Timesizing® Associates - Homepage
Timesizing News, September 25-30, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
9/30/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/29 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #15 which is from 9/30 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/30), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
9/29/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/28 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #18 which is from 9/29 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/29), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
Job sharing gaining approval in schools - Teachers alternate in a classroom full of students who take the changes in stride
by Katie Orloff
Teachers Cathy Propp and Julie Lloyd share their job. They alternate weeks
in the same room, share a desk and teach the same group of children. They
each take home half the pay and alternate years on benefits. Their
retirement accrual slows to half. [photo caption]
FONTANA, Calif. - Room 23 at Fontana's Oak Park Elementary school operates on plentiful
Post-It notes, letters hand-written on notebook paper and compatibility.
It's a part-time deal for its teachers, but its 19 second-graders get a
full schedule of schoolroom lessons.
Julie Lloyd, a second-grade teacher at Fontanta's Oak Park Elementary
school, shares her job with teacher Catherine Propp.
But both teachers say they've struck the perfect balance between work and
family. They're in their fourth year sharing the job, a move they decided to
make after they each had daughters almost five years ago.
"I'm so happy with the way it is," Lloyd said. "I wouldn't want to work
full time at this point in my life."
Each teacher works Thursday and Friday of one week, then Monday, Tuesday
and Wednesday of the next week. Then they take off a week while the other
teaches. They leave letters written on lined notebook paper describing what
happened during the week. Propp usually starts hers Monday, and then works
on it periodically for three days while she roams the classroom checking
They leave Post-it notes, stuck on a book or stack of papers, with
reminders. They keep a discipline chart with students' names, the number of
warnings given and a place to write what the problem was.
They call each other to discuss more complex issues. When report cards are
due, they make a day of it and their daughters play together.
They rely on each other's strengths. Lloyd compiles the homework packets.
Propp decorates the classroom.
Many say compatibility is key to making job-sharing work in a classroom.
The two teachers must agree on their approaches to discipline and classroom
management. They must be consistent and support each other.
"If the two teachers agree philosophically, it can be just a wonderful
working relationship that's a benefit to the students and the teachers,"
said Cindy Andrews, deputy superintendent for the Redlands Unified School
Most school districts offer teachers the opportunity to job-share.
The Corona-Norco Unified School District limits the number of shared
contracts it allows at one time to 20 district wide, or 10 each at the
elementary and intermediate or high school levels, said Dave LaVelle, deputy
- Fontana Unified has 5 pairs
- Colton Joint Unified has 11
- Redlands Unified has 9
- Rialto Unified has 6
- San Bernardino City Unified has 22
In Menifee, where seven pairs of teachers share jobs, district officials
and union representatives worked closely to create a job-sharing program,
Assistant Superintendent Linda Callaway said. Teachers who take advantage of
the program often want to spend more time with their children while
continuing to work, she said by phone.
Rules vary from district to district. Most require teachers to pair up on
their own and write detailed plans for splitting the work. They require
approval by the school principal, the district office and the school board.
In San Bernardino, spokeswoman Linda Hill says she sometimes places ads in
the district's newsletter for teachers looking for job-share partners.
"It gives them the flexibility that in the past wasn't available," said
Hill, who job-shared in the district as an elementary teacher in the early
'90s. "In many other professions it's more common to have a part-time job."
Lloyd's and Propp's students approve of the arrangement. They like both
teachers. The switches don't confuse them, though they do sometimes slip and
call whichever teacher is on duty by the wrong name.
So does their principal, Jinane Annous. She said the two balance each other
and they are both family oriented, she said.
"I strongly believe that if your family is taken care of, then you can take
care of other families," Annous said. "We're in the family business."
Reach Katie Orloff at (909) 806-3054 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Panel OKs Denver raises - Complex pay-increase proposal now will go before full council
Denver Post, CO
By Kris Hudson
DENVER, Colo. - Denver is poised to begin granting 8,300 of its employees a collective $4.4 million in raises based on job performance.
A committee of the City Council opted Tuesday to move ahead with a
complicated plan for awarding the raises. The increases, on average, will
make up for about half of what employees lost in this year's budget cuts.
The plan likely will go to consideration by the full council on Oct. 11. If
the council approves the plan, employees will be eligible for the raises
after Dec. 1, depending on their job performance.
Council members on Tuesday debated how to compensate employees during tight
budget years. In the years before Denver voters' approval in 2003 of a
personnel-reform issue, Denver employees received automatic annual raises
and, if they qualified, merit raises. This year, Mayor John Hickenlooper
froze wages and imposed a handful of days off without pay to balance the
[ Timesizing, not downsizing.]
For 2005, the $4.4 million raise will amount to 2.25% for each
employee who either meets or exceeds expectations for his or her job.
Currently, 99% of Denver's non-uniformed employees fit that
"We can try to do the very best we can, and that's exactly what we want to
do," Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz said. "But when (the money) isn't there, it
isn't there. We've already stretched ourselves pretty thin."
Some employees argue that the council can and should find the money within
the budget to grant more significant raises, according to Kelly Brough,
director of the city's Career Service Authority. Some employees said as much
during a hearing on the matter last week.
"They believe it's a policy decision - that you could take money out of
something else and put it into their pay," Brough told the council
Ultimately, the council committee opted for an intricate proposal calling
for "sliding the ranges" and pay "bumps" based on merit.
First, the city on Dec. 1 will move each employee down a grade on the
city's pay scale but not reduce their pay. Second, once an employee's
evaluation date arrives, that employee can be promoted on merit, or
"bumped," up to their original grade, which would carry a higher pay level.
Such a slide of the pay grades would allow employees at the highest pay
grades to receive a raise if they perform well.
However, it also would require employees at the lowest pay grade to receive
an immediate raise because they cannot be moved down a level. That will cost
the city an extra $30,000 to $35,000 in December, according to an estimate
from the city's Budget and Management Office.
Korean Air Adds Bali, Phuket Routes
by Choi Hong-seop (email@example.com), Chosun Ilbo, South Korea
[S.Korea is cutting from a 44- to a 40-hour workweek over the next 7 years. Companies of over 1000 employees cut last July 1 and already there have been benefits for some industries, like airlines -]
Korean Air has stated that it will reopen its Incheon-Bali route on Oct. 3,
which had been cancelled just after the financial crisis back in 1999, and
it will also begin operating a newly established Incheon-Phuket route
beginning Wednesday, ahead of Korea's honeymoon season.
The Incheon-Phuket and Incheon-Bali (Denpasar) routes run twice a week on
Wednesday and Sunday, and make use of the 295-seater Airbus A330-300.
The shortened work week and the upcoming honeymoon season, which are
expected to increase the number of travelers heading to nearby hot spots,
prompted Korean Air's decision to add the popular Southeast Asian travel
GERMANY: Opel again cuts Corsa output
just-auto.com, United Kingdom
General Motors' Adam Opel will reduce planned output of Corsa cars at its eastern Germany plant in Eisenach later this year amid slack demand for the model.
Reuters said this was the second time this month that Opel has scaled back Corsa production at Eisenach, which makes cars primarily for the sluggish German market.
An Opel spokesman reportedly described as "realistic" a story in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the 1,800 staff at Eisenach in eastern Germany would work shorter hours for between 6 and 15 days as a result of the measures.
Opel had said early this month that it would suspend production of the compact Corsa in Eisenach for 11 days in October amid sluggish demand.
Spokesman Frank Klaas told Reuters the Corsa was well received by customers but the problem was a general slowdown in the
German car market, Europe's biggest.
New car registrations in August hit an eight-year low for that month, and the VDA industry association is counting on a
late-year rally just to match 2003 sales of 3.24 million, the news agency noted.
"The Corsa is still number two in the overall compact car segment and we are still building more cars than two years ago,
but we had to row back a bit because of the market," Klaas told Reuters.
Corsa production at Eisenach is now set to hit 140,000 units this year, more than the 127,100 built in 2003 but fewer than
the 158,000 Opel had originally envisioned, the report said. Productivity gains have let it increase output while still
limiting working time.
The Eisenach plant makes Corsas and Astras. The Opel plant in Zaragoza, Spain, also makes Corsas and Corsa vans, Reuters noted.
The news agency said reduced Corsa output comes against the backdrop of tense wage negotiations at Opel, where GM's
loss-making European arm wants to freeze workers' pay to the end of 2009 and extend the work week without extra compensation.
[Bingo, a story that dramatizes the problem. Demand is shrinking all over the world because of overconcentrated workhours in the automation age, and what are the Bush-like, ideology-not-reality-based CEOs trying to do? Lengthen the workweek and concentrate the work and wages even further, thus damaging their consumer base more deeply and slitting their own throats.]
Why re-write holidays calendar?
by Gleb Cherkasov, Gazeta.Ru via MOSNEWS, Russia
MOSCOW, Russia - Holidays are more than just happy days off work. Holidays reflect national ideology, the public manifestation of a country's fundamental values.
A multitude of holidays marked in Russia today, including the Soviet-era
red-letter days, imperial Russia holidays as well as post-Communist dates,
reflect the ideological chaos reigning in the country over the past 15 years.
Ordinary Russians, however, fully recognize only two holidays - the New Year
and the May 9 Victory Day. All other dates colored red in our calendar are
never celebrated by a majority of the Russian population. They either
believe those 'holidays' to be somewhat controversial or simply see no sense
in their having been introduced in the first place. Take for instance, the
Independence Day, marked on June 12.
Sooner or later the government will have to bring order to the national
holidays calendar, adjusting it to its own views on what kind of national
ideology the country needs. Namely that is why changes to the list of
national holidays proposed recently by a group of senior lawmakers seem so
Heads of factions in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament,
have proposed the following. From January 1st to the 5th, the country should
take a New Year's break. The Dec. 12 Constitution Day and the Nov. 7 Day of
Accord and Reconciliation - marked instead of the Soviet-era 1917 Great
October Socialist Revolution Anniversary - should be altogether abolished.
Instead, two new holidays - the Day of National Unity to be marked on 4
November and the Day of Foundation of the State Duma (April 27) - are to be
introduced. Apparently, the lawmakers have done their homework well. The
first session of the State Duma was held on April 27, 1906. While on Nov. 4,
1612, the early 17th century Times of Trouble ended, according to the
authors of the draft bill.
Let us leave the lawmakers' desire to legitimize the all-Russian New Year
drinking-bout aside and not be angry with them about their proposal to have
their own birthday celebrated nationwide - - this idea will most likely be
rejected as immodest. Both the New Year and the Duma birthday dates have
little affect on the creation of a new ideology.
Yet, as to the idea of marking Nov. 4 - the day the Times of Trouble ended -
it gives a clear picture of a country the State Duma members and their
patrons in the Kremlin seek to build.
The Times of Trouble that befell Russia in the early 17th century were,
perhaps, the hardest ordeal for the Russian statehood. Russia's sovereignty
was at stake and the country's future was vague.
Only in the Times of Trouble the enemy succeeded in conquering the Russian
capital and held control over it for a long time. In the 20th century Nazi
Germany failed to achieve the goal. Russia marks its victory over it on 9
May. It is logical that the end of the Times of Trouble, too, deserves to be
By including Nov. 4 in the list of red-letter days our incumbent leaders
admit the priority of interests of the state as such over all other
The initiative to abolish the Constitution Day further confirms that point.
The basic law is perceived by our powers-that-be as yet another attribute of
state power. So why mark the day of that attribute? The same logic explains
the motives of deputies' desire to cross out Nov. 7.
Whatever it is called, for most Russians this holiday forever remains the
Day of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the day when the USSR was
actually born. But the country already has a day when the post-Communist
Russia was founded - the June 12 Independence Day.
Besides, would it not be strange to celebrate the anniversary of Bolshevik
revolution while at the same time advancing a slogan "State over
Everything". Remarkably[?], white emigration writers used to refer to the
1917-1922 period in Russian history as Troubled Times.
Five referendums on tap for Prospect Heights voters
Chicago Daily Herald, IL
by Kwame Patterson
This November, the voters of Prospect Heights will face the largest number
of referendums within a single election in the city's 28-year history,
according to Illinois State Board of Elections records.
A total of five questions from three taxing bodies will be placed on the
Nov. 2 ballots.
The questions will focus on tax increases, library use, sewer service and
future developments within the city.
The Old Town Sanitary District was first to put a question on the ballot in
The district, which covers sewer service in Prospect Heights and parts of
Arlington Heights, Wheeling and Mount Prospect, is asking to remain a
separate governmental entity, as a hedge against being absorbed by Prospect
According to the 1936 Sanitary District Act, once the last piece of
unincorporated district property is swallowed up by a municipality, it must
suspend all functions and turn over services to the municipality the
majority of its patrons live in.
In January, Wheeling annexed the last unincorporated piece of the Old Town
Now, if voters don't approve of the sewer district remaining separate,
Prospect Heights will automatically take over sewer services.
City officials say they can do a more efficient job in providing the
services than the district, which stands to lose up to $150,000 a year in
total tax collections.
However, district attorney Paul Sandquist said he believes the current tax
collected by the district would increase if the city were to take over.
Even though the city has no solid numbers on how much it would charge for
sewer services, Mayor Rodney Pace said he guarantees the fee residents
currently pay will not increase.
In July, the Prospect Heights Public Library board voted to put a referendum
on the ballot asking voters to increase the current maximum tax rate by 8
cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation - from 25 cents to 33 cents.
The library's tax portion is now estimated at 3.8% of the total tax
bill. Therefore, if a homeowner is paying $2,000 in property taxes, the
library's tax rate request would add $1.50 a month or $18 a year to the
bill, library officials said.
The library board has said it needs more money to maintain current services.
It has already cut hours of operation and resources, and if funding isn't raised, library officials may have to cut staff by next spring, according to
board President Mary E. Tammen.
In another plea for more money, the city council voted in July to request
that the sales tax on goods and services and the sales tax on anything that
requires a state license be raised from 1% to 1.5%.
City Administrator Matt Zimmerman said the increases would not include any
new taxes on food and medicine.
Pace said the increases would affect residents only when they purchase
something within the city limits. The taxes also are paid by nonresidents
making purchases in the city.
"The (increase) is not solely on the back of Prospect Heights," Pace said.
"It's for the people coming into the city."
In addition, city officials say that if both increases are approved, the
added revenue would generate an estimated $400,000 for the city.
There has been no final determination as to what the additional funding
would be used for, but Zimmerman said the most pressing issues within the
city are roads and storm water management.
Furthermore, the city is asking for voters' permission to issue up to $25
million in general obligation alternative bonds to spur developments within
its Milwaukee Avenue and Palatine Road Redevelopment Project area.
However, some residents believe the bonds will be used toward a proposed
arena project that they fear will fail and leave taxpayers to foot the bill.
Since 1995, there have been 17 referendums on both the primary and general
elections ballots within Prospect Heights, and out of 11 tax increase
requests, five of them were rejected.
Working hours plan 'increases pressure'
European Commission plans to regulate UK working hours may put increased pressure on Northern Ireland's competitiveness,
leading business advisors warned today.
Northern Ireland company employees work among the longest hours in the UK and moves to introduce a maximum 48 hour week could hit hard, said PricewaterhouseCoopers.
But they said the long hours were often a substitute for efficiency and there needed to be greater investment in innovation,
technology and quality.
They said 65% of employees worked a basic week of over 38 hours but 75% of them routinely worked an additional
8 hours of overtime.
Last week the EC allowed the UK to retain its opt-out of the 48 hour maximum week,
but said companies must negotiate opt-outs with unions where collective bargaining agreements covering terms and conditions exist.
Paul Terrington, PwC`s HR consulting partner, said local firms were already finding it difficult to remain competitive with the basic working week.
[Maintaining the domestic consumer base will soon, perforce, take precedence over all this whining about 'remaining competitive.' Competitiveness only concerns the minority of businesses involved in export.]
He said about 6% of all hourly-paid workers in Northern Ireland regularly worked more than a 48 hour week, so a 48 hour
ceiling would be a serious issue for a number of firms.
[6% does not make it a serious issue for the economy at large.]
The situation was made worse by the fact that 65% of manufacturing and service companies reported vacancies hard to fill.
"More companies are experiencing hard to fill vacancies, most are experiencing spiralling recruitment and training costs and
many routinely offer regular and increased overtime to remain competitive," Mr Terrington said.
[No overtime should be regular or routine.]
"There is no indication that this situation is improving so further constraints on the length of the working week may
directly impact on competitiveness," he added.
The PwC Salary Survey also reported that local managers worked even longer hours than hourly paid workers, with only 8% of
Northern Ireland managers working their contracted hours and over 30% regularly working the equivalent of a six day week.
[Well that takes us back to 1900.]
Mr Terrington said that with nearly 20% of Northern Ireland managers regularly working more than a six day week, it contributed to the UK having the longest working week in Europe.
[Hey, why not re-institute slavery's 168-hour workweek and completely sink your consumer base?]
He said since the mid-1990s the Northern Ireland working week had been getting longer. "A small business economy where about 90% of businesses employ fewer than 10 people add to the pressures on management and workers to work longer and harder to remain competitive," he said.
But he insisted: "Continually extending the working week for management and workers is unsustainable and the EU has
indicated that it strongly disapproves. In many cases these long hours are a substitute for efficiency."
And Mr Terrington said if firms were to become internationally competitive within available working hours, "it is vital that
Northern Ireland companies increase their commitment to management development and their investment in innovation,
technology and quality".
Stress 101: Just take a deep breath
Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN
By common wisdom, the suburbs are a collection of quiet enclaves, with clean
air, chirping birds, smooth, wide streets, cheerful children and content
adults, far from the toxins and tensions of the city.
But Apple Valley's Keith Carlson has another take on the suburban world.
"You look at Cedar Avenue and it's bumper-to-bumper," said Carlson, a
full-time school custodian with high blood pressure and two part-time jobs.
"And it's supposed to get worse with all the growth. Where I live you can't
even have your windows open because of the traffic noise. Little things like
that shouldn't bother me, but they do."
On Wednesday, Carlson used four hours of his vacation time to join more than
60 other people in a conference room at the Dakota County government center
to learn some new wisdom: how to reduce the effects of stress in their lives.
The "Relax, Rejuvenate, Restore" workshop, one of a series of five around
the metro area, was sponsored by the Greater Twin Cities United Way and the
Dakota County Department of Public Health. In a week when the mind-body
connection has made the cover of Newsweek magazine, it was only natural that a free session on meditation, biofeedback, Chinese ritual movement and even
mindful eating would pop up in Apple Valley.
Pat Adams, Dakota County public health director, said the program reflected
the recent work of a citizens' health advisory group, which listed improved
access to mental health services as one of the top priorities for the
department. Penny George, a psychologist who is president of the George
Family Foundation, which helped fund the program, said she used
stress-reduction as a weapon in her battle against breast cancer. There
should be broad public benefit from exploiting the time-honored links
between mental and physical health, she added.
"One of the reasons we have so much sickness is because of the stress we
live with," George said.
At the Apple Valley workshop, participants and two presenters ran through
the litany of factors that caused stress in their lives: traffic, more
demands at work, more hours at work, job loss or reductions, the car radio
and the grinding news of war, terrorism and the presidential election. "My
husband," one added.
The presenters then offered a wide sampling of techniques for blunting
stress, including a little bit of breathing and little bit of Buddha.
Between short discussions, they turned the lights down and led the group in
eyes-closed meditations on images, music and their own heartbeats, as well
as drawing exercises and some basic qi gong movements, in which they would"bring a ball of qi [life force] out of the Earth."
Mary Pope said she expected to put the new knowledge to use, both at her
hectic job in customer service and at home in Randolph, a small community on
Dakota County's largely rural southern border.
"People are all stretching themselves so thin," Pope said. "We might know a
lot of people [in Randolph] but we still have the same stress levels as
people in the big cities do. We just have to learn how to handle them."
Pope's brush with inner peace ran a little short, though, since she had to
leave the workshop before lunch. "I only took the morning off work," she
said, dashing for the parking lot.
Bill McAuliffe is at firstname.lastname@example.org
"The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in WWII", by John Spritzler
Axis of Logic, United States
book review by Beth Henry
In "The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in WWII," John Spritzler
unravels the sentimental, patriotic mythology in which the leaders of
"winners" of World War II have clothed its barbarous carnage for decades.
While political fallout and skirmishes over the Vietnam War remain bitter
with the poison of its atrocity and injustice, the invocation of WWII, the
"Good War" fought by the "Greatest Generation," almost invariably elicits a
misty-eyed gush of patriotism, especially among our elected officials,
regardless of ideology or party affiliation.
Writing from the point of view of the workers of the countries engaged in
WWII, Spritzler reveals not a war fought to defeat dangerous fascist
regimes, but a class war on a global scale, waged against workers by the
ruling classes of all the antagonists.
Spritzler exposes the truth behind the three major points of WWII mythology
as told by the ruling class: (1) WWII was a conflict between nations; (2)
The Allies' most compelling priority in the war was to defeat the Fascists;
and (3) The Allies bombed civilian populations in order to defeat fascism.
(1) WWII was a conflict between nations.
The first section of the book is a collection of war-time propaganda posters
from various countries, both Axis and Allies. Always, the enemy is an
entire nation of people with sinister features and evil intent, and citizens
are urged (and frequently forced) to unite under the flag of the homeland to
protect their homes, their children, and their lives from these foreign
In Japan, the rulers exhorted the people to join in the war effort in mass
solidarity "One hundred million hearts beating as one." Other countries,
both Axis and Allied, inundated their people with similar messages
concerning the threat of an evil foreign power and the need for unity and
sacrifice, especially on the part of the workers.
A crucial element in pro-war propaganda in both Axis and Allied countries
was the portrayal of the citizens of "enemy" nations as being united in
their hostility toward one another, thus eliminating any chance of global
solidarity among workers.
(2) The Allies' most compelling priority in the war was to defeat the Fascists.
Spritzler gives just a few examples France, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, the
Philippines, and China in which "the Allies treated the anti-Fascist
working class Resistance armies as hostile (in many cases attacking them
And when a pro-fascist coalition led by General Francisco Franco and backed
by Hitler and Mussolini staged a revolt against the democratically-elected
Spanish government, the U.S., France, and Great Britain refused to aid the
republic. President Roosevelt even pushed through legislation that made it
illegal to send arms to Spain, receiving for his efforts praise and
declarations of gratitude from both Hitler's government and General Franco.
If fascism was not the enemy in WWII, then whom were the Allies fighting?
As in the title of the book, the true enmity in WWII was not between
nations, but between classes.
During the years following WWI, a global economic depression began toliterally crush the life out of the working people. Labor movements in
countries later to become major players in WWII grew stronger, more
militant, and more threatening to the ruling class. Then, as now, it was
the owners and shareholders in the major corporations whose money,
influence, and interwoven family and business alliances steered the policies
of their governments, whether or not those governments claimed to be "of the
Furthermore, citizens of all the countries involved in WWI were still
haunted, angry, and distrustful of their governments in the wake of the
senseless atrocities and irrevocable losses they had suffered in that
Spritzler describes not only the radicalization of the work force and the
masses in the U.S., with which many of us are somewhat familiar, but also
the workers' revolts in Japan and Germany. He presents evidence that would
surprise many in this country who assume that the Germans and Japanese were,
for the most part, loyal to the Nazi Party and the Emperor, respectively.
In Germany, for instance, the Nazi Party was never actually voted into
power, and workers' and citizens' revolts against it and its policies had to
be crushed by force even throughout WWII. The Japanese people were rising
up all over their country with furious demands for the rights of workers and
protests against their empire's wars and invasions, much to the alarm of
their ruling class.
Workers in Europe and the UK were similarly militant and threatening to the
interests and fortunes, even the survival, of the existing ruling class.
Heads of state all over the world were wringing their hands over the problem
of unions, socialist movements, strikes, and even potential revolution.
They knew that only a global military conflict would halt the momentum of
the people toward the kind of just and humane society that would deprive
them of their wealth, status, and hegemony.
War would unite workers in nationalist, rather than populist, solidarity, in
which workers of one nation would be pitted against those of another. This
false and insular solidarity in enmity could then be used to quell dissent
and promote militant patriotism. Best of all, that patriotism and the fear
of foreign incursions could be used to compel workers to put in more hours
and produce more for less pay.
[Then it backfired, because it created a labor shortage that engaged market forces in increasing labor's power and giving them fewer hours and more pay.]
They had found a way not only to put a damper on the workers' revolts, but
to coerce them to withdraw their demands and submit to adverse conditions
WWII, then, was not fought to end fascism. It was a war prosecuted by
wealthy oligarchs worldwide against the workers upon whom they relied for
their continued existence.
[This doesn't make sense.]
And it was fought by the workers themselves,
whose labors also furnished the weapons used against them.
(3) The Allies bombed civilian populations in order to defeat fascism.
In the histories, novels, and movies about WWII, the Nazi bombardment of
Great Britain demonstrates for the reader or viewer the mercilessness of the
Nazis and the courage of the British people. Many inspiring tales of
bravery, romance, and sacrifice during the war derive from the Blitzkrieg
and the British response to it.
Few on the "winning" side know that in one Allied mission alone, the British
Operation Gomorrah, 45,000 people in Hamburg, Germany were killed in a
massive firestorm. On July27-28, 1943, 278 bombers attacked the city with
incendiary bombs, incinerating more German civilians in one night than thetotal number of British civilians killed over the duration of the Blitz.
By May, 1945, Operation Gomorrah and similar Allied attacks on Dresden and
Berlin had resulted in the deaths of at least 300,000 German civilians. The
U.S. used the same strategy against Japan in March of that same year,
dropping 1,165 tons of incendiary bombs on the densely populated city of
Tokyo and killing more than 87,000 Japanese civilians. That same holocaust
from the air was also visited upon Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, and Yokohama.
Of course, the most hideous and obscene slaughter occurred in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in August, 1945, when the U.S. became the first, and so far, the
only country, to attack civilian populations with atomic bombs. These
attacks, supposedly carried out to end the war, killed 210,000 civilians
outright, with another 130,000 dying over the next five years from radiation
How can such barbarous, wanton slaughter, and on such a monstrous scale, be
justified, morally or even strategically?
We are repeatedly told, and told again on the anniversary of the holocausts
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that those and other attacks on civilian
populations in Axis nations were a last-ditch effort to bring the enemies to
surrender. That their citizens, loyal as they were to their fascist
governments, had to be demoralized, along with their leaders, into
submission. We are told, even down to specific numbers, how many Allied
lives were saved by the mass incineration of Axis civilians.
Spritzler maintains, with convincing evidence, that the Allies targeted the
largely anti-fascist populations of the Axis countries because of their
resistance, both before and during the war, to the fascist principle of the
melding of state and corporate power.
This explanation makes much more sense, when viewed in the context of
Spritzler's documentation of workers' movements in Germany, Japan, and
Italy, than the mythical rationale of regrettable, but strategically
critical, mass murder. Spritzler further exposes the Allied excuse for the
convoluted lie that it was by showing that the most reliable intelligence,
as well as the consensus of the military's highest-ranking officers, had
concluded before the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the Japanese
were as good as beaten.
The People As Enemy makes the case that WWII was fought by the workers,
against themselves, and for the ruling classes of the belligerent nations.
German and Japanese business leaders, although they bore with their nationsthe ignominy of defeat, actually suffered little, and gained much as a
result. WWII effectively suppressed the burgeoning workers' movements
countries on both sides, while even further enriching the "captains of
industry" whose corporations furnished the weapons and other materials for
In his conclusion, Spritzler admits that "Some readers may find the account
of World War Two presented here to be emotionally depressing because it
undermines the hope that we can make a better world." For those readers, he
points out the truly hopeful and positive aspect of the whole catastrophe.
There is a memory of solidarity, or perception and celebration of
solidarity, of people of all backgrounds, races and social classes,
selflessly and courageously acting together to defeat the anti-democratic,
anti-human ideology and rule of fascism.
If people have united in such a struggle before, it stands to reason that
they can, and will, again. If they can be organized in that struggle
against the true fascists, they can prevail.
The leaders of our increasingly blatantly fascist government in the U.S.
know this. Of all the groups united against government policies, and for
the people, a mass movement of the workers is what they most fear. Having
read this book, it is obvious that the ruling class in this country realizes
that there are more of us than there are of them. They know that they only
nominally, and by the acquiescence of the workers, and by means of coercion
and intimidation, if necessary, control nation's production, economy,
government, and society.
They know that if the workers in this nation truly unite and demand an
equitable and humane distribution of labor and reward, they face certain
That is both cause for hope, and fuel for the struggle.
John Spritzler holds a Doctor of Science degree (in biostatistics) from the
Harvard School of Public Health where he is employed as a Research Scientist
engaged in AIDS clinical trials.
The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in WWII, is published by
Black Rose Books.
WSU, USU Concerned About Declines in Enrollment
AP via KSL-TV, UT
OGDEN, Utah - Weber State and Utah State are concerned about declines
in undergraduate enrollment this year, with WSU officials say it will mean
some budget cuts.
USU's total enrollment is up 585 to 23,601 but that is due to increases in
continuing education and doctoral student enrollment, and its
freshman-through-senior student population is down.
Weber State enrollment for fall 2004 is 18,498, down 323 students from last
"A decrease of 323 students is certainly something we're concerned about,
but not panicked over," said Bruce Bowen, WSU associate provost for
Utah State has an enrollment of 23,601 for fall 2004, up 585 from 2003's
count of 23,016.
Weber officials said adjustments will be needed to ensure the school stays
"It's too early to tell where we would make the reduction, but there will
be some cuts," said Norm Tarbox, Weber State vice president of
WSU President Ann Millner said it will be about a month before university
officials will be able to evaluate any budget cuts.
Weber State officials say an upswing in the economy may be sending more
students to work rather than to school. Students are also taking fewer
credits, presumably in order to work more hours.
"It's a telltale sign the economy is picking up," Tarbox said. "It's a
natural pattern when the economy rebounds."
[Don't bet on it. It could also be just a telltale sign and natural pattern when students are getting more desperate for money.]
Utah State officials say they aren't attracting as many incoming freshmen
as they used to. The university has been told that statewide data show a
decrease in the number of high school graduates in 2004 and 2005, said Utah
State spokesman John DeVilbiss.
"It's expected to go back up in 2006," DeVilbiss said.
Further, recent state legislation that raises the cost of out-of-state
tuition has reduced the number of Utah State students coming from Idaho and
Wyoming, DeVilbiss said.
DeVilbiss said the upswing in enrollment at Utah State's continuing
education sites - mainly in Roosevelt/Vernal, Brigham City, Tooele and Moab
- could be a reflection of a still-lagging economy.
"People go back to school because they want a job change and need new
skills, or because they have been laid off," DeVilbiss said.
Utah State will work on recruiting freshmen and lobbying the Legislature to
change out-of-state tuition legislation, he said.
A Longer Arm - Police asked to comment on redistribution say big beats stretch officers way too thin
Winston-Salem Journal, United States
by Patrick Wilson
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A few months ago, the top brass at the Winston-Salem Police Department asked patrol officers for their candid concerns about the department's new beat and scheduling system.
They got what they asked for.
In e-mail after e-mail, the officers and their supervisors said that the
system - in place for about 15 months - was in need of an overhaul. Under
the plan, the city has three patrol districts instead of the four that it
had used for years. Officers complain that the larger beats in those
districts mean that they spend too much time driving and less time getting
to know the community.
"Most officers are indicating that because of the size of the beats, backup,
when assigned or requested, takes a long time to arrive, which is a safety
concern," Sgt. Howard Brown wrote in comments echoed by dozens of other
sergeants, lieutenants and officers.
"The beats need to be resized so they are smaller."
The documents were released after the Winston-Salem Journal made a request
under North Carolina's public-records law.
In releasing the records, Chief Pat Norris said that the e-mails show that
she is serious about discussing things with patrol officers. "I believe that
for an organization to be successful, constructive feedback must be sought
and appropriately considered to improve operations."
She and other top police officials say that the redeployment is working. The
city's crime rate is down this year, and officers are still meeting their
goals for responding to 911 calls in time.
The department is still adjusting to the restructuring, which started in
July 2003. There used to be four sectors, each with eight beats. Now there
are three districts, each with five beats. Winston-Salem is about 110 square
Some foot patrols were eliminated, and the three shifts of officers were
stretched into five overlapping shifts. The moves were designed to put more
officers on duty, especially between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., when the demand for
police service is highest.
Norris and her team said they are using the comments from patrol officers
and will consider changes in the beat system.
Police supervisors have said that the redeployment was the biggest change
ever made in the culture of the department.
Officers have been grumbling quietly about the new beats and schedules since
they were put in place.
The department asked lieutenants to take a more formal approach for getting
opinions, and they talked with sergeants and patrol officers. Their comments
were sent to Assistant Chief Ronnie Abernathy, who oversees patrol officers.
Norris, who moved into the chief's job from assistant chief in March, said
that officers are still trying to get accustomed to the different structure.
"People are a little resistant to change, and there are some logistic things
that we looked at," she said. "We wanted to work it for a year to see what
those logistics were, and we're addressing those."
In addition to the size of their beats, officers said, they were concerned
that they were getting sent outside their beats too often, and that they
were being assigned calls that are civil matters and shouldn't be handled by
Many officers offered suggestions for improvement. The consistent complaint
was that beats are too big and manpower is too weak because officers are
stretched across five shifts.
"All beat officers concur that the beats are too large (District too big) to
effectively work," Lt. Brad Yandell wrote, referring to opinions from
officers in District 2, which includes most of the east side of the city.
Most officers in the other two districts also said that beats were too
"Everyone is basically in agreement that the beats and districts are too
big," Lt. David Perry wrote.
"Many of our officers are having to drive considerable distances to cover
their beats. This is one area that needs to be thoroughly evaluated," Lt.
Bryan Macy wrote in his report.
"The common denominator is that the beats are too large and we are short on
manpower," Lt. Mitch Masencup wrote. "We are call-response driven and will
be until some adjustments are made with the manpower and beat issues."
View from the top
The city hired consultant Peter Bellmio of Maryland to help the department
change its system. He has done similar work for such cities as Knox-ville,
Tenn., and Los Angeles.
The new beat lines were drawn based on workload, designed so that each beat
required a similar amount of work.
Officers' shifts were expanded from nine hours and 30 minutes to 10 hours.
Most patrol officers work five days on and then have four days off.
Despite the concerns of officers, police leaders say that the redeployment
has had good results. Crime has gone down since the new system began, a
civilian unit has been handling many calls over the telephone that used to
be assigned to officers, and police overtime costs are down. The city spent
$652,198 on police overtime in 2002-03, the last year of the old system, and
about $335,000 in 2003-04.
Police administrators said that there have been times when workload went up
and the number of officers was down because of sick time, vacation time and
attrition. But Abernathy said that the department currently has 234 patrol
officers - not including recruits in training - close to the 243 patrol
positions in the budget. The number is up from 202 officers in August 2003,
Sticking with it
Before the redeployment, there were not enough officers on duty to handle
the workload on evenings and weekends, he said. Now officers handle most
calls within their beats, he said.
The department's goal for responding to emergencies is six minutes, and the
average response has been 5:35, Abernathy said. The response goal for
nonemergency calls is 15 minutes, and the average response takes 14:03.
The department is considering changing beat lines when it incorporates new
areas that the city will add through annexation. The city's planned
annexation is not likely to begin until 2006.
"Today, we are not changing beat configurations," Abernathy said.
"Deployment is a process, though, and we are constantly looking at that."
Patrick Wilson can be reached at 727-7286 or at email@example.com
Hertzberg joins criticism - Hopeful challenges Hahn on rising crime
Los Angeles Daily News, CA
By Rick Orlov
Joining the criticism of Mayor James Hahn, former Assembly Speaker Bob
Hertzberg on Tuesday challenged the mayor's effort to make Los Angeles the
nation's safest big city.
In a posting on his campaign Web site, www.changela.com , Hertzberg said he
wants to "cut through the generalizations and see what crime looks like in
our neighborhoods." Hertzberg is one of four major opponents to Hahn in the
March 8 election.
"There's been a lot of talk about crime and gangs lately," Hertzberg said,
citing the Daily News series "Terror in our streets" that is being published
"We've heard that gang crimes are up, we've heard Chief (William) Bratton
announce that LAPD won't meet its goal of cutting the murder rate by 20%."
The Web page links to a map of the Los Angeles Police Department's 18
divisions and draws a comparison of the most recent crime figures and those
of 2001, when Hahn took office.
The results show an increase in overall crime in five of the divisions and
dramatic increases in gang-related slayings - 20.8% - along with
hikes in attempted murders, extortions and carjackings.
Hertzberg acknowledged that crime citywide is down 4% from when Hahn
took office, but he said Los Angeles remains a dangerous city.
"There were more murders in the San Fernando Valley in 2003 than in the
entire city of San Diego," Hertzberg said. "The murder rate in the West
L.A. bureau is almost twice as high as San Jose's.
"So crime is down citywide, but what that actually means depends on where
you live and how you define 'safe.'
"Are we safer than we were three years ago?"
Deputy Mayor Julie Wong, however, contested the figures posted by
"They don't match the figures we've been given," she said. "Also, we think
it's unfair to compare with the time from before Chief Bratton was brought
on board. The fact is, crime is down in all areas."
Hertzberg aides, however, defended their figures, saying they came directly
from the LAPD.
The Hertzberg attack comes after nearly three weeks of criticism of the
mayor's record on crime by Councilman Bernard Parks, who also is
challenging Hahn's re-election.
Parks, forced out as police chief by Hahn, has complained about the rising
level of homicides in his South Los Angeles district and linked it to the
compressed work schedule Hahn approved for police officers.
The councilman has vowed to return to the LAPD to a standard five-day,
40-hour work week for officers, who now work three-day, 12-hour shifts or other flexible schedules.
"My first act (as mayor) will be to make sure police are fighting crime on
a full-time basis," Parks said in a statement Tuesday.
[So, another regressive relengthening of the workweek, this time from 36 to 40 hours, though we can't say we like the idea of 12-hour shifts. The last few hours of a 12-hour shift are just too inefficient and error-prone, and the whole thing is liable to be less prioritized than shorter shifts.]
Hahn said the compressed work schedule gives police more flexibility in
assigning officers and has served to improve morale. Also, officers say they
work the same number of hours under the compressed work plan as under a
[Oh yeah? 3x12 came to 36, not 40, in our math book.]
Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 firstname.lastname@example.org
Met celebrates 175 years on the beat
BBC News, UK
Commissioner Sir John Stevens with an officer in the 1829 uniform
With only a truncheon and a rattle for protection, the first Metropolitan
Police constables took to London's streets 175 years ago on Tuesday 29
Named after Home Secretary Robert Peel, the original "Peelers" - later
Bobbies - based at 4 Whitehall Place had a tough job.
For three shillings a day, new constables could expect 12-hour night shifts
and no days off.
They faced a hostile press and public - some reports say the first traffic
police risked being run down and horse-whipped by irate coachmen.
High-necked tunics protected officers from strangulation and top hats were
reinforced as Peelers were likely to be attacked in the street - and
penalties for violent crime were more lenient.
After Pc Robert Culley was stabbed to death at a riot in Holborn in 1833 a
coroner's jury returned a verdict of "justifiable homicide".
'Working class traitors'
But still the new force managed to recruit about 1,000 constables who had
to be "of good character", able to read and write and be physically fit.
"They were known as working class traitors, the working classes thought
they would be sneering at them and the upper classes and businessmen didn't
want them poking their noses in," said Met officer Maggie Bird, who works in
the force's archives office.
"There were committees set up to disband the new police and there were
riots in the streets."
It was a tough life, but a steady job: Maggie Bird, Met archives
"But I suppose it was a steady job, if you kept your nose clean, you got a regular wage, a uniform, accommodation[?!] at police stations - it was a tough life, but a steady job."
Few recruits came from London. As agriculture declined, people flocked from
the countryside, particularly East Anglia and the West Country, to join the Met.
Reinforced top hats
But many wanted to keep local control of law and order and felt the old
system worked better.
"The people who set the Met up were very careful to pronounce that before
they arrived there was terror, chaos and death on the streets of London, "
said Dr Chris Williams, a history lecturer at the Open University.
"But there has been lots of research and the persistent answer is that is
not the case."
"[Policing] was patchy and locally controlled - the Met was about
centralising, a 'one size fits all' force across London. In some places it
[policing] got better, in some places it got worse."
Since 1829 one of the things police have done is fill in forms, and
they've always complained about it: Dr Chris Williams, Open University
But despite the initial hostility, the Met was there to stay.
By the 1840s the old detective-style units formerly run by magistrates, the
most famous of which was the Bow Street Runners, had been absorbed, as had
the marine unit, although the City of London retains its own police force
By 1890 there was a police pension and within the next forty years the
force would start to incorporate radios, patrol cars, early versions of 999
and women officers.
The first 1,000 Peelers covered a seven-mile circle around Charing Cross
and a population of less than 2m and their duties were largely limited to
Today the Met has 30,000 officers, covers 620 square miles and 7.2m people
and handles everything from traffic offences to international terrorism.
But some things, apparently, do not change.
"Since 1829 one of the things police have done is fill in forms - and they
have always complained about it as well," said Dr Williams.
"The unique selling point of the Met was its bureaucracy, there were some
efficient parish-based watches [beforehand], what the Met did was process
Chicago unveils Haymarket Monument - 118 years later
Workday Minnesota, MN
By Jeff Weiss, The Federation News
CHICAGO, Ill. - It took 118 years, but Chicago has a monument to the eight workers
unjustly condemned to die after the famous 1886 Haymarket Square "riot."
In a ceremony keynoted by Mayor Richard M. Daley and union leaders, the
monument was unveiled Sept. 14 at Randolph Street and Desplaines Avenue,
near the site of the May 4, 1886, tragedy.
The monument is a 15-foot speakers' wagon sculpture, commemorating the wagon
on which the labor leaders stood that evening to champion the 8-hour day. It
symbolizes the assembly at Haymarket, and is centerpiece of a new Labor Park
Mary Brogger's sculpture accompanies an International Commemoration Wall,
sidewalk plaques, a cultural pylon, seating area and banners. An oversized
statue of a policeman was transferred from the square to the city police
academy in 1972.
"Hopefully because of our collaborative efforts, we will honor the famous
last words of Haymarket martyr August Spies who stated: 'There will come a
time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle
today,'" Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon said before the
"I believe that time has come this year and that we will never forget the
significance of this labor site or the workers who paid the ultimate price
for our freedom," he added.
The Haymarket Monument honors the workers who led the agitation for an
8-hour day, an unheard-of concept in 1886, when 10- and 12-hour days were
common, according to the Illinois Labor History Society. It also honors the
travail they endured.
The workers were speaking peaceably to a crowd in Haymarket Square, when 175
police - led by a notoriously anti-worker officer - appeared and ordered the
workers to disperse. The Haymarket Square meeting was called after two
protesters for the 8-hour day were gunned down at the McCormick Reaper works the day before.
Mayor Carter H. Harrison, who was also at Haymarket, went to the nearby
police station beforehand and reported that all was peaceful, and the crowd
had started to drift away. But the police disregarded the mayor and appeared
Then an unknown person threw a dynamite bomb.
"Seven policemen and four in the crowd died from the explosion and the
outburst of pistol fire from the police which followed," the Labor History
"This set of events was dubbed the 'Haymarket Riot,' with its connotation of
an unruly and riotous crowd to be quelled by officers of the law. The tragic
error, it seems clear, lies at the feet of the police commander who failed
to respect the First Amendment and its guarantee of the right to assemble
and give voice to grievances."
After the "riot," the union leaders - most of them labeled "anarchists" - were
arrested, tried and condemned to death in a prosecution widely denounced as
a travesty and extensively prejudiced by anti-worker newspaper publicity.
"In the public mind, the notion of 'labor movement bomb thrower' became
associated with the entire 8-hour day movement," the society adds. "It was not until 1938 that Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which
established the 40-hour work week. Thus, the 8-hour day became the national norm."
Several of the unionists died on the scaffold after their convictions. One
committed suicide. The three still alive then were pardoned in 1893 by Gov.
John Peter Altgeld, who blasted the trial as completely unjust.
- Warning on spread of sex trade, Reuters via NYT, A15.
Slavery is booming in South Asia, with hundreds of thousands of women and children being sold or forced into the sex trade or domestic service each year, UNICEF warned. Wars in Afghanistan and Nepal are worsening matters by displacing thousands of young people, who go in search of safety and work only to be lured or pushed into the sex trade. ...Dr. Sahig Rasheed, regional director for South Asia, said at a conference in Sri Lanka [that] about 500,000 women and children are being trafficked each year in Asia....
[Slavery is the extreme of unregulated worktime. Unless we get into full employment automatically maintained by worksharing along Timesizing lines, this Third World pandemic is the future of virtually all our offsping, because "the more $concentration, the less $circulation," and though we're getting hundreds of new billionaires and thousands of new millionaires, we're getting millions of new poverty cases every year in the decreasingly stable USA.]
9/28/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/27 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 9/28 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/28), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
Off the dole - And on the assembly line
by William Boston, Businessweek [US]
LEIPZIG, Germany - Heike Müller...a mechanic, embodies what seems to be going
right in eastern Germany. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Germany was
unified a year later, Müller lost her job at a chemical company. Since then,
she has gotten by with make-work schemes and retraining programs. Then, in
2001, BMW decided to build a manufacturing plant in Leipzig, and Müller's
life changed. She completed an orientation program, then began commuting to
Munich to train at BMW's plant there for the 2005 opening of the Leipzig
factory. The new plant will manufacture BMW's 3-Series limousines. "Now I am
the head of the windshield mounting unit," she says with pride. "I was
really fed up with being unemployed."
Müller's story shows what can be accomplished when companies work with the
government and unions to turn things around. BMW had some enticing
incentives to locate its plant in Leipzig. The European Commission
classifies the city as a structurally weak region, which allows the local
government to subsidize as much as 30.1% of corporate investment once the
plant is completed. BMW plans to invest up to $1.59 billion in the new auto
plant, but final costs could be higher. That means the Munich auto maker
could end up getting a payment of as much as $500 million from the
government of Saxony.
[So bottom line: this is still makework, and Heike Mueller is still "getting by with make-work schemes." At least there are some futuristic timesizing aspects to BMW's way of operating, at least in this particular plant -]
...BMW had considered building the plant in the neighboring Czech Republic.
But Leipzig went to great lengths to persuade the company to locate there.
Obtaining the permits needed to begin construction of the plant took just
eight weeks, compared with more than a year in western Germany. The IG
Metall union agreed to a number of BMW demands to let the company run
machines longer in peak production phases [ie: add hours, like Nucor and Lincoln Electric, and...] and cut hours when demand is low [instead of doing layoffs] - without requiring management to give advance notice, as is typical in
west German factories. "We can run our machines between 60 and 140 hours
with great flexibility. That would have been impossible in the Czech
Republic," says Reichenauer. "German wage costs are higher, but unit wages
Of course, BMW alone can't solve Leipzig's joblessness. Its unemployment
rate is 18.8%, with 75,000 individuals looking for a job. Reichenauer says
BMW has received 110,000 applications from all over Germany for the 5,500
jobs at the plant. But if more companies copy BMW's blueprint, they could
well find the workers they need.
[In a depression-level labor surplus? That's hardly the problem. The sentence we're expecting here is: "But if more companies copy BMW's blueprint, they could make a serious dent in Leipzig's unemployment problem." And of that, there's not a chance - here's what we cut from above -]
So far, nearly 500 jobless have been hired..\..
[That's 500 out of 75,000 unemployed in ONE CITY ALONE. And the state of Saxony is paying up to $500 MILLION for a measly 500 jobs??? This makework approach is just plain insane. It amounts to merely more charity for the rich, in this case the wealthy top executives of BMW. That means more concentration of the national income at the top where it's wasted for vital employment and consumption purposes because "the more concentration, the less circulation." Germany needs thorough-going automatic worksharing along Timesizing lines immediately. Clearly politicians and economists even in haphazardly worksharing Germany are in denial about the timesizing imperative of the technological age.]
Another attraction is Leipzig's location in the middle
of east Germany's auto belt, which will allow BMW to benefit from a
concentration of skilled labor and suppliers.
When BMW began investing in Leipzig in 2002, few of its new hires came from
the ranks of the unemployed. Most were skilled workers hired from small and
medium-size companies in the region. But because there were so many jobless
workers in Leipzig, city officials and BMW executives sat down and came up
with a plan, which they dubbed "Pole Position," because the program aimed to
improve qualifications for the jobless, putting them in a better position to
compete with employed applicants for jobs at the plant.
[Still doesn't explain "Pole Position," especially so close to Poland.]
"In the beginning our management was very skeptical," says Rudolf Reichenauer, personnel chief
for BMW's Leipzig plant. "But we were pleasantly surprised." Reichenauer
says those hired from the jobless ranks often were highly motivated,
flexible, and able to take on responsibility.
Working with a city-owned employment agency called Pool, BMW started
sifting through lists of jobless workers in Leipzig and the surrounding
region. It asked those with the best skills and most motivation to take a
written test. Those who passed, such as Müller, were invited to participate
in a training program that requires commuting to a BMW plant in Regensburg,
in northern Bavaria, for six weeks.
After that, the best performers are
trained for their work in Leipzig at a BMW plant in Munich. BMW says someone
in Müller's position working at the Leipzig plant will earn between $30,522
and $36,629, about 85% of the salary for the same job at BMW's Munich plant.
The company aims to find 10% of its new hires among the ranks of the
unemployed. So far, nearly 500 jobless have been hired....
[Politically manufactured, i.e., discretionary makework cannot handle unemployment on this scale. It can only be handled by our usual stupid "solution" of major workforce kill-off in large-scale war, or the real long-term solution, a smarter application of automatic (not discretionary) worksharing along Timesizing lines.]
Salvation Army's troubles not over - Help has come to Salvation Army, but not enough
by Eric Moskowitz, Concord Monitor, NH
CONCORD, N.H. - A recent influx of donations enabled the Salvation Army of Concord to bring
back its laid-off employees sooner than expected. The agency implemented a
mandatory two-week layoff [ie: furlough] for all eight employees after Labor Day, but new
donations helped the Salvation Army restore its work force after just a
week, the director of the agency's homeless shelter said.
But that reprieve doesn't solve a bigger problem looming ahead, said
Michelle French-Labrecque, who runs the McKenna House shelter.
"We're trying to look at innovative ways to come up with some extra
operating money so this doesn't have to happen again," French-Labrecque
said. "We don't want to close the shelter, but if we can't come up with the
money that's needed, you never know. We may have to look at cutting hours or
closing the shelter in the summer and opening it in the winter, when it's
The Salvation Army is in a difficult position, she said. On one hand, the
flood of donations in the first week alone after the layoffs (about $12,000,
French-Labrecque said) was tremendously heartening. "It was great," she
said, thanking everyone who gave money, goods and services or called to
offer help. "The community was very supportive."
But the influx doesn't address the larger problem, that the local corps may
not regularly be able to meet expenses without major changes.
The local Salvation Army runs on an annual operating budget of roughly
$800,000. The biggest chunk, about $250,000, covers operating expenses for
the 28-bed homeless shelter, which provides food, clothing, toiletries,
case-management services and a place to sleep for more than 300 people a
year, French-Labrecque said. The average stay is about five months, and the
shelter is always full, she said. To run the shelter, the agency gets
$32,000 from the city and $50,000 from the state. All other expenses are
covered by thrift-store sales and donations; the national Salvation Army
does not provide financial assistance.
A variety of factors, including the rising costs of employee health
insurance and corporate policies that restrict storefront solicitations,
have contributed to the agency'spredicament. Over the summer, Capt. Bob
Kountz realized that expenses were outpacing revenues and was forced to lay
off [ie: furlough] all eight employees for two weeks, saving a fraction of their total
$150,000 in annual salary and benefits. The eight included Kountz and his
wife, Capt. Wendy Kountz, who worked without pay during the period, trying
to maintain all services with a crew of volunteers.
Coming to the aid of the Salvation Army, the Friends Program - a United
Way-affiliated social service organization based in Concord -offered $10 an
hour to cover the bulk of French-Labrecque's salary from Sept. 13 through
the end of the month. The program will also advise a task force aimed at
finding a permanent solution, French-Labrecque said.
"We're very small," said Anne Omundson, Friends Program office manager.
"But we wanted to show that we can all pitch in together to meet the needs
of the people, because that's what it's all about."
Donations have helped the Salvation Army meet payroll again, but the
McKenna House is threatened by a need to raise an additional $20,000 a year,
starting this year, to replace a trust fund that has run out,
French-Labrecque said. To save money, McKenna House has not filled its
second staff position since February, meaning French-Labrecque is the only
Salvation Army employee assigned to the shelter. To keep the shelter
supervised and operating 24 hours a day, French-Labrecque relies on a team
of seven volunteers.
"You can only cut back so much. We're at the bare bones of necessity. You
can't expect (shelter) residents to go without toilet paper. . . . So
consequently, I'm without a staff person, and it's very trying. And it's
very difficult - it's putting a lot of stress on volunteers."
(Eric Moskowitz can be reached at 224-5301, ext. 310, or by e-mail at
PHA to lay off 10 employees - Other workers must take days off without pay because of deficit
By CLARE JELLICK
Peoria Journal Star, IL
PEORIA, Ill. - Some Peoria Housing Authority employees will lose their jobs whileothers will take unpaid days off to cover a projected shortfall in the
agency's 2005 operating budget.
On Monday, the agency's commissioners approved laying off 10 of its 88
employees and making its staff take 20 unpaid days off. Officials said these
cuts are necessary to cover what would have been a $1 million deficit in the
agency's operating budget. The agengy's overall budget is about $3.9 million.
"It's the best choice at this point in time," PHA commissioner Duane Heward
said after the meeting. "We have to be prudent for the benefit of our
residents and our staff. "
With the cuts factored in, the agency's deficit is about $408,000. The
layoffs will save about $444,000, and the days off will save about $194,000.
The deficit is only an estimate because the agency hasn't found out how much
money it's getting from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development. PHA spokeswoman Shari Henry said if HUD gives the agency more
money than expected or if the agency finds ways to save money, the layoffs
and furloughs could change.
Budgets must be submitted to HUD by Oct. 1, but the agency won't know how
much money it'll get until early next year.
"The whole hope is that the housing authority doesn't have to lay off
employees or have furlough days, but we have to prepare for the worst-case
scenario and all is contingent on HUD funding," Henry said.
Long-term vacancies at Harrison Homes continue to be the main reason the PHA
will be getting less money than it needs, officials said.
HUD won't fully fund a housing authority's vacant units, which means about
170 empty Harrison apartments will cost the PHA a little more than $500,000.
Many of the Harrison units, built in the 1940s and 1950s, have remained
vacant because of deteriorating conditions.
"We're funneling such a large portion of our budget into maintaining that
site," John said during the meeting.
The PHA plans to demolish about 270 units there as soon as possible. About
150 units north of Krause Avenue should be demolished next year, but the
timeline for about 120 units south of Krause is uncertain, Henry said. Some
of the layoffs are contingent on the demolitions.
Henry said an increase in the cost of workman's compensation and health
insurance also contributed to the agency's deficit. The agency expects
workman's compensation to increase by 3% next year and insurance
premiums to increase by 15%.
Employee furloughs aren't new to the housing authority. In 2003, the agency
asked all employees to take off 20 days. This year, trade union employees
and clerical staff were asked to take off six weeks, Henry said.
Debate offers divergent views of tax cap
Brunswick Times Record, ME
BRUNSWICK, Me. - If a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Monday is
any indication, property tax cap supporters and property tax cap opponents
have very different concepts of what constitutes fair taxation.
To Frank Wibby, a representative of the pro-tax cap group Tax Cap Now,
fairness means that everyone pays the same amount for the services he or she
uses and that no one works his or her whole life only to face the threat of
being taxed out of a home.
"If we all get the same services, then we should all pay the same for them.
That's fair," said Wibby, a retired high school teacher from Yarmouth.
But to Christopher St. John, executive director of the Maine Center for
Economic Policy, fair tax relief means targeting those who need it the most.
It does not mean applying a one-size-fits-all tax cap to every Maine
community. Nor does it mean requiring citizens to pay user fees for such
traditionally taxpayer-supported institutions as schools and libraries, a
possible outcome if the tax cap is implemented, according to some town
The statewide property tax cap referendum to appear as Question 1 on the
Nov. 2 ballot asks Maine voters if they would support limiting property
taxes to 1% of the assessed value of property. In Brunswick, Town
Manager Donald Gerrish has said the town would lose an estimated $9.6
million a year in property tax revenue and might have to cut more than 100
jobs if the initiative passes.
Monday's debate between St. John and Wibby, attended by about 30 people,
took place at Curtis Memorial Library, which stands to lose about $550,000 a
year in operating revenue - one-half the library's annual budget - if the
property tax cap passes, according to estimates by the town manager's
office. A recent letter from Michael Jones of Curtis Memorial's board of
directors states that the library would be forced to reduce hours from 62
per week to 35 per week and, for the first time in its 100-year history,
charge user fees if the revenue it receives from municipal sources is halved
as a result of passage of the tax cap.
Tax cap supporters, however, have called these projections scare tactics and
have accused the town of not looking hard enough for efficiencies and ways
to reduce municipal spending.
But, says St. John, it will take far more than budgetary efficiencies to
make up the 30% to 50% loss in revenue that service center
communities such as Brunswick will face. Complicating the problem for
service centers and urban communities, according to St. John, is the fact
that the initiative will not help renters, who make up a quarter of Maine
households. Landlords would be unlikely to reduce rents if the tax cap is
imposed, St. John said. Nor would the cap help the 77 towns - including
Harpswell and Georgetown - that already have property tax rates below $10
per $1,000 of assessed value but are facing skyrocketing property
valuations, St. John said.
Furthermore, he said, about one-third of the tax relief would go to
residents of other states who own property in Maine and another 40%
would go to Mainers with incomes greater than $72,000, which is nearly twice
the state's median income.
The tax cap, said St. John, would also result in a loss of 4,000 municipal
jobs statewide and services that businesses and residents alike rely upon.
That reduction of municipal services could be a deterrent for new businesses
thinking of relocating to Maine. And if education suffers, Maine's future
work force will not receive adequate training, which also would do little to
attract business development, St. John said.
"People have been led to believe that it's possible to get more services for
less money," he said. St. John argued that the opposite is true, that less
money means fewer services.
But to Wibby, the loss of municipal jobs is a sad but necessary consequence
of the need for cities and towns to reduce spending.
"I feel badly for those young people who are going to lose jobs. But if the
job is not essential, then find a job that is essential," he said, adding
that user fees or local option taxes can pay for any unessential services
desired by a community and that people who have become accustomed to
receiving services funded disproportionately by wealthy taxpayers will have
to get used to going without them.
"The people who would like to collect welfare would have to go to work," he said.
New Gloucester short millions if cap OK'd
Blethen Maine Newspapers via Portland Maine Press Herald, ME
By ANN S. KIM
NEW GLOUCESTER, Me. - The town would be unable to make its current payments for
local schools, Cumberland County government and solid waste debt if a
statewide tax cap is passed and implemented as written, according to an
analysis presented to the Board of Selectmen on Monday. Under a scenario
that assumes the tax cap passes with a provision that uses 1996-1997
valuations, New Gloucester would be able to raise $1.9 million through
property taxes. That's $1.6 million short of the $3.5 million the town is
now obligated to pay to the school district, the county and for debt payments.
If the Palesky tax initiative is implemented as written, the town expects
to lose more than $2.4 million in revenue overall; the town will raise $4.36
million in tax revenue to fund this year's budget.
Town officials said it is too soon to know what cuts would be made to town
services to compensate for the loss, and that those decisions would be made
after discussions among selectmen, department heads and the town manager.
But an information sheet provided by the town cited a number of
possibilities, including the elimination of staff positions, reduced hours
at Town Hall, the library and the transfer station, cuts in road maintenance
and infrastructure improvements, and the delay or elimination of major
projects that require the town to borrow.
Selectmen Chairman Steven Libby said the town was not trying to sway voters
on the ballot question.
"We're just here to present the facts as best we can," he said.
The tax cap measure would limit property taxes statewide to 1% of
assessed valuation, or $10 per $1,000.
New Gloucester's tax rate is now $11.55 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The Maine Municipal Association is using a different method to calculate
the effect of the tax cap on individual municipalities. It assumes the
rollback provision to 1996-97 values would be unconstitutional, a position
supported by a recent advisory opinion of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Under that model, which uses current fair market values, New Gloucester
would raise $3.9 million in property taxes. That would be enough to pay the
town's school, county and debt obligations with about $410,000 left in
property tax revenue for town services.
The cost of town services for the next fiscal year is $3.45 million. About
$1 million in property tax revenue goes toward those services. Money from
other sources such as fees, state revenue-sharing and excise taxes pay for
According to the town's analysis, the owner of a home with a value of
$150,000 in 1997 and a current value of $215,888, would save $771 in
property taxes if the cap went into effect as written. If the rollback
provision was struck down, the tax bill savings would be $334.
Staff Writer Ann Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: email@example.com
66% of nurses 'work overtime'
The Scotsman, UK
ALMOST two-thirds of nurses and midwives in the Lothians work more than their contracted hours, according to new research.
The study by Napier University’s employment research institute also revealed that few workers get paid overtime or time off
in lieu for their extra efforts. Only half of the workers surveyed were satisfied with their working hours, the research
The remaining workers involved in the university research, run in conjunction with the NHS, wanted greater control over
hours and shift patterns.
The researchers found that although the NHS responded to requests for staff to have more input over their working hours,
workers with children were given greater priority over childless staff- the group the study claimed were most likely to leave a job.
The investigation was based on more than 1000 questionnaires and 64 interviews with qualified nursing and midwifery staff
working at Lothian University Hospitals Division, which includes the new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the Western General.
Sarah Wise, research associate at the employment research institute at Napier University, said: "The research highlights the
importance of work-life balance policies and practices for the recruitment and retention of NHS nurses and midwives and many
examples of best practice were found.
"However, as in other sectors, too little attention has been paid to the challenges of front-line implementation. For these
policies to be effective, employee welfare and work-life balance needs to occupy a more central position in workload and
workforce planning at the national and local level."
Isabel McCallum, director of nursing for the university hospitals division, said: "We recognise the importance of a good
work-life balance. In all walks of life people seem to be working longer hours and the findings have provided very useful
information to incorporate into our plans to address this issue.
"A work-life balance group has been established within the Division and are working to plan and implement improvements.
"As part of NHS Lothian’s drive to improve working conditions for all its staff, a recruitment and retention workshop was
held recently at St. John’s Hospital.
The workshop was aimed at a wide range of nursing and midwifery staff and the main issues highlighted were around attracting
staff, retaining staff and offering maximum flexibility to take into account the needs of individuals, whilst ensuring
appropriate 24-hour-seven-days-a-week cover in some of the busiest hospitals in Scotland."
James Kennedy, director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said: "RCN Scotland welcomes Napier University’s research
which highlights the direct link between appropriate work-life balances and the recruitment and retention of nurses in Scotland.
"If two-thirds of nurses work overtime, as indicated in the research, then we clearly do not have the right number of nurses in Scotland.
"Urgent action is needed to address this issue. Currently, the number of nurses entering the healthcare service is merely replacing those who are leaving.
"With increasing pressures on the healthcare service, nurses’ workloads are greater than ever - this is not acceptable.
"The Executive needs to live up to their promise of recruiting and retaining more nurses in Scotland so we see a real growth
in the nursing workforce."
Shona Robison, SNP health spokeswoman, added: "I think this is an abuse of staff who will always go the extra mile. If they
are treating staff in this manner, then it is little wonder that so many are leaving the profession."
2005 draft budget offers sweeping reforms - Ambitious plan calls for elimination of a number of ministries - Even army, security personnel aren't safe from cuts aimed at reigning in debt
Daily Star, Lebanon
By Osama Habib
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Overambitious is the best word to describe Finance Minister Fouad
Siniora's 2005 draft budget.
The new budget, yet to be approved by the outgoing Cabinet and the
Parliament, calls for sweeping reforms in overstaffed public departments.
One of the biggest surprises in the new draft budget was a clause calling
for the elimination of the Ministry of the Displaced, the Council of the
South and the state security apparatus.
The budget goes even further, underlining the need to cut the number of
army and security forces personnel.
If these suggestions are approved, the Finance Ministry projects a budget
deficit of 25.2% and GDP growth of 5% by the end of 2005
compared to a projected deficit of 30% in 2004.
The draft budget projects revenue of LL7.160 trillion ($4.72 billion) and
expenditure of LL9.575 trillion. Spending reaches LL11.057 trillion if
allocations for the Telecommunication Ministry and National Lottery are
The budget projects revenue of LL5.236 billion from taxes and LL1.897
trillion from non-tax sources.
An official at the Finance Ministry told The Daily Star that revenues in
2005 are expected to be high, adding that tax and nontax revenues in 2004
may reach over LL6.4 trillion or $4.2 billion.
The official said that the allocations to the defense and education
ministries will be slightly higher in 2005 due to the surge in the prices of
fuel, electricity and telephones.
The bill proposes a 3% cut of public sector salaries to finance
social benefits. But the budget did not call for new taxes, although it
said the time has come to impose taxes on coastal properties, which were
originally approved a few years ago.
The $35 billion public debt has badly affected the Lebanese economy, and
there are signs that worse is to come.
Privatization is on hold and every passing day reduces the chances of
selling state owned assets to the private sector.
To make matters worse, the UN Security Council is expected to convene soon
to discuss the alleged violation of the Lebanese Constitution, via the
extension of President Emile Lahoud's term.
This means that pressure from the U.S. and France will increase on Lebanon,
and this could damage the government's chances of obtaining more soft loans
to reduce debt servicing.
Siniora managed to reduce the budget deficit this year despite the lack of
substantive reform. It fell in the first seven months of 2004 compared with
the same period last year, thanks to higher government revenues and lower
spending, the Finance Ministry said Friday.
The deficit reached 26.04% in the first seven months of the year
(LL1.556 trillion) compared with 37.43% in 2003. Total government
revenues in the first seven months rose 11.98% to LL4.420 trillion;
spending fell 5.27% to LL5.976 trillion.
Lebanon received $2.5 billion in soft loans from France, Saudi Arabia, the
UAE, Malaysia and other countries following 2002's "Paris II" donor
The cash injection was used to reduce debt servicing, which consumes a large
part of the government's budget, but the government failed to take advantage
of this opportunity and did not cut spending.
The budget calls for the elimination of lawmakers' allowances for gasoline
and telephone calls as well as allowances for former MPs. Siniora also wants
to adjust the working hours of all ministries, public departments and
state-owned schools and hospitals. This means government employees will put
in more hours each week without additional benefits.
It is estimated that there are over 200,000 civil servants, public teachers,
and army and security personnel on the government payroll.
The bill said that the salaries and end of service benefits of the
government staff represent 36% of the total budget.
The cost of debt servicing, on the other hand, is 45% of the 2005
draft budget, compared to 45.74% in 2004.
Many businessmen and economists have called for the number of public
employees to be reduced and spending to be cut to reduce the budget deficit,
but these steps were never taken because the government feared a social
backlash from these unpopular measures.
Siniora also wants to scrap the state security directorate general, which
has over 1,000 personnel and is attached to the premier's office. According
to the bill, all state security assets will be transferred to the Internal
Security Forces; officers and the unit's personnel will be offered an end of
The draft budget would limit the number of volunteers of all ranks in the
army to 25,000 and 3,000 civilians. There are about 55,000 soldiers and
reservists in the army, and total spending on the defense and the security
forces tops $1.2 billion a year, almost 20% of the total budget.
Siniora also wants the army draftees to serve six months in the military
instead of one year.
Eliminating the Ministry of the Displaced, the Central Refugee Fund and the
Council of the South will surely trigger widespread protest.
The Ministry of the Displaced was created to help refugees displaced during
the war return to their villages and homes. It is unclear how much the
government spent on this, but sources estimate the figure exceeds $1
Some Druze and Christian MPs say more money is needed to bring refugees
"Siniora's bold bill will probably meet lot of resistance from inside and
outside the government," one economist said. "But (he) has sent a warning
that unpopular measures are badly needed these days."
Kmart boosts 401(k) plans - Retailer hopes to improve morale, will match contributions dollar-for-dollar
up to 3%
By Tenisha Mercer / The Detroit News
- Kmart Holding Corp. will match employee contributions to their 401(k) plan
on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to 3% of their total earnings.
- The retailer will match contributions from 3% up to 8% at a
rate of 50 cents per dollar.
TROY - Kmart Holding Corp., buoyed by profits and its climbing stock, will
increase employee retirement benefits next year, a move that could boost the
morale of workers who lost part or all of their nest eggs when the former
Kmart spiraled into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Troy-based retailer plans to begin matching employee contributions on a
dollar-for-dollar basis up to 3% of their total earnings and 50 cents
per dollar on contributions beyond 3% up to 8%, according to
several employees who were notified of the change. Currently, the company
matches 401(k) employee contributions 50 cents per dollar up to 6%.
In a statement, Kmart said it's striving "to create a competitive benefits
package, including a company savings plan that will help attract and retain
The company declined to discuss details, saying employee benefits are
The increase in the company's 401(k) benefits is a "positive sign" for the
company that since filing for bankruptcy in 2002 closed 600 stores and cut
57,000 jobs, said Kenneth J. Dalto, a benefits expert and turnaround
consultant in Farmington Hills.
"After all the stuff they've been through, they are rewarding their loyal
employees, people who stuck by them," Dalto said. "Kmart has to increase
morale, motivate employees and develop a sense of long-term stability. What
better way to do that ... than with their 401(k)?"
Kmart employees lost millions of dollars in retirement funds and other
estimates as the former Kmart Corp. entered bankruptcy and eventually
canceled more than 500 million shares of stock on May 6, 2003.
Edward S. Lampert, a billionaire Wall Street investment banker who bought a
majority interest in the company during its bankruptcy, has implemented a
series of cost-cutting moves that has affected employees. Earlier this year,
the company eliminated automatic pay increases in favor of merit raises,
switched health-care providers and eliminated payroll checks in favor of
debit cards to save money. The retailer also cut hours for thousands of
employees, sharply reducing its full-time work force.
[Cutting hours is better than cutting jobs, but we prefer to cut the hours of our definition of "full time."]
And in August, [however,] it cut 220 jobs at its Troy headquarters.
In another cost-cutting move, Kmart is scouting for new, smaller corporate
headquarters. Two thousand employees now occupy 1 million square feet of
space designed for nearly 6,000.
"They are trying to keep people happy and retain employees when demand for
employment is improving," said Ulysses Yannas, a retail analyst with
Buckman, Buckman & Reid in Red Bank, N.J.
Former Kmart employee Curtis Borders lost $1,200 when shares of the old
Kmart became worthless, but is hopeful the company can restore profits to
employees who lost their investments. More than 500 million shares of stock
in Kmart Corp. were canceled on May 6, 2003.
"I've always thought highly of Kmart," said Borders, 55, who worked at
Kmart until May, but still has investments in its 401(k) plan. "I want them
to succeed, not because of the company, but because of the employees. They
have a lot of time and money tied up in it."
Kmart investors lost more than $5 billion in equity in 2001 and 2002, but
the company's stock has roared back in recent months, trading as high as
$90.20 a share. Kmart shares closed up 29 cents to $85.85 in trading
Many investors are betting that Lampert can continue his track record of
turning around struggling companies.
Publicly, Lampert has said he wants to turn Kmart around, but his strategy
is often compared to that of Warren Buffett, who used Berkshire Hathaway as
an investment vehicle. Lampert is known for making huge returns by investing
in distressed companies such as Sears, AutoNation, Auto Zone and Payless
Under Lampert, the company has amassed a cash stockpile of $2.6 billion,
mostly from the sale of real estate.
Last month, Kmart sold 18 stores to Home Depot Inc. for $271 million. Kmart
also plans to sell up to 54 stores to Sears for up to $621 million.
Although it has struggled to fend off competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
and Target Corp., Kmart has turned a profit for three consecutive quarters.
It reported a net income of $155 million for the 13 weeks that ended July
28. That compares with a net loss of $5 million for the same period in 2003.
You can reach Tenisha Mercer at (313) 222-2401 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you committing karoshi (Japanese for 'working yourself to death')?
by Kimiko L. Martinez, Indianapolis Star via Quad City Times, IA
Whether your job calls for it, your employer expects it or you just need to
pay the bills, working seemingly endless hours is just a way of life, right?
Doesn't everybody check their e-mail and voicemail on their days off? Or
work two jobs to make ends meet?
Unfortunately, for too many Americans, putting in more than 40 hours a week is commonplace.
According to a 2000 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, about four in 10 men employed as managers or professionals in 1999 found themselves working at least 49 hours per week. That's up from about three in 10 in the early '80s.
For women, the rate is about half the men's, but the slow increase over the
past two decades has remained steady for both.
What starts out as taking on extra responsibilities to get that promotion or
nail that presentation can turn into an unhealthy habit of bringing work
home and neglecting other responsibilities due to job responsibilities. And
before you know it, you're married to your job.
Benjamin Klage...puts in more than 75 hours each week between two full-time jobs, spending 40 hours per week as a sales associate at Wal-Mart and another 37 hours at Verizon's online DSL technical support call center. "I have no social life," Klage said. "And the down time I do have is spent catching up on sleep or trying to get overtime at one job or the other."
Catherine Turissini was in a similar situation several years ago. One summer
during college, Turissini, now 27, was juggling an unpaid summer internship,
a part-time job at a children's bookstore and a third job waitressing. "It was 75 hours a week and when I got back to school my senior year, I was exhausted, but it was easy," Turissini said. "It was a vacation to go back
Like Klage, Turissini was simply doing what she had to do to make sure the
bills got paid.
[Hey, maybe these two should get together.]
But even now that the bills are less of a worry, Turissini can put in
anywhere from 40 to 60 hours each week at the office, traveling and
coordinating work-related projects as a special assistant for policy and
planning for Indiana Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis. She spends several more hours
each month volunteering for Davis and Gov. Joe Kernan's re-election campaigns.
Klage, on the other hand, doesn't have much choice. A divorce settlement,
student loans, car payment and other living expenses dictate that Klage
continue the grueling pace. And it could be more than another year before he
sees any relief. "I would like to have a dating life of some sort," Klage said. "I miss
having a girlfriend or wife to come home to."
American society preaches that hard work will get you anywhere, so working
50- and 60-plus hours per week practically earns an employee a merit badge these days. It's all just part of achieving that American Dream.
"Steeped within the American tradition is productivity," said psychologist
Paul Riley, of the St. Vincent Stress Center in Indianapolis. "We learn that
you can succeed anywhere."
The Japanese even have a word for it - karoshi, which means working yourself
to death. Karoshi received national attention during the economic boom of
the 1980s. And since then, more than 30,000 Japanese have been diagnosed as
victims. A national pension system was even set up for the surviving members
of karoshi victims' families.
The United States isn't likely to follow suit. Lawmakers don't even require
vacation time for American workers, making the United States the only
developed country that doesn't actually mandate it.
"America is set up the wrong way," Riley said.
"Wouldn't it be nice if everything shut down in August, like in France, and
they have a good holiday and take to the woods and so forth? It's not easy
to change that mentality. But truly creative and productive people need time off."
Parents, teachers bend board's ears - Salinas district's finances could be put in hands of county if it can't meet reserve test
The Salinas Californian, CA
by Kelly Nix
Salinas Elementary School District teachers walk a picket line outside of
Henry F. Kammann Elementary School in north Salinas on Monday prior to a
district board meeting at the school. Teachers say they are upset by the
district's financial state of affairs as well as some of the things the
district is trying to do to remedy the situation.
The Salinas City Elementary School District has scheduled a special board
meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the district office, 840 S. Main St., to
discuss the budget, which it must revise by Friday.
The Salinas City Elementary School District school board Monday got an
earful from angry parents and teachers about the district's dire financial
Salinas City has fallen below the state required 1.5% in reserve
funds and risks being fiscally managed by the Monterey County Office of
Education if it can't show that reserve level by Friday.
"The biggest problem right now is a culture of spending," said Larry Mead,
vice president of the Salinas Elementary Teachers Council, the teachers
Mead made the comment while picketing with about 75 other teachers in front
of Henry F. Kammann Elementary School about 30 minutes before the board
meeting was held there. The meeting drew about 200 people.
Teachers and Mead said they're also upset because they feel they're being
asked to bail out the district.
"We haven't had a pay raise for three years," said Barbara Taylor, a
first-grade teacher at Mission Park Elementary School, before the meeting.
Teachers also said they're upset because the Salinas district has suggested
they take days off, or furlough days, to save money, and wants them to
accept reduced health benefits.
While the buzz at the meeting was that the district is at least $2 million
in deficit, a preliminary report outlined by district officials at the
meeting indicated it had about a $612,000 deficit in its general fund.
Salinas City's annual budget is $63 million.
Teachers addressing the board also criticized the board decision to pay
Superintendent Rob Slaby about $250,000 for his retirement package.
Donna Vaughan, the district's former personnel director, will replace Slaby
as interim superintendent when he retires Dec. 31.
Slaby said he'll continue his education career at Chapman University and
San Jose State University as a professor or an associate professor.
Contact Kelly Nix at email@example.com
Aurora furlough plan decried - 200 cops, firefighters protest at city hall, saying residents at risk
Denver Post, CO
By Jeremy Meyer
Deryk Delahanty, 7, holds a sign while accompanying his father, Keith,
right, who was among about 200 Aurora police officers and firefighters at
city hall on Monday to protest a money-saving policy forcing emergency
workers to take three unpaid days off. Union leaders and city officials
disagree whether the furloughs put the public at risk.
Aurora - About 200 rank-and-file police officers and firefighters carried
protest signs, cursed city management and crowded city hall steps Monday to
decry forced furloughs.
The city of Aurora recently began making each of its 600 police officers
and 250 firefighters take three days of unpaid leave before the year's end.
Aurora is trying to cut $11 million in spending to balance its 2005 budget.
Officials say sluggish sales-tax revenues and increased expenditures have
put the city in a financial bind.
Emergency workers, however, call it poor financial planning.
Representatives from the police and firefighter unions say Aurora's
citizens are at risk because of the cutbacks.
"The management of this city has decided you can do with fewer police
officers and fewer firemen," said Don James, president of the Aurora Police
Association. "I pray to God that no innocent citizens or members of the
Aurora Police Department or Aurora Fire Department are injured because of
Lt. Hunter Hackbarth, president of the Aurora Fire Fighters Protective
Association, said all emergency workers are concerned.
"Six firefighters and four police officers aren't where they belong," he
said. "... You, the citizens, are at risk."
City Manager Ron Miller, target of much of the crowd's derision, said
public safety is the city's top priority and no one is at risk.
Schedules will be adjusted so all areas of the city are covered, Miller
said, and mutual aid agreements are in place if the city needs more help.
The furloughs are no different than when police or fire departments are
short-staffed because of illness, he said.
"The union leadership is doing a disservice both to its membership and the
community," Miller said. "They're trying to create panic in the community.
Police and fire emergency response times will be maintained at all proper
He suggested the matter is really a labor dispute taken public.
Police officers and firefighters won't get raises next year. The police
contract went into arbitration this summer, with the arbiter agreeing with
the city on most issues. The furlough matter also went to an arbiter, who
again sided with the city.
City officials say furloughing emergency workers will save Aurora $600,000
in wages and will mean fewer cuts for next year. Nonemergency workers also
are being forced to take three days off at a savings of $600,000.
Cops and firefighters already get five weeks of paid leave every year, said
Frank Ragan, deputy city manager. And the police union negotiated an
additional 120 hours of "comp time."
"They didn't say anything about negative impacts to the public or officer
safety about that," Ragan said.
The city is in the middle of its 2005 budget process. Miller's proposed
cuts include closing two city pools, a recreation center and a library. He
suggests using $3.1 million in reserve funds.
Eleven years ago, voters approved a ballot measure that required Aurora
have two officers for every 1,000 people. The city was allowed to increase
sales taxes to pay for the program, but the sales tax revenue isn't keeping
Police officers and firefighters, meanwhile, say the city is more
interested in building opulent edifices, such as the new $71 million Aurora
Municipal Building, than putting cops and fire engines on the street.
Miller and Ragan say that's not true. The new city hall consolidates city
offices that had been in 13 locations, and plans were put in play when the
economy was stronger.
Staff writer Jeremy Meyer can be reached at 303-751-2621 or
College football's job share program - Some schools effectively use 2 players at 1 position
by Barry Svrluga
When Laurence Maroney came to Minneapolis for his recruiting visit, as the
University of Minnesota tried to lure him from his home in St. Louis, he was
well aware of the other running back in the room. Marion Barber III had the
pedigree - the son of a former NFL and all-Big Ten back - and the
accomplishments, having run for more than 700 yards as a freshman.
There was no reason for Barber to believe he would be, some day, sharing his
job. Maroney hadn't yet arrived on campus, hadn't yet shown that he, too,
could reel off a hundred yards a night. Yet the sense of an in-house rivalry
was already there.
"We really didn't say nothing to each other," Maroney said this week. "To be
honest, we really didn't like each other."
Saturday night, when Penn State comes to Minneapolis to face the 18th-ranked
Golden Gophers, Maroney and Barber will provide perhaps the nation's best
example of how two players with one goal can perform a single job.
"I'm his backup," Maroney said, "and he's my backup."
€ Area college coverage
€ College football coverage
Share the ball, share the love. It's happening at Minnesota, at Auburn, at
Southern California, from coast to coast, on teams both bad and good. Of the
25 teams ranked in The Associated Press poll this week, 12 are splitting the
job of primary running back, four are splitting time at quarterback, and two
- Louisiana State and Tennessee - are splitting both. And that doesn't begin
to address the other places it's happening.
"It's not a case where you're trying to pacify people," said South Carolina
Coach Lou Holtz, who has started playing two quarterbacks himself. "You're
trying to win."
The job-sharing programs are happening for a variety of reasons. Some, such
as Minnesota, have two studs - Maroney and Barber are the Big Ten's top two
rushers. Others, such as LSU - where senior Marcus Randall and redshirt
freshman JaMarcus Russell are trading off at quarterback - would love one to
distinguish himself, and it hasn't happened. And still others are doing it
out of philosophy, such as at Georgia, where the Bulldogs are simultaneously
promoting senior quarterback David Greene for the Heisman Trophy while
trying to get supremely talented junior D.J. Shockley into the lineup.
"You want your second team to play," Georgia Coach Mark Richt said. "It's
good for morale, and it's good for a situation if you have an injury to your
starter. I mean, my gosh, if you never give your second-teamers a chance to
play, and your number one guy gets hurt, then what you probably have is a
guy who's a little bit bummed out because he hasn't gotten to play, and a
guy who's probably not ready to play."
Indeed, coaches nationwide say it has become nearly essential to play
backups, regardless of position, to develop depth. Injuries are too common
in football to be able rely on a single player week after week.
Players, though, rarely want to hear that. Most react as Barber did when
Maroney was being recruited: Here's someone trying to take my job. And when
coaches go into living rooms on recruiting trips, they hear the questions
about the players already on the roster, those who would, ostensibly, be
ahead of them in line.
"Kids are able to get on the Internet and find out everything now," Maryland
recruiting coordinator James Franklin said. "Before, they had to go by what
the coaches were telling them. Now, they actually are worrying and thinking
about a lot more things than maybe they need to be. Other programs will use
that stuff and 'negative recruit' against you. They'll say, 'Look at their
roster. Look at who's at your position.' All those factors come up."
Therefore, it can be dicey. The Greene-Shockley situation perhaps best
illustrates this dynamic. In 2000, Georgia won a hotly contested recruiting
battle for Shockley - who SuperPrep magazine rated the top quarterback in
the country - despite the fact that Greene was already on campus. Shockley
redshirted in 2001 while Greene played as a redshirt freshman. The following
fall, while Greene continued to improve, the coaches worked to get Shockley
playing time as well.
Occasionally, there were cries from fans to make Shockley the starter. It
never happened. On Saturday against LSU, Greene will make his 43rd straight
start. Shockley thought seriously about transferring before his sophomore
season, but Richt talked him into staying. The two continue to share the
job, but Shockley's playing time has diminished each season, which makes for
quite a topic of conversation in Athens, Ga.
"With a quarterback, it's just a little bit more difficult because everybody
wants to make a big stink about it," Richt said. "Did he get in? Didn't he
get in? Well, everybody notices that. . . . You just got to be a little more
mindful of the psychology of that position."
Richt is both mindful of and realistic about that psychology. He commended
the way Shockley has handled the situation - "He's done a good job not
trying to make a mess of everything" - but thinks the media's constant
questioning over the past three years has worn on him. Greene has thrown 82
passes this season, Shockley nine.
"It's tough on him," Richt said. "I mean, when his name gets called to speak
to the media, it's like, 'How do you feel about it? How do you feel about
it?' . . . Nobody likes not playing a lot. [They ask] 'Don't you wish you
played more?' 'Well, yeah, I wish I played more,' is what he's thinking."
The coach on the opposite sideline this week in Athens wishes he had such a
problem, an over-abundance of experience and talent. LSU's Nick Saban began
the season playing both Randall and Russell with the hope one would jump up
and, as Saban said, "take the bull by the horns, and we would go in that
direction. I'm not sure that's happened yet."
Randall, who served as the backup to Matt Mauck during LSU's national
championship campaign last year, has thrown fewer passes for fewer yards
than Russell in each of the Tigers' four games thus far. Yet Russell, Saban
says, still mixes in too much of his youth with his talent. So when the
Tigers face the Bulldogs in a game they likely need to win to keep alive SEC
title hopes, both quarterbacks will play.
"It's delicate to try to balance, to be fair," Saban said, "and develop the
kind of things that you need to develop in your offense."
Figuring who to choose can be as trying on the coaches as it is on the
players. North Carolina State sputtered offensively behind junior
quarterback Jay Davis two weeks ago against Ohio State. So entering last
Saturday's game at Virginia Tech, the Wolfpack coaching staff decided to
insert freshman Marcus Stone on the third series of the game. The two shared
duty for the remainder of the first half, and then Stone - despite the fact
he connected on only 2 of 7 passes - played all but one series after the
break. The result was a 17-16 victory, but no real sense of how a rotation
"Pretty much, I was just waiting after I came off for a series," said Stone,
who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard run. "I'd either hear the
coaches say I was going in, or Jay was going in. We didn't really have much
conversation about it."
Immediately after the game, N.C. State Coach Chuck Amato said, "I'm not
going to let emotion carry us into a decision. We're going to go back and
analyze what they both did."
Which, apparently, led to no concrete conclusion, because this week against
Wake Forest, N.C. State will start Davis, and Stone will come in on the
third series, and the coaches will decide what to do from there. But maybe
Wolfpack fans need not shudder about the uncertainty. Maybe it's just the norm.
"I think it's a healthy situation," Davis said.
Tennessee, with hosts Auburn in a matchup of unbeatens, believes its
situation is healthy as well. The Volunteers have two freshmen - Erik Ainge
and Brent Schaeffer - sharing the quarterback duties. In recent weeks, Ainge
has been more consistent, particularly when he led the Vols from behind in a
dramatic 30-28 victory over Florida. But Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said
he will continue to use Schaeffer - or at least threaten to use him -
because he's a better runner. The opposing defense, then, must prepare for
two different styles.
"The dynamics of these two together give us something that can give defenses
problems," Fulmer said, "if not during the game, then during preparation. .
. . It's hard for a defensive team to make those transitions."
Coaches and players agree that the transition at running back is a bit
easier, because the position is less taxing mentally but can be more
demanding physically than quarterback. Top-ranked USC is among the nation's
most dangerous teams in part because it uses two tailbacks, sophomores
LenDale White and Reggie Bush. Either can carry the ball at any point,
either can break a long run, either can take the heat off quarterback Matt
Leinart. And their rushing numbers are nearly identical.
There are examples throughout the top 25. Miami does it with Tyler Moss and
Frank Gore, Florida State with Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker, Auburn
with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown.
No one, however, does it as dominantly as Maroney and Barber. Long ago, they
put their tensions aside, and started, as Maroney said, "click-clacking."
Through four games, all victories, they have combined for 1,040 yards on 158
carries, good for 10 touchdowns. Maroney is ranked 10th in the nation in
rushing, Barber 11th. It works, Maroney said, because they both believe
there are enough handoffs to go around.
"It really would take two guys who get along to make it work," Maroney said.
"If two people didn't like each other, then someone might be going to
[other] players, or to coaches, and complaining, like, 'I want the ball more.'
"We don't do that. Me and him, we're best friends."
Find your balance of home and work
North Devon Gazette & Advertiser, UK
LOCAL employers and their staff can find out how to achieve a better
work-home balance at a roadshow next month.
The advice sessions in Barnstaple and Bideford will give information to
both parties on ways to manage the responsibilities at the office and in
For workers this can mean dealing with issues such as childcare, caring for
an elderly relative or arranging time off.
For employers it involves facing problems such as low morale, stress-related
absences and problems with retaining staff.
The sessions are being staged by the Devon Work-Life Balance Forum as part
of the County Council's Devon In Touch Roadshow.
Representatives from the six organisations that make up the forum, including
the Citizens Advice Bureau and JobcentrePlus, will be on hand to offer
Tom Flint, marketing officer for Zero14plus, who are co-ordinating the
roadshow, said: "Work-life balance has serious benefits for employers and
"Many people today face issues such as caring for an elderly relative or
picking up children from school which can fall outside regular 9-5 office
"If both parties sit down together they can usually find a flexible solution
- for example part-time working or job sharing."
"Employers can come along to the roadshow to find out how to get happier and
better motivated staff."
The roadshow will stop off at Bideford High Street on Tuesday, October 12,
and Library Square in Barnstaple on Friday, October 15, from noon to 6pm.
For more details call (0800) 0563666 or visit www.devon-.gov.uk/disc
Tamshui rated top destination for local recreation, survey says
eTaiwan News, Taiwan
/ Central News Agency /
The coastal town of Tamshui north of Taipei is the most popular
recreational destination in Taiwan, according to the results of an opinion
survey released yesterday.
The telephone survey of 18,807 randomly chosen local citizens aged 12 and
over, conducted by the Tourism Bureau between January and December 2003, was
aimed at exploring local people's travel preferences.
Survey results showed that the respondents most liked to visit Tamshui for
its convenient traffic and beautiful natural scenery. The other popular
destinations making the top-10 list were the National Museum of Marine
Biology and Aquarium in Pingtung County, the Chihpen Spa Scenic Area in
Taitung County, the Chichi railway branch in Nantou County, Sun Moon Lake in
Nantou County, the Shihlin night market in Taipei City, Chingching
Recreational Farm in Nantou County, Ocean Park in Hualien County, Puli in
Nantou County and the Alishan Mountain Resort, in that order.
Tourist officials said domestic travel has become increasingly popular
following the implementation of the five-day work week system. Quoting the
survey results, the officials said more than 60% of the respondents
enjoyed most taking a one-day trip and 90% said they preferred to
organize their domestic travel itineraries by themselves instead of through
a travel agency.
Some manufacturers say alu-zinc supplies short
Jamaica Observer, Jamaica
There are conflicting reports over the availability of alu-zinc roofing
sheets for which demand has skyrocketed since the passage of Hurricane Ivan
almost three weeks ago.
Some manufacturers say there has been a severe shortage of the commodity
because of a worldwide shortage of the raw material - 28 gauge alu-zinc.
Hundreds of homes lost their roofs when Hurricane Ivan, a Category Four
storm, lashed the island with wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour,
prompting a call for the importation of more raw material to speed up the
supply of zinc.
But Tank-Weld Limited, a major zinc manufacturer, is adamant that there is
no cause for panic... at least, not yet.
"There is a worldwide shortage of alu-zinc, it's a fact, but Jamaica has
enough alu-zinc in stock to meet current demands," Tank-Weld's managing
director Bruce Bicknell told the Observer.
According to Bicknell, Jamaicans, under normal circumstances, use about 450
tonnes of alu-zinc each month. However, since the passage of Hurricane Ivan
the demand has almost tripled, forcing many manufacturers to run 24-hour
shifts and extending the work week to seven days.
But while Bicknell is upbeat about the outlook in terms of supply and
demand, other manufacturers, like ARC Systems, are worried.
"ARC does not have enough raw material and we are currently waiting on
supplies," Canute Salmon, an executive of ARC Systems Limited, said.
According to Salmon, should the shipment arrive in time, his company would
be able to keep up with the current demand, but otherwise "we will
definitely run out" of alu-zinc.
"If people are going to be re-roofing with alu-zinc sheets, it is going to
take a while before everyone is satisfied because the raw material is
running out," said Salmon.
Salmon, however, admitted that though demand has significantly increased,
the industry will this week get a more accurate picture of the volume
"At this time we are just trying to work fast to fill our orders," he said.
Another large manufacturer, Tropicair, also admitted that its stock was
"We are running short of material, we are almost out of stock," said the
company's sales and marketing manager Neville Lindo.
Lindo said the company has been running 10-hour shifts and six-day work
weeks since Hurricane Ivan to meet the demand.
Tropical Metal Products Limited, in the meanwhile, said it too had increased
production, but was concerned about the availability of raw material.
"There is a shortage and this has been going on for almost one year because
raw material only comes every six months," said the company's general
manager John McKinley.
According to McKinley, his company has been swamped with orders and while it
has been able to fill them, he feared that the coming weeks could prove
"We have been trying to work a little extra days to satisfy our customers
because demand for roofing has increased since Hurricane Ivan but I can see
that there will be a shortage," he told the Observer.
Report Says Close Fire Station 3, Re-open Fire Station 17
by Josh Brogadir
PEORIA, Ill. - Closing one fire station and re-opening another is just one part of a
consultant's report on the Peoria Fire Department.
Residents have very different views on the proposal depending on where they
live in the city.
Station Three has been part of the Armstrong Avenue community as far back as
Marvin Moredock can remember.
Bourland Avenue resident Marvin Moredock says, "The fire station's been
down there since I was little. We used to go down there and get 25 cent
And he says closing it would have a major impact on the neighborhood.
Moredock said, "I don't think they should move. I think they should stay
there just in case there's a fire over here, you know, they don't have far
But across town sentiment is different.
While some residents may be upset that the Armstrong Avenue Fire Station may
be closing, others here at the Skyline Drive Fire Station are pleased that
it may reopen.
Skyline Drive Resident Mary Corrigan said, "I think our neighborhood
association would be tickled pink to see that happen, and I think the senior
citizens communities down below us would also welcome that."
Station 17's location attracted Skyline Drive resident Mary Corrigan and her
family to the area 15 years ago.
Corrigan said, "That frankly was one reason we moved here too was that we
had a fire station close to us and we weren't going to be in a terribly
And Corrigan is right about how the change could affect hundreds of seniors
at Lutheran Hillside Village.
Lutheran Hillside Village's CEO Ron Jaeger said, "In the event that we
would ever have an emergency, it would be nice to make that response time as
short as possible, and across the street is about as short as you can get."
A response time Peoria leaders will have to face in deciding the proposal's
impact on neighborhoods throughout the city.
The proposal includes having two battalion chiefs on duty at all times and
increasing firefighters' work week from 52 hours to 53 hours, which could
potentially mean laying off firefighters.
George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy
Village Voice, NY
by Erik Baard
George W. Bush is a fake cowboy. From media accounts, you'd reckon that the
president was a buckaroo to the bones. He plays up the image, big-time, with
$300 designer cowboy boots, a $1,000 cowboy hat, and his 1,600-acre Prairie
Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas. He guns his rhetoric with frontier lingo,
saying that he'll "ride herd" over ornery Middle Eastern governments and
"smoke out" enemies in wild mountain passes. He branded Saddam Hussein's
Iraq "an outlaw regime" and took the vanquished dictator's pistol as a
trophy. As for Osama bin Laden, Bush declared, "I want justice. And there's
an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.' "
Britain's liberal newspaper The Guardian noted that "such language feeds the
image overseas of Mr. Bush as a hopelessly inarticulate, trigger-happy
But liberals from both coasts and Europeans who derisively call Bush a
"cowboy" foolishly insult not Bush, but one of America's prime ennobling
myths. Instead of ridiculing the myth exploited by George W. Bush, they may
want to measure him against it.
"The idea of the American cowboy is the direct lineal descendant of the
chivalric knight," observes Bonnie Wheeler, a medievalist in cowboy country.
"The only serious difference is that your status doesn't depend on your
social class." Editor of Arthuriana, the journal of Arthurian studies,
Wheeler teaches at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"Our president," she says, "is neither a knight nor a cowboy. He doesn't
believe in taking care of the little guy, nor does he have the restraint or
dignity of the cowboy."
Children of Bush's generation grew up knowing of the Cowboy Code, which
echoed the chivalric one. It was written by screen cowboy Gene Autry. In
real life too, this lifelong Democrat was the kind of white-hat cowboy our
president presents himself to be. Autry was the son of an itinerant cattle
driver and horse trader in rural Texas and Oklahoma. He was a recreational
small-aircraft pilot, but during World War II he paid for his own flight
lessons on larger planes so he could serve in the Air Transport Command on
the war front, instead of being stuck at a domestic base. Ultimately he flew
explosive supplies (ammunition and fuel) over the Himalayas. A grateful U.S.
Army bestowed a singular honor on Autry: He alone was allowed to wear his
cowboy boots in uniform.
This is about more than having a big ranch. Like the knight, the cowboy is
an ideal to which people aspire, Wheeler says, regardless of its mundane
historical origins. And Autry's code still carries resonance in red states.
Voters there, including the Wild West swing states of Colorado and Nevada,
might want to think twice about returning a soft-handed wannabe to the White
House. Here's how Bush stacks up against the Cowboy Code:
The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair
advantage. The doctrine of preemptive war, the centerpiece of Bush policy in
Iraq and for the "war on terror," is one for the black hats. In 1902, five
years before Gene Autry was born, Owen Wister's bestselling novel The
Virginian elevated the cowboy to a national symbol. "It's not a brave man
that's dangerous. It's the cowards that scare me," a card dealer observes
early in the book. "I never like to be around where there's a coward. You
can't tell. He'll always go to shooting before it's necessary, and there's
no security who he'll hit."
[George Bush is just such a coward. Kerry went to Vietnam. Bush ducked.]
When the Virginian is forced into a climactic
duel, the villain shoots first. Only then does the Virginian return fire and
make a clean kill.
Though the Virginian continually countered dastardly deeds done by the
villain Trampas, he always acted magnanimously when he had the upper hand.
American Cowboy magazine asked its readers to explain why we still need
cowboys, noting that, thanks to western movies, "for decades, folks of all
descriptions have admired and tried to emulate him." U.S. Army Corporal
Randy Melton of the 1st Cavalry Division replied from Baghdad, "If those
guys who did all that crazy stuff to the 'terrorist POWs' grew up sitting on
a horse instead of in front of a TV playing video games, maybe they would
have conducted themselves with a little more dignity." Melton added, "Every
time my platoon corralled a couple of 'bad guys,' it's easy to get angry
with them. But we always treat them with dignity, whether they deserve it or
Unfortunately, the sadistic abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the
violations at Guantánamo Bay and Afghanistan didn't start with a few young
soldiers raised on Mortal Kombat. According to probes by the Army itself, it
stems from specific policies crafted in the White House and carried out by
Pentagon generals and consultants.
He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him. Soldiers
commit their lives to the commander in chief's judgment and care. Bush sent
them into a war of choice, not necessity, and one based on misleading
rhetoric, and they landed in Iraq without so much as enough sets of body
armor to shield them. At the same time, he pushed to cut soldiers' pay and
cut veterans' benefits. The Bush administration has also extended terms of
service, effectively drafting soldiers who've already done their duty.
On the home front, the Bush administration has used the Patriot Act to
prune back the very liberties he swore to uphold and protect.
He must always tell the truth. Ersatz cowboy George W. Bush hasn't. The
two key issues facing America today are the war and the economy. He misled
the nation into the Iraq war with false claims of imminent danger. He
promised that his tax cuts wouldn't result in deficits and then said
deficits would be "small and short term." The federal deficit is now
enormous, estimated at over $400 billion, and looks likely to last years.
He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. Children are
being ground under the heels of those fancy boots. Bush is relaxing
safeguards against the neurotoxin mercury, which is particularly dangerous
to the growing brains and nervous systems of fetuses and children, and the
Clean Air Act has been stripped of key provisions to control coal-fired
power-plant emissions known to cause respiratory illnesses like asthma.
The number of children living in poverty has risen, yet he proposes in his
2005 budget to freeze funding for the Child Care and Development Block
Grant. Head Start's budget would also be frozen, and the $247 million Even
Start literacy program would be eliminated. More children will be left
behind. Budgets for a host of other education programs would be frozen, cut,
or eliminated by Bush's proposals.
"This administration wants to require low-income mothers to work more hours
to receive benefits," says Bethany Little of the Children's Defense Fund.
"What exactly is going to happen to those children is a mystery to us." She
adds, "I don't think there's anything gentle about denying children
child-care access, early-childhood education in high school, good public
schools, living wages for families, and standing health care."
As for the elderly, Bush is catering to his religious-right constituents by
blocking stem cell research to fight Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. His
efforts to privatize Social Security put most seniors' pensions at risk. And
he has also hampered efforts to legalize cheaper generic drugs and
pharmaceutical imports from Canada.
"The Medicare Drug Bill was a lucrative deal for pharmaceutical companies,"
says Susan Murany, executive director of the Gray Panthers. "We didn't
consider it a win for consumers at all, we considered it a win for drug
When it came to animals, the Virginian rued the pain the cattle industry
inflicted on the beasts, even before the age of industrial farming. He
delivered a beat-down to a man who was ruthless with "hawses." He "gentled"
his own horses for riding and took care of a mentally disturbed chicken.
Really. Bush, on the other hand, enjoyed putting firecrackers inside living
frogs and tossing them into the air when he was a boy.
Now that Bush is an adult, he and his appointees haven't proposed adding a
single species to the "endangered" list. And his approach to natural
habitats has been "disastrous," says Brad DeVries of the Defenders of
Wildlife Action Fund. "The needs of wildlife go by the wayside when they get
in the way of energy development, logging, or mining."
Perhaps most galling, DeVries says, is the Bush administration proposal "to
allow the importation of endangered animals and their body parts as hunting
trophies and zoo animals and other uses."
Ron Reagan Jr. summed it up nicely in a TV discussion last year. Describing
Bush Jr.'s faux-cowboy lifestyle, the son of the late cowboy
actor-turned-president remarked, "You know, George Bush sallies forth in his
pickup truck to go torment small animals."
He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
At this moment, Bush operatives are working to keep blacks off the voter
rolls in Florida. And since 9-11, Bush has used language that evokes the
"There's a seismic gap between some of the president's very needed symbolic
acts and initiatives on the street," says C. Welton Gaddy, president of the
Interfaith Alliance and a Baptist pastor in Monroe, Louisiana. Gaddy cites
the broad sweeps that jailed Muslim immigrants and statements by Attorney
General John Ashcroft asserting the superiority of Christianity.
"One of the surprising things to emerge," Gaddy notes, "was that the
president met with conservative Christians about the pre-emptive strike on
Iraq but refused to meet with bishops of the Methodist church because they
didn't support it. Same with the National Council of Churches."
Bush and Dick Cheney also tried to draft conservative Christian
denominations into their re-election bid by suggesting that congregation
membership rosters be used for political mailings.
He must help people in distress. AIDS is ravaging nations across the
globe; more die each year than Osama bin Laden could dream of killing. Yet
the Bush administration blocks from its aid programs vital, World Health
Organizationapproved generic drugs made in the developing world that cost
one-fifth as much as the drugs produced by the big pharmaceutical
manufacturers. Critics say Bush's budget slashes U.S. funding for the Global
Fund (to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases) by 64%.
He must be a good worker. Even the Virginian hit the books, albeit to
impress a pretty schoolteacher. But Bush, though he married a librarian, is
famously incurious. By the time he'd served three years in office, he'd
taken more vacation days than Bill Clinton took in eight. Those days in
Texas (mostly in Crawford, a comfortable Waco suburb and not a hardscrabble
frontier) took up more than 40% of his term - until 9-11. Bush was on
his suburban ranch, the 9-11 Commission noted, when he received notice that
Osama bin Laden was coiling to spring an attack upon the U.S.
Part of a cowboy hero's work ethic is that he "always gets his man." But
Bush interrupted the hunt for bin Laden to invade Iraq, where he hauled in
Saddam Hussein [the wrong man].
He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal
habits. In Bush's 2000 campaign, he said to running mate Cheney, "There's
Adam Clymer, major-league *ss-h*le from The New York Times." More recently,
it was rumored that after Cheney's infamous "Go f*ck yourself" to Senator
Pat Leahy, the born-again Christian Bush joked at a cabinet meeting, "F*ck
He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws. The apple fell far
from the tree; Bush's mom is pro-choice. But, as documented by the National
Organization of Women, regressive Bush policies threaten abortion rights,
Title IX sports, and affirmative action. His economic policies have hurt the
livelihoods and security of working women and their families. Radical-right
Supreme Court appointments in his second term could make things worse for
Not that his attitude toward women is a surprise. In his twenties he was
known as a "c*ntsman," and one recollection of his days at Yale is that,
according to The Guardian (U.K.), "He walked up to a matronly woman at a
smart cocktail party and asked, 'So, what's sex like after 50, anyway?' "
Bush's only real black mark, as far as obeying laws, is a fine for drunken
driving in Maine, but his administration is run through with corruption and
The Cowboy is a patriot. George W. Bush didn't fight in the jungles of
Vietnam, nor did he fight in the streets to end that waste of lives.
Instead, he used his father's connections to land a safe position in the
National Guard and even then shirked his duty.
Dian Malouf, a native of "brush country" and author of Cattle Kings of
Texas, is chronicling the last of the cowboys for a photo book due this
winter called Seldom Heard. Like other Texans, she knows that state
residency doesn't confer cowboy status.
"I'm in Midland lots, and I haven't seen a Midland cowboy yet," she says,
speaking of the wealthy oil town where Bush was raised. "Bush and Cheney are
not cowboys by any stretch of the imagination. Cowboys are silent types,
remote but genuine, with serious integrity and caring. They are a bit rough
and work hard, and they don't want to call attention to themselves the way
George W. Bush kind of does. I know and admire and respect cowboys." She
adds, "Wearing boots does not make someone a cowboy."
- In World War II, Soviets suffered huge casualties, letter to editor by Dr. J. Selanikio of DC, WSJ, A19.
[Here's a little item that illustrates our continuing ultimate unemployment "solution" - which eventually we will get smart enough to replace with automatic worksharing along Timesizing lines.]
...While the U.S. suffered about 300,000 military deaths in World War II, that paled next to the more than 8 million military deaths suffered by our Soviet allies.
Knowledge management: Are you too busy to think?
By Gerry McGovern
...In knowledge-driven economies, "busy" is an outdated word that
reflects a manual-labor approach to work. Instead of "busy," we need to
[focus on] "effective" and "productive".
I have spent my working life telling people how busy I am. Sometimes I'm
just busy, sometimes I'm really busy, and sometimes I'm so busy I don't have
time to think. But what do I really mean when I [say] I'm busy? It's
basically merely that I'm doing a lot of stuff. I could be busy doing it well or
badly, but that's not the focus; the focus is only that I'm busy, I'm active.
I grew up on a farm [in Ireland] and we were very busy during the summer. I'm certain
that the saying "make hay while the sun shines" comes from Ireland.
...The sun doesn't often shine in Ireland, so when it does you
make as much hay as you can. Of course, the cows need to be milked and other
basic chores done, so hay-making is a very busy time.
Have you ever done an all-nighter? I know quite a few people who see that as
a badge of honor. For years, I partly judged my own success by
the number of hours I put in per week. I felt the more hours I could work per week, the more successful I would be. I remember being constantly tired during the dotcom era, and being surrounded by people who were also tired.
I am certain that some of the mistakes that were made during the dotcom era
were made because people were too tired to think clearly. That era of frenzy
is over now but that same old tired ideas are hanging on.
Working longer hours is no longer the point. Sure, the longer I stay out baling hay the more bales I will bale. However, I for one know that if I
spend much longer than an hour writing, the quality severely diminishes. I need to take a break and when I come back, I have freshness and clarity.
Being busy is often an excuse for not doing something you should be doing.
For me it has often been an excuse for not thinking, managing, and planning
Working hard is no longer the route to success it once was
perceived to be.
In an era of outsourcing and offshoring, success definitely does require hard work, but what is far more important is smart work. Basically, all the hard work will be outsourced, with just the smart work remaining.
If you want to have a successful future, you must learn to become a better
manager, both of yourself and other people. The rise in offshoring, for
example, leads to a rise in the need for clear planning, and precise project
The world is full of busy people, but there is a definite lack of quality
planners and project managers. Stop measuring yourself on how busy you are.
Start measuring yourself on how effective you are.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken,
written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content
management issues since 1994.
Are the UK's working hours too long?
News & Star, United Kingdom
Northwest England, U.K. - Under new proposals, the UK will find it harder to continue opting out of the EU's 48 hour maximum working week. So, are the UK's working hours too long?
Yes, definitely. I have flexi-time but we still get messed around. I think
they should bring in the maximum hours.
Dale Anderson...of Warwick Road, Carlisle
[Yes.] If people do not want to work too many hours they shouldn't have to.
Paul Atkinson...of Petteril Street, Carlisle
[No.] In general, they seem to be about right. It depends on the occupation.
John Spencer...of Carlisle
No, I would rather work more hours. I think people should be given the
Dale Robertson...of Newtown Road, Carlisle
[Yes.] Of course. I think the failure of British industry to invest in increased
productivity has led them to it.
Brent Kennedy...of Currock, Carlisle
[Yes.] I think they are. There are parents who need to take kids to school and
pick them up but are expected to stay at work.
Josephine Routledge...of Currock, Carlisle
[No.] It depends on what kind of work you do and whether you work full or
Jonathan Wilmanski...of Whitehaven
[Yes.] They're far too long, especially in supermarkets and factories.
Larisha Higgins...of Workington
[Yes.] We do work long hours here, compared with other European countries and should be brought into line with them.
Charlie Walker...of Egremont
Well-being, not wealth, equals happiness,
by Rachel Williams, PA News via Scotland on Sunday, UK
The Government should help boost happiness in the UK by focusing on people’s well-being rather than economic growth, according to an influential think tank. The call comes from the group which earlier this year claimed that life in Britain had never been as good as in 1976. The demands of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) include a 35-hour working week, a universal “Citizen’s Income”, a ban on advertising to children, and at least two years’ paternity leave.
In a manifesto published tomorrow, [the NEF] says that expanding the economy has not resulted in higher levels of well-being. It cites research showing that while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has nearly doubled over the last 30 years, life
satisfaction has remained static.
The foundation says it is in this area that the Government could help make us happier citizens, by introducing measures such as “well-being accounts” to assess levels of satisfaction and depression.
Nic Marks, co-author of the report and head of well-being research at NEF, said: “It’s not the economy, stupid!”
[Well, it is the economy, but it's sharing and centrifugation of work and wages, rather than growth/expansion and concentration thereof.]
Prolonged growth had “singularly failed to produce a flourishing society of happy and fulfilled citizens”, he said. “In Britain, we work too many hours to try and buy our way out of the unhappiness that having no time to spend with our families and friends or do the things we love brings us. “This is no '[economic] miracle' - it’s a grinding treadmill.”
Hetan Shah, director of the New Economics programme at NEF and co-author of the report, said: “Government needs to learn that richer has not meant happier but busier, more stressed and weaker communities. The government’s policy focus should put the economy in its rightful place as a means to the end, not an end in itself.”
In March, the think tank argued that GDP gave a false impression of an improved society. Using a composite Measure of Domestic Progress (MDP) to take into account the environmental and social costs of economic growth – including the damage done by pollution and crime – it found that 1976 was the best year ever for the UK.
Low pay, casual work and overtime to worsen under Coalition IR policy
Australian Council of Trade Unions [ACTU], Australia
Low paid jobs, casual work and unpaid overtime are set to worsen under the
Coalition's industrial relations [IR] policy released today.
[Does "Coalition" refer to current Australian government? If you have an answer, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:
"The Coalition's IR policies are a simplistic and populist election stunt rather than a serious attempt to grapple with the problems facing Australia's ten-million-strong workforce and the economic changes brought about by globalisation. These policies offer no solution to one of the main problems facing the economy - the creation of a two-tiered job market, with a proliferation of low-paid, casual [temporary] and insecure employees at the bottom and well-paid but overworked people at the top.
[Sound familiar to Americans?]
The economy is strong because ten million Australians are working very hard. They deserve a fair go with an IR system that has a strong and independent umpire - not a watered-down body subject to government interference.
Casuals [US: 'temporaries']: The Coalition's policies offer no strategies to curb the growing use of casual work. There are now more than 2.2 million Australians working
casually, with 50% of new full-time jobs created since 1996 being casual.
Low pay: The Coalition continues to oppose a fair deal for low-paid
employees with its push towards individual agreements (AWAs). The fact is
that 50% of all employees - around 4.1 million working Australians -
currently earn less than $650 a week ($33,700) and the workforce grew by
just over 400,000 new jobs from 2000 to 2003 but nearly two thirds (64.8%)
of these new jobs pay less than $600 a week. Low-paid workers have very
little individual bargaining power and rely on a strong award safety net
which unions and the Labor party support.
[Does "award safety net" mean "entitlement safety net," as in government entitlement?]
Underemployment: The Coalition is also silent on the growing problem of underemployment. Part-time jobs have grown by almost a third (32.5%) in the last eight years - outstripping full-time jobs growth (10%) by more than three to one. More than 600,000 part time workers (23%) want more hours of work.
Work till you drop: A strong economy with high productivity is of little
use if it does not lead to improvements in people's lives, and yet the
Coalition offers no solutions offered to the problem of increasing numbers
of people missing out on a decent family life. Almost a million Australians
now work unpaid overtime - an increase of 24% since 1996.
[Presumably "the Coalition" is being referred to as the "watered-down body subject to
government interference," so maybe it's an "umpire" intermediate between our American AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party (before it stopped representing its labor base). If you have an answer, email us at email@example.com.]
Australians expect that all employees, including those in small business,
should have access to basic entitlements such as decent health and safety
standards, fair pay, annual leave [US: vacation] and sick leave, as well as redundancy pay if they are unfortunate enough to lose their job. A decent award safety net and a strong and fair independent umpire are the key...."
[But don't Australians already have four weeks' vacation by law? If you have an answer, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Police, firefighters sound alarm over furlough policy
Rocky Mountain News, CO
By Tillie Fong
Aurora firefighter Robert Floyd would rather have been at work Monday.
Instead, he was on a mandatory furlough that was ordered by the city to
balance the budget.
"I think it's wrong," said Floyd...who has been with Aurora Fire for
almost four years. "They shouldn't balance the budget on the back of
firefighters and police officers and impact the safety of the city."
Floyd was among more than 120 Aurora firefighters and police officers who
gathered on the west steps of the Aurora Municipal Center to protest the
Earlier this month, the city required all city employees, including those in
the police and fire departments, to take three days off without pay before
the end of the year. The move will save the city $1.2 million, with the fire
and police furloughs accounting for $600,000.
For the city's emergency services, that translates to six police officers
and four firefighters being off without pay every day for the next 100 days.
Monday, unions representing the police and fire departments warned that the
furloughs, which they describe as "layoffs," would jeopardize fire and
police protection for Aurora residents.
"Our concern is for public safety," said Hunter Hackbarth, president of the
Aurora Fire Fighters Protective Association.
The unions say the enforced absences may result in longer response times to
calls because needed personnel might not be available at the closest
location to respond to the emergency, and there may be fewer resources to
deal with a particular situation.
"It is incumbent for every one here to make the city understand: This is
unacceptable," said Don James, president of the Aurora Police Association.
Both Hackbarth and James said the city can find other ways to balance the
But city officials said the unions were being unfairly alarmist.
"I think that the union leadership is doing a disservice to union members
and to the Aurora citizens by creating panic," said City Manager Ron Miller.
"All police and fire emergency response times will be maintained at proper
Breaking Through The Silver Ceiling
Washington Post, DC
By Abigail Trafford
Memo to a headhunter: Find us some wise, experienced workers looking for
new challenge. . .
Wishful thinking? Not entirely. A few companies are using that bold
solicitation and wooing seasoned employees - or making new efforts to
These health care institutions are among the 35 employers nationwide that
were recently ranked by AARP as the best places to work if you are over 50.
With the aging of the population, the winning companies forecast what the
workplace of tomorrow should look like - a utopian vision of flexible
hours, job sharing, educational opportunities, career advancement and secure
Loudoun Healthcare Inc., a community nonprofit organization, got together
with George Mason University to offer a master of nursing program at the
hospital - tuition-free. Since the average age of nurses nationwide is in
the late forties, the carrot of education and advancement is a way to keep
and recruit experienced personnel.
SSM Health Care in St. Louis and the Bon Secours Richmond health system
have instituted phased retirement programs so that employees can collect
retirement benefits and continue to work part-time.
At St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington, W.Va., those nearing retirement
age can reduce their hours without sacrificing retirement benefits.
Employees enjoy flexible hours.
San Diego-based Scripps Health not only boasts phased retirement, education programs, job-sharing and flexible schedules, it offers a training course to all employees called "Crossing the Generation Chasm" - making chronological diversity part of its work ethic.
By 2010, there will be more than 80 million Americans between the ages of
50 and 80. Most are going to be in the workforce. Surveys of men and women
in the baby boom generation show that the vast majority intend to work in
their so-called retirement years; more than half expect to work part-time.
Chronological diversity is destined to be the next wave of social change in
the workplace. More than 50% of the workforce is already over age 40.
But this movement has a long way to go. The reality is that many men and
women bump up against a Silver Ceiling in the workplace.
A survey of workers 45 and older by AARP found that two-thirds were
concerned that age discrimination was a major barrier to advancement. Since
2000, the number of age discrimination cases brought to the federal
government has increased after a decline in the late 1990s.
Last week the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on barriers
against the older worker.
"Despite irrefutable evidence of both workforce aging and the untapped
talents and reliability of older workers, ageism may be causing many
managers to march their companies or organizations straight off a
demographic cliff," San Francisco gerontologist Ken Dychtwald told the
committee in prepared testimony.
Citing a recent survey, Dychtwald pointed out that two-thirds of U.S.
employers don't actively recruit older workers; more than half don't try to
retain them. And 60% of CEOs didn't take into account the aging of
the workforce in their long-term business plans.
"In our youth-oriented society, most human resource practices are often
explicitly or implicitly biased against older workers, and these biases can
seep into the culture in a manner that makes [these workers] feel
unwelcome," continued Dychtwald, president and CEO of Age Wave Inc., a
Victoria Humphrey, head of human resources at Volkswagen of America, put it
"In the mid-'90s, there was a common practice of actively recruiting young
professionals with MBA degrees to infuse the organization with what was
commonly referred to as 'new blood.' As many companies tried to turn their
organizations around, they became dismissive toward older, more experienced
workers. This attitude is, in fact, a form of ageism . . . and ageism can be
just as powerful as any other 'ism.' "
Volkswagen, which is also honored by AARP as one of the best employers for
workers over 50, is the exception, she pointed out. The company hired her
when she was 53.
Why do some companies value the older worker?
The bottom line is the economic imperative for chronological diversity.
Health care agencies dominate AARP's list of winners because they face a
drain of workers, especially nurses. Hospitals are scrambling to keep the
nurses they have and rehire those who have been out of the workforce. So
they find ways to attract the older worker.
Utilities, aerospace companies, universities and the federal government
face a similar squeeze. The average age of engineers, mechanics and other
workers in the defense industry is 51.
By 2030, according to researchers at the Employment Policy Foundation, there
will be a labor shortage of up to 35 million workers.
How will companies fill the gap?
By hiring older workers with needed skills.
But do we have to wait that long to break through the Silver Ceiling?
...Respond by e-mail to email@example.com....
THE GRAY BRIGADE - Senior citizens are boomeranging back into the work force, mainly because they are reliable and experienced and because, more and more lately, the jobs are there
by Nancy Salem, Albuquerque Tribune, NM
Jim Yochim gets a birthday greeting and pastry on Friday from fellow
employee Annette Broughton at Whole Foods Market in Albuquerque. Yochim, 79,
has been a bagger and customer clerk since the store opened two years ago.
"Jimbo is special to all of us," Broughton said. "He's a great guy."
His silver hair gleams against the jumble of color in the checkout lanes at
Whole Foods Market.
Jim Yochim bags groceries, helps customers to their cars, brings back empty
shopping carts and chats with the many people who have come to know him
since the Albuquerque store opened two years ago.
At 79, the man with the twinkle in his eye and energy of a kid fills a
critical role at Whole Foods as the last person customers see as they head
out the door.
"Jimbo hits the nail on the head," said Sean Curran, team leader of the
store at Wyoming and Academy boulevards Northeast.
"Everybody loves him. His customer service is flawless - how he talks to
people, how he interacts. He makes the checkout process less monotonous."
Yochim calls himself "the old man up front."
It's a role he relishes, a job he wants to keep.
"I love working," Yochim said. "I would be very bored at home. I've retired
several times, but I always come back.
"I'm much happier working. I feel I can provide a service, and my customers
So does the labor force, of which older workers are an integral part,
according to a new report from the New Mexico Department of Labor.
"Older workers are very important," said Herb Greenwall, a department
economist. "There are a lot of issues employers and society as a whole will
have to consider as older workers retire, because the baby boom was followed
by the birth dearth."
The report titled "A Profile of Older Workers in New Mexico," based on 2002
U.S. Census Bureau figures, says a big wave of workers born from 1946 to
1964 will be leaving the work force in the next few decades.
"The United States will lose the services of millions of highly skilled,
experienced workers," the report states. "Because of the baby dearth that
followed the baby boom, there will not be many new workers to replace them."
Competition for workers
Greenwall said that as older workers retire, employers will be forced to
consider options such as eliminating positions, hiring immigrants or
figuring out ways to keep older workers around longer.
"There's going to competition for labor," Greenwall said. "We don't think
the demand for jobs will decline or the number. But there will be more
competition for workers who are available. Probably, employers will have to
reassess how they look at them and retain them."
Some strategies for keeping people in the work force longer include
offering job sharing and flexible hours and schedules.
"Those things are important to an active senior," Greenwall said.
Rene Reimer, vice president of human resources for Presbyterian Healthcare
Services, said the company "could not do without" older workers. 15%
of Presbyterian's 7,800 employees statewide are older than 55. The
oldest is 80.
The health care work force is aging faster than most.
"We have a primarily female work force," Reimer said. "Our mean age today
is 42, while the average age of an individual in New Mexico is 34.9. That's
obviously an issue for us to try to address."
Nurses make up the bulk of Presbyterian's clinical employees, and they hold
physically demanding jobs. Most nurses work 12-hour shifts, are on their
feet for long periods and do heavy lifting.
[12-hour shifts? Sick!]
"Many nurses as they age cannot physically keep up with the demands,"
Reimer said. "Employers in health care have to be open to thinking about
flexible scheduling, shorter shifts, lifting protocols and training to help
our workers as they get older."
Presbyterian has begun a project that will analyze workers in terms of age
and where in the system they work so managers can do succession planning and
come up with strategies to keep older workers.
"We absolutely want to keep them in the work force longer," Reimer said.
"We definitely prefer they didn't retire at 62 or 65. We have shortages in a
lot of critical areas that relate directly to patient care."
Reimer said bosses need to talk to older workers, ask about their plans and
tell them they are needed.
"If you want to cut back your hours, we'll cut them back, and you can stay
with us," she said.
The Labor Department report is designed to let employers and employees know
which industries and regions of the state are likely to be most affected by
changes in the size and composition of the labor force.
It also lets older workers know how flexible businesses are about their
working arrangements and the level of earnings they can expect.
The statistics show that older workers in New Mexico have been an
increasing proportion of the labor force. In 1996, about 73% of New
Mexico workers were between ages 14 and 44. By 2002, that figure dropped to
17% of New Mexico workers were 45 to 54 in 1996; 21%
were in that age group in 2002.
The number of workers 65 and older increased from 2.1% to 2.8%
from 1996 to 2002.
Service industries employ the most older workers. Industries in New Mexico
with high proportions of workers 55 and older - and those most likely to be
affected by the aging of the work force - include health services; eating
and drinking establishments; car dealers and gas stations; hotels and other
lodging; and legal and agricultural services.
"If older workers seek either more flexibility in hours or leave these
industries completely, companies may suffer a considerable loss of skills
and knowledge," the report states.
Greenwall said many older workers have risen to high positions in the labor
force and have great technical expertise.
"These are the managers, the people with experience," he said.
Reimer said that in addition to trying to keep older workers, employers
should have older workers train and mentor younger ones, "so we don't lose
all that knowledge when they leave us."
The Labor Department statistics show that on average in New Mexico in 2002,
for workers 65 and older, 1,783 jobs were created in a quarter and 2,072
The industries that created the most jobs for older workers were eating and
drinking places, business services and health services.
The industries that eliminated the most jobs were business services and
eating and drinking places.
An indicator of the degree to which businesses need older workers is the
Industries with a history of high turnover might have little need for
specific skills and might find it easy to replace workers, the report said.
As a result, they might pay lower wages.
A low turnover rate indicates workers in an age group are relatively
skilled or not readily replaced.
The average quarterly turnover rate for all workers in New Mexico was 14.8%
in 2002. For workers 65 and older it was 12.3%, and for 55
and older 11.6%.
Of the top industries in the state employing workers 65 and older in 2002,
business services, at 20.1%, and eating and drinking places, at 16.5
percent, had the highest turnover. The lowest were the wholesale
trade/durables, at 8%, and retail, at 9.2%.
What does it pay?
The report also looked at earnings. In general, older workers tended to
fare best in industries with relatively few older workers.
On average, full-quarter workers 65 and older in 2002 earned $1,998 a month
in New Mexico while workers of all ages averaged $2,576.
In health care, the average for workers older than 65 was $2,305 while
those employed in business services earned $1,734. Engineering, accounting
and research offered the highest salaries for older workers, $4,157 a month
on average. Other high-paying industries include oil and gas and legal
services. The lowest was eating and drinking places at $1,083 a month.
Greenwall said the Labor Department's projections for the period 2002-12
show 51% growth in the 55-64 age group, 14% growth in the
45-54 age group and a decline of 7% in the 35-44 age group.
Such figures highlight the importance of keeping people working, he said.
"As time goes forward, the work force has got to come from somewhere," he
Ola Romero, 69, a switchboard operator at Presbyterian Healthcare Services,
said she will stay in the work force as long as she's healthy.
"It keeps me young. It keeps me healthy," she said. "I have enough energy
to sustain working 10 hours a day.
[All work and no play keeps Ola from being Olé!]
"I certainly enjoy the interaction with other people. Socially, it's good
for me. If I stayed home I'd be a hermit."
[Who says you have to stay home on your free time?]
Romero worked for the former Mountain Bell (now Qwest) in the 1950s. She
quit work to raise five children in the 1960s and then returned to the work
force when they were all in school.
Romero joined Presbyterian 12 years ago after a second stint with the phone
"I was getting bored," she said. "My kids keep asking when I'll retire.
I'll know when the time is right. I still have something to offer."
Romero and Yochim said older people have a strong work ethic and offer
maturity and judgment that younger workers don't yet have.
"We're healthier for longer periods now," Romero said. "Before, at this
age, we were considered not a contributor to society. That's not true any
Yochim said he'd like to work at least two more years, long enough to earn
some Whole Foods stock.
He, too, said working keeps him young.
"I'm a father figure," he said. "I love all the kids who work here. What I
offer is stability. I don't call in sick. I don't get emotionally upset. I'm
definitely a stable influence."
Reimer said Presbyterian has completed the first phase - data collection -
of its work force planning initiative and plans to move into the next phase,
coming up with strategies to keep older workers on board.
"On the one end you have older workers leaving the work force when we want
them to stay, and then we have young people either not graduating from high
school or leaving our state with a college education," Reimer said.
"As employers, we have to address all of it. It presents real challenges."
GOP mailing only tells part of story
By EDWARD LEVENSON
The Intelligencer via phillyburbs.com, PA
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Residents of Bucks and Montgomery counties may have been impressed by a recent mailing on the 2004-05 state budget.
The two-sided color flier touted increased state funding for various
services without an increase in taxes, fees and borrowing. The House
Republican caucus spent $227,000 in public funds to mail 736,000 circulars
to the districts of 45 of the 109 House Republicans, according to Kelly
Fedeli, a spokeswoman for Republican Majority Leader Sam Smith. The cost
consisted of $93,418 for production and $133,390 for postage, or 31 cents a
The front side differed for each state House district, topped with the name
and photo of the state representative and listing selected budget data. The
flip side showed statewide budget "highlights."
For instance, the state boosted aid to public libraries by at least 20%,
to mass transit by 6.6% and to school districts by up to 8%,
according to the piece.
But the flier only tells half of the story of the $22.8 billion 2004-05
budget approved in July by the same Legislature that passed the 2003-04
Taxes and fees did not go up in 2004-05. But the 2003-04 budget raised the
personal income tax rate from 2.8% to 3.07%, hiked the
cigarette tax by 35 cents a pack, imposed a $1 monthly surcharge on cell
phones, levied a 5% gross receipts tax on cell phone and
long-distance companies and more than doubled the fees for birth and death
Libraries did get a 21% increase in state aid in 2004-05. But that
followed on the heels of a 30% decrease in the 2003-04 budget. Many
libraries were forced to cut hours, staff and book buying. Even with the
increase, they are below 2002-03 funding levels.
Mass transit funding did increase by 6.6% in 2004-05. But the state
had not increased funding for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation
Authority since 2001. While SEPTA used short-term measures to balance the
budget in previous years, it now faces a $62 million deficit and has
proposed raising fares by 25% and eliminating weekend service.
The basic and special education subsidies did go up by as much as 8%.
But districts with growing student populations saw less of an increase in
the subsidy per pupil. Central Bucks, for example, received 6.6% more
overall, or $1.3 million, but gained 500 students, so per-pupil funding was
Among the local representatives who sent out the mailing were Republicans
Bernard O'Neill of the 29th District, including Warminster, Warwick,
Buckingham and Solebury; Scott Petri of the 178th District, including part
of Warwick, Ivyland and Northampton; Robert Godshall of the 53rd District,
including Franconia, Hatfield and Lansdale; and Chuck McIlhinney of the
143rd District, extending from Doylestown to Riegelsville.
McIlhinney said the mailing, which went out in the latter part of August,
was an appropriate use of tax dollars. He said news coverage on the budgetfocused on gambling, so the flier informed the public about funding for
programs and services.
"I stand behind the need to communicate what happens in Harrisburg. It's the
most cost-effective means of communicating," he said.
McIlhinney said the separate mailing was worthwhile, although his regular
newsletter - which arrived in homes in his district 10 days later - also
contained state budget highlights.
If the flier was such a good idea, then why wasn't a similar one mailed out
last year, when the Legislature raised taxes and slashed public services,
McIlhinney was asked.
He said the 2003-04 budget wasn't passed until December 2003 and received
extensive media coverage. He included the budget information, including his
vote in favor of a higher income tax, in his newsletter last February.
McIlhinney said last month's mailing was accurate, even though it omitted
any mention of the 2003-04 tax hikes and budget cuts.
"Should I go back 30 years? Here's this budget. It's an increase over the
previous year's budget," said McIlhinney, a representative since 1998 who is
running for re-election.
He said he believed people were aware of prior cuts in library services, so
they wouldn't be misled by reading about a 21% increase in library
Neil Samuels, McIlhinney's Democratic opponent, said he resents tax dollars
being used to pay for what he called a one-sided mailing designed to make
the incumbents look good during an election year.
"I think the public is smart enough to see through this garbage," he said.
He said it is no coincidence the Republicans did not send out a mailing last
year when they raised taxes and cut services.
"It's totally slanted," Samuels said. "They can't take credit for the
increases (in funding) and ignore the fact there were decreases last year."
Samuels said this mailing is only one example of how incumbents in both
parties use public dollars - whether for publications or televised "public
service announcements" - to promote their re-election.
"I think it helps my campaign. It underscores the utter contempt the
incumbents have for our tax dollars," he said.
Republican Paul Clymer, who is running for a 13th term in the 145th House
District in Upper Bucks, said he chose not to join in the budget mailing.
"I've done two mailings in the spring and fall. I didn't feel I had to do
any more than that," he said.
Clymer, however, declined to criticize the flier or its presentation of
budget increases without providing context.
"The mailing generally just tells what the increases are. It doesn't get
into detail," he said.
Martina Kominiarek, executive director of the Bucks County Free Library,
said the 21% hike in state aid is welcome, but total state funding in
2005 still will be well below the 2003 level.
The library system received $3.4 million in state aid in 2003 and $2.4
million in 2004 and will receive $2.9 million in 2005. Because of the loss
of state aid in 2004, the libraries laid off 30 full- and part-time workers,
reduced hours and cut back on programs.
She said the library board hopes to restore hours at the central branch in
Doylestown to the state-required minimum of 65 a week, but "we simply don't have the funding" to restore most of the other service reductions as costs
rise for employee salaries, medical benefits, books, materials and utilities.
[So Pennsylvania has a minimum week for library hours but no maximum workweek for employee hours?]
A spokesman for SEPTA said the 6.6% increase in mass transit funding
for 2005 has to be put in the context of no increases in six of the
preceding eight years.
Jim Whittaker said SEPTA was able to balance previous budgets through
"one-time fixes," such as canceling infrastructure improvements, but the
shortfall in state funding has caught up to the agency.
Facing a $62 million deficit, SEPTA this month said it would have to raise
fares by an average of 25%, reduce the number of trains and buses,
lay off 1,400 workers and eliminate weekend service.
Whittaker said the 6.6% increase for 2005 "is not enough ... with the
reality we have to deal with."
As mentioned in McIlhinney's mailing, the Central Bucks School District did
get an additional $1.3 million in its basic and special education subsidy
for 2004-05. Business manager David Matyas pointed out that $579,000 of that
is a special "accountability grant."
The district gained about 500 more students this school year, bringing its
enrollment to 19,600. When growth is factored in, the district's per-pupil
subsidy went up by 3.8%.
State aid per student "is more telling what the financial impact is at
Central Bucks," Matyas said. A $1.3 million increase is a lot more
significant in a district with stable or declining enrollment than one with
a growing enrollment, he noted.
"It all depends on your spin," he said.
Edward Levenson can be reached at (215) 345-3079 or
'We don't quit, we don't go away'
Ottawa Business Journal, Canada
By Ellen Tsaprailis
The Coalition for a Successful Ottawa Economy is meeting with Mayor Bob
Chiarelli and senior city managers today to voice its displeasure over the
direction city budget discussions are taking.
"We are concerned about raising taxes," said Garth Whyte, executive
vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and a
coalition member. "There is no appetite for further tax increases and we
have to start moving to a multi-year budget."
Earl Stanley, a member of the coalition, president of the National Capital
Business Alliance and chairman of the Osgoode Ward Business Alliance, will
tell city hall he and his members feel no one is listening to the business
"(We) set up a meeting with the mayor specifically to answer some questions
about the fact the city isn't business-friendly still and there was some
indication that we were told they were going to be," said Mr. Stanley. The
coalition voiced similar concerns last year.
The city's 2005 budget directions report was released at last week's
corporate services and economic development committee meeting. In the
report, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick outlined the level of services to be
provided and the options to fund those services.
The report estimates a $53-million shortfall in the city's 2005 budget.
Mr. Kirkpatrick has asked that police costs be separated from the city
budget, as they represent another $12-million projected shortfall.
Tax increases ranging from three to 8% have been suggested by
city councillors. But any tax increase is too much for the business
community, said Mr. Stanley, who stressed that 50% of the city's
budget is directed to staff compensation.
"I think they've got to take a hard look at their wages and their
structure. The biggest problem with the city is they don't have the balls to
stand up to unions. We have all cut back, every business owner and every
property owner. We've all, especially in the rural areas, taken a hit and we
don't mind; the economy is not as strong as it was.
"(But) I can't put my prices up on everything in my business. My gas is up,
everything is up and now our tax bills are going up. We're working more
hours and getting to take home less money."
Mr. Whyte is adamant that a proper review of staff compensation be
"There is a view that there is unlimited money and people are assuming that
increased taxes go to increased services, when actually sometimes increased
taxes go just for increased salaries. I am going to make sure that is not
the case," said Mr. Whyte, who is unable to attend today's meeting.
Last year, the fact that money was diverted from budget priorities to top
up the under-funded Ontario municipal employee pension plan was glossed over
by most people, said Mr. Whyte.
He hopes city council will assume better control of compensation.
"That may mean people are laid off, it may mean you hold the line, but you
don't go off and negotiate 7 or 8% increases. Is it fair
for someone who works at city hall to make 10% more than the exact
same job in the private sector? And then you're asking that job in the
private sector to pay higher taxes just to make the gap even wider. That is
"We should come from an overall plan first instead of, 'Here's what we've
negotiated and here's what we spent, therefore we have no choice, we have to
raise taxes.' I don't think that's appropriate."
In his budget directions report, Mr. Kirkpatrick argued that the 2004 tax
hike was the first Ottawa residents have seen since amalgamation, while
other major cities across Canada have been increasing their property taxes
year after year.
Mr. Stanley does not think that argument is credible.
"I would have to think that is a crock. There hasn't been a tax increase,
sure, that's fine. Look at user fees, look at increases in levies, look at
decreases in service. A decrease in service is the same as a tax increase.
If you cut back on maintenance of roads, that's the same as raising or not
raising my taxes."
Developing unique solutions and plans is better than looking at what other
cities do, Mr. Whyte said.
"Do we want to be like Vancouver, where the business tax rate is four times
the residential rate? Is that what (city council) wants? Do they want to be
like the City of Winnipeg, where there is no small business in its downtown
area? We have to figure out what our strategy is."
As far as Mr. Stanley is concerned, city councillors will vote according to
how ward residents want them to.
"If 1,500 businesses yell, that's sort of like one little subdivision. Who
are they going to listen to? They don't listen. There is a variety of
councillors in the City of Ottawa that do know what the business community
is thinking and wants, but then you have the majority of city council that
is left wing and is going to do whatever they think is going to get themelected.
"We're still outnumbered. We can get maybe seven, possibly eight (city
councillors on-board), but we can't get the 12 to 14 that we need for a
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has 5,000 members in Ottawa
that it regularly surveys.
According to Mr. Whyte, residents are increasingly sympathetic to the
plight of small business owners in the city.
"People may be identifying other high priorities, but there's a low
threshold and strong intolerance to further increases in taxes right now."
Mr. Stanley and Mr. Whyte said they will not back down on the issue and
plan to plead the business case to city staff and council during the 2005
"Our motto is we don't quit and we don't go away," said Mr. Whyte.
The first round of public consultations has begun and will conclude Oct.
14. The second round of public consultations will be held in January
following the release of the draft budget, expected Dec. 15.
Ditch this directive: it just doesn't work
Belfast Telegraph (subscription), United Kingdom
Baxter on business
[It's just plain stupid to argue that something doesn't work that's working throughout all the rest of the EU except Malta!]
It is hard to properly understand the motivation behind proposals to
tighten loopholes allowing some member states to opt out of the EU Working
Time Directive, which limits the number of hours employees work in a week to 48.
For lovers of conspiracy theories it is a dream come true; especially for
those who detest the EU and all it stands for.
To them the directive is just another piece of bureaucratic clap-trap
contrived by those cunning allies France and Germany to stop the UK economy
in its tracks because they are jealous of its low unemployment, sustained
economic growth and strong currency.
Perhaps at some time in the development of the directive someone with a
genuine conscience decided employees were simply spending too much time at
their place of work and it was an appropriate juncture to get the work/life
balance back on an even keel.
There is nothing wrong with that logic for many studies have shown people
working long hours are subject to stress, days off work, general poor
health, drinking problems, rarely exercise or have time for a home life. The
many consequences of these issues can put pressure on an already under
resourced health and social services system. Long hours at work can cost us
money as a nation.
Of course employees should be protected from unscrupulous and bullying
employers who engender a working culture which suggests that if you leave
work before a certain time you're skiving. Employees will only waste time
doing nothing in order to reach this notional quitting time.
Other employers are less subtle and dictate in no uncertain terms the
working hours whether you like them or not. Employees do need and deserve
Nor do long hours necessarily mean better productivity, with work generally
expanding to fit the time allowed.
We should work smart - not long.
[True, but this takes enforcement upon shortsighted and technologically naive management, like Baxter himself.]
One can see, therefore, that the notion of a working time directive has
merits if the motivation for it is honest and balanced against the need for
a nation to grow and compete in this global economy.
It is at this point where the directive gets a reality check because the
ability to compete and generate wealth, and thereafter effectively and
equitably distribute it, collides with the needs of the individual in the
Furthermore, individuals have a right to work the hours they wish if they
believe they can earn more in doing so.
[Not in the Age of Automation when there aren't even enough 40-hr/wk jobs to go around, unless they're willing to reinvest overtime earnings in worksharing; that is, in training and hiring in overtime-targeted skills, as described in Timesizing Phase Three. Then they have a right to work all 168 hours a week if they want to. Otherwise, they only have a right to work (for unaccountable spending power) up to the maximum workweek which is determined by the comprehensive unemployment rate and the economic-guidance referendums, which may be as frequent as monthly or as infrequent as yearly. These are referendums that allow the population affected to define for itself -
Trade unions which want to see the amended directive fully implemented in
the UK cannot be allowed to be in a position where they can dictate the
working hours of individual employees.
- problematic under-employment; eg: 'any non-privately-supported person who has averaged less than 10 working hours a week for over the last 6 weeks is problematically under-employed'
- current actionable under-employment rate; eg: 'any under-employment rate above 2% requires correction'
- correction rate; eg: 'the correction rate of workweek change should be 15 minutes a quarter' (in other words, if the underemployment rate is too high and the workweek is to be adjusted downward from 40 hours a week, the it is adjusted downward at a rate of 15 minutes a quarter until enough work is squeezed out onto more under-employed people to lower the under-employment rate to within acceptable tolerances.]
If this were the case, then the UK will take a giant step back into the dark
and hard-earned victories previously won by the unions will evaporate
as they face a membership unhappy about being told when they can and cannot work.
[For the 150 years prior to 1940, the membership was winning hard-earned victories primarily and strategically focused on repeatedly lower workweek ceilings. Baxter has either never studied labor history or is being purposely misleading. How does he think we went from the 80-84 hour workweeks of the 1840s and before, to the 40-hour workweek in the first place?]
The unions will argue this will not be the case
[it doesn't matter what the unions argue; history is history; it's is not a matter of opinion]
and, indeed, the directive allows individuals to make decisions for themselves irrespective of group
[Only if they're self-employed, and making decisions for themselves, or if they're making decisions for others in favor of workweeks that are shorter than the EU maximum.]
That's nice theory, but in practice let us see a show of hands of all those
individual employees who have dared to buck the trend against the wishes of
their colleagues. Unions cannot claim any high moral ground in this debate
as they can be just as 'persuasive' as employers. The baseline in all this is,
and should be, the economy and the application of economic common sense.
[Wake us up when he cuts throught the doubletalk.]
For those running businesses, generating wealth and employing people there
is a bottom line - please don't do anything to my business which makes it
less competitive, stymies growth, adds to the red tape and therefore the
needless cost of operating, or stops me from doing things because notionally
my 'time is up' for the week.
[Unless I and my counterparts are promoting workweeks that concentrate the shrinking human employment of the Robotics Age on so much smaller a national workforce that the system is drowning on its own dependents and there are virtually NO confident consumers, - so our markets are constantly shrinking because we're too stupid to realize that if only 25% of the population is doing 75% of the work, the income of the nation just isn't getting centrifuged enough to keep buying all the products and services we're producing with our technologically enhanced worktime. Is this so totally beyond the grasp of the Baxter's of this world. Are their brains so totally stuck in the dark ages of manual labor?]
Employees do have rights - a right to be protected in their work environment
from unscrupulous employers, and there are already laws in place to enforce
this. They have a right to earn a living where the employee is empowered to
make decisions about their hours for themselves.
[Get real. Employees aren't empowered to make any decisions for themselves in a labor surplus, and a labor surplus is what you get when you inject worksaving technology without adjusting downward the standard workshare per person.]
The directive contributes nothing to the competitiveness of a nation, gives
employees precious little extra in terms of the protections they already
have, and is more motivated by political ideology than the aforementioned
economic common sense.
[No, it's motivated by the economic reality of the Automation Age. Go back to an 80-hour workweek and see how long your consumer base holds up.]
It restricts an individual's ability to earn and decreases the flexibility
of the job market.
[Tommyrot. France increased the flexibility of its job market when it introduced the 35-hour workweek.]
In the real world that is no good for anyone, unions
[Baxter's real world is pre-Industrial Revolution.]
The Working Time Directive is an unnecessary piece of legislation that simply burdens companies and benefits no one.
[No, it's as necessary in the context of automation as traffic lights, monogamy, and one person one vote.]
Ditch it and let's move on - there are more important matters to attend to.
[Like getting longer and longer workweeks per person, concentrating the nation's technology-shrunken employment on ever fewer overworked employees, and further weakening your consumer base? Baxter is just another myopic manager who can't plan two moves ahead in chess. Whole-systems thinking is foreign to this type of troglodyte.]
Carlton Baxter is the joint managing director of Belfast-based DCL Public Relations.
[Belfast has our sympathies.]
Why the Lobby needs women - Too much political reporting is by men, for men and about men - It's time to redress the balance
by Harriet Harman
There has been much hand-wringing in Parliament and Government lately as we
contemplate the polls that show the public's lack of trust in us. Women in
particular are less likely to be satisfied with the Government - and most
likely to shun politics altogether.
We've reminded ourselves of the progress we've already made in things that
matter to women - schools, hospitals, maternity pay and leave. And we've
laid plans to promise more in our next manifesto on flexible work, childcare
and paternity pay and leave. But how do women know about what we are doing -
aside from personal experience? How do they know about the changes the new
women in Parliament have brought about? Not - for the most part - from
political reporting from the House of Commons lobby. And this is a problem
which needs sorting out.
The news from Parliament is conveyed to the country almost entirely through
male eyes. When I first looked at the numbers in 2000 there were still some
all-male lobby teams, and national newspapers had 72 men and only 15 women.
Of the 28 political editors, only three were women. Since then, things have
not greatly improved on the gender front. There are 74 national-newspaper
lobby members, of whom only 17 are women - less than a quarter and not a
real increase in absolute numbers. Of the current 26 political editors,
still only three are women. And of 27 national dailies and Sunday papers, 10
still field only men in the lobby, of whom six are sizeable men-only teams -
including The Sunday Times and the most widely read paper, The Sun. Of the
total of 181 lobby positions, covering all media, only 32 are women. This
means that 82% of all members of the parliamentary press gallery are
men. The inevitable result is that political news is reported in a way that
appeals to and interests men. Issues of particular concern to women are
lower on the agenda. That reinforces the sense that, despite many more women
MPs arriving, politics is a male activity of no relevance to them.
Though women are as likely as men to vote, all the evidence is that they are
less likely to think that politics and government are concerned with their
lives. Women's votes remain doubtful and untrusting and they are most likely
to switch their vote. Political reporting, for much of the time, simply
passes them by. Of course, it is the case that many men feel politics is
irrelevant to them - but it is far more the case for women. And it matters.
The legitimacy of our democratic institutions depends not just on people's
votes but also on the public's sense of a close connection with their
democratic representative institutions. The male prism through which
politics is reported obstructs women's connection with their Parliament.
It's not just that the priority afforded to different issues reflects male
priorities, it's also to do with the language which is used to write about
politics. Political reporting faithfully reveals to men in the country the
conversation between men in the lobby and men in Parliament. Approving talk
of "big hitters", "big beasts" and "big guns" is clearly nothing to do with
women. No woman would be encouraged to see a "big beast" in charge of our
schools, a "big gun" leading the peace process as Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland or a "big hitter" in the Home Office. Few women talk
approvingly of each other as "heavyweight"! Political debate in these terms
leaves women cold. And it's not intended to reach them. This is about men
writing about men for other men.
It is not inevitable that political debate should exclude women. Look at
women's magazines. Written by women for women, they connect with readers
lives on highly political issues - examples are the reporting on maternity
pay in Prima Baby or Marie Claire's exposure of human trafficking and their
campaign to tackle rape. This is not a difference of depth. Some of the
tabloids don't go into politics in depth. And some women's magazines tackle
complex issues in a sophisticated way. Rather, it's about style and who
you're talking to.
The men in the lobby buttress a male-dominated Parliament and men in
Government. People naturally reinforce others who share their
characteristics. Just as you are unlikely to find a young person saying of
another "he's too young to do X" or to find a 50-plus person writing off
another of the same age as "too old", men reinforce other men. By doing so,
they reinforce themselves. When a thin, 40-something man in a suit in the
lobby writes of a thin, 40-something man in a suit in Government that "he is
terribly clever", he is at the same time saying it about himself. It's the
same with the 50-something "old hands". When the journalist says that the
parliamentarian is wise, heavyweight and experienced, he is, by implication,
saying the same about himself. The political columns are the highest form of
this expression. And the male press secretaries and male special advisers
complete the magic circle.
By the same token, the woman journalist struggling to combine responsibility
for her children, home and job is much more likely to share the concerns of
the woman in Parliament. And in turn they are both likely to have a keen
understanding of the concerns that face the new generation of women who make
up half the workforce as well as still shoulder the lion's share of family
work. But that dual role of mother and worker which requires sustained
public-policy priority also blocks careers in the lobby too.
When the women of the lobby do try to create their own networks and support
each other in their work within the lobby, they can still face the male
dominance which surrounds them - such as comments, reported in a national
journal, that women's lunches are meetings of the "lezzy lobby".
Over the past two decades I've seen young women arrive in the lobby. They've
got there against the odds. Each time I hope that her enthusiasm and
intelligence will mean that she will break the mould and set a new pattern.
I see her networking with the few other women journalists, building
relationships with her male colleagues, dodging the leering looks of too
many male parliamentarians, while she tries to get to the heart of political
stories. For the first few years she does very well. But just as she gets to
the age where she is at the foothills of serious authority she reaches, too,
the age when she starts a family. Even if she comes back after having a
baby, she's on borrowed time. By the time she's had her second child she
can't help noticing that there are other ways she can be a journalist. She
can do her work as a freelance, on the news desk or in features. She has a
choice. She doesn't have to work till late at night. She doesn't have to do
the job which requires her to match hours in Parliament. So she doesn't -
she leaves. That is unfair on her, it's a shame for the women MPs, but it's
a major problem for the reporting of what is known around the world as the
"Mother of Parliaments".
Women in the lobby remain an endangered species. Mothers find it hard to
survive in the press gallery of the "Mother of Parliaments". Julia Langdon,
one of the pioneer women in the lobby, justly rose to be a political editor.
But her exit from The Sunday Telegraph coincided with her having a baby.
Elinor Goodman has lasted and is on television as Channel 4's political
editor. Scotland is lucky to have Catherine McLeod in a senior position in
the Glasgow Herald and Martha Kearney is a beacon at Newsnight. But over the
years the lobby lost Jackie Ashley, Anne Perkins, Lucy Ward and many others
who could have risen to be political editors. We cannot afford to continue
to lose each generation of young women in the lobby. We've now got some very
promising women there - Rosie Bennet, Marie Woolf, Gaby Hinsliff, Oonagh
Blackman, Julia Hartley-Brewer, to name but a few. We've got to keep them
and enable them to progress.
It's no good just hoping that, in time, things will change. Editors should
determine to recruit more women to the lobby. All political editors should
ensure they have some women on their team and should groom them for
political editorship. Newspaper and media managers must ensure that they
offer arrangements which enable their women to stay in the lobby. Flexible
working, part-time, job-sharing, help with childcare - whatever it takes.
MPs and ministers can help - giving information to the women in the lobby,
not always to the political editors.
Having a balanced team of men and women reporting on the men and women in
Parliament will refresh our democracy by letting all women in on our
political debate in their Parliament.
( Here's the current search pattern used by our backup, Ken Ellis - he's now experimenting with five search runs:
"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 "more 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"
"decrease hours", OR "decreased hours", OR "decreasing hours", OR "schedule
reduction", OR "long work", OR "long hours", OR "long days", OR "long
workdays", OR "long workday", OR Nucor, OR "Lincoln Electric"
"days off" [on hold]
"free time", OR overtime, OR "extra hours", OR leisure, OR "time off", OR
vacation, OR vacations, -sports -coach -coaches -coaching -football -soccer
-baseball -olympics [on hold] )
9/25-27/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/24-26 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 9/25-27 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 9/25-27), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
Conservative Party loses majority in French Senate, Reuters via NYT, A8.
[The voters are trying to correct their error of two years ago when they split their majority left-center vote among a host of splinter parties, lost their man Jospin, and are in the process of losing their French cultural uniqueness (l'exception francaise) in the 35-hour workweek.]
...Pres. Jacques Chirac's Union for a Popular Movement remained the biggest party in the Senate [with 162 of 321 seats] but lost [5 seats] to gains made by the opposition Socialists [gained 10] and Greens  and to the centrist Union for French Democracy  in the election for a third of the seats in the house....
Layoffs, cutbacks at hospital
by Dorothy Schneider, Fitchburg Sentinel, MA
GARDNER, Mass. - Heywood Hospital laid off 23 workers in the face of a $1 million
loss in fiscal year 2004, hospital President and CEO Daniel P. Moen
Moen said the workers were informed of the layoffs over the past two weeks,
and today is their last day of work.
"These (layoffs) are certainly painful to do," Moen said. "We never want to
see anyone leave the organization."
Though only 23 employees will leave Heywood Hospital, Moen said the
cutbacks affect 74 of the hospital's 850 full- and part-time workers through
reduced hours or position shifting.
He said 33 employees are moving to different positions within the
organization and 18 will work fewer hours.
The total reduction is equivalent to 24 full-time positions lost. The
losses hit every department in the hospital, Moen said, when adding last
year's layoffs, which cut nearly the same number of workers.
Other area hospitals also posted losses for fiscal year 2004.
Patrick Muldoon, interim CEO at HealthAlliance, announced last week the
organization will lay off an undisclosed number of employees by the end of
the month after losing $2.5 million in fiscal year 2004.
"(Costs) are just rising much faster than what we anticipated," he said.
"And it doesn't take much to throw (the budget) off track."
Some examples of rising expenses come from higher drug and blood product
costs, as well as more costly energy and fuel to run the hospital, Moen
Also, the rising number of uninsured people in the area has put a greater
burden on the hospital to provide free care, although Moen said this trend
is not unique to Heywood Hospital. The state's pool of money used to
reimburse hospitals for uncompensated care is never enough to cover
everyone's costs, he said.
"More people are losing their health insurance," he said. "The problem has
just gotten so big, so fast."
Moen said there needs to be some systemic changes at the state or the
national level to make sure everyone is covered under some type of health
The $1 million fiscal-year losses are not new to Heywood Hospital.
In fact, Moen encountered similar-sized losses shortly after he came on as
president and CEO in 1990. At that time, Moen had to reduce hospital
expenses by 15%, he said, with consecutive years of layoffs.
"This is not unprecedented," he said. "And I wish I could say it would
never happen again ... but I can't make that promise."
The difference this time, Moen said, is that Heywood Hospital is a much
larger organization, so the losses reflect a smaller percentage of the total
operating budget. In other words, the current losses could not put the
hospital under, he said.
"In no way is Heywood close to going out of business," he said.
Despite the staff reductions, the hospital recently hired eight new
physicians and will continue advertising open positions in nursing, lab
technicians and other departments. Moen stressed the hospital needs this
type of growth to stay viable.
"Our best chance of serving our community well is to continue to grow - to
add volume and services," he said.
Joe Tahoe designates Sept. 24 as"Do Nothing Day"
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, NV
September 24th has yet to establish itself in the annals of world history.
Nothing important has ever really happened on this day. Well, Russia
embraced the free market in 1990 and Doogie Howser lost his virginity in
1991, but that's been about it.
If you're looking for something to celebrate you have to go all the way
back to 1895, when the first circumnavigation of the earth by a woman on a
bicycle began on this day, and ended fifteen months later. How she crossed
the Atlantic Ocean is still vague, so don't ask.
This undistinguished and unremarkable day inspires me to want to preserve
it in history as a day when nothing ever happens, nothing gets done, and
nobody cares; a day of rest if you will.
Since the Sabbath passed out of favor, and the seven day work week came
into vogue, we have designated not one single solitary moment to doing
absolutely nothing; September 24th should be our day!
It would be like setting our clocks back in the fall, except we would get
an entire day instead of just an hour, and we wouldn't have to give it back
in the spring. The idea is to put off until the 25th whatever we feel
pressured to do on the 24th, especially work.
Now, employers are going to have to buy into this unofficial holiday, so I
would present this column in its entirety to your employer today before
noon. Depending upon what kind of person he, she is, you just might get the
rest of the day off. I bet my golden gloves the Bonanza staff will get the
afternoon off ... .
So what are we going to do if we are going to do nothing? Well, we should
start at the beach. Every good start on doing nothing begins at the beach
and ends at the beach. I have spent my entire life on the beach, but then as
anyone knows who has read this column more than once, my life has been one
long spring break ... .
Now, we have to prepare for some resistance in a few quarters, after all,
Americans live to work, while Europeans work to live. So when somebody you
know throws water on this concept as being frivolous or not necessary,
remind them of what Horace shouted: "Carpe Diem!" And if they still don't
get it, whisper what Liza Minnelli has been trying to tell us years:
"Reality is something you rise above." At least we should rise above it for
this one day, 9/24!
If all else fails leave this quote from Leonardo Da Vinci on your desk, and
walk out: "Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when
you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance
away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at
a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen."
So there it is, please join Leonardo, Liza, and Horace in designating the
twenty fourth of September as "Do Nothing Day." You'll be glad you did, or
my name's not Joe Tahoe ... .
County Beat: With many dinners in mind, officials declare 'Family Day'
By Randi Bjornstad, The Register-Guard, Oregon
Looking for an easy-as-pie way to keep your kids off tobacco, alcohol and
other drugs? Try sitting down to dinner with them.
Research by the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse, housed at
Columbia University in New York City, has concluded that kids left to their
own devices at dinnertime have a 72% greater risk of taking up
drinking, smoking or use of illegal drugs.
The center has asked communities nationwide to declare the fourth Monday in
September - Sept. 27 - as "Family Day - a Day to Eat Dinner with Your
The Lane County commissioners complied this week, voting unanimously to
support the idea - but not without quibbling.
Wonderful idea, Commissioner Bill Dwyer said, but families in poverty may
have less opportunity to sit down together over dinner than others because
of long work hours trying to make ends meet.
Not necessarily, Commissioner Peter Sorenson said. Many affluent parents
also work long hours and then go off to night meetings, leaving their kids
to fend for themselves.
In the end, everyone seemed to agree that family stability comes from the
values of parents, not their income, and sitting down for food and
conversation - however simple - makes sense.
"Eat dinner with your family every time you can - not just on the fourth
Monday of September," Dwyer said.
Randi Bjornstad can be reached at 338-2321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GM: European car market under regulatory pressure
Platinum Today, UK
The domestic automotive market in Western Europe is under threat from excessive regulation and inflexible labour laws,
according to the world's largest car manufacturer.
General Motors' chief financial officer John Devine says that the production of cars in the region will dwindle if European
legislation continues to prove obstructive.
Speaking to the Financial Times at the Paris Motor Show, Mr Devine insisted that consumers were already turning to
foreign-produced vehicles, with the current legislative climate - such as Germany's 35-hour working week and the new
European emissions requirements - exacerbating the trend.
"If the present trends continue we won't be in the manufacturing business, not only in autos but in other businesses as
well," he said. "We will be importing them from other parts of the world, probably Asia."
"The combination of these [regulatory and social] factors is really gutting the effectiveness of the European manufacturers
and reducing their profitability. Over time that will reduce their inclination to manufacture in Europe and I'm pretty sure
that's not good for Europe," he concluded.
The fears were played down by Renault chief executive Louis Schweitzer, but the warning from the world's number one
manufacturer is likely to attract attention.
General Motors has already announced cuts to its European manufacturing operations, with some factories potentially facing
Concentration of Sweden's visible exports - Saab demand: longer hours for same pay [abridged]
The Local, Sweden
Saab at Trollhättan is demanding that its work force work three more hours
a week for the same pay along with measure to reduce "sick leave", according
to Svenska Dagbladet.
Why Nissan chose to stay in the UK
BBC News Online
Nissan's announcement at the Paris Motor Show that its Almera model replacement is to be made in Sunderland in the North
East of England brought relief to workers at the factory.
Production of the Tone, a small people carrier, will start in 2006, safeguarding 1,000 jobs at the plant that some had
feared could be at risk because Britain was not a member of the euro.
Nissan's chief executive Carlos Ghosn has previously threatened to shift car production out of the UK in order to reduce
currency risks incurred by operating outside the eurozone.
But currency risk is just one of many costs a car maker has to consider when deciding whether or not to move production.
Labour costs and terms of employment are other factors.
So whereas the UK may be disadvantaged by the strength of sterling, car makers in France, for example Nissan's partner
Renault, are constrained by the 35-hours working week.
It could be said that both companies are now seeing the benefits of working with existing sites rather than starting afresh.
Nissan has managed to reduce currency risk at its factory by asking many of its suppliers to accept payment in euros, thus
matching its expenses with its revenues.
Shifting production to countries where salaries and many other costs are lower may not be the right solution, or so goes the
latest thinking within the Renault-Nissan partnership. "If you were to decide to create a new site, a greenfield, probably
today you would decide to do it in the Czech Republic, in Slovakia or in Poland," said Louis Schweitzer, chief executive of
"But the question is; do you want to develop existing production bases in Western Europe, or do you want to scrap it or try
to reduce it to create a greenfield, let's say in the Czech Republic.
"If you look at the figures.. it makes more sense to build on your existing base because you have existing investments, you
have less fixed costs and you have more flexibility than if you develop a new plant from scratch."
Renault's production of its Scenic model is an example of how car makers can find smooth ways of dealing with constraints,
Mr Schweitzer said.
When it turned out that demand for the Scenic outstripped supply "we added a third shift", Mr Schweitzer explained.
"Which meant no investment, no fixed costs, no extra white collars - only extra blue collars, and 50% additional capacity,
which for two lines producing 60 cars per hour is equivalent to a (new) plant.
"And if ever sales do not justify keeping those three shifts, you go back to two shifts."
Such flexible solutions would not have been available to Renault had it built a new plant in Eastern Europe, Mr Schweitzer
Labour may be cheaper than in France, at least for factory floor workers, but such differences diminish over time, he
Renault also negotiated a deal with the trade unions about how the 35-hour week should be implemented.
Rather than merely shortening the working week from 39 hours, the unions agreed to take an extra two weeks holiday a year,
at times when it suited the company, a deal which greatly reduced the impact of the shorter working week on the company, Mr
Outsourcing causes panic - Firms axe jobs in Western Europe - Keeps production going in Eastern Europe
AP via Electric New Paper, Singapore
[Until Western Europe markets collapse for lack of employment.]
Technician Stephane Zervos had worked in a car wheel factory for 24 years when the axe fell in May. His employer announced
closure of the plant in Moselle, eastern France. But his firm, German group Ronal GMBH, kept production going in Poland and
the Czech Republic.
Now Mr Zervos and his 166 fellow workers in France have been catapulted to the front line of a heated national debate on the
steady loss of jobs to Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
At 43, Mr Zervos has been told he is too old to return to the physically-demanding industrial radiography work he trained
for in his youth. Other Western European workers face similar problems.
In France, with the national unemployment rate at 9.8%, the job drain has spurred a new government drive to make the
country more competitive.
German car-parts maker Robert Bosch AG used the threat of moving production to the Czech Republic to force its French
workers to put in longer hours for no extra pay. That followed a similar move by Siemens AG in Germany.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 prompted an eastward shift of companies seeking cheaper labour, with carmakers and
their suppliers leading the way.
Klaxon, a unit of Italian car-parts maker Fiamm SPA, also said this month it will cut jobs in France. It plans to move
production of car horns to India and radio antennas to the Czech Republic.
Economists say panic over job losses is not backed by evidence, and that proposed remedies miss the point.
Of all French investment in eastern and central Europe, 10% involves job outsourcing, compared with 20 per cent of
German investments in the same region.
Where France is trying the carrot, some European governments have reached for the stick. Portugal threatened legal action
against Brax, a German textile company that closed its Portuguese factory earlier this year with the loss of 430 jobs -
while maintaining production in Romania.
But others concede that nothing they can do will turn the economic tide and instead are focusing on ways to bring back
Denmark recently pledged to boost education to help laid-off workers master new skills.
In Britain, outsourcing has spread across sectors including financial services.
Banking giant HSBC recently announced plans to move 4,000 jobs to China, India and Malaysia.
HOW SOME COUNTRIES AFFECTED
Longer working hours
Banking giant HSBC, insurer Aviva and news agency Reuters announced plans this year to move thousands of jobs offshore.
Nokia's decision to outsource to Asia has helped it become world's largest handphone maker, creating 20,000 jobs in Finland.
Volkswagen bought Czech auto maker Skoda and makes Toureg SUV in Slovakia. General Motors' Opel subsidiary runs Polish
plant. Engineering giant Siemens threatened to move jobs to Hungary unless its employees worked more for no extra pay. They
Jobs drifting from textile industry - which employs 250,000 - as firms seek cheaper labour in new EU states. German clothing
firm Brax and British shoe-maker Clarks cut over 1,000 Portuguese jobs this year.
Korea's Samsung Electronics closed plant near Barcelona this year, laying off 446 workers. Levi Strauss announced two plant
closures and 453 layoffs, saying production costs were 50% lower in Poland, Hungary and Turkey.
Appliance-maker Electrolux cutting 5,000 jobs in transfer of production to Hungary.
IN Singapore, the Government recently reduced the work week for civil servants to five days. The shorter week was more
conducive to a good family life.
The reverse is taking place in Europe. The European Commission is now pushing for longer working hours for employees. It has
bowed to pressure from business and from Eastern European members of the EU seeking to catch up with their richer western
The new rules would limit most employees who work on a shift to an average workweek of 48 hours including overtime.
This is among the most restrictive working time laws in the world, reported the International Herald Tribune.
Europe's law does not apply to managers or 'other persons with autonomous decision-taking powers'.
To make the law more flexible, the commission would allow employers to measure the average workweek over a period of 12
months, instead of the current four-month reference period. This means an employee could have a very heavy workload some
months and work shorter hours at another time.
[Fine, IF and only IF it means timesizing, not downsizing, like Nucor.]
The commission also proposed that time spent on call should not be considered work time. That decision that could have the
biggest impact on doctors.
Mr Stavros Dimas, the commissioner responsible for employment issues, said: 'If somebody is on call but he is resting or
sleeping or not actually performing the work for which he is on call, this is [currently] not considered working time.'
The commission's proposal, if adopted by the European Parliament and member states, would supersede a decision by the
European Court of Justice. But the commission also said national law would take precedence in deciding whether on-call time
was working time.
Stressed workers readjust jobs, life
by Kristen Gerencher, CBS MarketWatch via Arizona Republic, AZ
Many workers who may have been glad just to have job security during the
recession are grappling with dissatisfaction and weighing career options,
according to several surveys.
Families are sending their children back to school and confronting anew the
struggle to balance work and life, with some pondering whether it makes
sense to continue working when the negative impact of stress overrides the
financial benefits, career experts said.
In fact, workers in growing numbers are considering downshifting, according
to a survey of more than 1,200 people by the Center for a New American
Dream, a non-profit group that aims to help Americans consume wisely.
Since 1999, 48% of Americans have opted to make less money to have
more time and a less-stressful life, they told pollsters. More than half
would be willing to give up a day's pay per week to get time off to spend
with family and friends.
Signaling that materialism doesn't trump all, one in two Americans would
accept less money in exchange for more time, the survey said.
At the same time, workers who survived several rounds of layoffs may feel
pressure to outperform, said Jim Derivan, spokesman for LifeCare, a benefits
"While their primary concerns are with their family and care of their
children, they're feeling a certain dedication to their employer to put in
more hours to be productive," Derivan said, noting they are "looking for new
and creative ways to balance their responsibilities at work with their
responsibilities at home."
[Why should they feel a 'certain dedication' to their employer when their employer feels no 'certains dedication' to them?]
Of working parents, 68% are considering cutting back or quitting
altogether because of issues of child care, according to a LifeCare survey
of 500 workers. Though they like their current jobs, 46% said they
want to work fewer hours, and 22% would like to quit work altogether
for child-care-related reasons, according to LifeCare.
More employers are offering flexible scheduling, job sharing,
telecommuting, child-care referrals and other benefits to keep parents on
the job, but some employees ultimately decide it's not worth the struggle,
"They can't always get to the day-care center right at 5:15," Derivan said.
"What are they going to do? There's that stress about making arrangements to
have someone in place to pick up their child."
Of course, labor concerns aren't confined to parents and their desire to
alleviate time crunches.
According to a survey of 1,600 mostly full-time workers fromCareerBuilder.com, a job-search site, 30% of workers say they are
unhappy with their career progress.
"The top three factors we see time and time again in what causes the
greatest amount of dissatisfaction with workers are pay, workload and career
advancement," CareerBuilder spokeswoman Jennifer Sullivan said.
This year is no exception.
Many workers say they don't see much opportunity to move up the ladder at
their organizations, which may indicate that employers aren't doing enough
to identify career paths for them, Sullivan said.
Workers also may feel stuck or "compartmentalized" in their positions, she
"You become focused on your particular function within a company and may
not know there's a great opportunity in another department where you can
transition your skills and experience," she added.
Nepal approves paternity leave
Big News Network.com, Australia
Nepal, under pressure from international aid agencies, has authorizedpaternity leave for men working for the government.
The BBC reports that men will be able to take 11 days off with pay when
their first two children are born. Women now get two months of paid
The government agreed to reforms in 2001 when it accepted a $300 million
loan from the Asian Development Bank. It has already reserved 40% of
government jobs for women and members of minority groups and of groups that
still suffer caste discrimination.
Nepal's neighbors, Pakistan and India, have no provisions for paternity
Keizer police, city agree to contract
By MARY OWEN
After more than two years of negotiating with city officials, the Keizer
Police Association (KPA) has come to terms over their contract.
"This was never what you would call a contentious negotiation," said Marc
Adams, chief of the Keizer Police Dept.. "Both sides look at the
resolution as a win-win."
The KPA, which covers all sworn patrol officers and non-sworn support
employees, had been without a contract since July 2003. Six months ago,
mediation failed and the long bargaining session, mainly over insurance
The settlement came Sept. 7 during a city council executive session, just
before arbitration, the last step in the process, was to take place.
"The mayor backed an idea to take leftover budgeted funds and carry them
forward to the next year, putting the amount toward each employee's
insurance costs," Adams said.
Finance Director Susan Gahlsdorf initiated the idea, which was really a
clarification of the city budget process for insurance, said City Manager
"It doesn't really affect the budget or long-range plan," Eppley said. "I
think it was a good step - the point that cleared up the log jam. But
insurance will continue to become an issue in years to come. It's not really
a city or a police issue but a national issue. We really need to come to
agreement as people of this country on health care costs."
Eppley said he is glad the negotiating is done, and hopes the next round
will be more efficient.
"We try to shoot for somewhere in the middle of 12 cities Keizer is
compared to," Adams said. "We want to keep our officers from moving
laterally to other cities."
Changes to the latest contract include: increasing from 16 to 24 hours the
time that an officer can bank under the Fair Labor Standards Act;
compensating officers at time-and-a-half for training mandated on days off;
balancing training time, duty time, and avoiding overtime for K-9 handlers;
and increasing the accumulation of compensatory time from 40 to 60 hours,
with an increase in maximum carryover from one fiscal year to the next from
24 to 48 hours.
The agreement also provides a 5.05% increase in the city's
contribution toward each KPA officer's medical, dental, life and long-term
disability premiums, according to Dianne Hunt, city human resources
"Life insurance amounts also increased, from $40,000 to $60,000," she said.
Officers receive a 1% cost of living increase for 2003-04, 1.6
percent for 2004-05, and between 1.5 and 3% for 2005-06.
"We were asking for 3.5%, but this puts us with the rest of the
city's employees," Adams said.
The KPA contract will be revisited again in June 2006, Hunt said.
Call Center Increases Profitability Using Workforce Optimization Technology
by Drew Robb, Cisco World Magazine.
Alert Communications of South Pasadena, Calif., found it a constant
challenge to accurately predict call volumes or agent requirements. As a
result, it struggled to balance the estimation of adequate staffing levels
"Labor costs accounted for as much as 60% of our revenue," said
Steve Covarrubias, a staff analyst at Alert Communications.
Alert implemented the Monet Workforce Optimization Suite by Left Bank
Solutions of Los Angeles. This brought about more accurate call volume
forecasts, optimization of staffing levels and scheduling of agents, as well
as a labor cost reduction.
"Since we adopted Monet for forecasting and scheduling, we've been able to
reduce this percentage to as little as 40% of our revenue totals.
This represents monthly savings of over $11,500. As a result, the software
paid for itself within 7 weeks."
Workforce management is all about making agents as productive as possible.
That is done primarily through accurate forecasting and optimization of
agent schedules, i.e. having enough agents for peak periods and avoiding
agents sitting idle by scheduling accordingly. However, this has to be
balanced against profitability. You have to get it right so that call wait
times are low while agent productivity is kept at a maximum.
Call centers have traditionally used spreadsheets for scheduling. But this
manual approach is guesswork at best, based upon the experience of the call
center manager. Under those circumstances it is not uncommon for the call
center to be caught flat-footed by demand spikes or to have agents loafing
around for hours with nothing to do.
That's why workforce optimization software is catching on as a means of
automating the process. According to Saddletree Research of Scottsdale,
Ariz., the workforce management market will reach $819 million a year by
"Several factors are behind this market growth," said Saddletree analyst
Paul Stockford, "including the compelling ROI offered by workforce
management, the direct impact that workforce management can have on
operational performance, and a highly competitive environment."
Call Center Veteran
Alert Communications is no Johnny Come Lately to the call center industry.
It opened its first call center in Los Angeles as far back as 1949. By the
1950s, it had expanded to 19 facilities across California. Today, Alert
Communications is an integrated eCRM and direct marketing outsourcing
company with a total capacity of over 500 seats. It offers call center
services both in the U.S. and off shore, and has been ranked in the Top 50
Outsourced Call Centers for the last several years. Its headquarters are in
South Pasadena, Calif.
Until recently, Alert provided only inbound services. However, the company
continues to evolve and is transitioning away from traditional ACD based
call facilities into IP based technology. As a result, about 5% of
its services consist of outbound and e-mail-based services.
Alert Communications handles about 65,000 calls per month, rising to over
100,000 per month during the holiday season. Its client list includes SBC
Directory Sales, Lego, USA Inc., and Disney American Teachers Award.
With such a high call volume to address and a wide range of demanding
clients to satisfy, forecasting has become a vital aspect of Alert's
"It is vital for us to maintain an optimal workforce so we can fully
service the many clients that look to us to address their outsourcing
needs," said Steve Covarrubias, a staff analyst at Alert Communications.
"Failure to effectively schedule our workforce would dramatically reduce the
level of service we can provide."
Initially, the company adopted a Windows-based workforce management
solution from Pipkins. Covarrubias liked the way the software integrated the
important aspects of forecasting and scheduling in one program. He felt
that, overall, it introduced tools and capabilities that changed the
company's standards in terms of workforce management.
"Pipkins multi-skill set staffing/scheduling technology helped us to become
more effective," said Covarrubias. "However, we never were fully satisfied
with how Pipkins predicted call volumes or agent requirements."
He explains that Alert never managed to successfully configure the various
Consistent failures in analysis after analysis drove the company to rely on
its own determinations on call volumes and the corresponding staffing
But even the most veteran call center managers and analysts can be caught
flat footed by surges in call volume or unsuspected seasonal variations. It
takes sophisticated forecasting and scheduling software to remote the
guesswork. Alert Communications, therefore, decided to evaluate the Monet
Workforce Management System by Left Bank Solutions Inc.
Monet includes a wealth of such features as the capability to forecast and
monitor Agent Occupancy, a fully integrated Agent Exception Planner, a
company wide Agent Availability Calendar, and Multimedia Blending. Monet's
Agent Occupancy feature, for example, is the measure of how busy agents are
and is expressed as a percentage of logged-in time that an agent is actually
busy in talk or wrap up time.
The capability to forecast, modify and monitor a center's agent occupancy
rates is displayed next to the current call history and service level
objectives. This allows for greater contact center flexibility during the
agent scheduling and adherence process.
"The ability for contact center managers to incorporate, track and adjust
agent occupancy rates within the normal scheduling activities is an
important consideration." notes Penny Reynolds a founding partner of The
Call Center School.
"Creating and monitoring the proper relationship between agent occupancy and
service levels is the key to increasing both customer service levels and
agent retention rates."
Monet's Exception Planner has strong support for the scheduling of recurring
exceptions as well as mid-day exceptions. It takes countless exceptions into
account when choosing shifts, and scheduling breaks. For example, a manager
can utilize Monet 3.5 to schedule an agent to attend a training meeting from
11:00-1:00 on the second Friday of every month, or set up a rotating
schedule where agents have different days off on alternate weeks.
Monet's Availability Calendar permits call center managers to see how
existing exceptions affect staff availability. Managers can select any set
of dates from the entire year and view agent requirements and availability,
along with the number of exception hours, broken down both by agent and
This tool is particularly useful when deciding upon and granting agent
In addition, Monet's Multimedia Blending capability allows blended contact
centers the ability to schedule non-call related activity. This capability,
also known as "banding," permits call center managers to schedule email, fax
and other non-call traffic during off-peak periods. Additional functionality
allows for agents to have blended schedules based by day of the week, skills
sets available and max/min time slot objectives.
Other features include: a graphical chart of agent schedules along with
quarter-hour statistics like agent surplus/shortage; individualized shift
creation for agents with special needs; sophisticated employee-level
configuration options for non-call work assignment; integration with Nortel
Symposium Call Center Server (versions 3.0 and above), with data collected
from switches by Nortel Symposium available to Monet users in real time.
"What drove us to try out Monet was the array of forecasting capabilities
with a degree of accuracy that greatly exceeded our expectations," said
Covarrubias. "We've been able to target and maintain unrelenting accuracy
when forecasting call volumes. As a result, we've better optimized the
staffing and scheduling of our agents."
Due to the small amount of set-up and configuration time required, Alert
Communications experienced a fast transition from Pipkins to Monet. Prior to
the change, it was difficult to precisely quantify the needs of the various
Alert call centers or the needs of each client. Without such vital metrics,
it wasn't always possible to make the right decisions.
"Since adopting Monet, we have been able to 'bridge the gap' by being able
to output no-nonsense, highly accurate information that all aspects of our
call center operations can use to make better, sound decisions," saidCovarrubias.
He gives a specific example of how the change to Monet has made an
immediate impact on efficiency and productivity. In the past when the
company estimated labor costs, it would take several weeks before management
could determine if the right decision had been made i.e. it could view its
labor costs in terms of their overall percentage of revenues to see if the
schedules and staffing levels implemented were correct or incorrect.
Through utilization of the what-if scenarios built into Monet, Alert
Communications can now rapidly model a series of potential changes to
measure their project outcome on revenue and service levels. The results
have been spectacular.
Whereas labor costs used to account for as much as 60% of revenue,
the percentage has been reduced to 40% by implementing Monet.
According to Covarrubias, this equates to monthly savings of over $11,500
and a payback period of only 7 weeks.
Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in technology and
Library may cut out Bookmobile service
Seattle Times, WA
By Bob Young
The Seattle Public Library would cut its bookmobile services for elderly
and homebound patrons next year under a budget proposal announced yesterday
by City Librarian Deborah Jacobs.
In an e-mail to all library staff, Jacobs said "eliminating Mobile Services
was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make."
She said the library would pursue alternative ways of providing service.
That might mean mailing books to patrons, steering patrons to local branch
libraries or providing them with information about public transit, said
Carrie Tuckwood, president of Local 2083, which represents about 400 library
Tuckwood also said patrons might save bookmobile services by lobbying the
"Mobile-services employees are going to encourage patrons to lobby. They're
going to be visiting patrons. It could well happen that mobile services is
saved," Tuckwood said.
A spokesman for Mayor Greg Nickels praised Jacobs' commitment to finding
alternative services for the homebound.
"We're confident she's going to make good on her pledge that homebound
patrons will get services," said Casey Corr.
Nickels asked the library to reduce its projected spending for 2005 by $2.1
million because he must close a $20 million gap between the city's
anticipated revenues and the cost of maintaining current services next year.
The mayor will unveil his full proposed budget Monday.
In her e-mail to staff members, Jacobs said the library also would cut
management costs and streamline its government-documents program to attain
the $2.1 million reduction. But she said the library would not cut hours
next year, nor would it close for two weeks, as it has for each of the past
two years because of budget woes.
Tuckwood said about 15 union workers would be affected by Jacobs' proposal,
but she said she did not expect layoffs. Instead, she hopes employees would
be moved into vacant positions at the library. "Nobody is losing their jobs.
They are going to be placed elsewhere in the system. Management said that,
and I trust management," she said.
Jacobs could not be reached for comment. Library spokeswoman Andra Addison
said budget questions should be directed to the mayor's office.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or email@example.com
There's nowhere for the cost of tuition to go - except up
by Charles Stein, Boston Globe, MA
When my 17-year-old son said he might want to apply to colleges on the West
Coast, my wife had a flashback. When she was thinking about schools in the
fall of 1970, she considered Stanford. Her father told her to forget it. His
rationale: the cost of flying coast-to-coast, on top of tuition costs, would
have made Stanford prohibitively expensive.
Think about that for a minute. Would anyone make the same statement today?
Not likely. In 2004, the cost of a few coast-to-coast flights is so much
lower than the cost of tuition that the airfare is practically an
afterthought. Clearly tuition prices have risen a lot faster than airfares.
So I was curious. How much faster have they climbed and what explains the
Let's go to the numbers. In 1970 Stanford tuition was $2,400. This year it
is a hair under $30,000, an increase of almost 1,150%. In 1970 a
cross-country round-trip flight cost about $300. The same flight today costs
roughly $400, an increase of 33%.
The airfare story is a simpler one to tell. In 1978 the airline industry was
deregulated, ushering in an age of brutal competition. Existing airlines
added more seats, new airlines contributed both new seats and new business
models, and changing technology - think Internet travel sites - gave
consumers tools to search for bargains. It has been a long and messy
process, but the result has been what we have come to expect from
competitive markets: low prices.
Suffice to say colleges, especially prestigious colleges like Stanford, have
traveled a different route. Demand for their services has exploded. Each
year, more students from around the country and the world apply for spots,
convinced that admission is a ticket to a better life and a more lucrative
At Stanford, for example, more than 19,000 students applied for 2,400 places
in this year's freshman class. But on the supply side, the response by the
schools has been surprisingly muted. There are no JetBlues in the ranks of
good colleges. Start-ups are unheard of. While the existing players
occasionally expand, the number of new seats at top schools grows at a
As nonprofits, colleges have no incentive to add capacity. But that doesn't
really explain what is going on. Good colleges are competitive. What's
different is the nature of their rivalry. They compete not on price but on
prestige. Who has the better buzz? Who is more exclusive? Who occupies a
higher spot on the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings.
Ronald Ehrenberg has studied the magazine's rankings. He is an economics
professor at Cornell and author of ''Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So
Much." Ehrenberg points out that U.S. News rewards colleges for spending
more money, not less, particularly when it comes to faculty. Points are
awarded for small classes, a high percentage of full-time faculty, and total
faculty resources. Said Ehrenberg, ''It's perverse, but in this world
holding down expenditures would be suicide."
More recently schools have begun competing by building fancier dorms and
gymnasiums. If the airlines played by the same rules, struggling carriers
like Delta and US Airways, with their high-paid pilots and big pension
obligations, would be the equivalent of Harvard and Yale.
Could colleges cut costs if it became a necessity? Frank Levy, an MIT
economics professor, ticks off a number of possibilities. Colleges, he says,
could expand tele-learning, put lectures on DVDs, and make faculty members
work more hours.
''The airlines had to figure out how to do it," said Levy. ''Universities
don't face the same cost pressures."
And they aren't likely to anytime soon. As long as the customers think thetop schools deliver benefits that can't be gotten elsewhere, they will keep
paying the freight.
So for parents, already feeling the pinch from shrunken stock portfolios,
the future promises ever-rising tuition bills. Personally, I'm hoping
JetBlue goes into the education business before my son goes to college.
Charles Stein is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
News You Can Use - People lose patience waiting for rewards - Time away from work boosts your spirits [abridged]
Asbury Park Press, United States
American workers take an average of 13 days off a year. The Italians
meanwhile take 42 days, the French, 37 days. Even the highly productive
Japanese take 25 days a year.
What makes U.S. workers different? There's no federal mandate here making
companies offer paid time off, said Vincent Serravallo, a Rochester
Institute of Technology sociology professor. Americans work longer and
harder [that's different, and questionable], "but elsewhere, especially in European countries, there's an idea
that people are human beings and life is more than just work."
Employees might be more productive in the short-term, but there could be
"If you have a family and you are obsessed with your work and have no time
to devote to them . . . it could lead to more divorce, more unhappiness at
home," said John Challenger, chief executive of the national outplacement
firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. "When people are going through
difficult personal problems . . . their work is no longer their priority."
Use every vacation day, go to a place where you can forget about work,
don't check your messages and take a chunk of time - not a bunch of long
weekends, Challenger suggested.
Everyone could use more time
Small-business owners often wrestle with the challenges of running all
parts of a business. Some have to-do lists that never run out and days so
full of distraction that they get nothing done. They lament about all the
things they could do with an extra hour.
Time-management and productivity experts say business owners who add more
organization to their day, prioritize what they need to get done and follow
a few other simple rules may find that extra time after all.
Jan Jasper, a New York productivity consultant and author, suggests looking
for shortcuts on mundane items that must be done but aren't advancing your
business. Try outsourcing, hiring a consultant or assistant, or delegating
Small-business owners often don't train their staffs well enough, Jasper
said. A well-trained staff can handle delegated tasks and work more quickly.
Dutch strike stops Amsterdam trams, buses, subways and ferries
Bloomberg, United States
A Dutch public transport-worker strike in the
province of North Holland stopped buses, trams, subways and ferries in
Amsterdam and surrounding areas.
The 66 bus lines, 16 tram lines, four subway lines and four ferry routes in
Amsterdam, home to about 740,000 people, take about 160,000 fares daily,
according to the Web site of GVB, the city's 104-year-old municipal
Drivers responded to a call by the FNV Bondgenoten labor union to strike as
a protest against plans by the cabinet that include lengthening the work
week to 40 hours from 36 hours.
There will be no public transport in Amsterdam, whose area is about 220
square kilometers and is the headquarters of companies including ABN Amro
NV, Royal Philips Electronics NV and Heineken NV, from 3 a.m. today until
midnight, according to GVB. The strike includes the city's Schiphol airport.
The longest municipal transport route is 35.3 kilometers, from the center
of the city to south Schiphol.
Walking the tightrope
Dispatch Online, South Africa
Britons are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle full-time jobs with caring for their families, despite legislation
aimed at cutting hours spent in the office.
While more women work than ever before, balancing work and family life is a struggle, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
told trade unionists attending a conference of the country's biggest labour federation recently.
"In some workplaces, there is a long-hours culture regardless of whether it is productive," he told the Trades Union
Congress gathered in the seaside resort of Brighton, southern England.
Since coming to power in 1997, Blair's Labour government has introduced a raft of legislation aimed at promoting a better
work-family balance, including making it easier for parents to work from home. Employees with children aged under six years,
or with disabled children under 18, are entitled to work flexible hours and bosses must consider their requests.
But trade unionists here 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.
"The pressure and work load make it such that I hardly do my preferred pattern of job," said Marion Lloyd, a mother of two
children working full-time as a civil servant. "I am supposed to work 37 hours per week, but it is nearer to between 50 and
60," she said.
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.
According to The Work Foundation, a London-based consultancy, 65% of Britons work more than 35 hours a week and 36% more than 40 hours.
In a bid to appease trade unions ahead of an expected general 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. The
move was expected to give almost three million workers an extra eight days off a year.
State panel continues to struggle with Campbell finances -
Fire and police chiefs explain the jump in overtime costs.
By MARALINE KUBIK, Youngstown Vindicator, OH
CAMPBELL, Oh. - The commission that must map the city's road to fiscal recovery
is nearing the halfway point in its journey, but the end isn't in sight.
In July, expenditures in the police and fire departments were up
significantly - 41%, or $4,000, in the police department, and 49
percent, $9,800, in the fire department, compared with the six months
before, said Nita R. Hendryx, assistant chief project manager with the state
auditor's Northeast Region.
Hendryx is also financial supervisor for the city's seven-member financial
planning and supervision commission.
Too much spending
The increases are especially problematic, Hendryx said, because even
without overtime, the city spends too much on employee salaries and
benefits. If Campbell is to regain its fiscal stability, costs must be cut,
and so far, she noted, city council has failed to do that.
Expenditures for police and fire consume 70% of Campbell's general
Hendryx also reminded commission members that a recovery plan is due 120
days from the commission's first meeting, which was July 28. "We're almost
60 days into that," she said. If there is no plan in place by the December
deadline, the state will reduce the city's appropriations to 85%,
On a brighter note, Hendryx reported that the Public Employees Retirement
System has agreed not to attach the city's local government money, which
comes from the state, to cover past due contributions.
Until last month, the Mahoning County Auditor had held Campbell's local
government funds to cover debts owed the county. By the end of the summer,
those debts were paid in full, Hendryx said.
Mayor Jack Dill told the committee that the city is considering two
proposals for the sale of its water treatment plant - a lump-sum payment of
$31,500 or a lease-to-own arrangement that would net the city an initial
payment of $17,950 followed by a final payment of $22,500.
Aqua Ohio Inc., formerly Consumers Ohio Water, is interested in buying the
plant. The mayor said, "I don't think we should be in the water business any
Selling the water treatment plant was one of the suggestions state auditors
offered to help bring Campbell out of deficit.
Responding to the report of significant increases in expenditures in the
police and fire departments, Nick Hrelec, fire chief, said, shaking his
head. "They tell you they're up, but they don't tell you why," he
complained. "It's basically because of vacations. It always goes up in the
Firefighters work a 24-hour schedule, Hrelec continued. So, when a
firefighter takes a day off, it's not an eight-hour vacation day, it's a
24-hour vacation day.
Chief of Police Gus Sarigianopoulos provided a written explanation.
"The minimum staffing for this department is sixteen officers,"
Sarigianopoulos wrote. At present, the department is operating with a staff
of 13 full-time officers, but because of vacations, family leave and
injuries, only 10 full-time officers are working.
To cover all shifts each week requires 504 hours, the police chief wrote.
Working 40 hours a week, the 10 full-time officers can cover only 400 hours.
Part-time and auxiliary officers collectively cover 70 hours a week, the
letter states, leaving 34 hours that must be covered by officers working
The commission's next meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20.
EU seeks to improve maximum workweek rules, leave hard-won UK opt-out intact
by Robert Wielaard, AP via Canadian Press via National Post, Canada
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union head office this week proposed
redefining how working hours are counted under the bloc's maximum 48-hour
workweek law and stopping companies in Britain from abusing an "opt-out" to
That national "opt out" - a legacy of a decades-old veto to ban EU work
rules from British offices and factories - remains intact, EU Social Affairs
Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a report to EU governments.
In practice, Britain leaves the choice of a maximum 48-hour work week to
individual workers, but flouts the rules by forcing them to sign an
agreement to "opt-out" of such a workweek when they sign a job contract,
In the future, "an employer would not be able to obtain this consent at the
time of signing the employment contract," he said.
"And the employee will be free to withdraw his consent at any moment," said
Dimas. "The individual opt-out will be done by collective agreement or by
agreements between the two sides of industry within a sector or workplace."
Other proposed changes to EU laws affect medical workers and others who
spend the night "on-call" at their work, amending the way the 48-hour
workweek is calculated and refining "rest periods" spelled out in the
In 2002 and 2003, the EU high court said "on-call" time is work, not rest.
Under the new law, employers and employees can determine how much "on call"
time is actually spent working.
After the court rulings, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Spain exempted
their health, catering and hotel industry workers from the workweek law,
saying complying with the current one meant having to hire tens of thousands
[WELL, do they want to solve Europe's high unemployment or don't they?!]
These countries are expected to reapply the workweek rules once the issue
of hours worked "on-call" has been fine-tuned.
The EU head office also proposes to alter the "reference period" used to
calculate a 48-hour workweek. It now uses average hours worked over a
four-month period but that would be stretched to a year to give employees
and employers more flexibility to organize heavy workloads.
The EU law sets a maximum workweek at 48 hours. It applies to seasonal work
- such as farming and the hotel sector - as well as round-the-clock
industries, notably emergency services with irregular hours. Governments are
free to set workweeks at less than that.
Dimas told reporters the changes to the 48-hour workweek law "will address
shortcomings in the present system. It is a balanced package of measures
that protect the health and safety of workers while introducing greater
flexibility and preserving competitiveness."
The EU's maximum workweek law also sets out minimum rest periods for
workers and a minimum of four weeks paid leave [US: vacation] each year.
Like Britain, Cyprus and Malta - two of the 10 countries that joined the EU
last May - also obtained a general exemption from the legislation.
In Britain, the workweek law has long been seen as emblematic of EU
meddling in its affairs. Elsewhere in the union it is generally accepted as
a measure aimed at protecting workers' health and safety without eroding the
competitiveness of companies.
To take effect, the proposed changes to the law must be endorsed by the 25
EU governments as well as the European Parliament, which could take a year
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
(July 31+) Aug.1-10/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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