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Timesizing News, September 11-20, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

9/18-20/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/17-19 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except Australian & Far East stories which are 9/18-20), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

    Hexham Courant, United Kingdom
    [Here's a case where cutting hours is creating more jobs, at least for nurses -]
    HEXHAM, England - Sisters [ie: 'nursing sisters'] are doing it for themselves at Hexham General Hospital now that specialist nurse practitioners have taken over from junior doctors. Since European laws were introduced recently to curb their long hours, the presence of fresh-faced junior doctors has been replaced by experienced nurses who are relishing the new challenge.
    Dawn Dixon and Linda Scott topped-up their skills by studying alongside third year medical students at Newcastle University on an intensive 10-week course. Instead of junior doctors, the nurse practitioners now work in tandem with consultants who have welcomed the promotion. Consultant colo-rectal surgeon Mike Bradburn said: "A consultant has always relied on his senior ward sister as the common sense approach on what is going on. She has seen it before and the consultant would take her word before any junior doctors." There are already nine nurse practitioners working at Hexham hospital in specialisms including orthopaedics, general surgery and gynaecology, with more posts still to fill. Dawn Dixon, who was ward manager for 11 years before becoming nurse practitioner in April 2003, said her new job was stimulating and more challenging. "We look after patients using our nursing skills and also from a medical point of view," she explained. "We get patients ready for theatre to make sure that they are medically fit and post-operatively we make sure that the patients are well and we review them. "We relay all the information to the consultant and a management plan is devised to meet the patients' needs." Linda Scott said: "The medical students had a lot of the theory, but we have lots of experience of sick patients, so we helped each other a lot." Nurse specialist Yvonne Smith manages and runs a nurse-led chemotherapy service at Hexham hospital for Tynedale patients with solid tumours. Yvonne, who came from Newcastle General hospital to set up the unit in 2001, said: "In the summer of last year it was decided that it was no longer viable to have a visiting oncologist but we knew that patients did not want to travel to Newcastle for treatment." Although blood tumours are not being treated at Hexham hospital at the moment, there are plans to expand the service.

  2. 9/17   Facing $1.1 million shortfall, Santa Clara to close Mondays
    Library Journal, United States
    [And here's a case where cutting hours is saving jobs -]
    Many libraries in Santa Clara County, CA, will be closed on Mondays effective October 11 owing to a $1.1 million budget shortfall this fiscal year. The Santa Clara County Library (SCCL), which provides service to residents of unincorporated areas as well as nine cities, must take this action to save $1 million in operating costs. Several of the facilities already are closed Sundays.
    The SCCL Joint Powers Authority (JPA) voted unanimously to cut hours in anticipation of the expiration of the $5.3 million benefit assessment tax in June 2005. This revenue provides 21% of SCCL's operating budget.
    The benefit assessment tax, which was approved in 1994 at $33 per single family home, wasn't renewed this past March. The more than 60% voter approval was short of the two-thirds needed for taxation measures. The JPA soon will decide whether to ask voters again, in 2005, to extend the tax. Said JPA chair Richard Lowenthal, "What is really daunting is that if the voters don't pass the library ballot measure next year, we'll be short another $5.3 million and the effect on the libraries could be truly disastrous." The cutback in hours comes at the same time SCCL is experiencing an increase in use. More than three million visitors now visit annually, checking out ten million items. Besides the nine libraries, the bookmobile, which visits child care centers, senior centers, and migrant labor camps, also will suspend service on Mondays, as well as the toll-free phone number and community room.

  3. 9/17   Meanwhile: Workers of the world, unite and don't work!
    International Herald Tribune, France
    Michael Johnson
    LONDON - A few years ago I co-authored a book called "Workaholism: Getting a Life in the Killing Fields of Work." It sank like a stone. Maybe the title was too clunky.
    [Ohoh. Sour grapes alert?]
    More likely, my timing was off. Both Europe and the United States were living through a mild spasm of anti-work rhetoric in the 1990s, but it was nothing like what is happening today in France and Britain. This new wave goes far beyond downshifting and life balance. Two best sellers reflect this tune-out culture:
    1. Corine Maier's "Bonjour Paresse" in France and
    2. Tom Hodgkinson's "How to Be Idle" in Britain.
    Both authors advise that the route to sanity is to do as little as possible in your job while saving yourself for your real life outside the workplace. I have managed people in Britain and France and can attest to the reality of the trend. The British warned me when I arrived in London that "one must not be seen to be striving." In France, dodging work and responsibility in my company was an art. A key difference with the U.S. work ethic is that work life and private life are separate. Contrary to U.S. practice, friendships tend to be unrelated to professional life. Company picnics or Friday afternoon mixers are anathema. As one American working in Paris told me, "When I leave the office, my colleagues say 'a demain.' And they really mean it." In the French publishing firm where I worked, employees simply did not buy the argument that their work might be inherently worthwhile and essential to the success of the firm, the source of their sustenance. They resented the fact that shareholders took home unearned income from their daily work. This disconnect creates a standoff between leaders and the led. The French demand precise job descriptions so that management cannot take advantage of their energies. In most large companies, initiative and extra hours are out of the question. One man who worked for me tried to explain the French attitude: "We want you to tell us exactly what you want us to do, and we'll do it if we feel like it."
    Ms. Maier is a chipper professional economist with a disarming subversive streak. Her book, she writes, will help you "use your company instead of letting yourself be used by it." She quotes recent polls that indicate only 3% of the French are willing to give themselves to their work whereas 17% are "actively disengaged," meaning their attitudes are so unconstructive as to "approach sabotage." In this environment, there is no point seeking professional satisfaction. Not surprisingly, she is scheduled for a disciplinary hearing at her job later this month. She can hardly wait. In Britain, I have found similar cynicism but in milder form. Margaret Thatcher's self-help culture has eroded since her departure from public life, allowing the old slacker malaise to creep back into daily life. Too much lager is downed at lunch and too many coffee breaks - especially the mini-lunch called "elevenses" - interrupt job concentration. More to the point, Thatcherism never quite lived up to its economic promises. The most alarming manifestation in Britain is the "chav scum" movement, composed mostly of marginalized young men who see no future for themselves.
    [Didn't we see a movement something like this somewhere else too? Was it in China? In the U.S. a few months ago, an article identified a similar group designated as Kramer-lifestyle - after Kramer on the TV show "Seinfeld."]
    The British press is just discovering these disturbing creatures, sometimes also known as Kevs, steeks, spides, ratboys, skangers, stigs or scallies. A typical male chavster lives with his parents and may be identified in a shopping mall by his clothes - a branded baseball cap, white sneakers, Burberry's socks, cheap gold-plated jewelery and a T-shirt with a slogan such as "Friendly when drunk." The chavs communicate with each other by text messages on their cellphones in a twisted form of English limited by the 160 functions of the keypad. They write in this abbreviated lower-case form even when they are not sending messages. They cannot or will not pronounce "th," so it becomes "f." With a small leap of logic, then, "3dom" equals "freedom" and "1sty" equals "thirsty."
    On a recent visit to the United States. I watched for signs of erosion of the bootstrap culture Americans have always been proud of. I browsed the shelves at the Harvard Coop bookstore, finding nothing at all on downshifting.
    [That's funny. Bookfinder.com lists four books with that title (Saltzman '92, Ghazi & Jones '97, Bull '98, Drake '01) and Juliet Schor's Overspent American with "downshifting" in the subtitle.]
    Finally I asked the manager where he was hiding these books. "Can't help you," he said. "We're mostly about upshifting here."
    Michael Johnson is the author of "French Resistance: The individual vs. the Company in French Corporate Life."

  4. 9/17   Patients, Nurses Will Suffer as Thunder Bay Hospital Changes Nurses' Scheduling Method
    CNW Telbec (Communiqués de presse), Canada
    THUNDER BAY, Ont. - Registered Nurses at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Local 73 of the Ontario Nurses' Association, are extremely concerned that a decision by management to adjust its method of scheduling part-time nurses will deeply affect patient care and nurses' morale. The hospital recently announced to staff that it would eliminate the current 26 job-sharing nursing positions and discontinue the master rotations for a further 343 part-time nurses at the facility. Instead, the job-share nurses may be offered full-time positions, and possibly part-time, and the part-time nurses, who always knew their shifts under the master rotations, will have to adjust to an ever-changing schedule. "The hospital says it is adding 35 full-time nursing positions, raising the proportion of full-time nurses to 70% due to a ministry directive, but this is misleading," said Donna Wheal, RN, Local 73 Bargaining Unit President. "Many people have told me they believe new nurses will be hired, but the hospital is simply taking the 26 job shares, converting them to 13 full-time nurses and the remainder of the 35 positions will come from nurses already working within the hospital. The hospital will move closer to achieving the 70% target with this plan, but they have not met it." Many of the job-share nurses feel full-time positions are being forced on them, and the new scheduling for part-time nurses means they won't be able to schedule things such as education courses, child care and vacations in advance. "Our biggest concern is for our patients," said Wheal. "The scheduling changes may negatively impact the continuity of patient care, which is so vital to a patient's recovery and wellbeing." "This announcement is totally unsatisfactory for the community of Thunder Bay," added ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "We are supportive of the creation of full-time positions, but not at the expense of the quality of work life for more than 300 part-time nurses, who are dedicated to providing quality care in their community. "In touring this facility on September 15 and talking with management, it is clear they are going ahead with this decision without concern for the devastating effect it will have on the nurses' lives. These nurses are already dealing with the challenges of moving to a new facility, not to mention the every day stress of increasingly heavy workloads. Their already low morale has suffered yet another blow." For further information: ONTARIO NURSES' ASSOCIATION: Donna Wheal, Local 73 Bargaining Unit President, Cell (807) 627-7033; Ruth Featherstone, ONA Communications, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267; Peter Birt, ONA Communications, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2237

  5. 9/17   Canadian teams endorse NHL lockout
    CBC News, Canada
    Canada's NHL teams came out Thursday and voiced their support for the league's decision to lock out its players. each staged separate news conferences, but all had a similar message for the media and hockey fans. The teams endorsed commissioner Gary Bettman's view that the NHL's economics are flawed and, that for the good of the game, a lockout is necessary.... Canadian workers lose jobs, work weeks slashed
    The lockout has also impacted those who work for Canada's NHL franchises. Some employees are out of a job, while others will have abbreviated work weeks for the foreseeable future. The Canadiens laid off 1,000 part-time employees who work during games. Team president Boivin has also agreed to a pay cut, while another 150 full-time employees will begin a four-day work week. Senators employees are also shifting to four-day weeks, while 120 Flames staffers will take a 40% pay cut and work three days a week. Vancouver's office staff is also switching to a four-day week. All team employees ­ including management and coaches ­ have also taken a 20% pay reduction, according to Nonis. The profitable Toronto Maple Leafs announced no layoffs, but Ferguson said some workers at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment may have their salaries scaled back. The Oilers, like the Leafs, didn't let go any employees. However, LaForge said the club's workforce was reduced to 67 from 90 after some left the organization to find more certain employment. Remaining Edmonton staffers were originally put on notice that they'd be moving to an abbreviated work week, but that was delayed until November with the arrival of the team's American Hockey League affiliate to the city. The Toronto Roadrunners moved to Alberta in the off-season and will now play at Edmonton's Rexall Place.

  6. 9/17   Not all school activities can be shifted to weekdays: Education Minister Tharman
    Channel News Asia, Singapore
    By Debra Soon
    SINGAPORE : Tharman Shanmugaratnam says it is not possible to shift all school activities on Saturdays to weekdays to implement the 5-day work week. Speaking at conference for uniformed groups officers, Mr Tharman said Uniformed Groups will need to carry out activities on Saturdays because schools rely on volunteers to carry out training. However, he said the challenge of implementing the 5-day week will provide an opportunity for schools to re-examine what they do and why. Mr Tharman says schools should stay true to the mission of providing broad and holistic learning opportunities for students, and think of fresh and bold solutions.

  7. 9/17   Overworked or bone lazy?
    Macon Telegraph, GA
    [This attempt to transfer part of the "bone tired" metaphor doesn't work. Bones ache from tiredness, not from laziness. More accurate would be "fat lazy" or "butt lazy".]
    A new government study raises that question [but probably not in those incoherent terms]. But let's first see how it came to be asked. Back in the 1980s, Americans who worried about our economic health fretted that innovative Japanese methods of management and production had made ours obsolete. Even worse, Japanese workers were far outworking and outsaving ours.
    [Ah, the outworking part of this statement was disproven by Juliet Schor in The Overworked American (1991).]
    Our economic lunch, in other words, was being eaten. Unless our CEOs learned from the Japanese geniuses and our workers adopted their employees' workaholic ways, by the 21st century we'd be left with the crumbs and Japan would rule the economic world.
    [Or, we could sucker the Japanese into exchanging their traditional strategy for full employment and fully activated domestic consumer markets (lifetime employment) for our biggest kamekazi management strategy, downsizing. We did, they bought it, and the results were...]
    But a decade later the Japanese and other overheated economies had crashed, and ours was soaring.
    [Because we were so much less cautious than they in the late 1980s & early 90s about converting from the military industrial complex to the prison industrial complex and the obesity industrial complex.]
    And we started worrying that American workers, thanks to "rightsizing" and the increased workloads our CEOs' "reforms" [our quotes] had wrought, were now working too long and hard. (They still weren't saving much.) Concern seemed justified when the International Labour Organization [ILO] published a study of work in 240 countries called "Key Indicators of the Labour Market 1999." The 600-page study revealed, among other things, that in 1997 American workers were averaging about two weeks (77 hours) longer on the job every year than Japanese. Compared to 1980, Americans were working 4.5% longer while the Japanese workers' hours on the job had declined by 11%. Working hours had also decreased in the major European industrial powers. Americans were working more overtime and taking far less vacation than their counterparts in Germany or France, where the standard legal work week is 35 hours.
    [Just in France, actually. In Germany, it's just common but not legally required in the unionized sectors in the west.]
    And more recent studies have indicated the trend continues. The pendulum swings, and swings again. In the year 1900, for instance, six-day work weeks of 60 hours were the norm; but in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act made the five-day, 40-hour work week the legal standard.
    [No, the FLSA of 1938 made 44 hours the legal standard in 1938 (Oct.24), 42 in 1939, and 40 only in 1940.]
    In succeeding years, paid vacations and holidays increased.
    But the ILO study [in 1999] showed American work time was creeping up again. Was the pendulum swinging back too far? Commentators feared that so much work and dwindling leisure would not only make Jack a dull boy, but make us overemployed, stressed-out, tired out and prematurely dead boys and girls. And now we find that the quality of our lives away from the office is under fresh assault from technology - wireless computing, ubiquitous cell phones leading to work invading the home, the auto and the vacation. That the trend to flexible work schedules and especially the 24-hour operation of businesses is rapidly erasing the line between work and nonwork, work time and our time, the workplace and any place.
    Well, a report [date?] from the U.S. Bureau of Standards [BLS] might help us get a clearer view - and see where the real problem with the quality of our lives is. It isn't so much in the shrinkage of our non-work time as it is in the lousy use we make of it.
    [No, it is the shrinkage of our free time, because his whole argument is based on averages, and with all the forced part-time these days, due to the complete insufficiency of 40-hour jobs under incessant automation, arguments from averages are meaningless.]
    I have space to cite only a few of the report's many surprises [for the naive] and [bogus] correctives. (It is based on the bureau's first-ever Time Use Survey, made last year, which involved asking 21,000 interviewees over 15 to detail their activities over the past 24 hours.) Full-time workers average just over 8 hours a day, But women put in an hour longer on household activities when they get home. (That's all?)
    About 20% of workers do all or some of their paid work at home. The more education one has, the more likely one is to be blessed (or cursed) by working at home - 33% of college graduates do, but only 13% of those with high school educations only.
    Contrary to some reports, people get enough sleep: 8.6 hours a day on average.
    [If this BLS report is recent, it sounds like another slanted load of Bush-administration self-justification.]
    But the study confirms in stark statistics that they lead dangerously sedentary lives. Watching TV takes up by far the most leisure time, about half of the five hours available. By comparison, exercise occupies an average of 18 minutes (I'm not making this up. Can you say obesity epidemic?) Not only is a disproportionate amount of time spent sitting, but the mind isn't being exercised much: the average reading time daily may be an hour for retirees, but it's 8 minutes for teens. (I hope that doesn't include homework.) Evidently we're on track to be fat, dumb - and unhappy.
    Ed Corson can be e-mailed at ecorson@yahoo.com.

  8. 9/18   GPs get sick and suffer in silence
    The Age, Australia
    By Peter Ellingsen
    [Another case of 'physician, heal thyself,' especially of workaholism -]
    AUSTRALIA - Medical training needs to be overhauled to stem the high level of suicide and emotional ill health among doctors, particularly female GPs [general practitioners], a breakthrough report says. Commissioned by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the report unveils the hidden stresses that can lead doctors to endanger their own health, their families' and, at times, their patients'. The Conspiracy of Silence: Emotional Health among Medical Practitioners, which is due to be launched by former premier Jeff Kennett at the end of the month, says patient care, particularly in mental health, may be compromised by emotional illness in doctors. It calls for more psychological and emotional health training, and urges the establishment of peer support groups where GPs can vent concerns and get advice. This recommendation has the backing of the GPs' college and the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria, and will likely be adopted. Board president Dr Joanna Flynn says that while medical schools generally did a good job, there was a "deficit" in later training. The report is a review of most of the studies into doctors' health. It found that doctors are not good at confronting emotional problems, nor are they well trained to deal with them in patients, many of whom complain of depression. As a result, female doctors are six times more likely to commit suicide than other women, and all doctors have a heightened risk of suicide and emotional ill health, as do spouses. As well, their children have a significantly higher rate of psychiatric breakdown. The report found that doctors are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and avoid exercise. If they are in general practice, they have a high (53%) level of work dissatisfaction and leave the job at an alarming rate, often due to burnout. Citing a recent local study, the report says that one-eighth of metropolitan GPs have a severe psychiatric disturbance, while more than 30% report high levels of mental disturbance. "It seems likely that selection of academic high achievers is highly likely to increase the workaholic tendencies evidenced in doctors later in life," the report says. It adds: "More specifically, a body of research dating from the 1960s has suggested students take up medicine because of a desire for social approval and identity." The report cites a review that found between 15 and 25% of medical students met the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis. This could be because the high marks needed for medicine are associated with obsessive-compulsive traits, the incidence of a family history of psychiatric illness or other reasons. While overwork is a factor, the report says the single biggest cause of stress among GPs is dealing with medical specialists, who are nearly always much better paid. "Stress may be increased through academic pressures to perform, as well as personal abuse from consultants and workplace sexism," it says. The report concludes that medical training fails to emphasise emotional skills and self care. "Medical training may be criticised for its focus on the rational and biological issues of health, while it neglects the intuitive and emotional aspects," it says. The report backs "feminising" medical training, saying that more attention to emotional health and psychological training can help doctors retain their emotional health, and that of their families and patients. This involves a cultural shift. "The culture of self-denial and altruism may seem appropriate in medical practice, yet taken to an extreme may seriously impede a doctor's ability to stay healthy and deliver quality health care to others," it says. It points out that in one extreme case, a doctor was in such denial that he tried to remove his own haemorrhoids. Craig Hassed, a senior lecturer at Monash University medical department, says medical courses have increased their focus on psychological training. "They learn a lot more than they used to," he says. "Some would say students don't learn enough. We're getting close to it. But it's a difficult balance." Dr Hassed says depression is seen as a biological problem best managed by medication, when the evidence is that non-drug solutions are more effective. "In the long run the non-drug (psychotherapy) strategies are the most effective," he says. The report found that, while up to 25% of young people who see a GP have "significant psychiatric morbidity", studies suggest that more than half those complaining of depression get inadequate treatment. The strategy of the Government's depression initiative, "Beyond Blue", is to have depressed people consult their GP. The college report, however, comments that: "In Australia few GPs feel equipped to deal with mental health problems."

  9. 9/18   Jobless Filipinos up by 1,000
    Sun Star, Philippines
    [More on what mainstream economists would regard as the totally coincidental 'corelation' of joblessness and overtime -]
    Another 1,000 Filipinos are added to the looming number of jobless people in the country as another garment factory in Cavite closed shop recently. According to Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairman Elmer Labog, Fashion House Garments, manufacturer of the branded clothing GAP, Old Navy and Allison, illegally closed down last September 15 which resulted to the displacement of more than 1,000 contractual workers. Labog said the Korean owner of Fashion House garments, Sung Kyu Kang failed to pay the salaries, overtime pay and back wages of his employees since August 16 and had not informed the workers of his plan to shut down the factory's operations. Besides the illegal closure, Labog said the owner also forced his workers to work for long hours and were even given Bonamine tablets to keep them awake and endure the drowsiness caused by long hours of work. Labog also cited the report of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers Rights (NCPWR) in Southern Tagalog that last August 21, Fashion House Garments which was located at the Golden Mile Business Park in Carmona, Cavite required their employees to work non-stop for 21 hours to finish the firm's target production quota for export. Similar case was reported in Anvil based in Taytay, Rizal where workers were given medicine and candies by the management to remain awake. Workers were also forced to take Bonamine tablets to prevent drowsiness. "Workers in sweatshops are severely exploited. They are forced to work hard under strenuous conditions but still, they receive very measly wages way below the minimum wage standards," Labog said.
    ["Whether you work by the piece or the day,
    Increasing the hours decreases the pay."
    = old union rhyme.]
    He blamed the government's decision to open the country to trade liberalization, which kills the local garment industry and allows the proliferation of sweatshops and the infringement of minimum wage levels and other labor standards to entice foreign investments.
    (Marie Neri)

  10. 9/18   Curb carts hit the streets - Ann Arbor begins automating refuse pickup
    MLive.com, MI
    Beginning next week, garbage day in Ann Arbor will be a little different for the city's 46,910 households. That's when the first of the new 64-gallon curb carts will be delivered; within two years all city residents will have received one free of charge. Once residents receive their city-issued carts, they are required to use them. Trash in other refuse cans or bags or any items simply dragged out to the curb will no longer be accepted. The carts will allow city crews to use $200,000 automated trucks with mechanical arms, instead of sanitation workers, to pick up the trash. The city says the new program will reduce the strain on crew members, who lift an average of 8.5 tons a day, not including the garbage bins. That can get as high as 12 tons a day during student turnover. "It will defeat this whole investment if people don't get their waste inside the cart," said Bryan Weinert, the solid waste program manager. The city is phasing in the new collection system by neighborhood. About 25 % of the city's residents will get their carts as early as Wednesday. By spring of 2006, all residents will have them. Residents have been notified by mail of the changes. About 90% of Ann Arbor's single-family curbside residents set out two or fewer bags or cans of trash per week, officials said, and one 64-gallon cart, equipped with a handle and wheels, will easily meet those needs. For those who need more, the city will provide a 96-gallon cart for $30 a year. Residents can get a second 96-gallon cart for $60 a year. Resident Craig Sinclair, who is scheduled to get his cart in October, said his two-person household can get by with one 64-gallon cart. He also understands that garbage won't be picked up if it's left outside the cart. "That makes sense," he said. "Otherwise you are defeating the purpose of this whole thing." But he's concerned that if the program doesn't work as well as expected, taxpayers will have to pick up the tab. "Whether this will cost us any more money, I don't know," Sinclair said. The city spent $1.1 million from its Solid Waste Enterprise fund to pay for the estimated 30,000 carts. But the city estimates once the plan is implemented, it can combine some routes, go to a four-day work week, and reduce workers' compensation claims and staffing.
    [Hey, at least they're not keeping the five-day workweek and REALLY reducing staffing.]
    Those changes will add up to savings of about $292,352 a year. Residents can see when their neighborhoods will get their carts by going to the city's Web site at www.a2gov.org then clicking on "A2 Carts Delivery Schedule" on the home page under "Current News" and enter the information as requested. The city says residents can set unwanted trash cans at the curb on their regular collection day. They should tape a note indicating it is trash. City crews will remove the cans at no charge during the first month following the delivery of the carts. "The curb cart program will save taxpayers' money, help the environment and help keep our neighborhoods clean," said Council Member Leigh Greden, D-3rd Ward. "It's a great program."
    Tom Gantert can be reached at tgantert@annarbornews.com or (734) 994-6701.

  11. 9/18   City firefighters lose court fight over pay
    NewsOK.com, OK
    [Here's a potentially good case study on overtime abuse, but it takes of lot more concentration than we have right now ]
    Firefighters lost their fight with Oklahoma City over millions of dollars in pay when a federal jury decided Friday that the city does not underpay the firefighters. At stake was the potential cost to the city of $10 million a year and $40 million in back pay of firefighters' wages had the jury not sided with the city in the trial in the Oklahoma City courtroom of U.S. District Judge David L. Russell. The firefighters claimed they signed on as hourly employees and are not paid for every hour they work. Firefighters said they work nine 24-hour shifts every 27 days for a total of 2,916 hours a year, but are only paid for 2,080 hours a year because the city still calculates the firefighters' paychecks based on a 40-hour work week.
    [Ooh - nice freeby for the city! This is the same kind of calculation that makes US productivity figures look so great.]
    Doing so violates the Federal Labor Standards Act, firefighters said.
    [No kidding.]
    The city said the firefighters have always been paid on a salary basis with overtime and benefits calculated at the higher hourly rate. It's what the firefighters' union and city negotiated in their contract, assistant municipal counselor Wiley Williams said. "If there's a problem, let's fix it, but filing a lawsuit is not the way to fix the problem," Williams told the jury during closing arguments. "They have to change it the right way, not by sneaking in the back door."
    [Maybe they've tried "the right way."]
    The courtroom tussle pitted Fire Chief Alan Benson, who sat next to city lawyers, against more than 530 of his firefighters who had joined the lawsuit. "I always respect their rights," Benson said after the verdict. "There will be absolutely no ramifications from me or the department." Benson said he expects that during the next round of negotiations with the union, an effort will be taken to clear up the contract's language on hourly wages and salaries.

  12. 9/19   Britons face struggle to balance work and family life
    AFP vi Straits Times, Singapore
    BRIGHTON, England - Britons are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle full-time jobs with caring for their families despite government legislation aimed at cutting hours spent in the office. 'More women work than ever before, but balancing work and family life is a struggle,' British Prime Minister Tony Blair told trade unionists at the annual conference of the country's biggest labour federation here last week. 'In some workplaces, there is a long-hours culture regardless of whether it is productive,' he told the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Since coming to power in 1997, Mr Blair's Labour government has introduced legislation aimed at promoting a better work-family balance, including making it easier for parents to work from home. Employees with children under six years or with disabled children under 18 are entitled to work flexible hours and their bosses must seriously consider their requests. But trade unionists said employers' demands, worries about job security and the need to earn a decent wage made it impossible for the bulk of parents to work flexible hours. Trade union leaders also said workers were not being helped by the government opting out of the European Working Time Directive that limits the working week to a maximum 48 hours across the European Union. 'While ministers remain wedded to the idea of maintaining the UK's individual opt-out, the children of long-hours parents will go on suffering,' TUC general-secretary Brendan Barber said. 'We are working the longest hours in Europe,' said Ms Shirley Johnston, a full-time trade union representative working in Britain's free health-care system. Union representatives said they would like to see the government follow France's example by introducing a maximum 35-hour working week, but acknowledged it was unlikely to happen as long as British companies were able to hire and fire people at will. 'It is easier to hire but also easier to fire' in Britain than on the Continent, said a spokesman for the Amicus engineering union, on the day it was revealed that the number of people seeking British unemployment benefits fell to 830,200 last month - the lowest level since July 1975. The Work Foundation, an independent consultancy, said 65% of Britons work more than 35 hours per week and 36% more than 40 hours. In a bid to appease unions ahead of an expected election next year, the government recently announced that employers would no longer be able to count public holidays as part of workers' statutory four-week holiday entitlement.
    [Tip from American employees = pick up our use of the word "vacation" for the statutory 4-week "holiday" and restrict the work "holiday" for the public holidays like Xmas and New Years. Makes the difference a lot easier to defend.]
    The move was expected to give three million workers an extra eight days off a year.

  13. 9/19   Recruits losing free time
    Washington Times, DC
    By Susanne M. Schafer
    FORT JACKSON, S.C. - Soldiers in basic training here don't get Saturday afternoons off any more - wars in Iraq and Afghanistan changed that. Their nine-week introduction to Army life now means lessons on roadside bombs, grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons, says the commander of the Army's largest training installation. "We owe it to our soldiers. They have got to be ready to survive, to fight and to win," says Brig. Gen. Abraham Turner, who became Fort Jackson's first black commander when he took over eight months ago.
    [Oh, like we won the easier guerilla war in Vietnam? - easier because it wasn't all entwined with cities and houses.]
    Gen. Turner says he is pleased with the Army's efforts to revamp how soldiers learn to fight, given that many will be heading to units in which they will face the threats that accompany the global war on terror. "The soldiers are getting it. They know these may be life-dependent skills," Gen. Turner...said. "We are doing a lot better than we have in the past. ... We have made a giant leap forward." Gen. Turner, who came to Fort Jackson after serving as the operations officer for U.S. and allied land forces operating out of Qatar in the Persian Gulf, said he is ensuring that the new soldiers get daily briefings on what is happening worldwide, particularly in battle zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. "They are more aware of what is going on in theater than ever before," Gen. Turner said. Making more time for "battle drills" such as manning checkpoints and firing advanced weapons means Saturdays now involve all-day training sessions. Afternoons that had been devoted to repeating lessons from earlier in the day now are spent in the field. "Retraining? That's gone. We have to do it right the first time," said Gen. Turner, a...South Carolina native. About 50,000 soldiers from basic and advanced training courses graduate annually from Fort Jackson. The trainees of today "grew up in the middle of 9/11," Gen. Turner said. "They are a generation that has the same experiences as those of Pearl Harbor, of our nation being under attack," he said. "They understand the ideals of freedom and justice. These aren't just words."

  14. 9/19   Union to teachers: Subtract hours - After-school events will suffer after San Juan votes for days off without pay
    Sacramento Bee, CA
    By M.S. Enkoji - Bee Staff Writer
    Teachers union officials told the San Juan Unified School District board that teachers will curtail their after-school hours in retaliation [or just in compensation] for the trustees' move to impose furlough days and increase medical costs. Faced with a $17 million budget shortfall for the current school year, trustees ordered union members to take three to five days off without pay and increased co-payments for doctor visits from $5 and $10 to $15. Both moves violated fair labor practices, the union president said during a board meeting Tuesday. "You can balance the budget legally or illegally," Nancy Waltz, president of the San Juan Teachers Association, told the trustees. "You chose to balance it illegally." Declining enrollment has forced the district - which serves mainly Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Citrus Heights and Orangevale - to trim costs for the 2004-05 school year. The mandatory days off are expected to save $2.4 million, school officials have said. Waltz presented the trustees with letters from union members at about 80 schools, informing them that they will work only 40 hours a week during the school year, eliminating extra hours such as early-morning staff meetings and afternoon and evening activities. Teachers frequently organize and stage themed evening events for students and their families, such as "Science Night" or "Family Reading Night." Waltz said before the meeting that student activities such as sports would not be affected. The furlough days effectively cut salaries, as did the boost in medical payments without proper negotiation, Waltz told trustees in a board room filled with union members. "We all recognize the financial crisis in San Juan," said Waltz, noting the district's recent math mistake that will cost $1.6 million during the next four years.
    [The "crisis" is only that taxpayers want something for nothing, and wealthy taxpayers want to stop paying their wealth-linked share.]
    Earlier this year, the district offered early retirement buyouts, calculating a $2 million savings. But the anticipated savings from vacant positions already had been counted into the budget - except for one position. The buyout debacle added a $400,000 expense for the district during each of the next four years. Waltz called on trustees to first rectify "fiscal mismanagement" before denying employees. "Our members have no choice but to rise up," she said.
    [Daa daa dadada daaaaaa!]
    A contract with the 2,800 teachers, librarians, counselors and health workers in the 49,000-student district expired in June, Waltz said, and negotiations continue. After trustees voted for the furlough and co-payment increases, the union filed a complaint with the California Public Employment Relations Board, Waltz said, adding that a ruling could come in December. The mandatory days off for union members are not class days and will not shorten the school year for students. The district will pay employees who work furlough days but at a flat rate of $21 an hour, Waltz said.Trustees did not comment on the union's presentation.
    About the writer - The Bee's M.S. Enkoji can be reached at (916) 321-1106 or menkoji@sacbee.com

  15. 9/19   Pay and debt deter rural specialists
    Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
    By Ruth Pollard
    The chronic shortage of rural anaesthetists across NSW is set to worsen, with this year's trainees saying long hours, inadequate facilities, concern over HECS debts and professional and social isolation are serious deterrents to a career in the country. A specialist in anaesthesia at Orange Base Hospital in the Central West, Frank Moloney, said the more rural anaesthetics was allowed to decline, the further patients would have to travel to obtain services. "Increasingly ... patients have to travel to bigger hospitals in the cities to receive adequate diagnosis and treatment of their condition," he said. Dr Moloney surveyed 67 of the state's 83 trainees in anaesthesia, and found along with career concerns, the next generation was focused on issues such as access to part-time work and well-paying jobs. "They say they are quite happy to work in these understaffed areas ... if they were adequately remunerated, if there are tax benefits and financial help to attend continuing medical education meetings in Sydney," he said. Better networking with the tertiary hospitals was also important, to ensure trainees who completed a rural term could have access to difficult training courseswith limited places, such as pediatrics, obstetrics, neurosurgery and cardiology. But it was not just rural and regional hospitals feeling the pinch - district hospitals on the outer-metropolitan fringes of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong were also suffering a significant medical workforce shortage. Dr Moloney compared the life of a trainee medical officer now to when he went through university 30 years ago, and concluded it was no wonder trainees gravitated towards big money in the inner city. "I received a Commonwealth scholarship and a living away from home allowance which paid for all of my accommodation at university, and I had some money left over," Dr Moloney said. "These days if you go through university ... most people are paying HECS - tertiary education is now a huge personal financial expense." Anaesthesia was not the only specialty suffering in the bush - most medical specialties were experiencing critical staff shortages, resulting in ever-increasing pressure on hospital staff, and longer delays for patients, he said. The Government acknowledged there were acute shortages in medical specialties, particularly anaesthesia, a spokesman for the Health Minister, Morris Iemma, said. Since 2002, the Government had provided $3.6 million over three years to increase trainee places and introduced eight extra general practice anaesthetists in Shoalhaven, Maitland, Orange, Lismore, Broken Hill, Armidale and Wagga. A further 29 area of need specialists had been approved and 16 filled - at Broken Hill, Wagga, Griffith, Nowra, Shoalhaven, Tamworth, Murwillumbah, Bankstown, Liverpool, Macarthur and Fairfield, the spokesman said. Dr Moloney says without extra resources, smaller surgical hospitals - in areas such as Cowra, Lithgow, Forbes and Parkes - where local surgeons do outreach services and GP anaesthetists are trained to provide anaesthetic services, will die.

  16. 9/19   Use 5-day work week to build family ties: SM Goh - Civil Service begins 5-day work week
    Channel News Asia, Singapore
    By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
    SINGAPORE - Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has urged Singaporeans to use the long weekends as a result of the five-day work week to build on family ties. Speaking at Kampong Ubi's family day, his first community event since stepping down as Prime Minister, Mr Goh also urged for a strong multiracial community to face the threat of terrorism head on. For someone used to working six days a week, Mr Goh said the five-day work week in the civil service has also meant an adjustment of work styles for him. "The first Saturday, I did not know what to do. I actually missed going to the office. But it would not be fair to go on Saturday, because had I done so, my secretaries, my staff have to go to the office and that would have defeated the purpose of a five-day week for civil servants," Mr Goh said. "For most of us, we should make use of the Saturdays off to spend time withthe family, which is the whole purpose of a long weekend. I must confess that having spent two Saturdays at home, I am now beginning to enjoy Saturdays off," he said. So Mr Goh spends time with his wife and plays some games. But building ties should not be confined to one's own family alone. The Singapore family and a multiracial society are just as important, especially after September 11 and the Jemaah Islamiyah plot in Singapore....

  17. 9/19   Shrinking revenues and rising costs are squeezing cities - Hiking payroll tax, cutting credits, reducing services all being tried
    Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH
    V. David Sartin and Martin Stolz
    An angry, standing-room-only crowd turned up at a hearing in University Heights City Hall last week, demanding that city officials slash services instead of killing a payroll tax credit for residents who work outside the city. Speaker after speaker chal lenged the plan, which would cost a family earning $75,000 a year from jobs outside the city an extra $375 in taxes. Eliminating the credit boosts taxes for some of the city's 14,000 residents by 50%. "You're trying to keep the status quo," said resident Fred Englehart. "That's not the right approach." Angry confrontations could become the norm in Northeast Ohio city halls as mayors and city councils raise taxes or cut services to deal with budget crunches. The Regional Income Tax Agency, which collects payroll taxes for more than 100 Ohio cities, says collections are down by nearly 2% for the first six months of 2004 compared with the same period last year. "There are very few communities in good fortune," said Prashant Shah, Pepper Pike finance chief and former president of the 108-member Municipal Finance Officers Association of Northeast Ohio. Exceptions include Broadview Heights, where about 1,000 new homes brought new taxpayers. As a result, the city will end this year with about $1.5 million in reserve. Euclid is but one example of the less fortunate. The city has seen payroll tax collections drop from nearly $22 million in 1999 to an estimated $19 million this year. In Strongsville, the mayor and City Council agreed to raise about $1.4 million this year for the city's $22 million budget by reducing tax credits. "It all goes back to losing 200,000 jobs in Ohio," said Strongsville Mayor Thomas Perciak. Many of the jobs that remain pay less. When the Chevrolet plant in Parma scaled back overtime beginning in 2002, the city lost $1.5 million in payroll taxes over two years. "It's been a rough couple years," Parma Treasurer Jack Krise Jr. said. The drop in payroll taxes isn't the only reason city budgets are tight. The same sour economy that has hurt cities has affected the state, which has cut aid to municipalities. Meanwhile, health-care costs have soared, and worker salaries keep climbing. "We're getting creamed like everybody else on health care," said Tom Malone, Cleveland Heights finance director. The city's medical bill has jumped 19% this year. Last month, financial advisers disappointed with Cleveland Heights' financial condition lowered the city's bond rating, making it more expensive to borrow money. No solution makes residents happy. One out of four Northeast Ohio cities has laid off workers or cut services in the four years ending in 2003, according to research by the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Some 128 municipal finance executives responded to the survey. Euclid and Maple Heights might use layoffs to close budget gaps. Other cities are looking to voters for extra payroll or property taxes. Ten cities in Cuyahoga County have tax increases on the November ballot. Several cities, including Parma and Strongsville, recently did what University Heights proposes - ending payroll tax credits given to residents who work outside the cities where they live. Still other cities have relied on their savings accounts to pay the bills. Euclid and Garfield Heights are emptying their reserve funds, which are saved for proverbial rainy days. Euclid in 1998 had reserves of $7 million, more than a quarter of annual expenses, but expects to have none by the end of 2005. Garfield Heights expects to have $2,800 left in its rainy-day fund at the end of next year. Lakewood is so strapped for cash that it is eating into its reserves and considering cutting the work week from 40 hours to 35. And the city may ask voters to increase the payroll tax from 1.5% to 2%. "Everybody has to absorb some of the impact," said Vic Nogalo, Lakewood finance director. "This is a nationwide downturn." Tight budgets also can be looked on as opportunities for cities to reinvent themselves, according to Kevin O'Brien, director of the Center for Public Management at CSU. He said downturns can be healthy. New York City and Cleveland started dramatic turnarounds after financial collapses in the 1970s. "Cities should reconsider spending," he said.
    To reach these Plain Dealer reporters:
    dsartin@plaind.com, 216-999-4043
    mstolz@plaind.com, 216-999-4549

  18. 9/17   Highway takes toll on troopers
    Pahrump Valley Times, NV
    It's a jungle out there - in case you haven't been on a Nevada highway lately. With higher powered, bigger cars and SUVs and hulking, voluminous tractor-trailers on the road, with everyone trying to cover more ground in less time, it's no great wonder that the Nevada Highway Patrol [NHP] is sorely stressed to keep up the pace. Sometimes it's all a trooper can do to stay upright in one place. Lengthier periods of training for cadets, an increase in the number of accidents and fatal highway crashes, and more drunk drivers on Nevada highways have all taken their toll on troopers' ability to handle the stress of the overwork. Add to that the lower salaries than they could make working for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept., and you could have a recipe for potential disquiet in the ranks. Sgt. Bryan Jorgensen finally made it to a Nye County Commission meeting in Tonopah last week after a year's absence to present a routine highway report. Normally, the NHP trooper presents updates to the commissioners on a quarterly basis. But due to chronic 50% staffing levels for patrol officers, Jorgensen has found it difficult to break away and attend meetings of any kind. He's either on the highway patrolling for lawbreakers or busy administering the Beatty and Tonopah District from headquarters. Jorgensen is supposed to supervise five other troopers in his district, but he's down to just two, beside himself. Two NHP cars patrol 1,000 miles of highway in the district - 177 miles of U.S. Highway 95 alone from the Mineral and Esmeralda county line in the north to Lathrop Wells in the south. Cadets ride alongside the veterans to learn the ways of the highway. Beatty has not had a resident NHP trooper for a year, and other troopers cover the area on overtime. It won't be until February before the staffing situation improves, Jorgensen said, as cadets emerge from the training pipeline to take on their highway duties. The NHP has two academies to train troopers. One is a boarding school in Carson City, and the other, a non-boarding school in Las Vegas. In each, basic Peace Office Standardized Training (POST) lasts 16 weeks. Currently 29 cadets are undergoing POST training at the two academies to become highway troopers. In addition, NHP cadets have to undergo another 10 weeks of training specifically related to highway law enforcement. Then, there's 15 weeks of closely supervised field training before a newly minted trooper is put on the highway alone. The training itself takes a toll: This summer Jorgensen lost three academy cadets slated for assignment to his district; two quit and one was fired during training. Moreover, NHP "traffic" troopers now receive 40 hours of new training in enforcement of state and federal laws pertaining to commercial trucking. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, NHP troopers have been certified to conduct searches of vehicles and are trained to be more aggressive in looking for hazardous materials, weapons and other contraband. "Our troopers are being more educated in the transportation of commercial enterprise," said Rocky Gonzalez, public information officer with the NHP's Central Command. "Added training has opened doors to a lot of troopers. There's always excitement. There's always something to do," Gonzalez said. Troopers check truck drivers' log books for "hours of service," to see howmuch sleep they're getting. Troopers are certified to report them to the federal government for violation of commercial transportation regulations. Commercial accidents have been on the rise nationally in recent years as drivers are put under greater pressures to make their deliveries in shorter periods of time - often going without sleep to do so and thereby endangering themselves and other highway drivers. Last year, Jorgenson said district troopers investigated 11 commercial crashes. This year it was up to 20, an 81% increase. Injuries resulting from crashes involving commercial vehicles went from seven last year to 10 this year, one of which was fatal. A proposal is before the Nevada Legislature to beef up NHP staffing for highway monitoring of commercial vehicles, Jorgensen said. Truck crashes have been on the rise along the periphery of Nye County, from Alamo on U.S. Highway 93 north to Ely and west to Eureka, Austin and Fallon on U.S. Highway 50, "the Loneliest Road in America." Other statistics on the increase in highway mayhem cited by Jorgensen in his report included: "There's been a very minor decrease in (NHP) activity," said Jorgensen. "We've been doing more with less." Traffic counts for all vehicles on U.S. and state highways have been up this year, Jorgensen said, despite the late rise in the cost of fuel. At the same time, there has been "a mass exodus and high turnover" of NHP troopers to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. and to the Henderson Police Dept., Jorgensen said. Competing salaries were the cause, he added. Entry-level NHP troopers earn $31,700 on an employer-paid retirement plan and can "top out" at $61,700 after 10 years of service. Employee-contributed retirement plans start salaries out at $34,955. "That's a big problem down in Las Vegas," he said of NHP troopers stationed there. Starting salaries for entry-level Metro Police Dept. officers are $42,132, $43,819 after POST training. Aside from the money, city people can have a tough time adjusting to rural living. Even in Tonopah, Jorgensen said it wasn't easy to keep people not used to the quiet life. "There's not a lot here," he said of the county seat's shopping outlets and nightlife. "It's difficult to get new people here accustomed to Tonopah's slower pace." "The person who comes to the NHP has to like working in a rural area," says Gonzalez, "and he has to like working by himself. When you do traffic stops, if you're dealing with a bad situation, with multiple people involved, it's just you. Backup isn't always there." At the same time, he added, troopers have a lot of autonomy in their work. "We have a lot of opportunities (law enforcement) people aren't always aware of. We're not making house calls. We're not making dog calls." And then there's the freedom of the highway. But it takes time to get good, trained officers, and then it takes more time when they leave to find suitable replacements, Jorgensen said. The state Legislature controls the staffing, the funding of which is disbursed through the same highway fund that underwrites the Nevada Dept. of Transportation (NDOT).

  19. 9/17   Gender role influence vocational equality
    di-ve.com, Malta
    by Natasha Turner
    I have decided to write this article because there was a study made on Maltese women in the labour force and our country had the lowest percentage.
    Sometimes we tend to categorize certain traits as belonging to just one sex. How often do grownups label boys as behaving in a "feminine" way when they are emotional? What are we promoting here if not that boys should repress their emotional side? We all know that these stereotyped statements give way to complications in later life. Men are then criticised by women for being unemotional and vice versa. Communication breakdown follows. Both sexes feel that they are not being listened to and understood. The risk of relationships failing ensues.
    There is no such thing as 'Women come from Venus and Men come from Mars'. Let's put theory into practice and change the old patterns. Boys and girls should be treated in exactly the same way birth. Segregation in schools should be stopped because again we are sending dangerous underlying messages to both sexes. Most text books and reading books are very stereotyped so we need to update all our resources and correct misconceptions. We need to fight the norms, heighten awareness on any type of discrimination and discourage feelings of helplessness and stagnation. All students should be offered equal opportunities to pursue whatever career most interests them. Why discourage a female who wants to be an engineer or a delivery-woman? And on the other hand, why is the role of a kindergarten assistant or a midwife given always to a female? Is this not another form of discrimination? Let us work together and help individuals develop and flourish in any field they're interested in irrespective of their sex. Societal pressures and expectations are an obstacle to the wellbeing of the individual and we do not want to see our children unhappy or frustrated because they have followed what we thought was best for them. We have made our choices. Now let our kids make theirs.
    Despite having more women in Malta [how many more?], one still finds many fewer women in the local labour force. Statistics show that in September 2003, only 27.4% of the total population worked: So discrimination by gender is widespread in the work place.
    Female participation in further education kept increasing throughout the years. In fact in 2001\2002, 56.9% of the university students were female. Yet, as we have seen, very few women work and statistics showed that in 2003, only 89 women (15.7%) held top positions. This shows that the majorities of women are ambitious but are restricted in continuing their careers in order to raise families. The main reason is that the government is not providing support for working mothers. We should have more daily childcare with reasonable prices so that mothers can work while feeling assured that their children are being well cared for.
    Awareness should also be given on the type of questions asked of women when attending interviews. Women are asked a lot of personal questions about their love life and their interest in children and because of this, women are forced to give false information in order to get the post applied for. Many employers think that if they employ a female, they could come across problems in the future, especially when she decides to have a family. Thus, if the option arises, opportunities will be preferentially given to males. Don't we also have men who quit their jobs for a thousand reasons? - so is it not a risk for both sexes?!
    Another area of sexual discrimination arises when comparing women's wages to those of men. Statistics showed that We have here a clear example of gender inequality in the vocational field.
    There is no growth in stagnation - change is important
    Once a person told me: "God wanted men to rule. Read the bible. He always chose men to follow him. He only gave power to men. The women's role was to follow the orders and submit to her husband's needs."
    [Except for: Eve, Queen of Sheba, Ruth, Esther, Mary & Martha, Mary Magdalene, numerous women in the early Christian church....]
    This mentality has to change if we want to evolve. Equality is not about feminism, as many think. It's about equal rights and equal opportunities for everyone. As P.S.D teachers, we are working a lot on these issues and we thank the ETC Dept. for collaborating with us and for supplying us with useful statistics. Now we ask the rest of you to support us too.
    For feedback, email me on turner@di-ve.com
    Something about the author - Natasha Turner has just published her third book called 'Free Yourself And Live.' This is mainly focused on regaining lost self-confidence. It is filled with shared experience, knowledge, insight and skills. Its target is to bring awareness and personal growth. She has also published two poetry books in Maltese which reveal deep feelings and sarcastic thoughts about all types of relationships. The books are called 'Bejn in-Narratur u n-Narrata" and 'NEIJ-JIEN' which are an interesting voyage in search for the hidden Self. Turner is in the process of publishing a resource book for all young children 'KUN INT' which will also be dealing with developing skills and empowering the Self.
    Natasha Turner is a psychology graduate teaching P.S.E, writer and publisher. Her motto is: 'Live the moment to the full without hurting others and fill your emptiness by sharing whatever you can give.' She loves to share experiences with others, mostly because she believes that disclosing is an effective way to release repressed emotions...and because she doesn't want others to pass through the same painful experiences just because they lack awareness.

  20. 9/17   Women fighting for their rights
    Sofia Echo, Bulgaria
    Marlene Smits
    [In Bulgaria, women are even further behind than in Malta -]
    I am a guest at the last meeting of four groups of women from ethnic minorities who want to improve their situation by setting up a women's network. The conference room of the Princess Hotel is noisy, mobile phones are ringing and the air is filled with different kinds of odours, food, perfume and sweat. There are about 50 women present, ranging between 20 and 50. This morning they got up at 4am in order to make it to Sofia on time from the Kurdjali district, but here they are. Due to the radical economic and social transformations Bulgaria has gone through after 1989, the region of Kurdjali has been faced with an economic crisis and mass unemployment. This process led to isolation of minorities such as Roma, Turks and Bulgarian Muslims. And now they all face problems they do not know how to solve on their own. NGO-links gives them an opportunity to voice their concerns, hardships and provides for the women to meet and to start a network in order to share knowledge. There is a group of very young Turkish girls. After the eighth grade, they are expected to help with the family income by working in factories. One girl says: "So we work a six-day workweek from early in the morning until 7pm or 8pm. When we get home, our mothers make us do chores around the house. This goes also for our only day off, Sunday. The boys however don't have to do anything." The girls are allowed very few liberties due to their traditional upbringing. And it is not as if they are asking for the moon. "We would like to have some more free time to see our girlfriends and have a cup of coffee, but also to be able to study. Unfortunately, there are no alternative courses available to us that enable us to keep our work and study at the same time." The women's network has given them emotional support to try to talk totheir parents. But it also has given them the knowledge that life does not have to be the way it is for them. An example for them could be the women from another small town. Unemployment is a big factor there. The project tried to focus on stimulating people to engage in business and municipal activities to broaden their horizon. A schoolteacher says: "I had an idea to open up an Internet club. With the help of a consultant I made it happen." Another activity was for mothers to organise themselves against drugs. But this is not the only help the project offered. Roma have problems with getting to information. For example, many Roma women are bringing up their children on their own. Their husbands have left them to fend for themselves. Officially however they are not divorced and so it is difficult for them to get social aid from the Government. These and similar problems could easily be solved by having access to information. Information points have been set up all over the Roma communities in order to inform and advice women on a suitable course of action in their situation. These project have helped these women, some in a practical sense, others in letting them know that they are not alone. By meeting each other and discussing their problems these women are finding a way forward in life. This is a moral support team of neighbours they did not know they had. However, the problems have not vanished and there is still a lot of work to be done. But, the first steps have been taken with help of NGO-links, who found sponsors like the European Union to adhere to these women's problems.

  21. 9/17   What Women Want
    Tech Central Station
    By Val MacQueen
    [And just to show how mind-bogglingly diverse and weird it is out there, here's are some women arguing against women entry into prestigious professions -]
    A high-ranking British woman doctor, Professor Carol Black, president of the Royal College of Physicians, has warned that the British medical profession is shedding the prestige in which it was once held. She ascribes the diminution of respect to the high percentage of women who have entered the profession over the past 20 years.
    [Well if there's one profession that could stand a dose of pride-puncturing, it's medicine.]
    Indeed, she is right to be concerned. Consider teaching. Fifty years ago, when most teachers were male, teaching was accorded the status of "profession." Now, with the great majority of teachers in Britain and Europe being women, teaching has seen its prestige plummet to the point where it is regarded as just another unionized job with pay and holiday issues. Again, since British women flooded into the legal profession, especially as solicitors (essentially, non-trial lawyers) the law too has seen its score marked "diminuendo". The Anglican Church has allowed itself to become sidelined to the point of irrelevance - although to be fair, this is partly due to its adopting a loony left stance on most critical issues of the day. Nevertheless, the decision to admit women as vicars has diminished the Church's spiritual authority and shepherded it into an "issues oriented" profession rather than that of a provider of spiritual comfort and moral certainties. People perceive women as anchored to issues as opposed to concepts. I recall seeing an interview with one woman who voiced dissatisfaction with her Anglican vicar, who was a woman. The woman complained, "I was spiritually troubled. I was trying to find my faith again, and the vicar kept drawing the conversation back to the lack of adequate childcare facilities in the parish." Politics, too, once surely the most ruthless profession of them all, has seen the regard in which it was previously held, albeit always with a healthy skepticism in the Anglosphere, diminish since large numbers of British and European women chose politics as a career. Think Swedish female politicians, and now think how seriously you take Swedish politics. The high regard in which the police were formerly held in Britain has taken a tumble since they first started recruiting women 40 or so years ago. Women were seen as better communicators than men, more able to tweezle the truth out of child molesters, wife beaters and people sheltering criminals, as though that were the sum total of police work. It wasn't long before battle-hardened male officers were being chided for being too tough, too abrupt, too insensitive. So began the disastrous road to an "understanding" police force in Britain, which, married to a new "profession" variously called social services and counseling, turned into a vast army of social workers rather than apprehenders of malfeasants. So, jobs that have always had a high female presence - real estate, sales, journalism, advertising, literary and performer agencies - racket along as ever with nary a change in public perceptions. (Be it noted that although these are all jobs that require mental agility and an ability to capture a fleeting mood, they do not require years of rigorous study and grinding apprenticeship.) The professions whose corpus is still largely male - architecture, nuclear physics, orchestra conducting, rocket science (indeed, all science) maintain their status and mystique. It is solely those formerly male preserves which have had large infusions of women that are seeing their prestige become unmoored. As women have agitated for special dispensations, they have chipped away at the mystique in which their professions were previously mantled. Dr. Black told London's Observer newspaper that female-dominated professions such as teaching no longer see themselves as "powerful" and pointed to the danger of feminizing medicine because they have been persuaded to make special dispensations for women and mothers. I think that Dr. Black hit the nail on the head when she added that "women were unlikely to take top jobs, such as the dean of a medical school, because of the difficulties combining them with family life." She added that many women avoided more "demanding" areas such as cardiology. "What worries me is who is going to be the professor of cardiology in the future? Where are we going to find the leaders of British medicine in 20 years' time?" Well may she ask, because as long as women insist on maintaining a dual role and manipulating their chosen professions to suit their family life, men will be less attracted to the field and the women who are in it will not make the sacrifices that males routinely make to establish a name for themselves and uphold the standards of their profession. In the British and European health systems, there are few top women consultants in any field except pediatrics. They don't seem to have the stamina or the mental rigor to become surgeons. Or perhaps they don't have the will. A 12-hour operation would interfere with their home life. And women are increasingly trivializing the rigors of the professions by manipulating them to suit their family life by agitating for shorter working hours so they can be at home when the children come back from school, maternity breaks without loss of position on the rung, and extra time off for school events, and so on. The British Parliament, under touchy-feely Tony Blair, recently introduced shorter working hours in Parliament specifically so female legislators could be at home for supper with their children. No one asked why these Labour politicians went into politics knowing how unsuitable the hours are for family life. Under Labour, Parliament had to be massaged to suit young mothers. This is no way to run a country. There was even loony lefty talk at one point - endorsed by Blair - that Members of Parliament who were nursing mothers should be allowed to breastfeed their babies in the debating chamber. The Conservatives saw this notion off pretty quickly. The mind boggles. So the sense of entitlement is another factor. The ancient professions should be manipulated so women can have their "fair share", despite not taking them seriously enough to make the very real sacrifices that men make as a matter of course. Is this feminism or is it socialism? Dr. Black is correct when she notes that many women do not enter the really difficult realms of their profession because they are reluctant to commit the time required. In Britain and Europe there may be one or two neurosurgeons, or there may be none. Although they cling around the lower rungs of the ladder, few women in the British legal profession have thrown themselves into the cut and thrust of being barristers, which requires long hours that devastate family life and the ability and the will to master several briefs at the same time. The Labour party hypes Blair's wife Cherie as a "hot shot" barrister, but she's not. She's strictly paint by numbers. She handles publicly-funded "human rights" cases and is a comparatively low earner. What she earns comes not from individuals who have retained her for her abilities, but from the public purse. In other words, she takes the easy work. The high achievers in the legal world in Britain are still fiercely clever, fiercely ambitious, ruthless males. With the exception of Helen Kennedy, I cannot think of a single outstanding woman barrister in Britain. So women don't put their profession first. They grab all the soft options and, indeed, create new ones. And, with the endless stream of employment legislation, who will dare say them nay? Men are increasingly becoming disenchanted with professions that heretofore required steely determination and sacrifice to get to the top. The gates have been thrown open and without the competitive factor, many men don't know how to cope, or simply lose interest. They don't like not being set against the ruthless cut and thrust of other males and they are deserting professions that have become feminized. What's the point of having all that testosterone if a colleague is going to accuse you of being "too aggressive" and go and have a little weep in the ladies restroom? It is male aggression that built civilizations and furthered the sciences, not women sitting around forming cooperatives and sharing childcare. The women who rise to the top of demanding professions, rather than drifting comfortably along the slipstream at the bottom, do so in spite of their sex, and because they possess some of the male characteristics that infuse a discussion with certainty and confidence. Margaret Thatcher, although many men found her very attractive as a woman, has a mind with qualities commonly thought of as masculine. In debate, she gave no quarter and asked none. It is interesting that she holds a degree not just in law, but in chemistry as well. There are other ambitious and brilliant women in Britain who possess clarity of thought and vision, who have made sacrifices to achieve their positions and are well rewarded. But by and large, they are not in the professions. Or if they are lawyers, they aren't practicing but deploy the skills they developed in law elsewhere. In socialist Britain and socialist Europe today, there is a conscious demasculization under way. All those wars: bad. All those hours spent away from the family dinner table building fortunes or careers: bad. All that deferring to rank: bad. Ruthlessness: bad. Inclusion, cooperation, "understanding": good. Good for what? Who knows? None of this is new. It isn't often addressed because in countries infected with radical socialism, it is simply too incendiary. Men want to compete. Women want to cooperate. Or so runs contemporary received wisdom. This may not be true. It might be that, once the feminists announced that the professions weren't "caring" enough, the type of woman given to weaving mental macramé was drawn to demand her rights and shove her way in. Certainly the early, and rare, female doctors and lawyers in the early part of the last century were as focused and determined as any man. In my opinion, this deconsecrating of the professions is a socialist, rather than a feminist, construct. The feminists were handy fodder. There is a disconcerting leveling down in Britain and much of Europe today. Excellence is derided for "excluding" those who are not excellent. If further proof were needed that this is an exercise in class warfare, as medical science, in the fields of both knowledge and new treatment, expands at a formidable rate, Labour is currently hacking away at the profession by reducing the length and thoroughness of British medical education to make it "more inclusive". A reasonable question might be, will the profession continue to prosper although males desert it? Another reasonable question might be, why is it American women have entered the professions at the same rate, and are not only doing well in many fields and excelling in some, but doing so by accepting the same sacrifices that men make and playing by the same rules? The fact is, whether it is a deliberate leveling down policy or simply a social evolution, once women predominate in a profession, that profession loses its attraction for clever men. Will we see the social status of medicine in Europe sink to the same level as that of teachers? Well, it did in the USSR.

  22. 9/17   Man pleads guilty to beating wheelchair-bound father, 77
    [There's your own death by overwork (karoshi) and then there's somebody else's death by your overwork -]
    DOYLESTOWN, Pa. - A Bucks County man has pleaded guilty to beating his 77-year-old father, who uses a wheelchair. Forty-seven-year-old Bruce White of Middletown Township was sentenced yesterday to three to 23 months of house arrest after pleading guilty to simple assault and neglecting a care-dependent person. Bucks County Judge Kenneth Biehn also ordered White to attend counseling and anger-management classes. White, an automotive technician, told the judge that he was frustrated and exhausted from working long hours and then coming home and caring for his incapacitated father, who had moved in with him in November. White was arrested in February after investigators visited the home and saw the older man had a black eye and a cut on his forehead. Police say William White told investigators that his son had been "hitting him and slapping him around." Authorities moved him to a nursing home, where he died of natural causes last month. Bruce White was not accused of causing his father's death.
    [What a choice: life with abuse or death from neglect. Shorter hours is the escape from this Hobson's choice.]

  23. 9/17   Auditor's criticism inflames tensions - Heath firefighters dispute accusations
    Newark Advocate, OH
    [Here's a case of UNtimesizing - lengthening hours per person, reducing the number of employed people, increasing unemployment and labor surplus, and ultimately pressuring down the pay of the people who originally were trying to get more pay = a frequent union mistake -]
    HEATH, Oh. - Comments by Heath Auditor Keith Alexander about the city's fire department have inflamed already emotional tensions over Heath's stressed budget. In a letter to the Chillicothe Gazette published last week, Alexander said that the Heath fire union's greed and overtime led to disbanding the fire department's part-time program. Firefighters responded, contending that the city's failure to fill three vacant positions has inflated overtime costs for full-time firefighters. In his letter to the Gazette, Alexander said "Our firefighters are pushing $70,000 yearly. Not bad for working two or three days a week." Actually, only two of the Heath Dept.'s 16 firefighters made slightly more than $70,000 last year, counting overtime, according to city records released by Alexander. The highest-paid firefighter earned $71,077, while the lowest-paid earned $45,987. Most - 10 firefighters - earned between $50,000 and $60,000. Heath Fire Lt. Jeff Baucher disputed Alexander's published claims in his own letter, saying that the city's failure to fill three vacant firefighter positions caused high overtime figures and that the 24-hours-on, 48-hours-off shifts firefighters work and subsequent separation from family and friends are deserving of the pay they receive. Chillicothe is also facing budget issues that affect its fire department. Alexander said he was compelled to write to the newspaper because he is a member of the Heath administration and has experienced similar budget stress between government and fire personnel. Cities around the state, Heath included, are under financial crunches that are historic, Alexander said. Proposed budget cuts pit departments against each other as all negotiate to keep their departments unchanged, he said. Any time money is concerned, talks become emotional, he said, adding Heath's fire department is effective and appreciated, but expensive. The current contract, negotiated between the city and union, expires in April 2005. The Heath administration recently asked the union to reduce the minimum manning requirement from five personnel to four per shift, and fill the fifth position with a part-timer, Alexander said. The union refused, and the part-time program ended this year, he said. The five employees required per shift are split between two stations. Heath Mayor Dan Dupps said that filling the fifth slot with a part-timer would not end overtime costs to the city, and that the growth of the fire department has been greater in recent years than the growth of the city. Keeping up that pace is difficult to support financially over time, Dupps said. Heath Fire Chief Mark Huggins said he wishes that Alexander would have approached him about concerns over his department before writing to another city's newspaper. "It's unfortunate I knew nothing about it," Huggins said. "It would've been nice, since he was referring to my department." Like Baucher, Huggins said he believes the city's failure to fill the vacant positions inflated overtime costs. Huggins said his firefighters work approximately 900 hours more than the average American worker for the same basic pay. Saying that they put in extra hours on the job with greed as motivation demeans their work, he said.
    Reporter Lachelle Seymour can be reached at 328-8546 or lseymour@nncogannett.com

  24. 9/17   Wash. School Official Puts Halt to Recess
    Grand Forks Herald, ND
    Associated Press
    [More American stupidity, this time directly hurting children -]
    TACOMA, Wash. - Outside of lunch playtime, recess is forbidden, a Tacoma School District official has found it necessary to remind principals. "If we want students learning to high standards, we need them in the classroom, not the playground," Karyn Clarke, assistant superintendent for elementary schools, said this week. At least 20 of the district's 36 elementary schools have no breaks except for lunch, The News Tribune of Tacoma found in a quick survey. But Whittier, the one determined to have a formal afternoon recess signaled by a bell, led the district in math and writing scores for fourth-graders and ranked second in reading on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. "If you take it away, all the kids will be grouchy," student Elizabeth Withrow told the newspaper. At several other schools, several teachers might arrange to have recess at the same time every day, taking turns supervising. "We just can't do that," Clarke said. A teachers union leader and some parents challenged Clarke's recent memo, which she said summarized a district position established in 1997. The district did not immediately respond Thursday to Associated Press requests for a copy of the 1997 rule, and Clarke did not return a call for comment. Gayle Nakayama, Tacoma teachers union president, and others recall the 1997 recess rule as allowing teachers to schedule daily breaks if they watched children themselves. "I haven't seen evidence that getting rid of recess increases learning," Nakayama said, but there is research suggesting social, physical and emotional benefits of exercise and recess. "I think it's absolutely important kids have free time," said Elizabeth Withrow's mother, LeEllen Withrow. The Tacoma Education Association feels the decision on recess should be made by school staff, Nakayama said. Tacoma's move echoes similar actions around the country, and comes as obesity takes center stage as a U.S. health concern. Elementary students regularly move from one activity to the next within the classroom and the school, Clarke noted. And they have PE class to address obesity concerns. "I think it's just a symptom of the obsession with testing that we have with our state and across the nation right now," said Charles Hasse, president of the Washington Education Association. The statewide teachers union passed a resolution in 1996 calling for recess breaks every two to three hours for elementary students, Hasse said. Unstructured play allows children to learn creativity and cooperation, and how to interact and constructively compete with others, according to the National Association for Sport & Physical Education, which has urged schools to keep recess and PE programs. Tacoma has a shorter school day than some other districts, Clarke said. And the district is on the government's list of those that must improve under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It's fine for children to have a brief break on a particular day because they are restless or sluggish, Clarke told the newspaper - but it's not supposed to be a daily occurrence.

  25. 9/17   Airline workers turn to Plan B - 2nd jobs are nothing new in rocky industry, but some staffers now say their hobbies have become lifelines
    Charlotte Observer, NC
    Staff Writers
    When US Airways told David Blocksom it was laying him off, the 42-year-old customer service agent considered it an bittersweet blessing. For more than a decade he had earned extra cash building koi ponds during his days off, but he was much too nervous to quit his regular job. "This gave me the kick I needed," said Blocksom, who was furloughed Sunday. In the airline industry, flexible work schedules and odd shifts have long been common. So have second jobs. But as mainline carriers such as US Airways struggle to stay afloat, those extracurricular activities are becoming a necessary hedge. At US Airways, some employees have parlayed hobbies into profitable businesses. Others are just getting started. Blocksom built his first koi pond, stocked with large gleaming goldfish, in 1991, but didn't start his business, Pondscapes of Charlotte, until 10 years later. That first pond he built for his sister, who at the time was battling cancer. His first paying client was a friend and customer service agent at US Airways. Word spread among his close-knit work group, and Blocksom to date has landed about a dozen clients. "This is a new chapter for me," he said. Former US Airways pilot David Richards, 43, has a new career as director of the national wealth management program for the Charlotte office of accounting firm Cherry Bekaert & Holland. Armed with a degree in finance, Richards built a financial services firm on the days he wasn't flying. He quit US Airways three years ago after a 15-year career, having decided the airline industry wasn't financially sustainable. "It was just something I had an interest in," Richards said of his new line of work. "I never imagined it would become my full-time dedicated profession." Compared with most professions, some airline workers enjoy plenty of time away from the job. A pilot or flight attendant might work a stretch of four or five long days and then have three or four days off. Flight attendant Holley Greene of Charlotte, like many in the industry, started flying in her early 20s, lured by a job seen at the time as glamorous and highly coveted for its travel perks. Now, after two decades with US Airways, Greene, 45, is trying something else. A year ago, she earned her real estate broker's license. During her days off, she sells houses with First Charlotte Properties. She predicts many of her co-workers will become real estate agents, too. "When we fly a trip together, the first thing we ask each other; what is your Plan B?" Greene said. "The writing's been on the wall for US Airways for a couple years. Now, it looks really dim." Employees in all industries are smart to have a Plan B, says Tammie Lesesne, a licensed career counselor in Charlotte. "People have an obligation (to themselves) to really stay vigilant - whether it is starting a new business or having some skill set that is recession-proof, or being able to turn on a dime if something happens," Lesesne said. More than 3,000 US Airways employees in Charlotte lost their jobs in recent years. The airline has been downsizing to compete with low-cost carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue. On Sunday, US Airways filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in as many years. Some analysts expect more layoffs will follow. Pilot Steve Burnham, 41, of Concord knew he needed to hone a new skill. "As a pilot, your skills are so refined," he said. "It's not like you can make a lateral move and go someplace else." Last year, Burnham opened Blues Barbecue and Catering, drawing on his love of cooking for church picnics and other events. He also sells his bottled barbecue sauce, Blues Carolina Dip, in gas stations and coffee shops. Outplacement expert Bob Carlson says US Airways employees should look for work in activities they enjoy - aside from flying. "If a pilot loves to work outside in their yard, why not look at that as a (career) possibility," said Carlson, region managing principal for Right Management Consultants in Charlotte. He added, "I would start looking for my second career and say, `What makes sense for me?' " That's what John Soltis did in late 2001 when his US Airways unit in Columbia was downsized. Two weeks after losing his job as a customer service manager, he had landed a job as a home loan originator. "I was nervous at first, because I thought, `What did I have to offer?' I don't have a (college) degree," said Soltis, 55, who works at New World Mortgage in Charlotte. Soltis, who spent 30 years with US Airways, sent his resume to New World after a friend touted the company's customer service, an area in which he knew he had ample experience. The way he sees it: "You have to be comfortable and confident with the fact that there is life after 30 years in a separate industry."
    Plan B Careers
    Tips for how airline workers looking for their Plan B careers: Source: Bob Carlson, region managing principal for Right Management Consultants in Charlotte
9/17/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/16 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except Australian & Far East stories which are 9/17), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. German wages-war hots up [US: 'heats up']
    by 'Edward' [last name?]
    WSM website [probably World Socialist Movement, but this commentator is remarkably relaxed about leftist spin, as shown right in the second sentence -]
    While Volkswagen's long cold summer trundles on relentlessly, there is more news on the wage reduction/increasing hours front.  Following the decision by workers [or more accurately, the forcing of workers (to keep their jobs) ] at Siemens and DaimlerChrysler to work longer hours announced earlier in the summer, Volkswagen itself and construction company Bilfinger are looking for similar deals.
    The numbers of workers now likely to be affected are no longer small: Any VW deal would involve 100,000 workers, and the Bilfinger negotiations are...liable to affect up to 800,000 construction workers. (Similar moves are also in evidence elsewhere in Europe, the case of Alitalia pilots being only the most recent).
    My take on all this is that while I feel there is an inevitability about it - many EU labour markets clearly need a shakeup - I do not share the rather 'rosy' picture most analysts are painting of the likely short- and mid-term consequences. These deals are clearly deflationary in the classic sense. They will affect consumption in the short, and possibly not so short, term. So when you add the wage-reduction effect to the spending reductions implied by the need to reduce government deficits, and the likely 2005 slowdown in global growth which can affect exports, it becomes hard to see where exactly growth in an economy like Germany's will come from.
    [Bingo. At last a commentator who 'sees beyond one move in chess.' Translating "these deals are clearly deflationary," we get "these deals trigger depression." And depression ain't growth. Oh-so-clever German CEOs are slitting their own throats. They should be activating more of their homegrown consumers by: All this is not only competitive but progressive, growth-fostering and sustainable, while re-lengthening your workweeks and lowering hourly wages is backward, economy-shrinking and unsustainable. How so? Because it shrinks your consumer base by re-concentrating the not-just-'fixed' but shrinking human employment of your Automation Age on fewer consumers and re-raising your unemployment rate. The real driving force here is not outsourcing, which we've dealt with millions of times in the past, but advanced stages of work-saving technology which any intelligent species is using to provide their whole population with the highest living standards and consumption per capita in history by providing their whole population with the freedom and flexibility of the most free time in history. And don't confuse financially secure free time with financially insecure under- and un-employment. And when you reduce your economy's unemployment and labor surplus by workweek reduction, you accomplish your reallocation of human capital by market forces AND your raising of wages and benefits by market forces - no micromanagement. And no, we do not agree that merely limiting overall worktime per person is micromanagement. Every game limits resources per person unless, like Monopoly, it wants to end. In ecological economics, which is what it's all about now, we're talking about indefinitely sustaining the game, not ending it. "Well if you're so ecological, how come you're trying to increase consumption?" We're talking about more no- or low-impact consumption or as Buckminster Fuller called it, "doing more with less." We're talking about much faster response to industrial impact on ecology than currently, made possible by the fact that there will be a lot more empowered "sensors" in the system in the form of a lot more employees with a lot more time and money for themselves. And not all of them are going to be burning it in Vegas. Many of them are going to be solving the myriad of little (and big) problems they see around them, but which they scarcely had time to notice before because they were so busy, so overscheduled, or just plain so "no time."]

  2. In depth - NHL lockout
    The Globe and Mail , Canada
    As expected, the National Hockey League's board of governors voted unanimously Wednesday in New York to lock out its players until a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is negotiated, leaving a $2-billion industry in limbo and putting the 2004-05 regular season and playoffs in jeopardy....
    The first casualties of the lockout were the hundred or so employees at the league's offices in New York, Toronto and Montreal who received their layoff notices back on July 20 and will be out of work on Sept. 20. The majority of staff layoffs came in the corporate communications, marketing and special-events departments. Some staff members, who survived the initial round of playoffs, were asked to work reduced hours for less pay....
    [proportionately less total pay? - because that at least would be the same hourly wage.]
    NHL teams have been preparing for the work stoppage for years now. Over the past several seasons, the league assessed its teams $10 million apiece to create a lockout contingency fund, which will enable them to continue operating their businesses, even though their revenue streams have ground to a halt. Many teams have issued layoff notices to their employees, while others have reduced their working weeks to three days and rolled back employees' salaries by a comparable amount....

  3. Hockey lockout to hurt business
    CBC Calgary, Canada
    CALGARY, Alta. - Hockey fans in Calgary say they're going to miss hockey now that the NHL has locked the players out, but they have a hard time sympathizing with the millionaires when a lot of other people are going to lose income.
    About 125 people work full-time in the club's front office. The lockout will mean a shorter work week and a big pay cut for all of them.
    And that will mean less business for Cass Caron, whose catering business counts the Saddledome among its regular stops.
    "Yeah, it's probably going to affect me. But you know, what can you do?" said Caron.
    "I don't want to resent anybody like Jerome Iginla or anything like that - but it's kind of hard to understand where they are coming from when they are making millions like they are."...

  4. Oilers stand to lose $13 million this year without hockey: team owners
    Canada.com, Canada
    Darcy Henton
    Canadian Press
    EDMONTON, Alta. - The Edmonton Oilers [hockey team] stand to lose $13 million this season if the team doesn't take the ice as a result of the NHL lockout, says board chair Cal Nichols.
    But Nichols, who also serves as team governor, said Thursday the club's 37 owners are willing to take that hit in a bid for a new collective bargaining agreement with players that will achieve economic certainty. "We will do what we need to do," he told reporters. "If we don't fix this, we won't have a future, certainly in Edmonton."
    The NHL wants a salary cap, something the players have rejected.
    But Oilers President Pat LaForge said the team's fans are behind the owners because they know that without a new deal, their small-market team will have a tough time winning another Stanley Cup.
    "I can say that without any doubt that in Edmonton 99% of the fans when polled have at the top of the list: 'Fix it. We want to buy into an organization that can keep Doug Weight and Ales Hemsky."
    He said fans want a team that can compete at the highest level, that can keep its star players and not have to relinquish them to other teams because they can't pay them.
    Over the years, Oilers fans have watched a parade of star players - Weight, Bill Guerin, Jason Arnott, Curtis Joseph, Anson Carter - leave for other teams because they couldn't afford to pay them what the market demanded....
    LaForge said the lockout is not a great day for hockey, but it is something that had to be done to keep hockey in Edmonton and other small market cities....
    The Oilers haven't laid off any personnel, but staff has been reduced from 90 to 67 as a result of departures by people looking for certainty in their employment, he said.
    The Oilers put staff on notice that they would be moving to a reduced work week Sept. 15, but that has been pushed back until the end of November because the Oilers have moved their American Hockey League Affiliate Toronto Roadrunners to Edmonton to play at Rexall Place. "We'll see what happens then," LaForge said....

  5. No light at end of lockout tunnel
    Ottawa Sun, Canada
    OTTAWA, Canada - Ottawa Senators [sports team] president Roy Mlakar and GM John Muckler unveiled the club's new uniforms for this season yesterday. They are some spiffy dark suits. That's about all you're going to see when it comes to a fashion statement this NHL season, and when the suits are front and centre, it can never be a good thing.
    Owners and managers around the league put them on display yesterday as they continued the battle to win the hearts and minds of anybody who is left caring about a lockout nobody but the owners wanted. So where to from here?...
    Simply put, life will go on. It might not be quite the life a lot of people who invest their money and passion in the Senators would like, but, hey, those people will survive.
    It's not so simple for the folks who work in the Senators' front office. Mlakar said yesterday that Senators staff are going to be on vacation from Sept. 20 to Oct. 1. There will be a reduced work week after that. The longer this drags on, the more difficult it is going to be to justify even a reduced work week....

  6. Canuck general manager Dave Nonis doesn't endorse idea of salary cap
    Canada.com, Canada
    Jim Morris
    Canadian Press
    VANCOUVER, B.C. - ...NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has pounded the war drums saying the owners need cost-certainty in the form of a salary cap if the league hopes to survive. [He] has rejected the players' proposal for a luxury tax..\..
    [on whom?]
    Although he believes the NHL needs a new system to operate, Vancouver Canuck [sports team] general manager Dave Nonis wouldn't publicly endorse the idea of a salary cap Thursday.... Nonis said if the NHL season were to begin today, the Canucks would have a payroll of around US$49 million, which would put Vancouver among the top 15 teams in the 30-club league. But Nonis refused to speculate on what a fair salary cap would be..\.. "I'm not going to comment on what system I think is appropriate," Nonis told a news conference on the first day of the NHL lockout. "The system that is going to be in place at the end of the day we're confidence is going to work."...
    In the previous four years the team lost millions of dollars..\..
    [Just 'millions' - which $45m could cover? or hundreds of millions - which it couldn't?]
    The Canucks have made a profit of $45 million the past two years, but to do that "we've had to fire on all cylinders to make money," said Nonis....
    "We're proud we're able to have our team improve on the ice and off the ice," said Nonis. "We're running out of time here. We need a new system in order for us to keep our team together and for us to be competitive long term."
    The Canuck office staff has gone to a four-day work week. All the staff, including coaches and management, have taken a 20% pay cut, Nonis said.
    [So let's get this straight. They made a profit of $45 million in the past two years but they've given all their staff, including coaches and management, a 20% hours&pay cut? Did all the money go to debt or do we have a case of the Chesterton pan-utopian flaw here, or both?]

  7. Road construction: Kenwood shops' profits take a detour - Some merchants blame the Arrowhead Road project, which is scheduled to end Oct. 15, on a decrease in business
    Duluth News Tribune, MN
    by Jane Brissett (218-720-4161, 800-456-8282 or jbrissett@duluthnews.com).
    DULUTH, Minn. - Close to noon Thursday, Peak Bagel Bakery in the Kenwood Shopping Center had just two customers sitting at a table and no one at the counter.
    Owner Jeff Wallace, who bought the business May 10, is worried. The place should be teeming with college students and other customers, he said, but it's not.
    He believes the two-year project to reconstruct Arrowhead Road from Woodland to Kenwood avenues is harming his business. In fact, in July, he said, business was off 50% from a year ago when the road work was closer to Woodland Avenue.
    Since July, Wallace has reduced hours of operation, cut down on waste, let some employees go and trimmed the hours of others....
    [= hours cuts to avoid further job cuts.]

  8. Eiffel Tower stays shut as strike drags on
    AFP via Expatica, Netherlands
    PARIS - Management and workers [of the Societe Nouvelle d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel] at the Eiffel Tower in Paris were due to hold talks Thursday to try to resolve a labour dispute which has kept the famous monument closed to the public for three days. The 250 employees of the company that runs the tower began their strike Tuesday, saying they were concerned for their job security ahead of the 2005 expiration of the concession agreement with the city of Paris, which owns the property and structure....
    Thousands of tourists hoping to ascend the 324-metre (1,070-foot) tower have reacted with dismay after being turned away from the closed ticket booths.... The last strike at the monument dates back to 1998, when workers aired grievances about implementation of the 35-hour work week. ...Built in 1889...the tower held the record as the world's highest building until 1929, when it was eclipsed by New York City's Chrysler Building.

  9. Germany: An employer’s right to reject an employee’s demand to work part time
    Article by Georg Mikes
    [Mondaq News Alerts, World]
    Much to the consternation of many employers, the German legislature enacted a statute in 2001 that gave employees the legal right to demand from their employer that the employee work only on a part-time basis. Though employers have been given some statutory legal arguments against such requests — most notably, employers can deny an employee’s request if operational reasons warrant such a denial — it was feared that courts would give only lip service to this argument. However, as of late, court decisions have clarified employers’ rights, and there has even been a tendency to limit employees’ rights to some degree. On December 9, 2003, the Federal Labor Court held that an employee who asked to be put on part-time status could not force an employer to hire an additional full-time employee if another part-time employee was not available. The employee could also not demand that other employees work overtime so that he could work part time. The employee also tried to require the employer to hire a temporary employee. This request also did not meet with success since the employer had successfully argued to the court that the employer did not regularly engage temporary employees. The Federal Labor Court also had decided already in September 2003 that an employer may deny an employee’s request for part-time employment if it is the employer’s policy to have every customer be serviced by one sales person (such an argument by an employer would not be persuasive, however, if the employer’s hours of operation were vastly different from the hours generally worked by a full-time sales person). Similarly, the Federal Labor Court decided that the staff member of a kindergarten could not successfully demand that she work only on a part-time basis as the teacher’s part-time status did not fit in with the kindergarten’s organizational plans. The above decisions, which come from various sectors and are based on different situations, make clear that employees do not have carte blanche to be put on part-time status. Additionally, the Federal Labor Court does indeed recognize that employers do not have to put forth a "significant" or "compelling" reason to deny a request for part-time work. Instead, a "rational and justifiable reason" will suffice. Though a court will review whether an employer is abusing its leverage if it rejects an employee’s request, and of course whether the reason given by the employer truly exists, a court will generally refrain from reviewing the reason given by the employer from an operational point of view. The valid rejection of a request for part-time employment presumes that the working hours as requested by the employee are not reconcilable with the employer’s organizational plans, and that if the employee’s request were to be honored, this would have an appreciable adverse effect on the employer’s business interests. The court must determine whether the employer is unable to reconcile his business interests with the employee’s interests. Reasons given to deny an employee’s request for part-time status with success include that the company’s organization would be adversely affected, the company’s organizational procedures and security would be negatively impacted or the employer would incur unreasonably high costs as a result of the employee’s part-time status. Even if the business interests for rejecting a request seem clear to an employer, he should not curtly reject an employee’s request to work part time. The employer is required, by statute, to try to reach a mutually-acceptable arrangement with the employee. However, according to the Federal Labor Court, an employer’s failure to abide by this requirement will not automatically invalidate an employer’s rejection. Regardless, if the employer abruptly rejects the employee’s request, then the employee may be able to argue successfully to a court that he would have been able to arrange his part-time status to the satisfaction of the employer if the employee had been given an opportunity to have a true exchange of ideas with the employer. Employers should ensure that an employee does not have this argument available to him. Also, and maybe even more significantly, there have been a few cases where an employee was able to push through his request for part-time status by obtaining an injunction against an employer. One point that employers should not ignore: According to the Federal Labor Court, an employer may waive the statutory three-month notice period that employees must observe before beginning to work part-time. It is presumed that an employer has "waived" this three-month period if he begins discussing with the employee who has not observed the three-month period the reasons as to why the employer may not be able to honor the employee’s request for part-time status. In other words, an inexperienced employer, or one who has not obtained adequate legal advice, may not appreciate the significance of pointing out to an employee that the three-month period must be observed before engaging in discussions with the employee about the substantive aspects of the request for part time. It can only be hoped that the Federal Labor Court will review the practical effects of this decision as it actually dissuades parties from engaging in discussions with one another. In the meantime, employers should consider whether they can devise a plan now to reject an employee’s future request for part-time status by using the argument that it would negatively affect the company’s operations, as this argument is not subject to judicial review. This could be helpful to employers as there is nothing more convincing to a court than a document that was clearly prepared prior to any dispute arising.

  10. Compensation eased in workers' suicides
    UPI via Washington Times, DC
    TOKYO, Japan - Japan is planning to ease criteria under which relatives of workers who commit suicide due to overwork and depression [Jpn: karoshi] can receive compensation. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is studying ways of easing the compensation criteria, in the face of growing numbers of work-related suicides, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday. According to the ministry, over 90% of suicide deaths in 2003 were likely related to depression. Also the number of applications for workers' compensation over suicidal depression related to work hit a record-high 121 in fiscal 2003 - 60 times greater than the figure 20 years earlier. Only 40 people were granted compensation last year. Workers' compensation for suicide was only granted in cases where the person was diagnosed as insane until 1999, when the rules were revised to include cases of depression-related suicide. The number of compensation grants quadrupled over a five-year period.
9/16/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/15 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except Australian & Far East stories which are 9/16), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Britons working shorter weeks - Average number of full-time hours worked falls to all-time low of 37.1, down from 38.9 10 years ago
    [Guardian, UK]
    Ashley Seager
    The length of the average working week in Britain has fallen to an all-time low.
    Contrary to the myth that Britons are working ever longer hours while the rest of the continent relaxes with shorter hours and long lunch breaks, official data yesterday showed that the average working week across all types of occupations, full and part-time, dropped to 31.8 hours in the three months to July, the lowest on record.
    For full-time workers, the average fell to 37.1 hours, down from a peak of 38.9 hours 10 years ago. For part-time workers, the average was 15.5 hours a week.
    Statisticians said there had been a gradual downward trend for a long time, but this had accelerated in the past few years as a result of the EU's new working time regulations. They said the trend was likely to continue.
    The figures also showed a sharp fall in the number of people working more than 45 hours a week. In the latest three months, there were slightly more than 6 million people working more than 45 hours, or a fifth of the workforce. But that number was down by nearly 100,000 on the previous quarter.
    Men still work a longer week than women, with an average of 39 hours compared with 33.6 for women.
    The average full-time working week of 37 hours compares with 35 hours in France and is roughly in line with the typical German working week. However, recent news reports from those two countries suggest that the length of their working week is growing as companies ask [ie: force] staff to work longer for no extra pay in an attempt to reduce costs.
    [and compete with the lowest wages in world located in China and India - neither of which have a consumer base commensurate with their huge populations.]
    A key difference between Britain and the other big European economies is in unemployment levels. The UK's 4.7% rate compares with 9.5% in France and 9.9% in Germany.
    [But we believe English-language Britain follows English-language USA in defining unemployment less comprehensively.]
    In the 25-country union, only four states, Austria, Cyprus, Ireland and Luxembourg, have a lower jobless rate than the UK. The EU average is 9%.
    The TUC [UK: Trades Union Congress, cf. US: AFL-CIO] welcomed the news on working hours, but said the working week was not shrinking fast enough, and it wanted further progress, particularly for people working more than 48 hours a week.
    EU rules say workers should not work more than 48 hours, but Britain has an opt-out under which individual workers can choose to work longer.
    A TUC spokesman, Paul Sellers, said many workers were given no choice about working long hours. "We have 3.75 million people working more than 48 hours a week. Our incidence of long hours is 3.5 times the European average."
    He hoped the European commission, whose review of its working time directive is due this month, would overturn the UK's opt-out on the 48-hour week. "That would take 1-1.5 million back below 48 hours a week. Ending the opt-out would be a really important change," he said.

  2. Bush overtime rules rebuked again - Blocked by a Senate committee
    Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN
    Alan Fram, Associated Press
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Senate committee voted Wednesday to scuttle new rules that critics say would deny overtime pay to millions of workers, as Democrats won the latest round in their election-year bout with President Bush over the issue.
    The 16-13 vote by the Republican-run Senate Appropriations Committee came less than a week after the GOP-led House embarrassed Bush by approving a similar measure.
    Despite the twin rebukes by Congress, the provision could well disappear when House-Senate bargainers write a final version of the spending bill to which it was attached. GOP leaders and the White House will dominate that part of the legislative process.
    Win or lose, Democrats hope the overtime fight will galvanize their union supporters to vote in the November election.
    "Working families across the country are demanding that Bush put their interests above those of big business," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said after the vote.
    The reverse effect might also benefit Republicans, who rely on campaign contributions from companies and corporate executives, many of whom favor the new regulations.
    The Bush administration and most Republicans support the rules, which took effect Aug. 23. They said the rules, the most thorough rewrite in five decades, are a badly needed update. "We ought to let it run for a while so we can judge what the effect of this rule is," said Appropriations panel Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
    Alfred B. Robinson Jr., acting administrator for the Labor Department's Wage and hour Division, said the vote "only hurts worker's overtime rights by creating further confusion."
    "We do not expect this provision to be enacted into law," he said. "In the meantime, we will keep enforcing the stronger overtime protections that are now in effect for millions of workers."
    Two Republicans joined the committee's Democrats in voting to derail the overtime rules: Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, seeking reelection this year in a state with a strong labor presence, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, who is retiring.
    The language was offered by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who said the new rules would remove overtime protection for as many as 6 million workers.
    "They undermine the 40-hour work week," he said of the rules, adding, "The economic health of too many workers is at stake."
    [When will Dems cut the bleeding heart softsell and go for the jugular? = the confident activity of too many CONSUMERS is at stake.]
    Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., called the estimate of 6 million workers losing overtime "totally bogus."
    [We'd ask for evidence from either side but this has become so political that convincing evidence is hard to come by and the poor overtime design of the Fair Labor Standards Act coupled with the growing expense of full-time benefits has rendered it largely irrelevant to cutting unemployment anyway. Now a good overtime design, like that in the Timesizing program... - see Phase Two and Phase 3.]

  3. Bush's flextime remedy could be right pill for our "hurry sickness,"
    by Froma Harrop, Providence Journal via Seattle Times, WA
    Americans who suffer from "hurry sickness" don't need to be told what it is. It is the daily struggle to squeeze 65 minutes out of every hour. It means rushing around from daycare to job to supermarket - while agonizing over every moment stuck in traffic. It's a life of multitasking: eating and phoning while driving. The disease affects men and women, married people and singles, but it hits working mothers the hardest. A woman knows she's got hurry sickness when she regards ironing shirts on the weekend without distractions as a kind of vacation. Pressure in the workplace costs the nation more than $300 billion a year, according to the American Institute of Stress. This is money spent on stress-related health problems, missed work and efforts by employers to pacify the troops. I don't know whether this number includes the millions spent on aromatherapy candles, machines that make soothing ocean sounds or other calm-down products, but it might as well. The load seems to get only heavier. Some 62% of workers say their job demands have grown over the past six months, according to a survey by Kronos, a human-resources company. American workers now average 350 more hours a year on the job than do their German counterparts. Americans outwork even the Japanese. All this is a roundabout way of getting into President Bush's campaign promise to let workers take overtime pay in the form of more time, rather than extra cash. As the law now stands, the standard American workweek is 40 hours. Employees must receive time-and-a-half wages for every hour worked over that 40. Organized labor opposes Bush's "flextime" proposal, which it sees as a sneaky way to help companies pay their workers less money. Unions do come by their suspicions honestly. There's hardly a cheap-labor idea this administration hasn't embraced. But this concept does have merit. Actually, flextime has been around many years as a women's issue. But feminists envisioned moving those 40 hours around - not reducing them. For example, someone might work four 10-hour days, then take a three-day weekend. Opponents of Bush's plan worry that bosses would bully workers who want the extra money into taking the extra time instead. Employers could do this by giving all the overtime jobs to people they know will opt for more free time. But the reality of today's pay structure suggests otherwise. Companies nowadays are perfectly happy to spend extra money on workers who put in overtime. It is cheaper to do that than to hire new people and provide them with health insurance. A worker's health coverage costs the same whether that person puts in a 40-hour or a 65-hour week - and medical premiums are rising far faster than wages. Some economists blame recent slow hiring on employers' fears of having to buy health insurance for new workers. Given this situation, bosses might really prefer that workers take the extra pay, not the extra time. Many workers who toil long hours already can choose between taking more cash or more time. For nearly a quarter-century, flextime has been available to federal workers.
    [Flex time is not shorter hours, but merely a scheduling shellgame.]
    Not a few union contracts offer flextime provisions as a worker benefit. In any case, people aren't complaining that employers have coerced them to take the extra time off and forgo bigger paychecks. Certainly, there are workers who need or otherwise want that overtime cash. But for so many, especially parents, time has become the most valuable commodity. Note all those educated mothers who are delighted to steam milk at Starbucks because the coffee chain gives them health coverage for working only a 20-hour week. France cut its legal workweek from 39 hours to 35 hours. The goal was to encourage French companies to hire more people (rather than work current employees harder). As economic policy, the forced shortening of the workweek failed.
    [No it didn't. Unemployment dropped 1% for each of the four hours cut from the workweek. In 1997, the unemployment level that got shorter hours voted in was 12.6%. In 2001 before the US-led recession snagged France, the level was 8.6%. Where is the evidence that the 35-hour workweek "failed"? This is just a piece of shortsighted-employer propaganda that has been repeated so often that dummies like this Providence Journal columnist swallow it wholesale. It was parrotted back in 1982 by MIT economist Lester Thurow in an unthinking kneejerk reaction to Phil Hyde's question, "If unemployment is so bad and persistent, why not just cut the workweek and spread the limited work?" No evidence was given then either. The evidence is support of the success of workweek reduction however is its corelation with the fuller employment experienced between 1776 and 1940 as the U.S. cut its workweek in half, from 80-84 hours to 40, particularly in the period, 1938-40, when the Fair Labor Standards Act established the workweek at 44 hours in 1938 when unemployment slipped back from the lowest the makework of the New Deal ever got it (14.3%) to 19.0%. As the workweek was cut to 42 hours in 1939 and then 40 hours in 1940, in each case on Oct.24, unemployment 'coincidentally' declined - to 17.2% in 1939, 14.6% in 1940, and 9.9% in 1941 when it was pushed not only by the workspreading of the two-hour workweek cut in late 1940 but also by Lend Lease in early 1941 (March). Again, where is the evidence, or even the 'corelative data', that workweek reduction "failed" in its goal of reducing unemployment?]
    But nobody ever argued that it was anti-labor. So would it be so terrible to let Americans who put in a 45-hour week turn those five hours of overtime into an extra day off, rather than more money? Labor groups fighting this particular Bush proposal should save their strength for better battles.
    Providence Journal columnist Froma Harrop's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. Her e-mail address is fharrop@projo.com

  4. Time Is Money
    by Gary North
    Lew Rockwell, CA
    Benjamin Franklin wrote this in a letter to a young man over 250 years ago. It works both ways: money can buy you time, which is why we give money to physicians and pharmaceutical companies after we have heart attacks. We can trade one for the other.
    But we can buy more money with time than we can buy time with money. The system is asymmetrical. There are people who are worth a billion dollars. No one I know is going to live 300 years unless a major breakthrough in medicine takes place. (If it does, Social Security's "trust fund" will take another hit.) A German man I know used to sell vacuum cleaners door to door. In Germany, this is still common. He sold the Vorwerk cleaner. He even sold one to my wife, back when Americans could legally buy them. It's the best vacuum cleaner that my wife has ever seen. The man who trained him in sales once asked a group of trainees if they would pay him the equivalent of $10 if he would show them how to earn 25% more money. They all did. Then he showed them how. "Work 25% longer." Did he cheat them? No. The man who got that training never forgot this lesson. For $10, that was cheap tuition. Most people are not willing to work 25% longer. That would mean a 10-hour work day. Businesses are penalized by law for offering extra work to workers: overtime, a time-and-a-half wage penalty. They offer this only under special conditions. The workers so benefitted must be above average in their productivity. Otherwise, it would not pay businesses to pay them extra.
    [Unfortunately, with the rise in the cost of benefits such as health insurance, this is less and less true. It is more common that businesses find it cheaper to overwork existing employees than hire in additional - so businesses have become complicit in the weakening of their own general customer base which naturally depends on the maintenance of the existing employee base ('workforce').]
    But 25% more pay is not the heart of the matter. People who start businesses are more likely to get rich than anyone else. I have never known a business owner who worked an 8-hour day. All of them work at least 10 hours, and most work on Saturdays. Yet they make far more than 25% more or even 50% more. If their business survives, they move into the top 20% of income earners. It is not the fact that they work longer that makes the big difference. It is that they decide to meet the demand of consumers in a unique way ­ a way worth the consumers' money. To do this, they must work long hours, because the consumers are demanding. The consumer says, "Work harder. I'll pay you a lot more if you do." So, the business owner does. He also works smarter. He makes more money. So, he works longer. The barrier to entry is three-fold: (1) his ability to work smarter; (2) his willingness to work longer; (3) his willingness to accept failure. These are major barriers. In effect, he invests his time in his business. He sees that time is money, so he capitalizes his business with his time. When you're starting out, that's the asset you own. You don't have much money. There is a young man in my church. He is a radio announcer. He has already seen how the industry works. "The guys driving the BMWs are the ones who sell air time. The guys behind the microphones drive Honda Civics." He's got it. The man who can convert air time into money is not easily replaceable. The man providing modulated air time is, unless he is Rush Limbaugh. I told him to spend the next two years studying everything he can about how to sell air time. He is in a good place to learn the basics of selling in a niche market. He is getting paid to modulate air. He must learn how to sell it. He must therefore give up leisure.
    In my report "Count Your Capitalist Blessings," one of them that I forgot was leisure. A heads-up reader spotted that omission. (If you spotted any others, send them to me at gnorth@poetworld.net.) Leisure was once the major blessing of slave-ownership. Aristotle spoke for the Athenian ruling class when he praised leisure as the basis of the good life. The fact that Athenians were slave-owners made their leisure possible. About a third of Athens' population were slaves. The good life, in Aristotle's view, was civil. It meant participation in politics and culture. He had contempt for manual labor and the work of artisans. That was work fit only for slaves. For most of man's history, hard manual labor has been the norm. Men have had to struggle with the earth to eke out a living. Most of their children died before reaching adulthood. The words of Genesis have rung true:
    And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Gen. 3:17­19).
    Capitalism changed all this. Beginning in the mid-18th century, productivity began its steady upward rise: about 2.5% per annum. That compounding process, over decades and then centuries, has multiplied our wealth by a factor of 500 or perhaps 1000, doubling ever 30 years. Population grew, worldwide, as technology improved. World population was still under a billion in 1800. Today, it is over six billion. It may hit nine billion by 2050. The eight-hour day became a reality when Henry Ford figured out that he could run three shifts of eight hours each and keep his plants open 24 hours a day. But the eight-hour day was no miracle. Ford had been running a nine-hour day prior to the change in 1914. After the mid-19th century, the shorter working day became a goal of American and British workers because it became possible. Output rose. Income per hour worked rose as private capital provided the tools that made workers more productive. When men can do it, most of them take their pay in extra leisure.
    [This would be great if it was true outside Europe but again, it's not true in the U.S., U.K. or Japan.]
    They agree to work for a fixed salary per time period: weekly, monthly, or whatever. Then they negotiate a shorter work week. They don't ask for more money. They ask for more time off. Extra money is taxable. Extra time off isn't.
    [Great in theory, but not true in US, UK or Japan because of the huge propaganda campaigns against leisure and in favor of material acquisition, starting in 1920s USA - "the Gospel of Consumption." The full story is in Juliet Schor's "Overworked American" and Ben Hunnicutt's "Work Without End."]

  5. Eiffel Tower shut by strike
    Expatica, Netherlands
    PARIS - A strike by workers at the Eiffel Tower in Paris kept the iconic monument closed to tourists for the second day in a row Wednesday because of worries over job security, management and employees said.... The last strike at the monument dates back to 1998, when workers aired grievances about the 35-hour work week, management said....
    [Again, labor is its own worst enemy, because it has never developed a coherent and consistent worktime economics such as Timesizing to counter the shortsighted propaganda of economists against worksharing and in favor of buying stuff, and consequently it has never backed shorter hours and worksharing and workspreading. Even in France and Germany, the leaders in workweek reduction and worksharing, many employees are still buying the shortsighted employer spin against shorter hours, regardless of what the deteriorating effects that will have in terms of reraising the unemployment rate and relowering the consumer base.]

  6. Former Clinton Adviser Suggests Ways for Europe to Boost Growth
    Voice of America, DC
    Barry Wood
    [Another pompous American gratuitously presuming to preach to an economy that has much higher quality of life by almost every measure than America.]
    Washington - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton's top economic adviser, Martin Baily, Tuesday released a study that includes proposals on how Western Europe can boost its competitiveness and increase what has been an anemic pace ofeconomic growth. Mr. Baily argues that if it is to boost growth and productivity, Western Europe must scale back its generous social benefits, raise workers' retirement age, and reduce regulations that hinder business activity. Now a fellow at Washington's Institute for International Economics, Mr. Baily concedes that the task is huge and politically unpopular. But the more than 300-page study, Transforming the European Economy,
    [pompous ass! - the return of the "ugly American" - and this at a time when we sure don't need Clintonians to help the Bushies insult the international community]
    lays out the impediments that have restrained growth, making it almost impossible to reach the European Union's goal of creating 21 million jobs by 2010. That target was set by EU leaders in Lisbon in 2000. It implies that three million jobs will be created annually. Last year the 15 EU members created only 412,000 new jobs and 740,000 the year before. The European Union, now expanded to 25 member states, is the world's biggest economic entity in terms of population and GDP. Mr. Baily applauds Western Europe for achieving a level of prosperity not anticipated 30 years ago. He says Europe is far ahead of the United States in having universal health care. But Mr. Baily says these very expensive programs can be maintained only at the cost of reduced growth.
    [Meanwhile, obsoletely long and lengthening American workweeks are reducing growth in Preacher Baily's own land, and you don't even want to think about the destructive stuff that is counted in the GDP, which inflates the "growth" of America relative to Europe - need we mention the prison and military industrial complexes?]
    The early retirement age is but one example.
    [Watch America deflate as it pushes up the retirement age and dismantles pensions right and left, without making it easier for seniors to support themselves with a reduced definition of "fulltime job" and more accessible training!]
    "If you have similar incentives in the United States as you have in Europe you'd have Americans behaving in the same way," he says. "If you have the option of retiring at age 55 with full health care costs and a good pension, then you'd have people retiring at age 55." In Western Europe the average retirement age is 59 compared to 65 in the United States. Mr. Baily's theme is the need to have incentives that cause people to want to work and work longer. Social welfare costs to government, largely health care and retirement, equal 31% of GDP in Sweden and 29% in France, compared to 15% in the United States. The pattern is the same with the average number of hours worked per employee. In the 1960s and 1970s Europeans worked longer hours than Americans. Now they work considerably less, in part because paid vacations typically exceed four weeks per year compared to barely more than two weeks in the United States. France recently reduced the work week to 35 hours. Mr. Baily applauds the European Union's call for labor market 'reform' [our quotes]. But he says the changes have to be made by national governments. "We applaud the efforts of the EU to push forward on social reform and product market reform and the creation of a single market and so on," he says. "But at the end of the day Brussels just doesn't have authority over a lot of the stuff that really counts." Repeatedly in his presentation, Mr. Baily said there is much that is positive in the European economic model and he does not advocate that Europe blindly emulate the more market based U.S. model. He points to positive but modest reforms in selected European countries, notably Britain, Sweden, Holland and Denmark.

  7. Malta to oppose work time directive changes - Malta will be opposing fresh proposals in relation to the work time directive which the European Commission plans to make next week
    [Valletta Times, Malta]
    Ivan Camilleri in Brussels
    [Fine. You don't want to play by EU rules - you're OUT of the EU!]
    Sources close to the government told The Times that Malta will reject the proposals probably together with a number of EU member states, including the United Kingdom. The new recommendations would give trade unions the right to reject working weeks longer than 48 hours. Individual agreements between workers and employers would not be able to exceed one year and waivers for the 48-hour week would not be allowed at the same time as an employment contract is signed. The new Commission proposals are also set to limit to 65 hours a week the amount of overtime an employee can work. At present the situation in Malta regarding overtime is flexible. An employee can choose to work more than 40 hours a week and do overtime. He can also refuse to work more than 48 hours even if the extra time is considered overtime. Malta had negotiated a transitional period for some sectors of the economy before introducing the new right for employees. The European Commission launched a revision of a 10-year old working time directive earlier this year [note spin: "sooo outdated!"] amid controversy surrounding the opt-out negotiated by the UK. The directive sets out rules for a maximum working week of 48 hours for employees across Europe, rules championed by former EU Employment Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou. Under the new rules any waiver of the 48-hour rule, to allow individual workers to work a longer week, would have to be agreed with unions.
    [Unions need to get clear that in practice this is not "allowing" them a privilege, but forcing them to concentrate technology-eroded employment on fewer employees and disempower themselves with higher levels of unemployment and labor surplus.]
    The proposals, set to be unveiled by the Commission today week, are likely to receive a frosty reception from Britain and [a very few] other member states including Malta. British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently wrote to EU Commission chief Romano Prodi putting across the case for keeping Britain's opt-out of the legislation.
    [Don't want to play by the EU's rules? Get out of the EU.]
    It seems Malta will follow suit. The sources said the Maltese labour market needs to be as flexible as possible in order to face the challenges of a modern economy. The new proposals are deemed to result in adding financial and technical burdens especially onto the private sector. The sources said this is one of the few issues on which there is a common position between all Malta's social partners. The Commission's proposals will not be final but will start the discussion both at the level of national governments (Council of Ministers) and at the European Parliament. To be approved, the proposals would require the green light of the majority of member states - which must muster close to 60% of the votes in the Council of Ministers. However, it is not clear whether there is a comfortable blocking minority to reject them. The British government previously enjoyed enough support within the EU for a blocking minority to protect its position. The accession of 10 new member states has put this at risk, although business groups hope the UK may count on support from Poland, Malta and Cyprus.

  8. CRFA boycotts Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Board
    CNW Telbec (Communiqués de presse), Canada
    REGINA, Sask. - The Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Assoc. (CRFA), an employer association, is boycotting the Minimum Wage Board's review of minimum wage and pushing for a fair hearing from the Premier and Cabinet instead. The association is alarmed that the Minimum Wage Board, which should be an impartial advisory body, has consistently refused to consider the views of employers in its deliberations. CRFA will provide input on minimum wage directly to the Premier and Cabinet rather than to the board, which has set today as the deadline for submissions "to support a minimum wage increase," according to one media report. "The Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Board has lost all credibility with small business employers and the restaurant industry in particular. Based on the board's history and current make up it's clear that the fix is in and the Board will recommend another arbitrary increase to the minimum wage," says Mark von Schellwitz, CRFA's Vice President, Western Canada. CRFA has raised a number of concerns with the government concerning the Minimum Wage Board, including: "It seems the board is only interested in hearing from those who want a minimum wage increase," says von Schellwitz. "There are progressive tax measures that can be taken to increase take-home pay without putting entry- level jobs in jeopardy, but the board refuses to consider them." Only 4.9% of the Saskatchewan workforce is paid the minimum wage, and many of them earn gratuities that push their income much higher than minimum wage. These employees will see their overall income drop if employers have to reduce hours to absorb a minimum wage increase, which typically ratchets up all wages. The board also refuses to acknowledge that the majority of minimum wage earners are high school students working part time who do not rely on this income as a living wage. Increases in minimum wage reduce these entry-level job opportunities. Saskatchewan's 1,800 foodservice establishments employ 36,600 people, including 17,500 young people under the age of 25.
    For further information: CONTACT: Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President, Western Canada, 1-866-300-7675 or (604) 802-0245 (cell); Jill Holroyd, Vice President, Research and Communications, 1-800-387-5649, ext. 4217.
9/15/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/14 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #11 which is from 9/15 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/15), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. EU axes opt-out from 48-hour working week
    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Strasbourg
    Most employees are to be stripped of their right to work more than 48 hours a week and firms are to face extra costs and paperwork under a 'Stalinist' directive being drawn up by the European Commission.
    [It can avoid the charge of Stalinism and still do all that is necessary by letting those with deflationary incentives work all they want and only stopping those with inflationary money motives from working overtime. How to separate the sheep from the goats? Simple. Tax away 100% of overtime earnings but give a 100% tax exemption for reinvesting 100% of overtime earnings as directly and proportionately as possible in overtime-targeted hiring, or if necessary, on-the-job training. That would be Timesizing Phase 2 (corporate) and Phase 3 (individual). The invention of these two phases embodying this technique is akin to the Wright Brothers' rejection of a completely self-stabilizing powered aircraft like Harrison's in favor of a design for twisting the wings under the control of a pilot reacting to changing flight conditions. See video, The Definitive Story of the Origin of Flight, PBS, shown on Boston Channel 2, 9/15/2004, 8 pm.]
    The proposal, expected to win approval from the full commission next week, would give trade unions and mandatory staff councils a veto on whether individuals can choose to exceed the 48-hour limit. It prohibits all workers spending more than 65 hours on the job in any week.
    Critics cite it as further evidence that Brussels has "lost the plot" as Europe slides deeper into economic and scientific decline, with annual growth far below China, India and the United States. The law, a product of the outgoing commission of Romano Prodi, will be the first test of the "reformist" rhetoric of Jose Barroso, a student-Maoist turned free-marketeer who takes over in November. It is designed to close a loophole in the EU's 1993 Working Time Directive that allows firms to negotiate individual opt-outs in employee contracts. The TUC claims the clause has been widely abused by British companies to coerce workers into signing away their protections. But the CBI slammed the proposal as the latest in a series of heavy handed laws that strip member states of power to run their own economies and that pose a threat to Britain's free market system. John Cridland, the CBI's deputy director, called it a backdoor means of imposing the failing Franco-German labour model on the rest of the EU. "These proposals are totally unacceptable. They completely undermine the right of the individual to choose, and are a recipe for industrial relations conflict," he said. The details may be changed in coming days but the draft appears to oblige both employers and workers to keep records of time spent on the job. It bans opt-out agreements for employees on probation or signing work contracts, and mandates a fresh agreement every year. Where employees are unionised, the union will have the power to stop individuals opting out. Staff councils - to become mandatory under separate EU rules - appear to play the same role in other companies. Firms with more than 50 workers (or 20 if in one location) may be affected. The plan follows a clutch of EU proposals that threaten to raise the cost and complexity of doing business in Britain. The CBI said it fears it is rolling back the "Thatcherite" reforms that have restored British dynamism and cut unemployment to half the levels of Italy, Germany, and France. The Government has vowed to fight the new legislation. "It is not for the EU to tell people how long they can work, and this is exactly the wrong the way to run an economy," said a Foreign Office spokesman. But Labour MEPs in Strasbourg have aligned with the French socialists in pushing for the end to the working-time opt-out. A commission official said the proposal faces a rough ride in the Council of Ministers, where the new states from eastern Europe are likely to club together with Britain. The draft was written by the commission's social affairs directorate, described by one EU diplomat yesterday as reminiscent of "1970s Stalinists" and divorced from economic reality.

  2. French heed call to stand up - er, sit down and start a revolution - A new book called 'Hello Laziness' has climbed France's bestseller lists
    By Frank Renout
    [Christian Science Monitor]
    In the country that practically invented joie de vivre - the joy of life - two-hour lunches and 35-hour work weeks fit like a silk beret.
    But that life of leisure has come under assault of late. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin says that economic pressures will soon make the shortened work week a thing of the past.
    Enter Corinne Maier, author of a hot new bestseller called "Bonjour Paresse" - "Hello Laziness."
    [More accurate would probably be "Welcome Laziness." Followup - And it's basic takeoff is "Bonjour Tristesse," a 1954 bestseller by Francoise Sagan. And fate has provided the later "Bonjour" with a morbid boost - Francoise Sagan died 9/24/2004 at 69 in Honfleur - see obit 9/25 NYT, B13.] The humorous pamphlet is a passionate plea in favor of sloth. The subtitle says it all: "The art and necessity of doing the least possible in a corporation." Ms. Maier calls upon the French to sit down and relax at work. The young author has hit a nerve here, tapping into a backlash against the rat race. She promotes a calculated loafing only the French could love. Call it the new French Revolution - or as she says, a revolution from within.
    "It's important to do those things in life that you really wish to do, instead of just obeying others," she explains. "Of course you have to work to earn money, so you have to find a compromise. And that might just be to work a little less and find ways to do what you really want to do in life."
    Since "Bonjour Paresse" appeared in bookstores in May, the publisher has ordered six successive reprints to meet demand. It is currently in the top five on the main bestseller lists in France.
    What started out as a farce has become a serious lamentation on French companies and modern times. As she describes it, French corporate life hasn't changed since the Louis XIV era in the 17th century. The system is extremely hierarchical and fossilized, "Especially the big companies. They're stuck somewhere between an enormous amount of red tape, old-fashioned rituals, and widespread cynicism. And that is a nightmare for the people working there," she says. "They're not free to do anything themselves, they just have to obey all the time."
    In her book she describes all that she despises about corporate life: from its jargon all the way up to globalization. If we can't change things from outside, why not ruin it from the inside by doing the least we can, she asks, having gained first-hand knowledge of the business world as a part-time employee of the French electric company EDF.
    For the French, buying the book is a form of "protest to Ango-Saxon working standards" that are being pushed upon them, explains Douglas Rosane, an American who heads the Paris office of International Survey Research (ISR), which collects data on the business world.
    [Let's call a spade a spade - it's the English-speaking economists' automation-outdated and masochistic workaholism. There are no working standards in the picture. It's a total evolutionary throwback.]
    "You've always had the Ango-Saxon model and the Marxist model. France opted for a third road, somewhere in between."
    [Aha, sounds like the legendary Third Way.]
    The French government last month presented plans to abolish the officially regulated 35-hour working week, implemented in 2000, to try to reduce France's unemployment rate, which remains a stubbornly high 9.9%. Nicolas Sarkozy, France's minister of economic affairs, said in a interview with the newspaper Les Echos that tight restrictions on working hours puts a burden of $19 billion a year on the French government and companies.
    [Well, Bunky, that's the price of having robust consumer markets in the Automation Age.]
    He said that someone who wants to work harder and earn more should have the opportunity to do so.
    [Only if they're working out of deflationary, qualitative incentive proved by their willingness to reinvest 100% of their overtime and overwork earnings in training and hiring. Sarkozy hasn't even begun to think through what he's talking about.]
    France isn't the only European country looking to put its workers' noses to the grindstone. In Spain, the government caused a cultural revolution last July proclaiming the abolishment of the siesta.
    [Good grief, was this under Aznar or Zapatero?]
    And Germany is pressuring unions to work longer hours as well.
    [Under clueless and base-betraying Schroeder.]
    Research by ISR shows that the French are among the most dissatisfied workers in the world's richest economies. Only 55% say they have a satisfying job, compared with 65% of Americans. One of the main complaints: the workload. But Maier's regimen is not easy. "Doing nothing ... is really hard," she writes. "You have to pretend you're busy all the time."
    She's even prepared to take her message across the Atlantic. "The book will be translated into English," she says, "so I might call upon the Americans as well to start being lazy!"
    [Lord God, we need it most! Let's mine the synergies between it and Carl Honoré’s "In Praise of Slow" (or Slowness?).]
    Not everyone has enjoyed the "mini-earthquake" - as one magazine called it - Maier's book has caused. EDF was not amused, considering her an embarrassment to the company and to her fellow employees. The company wrote a letter to Maier accusing her of reading newspapers while in meetings and leaving meetings before they finished.
    She was called in for a disciplinary meeting in August, but that was postponed - Maier had already booked her vacation. Last week she finally sat down with her bosses and discussed things. "There will be no sanctions, so that's a victory!" she says triumphantly.
    Not that the whole affair is forgotten. "I'm a bit afraid what might happen now," she says. "I got the message that things might get difficult for me at work. Well, let's see what will happen."

  3. Take time to sit back, relax and work up a taste for the easy life The Scotsman, UK
    WHEN Corinne Maier's book Hello Laziness - a manual on how to be lazy at the office - became a "surprise" best-seller in France, the only shock from this side of the Channel was that the French needed any help in slacking off.
    [On the other hand, how stupid are the Brits/Scots who pioneered the Industrial Revolution but are still working as if it had never happened? Afraid of real freedom, free time? And how stupid are they for copying the worst of their American "colonies'" culture - and not getting rid of Blair who suckered them into Iraq on the leash of our monstrous utopian, Bush Jr?]
    After all, our Gallic neighbours are generally seen as a somewhat work-shy nation, with 35-hour weeks, a culture of long lunches and six-week summer holidays.
    [And you, their Anglic neighbours, are leisure-shy, despite being surrounded by worksaving technology. This sounds a bit like sour grapes.]
    Over here, we tend towards the work-obsessive side with the longest office hours in Europe and the shortest holidays. And, according to a recent survey, even at the weekend we can't relax - almost a quarter of Britons ruin their Sundays by working, worrying about work or feeling depressed about the week ahead. Research has shown 40% of British managers work more than 50 hours a week.
    But according to Tom Hodgkinson, that's exactly why we need help shirking our duties. The author of a new book, How To Be Idle, claims we should celebrate laziness and battle the work ethic at every opportunity.
    "It's good to be idle," Hodgkinson smiles. "It [overwork] is a natural result of the competitive economy, religious guilt, capitalism and the general desire of our governments to have a docile population.
    "Apparently even the Italians are at it now - they're going to ban the siesta," he sighs.
    [This moron doesn't even know the siesta is Spanish, not Italian.]
    After being happily sacked from a tabloid magazine in 1993, Hodgkinson decided to decamp to sleepy North Devon to launch The Idler magazine, and explore new and better ways to work and live.
    And, according to Hodgkinson, the blissful culture of laziness - or simply taking time out to consider the flipside of the daily grind - has been criticised by modern society for too long.
    "The idlers don't start wars, the idlers don't force their opinions on everyone else, so why should we [idlers] suffer?
    "There's a revolution brewing and the great thing is that to join it, all you have to do is absolutely nothing."
    ["The sage does nothing, and yet nothing remains undone." - Lao Tzu.]
    So what are the best ways to skive off [US: goof off] according to the experts?
    Hodgkinson starts off with the best ways to wake up and ease into another day.
    "It is a sad fact that from early childhood, we are tyrannised by the moral myth that it is right, proper and good to leap out of bed the moment we wake in order to set about some useful work as quickly and cheerfully as possible," he laments.
    He blames parents for starting off this brainwashing about the benefits of early rising, followed by school timetables and, horror of horrors, the dreaded alarm clock, which he dubs, "a device to make every day of our lives start as unpleasantly as possible".
    [Doesn't he have the order of events a bit backwards here?]
    Rather than give in to the constant pressures to get up as early as possible, Hodgkinson advocates lying in bed half awake - your morning slumber time - as he believes that it stimulates creativity, gives you a chance to get your thoughts in order and mentally prepares your mind for the day ahead.
    His top tip for lie-ins? Train children to get themselves up and prepare their own breakfasts as soon as is humanly possible.
    ["Get your own Wheaties, OK, Cheerios, whatever...snore...." Oops, in Britain it's Bubble & Squeak = chance of major 'cock-up'. Do try to avoid the gout-inducing fried tomahtoes. But try the bread fried in bacon grease & slathered with jam.]
    Of course, after that lie-in, you will now be late for work. So why bother going in at all? Maier, in her book, subtitled The Art and Importance of Doing as Little as Possible, suggests making use of every sick day possible.
    Or change religion - the economist [why are we suddenly calling Maier an 'economist'??] who works for French electricity giant EDF, whose book became a best-seller in France last month, advocates converting to Islam or Judaism if that means being able to claim festivals and holy days off.
    But suppose, despite all efforts, you end up in the office after all. Now you're actually at work, how do you avoid doing any?
    Hodgkinson believes the real treat that comes from skiving is derived from the knowledge that you are not working while everyone is toiling away.
    "The idler wants to be throwing frisbees while the hordes are suffering," he confides.
    His tips include Maier's suggestions include And it could just be that a little slacking isn't all that bad for us. Life coach Zoe Jones says it's important to take time out to reflect on what's really important in your life.
    "Getting a good work-life balance is key to healthy living both mentally and physically, but in day-to-day life we tend to get wrapped up in what's expected of us rather than what we really want," she says.
    "When you take time out from the daily routine you can really start to re-evaluate what's important instead of being bogged down in the goals set by your families, peers and society in general."
    She points out that we all need to make sure that we have something to look forward to in order to keep moving forwards. "Definitely take your holidays from work - that's what they're there for. And look into working flexitime.
    "Basically, it's about working smarter, not harder."
    [Especially wedged, as we are, between the Age of Automation and the Age of Robotics.]

  4. Municipalities, businesses that rely on airport fret over airline's plight Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA
    By Teresa F. Lindeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    When US Airways began cutting Saturday evening flights through Pittsburgh several months ago, the staff's hours at Charlie Brown's Airport Parking were shifted to the early morning and midday. But it could get a lot worse if the airline is forced to liquidate, with reduced hours giving way to layoffs for the 43 employees....
    [Hey, apparently they tried to practice timesizing, not downsizing.]

  5. Bethlehem Area library approves 2005 budget If City Council confirms $2.6 million plan, summer Saturday hours would return
    Allentown Morning Call, PA
    By Kathy Lauer-Williams and Bill Tattersall Of The Morning Call
    The Bethlehem Area Public Library would open its doors again on Saturdays next summer if Bethlehem City Council approves a 3% increase in funding to the library. State cutbacks last year forced the library to cut hours, but under the library's proposed $2.6 million 2005 budget, the library will reopen its doors Saturdays from June through August, as well as on election days, Columbus Day and the day after Thanksgiving. The budget was approved unanimously Monday by the Library Board.... Jack Berk, library executive director, said he is excited about reopening summer Saturdays. He said it is frustrating seeing patrons trying to get into the library when it's closed.... Berk said by bringing back 14 days [a summer], some of the staff whose hours were slashed could get more work time.
    [Apparently this library is one of the thousands of firms and agencies that practice timesizing, not downsizing when times get tough.]
    However, staff that was lost last year will not be restored....
    [Well, OK, at least the timesizing reduced the amount of downsizing.]

  6. Americans get plenty of sleep, watch lots of TV San Diego Union Tribune, CA
    By Andrea Hopkins
    WASHINGTON ­ The average American spent 8.6 hours a day sleeping last year, only 3.7 hours working and had 5.1 leisure hours ­ half of which was spent watching television, a survey showed Tuesday. The national study included everyone from working parents with almost no free time to retirees and teenagers ­ helping to explain why this "average" day does not reflect anyone's actual day. Working parents aged 25 to 54 appeared to have the longest day. They spent eight hours a day working or commuting, slept for 7.5 hours, spent 2.6 hours on leisure and sport, 1.3 hours caring for others and 1.1 hours on housework. The rest of the day was spent eating, shopping, grooming or on other activities. The telephone survey of 21,000 people over the age of 15, conducted throughout 2003 for the Dept. of Labor, is the first national survey of time use in the United States and offers a treasure trove of statistics. For the study, respondents were asked to recount 24 hours of activity from the previous day. The results confirm the suspicions of many that women do more work around the home than men ­ even when both work full time. On an average day, 84 percent of women and 63% of men did housework, cooked, cared for the lawn or managed household finances. Women also spent more time on housework, at 2.3 hours a day compared with 1.3 hours for men. But men put in more hours of paid work, the survey showed, working 8.0 hours compared to the women's average of 7.1 hours. Part of that difference is because women are more likely to work part time. But even among full-time workers, men worked a bit longer ­ 8.3 hours versus 7.7 hours for women.
    The average American had 5.1 hours a day for leisure, half of which was spent watching television, the survey found. The typical person also spent 41 minutes socializing, 22 minutes reading, 20 minutes on sports or recreation, 20 minutes relaxing and thinking, 17 minutes playing games, often on the computer, and 31 minutes on other leisure activities. Men typically had more leisure than women, with 5.4 hours compared to 4.8 hours. Those with children under the age of six had the least time off ­ at 4.0 leisure hours. The survey counted time use mainly according to "primary activity" ­ so that if you watched television while you ironed clothes or ate dinner, only one activity was counted. The one exception was for child care, which could be a primary or secondary activity. Women spent more time caring for kids than men, at 1.7 hours versus 0.8 hours. Perhaps not surprisingly, a working mom with a child under 6 got less sleep and free time than a stay-at-home mom, but the homemaker spent nearly twice as much time caring for others and working around the home. Travel time was counted with whatever activity was involved ­ so that a commute was included in work time, while shuttling the kids to soccer was part of child care. Sex was counted under a larger "personal care" category ­ rather than as a leisure activity ­ and was not quantified. Economists and social scientists hope the study can be used as a first step toward putting a dollar amount on unpaid work to help measure total economic output, income and productivity ­ as well as gauge Americans' quality of life. As it currently stands, U.S. gross domestic product rises when a family puts a child in day care or sends their shirts to the dry-cleaner, and falls if they cancel day care or do their own laundry ­ even though the same amount of work is done in both examples.

  7. Morale high despite war, study finds - But 2003 survey notes Army units are an exception MarineTimes.com, United States
    By Vince Crawley
    Times staff writer
    Troops are working longer hours and deploy more often than in the recent past, but a Pentagon survey taken during the height of last autumn's Iraq insurgency still showed high morale and increased satisfaction with military life. One key exception: Soldiers, bearing the brunt of the Iraq campaign, show declining desire to remain in uniform compared with a July 2002 survey, taken during the lull between the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. Slightly fewer airmen also said they were likely to stay in. On the other hand, a growing number of sailors and Marines said they would like to stay in uniform. An increasing number of troops - 35% - also said their spouses or "significant others" want them to leave active duty. But 50% of service members report being "satisfied with the military way of life," and another 12% said they were "very satisfied." Results of the active-duty survey are markedly different from the findings of a recent survey of reservists, taken in May, which showed widespread declining morale in reserve units, regardless of whether they were mobilized. The Status of Forces Survey is administered regularly by the Defense Manpower Data Center and is used by policy-makers to gauge attitudes of service members. For example, Pentagon deputy personnel chief Charles Abell said his staff constantly monitors data to look for eroding re-enlistment rates or other signs that the extensive pace of combat deployments is undermining the all-volunteer force. The Iraq operation has involved hundreds of thousands of service members in the largest sustained combat mission since the Vietnam era. Results of the November 2003 survey were provided by the Defense Manpower
    Data Center at the request of Marine Corps Times. Findings include:
    € Overall, 62% of service members said they were satisfied "with the military way of life," while 18% were not. The overall satisfaction rate was one percentage point higher than in the July 2002 survey.
    However, last fall's survey showed a slight decline in satisfaction among soldiers, with 56% saying they were satisfied and 24% saying they were not. Airmen were the most satisfied, at 71%. € Service members said they worked beyond their "normal duty day" an average of 111 days in the previous year, compared with 87 days in the 12 months before the survey in July 2002.
    Soldiers reported working long days most often, an average of 136. Sailors said they worked "overtime" an average of 90.6 days; Marines 124.5 days; and airmen 93.9 days. All those figures were much higher than in 2002. € All told, 57% of service members said they were "likely" or "very likely" to remain on active duty, versus 58% in 2002.
    € In the 2002 survey, 28% of service members said their "spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend" supported their leaving active duty.
    In the November 2003 survey, on which the question was worded slightly differently, 35% said their spouse or "significant other" favored them leaving active duty.

  8. Volkswagen, Bilfinger Urge Wage Cut; Unions See Blow to Economy
    German companies such as Volkswagen AG, the country's biggest carmaker, and Bilfinger Berger AG, the second-largest builder, are demanding pay cuts and longer hours from almost 1 million workers to boost flagging earnings. Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, starts negotiations today in an attempt to freeze wages for more than 100,000 employees, with the aim of lowering costs by 30% through 2011. Talks to force about 800,000 construction workers to put in longer hours entered a third round this week, after Siemens AG and DaimlerChrysler AG workers agreed to work more earlier this year. "I can't think of concessions on this scale since World War II," said Joerg Hinze, an economist at the HWWA in Hamburg, one of six research institutes that compile twice-yearly economic reports for the German government. "We are only at the beginning of a long process. Pressure on workers will increase." The German attempt to improve productivity is spreading across Europe. Alitalia SpA, Italy's state-controlled airline, is demanding cost savings, while France wants to relax the 35-hour work hours amid economic growth that's lagging the U.S. and Asia. Unions say agreements such as those at Munich-based Siemens and Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler, both of which won wage concessions and longer hours after threatening to move jobs out of Germany, may set back the economic recovery. German domestic demand unexpectedly contracted in the second quarter.
    Purchasing Power
    "Companies see wages only as costs, but they also mean purchasing power," said Hartmut Meine, chief negotiator for the IG Metall trade union, which is negotiating with Volkswagen. Companies' leverage is increasing as unemployment rises and union membership wanes. Between 1980 and 2000, union membership dropped to 25% in Germany. It declined to 10% of the workforce from 18% in France. Volkswagen would slash some 30,000 German jobs unless workers accept a pay freeze, dismissing a union demand for a 4% increase, Stefan Ohletz, a company spokesman, said last week. The company aims to preserve 176,544 jobs in Germany. Shares of Volkswagen have slumped 22.5% the past year, lagging the DAX Index's 12.4% gain. The company in July cut its 2004 earnings target amid "weak demand" and rising oil prices. Earnings last year slumped to 1.095 billion euros ($1.34 billion) from 2.58 billion euros in the year-earlier period. State-owned Alitalia is trying to eliminate 5,000 jobs and split the airline in two to save 1 billion euros. The Rome-based company said last month it has only enough cash to last through September and faces liquidation if unions don't agree to Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli's plan by Sept. 15.
    High Wages
    Volkswagen, which has negotiated separate agreements from the nationwide union accords, pays its workers about 20% more than competitors, according to Robert Heberger, an analyst at Merck Finck & Co. He has a "sell" rating on the company. At 27.09 euros ($33.29) per hour, western German manufacturing wage costs were some 36% higher last year than hourly costs in the U.S., 45% higher than in the U.K. and seven times above the level in neighboring Poland, according to the industry- sponsored IW economic institute in Cologne. German builders, reeling from a decade of declining demand during which they almost halved employment, want workers to spend up to three hours more per week on construction sites without extra pay to save 7% in wage costs. In exchange, the employers may discuss measures to guarantee year-round employment. "We're not even discussing wage increases anymore," said Herbert Bodner, chief executive officer of Bilfinger Berger, Germany's second-largest builder, in an interview. The Mannheim-based company's net income was unchanged in the second quarter at 13 million euros. Its shares have climbed 14.6% in the past year.
    Dwindling hours
    Since 1970, hours per worker in the European Union have dropped 17%, more than five times the rate in the U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. German employees put in an average 1,446 hours last year and their French counterparts worked 1,453 hours, about a fifth less than workers in the U.S. French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has advocated loosening the country's 35-hour work week law to increase employees' earnings and reduce companies' costs. A 35-hour work week "isn't feasible, given the enormous use of capital that we have," said Hans-Juergen Thaus, chief financial officer of Neutraubling, Germany-based Krones AG, the world's largest maker of packaging and bottling machines.
    [Nonsense, a 35-hour workweek and shorter is imperative in the Age of Automation for the activation of the consumer base. CFO Thaus is another tunnel-vision executive who looks at productivity and investment without relation to markets and demand.]
    Krones, whose second-quarter net income rose 1.1%, plans to move a "considerable" part of its production to the Czech Republic if talks fail on extending the work week for some 6,000 employees with union contracts and linking extra pay to performance, Thaus said. Krones produces almost exclusively in Germany and exports about 80% of its machines.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Baumgaertel in Frankfurt at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net.

  9. Don't let Bush take away workers' overtime
    Austin American-Statesman, TX
    Dan Getman and Julius Getman, LOCAL CONTRIBUTORS
    John Kerry needs to keep moving beyond Vietnam and remind voters that he's a Democrat - and that Democrats are willing to fight for the rights of workers. The issues are there, waiting to be addressed. American workers are losing jobs, income and medical benefits while corporate executive salaries aided by a massive tax cut have soared to record highs. But the worst is yet to come if, as seems likely, the Bush administration's new overtime policies move from regulations to reality. These regulations, which the administration is insisting on despite votes against them in both houses of Congress, will gut the protections of the Fair Labor Standard Act. They will reduce income, cost jobs and, most importantly, take away free time from workers - all on a massive scale. Until now, the Fair Labor Standards Act has guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for most employees who work more than 40 hours a week. Current laws limit the types of employees that employers may treat as salaried and "exempt" from the overtime laws to "professional" employees, such as professors, scientists, lawyers, "executives" and "administrative" employees who run businesses. These employees stand to benefit from longer workweeks in other ways (they frequently receive benefits such as tenure, high salaries, commissions, and bonuses that compensate, albeit imperfectly, for the sometimes longer workweek). The new regulations will expand the list of those who can be paid a salary and exempted from overtime to lower-middle-class and middle-class workers who get no such alternative benefits. Virtually every assistant manager of every convenience store and retail outlet in the county will become exempt. Employers will be able to shift workers to a salary of $23,600, then demand unlimited overtime with no additional compensation. What a [short-sighted] blessing for employers - more hours of work at less cost. This is the very abuse that FLSA was meant to prevent. What employer, particularly in these difficult economic times, will be able to resist the allure of free labor? One can only conclude that the very purpose of the Bush administration's proposed overtime overhaul is a generous gift to employers of workers' time and sweat. Current estimates are that 6 million additional workers will lose the protections of the overtime law (though most will not be shifted over until after the election). Salaried employees who do not have special credentials are easy targets for abuse. We know of salaried employees who are forced to work up to 120 hours per week for their employers - the equivalent of three full-time jobs. Unless the Congress and the next president act together to prevent these changes, excessive workweeks will become the norm. Unions are known as "the folks who gave you the weekend." The Bush administration will be known as the folks who took it back. The administration claims to be pro-family. But if the new rules are allowed to stand, employees in two-wage earner families will find the previously difficult task of juggling child care and work time well nigh impossible. Both parents and children will suffer. In addition, workforce reductions will inevitably ensue. An employer who has two 40-hour employees will be tempted to fire one and have the other cover both jobs. Such action would unfortunately make economic sense to employers devoted to the bottom line. Many in Congress are rightly concerned about the devastating effect the changes will have on individual constituents and on the economy as a whole. The federal overtime law has been one of the bedrock protections of our family and social life. Lying below the surface, it is not always recognized for being one of the foundations of a civilized social order. But it is. Even many Republicans have been wary of the potential political fallout from taking away overtime protections that have been in place since 1938. The Bush administration has given its largest campaign donors millions of hours of free labor each week. This "gift" is really a "theft" of working people's free time. John Kerry needs to speak out and bring this impending labor crisis to the forefront of public consideration. Julius Getman is a labor law scholar at the University of Texas School of Law; Dan Getman is an attorney in New Paltz, N.Y., representing employees on overtime cases.

  10. One of Chicago's darkest moments remembered by permanent memorial WLS, IL
    By Frank Mathie
    The Haymarket riot of 1886 is considered to be one of the most significant events in Chicago's history. In a clash between protesters and police eleven people were killed. Later four men went to the gallows for a crime they didn't commit. Today, a memorial to that tragedy was dedicated just west of the Loop. The Haymarket memorial by Chicago artist Mary Brogger sits on the very spot where the tragedy took place in 1886 at Des Plaines and Randolph. And today, just as 118 years ago, different groups are represented. Some people calling themselves anarchists are there, so is labor and, of course, the police. And it's all about that sculptured wagon and freedom of speech. "The wagon is a reference to the historical fact that there was a wagon at this site and was used on the evening of May 4th for the speakers to stand up on and address the crowd," said Mary Brogge, artist. May 4, 1886 was a powder keg of an evening with three different forces clashing - the force of a young labor movement, the force of freedom of speech and the force of the Chicago Police Dept.. Workers had been protesting for an eight hour day when it happened. The police moved in to disperse the crowd and a bomb was thrown. Seven police officers died and four workers in the crowd were killed. Just six months later four innocent men, as it turned out, were hanged. But out of this complex tragedy came some good. "That memorial behind us stands for the eight hour day and the forty hour work week," said Dennis Gannon, Pres. Chicago Federation of Labor. There has always been a controversy about a memorial there. The police said it should honor those seven officers but now time has healed some of those wounds. "A lot of those wounds need to heal and time has taken care of most. But we will never lose the memory of the sacrifices that were made by those police officers," said Mark Donahue, Pres. Federation of Police. By the way, just twenty feet from the new memorial is the original cobblestone alley where it all began.

  11. Alitalia pilots agreed, pointer blurb (to B10), WSJ, front page.
    ...to nearly double their [450] annual flying hours [how safe is that?] and accept a paycut in an effort to keep the airline in business.
    [Target article's headline -]
    Alitalia pilots make concessions giving a big lift to rescue plan, by Luca di Leo, Dow Jones via WSJ, B10.
9/14/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/13 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #22 which is from 9/14 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/14), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Canadians voice concerns about tractor trailer trucks: Ipsos-Reid survey - half of Canadians think that Canada's roads and highways are becoming less safe - The number of tractor-trailer trucks on Canada's roads and highways is "a problem" and causes drivers stress - According to Canadians, the number of hours truck drivers spend driving a week are too high, CNW Telbec (Communiqués de presse), Canada.
    OTTAWA, Canada - According to a new Ipsos-Reid survey conducted on behalf of Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways (CRASH), half of Canadians (54%) think that Canada's roads and highways are becoming less safe and many Canadians (68%) point to the number of tractor-trailer trucks on Canada's roads and highways as "a problem."
    CRASH President, Harry Gow, says the public is anxious when driving in the presence of big transport rigs. "Truck drivers", says Gow, "are doing their best and are mostly good drivers and responsible people. But they are under tremendous pressure to go the extra distance. They are running marathons and then being pushed to run two more miles. The general public is right to ask, is the transport driver behind me alert?"
    The Ipsos Reid poll found that wide majorities of Canadians agree with the two statements that "the number of tractor-trailers on the road today increases the level of stress felt by drivers of passenger vehicles" (75%) and that "drivers of passenger vehicles drive more erratically when they feel stressed or threatened by tractor-trailers on the road" (80%).
    There is no consensus over which issues the government should focus its attention towards to increase the safety of Canada's roads and highways when it comes to tractor trailer trucks - but many want the government to focus on the "maintenance and safety record of trucking firms" (34%) and the "hours that truck drivers are allowed to drive" (30%).
    However, the overwhelming majority of Canadians voice concerns about the long hours truck drivers spend driving on the road: Nine in ten Canadians (92%) agree with the statement that "the long hours that truck drivers can be required to work place too much stress on them", and 85% disagree with the statement that "longer driving hours for truckers do not put other drivers on the road at risk".
    On average, Canadians estimate that truck drivers spend 16 hours too many on the road on a weekly basis. This is measured in the difference between the hours that Canadians believe truckers currently drive (61 hours on average) and the hours that Canadians say is appropriate for truckers to drive on a weekly basis (45 hours on average).
    The poll found eight in ten Canadians (82%) in favour of a rule requiring that all trucks be equipped with electronic devices to record actual driving hours.
    "Government", says Gow, "is not listening to the public. They are proposing new rules, which will increase the hours worked week in and week out by transport drivers. Instead of listening to the public, the federal government, in cahoots with the trucking industry, is trying to fool people into believing that the new rules will address driver fatigue, when it is only likely to get worse. The federal government's refusal to mandate black boxes, a measure that would allow for better enforcement of hours of service regulations, shows a lack of commitment to safety."
    The Ipsos-Reid/Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways (CRASH) poll was conducted from August 27th to August 30th, 2004. For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1000 adult Canadians were interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within (+/-) 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub- groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data.
    For further information: please contact: Harry Gow, President, CRASH, (819) 827-0157 or (800) 530-9945; For more detailed information on the poll, please contact: Alexandra Evershed, Vice-President, Ipsos-Reid, Public Affairs, (613) 241-5802; For full tabular results, please visit www.ipsos.ca. News Releases are available at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/.

  2. Blair urged to reject the American model, by John Steele, telegraph.co.uk
    The Government's record on workers' rights was heavily criticised by trade union leaders yesterday, who urged Tony Blair to reject an American-style, deregulated labour market and embrace the European "social model" of employment protections.
    On the day the Prime Minister attended the TUC annual conference in Brighton, several leading trade unionists voiced their continued implacable opposition to "anti-union" laws created by previous Tory administrations.
    Unions believe the Labour Government, ostensibly a pro-European administration, is trying to distance itself from "social" elements of European law which would offer improved job security and safety, and trade union rights, in Britain.
    There remains deep concern that the Government is attracted to an American-style approach to unions, in which labour "flexibility" is vital and rights and protections are a low priority.
    They have accused the Government of clinging "desperately" to the right to opt out of key directives. Unions are particularly keen to see an end to the opt out on the 48-hour working week directive and another ensuring rights for agency workers.
    The TUC believes the European constitution is being "spun" as a framework which will not affect British labour laws. However, it has recently commissioned a legal report which suggests it might provide grounds for challenging some British laws.
    Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, in his speech to the conference, said: "It is not exaggeration to say that we stand at a defining moment. On the one hand we have the American model - deregulation, casual hire and fire, minimal levels of social welfare, long working hours. An economy in which trade unionism is under constant attack from corporate leaderships desperate to deny people a voice.
    "Vast wealth is generated for sure but look how it's divided - obscene wealth for a few sitting alongside desperate poverty for too many. "The alternative for which we have to be the standard bearer in this hugely important battle of ideas is the model we have developed in Europe, based on secure welfare states, social partnership and a strong framework of rights."
    TUC delegates demanded, among other things, protection from sacking for workers who take lawful strike action, including secondary industrial action.
    The mood was summed up by Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, who said it was "incredible" that unions were still demanding rights which were enjoyed by workers elsewhere in Europe.
    "It's also incredible that a Labour foreign secretary should rush home to a CBI conference to re-assure the bosses that Thatcher's laws are not for changing."
    This was a reference to the deep union anger at reports that Jack Straw had re-assured the Confederation of British Industry that the European constitution's social element would have no practical effect on British labour laws.
    Mr Woodley said that under current employment laws workers were being sacked by text message, others were "robbed" of their pensions and employees were forced to work long hours or take low pay.
    Digby Jones, the CBI director general, said: "I think this is terribly sad and utterly irrelevant to the modern world of work. The unions are looking into the dustbin of history."
    [Excuse us. If employers are pushing for a return to long working hours in the Automation Age, they're the ones looking into the dustbin of history, not unions.]

  3. UK unions close ranks with Blair as election nears (update1), Bloomberg.
    Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) - U.K. union leaders say they will try to win votes for Prime Minister Tony Blair at today's Trades Union Congress, softening criticism of his policies to help the Labour Party win an unprecedented third consecutive general election.
    "There is a sense of people coming together and rallying together now that an election is not that far away," said Brendan Barber, the TUC's general secretary, in an interview in his London office. "There is now a shared agenda being established."
    Blair is scheduled to address the TUC's 70 member unions, representing 7 million workers, later today in Brighton. The GMB, Britain's fourth-biggest union with 700,000 members from plumbers to public employees, withdrew funding for Labour in July. The largest government workers' union, the Public and Commercial Services Union, yesterday announced plans to call a strike ballot for a one-day protest on Nov. 5 against job cuts.
    The support of the TUC would help Blair's election effort by mustering votes, campaign volunteers and funding. TUC unions provided 80% of Labour funds in 2001, the last election year. Their backing may help Blair raise his party's share of the vote from the 90-year low of 22% scored in European Parliament elections in June.
    Labour was founded in 1900 at a conference hosted by the TUC with the purpose of examining how to better represent the interests of workers in Parliament. Unions controlled 90% of the votes on party decisions, including the leadership, until 1993, when Labour changed to a system of one vote per member.
    'Crucial' Relationship
    "The relationship between trade union members and the Labour Party is a crucial one," said Labour Parliamentarian Peter Pike, vice-chairman of a group of legislators who are members of the GMB. "Their involvement in the party as workers helping us in elections, knocking on doors and delivering leaflets, is something I don't take for granted."
    After taking over leadership of the Labour Party in 1994, Blair removed a clause in the party's charter calling for the nationalization of companies. He returned the Labour Party to power in 1997, after 18 years in opposition.
    Blair continued the previous Conservative government's policies of selling state-owned companies to private investors and refused to raise spending above the Conservatives' two-year plan. Labour won re-election in 2001.
    Sliding Popularity
    Labour's popularity among voters has fallen by 7 percentage points in the past year, according to a Populus poll last week. The survey, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points, put Labour support at 32%, down from 39% last year and 2 points above the Conservatives. Populus interviewed a random sample of 1,009 adults between Sept. 3 and Sept. 5.
    In the agenda for today's meeting, unions are calling on Blair to limit the work week to 48 hours, in line with European Union legislation, and are demanding more spending on health care and education and tougher measures against gender discrimination in the workplace. They are also urging Blair to force companies to make pension payments of at least 10% of salaries.
    Unions have a better chance of achieving some of those goals with the Labour Party than under a government led by the Conservatives' Michael Howard, said Ed Sweeney, general secretary of Unifi, the largest union for bank workers.
    "It's just practical politics - I'd rather be inside the tent than outside it," Sweeney said in an interview. "I simply don't want a Tory government," he said, referring to the Conservatives.
    Support at a Price
    The support this week from Barber's TUC probably comes at the price of "substantial commitments as to legislation," said Gerald Dorfmann, a professor in British politics at Stanford University.
    Dorfmann said union leaders may also hope Blair will cede his post to his Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, whom they see as a better representative of their interests, soon after the election that Blair will probably call in the next 12 months, according to his party.
    "On issues related to the quality of working life, on working time, on all of these issues an understanding has now begun to take shape," Barber said. "Unions expect the Labour party to keep its word."
    Unions say Blair has failed to promote workers' interests as much as they expected when they helped him win power in 1997, ousting the Conservatives, who passed laws curbing unions' rights under Margaret Thatcher's leadership.
    The TUC "is extremely concerned at the failure to repeal Tory anti-union laws," the Transport and General Workers' Union said in the TUC's preliminary agenda. The union wants Blair to expand workers' rights to join unions and to strike.
    'Dialogue With the Deaf'
    As many as 290,000 government workers may stage a one-day walkout in protest at government job cuts, after the Public and Commercial Services Union yesterday called for a strike ballot from Oct. 1 to Oct. 22. The union is demanding guarantees that no public workers will be fired and no moregovernment work will be contracted out to private companies. It also wants a reversal of government plans to raise the retirement age to 65 from 60.
    "We can only solve these problems with dialogue," said Mark Serwotka, the union's general secretary, at a press conference in Brighton. "But talking to the government is like a dialogue with the deaf."
    Public Services
    Blair's government is trying to appease unions with policies that include improving public services. Brown in March pledged to raise education spending by 33% and health spending by 22% through the fiscal year ending April 2008.
    At the TUC's 2002 conference, Blair warned the unions against withholding support for his party.
    "It happened before: in 1948, in 1969, in 1979," he said in a speech. "The result then was the folding of the Labour Government and the return of a Tory Government. Not this time. It will just be less influence with the same Labour Government."
    Even so, support from unions may be more muted than in past elections, Dorfman said. Barber has committed to funding 3 million pounds ($5.4 million), according to Labour party chairman Ian McCartney, short of the 8 million pounds the TUC raised for the 2001 elections.
    Union leaders say Labour needs their backing for more than just funding.
    "All the money in the world will not put people on the ground in the constituencies," said Sweeney. "You need people on the ground."
    To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Hanrath in London at ahanrath1@bloomberg.net.

  4. [Here's another article about beating around the bush instead of directly addressing the management problem of employment overload -]
    The way to a more productive employee may be through the gym, by Stephanie Waite, AP via Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, PA.
    CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - You might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow when employees at GlaxoSmithKline in Moon Township tell you how hard they work. Listen to them talk about the onsite, fully equipped, trainer-staffed fitness center, the cafeteria with entrees such as meatloaf with tomato and mushroom gravy, the ice cream socials, the midday aerobics classes, the walking teams that scoot around the building during working hours, and you just might think these folks have got it made. They do have it good, employees say. But they also work very, very hard, for very long hours, at very tough jobs. All the perks, far from distracting them from their jobs, only feed their passion to do their jobs well. "I look at it as productivity," said Mark Saunders, senior marketing manager at GlaxoSmithKline, who uses the gym regularly for strength workouts. "I'm more productive and creative because I work out here. It really makes you energetic and sharp. Especially in winter, this keeps my engine going." Scientists and business people think he's right. Research has shown that physically active employees are more productive and help lower employers' health care costs. Employers are realizing that helping employees get fit helps the bottom line. Researchers at the University of Michigan who studied 23,500 healthy General Motors employees found that annual health care costs averaged $2,300 for sedentary normal-weight employees and $3,000 for sedentary obese employees. But costs for physically active obese employees dropped $300 to $400 a year. Obese employees have more difficulty getting along with co-workers, and miss significantly more work days, according to another study, in the January 2004 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Physically fit workers, by contrast, do more, better quality work. A survey by the National Business Group on Health found that 56% of employers offering fitness programs found higher worker morale as a result.
    27% attributed reduced health care costs to the programs. Employers' interest in workers' fitness has grown gradually every year since fitness became a craze in the 1970s, said Bill Parise, executive director of the YMCA of Beaver County. Several Beaver County companies pay for employees' YMCA memberships, Parise said. About 50 others, from large concerns to five-person firms, pay for corporate memberships, which entitles their employees to 15% off membership fees. Still others bring employees in for team-building volleyball or basketball games, or reserve spots for their workers at the YMCA's child-care center. "Companies understand that healthier employees are better employees," Parise said. GlaxoSmithKline opened its onsite fitness center when it moved into a new building in Moon Township about two years ago. A British multinational health care company, GlaxoSmithKline's consumer health care business is based in Moon, where it employs about 500. The company's emphasis on fitness comes from the top, said Joyce Hrynewich, human resources manager. Top executives hit the fitness center regularly. GlaxoSmithKline purchased the equipment, and contracts with Falls Church, Va.-based L&T Health and Fitness to run the center. Employees pay $25 a month, through payroll deduction, to use the center; about 30% are members. It's a break-even proposition for the company, Hrynewich said. Besides a full range of cardiovascular machines and weights, and a full locker room, the fitness center also offers daily classes, in step aerobics or body sculpting, for example. Last winter, the gym sponsored a Winter Weight Busters program, with 17 teams of five people each competing to see who could lose the most weight. They lost a combined total of 736 pounds, despite the sabotage efforts of teams that sent boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to rival teams. Teams with names like "Pavement Pounding Divas" are competing in the current "Summer Size Your Body" to see who can be the first to walk the distance from Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Two times around the building is one mile, and it's not uncommon to see employees making the circular trek during the day. GlaxoSmithKline's attitude assumes employees act professionally, and do not abuse their privileges. "We let people have the freedom to get the job done on their own terms," Hrynewich said. "You get so much more in return." For example, the company doesn't have a problem with absenteeism; workers average fewer than three days of sick time a year. Turnover has averaged about 3% over the last seven to nine years. Employees are grateful that they're given so much freedom, and respond by putting in extra hours when necessary, Saunders said.
    [In emergencies is fine, but some managers are "walking emergencies" and if there isn't one, they create it. Result? Chronic overtime.]
    "It is an extremely challenging place to work,"...Saunders said. "We have to create a culture that gets the most out of people." "The expectations are extraordinarily high, and people work extraordinarily hard," Hrynewich said.
    [Yeah, 'high' of employees and low of employers' scheduling skills.]
    "It's not unusual for people to put in 50-hour-plus work weeks. This is what the company gives back."
    [Great. The company throws you tokens while your life hemorrhages away on their hackeneyed agendas.]
    Having the fitness center onsite makes it easier for him to have a life outside work, Saunders said.
    [Some people have pretty limited definitions of "life outside work."]
    He works out right after the workday ends, then goes home and is free to devote himself to friends, family or hobbies.
    [IF there's any time left after his 50-hour-plus workweeks.]
    Since he already gets a cardiovascular workout playing sports, he wanted to concentrate on building muscle at the gym. A personal trainer at the gym designed a workout schedule that outlines specific exercises and repetitions for Saunders, concentrating on a different muscle group every day. The gym is a great recruitment tool, Hrynewich said. But unlike much of the corporate world, it's not unheard of for people to stay at GlaxoSmithKline for 20 or 30 years. Having the gym on site helps even the veterans keep a young attitude, Saunders said. "We're energetic," he said. "We embrace change."
    [However, "we" don't seem to be very energetic about embracing the greater amount of free time that worksaving technology grants us, do "we."]

  5. Post labor-day reflections, by Joe Ramsey, The Tufts Daily, MA.
    As Labor Day has passed us by and we scramble into the fall semester, it seems appropriate to stop and reflect on the meaning of this seldom-celebrated holiday. Too often Labor Day is just another long weekend, the last chance to get away before the leaves begin to turn. But in addition to being a chance to fire up the grill, Labor Day presents us with a time to recognize the long and continuing struggles of workers, in our own Tufts community, around the U.S. and around the world. After all, though seldom acknowledged, the labor movement has fought for and won many rights and social and economic benefits that Americans now take for granted. These rights include but are not limited to the 5-day, 40-hour workweek with mandatory overtime pay, minimum wage, unemployment and workplace disability insurance, social security, workplace safety standards, the prohibition of child labor, free public education, and the right to form unions. In spite of all its accomplishments, today labor rights are under assault from big business, union-busting law firms, "conservative" and anti-labor lawmakers and judges. Furthermore, globalization has fostered an intense race to the bottom that encourages competing firms to throw unionized workplaces overboard as they seek out cheaper - non-union - labor-power abroad, often in Third World countries where tyrannical political regimes and right-wing paramilitaries systematically repress labor rights. (Such films as Michael Moore's Roger and Me have detailed the local effects of this de-industrialization of America's union heartland.) Indeed, recent decades have seen a dramatic decline in union membership in the U.S., with predictable repercussions for American workers and U.S. society. At present, only around 15% of private sector workers are union members, down from around 40% in 1960. This fall in union membership has precipitated a fall in real wages in the U.S. for a majority of wage-earners, as well as a dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans without health insurance, a lengthening of the average American work-week, and a rise in work-place injuries.
    [We would argue that the orginal fall in union membership was itself precipitated by unions' failure to stay "on issue" and get the workweek adjusted downward as worksaving technology flooded in, threatening a labor surplus. That threat came true and kept coming truer and truer. The mounting labor surpluses and numbers of un- and under-employed raised job insecurity and depressed wages and benefits. Employees lost power, and unions, useless once they lost control of worktime per person, lost "market share."]
    (It has also, I should note, been accompanied by sky-rocketing stock prices and corporate profits.)
    [Well, this was true during the dot-com boom but stock prices are having a hard time getting much above the Dow 10,000 now, and any sky-rocketing corporate profits are as likely to result from creative accounting and CEO fraud as from reality. Generally, stock prices in the 1990s went up because labor surplus prevented ordinary employees from getting raises of the same scale and frequency as in the 50s and 60s, and all that extra money gushed up to the top to swell CEO pay and perks, which gone over 500 times that of ordinary employees in the U.S. The concentration of the national income has become so intense that the top brackets are actually cannibalizing their own consumer base and suctioning the spending power away from their own investment targets. There was a technology stock bubble in the late 90s when investors had nothing else to invest in, but now they're increasingly retreating to cash and thereby crafting a classic depression scenario. But our economic indexes have been defined to "externalize" so much of the bad news, that it will really take a "conk on the head" to make mainstream cheerleaders, oops, economists admit that we're in a long secular (not cyclical) and gradually deepening depression from which the only way out is national-income-centrifuging labor shortage, whether caused by war or engineered by timesizing.]
    More generally, the increased exploitation of non-union labor has fueled an unprecedented polarization of American society into rich and poor, with the top 5% of households possessing over 60% of the country's total wealth.
    The decline in unionism has in turn opened the door for depleting the hard-won rights of workers, like overtime pay, minimum wage, and the ability to form unions in the first place. Recent years have also seen a steady co-opting by big business of government agencies such as the Labor Dept., the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Thus, more and more workers in their attempts to unionize now encounter not only corporate threats to move operations off-shore, not only high pressure and often illegal employer anti-union campaigns, but also long bureaucratic delays that serve to postpone laborers' rights even longer.
    Hence, today many employers get away with such illegal tactics as intimidating and even firing union activists and sympathizers. Other employers, including our own Tufts administration, have endlessly appealed union elections to prevent having to recognize a democratically elected union.
    Indeed, universities in this country have been far from innocent bystanders in this wholesale rolling back of labor rights. Increasingly conscious of cutting costs, university administrators have done much to undermine unions. At Tufts for instance, several years ago our administrators "out-sourced" janitorial work, firing many of the long-time employees and bringing in an outside contractor to maintain the campus for radically reduced wages and without offering Tufts-employee benefits. This new corporate employer, UNICCO, slashed worker wages and benefits dramatically. While the workers, their union, and Tufts' Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), have made marginal gains in the treatment of our workers, Tufts' janitors are still making less in real wages for their service today than the Tufts-employed janitors were making 10-years ago.
    Tufts administrators, of course, would like to wash their hands of the matter, claiming that they do not actually employ the janitors any more at all and that the issue of the janitors' conditions is strictly between employees, their union, and their employer OneSource. Meanwhile, hundreds of mostly immigrant Tufts/One Source custodians work two or three different jobs to make ends meet, all the while fearful that if they raise their voices too loudly for workplace rights they will be fired or even deported.
    Such national university efforts to cut costs by cutting employees harm more than just janitors. Indeed, as educational institutions strive to lower labor costs wherever they can, they have been increasingly replacing full-time, full-benefit, and tenure track professorships with part-time, low-paying and often no-benefit, one year renewable adjunct positions or graduate students. Recent studies have shown that more than half of all the face-to-face teaching hours performed at U.S. universities are now being performed by either adjunct faculty or by graduate students, not by full-time, or tenure track professors.
    Stay tuned for the continuation of this viewpoint, to be run on Wednesday, September 15.
    Joe Ramsey is a PhD. student, a grader in the English Dept. and an organizer for ASET/UAW, the Association of Student Employees at Tufts/United Auto Workers, the group working to form a graduate student employee union atTufts.

  6. Companies are hedging their bets by hiring contingent employees, by Daniel Nasaw, WSJ, B10.
    ...Companies in white-collar industries such as technology, media and PR are hedging their bets by hiring "contingent" workers [who] typically work full-time for months for a single employer, collecting hoursly wages - but no benefits - from an outside staffing agency. Companies enjoy lower costs and the flexibility of easy layoffs. Indeed, at any given time, people in such "non-standard" work arrangements are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed one month later than traditional full-time workers, concludes an Oct.2003 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington research organization..\..
    [And CEOs expect people in this situation to be 'confident consumers'??]
    Matthew Marlott should have been thrilled to land a $40,000 paralegal job with a major financial-services firm in New York in April. After all, he had been unemployed for more than six months. The catch: He received no health insurance, sick days, vacation or job security. "It's basically like you're a disposable worker," [he] says....
    PR executive Aimee Grove...accepted a 2-month position with Allison & Partners, a San Francisco PR agency. [She] received a flat weekly fee with no benefits for working about 40 hours a week. After she completed her stint in April 2003, the firm hired her permanently.... Her compensation rose more than 10%, including benefits, although she works longer hours....

  7. Employers concerned over minimum wage rise, The Publican, UK.
    The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has spotlighted the hospitality trade's fears over rises in the national minimum wage. A survey by the employers' group found that pub, hotel and restaurant companies top the list of those concerned about the effect on costs. Next month sees the minimum hourly rate increase from £4.50 to £4.85. The poll of 520 companies found that 25% thought the rise would have a 'significant' effect on costs, with some planning to cut hours or jobs in response. The survey found that hospitality and retail employers had the biggest concerns about absorbing the cost.

( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - he's experimenting with four search runs because of erratic one-run behavior:
"work sharing", OR overwork, OR overworking, 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 "worktime", OR "decreases hours", OR "shorter schedule"
"cut hours", OR "cutting hours", OR "reduce hours", OR "reduced hours", OR "reduces hours", OR "reducing hours", OR "hours reduction", OR "40 hour", OR "40 hours", OR "forty hour", OR "forty hours"
"free time", OR "long hours", OR "extra hours", OR "long work", OR "long days", OR "long workdays", OR "long workday", OR "decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "schedule reduction", OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln Electric"
overtime -sports -coach -coaches -coaching -football -soccer -baseball -olympics [on hold unless fewer than 10 stories from above] )

9/11-13/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/10-12 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #22 which is from 9/11-13 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/11-13), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 9/11   Must children do overtime to pay the household bills? Is extending school hours is really the way to help harassed working parents?, by Muriel Gray, Sunday Herald, UK.
    I'm confused. I thought this was the government that wanted parents to work more flexible hours, to take stock of their family and work commitments and use the legislation concerning part-time work and job sharing to see more of their children. But with the Education Secretary Charles Clarke's announcement that he plans to make schools in England and Wales stay open from 8am to 6pm, to help harassed working parents who struggle to find good childcare, the message seems rather different. Doesn't it rather imply that he wants us all to work harder and longer?
    The Enid Blyton image of the traditional British family, one where pipe-smoking dad comes home from the office to floury-handed mum taking scones from the oven, while apple-cheeked children sit in deep concentration over their homework, is of course a ludicrous fiction. A huge percentage of British children live in either single-parent families, or a family where only one adult is their natural parent, and few couples of the rare Blytonesque model now have the financial resources to be able to luxuriate in one of them piddling around at home with scones while the other goes to work to pay the bills.
    So we can understand why Clarke is trying to help out those working parents who feel they have no choice, those weary, stressed and guilty souls who watch the clock like cobras, desperately time-managing pick-ups and drop-offs like someone organising a royal wedding. There's no doubt that dumping the children at 8am and then collecting them 10 hours later would at least provide a comforting continuity of care, convenient geography for parents whose childcare is a distance away from home and school, and much more importantly a degree of safety and security that may be lacking in other convoluted arrangements.
    But is it so very wonderful for the children? This is a tough one. Those of you with children, particularly of primary school age, will have noticed something about school. It knackers them. The proposed extended hours are of course to be filled with activities and play, and something else the Education Secretary calls mere "supervision", although how one can supervise 33 tired and grumpy six-year-olds without giving them something diverting to do remains a mystery. All terrific stuff on paper, but often the tiny wee souls just want to come home, lie around on a carpet and watch a bit of TV, or poke at something outside with a stick.
    It's certainly true that all children are different, and those who run the already existing breakfast and after-school clubs report that their tiny charges seem content enough with the arrangements. The niggling concern is that whilst these clubs exist to help out the most hard-pressed parents with very few other choices, a culture of long school hours acting as free or cheap childcare is inevitably going to attract the attention of another sort of parent: parents who do have choices, but pick this as an appealing opportunity to work longer, spending more time with reasonable, undemanding colleagues, and less time dealing with unreasonable, demanding children at home.
    Having so very little home life, maybe only half an hour in the morning to get dressed and dropped off for breakfast at school, then two hours before bedtime at night, is a pretty raw deal for children. One critic, Emma Hutchinson, co-director of a charity that provides after-school music lessons, has described Clarke's plans as "boarding schools without beds", and you can see what she means.
    And what about the teachers? Are there really huge sacks of extra cashavailable to ensure these already overworked individuals are properly remunerated for all that extra "supervision", or will there be funds for a whole new team of play leaders and qualified child carers to march in and take over after 3.30pm? If so, wouldn't those funds be a little better spent on providing the kind of key, essential educational resources so painfully lacking in schools that headteachers have been begging the government to provide for years?
    Anyone who knows a teacher personally will testify to the fact that they don't exactly drop the chalk at the end bell and head for the pub. The extra work they do is substantial, often extends way into their personal time and is often largely unrecognised or rewarded. But even in a fantasy world where teachers shout hoorah at being required to work an even longer, harder day, whilst their school still creaks under the financial restraints that prevents it from serving their pupils' best interests, the key message of Clarke's plan is the one that still seems rather disquieting. Under his calm, parent-friendly proposals, why can I hear another voice saying: "Hey you? Working too hard, too long to see much of your children? Then have more free state childcare. Never mind the kids. You can always sew nametags into the backs of their shirts so you remember what they're called. Now get back to bloody work, you shower of slackers."
    Fair enough, but how about this instead? The parents who are struggling are probably doing so because their jobs don't pay enough to keep up with utterly insane house prices, cope with the rocketing fuel bills that make the onset of winter a real concern, or even begin to address the burden of council taxes that take the breath away. The double-income family, juggling their jobs and farming out their kids, is no longer solely the choice of couples that want to enjoy a lavish lifestyle. For many it's the only way they can keep a modest household going.
    It would be a tad more comforting to hear plans from a government, constantly bleating about parental choice and flexible working, about how they might manage the economy more efficiently, to give those who wish to lead a simple family life, taking care of their children as well as their finances, a very real option instead of a pipe dream.
    [The Big Question restated.]

  2. 9/11   Searching for Southern California's most overworked woman - A region wide contest to find the most overworked woman - Many women today have two careers: one outside of the home, and one managing the home - They are essentially working two full time jobs - This routine is pushing many to prolonged periods of stress, leading to burn-out and other illnesses - Tired women or people who love them, are invited submit a nomination to win a restful weekend retreat, PRWEB via Emediawire (press release).
    The Art of Rest - Retreats for Busy Women, today announced a regional contest to find Southern California's Most Overworked Woman. The company seeks to bring attention to the detrimental effects of prolonged periods of overwork and overload. Given time, overload can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, sickness, weight-gain, weight-loss, depression, anxiety, broken relationships, burn-out and more. The contest will run from September 10-25 and is open to anyone interested in submitting an entry at The Art of Rest website. Family members, friends, co-workers & employees are all invited to nominate an overworked woman. Often times the woman on the verge of burn-out is not always able to acknowledge when she is reaching or has reached her limit. A few of the signs of burn-out are: "Like many behaviors, overworking becomes a habit, a way of being. If not addressed it becomes a problem," said Jordan Mercedes, founder of The Art of Rest. "I'm continually amazed at the lack of attention this issue gets. It's as if we expect women to be super human; the sad part is that many women expect that from themselves. They are often disappointed when they cannot achieve it." One reason women are overworked is they don't know where to go or how to ask for help. They feel like they have to do it all alone. "We want to be a part of the solution" says Mercedes. With that in mind The Art of Rest is calling for businesses with goods and services that can help busy women, to submit information for consieration in their new on-line directory that will be available this winter. This is not an open call for solicitation. Only those with valid resources will be included in the directory. Services such as organizing, meal planning, and personal assistance are a good fit. The directory will be available for no charge at the website. The top 10 contest winners will receive the "Art of Rest Gift Pack" which includes practical resources that will help to create a more balanced life, pampering products, 2-personal sessions with a Rest Coach and exclusive benefits for upcoming retreats. The first place winner will receive a weekend of rest at the October 1-3, "What Turns You On! Reconnecting with Your Passion" retreat. This includes two night stay (double occupancy) at a beautiful resort, five gourmet meals, fitness classes, art session, personal coaching session and more. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 27th on The Art of Rest website at www.theartofrest.com and on the retreat line at (562) 920-0017. For more information on The Art of Rest - Retreats for Busy Women please visit the website.
    Contact: Jordan Mercedes, The Art of Rest, P.O. Box 3144, Lakewood, CA 90711, (562) 881-4024 or 920-0017, www.theartofrest.com.

  3. 9/11   Economic agenda - Europe should forget its batting average and increase its score, by Roger Bootle, Telegraph.co.uk.
    On Friday, European finance ministers and central bank governors met in Holland to consider, among other things, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, which is supposed to govern fiscal policy. They did so against a backdrop of widespread European economic failure.
    [Only when judged by our perverse GDP indicator, which gives points for lots of suicidal things that the USA is doing and doesn't give points for lots of constructive things that Europe is doing.]
    At the EU summit in Lisbon in 2000, European leaders agreed a strategic goal for the next decade: to make the EU the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world. At the time, it seemed like a cruel joke. Subsequent poor economic performance has confirmed that this initial response was on the mark. But what is at the root of this poor performance?
    [Besides a flawed economic measure (GDP)?]
    Not putting in the hours
    Over the past decade, the EU's average annual growth rate [in GDP] has been about 1% below America's.
    [So 1% is the difference between American "success" and European "failure"? Pure American political spin.]
    It is widely believed [by Americans] that EU productivity growth has been equally bad but, in fact, if you measure it correctly, this is not true. If you measure the [irrelevant] growth of output per head in the economy, then Europe does come out badly compared to America, but not if you measure [relevant] output per hour worked. On that basis, EU productivity growth has been faster than America's. Not only that, but the level of productivity is almost equal to America's.
    [And "almost equal" without the huge prison and military industrial complex.]
    So where is the great European 'failure' [our quotes]? The source of higher US output is simply that Americans work more hours than Europeans do, because of both a higher proportion of people in employment and a greater number of hours worked by those with a job.
    [Which is a regressive indicator of less average free time per person, and free time is the basic freedom, in spite of America's increasingly strained and shrill protestations and self-assurances about its own great freedom and liberty.]
    Our chart makes clear that, in the EU, the proportion of the population aged 15-64 who work is pretty low compared to the US. Whereas America's rate is 75% and the UK's 71%, the euro-zone's is only 63%. There are several reasons for these different rates - including different rates of unemployment. The US rate is 5.6% compared to the EU's 9%.
    [But then, the US rate doesn't count anything, like welfare (2m families), disability (5.7m individuals), homelessness (est. 2-3m), incarcerated (2.2m), forced early-retired, forced self''employed'....]
    The figures are also affected, though, by different rates of early retirement and different rates of female participation in the workforce.
    [Glad an anglophone commentator is finally mentioning early retirement.]
    Over and above all this, our lower chart reveals something else, something that we all suspected. In the euro-zone, employees work about 15% fewer hours per year than their counterparts in the US. Shorter working days and longer holidays are what make the difference.
    [That is, Europeans have much greater freedom and a much higher quality of life. And with more political parties to choose from, they have more political freedom. Switzerland is the most advanced political design with regular issue-oriented referendums gradually replacing the beauty contest of "representative" democracy.]
    Now all this gives rise to an interesting idea. Is European under-performance an illusion?
    [Now we're getting somewhere.]
    If Europeans choose to work less than their American counterparts but achieve about as much for each hour they are at work, then what is wrong with that?
    Too much work?
    Choosing increased leisure because you are already rich enough makes more sense in some parts of Europe than in others. It makes a great deal more sense, for instance, in the former West Germany than in the former East, or in the new members of the EU.
    [No, it makes a lot of sense everywhere, because it ties into work sharing = shortening the workweek so everyone can get a share of the vanishing human employment in the age of automation and support themselves so taxpayers don't have to. Getting full participation in the job market would centrifuge the national income, even in the former East Germany and in the new members of the EU, and that would activate all domestic consumers to the max, getting the spending power out to the middle and lower income brackets who spend it immediately. The rising tide would lift all boats, including the rich's.]
    ...I have considerable sympathy with the widespread European view that Americans work too hard and, in particular, that they take ludicrously short holidays. Surely one of the fruits of increased wealth should be increased leisure.
    [Amen. It's not called "work-life balance" for nothing.]
    You may not end up quite so "well-off" in terms of money as if you worked all the hours that God sends, but in this context the words "well-off" are completely misleading. In a wider human sense, you might be much better off, even though you have less money. So does this let Europe off the hook? Hardly.
    [Au contraire, completely, relative to the chest-thumping U.S. He now drifts into irrelevance.]
    For a start, the respectable productivity performance is partly a reflection of the low numbers of hours worked. If employment levels are low, in general it is the least productive who do not work. Equally, for those who are employed, if not many hours are worked, the least important jobs will go undone. This way, the average level of productivity can be raised by cutting out the least productive. In the same way, you can raise the batting average of a cricket team by restricting the batting to the top four batsmen. However, winning the game is not about maximising the batting average but about maximising the overall score. So it is with achieving the best economic performance. More importantly, the much lower participation rates in most of Europe are not the result of free choice. Except in the narrowest sense, millions of European people without jobs have not chosen to be unemployed. Rather, European macro-economic policy has failed to generate enough demand in the economy to create sufficient jobs [as everywhere in terms of ignoring automation's worksharing imperative] and the web of regulations and labour market restrictions in most countries has made employers reluctant to hire people even when aggregate demand is sufficient. The argument that lower labour inputs are the result of choice has more force when applied to the number of hours that people work. But there are limits, even here. In most jobs, individuals cannot choose their hours but have to accept hours laid down for them, and/or negotiated by trade unions. Over and above that, their choices are restricted by official regulations, such as France's 35-hour week. Admittedly, many Europeans may well prefer shorter hours to more money, but that choice is heavily distorted by the fact that many of them do not have to face the full consequences of their actions. In particular, they enjoy a level of financial security provided by the state that is unsustainable. They are set to enjoy generous pensions which, by and large, are not funded but are rather due to be paid by the taxes levied on future workers. When the chickens come home to roost, I wonder what European work/leisure choices will be then. This highlights another reason why the short working hours should not be taken at face value to reflect European preference for increased leisure over more money - tax. Working to earn money is taxed whereas leisure is not. And, by and large, marginal tax rates are much higher in Europe than in America.
    [But concentration of wealth is much higher in America than in Europe, and that acts as a hidden tax, especially with Bush giving taxbreaks to the rich and necessarily throwing more of the tax burden on everyone else for the the indefinite future. Let's get the whole picture here.]
    Need for reform
    In my view, there is scant comfort for European leaders in the revelation that productivity per hour is almost as high in Europe as in the US.
    [Productivity regardless of marketability is meaningless anyway.]
    The low number of aggregate hours worked in the EU is less the result of a conscious choice and more the direct result of policy failure - the failure of macro-economic policy to generate enough demand [the only way it could do that is through even lower aggregate hours and more workspreading] and the failure of micro-economic policy to make it profitable for people to work and employers to hire them [here he has a good point]. These failures are the direct responsibility of European politicians. So, after their meeting on Friday, European finance ministers should not make a long weekend of it. Unlike so many of their compatriots, they have a job to do.
    Roger Bootle is managing director of Capital Economics and economic adviser to Deloitte. You can contact him at roger.bootle@capital economics.com.

  4. 9/10   Dakota County pressed to lid [tax cap] for budget, by Michele Linck, Sioux City Journal, IA.
    DAKOTA CITY, Ia. - Even the rather austere budget it is proposing for fiscal 2004-05, has forced the Dakota County Board of Commissioners to the lid. The board is prohibited by state law from raising the county's property tax levy above 50 cents per $100 assessed value. But with an eye to both continuing services and paying the bills, the board is proposing a tax levy of .4999. Following a public hearing on Monday, a final budget must be submitted to the state by Sept. 20. The proposed property tax would mean a 15 to 18% hike; a home with a $50,000 valuation would pay $250 in property taxes. About 4 cents of each 50 cents would be shared among the Agriculture Society, the Historical Society and the Dakota-Covington Fire District. Along with taxing to within a hair's breadth of the limit, commissioners are also proposing to slice a half-hour each day from most county employees' schedules and reduce hours at the Veterans Affairs office by more than half....

  5. 9/10   Cash-strapped authority to lobby MPPs for more funding, by Richard Leitner, Stoney Creek News, Canada. HAMILTON, Ont. - The Hamilton Conservation Authority is planning to add some political arm-twisting to a mix of cost-cutting measures as it struggles to rein in a projected $810,000 budget deficit in the coming months. Chief administrative officer Bruce Duncan said his agency will be lobbying local MPPs as part of an Ontario-wide effort to convince the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty to reverse years of funding provincial cuts. Those cuts have seen the province's contribution to the local authority's $9.8 million annual budget dwindle to about $200,000 from more than $1 million in 1993, he said. To compensate, the authority has increasingly relied on gate receipts from its parks and attractions to pay for flood and erosion control, watershed studies, land planning advice and other provincially mandated responsibilities no longer funded by Queen's Park [= the provincial gov't]. But poor gate receipts the past two summers - blamed on a combination of bad weather and the tourist chill from SARS, the war in Iraq and 9/11 - have thrown that strategy in question, with this year's projected deficit following a $415,000 shortfall last year.... To help stem this year's red ink, since Aug. 1 the conservation authority has cut staffing and concession hours at area parks, closed the Dundas Trail Valley Centre two days a week, shut down the Wild Waterworks wave pool on cold and rainy days, and reduced grass cutting. Mr. Duncan said the authority is investigating employment insurance arrangements for staff who voluntarily cut their work week, but "not looking at layoffs at this time."...

  6. 9/10   Supreme Court affirms wide use of class actions in overtime claims, by Jack Steven Sholkoff, Mondaq News Alerts, World.
    LOS ANGELES - In a severe blow to employers, the California Supreme Court affirmed, and effectively encouraged, the use of class action lawsuits against employers to recover overtime wages from employers. Giving extraordinary deference to trial courts, and potentially moving away from its prior holdings on wage and hour law, the Court, on August 26, 2004, in Sav-On Drug Stores, Inc. v. Superior Court, affirmed the trial court's certification of an overtime class action claim. The Court's decision makes it absolutely imperative that employers review their employee wage classifications with legal counsel to minimize their risk of misclassification liability. In recent years, significant numbers of California employers have faced charges that they have improperly failed to pay their employees overtime. Because California permits employees to recover unpaid wages going back, in some cases, up to four years, the stakes in these cases are extraordinarily high: cases involving hundreds of employees can easily result in liability to an employer in the tens of millions of dollars. The primary mechanism that permits employees to sue as a group is the class action lawsuit. The Court's decision in Sav-On will almost certainly make it easier for employees to bring and maintain such lawsuits against employers. In Sav-On, the plaintiffs were operating managers (OM) and assistant managers (AM) of Sav-On retail outlets. The plaintiffs contended that Sav-On had improperly classified the OMs and AMs as exempt employees. The plaintiffs urged class certification because Sav-On itself, as does virtually every other employer, relied upon a uniform job description as well as operational standardization when classifying the employees. The trial court agreed. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that whether an OM or AM was exempt was inherently an individualized inquiry because of the differences between all of the managers' duties. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal and affirmed the decision of the trial court granting class certification. The Supreme Court held that the trial court had discretion to find, based upon evidence presented by the plaintiffs, that the employer's "uniform classification policy was put into practice under the standardized conditions alleged" and that despite potential differences between the plaintiffs, "misclassification was the rule rather than the exception." Accordingly, based upon these findings, the trial court had discretion to hold that a class action would be the most efficient method for resolving the case. Put simply, the Court punted; it held that in most cases, the trial court's determination whether to certify a class in overtime misclassification cases cannot be disturbed by an appellate court. Equally important, the Court rejected the primary argument against class certification posited by employers. Sav-On had argued that whether a manager was exempt was inherently an individualized decision, requiring an analysis of the actual duties performed by each manager. Sav-On's position was reasonable, and was based upon language contained in the Supreme Court's prior decision in Ramirez v. Yosemite Water, Inc., 20 Cal.4th 785 (1999). Ramirez had held that in determining whether an employee is exempt, a court should determine "how the employee actually spends his or her time" and whether this practice "diverges from the employer's realistic expectations." Because the managers were doing different duties, Sav-On, as many employers before them, argued that class certification was inappropriate, since individual mini trials would be required to determine whether each individual performed exempt duties. The Court disagreed. The Court stated that the determination of whether an employee is exempt from overtime requirements involves analyzing the job's requirements and the employer's reasonable expectations. This, the Court concluded, can be handled on a class wide basis. The Court stated: "A reasonable court could conclude that issues respecting the proper legal classification of AM's and OM's actual activities, along with issues respecting defendant's policies and practices and issues respecting operational standardization, are likely to predominate in a class proceeding over any individualized calculations of actual overtime hours that might ultimately prove necessary." This is not to say that an employer cannot demonstrate that individual issues predominate in a case such that a class should not be certified. However, in light of Sav-On, it is likely that most trial courts will likely follow the Supreme Court's analysis and find class certification appropriate. The Court also appears to have clarified its decision in Ramirez, and especially its focus in Ramirez upon the actual duties performed by an employee when determining an employee's exempt/non-exempt status. Ramirez appeared to hold that in any classification analysis, the ultimate issue is "how the employee actually spends his or her time." In Sav-On, the Court stated that while each individual employee's actual duties are important, this factor must be analyzed in conjunction with the employer's expectations and the requirements of the job. As a result, an employer classifying an employee's job must not only parse out which of the employee's duties are exempt and non-exempt and then determine which predominate, but the employer must also carefully monitor the employee's actual performance to ensure that the employee is actually performing duties that comport with the employee's job description. In sum, Sav-On does not help employers. It provides trial courts with significant discretion in determining whether to certify a class in wage and hour cases, thereby increasing the uncertainty in predicting the outcome of these cases. Also, the case imposes further duties on employers seeking to preserve the exempt status of their employees.

  7. 9/10   Gov't execs told to cut salaries - GOCCs & GFIs ordered to help in austerity campaign, by Genalyn D. Kabiling, Manila Bulletin, Philippines.
    Malacañang yesterday warned top executives of government financial institutions (GFIs) and government-owned and-controlled corporations (GOCCs) to scale down their high salaries and allowances in line with the government's austerity program, or risk losing their jobs. Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would find replacements for presidential appointees assigned in the state-run agencies if they refuse to cooperate in cutting back on expenditures to save much-needed resources. Bunye said the government intends to cut down the huge salaries and benefits of the board of directors of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Land Bank of the Philippines, National Power Corp., Philippine National Oil Co. and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, among others. "If the national government, if some members of Congress, local governments are prepared to sacrifice so that we should all equitably share the burden, then the GOCCs should likewise share the burden. "We are hopeful that these GOCCs, through their respective board of directors, would be responsible and heed the call of the national government," Bunye said. The President has issued Administrative Order No. 103, ordering a wide range of cost-cutting measures, including limited foreign and local travel, ban on additional benefits and suspension of overtime pay. "Kung hindi sila makikipag-cooperate sa mga programa ng ating Pangulo, hahanap tayo ng mga director na puwedeng magpatupad ng austerity measures," he said in a radio interview, adding the President has the authority not only to hire but also dismiss her officials. Bunye said Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin has issued severe warnings against the "non- performing and inefficiently run GOCCs." "I believe those consistently non-performing are targeted or they may be subject to possible re-engineering." The Palace has expressed willingness to open the finance records of the GFIs and GOCCs for auditing after several lawmakers claimed the country's huge budget deficit and debt problems are caused by the agencies' losses and debts. "Our public books should be open to scrutiny. We want people to be aware of the situation. Awareness of the problem is one step in solving the problem," Bunye said. The President has ordered a rationalization of the compensation of corporate executives after the Commission on Audit (CoA) submitted a report showing that top officials of GOCCs and GFIs are receiving annual salaries ranging from P3 million to P7.3 million. Boncodin, however, admitted it might be difficult to reduce or remove the benefits because they have been instituted. Instead, the budget chief urged the state-run agencies to impose a moratorium on the increases as specified in Administrative Order No. 20. She noted that GFIs and GOCCs are free to fix the pay scales of their officials and employees because they are exempted from the Salary Standardization Law. But she clarified that most GOCCs observe the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) unlike GFIs. The budget chief explained the GOCC executives claimed that they want to match the salaries in the private sector as much as possible.

  8. 9/10   RN strike impact debated, by John George, Philadelphia Business Journal, MSNBC.
    WILLINGBORO, N.J. - Nearly five months after the registered nurses at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County hit the picket line, one of the region's longest nurses' strikes in recent history is showing no signs of ending. On April 19, the 287 registered nurses at Lourdes Medical Center represented by the JNESO, a health-care union based in North Jersey, went out on strike over scheduling issues. Union and hospital officials are offering conflicting viewpoints on how the lengthy labor dispute has affected the 259-bed hospital. "We are operating at normal occupancy levels," said hospital spokeswoman Wendy Marano. "We haven't seen any dips in our census. Maternity department admissions are up about 10%" since the strike began. According to Marano, the hospital has averaged about 130 patients a day in recent months, the same level as before the strike. Marano said, since the strike began, about 85 of the union nurses have returned to work. In addition, she said, the hospital hired 30 new nurses under the terms of a new contract it implemented last month after both sides in the labor dispute declared an impasse. Lourdes is also employing about 40 agency nurses, most supplied by Denver-based U.S. Nursing Corp., on a per-diem basis. That figure is down from the 70 agency nurses Lourdes brought in when the strike first began. Virginia Treacy, JNESO's executive director, believes the strike has lowered admissions. "No matter what they say, we have friends on the inside who tell us they are running at between 56 and 66 patients a day," Treacy said. Marano said the hospital did not need to replace the total number of striking nurses since many of them worked only part time. As to the union's contention that admissions are far less than what the hospital is saying, Marano said, "We invite them to come in and see for themselves." Many of the nurses who went out on strike have experienced little or no trouble landing work at other hospitals, given the ongoing shortage of nurses. Treacy said of the 200 striking union nurses at Lourdes who responded to a recent survey, more than 150 nurses said they have found employment elsewhere. "Some are not full time and some are not in permanent positions," she said. "A lot of them went to work at our next closest union hospital, Virtua West Jersey. We have some members who worked at Lourdes (formerly Rancocas Hospital) since it opened 40 years ago and they want to go back, but not without their union card." Although many of their colleagues are working at other locations, a handful of Lourdes nurses still venture out with picket signs during rush hour. Last week, Phyllis Snow, a recovery room nurse who has worked at Lourdes for more than 16 years, stood alone outside the hospital's Sunset Road entrance carrying a sign that read, "Yes Still on Strike - Week 20." Snow waved to each motorist passing by. Many honked in support. Others didn't react. "Every once in while somebody gives you a thumb down, but I had two people this morning stop and offer to bring me coffee," she said. Snow said that while some nurses needed to cross the picket line to support their families, the majority are willing to stay out on strike as long as it takes to get what they consider a fair contract. "We didn't think [the strike] was going to last this long," she said. "It's awful. We really do want to go back to work." Other than Lourdes, the longest recent local nurses' strike took place last year at MCP Hospital in Philadelphia, where the staff went out protesting mandatory overtime rules. The day after the nurses reached an agreement ending the five-week strike, the hospital's owner announced plans to close the hospital. Last week, the East Falls hospital changed owners and will now be operated as Women's Medical Hospital. The day after that transfer took place, the nursing staff at Women's Medical - who had been represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union - said they intend to join the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses. Treacy said the Lourdes strike is not about economic issues but, instead, an effort to block the hospital from "unilaterally" shifting nursing to different departments and changing work schedules. "This isn't a normal strike," she said. "It doesn't have anything to do with wages or benefits. It's about control and power, and who determines what the work environment is." Lourdes' position in the strike is about economic issues. Marano said the union rejected a compensation package it put forth that would have provided raises of 10% to 16% over three years. Treacy thinks the hospital's goal is to break up the union. "They don't want a contract. They want the union gone," she said. Marano disagreed. "We don't want to get rid of the union," she said. "It's their legal right and they've been there for 20 years. We just want to work with them fairly in the same way we work with our physicians and non-union employees." Marano said in the existing contract, provisions concerning work schedules are ambiguous, and the hospital has sought to include more specific language in the nurse's contract to eliminate confusion when such issues arise. Treacy said the language in the contract has never been called into question before. "Lourdes is the fifth owner in 20 years, and they are the only one who has been unable to figure out what the language means," she said. Lourdes acquired the assets of what was previously known as Rancocas Hospital for $46.5 million in 1998 from the now defunct Allegheny Health, Education and Research Organization.

  9. 9/10   China's factories go short on labor - Low pay, wage defaults and poor conditions drive migrants away, by Tim Johnson, Knight Ridder via Charlotte Observer, NC.
    DONGGUAN, China - A large number of migrant workers in the region known as the "world's factory" are getting fed up with their low-paid jobs and are shucking the assembly line, creating a significant labor shortage. It's an unusual, and somewhat startling, occurrence in a nation with an excess of workers. The Pearl River Delta became the fastest-growing region in the world over the past quarter-century as peasants, untethered from their collective farms, migrated to the delta's factories. Guangdong province, which surrounds the Pearl River Delta, saw its economic output soar 64-fold over the past quarter-century. For anyone observing, it was like a high-speed video of a region rising. But some of the 30 million or so migrant workers providing the Pearl River Delta with its industrial muscle say they haven't shared in the bounty. While industrialists earn buckets of cash, joining gated country clubs and gambling away fortunes on junkets to the nearby casino mecca of Macao, wages for migrant workers over the past decade haven't grown at all, workplace economists say. Earlier this year, some factories found the pool of job applicants drying up. Exacerbating the situation, many workers who went home for the Chinese New Year holiday never came back. Some estimates put the labor shortage in Guangdong province at up to 2 million workers. In cities such as Dongguan, 60% of factories need laborers. Banners stream over factory entrances, promising that the companies won't default on wages, as they have in the past, or that they're improving work conditions. The labor situation in southeastern China is worth watching for reasons far beyond the economy. Workers have few ways to voice dissatisfaction in China. They can't form independent labor unions. So worker discontent is one of the many wildfires around the pillars of Communist Party rule after more than five decades in power. Experts pinpoint a number of factors for the sudden shortage of laborers in small- and medium-sized factories. Among the obvious reasons are that workers have grown weary of forced overtime, wages of $50 a month, rampant workplace injury, disregard for labor law and frequent nonpayment. Another possible explanation of the shortage is that migrants have sent word home about abuses in the Pearl River Delta region. Liu Kaiming, the head of the Institute of Contemporary Observation, a nonprofit group in nearby Shenzhen that monitors workplace issues, said researchers of the Dongguan Communist Party Committee found in a survey this year that 100 of some 300 local factories questioned had defaulted on wages to workers. Moreover, 60% of workers in Dongguan must toil an average of 120 hours of overtime per month (or about 30 hours a week), he said. A less obvious reason for the shortage, perhaps, is the coming of age of a more independent-minded generation of young workers born since 1979, when China began a family planning policy that limited urban couples to one child and most rural ones to two. "They've grown kind of picky about their jobs. They haven't gone through the hardships that their parents did," Liu said. Another factor is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, epidemic that spread from Guangdong in late 2002 and eventually left 800 people dead worldwide. The outbreak spooked parents of migrant laborers. Along the alleys of this city, the third-largest export hub of China, labor discontent is evident. Outside the Esteem Industries electric fan factory, about three dozen workers quickly swarm a visitor inquiring about conditions. "By October, 50% of us will leave here," said Tang Hua, a 23-year-old with dyed spiky blond hair. He said as many as 16 workers are crowded into each room in the dormitory provided by the factory. Guards barred a photographer from entering. "The food is terrible and it is not clean. That is the main reason we want to stop working here," said Li Tianxin, a migrant who came from Hunan province. Many of the 8,000 or so workers at the factory say they make less than the $55 a month required by local labor legislation. "According to labor law, we should be paid more. But the factories don't follow the law," said Zhou Deqing, 26. City and provincial officials declined to talk about the labor shortage. In lectures to factory managers, Zhang Youhuai, a management expert at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said he encourages them to treat workers better, comparing the workplace "to a big ship ... The workers are the crew. If you want the ship to go fast and in the right direction, you have to be nice to the crew."

  10. 9/10   End of an era, by Michaele Shapiro, PULSE (Web Log) via INTHEFRAY Magazine, MA.
    La dolce vita may be coming to an end. Despite claims that many European workers already work forty hour work weeks, the myth which leads many Americans to seek a better life on the other side of the Atlantic may be more fiction than fact. And if it's still fact, it may not be for much longer. Headlines on Bloomberg.com, DW-World.de, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today proclaim the demise of the idyllic minimalist work week as though it marked the end of an era. Perhaps it does. According to a nifty little chart in an article in USA Today, just about any European country has a better vacation plan than most jobs provide here in the United States. No wonder in Germany there's been controversy over the concessions labor union heads have made in order to keep companies from moving where labor costs are cheaper than they are in Germany. But if, as reported by Noelle Knox in USA Today, workers in the Czech Republic average an extra five hours per week and earn only 40% as much as the typical German laborer, what incentive do large companies have to stay? The frenzy over the state of the European economy is alive and well. Is it greed or is the economy really underperforming? The entry of ten new European Union members on May 1st has been blamed for 'tipping the balance' of an already delicate European Union economy, leading to fears of deflation, a rise in unemployment, and a lower quality of life as a result. Knox alludes to the stereotype that Europeans 'work to live' rather than 'living to work.' Apparently the American economy's overtime norm doesn't yield the gargantuan advantages in productivity we had expected it would. Knox notes that, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, seven of the most advanced European countries are "just as productive asŠ the USA" (the countries are France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium). She quotes OECD economist Paul Swaim as confirming the commonly held perception that Americans work about a third more than Europeans do: "[W]eŠ found that average incomes in Europe were also about one-third lower, because output per hour was essentially the sameŠ Obviously, the next question is: Who has it the best, on balance? Is it better to work less and live with less income?" Now there's a question worth answering.

  11. 9/11   Thoughtful 'takes' on politics - Don't neglect economy, by Johanna Marizan, Orlando Sentinel, FL.
    The most important issue in the 2004 elections is, without a doubt, the economy and jobs.
    [Except for the Republican electronic voting machines (eg: Diebold Gem 18.19 and 18.23) that are designed for stealing the election.]
    Currently, there are about 8.2 million Americans who are unemployed, and both John Kerry and George W. Bush have proposals as to how they will handle that problem. Wages have grown but have struggled to keep up with the inflation rate. This has left the American public disgruntled and blaming the Bush administration. The Republicans like to emphasize that there is an upward arc in the recovery of the economy, while the Democrats like to stress that the income gaps are widening more and more. Both have good points, but which candidate has the solution to our current economic problems? Public-opinion polls have concluded that Bush is stronger on issues of international policy and terrorism, while Kerry is stronger in terms of domestic policy, which includes the economy. Considering that the war in Iraq has not been a complete success, Bush perhaps needs to focus on other issues. He has blamed the current economic woes on a few factors that include Sept.11, the dot-com bust and the recession. He tries to balance those negative factors by mentioning that there has been an increase in homeownership and American productivity. The increase in jobs has been significant, but it has yet to lead to a solid economy. Outsourcing is another influence that has contributed to the loss of a significant number of American jobs. Kerry is an advocate of the middle class who believes that there are too many jobs being sent overseas so that business people's pockets can get fatter while the little person struggles. People are finding it more difficult to obtain a job these days, and many who are employed are struggling to maintain their jobs or deal with reduced hours. Particularly in a city such as the one we live in, where one sector dominates a large part of the economy, the recession has left a huge void. The tourist industry in Orlando was one of the hardest hit in the country because people were afraid to travel, and many no longer had the funds to do so. A lot of people will be going into the voting booths in November with empty pockets, which will have a big impact on their candidate choices.
    Johanna Marizan...a native of New York, is majoring in political science at the University of Central Florida.

  12. 9/11   Corporate reform tests to give Europe some vital answers, The Scotsman, UK.
    Optimists hoping for reform of Europe's worst performing companies and the corporate structures which allow them to be propped up by the taxpayer, have had cause for hope recently. Agreements at Siemens, Robert Bosch and Daimler Chrysler on extra hours and pay freezes this summer have convinced workers that the need for change has dawned - even if the agreements represent paltry concessions that will do little to boost the continent's productivity. But the next wave of corporate issues will produce a much sterner test of the appetite for change. Will the Italian government back the management at Alitalia to impose layoffs and cutbacks to avoid bankruptcy? Will the French government overcome union anxiety and partially privatise Éléctricité De France (EDF)? And will government and unions in Germany agree to changing practices at Volkswagen (VW)? In the case of Alitalia, the government has for years proved unable to resist meddling in the running of the state-owned airline, leading to its current bloated and indebted state. The latest management rescue plan involves up to 5,000 job losses and splitting the company in two. Unions seem unimpressed and - as usual - want the government to bail them out. Management says the money will run out by the end of the month. Rome's willingness to play hardball will be a key test of how serious the government is about introducing a more rigorous corporate environment and keeping Italian state finances under control. In France, the commitment to privatise EDF has attracted massive and effective protest, and the government will have to overcome its instincts to water down change. The situation in Germany is even more interesting, where VW has announced that up to 30,000 jobs could be in jeopardy unless unions agree to a wage freeze. VW represents much that is wrong with European business, being run by a cosy cartel of unions and weak management, protected by a regional government golden share. Change at VW really would be a sign that the wake-up call has been heeded - although the initial response, again, from the unions has been dispiriting. In a month, the outcomes at EDF, VW and Alitalia will give us a better clue about whether Europe really can reform itself.
    Advertisements for holidays from Tui must drive shareholders in Europe's largest travel company crazy. While the world's beaches and vacation hotspots are glossed up for travellers, the company, which owns Thomson Holidays and Lunn Poly, is being buffeted by a stormy business environment. The latest change in tack came when Tui's management cancelled the listing of nearly half of the shipping operations at its Hapag-Lloyd unit. Investors should not be surprised at the failure of yet another German listing. Fewer than half of the new share issues scheduled for this year were completed. Even Postbank, the biggest German initial public offering (IPO) of the year, nearly failed to materialise. The former state monopoly feared lack of demand for the share after institutional investors balked at the initial price. The company delayed the listing and lowered the price to attract investors. Other German corporations refused to succumb to such blackmail and cancelled their listings after institutional investors asked for special deals on share packages. The Hapag-Lloyd sale was halted for considerations little to do with the market. Selling nearly half of the shipping unit could have made Tui an easier takeover target. Chief executive Michael Frenzel has been warning over the past few months that predators are circling his company. By halting the Hapag-Lloyd listing, Tui is showing it prefers to remain difficult-to-swallow. It retains around 2.5bn in net debt. The travel company was just able to maintain its position in the DAX 30 index of German blue chips - Puma was tabbed as the replacement. Without the Hapag-Lloyd stake, analysts say TUI would barely qualify for the M-DAX index of German midcaps. Relegation to a lower bourse is a guarantee for a share price decline, making a company cheaper for predators. Tui is worth more intact than broken up, making it unattractive for most corporate raiders. But it solves no long-term problems. Frenzel will have to do more than cry wolf to make investors happy.
    French supermarkets
    THE French government has unleashed a price war among the nation's supermarkets that now look set to hand 1bn to customers in price cuts this year. Under a June deal with finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the country's big five supermarkets pledged to cut prices across their stores by an average 2%. Wielding stick and carrot, Sarkozy warned that the bureaucratic hurdles that protect the market could be changed and simultaneously promised a review of the Loi Galland, designed to protect food manufacturers, that bans stores from offering loss-leaders to tempt consumers. Sarkozy's aim was to kick-start flagging French consumption and boost domestic demand, an objective he also tackled by easing credit restrictions and promoting tax-free gifts between family members. The top retailers - Carrefour, Leclerc, Casino, Intermarché and Auchan - have cut prices and unleashed massive marketing to tempt consumers. Carrefour, which also owns Champion supermarkets, and Casino, proprietor of Monoprix, claim to have gained market share. But rating agency Standard & Poor's said last week that high market concentration and a protectionist regulatory environment benefit retail incumbents. Little wonder then that despite the price war, S&P continues to award copper-bottomed ratings to the nation's retail champions.

  13. 9/11   DuPage Airport cuts irk some, by Harry Hitzeman, Chicago Daily Herald, IL.
    DuPage Airport's plan to cut maximum vacation days, lower the number of paid holidays by one day and reduce overtime pay for employees has ruffled some feathers. Commissioners on Monday will consider the changes that would affect all 52 airport employees. If approved, they will take effect Jan. 1. David Bird, airport executive director, said the plan will bring an "overly generous" benefit package in line with industry standards and result in "significant savings," although he could not specify how much. Bird said reducing payroll costs is one way the airport can get off the tax rolls - a longtime goal of DuPage County officials like county board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom of Naperville. "That is the overriding mission of the board and myself," Bird said. "We're moving from a subsidized environment to a market environment." The airport collects about $6.4 million a year from DuPage County taxpayers, or about a fifth of its $29 million budget. About $4.5 million of airport spending, or 15%, is devoted to salaries, benefits and uniforms. Some employees are grumbling about the cuts, which they say will reduce their overall earnings and hurt morale. Among the expected changes: Bird said he and other airport officials have been up front with employees about the changes and an "overwhelming majority" have accepted them because they're good for the airport. Bird said if workers vote to unionize, every benefit will be subject to negotiation. "The package that would result from that would be less than it is now," he said. "If they're unhappy here, if they can find a better package someplace else, there is nothing tying them to the airport." Airport staff members are all at-will employees not bound by contracts. Bird said he thinks the new benefit package is still competitive with what similar airports pay. Airport authority Commissioner Kaaren Oldfield said she hopes the cuts won't damage morale. "The airport has just soared phenomenally in terms of revenue and reputation. It's all been on their watch," she said. "I'm concerned they will feel like they've been penalized."

  14. 9/11   Socialists campaign in Alabama mill town, by Susan Lamont, The Militant, NY.
    SYLACAUGA, Alabama - "I worked in a union place before," said Edwin...who has worked at Avondale Mills here for six months. "There you would get overtime for any work over eight hours, not like Avondale, where you work for 12 hours each shift, with no overtime pay. In companies that aren't union, you're really treated badly. I wish everyone was for the union." The textile mill worker told campaigners for the Socialist Workers Party 2004 ticket of Róger Calero for president and Arrin Hawkins for vice president that he liked the campaign's support for workers' right to organize unions. "I like that part of your plan," he said. Edwin was speaking at a picnic several mill workers organized for Janine Dukes, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama. The event took place September 4 at Noble Park here. Dukes is a weaver at the Avondale mill, which is also known as Eva Jane. Avondale Mills, Inc., is one of the largest textile producers in the country. Its mill here produces denim. It employs 1,200 workers and is located in a part of Alabama that has traditionally been a center for the textile industry in the state. The workforce includes workers who are Black and white, as well as a growing number of Latinos, mainly from Mexico. Sylacauga is a classic company town, with most of the public buildings named "Comer" after the family that founded Avondale. Before the picnic, socialist campaigners went door-to-door to visit a number of textile workers and others in this town, about 55 miles southeast of Birmingham. "I know you!" said James, an Avondale worker, who opened the first door socialist campaigners knocked on. He recognized Dukes right away and signed up for a Militant subscription. Another Eva Jane worker, Alma, bought a subscription to Perspectiva Mundial, the Militant's sister monthly publication in Spanish. A third worker who subscribed had worked at Eva Jane earlier and now has a job at a nearby quarry. After an hour and a half of door-to-door campaigning, socialists joined a group of textile workers and family members at Noble Park, who came to meet Dukes and learn more about the socialist campaign. One worker, Carol, 31, who has worked at the mill for two years, helped organize and build the event among co-workers, friends, and family. Campaign supporters reserved a pavilion in the park in case of rain and arranged an attractive display of campaign literature and signs on the picnic tables. After Dukes outlined some of the main themes of the campaign, a discussion broke out about the first demand on the SWP platform: "Support workers' right to organize unions and to defend themselves from the bosses' assaults." Despite the company's anti-union propaganda, this demand produces a strong response among workers at Avondale. None of the company's mills are organized. Conditions at the Sylacauga mill are getting worse, as the bosses try to squeeze more and more out of fewer workers, Dukes said. Like many other textile mills, Eva Jane employees work 12-hour shifts.
    [Why not go for 24 like US medical students?]
    On many jobs workers get only two 15-minute breaks during the shift. In addition, the bosses are increasing the number of machines workers have to tend. "They don't pay you enough," said Carol. "Plus we have no breaks, people are losing weight and getting sick." "The [cotton] dust will kill you," added Edwin. "They treat you like a slave," said Carol. "The creel hands have to come in half an hour early to get set up on their job, and they don't even get paid for it." As the meeting ended, Carol said she was already thinking about how to build the next campaign event. Two workers at the picnic bought subscriptions to the Militant and one bought a copy of the pamphlet The Working Class and the Transformation of Learning: The Fraud of Education Reform Under Capitalism. At the end of the day, socialists campaigned at the 6 p.m. shift change, at two of the mill gates. Workers there bought nine copies of the Militant, and one purchased a subscription to the newsweekly. A worker who has a job at another company and happened to be driving by also stopped and signed up for a Militant sub. The total for the day was 12 copies of the Militant and six Militant subscriptions and one subscription to Perspectiva Mundial. Campaigners are looking forward to a return visit.
    Janine Dukes and Jeanne FitzMaurice contributed to this article.

  15. 9/11   Chrysler considers third shift - Auto giant set to meet union on 900 jobs in Brampton - Seeks cost cuts, government support to meet demand, by Tony van Alphen, Toronto Star, Canada.
    [Notice how firmly capitalist these companies are as they look for corporate socialism?]
    DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc. and its union start talks next week for a possible third shift and more than 900 jobs at the company's booming Brampton plant. In a letter yesterday to the Canadian Auto Workers, DaimlerChrysler added it is also looking at the option of extra production of the so-called LX models at assembly plants in the United States. However, the company would need to put the models in potentially cost-prohibitive truck operations south of the border because DaimlerChrysler doesn't have any rear-wheel car plants there. "The overwhelming market success of the new LX products has prompted the company to investigate alternatives for increasing LX production levels," Mark Gendregske, the company's vice-president of human resources, said in a letter to CAW president Buzz Hargrove. Gendregske said the company is analyzing the feasibility of a third shift, depending on agreement on such issues as operational improvements to increase competitiveness, staffing numbers and maintenance of current overtime schedules. Gendregske said the company will also need an "appropriate" level of government support for training and technology. Hargrove said preliminary talks will begin next week, possibly as early as Wednesday. "This certainly opens the door for us," Hargrove said. "We have an opportunity and we want to get at it right away. There is no doubt now they need to find a way to increase production of these models." It is still unclear, Hargrove said, when DaimlerChrysler would add a third shift - late this year or some time in 2005. Local union officials are pushing the company hard to add the shift and take advantage of the sales market. "They've got to capture the momentum and not lose it," said Leon Rideout, plant chairman for CAW Local 1285. DaimlerChrysler has remained non-committal about the prospects of a third shift while trying to gauge lasting demand for the vehicles. "It's very challenging," said Stuart Schorr, senior manager of communications for DaimlerChrysler Canada. "We're evaluating the marketplace to determine long-term demand of these products, and also evaluating our current manufacturing capacity." Company officials are torn between waiting to jack up output versus the risk of losing major sales as impatient customers go elsewhere. Such losses hit DaimlerChrysler when it delayed third shifts for the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans and PT Cruiser models. At the same time, DaimlerChrysler doesn't want to create hundreds of new jobs and then lay off workers after a few years if the popularity of the vehicles declines and no new models fill the vacuum. In the letter, DaimlerChrysler suggested it could assemble the models at some U.S. plants, but insiders question that in view of such extra costs as expenses for parts makers to deliver elsewhere. The Brampton plant started operating on three shifts in 1998 for production of the LH series of Dodge Intrepid, 300M and Chrysler Concorde models. But the company eliminated the shift and about 1,000 jobs in 2001, when demand declined significantly. That caused upheaval for many families and extra costs for the company. After a major retooling last year, the plant began producing the 300 and 300C sedans in January and the Magnum station wagon in March. The distinctive, sharp design lines and bossy grill of the sedans and the addition of a powerful Hemi engine in the 300C model caused a market sensation and huge demand. The Magnum's debut also generated heavy sales and orders because the vehicle looks more aggressive and boasts extra power and utility over most station wagons. That has triggered extensive overtime at the Brampton plant for more than 3,000 workers. The plant is operating two nine-hour shifts, five days a week, plus eight hours on most Saturdays and another six hours on some Sundays. The plant can produce up to 6,240 vehicles a week on that schedule but is still falling behind consumer demand. DaimlerChrysler also continues to use a temporary weekend workforce of about 450. Bob Bannerman, president of Bob Bannerman Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep in Toronto, said some customers have to wait two months for factory orders. "Anybody that gets into it and drives it, buys it," Bannerman added. "It has been phenomenal." Meanwhile, the Brampton plant could face other production pressures. Dieter Zetsche, president and chief executive officer for the Chrysler Group, said yesterday overseas demand for the 300C is already outstripping supply by more than 30%. "We anticipate building above 10,000 units of the Chrysler 300C vehicles, sedan and Touring combined, for sale outside of North America next year," he said in Calgary.

  16. 9/11   Western psych nurses on strike, Sydney Indymedia, Australia.
    At the present time, the nurses at UPMC are paid "significantly less than our colleagues at area hospitals," according to Susan Forejt, RN, a nurse who has been with Western Psych for the past few years. She commented that psychiatric nursing is a difficult field to recruit new nurses for in the first place, and the salary deficiency is just making it more difficult. At the present time, there is a 21% vacancy rate in the nursing staff at Western Psych, this is three times the vacancy rate at other area hospitals. Nurses at Western Psych work an average of 3 weeks of overtime a year in order to compensate for the vacancy. The strikers have a friendly atmosphere, offering each other, and even reporters, support and cookies (oatmeal or chocolate chip). But their message is grim, the patients at Western Psychiatric are not getting the care they need because of not enough nursing staff. Loyal nurses to the institution are concerned that when they retire, they will not be replaced. This is all due to substandard packages offered new nurses, and an administration that prefers to hand themselves raises than giving their nurses competitive salaries. At the present time, the nurses at UPMC are paid "significantly less than our colleagues at area hospitals," according to Susan Forejt, RN, a nurse who has been with Western Psych for the past few years. She commented that psychiatric nursing is a difficult field to recruit new nurses for in the first place, and the salary deficiency is just making it more difficult. At the present time, there is a 21% vacancy rate in the nursing staff at Western Psych, this is three times the vacancy rate at other area hospitals. Nurses at Western Psych work an average of 3 weeks of overtime a year in order to compensate for the vacancy. The nursing union agreed to a wage freeze in the late 90's when the hospital was not doing as well. The contract that was made from that bargain expired on June 30th, but the administration was unwilling to bargain with the nursing union despite requests starting in late April or early May. The administration did agree to negotiations as of late July, but have stalemated in the past 9 weeks. The union is asking for a 10% wage increase, but the administration originally offered 0% and are now standing firm on 3%. This is an offer the nursing union will not accept when Western Psych has turned a profit of over $4.5 million in the past three years, and has given their administration $1 raises just yesterday (September 9, 2004). Donna, who preferred to not give her last name, has been working for Western Psych for the past 27 years. She has been uneligible for a raise for 11 years, because of a rule that no one gets a raise after 16 years of employment. However, she is on strike so that she can see more nurses hired, and know that she can be replaced. For Donna, it's about "making it so that new nurses come here and stay." Also, she complained that "we can't do what we need to do." She commented that normally a psychiatric nurse has the advantage of taking time to take care of the patients, by giving them extra bedding, or other extra attention they might need. However, the nursing staff is so stretched, they don't have time to do anything other than the basics for the patients. Donna complained that this makes for less care for her patients. Her mother, Jane Krause, also worked for Western Psych as a registered nurse before her retirement. Jane spoke of a time when working for Western Psych was a real treat, and they could donate a lot of time to the care of the patients. But "times have changed," and the nurses just don't have enough time to take this amount of care anymore. Jane is also supporting in the nurses strike to support the nurses, despite having no personal stakes involved. "We're on strike for our own patients," Forejt commented. The nurses just want to make sure that their patients continue to be given the best care possible, keeping with their rank in the top 10 of nationwide hospitals (the only UPMC hospital with that high of a ranking). They want a more competitive salary package not for themselves, but so that new nurses can be more readily hired and kept on staff. But most of all, they need more nurses so that they aren't stretched so thinly. As Donna commented, "Psychiatric nursing is normally a wonderful specialty, you get to watch patients recover. Right now, it's about just getting the basics done."

  17. 9/12   Overworking MRT engineer suffers from stroke, China Post, Taiwan.
    A senior engineer at the Taipei city government's Department of Rapid Transit Systems was hospitalized yesterday due to heart attack. The engineer was on night duty when the heart problem occurred, according to a Central News Agency report. His colleagues found the engineer, whose name has been withheld, lying on the floor in the early hours yesterday and rushed him to a hospital. He is believed to have suffered a stroke. The engineer's heart beat had stopped when he was brought to the hospital, which the report did not identify. His pulse returned to normal after the emergency measures taken by the hospital, but remained in coma as of 11:00 a.m. yesterday, the report said. The engineer is being kept at an extra care unit. The city government's health bureau believes the engineer had overworked, which triggered the heart attack. He will undergo a heart operation after he regains consciousness.

  18. 9/12   San Diego snarled in web of financial woes - With city's reputation sullied and its deficit growing, mayoral race heats up, by Kimberly Edds, Washington Post, DC.
    SAN DIEGO - The Web site boasts of the city being "the most efficiently run big city in California." Its commitment to fiscal conservatism has been the envy of municipalities everywhere. But San Diego leaders are now finding themselves staring at a deficit of more than $2 billion, largely of their own creation.... "This is the worst fiscal crisis this city has faced in its history," said Carl DeMaio, president of the San Diego-based Performance Institute, which has been studying the city's budgeting process. "It's an embarrassment." Residents are feeling the pinch, and they are asking why. It costs more to swim in the city's pools; some public libraries are cutting hours; potholes are virtually ignored; Christmas in the city was temporarily canceled when lack of funds forced organizers to call off a popular holiday celebration featuring free admission to museums and cultural exhibits.... "It's ridiculous," said Harold Perdew, a retired engineer who moved to San Diego from Texas six years ago. "It's crazy. They're paying these people all of these millions of dollars, spending all this money on retirement. For what?"...
    [For a contract, you moron. You promise, you keep.]
    "There's plenty of money. They just don't direct it in the right way," said Moretti [who dat? needs intro!].... "We live in a desert. Why do we have street medians with grass while we're overburdened and overtaxed?...."

  19. 9/12   Once a party drug, meth moves into the workplace - Stressed employees turn to the drugs to boost concentration and stamina - But accidents and absenteeism tell the real workplace story, by Daniel Costello, Los Angeles Times, CA.
    Lawyers use it to deal with grueling workloads. Movie executives say they like how the buzz keeps them focused as they multi-task throughout the day. It's most popular, researchers say, on construction sites and in manufacturing plants where workers need to stay alert during long hours of repetitive work. And the cost - as little as $100 a month - makes it affordable to many....
    [So, another benefit of shorter hours = less drug addiction.]
    While methamphetamines have long been a bane to law enforcement, and treatment experts say the number of meth addicts has been increasing for years, the drugs have graduated into a formidable problem in the workplace. The illegal drug, also known as "ice," "Tina" or "crystal," is a powerful stimulant: A single dose can keep users high for up to 14 hours. At least initially, people say it makes them feel like a superhero - confident, untouchable and able to accomplish a day's work in a few hours. It may be particularly attractive for the growing number of American workers who, studies show, are putting in longer hours and being asked to do more by their employers. For some, the drug seems to provide a good solution to busy work schedules and demanding bosses. Anecdotally, users talk of stirring meth into their coffee in the morning before leaving for the office. "A lot of people look at this like it's No Doz - just another way to keep them awake and on message," said Nancy Delogu, a Washington, D.C., attorney and an expert in workplace substance abuse. Still, the problem of meth use remains largely unnoticed by much ofcorporate America. While a small number of employers are recognizing meth as a problem, researchers, treatment counselors, and state and federal regulators say most employers have done little to address the issue or the myriad problems - erratic behavior, accidents, increased sick days and health costs - that are attributed to its use. Although there are no government or private statistics on meth use in the workplace, a major national survey in 2002 found that an estimated 77% of people who use drugs of any type are employed. California appears to have much at stake. Methamphetamine use is highest in the West, where its use first soared over a decade ago in cities such as San Diego and Honolulu. According to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, methamphetamines overtook heroin two years ago as the No. 1 reason Californians are entering drug treatment. Nationally, use of the drug has also been growing in the Midwest and East, according to a 2002 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "There is too much meth out there to explain this away as a party drug," said Dr. Richard Rawson, associate director of UCLA's Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, who has studied methamphetamines for more than a decade. The drug is more abused worldwide than cocaine and heroin combined, according to the World Health Organization. And, Rawson said, it is popular with workers in overachieving, highly productive economies such as those in Japan and South Korea. Recently, several indicators point to methamphetamines' growing influence in the workplace. According to a study this summer by Quest Diagnostics Inc., a company that processes more than 7 million employee drug tests each year, the number of workers testing positive for the stimulant rose 68% last year. The California Bar Assn. says one in four lawyers who voluntarily enters drug rehabilitation programs is addicted to methamphetamines. The Entertainment Industry Referral and Assistance Center, an employee assistance program for industry workers and their families, says it sees one to two methamphetamine addicts a day. That figure is up significantly from five years ago, said the program's director, Dae Medman. Researchers report a small but growing number of employers in industries hit hardest by meth abuse - construction, sales and retail companies - now screen employees for methamphetamine use, in addition to cocaine, marijuana, opiates and PCP. Methamphetamines have a long history of keeping people awake on the job. Nazi troops used it during World War II, and many countries still provide soldiers and pilots methamphetamines-like "go pills" to keep them awake during long battles or flight missions. Before the U.S. government banned the sale of methamphetamines in the 1970s, students, housewives and businesspeople used meth, then known as "pep pills," to regularly cram for exams or boost energy. Some major concerns with meth use in the workplace are increased risk of accidents, especially in the manufacturing and transportation industries, as well as loss of productivity and higher employee health costs, according to workplace experts and researchers. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is concerned about the drugs' rising use in the workplace because employees can become disoriented and develop a lack of coordination, said Dr. Don Wright, director of occupational medicine. The agency now includes information about methamphetamines on its website and provides training materials to help employers recognize workers who may be using the drug. "As this becomes a longer trend, we are definitely growing more worried," he said. Katherine Deck, associate director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, is studying the economic impact of methamphetamine use in Benton County, Ark. According to the study's preliminary findings, meth use cost area employers $21 million last year - about $42,000 per affected worker - in higher absenteeism and health costs. "Employers are going to be surprised what this drug can mean to their bottom line," said Deck, whose study was financed by Wal-Mart, the retailing giant that is headquartered in the Arkansas county. Methamphetamines work by blocking the brain's ability to cleanse itself of the euphoria-causing neurotransmitter dopamine. That can lead to intense feelings of pleasure and an elevated mood that last for hours, compared to a cocaine high that lasts for around 45 minutes. Many people snort the drug, but others smoke it or inject it intravenously. Researchers say the drug has become as easily available as cocaine in recent years. At their most extreme, meth users are easy to spot: They can be extremely fidgety, sometimes aggressive and often talk rapidly without stopping. Many experience rapid weight loss, and they may appear overconfident, even cocky. Those who stay on the drug for days often don't sleep and may become paranoid or delusional. People who temper their use of the drug, known as maintenance users, are more difficult to spot. After all, many of the drug's initial characteristics - increased concentration and the ability to work longer hours - are traits valued by managers and unlikely to be seen as a "problem." Carol Falkowski, a drug researcher at the Hazelden Foundation, a prominent drug treatment center in Center City, Minn., said some meth users could maintain their use for long periods of time and never become addicts. "There are definitely people who can hide" their use of the drug, Falkowski said. Meth users tend to bottom out more slowly than people who use cocaine or heroin, possibly because the drug is so cheap and doesn't often lead users into financial ruin, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Addictive Diseases. Prices for meth vary around the country, but users can usually get a hit for as little as $10. Elizabeth Stuart, a ... mother of three from San Jose, has worked as a radiology technician at a local hospital for the last five years. Four years ago, she started using meth, after spending a few years dipping into her son's attention deficit disorder medication, a stimulant, to boost her energy. She stopped after her son's doctor suspected she was abusing the medication and refused to write more prescriptions. Initially, she said, meth helped her balance life at home with the stresses at work, where she felt she was better able to concentrate. "It was my super-drug," she said. Eventually, however, things began to fray. Stuart said she started losing her grip at home and by the end lost interest in work. Before entering a 30-day treatment program last month, she was often arriving late to work and was calling in sick once or twice a week. She said her bosses never said anything to her about the possibility she was on drugs. After asking her boss for help, her employer, who declined to be interviewed, allowed her to combine her vacation and sick days and take an unpaid leave. "I really thought this drug kept me in control," she said. Research is starting to document the long-term effects of meth use on the brain, which appear to be severe. According to one recent study, long-term users suffer losses in memory and cognitive ability similar to those of people with Parkinson's disease. UCLA's Rawson has found that users begin to reverse brain damage once they've stopped using the drug for about a year. Although some treatment experts have reported that meth addiction is very difficult to kick, Rawson's research has found that success rates for treating meth addicts are about the same as cocaine users - about 50% to 60%. Stuart, of San Jose, returned to work last Thursday. At first, she was uncomfortable, but she relaxed after her boss and co-workers told her how happy they were to see her. "Other than my kids, right now my job is everything," she said. "I hope to God I can keep it."

  20. 9/12   Library cuts back on open hours, Kansas City Star, MO.
    The Kansas City Public Library will start its new scheduled of reduced hours this week, as part of a budget-balancing effort. The Central Library and most branches will now operate under the following schedule: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The one exception is the Sugar Creek branch, which will operate under the following schedule: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Most branches have cut four hours per week, while the Sugar Creek location will lose two.

  21. 9/12   Animal shelter makes request for assistance, WKRN, TN.
    A Middle Tennessee humane society is in danger of closing. Now administrators in Dickson County are making a plea for help. The shelter has cut hours and even staff. The next step, executive director Lacey Powlas Nelson fears, could be closing altogether. The problem? Nelson said, "There is no more money. There's not even money to be able to get an emergency advance on our $8,000." The $8,000 is all that the Humane Society gets from county government. 95% of the shelter's budget comes from donations and fundraisers. "They haven't been bringing in enough, and we've just been living fundraiser-to-fundraiser. It's worse than paycheck-to-paycheck," said Nelson. It's never been this bad, Nelson said. Now, after just three months on the job, the director finds herself in dire need of money. Money...and manpower. "Yes, if we could get volunteers in here that could commit one day a week to either clean runs, answer phones, clean cat cages," she said. Nelson said that closing the shelter would shift the burden to Animal Control. It might even have more lasting effects. "[It might] increase animal abuse. We help prosecute with animal abuse, and we try to educate. And right now, I don't even have time to start education programs in the school, because I'm begging for money," said Nelson. Because even though the number of dollars coming in the door has slowed, the number of animals has not. The Dickson County Humane Society's address is 410 Eno Road, Dickson, TN, 37055. You can mail checks payable to "HSDC." If you'd like to donate or volunteer, just call 446-PETS.

  22. 9/12   Sunday offers a good time to get work done - For me, working late nights & putting in some weekend hours balances out the chunks of time for family, by Angela Lin, Boston Globe, G9.

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