutal for so long that many among its predominantly immigrant workforce refer to it as a "five star sweatshop". However, when Met workers turned to their union, Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees (HERE) local 75, for help, they were met with inaction and patronising dismissal. So the Met workers organised the Metropolitan Hotel Workers Committee in 2003. Within a few months of meetings and discussions, the committee had grown to include 56 of approximately 200 Met workers. Of the 200 workers at the Met, more than two-thirds are women, most of Philippines, Chinese, South Asian and West Indian backgrounds. The miserable conditions faced by workers across the hotel industry are well documented. Long hours of work are matched with low pay and unsafe working conditions. At the Metropolitan Hotel, housekeeping workers have been made sick from the regular use of chemicals that are not even properly labelled. One estimate suggests that one in 10 workers at the Met presently suffers from some type of workplace injury. One worker was forced to leave the Met after 14 years when she developed cancer. By law the workplace is required to have a joint health and safety committee, including local 75 representation, but the union has had no contact with the workers, despite repeated requests. Employees are forced to work as many as 16 hours without a break. One worker was disciplined for taking company property because, after a full day with no dinner break, she ate a cookie destined to be thrown out. Workers are often punished for speaking languages other than English. Incredibly, local 75 has cited the language barrier as a reason it has not resolved grievances. Before the committee was formed, workers who spoke up or tried to defend workmates were targeted by management, including with false accusations of theft. Instead of welcoming the committee, however, the HERE local has joined management in attacking it. Recently, the union representative and the Met's manager jointly called a meeting with shop stewards to coordinate an attack on the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which has supported the committee's efforts. Workers were pressured in the presence of management to sign a statement demanding that OCAP stay away from the hotel. When one of the committee members, who had been an active militant within the local, was elected as a HERE shop steward, the local's president intervened to remove him from his position. When another committee member was fired, the union failed to call the witness who was essential to his arbitration case. Faced with this inaction, and obstruction, from the local 75 leadership, the Met workers finally decided to take things into their own hands, organising rallies and pickets at the workplace. Local 75 leaders have boycotted the actions. Despite this, the committee has already made some important gains. Grievances have been satisfactorily resolved and committee members have done skill-sharing with each other to teach themselves how to take grievances forward. As the committee has grown and enjoyed some successes it has been approached by workers from other hotels about starting similar committees in other workplaces. These are important steps in building a vital network among rank-and-file activists geared towards autonomy and self-activity.

  19. 8/21   Poor eating habits: Financial stress puts many Americans on dangerous diet, by Jon Brodkin (508-626-4424 or jbrodkin@cnc.com), Framingham Metro West Daily News, MA.
    Despite barely having enough money to feed their families, the poorest Americans are the most likely to be obese, researchers say. Because the poor tend to eat unhealthy foods and get little exercise, they risk developing weight problems that threaten their overall health, experts say. It's a problem Bill Gallo knows well. A single father of five kids, and one of tens of millions of obese Americans, Gallo says feeding himself and his family is tough without low-cost, high-calorie meals. "Buying the right foods has been difficult, because of the budget constraints," said Gallo...who lives with his kids in a Northborough Housing Authority property. "Typically I go for whatever's on sale...The income dictates what I purchase. The hours dictate how much preparation time I can put into it." At 5-foot, 8-inches and 220 pounds, Gallo is about 55 pounds overweight and meets the federal definition of obese. Like many obese people, he has problems with blood pressure and cholesterol, which he treats with medication. Obesity, labeled a global epidemic by the World Health Organization, may soon overtake tobacco smoking as the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, government officials say. Despite its prevalence among the poor, obesity affects all classes. Nearly one-third of American adults are obese.
    Bad diet, sedentary lifestyle
    The poor often can't afford nutritious food, so consumption of fast food and unhealthy products sold in supermarkets is common. People with low incomes also tend to be poorly educated about healthy food choices, experts say. In urban areas, parents may not want their children to play outdoors due to safety concerns, a choice that limits physical activity. Finally, the poor often work long hours, leaving little time for exercise. "People who live in poverty often live in situations where there's not a lot of stimulation except the television," said Janet Schwartz, a professor of food and nutrition at Framingham State College. Schwartz is also director of the John Stalker Institute of Food & Nutrition, a state-funded organization that promotes nutrition education in schools. Obesity has been linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, said Kerri Steinberg, a dietician at Milford-Whitinsville Regional Hospital. And once someone is overweight, it's difficult to do the exercise necessary to shed pounds, she said. "The bigger you are, the harder it is to move. You get out of breath more quickly," she said. Steinberg said she has not noticed a connection between poverty and obesity among the patients she counsels at Milford-Whitinsville. But the prevalence of obesity among people who are so poor they often go hungry has piqued the interest of researchers at the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University in Waltham. In a report released last year, the center examined "The Paradox of Hunger and Obesity in America." "Researchers are still trying to understand how someone who is not getting adequate access to food can at the same time be considered obese," said Bryan Hall, a research associate at the center. The center's report paper says the poor often stretch budgets by consuming foods loaded with calories. They also often overeat when food is available. And when a person's diet is periodically inadequate, the body can compensate by storing more calories as fat, the center writes.
    Poor women more often obese
    One federal study found that women with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are 50% more likely to be obese than all other women. The link between poverty and obesity is much less consistent among men, but Center on Hunger and Poverty Director Larry Brown says it's still a common problem for poor males. Men facing the same obstacles as women on tight budgets are likely to eat unhealthy diets, he said. Gallo, the Northborough man, does not live in poverty, but has to watch every dollar he spends. Working full time maintaining commercial real estate office buildings, he earns $45,000 a year. But after taxes and $200-a-week child support payments, Gallo clears $463 a week, he said Gallo and his ex-wife have joint custody of their four boys and one girl, but most of the time the kids live with him, he said. He has little time for exercise because of his family and professional duties. He works 45 to 50 hours a week and is on call around the clock. His budget, Gallo says, is so tight he rarely even buys fast food. Hot dogs and fries, macaroni and cheese and pasta are common meals in his household. Regular trips to a local food pantry help keep the cupboards full. Like himself, Gallo says customers of the pantry are often overweight. "I see all the folks in the same boat, kids as well," he said.
    A cycle of bad nutrition
    Gallo's poor eating habits, he says, began in his youth when his parents were also forced to feed their children on a limited budget. His mother was obese and now one of his own kids, 13-year-old Stephen, is developing a weight problem, he says. "I'm concerned about him," Gallo said. "If he continues he'll be just like myself, if he can't find a way of getting control of it." Parents' eating habits often have long-lasting effects on a child's diet, said Teresa Morse, senior nutritionist at the state-funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program in Framingham. "We have to target the adults in the household to get on this bandwagon, in order for the whole family to change," Morse said. Morse says women in the early stages of pregnancy who come through WIC's doors today are much heavier than the pregnant women she saw 10 years ago. WIC counselors help clients eat healthy in part by using a system that is similar to food stamps, yet forces people to choose only nutritious foods. Clients are given "checks," which allow them to buy certain foods, like a gallon of milk or a healthy cereal. "We counsel people on using their dollars wisely and making better choices for the money they have," Morse said. "I think it's so easy to go to McDonald's and get a Happy Meal for a couple bucks, instead of trying to buy some real nutritious foods at the supermarkets."
    Got fat?
    The allure of fast food is especially common in impoverished areas, says Schwartz of Framingham State. She was in the South Bronx recently and saw four fast food restaurants - KFC, Burger King, McDonald's, Taco Bell - all in a row. "You have to be really smart to eat well (in such an environment)," she said. "It's cheap and it fills you up and the kids are happy. And then of course they get these prizes. That marketing piece is huge." The role of fast food restaurants in the nation's weight problem has sparked national debate. While some think sellers of fatty foods should be held liable in court, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to outlawobesity lawsuits against fast food restaurants. In MetroWest, obesity is less common than in other portions of Massachusetts. A recent state survey found that 18.3% of Massachusetts residents are obese, compared to just 13% in MetroWest. But even in local cities and towns, where incomes are relatively high, "there are pockets" of obesity, said Martin Cohen, president of the MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation. "I think the problem with obesity cuts across all income levels," Cohen said. "But we see a link in the lower-income populations and part of it is some economic issues around what people have available to them as food choices, and also education around nutrition." Regardless of income, though, many Americans simply eat too much and don't exercise enough, Schwartz said. "Our body wants to conserve energy, because otherwise we die. That's why we have fat," she said. "We are metabolically not suited to eat this many calories and not expend more energy."



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