Timesizing® Associates - Homepage

Timesizing News, October 1-5, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

10/05/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/04 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #11 which is from 10/05 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 10/05), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Labor Dept. makes cuts,
    by Lori Hutchinson, WIBW, KS.
    The Dept. of Labor is starting to make cuts to its workforce.
    On Monday, employees at the Unemployment Call Centers were notified of a furlough program for full-time staff. Their typical five day work week will be reduced by one or two days a week.
    Employees will be paid for the time they work and will keep their health insurance and vacation benefits. They'll also be eligible for unemployment benefits to compensate for the hours that are cut.
    The furlough program will affect 65 people working at call centers in Topeka, Wichita and Kansas City. It takes effect on November 15th.
    Labor officials still anticipate layoffs in other areas and hope to have the entire plan finished by the end of next week.
    [Another version -]
    State Labor employees to have hours reduced,
    by Scott Rothschild, Lawrence Journal World, KS.
    TOPEKA, Kan. - State employees who handle unemployment compensation claims over the telephone were told Monday that their hours will be reduced.
    The "work share program" will affect 65 Kansas Dept. of Labor employees at call centers in Topeka, Kansas City KS and Wichita, according to Beth Martino, a spokeswoman for the department. Martino said the reduced hours for those employees will be in addition to an undetermined number of layoffs at the department that will be announced either at the end of this week or start of next week.
    "We'll have layoffs in addition to this," she said.
    Labor Dept. officials say they have to cut spending because of a decrease in federal funding to handle the administration of jobless benefits. The reduced federal appropriation resulted from fewer people seeking unemployment claims, officials said.
    The 65 call center workers will see their work weeks trimmed by a day or two, Martino said. The changes will take place Nov. 15.
    The employees will be able to keep their state health insurance plans and apply for a portion of jobless benefits because of the reduced hours. But all benefits will expire after six months, she said.

  2. [Bet Mayor Bloomberg himself would have liked this assignment -]
    Books: France's Corinne Maier talks about her rant against work,
    by Farah Nayeri (farahn@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg, United States.
    LONDON - A 112-page pamphlet urging the French to work less has hit a Gallic nerve.
    In its 12th reprint with 164,000 copies in circulation, "Bonjour Paresse,'' or "Hello Laziness,'' (Editions Michalon, 12 euros) has spawned cover stories by news magazines such as Le Nouvel Observateur and Le Point and won primetime slots on radio and television.
    Author Corinne Maier, an economist and psychoanalyst, demonizes corporate culture and encourages workers to fake it at their desks. A subversive rant - "If you've got nothing to gain by working, you've got nothing to lose by doing squat,'' she writes - her book has captured the French mindset just as Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin talks of lengthening the 35-hour work week.
    "Bonjour Paresse,'' a tongue-in-cheek essay aimed at white- collar workers who can afford to do less, became a summer sleeper when Maier's employer, the world's No. 1 power company Electricite de France, threatened disciplinary action against her over the publication. The Sud Energie electricity workers' union howled and called the press; fame ensued, and EDF dropped action.
    U.S. and British reviewers see the book as an ode to sloth "a la francaise,'' and gloat over so-called French excesses.
    Charming apathy
    "It is a book that thousands may say never needed to be written - a manual advising the French on how to be lazy at work,'' sneered London's "Daily Express'' in July. "With France's easy-going work culture, long lunches, 35-hour week and six weeks of vacation, French workers, it may be suggested, were already practicing their own charming brand of Gallic apathy.''
    Yet Maier's complaints about corporate greed and de- humanization can apply to companies anywhere, including the U.S. behemoths in Naomi Klein's "No Logo,'' a scathing attack on the omnipotence of global brands, which Maier quotes.
    Maier, who...retains the disheveled look of the mutinous teenager, is a mother of two. When not working half-time, she analyzes patients on the couch in her study, and publishes books on French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, on art and obscenity, and, soon, on the chemist Louis Pasteur.
    She holds court in her luminous modern apartment, where two refrigerator-sized loudspeakers - placed there by her psychiatrist other half - stand against loud, wall-sized oil paintings. Maier, in running shoes, black pants and a ribbed sweater, settles on a red couch to discuss her book's success.
    Bloomberg: What gave you the idea to do this book?
    Maier: Corporations are a topic I've long been interested in. I always thought I'd write about them, and always thought I'd write a novel. But as I don't have a novelist's talent ... I wrote a pamphlet. Voila.
    Overnight celebrity
    Bloomberg: What are you up to these days?
    Maier: I'm back at work. Actually, I never stopped working; I just went on holiday for three weeks .... The atmosphere is a little bizarre.
    Otherwise, I promote my book. It's a big job that takes up a lot of time.
    Bloomberg: What do you mean by bizarre?
    Maier: I became famous overnight, so my book is stirring a lot of debate inside the company...that's fantastic. At the same time, it's a little odd to have triggered all of this.
    I don't see my bosses much, thankfully, because I sense that they don't especially like me. But then I expected it; I can't say it was a surprise. Otherwise, I have a friendly rapport with my colleagues, and people I see every day are nice to me.
    Bloomberg: Are you surprised at how well your book has done?
    Maier: Yes, I'm very surprised. It's huge. We didn't expect it at all, neither I nor the publisher. It's a small publisher. The book wasn't written to have as wide a success as this.
    Bloomberg: A lot of the articles written about you harp on the idea that France is a country of lazybones who do nothing. Aren't you worried about ruining your country's reputation?
    [More likely she'd MAKE her country's reputation as the only sane nation in the Age of Robotics, the only country who understands freedom and liberty, because they only land that gives itself the most basic freedom, free time!]
    Maier: When I'm accused of that, my response is that this was originally a little pamphlet aimed at a few thousand readers, and I never thought it would spread all over the world. Besides, I'm not paid to write publicity brochures about France.
    Bloomberg: Your message is misunderstood. People think, here we go again, another lazy French woman who hates to work.
    Maier: Yes, I've noticed. They have a very right-wing reading of the book, the impression that what I denounce is the fact that France is a bureaucratic country. But their interest proves that there are things in the book that happen in their country, too. The proof is that my master is an American called Scott Adams, author of the superb "Dilbert'' comic strips, which describe a universe that is both bureaucratic and absurd and exactly matches the one I describe.
    There is so much crass anti-Americanism in France that (Americans) are entitled to reciprocate. The average French person hates America and Americans so much that the misunderstanding is complete, and it's true on both sides.
    No labels
    Bloomberg: You're not worried about coming across as lazy?
    Maier: It's a risk, but maybe it's not all that bad to seem lazy. (Laugh.) I find it quite funny. I am lazy, it's true, but for certain things, not for others.
    Bloomberg: Parts of your book could come across as Marxist - the parts where you emphasize the importance of leisure - whereas other parts are feminist, post-capitalist.... How would you describe yourself?
    Maier: No labels, please - we don't need them!
    At EDF there are people who think I'm working for the enemy, that the book was commissioned by conservatives to drive home the point that there were too many people working inside the company....There are right-wing people, on the other hand, who think it's a completely subversive left-wing anti-business book.
    In a word, the book is a kind of hot potato. That's the good thing about it: it contributes to splitting the French. And in that sense, it's a great success. It gets people talking. There's a debate. That's fantastic, no?
    Capitalism, French style
    Bloomberg: You don't think it's French capitalism, especially, that you're targeting?
    Maier: No, definitely not. I think it's a universal model.
    It's true that France as a country is completely deadlocked at the moment. Nothing ever happens. We feel we have no future .... At the same time, I know people who work for multinationals like IBM in France and describe the same universe.
    I think man is the same everywhere. There are structures that breed certain behavior patterns. And when they get big, you have to obey. There's no other way.
    Bloomberg: What are you reading at the moment?
    Maier: (She pulls out a borrowed, yellowing book published in the 1970s.) The memoirs of a Russian intellectual named Andrei Amalrik, an art lover who was deported to Siberia for not working and being a parasite. The book is called "Voyage Involontaire en Siberie'' ("An Involuntary Trip to Siberia'').
    Bloomberg: What solution do you have for capitalism in the future? You call for a sort of rebellion - what comes after?
    Maier: Frankly, I couldn't care less what comes after, because I have no idea. It's not my mission, and anyway, I'm wary of anything that's collective. Even if there was a revolution - and that, admittedly, could be very amusing; let's not be party poopers - it would be funny for a few months, but then you'd have little bosses taking over, unbearable forms of hierarchy, a new lingo. I have no illusions. It would quickly become painful. After the first few months of chaos, to which I aspire, society would fall back into place, and get very boring again.
    Revolutionary moment
    Bloomberg: So there's no point to revolution?
    Maier: There is. It's in the beauty of the moment. It's as if you said there was no point in being in love. There is, for the beauty of the moment, the freshness of it. But after a while things fall back into place. The aim of my book is for each person to ask himself or herself what's really important for him or her, and do it.
    Bloomberg: You're not looking to solve society's problems?
    Maier: No, no, no! That would be a bit heavy. Let society do, well, I don't know what, because I don't know what's going to happen, but I don't care.
    I think there can only be individual revolutions. Everybody in this world probably has things that are important to him or her, and that's what matters. Each person must do what's personal and singular.
    There's no collective rebellion. I ask people to pretend to work, each one of them, individually. It's not a collective movement.
    Bloomberg: Do you think your pamphlet is anti-American?
    Maier: No, it's anti-French! (Laugh.)
    It's typically French to see America as a nation of violent, savage people who are uncultured, as if it were paradise over here. Anti-Americanism is a facile cliche among the French. I wouldn't like to fall into it, because I find it really simplistic.
    Bloomberg: Why are you anti-French?
    Maier: It's an extraordinary place, but it's extraordinarily irritating at the same time. It's a beautiful country, you eat well, there are fantastic places, and people who are sometimes exceptional, with lots of verve, but every French person is not (the thinker Michel de) Montaigne or (the playwright Jean) Racine. It's very hard to live in France ... at times exasperating.
    Bloomberg: Why?
    Maier: The stale side, the hypocritical side, with all its values and so forth, when ultimately it's a country where nothing ever happens, where people are segregated from childhood, where there are castes that are never talked about ... the glossed-over side. Britain or the United States seem to me more brutal countries, but at the same time the rules of the game are maybe a little clearer.
    Bad at math
    Bloomberg: You're interested in everything, it seems.
    Maier: Alas, I was always terrible at math, so it closes the door on a number of areas where I can't go.
    Bloomberg: What do your children think of your success?
    Maier: They see me very busy, talking to people, going out. I don't think they're traumatized. They look like they always do. It's too early to say. They're interested in other things.

  3. [Another article on France -]
    'Liberal' Conservatives
    Metropoleparis, France
    Not everybody on the right-wing is perfectly happy with Président Jacques Chirac and the Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Last year a group of economically-liberal conservatives led by UMP deputy Herve Novelli were noisily negative about the 35-hour work week. This year as the Assembly National resumes its sessions the same group is demanding that the 'reform' of the 'rich-tax' include a 50% exoneration of it, if the money is invested. They also want the government to institute a 'minimum service' law for striking transport workers. For fruit and veg, every night is a Nuit Blanche. They want civil servants to work to the same rules as in the private sector, and the want the government's ENA - administration school - turned into a business school. Wherever they where, there were 800 of them and they whistled against the 'two lost years' of Raffarin's government and against the 'promises not kept' by the president, and against the 50% of deputies who are also civil servants.

  4. SoCot employers reducing workdays; crisis blamed
    by Allen V. Estabillo, Mindanews aka Minda News, Philippines
    KORONADAL CITY, Philippines - Business establishments here and in neighboring areas have started to cut down their regular work days by at least 50% due to the continuing crisis. Allan Yaphockun, president of the South Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said most of their members have been forced to implement a 3- to 5-day work-week instead of the regular 6 days to save on their expenses and "to make sure our businesses will survive this crisis." He said the local business sector has been suffering tremendous losses due to the rising costs of inputs such as electricity and the transport of products to the area that were mainly blamed on the series of increases in oil prices. Transport costs reportedly increased by almost 50%, as pump prices of gasoline rose from over P24 early this year to the current P28. He said the unbundling of power rates by local electric firms and the increasing charges on the purchased power adjustment by the National Power Corporation have added to their woes. Yaphockun also said the new wage order and the rising cost of basic goods also have a negative impact on their operations. ³The reality is that most companies or business establishments could not really pay minimum wage set by wage order number 11,² he claimed. Based on said order, commercial workers would be receiving P200 per day, while agricultural workers would be receiving P180 per day starting Sept. 1. He urged the Dept. of Labor and Employment (Dole) to reconsider the wage rates. He assured, however, that the business sector will continue to persevere and contribute all it can to ensure that the situation will not worsen. He further assured that it is not among their options to retrench their workers saying such move will only worsen the problem. Meantime, Yaphockun said various business chambers in Central Mindanao are mulling to take a collective stand against the increasing electricity rates being imposed by electric cooperatives in the area. He said they have started discussions with their counterparts in General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato province on the possibility of joining the ongoing protests launched by various groups. Last Friday, the People Opposed to Warrantless Electricity Rates (Power)-South Cotabato launched a 15-day 30-minute daily power shutdown to dramatize their demand for an immediate rollback of local power rates. ³We have initially agreed to join the protest actions as long as these are done through peaceful means,² he added.

  5. Keep staff and save cash by being flexible, firms urged
    by Andrew Vine, Yorkshire Post Today, UK.
    Employers in Yorkshire are being urged to introduce more flexible, worker-friendly hours to keep valued staff – and save themselves money. Part-time working and hours tailored to suit the needs of women returning to work after having children are some of the ways that leading companies can retain highly-trained staff, and save money on recruitment costs, according to the West Yorkshire Employer Coalition. Now the coalition, which is made up of companies from across the county, is launching a campaign to encourage firms to adopt more worker-friendly policies. Its aims will be set out at a seminar in Leeds next week. The coalition says that flexible working not only saves firms money, but also helps them retain highly-trained staff in a competitive employment market in booming West Yorkshire, where skilled workers are increasingly hard to find. A better balance between work and home life is increasingly being demanded by workers, many of whom have pressing domestic commitments, including looking after children, elderly relatives or the disabled. And the coalition is to tell companies that accommodating their needs makes sound business sense, citing BT as an example. After introducing family-friendly flexible hours, BT saved £3m in recruitment costs in the year to March 2003, since 98 per cent of female staff who had left to have children returned after maternity leave. Among the firms which belong to the coalition, and have introduced flexible working, are Fujitsu, in Wakefield, the Leeds and Holbeck Building Society, and the Yorkshire Building Society. Leeds and Holbeck general manager Kim Rebecchi said: "There is a growing recognition of the work-life balance, and employers are thinking more creatively. "We have been encouraging flexibility for a lot of years. We are in a quite tight employment market in Leeds, and we have been growing our workforce and found that we've had more challenges in finding the right level of skills. "Changes to the way business is done is also a factor, as people now want to do business at different times. "Increased flexibility is win, win as far as we can see. It helps us respond to changing consumer patterns. For example, at our call centre in Leeds, we have evening shifts, and we can work the hours around the skills of the people. "Over the past couple of years, we have encouraged our managers to think how it can benefit them. "We have a number of people who have left to have children, and we have invested time and training in them, and they have come back."
    30% of the society's 1,000-strong workforce are part-time. It can cost about £4,000 to recruit a new staff member, including advertising costs, training and the costs to the business of an unfilled vacancy. But those costs can be saved by bringing back experienced and trained staff. The Leeds and Holbeck tailors posts to the skills and experience of those returning. Among the arrangements in place are term-time working, which means parents do not work during the school holidays, and tailor their hours to when the youngsters are at school. The Yorkshire Building Society has found similar benefits from flexible working. Its human resources projects manager, Susan Hibbert, said: "Staff turnover has been dramatically reduced at the Yorkshire Building Society since it adopted flexible working practices to improve the work-life balance of its 2,000 employees. "Policies such as job-sharing, flexitime, working from home and compressed hours have have yielded tangible dividends, including a much higher return rate after maternity leave – from 60% to 74% in just two years. "The society has been able to retain experienced staff, who, without flexible working, would have been forced to leave."
    The free seminar for employers looking to recruit or retain staff is being held at the Queens Hotel on October 8. Further details from Cath Rhodes at A4e Work on 0113 246 9591.

  6. SA women doing it all, and winning
    by Nalisha Kalideen & Sapa, AFP via Independent Online, South Africa
    Chinese women are working over 12-hour days to get ahead, leaving little time for anything else. But it's worth the effort, say South African women. It is all work and no play for China's growing army of female entrepreneurs as they try to build successful careers in a male-dominated society, Chinese state media reported on Monday. the Xinhua news agency said, citing a survey from the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs. The survey said more than 40% of China's private companies were run by women. The children of career-oriented women are more independent It said the predictable result of the long hours women worked was that they were left with little time to care for their children, do housework or even sleep. But Dr Namane Magau, president of South Africa's Business Women's Association, said she found the situation in South Africa to be the contrary. "Many women don't abdicate their responsibilities, but instead find creative ways of teaching their children to be independent and accountable," Magau said. "I have read studies that highlight the fact that women who are entrepreneurial, career-orientated, disciplined and focused, pass that on to their own children, who learn to become independent," Magau said. She said she had found the motivation for women to start their own businesses was because they required flexible hours to care for their families while earning an income. 'There are now more and more women moving into entrepreneurship' "There are now more and more women moving into entrepreneurship and I think it is a positive thing." Suzanne Ravenall is an entrepreneur who is now group chief executive officer of her company, IDCS Beyond Outsourcing, which she started in 1997. Her company was recognised as one of the Best Companies to Work For two years in a row, as one of the Top 300 Companies in South Africa two years in a row, and one of the Most Promising Companies in the country. "Deeply satisfying relationships and rejuvenating self-care tend to suffer. If anything, it is usually the time for gym, reading and taking vacations that get affected," Ravenall said. She said the key to balancing life and work was making a list of priorities and sticking to it. "Women definitely have more things to to do and, yes, in reality women have to work harder than men... personally it's worth all the effort. As long as they understand what they want out of their life, then it really is well worth it at the end of the day," she said. Kobie van der Westhuizen, a fashion designer who started her company fashion@art 10 years ago, agrees that the effort and hours are well worth it. She designs clothes for the television soapie 7de Laan and has many private clients. "It is very difficult. I also work very, very long hours and have been doing so for the past 10 years. "You get used to the hours and the more you get used to it, the more you push yourself to perform harder. When I am not working, I miss it," Van der Westhuizen said. Xinhua did not provide details about the survey, such as the number of entrepreneurs questioned about their work habits.
    Suzanne's tips on how to achieve balance Ravenall said there are three things women should remember when applying the tips:
    1. Understand the degree to which you're currently juggling and the reasons why you do.
    2. Take a look at possible alternatives and see how feasible it would be to apply these things to your life.
    3. It won't happen unless you put an action-plan in place and execute it.
    Ravenall's ideas are from the book Beyond Juggling: Rebalancing your busy life.

  7. As economy improves, job dissatisfaction is on the rise - Pay, workload, advancement are top complaints in surveys, by Kristen Gerencher, CBS MARKETWATCH via Boston Globe, MA
    60% of voters in one survey said the problem of low-wage work has become more serious in the past few years. Many workers who may have been glad just to have job security during the recession are now 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 specialists said. In fact, a growing number of workers are considering downshifting, according to a survey of more than 1,200 people by the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit group that aims to help Americans consume wisely. In the past five years, 48% of Americans have voluntarily opted to make less money so they could have more time and a less stressful life, they told the center's pollsters. More than half would be willing to give up one day's pay per week to get that day 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, they said. At the same time, workers who survived several rounds of layoffs may still feel pressure to outperform, said Jim Derivan, spokesman for LifeCare, a benefits consulting firm. ''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're ''looking for new and creative ways to balance their responsibilities at work with their responsibilities at home.''
    68% of working parents are considering cutting back or even quitting altogether due to child-care issues, according to a LifeCare survey of nearly 500 workers.
    46% said they like their current job but want to work fewer hours, while 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, he said. ''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.'' Those who continue to work also often patch together backup systems in case a child gets sick or has some other unscheduled absence, and sick-child clinics are still hard to find, he said. Of course, labor concerns aren't confined to parents and their desire to alleviate time crunches.
    30% of workers say they are unhappy with their career progress, according to a survey of 1,600 mostly full-time workers from CareerBuilder.com, a job-search site.
    52% of those who are dissatisfied plan to leave their current positions, with 28% expecting to change jobs before the end of the year. ''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. And 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 may also feel stuck or ''compartmentalized'' in their positions, she said. ''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.''
    The top five reasons workers cited for their dissatisfaction in not achieving their career goals, according to CareerBuilder:
    1. Lack of career advancement opportunities at present employer: 27%. One in four workers said they've been overlooked for a promotion this year.
    2. Lack of appropriate education, training, and experience: 18%. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement or assistance, and workers need to take responsibility for updating their skills, Sullivan said, noting that a two-year plan can help. ''Here's where I am today, where I want to be two years from now. Here are the goals I need to make that happen. You want to make sure you're creating a checklist for yourself.''
    3. Inadequate direction from supervisors: 15%.
    4. A challenging economy: 10%. The unemployment rate dipped to 5.4% in August and job growth returned after two disappointing months, according to the Labor Dept.. But even when jobs become more plentiful, more workers may leave their employers instead of taking another internal position when the time is right, Sullivan said.
    5. Lack of support from present employers: 7%.
    Income inequality is another factor resonating with workers and voters this year, especially among people who earn less than $11 an hour and have family income lower than $40,000 a year, according to new research from the Corporate Voices for Working Families, an employer trade group of 45 companies covering 4 million workers.
    60% of voters think the problem of low-wage work has become more serious in the past few years, and 70% believe low-wage workers' employment conditions are a very or fairly serious problem, the survey said. Swing voters showed more concern than decided voters over such conditions, but 59% of the general voting public said a worker needs an income of at least $40,000 to support a family of four. Just 38% of low-wage workers receive job-based health insurance, compared with 69% of higher-wage workers, the study found. Forty-seven% of low-wage workers receive paid sick leave, compared with 75% of higher-wage workers. Likewise, 47% of low-wage workers are offered a retirement plan vs. 80% of higher-wage workers with some type of pension. Corporate Voices' employment base represents a small percentage of the 137 million private-sector American workers, 69 million of whom work in small or midsize enterprises, the organization's president, Donna Klein, said in a statement. ''The reality today is that only some workers in some companies in some places have the support systems they need in place to be strong, productive employees and caring parents,'' Klein said. ''More needs to be done.''

  8. Unions question Meditrol tactics
    The Republican, MA
    By MIKE PLAISANCE (mplaisance@repub.com)
    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Meditrol Inc. is often the kick in the pants municipalities use to get employees back to work. And some labor unions find it troubling. The state-appointed Springfield Finance Control Board has authorized the city to hire the Chicopee-based Meditrol to manage injured-on-duty claims by police and firefighters. The city's goal in entering into a one-year, $60,000 contract with Meditrol is to improve the process and reduce costs. Police and firefighter injured-on-duty claims cost the city about $1.7 million annually in payroll and medical costs. The hiring of Meditrol comes as such claims by police officers have become an issue. By city ordinance, officers get 60 sick days a year. Injured-on-duty cases prompted an exasperated reaction in July from Police Commissioner William A. Hurley. "Our hands are tied," Hurley said. "They come in here with notes from chickens and monkeys and doctors and chiropractors, and there is nothing that we can do. "I'm sick of seeing the same names over and over. If I had my way anyone who abuses sick time would be fired." Meditrol contacts workers who are out of work because of injuries - a leave for which police and firefighters get 100% of their base pay, tax-free - and the workers' physicians to determine what work they can and can't do. The process is aimed not only at getting the worker back to some duty, known variously as "light duty" and "work hardening," but at saving cities and towns big money. Besides the pay injured police and firefighters collect while missing work, municipalities are on the hook for the other workers who must fill the shifts of the injured, usually at overtime rates. Meditrol officials said their work in Lawrence a few years ago on police and firefighter injured on duty cases saved that city $1.2 million, although a union lawyer said the company achieved that by focusing on the bottom line at the expense of people. Most cities and towns can afford to pay overtime rates to cover regular staffing only for a limited time, Meditrol President Albert R. Mason said. "You can't do that too long before you have to start laying people off," said Mason, a former solicitor in the Chicopee Law Dept.. Unlike some other jobs, he said, what police and firefighters do is vital because lives and property are at stake. "You can't not replace them. It's public safety." If continued written and other contacts between Meditrol and the worker fails to result in the worker returning to the job, that triggers the last but hardly rare resort of involuntary retirement, a procedure outlined in state law. Mason said the company's objective is to figure out how best to get workers back to work for their client municipalities, not badger legitimately hurt employees with charges of loafing. "Our entire philosophy is based on (the belief that) every case is legitimate, a bona fide case," he said. The company confers with the employee and the union in trying to find the best situation all around, he said, but unions consider it intrusion. "The unions don't like that aspect," he said. Gilbert H. Barrett, Meditrol executive vice president, assessed the union opinion of the company more bluntly than Mason. "We are viewed as poison ivy wrapped in asbestos insulation. That's generally how we're perceived," Barrett said. Unions figure the company sees all workers as trying to milk the system and ignores that police and firefighters risk their lives and bodies in their work. That's not true, Barrett said. "We're not out to hurt people. We're out to help people," he said. But when a worker is out with an injury and making essentially a 30% raise because pay is tax free, such a situation is difficult for some workers to leave, he said. Workers don't have incentive to rush back to work, he said. Meanwhile, he said, the city or town is paying the tax-free salary to the injured worker and time-and-half wages to cover his shifts. "They're essentially paying two and a half bodies to get one job performed," he said. In Springfield Sept. 9, the Police Dept. had 13 officers out with injured-on-duty claims. That fits with the department's range of 10-15 officers out with such claims per day, said Sgt. Peter A. Albano, aide to Police Chief Paula C. Meara. The Police Dept. pays $800,000-$1 million a year in injured-on-duty benefits, Albano said. That doesn't include overtime money paid to officers filling injured officers' shifts. The Republican reported May 30 that between January 2003 and March 2004, 34 officers took at least 50 sick days off, with 11 using more than 70 days. "There's some of them that are long-term, so you're missing a body for a long time, you know, like for a knee operation or a shoulder," Albano said. "Or somebody else is just out for a few days." An officer might get hurt chasing a suspect and falling and breaking a wrist or suffer broken bones getting hit by a car, he said. In a given week during fiscal year 2003, the Springfield Fire Dept. had 10 firefighters out with duty injuries. The department paid $544,000 that year in injured-on-duty benefits, Deputy Fire Chief Jerrold E. Prendergast said. Prendergast said he didn't know how much it costs the department each year in overtime to replace those absent because of injuries. One factor is thin staffing, he said. "Just because somebody's out, we don't always replace them." A firefighter who was driving a pumper truck that collided with a Chevrolet Blazer July 30 at Union and Oak streets is still out of work. Firefighter Randolph S. Blake is undergoing physical therapy. Two other firefighters in the truck, Jeffrey Laux and Vincent Valletti, missed a week of work, Fire Chief Gary G. Cassanelli said. The Blazer's driver and passenger were treated at the hospital and released. Cassanelli, a long-time advocate of having Meditrol handle the department's injured on duty claims, said he hopes to have Mason give a presentation to the Fire Commission soon about Meditrol. The Lawrence patrolmen's union doesn't have fond feelings for Meditrol after dealing with the company since 1999. In one case, an arbitrator agreed that a worker was legitimately out of work because of a duty injury and another case reached a Superior Court judge who found for another worker, said Matthew E. Dwyer, a lawyer who represented the union. One problem was Meditrol had an accountant making medical decisions about an employee's ability to return to work, Dwyer said. "The Lawrence patrolmen's association found Meditrol's participation in the assessment and evaluation process in the injured-on-duty claims to be troubling," he said. Barrett said the two cases Dwyer noted were the only ones in dispute among the 20 or so injured-on-duty claims involving police and firefighters on which Meditrol worked, Barrett said. The two cases also were years old before Lawrence hired Meditrol, he said. As for an accountant playing doctor, he said, that's a matter of interpretation. Meditrol's job was to ask physicians on behalf of the city whether a worker can or can't work, he said. "It's pretty simple stuff," he said. Kevin B. Coyle, a lawyer who represents the Springfield patrolmen's union, said the heart of what a company such as Meditrol does is to try to save money by getting medical claims denied. Meditrol's reputation among organized labor is that of a firm fixed on the bottom line and not people, he said. "I think it has a reputation, at least among unions, for being more concerned about costs than the health of employees," he said. Municipalities have a responsibility to pay employees who got hurt while on duty, Coyle said, so they can return to the ranks and resume their sworn obligation to protect public safety. "You want people out there to be fully able to be back at work," he said. Meditrol officials said unions can be reluctant to change a system that lets some workers collect tax-free salaries for not working and others filling in for them amass overtime pay. Coyle said it was wrong to suggest the injured-on-duty system is being abused. "This is another one of those, in my opinion, 'phantom issues,' like sick leave," he said. Said Barrett, "That's coming from a guy who's got zero experience with Meditrol, and I like Kevin. I think he's a good guy. His heart is in the right place with his police officers." Meditrol has been handling Chicopee's injured-on-duty cases only since July 1, but it has been long enough for patrol union president Timothy O'Grady to seek a meeting with the mayor about the company. The problem is that injured officers have had trouble reaching someone from Meditrol to address their cases, he said. "Frankly, it hasn't been working out that effectively. They're hard to get a hold of," said O'Grady, a patrolman. Barrett said the city needs to explain to its workers that despite Meditrol being hired by the city, it remains the responsibility of the Chicopee personnel department and not Meditrol to answer workers' claims questions. "I think that it may be a miscommunication from the city to the union," he said. In Holyoke, Jordan M. Lemieux is a hard-core union guy with good words for Meditrol. A 21-year member of the Holyoke Fire Dept., Lemieux is a fire inspector, former union president and currently Western Massachusetts vice president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Meditrol helped explain injured-on-duty provisions, he said, and in one case, Barrett wrote a letter helping the union describe why a firefighter deserved to be out because of a work injury. "I've always dealt with Gil and he's always been very professional," Lemieux said. Another fan of Meditrol is Holyoke Fire Chief David A. LaFond. The company eases the process that entails an injured firefighter filing medical benefit claims, dealing with the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission and getting the firefighter back to work, he said. "They simplify what is complex and they handle it. They handle it completely," LaFond said. But even more important than maneuvering through bureaucracy, LaFond said, is Meditrol's compassion for firefighters. "I have to tell you I've seen nothing but courtesy and respect from them for what firefighters do. They understand somebody's running into a burning building and getting hurt. That's what we do," he said. Meditrol has six employees and an office at 145 Springfield St. in Chicopee, Barrett said. The company began as an arm of the Western Massachusetts Visiting Nurse Association in 1986 to deal with Workers Compensation claims. The name "Meditrol" is a hybrid of the phrase "Medical Cost Controls," Mason and Barrett said. The company has been on its own since 1992, specializing in the police and firefighter versions of Workers' Compensation cases, called injured-on-duty claims, he said. Light duty refers to work that is less strenuous than normal tasks. For police and firefighters, it might mean office or dispatch work or being assigned to inspect street configurations to assist in emergency responses, officials said. The industry defines the term "work hardening" as structured, individualized treatment aimed at progressively maximizing a person's ability to return to work.

  9. Companies refuse jobs for smokers
    This is London, UK
    By Oliver Stallwood, Metro
    Smokers are being refused jobs because of their habit, it has emerged. Scores of companies have imposed a ban because they believe productivity is dented by people taking cigarette breaks. They also feel smokers are off-putting to clients, and that workers who smoke are more likely to take days off sick. Even smokers who say in interviews that they do not light up during office hours are being snubbed because some bosses do not believe them. The 'zero tolerance' policy has fuelled claims that businesses are taking away people's basic human rights. It comes amid growing pressure to limit smoking in public places, and a change of perception towards the habit. Texan software firm Kalamazoo-UCS, which employs 400 people at its premises in Birmingham, ran an advert which stated: 'Kalamazoo hires non-smokers only.' London accountant Kershen-Fairfax employs about 20 staff, all of them nonsmokers. 'If people went outside to smoke they could be absent from their desks for long periods of time,' said partner Deborah Kershen-Fisher. One company said an employee had taken 30min to have a cigarette, while another said the nicotine addiction made workers more stressed. Currently, employment laws prevent firms discriminating on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or disability, but smoking is not covered. Pro-smoking groups claim the policy borders on discrimination. 'A no-smoking policy is one thing but why should people be denied jobs because they smoke outside working hours?' said a spokesman for Forest. 'What next? Thin people preferred? Non-fatties only?' Meanwhile, the British Heart Foundation today launches a £5million campaign to help smokers quit. Addicts who want help will be bombarded with e-mails and text messages to encourage them to give up.

  10. 25th Anniversary Issue: Technology radically transforms print realm
    DM News, NY
    by Gordon Grote and George Zengo
    Marketing for direct mailers and catalogers has changed drastically in 25 years. Printing has changed with it, often leading the way with innovative technologies and practices that increased efficiency and effectiveness....
    Looking to the future
    Catalogers likely will rely more on targeting and personalization. With ever-greater consumer insight, catalogers can manage the cost-revenue balance. Other trends likely to continue include lighter paper and larger presses. More sophistication and personalization will be offered in printers' binderies, and inkjet technology will continue to evolve. As a result, traditional distinctions between mail and catalog offerings will blur. Co-mailing of multiple catalog titles will become more prevalent to combat rising mailing costs. Media selection tools will grow more effective in determining the media mix, and there will be more work sharing with the USPS to improve efficiencies. We also expect to see a changing marketing mix using multiple media to drive purchases across multiple channels. Catalogs are used increasingly as a marketing vehicle to drive online purchases or to drive consumers to the stores. Increased marketing complexity is leading to critical decisions for catalogers: Do you build greater scale and in-house expertise and incur the associated higher costs, or do you outsource to the most efficient and most capable provider? Developments likely will include better image quality, enabled in part by expansion of digital technology and digital photography. The future also will hold continued proliferation of digital technologies at the prepress and press stages, including digital manipulations of creative and color manipulation at the desktop level, digital swatch matching, soft proofing and press-based soft proofing. We also will continue to move toward increased digital workflow collaboration and on-press closed-loop color.
    Gordon Grote (gordon.grote@rrd.com) is president of Response Marketing Services, an R.R. Donnelley firm. George Zengo (george.zen-go@rrd.com) is president of catalogs and retail inserts at R.R. Donnelley.

  11. How airlines resisted change for 25 years and lost
    by Susan Carey & Scott McCartney, WSJ via Arizona Republic, AZ
    When Congress deregulated the U.S. airline industry in 1978, many fares came down, flights increased and air travel took off.
    But one side of the business changed much less: airline costs. To keep their grip on the market for more than two decades without rewriting expensive labor contracts or improving efficiency, big airlines used a bag of tricks: frequent-flier plans, the "hub" system of controlling key markets and international alliances to keep business customers. The airlines often gouged business travelers, their best customers, and bedeviled vacation travelers with restrictions and fees.
    Now the airlines have run out of tricks. As upstart carriers spread across the nation with across-the-board cheap fares, the traditional higher-cost carriers are struggling to transform themselves into versions of the low-cost model. The most desperate to change is US Airways Group Inc., which entered bankruptcy last month for the second time. No other airline has tried as many gambits to avoid the day of reckoning as US Airways, and no other airline is in as much danger.
    In an era where business moves at warp speed, it turns out airlines are an anomaly. The rise of efficient, low-cost airlines and the ever-expanding benefit for consumers [ha! airlines are much less consumer friendly today] are just what deregulators envisioned - it merely took a quarter-century.
    "It's a change we predicted in 1978, and we all scratched our heads wondering why it has not gone faster," says Michael E. Levine, a former executive at several airlines who helped push deregulation as an official in the Carter administration.
    Airlines, Mr. Levine says, proved "far more ingenious in defending themselves than we thought."
    The mistake of the established airlines - and those who invested in them - was to imagine that this death-defying act could continue forever. They defeated the first crop of low-fare airlines easily in the 1980s and worried more about strikes than new competition. So labor contracts that kept expenses high and productivity low stayed in place.
    Sept. 11, high oil prices and the Internet, which showed customers when they were getting a bad deal, delivered the coups de grace. US Airways warned in a recent court filing that it might have to liquidate by February without emergency labor savings. Other higher-cost airlines are also in bad shape as fuel costs rise.
    UAL Corp.'s United Airlines has been under bankruptcy-court protection for nearly two years, having failed to get financing to resume operating as a normal company. Delta Air Lines says it is sliding toward a bankruptcy filing if it can't restructure its $20 billion debt and win concessions from its pilots. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines barely escaped bankruptcy last year in an out-of-court restructuring, but its cost-cutting is already falling short. American says it's spending $1.1 billion more on fuel this year than it had planned. Northwest Airlines is urgently seeking concessions from its unions.
    These airlines are expected to survive. But they'll need to become more like the low-cost leaders such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, which themselves have proven lately that their bottom lines aren't immune to high fuel prices and bruising competition. Indeed, America West Holdings Corp.'s budget carrier America West Airlines warned last night that it expects to report significant third- and fourth-quarter losses due to price pressure and fuel costs.
    Under the old regulated system, the federal Civil Aeronautics Board set fares and parceled out routes. Like electric utilities, airlines could ask the board to raise prices whenever their costs went up. The board, where Mr. Levine served in the late 1970s, effectively made it impossible for newcomers to compete nationally since they couldn't get quick approval for a route network.
    The Carter administration pushed deregulation as a way to lower consumer prices during the high-inflation years of the 1970s. Over the objections of most major airlines, Congress voted to allow carriers to choose their own routes and fares.
    By the 1980s, new airlines such as People Express Airlines had emerged offering rock-bottom fares. But Robert Crandall, the legendary chief of American Airlines, invented a key weapon in the big airlines' counterinsurgency arsenal: the frequent-flier plan. For years, it engendered deep loyalty among big-airline passengers.
    American and United both built centralized reservations systems that favored their own flights over others. By working closely with travel agents, who got a 10% commission on ticket sales and bonuses for delivering extra market share, the big airlines got the lion's share of corporate business.
    International alliances also sealed business travelers' loyalty. All the major airlines created networks of regional carriers to feed traffic to and from their hubs.
    Such gambits made it hard for low-cost carriers to get a foothold. Some had poor strategies themselves, trying to compete with insufficient capital to ride out fare wars. They alienated customers with old planes and inconvenient schedules. Most went bankrupt.
    The initial wave of postderegulation competition did claim a few big-airline victims. During the deep recession of the early 1990s, big carriers such as Eastern Airlines and Pan American World Airways closed their doors.
    But most of the big airlines survived, and their twisting course toward the current disaster is well illustrated by the travails of US Airways, now the smallest of the higher-cost flock. For the past 25 years, business for US Airways - once called Allegheny Airlines, then US Air - has been an endless game of dodging radical change.
    In the early days of deregulation, US Air was one of the nation's most profitable airlines, thanks to its monopoly routes to small cities in the Northeast. But a wave of consolidation was sweeping the industry. Trans World Airlines bought Ozark Airlines and Delta snapped up Western Airlines. US Air faced the choice of "standing still or growing bigger," recalls Edwin Colodny, the chief executive from 1975 to 1991. So it bulked up with back-to-back purchases in 1987 of Pacific Southwest Airlines and Piedmont Aviation.
    The two deals turned the company into the nation's No. 6 airline. In hindsight, they also represented US Air's first big failure to overhaul its business. The airlines it acquired both had lower costs and better service. But instead of adopting their culture, US Air introduced high living to them.
    Workers at the two acquired airlines got large raises that brought them into line with US Air's employees. US Air's costlier work practices also spread to the newly acquired companies. For instance, Piedmont customer-service agents who earned $6.75 an hour also worked on the tarmac, directing planes in and out of gates. At US Air, a mechanic who earned at least $18 per hour performed that job. US Air had to hire 400 mechanics to serve the added Piedmont flights.
    Imposing the lower-cost system on US Air employees would have involved a nasty fight, and that is why Mr. Colodny says he didn't force the issue. "Everybody remembers how difficult it is to take strikes in this industry," he says. United's pilots, for example, had staged a 1985 strike to defeat management's attempt to put newly hired pilots on a "B scale" with lower pay and more hours.
    But the cost of buying labor peace was steep. Unable to compete with Southwest Airlines in California, US Air in the early 1990s scaled back and ultimately pulled the plug on most of its routes within the West, essentially writing off its acquisition of Pacific Southwest Airlines.
    US Air still had a leading position in the East and controlled hubs in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C. Travelers living in those cities had little choice but to pay US Air's high fares.
    US Air needed every dollar it was bringing in. The acquisitions had given the company unneeded maintenance bases, reservations centers, training facilities and crew bases - and it failed to close them. It also had many different types of planes, in contrast to discounters that saved money on maintenance, training and scheduling by having fewer types. Headquartersfunctions were scattered from Winston-Salem, N.C., to Pittsburgh to Arlington, Va., the company's actual headquarters.
    Mr. Colodny's successor, Seth Schofield, thought a global alliance might be the answer. He sold 24% of US Air stock to British Airways in 1993 for $300 million. Such deals had become popular: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines owned a piece of Northwest; Continental Airlines had teamed up with Scandinavian Airlines System and Air Canada.
    But only a couple of years later, British Airways became fed up with US Air's lack of domestic breadth and money-losing ways. It sold its shares. In 1995, after the collapse of labor talks aimed at cutting expenses, US Air tried to sell itself to United or American, but both passed.
    The next year Stephen Wolf, a veteran airline turnaround specialist, joined US Air. Before he took the job, Mr. Wolf, a former CEO of United, told the board there was no place in the industry for a high-cost, midsize airline. "Short of open warfare with labor, where everyone loses," Mr. Wolf says, "consolidation was the only viable alternative" for US Air.
    So he set about making the company more attractive. Lifted by the soaring economy in the late 1990s, it returned to profitability. Mr. Wolf renamed the company US Airways, ordered a huge fleet of Airbus jets, expanded European flying and closed some of the redundant facilities. He also indulged US Airways in another industry fad by creating a low-fare division called MetroJet. The experiment failed at US Airways and elsewhere because companies didn't have low costs to match the fares.
    Alfred Kahn, who brought about deregulation as chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, says the brief booms that airlines occasionally enjoyed in the 1980s and 1990s encouraged them to believe that radical change wasn't necessary. Change "didn't happen faster because it was always a moving target," he says.
    Mr. Wolf belatedly convinced the pilots' union to let the airline buy smaller regional jets for its commuter affiliates, making US Airways more competitive with its rivals. But he had to make other concessions to stave off two strikes. Labor contracts signed in 1997 and 1998 gave most of the workers parity with the four largest airlines plus 1% - in retrospect a very expensive proposition.
    "The unions kept demanding higher pay and perks," says Kevin Hughes, a unionized US Airways dispatcher and 34-year veteran. "Management, in order to buy labor peace, kept acquiescing."
    That view is shared by some in the rank and file, but union leaders say management should bear the blame for failing to cut nonlabor costs faster and attract more business. "Since the early 1980s, all of airline labor has been taking concession after concession," says Robert Roach Jr., vice president for transportation at the International Association of Machinists union. He notes that some successful airlines such as Southwest and Continental are mostly unionized.
    All along, US Airways endured, thanks to its ability to charge extremely high fares to businesspeople. But the rise of the Internet undermined this advantage. Previously, only travel agents had access to computerized reservation systems. But with pricing information available at the click of a mouse, passengers could quickly find a $200 ticket on a route for which US Airways wanted to charge $2,000. In many fliers' minds, the mileage awards, airport lounges, first-class cabins and other amenities offered by the big carriers no longer justified the higher fares.
    In 2000, US Airways pulled a final trick out of the bag by agreeing to be acquired by United for $4.3 billion and the assumption of $7.3 billion of debt and leases. But the Justice Dept. deemed the combination anticompetitive a year later.
    Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Still midsize, US Airways was hurt more than its peers by the travel slowdown, and, under a new CEO, it entered bankruptcy in August 2002. Thanks to $900 million in loan guarantees from the federal government, it emerged from bankruptcy in March 2003. It excised about $2 billion from its annual expenses while under court protection but once again failed to take strong enough measures to ensure its viability. Its cost to fly a seat a mile - a common industry benchmark - remained the highest among airlines.
    US Airways' old nemesis, Southwest, moved in for the kill. US Airways was continuing to charge high fares on flights to and from Philadelphia, its most profitable hub. While there was talk of Southwest entering the market, US Airways didn't change its high-fare policy, assuming its rival would use the less-convenient airport in Allentown, an hour north of Philadelphia. Instead, Southwest moved into Philadelphia itself this past May. US Airways was forced to add flights and cut fares in response. Four months later, it was back in bankruptcy court.
    Today, it seems US Airways finally gets it. In a court filing earlier this month, the company acknowledged that during its previous stint in bankruptcy it "did not accurately anticipate the magnitude of the structural shift" caused by the growth of low-cost carriers. In the first bankruptcy proceeding, US Airways said it expected it could succeed if it competed well against other higher-cost airlines. "Now, it is clear that US Airways cannot survive unless it can compete effectively against the low-cost carriers as well," the new court filing says.
    It must, in essence, become another Southwest. In an attempt to do so, US Airways is de-emphasizing its Pittsburgh hub and adding direct flights between nonhub cities. That follows the model of discounters, which have found that the hub-and-spoke model of flying a flock of planes into an airport at the same hour and then departing in a mass rush is inefficient. US Airways is also lowering its fares and trying to push more customers to its Web site. It is demanding $950 million in added annual savings from its unions, hoping to survive the slow winter months and buy time to become a true discounter. Monday, the company announced deep pay and pension cuts and job reductions in its salaried and management work force.
    Competitors and airline analysts think the company's chances of survival are poor, citing the reluctance of the unions to agree to more givebacks and US Airways' precarious cash position. And there are doubts about whether the rest of the old-style carriers can make the leap to the low-cost model. Bruce Lakefield, CEO of US Airways since April, says he hopes employees are seeing the light. "Sooner or later," he says, "people have to realize that the paradigm has shifted."

( 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"
"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] )

10/02-04/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/01-03 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except ##2 & 25 which are from 10/02-04 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 10/02-04), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 10/02   What is the historical Jesus trying to tell us?
    by minister Nancy Haley of Unitarian Universalist Society in Iowa City IA
    CounterPunch, CA
    What can Jesus tells us through his life and recorded teachings, not through the elaboration of various Christian denominations? Today, there is renewed interest in the "historical Jesus" by biblical scholars seeking to separate what Jesus said and did during his lifetime from what was written in the Gospels to promote a developing Christian community....
    Jesus Seminar scholar John Dominic Crossan in his search for the historical Jesus looks at the words of the standard translation of the sermon familiarly called "The Sermon on the Mount" and places the language in a more contemporary understanding.... This [sermon], says Crossan, is the heart of Jesus' vision of egalitarian justice. This is a focus on the here and now and not on the hereafter....
    [So, what's your reaction, Jesus Seminar member Frank Cserepy? Do you know this Crossan? Is he on the level?]
    The [Old Testament] law says to make the punishment of someone in proportion to the offense ("an eye for and eye"), but Jesus says you will not demand punishment if you really love your neighbor ("turn the other cheek")..\..
    [Or maybe the shock of such an approach will be punishment enough, or maybe the unexpectedness of such an approach will jump the punishment stage to the behavior-modification stage, which is the real goal. As Bucky Fuller used to say, forget guilt and punishment - REDESIGN the situation to avoid the problem in future. Never mind "living well is the best revenge" - designing the problem OUT is the best response.]
    I cannot claim to be a biblical scholar. I can only look with interest and apply my own perception and perspective, but the work of scholars does free me to explore what it might have been like to be a peasant living a subsistence life in the first century from crops grown off the land, often inadequate to feed hungry families, but a portion taken, nevertheless, to pay taxes to support an aristocratic elite....
    When I read the words attributed to Jesus during his lifetime, I cannot help but cringe ...at my participation in the systems I see around me. What do these words of Jesus say to us today? I hear Jesus asking, "How do we support systems that keep people homeless? How do we support systems that keep people who are working two and three jobs and still cannot make a living wage?
    "How do we support systems that ask for more and more hours of work and fewer and fewer hours spent with children who need adults in their lives? How do we support systems that keep our children from learning and from being and becoming to their fullest potential?
    "How do we support systems that prevent all people from having access to affordable health care? How do we support systems that encourage the hatred of those who practice Islam?
    "How do we support systems that are designed to make us feel safe, but take away the basic human rights of prisoners of war, the basic human rights of practitioners of Islam, the basic civil liberties of the disenfranchised, the poor, the 'not us'?"
    What does the Jesus of history tell us? What do you hear him saying?
    [Let's go with what Nancy Haley hears him saying. All these questions that she asks about "how do we support bad systems" add up to an articulation of the Big Question. The answer to her general question is, we support bad systems because nobody has redesigned them and come up with a better alternative - or at least nobody Nancy knows about ... yet. But ... Phil Hyde, who took Biblical languages in a pre-theology BA at the University of Toronto and two years of theology at Emmanuel College in the United Church of Canada, eventually went beyond theology into the design science of Buckminster Fuller and the ecological economics of Herman Daly and redesigned the core systems of our socio-economy. The result is the five-phase Timesizing Program for automating full employment, and its string of successors (income-sizing, wealth-sizing, credit-sizing...). Juliet Schor of Boston and Ben Hunnicutt, right near Nancy at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, were also great inspirations, as indicated in our bibliography. And now we need to implement automatic worksharing systems along Timesizing lines.]

  2. 10/03   As economy improves, job dissatisfaction is on the rise - Pay, workload, advancement are top complaints in surveys, by Kristen Gerencher, Boston Globe, G1.
    Many workers who may been glad just to have job security during the recession are now 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 specialists said.
    In fact, a growing number of workers are considering downshifting, according to a survey of more than 1200 people by the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit group that aims to help Americans consume wisely.
    [The reality is that a growing number of Americans are being forced to downshift, and when you have less money, you're also forced to prioritize your consumption - so they probably don't need a lot of help right now on consuming wisely.]
    In the past five years, 48% of Americans have voluntarily opted to make less money so they could have more time and a less stressful life, they told the center's pollsters. More than half would be willing to give up one day's pay per week to get that day off to spend with family and friends.
    Signalling that materialism doesn't trump all, one in two Americans would accept less money in exchange for more time, they said.
    At the same time, workers who survived several rounds of layoffs may still feel pressure to outperform, said Jim Derivan, spokesman for LifeCare, a benefits consulting firm.
    "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're "looking for new and creative ways to balance their responsibilities at work with their responsibilities at home."
    68% of working parents are considering cutting back or even quitting altogether due to childcare issues, according to a LifeCare survey of nearly 500 workers.
    46% said they like their current job but want to work fewer hours, while 22% would like to quit work altogether for childcare-related reasons, according to LifeCare.
    More employers are offering flexible scheduling, job sharing, telecommuting, childcare referrals, and other benefits to keep parents on the job, but some employees ultimately decide it's not worth the struggle, he said....
    Of course, labor concerns aren't confined to parents and their desire to alleviate time crunches....
    "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....

  3. 10/03   Oct. 24: Put yourself in time-out
    Seattle Times
    The second annual Take Back Your Time Day falls on a Sunday this year — Oct. 24 — so organizers expect that churches will encourage people to con[front] a so-called "national epidemic" of overwork and overscheduling.
    Seattle's big event that day will be a community potluck, from 5 to 8 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 732 18th Ave. E., including speakers and music (visit www.timeday.org for potluck suggestions).
    Organizers hope the movement will take on the kind of grass-roots support that Earth Day has for the environment, says Seattle's John de Graaf, national coordinator for Take Back Your Time, which has 15,000 members.
    [This is a membership thing?]
    Legislative issues are being advanced, such as a move to enact a three-week minimum annual paid leave for all workers and limits on mandatory overtime, but much of the change so far has been more personal, de Graaf says.
    Steps forward, in his view: The Massachusetts Council of Churches' "Four Windows of Time" campaign, which invites people to choose four periods of time before Oct. 24 to take part in slow, simple "life-renewing activities" — a walk in the woods, tea on the back porch — and to reflect on how the frenetic pace of life and long work hours affect creativity, family time and civic good.
    Steps back, in his view: The Tacoma School District's "absolutely wrong-headed" repeal of a set recess for elementary students.
    For more information on Oct. 24 events and the movement, visit *www.timeday.org or contact Gretchen Burger, gretchenburger@prodigy.net, 206-293-3772.

  4. 10/02   Simplify your life: Part One [of Seven] - Thriving without speed - Rush, rush, rush is the story of today's world, yet more people are rebelling from the rat race, looking for ways to slow down and simplify their lives - Here's how the revolution is making an impact
    by Kristen Enevold, with files from Kevin Franchuk & CP
    Calgary Sun, Canada
    CALGARY, Alta. - Author and lifestyle coach David Irvine is a new man as he relaxes in his home office. A former workaholic, Irvine now preaches balance between work and personal life.... Swirling in the midst of a demanding job that took him away from his wife and home most of the year, Irvine never expected to receive the wake-up call he'd been warning his clients about.
    "It was my job to teach others how to achieve more simplicity in their lives, and when I missed the birth of my daughter because I was away working, that was my wake-up call that my own life was really out of balance," says the Cochrane, Alta., author. Irvine's perspective on life has changed completely since that March morning in 1993, when his wife couldn't reach him and had to call a friend to take her to hospital. Now Irvine leads a less hectic lifestyle, and gives his perspective in his new book "Simple Living in a Complex World" (Wiley).
    But in a world driven by corporate profits and Donald-Trump ambition, with a population seeking fast food, faster Internet, faster cell phones, even faster dating, is the simple life anachronistic? Irvine says no. "Living a simple life is different for everyone, but basically, it's aligning yourself with your core values," Irvine says. "If you live a simple life, the choices you make are congruent with what matters most to you - it can be your family, your health, or your career, for example."
    For Irvine, the love for his family was getting overshadowed by his job. "When I would overwork, I would feel guilty about neglecting those I loved. And when I spent time connecting with them, I would feel guilty for not living up to my (work-related) expectations."...
    Simplifying your harried life may seem overwhelming if not impossible, but experts like Irvine suggest it starts with baby steps. "Jot down the five most important values in your life, and ask yourself whether the choices you make every day are in alignment with those values." Making time to relax a little each day, without a cell phone, television or computer, is also key, said Irvine.
    But the point isn't to tune out entirely, he says: "Withdrawing completely from the world is not the way - being productive and accomplishing a goal in the service of others is, to me, a necessary ingredient to simplicity."...
    Adjusting your outlook for a simpler life isn't as difficult as it may seem. ...Irvine has these tips: ..\..According to Statistics Canada, about one in four Canadian adults believe they experience a significant amount of stress in their lives. Women in the 45-54 age bracket seem the most vulnerable, with 30.6% of them feeling under pressure most of the time. And while those percentages decrease as one gets older, it's best to deal with what's complicating your life now, rather than later, experts say.
    Everything from sleep problems to physical and emotional ailments are the side effects of stretching oneself too thin, and many Calgarians likely see themselves doing just that, says a local mental health expert. "Calgarians are very driven, generally speaking," says Deb Gray, co-ordinator of mental health promotion for the Calgary Health Region. She believes it's because we enjoy relatively higher incomes and education levels than other Canadian cities, and many corporate headquarters are located here. "We work longer and harder and we tend to push the envelope. There are good parts to that, but there's a price as well," Gray said.
    "Stress can affect you physically, from feeling fatigued, to headaches and backaches, and that can build into much more serious problems if the stress is ignored." Family, friends and co-workers of a stressed-out person can suffer as well, Gray says. "People may become more defensive and easily agitated, and they may have feelings of apathy or sadness." All those effects stem from an inability to manage their angst, which needlessly complicates their lives, says Gray. "Managing stress is a continuous process and if people don't invest enough in themselves and listen to those little cues that you're facing too much, it can overwhelm you and shut you down."
    [But angst is not the same as stress.]
    Edmonton-born author Carl Honoré says much of Western society is stuck in "fast-forward mode." In his book, In Praise of Slow (Knopf Canada), Honore looks at a growing international movement trying to find a better balance between productivity and humanity.
    He notes, for instance, how communities in Italy have pushed a "slow city" program aiming to preserve their traditional values and customs. Parks and walking paths are expanded, while vehicles (and speeding) are actively discouraged. This rebellion also caused a backlash against fast-food giants such as McDonald's, which critics argue has helped devalue old-fashioned family dinners.
    Other joys of life - leisure, hobbies, raising children, music, even sex - also need sufficient time to savour, he argues. "People who have near-death experiences tend to slow down, because they finally understand it. They realize what is important," Honore says.
    That doesn't diminish the need to work - or work hard. But Honore says smart companies recognize staff need free time away from the job. He notes employees of software giant SAS, for instance, maintain a 35-hour work week instead of the standard 40. "The rest of the time, the staff are encouraged to go home," Honore says. "Their CEO is a crusader of the idea that working less makes you more productive.
    [It certainly makes you prioritize more.]
    And they are now known as one of the best companies to work for in the world."...
    Honore is often asked for "quick tips" on slowing down, which, he laughs, is somewhat ironic. Here are his suggestions: TEST YOUR STRESS
    A simple life alludes us when we're caught up in the challenge of getting everything done. This not only causes stress, it keeps us from realizing what's really important. Take this short quiz and think about how you've been feeling the past two weeks and how you're feeling right now.
    1. 1. I feel overwhelmed and confused.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    2. 2. I have difficulty sleeping and sometimes dream about work, school or other daytime commitments.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    3. 3. I feel tired at the end of the day.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    4. 4. I have difficulty concentrating and remembering things.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    5. 5. When things don't go my way, I get angry and aggressive.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    6. 6. I eat much more to make myself feel better or more at ease.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    7. 7. I experience headaches, tightness in my muscles in my neck, back and jaw.
      A. Always
      B. Sometimes
      C. Never
    Calgary's economy may be soaring, but so is our collective stress level. You see it on the Deerfoot[?], in shopping malls, on sports fields. Still, most of us learn to cope, whether it's meditation, reading or just a soothing bubble bath. We want to hear your stress stories and how you simplify your life.
    Share with us, in 150 words or less, and you'll get a chance to win a great de-stressing prize pack including a spa gift certificate and dinner! We'll print the best stories over the next week. To enter, e-mail us directly at simplelife@calgarysun.com with "Simple Life" as your subject line....

  5. 10/01   Meat packers at Minnesota Beef win union vote
    by Claudio Zarate & Bob Sorenson, The Militant, NY, front page.
    BUFFALO LAKE, Minn. - Workers at the Minnesota Beef Industries plant here voted 53 to 46 to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 789. Local 789 won a groundbreaking victory in organizing Dakota Premium Foods in South St. Paul, Minn., two years ago and has been trying to organize other packing plants in the area. The vote at Buffalo Lake is the first victory in this struggle. The September 24 vote here came less than five months after meat packers backing the union lost a previous representation election. Deteriorating conditions at the Minnesota Beef plant helped turn the tide, workers said. In addition, promises the bosses had made last spring of better pay and benefits if the workers rejected the union never materialized, union supporters pointed out. "If we get injured or if we have to work light duty, we automatically get bumped to $7 an hour," said Manuel Cespedes, a boning worker, in an interview here two days after the union vote. "One knifer was pregnant, but she could not afford to take the pay cut she would get while on light duty. So she kept on working her regular job, which is very difficult. When she finally had her baby, it turned out that she also had a hernia." "We are here for work, not to be treated like animals," said another boning worker who asked that his name not be used. "The line speed has gotten faster and faster. We kill more than 300 cows in less than six hours. That is too fast and we can't live on pay of just six hours a day. It's for the company's benefit that we kill more cows and they get more money. We just have three demands: better treatment, better pay, and more hours."
    [Another pocket of self-destructively stupid employees. More hours just concentrates the limited work on fewer people and guarantees a larger population of un- and under-employed people willing to do your job for less and driving your pay down.]
    Buffalo Lake, a town of less than 800, is located about an hour and a half west of St. Paul. There are around 125 workers at the Minnesota Beef plant. "This victory is testimony to how strong these workers are," Local 789 organizer Bernie Hess told Militant reporters. "This was made possible because of the unity they showed." Unionists lost the previous vote on May 5 by a 67 to 32 margin. Many of the workers said the company had tried to intimidate them in the period leading up to that vote. According to union officials, management said it would call the police to check the documents of workers, most of whom are immigrants from Mexico, raising the threat of deportations. The union appealed the vote and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the company had to hold a second vote. The success at Minnesota Beef puts Local 789 in a better position to organize the 1,000 poultry workers who are also fighting for a union in the nearby town of Willmar, said Hess. The union has so far failed to organize the workers at the Jennie-O turkey processing plant there. "Many workers have friends and relatives who work in all these different plants and they all talk to each other," the UFCW organizer added. This also played a part in the election victory in Buffalo Lake. "A lot of the workers also know people who work at Long Prairie Packing and at Dakota Premium Foods," Hess said. At both of these plants the workers have won unions. "The company said that if the Minnesota Beef workers got the union, they would be forced to pay $25 a week in union dues. But when one worker saw the paycheck of his friend who works at Long Praire, he saw that they only pay $6 for dues." The union victory at Dakota Premium Foods came after a two-year-long struggle that began with a seven-and-a-half hour sitdown strike in the company cafeteria in June 2000. It took workers one year to force a union election and win the vote, and one more year to force the company to sign a contract with UFCW Local 789.

  6. 10/01   Workers in three airport hotels strike in effort to join union
    Queens Chronicle, NY
    by Keach Hagey, Eastern/Southeastern Queens Editor
    Workers seeking to unionize at three hotel airports went on strike last week, claiming unfair labor practices, low wages and harassment from owners who fought hard to prevent them from organizing. All three hotels - the Holiday Inn and the Hampton Inn near Kennedy Airport and the Crowne Plaza near La Guardia Airport - are owned by Field Hotel Associates, which employs approximately 450 workers. The workers began to organize over the summer and held elections in mid-August. At the Crown Plaza in East Elmhurst, housekeeping, restaurant and front desk staff voted in favor of the union by over 80%. In South Ozone Park, the votes were closer, and the front desk staff chose to stay out of the process. But in spite of these votes, union officials said that the hotels' management refuses to recognize them by sitting down at the bargaining table. Organizers for the New York Hotel Trades Council, which represents about 85% of hotel jobs in the city, said the closeness of the elections near JFK was a result of fierce opposition from management. "These workers have gone through one of the most vicious anti-union campaigns I've ever seen," said Jenessa Bernstein, the union's picket captain in front of the Holiday Inn on Thursday. Union officials claim the hotel owners responded to the vote by firing 10 employees active in organizing the union drive. The union has asked the National Labor Relations Board to seek an injunction to put the fired workers back to work. Shakeia Stephens...a room cleaner from South Ozone Park who began working at the hotel in May was fired five days after the union vote. The official reason for her termination was a smudge on a mirror and a patch of unvacuumed carpet, but she believes the real reason was her pro-union stance. "When I showed my support of the union by wearing a T-shirt and union ID during lunch, they probably took notice," she said. As a new employee, Stephens worked on call, meaning that she had to call in every morning at 6:30 to see if there would be work for her that day, with no set days off. She was paid $9 an hour, and her hours were kept below 35 hours a week so that the owners would not have to pay medical insurance. The unsteady hours and low pay forced her to get a second job babysitting. "These workers are some of the lowest paid workers in the city," saidBernstein, adding that union wages approach $20 an hour with the employer paying for all medical benefits. Field Hotel Associates takes $65 out of each full-time weekly paycheck to pay for medical insurance. Hilda Cruz...of Woodhaven, has been working at the Holiday Inn for 18 years. She made as much as $18.57 an hour as a manager before a heart attack forced her to scale back on her hours and responsibility. But last week came a blow that was nearly as devastating. "I lost my seniority last week because of the union," she said. She claimed she was physically assaulted by one of the lower level managers who opposed the union. "She said she wanted to kick my butt and head," Cruz said. Union officials claim that management interrogated pro-union employees and put them under surveillance, offered incentives to employees who opposed unionization and even threatened physical violence. On Thursday, about 30 employees gathered in front of the Holiday Inn at 144-02 135th Street with signs and a giant inflatable rat, chanting "scab" at workers who crossed picket lines and asking potential patrons to go stay at the nearby unionized Radisson instead. Just down the street at the Hampton Inn, their fellow workers gathered in smaller numbers. Passing Teamster truckers honked in approval, and organizers said many have refused to make their food and beverage deliveries since the strike started on Wednesday. Since many of the hotel guests are airline workers, the union has also asked the unions representing pilots and flight attendants to boycott the three hotels, according to John Turchiano, a spokesman for the trades council. Martin Fields, co-owner of the three hotels, said the strike was the act of a greedy union trying to get into smaller properties to make more money. He boasted of the hotels' low turnover rate, saying that the family organization has a pay scale, benefits and 401K equivalent to the union package. He added that many of the workers are anti-union, and that they must be represented too.

  7. 10/01   History shows that football wins for OS Greyhounds have been rare against Moss Point
    Pascagoula Mississippi Press, MS
    by Arthur Jaramillo
    OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. - Ocean Springs is off to its best football start since 1993 with a 4-0 record. To keep that streak going, the Greyhounds will have to defeat a longtime nemesis in Moss Point today in a key Region 4-5A game. Ocean Springs finished the '93 season at 9-2. That was the last season the Greyhounds beat the Tigers as they took a 17-15 decision. That scenario has been repeated this week by Ocean Springs coach Steve Jones to his team. "We have the opportunity to do something that hasn't been done in awhile," he said. "But this game really isn't bigger than any other region game. Last year, we started region 0-2 and every game after that was big. I just think that all of them are important." After an open date due to the effects of Hurricane Ivan, the Greyhounds opened 4-5A play with a 21-7 victory over Long Beach last week. Jones said the week off hampered his team a bit, but knows that his team's effort must be much better tonight. "To be a championship team, you just can't take any days off," Jones said.
    [Unless the whole league takes days off by government decree for the whole economy.]
    "We're going up against a very athletic team (Moss Point) with plenty of guys that can score from anywhere on the field."...
    Arthur Jaramillo can be reached at (228) 934-1449 or msports@themississippipress. com

  8. 10/01   Strengthen unions to fight bosses' attacks - Socialist speaks at California campaign rally
    The Militant, NY
    by Frank Forrestal
    Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for president (left), campaigns September 29 outside Tipatia store in Des Moines, Iowa. Four daysearlier, the socialist candidate spoke at a campaign rally in San Francisco. He then joined Martín Koppel, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, for speaking engagements at Stony Brook University in Long Island and campaigning in Manhattan's Garment District. The Militant/John Brink
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - "At plant gates, mine portals, and in working-class districts, we often run into workers who say: "We need a union. How do we organize one?'" said Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, at a September 25 campaign rally here. "We find increasing interest in the central demand of our platform, which is to support workers' right to organize unions to defend themselves from the bosses' assaults and to strengthen the labor movement to resist the continuing offensive by the employers and the two main parties of capitalism - the Democrats and Republicans." At the event, held at a neighborhood YMCA near the socialist campaign hall on the edge of San Francisco's Mission District, organizers announced that the SWP had nominated Dennis Richter, a meat packer and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers, as its candidate for U.S. Senate in California at a state nominating convention earlier that day. Richter, who chaired the meeting, introduced the rest of the socialist slate in California. "The ruling class has a one-point program," Calero said. "Through speed-up, lengthening the workday, and driving down real wages, the bosses are trying to increase the surplus value they are extracting from workers, to increase their profits." Under the lash of intensifying capitalist competition, he said, "the employers need to increase the portion of the wealth workers produce through our labor power that the bosses take from us. They go after our wages, benefits, and job and living conditions to shore up their declining profit rates. That's the source of all differentiation in the working class, of all divisions between employed and unemployed, old and young, men and women, immigrants and native-born," the socialist presidential candidate stated. "Working people are reacting to these conditions. They are reacting to forced overtime, the extension of the workday, the work week, the work year, and their working life," Calero said. "They are reacting to speed-up on the job, two-tier wages, deteriorating health coverage or no medical benefits, unsafe working conditions, and assaults by the bosses on our dignity." Workers face a grinding offensive both on and off the job, the socialist candidate continued. "As a result, workers are being pushed and they want to fight back. That's why millions want to organize unions or strengthen the ones they have." While the labor movement continues to weaken, the struggle at the Co-Op mine in Huntington, Utah, is setting an example for workers who are struggling to defend themselves from the employers' attacks or who simply yearn to resist, Calero said. "The union-organizing struggle by these coal miners in Utah is a concrete example of the kind of battle that can be waged today," he stated. "This should be at the center of our campaigning in California."...

  9. 10/02   Many with disabilities fight to live on their own
    Dallas Morning News, TX
    by Jennifer LaFleur
    A year ago, Nancy Weisbard's days were filled with running a household, cooking for her family, participating in church activities, attending PTA meetings and driving her 6-year-old son to school. Today, the house is gone, sold along with many of its contents. Her son is living with friends. And Ms. Weisbard struggles to keep herself busy with puzzles and computer games while she waits for his weekly visits to her new home: a Plano nursing facility. When she and her husband separated and he moved away, the 44-year-old mother ­ who uses a wheelchair because of damage to her nervous system from spina bifida ­ had no other options. Ms. Weisbard and thousands of other disabled people around the country are forced to live in institutions because the kind of help that would allow them to live at home, often at a lower cost to taxpayers, is lacking. A system that is heavily tilted toward funding nursing-home services persists, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision five years ago, known as Olmstead, declaring that unjustified institutionalization of a disabled person is discrimination.
    Also Online
    Many with disabilities fight to live on their own 18-year-old in care center strives for life on own terms He moved out on his own, helped others do the same Nursing home led couple to each other, new life Man negotiated system to get out of nursing home "I'm 44 years old, and I've got all my marbles," Ms. Weisbard said. "I have a 6-year-old son who still wants his mommy. As great as it is here, outside of these walls, no one sees or hears you. That's just not the kind of person I am. I was raised to have my own opinions. I was raised to voice my own opinions. Being here, I can't do any of that." Often, a person disabled by birth, illness or accident has only one option: go into a nursing home and wait for home-based services. Sometimes that can take years. In Texas, more than 100,000 people are waiting for such services, which include daily tasks such as housework, bathing and meal preparation and health-related tasks such as changing catheters and feeding tubes. A disabled person can enter a nursing home, on the other hand, with no wait. One in five nursing home residents surveyed this year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid wanted to live independently. The study was based on a survey of about 1.4 million nursing home residents. Few states have made the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead decision a reality. As of February, 29 states had developed plans to do so, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks Olmstead progress. But few have put the plans into practice, and recent state budget cuts have slowed progress, according to a report from the conference. The cuts are translating into reduced hours for services and smaller programs in many states, said Bob Kafka of ADAPT, a national disability rights group. "We think that violates what the Olmstead decision said," he said. Texas ranked as the 13th-worst state for Olmstead compliance in a recent ADAPT study, which examined long-term care financing data and surveyed advocates and people with disabilities in each state. Mississippi was worst, according to the study, with about 87% of state spending on long-term care going to institutions....
    E-mail jlafleur@dallasnews.com

  10. 10/02   Oil prices generate winners and losers - Exporters celebrate windfall profits as importers reel from cost's burden
    Washington Post, DC
    by Anthony Faiola
    TOKYO - With crude oil prices pushing to above $50 per barrel, the world is dividing into camps of winners and losers, as exporters celebrate tens of billions of dollars in windfall revenues and importers struggle to pay the huge extra costs. Already, economists are fretting that prices could jar fragile economic recoveries in industrialized countries that are heavily dependent on imported oil, such as the United States, nations in Western Europe and Japan. The higher prices are particularly unwelcome in Japan, where theyrisk crimping an economy that is just now awakening after a 13-year slump. Higher oil prices have led Japanese ferry companies and airlines to charge more and could ruin French efforts to meet European Union budget deficit targets. Even harder hit are oil-poor, developing nations such as Thailand, which is now importing 140% more oil than a decade ago to fuel an industrializing economy. The Thai government has enacted emergency energy conservation measures that include reduced hours for department stores....

  11. 10/02   New college graduates unhappy with their jobs
    China Post, Taiwan
    As many as 60% of college graduates start thinking of changing jobs after an initial probation period while 70% of science and engineering college students complain they cannot apply what they learned in school to the real world. A survey conducted by 1111 online human resources firm shows that 74% of students graduating from colleges and universities in June have landed jobs. They draw an average pay of NT$25,000 per month, NT$500 higher than that received by graduates last year. But 60% have toyed with the idea of switching to new jobs or companies following a three-month trial period with 37% of them have actually changed more than two jobs. Among those who attempt to change jobs, 52% said they are not satisfied with salary and benefits while 38% complain about the lack of future development prospects. Other major factors include no hope of promotions, accounting for 30%; followed by long working hours and the incompatibility of work and what they have learned in school, 27%; and excess workload and pressure, 26%. According to a separate survey by Cheers, a career magazine, Taiwan now has an excess of graduates majoring in the fields of science, technology and engineering. Close to half the island's college students are presently studying courses in such fields, as high-tech industries have become the backbone of Taiwan's economy. However, the 80,000 graduates in such disciplines produced by the colleges and universities are facing mounting difficulties finding employment, since there are only a total of 250,000 positions available in high-tech industries. Eighty% of those with work experience at high-tech enterprises think their studies do not conform with the needs on the jobs. The survey shows that 27% of the students aim to enter graduate schools for better employment prospects while 52% think it is necessary to get a master's degree. For their self-evaluation, 48% of the graduates regretted that they did not study hard enough during the four-year collegiate education. Right jobs and payment are not the only problems bugging those on the job market. A survey conducted by the 9999 Pan Asia Job Bank, another online job search firm, shows that 66% of white-collar workers who want to get married have problems finding a partner mainly because of long work hours. More than half or 52.31% of white-collar workers have a desire for marriage, compared with 26.08% who want to stay single for now, and 21.61% who have little interest in marriage. For those who intend to get married, 66.25% think it is difficult for them to find a suitable partner, while 21.12% said it is not so hard and 12.95% said it is easy. The obstacles cited by the respondents include long work hours, the lack of chances to have personal contact with the opposite sex, and not having an attractive look or shape. Among the reasons not to get married, 43.52% of the respondents said they do not want the bondage of wedlock, 22.77% believe marriage may suffocate their life, 18.49% think marriage will subject them to too much legal responsibility, and 12.95% said they have not found the motivation to get married.

  12. 10/02   From career to maternity
    Scotland on Sunday, UK
    Kate Foster
    You could be forgiven for feeling envious of Andrea St Clair. The prospect of having children was always at the back of her mind but she did not let it trouble her too much. Instead, she got on with her computing career. By the time she was 35, she and her husband started chatting about children, but not too seriously. There was the new yoga business to think about. By her late 30s the business was going well but the family plans went on hold again, this time so she could recover from an illness. Finally, at the age of 40, she had her son Julien. It was a planned home birth with two independent midwives. She combines motherhood with her job and is just nowthinking about whether to have a second child. Like an increasing number of women, childbirth was not a real prospect for St Clair for a long time. "I did not meet my husband until I was 30," she said. "We wanted to start a business and get it running. Then I became ill with glandular fever and thought I had better get well before becoming pregnant. We started to talk about it when I was 35, but sometimes men are not as ready as women. They don't think about it on the same scale." St Clair never panicked about her biological clock or about when her husband Rob would finally be ready for children, and they did not spend months trying desperately to conceive. But for many other women the decision is far more complex, with an agonising struggle between the mothering instinct and financial pressures, and the desire to get as much into life as possible before the inevitable sacrifices of motherhood. In the meantime, getting the most fun out of life can usually mean doing all the things the experts say can compromise fertility, like binge-drinking, smoking and casual sex. Many will have spent years taking contraception and some will have undergone terminations to halt early, unintended pregnancies. On the face of it, the fact that today's 30-somethings are less economically dependent on men and more likely to delay marriage and giving birth in order to start a career and live fulfilling, independent lives seems like a great leap forward from their mothers' generation, when women generally married young, gave birth nine months after the honeymoon and gave up fairly menial jobs to look after the family. But a chilling report published last week by the government will have sparked a fresh wave of concern among the thousands of women who expect to become mothers in their 30s. The research shows that half of all British women who delay having a baby until their 30s will fail to have one. Despite the fact that more women in their 30s are having their first babies than ever before, only 49.8% of those surveyed who said they intended to have a child did so within six years. By then, many had reached the end of their reproductive years and had left it too late. In Scotland over the past 30 years, fertility rates have gone from being higher than England and Wales to being lower. Anne Berrington, of Southampton University, conducted the study. She said women tended to overestimate how many childbearing years they had left. The findings also suggested women enter a state of "perpetual postponement", always intending to have children but continually delaying it until it is too late. The study has led to calls for women to take the fragility of their fertility much more seriously, and even to demands that sex education in schools should concentrate as much on how to get pregnant as how not. Infertility campaigners say they are not surprised at the findings. They commonly see women in their late 30s who have just discovered, often too late, that they cannot conceive naturally. They and their partners face a costly and sometimes desperate struggle to have a child. Sheena Young, of the Infertility Support Network, said: "In Scotland, women over the age of 38 can't get IVF on the NHS. So women need to start thinking about having children early so they can discover any problems in time to get help. The waiting list is not too long, but someone could end up waiting for a year, so if a woman doesn't start trying for a baby until she is 36, and she finds she or her partner has problems, by the time all the tests have been carried out she may not be eligible when she gets to the top of the waiting list." Couples can go private, but that costs around £2,500 per cycle and it may take several attempts because the success rate of each IVF cycle is only 25%. "Women do need to think more about their fertility and be aware that they may have a problem," added Young. "One in seven couples need medical help in order to conceive, which is a lot of people. I think it's something women should be thinking about from the day they start their reproductive lives. They need to be aware and take care of their fertility. "Young people need to understand that some sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, can cause infertility. Many women just get on with their careers, especially if they have invested a lot of money and time in their education, until such time as they feel ready to start a family.Unfortunately, that's when some find out they can't." Perhaps it is no coincidence that such dire statistics on childbearing were published in the wake of a flurry of government warnings about the falling birth rate. In Britain, at the same time as an increasing number of women are having their children later, or not having children at all, people are living longer, resulting in a pensions and elderly care timebomb. Earlier this month, Patricia Hewitt, the trade and industry secretary, was moved to warn that "having a child is crucial to the economic and social success of Britain". But the reality is that women face a multitude of problems when deciding if and when to have a family, despite the prospect of a childless future glaring at them from newspaper headlines. Women in their 30s in Scotland are far more likely to be childless than those in England and Wales. Some of the reasons which have been suggested make for grim reading - as basic as high prices for homes prohibiting many couples from starting families. Cities such as Edinburgh, where house prices are par-ticularly high, have the lowest fertility rates of all. Labour market conditions may be having a greater impact than in England and Wales because Scotland's economy is smaller and has a less diverse range of job opportunities. The SNP's education spokeswoman, Fiona Hyslop, who has just given birth to her third child, said: "Quite frankly, the pressures are very great. We have 50% of the population going to higher education and ending up £16,000 in debt. They can't afford to buy a house. This is the debt generation. It's not just about delaying childbirth to have a career, it's about being able to afford a home." Many agree that the government needs to invest more in parental leave and quality childcare. A full-time nursery place for a child under two is estimated at £170 a week. Monthly nursery fees amount to more than a monthly salary for thousands of parents. Last week, Tony Blair promised to offer longer maternity leave and childcare to all parents of children aged between three and 14 - a move that has horrified businesses but offered some reassurance to families. But the additional cost to the taxpayer of the government's new parental leave proposals could be about £1bn a year, plus the additional administrative cost. Dismissal or demotion because of pregnancy is also said to be happening still in all occupations, despite legislation having been in place for more than 30 years. Every year between 1996 and 2002, more than 1,000 women in the UK took pregnancy-related unfair dismissal claims to employment tribunals. Julie Hall, president of the Glasgow branch of the professionals' networking club, Scottish Women in Business, believes the prospect of battling with a resentful or awkward employer forces many women to delay motherhood. "Having a young family makes it very difficult to spend the time that a lot of companies require, which makes it a hard decision," she said. "If you go ahead and start a family it is very hard to get the balance right. "Employers now want long hours from their staff, and it is difficult to keep your boss and your family happy. That's why a lot of women are going part-time, or job sharing, or starting their own business. In the early stages of a business, women can curtail their hours to suit their lives. But when your business gets up and running you might not have as much time. "The timing of having children is so difficult because some companies have a good track record but other women are not sure what the reaction at work is going to be....

  13. 10/02   Ont. Liberals ('Grits') dogged by 'promise-breakers' label
    Canadian Press via CTV, Canada
    A year ago, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty solemnly pledged to Ontarians in prime-time TV election ads that he would make Ontario a better place - without raising taxes. One year later, Ontarians who voted for the Liberals' "choose change" motto and believed that the party would follow through on its election commitments face a harsh and opposite reality. Instead, over the next four years Ontarians will be paying $9 billion more in taxes thanks to a hefty health premium that now-Premier McGuinty continues to insist he had to implement because a huge deficit left him with no choice. "You bet that put a crimp in our plans," McGuinty said, still blaming the derailing of the rookie government's plans on the multibillion-dollar deficit left behind by the previous Conservative government. "We made a very difficult decision, not a popular decision," McGuinty acknowledged in an interview as the Liberal government arrives at its one-year election victory anniversary on Saturday. "It wasn't the kind of thing designed to boost our political popularity," he said with a smile of resignation after facing months of relentless criticism for breaking his marquee election promise. "It was designed to get more money so we could invest and improve the quality of our health-care system for Ontarians," he explained. "I'm proud to report we're making some real, measurable progress." Raising taxes after explicitly promising not to "was a very unpopular move" and left some voters feeling "deceived" by the Liberals, said John Shields, a politics professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. That move was a low point in "an up and down" year for the Liberals who were on a high after winning a landslide victory in the Oct. 2, 2003 election amid promises to reinvest in public services while being prudent managers of the public purse, said Graham Murray, publisher of Inside Queen's Park, a political newsletter. "They have gone from being enormously popular and feeling positive to feeling very much concerned about how badly things have gone," particularly since pundits predicted the Liberals would stay in government for two terms and now that's "iffy," Murray said. "They've run into much more serious trouble than most governments run into." Furthermore, calling the new tax a premium "went over like a lead balloon with people and significantly damaged their credibility," he said. The Liberals have endured more than just regular chiding and have been labelled by the opposition and other groups as "promise breakers" for reneging on election commitments. The Liberals have come across "as a party that promised a great deal and delivered very little of it," said Paul Nesbitt-Larking, a politics professor at Huron College in London, Ont. New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton goes further. He says McGuinty's TV ad promise not to raise taxes "was clearly not an honest statement." "Mr. McGuinty really doesn't haven't any credibility on these issues anymore," he said. After last fall's election victory, the Liberals' honeymoon was brief and the first few months set a negative tone for the year. Soon after being sworn in, the government backtracked on crucial election promises. The Liberals failed to halt construction on the Oak Ridges Moraine, failed to roll back tolls on Highway 407, failed to cut auto insurance rates by 20%, and then raised the electricity rate price cap after committing to keep it. But the most detrimental and enduring decision came with May's budget when the government instituted a health premium - basically a new income tax - that would take $60 to $900 a year from people's paycheques at total of $9 billion over the next four years. To add to that misery, the Liberals also retracted their promise to balance the budget immediately, instead planning to put the books in the black by the last year of their mandate. At the same time as the government began pulling in extra cash to fund health-care spending, it cut most coverage for three health services: chiropractic, physiotherapy and eye exams. Some voters found that move "galling," Shields said, and felt it was more reminiscent of the kind of action taken by former Conservative premier Mike Harris than following the new vision laid out by McGuinty. "There's nothing worse then when people have that feeling that they're paying more and getting less," said recently elected Conservative Leader John Tory, who pledges to hold the Liberals to account for their "incompetence and mismanagement" in the fall session of the legislature. McGuinty's strategy of blaming the previous government for his financial woes "is going to start to ring pretty hollow" after the one year anniversary milestone passes, Tory said. "They are now the masters of their own situation and can't blame us anymore," he said. The Liberals' first year in government wasn't all broken promises, though. Soon after being sworn in on Oct. 23, 2003 the newly minted government scrapped, as promised, a slew of personal and corporate tax cuts and other tax breaks committed by the previous government. The government also unravelled Conservative policies such as the 60-hour work week and teacher testing. The Liberals also focused on promises with cheap price tags including setting fixed election dates, banning partisan ads, expanding the powers of the provincial auditor, increasing family medical leave and pledging its commitment to medicare. Then the purse strings were loosened as the province hired more meat and water inspectors, raised the minimum wage and froze university tuition. The province also began doling out cash for health care and education initiatives, the two areas of focus for the Liberals during the election campaign. There was more money for home care, long-term care, reducing class sizes, and hiring more nurses and teachers. "I think, in time, people will begin to get a better understanding of the changes that we're making through their own human experience," McGuinty said. Ontarians will know improvements are being made since they'll be measurable through shorter waiting times for medical services and fewer kids in the early grades, he added. "We're determined to get results," McGuinty said. "Things are already getting better in Ontario."...

  14. 10/03   Half-days should remain - GWU - New proposals for the public service
    by Ronald Mizzi (ronmiz@di-ve.com), di-ve news via di-ve.com, Malta
    VALLETTA, Malta - The Executive Committee of the Public Sector Division within the General Workers Union stated yesterday that the summer half-days should remain as they are and that in special cases, negotiations should take place. This was one of the proposals as put forward by the Union for a new collective agreement. The current one expires in December. Josephine Attard Sultana, Secretary of the Division, stated that the Union is putting forward these proposals after that it had analysed the country's current situation and the dignity of the Public Service workers. The Union stated that the proposals are based on requests for improving the general conditions of work and for giving parents ample time for their small children. Proposals include: an extension of the career break leave from 3 to 5 years; to extend the Reduced hours system from 5 to 11 years; to stop the engagement of officials in positions rather than grades and to create new structures where required; to retain the summer half-days; to compensate workers that carry out work that is not expected of them for a long period of time; to revise the method with which overtime is paid; training opportunities and revision of wages.

  15. 10/03   The Plot Against America - A novel by Philip Roth
    Denver Post, CO
    June 1940-Oct.1940 Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War
    Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear. Of course no childhood is without its terrors, yet I wonder if I would have been a less frightened boy if Lindbergh hadn't been president or if I hadn't been the offspring of Jews. When the first shock came in June of 1940-the nomination for the presidency of Charles A. Lindbergh, America's international aviation hero, by the Republican Convention at Philadelphia-my father was thirty-nine, an insurance agent with a grade school education, earning a little under fifty dollars a week, enough for the basic bills to be paid on time but for little more. My mother-who'd wanted to go to teachers' college but couldn't because of the expense, who'd lived at home working as an office secretary after finishing high school, who'd kept us from feeling poor during the worst of the Depression by budgeting the earnings my father turned over to her each Friday as efficiently as she ran the household -was thirty-six. My brother, Sandy, a seventh-grader with a prodigy's talent for drawing, was twelve, and I, a third-grader a term ahead of himself - and an embryonic stamp collector inspired like millions of kids by the country's foremost philatelist Pres. Roosevelt - was seven. We lived in the second-floor flat of a small two-and-a-half-family house on a tree-lined street of frame wooden houses with redbrick stoops, each stoop topped with a gable roof and fronted by a tiny yard boxed in with a low-cut hedge. The Weequahic neighborhood had been built on farm lots at the undeveloped southwest edge of Newark just after World War One, some half dozen of the streets named, imperially, for victorious naval commanders in the Spanish-American War and the local movie house called, after FDR's fifth cousin-and the country's twenty-sixth president-the Roosevelt. Our street, Summit Avenue, sat at the crest of the neighborhood hill, an elevation as high as any in a port city that rarely rises a hundred feet above the level of the tidal salt marsh to the city's north and east and the deep bay due east of the airport that bends around the oil tanks of the Bayonne peninsula and merges there with New York Bay to flow past the Statue of Liberty and into the Atlantic. Looking west from our bedroom's rear window we could sometimes see inland as far as the dark treeline of the Watchungs, a low-lying mountain range fringed by great estates and affluent, sparsely populated suburbs, the extreme edge of the known world-and about eight miles from our house. A block to the south was the working-class town of Hillside, whose population was predominantly Gentile. The boundary with Hillside marked the beginning of Union County, another New Jersey entirely. We were a happy family in 1940. My parents were outgoing, hospitable people, their friends culled from among my father's associates at the office and from the women who along with my mother had helped to organize the Parent-Teacher Association at newly built Chancellor Avenue School, where my brother and I were pupils. All were Jews. The neighborhood men either were in business for themselves-the owners of the local candy store, grocery store, jewelry store, dress shop, furniture shop, service station, and delicatessen, or the proprietors of tiny industrial job shops over by the Newark-Irvington line, or self-employed plumbers, electricians, housepainters, and boilermen-or were foot-soldier salesmen like my father, out every day in the city streets and in people's houses, peddling their wares on commission. The Jewish doctors and lawyers and the successful merchants who owned big stores downtown lived in one-family houses on streets branching off the eastern slope of the Chancellor Avenue hill, closer to grassy, wooded Weequahic Park, a landscaped three hundred acres whose boating lake, golf course, and harness-racing track separated the Weequahic section from the industrial plants and shipping terminals lining Route 27 and the Pennsylvania Railroad viaduct east of that and the burgeoning airport east of that and the very edge of America east of that-the depots and docks of Newark Bay, where they unloaded cargo from around the world. At the western end of the neighborhood, the parkless end where we lived, there resided an occasional schoolteacher or pharmacist but otherwise few professionals were among our immediate neighbors and certainly none of the prosperous entrepreneurial or manufacturing families. The men worked fifty, sixty, even seventy or more hours a week; the women worked all the time, with little assistance from laborsaving devices, washing laundry, ironing shirts, mending socks, turning collars, sewing on buttons, mothproofing woolens, polishing furniture, sweeping and washing floors, washing windows, cleaning sinks, tubs, toilets, and stoves, vacuuming rugs, nursing the sick, shopping for food, cooking meals, feeding relatives, tidying closets and drawers, overseeing paint jobs and household repairs, arranging for religious observances, paying bills and keeping the family's books while simultaneously attending to their children's health, clothing, cleanliness, schooling, nutrition, conduct, birthdays, discipline, and morale. A few women labored alongside their husbands in the family-owned stores on the nearby shopping streets, assisted after school and on Saturdays by their older children, who delivered orders and tended stock and did the cleaning up. It was work that identified and distinguished our neighbors for me far more than religion. Nobody in the neighborhood had a beard or dressed in the antiquated Old World style or wore a skullcap either outdoors or in the houses I routinely floated through with my boyhood friends. The adults were no longer observant in the outward, recognizable ways, if they were seriously observant at all, and aside from older shopkeepers like the tailor and the kosher butcher-and the ailing or decrepit grandparents living of necessity with their adult offspring-hardly anyone in the vicinity spoke with an accent. By 1940 Jewish parents and their children at the southwestern corner of New Jersey's largest city talked to one another in an American English that sounded more like the language spoken in Altoona or Binghamton than like the dialects famously spoken across the Hudson by our Jewish counterparts in the five boroughs. Hebrew lettering was stenciled on the butcher shop window and engraved on the lintels of the small neighborhood synagogues, but nowhere else (other than at the cemetery) did one's eye chance to land on the alphabet of the prayer book rather than on the familiar letters of the native tongue employed all the time by practically everyone for every conceivable purpose, high or low. At the newsstand out front of the corner candy store, ten times more customers bought the Racing Form than the Yiddish daily, the Forvertz. Israel didn't yet exist, six million European Jews hadn't yet ceased to exist, and the local relevance of distant Palestine (under British mandate since the 1918 dissolution by the victorious Allies of the last far-flung provinces of the defunct Ottoman Empire) was a mystery to me. When a stranger who did wear a beard and who never once was seen hatless appeared every few months after dark to ask in broken English for a contribution toward the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine, I, who wasn't an ignorant child, didn't quite know what he was doing on our landing. My parents would give me or Sandy a couple of coins to drop into his collection box, largess, I always thought, dispensed out of kindness so as not to hurt the feelings of a poor old man who, from one year to the next, seemed unable to get it through his head that we'd already had a homeland for three generations. I pledged allegiance to the flag of our homeland every morning at school. I sang of its marvels with my classmates at assembly programs. I eagerly observed its national holidays, and without giving a second thought to my affinity for the Fourth of July fireworks or the Thanksgiving turkey or the Decoration Day double-header. Our homeland was America. Then the Republicans nominated Lindbergh and everything changed. For nearly a decade Lindbergh was as great a hero in our neighborhood as he was everywhere else. The completion of his thirtythree-and-a-half-hour nonstop solo flight from Long Island to Paris in the tiny monoplane the Spirit of St. Louis even happened to coincide with the day in the spring of 1927 that my mother discovered herself to be pregnant with my older brother. As a consequence, the young aviator whose daring had thrilled America and the world and whose achievement bespoke a future of unimaginable aeronautical progress came to occupy a special niche in the gallery of family anecdotes that generate a child's first cohesive mythology. The mystery of pregnancy and the heroism of Lindbergh combined to give a distinction bordering on the divine to my very own mother, for whom nothing less than a global annunciation had accompanied the incarnation of her first child. Sandy would later record this moment with a drawing illustrating the juxtaposition of those two splendid events. In the drawing-completed at the age of nine and smacking inadvertently of Soviet poster art-Sandy envisioned her miles from our house, amid a joyous crowd on the corner of Broad and Market. A slender young woman of twenty-three with dark hair and a smile that is all robust delight, she is surprisingly on her own and wearing her floral-patterned kitchen apron at the intersection of the city's two busiest thoroughfares, one hand spread wide across the front of the apron, where the span of her hips is still deceptively girlish, while with the other she alone in the crowd is pointing skyward to the Spirit of St. Louis, passing visibly above downtown Newark at precisely the moment she comes to realize that, in a feat no less triumphant for a mortal than Lindbergh's, she has conceived Sanford Roth. Sandy was four and I, Philip, wasn't yet born when in March 1932, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's own first child, a boy whose arrival twenty months earlier had been an occasion for national rejoicing, was kidnapped from his family's secluded new house in rural Hopewell, New Jersey. Some ten weeks later the decomposing body of the baby was discovered by chance in woods a few miles away. The baby had been either murdered or killed accidentally after being snatched from his crib and, in the dark, still in bedclothes, carried out a window of the second-story nursery and down a makeshift ladder to the ground while the nurse and mother were occupied in their ordinary evening activities in another part of the house. By the time the kidnapping and murder trial in Flemington, New Jersey, concluded in February 1935 with the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann - a German ex-con of thirty-five living in the Bronx with his German wife - the boldness of the world's first transatlantic solo pilot had been permeated with a pathos that transformed him into a martyred titan comparable to Lincoln. Following the trial, the Lindberghs left America, hoping through a temporary expatriation to protect a new Lindbergh infant from harm and to recover some measure of the privacy they coveted. The family moved to a small village in England, and from there, as a private citizen, Lindbergh began taking the trips to Nazi Germany that would transform him into a villain for most American Jews. In the course of five visits, during which he was able to familiarize himself at first hand with the magnitude of the German war machine, he was ostentatiously entertained by Air Marshal Göring, he was ceremoniously decorated in the name of the Führer, and he expressed quite openly his high regard for Hitler, calling Germany the world's "most interesting nation" and its leader "a great man." And all this interest and admiration after Hitler's 1935 racial laws had denied Germany's Jews their civil, social, and property rights, nullified their citizenship, and forbidden intermarriage with Aryans. By the time I began school in 1938, Lindbergh's was a name that provoked the same sort of indignation in our house as did the weekly Sunday radio broadcasts of Father Coughlin, the Detroit-area priest who edited a right-wing weekly called Social Justice and whose anti-Semitic virulence aroused the passions of a sizable audience during the country's hard times. It was in November 1938-the darkest, most ominous year for the Jews of Europe in eighteen centuries-that the worst pogrom in modern history, Kristallnacht, was instigated by the Nazis all across Germany: synagogues incinerated, the residences and businesses of Jews destroyed, and, throughout a night presaging the monstrous future, Jews by the thousands forcibly taken from their homes and transported to concentration camps. When it was suggested to Lindbergh that in response to this unprecedented savagery, perpetrated by a state on its own native-born, he might consider returning the gold cross decorated with four swastikas bestowed on him in behalf of the Führer by Air Marshal Göring, he declined on the grounds that for him to publicly surrender the Service Cross of the German Eagle would constitute "an unnecessary insult" to the Nazi leadership. Lindbergh was the first famous living American whom I learned to hate-just as President Roosevelt was the first famous living American whom I was taught to love - and so his nomination by the Republicans to run against Roosevelt in 1940 assaulted, as nothing ever had before, that huge endowment of personal security that I had taken for granted as an American child of American parents in an American school in an American city in an America at peace with the world. The only comparable threat had come some thirteen months earlier when, on the basis of consistently high sales through the worst of the Depression as an agent with the Newark office of Metropolitan Life, my father had been offered a promotion to assistant manager in charge of agents at the company's office six miles west of our house in Union, a town whose only distinction I knew of was a drive-in theater where movies were shown even when it rained, and where the company expected my father and his family to live if he took the job. As an assistant manager, my father could soon be making seventy-five dollars a week and over the coming years as much as a hundred a week, a fortune in 1939 to people with our expectations. And since there were one-family houses selling in Union for a Depression low of a few thousand dollars, he would be able to realize an ambition he had nurtured growing up penniless in a Newark tenement flat: to become an American homeowner. "Pride of ownership" was a favorite phrase of my father's, embodying an idea real as bread to a man of his background, one having to do not with social competitiveness or conspicuous consumption but with his standing as a manly provider....

  16. 10/03   Cleaning up Ivan's debris a long, expensive task
    Montgomery Advertiser, AL
    by Sebastian Kitchen
    Victor Matthews has had little time to spend with his family since Hurricane Ivan came to town. He continues to work more than 70 hours a week cleaning up debris throughout Montgomery. "It is bad sometimes when you want to spend time with your family, but we've got to do this," Matthews said. Matthews, who has been married for 10 years, has a son, 8, and a daughter, 10. He said his family has been understanding. "I try to squeeze in time to satisfy everybody and get time with them when I can," he said. Matthews is one of dozens of Montgomery sanitation workers who have been methodically working their way through the city. They are working 10.5 hours a day on weekdays and 12 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. They have had one day off since the Sept. 17 storm. As Matthews and others are spending time on the streets and away from their families, the city is accumulating several million dollars in expenses. Lloyd Faulkner, director of finance for the city, said more than $392,000 in overtime costs have been incurred through the last pay period, which ended Sept. 23. Those numbers do not include anticipated overtime for the coming weeks, equipment costs or any other incidental expenses, he said. Faulkner said those numbers will jump as overtime continues to climb and other items are added. Mayor Bobby Bright estimates the city will spend $3 million to $5 million recovering from the hurricane. Those are numbers that were not factored into the city budget, he said. "It will be a big-ticket item for our general fund," Bright said. Hurricane Opal did not cause as much damage and cleanup took six to eight weeks, he said. Faulkner said he expects the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse the city for 75% of its costs related to the hurricane. The state will likely reimburse 10% - leaving the city with a burden of 15%. "It is the end of the year and I know where we stand," Faulkner said. "We should be able to absorb that 15% easily." If the city were to have financial problems addressing hurricane recovery, Faulkner said, there is $2.2 million in a contingency fund. Montgomery is more than halfway through with its current pickup, Bright said. Dan Dickey, director of sanitation for the city, said cleanup efforts should take about another four weeks. "They're doing pretty well right now," Dickey said. "Morale is high. They are really giving it all they've got." Employees may be given another Sunday off in the near future, but Dickey said many employees are eager to work. The crews picking up storm debris along the roadside are working through the city's daily trash routes. The crews will work until each area is cleaned. "It's taking us anywhere from three to five days to work an area we normally work in one day," Dickey said. The crews dominate the landscape when they are in a neighborhood. The orange trucks and suits fill several blocks as they work. Some workers rake leaves as others throw branches into the trucks to be compacted. Crew member Alan Chappelle said he is a former factory worker and the long days and work weeks do not bother him. Still, Chappelle said he has been surprised by the amount of debris. "There is a lot of it," he said. "I didn't think it did that much damage." James Lamar, a supervisor in the Sanitation Dept., has worked alongside crews during the long days and long work weeks.Lamar drives ahead of the crews to keep them organized. He is working with 18 crews. "Everybody is doing the best we can," Lamar said. "We are in a hurry to get that storm debris picked up for them. Let the citizens know we are coming as a group and we are going to get it up." The crews begin to slow down in the evenings, Lamar said, but they continue to work at a steady pace. Lamar, Dickey and crew members said no one is complaining. Lamar said the weather has been very cooperative. Matthews agreed. "Thank God it ain't July," Matthews said. Matthews has been working with the city Sanitation Dept. for about six weeks - just in time to start helping with the cleaning after Ivan. "It is up to us if we want to work," Matthews said. "Somebody's got to do it. It is my job."

  17. 10/03   Retirement years becoming working years
    Kalamazoo Gazette, MI
    by Michelle Miron (mmiron@kalamazoogazette.com or 388-2733)
    To George Laure, founder of the 50-year-old W-L Molding Co. in Portage, retirement looks "kind of hum-drum." The 92-year-old former pilot is an avid golfer and skier who still heads to work daily to oversee the plastic-component manufacturer's 150 employees and make sure business is running smoothly. Most of his friends and colleagues opted to retire a long time ago. "It's a pleasure to work and I find that it's fun," he said. "With retirement you can be active in civic activities, but I think you lose the challenge you have in working and running a business." For the past eight years, Bonnie Cole of Vicksburg, 62, and her 73-year-old husband, Maurice, have worked part time as sales clerks at Vicksburg Hardware. Their previous careers netted them "a nice, chubby, little retirement fund," Bonnie Cole said, but they like the continued interaction with people and plan to stay on as long as their health allows. Laure and the Coles may be ahead of their time in their outlooks, but trends show that through the first quarter of this century a growing number of older employees likely will be in the American workplace. Some will choose to work as a result of longer life expectancies and changing attitudes about quality of life during their "golden years." Others will work out of financial necessity due to layoffs, reduced pension and benefit packages, and/or poorly performing investments. The trend may be even more prevalent in the Kalamazoo area, said one local employment expert, due to the numbers who took early retirement from or were displaced by The Upjohn Co./Pharmacia Corp./Pfizer Inc. succession. "We (our staff) would all agree that there are significantly more older adults looking for employment," said Norm Grosse, operations manager for Management Recruiters of Kalamazoo Inc., which specializes in filling engineering and management positions. "When a work force is reduced as a result of a buyout, companies have a tendency to go to (eliminate) the older workers,"Grosse said. "I also think a lot of people tried to retire earlier and had investments in place, then the stock market ... (plummeted) and they're not getting monthly returns on their investments." While demand for senior workers is still moving at a marginal pace and age bias is apparently still prevalent, analysts say corporate America had best learn to maximize the older work force since it will be crucial to sustaining future economic growth and productivity. People in the 76 million-strong baby-boomer segment of the U.S. population will reach age 65 between 2011 and 2029. By 2015, workers 55 and older are expected to represent 19.2% of all workers, up from 15.4% in 2003.
    Retirement delayed
    The 1980s and 1990s saw an increase in people retiring in their 50s, but experts are forecasting that the typical retirement age will soon edge past 65. A recent AARP study forecasts that 80% of baby boomers plan to work at least part time during their "retirement" years. That's the plan for 64-year-old Norm Braksick, the former president of Asgrow Seed Co. The Portage resident left Asgrow in 1997 and by 2000 was recruited to work as executive director of Food Resource Bank, a Kalamazoo-based nonprofit agency that funds sustainable food programs in Third World countries by growing and selling crops in the United States. Braksick said his choice to continue working is not unusual among former Upjohn or Pharmacia employees, several of whom have started small pharmaceutical-related businesses or are doing consulting work as second careers. "I don't know what traditional retirement is," he said. "I don't golf and we don't have a boat. I know an awful lot of people who retire and either volunteer, or work ... (another) job, or get involved in consulting." Global human-resources firm DBM predicts that employers will need to revise their hiring, professional development and retention tactics as seniors become more highly sought-after. Typical offerings in the future might include flextime, job reassignment or redesign, freelancing, job-sharing, phased retirement, telecommuting and/or mentoring opportunities. Training may be beefed up to add technology or computer "boot camps" for those who haven't kept up. Also, benefits might be expanded to include long-term discounted insurance, supplementary insurance, sign-on bonuses, and/or elder-care assessments. Will employers be paying huge health-care costs to support senior workers? Not necessarily, said Gary Kushner, president and chief executive officer of benefits specialist Kushner and Co. in Kalamazoo. "We believe that ... (older workers) will end up being a relatively small part of health-care costs, in part because of the good work employers are doing now in prevention and wellness," he said. A recent study by the global professional society the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA found that the higher costs of health care, pensions and vacations for seniors are often outweighed by the costs associated with recruiting, hiring and training younger workers who then generate a higher turnover rate. Research from the Society for Human Resources Management shows that older workers are more productive, more loyal and less likely to be absent from work, Kushner said. Others point to seniors' greater maturity, depth of experience and often better understanding of company culture and customers.
    Older workers sought out
    Borgess Medical Center is among local employers pursuing older workers. Because of the demand for nurses and the trend toward nursing as a second career, the average age of registered nurses at Borgess is 44.5 and rising, said employment director Rick Van Laan. Older workers are increasingly common in the hospital's clerical, business and support-service fields, he said. "Hospitals like Borgess are really ideally suited for ... (accommodating older workers) because we have a wide variety of hours an employee may want to work in a week," he said. Older or second-career nurses are especially valuable, he said, because they "know themselves, their capacities, and their interests and really become dedicated." Regional grocery-store chains including Meijer Inc., the Hardings Co., and Felpausch Co., plus mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., also have traditionally employed a significant number of senior workers as cashiers, baggers and food samplers. "They're dependable, friendly and they have that work ethic that retailers need now," said Janine Dalman, Felpausch's director of public relations. A Huntington, Calif.-based national online employment service called Seniors4Hire has logged 80,000 over-50 registrants since it opened two years ago, according to founder Renee Ward.   50% say they're seeking full-time jobs, half are between the ages of 56 and 65, and 35% are college graduates.

  18. 10/03   Fontana plans major review of wage, retirement issues
    London Free Press, Canada
    by Jonathan Sher
    Labour Minister Joe Fontana has been a member of the federal cabinet barely long enough to warm his seat, but he says he's already planning a review of labour standards more comprehensive than anything done in decades. Minimum wage, pay equity and the mandatory retirement age are just some of the hot-button issues the London-North-Centre MP says he'll examine when he reviews a major portion of Canada's Labour Act. "This hasn't been reviewed for 40 years," Fontana said yesterday, giving a preview of a major initiative he expects to begin in coming months. Federal labour law applies only to federally-regulated workforces. The workers are in industries such as telecommunications and financial services, about 1.5 million workers out of 17 million in Canada's workforce. But Fontana thinks new federal rules will serve as benchmarks that provinces will strive to match. "We'd hope we would lead," he said. The son of a local labour leader, Fontana spent a decade as a London city councillor and 16 years as a backbencher in Parliament, which ended in July when Prime Minister Paul Martin made him labour minister. While Fontana represents some of the city's bluest blood in his riding, he has also earned the support of blue-collar workers. "I want companies to be family-friendly," said Fontana. The rules he'll re-visit include those which regulate parental leave, pensions and the number of hours in the work week. Fontana also hopes to knock down barriers between provinces that impede professionals such as teachers and doctors from moving. "We have more internal barriers sometimes then external barriers," he said. The review is a good initiative, but only if it leads to improvements that benefit workers, said Rick Witherspoon, president of the London Labour Council. Ontario's minimum wage needs to rise to $10 an hour if workers are to stay above the poverty line, he said. "We've been pushing for an increase," he said. Chris Bentley, MPP for London West and Ontario's Labour Minister, said in December the minimum wage would rise to $8 an hour from $6.85 by 2007. It's imperative Fontana listen to workers during his review, Witherspoon said. "What he really needs to do is talk to workers," he said. Workers lost many protections under Ontario's former Conservative government that must be regained, Witherspoon said, such as certifying a union by collecting cards of support and keeping replacement workers from crossing picket lines.

  19. 10/03   In short - IRAS Centre to close at 1pm on Saturdays
    Straits Times, Singapore
    From this week, all counters and helpline services at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) Taxpayer Services Centre will close at 1pm on Saturdays. Currently, these services operate Mondays to Saturdays, from 8am to 5pm. Iras said that the change, part of the new pro-family five-day work week arrangements, is not likely to affect the public as few taxpayers visit it on Saturday afternoons. To avoid the hassle of queueing, Iras suggested that taxpayers should call its helplines at least one day in advance to make an appointment to see a tax officer.

  20. 10/03   Back wages battle nears conclusion
    Yuma Sun, AZ
    by Jonathan Athens
    A long-standing class-action lawsuit concerning back overtime wages owed to hundreds of former and current Yuma County Sheriff's Office employees may be resolved soon. Going before Yuma County Board of Supervisors on Monday is a recommendation to pay $431,823 in statutory interest accrued over an eight-year span after a handful of sheriff's deputies filed the suit against the county for overtime wages. The lawsuit, filed in May 1996 on behalf of 11 deputies asking for $5.7 million, later became a class action suit involving 650 former and current sheriff's deputies and corrections officers. Yuma County paid a court-ordered settlement in December 2003 for $941,190. However, the county still owes interest accrued since the time of the settlement, and still unresolved is another $1.8 million in treble damages the plaintiffs are seeking, said Bob Yen, a Phoenix-based attorney whose firm represented the plaintiffs. Yuma County Administrator David Garcia said he is recommending supervisors authorize payment of the statutory interest, of which $175,077 will come from the county's general fund for the sheriff's deputies and $256,746 will come from the jail district fund for the corrections officers. Garcia said the county must pay the interest money owed and said he expects the supervisors to approve his recommendation. Garcia said of the class-action suit: "It's unfortunate that it happened, and it's good to put this behind us." A trial concerning the $1.8 million in treble damages, slated to begin on Dec. 7 in Pima County Superior Court, has been postponed through an agreement between Yen's firm and Yuma County. "If we cannot reach (a settlement), we will go forward with this in December," Yen said. "What we want to do is reach this with the county in good faith. My clients have no intention of bankrupting Yuma County. If the county can make a reasonable offer, we'll recommend the case be settled." Under Arizona law, if an employer fails to pay wages when they are due, the court can award three times the cost of those wages. "The statute is an encouragement to employers to pay their employees when they are owed wages," Yen said. Supervisors are expected to meet in a closed-door executive session on Monday to discuss legal matters relating to the suit. Garcia said he could not comment on the matter. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the sheriff's office followed the federal wage labor standards that allowed for employees to work 171 hours within 28 days before being paid overtime. The lawsuit cited an Arizona law that requires employers to pay employees overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a standard work week. Since then, the sheriff's office has changed to paying overtime at the end of the 40-hour work week, said Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden.
    Jonathan Athens can be reached at jathens@yumasun.com or 539-6857.

  21. 10/03   Hundreds answer call to investigate LBPD job fair - Attendees cite chance to be a role model for kids as inspiration
    Long Beach Press-Telegram
    by Chad Greene
    LONG BEACH - The police had them surrounded. Hundreds milled about the large section of the parking lot of Long Beach City College's Pacific Coast Campus ringed by patrol cars with flashing lights, a team of black-clad SWAT officers laying out assault rifles in front of their armored van and a police dog running in anxious circles in the backseat of a K-9 unit. It was an impressive response, but no crime had been committed. In fact, it was the uniformed police officers on hand who were the ones being questioned Saturday morning. Attracted by the chance to serve their community while also earning a decent living, hundreds flocked to the Long Beach Police Dept. Job Fair. "It's one way to help people and genuinely make a difference in their lives," said LBPD Chief Anthony Batts, a 23-year veteran of the force. While Batts said the exact number of new recruits his department will accept depends in part on how many officers retire before the next academy class begins in June, there was certainly no shortage of interest on Saturday. "I'd just like to be able to help the community and be a good example to younger kids," said Torrance resident Lisa Moya, who came to the job fair with fellow port security guard Naomi Tescum. Being a role model for local youth was also a priority for Tescum, who was intrigued by the department's Police Athletic League and Community Policing programs. Sgt. Ken Rosenthal of the LBPD's Training Division said that the sheer variety of positions available within the department is one of its strongest selling points. "It's not just driving around in a black-and-white," said Rosenthal, who has worked patrol, vice and gangs and taught at the Police Academy during his 23 years with the LBPD. "It's a chance to take part in the community and do things people sitting behind a desk don't get a chance to do." Paramount resident Lawrence Thomas said he'd like a chance to put the associate's degree in criminal justice he earned at LBCC to good use. "It's a chance to help people and protect the neighborhoods that you live in, or used to live in," said Thomas, who grew up in Long Beach. Applicants must be 20 years old, either be a United States citizen or have applied for citizenship, have a valid driver's license and either a high school diploma or a GED. Applicants' records must also be free of felony convictions. Starting salary for an LBPD police officer is $4,100 a month. Benefits of the position include full health care benefits, a pension plan and a four-day work week.
    For more information, call (562) 570-5388 or visit www.longbeach.gov/police

  22. 10/01   Health care workers feel proposed state bills are necessary
    The Citizens' Voice, PA
    Elaine Oley, a nurse aide at Broad Mountain Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Frackville, missed spending her last Christmas Eve with her terminally ill mother because she was mandated to work overtime. "It is always the worst possible time that you're mandated," Oley said. "I don't like the implied threats that either you stay or you're fired." Oley and other health care workers are trying to build support for state House Bill 1400 and state Senate Bill 722, also known as the "Patient and Health Care Worker Protection Act," which would end the practice of mandating health caregivers to work past their scheduled shift, except during emergencies. Oley, who has been a nurse aide for 14 years, said when she started working at the Broad Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, there was no mandatory overtime. Since the practice started, she said their turnover rate has increased dramatically. "They refuse to hire agency nurses because they say it's too expensive, yet they will pay double time for mandatory overtime," Oley said. Some long-time health care workers are so disgusted with mandatory overtime that they have sought other jobs, she said. "The stress level is so high," Oley said. "I'm in this job because I like it, but we are losing good workers. Our younger mothers cannot find day care. They're saying you have to work overtime or you will lose your job. They're giving workers a choice between their children and their jobs." Bill Cruice, director of Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, said mandatory overtime is one reason medical errors are going up sharply. A recent study by Health Grades Inc., a health care consulting firm in Colorado that rates hospitals, estimated that medical errors in U.S. hospitals contributed to almost 600,000 patient deaths over the last three years, double the number of deaths from a study published in 2000 by the Institute of Medicine. "Mandatory overtime is not only causing patient deaths and injuries, but it is causing unnecessary tension and crisis in the system," Cruice said. "Forcing people to stay 16 hours is killing patients." Nine states - New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas, Washington, California, Oregon, West Virginia and Maine - have placed restrictions on mandatory overtime. Tara Lyckowski, a nurse aide at Taylor Nursing Home, said that her nursing home has not used mandatory overtime for five years, and that has been an incentive for workers to stay. "I believe if we can do it, so can everyone else," Lyckowski said. "We know that after our eight hours are put in, we don't have to stay, and that makes people want to stay." Lyckowski, a single mother with two children, said she needs to go home after her eight-hour shift and she is opposed to mandatory overtime. "It is unhealthy. It's not good for the patients," Lyckowski said. "We haven't had mandatory overtime for five years and we have kept our staff. We haven't had that big turnover." Mandatory overtime was one of the biggest issues that led to the three-week strike of 440 registered nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital last year. Dr. William Host, president and CEO of Wyoming Valley Health Care System, said registered nurses are mandated to work overtime less than one-half of one% of the time. This equals about 11 hours of overtime for the average nurse per year, he said. Nurse who work overtime are paid time and a half. Host said the mandatory overtime debate is a "national issue," which he does not feel is a problem at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. One nurse who publicly complained about mandatory overtime never worked mandatory overtime, he said. Sharon Colatosti, president of Wyoming Valley Nurses Association, which represents registered nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, said nurses will volunteer to work overtime to help out their colleagues and the hospital when there are holes in the schedule. That overtime is not counted as mandatory overtime, she said. Colatosti added that mandatory overtime has been making it difficult to recruit and retain nurses. Two months ago, she said there were as many as 60 open nursing positions, until some new graduates entered the field and Dr. Host offered them a $10,000 sign-on bonus. Colatosti said she has been asked to work mandatory overtime twice. Recently, she and other nurses were asked to stay one hour to help flooding victims of Hurricane Ivan. "No one even hesitated to stay then," Colatosti said. "But, it often happens late in the shift. Some nurses already worked two 12-hour or 16-hours the previous days." James Carmody, WVHCS vice president of human resources, said most nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital are not mandated to work overtime. Nurses may be mandated to work overtime during emergencies, he said. But, the most frequent reason mandatory overtime is used, he said, is to fill an unscheduled absence. If a nurse who is scheduled to relieve another nurse calls off sick and no one wants to volunteer to work overtime, mandatory overtime is required, he said. Carmody is opposed to the government passing legislation to ban mandatory overtime, stating he does not believe "a one-size-fits-all approach" is the right course to take. He said a "generic ban" on mandatory overtime, except in emergencies, does not address the shortage of nurses. Cruice, however, feels banning mandatory overtime for health care workers is a safety issue and he stressed it is the "core purpose of government to protect the health and safety of the population." "When the labor market itself fails to produce an answer to protect patients, the government has to step in," Cruice said. "It is irrefutable that excessive work hours is bad for patients. It is killing them and causing errors. Health care workers would like to have a more normal life. That also is important, but this is fundamentally about safety." Carmody, however, questioned why nurses feel mandatory overtime is unsafe, but voluntary overtime is safe. "How do we determine that an hour of mandatory overtime is unsafe, but an hour of voluntary overtime is not?" Carmody asked. "The truth is one is more convenient than the other."

  23. 10/02   Judge rejects fire union pact imposed by oversight
    Waterbury Republican-American, United States
    by Cara Rubinsky
    WATERBURY, Conn.(?) - In a new twist to a contentious battle, a judge on Friday rejected the fire union contract imposed by the state oversight board, rekindling fiscal uncertainty and creating potential for another round of changes in the department. The fire union president lauded Judge Elizabeth Gallagher's decision as proof the oversight board had overstepped its bounds, while board and city officials said they are confident an appeals court will reverse the ruling. The decision calls into question whether the city will achieve $1.5 million in savings officials are counting on to balance the 2004-05 budget. If the ruling stands, the city will likely have to hire more firefighters or pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to keep the department staffed. At issue in the fire union's lawsuit was whether the board had the authority to start a second round of contract arbitration after a first round ended with six board members deadlocked on an agreement negotiated by the city and the firefighters. A seventh member did not vote on the first proposed contract because he had not attended the hearings. He was replaced and the hearings started from scratch. The board voted 5-2 to impose a contract that differed significantly from the agreement the city and the fire union had reached. Firefighters, contesting the oversight board's authority from the outset, boycotted both rounds of arbitration. Legislators created the oversight board in March 2001 to help the city recover from a $100 million deficit. They gave the board sweeping powers to act as arbitrator and impose contract provisions, but they did not specify what happens if arbitration ends in a tie. In a 19-page ruling released late Friday in Waterbury Superior Court, Gallagher did not explicitly say the oversight board was wrong to start a second arbitration. But she ruled the contract was void because the board did not issue a decision by June 15, the deadline for the first arbitration. The immediate effect of the ruling will not be known until after city and oversight board attorneys go to court, likely on Monday. They plan to ask a judge to stay Gallagher's ruling until they can file an appeal. If a judge grants a stay, firefighters will continue to work under their new contract until the appeals court issues a decision. Firefighters have been working the 50-hour weeks dictated by the new contract since Sept. 11. Earlier this month, Gallagher denied a fire union request to postpone implementation of the contract until she ruled on the lawsuit. Firefighters hope the ruling Gallagher issued Friday will allow them to go back to their old schedule, under which they worked 42 hours a week. Previously, they worked three days, had three days off, worked three nights, and had three days off. Now they work 24 hours, are off 24 hours, work 24 hours, are off 24 hours, work 24 hours and then are off for four days. In any 27-day period, they have one additional day off. "Again this week, I'm working 72 hours in five days, and it's a great imposition on my family and the rest of the members," said Fire Union President Daniel French, adding he was pleased with the decision. "I'm very happy for my members because we've certainly been under the thumb of this control board for some time, and we've been saying they're overstepping their authority, and a lot of people say we're just whining, but now a judge has agreed with us." Mayor Michael J. Jarjura, however, said he does not believe Gallagher's decision will stand. "If I was the fire union I wouldn't be doing cartwheels or dancing in the streets that this is some major victory," he said. "From the city perspective, we are concerned about the uncertainty that this decision brings to what has already been a very highly emotionally charged process, and its potential effect on our budget for the fiscal year we're in." The city does not yet have a contingency plan for how it will balance its $325 million budget for fiscal year 2004-05 if the new contract is vacated. Even one year with a deficit means five more years of state oversight. The Fire Dept. budget for the fiscal year is $18.3 million, nearly $1 million less than last year. The department has 244 firefighters, not counting 17 who have filed retirement papers and 36 who work in the fire marshal's office or perform other administrative functions The contract is designed to save money mostly by reducing overtime. The old contract mandated a force of 329 firefighters, but the city only had about 300, meaning the empty positions had to be filled by paying overtime. The new contract decreases the mandated number of firefighters. Because the new schedule divides the department into three shifts instead of four, more firefighters are available on each shift. They must also work more hours beyond their regular shift to qualify for time-and-a-half pay. overtime in the first week of the new schedule totaled about $5,000, down from an average of $73,000 a week for the first 10 weeks of the fiscal year, when firefighters were working under their old contract. The oversight board did agree to provide a 7% raise to firefighters, though some of that increase was expected to be offset because 17 firefighters who retired would not be replaced. If firefighters go back to their old contract, however, the city will likely have to fill those 17 positions and others by paying overtime, adding to the budget woes. Firefighters contend the city manufactured an overtime crisis under the old contact by not hiring enough firefighters to fill shifts. City officials contend overtime skyrocketed because firefighters abused sick time. No one seems to know what will happen if Gallagher's ruling stands. If a second round of arbitration is ruled invalid, a third is unlikely to be acceptable. Firefighters and the city could go back to the bargaining table, but the oversight board would still have to approve any agreement. In the meantime, attorneys for both sides will likely head back to court. "Obviously we're disappointed with the ruling," said Michael Cicchetti, oversight board chairman. "We will vigorously appeal this and are confident that we will be successful on appeal."

  24. 10/03   Tracking the jobless - There's a difference between unemployment, underemployment
    San Francisco Chronicle, CA
    by Tom Abate
    When Rose Chiu lost her job in February 2003, her husband was working, so she didn't start job hunting immediately. Then her husband was laid off in November. By then, Chiu had her hands full tending to her ailing father and couldn't actively search for work. Her husband Daniel's unemployment payments helped the South San Francisco couple cope. "We've always been good about living within our means and saving for a rainy day, so we've been able to manage,'' said Chiu.... When her husband's checks ran out in June, Chiu started an all-out job search. Rose Chiu's case shows how the unemployment rate, one of the most widely watched economic indicators, doesn't tell the full story about the job market. Even though she wanted to work, Chiu did not meet the Labor Dept.'s definition of unemployed during the period she was helping her father. To be counted as unemployed, a person must have actively sought a job within the last four weeks and have been completely out of work. Wanting a job but not actively looking - Chiu's situation when she was helping her father - takes a person out of the labor force and out of the unemployment rate calculation. In response to recurring questions about the unemployment rate, the Labor Dept. has created other indicators that, while generally ignored by politicians and media, paint a fuller portrait of the employment market. One of those measures describes Chiu's situation before she started actively seeking work in June. This alternate index, sometimes called an underemployment rate, adds two groups to those officially deemed unemployed: In August, when the official unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 5.4%, this alternative index remained at 9.5% - right where it had been the previous month. Sylvia Allegretto, an economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington, said this underemployment rate more accurately reflects the weakness in the job market. "The shortcoming of the unemployment rate is that it doesn't capture the people who are leaving the labor force, such as discouraged workers,'' Allegretto said. She cited Labor Dept. estimates that 152,000 people quit the labor force between July and August, helping drive down the unemployment rate. But Tim Kane, an economist with the conservative Heritage Foundation, disputed the notion that the unemployment rate is being artificially lowered by an exodus of discouraged workers. "It's not discouragement. People have chosen voluntarily not to work,'' he said. He agreed that people have been quitting the labor force, but chalked it up to the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and people putting "family over career.'' Debates about whether the unemployment rate is a good barometer of the labor market aren't new. "Every time there's an election, or a recession during the election period, these numbers become political,'' said Dan Levine, a former deputy director of the Census Bureau. He said complaints over the jobless rate were an issue in the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon race. As early as 1976, the Labor Dept. started publishing alternatives to supplement the traditional unemployment rate. University of Georgia economist Ronald Warren, who worked at the Labor Dept. at the time, said the labor market upheaval that followed the OPEC oil embargo had intensified the controversy. "There had for many years been concern from both sides of the political spectrum about the official rate,'' Warren said. "It was either too generous or too restrictive.'' These alternative indexes, which included estimates of discouraged workers, were already in use when Janet Norwood became commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1979. "We felt that people were right, that there was a need for a broader perspective (on unemployment),'' said Norwood, who left the bureau in the early 1990s. By 1994, the Labor Dept. was publishing the so-called underemployment rate in its current form. But Norwood, now a consultant with the nonpartisan Urban Institute in Washington, said these alternative measures never got as much public attention as the unemployment rate. "They don't appear on the front pages of the newspaper,'' she said. But some policy-makers do look beyond the unemployment rate to consider other Labor Dept. indicators. In a January speech, shortly after he joined the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, Princeton economist Ben Bernanke said unemployment, then about 6%, "is not exceptionally high by historical standards.'' But "when one looks at the full range of information available, the labor market looks (if anything) weaker than a 6% unemployment rate would suggest,'' he said. Bernanke cited a Labor Dept. indicator called the employment-to- population ratio, which divides the number of people who are working by the total number of people of working age. It includes all nonworking adults - those who want jobs as well as those who don't for whatever reasons. This ratio peaked in the 64% range during the recent boom. It has since fallen to about 62%, its level in 1994. "It appears that workers who have lost their jobs in the past couple of years have been more likely to withdraw from the labor force than were job losers in previous recessions,'' Bernanke said. Another set of official data that suggests the labor picture remains soft is the number of involuntary part-timers, people who couldn't get more hours or find a full-time job. They count as employed in the jobless rate calculation. But in the Labor Dept.'s alternative index, they are considered underemployed. About 3.3 million people fell into this category when the recession began in 2001. That number rose as high as 4.8 million last year. It stood at roughly 4.5 million in August. Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg cited a July-August rise in people working part time due to slack business conditions as a sign of softness, despite the August dip in the unemployment rate. "If you believe the situation is worse than the unemployment rate captures, the (labor bureau) gives you numbers to reflect your opinion,'' said Warren, the University of Georgia economist. But economist Ken Goldstein, employment expert for the Conference Board in New York, said neither the unemployment rate nor the array of alternative indicators taken together can completely encapsulate the job market. "If you're the guy who's working, it isn't that bad,'' he said. "If you're one of the folks whose job's just left for New Delhi, it's a disaster."
    E-mail Tom Abate at tabate@sfchronicle.com

  25. 10/03   Harrassed at work? Don't hesitate to demand relief, by Linda Lerner (jobdoc@globe.com or 617-929-3183), Boston Globe, G12.
    ["Demand relief" in a labor surplus? Employers will just laugh and show you the door.]
    ...It's employer's right to reduce work hours
    Q. My younger brother works in the mailroom of a small company and he likes his job a lot.... Recently his manager has been cutting back on my brother's hours and now he no longer works full time. They have told him that if his hours are cut any more he will lose his benefits, because only full-time employees get benefits. Is there anything he can do about this loss of income and this loss of benefits?
    A. In general, an employer has the right to reduce the number of hours an employee works and to make policies about which employees are eligible for benefits. There are two exceptions: if there exists a written company policy, or a union agreement, that covers these matters, and if these policies or agreements are inconsistent with your brother's treatment.
    Similar to a company's decision to lay off an employee, there is not much one can do to change the decision. What your brother should do is to find out exactly what number of hours he needs to work to be eligible for benefits....
    Also keep in mind that [some] benefits are often prorated when a person goes from full-time to part-time status. For example, if he has had 10 paid holidays as a full-time employee, he may now have them reduced to five. Similar changes in sick time and other...benefits will occur....
    Your brother should next ask his boss about the chances for increasing his hours in the near future and if the company expects this change to become a permanent one. If it looks like further reductions in hours and benefits may occur, your brother should look for another job that provides the type of hours, benefits and insurance that he needs.
    In addition, if his hours are reduced considerably, he should inquire as to whether he is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
    Heavy workload may be an opportunity to shine
    Q. There are two women on maternity leave at the same time in our office, and it is putting enormous pressure on me as a supervisor. The rest of the staff is also feeling concerned about the additional work. I have been trying to keep up with the workload but it is not going well and stress level is beginning to really get to me. I know that it is the law that my employer must give both of my co-workers this time off but the burden on the rest of us is staggering. I do not leave before 7:30 pm and even then I worry about things falling between the cracks. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this problem?
    A. ...As a supervisor, you need to decide if these positions can be filled by temporary administrative employees, professional contractors, or outside consultants. If the responsibilities can be carried by temporary assistance, put together a budget to strengthen your case with management. A temporary transfer from another department in the company may also lessen the workload. ...Push hard for the assistance you need to get through this period without feeling concerned that others will think less of you.
10/01/2004   primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 9/30 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except Australian & Far East stories which are 10/01), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Europe's alternative work-time
    by Anders Hayden
    Common Ground.ca, Canada.
    Progressive workers rights?
    One of the top challenges facing most of us in today’s fast paced modern world is that there is so much to do and seemingly so little time to do it in. This article looks at how we can heal what has become a dysfunctional relationship with time. This apparent lack of time causes stress, anxiety and disease.
    It’s late October. You’ve been working hard all year and feel like you’re ready for some time off. How about taking the rest of the year? If you’ve been working as much as the average American employee, you’ve already clocked as many hours as a full-time worker does over an entire year in many European countries.
    Of course, Europeans don’t just stop work nine to ten weeks before the New Year. Instead, European nations have introduced a wide range of shorter work-time policies. Their goals, which vary in importance in each country, include: improving the quality of life for working people, promoting work-family balance and gender equity, creating opportunities for skills-upgrading and lifelong learning, and reducing unemployment by better distributing the available jobs.
    While Western Europe is not a worker’s paradise, its various shorter work-time policies are valuable examples of ways that public policies can foster “time affluence” alongside material affluence.
    International Work-time Gap
    One of the first products of the industrial revolution was a dramatic increase in work hours for most people, with 13- and 14-hour days, 70- or 80-hour weeks, or more, common in many countries in the nineteenth century. In response, working people embarked on a difficult struggle for work-time reduction, which, over time, has delivered achievements such as the eight-hour day, the two-day weekend, and paid vacations.
    The United States was once an international work-time reduction leader. Henry Ford’s auto plants introduced a 40-hour week in 1926, while German autoworkers had to wait until 1967 for a similar standard. In the 1930s, the U.S. and France were among the first countries to legislate a 40-hour week, and Congress seriously considered a 30-hour bill. By contrast, Saturday was a regular working day in the Netherlands until the 1960s. Sweden did not reach a 40-hour standard until 1973.
    After World War II, the American shorter work-time movement ground to a halt, while many European nations caught up with and surpassed American standards. From 1979 to 2000, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway benefited from work-time reductions of nearly 10% or more. Work hours have also fallen dramatically in South Korea and Japan, which now has a lower annual estimate than the United States.
    Workweek Below 40 hours
    While many Americans long for the days when they worked only 40 hours per week, several European countries have recently reduced the standard workweek below 40 hours. The boldest recent initiative is France’s 35-hour week, which was announced in 1997 and became the legislated standard in 2000. The “shorter workweek” has taken many flexible forms, including extra days off (an average of 16 per year), shorter daily hours, and alternating four- and five-day weeks. In 2001, France’s national planning agency found “indisputable” evidence that work-time reduction was creating vast numbers of new jobs, helping to bring unemployment down from 12.5% in 1997 to an eighteen-year low of 8.6%.
    A recent major study found that the majority of French workers (60%), said that shorter hours had improved their quality of life, versus only 15% with a negative experience. The effect on quality of work, however, has been more mixed. Roughly half said the 35-hour week had not changed their working conditions, with others equally divided over whether conditions had improved or deteriorated.
    Where complaints exist, increased workloads, as a result of insufficient new hiring, and the effects of increased work-time flexibility - such as more evening and weekend work in return for shorter hours overall - are often the culprits. France’s 35-hour week is still a work in progress. But despite some concerns and controversies, it has delivered important employment and quality of life improvements overall.
    Rather than a dramatic legislated leap forward, the Netherlands (36 or 38 hours), Denmark (37), Norway (37.5), and Belgium (39 in 1999, 38 in 2003) have relied on national agreements between employers and labor unions to gradually cut the workweek. By 1996, almost one-quarter of German employees enjoyed a 35-hour week through their collective agreement.
    A shorter workweek is not only on the agenda in Europe’s wealthier northern nations. In the 1990s, Portugal cut its workweek from 48 to 40 hours. Portuguese unions, like those in Greece, are now campaigning for 35 hours. Shorter hours are also gaining ground in Spain, where 1.4 million workers had a 35-hour week by the end of 2001.
    Not all European countries have been making similar progress. For example, in the United Kingdom, Europe’s “long-hours capital,” one in six employees works more than 48 hours a week. Still, on average, even British workers put in far fewer hours annually than do Americans.
    Four to Six week Vacations
    Many Americans, who have no legally-mandated right to paid vacations, suffer from “vacation deficit disorder.” A typical U.S. worker earns only 13.8 vacation days per year, while 22.5 million private sector workers have no paid vacation at all.
    Across the Atlantic, the European Union (EU) Working Time Directive requires a minimum of four weeks paid leave each year for all employees, and several EU countries have five weeks (25 working days) of vacation by law. Dutch, German, and Italian workers have gained roughly 30 vacation days, on average, through collective bargaining.
    In 1998, a national strike shut down Denmark over the demand for a sixth week of vacation, later phased-in through five additional paid leave days. Some might think that Danish workers were asking for too much, but the strike is best seen as a struggle by working people to share in a booming economy, and as an enlightened choice of time over money as the way to take that share. In 2002, Sweden announced plans to catch up with its neighbor by phasing-in five more paid leave days, which employees can choose to take as vacation time, individual days off, or shorter daily work hours.
    Paid Parental Leave
    Spending time with newborn children is one of the most important reasons to scale back hours of paid work. The Family Medical Leave Act gives American parents the right to a mere twelve weeks of unpaid leave after birth or adoption. In Western Europe, parental leave is generally much longer and paid.
    Sweden’s system is one of the most developed - parents can take 15 months of job-protected leave per child, at up to 80 percent of their previous pay. The leave can be taken flexibly, at any time until the child reaches eight years of age. A “father’s month” - 30 days reserved for the father - encourages men to play a role in child care. In Norway, parents can take 42 weeks of leave at 100% of their previous wage, or 52 weeks at 80%. German parents have a very lengthy leave entitlement - up to three years, full-time or part-time - but the rate of pay is relatively low: about $300 per month for two years or $450 per month for one year.
    Right to Choose Conditions
    Some European countries, most notably the Netherlands, have recently shifted emphasis from collective work-time measures, such as a shorter standard workweek, to individualized options. In 2000, a new Working hours Adjustment Act gave Dutch workers the right to reduce their hours of work, while part-timers can request longer hours. Germany introduced similar legislation the same year.
    The Price of Success?
    There’s certainly no evidence to suggest that only the American long-hours model can deliver low unemployment. Work-time reduction has been an important job-creation tool in some countries, such as the Netherlands, although, on its own, it is no guarantee of low unemployment.
    Now, what about productivity? Several shorter-hours innovators in Europe - Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Norway - are actually more productive per hour of labor than is the United States. Higher hourly productivity in these countries is almost certainly due, in part, to shorter work-time’s beneficial effects on employee morale, less fatigue and burnout, lower absenteeism, higher quality of work, and better health.
    Take Norway, for example. In 2001, its hourly productivity was 10% higher than the United States, but its annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person was about 17% lower. The main difference was that Norwegians were working 29 percent fewer hours than Americans. (It’s worth noting Norway’s poverty rate is one-quarter, and its incarceration rate one-tenth, of the US's.) In the final analysis, the issue largely boils down to how nations choose to benefit from the capacity to produce more in each hour of labor. Is there more to the good life than maximizing output and consumption? Are work-family balance and a less stressful pace of life equally valuable? If so, then it’s time to ask how North America can regain its status as a world leader in creating not only material affluence, but time affluence as well.
    Anders Hayden is the author of Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet: Work Time, Consumption, & Ecology (London: Zed Books, 1999). Hayden’s essay is excerpted from John de Graaf’s Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2003). October 24 is the second annual Take Back Your Time Day.

  2. Americans shortchanging themselves - Expectation far from reality: Desired vacation twice as long as the real thing
    PRNewswire via Yahoo Press Release
    ORLANDO, Fla. - This fall, Americans will wish they could 'turn back the clock' to last year's vacation and make it a more satisfying experience. A new survey of American travel trends reveals a significant gap between what people consider the ideal vacation length - nine nights, and the four nights that, on average, they actually spend on vacation.
    While people said they are happy to have any time away, satisfaction levels clearly rise with the length of vacation taken: The nationwide consumer survey of more than 4,000 family vacationers was conducted by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell (YPB&R), a marketing firm specializing in the travel and leisure industry.
    The new survey also revealed that the relaxation many Americans seek on vacation may elude those who take shorter vacations.
    Most respondents said that it takes at least three days to unwind, leaving only one day of relaxation before the average vacation ends. Furthermore, 79% of family vacationers felt they had more time to "enjoy themselves" on longer vacations. And, what would they do with that additional vacation time? More than half said 'Do nothing,' or 'sleep or relax.'
    "The survey results reveal a significant gap between what families want out of a vacation and what they actually get," said Peter Yesawich, travel industry trend expert and Chairman of YPB&R. "As a solution, parents should plan more balanced vacations - long enough to allow them to have fun with their children, but also long enough to allow sufficient time to relax and rejuvenate before heading back to the ever-increasing pressures of work schedules and school activities."
    The survey found that workplace and economic pressures are the key deterrents to taking long vacations and among the primary reasons for this satisfaction gap. Yesawich attributes this to the lengthening workweek and corresponding sense of "time poverty" that burdens many adults who are employed full time.
    "As the American work week lengthens, parents are finding it more difficult to take extended periods of time off from work," said Yesawich. "And although the results reveal that 31% of vacationers perceive shorter vacations to be more cost effective, the average cost per day of a shorter vacation is generally more expensive than the average cost per day of a longer vacation. We also found that the effort required to plan shorter vacations is just as time-consuming as that required to plan longer ones," Yesawich added.
    Rather than 'turning back the clock,' Yesawich suggests 'springing forward' to the planning of your next family vacation. "Family time is a great opportunity to discuss your next trip. Make a list of expectations and goals to maximize benefits for the entire family."
    Key survey data City-by-city breakdown About Peter Yesawich/YPB&R
    Peter Yesawich, Ph.D., is chairman and chief executive officer of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, America's leading marketing, advertising and public relations agency serving travel and leisure-industry clients. Co-author of the widely acclaimed National Travel Monitor with Yankelovich Partners, YPB&R is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and maintains additional offices across the U.S. and Europe. Yesawich has been a commentator on travel trends in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, International Herald Tribune, and on the CNN and CNBC cable television networks and National Public Radio. He is a visiting associate professor of marketing at Cornell University and serves as a member of the Board of Directors on the Travel Industry Association of America.

  3. 162nd sewer work drains local shop
    Flushing Times Ledger, NY
    By Cynthia Koons
    It was eerily quiet on 62nd Street between Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue at about 10 a m. Monday. There were several businesses with their doors open but few patr ns on a str A sign in one window offers a construction deal - free deliveries for purchases of more than $10. Another store advertises valet parking for its customers. Sewer construction at the Sanford Avenue and 162nd Street intersection has prevented cars from driving up the block or parking in front of the several restaurants, bakeries, food stores and coffee shops that have remained open for business despite the roadwork. "They never came around to talk to us," Andreas Georgiou, owner of Steve's Coffee shop, said Monday. "They never offered us any assistance or relief." According to his estimates, his business has been down 75% since the city's construction on the sewer line began in late spring. Prior to this project, he said his store suffered when Con Ed replaced a gas line on the very same street last year. He may have to lay off two employees or cut hours from the schedules of his five workers if nothing changes soon. "My biggest problem is, what are you going to do when you don't know how long it's going to last?" he asked. Georgiou is far from alone in this dilemma. On the corner where the construction work is taking place, Petrocelli Group Inc., an auto and home insurance company, fears it could lose business when income tax season rolls around again. "The tax business, it's probably 95% (walk-in) because they come here to file their returns," Petrocelli Vice President Richard Longueira said. "If this (construction) continues until January, we'll be in trouble." Longueira and Georgiou both complained that the city or local community board had not communicated with them about the roadwork. Georgiou, who has owned Steve's Coffee at 40-34 162nd St. for 28 years, said he was angry that Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) was taking credit for the new sewers instead of helping the small businesses on the street. "As far as the impact of the construction goes, the construction in my understanding is absolutely necessary," Liu said. "The question is how bad is the impact on local businesses and what can be done to mitigate that impact." He said he was not aware of any citywide program to compensate businesses for their losses while municipal construction is taking place. "The question is not only does it have an impact on business, the question is that construction necessary and is it being done as quickly as possible?" he asked. Liu touched base with the Dept. of Design and Construction and was informed that the work was being done in a timely manner. A DDC spokesman said the project would be completed by the spring. Down the block at Regal Pharmacy, 41-06 162nd St., owner Bob Hopkins has taken a more proactive approach to dealing with the construction. He reached out to Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), who put him in touch with the DDC representatives in charge of the project. "They've altered bus stops. They've closed the street," Hopkins said, pointing out dust and patched-up holes in the street outside his business. "They've made no accommodations for parking meters." According to the DDC literature he received from McLaughlin's office, the city has invested $6 million into reconstructing the streets in east Flushing in and around 162nd Street in order to install new water mains and combined sewers. None of the business owners interviewed Monday said they had experienced problems with their sewers prior to the construction. Said Longueira: "I know (the sewer replacement) has to be done. I'm just wondering what's going to be left of the businesses when they are done."
    Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

  4. Libraries seek to regain ground - Voters will decide on Measure 3-152, which would provide $43 million after years of cuts in city and county services
    OregonLive.com, United States
    Voters will decide this November whether to restore years of incremental cuts in library hours, services, staffing and book purchases at all 13 of Clackamas County's city and county libraries with a proposed $43 million local option levy. In addition, the five-year tax would forestall planned reductions next year that would return county library funding to 1997 levels. The levy could allow city and county libraries to further expand staffing and services to keep up with growing circulation, which has nearly doubled countywide in the past decade. "It's not like a big windfall," Beth Scarth, director of the Sandy Public Library, said of Measure 3-152. "It's just what we need to get back up to where we should be because we've been cut back." But levy supporters may have a hard time winning some voters' support. Because libraries have stretched their budgets and relied heavily on volunteers and donations, some patrons said they don't see the need for more money. And the need is less obvious in West Linn, Molalla and Wilsonville, which have new or expanded libraries because of past voter-approved construction bonds. "The library here seems to be fine," said Mike McGee of West Linn, who recently stopped by to search for car listings on the Internet. He said he likely won't support the levy in the Nov. 2 election. The levy is separate from a bond measure proposal on the November ballot in the Estacada area. That measure would raise money to build a new library, but only residents in a newly formed Estacada library district will vote on it or have to pay if it is approved. The countywide local option levy would create a dedicated source of funding for library operations. It also would reduce libraries' dependence on county and city general funds, putting them in less competition with police, parks and other services. The levy would increase current budgets by 50% or more at the three county-run libraries and all 10 city libraries, which operate independently but share many functions in a countywide network. Measure 3-152 also would pay to upgrade the libraries' shared computer catalog system, which is so old that technical support and upgrades no longer are available for the software. It also would improve shared functions such as interlibrary loans and research databases. The levy would charge property owners 29 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years. The owner of a house assessed at $200,000 would pay $58 a year.
    Funding levels reduced
    County residents last voted on a library levy in March 1997. It had a rate of 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The levy received a majority of "yes" votes, but it did not receive the double majority required by Measure 47, a property tax rollback measure. A double-majority is not required in a general election, as November's vote is. When Measure 50 replaced Measure 47, the library levy was preserved in a scaled-back form and combined into the county's general fund. The amount was almost $6.4 million, or about 14% of the general fund. Clackamas County commissioners agreed to continue spending 14% of the general fund on libraries for five years. As property values increased, the libraries' share of the pot grew to about $8 million by 2001-02. In 2002-03, county commissioners urged the libraries to research other sources of money. They warned that the economic downturn, rising personnel costs and other needs meant the county couldn't afford to continue the same funding levels. That year, commissioners reduced library funding and froze it at a flat $7.6 million. The amount has remained unchanged for three years as circulation and other costs have grown. Next year, the county plans to scale back library funding by 17%, returning to the 1997 level of $6.4 million. County administrator Jonathan Mantay said that ensures the original amount rolled into the general fund by Measure 50 continues to go to libraries. Mantay said the county plans to redirect the money to more crucial core functions such as law enforcement and the jail, although no specific allocations have been made. "There are some municipal-type services that we provide that are not our core mission," Mantay said. "The county is working to refocus itself."
    Libraries control funds
    The amount each library receives from the levy would be based on a formula that factors in circulation and the size of the population served, said Joanna Rood, who manages the county's library information network. Because most city libraries also get some money from their respective cities, each library's total gain would depend on whether cities maintain or reduce their contributions. Each city or library would decide how to use the levy money. The Canby and Oregon City libraries, for example, hope to reopen on Mondays after tight budgets caused them to cut hours a few years ago. Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Molalla and county library leaders also aim to reinstate lost hours. Doris Grolbert, director of the three county libraries, would like to restore staffing, hours and the book budget, which has been reduced by 45% since 2002. The county libraries cut book spending after previous layoffs and cuts in hours, Grolbert said. In Gladstone, library director Catherine Powers hopes the levy would free up enough operating money elsewhere in the budget to resume saving for a new building. Many libraries hope to boost staffing, in part to keep up with shelving a growing number of checked-out books and reference questions. Wilsonville's library has seen reference questions double and circulation go up 40% since its newly expanded library opened in 2002, said Patrick Duke, library director. Countywide, circulation rose from less than 3 million items checked out in 1993-94 to about 5.8 million items in 2003-04. Sally Hill of Gladstone, a high school science teacher, said she hopes the levy brings more book purchases. She said she often can't find up-to-date science books at the library on subjects such as genetics and astronomy. Libraries haven't had the money to replace medical texts, scientific books and other items that change as technology advances, Grolbert said. "With more people using the library, . . . they have to do a lot more things that sometimes schools can't do," Hill said. "Our (school) library just doesn't have the resources."
    Sarah Hunsberger: 503-294-5922 shunsberger@news.oregonian.com

  5. San Juan teachers upset over mandatory days off
    KXTV, CA
    Teachers in the San Juan Unified School District are protesting what they say are unfair labor practices after the school district trimmed three days from their 185-day work schedule. The mandatory days off will not be paid. The San Juan Teachers Association is reportedly advising faculty members to operate under the principle of "work to rule," meaning teachers will work only those hours for which they are paid and only in strict adherence to their contract. The move imperils virtually all afterschool activities. The protest is being staged to underscore teachers' dissatisfaction over the schedule cutbacks, which represent a de facto cut in salary. Teachers say that between after-school tutoring and attending school-related events, they often give up as many as 20 unpaid hours per week. "That's 20 hours a week we're not paid for, and now they're eliminating what salary we do have so we're a little upset about that," said fifth grade teacher Dancy Shull-Dobrenick. A district spokeswoman says the school district did negotiate with the SJTA, but no agreement was reached. "It's not like we threw the whole thing out the window," said Diedra Powell-Williams, Director of Information and Communication for San Juan Unified School District. "We are continuing to negotiate." According to Powell-Williams, the cuts in the teachers' schedule are days when the students wouldn't normally be at school anyway. Those include staff development days as well as holidays. The cuts are supposed to save the school district $2.4 million a year. However some teachers told News10 reporter Karen Massie that despite the savings, there won't be enough money by the end of the year for basic supplies such as paper. The cutbacks are part of an effort by the San Juan Unified School District to close a $17 million budget deficit.

  6. Will Hutton's fecund suggestions
    Tech Central Station, OH
    By Tim Worstall
    [Better "fecund" than "fetid."]
    As columnist Mark Steyn has been telling us for years, demography is destiny and it is in the low birth rate countries of Continental Europe that this is going to cause problems first. The point was picked up by Will Hutton in last week's Observer along with an attempt to design a solution. Essentially, we need, once again, to change the work-life balance, families need more time and more time off in which to have and raise their children. Most especially, businesses cannot whine at the costs this imposes on them for: "When your very civilisation is under threat, small firms complaining about the cost of maternity and paternity leave so their staff can have children are given short shrift. It is blatantly obvious that business is part of the national community and has to contribute to the common good or else it goes down the pan with the rest of society. " Well, that is a strong and forthright statement of the bleedin' obvious, isn't it? That when our civilization is under threat, at risk of going down the pan, we might have to impose some slightly more restrictive rules than normal on some segment of that society in order to avert the looming disaster. So ladies, if you could just round up your Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks and other fancy footwear and place them over there on the bonfire please? You won't be needing them any more as I am about to show you with impeccable liberal logic. To an economist, the falling birth rate is easily explainable. We've got rich, fat and happy. This gives all of us, both male and female, more choices and more choices mean that the opportunity costs of any specific one are higher. Offered alternatives to bearing 12 children, women find that bearing one or two is quite sufficient thank you, they'd also like to have some of that self-esteem found through a career, that leisure of a sabbatical, well, simply more of the delights that modern civilization has to offer. Those who read a little Darwin might also point to modern medicine as lowering the fertility rate. Not just the availability of contraception but a change in the number of children desired instead of the number thrust upon those who enjoy the carnal delights. For if the meaning of life is to have descendants who then go on to have more (a very rough and ready outline of Darwinist theory) then the fact that almost all children survive to themselves be able to breed means you need to have fewer of them. Or, in econspeak, the opportunity cost of having few children has fallen. We could therefore arrive at an economist's solution to this problem, which is that we should all go back to being poor with no choices in order to raise the birth rate. Or stop vaccinating children. We might also note that a good bloody war raises birth rates but I'm not sure that any of those three are going to be seriously accepted. Mr Hutton tells us that we need to have more maternity and paternity leave, in short, that business and society as a whole need to be more family friendly. I thought this sounded logical until I paid a visit to Nationmaster and started looking around at fertility rates in wealthy countries. The country with the most family orientated policies I can think of is Sweden; extensive leave for both parents, universal childcare, 80% marginal tax rates (adding direct and indirect) making extra work rather than raising kids valueless, essentially a liberal's wet dream. The fertility rate is 1.54 births per woman. The UK, which is much less accommodating to the needs of mothers and their children, has one of 1.65. You might also be interested in noting that the USA, a place where people work the longest hours of any rich country, where anything more than a few days off for the stitches to take after parturition is regarded as malingering, where paid paternity leave is almost unheard of once it isconfirmed that the babbie can work out how to suck on a teat, that hellhole of family unfriendly policies has a fertility rate of 2.07. It might just be different immigration rates of course, as first generation such are known to be more philoprogenitive but then Sweden has a higher rate than the UK, 5.4% to 4%, of foreign born residents. So there seems to be something empirically wrong with the suggested solution. We cannot see that actually having more of these sorts of policies does in fact increase the birth rate. We might have known that there was indeed something wrong with the analysis as Mr Hutton gravely informs us that Italy's exceptionally low number of children, (1.12% fertility rate) is actually caused by the Catholic Church. No, don't laugh, Will Hutton is a highly respected liberal intellectual and commentator, former editor of The Observer (The Guardian's sister paper), chief executive of The Work Foundation (formerly the Industrial Society) and a Governor of the London School of Economics. If he says that a Church which outlaws both abortion and contraception, one which regards any sexual act which does not contain the possibility of conception as sinful, if he says that this Church and its teachings are leading to underpopulation, well then, it is so and no sniggering at the back there. So if current liberal nostrums are not the answer where can we look for one that is still politically correct? Think back a few years, perhaps a few decades, to when the major worry was overpopulation in the Third World. The solution suggested was that we need both to provide contraception (usually referred to as family planning) and empower women. These two alone would solve the problem. Very well, now we have a problem of underpopulation, a situation in which we need to raise the fertility rate, one where women need to have more babies, not fewer. Logic tells us then that we need to reduce the amount of both contraception and female empowerment in our society so as to bring about that happy state of affairs. So ladies of Europe, that's why you won't be needing the expensive shoes any more (and society will step back from the edge of that dread fate, The Shoe Event Horizon, which Douglas Adams so presciently outlined) as for the good of the Continent you are going to have to go back to being barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. This might also cure us of the current plague of celebrity chefs as feeding your extensive brood on one income will require intimate knowledge of macaroni cheese, not foie gras. Yes, yes, I know, some will carp and complain about reductions in freedom, in chains put upon liberty, possibly even about how sexist and patriarchal this solution is. So I will leave you with a paraphrase of our esteemed liberal intellectual to comfort you as you adjust to the new reality: "When your very civilisation is under threat, women complaining about the loss of freedoms concomitant with having children are given short shrift. It is blatantly obvious that women are part of the national community and have to contribute to the common good or else they go down the pan with the rest of society." Yes, I thought that would be sufficient sugar to help the bitter pill go down.
    The author is a TCS contributor. To read more of his writing please go to www.timworstall.com

  7. Middle East visitors stress religious tolerance, peace
    South Brunswick Post, NJ
    By Sharlee Joy DiMenichi
    Kingston Presbyterian Church learns about the differences and similarities between the Middle East and the Western World. Interfaith friendship is a fact of life in Lebanon and Syria, according to two speakers at the Kingston Presbyterian Church. Marcelle Khouri, a Christian from Syria, and Farouk Akbik, a Muslim who lives in Lebanon, said that in their countries, relations between members of both faiths could not be more neighborly. The speakers held a discussion group Sept. 23 as part of a tour of Presbyterian churches around the country. Ms. Khouri said that Syrian Christians look forward to the delicious fast-breaking meals that end the daytime fast Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramadan. "We Christians wait for Ramadan because we want to enjoy the delicacies of Ramadan," Ms. Khouri said. Ms. Khouri said that she lives in an apartment building where Christian and Muslim neighbors often entrust their valuables to each other when going on vacation and help to care for one another's elderly relatives. Mr. Akbik expressed a similar view, noting that followers of both faiths have common ground in their high regard for Jesus. Muslims consider Jesus a prophet and Christians worship him as the son of God. "Whoever does not believe in Jesus Christ cannot be considered Muslim," Mr. Akbik said. When a church member asked about differences between daily life in the United States and in the Middle East, Mr. Akbik emphasized what both cultures had in common. He said that people around the world worry about the same things, such as work and children. "They get up in the morning and they rush to work. They have worries and anxieties," Mr. Akbik said. Although people worldwide have similar concerns, some aspects of life in the United States add to Americans' anxieties, Ms. Khouri said. Ms. Khouri said that in Damascus, where she lives, walking is the primary mode of transportation. She said that relying on cars creates stress for Americans that does not exist in her country. "I notice that distances here consume 80% of a person's life," Ms. Khouri said. Ms. Khouri said that the expense of owning a car also leads to long work hours, creating additional stress. "If you have to have a car, you have to work more to provide for the car," she said. Most Middle Easterners do not have as much experience with Western culture as the speakers do, so they are influenced by media images of Americans, said Imam Hamad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, who attended the discussion. "The media shows the people of the East only one image of the people of the West, the image of the cowboy," Imam Chebli said. Mr. Akbik said that those in the Middle East who have thought outside the stereotype of Westerners as inherently violent, have learned to grieve for the loss of U.S. soldiers in Iraq as much as they do for the Iraqis killed. "Why should these young people pass away for no reason that could be accepted by a person of reason?" Mr. Akbik said.

  8. Wisconsin weekend package by LEE ROBERTS, AP via Duluth News Tribune, MN
    RACINE, Wis. - Job sharing is not a new concept among members of the clergy. Many churches have two or even three pastors who serve the congregation together. For Karin and Creighton Kaye, that sharing extends beyond their office hours as co-pastors and to their life as a married couple. The Kayes, who both serve the Evangelical United Methodist Church, 212  11th St., are part of what seems to be a growing trend of husband-wife clergy teams, as more and more women pursue careers in the ministry. In their four years with the Racine church, the Kayes have created a system that lets each work to their own strengths and passions, while at the same time sharing congregational duties. Creighton, whom Karin says has a gift for preaching and leadership, gives most of the Sunday sermons. And Karin, whom Creighton describes as a wonderful teacher and an organizational whiz, tends to more of the educational and administrative duties. Together they share other pastoral duties, as well as a vision, for their congregation. And it isn't the first time they've done so. Having met while in seminary in Oklahoma, the Kayes went on to co-pastor several congregations in Oklahoma and Iowa before coming to Racine. Karin, 40, who was raised in a military family, had originally planned to become a Navy chaplain. And Creighton, 41, dreamed of being a chaplain on a college campus. Ultimately they decided what they wanted even more was to be together. And that is how they've been working ever since. "We have never known what it would be like to not work together. I can't imagine what it would be like to not work with him," Karin said. "Ours is a good symbiotic relationship," Creighton said. "In the areas that I'm weakest, she is strong. And one of the strengths we share is that we trust each other." The Kayes also feel strongly about being able to worship together as a family. Their three children - Pierson, 11, Maddie, 9, and Sawyer, 6 - are just as much a part of the church community as there parents are, and that is another joy that working for the same church brings to them, the couple said. "This is a call for us, and we wanted the kids to be part of that," Creighton said. "Our kids are right out there with us. They are the first ones to get here on Sunday and the last to leave. We want them to always be in love with Jesus and the church." As pastors with one of the fastest-growing churches in town, and parents of active children, the Kayes are busy people. And working at the same church gives them the flexibility to be able to fit it all together. The congregation has been very supportive of their needs as a family, they said. And they are very appreciative of that relationship. "This works for Creighton and I - it works for our marriage and our family," Karin said. And that feeling extends beyond the co-pastors to the rest of the church staff and the congregation. "Our whole staff really likes each other," said Creighton. "We truly are a team," said Karin. Andrew and Melissa Shiels share a similar story. The pair, both 27, are pastors serving Racine's Salvation Army Chapel and Community Center, 1901 Washington Ave. The couple, who recently gave birth to their first child, met through a mutual friend with the Salvation Army and went on to become ordained ministers with the rank of Captain. Both very independent people before they came together, the Shiels said they had to work at it a little to learn to share duties and space. And one of their goals was to share things equally. Like the Kayes, they have worked out a system in which each draws from their strengths, while at the same time serving the congregation together. "We complement one another," Melissa said. One challenge of working and living together is finding ways to carve out time at home that is separate from their jobs, the Shiels said. "We make a point to take some time together when we don't talk about work," Melissa said. Open communication plays a very important role, said Andrew. "In our journey, communication has been the key. When that breaks down, that's when you start to have problems. You have to be able to talk to one another." Their lives may not be a perfect balance, but such balance is something you work toward, he said. And all of that hard work is made easier by the passion the Shiels share for their work. "We have our faith in God and in each other," Andrew said. "And we love what we do."

  9. Liberals face election anniversary dogged by 'promise breakers' label
    Canadian Press via National Post, Canada
    Gillian Livingston
    TORONTO - A year ago Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty solemnly pledged to Ontarians in prime-time TV election ads that he would make Ontario a better place - without raising taxes. One year later, Ontarians who voted for the Liberals' "choose change'' motto and believed that the party would follow through on its election commitments face a harsh and opposite reality. Instead, over the next four years Ontarians will be paying $9 billion more in taxes thanks to a hefty health premium that now-Premier McGuinty continues to insist he had to implement because a huge deficit left him with no choice. "You bet that put a crimp in our plans,'' McGuinty said, still blaming the derailing of the rookie government's plans on the multibillion-dollar deficit left behind by the previous Conservative government. "We made a very difficult decision, not a popular decision,'' McGuinty acknowledged in an interview as the Liberal government arrives at its one-year election victory anniversary Oct. 2. "It wasn't the kind of thing designed to boost our political popularity,'' he said with a smile of resignation after facing months of relentless criticism for breaking his marquee election promise. "It was designed to get more money so we could invest and improve the quality of our health-care system for Ontarians,'' he explained. "I'm proud to report we're making some real, measurable progress.'' Raising taxes after explicitly promising not to "was a very unpopular move'' and left some voters feeling "deceived'' by the Liberals, said John Shields, a politics professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. That move was a low point in "an up and down'' year for the Liberals who were on a high after winning a landslide victory in the Oct. 2, 2003 election amid promises to reinvest in public services while being prudent managers of the public purse, said Graham Murray, publisher of Inside Queen's Park, a political newsletter. "They have gone from being enormously popular and feeling positive to feeling very much concerned about how badly things have gone,'' particularly since pundits predicted the Liberals would stay in government for two terms and now that's "iffy,'' Murray said. "They've run into much more serious trouble than most governments run into.'' Furthermore, calling the new tax a premium "went over like a lead balloon with people and significantly damaged their credibility,'' he said. The Liberals have endured more than just regular chiding and have been labelled by the opposition and other groups as "promise breakers'' for reneging on election commitments. The Liberals have come across ``as a party that promised a great deal and delivered very little of it,'' said Paul Nesbitt-Larking, a politics professor at Huron College in London, Ont. New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton goes further. He says McGuinty's TV ad promise not to raise taxes ``was clearly not an honest statement.'' "Mr. McGuinty really doesn't haven't any credibility on these issues anymore,'' he said. After last fall's election victory, the Liberals' honeymoon was brief and the first few months set a negative tone for the year. Soon after being sworn in, the government backtracked on crucial election promises. The Liberals failed to halt construction on the Oak Ridges Moraine, failed to roll back tolls on Highway 407, failed to cut auto insurance rates by 20%, and then raised the electricity rate price cap after committing to keep it. But the most detrimental and enduring decision came with May's budget when the government instituted a health premium - basically a new income tax - that would take $60 to $900 a year from people's paycheques at total of $9 billion over the next four years. To add to that misery, the Liberals also retracted their promise to balance the budget immediately, instead planning to put the books in the black by the last year of their mandate. At the same time as the government began pulling in extra cash to fund health-care spending, it cut most coverage for three health services: chiropractic, physiotherapy and eye exams. Some voters found that move "galling,'' Shields said, and felt it was more reminiscent of the kind of action taken by former Conservative premier Mike Harris than following the new vision laid out by McGuinty. "There's nothing worse then when people have that feeling that they're paying more and getting less,'' said recently elected Conservative Leader John Tory, who pledges to hold the Liberals to account for their "incompetence and mismanagement'' in the fall session of the legislature. McGuinty's strategy of blaming the previous government for his financial woes "is going to start to ring pretty hollow'' after the one year anniversary milestone passes, Tory said. "They are now the masters of their own situation and can't blame us anymore,'' he said. The Liberals' first year in government wasn't all broken promises, though. Soon after being sworn in on Oct. 23, 2003 the newly minted government scrapped, as promised, a slew of personal and corporate tax cuts and other tax breaks committed by the previous government. The government also unravelled Conservative policies such as the 60-hour work week and teacher testing. The Liberals also focused on promises with cheap price tags including setting fixed election dates, banning partisan ads, expanding the powers of the provincial auditor, increasing family medical leave and pledging its commitment to medicare. Then the purse strings were loosened as the province hired more meat and water inspectors, raised the minimum wage and froze university tuition. The province also began doling out cash for health care and education initiatives, the two areas of focus for the Liberals during the election campaign. There was more money for home care, long-term care, reducing class sizes, and hiring more nurses and teachers. "I think, in time, people will begin to get a better understanding of the changes that we're making through their own human experience,'' McGuinty said. Ontarians will know improvements are being made since they'll be measurable through shorter waiting times for medical services and fewer kids in the early grades, he added. "We're determined to get results,'' McGuinty said. "Things are already getting better in Ontario.'' McGuinty also won kudos for his leadership role as the provinces negotiated a new health deal with the federal government, which includes billions in new cash, Nesbitt-Larking said. Still, the government has only made "baby steps'' in terms of reinvesting in social services such as health care and education, Shields said, and will have to show major improvements in these areas or be stuck with the "promise-breakers'' label. McGuinty also faced his first scandal as premier when Finance Minister Greg Sorbara was accused of conflict of interest and hiding his knowledge that the Ontario Securities Commission, the provincial securities regulator that he oversaw, was investigating a company on which he had been a director. McGuinty stood by his right-hand man and rejected calls from the opposition for Sorbara's resignation. Sorbara insists he did nothing wrong but to diffuse criticism handed oversight of the OSC and other securities bodies to Management Board Chairman Gerry Phillips. The first chance they had to pass judgment on the government's half-year in office, voters spurned the Liberals during the Hamilton East byelection. The New Democrat, Andrea Horwath, easily won the seat despite running against Liberal Ralph Agostino, the brother to the late Dominic Agostino who had held the riding. Looking ahead, if the Liberals want a chance to remain in power following the next election in 2007 then ``they're going to have to regain the public trust,'' said Nesbitt-Larking. The "broken promises'' label "is something that's going to dog'' the Liberals into the next election, Murray said. But with three years before voters head to the polls it is possible for the Liberals to turn sentiment in their favour, he said.

  10. House votes more flexible hours for VA nurses
    AP via WTNH, CT
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nurses at veterans hospitals could work more flexible schedules under a bill passed in the House. The bill aims to address the shortage of nurses. The legislation would design alternative schedules to attract and retain more nurses at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Some options include paying nurses for a full 40-hour work week when they are scheduled for 36 hours. Nurses who work full time for nine months could choose to get paid over 12 months. Connecticut Representative Rob Simmons, who is chairman of a health subcommittee of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, says offering more family friendly schedules is critical to keeping experienced nurses at the VA. The bill passed on a 411-to-1 vote.

  11. Fire Station 3 will remain open, Teplitz says - Councilwoman says closure is simply not an option for Peoria
    Peoria Journal Star, IL
    PEORIA, Ill. - City Councilwoman Marcella Teplitz wants everyone to know that Fire Station 3 near Bradley University will not close. "It is not an option. Period. It's not even something that merits a theoretical discussion," said Teplitz on Wednesday, a day after a California-based firm released its study of the city's fire and emergency services. "I've talked to neighborhood leaders today (Wednesday) and that's the first question out of their mouths, 'Is the city going to close Station 3?' Absolutely not." Matrix Consulting of Palo Alto, Calif., actually recommended no change to the city's fire station network. Only if the number of calls increases in the northeast side of the city did they suggest closing Station 3 and re-opening Station 17 on Skyline Drive. Matrix said the stations surrounding Station 3 could pick up its calls, but Fire Chief Roy Modglin disagrees. "It may look good on paper, but it wouldn't work in reality," Modglin said Tuesday, noting that Station 3 is the busiest in the city. Teplitz said it doesn't matter as there is no political will to close any station. Overall, it appeared the council's reaction to the study - which praised both the city's Fire Dept. and private ambulance service - ran the gamut from very pleased to very skeptical. Most of the recommendations were relatively benign, including spending $240,000 on a system to pre-empt traffic lights and increase response times. "For $79,000 - and I deal with contracts all the time - I think we got a lot," said at-large Councilman Eric Turner. "It gave us a lot of good ideas. These guys brought us ideas that are very usable." At-large Councilman Gary Sandberg, however, questioned their conclusions, saying their computerized theories can't account for real-life traffic snarls which will slow response times for other stations covering Station 3's area. "I think some council members probably wanted some justification to go in during the budget and slash the Fire Dept. further," at-large Councilman Jim Ardis said Wednesday. "Other members probably didn't think there was a whole lot of substance to it." For his part, Ardis hopes there can be discussions with neighboring communities to improve fire service, as Matrix suggested with Peoria Heights. "I would hate to have a nice home in Peoria Heights and worry about waiting for back-up from Dunlap or West Peoria or Bartonville's volunteer fire department. I don't think the average person realizes that's what happens. (Peoria Heights) doesn't call us for help," Ardis said. Matrix also recommended the city start planning for a new station "21" to handle population growth in the north and west parts of the city. City Manager Randy Oliver said he plans to put some money in the capital budget for land acquisition for a new station. In next year's budget, which the council should see Oct. 26, Oliver also plans to adopt Matrix recommendations to staff two battalion chiefs per shift and to fund two full-time Hazardous Materials inspectors. Currently, the city staffs Haz/Mat with many personnel on overtime. Oliver estimates the budget impact of Matrix' recommendations to be about $170,000 on next year's budget, not including capital projects. "This has been an issue the city has been dealing with since before I got here," Oliver said Wednesday. "They now have good data upon which to make decisions. There is no question in my mind that we're easily within the top five% of fire departments in the country." Terry Dunne, union secretary for Firefighters Union Local 50, agreed with Teplitz that closing Station 3 "will never be a good idea. We would love to see Station 17 open, but that's not our call. That's a budgetary constraint. "I guess my feeling is (the study) came out fairly positive for the fire department and fairly neutral overall." Dunne adds the union is willing to consider a recommendation to increase the work week by one hour. "We're willing to look at anything, including residency. Everything is out there on the table," said Dunne, adding that contract negotiations start within the next month. The firefighters' four-year contract expires Dec. 31.

  12. New crisis - Junk statistics
    Dan Seligman
    Latest offering from the media panicmongers: a "stress explosion" in the American workplace. Relax, it's all baloney. Recent headline in the Boston Globe: "More Employees Seen as Stressed Out." In the Toronto Sun: "Study Finds Stress on the Rise - and It's Going to Get Worse." From MSNBC: "Workers feel overworked, overwhelmed." Front-page headline in the New York Times just before Labor Day: "Always on the Job, Employees Pay With Health." The Times article, a 3,000-word monster, is subtitled "The Stress Explosion" and produced by science writer John Schwartz. Also run by hundreds of papers in the Times syndicate, the article could leave one thinking that America's workers were about to go down for the count. The article's main themes: 1) Employees today are driven to work longer hours; 2) Stress levels in the workplace are soaring; and 3) The increase in stress produces higher levels of sickness and accidents in the workplace. Scary. There are, however, some eyebrow-raising details about all these articles. One is that they are very short on hard data. Their case depends heavily on ominous quotes from "experts" on stress, and most of the experts turn out to be in the business of selling services designed to boost employee morale and "wellness." In other words they have an ax to grind. The Times article leans hard on opinions offered by Kronos Inc. (identified as a "human resources firm"), WorkPsych Associates, ComPsych Corp. and the American Institute of Stress (a nonprofit group). So what do serious researchers have to say about stress in the American workplace - and specifically about the three ghastly trends delineated in the Times article? Mainly that there are no such trends. Begin with the notion that American workers are now driven to work longer hours. The Times sidles up to this thought by first dwelling on the increase in "nontraditional employment," i.e., deals in which you work odd hours, including evenings and weekends. This is usually called flex time and generally considered a blessing for workers who now have options enabling them to work even when they have other responsibilities during normal working hours. The Times does not see it as a blessing, only as part of the new hassle. "These jobs require an increasing amount of time," says the article, adding: "Workers in the United States already put in more than 1,800 hours on the job a year: 350 hours more than the Germans." You have to wonder: If 1,800 hours is killing the workers now, how did they ever survive the 1960s, when the average was 1,990 hours a year? The fact is that hours worked in the American private sector have been in a long, steady decline. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that in 1964 the average was 38.5 hours per week. In the first half of 2004 it was 33.6 hours. (The Times' "more than 1,800" is an International Labor Office figure.) Next case: the alleged soaring stress levels. There are, it happens, two excellent sources on workplace stress. One is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS tells us the number of stressed-out workers has been declining. The agency's latest available data, which cover the decade 1992 to 2001, show a 25% decline in the rate of "anxiety, stress, and neurotic disorders" involving days away from work. The other solid source of stress data is the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, the gold standard for surveys in the social sciences. But first it seems obligatory to note that there is also a tin standard. Many of the firms proclaiming increased stress in the workplace got this welcome news via surveys using controversial techniques, e.g., a Kronos-sponsored survey, quoted in the Times (and also by MSNBC News), in which 53% of American workers say their jobs leave them feeling "overtired and overwhelmed." This survey was conducted for Kronos by Harris Interactive. The survey was done online, the respondents did not constitute a "national probability sample" (as Harris acknowledged), and they did not themselves bring up the subject of fatigue levels. They were responding to a questionnaire that asked them about those "over" words. The National Opinion Research Center study is part of a broad social survey, started in 1972 and funded by the National Science Foundation. Questions about workplace stress were not at first included, but in recent years they have been asked three times: in 1989, 1998 and 2002. Like the BLS data, the figures from this survey unambiguously show declining stress levels. Between 1989 and 2002, the proportion of workers saying they were "always" or "often" stressed declined from 38.7% to 30.3%. The Times article nowhere mentioned the decline but did manage to produce a line incorporating the 2002 results in its "stress explosion" framework. Breathless sentence: "More than 30% of workers say they are ‘always' or ‘often' under stress at work." I spoke recently with Tom W. Smith, director of the survey, and during our chat began to fantasize about sending all the authors of those stressed-out articles to the blackboard. When they got there, they would write, 100 times, what Smith has learned from the survey: "Americans' satisfaction with work is at a high level and has been quite stable over the last three decades." Smith adds that his statement would be rated utterly noncontroversial among sociologists specializing in workplace issues.

  13. [Now, as a bit of a corrective to the above rant -]
    The scales of justice for labor are out of kilter
    The Southern Illinoisan, IL The American labor union was once a proud and mighty force that has watched its influence and power erode the past few decades. There was a time they would be the ones fighting - sometimes with fists and weapons - to correct injustices in the workplace. Today, they are the ones taking the beating. Coal miner Jack Mygatt summed it up best in this newspaper when he spoke of being stripped of his livelihood and health and retirement benefits at the hands of legal maneuvering that resulted in the closure of Zeigler Mine 11 near Coulterville. "It's like I never worked at the place, although I have a 39-year history there," he said. "They've cut us off; we're terminated, we're done." Mygatt and 250 of his fellow miners are out on the street today, victims of a sell-off of the mine by Horizon Natural Resources to a billionaire businessman. The company had filed bankruptcy and as part of the court-approved deal, Horizon was absolved from meeting its health care benefits commitments to current and retired workers. A federal judge yesterday temporarily halted the sale, but that has done nothing to reinstate the workers' contract. Throughout the legal tangling, the United Mine Workers of America - the driving force behind gaining labor rights through the last century - was rendered impotent. Federal bankruptcy laws - as deemed by the court - allowed Horizon to walk away from its obligations to its employees. The loss of power by the unions doesn't stop with the coal mining industry. Also this week, US Airways Group pleaded with another federal judge that unless the court imposes a 23% pay cut on the airline's union workers it will be have to liquidate. A hearing is set for Oct. 7. Delta Airlines is also cutting benefits to 49,000 of its workers. How times have changed for unions in America. Seemingly gone are the days when they were always on the winning side when it came to labor-management agreements. Now they appear to be sideline players. Case in point, over the summer the United Steelworkers of America tried for the fourth time to organize employees at the Continental tire plant in Mount Vernon. The effort failed by a 808-to-747 vote margin. Many workers feared that if they organized, the plant would suffer the same fate as the one the company owns in Kentucky that is now scheduled to be shut down. U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello is disturbed by the trend that allows companies to strip workers of their benefits. He walked with 1,000 of the 3,000 Horizon miners nationwide affected by the ruling to the steps of the federal courthouse in Lexington, Ky. earlier this month in protest. "What this does, if it is allowed to stand, is set a terrible precedent and send a signal to companies that it is OK to shun their debts and responsibilities," Costello said days after the march. "Today, it is these 3,000 people. Tomorrow, it could be you." We often think of unions as representing the lunch-bucket Joes and Janes who do the dirty-fingernail work of our industrialized nation. But the strides unions have made affected all workers. The 40-hour work week, overtime pay, health and medical benefits and safe working environments came to be because of the battles unions fought and won. The UMWA led the charge, sparked by its president John L. Lewis, an Illinoisan, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lewis' influence rippled across the land and he put money forth to organize steelworkers and other labor sectors. Those are distant memories, though, and even those represented by unions today know little about the history of America's labor movement. That in itself, according to former congressman Glenn Poshard, is a problem. "What is troubling is that younger people in unions don't have the same sense of the history of the movement," Poshard said. "At one time, being a union member, you knew you were part of bringing about economic justice in society. Now, many see unions as having jobs that pay more but not an integral part of economic justice." Poshard saw the trend coming years ago and as an Illinois legislator he worked to pass a law requiring Illinois schools to teach America's labor history. The law still stands, but he doubts anyone abides by it. In these times when good-paying jobs are being shipped overseas, companies relocate headquarters to shield against paying taxes and courts are allowing corporations off scot-free when it comes to keeping promises to workers, it may be time to revisit that law. Our young people need to appreciate what had been accomplished in the name of workers' rights and what possibilities exist today. It's only a matter of time before American workers become so fed up with the way the system is today that it reaches a boiling point. No one is suggesting we revert back to the days of "Bloody Williamson" when striking miners gunned down 22 strikebreakers. In fact, just the opposite needs to happen. Ron Mason, a professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University Carbondale who specializes in labor relations, has the right perspective. "The government, unions and business need to strike an alliance that allows each to be viable," Mason said. Those forces don't seem to be in play these days. Just ask Jack Mygatt.
    JEFF SMYTH is a senior writer at The Southern Illinoisan. Send comments to jeff.smyth@thesouthern.com or by calling (618) 351-5073.

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