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Timesizing News, October 6-11, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
10/09-11/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/08-10 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 10/09-11 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 10/09-11), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
10/08/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/07 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 10/08 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 10/08), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
Hard work, hard times - Europe's fears over outsourcing look to be overblown
By Carla Power, Newsweek International
[But stay tuned.]
It's close to midnight in Warsaw, and Marzena Beresciuk has taken a taxi straight from work to a 24/7 convenience store to
buy groceries. Late nights are the only time the carefully coiffed record promoter can find to shop, given her standard
12-hour days. Like the rest of those lucky enough to have jobs in high-unemployment Central and Eastern Europe, she works
hard. The average workweek in Europe's new member states is 44.4 hours, compared with 38.2 in the 15 Western members of the
European Union. "Let's get to work," Warsaw professionals like to joke. "The earlier we start, the later we'll finish."
Western European workers are spooked. They're haunted by the specter of Eastern European upstarts luring their jobs away
with the promise of cheaper labor and longer hours. In Germany, employers exploited such fears to wring unprecedented
concessions from unions this summer. In France, a recent poll shows that outsourcing now tops the list of economic worries.
No matter that businesses have been shifting operations to Eastern Europe since 1990, or the fact that experts say it's
actually helped save Western European companies by improving their global competitiveness. "There's a panic," says French
union rep Bernard Fillonneau. With an ear for the political groundswell, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin just
pledged 1 billion euro to "the battle against outsourcing." Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, nurturing presidential
ambitions, quickly sounded a similar note. All this brought a tart riposte from Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts, who
pointed out that it was "better that companies stay in the EU than move to Asia."
He's right. Workers may be hurting now, but in the long run the Eastern European "threat" may be the best thing that ever
happened to the Western European economy. It should speed reforms, convince workers of the need to loosen labor rules and
work more competitively, and provide a bulwark against companies' going to more far-flung competitors like China and India.
This summer five Central and Eastern European states lobbied in Brussels for increased flexibility under the European
Working Time Directive, arguing that the EU's 48-hour limit on the working week cut into their productivity. That
competitive drive, says Katinka Barysch at the Centre for European Reform in London, is crucial for Europe's survival in the
global economy: "If we didn't have enlargement, we'd have to invent it."
Try telling that to anxious Western European workers. In Amsterdam last week, 200,000 Dutch workers demonstrated against
government proposals to cut benefits and extend work hours. Meanwhile Volkswagen reps negotiating with Germany's IG Metall
union threatened to stop making future models in Germany if the union didn't agree to "modifications" in its wage contract.
(Volkswagen has already moved substantial production to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.) This summer Siemens got
its employees at two cell-phone-manufacturing plants to up their 35-hour workweek to 40 hours without more pay by promising
not to move east, cutting the company's labor costs by 30%. The threat of outsourcing, says Germany's IG Metall
spokesman Jorg Kother, "is being misused to make it easier for employers to dip into workers' wallets."
The fear goes beyond jobs. Stephane Rozes at the French polling firm CSA says the controversy over outsourcing "reactivates
the European crisis." It reawakens the biggest French worry about united Europe: that rather than pulling up the new
countries, France will be dragged down to them. Responding to such concerns, Paris has proposed developing new
"competitiveness poles"— hubs that would draw a single industry's research, manufacturing and training components together,
in the theory that companies organized into networks won't outsource. Last month's budget also gave tax cuts to companies
vulnerable to outsourcing, as well as to companies that shift previously outsourced jobs back to France.
At bottom, the outsourcing controversy is probably hyped. The biggest wave of de-localization, as the French call it,
happened a decade ago; foreign direct investment in the new member states today is actually dropping. Wages are rising fast
in the East; Hungary's have gone up fivefold in the last 14 years. Productivity in the West far outpaces that in the East;
the figure in Poland, for instance, is a mere 47.9% of the EU average. Outsourcing anxiety, notes Maxime Lefebvre of
the French Institute of International Relations, merely masks the real problem—failed industrial policy. Simply put, "We're
not creating enough jobs." If Western Europe addressed its own internal problems, perhaps it wouldn't have to worry about
Albertsons to trim employees' hours in Dallas - Part-time positions part of strategy to help company battle Wal-Mart
Albertsons' part-time argument
In a 15-minute satellite broadcast to employees Judy Spires, president of the Dallas/Ft. Worth division, explained to
employees why a majority of them would be reduced to part-time work. Here are excerpts of her key points.
• "Team, we are in a do-or-die situation. And as the leader of this organization, I must make some very difficult decisions
and implement survival and growth strategies that will turn our current situation around."
• "Our customers' shopping habits have changed and we need to have associates in the stores when our customers are there....
This requires swift action at store level. Schedules must be written to reflect the flow of customers when they most need
our care and handling such as weekends and rush hour."
• "When we had high volume in our stores and before the number of competitors in the marketplace exploded, it was easy and
right to support our full-time workforce because we could. Now with our volume cut more than 50% in many instances,
our company has taken way too long to face reality and make the necessary, very emotionally tough decision to right our
Albertsons Inc. has told the 20,000 employees in its Dallas/Ft. Worth division that a "substantial group" of them will
become part-time employees in a move to cut costs and improve customer service .
Division President Judy Spires told employees in a recent satellite broadcast that the division is in a "do-or-die" battle
with Wal-Mart and other competitors. She said her division must have the ability to move to an organization staffed mostly
by a "flexible, part-time workforce" that would work 4- and 6-hour shifts each day rather than a standard 8 hours.
The cost-cutting in Dallas follows a strategy the company has focused on since mid-2001. Albertsons CEO Larry Johnston said
he expects to reduce costs across the chain by $1 billion before the end of 2005. Through the second quarter of 2004,
Johnston told analysts in August, the company had reduced costs by $820 million, mostly from unprofitable store closures and
new store acquisitions.
Spires said the change in her division would accomplish a number of important goals including:
• Putting more employees in the stores when customers are shopping — including morning and evening rush hours and weekends.
• No longer wasting labor costs by having stores fully staffed when shoppers aren't there.
• Allowing stores to better serve customers which would grow sales and help Albertsons regain the leading market share that
was lost to Wal-Mart earlier this year.
The Texarkana (Texas) Gazette first reported the story last week after a videotape copy of the satellite broadcast was given
to them anonymously. The Gazette on Thursday provided the Idaho Statesman with a copy of the videotape.
Jennifer Vroman, Albertsons spokeswoman for the Dallas Region, was quoted in the Gazette as saying the division had to make
the changes to better serve customers while "maintaining the cost of running a business." Officials at Albertsons'
headquarters in Boise declined to comment when contacted by the Idaho Statesman.
Strategy could spread
A labor spokesman said his union fears the shift to more part-time workers in the Dallas market is a change that may spread
to other markets.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union represents 120,000 employees in 22 states, a little more than half of all
Albertsons employees. The Dallas/Ft. Worth division doesn't have union workers.
The strategy of cutting hours and relying on part-time workers is not likely to spread to the company's other divisions,
according to Burt Flickinger III, a retail analyst and managing partner of New York-based Strategic Resource Group.
"Florida might be a possibility," Flickinger said. "But they'll likely focus on markets where they're trying to build
business and in markets where they don't have the size and scale that they do in the Western states."
The battle in Dallas
For now, Flickinger said, the Dallas/Ft Worth division is the priority because of a heated battle with Wal-Mart. Just this
year Wal-Mart toppled Albertsons to become the No. 1 grocer in the Dallas market.
Dallas always has been one of Albertsons' premier markets. It's the market where the company typically introduces new sales
strategies. Dallas was the first major market to introduce the Preferred Shopper Card and more recently it was the market
where the company introduced its handheld shopping scanner.
The Dallas Morning News reported in February that the Wal-Mart now controls 25.1% of the market in Dallas. Albertsons
— which had nearly 20% of the grocery shoppers the year before — now only controls 17. 6%, according to 2004
edition of Market Scope, a publication of Trade Dimensions International Inc.
"Wal-Mart is determined that Texas and most importantly the Dallas and Houston markets will be the biggest battleground,"
At last count, Wal-Mart had more than 40 supercenters and nearly 20 neighborhood markets operating in the Dallas/Ft. Worth
market. Albertsons has 158 stores in Texas and about half are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth market.
In some instances, Spires said during the broadcast to employees, sales volume at stores in the division had dropped by 50%.
"Do you know that our division is losing money?" Spires asked in the broadcast. "Do you know that we operate in the most
competitive marketplace in the United States?"
She added: "Our research tells us customers do not see us as their store of choice due to our inability to consistently
provide for their current busy time-constrained lives. We must have shorter shifts and more hands in the stores to fix this
or we will not be able to turn around our current situation."
The move to shift more full-time workers to part-time didn't come as a surprise to Flickinger.
"It's fairly traditional in the industry when there are price wars and profit pressures to adjust hours until some of the
other weaker competition rationalizes out," Flickinger said.
When this happens, Flickinger said, stores typically go from a 50/50 mix of part-time and full-time to having about 80% of the employees part-time.
Although Albertsons has lost ground in Texas, Flickinger still believes the company can survive.
"I think Albertsons will be one of the strong survivors, but it will take a lot of short-term pain for some long-term gain,"
But Greg Denier, director of communications for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said the short-term pain isn't
"If you look at retailers like Albertsons, they are still profitable companies. There's no need for desperation measures,"
Denier said. "This is not a crisis like in the airline industry. They're still making money and there remains a stable
consumer base for supermarkets."
Company still on target
Albertsons officials announced in a regulatory filing this week that they were still on target to meet profit expectations
for the year.
Denier says Albertsons' decision to rely more on part-time workers is a "negative trend" in the supermarket industry.
"It's sad that Albertsons is doing this," he said. "It's quite a contrast to what supermarkets were 10 or 20 years ago when
they could provide an employee a middle-class lifestyle."
Denier expects that customer service will suffer because the company may lose full-time employees once they are switched to
"It's a short-sighted business decision and bad for a company that wants to compete as a full-service supermarket," he said.
"You need stable, steady employees who can build long-time positive relations with customers."
Flickinger, however, doesn't expect the change to lead to poorer service and a loss of customers. He said the division would
likely retain the bulk of its experienced employees because options like moving to Wal-Mart wouldn't be attractive because,
he contends, Albertsons' pay and benefits are better. Flickinger said some of the jobs might return to full-time if the
company can build its sales and improve profits.
Support for employees
In the broadcast, Spires said she understood that the changes would bring "turmoil" to the lives of many employees and some
may need to find additional part-time jobs as well as purchase health benefits. Spires said part-time employees can still
qualify for limited health benefits in the company's "Bridge Plan" that would cost an employee as little as $14.60 a week
for a single employee.
Spires was joined in the broadcast by three Dallas-area store directors who said moving to a part-time workforce had helped
boost sales at their stores.
One director said he's been giving employees suggestions on how to save money. The director related to an employee how he'd
saved money by not taking his clothes to a dry cleaner and cutting out a family cell phone.
"In that scenario I was able to show him how much money a month I was able to actually save," he said.
At the end of the broadcast, Spires told employees the company is committed to helping employees make the transition.
"It's not a matter of choice, it's is simply a matter of our survival and we can't ignore it any longer," Spires said.
"Please join me in the fight for our lives and the return of our division to the shining star that it needs to be."
Do you dare to wait?
By Brett Younger
Dallas Baptist Standard, TX
Stephen O'Brien, an investigative reporter who's always on the lookout for
breaking news, published a thought-provoking piece on how to pick the right
checkout line. His article in the Waco Tribune-Herald is a compelling look
at, and this is a quote, "the pain of waiting longer than necessary - even if
it's just a few seconds."
The author offers tips on how to avoid the anguish of extra seconds in line:
On the way into the grocery store, look for efficient cashiers.
Avoid checkers with blinking lights or name tags that say things like "Hi,
I'm Mike. This is my first day."
If you hear the words "price check," move quickly in the opposite
In addition to evaluating cashiers, don't forget that sackers play a
critical role. If bag-boy help looks thin, consider a longer line that has
customers with fewer groceries.
Don't look just at the length of lines, but also at who's in the line. Stay
away from distracted shoppers who are less likely to fill out checks ahead
of time. The article is mercilessly critical of those who wait until the
transaction is complete to swipe their credit card though the machine.
Everyone knows that they should do that as soon as the cashier starts
ringing them up!
Steer clear of customers with coupons or an abundance of produce.
Once you've processed all the variables, pick a line and don't look back.
The article quotes one embarrassed shopper saying: "I don't put a lot of
thought into the checker or exactly what the customers in line are buying.
Maybe I should." The implied response is: "Of course, you should. What's
wrong with you? You don't deserve a place in the express line."
Is it just me, or is it scary that newspapers assume that we worry about
"the pain of waiting longer than necessary - even if it's just a few seconds"?
If journalists are investigating how to pick the quickest checkout line,
shouldn't we all be asking whether we're in too much of a hurry? The problem
isn't the speed of the cashiers. We are the problem.
We complain that we don't have enough time. There's so much to do - earn a
living, explore a vocation, nurture relationships, care for dependents, get
exercise, schlep over-programmed children from one activity to another,
clean the house. Time abhors a vacuum.
Modern technology promises to make our lives easier, but in the end,
computers and cell phones increase the pace of work. We can no longer say
that a proposal is in the mail; they'll tell us to fax it. Prior to cell
phones, we relaxed when we were driving. Now, even if we don't have a
cellular phone, it's hard to relax knowing that other drivers do.
We want everything fast - fast food, eyeglasses in an hour, drive-through
banking. Like the white rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland," we're always in a
hurry. There's never a moment when there's not something else we should be
doing. We carry a list of errands in our head. We fill every minute.
How many times have you thought, "I wish there were a few more hours in the
day"? The assumption is that given more hours we would accomplish more of
what we want to get done. What's more likely is that it would only mean more
hectic hours to live through each day. Maybe we should wish for a shorter
day, so that the crazy pace of our lives would be limited to fewer hours.
When we believe that busyness is noble, we measure our days by how much we
get done, stop measuring things that matter more and hardly recognize the
gifts we've been given. We lose our ability to play. We lose our passion. We
forget our priorities. The psychiatrist Carl Jung said: "Hurry is not of the
devil. Hurry is the devil."
So here's what we should do: We should take a break. We should stop working,
thinking about work, or talking about work. We should rest. Relax. Breathe.
Sleep. Dream. Hope. Think. Contemplate. Read. Reflect. Pray. Play. Walk.
Talk. Listen. Sing. Dance. Love. Celebrate.
We should stop long enough to look at the world, see that much of it is
good, and give thanks. We should stand back and view our lives the way that
an artist stands back from the canvas to get a broader perspective. We
should take our lives off the easel to get a better look. Attaining some
degree of independence from our routine can be the difference between
feeling like a gerbil on a spinning wheel and giving thanks for the gift of
We should slow down by finding a nice long line in which to stand.
Brett Younger is pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth and the
author of "Who Moved My Pulpit? A Hilarious Look at Ministerial Life,"
available from Smyth & Helwys (800) 747-3016.
Albertsons cuts hours of Dallas workers
AP via Grand Forks Herald, ND
by DAVID KOENIG
DALLAS, Tex. - Albertsons Inc. has reduced its number of full-time workers in the
Dallas-Fort Worth area, where it is locked in brutal competition with other
grocery chains and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., labor organizers said Friday.
The company would not disclose how many workers were affected. Albertsons
has about 10,000 employees at about 80 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
As of January, more than half of Albertsons' 212,000 workers were
represented by unions, but the company hasn't tried to cut hours for those
workers, said Jill Cashen, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial
Workers Union, which has tried to organize workers at some local Albertsons.
"Clearly this is directed at their nonunion workers," she said.
Stacia Leventhal, a spokeswoman for Boise, Idaho, based-Albertsons, declined
to comment on whether the company cut workers' hours and took away benefits
such as health insurance and sick leave, as workers at a suburban Dallas
Leventhal's boss in Boise and a company spokeswoman in Fort Worth, Jennifer
Vroman, did not return calls from The Associated Press.
Albertsons earned $556 million on sales of $35.44 billion in its fiscal year
that ended Jan. 29. The nation's second-largest supermarket chain behind The
Kroger Co., it has about 2,500 stores. In the Dallas-Fort Worth market, it
trails only Wal-Mart in sales.
Albertsons has cut the hours of employees elsewhere. In June, a reduction in
employees' hours in Oklahoma were part of a requirement at stores across the
country, Vroman said at the time.
In the first six months of this year, Albertsons cut $710 million in costs
as part of a plan to eliminate $1 billion in annual costs, chief executive
Lawrence R. Johnston told analysts in June.
At an Albertsons in Plano, a 38-year-old cashier who has worked at the store
for 14 years said her take-home pay has dwindled from $300 to $143 a week
since she was forced to go part-time a couple months ago.
She said she now works 18 to 24 hours a week. She has lost benefits such as
sick leave, and remains eligible for health insurance only by contributing
unused vacation - and that runs out this week.
"It's really hard for me. My husband is ill and can't work. I have to pay
the bills and food and rent," said the woman, who didn't want to give her
name because she feared losing her job. "They said the company is not doing
well and they're doing this because they don't want to close the store."
The Dallas area is a highly competitive market for grocery stores, which
traditionally survive on thin profit margins.
The Plano Albertsons is across the street from a recently remodeled Kroger
and down the street from a more upscale Tom Thumb store, owned by Safeway
Inc. Looming less than two miles away is a new Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Wal-Mart controls about 25% of the grocery market in Dallas-Fort
Worth, ahead of Albertsons at nearly 18%, according to research firm
Trade Dimensions International Inc. Wal-Mart's prowess at cutting prices has
pressured other local chains, which have higher costs, analysts say.
Albertsons' challenges extend far beyond Dallas.
The company said earlier this year that it lost about $90 million because of
a management lockout of workers in Southern California. It has also clashed
with unionized workers in Seattle over benefits. It pulled out of New
Orleans and Omaha, Neb.
Shares of Albertsons fell 20 cents to $24.17 in trading on the New Stock
Exchange. The shares have gained 6.7% this year.
Minimum Wage Increase: Help or Hype?
CNSNews.com Commentary via Cybercast News Service
By Kimani Jefferson
Massachusetts senator John Kerry, like other liberal politicians, is once
again calling for an increase in the minimum wage. The Kerry plan calls for
a 36% increase to seven dollars an hour. He says it will help those
living in poverty.
Like all liberal ideas, it sounds good at first. But what will the net
effect be, specifically on blacks? The old adage remains true: The devil is
in the details.
According to a Employment Policies Institute (EPI) study, increasing the
minimum wage won't alleviate poverty among the working poor. The majority of
workers living in poor families already earn more than Kerry's proposed
Likewise, those earning minimum wage are more likely to live in families
with incomes three times the poverty line (teens working their first jobs).
An increased minimum wage would undoubtedly help some people. Eileen
Appelbaum, a Rutgers University labor economist, says raising the minimum
wage by $1.85 would translate into more than $3,800 a year in additional
income for a full-time minimum-wage employee. But raising the minimum wage
would also affect the size and earning potential of the workforce.
One thing must be remembered about business: Profit is something employers
don't forget about. History has proven employers won't stand idle, and
increasing employee costs means staffing cutbacks and reduced hours.
Bruce Bartlett of the National Center for Policy Analysis points out that
there are more negative consequences of a wage hike. Based on demographic
studies of past increases:
- A 10% raise in the minimum wage will reduce overall youth
employment by 2.1%.
- For low-income workers earning minimum wage or slightly better, a 10%
minimum wage hike will result in a 10% job loss.
- Eighty% of the net benefits will go to families who are not poor.
- Teenagers will be encouraged to drop out of school, reducing their
overall capacity to rise above low-skill level jobs.
According to EPI's research, the effect on the black community would be
particularly acute. For younger blacks, "A ten% increase in the
minimum wage causes an 8.5% decline in the employment of
African-Americans (aged 16-24)."
It's a misperception that the working poor are poor because of a low minimum
wage. In fact, the EPI study notes, "70.7% of workers living in poor
families [already] earn wage rates greater than $7.00 per hour." Real
reasons for such poverty include the fact that many of the affected work
less than full-time and family sizes are too large for such low hourly
In the end, over 60% of the benefits of a minimum wage increase would
go to families with incomes twice the poverty line or more. So, what's the
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a far better policy tool for aiding
low wage workers in poor families. According to EPI: "For every dollar in
wages earned by a low-income family with two children, the federal
government provides a tax credit of 40 cents. Workers with one child have an
effective minimum wage of $6.90 per hour (the $5.15 per hour minimum wage
plus an additional 34% credit of $1.75) and workers with two or more
children have an effective minimum wage of $7.21 per hour (the $5.15 minimum
wage plus an additional 40% credit of $2.06)."
Employers don't directly pay for the EITC, so it causes no reduction in
demand for low-skill workers. Also, the EITC would also help those in
low-income families who are already making more than the minimum wage.
It's the difference between sounding good and being effective. Liberals
should have learned from the well-intentioned but failed programs of the
'60s that intention doesn't guarantee outcome.
It would be great to just look at numbers as they are, form ideas and merely
extrapolate conclusions. Liberal conclusions regarding who would benefit
from a wage hike does precisely this. It's a clumsy and dangerous
proposition, however, for the working poor.
Protecting workers from poverty is a great idea. Expanding the EITC is the
best way to aid them without hurting small business (which hurts the working
poor). Some are convinced that the wage hike will work. Well, to use Mark
Twain's words, "The trouble with the world is not that people know too
little, but that they know so many things that ain't so."
(Kimani Jefferson is a member of the Project 21 National Advisory Council.)
Sick levels rising in social services
Rochdale Observer, UK
Social services staff at Rochdale Council are taking nearly a month off work
sick a year.
New figures show that the department's sickness levels are getting worse,
despite a crackdown by council chiefs.
Forecasts for this year, based on absences taken in the first three months,
show that staff in adult care are expected to take 23.12 days off sick this
year, compared to 18.64 last year. In the early part of the year staff in
that department took nearly six days off sick each.
The record of child care workers is nearly as bad. It is estimated staff
will be absent almost 22-and-a-half days, having already taken an average of
5.6 days in the first quarter.
If the forecast is correct then both sections will have figures more than
double the council's target of 11 sick days per employee. Council chiefs
fear this will cost them millions of pounds.
A report to Monday's corporate services committee reveals that eight out of
the council's 20 departments are failing to meet the council's sickness
The revenues and benefits section is also badly hit. Sickness is expected to
rise from 12.48 to 15.64 days off per employee.
Other departments such as strategic housing, leisure services and
environmental management are improving, with the latter cutting its levels
Two years ago Rochdale Council had the highest levels of sickness absence
of all Greater Manchester authorities and the second highest in the country.
The latest report shows that last year's figure of an average of 12.03 days
per employee was a 30% improvement on the previous year.
This is below the council's own target of 12.5 days, which is also the
district auditor's recommended level.
An action plan has been set up by the council to tackle the problem and
workshops are being organised in departments unable to reduce levels.
Councillor Paul Rowen, the council leader, said: "This is costing the
council millions because if someone is off sick they have to be replaced. If
the council was a private company this amount of sickness wouldn't be
tolerated and we shouldn't tolerate it, either because it is a waste of
council taxpayers' money."
Conservative group leader Councillor Ashley Dearnley suggested not paying
people who are off for three days or less to stop people taking off Friday
or Monday for a long weekend.
Councillor Allen Brett, the Labour group leader, said: "Sickness absence in
adult care is a problem and we've got to tackle it."
Terry Piggott, the director of education, said that absence levels were
greater in Social Services because it is a 24-hour service and there was a
lot of lifting in adult care which could cause injuries.
He also said that people were challenged about why they were off after
returning to work.
Home for the Holidays
The Jewish Journal, CA
by Howard Nemetz
My son attends Hebrew day school. At least, I think he attends it. It's
October and he hasn't been there for a full five-day week yet.
The school year begins, as it always does, the week of Labor Day - three or
four days, depending on the school. I get that. A short week helps the
potentially shocking transition from the carefree late-night/late-morning
routine of summer to the foreign atmosphere of sitting still and
concentrating on something other than PlayStation.
Monday morning of the second week of school, we hit the ground running.
It's time to get in the swing of things. It's time to learn. It's time for
Rosh Hashanah. OK, nothing you can do about that. It's not Columbus Day or
Grandparents Day. It's a biggie - after all, it's in the Bible. This year,
the holiday fell on a Thursday and Friday, so the kids had another three-day
Wednesday morning, I wake my son for school. He informs me that he has the
day off. Apparently, the teachers need the day to prepare for the holiday.
I'm not sure why it takes a whole day to buy a round challah, but I'm not
sure about a lot of things - why people comb six strands of hair across
their head and assume no one will realize they're bald, to name one. It's
not a big deal. As they say in football, we'll get 'em next week.
Now it's the third week of school. You can't fool me this time. I may not
be a biblical scholar - in fact, I'm pretty sure I'm not a biblical scholar,
and who would know better than me? - but, as I recall, where there's Rosh
Hashanah, there's Yom Kippur. So I know it's a short week - our third in
three weeks - but after this, it's smooth sailing until winter break (what
was once called Christmas break before we smartly stepped in and protected
our children from that word).
The fourth week of school begins on Monday and ends on Tuesday. To be
completely accurate, it ends at noon on Wednesday, but that half day is
really only long enough to drop my son off at school, get stuck in traffic
trying to get out of the parking lot, circle the block, get stuck in traffic
trying to get into the parking lot and pick him up. Why another short week?
It's Sukkot. And it's eight days long.
I understand a harvest holiday. I understand that a harvest holiday, by
necessity, has to take place around the harvest (i.e., the fall). I don't
understand why the holiday has to be eight days long. Other cultures have
harvest holidays - Americans, to name one (in fact, the only one I can name
without having to do research) and they get it over with in one night. I
know our people like to eat, but eight nights?! I think it's because we
build a sukkah. If a Jew is going to build something - anything - it's not
going to be for one night. Once it's up there, it's staying for at least a
Sukkot is so long, in fact, that it's got a holiday in it - Shemini
Atzeret, followed by Simchat Torah. I realize that Jews have been around for
more than 3,500 years. I know that, in all that time, you're bound to
accumulate a lot of holidays - some biblical, some celebratory, some of the
"they-failed-to-kill-us-all, nyah-nyah" variety. But there are 12, and
sometimes 13 months in the year. Spread these babies out a little. At least
hold a few of them on the weekends. Hebrew day school isn't free, but so far
my son has been home more in September than he was in August.
Shemini Atzeret means "the assembly of the eighth day." Biblical scholarsspeak of the perfection of the number eight. It is on the eighth day that a
Jewish male is circumcised in order to instill the potential for perfection
in the human being. I don't remember my eighth day, but I'm pretty sure it
wasn't perfect. I'm confident in saying that I enjoyed my seventh and ninth
days a little more than that eighth one.
If we want to cut down on these days off, let's start with Simchat Torah, a
holiday that celebrates the completion of the reading of the Torah. That
doesn't have to be in September. We can read a little slower. We'll finish
it in November, right around Veterans Day. By then, my son could use a
Howard Nemetz has had a moderately unsuccessful career as a television
U.S. Sept. Payrolls Rise 96,000, Less Than Forecast (Update7)
Bloomberg, United States
U.S. employers added 96,000 workers in September,
fewer than expected, as an expanding economy failed to spur faster job
growth in the final report before the presidential election. Factory jobs
fell for a third time this year.
"We received another disappointing jobs report for America's workers,''
said Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat challenging President
George W. Bush in November. John Snow, the Treasury secretary and Bush's
chief economic spokesman, said the results showed "good progress'' on
The jobless rate was unchanged at 5.4%, the Labor Dept. said in
Washington. The government lowered its previous estimate for August by
16,000 jobs to 128,000 and said a series of hurricanes didn't "materially''
The results fell short of the average 150,000 jobs a month some economists
say is needed to absorb a growing labor force and keep the jobless rate
steady. The dollar fell the most in two months against the Japanese yen and
the U.S. Treasury's benchmark 10-year note rose, boosting speculation the
Federal Reserve will skip an interest-rate increase at one of its two
remaining meetings this year.
The Treasury's 4 1/4% note maturing in August 2014 rose 29/32 point,
pushing down the yield 11 basis points to 4.13% at 12:59 p.m. in New
York. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 109.46 yen from 111.23 yen late
The Fed raised the benchmark U.S. interest rate three times this year, to
1.75%, and said it may keep raising rates at a "measured'' pace.
Economists expected payrolls would rise by 148,000 last month following a
previously reported increase of 144,000 in August, according to the median
of 74 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from a decline
of 10,000 to a 250,000 increase, the second biggest spread of the year,
because economists disagreed about the hurricanes' potential effect. The
unemployment rate matched the median forecast.
"It was a disappointing report,'' said Edward McKelvey, a senior U.S.
economist at Goldman Sachs & Co. in New York.
The Labor Dept. also said the economy may have gained an additional
236,000 jobs in the 12 months ended in March 2004, according to a
preliminary assessment. The President's Council of Economic Advisers
previously estimated the revision may have been 288,000 to as much as
384,000, adding that its calculation was "highly uncertain.'' The
government will issue a final report and officially revise the numbers in
The revisions would leave Bush with a net loss of about 600,000 jobs since
he took office in January 2001.
Last month's job gain was boosted by a 37,000 rise in government payrolls,
meaning that private businesses' hiring slowed to 59,000 last month after
averaging 83,000 in the previous three months.
"Businesses are still reluctant to hire aggressively,'' said Greg
Valliere, chief political strategist for Schwab Soundview Capital Markets in
Washington. "Businesses have benefited tremendously from improvements in
productivity. That's a good story if you worry about inflation, but it's a
bad story if you want more job creation.''
The report was released less than 13 hours before Bush and Kerry, a
four-term senator, square off in the second of three debates. Bush's lead
eroded after the first debate on Sept. 30, and the candidates are in a
statistical dead heat in nine of 11 polls. Since Bush took office, the
economy has lost 821,000 jobs.
Kerry says the record sets Bush up to be the first president since the
Great Depression to preside over a drop in employment. Bush says his tax
cuts helped create 1.5 million jobs so far this year, and blames the loss of
jobs earlier in his term on a weakening economy inherited from the Clinton
administration, the Sept. 11 attacks, corporate scandals and the Iraq war.
Snow focused on the 13th straight increase in employment. "The jobs
numbers indicate we're continuing to see progress on the labor front,
consistent with good GDP growth,'' the Treasury secretary said in an
Employment in service-producing industries, which include retailers, banks
and government agencies, rose 109,000 last month after rising 113,000 in
August, the report showed. The increase was led by a 37,000 rise in
government employment and a 34,000 increase in professional and business
services. Retail and transportation businesses lost jobs.
Manufacturing, a category that's critical in many of the so- called swing
states in this year's campaign, lost 18,000 jobs, the most since December.
The U.S. now has lost 2.71 million factory jobs since January 2001.
"We've had some limited number of layoffs,'' said Richard Schnieders,
chairman and chief executive of Sysco Corp., North America's biggest
food-service distributor, in an interview from a Business Council meeting in
Irving, Texas. "Our employee count is down 1,500 folks in the last six to
Workweek and Income
The manufacturing workweek fell by six minutes to 40.8 hours and overtime
held steady at 4.6 hours. Average weekly hours worked by production workers
held at 33.8 hours in September for a third month. Economists expected hours
would fall to 33.7 from 33.8, according to the Bloomberg News survey.
Incomes increased last month. Workers' average hourly earnings rose 0.2%,
or 3 cents, after a 0.3% gain the previous month. Economists
had expected a 0.3% increase in hourly wages. Average weekly earnings
rose to $533.36 last month from $532.35 in August.
The hurricanes had a minimal effect on the payrolls report, which is
gathered by a survey of businesses, the department's Bureau of Labor
Statistics said in a statement. "The severe weather appears to have held
down employment growth, but not enough to change materially the Bureau's
assessment of the employment situation in September,'' the statement said.
Some economists said the separate survey of households that determines the
unemployment rate showed greater effects from the storms. Robert Gay, chief
strategist at Commerzbank Capital Markets in New York, said 1.89 million
people in the household survey said they worked fewer hours because of bad
U.S. employers plan to keep hiring through year-end at about the same pace
as they did in the prior two quarters, according to a survey released last
month by Manpower Inc. Twenty-eight% of the 16,000 employers who were
polled said they intend to increase their staffs from October through
December, compared with 30% last quarter.
"I think caution is a watchword today,'' said Jeffrey Noddle, chief
executive of Supervalu Inc., in an interview yesterday. "People are not
going to add employment until they are very certain that there is growth in
their business or in their industry or in their sector of the economy.''
Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Supervalu, the owner of Shop 'n Save and
Save-A-Lot supermarkets, closed four stores in Florida due to damage from
Hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, Noddle said. Three of those were stillclosed.
AT&T Corp., the largest U.S. long-distance telephone company, said
yesterday it will cut at least 7,400 additional jobs this year and will
write down $11.4 billion in assets as it exits the residential-phone
business. Bedminster, New Jersey-based AT&T, which had 61,600 employees at
the end of last year, had already eliminated 8% of its workforce this
Sales growth at U.S. retailers slowed for a third month in September as
higher gasoline prices cut into spending at chains including Wal-Mart Stores
Inc. and the hurricanes forced stores to close in the Southeast. Sales at 71
retailers' U.S. stores open at least a year rose 2.4%, the
second-smallest gain in 15 months, according to a report yesterday from the
New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers.
Third-quarter auto sales were the strongest in a year and business
investment also rose, helping the economy accelerate from what Federal
Reserve policy makers termed a "soft patch'' in the second quarter. Sales
of cars and light trucks jumped to a 17.5 million annualized rate in
September, a 5.4% increase from the previous month, industry figures
last week showed.
The increase in auto sales prompted economists at Banc of America
Securities LLC in New York and others to revise growth estimates for the
The economy probably expanded at a 4.8% annual pace from July
through September compared with a previous estimate of 3.9%, said
Peter Kretzmer, a senior economist at Banc of America. That would be the
strongest growth rate in a year.
"Our customers are telling us to be better prepared to handle increases in
business,'' said David R. Goode, chief executive at Norfolk Southern Corp.,
the fourth-largest U.S. railroad, in an interview yesterday. "We have
help-wanted signs out.'' The Norfolk, Virginia-based railroad plans to hire
about 2,000 new workers this year to replace workers leaving the company,
Bush and Kerry will face questions from undecided voters during a "town
hall'' gathering at Washington University in St. Louis, starting at 9 p.m.
Washington time. Polls by the Pew Research Center, the Los Angeles Times,
the Gallup Organization, ABC News and CBS News all show most viewers thought
Kerry won the first debate, which was on foreign policy and homeland
Bush led Kerry by as much as 13% in national polls two weeks before
the first debate and that margin has shrunk to no more than 5%
in 11 surveys conducted since Sept 30. Bush and Kerry are in a
statistical tie in nine of those polls. He leads in one by 5% and
Kerry leads by 4% in another.
Among blacks, the unemployment rate fell to 10.3% from 10.4%
in August. The jobless rate for Hispanics increased to 7.1% from 6.9%
and for whites was unchanged at 4.7%.
For teenagers, unemployment dropped to 16.6% last month from 17%.
The jobless rate was unchanged for women at 4.7% and for men at 5%.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Carlos Torres in Washington firstname.lastname@example.org.
President's tax cuts are hurting the county
Tulare Advance Register, CA
I see the news about cutting firefighters, closed park bathrooms, reduced
hours at the library and proposals to increase sales taxes, and I have to
shake my head and wonder what people expected when they voted for George
Bush and his tax cuts. Like everybody else, I like the idea of paying less
taxes, but there is economic reality that cannot be ignored.
Here's a short lesson that's very basic and not all inclusive but explains
how things really work: We all pay federal income taxes, state income taxes
and property taxes. The federal government makes decisions on how the money
sent to them will be spent. There are federal programs and federal mandates
to the states to implement those programs. The problem comes in when taxes
are reduced and the federal government does not fully fund the federally
mandated programs. If they don't want to lose more federal money, the states
have to pick up the difference.
When the state doesn't have enough money to fund the mandates and pay itsbills, it takes the money from the county property taxes.
What ends up happening is what is going on now in our county. The state has
taken the lion share of property taxes to make up for the shortfall in
federal monies. The cities are hurting even more, and so they are looking
for other sources such as sales tax increases to keep themselves up and
Yes, paying less taxes is nice, but ultimately, you really aren't paying
less taxes, you've just shifted how it's collected. The politicians won't
tell you this. They want you to hear "tax cuts" and not think beyond that.
Now you know better.
So the next time a politician tells you they are for a tax cut across the
board, such as the current president did, start thinking about how the
state, county and cities are going to have to make up the difference. When
you add it all up, you'll discover that you're really paying more and
getting less, while millionaires and multinational corporations who didn't
need tax cuts are paying far less or nothing at all.
JAMYE POVALITIS, Visalia
On-the-fringe archives - Most U.S. workers satisfied
by Dave Murphy, San Francisco Chronicle, CA
["On the fringe" is right. Has Dave asked them?]
We've all heard that American workers put in longer hours than their counterparts in other countries, but a Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing released this week indicates that we're happier about many aspects of our jobs than workers in Great Britain and Canada are.
[Or, those asked are feeling so insecure in America that they'e afraid to answer frankly.]
The results, based on telephone interviews with more than 5,000 people in
the United States and more than 1,000 people apiece in Canada and Britain,
show that 38% of U.S. workers put in 45 or more hours a week,
compared with 30% of Canadians and 28% of Britons. But the
discrepancies are even wider - in a positive way for the United States -
on such topics as bosses and relationships with co-workers.
Seventy-four% of the U.S. workers who responded said they are
"completely satisfied" with their relations with co-workers. Only 59%
of Canadians and 61% of Britons could say that.
And despite all the comments you might hear about nasty bosses, three-
fifths of U.S. workers are completely satisfied with theirs. Only 47%
of workers in Canada and 42% in Britain offer their supervisors that
sort of praise.
Among the other results - listing the percentage of respondents who say
they are completely satisfied:
- The physical safety conditions of your workplace: U.S., 73; Canada, 57;
- The flexibility of your hours: U.S., 62: Canada, 52; Britain, 52.
- Your job security: U.S. 54; Canada, 40; Britain, 49.
- The amount of vacation/holiday time you receive: U.S., 52; Canada, 47;
- The recognition you receive: U.S., 48; Canada, 37; Britain, 37.
- Your chances for promotion: U.S., 40; Canada, 29; Britain, 25.
- The retirement or pension plan your employer offers: U.S., 36; Canada,
25; Britain, 32.
- The amount of money you earn: U.S., 28; Canada, 26; Britain, 23.
Job insecurity: One of the most dangerous workplace strategies is to make
someone feel insecure. Once in a while, a boss might get away with doing it
to motivate a lethargic employee, but it is more likely to blow up in your
And sometimes it will cause otherwise sane people to go nuclear.
Take what is happening with the hotel strike/lockout in San Francisco. You
could certainly look at either side and say that insecurity is a major
Workers could say that management's proposal didn't offer them a decent
living and would threaten their ability to pay for medical care. So they
called a two-week strike at four hotels.
Management could say that such a strike - and the potential for more - -
threatened the stability of not only those four hotels, but 10 others that
use union workers. So it locked the workers at all 14 hotels out, and not
just for those two weeks.
It would be easy for some people to point at the other side's actions and
say they are unreasonable, but sometimes escalation is just human nature.
That's why insecurity is so dangerous.
If you're ever tempted to go over a boss' head or behind a co-worker's
back, take a moment and think about what has happened with the hotels. And
On the Fringe runs Saturdays. E-mail Dave Murphy at email@example.com
Oilpatch workers dying on the roads
Edmonton Sun, Canada
By MINDELLE JACOBS
All you guys who'd rather sleep in instead of being forced to work
bleary-eyed early in the morning have an unlikely champion: Dr. Louis
"Most young guys will sleep till noon," says the head of the Alberta Centre
for Injury Control and Research. "Does it make sense to make them get up at
6 a.m. to work?"
Guys in early adulthood are hardwired differently from everyone else, says
Francescutti. They simply don't function well in the morning.
"We're making people work when they should actually be sleeping," he says.
And those 12-hour shifts for days on end that are so common in the
oilpatch? Maybe that's not such a great idea, he adds. People can only
concentrate for so long before accidents happen, he says.
Fatigue is a major cause of road accidents, along with speed, drugs and
booze, he notes.
I can't help thinking about Christian Alexis, the 21-year-old oilpatch
worker who died last week when his vehicle crossed the centre line on
Highway 43 and crashed head-on into a pickup truck about 7:40 a.m.
He had just finished a 12-hour shift. Did he fall asleep? We may never
know. But his death underscores a troubling reality.
Alberta workplaces may have had their best safety performance in a decade
last year. The annual injury rate in 2003 was the lowest since 1991.
Safety training standards have dramatically improved in the oilpatch over
the past two decades and that's great news. But workers are still dying - on
Oil rigs used to be called "killing fields," says Murray Sunstrum,
executive director of the Canadian Petroleum Safety Council.
In the past, injuries and fatalities to workers typically involved things
like crushing accidents, spinning chains or explosions, he says.
"The industry has stepped up to the plate on this issue," he adds, noting
the heightened concern with safety in recent years.
"Now something as seemingly mundane as driving has supplanted everything
else as the No. 1 cause of death (in the petroleum industry)."
Fatigue, speed and inattention are the new killers of oilpatch workers,
"If our outcome is peak performance and safety, we have to ask ourselves
are we doing the best we can?"
He agrees with Francescutti that it may be time to look at whether making
employees work such long shifts - and such early hours - is doing more harm
On the other hand, winter is "gravy season" for oilpatch workers and long
hours go with the job, Sunstrum says.
Also, many people like working longer shifts, he adds. (Under Alberta
labour standards, oilpatch employees and other industrial workers can work
28 12-hour shifts in a row before getting four days off.)
Part of the problem is that there has been no comprehensive analysis of our
traffic collisions, says Sunstrum. Different agencies compile various
statistics but no one can see the forest for the trees, he says.
"We're doing an abysmal job of putting together information that we can
(base) research trends on."
That's the daunting task facing various groups scheduled to meet Tuesday in
Edmonton to begin mapping out a provincial road safety plan, says Sunstrum.
That meeting stems from a recent government-commissioned report that
recommended the province spearhead a wide-ranging plan to improve traffic
Oilpatch companies are "at their wits' end" as to how to get workers to
drive safely, says Roger Soucy, president of the Petroleum Services
Association of Canada.
"Trying to change human nature is a very difficult thing to do," he says.
"You give them training and scare them to death with movies of accident
victims and there's a percentage of people that just don't get the message."
Flexible working hours are best perk, executives say
Canadian Press (CP) via Canada.com, Canada
TORONTO, Ont. - What's your favourite employment perk? According to Canadian chief financial officers, it's probably a flexible work schedule.
The national poll for the Accountemps staffing service found only six per
cent of CFOs regard stock in the company as a highly motivating incentive
for ordinary workers.
"Not all companies are able to provide flexible schedules; it depends on
the nature of the business and the number of people employed," observes Max
Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Motivating Employees For
"However, firms that can offer this benefit may have an advantage when
recruiting and retaining staff."
Adds Robert Hosking, manager of Toronto operations for Accountemps: "Even
minor variations in work schedules, such as allowing people to come in and
leave a half-hour early, can help employees meet personal obligations that
might otherwise prove distracting on the job."
- 40% of CFOs in a recent poll said flexibility in working hours
is most valued by workers.
- Spot financial bonuses ranked second, cited by 25% of the 270 CFOs
- Extra time off came in third, favoured by 13%, following by
retirement savings plans at 10%.
Comeback kids: When mothers re-enter the work force
AP via North County Times, CA
By: SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
For some mothers who took time off after childbirth, deciding to go back to
work is the easy part. The real challenge is finding work that will be
emotionally and financially rewarding, and that still allows them to do
their other full-time job: raising the kids.
Many women who stay home with their children - whether it's for a few
months or several years - do expect to go back to work sometime, says
Mary W. Quigley, co-author of "Going Back to Work: A Survival Guide for
Comeback Moms" (St. Martin's Griffin). It's a follow-up to the first book
she wrote with Loretta Kaufman called "And What Do You Do? When Women Choose
to Stay at Home."
The problem for many mothers is, according to Quigley, that they wait too
long to decide how and when they'll re-enter the work force.
"You really have to start thinking about going back to work when you make
the decision to stay home," she says.
And there are other decisions to be made:
Will you go back to the same career?
Even if you're not "working," are you willing to do volunteer work?
Do you want to go back to school?
Some careers - human resources, for example - are pretty easy to walk
back into, but in others, such as information technology or scientific
research, someone who has been absent for five years will be likened to a
dinosaur, Quigley says.
"If you want to stay in science, you have to keep your hand in it somehow,"
she advises. That can be done by staying active in professional groups or by
taking the occasional class; Quigley shares the story of one woman who took
enough part-time classes to eventually earn a master's degree in biology.
Even one course from the current year could freshen up a resume.
Another option for a former researcher or scientist is to rejoin the work
force as a teacher or to start your own science-affiliated business, as one
mother who began a for-hire service teaching science to preschoolers did.
"You can think about jobs in your field, but not necessarily the same job,"
Some women, though, see this as a chance to right a wrong.
"If you've decided you're not responsible for bringing in money anyway, take
advantage of exploring and find something you want to do," Quigley says.
"Going back to work is a golden opportunity to choose the job for the rest
of your life. Take your existing skills and put them to work in another
Fields that are the easiest to break into as a mid-life career change are
those that are having trouble refilling the ranks, including nursing and
grammar-school teachers, according to Quigley, a college journalism
professor at New York University and a mother of three. Often these jobs are
either physically or emotionally demanding - or both - but there is
the possibility of a nontraditional version of these jobs, such as becoming
a nurse for an insurance company. "That could be a straight 9 to 5 job,"
She adds: "Health industries hold huge potential. There are a lot of jobs,
and many have the flexible hours that working mothers need. Think of
physical therapists, they set their own hours."
Parents (while the book focuses on stay-at-home mothers, Quigley says the
advice applies to fathers, too) might be surprised how they can sell the
child-rearing skills they've learned to potential employers.
Parenting also helps you learn to give clear and direct instructions, to
control your anger and choose words carefully - which can be helpful when
dealing with difficult colleagues or customers, she says.
"When you become a parent, you don't have unlimited free time, so your
organizational skills and work ethic change for the better. If your kids are
in nursery school for only two hours, you don't waste an hour futzing
around, you get right to a task. That's hard to quantify on a resume but
it's a really helpful skill to have."
And, she adds with a laugh, "If you've volunteered on a local school or
zoning board, you'll take a lot of heat, more than you'd take at a company."
Volunteer work offers an opportunity to hone existing skills and learn new
Instead of stuffing envelopes for a charity, offer to work on, or better
yet, create its Web site, Quigley suggests, because it will result in a
tangible product that you can show to a potential employer. If you work on a
fund-raising campaign, lead the project and make sure you add that to your
resume, listing the goal that was met and how many people you coordinated,
Ambition, excitement and dedication also are difficult to define but they
certainly are characteristics employers are looking for, and former
stay-at-home moms usually have that fire in their bellies when they go back
to work, Quigley reports.
They are seeking a job because they want to, because they are energized and
looking for self-fulfillment, she says, and they'll probably have a game
plan in place for the family, too.
Spouses will probably find themselves pitching in more and that's OK: It'll
give them time to bond with their children and since they've had the past
few years to concentrate on their careers, they might be able to ask for
more flexible work hours now, Quigley says. "Most husbands aren't unhappy
about a second income when they realize how much college costs," she adds.
But even the best-laid plans won't help with the complex feelings a mother
has as she returns to work, even if it was her idea in the first place.
"There's going to be guilt and stress. You're never not going to feel guilty
so just get used to it. If you have everything all lined up - who is going
to care for the kids and the meals are all ready - during work hours
you've got to put yourself first," Quigley says.
"What's the worst case scenario? They'll cry - and pretty soon they won't
even look up when you're leaving."
Greek communists protest for better wages, against unemployment
Channel News Asia, Singapore
ATHENS - More than 8,000 Greek communists demonstrated on the streets of
Athens for jobs, better wages, and safer working conditions.
The demonstrators, members and supporters of Greece's KKE communist party,
came from all over the country for the rally.
Party Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed the crowd, denouncing the
policies of the two main parties, the conservative ruling New Democracy
party and the Socialist opposition party PASOK.
Banners read: "No tolerance of poverty," "No to the (European Union)
agriculture policy," "No to dismissals, jobs for all"
The KKE is calling for the minimum monthly wage of some 600 euros (720
dollars) to be doubled, shorter working hours, and measures to reduce
unemployment which stood at 11% in the first quarter of this year.
The KKE is the third party in parliament with 12 seats, obtaining 5.9%
of the popular vote in a general election last March.
Hard work, hard times - Europe's fears over outsourcing look to be overblown
By Carla Power, Newsweek International (Oct. 18 issue) via Newsweek, NY
It's close to midnight in Warsaw, and Marzena Beresciuk has
taken a taxi straight from work to a 24/7 convenience store to buy
groceries. Late nights are the only time the carefully coiffed record
promoter can find to shop, given her standard 12-hour days. Like the rest of
those lucky enough to have jobs in high-unemployment Central and Eastern
Europe, she works hard. The average workweek in Europe's new member states
is 44.4 hours, compared with 38.2 in the 15 Western members of the European
Union. "Let's get to work," Warsaw professionals like to joke. "The earlier
we start, the later we'll finish."
Western European workers are spooked. They're haunted by the specter of
Eastern European upstarts luring their jobs away with the promise of cheaperlabor and longer hours. In Germany, employers exploited such fears to wring
unprecedented concessions from unions this summer. In France, a recent poll
shows that outsourcing now tops the list of economic worries. No matter that
businesses have been shifting operations to Eastern Europe since 1990, or
the fact that experts say it's actually helped save Western European
companies by improving their global competitiveness. "There's a panic," says
French union rep Bernard Fillonneau. With an ear for the political
groundswell, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin just pledged 1
billion euro to "the battle against outsourcing." Finance Minister Nicolas
Sarkozy, nurturing presidential ambitions, quickly sounded a similar note.
All this brought a tart riposte from Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts,
who pointed out that it was "better that companies stay in the EU than move
He's right. Workers may be hurting now, but in the long run the Eastern
European "threat" may be the best thing that ever happened to the Western
European economy. It should speed reforms, convince workers of the need to
loosen labor rules and work more competitively, and provide a bulwark
against companies' going to more far-flung competitors like China and India.
This summer five Central and Eastern European states lobbied in Brussels for
increased flexibility under the European Working Time Directive, arguing
that the EU's 48-hour limit on the working week cut into their productivity.
That competitive drive, says Katinka Barysch at the Centre for European
Reform in London, is crucial for Europe's survival in the global economy:
"If we didn't have enlargement, we'd have to invent it."
Try telling that to anxious Western European workers. In Amsterdam last
week, 200,000 Dutch workers demonstrated against government proposals to cut
benefits and extend work hours. Meanwhile Volkswagen reps negotiating with
Germany's IG Metall union threatened to stop making future models in Germany
if the union didn't agree to "modifications" in its wage contract.
(Volkswagen has already moved substantial production to the Czech Republic,
Slovakia and Hungary.) This summer Siemens got its employees at two
cell-phone-manufacturing plants to up their 35-hour workweek to 40 hours
without more pay by promising not to move east, cutting the company's labor
costs by 30%. The threat of outsourcing, says Germany's IG Metall
spokesman Jorg Kother, "is being misused to make it easier for employers to
dip into workers' wallets."
The fear goes beyond jobs. Stephane Rozes at the French polling firm CSA
says the controversy over outsourcing "reactivates the European crisis." It
reawakens the biggest French worry about united Europe: that rather than
pulling up the new countries, France will be dragged down to them.
Responding to such concerns, Paris has proposed developing new
"competitiveness poles" - hubs that would draw a single industry's research,
manufacturing and training components together, in the theory that companies
organized into networks won't outsource. Last month's budget also gave tax
cuts to companies vulnerable to outsourcing, as well as to companies that
shift previously outsourced jobs back to France.
At bottom, the outsourcing controversy is probably hyped. The biggest wave
of de-localization, as the French call it, happened a decade ago; foreign
direct investment in the new member states today is actually dropping. Wages
are rising fast in the East; Hungary's have gone up fivefold in the last 14
years. Productivity in the West far outpaces that in the East; the figure in
Poland, for instance, is a mere 47.9% of the EU average. Outsourcing
anxiety, notes Maxime Lefebvre of the French Institute of International
Relations, merely masks the real problem - failed industrial policy. Simply
put, "We're not creating enough jobs." If Western Europe addressed its own
internal problems, perhaps it wouldn't have to worry about hardworking
With Tracy McNicoll in Paris, Malgorzata Bogusz in Warsaw and Stefan Theil
Take our word for it
Can a dictionary be a political act? That was certainly the intention when
some of the best-known writers in the US rushed into print with some
provocatively defined new words, intending to stir things up in the
The four editors, Jonathan Safran Foer, Dave Eggers, Nicole Krauss and Eli
Horowitz, conceived of The Future Dictionary Of America - supposedly
compiled several decades hence - as a way for many American writers and
artists "to voice their displeasure with their current US political
leadership, and collectively to imagine a brighter future". Nearly 200 of
them pitched in, and the intended beneficiaries are groups "devoted to
expressing their outrage over the Bush administration's assault on free
speech, overtime, drinking water, truth, the rule of law, humility, the
separation of Church and State, a woman's right to choose, clean air, and
every other good idea this country has ever had." Here is a selection of
their new words.
[KE: abridged for job or time-related daffynitions -]
bush v.i. 1 to land a job or position for which one is egregiously
unqualified, esp. through unscrupulous means. 2 to take a long and unearned
vacation. 3 to sneak home during working hours. Mr Bemis was off with the
truck for three hours, so I bushed it back to Crawford for a quick snort and
a nooner with Sally Mae. 4[ since 2005 ] to be sent back to the place of
one's origin, esp. in disgrace.
jobless oblige n. the responsibility of the out-of-work to update and
fabricate their résumés, lay claim to far-fetched computer skills, complete
one or more of the several projects they'd never had time for when they were
employed, and receive adequate unemployment benefits, including health
Zzzunday n. national holiday occurring once every 28 years, when a leap year
coincides with a Sunday. Zzzunday is celebrated with 24 hours of
uninterrupted sleep, in recognition of an entire generation's accumulated
sleep deficit. Secondary holidays have grown to immediately precede
Zzzunday, including Sleepless Friday, and a Hibernation Saturday of block
parties, children's sleepovers, and retail promotional sales of bed linens,
mattresses and pillows. Traditionally, insomniacs mark Zzzunday by going out
to a Chinese restaurant - if they can find one open that day.
Weekend sittings to boost women judges
The Observer via The Guardian, UK
Courts would sit at weekends to give women a better chance of becoming
judges, under plans for 'family friendly' working hours.
The white, male and privileged world of the judiciary will come under
attack this week from measures designed to shatter the glass ceiling seen as
holding back female and ethnic minority candidates.
Ministers will suggest changes, including different sitting hours,
encouraging senior women lawyers to apply, and redrawing rules that force
would-be judges to sit part-time initially - in time carved out from their
existing careers - before becoming eligible. While more women than men are
now called to the Bar, fewer than 16% of judges are women and just
under 4% come from ethnic minorities.
Baroness Ashton, junior constitutional affairs minister, insisted that
appointments would still be made on merit, but judges should reflect the
nation: 'One of the things we could look at is whether we could be more
flexible. Could we use weekends better?'
Ministers will also launch a study of factors underlying the reluctance of
talented female and ethnic minority lawyers to try for the Bench, with
anecdotal evidence suggesting that many still believe an 'old boys' network'
operates and that if they have not come from the 'right' university or
chambers they will be rejected.
'It is about perception: if you don't think you are in the right place to
apply, you don't apply,' said Ashton.
Women's groups have long campaigned for more female judges, blaming
outdated chauvinist judges for unduly lenient sentences handed down for rape
and other sexual offences.
What the experts say - Use incentives to retain staff
Business Link Nottinghamshire via The Times, UK
A personal approach is the key to retaining staff. Making staff feel
involved, valued and indispensable should cut the high turnover.
Other incentives could be offered to employees, such as profit sharing and
training schemes. Staff could also be tied to the company contractually.
Keeping positions open when newly qualified staff go travelling may help to
ensure they come back to the clinic on their return.
It is hard for MFS to compete with London wages, but working outside the
capital has obvious benefits, and Anna Kavanagh should concentrate on
work-life balance to recruit and retain staff.
The quality of life outside London is often a draw, and many staff will
value this over higher wages. MFS could also explore recruiting overseas.
The company is forward thinking in that it offers flexible working hours,
and this could be marketed to potential staff as a major benefit, especiallyfor women.
Now pharmacists sick over new CDAP plan
Newsday, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago
By AZARD ALI
YESTERDAY'S Budget an-nouncement by Prime Minister Patrick Manning that all
will access drugs at private pharmacies under the Chronic Disease Assistance
Programme (CDAP), was a bitter pill for pharmacists to swallow. Having again
boycotted hospital and health centres' dispensaries yesterday, pharmacists
have decided to abandon their current sick-out action and embark on go-slow
action from Monday at all health institutions where they work. Newsday
obtained the views of the protesting pharmacists on the new measure.
Expansion of the CDAP programme to include everyone, regardless of age, the
pharmacists said, was aimed at making their jobs redundant at public health
institutions. Currently, only persons under age 18 and over 65, access drugs
at private pharmacies under CDAP. Only 13 drug items are dispensed under
Hospital pharmacies currently stock 633 drug items and it was the view of
the protesting pharmacists yesterday that the measure means less people will
access drugs at hospital dispensaries. "Less patients mean less work for
pharmacists," a spokesman for the pharmacists said. "The result of which is
a cut in the working hours of pharmacists." Pharmacists, who have virtually
shutdown dispensaries for thousands of hospital out-patients, are clamouring
for reclassification of their work status which would earn them higher
salaries. Junior Minister Conrad Enill announced an enhanced package
increase for them on Thursday. "We do not think what is being proposed has
met our expectations," one pharmacist said. The pharmacists, Newsday was
told, have collectively agreed to report to work next week Monday, but will
withold their "enthusiasm" on the job.
Save the Sabbath
Jerusalem Post, Israel
By ZVI ZAMERET
In the wake of the turmoil that swept the country in the 1990s over the
closing of Jerusalem's Bar-Ilan Street on Shabbat, the Supreme Court turned
to a committee I chaired to help quell the uproar.
We recommended creating a permanent body, the Moatza Meyuhedet Le'yahasei
Hilonim-Dati'im - or its Hebrew acronym - the YAHAD Council for
The Israeli government adopted our recommendation, and five years ago a
special council was set up adjacent to the president's residence to deal
with matters of principle related to the tensions between Orthodox
(especially haredim) and secular Jews (especially the radically secular).
Among the issues the council is currently grappling with are religious
concerns about archeological digs; medicine's ability to extend life;
euthanasia; and issues relating to organ transplants.
One YAHAD Council committee - comprising mostly secular members but
including several wearing crocheted kippot - has, for the past two years,
been discussing how the Sabbath has been completely undermined in this
country and what to do about it.
A study the committee ordered at the beginning of its discussions
18% of employees in Israel - 324,000 people - work on Shabbat.
16% of those who work on Shabbat - 60,000 people - work seven days a week,
with no day of rest.
People who work on Shabbat work 50 hours a week (compared to an average of
39 in the rest of the economy).
A little over 20% of those who work on Shabbat are new immigrants.
Nearly half of those who work on Shabbat are aged 18-35.
The hourly wage on the Sabbath is lower than the wage on weekdays.
Some 600,000 Israelis shop every Shabbat.
Israelis spend more than NIS 3 billion annually on shopping on Shabbat.
There is no doubt that those figures have increased since the study was
conducted two years ago.
TRAGICALLY, IN front of our eyes the Jewish people, who gave the Sabbath to
all of humanity, is gradually renouncing it.
The half of our people who live in Israel are the first to undermine the
sanctity of Shabbat and its lofty social goals.
If in ancient times the Sabbath was one of the basic rights of every slave
- and every animal - today there is an emerging class of Shabbat slaves,
with no rights, whose job is to serve their Shabbat masters (whose only
desire is material).
Thus a basic fabric that united all segments of the nation throughout the
ages is being ripped asunder.
This is creating an unfortunate partition between the observant and the
secular, between the rich and poor, veteran Israelis and immigrants, the old
and the younger generations.
What can be done in the present reality?
The only option is to rethink the Israeli work week and make both
structural and social changes.
Our council evaluated the possibility of reorganizing the work week: to
shorten it to a five-day week, to make Sunday a day off, and to move all
commercial and athletic activities to that day.
Our research and analysis showed that the idea - which at first appealed to
all of us - was impossibly unworkable.
Here are just some of the problems we discovered. Sunday as a day off is
too expensive for the economy; it can harm our defense posture; it could
further weaken the education system; and losing Friday as the day off would
conflict with the holy day of nearly one-fifth of the population (Muslims
We became increasingly convinced that the correct and most feasible
solution is an overall social-structural change in the economy to make
Friday a true day of rest.
We envision our new Friday as a day for shopping, banking, medical
treatments, sports, and recreation. And we propose closing all commerce on
Shabbat except for cultural activities, organized excursions, restaurants,
gas stations, and the like.
The crux of our unanimously adopted proposal is to close the shopping malls
that opened on Saturdays without any real public debate. These particularly
undermine the foundations of our Jewish existence. Now that the Dovrat
Commission has proposed that the educational system operate only five days a
week, introducing Friday as a free day for the whole economy will be much
At the same time, we would like to see a relaxing of some of the
restrictions currently imposed by the law. For instance, we favor allowing
public transportation on Shabbat. We assume this will serve mainly the
needy, young people, immigrants, poor families, and those without cars.
After all, everyone else who wants to travel on Shabbat already does.
The proposed change, which we see as both social and structural, still
requires further careful thought. But we think it should be undertaken,
first of all, by secular people so that the move is not interpreted as yet
another attempt at Orthodox coercion by the religious.
We think it is precisely people who do not observe Shabbat who should begin
the soul-searching. We need to reflect upon what has happened to us. What
has secular-liberal fanaticism, which has been raging unbridled in our
society in recent years, wrought? In the final analysis, Shabbat belongs to
all Jews, regardless of their religious orientation.
The writer is chairman of The YAHAD Council's Sabbath committee.
Union: Fire district offer 'comfortable'
St. Petersburg Times, FL
By MARY SPICUZZA
SPRING HILL - The Spring Hill Fire District has reached a tentative
agreement with its firefighters union.
"The union has gotten an offer that they feel comfortable with going to a
vote," union president Capt. Mike Rampino said Friday.
Rampino would not discuss specifics of the offer, which was made by the
district's negotiating team last week. He said that he must first discuss
the issue with union members.
Fire Chief J.J. Morrison said the tentative agreement includes a 5%
salary increase for each year of the three-year contract.
Starting pay for a firefighter/EMT is currently $32,965. At the other end
of the scale, firefighters with a paramedic's certificate and at least seven
years in the department earn $44,083. Officers can earn even more.
There are about 100 employees in the department.
"The negotiations are moving along fine," Morrison said.
Rampino said members of Local 2794 will be voting on the tentative
agreement at ratification meetings Monday and Tuesday and should have a
decision by Thursday.
Fire Commissioner Richard Martin also declined to discuss details of the
negotiations, but said they have been "trying to get this wrapped up" in
"There's been a lot of back and forth discussion," he said. "This is
something we do every few years, and some years it's easier than others."
Martin said negotiations, which began in February, should be over soon.
"Nobody wants to see this sort of thing drag on any longer than it needs
to," Martin said.
Early during negotiations, firefighters were seeking a 14% pay raise
over three years and a shorter work week. Neither Morrison, Martin nor
Rampino would discuss any other details.
Mary Spicuzza can be reached at 352 848-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Oversight may skip lower court - Board may take fire appeal to Supreme Court
Waterbury Republican-American, United States
By Cara Rubinsky
WATERBURY, Conn? - The oversight board may go directly to the state Supreme Court
with its appeal of a ruling that vacated a contentious fire union contract.
At issue is a decision by Waterbury Superior Court Judge Elizabeth
Gallagher, who last week invalidated a fire union contract imposed by the
state oversight board. The city is counting on the contract to save $1.5
million in its $325 million budget for 2004-05.
Members of the state oversight board met for an hour Friday in a
closed-door executive session. Attorneys briefed them on their options, but
nothing was decided. Mayor Michael J. Jarjura, who has a seat on the board,
said he expects members will vote on whether to appeal at a meeting
Attorneys have until Oct. 21 to file a regular appeal, but they must file
by this coming Friday if they want to skip the lower court and go straight
to the Supreme Court. That could speed up the process because whoever loses
in the lower court will likely try to take the case to the Supreme Court
"This way we would get the issue settled once and for all," Jarjura said.
The Supreme Court could consider the case or decide a lower court is the
more appropriate place for it.
Gallagher ruled the oversight board exceeded its authority when it started
a second round of arbitration after a first round ended with members
deadlocked 3-3 on an agreement negotiated by the city and the fire union.
Jarjura and the fire union said that agreement would have saved $1.5
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 one the city and union reached.
The fire union boycotted both rounds of arbitration. The union's attorney
said at the beginning of the second round that members' refusal to
participate was due in part to their belief the oversight board had no
authority to restart the process.
"We tried to be reasonable and warn them, and they told us go jump in a
lake, basically," said Daniel French, fire union president. "We never wanted
this fight. We had an agreement on the table that did a lot of damage to us,
but we were willing to accept it. The decision from the oversight board was
so heinous and illegally awarded that we feel we need to fight to protect
Gallagher did not explicitly say the 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.
She did not indicate how the situation might be resolved, which was a topic
discussed in Friday's executive session, Jarjura said. If a second round of
arbitration was 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 they negotiated.
"There was a lot of discussion regarding the fact that the decision leaves
too many things open for uncertainty," Jarjura said. "If we just did
nothing, say there was no appeal, what would that mean? What would happen if
the city and the union could not come to an agreement, and how would that
impasse be broken?"
Jarjura said the oversight board may consider asking Gallagher for
clarification while attorneys work on the appeal.
Firefighters continue to work under their new schedule, which took effect
Sept. 11. City and oversight board attorneys contend Gallagher's ruling is
automatically stayed at least until they decide whether to appeal. French
said Friday that might not be the case. The fire union's attorney is still
researching the issue.
"We're not entirely sure that the city's assertion that they have an
automatic stay is factual, and we have reason to believe otherwise," French
said. "We don't want to waste our time or theirs unless we're certain."
City officials will face a major budget gap if firefighters return to their
old work schedule. The new schedule is designed to minimize overtime by
extending the work week from 42 to 50 hours and cutting the number of shifts
from four to three so more firefighters are available on each shift.
The old contract mandated a minimum of 329 firefighters. The city was
already short about 30 firefighters, and another 17 have filed for
retirement since the new contract took effect. If firefighters go back to
their old schedule, the city will have to pay massive amounts of overtime or
hire more firefighters. The new contract mandates fewer firefighters.
French said firefighters object not only to working longer weeks at a lower
hourly rate, but also to provisions that give city officials increased
management rights and allow them to close firehouses and privatize bureaus
without consulting the union. The new contract granted them 7%
raises, but they are making less per hour than they were before.
Exporting Blame - With All the Anxiety Over Outsourcing, Where Should the Fingers Be Pointing?
by Michelle Chen
As unemployment remains high and once-stable jobs mysteriously vanish,
Americans are becoming desperate for answers: How are workers supposed to
deal with unprecedented economic insecurity, where are these jobs going, and
who is to blame?
Interest groups and politicians have decried outsourcing as the American
worker's nemesis, fueling public anxiety about the dangers of globalization
and a new protectionist mindset that reacts against the free trade doctrine
of the corporate America. Kerry, backed by the AFL-CIO, has blamed Bush for
the loss of jobs to cheap overseas labor markets. New statistics revealing
the export of 3.3 million white-collar jobs by 2015 are stoking fears that
the global economy is slowly draining the incomes of the middle class.
In response, the usual establishment cogs - Bush's advisers and various
corporate spokespeople - tout outsourcing as a positive new status quo for
corporations. There are also academics and economists who dismiss the
doomsayers, arguing that outsourcing is at best a productive economic
trend - keeping prices low and industries efficient - and at worst, a natural
phenomenon over-hyped by party politics.
The reality, as always, is more complex than either side will admit, and
oversimplifying the issue threatens to do more harm than outsourcing itself.
There's a stark logic to outsourcing: jobs will go wherever they cost
employers less. Geographic movement tends to follow the bottom line. Just as
yuppies move to Brooklyn when they can no longer afford converted East
Village tenements, so companies like IBM are spurred by the Pavlovian
capitalist impulse to set up shop in Mumbai for cost-efficient computer
Political scientist Daniel Drezner wrote in Foreign Affairs that Americans
should avoid "outsourcing hysteria" because the offshoring statistics
reflect "gross, not net losses." This basically means that as long as the
number of new jobs created compensates for the number of jobs lost to
foreign subcontractors, American workers should be okay. Drezner notes,
"about 22 million new jobs are expected to be added between now and 2010."
But outsourcing hysterics - most of whom are not economists or corporate
strategists and therefore at much greater risk of actually experiencing
outsourcing first-hand - might find it difficult to mellow out after checking
the arithmetic of outsourcing advocates. Since Bush took office, the
manufacturing sector has seen a net loss of 1.6 million private sector jobs.
An exponential reversal of this trend in six years through private sector
growth seems a miraculous feat of economic contortion. Analysts cite the law
of comparative advantage, which dictates that if we have elementary school
drop-outs in Thailand stitch our sneakers, we Americans can then engage in
business more befitting a developed nation: upgrading our technology and
services industries, establishing new sectors and providing new employment
opportunities for displaced domestic workers.
Sounds like a plan. Except we're not following it. Our so-called recovery
phase passed its second birthday without much fanfare; jobs that
theoretically should be available are simply not there. Stephen Roach, an
analyst at Morgan Stanley (a company not known for its anti-globalization
stance) told the Times, "Something new is going on. America is short of jobs
like never before." Simply put, this ain't your Momma's unemployment cycle.
Nonetheless, outsourcing is more a symptom than a disease, and attacking it
alone is like uprooting your garden to get rid of hay fever.
Outsourcing is the predictable scapegoat for the 2.7 million manufacturing
jobs lost during Bush's term. Manufacturing has been globalization's biggest
casualty as factories move overseas to capitalize on abundant low-wage
labor. Factory workers, who have seen the number of jobs in their sector
dwindle by 11% in the past decade and unemployment jump 36%
since 2000, are understandably shaken.
But the zero-sum theory of protectionism shortsightedly equates each
American job lost to one gained overseas. In fact, the main culprit is not
the Dickensian industrial parks of Guangdong but the Brave New World of
automated factories. Though the going-rate for a Sri Lankan garment worker
is only about 2% that of her American counterpart, a robot will
happily log more hours than even the most desperate factory drone. Since the
1970s, the general trend - not just in the US but in all industrialized
nations - has been the replacement of workers with cutting-edge production
technology. One US company recently got press when it increased productivity
five-fold by upgrading their automation systems to operate around the clock
with only two staffers.
The demand for skilled workers to operate such systems has eclipsed the
demand for unskilled wage workers. In the 1980s, job opportunities in
manufacturing began shifting dramatically from low- to high-skill labor.
This has led to jobless millions choking on the dust of booming
productivity, and transformed the composition of a given industry's
workforce. American workers are being ousted not by foreign ones, but rather
by the same tide of modernization causing massive unemployment even in
"insourcing" countries. In China, sleek new industries are similarly
rendering state factory workers obsolete. The current pattern of
white-collar jobs being lost to the information revolution is an outgrowth
of a long-standing, worldwide trend.
But if outsourcing isn't the enemy, is it our friend? Bush's Council of
Economic Advisers have proclaimed, "Free trade is win-win. Free trade
encourages countries to specialize in what they do best." Apparently, what
poor countries do best is funnel peasants into mega-factories to produce
Walmart Tupperware, while America specializes in increasing simultaneously
the nation's overall wealth and the number of poor people at home and
abroad. If these are the benchmarks of what the CEA deems "economic
well-being around the world" - well, everybody's a winner.
The "win-win" school is also guilty of using zero-sum reasoning to prove
that newly created domestic jobs will "replace" eliminated ones. Job loss
trends hardly correlate to the "robust" growth analysts envision. The
economy is restructuring to create new opportunities, but wealth is also
shifting into fewer hands. A study of worker displacement from 2001 to 2003
by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about 60% of displaced
workers had found new jobs, but over half were earning less, one third
taking a pay cut of at least 20%. Moreover, underemployment has grown
alongside unemployment as more Americans turn to part-time work to get by.
Expectations for the high-skill labor market seem similarly detached from
reality. The BLS recently reported that unemployment over the past year
remained constant at all educational levels, except for high school
graduates, whose unemployment increased. And yet professional sectors
requiring a college diploma are expected to lead the anticipated wave of job
growth. Even if they do, former auto plant workers are not likely to find
reemployment as high school teachers or software engineers - two of the most
promising sectors, according to the BLS. Bush's 2005 budget seeks to cut job
training and supportive services for the unemployed, which, along with
severe under-funding of public schools, ensures that low skills will remain
Outsourcing's cheerleaders think multinational corporations will reinvest
profits domestically and therefore expand employment. But while outsourcing
companies feed off a slew of incentive and assistance programs,
"reinvestment" often expands profits more than it expands job opportunities.
The number of domestic jobs at US multinationals grew at only half the pace
of offshore jobs between 1982 and 2001, according to the Institute for
Policy Studies. With white-collar outsourcing gaining momentum, this divide
between domestic and offshore growth will only intensify. And the prospects
for displaced low-skill workers getting rehired for skilled positions, by
the same bosses who downsized them, look dim.
Outsourcing reflects the cold protocol of the corporation: maximize output,
minimize input. But protectionism is not a responsible solution to a "race
to the bottom" affecting all of humanity; it smacks of Reagan-era xenophobia
and undermines opportunities within the context of globalization to improve
living and working conditions for workers everywhere.
Policymakers and activists cannot react to outsourcing without tackling
broader issues implicated by it. Lower labor costs in the developing world
stem from appalling working conditions, which international institutions
fail to address. Income loss due to globalization and recession reveals the
need for tax reform that favors working families over CEOs. Schools should
prepare students to rise to the challenge of a volatile international
economy. The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program should encompass a
broader range of workers and communities left behind by "recovery." While
America's workers seek to assign blame, fingers should point not to
factories in Asia but to a government that squanders resources on the
military and economic domination of weaker nations, to boost an economy that
actually undermines domestic living standards.
Without systemic reforms, shipping jobs overseas is not a winning formula
for anyone except big business. Yet by making workers of all backgrounds
realize they face a common struggle, it might be a catalyst for a true
structural adjustment: one that reverses the hording of power by the engines
of capitalism and restores dignity to labor on every shore.
Michelle Chen (email@example.com) is a freelance writer based in New York
City. Her writing has appeared in South China Morning Post, Clamor, ZNet,
IntheFray.com, and The New Standard.
Non-stop public services
China Daily, China
Various public service departments should not stop working during holidays,
said an article in the official website of the China Central Television. An
Contrasted from the busy sectors of travel, commerce and transportation
over the National Day Golden week, some public service departments are
taking a relaxed holiday. The banks stopped working, the post offices
delivered no mail, the hospitals only opened for emergencies, administrative
approval centres also shut up.
Not only during the Golden weeks, but many public service departments stop
working during weekends, which brings about inconvenience to the public.
Public institutions normally open eight hours a day, five days a week, and
close for the three Golden week holidays every year. But a market economy
takes no break and holidays are actually peak time for operation. The work
of public service departments involves various sectors and many people's
lives. Their taking a holiday will easily cause inconvenience and
difficulties to social life, and sometimes even lead to big economic losses.
For example, the furniture chamber of commerce in Wenzhou, Zhejiang
Province, reported to a related department last year that unavailability of
official permissions and approvals during holiday and weekend breaks would
affect the enterprises' normal operation and business opportunities. After
applications and negotiations, they finally had the local approval
department arrange holiday duties to provide the much-needed services.
Due to their special social functions and responsibilities, public service
institutions should not stop during holidays. But every citizen has a right
to take holidays. Therefore, public service departments should not implement
the same working timetable and enjoy holidays like normal public
institutions. Working staff of the public service departments can rotate
days off. But services provided for the public should not be stopped.
Public service sectors, especially those government administrative approval
departments, should take the social responsibility of providing good
services. They must learn from the sectors of travel, commerce and
transportation and serve the people without a break.
Full-time jobs prove elusive - 'Contingent' labor force transforms world of work
By Jonathan Weisman
CYNTHIANA, Ky. - Phillip Hicks had loaded his rusting pickup and was heading
to work one afternoon last year when his tearful daughter called from a pay
phone. She had been pulled over for speeding, she told her father, and
worse, she was driving with a suspended license. The police had impounded
her car and left her by the side of a dusty highway.
To most workers at the sprawling Toyota plant where Hicks works, the detour
to pick up his daughter would be a headache, no doubt. To Hicks, 40, it was
considerably more. He called his employer to say he would be late for the
swing shift. But since Hicks is a temporary worker, his daughter's brush
with the law became a permanent blemish on an already shaky employment
record. Temps are allowed only three days off a year, and Hicks was coming
up against that.
"They told me I had an attendance problem," he sighed wearily, his soft
mountain accent revealing his roots in coal country to the east.
Hicks is among the ranks of what economists call the "contingent" workforce,
the vast and growing pool of workers tenuously employed in jobs that once
were stable enough to support a family. In a single generation, "contingent
employment arrangements" have begun to transform the world of work, not only
for temp workers, but also for those in traditional jobs who are competing
with a tier of employees receiving lower pay and few, if any, benefits.
The rise of that workforce has become another factor undermining the type of
middle-wage jobs, paying about the national average of $17 per hour and
carrying health and retirement benefits, that have kept the nation's
middle-class standard of living so widely available.
Hicks has spent four years as a temp worker building cars for Toyota Motor
Corp., making manifolds and dashboards for Camrys, Avalons and Solaras sold
all over the United States. He works alongside full-fledged Toyota employees
who earn twice his salary, plus health and retirement benefits.
When Toyota announced it would be coming to Georgetown, Ky., in 1985, it
promised to invest $800 million in the community and employ thousands, with
thousands more jobs coming through its suppliers. By 1997, the plant
exceeded all expectations, with 7,689 full-time workers, a payroll over $470
million, and a ripple effect creating more than 34,000 other jobs in the
Controlling additions to workforce
But by 2000, Toyota was carefully controlling any additions to the
workforce. When Hicks left his family in Knott County, Ky., to seek work at
the plant 140 miles away, the only door left open was through a temporary
agency, Manpower Inc. At $12.60 an hour, the job would not even let him
afford the $199-a-week health insurance premium for his family of five. But
Hicks said Manpower assured him that after a year - two at the outside -
he would be on Toyota's payroll, earning $24.20 an hour, with health
insurance, a dental plan, retirement benefits, incentive pay, the works.
"I could stand on my head for a year or two for a $20-an-hour job with
benefits," he shrugged.
The increasing use of temps "is part of the diminished and inferior wages
and fringe benefits you see in all the new jobs that are becoming
available," said William B. Gould IV, a labor law professor at Stanford
University and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.
The government does not have up-to-date figures for the size of the entire
contingent workforce, which includes temps, independent contractors, on-call
workers and contract company workers. In 2001, the Labor Dept.
classified 16.2 million people - as much as 12.1% of the labor force
- as contingent workers.
It does track one slice of that workforce: temporary workers. Since January
2002, the nation added 369,000 temp positions, about half of the
private-sector jobs created during that stretch. Temporary jobs accounted
for one-third of the 96,000 jobs added to the economy in September. In 1982,
there were 417,000 workers classified as temporary help. Today, there are
more than 2.5 million, according to Labor Dept. data.
That is about equal to the number of manufacturing jobs lost in the past
decade. Barrie Peterson, associate director of Seton Hall University's
Institute on Work in South Orange, N.J., said that as many as half of those
lost manufacturing positions may have been converted to temporary
The change can be abrupt. At A&E Service Co., a small auto-parts assembler
in Chicago, employees were told on July 15 that the firm "will no longer
hold general labor employees on its payroll. All general labor employees
that choose to work at A&E Service Company, LLC must be employed by Elite
Staffing effective immediately." On the announcement, workers were asked to
check a box accepting or declining the new temporary employment, then sign
and date the form.
Temps no longer fit the stereotype of the secretary filling in for a day or
two. Jobs categorized as precision production, repair, craftsmanship,
operations, fabrications and labor now account for 30.7% of all temp
jobs, nudging out clerical and administrative support, which represent 29.5%
of the temporary army.
Peterson calls it "the perma-temping shell game," part of a broader effort
by employers to convert sectors of their workforce to temps.
Temp workers as buffer
Satisfaction with the arrangement varies. About 83% of independent
contractors in the Labor Dept. survey said they were satisfied. By
contrast, about 44% of temps and 52% of contingent workers
said they were not satisfied.
The impact of the temp trend on the American middle class can hardly be
overstated. As the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in a paper last
year, temporary workers "receive much lower wages than permanent workers,
although they frequently perform the same tasks as permanent staff members."
An analysis by Harvard University economist Lawrence F. Katz and Princeton
University economist Alan B. Krueger found that states with the highest
concentration of temps experienced the lowest wage growth of the 1990s.
Toyota executives say they use temporary workers as a buffer, to insulate
their full-time staff from the ups and downs of consumer demand. Since it
opened in 1988, through two recessions, the Georgetown plant has never laid
off an employee, said Daniel Sieger, manager of media relations for Toyota
Motor Manufacturing in North America.
Even without layoffs, however, the plant's full-time staff has declined by
706 positions from the 7,787 employees it had in 2000, according to Toyota.
Over that time, the temp workforce dipped from 409 in 2000 to 301 in 2002,
then rose to 425 late this summer.
Toyota managers say they will try to hire all of their long-term
temporaries by the end of the year or in early 2005, after they see how many
Toyota workers accept an early retirement package. Forty-seven temps were
hired in late September. The management move came after The Washington Post
spent a week in Kentucky examining the temporary employment issue at the
Georgetown plant. Before September's hires, it had been two years since the
plant hired a full-time "team member," Toyota managers said, a period during
which the plant shed 240 full-time positions. Temporary employment during
that time rose by 124.
"Certainly the long-term temporary issue is one that we regret," said Pete
Gritton, the plant's vice president of administration and human relations.
"We never intended to have those people in here for four years or whatever
Temporary employment is an increasingly important issue for unions. The
expansive labor contract reached between the United Auto Workers and Ford
Motor Co. in September 2003 includes six pages of rules governing the use of
temps. Under the agreement, Ford can bring on a temporary worker for a
maximum of 89 days, after which the worker must be hired or dismissed. Most
temps can only work two days a week, as well as "premium" days such as
Just 62 miles west of the Toyota plant, the UAW made a stand at Ford's
Kentucky Truck Plant, refusing even to countenance 89-day temps.
"It's a big, big deal," said Mike Stewart, the UAW's building chairman at
the plant in Louisville. "Any time you get this kind of [compensation]
divide, it just means less people making less money who can't afford your
product. We will always keep temps to a minimum."
The use of temporary workers appears to be most pervasive in plants owned by
foreign companies, which tend to locate in states where laws make union
organizing difficult, said Susan N. Houseman, a researcher at the
independent W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo,
Mich. One Japanese auto parts plant estimated that a 5%
reduction in the share of temps in the workforce would increase total labor
costs by $1 million over a year, an Upjohn study found.
At BMW's auto plant near Greenville, S.C., about 175 temporary workers
supplement a production workforce of 3,500, keeping the assembly line
churning out Z-4 roadsters and X-5 sport utility vehicles for the U.S. and
global market through lunch hour and break times, said Robert M. Hitt, a
spokesman for BMW Manufacturing.
At Faurecia S.A., a BMW supplier in nearby Fountain Inn, S.C., about a
third of the workers making door panels, consoles and dashboards for the Z-4
are temps, said Campbell Manning of Palmetto Staffing Group Inc., the
temporary employment agency that staffs the French auto parts supplier.
"They don't hire permanent," she said. "After 90 working days, they used to
roll onto the payroll. Now they just keep them as long-term temps."
Palmetto Staffing charges Faurecia a flat $12-an-hour for each of its temps.
If Faurecia hired its own permanent workers, expenses for workers
compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and other demands would add
$4 to $5 onto a $9-an-hour wage. Benefits would add more.
Even the temps cannot argue with the logic of hiring a lower-cost
workforce. "I don't really blame Toyota," said Roy Biddle, who went to work
at the Georgetown plant at the same time Phil Hicks did, nearly four years
ago, with similar assurances that he would land a full-time job after a
year. "The law's the law, and they're just doing what they can do under the
To temper expectations, Toyota last year implemented a new policy capping
temporary employment at two years. After that period, workers must leave,
but can reapply in six months. If hired again, a worker starts at the entry
wage of $12.60 an hour, compared with more than $14 per hour if they have
been there for a few years.
About 160 long-term temporaries, like Biddle and Hicks, were grandfathered
in and allowed to stay indefinitely.
Nancy Johnson, director of the Center for Labor Education and Research at
the University of Kentucky, said that because of the new policy, temps now
cycle from one plant to another, working at Toyota, then at nearby E.D.
Bullard Co., making fire helmets, then perhaps at an auto parts supplier
before heading back to Toyota.
Temps applying for state aid
At the Kentucky State Cabinet for Health and Family Services' community
office in Georgetown, social workers say more Toyota temps are applying for
state aid to cover food costs and medical bills.
"It's the traditional Japanese model that people talked about in the '80s,"
Johnson said. "Toyota never lays people off, sure, but the temps are
absorbing the financial swings of all these companies, and they're doing it
at a price."
Rick Hesterberg, a plant spokesman, noted that $12 to $14 an hour in central
Kentucky compares favorably to wages even for some permanent jobs. "These
people still make good money," he said of the temps. "It's nothing to snuff
your nose at, at least in this part of the country."
But many Toyota temps say their problems go beyond money. Indeed, life seems
always on the edge of disaster, where even rewards - the small gift bag of
cookie cutters or the "Star Performer" T-shirts that are given out to temps
- seem more like petty humiliations. In February, a Toyota temp posted an
anonymous "discussion" paper in the assembly-line men's rooms, pleading "the
'E' word, 'E' for exploitation."
"There are temps at [Toyota] who have been here for 3 years, some
approaching 4 years, many waiting for the permanent job offer," the essay
reads. Toyota "is exploiting their patience, their economic status, their
work ethic, their work contribution, their reliability, their health, their
Chris, a graduate of Western Kentucky University, once interned at Toyota
during college, doing computer-aided design and drafting. He spoke on
condition that his last name would not be used. Even with a degree and an
internship on his résumé, he, too, was steered to Manpower as the only door
into Toyota. But unlike the other temps, he figured his temporary stint
would quickly lead not just to the factory floor, but to the white-collar
Now, after four years, he frets that his wife wants a second child but he's
not sure how they'll pay for the insurance.
"These people are making extreme sacrifices, working second shift, no
benefits, low pay," fumed Matt Roberts, 31, a full-time Toyota worker since
1997. "It's a disgrace to the American dream. That's what it is."
For years, the United Auto Workers has tried to unionize the Toyota plant,
to no avail. Recently, the use of temps has become a major issue. For
full-time workers, the temps present a quandary. On the one hand, the
full-time workers may see the temps as Toyota does, a buffer protecting
their jobs. The more low-paid workers there are at the plant, the more
profitable the company will be, and the less likely to resort to layoffs,
suggested David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann
Arbor, Mich. A union might threaten that buffer by demanding that temps be
brought on full-time or dismissed.
"The temps may help keep the union out," Cole said. "It's in the selfish,
vested interest of the full-time workers to keep more temps."
But some Toyota workers do not see it that way. Several full-time employees
said the growing presence of temps at the plant is holding back their wage
gains, while limiting their movement in the plant. Some employees say they
have been stuck working nights because any open day-shift positions are
quickly filled by temps.
"If you break down, they've got a new guy waiting at the door," said
Roberts, who with his wife, another Toyota worker, clears a six-figure
income. "You're creating a tug of war. There's no protection for either
In Georgetown, the divisions can show up in strange, some say demoralizing,
Toyota is famous for the "kaizen" - continuous improvement - checks that
it pays to workers who come up with suggestions that save money. Earlier
this year, Hicks and Chris helped devise a change that cut two jobs from
their small quadrant of the assembly line. The change meant more work for
everyone, but it was more efficient. Toyota rewarded the idea by sending out
$500 checks to every member of the team, every full-time member, that is.
The two temps who came up with the suggestion got nothing. Their group
leader did feel bad. He gave each of them a $25 gift certificate to the
Toyota company store.
Then a full-time worker slipped them both $50.
"You guys got us this money," Chris recalled him saying. "Sorry I can't give
In My Humble Opinion: Musing On A Sunday Afternoon
The Chattanoogan, TN
by Mike North
THE WORLD RESENTS our prosperity, but perhaps it should get the speck out of
its own eye before it tries to jerk the stick out of ours.
[Dream on, Mike. Most of the world doesn't give a flying flick about you, or "us", or US, except when we launch into wars of choice.]
The British take an average of five weeks vacation each year. The Italians and Germans take six weeks. In France, most full time workers take two months off every year.
What about us? The average American worker takes 10 days off each year.
According to one study, Americans give back 415 million unused vacation days
to their employers per annum. So before the world has a fit over our
economic clout, they might want to consider getting out of their hammocks
and doing some work. A little productivity goes a long way.
MONTHS AGO, I was critical of President Bush's immigration reform
proposals. The initiative hasn't even been enacted yet, and the Border
Patrol estimates that the number of illegals captured at the border has
increased by 30%. It seems that a great many Mexicans are under the
impression that some form of amnesty has already been enacted, and they are
rushing in to take advantage. If this is the case before the proposal
becomes law, what's going to happen if it actually passes?
THOSE OF YOU who point to Europe as an example for us to emulate will be
glad to know that the city council of Monza, Italy has banned fishbowls.
Anyone keeping fish must provide a fully equipped aquarium. According to
"The week" magazine, councilman Giampietro Mosca claims, "A fish kept in a
bowl has a distorted view of reality." Sounds to me like the city council of
Monza has a distorted view of reality. Perhaps the citizens should provide a
fully equipped aquarium for the council to live in.
MICHAEL MOORE IS known for his so-called documentaries, most of which are
textbook examples of propaganda. In his films he takes on corporate America,
the rich, conservatives you know, Satan and all his minions. Moore is a
self-proclaimed champion of the "little guy." Unless the little guy happens
to own a small business.
In that case, the little guy is Satan. In an interview with the Arcata, CA
"Arcata Eye," Moore said, "You know in my town the small businesses that
everyone wanted to protect? They were the people that supported all the
right-wing groups. They were the Republicans in the town, they were in the
Kiwanas, the Chamber of Commerce - people that kept the town all white. The
small hardware salesman, the small clothing store salespersons, Jesse the
Barber who signed his name three different times on three different
petitions to recall me from the school board. @$%! all these small
businesses - @$%! 'em all! Bring in the chain [stores]. The small
businesspeople are the rednecks that run the town and suppress the people.
@$%! 'em all. That's how I feel."
Let me see if I can get this straight. Corporations are evil, because they
oppress the little guy - as long as the little guy is a dues-paying, union
member Democrat. If the little guy is a small business owning Republican,
then the corporation that drives them out of business is doing us all a
In another example of love and tolerance, Democratic strategist Stanley
Greenberg released a memo updating Democrat candidates on polling data. The
memo addressed the loyalty of the Bush base of support. Greenberg's memo
split the Bush base into several demographic categories. No big deal right?
Data is usually dissected demographically.
But most pollsters and strategists don't refer to their population segments
as "The Faithful," "Country Folk," "White Deep South," " - - - - - Boys," and
" - - - - - Old Men." Most pollsters would refer to these groups by such tags
as "White Evangelicals" or "White non-college Male Seniors." Seems like
name-calling is taboo these days, unless you happen to be making fun of
whites, males, Christians, or any combination of the three.
While everyone is harping on the Enrons of the world, you might want to
peek at some of the labor unions. Pat Tornillo, former president of the
United Teachers of Dade, used his business card to charge $4,000 worth of
jewelry. According to Reader's Digest, he was buying custom tailored suits,
flying to India, Bangkok and Australia, and visiting expensive spas.
Another teacher's union head, Barbara Bullock, is reported to have
embezzled 2.5 million dollars from the Washington, D.C. union she oversaw.
In just three months, the Labor Dept. took enforcement action against
34 union officials and employees. In 2003 the total number of criminal
enforcement actions was 143.
One-third of labor unions file their financial reports late, or not at all.
In addition, most of these are never audited. I'm all for busting
white-collar criminals. But not all white-collar criminals work for
corporations. Some of those criminals might be representing the employees.
Mike North writes a regular op-ed column for six newspapers in the
southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama region. He is a
professional land surveyor with True Line Company, Land Surveyors. He is a
former Walker County School Board member and a student of history and
political science. He can be reached at Mike@myhumbleopinion.net
Chairman facing eager challenger - Political newcomer has campaigned hard with red signs countywide
Charlotte Observer, NC
Commissioners Chairman Joe Carpenter says his experience and community
involvement will help him beat Democratic challenger Blake McLean, a
30-year-old auctioneer from Bessemer City.
McLean, on the other hand, says his youth and what he calls voters'
dissatisfaction with Carpenter will help him win the race for the Crowders
Mountain Township seat on the Gaston Board of County Commissioners.
Carpenter, a retired landscaping contractor, says he wants to continue the
progress he's made on the board.
Among the accomplishments he touts: approving an agreement with Mount Holly
to get water and sewer lines to East Gaston High, supporting the Gaston 2012
economic development plan and getting the county on a more solid financial
He says he's helping improve the county's finances by decreasing spending
and holding down the county's tax rate during his last four years on the
In 2001, commissioners raised the property tax rate 11% to meet
operating expenses. Carpenter said that increase would have been even higher
if commissioners hadn't cut expenses. The following year, the board kept the
tax rate flat but forced county employees to take days off without pay.
Then in 2003, commissioners dropped the tax rate 2.5 cents to 89.3 cents per
$100 valuation, but many taxpayers paid higher taxes because of a property
And this year, Carpenter and commissioner Donnie Loftis persuaded the board
to keep the tax rate the same, vowing to set aside any additional revenue
for future capital projects to bolster economic development. The county now
expects a $5.1 million surplus, in part because sales-tax revenue was higher
"I had to deal with the hand I was dealt. I think my record is good," said
Along with political experience and community involvement, Carpenter says
he's supported by business leaders and others in the community.
"But if it's a battle of putting signs out, he wins," Carpenter said,
referring to McLean's red-and-white campaign signs that have sprung up in
most every township.
McLean said he knows he's going to have to fight a tough battle to win in a
county that has primarily elected Republicans in recent years. The
seven-member Board of Commissioners is all Republican.
"But I have heard lots of people disgusted with Joe," McLean said. "If
(Democratic state Sen.) David Hoyle can get elected, so can I."
McLean says Carpenter's history of raising taxes has upset him and other
voters. He first decided to run for office in 1998 after feeling
commissioners wouldn't help him resolve a problem with county building
inspectors. He said he would listen to his constituents.
"When a problem comes to a county commissioner it's his responsibility to
take care of it," he said.
Like Carpenter, McLean says it's important for the county to build
infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines, to encourage development and
bring jobs to the county by working with the Economic Development Commission
and lowering the tax rate.
But McLean doesn't support Gaston County's half-cent sales tax referendum
because he says residents can't afford any more taxes.
"The county is starving the community," he said.
[And the state is starving the county, and the federal government is starving the state, and Bush's taxcuts for the rich and war of choice are starving the federal government.]
German, French Reports May Signal Slowing Growth, Surveys Show
Bloomberg, United States
German investor confidence probably fell this month
and French industrial production may have slowed in August, suggesting
record oil prices are crimping growth in the 12 nations sharing the euro,
surveys of economists showed.
In Germany, an index of investor and analyst sentiment compiled by the ZEW
Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim may have declined to 35.5,
a 16-month low, from 38.4 in September, according to the median of 24
forecasts gathered by Bloomberg. French output probably rose 0.1%
from July, the slowest pace in four months, the median of 18 forecasts
"The effect of the oil shock is real for the euro zone,'' said Laure
Maillard, an economist at CDC Ixis Capital Markets in Paris. "Given the
renewed increase in oil prices, worries about U.S. growth and the
deterioration in the German labor market, a drop in the ZEW index will
probably confirm the slowdown.''
The manufacturing and service industries in the euro region slowed in
September and retail sales declined as unemployment held at a five-year high
of 9% in August, reports last week showed. European Central Bank
President Jean-Claude Trichet said on Oct. 7 the 60% gain in oil
costs this year makes the growth outlook subject to a "good deal of
ZEW will publish its report on investor confidence tomorrow at 11 a.m. Thereport on French production will be released by Paris-based statistics
office Insee at 8:50 a.m. local time.
The European Central Bank held its benchmark lending rate at a six-decade
low of 2% Oct. 7 amid signs that oil prices above $50 a barrel and
rising unemployment are tempering growth. Trichet speaks at a conference in
Amsterdam tomorrow at 5 p.m. and the ECB publishes its monthly report for
October on Oct. 14.
Central bankers "are currently more concerned about the outlook for
activity'' than inflation, said James Nixon, an economist at Barclays
Capital in London. "That's in the forefront of their minds.''
The pace of growth in the euro region slowed to a quarterly 0.5% in
April-June from 0.6% in the previous quarter. The region's recovery
remains "relatively timid,'' as slowing global demand weighs on exports and
consumer demand shows few signs of a rebound, the Brussels-based European
Commission said in its quarterly economic report on Oct. 5.
Investors have pared bets that the ECB will raise rates before March 2005.
The yield on three-month Euribor interest future contracts for March
settlement was 2.31% on Oct. 8, compared with a 2.49% yield on
The Euribor contracts settle to the three-month euro- area inter-bank
offered rate for the euro, which has averaged 15 basis points more than the
ECB's key rate since the currency's start in 1999. The Euribor three-month
money market rate was 2.15%.
"We expect the ECB to remain on hold in the next 12 months because of the
economic slowdown,'' said Maillard at CDC Ixis.
In Italy, the third-biggest economy using the euro, industrial production
probably rose 0.1% in August, the median of 25 estimates in a
Bloomberg survey showed, after increasing 0.4% in July. The report
will be released by the Rome-based government statistics office Wednesday.
"Rising oil prices definitely are a key factor in the world recovery,''
Italian Finance Minister Domenico Siniscalco said in Rome on Oct. 7. "In
our country there's great concern it could reduce the buying power'' of
Italian growth slowed in the second quarter as household spending declined,
making the country the worst performer among the Group of Seven industrial
The euro region is lagging behind the U.S. and Asia. The IMF said on Sept.
29 that the U.S. will expand 3.5% next year after this year's 4.3%
growth and Japan will grow 2.3% after 4.4%. The 12
nations sharing the euro will expand by 2.2% this year and next, the
Higher oil prices are curbing profit at companies including PSA Peugeot
Citroen, Europe's second-biggest carmaker. The Paris- based company expects
rising commodity prices, including steel, to cut operating profit by about
80 million euros for the year, Chief Executive Jean-Martin Folz said last
month at the Paris car show. Peugeot has total operating profit forecast of
2.2 billion euros.
The increase in gasoline costs also reduces the chances of a rebound in
consumer spending, which has already been crimped by rising unemployment.
The pace of growth in household demand, the slowest pace in the economy,
halved in the second quarter.
In Germany, companies such as Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest carmaker, and
KarstadtQuelle AG, its largest department store operator, are threatening to
cut jobs unless workers accept smaller pay increases and longer working
German industrial production dropped 1% in August from July, the
Economics and Labor Ministry said on Oct. 8, the seventh report in the past
week to suggest the pace of growth is slowing. The nation's unemployment
rate rose to 10.7% in September, the highest since February 1999.
Germany's DIW economic institute on Oct. 8 lowered its forecast for growth
in the third quarter to 0.3% from a September prediction of 0.4%
as demand for exports slowed.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Francois de Beaupuy in Paris firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Heather Harris at email@example.com
Chris Kirkham at firstname.lastname@example.org
Establishing healthy business climate is the difficult part
Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc. via MaineToday.com, United States
With the election weeks away, many business lobbies like to assess
legislators' contributions to the "business climate," a phrase that's been
bandied about so long that we forget its metaphorical status. The conditions
under which business thrives cannot be measured in the precise ways we
measure barometric pressure. There is more than one way to promote business
prosperity. But thriving businesses, important as they are, constitute only
one social value. Scorecard-watching without attention to these broad,
albeit always disputable, matters can be harmful to our health.
The Maine Economic Research Institute (MERI), an arm of the Maine Chamber
of Commerce, recently gave my state representative, Ted Koffman, a 20%
rating, an "F" even in an era of grade inflation. I know Ted from
his efforts to foster collaborative endeavors between business and
environmental groups for sustainable development in Maine. Some business
leaders in Bar Harbor, lifelong Republicans, share my respect for him.
Scorecards are no better than the assumptions on which they are built. I
could provide a long methodological critique of MERI's effort. Suffice it to
say its authors assume that any regulation costly to Maine businesses ipso
facto creates a bad business climate.
Rep. Koffman was docked because he supported LD 1309, a law banning the
sale of arsenic-treated wood in Maine. The arsenic in pressure-treated wood
can leach out into wells and rubs off when touched, posing health threats to
children and workers. The bill imposed little, if any, cost on those few
Maine lumber yards that carried this material. And a safer form of
pressure-treated wood was already in the marketplace. The bill ultimately
reduced risks to people and liabilities to businesses, especially tourism
and outdoor-recreation interests that depend on Maine's reputation for safe
water and clean air, all of which affect the bottom line.
Scorecards like MERI's are replicated by other business lobbies. Many
assume that lax regulations, cheap, non-union labor, and low taxes
constitute the key to big profits and eventual prosperity for everyone. When
the state's economic success depended heavily on exporting raw commodities,
that strategy may have made some short-term sense. But as Maine hopes to
prosper through more knowledge-based industry and tourism, the case against
fouling our own nest becomes ever stronger.
MEANS TO AN END
A recent study by Charles Lawton and Frank O'Hara for the Maine Center for
Economic Policy illuminates the complexity of even such seemingly
straightforward issues as business taxation. They provide no easy comfort to
either the right or the left. Business cares about tax levels, but often
these concerns are subordinate to the quality of municipal and state
services. There is a positive correlation between investment in highways,
safety, education, and economic development, but the relationship is not
always present. Quality of life counts, but the authors are careful to point
out just how elusive this concept is.
Economic growth is not an end in itself but a means to a higher quality of
life. Some environmental economists, inspired by Herman Daly's seminal book
"For the Common Good," have argued that conventional economic measures like
gross domestic product are inadequate. Economies that produce lots of
houses, malls, cars and boats can also produce traffic and asthma. These
economists argue that working hours, the incidence of crime, air and water
quality, and the degree of social and economic equality are also key
indicators of real economic development.
Taxes, higher wage standards and more state expenditure on education and
sustainable transportation could all work to foster a business climate. But
these need to be integrated in sensible and widely monitored strategies.
Today, the tourist family that spends $25 at McDonald's in Ellsworth has
sent most of that money to out-of-state ranchers, chemical companies and
advertisers. In a piece earlier this year for the Maine Sunday Telegram,
Lawton reminded us that "Maine households spend more than $3 billion on food
products every year, but less than 4% of that total comes from Maine
farms. Maine is not likely to supply the local supermarket with coffee,
kiwis and mangoes any time soon, but $2.9 billion still leaves quite an
untapped market." Maine has growing and increasingly diverse local organic
food markets, but there is far more that can be done to foster it. Recent
robust growth in organic milk production is an example of how we can meet
consumer demand through Maine agriculture.
FOCUSING ON OUR WORKERS
Steering more of the dollars Maine residents and tourists spend on food and
other amenities to local producers benefits the state and its businesses.
But simply cutting taxes and looking for cheap labor won't accomplish this
end. Bowdoin College economist David Vail has long been interested in
sustainable business development. He points out that Maine could reap
benefits from efforts like those in Minnesota. That state's tourism center
provides customized training for festival directors, survey research, advice
on designs for new facilities, and promotion of farm-based tourism.
Iowa State University also assists communities in marketing regional crafts
and foods and emphasizes local history. Here in Maine, culinary arts
students in some vocational programs are given instruction in local produce,
nutrition, the role of different foods in different cultures, and broad
business and marketing plans. It is not too much of a leap to imagine such
students - even working as wait staff - engaging customers in discussions of
nutrition and local produce and thereby enhancing the value of the tourist
experience and the return both to their immediate employer and to other
Maine businesses. But when minimum wage standards are low and communities
spend little on employee training, most businesses have little incentive and
too few opportunities to hire quality workers.
Some industry spokespersons have already responded in all too predictable
ways to the study's recommendations. One business lobbyist quipped, "I have
yet to see fulfilled the promise that an industry can be improved by
increasing the taxes that it pays." Yet the rise of the very industry that
makes mass tourism possible disproves this "common sense" maxim. The growth
of the modern auto industry would have been inconceivable apart from the
tax-and-spend policies of the highway trust fund. In addition, unionization
- and higher wages - among auto, steel, aluminum and rubber workers fostered
improved technology, better efficiency, and more secure, productive and
knowledgeable workers. And for many workers, higher wages also translated
into more demand for the product.
No scorecard is ever likely to silence all doubters. The best are the ones
that admit they are based on debatable assumptions and put these out for
public scrutiny. The value of an economic development strategy that
recognizes the skills of the work force and that provides people with the
opportunity to choose leisure over more goods is hard to prove definitively.
Nonetheless, for my money that is the kind of business climate worth
John Buell of Southwest Harbor is a free-lance writer who focuses primarily
on labor and environmental issues. He's the author of "Closing the Book on
Homework," published by Temple University Press.
Union for sex-trade workers?
Edmonton Sun, Canada
[A bit late. We've already got The Coyotes.]
Shorter hours. Higher pay. Condoms that never break. A pitch to start
unionizing Canada's hookers, strippers and massage parlour geishas is
getting a cool reception from women in and around the city's sex trade.
Recently, sex-trade workers in Toronto and Montreal announced the creation
of a new job collective with the very un-sexy title of the Canadian Guild
for Erotic Labour.
The guild isn't a full union, but was conceived to push for workplace
reforms in the sex trade. Nice idea, says one local escort - but don't
expect to see escorts lining up to join.
"Anybody who comes around to the escort agencies talking union is gonna end
up a Jimmy Hoffa under three feet of concrete," said Carol-Lynn Strachan,
independent escort. "How could you make it work? How do you stop the owner
from punishing the girls who organize for a union?"
Strachan agrees escorts are routinely victimized by their agency employers.
JoAnn McCartney, an ex-vice cop with city police who now runs a court
diversion program for prostitutes, says she researched the industry's fine
schedule when she busted several local agencies in the late 1990s.
"An escort can be fined $100 by her employer for not picking up the phone
on the first ring," she said. "They can be fined for chatting with another
escort while in the limo. An escort can get fined every time she turns
"It's sheer exploitation. Maybe a union could help protect them from
getting ripped off by the agencies."
But no guild or union could take in streetwalkers, said McCartney, since
the dangerous lives of street prostitutes would create liability headaches.
"The minute some john got sick from an HIV-positive hooker, he'd be suing
One independent massage parlour worker said a guild would have a hard time
getting organized in Edmonton - or in any other city where biker gangs
control much of the trade.
"You'd be asking for a war," said Tanya. "Who wants to get in the middle of
As for strippers, the manager of one peeler bar says he doubts a union or
guild could ever negotiate a scale of pay or benefits.
"The girls get paid on the basis of the shows they do, and what the
customers like," said Michael Kolody of Diamonds, 4635 Gateway Boulevard.
"We sure don't base it on seniority."
DM Views: Growing Global Mail: Opportunities and Obstacles
By: Michael J. Critelli, Pitney Bowes Inc. via DM News, NY
Quick, rank the world's most dynamic industries, with market presence,
growth potential in core offerings and new products and services and the
infrastructure to accommodate new growth.
Did you list the global mailing industry? If not, you're overlooking a
sector wherein market dynamics, new technologies and regulatory change are
poised to reinvigorate the value of mail and related services.
The industry's image lags reality. Mail is viewed as a dying communications
medium used by a remaining few "unwired" individuals. That unreconstructed
view of mail is just plain wrong. In the United States alone, the mailing
industry generates $900 billion in revenue, drives more than 8% of
the GDP and accounts for more than 9 million jobs.
But it is the new value of mail and related services - more tailored and
personalized, more secure, more competitively priced and more flexible -
that is the breaking news in this industry's future. In the world of TiVo,
the national no-call registry and an unending avalanche of electronic spam,
mail's non-intrusive, highly personalized, traceable reach gives marketers
reason to reconsider mail as the key to unlocking the fortunes of one-to-one
Technology associated with customer-oriented mail continues to improve.
Printing costs are falling. Quality and prices are improving in data mining
technology. Data-rich, readable symbology on letters is enabling delivery
applications, like the U.S. Postal Service's Confirm, to track mail from
origination to delivery. Over time, tracking and tracing will offer
marketers "date certain" delivery options, enabling unprecedented precision
in direct mail campaigns.The mailing industry has innumerable unexploited opportunities to help
businesses. The biggest competitive advantage every postal operator has is
its universal network of carriers who deliver to millions of homes daily.
Among the hottest new growth services in the delivery market is home-to-home
shipment of packages resulting from online auctions by providers like eBay
and Amazon.com, an industry opportunity that did not exist until recently.
What's the catch? To capitalize on these innovations, postal operators must
focus on the growth potential in their core offerings while working with
regulators to achieve greater flexibility in the pricing and modeling of new
products and services. Companies like Wal-Mart, Intel and Dell Computer have
revolutionized retail thinking with continually declining prices. Regulators
must give postal operators the flexibility to offer similar, promotional
rates to new businesses and for new products and services.
There are an infinite variety of delivery options for which some recipients
will pay a premium price. Conceptually, letter carriers could provide
delivery and pickup service for other items such as video rentals or
pharmaceuticals. The key is always to innovate, to find ways to reduce costs
in the network and to unlock additional economic value for the recipient.
Posts also must encourage and expand work sharing as a core business
strategy. As stakeholders for a growing mailing industry worldwide, we need
to be vocal advocates for eliminating practices that drain resources from
postal operators and detract from their core mission. Postal operators need
to work with their governments to develop strategies that enable ongoing
value delivery and cost reduction.
Governments and postal operators need to recognize that a vibrant mailing
industry will generate far more jobs, both in the public and private
sectors. In the United States, the mailing industry has more than 10 times
the number of employees outside the USPS than within it.
Finally, the industry must reconcile disparate international rules that
govern mailing technology and operations. Postal operators are protective of
their particular standards and processes, but individual, uncoordinated
actions make the industry smaller and less competitive than it could be.
Each of these changes is eminently achievable. The value that each change
would unleash will mark the beginning of a dynamic period of growth for the
global mailing industry.
Michael J. Critelli is chairman/CEO of Pitney Bowes Inc. (www.pb.com).
Business Books/BIZBOOKS1011 - "What I Learned From Sam Walton: How to Compete and Thrive in a Wal-Mart World," by Michael Bergdahl, John Wiley & Sons Inc., $24.95
Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN
Retail warriors will find this book by a former Wal-Mart insider revealing,
At the nation's No. 1 company by sales, executives prefer the term "share
of wallet" to the more traditional business measure "market share." Such
vocabulary evokes a determined mind-set.
Senior Wal-Mart managers at the Bentonville, Ark., headquarters usually find
themselves at the office on Saturday mornings for the legendary 7 a.m.
strategy sessions - a routine established by founder Sam Walton, who used
to let loose his hunting dogs in the office just to keep things interesting.
"While 99% of the other corporate offices in America are closed down
for the weekend, Wal-Mart's competitive strategies are discussed and
implemented at its Saturday morning meetings," writes Michael Bergdahl.
"Unless competitors are willing to go to a six-day work week ... I don't
know how they can even think about competing directly."
The formula for Wal-Mart's success, he concludes, is easy to describe but
difficult to implement. My conclusion: It might be a nice place to shop, but
I wouldn't want to work there.
Green Party hopeful presents unconventional vision - David Cobb speaks at LSU
The Advocate, LA
By DEBRA LEMOINE email@example.com
David Cobb told an audience at LSU Sunday that he expects to win the
presidential race for the Green Party.
Unlike President George W. Bush and Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry, Cobb
views victory in a rather unconventional way: not by occupying the White
Cobb, a 41-year-old attorney and Green Party organizer, promotes an
unconventional vision of an anti-corporate and environmental-friendly
platform that calls for a complete overhaul of the U.S. political system.
His success, he said, is based on convincing people who agree with him to
register and vote for the Green Party instead of selecting the lesser "evil"
candidate of the two main political parties.
"We the people are far more powerful than we realize if we only act
collectively," said Cobb, a Texas native who now lives in northern
Cobb talked to 20 people who came to LSU's Allen Hall on Sunday night
specifically to listen to his ideas in a forum sponsored by the Green Party
Bristling at the idea that the Green Party is a "spoiler" for a potential
Democratic victory, Cobb said alternative parties give more voters a voice.
"In 2000, I think Al Gore won the presidential election. I think Bush stole
the election," he said, referring to voters being turned away at Florida
polls and the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention that ultimately ended in a
Voters cast more votes in favor of Gore, but Bush won majorities in enough
states to garner more Electoral College votes.
In this election, Cobb said, re-electing Bush is worse than electing Kerry.
The Green Party strategy to promote its platform without aiding Bush is to
focus on those states that party officials believe Kerry can't win, like
"If you vote for John Kerry because you're trying to get Bush out of the
White House, you are wasting your vote in Louisiana," he said.
Bush will win Louisiana's nine Electoral College votes, which will render
Kerry votes meaningless, he said.
"Instead, be willing to participate in the only political party willing to
advocate for change," Cobb urged.
Cobb likens "voting Green" to the progressive political movements that led
to reforms such as the end of slavery, women's right to vote and the 40-hour
work week. Third-party candidates promoted such causes in past elections and
managed to gain popular support for them, Cobb said.
The Green Party promotes cleaning up the environment and controlling
corporate practices that they believe will destroy the planet.
Cobb said passing a few environmentally friendly laws and winning a few
court cases are not enough. Instead, Cobb said, there needs to be an entire
overhaul of the legal system that he said gives too many rights to
Cobb said the election system also needs to change to give more voters a
voice. Besides abolishing the electoral college, Cobb supports the idea of
proportional representation, such as electing candidates to governmental
houses based on the percentage of registered voters to each party.
He also promotes instant-runoffs, where voters rank candidates. The
candidates garnering the least first-choice votes would be dropped and other
candidates selected as a second-choice would receive those votes. The
process would continue until there is a candidate who receives a majority of
On foreign policy, Cobb supports U.S. forces turning over Iraq to United
Nations peacekeepers. If he were elected president, he said, his first
action would be to offer the Iraqis an official apology for the war, rescind
corporate contracts for rebuilding the country, and ask the U.N. to direct
all peacekeeping efforts.
When asked, he said if he had been president during the Sept. 11 attacks,
he would have allowed Afghanistan to extradite the attack's mastermind Osama
bin Laden to an international tribunal instead of insisting the U.S. courts
Cobb also supports other "progressive" standards, such as raising the
minimum wage and ending trade agreements like the North American Free Trade
Teachers question spending of pension fund 'perks'
AP via Dayton Daily News, OH
CLEVELAND - Retired Ohio teachers who are paying more for health care
believe their pension fund is spending too much on employee perks at their
The State Teachers Retirement System has spent more than $2 million in
tuition reimbursements to its employees since 1999, double what Ohio's four
other pension systems have spent combined.
Retired Chillicothe schools Superintendent Dennis Leone, a critic of the
STRS, said the disparity is further evidence that the pension fund's
administrators "don't have a lick of sense."
Damon Asbury, STRS executive director, said he and the board have gone to
great lengths to withdraw or reduce some of the employee benefits. But he
defended the tuition reimbursement policy, noting that employees must take
courses to improve or acquire skills necessary to perform their jobs.
Asbury also disputed the contentions of some retirees that STRS employees
have seen no increase in their health care premiums in recent years.
"Our associates have stepped up and increased their premium costs," he said.
"They went from paying essentially nothing to almost 20% of the
Leone and Tom Curtis, a retired industrial-technology teacher from Canton,
chafe at other benefits STRS provides to employees, including a 37?-hour
workweek, a stipend of up to $5,000 a year for each child they adopt and
subsidized child care.
STRS previously paid about $500,000 a year to defray employees' child-care
costs. After retirees complained, administrators cut that benefit to about
$190,000, which the 56 employees who use the onsite child-care facility are
"repaying" by giving up two vacation days and working two hours a week of
Asbury said STRS began offering the adoption subsidy in 1997 at the request
of the late Dave Thomas, an adoptee who later founded the Wendy's hamburger
chain. STRS spokeswoman Laura Ecklar said four employees have received a
total of $16,073 in adoption payments since then.
As for the 37?-hour work week, Asbury said it's a practice that goes back
many years. He said it will be examined in an audit to be completed early
Voters will decide if business must cover it - Employers would be forced to pay for healthcare
Ventura County Star, CA
By Timm Herdt, therdt@VenturaCountyStar.com
When Spencer Garrett, general partner of the Pierpont Racquet Club in
Ventura, decided several years ago to purchase the historic Pierpont Inn
next door to the tennis club, he made a difficult business decision.
"With the club, we had a nice, profitable business and felt that providing
health coverage to our employees was something we could afford. We applied
that model to the inn," he said. "We said that's going to be company policy,
but it put us behind the 8 ball with that expense."
Garrett has stuck with the policy, which he says makes the Pierpont "the
exception, not the rule" among restaurants and small hotels. But the expense
keeps climbing, up about $75 per month per worker over the last few years,
with total monthly premiums now close to $8,000.
Although it has been hugely expensive, Garrett said, the decision to offer
health benefits was the right thing for his business. He's not sure it's the
right call for every business, however, or if it's something the government
"If the law insisted on it, you might not be able to get started with a
business," he said. "You may look at that and say, 'The cost of my business
just increased by $6,000 or $7,000 a month. That's my profit. It may be
better to go to work for some big company and have somebody else pay my
In a nutshell, that is the issue posed by Proposition 72. Health insurance
is prohibitively expensive, at $9,950 a year for a family of four and rising
fast. According to a 2004 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, it is beyond the
reach of most household budgets. If families can't afford it, who will be
the "somebody else" to pay?
An American tradition
Employer-based health coverage is the linchpin of the American healthcare
system. Of the adults in California not old enough to qualify for Medicare,
two-thirds who have health insurance obtain it through their employers,
according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
On Nov. 2, Californians will answer a fundamental question about
employer-based healthcare: Should it become a basic right of workers, akin
to the minimum wage or the 40-hour work week?
Proposition 72 on the Nov. 2 ballot would mandate all employers with 200 or
more workers offer health coverage to workers and their dependents by Jan.
1, 2006, and all those with 50 or more workers offer coverage to at least
some employees a year later. The plan would have to offer basic coverage and
be available to all who work at least 100 hours a month. Employers would be
required to pay at least 80% of the premiums.
If a company chose not to directly provide the coverage, it could pay a fee
to the state to support a health insurance purchasing program that would
make policies available to its uninsured workers.
A law requiring that was passed by the Legislature and signed by former
Gov. Gray Davis last year, but business groups led by the California
Restaurant Association initiated a petition drive to overturn the law by
referendum. A yes vote on Proposition 72 would affirm the law; a no vote
would overturn it. If it is affirmed, California would become the first
state in the nation to mandate that midsized and large employers offer
health coverage to workers.
The business groups argue the law would stifle investment, force marginal
operations out of business and eliminate jobs. Proponents say those concerns
are overstated, because 94% of all businesses in California - those
small businesses with fewer than 50 employees - would be exempt.
Proponents frame the issue like this: The number of people in California
without health insurance has become a crisis. Something must be done to
address it. If not this, then what?
There are an estimated 6.3 million people in California without health
insurance. Not only does this lead to needless suffering and premature
deaths, proponents say, but it also shifts costs because when the uninsured
do require urgent medical care someone else has to foot the bill -
taxpayers through public health programs, hospitals and doctors through
providing services for which they are never paid.
When it comes to addressing the problems of the uninsured, society's
options are few, said Maricela Morales, associate executive director of the
Ventura-based Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy. "Either we
expand government-based insurance or we expand employer-based insurance,"
she said. "It's really that limited."
Surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading national health policy
research group, have found that 73% of Americans prefer
employer-based private insurance to government-run healthcare.
Yet Kaiser's annual surveys of employers show that fewer employers are
offering health benefits - 63% this year, down from 68% three
years ago - and the cost of providing such benefits is rising dramatically.
The 2004 survey found an 11.2% increase in premiums from a year ago,
which followed a 13.9% increase the year before.
The year-to-year drop in the percentage of employers that offer health
coverage has been too small to make specific conclusions, said foundation
vice president Gary Claxton, but the effect over time "looks like a steady
decline. When we look at the difference between the high point and where it
is now, we can say it has gone down."
Change in business
Claxton said it appears fewer employers are offering coverage because of "a
combination of rising costs and a poor economy." The drop is almost entirely
among businesses with fewer than 200 workers. He said it is not mostly a
case of companies that once offered benefits deciding to eliminate them, but
rather a change in employment patterns - manufacturing businesses closing,
replaced in the economy by service businesses that do not offer coverage.
Donna Gerber, director of government relations for the California Nurses
Association, said Proposition 72 is needed to set a floor for employer-based
health insurance, much like the minimum wage sets a floor for wages.
"We want to make sure that all access to healthcare isn't stripped away,"
Gerber said. "The future is clear: Middle-class families are going to see
their healthcare reduced or taken away."
In addition to the nurses association, Proposition 72 is supported by the
California Medical Association and the California Healthcare Association -
the groups that represent doctors and hospitals, respectively.
Morales said the need for Proposition 72 is to address the shift in
employment patterns before too many more low-wage workers are left to fend
for healthcare on their own.
"It will affect large companies that pay low wages and do not provide
insurance," she said. "A low-wage industry and the lack of health benefits;
the two go hand-in-hand."
The lack of health insurance is particularly acute among Latino workers,
who are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage industries. The UCLA
Center for Health Policy Research has found that although Latinos make up
26.5% of the California work force, they account for 59.1% of
workers without health insurance.
Opposition to the measure comes chiefly from the restaurant and retail
Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association, asserts
that "20% of our membership goes out of business the first day this
law takes effect."
The industry operates on very low profit margins, he said, and the added
cost of paying health insurance premiums would in many cases be the
difference between profitability and bankruptcy. The association has thus
far contributed $1.4 million to the campaign to defeat Proposition 72. Says
Condie: "We can't afford not to fight."
Proponents acknowledge the cost of doing business for restaurants that
don't now offer health benefits would rise. They argue it would be a fairer
to raise the price of a hamburger a few cents to pay for healthcare than to
continue to place the burden of caring for restaurant workers when they get
sick on taxpayers.
Said Beth Capell of the healthcare advocacy group Health Access: "People
aren't going to drive to Nevada to buy a hamburger. ... Taxpayers can no
longer carry the burden. The systems that the uninsured rely on are
collapsing because they're underfunded."
Alan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said the
competitiveness issue cannot be so glibly dismissed. While restaurants might
not directly compete with out-of-state restaurants, he said, other low-wage
industries do. The retail industry has to compete with Internet-based
retailers. The agricultural industry must compete in a global marketplace.
"California would be the only state in the country to have a health
insurance tax or a healthcare mandate," he said. "It would put us at a
horrible competitive disadvantage."
Business groups argue that although Proposition 72 is designed to address
the problem of the uninsured it would do an incomplete job. The UCLA center
estimates when fully implemented the health insurance mandate would reduce
the ranks of the uninsured by about 1 million.
"It simply takes a broken system and perpetuates it," said Bill Dombrowski,
president of the California Retailers Association. "It doesn't address the
problem of the uninsured in any efficient manner."
Dombrowski said the Proposition 72 campaign has had the beneficial effect
of causing "a discussion about the problem." Zaremberg said the state's
business community "is sensitive to the problem and certainly wants to solve
Although the group's campaign to defeat Proposition 72 zeroes in on the
proposed state purchasing pool and attempts to capitalize on public fears
about government-run healthcare, when Zaremberg is asked to name an approach
that has helped the problem of the uninsured, he cites a government-run
program - Healthy Families. That program provides coverage to children of
What makes Healthy Families a good government-run program and the
purchasing pool plan proposed by Proposition 72 a bad one, Zaremberg said,
is that all taxpayers pay for Healthy Families while just employers would
pick up the tab for a health insurance mandate in the workplace.
Regardless of the outcome on Proposition 72, said Morales of the Ventura
County advocacy group, employers will soon be forced into joining the
dialogue about a single-payer, government-run healthcare system. One such
plan has been proposed in the Legislature by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa
She notes that on the national level the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has
joined a diverse coalition to look for ways to address the problem of
millions of working-class Americans who have no health insurance.
"We either work within the employer-based system or employers are going to
have to participate in what they would probably call bigger government," she
10/07/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/06 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 which is from 10/07 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 10/07), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- [This article indicates that some of Juliet Schor's and John de Graaf's messages are succeeding in finding their targets -]
Rising college costs squeeze students - and graduates
guest commentary by Devin Nordberg
Denver Post, CO
BOULDER, Colo. - ...Affordability of state colleges and universities \is falling in all\ our 50 states, based on...a study recently released by the National Center for Public Policy & Higher Education (http://measuringup.highereducation.org). You don't have to explain the difficulty of financing a college education to today's college students; most are painfully aware of it. Consider this:
The prohibitive cost of higher education mocks the idea of America as a land of opportunity, especially since a college degree determines one's income more than ever. According to the Economic Policy Institute,
Average student debt upon graduation has more than doubled in the last eight years, to more than $17,000.
In 1970, 80% of government aid to students was provided in grants, and 20% in loans. By 1995, it was the reverse: 20% in grants and 80% in loans.
For access to higher education, wealth is surpassing academic merit as a
determining factor. Low-performing students from wealthy families attend
college at the same rate as high-performing students from poor families.
With tuition at major universities rising another 9% this year, these situations are worsening rapidly.
With healthcare costs skyrocketing and employee benefits declining, the
situation is even worse than wage statistics indicate.
- average wages for people with no college education have declined by about 20% since 1973.
- Wages for those with four-year degrees have held steady, and
- only those with graduate degrees now have higher average wages.
As livelihoods hinge on more expensive education, even those students who
manage to attend college are suffering destructive consequences as
increasing debt loads limit their freedom. When you're steeped in debt, you
face powerful pressure to seek high-wage work. Many people who would like to
work in social service or non-profit sectors find that their debt
obligations effectively remove those choices.
With $16,000 in debt after graduation, I have given up pursuing environmental work because it doesn't pay enough to make both my housing and student loan payments. Many non-profits are suffering from this phenomenon. Meanwhile, corporations gain power when more people depend on maximizing income just to meet their debts.
Partly due to increased debt, Americans work an average of 200 hours per year more now than they did in 1970. With so much less free time, community engagement and parenting time suffers. Even health suffers as overworked parents cook less and eat more fast food.
America likes to pride itself on being an innovative culture, but people
who can't afford to miss a paycheck are unlikely to become entrepreneurs or
inventors. Funding higher education as poorly as we do today is
short-sighted and ultimately will lessen prosperity for us all.
Sadly, with college students working more hours than ever during their school years to try to avoid or reduce debt, their energy and idealism are
sapped. Many of my students are too sleep-deprived to do much beyond work and school.
In the 1990s, some baby boomers embraced "voluntary simplicity." By opting
to earn less money, they could turn to work that was more personally
fulfilling, and they could work fewer hours, allowing them to volunteer
more, spend more time with their families, and live healthier lifestyles.
Alas, these options are open only to those without substantial debt.
We need to enable motivated people of modest means to attend college, not
just to be a kinder nation, but to invest in our collective future. If we
want all citizens to enjoy the opportunity to improve themselves and our
society through higher education, then we should think of education as a
social investment, not merely an individual one, and start funding it
Devin Nordberg is an academic adviser at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Topic: All work and no play makes Jack an entrepreneur
CNW Telbec (Communiqués de presse), Canada
TORONTO, Ont. - Nine-in-ten small business owners agree that independence and control over their decisions is the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur. This was the key benefit of entrepreneurship identified by business owners across all sectors and sizes of firms in a recent study released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
"Even though 92% of entrepreneurs also find running a business stressful, the benefits of being their own boss still measures very high," said Catherine Swift, president and CEO of CFIB.... "Operating your own business requires a serious and sustained amount of time and effort," she noted..\..
Swift said, in addition to dealing with the work/family balance issues of their employees, the study also found that small business enterprise [SBE] owners have
significant issues of their own.
The self-employed with no employees, are more likely to be at both ends of the scale:
- 17% of business owners work 40 or fewer hours per week.
- 58% of SME owners work between 41 and 59 hours a week;
- while 25% work 60 hours or more per week.
Vacation time is another area where small business owners seem to push themselves for the sake of their businesses.
- to work fewer than 39 hours, or
- to put in over 60 hours per week....
"However, in spite of the long hours and the reduction in the amount of
personal time, entrepreneurs value their ability to decide their own futures
and take great pride in the ownership of their businesses." said Swift.
- Close to 16% of business owners have not taken a one-week vacation within the last three
- Another 18% have taken a one-week vacation only once;
- while about the same proportion have taken such a vacation twice within the last three years.
- Less than half of business owners, 46%, have taken a one-week vacation more than twice in the last three years.
- Owners in Quebec, followed by those in Ontario, are the most likely to have taken vacation more than twice, while owners in the Maritime region are the least likely.
- Only one-in-five owners, 19.2%, find that they are able to spend more quality time with their family and friends since owning their business, but half of business owners say they enjoy a better quality of life since
owning a business.
- A higher percentage of business owners in Alberta and
- Ontario believe they now have a better quality of life,
- while Quebec owners are the least likely to believe so.
The Work & Family survey was conducted by CFIB between December 2003
and February 2004, and drew 10,699 responses. The results are accurate to
within +/- 0.9%, 19 times out of 20.
For further information: please contact Holly Bennett or Anne Dean at (416) 222-8022; The full report is available at http://www.cfib.ca/research/reports/pdf/WFB_e.pdf
Overtime: Neither Chaldean nor Arabic time but political time
by Marion Edwyn Harrison
American Daily, OH
It’s puzzling to speculate but why are there 12 hours in a day, 5 fingers (except for the [6-fingered] Queen Ann Boleyn) on a hand, 60 (12 x 5, or 10 x 6) minutes in an hour, and so on, but 8 hours in a standard working day, 40 (5 x 8) in a standard working week?
[We hope the author does not regard the standard workday and workweek as set in concrete. There is very little here about the long series of reductions that left us at 8 and 40 after 150 years of adjustment, followed by a 64-year (so far) freeze. There is also a bit of a wrong impression by repeating these work units were set by politics. Union actions such as strikes and boycotts are more the realm of economics rather than politics.]
History answers the day and hour riddles, and nature the fingers, but politics the rest.
The Chaldeans used 12 as their number base.... There are theories but no proof as to the origin of 12 in that context.
[The best-supported theory is that the Babylonians (old name: Chaldeans) counted their four fingers, their thumb and then their palm, to arrive at a total count of six on each hand.]
The Arabs, [early] mathematicians of the period dubbed in Europe the Christian Era (although that name isn’t politically correct among our contemporary secularists), used 10 as the basic number. The most obvious theory is that people have 10 fingers but there are competing, mostly arithmetically esoteric, theories. So much for historical answers.
What is the source of the 8-hour day? What is the source of the notion - statutory since the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 USC, §§ 201ff. - of overtime?
The 8-hour source was born of political compromise. It probably also has the advantage of practicality. Many people can work productively for 8 hours, especially with a meal break, while fewer can work as productively for 10 or 12 or more hours.
Why the typical American-employee working week is not 7 days is a mixture of compassion, common sense and Judeo-Christian teaching. Our childhood rhyme reminds us what happens when Jack has “all work and no play.” Why the typical working week isn’t 6, instead of 5, days is politics but it, too, manifests some common sense.
What about overtime? Whence the concept and why? And, doubtless because 2004 is the quadrennial year - Presidential
election - any change or proposed change in overtime rules becomes an election issue. Those candidates seeking the votes of
employees, and particularly of unsophisticated employees, naturally can’t - and don’t - resist an opportunity to dump upon
any opponent who approves a regulation which affects overtime.
Thus, the Democrats condemned the Republicans because pursuant to proposed Dept. of Labor (DOL) regulations (August
23, 2004) many workers - for example, some 130,000 chefs and 160,000 mortgage loan officers - supposedly no longer would
have been eligible for any overtime pay. Republicans claimed the regulations would have added some 70,000 teachers and
82,000 sales workers who had been ineligible. Overall, the Republicans claimed 6.7 million additional people would gain the
right to overtime rates or to clearer and more beneficial overtime rates while the Democrats claimed 6 million people would
lose overtime-rate eligibility. (Business Week, 9/06; US Senate Republican Policy Committee Memorandum, 9/9; DOL website materials, www.dol.gov/fairplay; Congressional Record, at H6922 et seq, 9/9.) It would
appear the proposed DOL regulations would have benefited more workers, in large measure because they are clearer and would
reduce litigation. By and large, it’s blue-collar and nonprofessional white-collar wages workers who are eligible for
overtime pay rates, whatever the numbers.
Does the concept of overtime pay stand the test of reason? The candidate for office must assert a resounding Yes! The more
objective answer may be a quiet but rational No. Common sense, human experience and various studies tell us that most people
work less productively after they have worked 8 hours than during those 8 hours. Why, then, pay overtime? Wouldn’t it be
logical to pay a reduced rate, reflecting reduced productivity (assuming, of course, the individual is not forced to work
overtime)? Or, more generous toward the worker, pay at the base rate? The answer undoubtedly varies with the person, type of
work, compensation and other factors. However, as a generalization, unquestionably more people work less productively during
overtime than during base time.
Everybody has forgotten a principal - some might say, the principal - reason why the New Deal first inaugurated overtime:
To save jobs! The Great Depression was raging in the 1930s, as it did until World War II force-rescued our economy. Some
employers were compelling employees to work what we now term overtime while many others were unemployed. Thus, forced to pay
the same worker more wages hourly when the worker worked overtime, it was calculated that many employers would not compel
their employees to work beyond 8 hours daily or 40 hours weekly and would hire more people, thus reducing unemployment. The
labor unions also projected - correctly - that when better times returned more employees would be paid more money because
they would work overtime hours.
A realistic and sensible society would not require any overtime differential unless the employee were compelled to work
overtime. (Extra pay for working graveyard or other unattractive shifts is a discrete issue, beyond this project.) Let’s not
anticipate the dawn of such common sense, even if this were not a Presidential election year. Society tends to forget why
laws are enacted. Laws often take on a life of their own. Tinker with them at your political peril.
Hold on! It’s the quadrennial year! No tinkering! We must not expect the Congress to risk political peril. What happened on
September 9? The expected, of course: the House rejected the proposed regulations, 22 (mostly Northern and Midwestern)
Republicans joining the Democrats, 223 - 193. On September 16 the Senate Appropriations Committee added its block, 16 - 13
(although at least the Chairman voted for jurisdictional reasons - a separate subject.) So we never will learn whether the
rejected DOL regulations would have benefited more or fewer workers (although objective analysis suggests they would have
benefited more, as well as reduced litigation).
Political PR predominated: Big Labor, in cahoots with the so-called “Trial Lawyers” (who feast upon opportunities to
litigate), opposed the proposed regulations, so Congress dumped them. Perhaps it’s not much taught in collegiate political
science but my empirical experience since I was a Congressional page 57 years ago, other observation posts on and off
Capitol Hill since, is that even-numbered, and especially the quadrennial, years, even more than odd-numbered years, are
less for serious legislating unless it’s a handout of taxpayer money (which, of course, is the overriding and masterful
Do you think there was any reference in debate to the inherent illogic in overtime - paying somebody more when he is less
productive? Or to a principal original FLSA purpose - to provide more jobs by discouraging overtime? Of course not.
overtime is a “right,” a “contract,” millions depend upon it, so forth - all good political rhetoric, nothing relating to
an original statutory purpose, productivity, economic sense, foreign competition.
Meantime, without attempting to rationalize how 8 instead of 10 or 12 became the magic base, we stick with 8. Maybe over the
relative objectivity of non-election years, as cheaper (and sometimes equally, or more, qualified) foreign workers compete,
the politicians might phase out the overtime differential when the overtime truly is not compulsory - but let’s not bet
that way. As thousands of my overtime-deprived fellow lawyers can testify, overtime compensation is not a sine quo non of success....
Hundreds turn to job fair for help - Out of work but not out of hope
Marion Star, OH
By JOHN JARVIS
MARION, Oh. - ...Approximately 312 individuals attend[ed] the Marion
Connections Job Fair on Wednesday....
Che Burroughs of Marion said she was seeking a job with more hours after
her hours were reduced about six months ago at the Ohio Bureau of Motor
Vehicles License Bureau. "I like doing what I'm doing, but it's not getting things taken care of," she said, adding she was seeking a job in clerical work that offers
benefits. "We're having trouble keeping the ends met."...
Reporter John Jarvis: 740-375-5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mops for pickets - Comfort Suites staff takes layoff fight to streets
San Francisco Examiner, CA
by Mary F. Albert
SO. SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Once equipped with sponges and mops, the former
cleaning staff of South City's Comfort Suites Hotel now carry picket signs
in protest of the hotel's decision to fire 18 room cleaners in March.
On Oct. 1 when their union contract with the hotel ended, a cluster
of former room cleaners, many of them immigrant women, began pacing the
sidewalks in front of the hotel's E. Grand Avenue location, handing out
leaflets encouraging potential patrons to boycott the hotel.
Above a booming blow horn and chants such as "Don't check in, check out,"
Local 2 union representative Becky Perrine said the group has vowed to
gather every Wednesday through Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon until they
get their jobs back. "We are not going anywhere," said Perrine. "These ladies worked at the hotel for many, many years. They were mass fired, and we want their jobs back."
Many of the workers said they chose to picket because they believe they were
unjustly treated and, most importantly, need to get back to work....
For South City's Miriam Villarreal, who worked at the hotel for 15 years,
finding full-time work has been a struggle. Reduced hours at her new
part-time job have made it difficult for her to cover house payments and her
son's tuition at the College of San Mateo. "My husband works full-time, but it is not enough," said Villarreal....
Even when they were bound by the agreement, the hotel's management firm Paramount Hospitality holds that they acted within their rights when they replaced the staff. "The management contract very clearly states that the hotel has the right to subcontract," said David Lane, president of Paramount Hospitality Management.
County crews cast votes on furlough days
Union Democrat, CA
by CHRIS NICHOLS
Members of the Calaveras County Employees Association this morning were
expected to reject a proposed change to the county's mandatory furloughs,
deciding to stay with the original plans that call for five days off without pay.
Under the suggested change, county offices would have the option to close
an hour early one day each week for the rest of the fiscal year, spreading out the mandatory time off most county employees must take.
Without association support, the original plan of closing offices for an
entire day on four future furlough dates would remain.
With 70% of association member's votes tallied this morning, Stacie
Link, secretary of the association, said she expected the proposal would be rejected.
Five furlough days were approved by the Board of Supervisors this summer in
an effort to cut costs. County officials originally estimated $300,000 would
be saved with the mandatory days off.
The county's first furlough day, Sept. 3, coincided with the Pattison Fire
near Valley Springs. With most employees at home, remaining county staff
were stretched thin and swamped with calls from residents.
The four remaining furlough days are now set for Nov. 24, the day before
Thanksgiving; Feb. 18, the Friday before President's Day; March 25, Good
Friday; and May 20, the Friday of the Calaveras County Fair and Frog Jump Jubilee.
Dave Barker, president of the employees association, which represents about
20% of county employees said association members were divided on the
proposed change. He said many favored keeping a full day off because the
time allowed workers to have a long weekend, albeit unpaid. The loss of a
full day's pay during one pay period convinced other association members to
vote for a change, Barker said.
While both county officials and association members are frustrated with the
need for any sort of unpaid time off, some county workers hope the furlough
days will motivate the general public to speak out about the resulting loss of services.
"We hope the public will be outraged," Link said, adding that some
association members voted against changing the furlough plan as a protest
against cuts to worker's pay.
She said she hoped the county would include more input from its employees
before making such cuts.
"They shouldn't get to the point where the only place to cut is employees,"
The vast majority of the county budget covers employee pay.
State cuts in funding and larger-than-expected payments to county employee
retirement accounts forced county officials to approve furloughs this year
for only the second time in a decade.
County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell said he was willing to listen to
any suggestions from the employee association but added that "management by
committee doesn't work very well."
At Monday's weekly supervisors meeting, Mitchell said that if county
employees had agreed to pay three% to four% on their
retirement accounts, the furlough issue would be nonexistent.
"It solves all of these issues," he said.
Due to the frustration among employees, department directors and county
officials caused by the furloughs, Supervisor Victoria Erickson said she has
questioned whether approving the mandatory days off was the right call.
Like other supervisors, Erickson said her hope in approving the furloughs
was to avoid layoffs. However, she said she is not convinced that the
furloughs will save as much money as projected. She added that she will be
hesitant to approve such a measure next year without more review.
"I will take responsibility for making the decision," Erickson said.
"Looking back, I'm not so sure it was a good idea to do furlough days."
Contact Chris Nichols at email@example.com
Pay deal for consultants hands health boards a £13m headache
The Herald, United Kingdom
by Calum MacDonald & Helen Puttick
EDINBURGH, Scotland - A new pay deal for consultants is costing Scotland's health boards £13m more than they expected. In some cases the annual bill for the package is two or even three times the initial estimates, and the boards are having to find the extra cash by making savings elsewhere.
There have been suggestions that the new contract was designed for England
and that increasing salaries and regulating working hours as a way of
attracting and retaining staff could backfire.
The bill for the deal is said to be higher than anticipated because the
number of hours that consultants work was underestimated by the officials,
[in other words, the usual wishful thinking instead of realistic estimation]
with many dedicated doctors doing a lot more hours than they were paid for, but now can earn more for less work.
The latest problem follows concern about whether the Scottish Executive
would be able to meet its aim of providing an extra 600 consultants by 2006.
One consultant, who did not wish to be named, said: "There was a feeling
south of the border that there were a number of NHS [National Health Scheme?] consultants not fulfilling their NHS commitments and the way to (make them) do that was to
give them a tight, time-defined contract and then pay for what they did.
"Traditionally in Scotland most people have been committed to the NHS and
have worked probably many more hours than they were really being paid for.... The net effect of the contract is people are being paid more money to do
less work than they were previously."
One Scottish Executive insider added: "I think a lot of people would agree
it was a UK contract that was designed for England because of the level of
private practice down there is not a major issue in Scotland."
Under the new contract, consultants at the higher end of the pay scale saw
their salary increase from £70,715 to £88,000 while those at the lower end
rose from £54,340 to £65,035.
However, some bonus payments, such as those given for performing family
planning procedures, have been removed.
Peter Bennie, the deputy chairman of the Scottish consultants' committee of
the British Medical Association, said any suggestions that the contract was
designed for England were "clearly nonsense", stating that although the two
agreements were broadly similar, there were also differences.
The deputy chairman said that before the new deal, consultants were
contracted to work 38.5 hours a week but BMA surveys had shown their members were actually working more than 50 hours.
Mr Bennie said: "I think it is entirely appropriate and sensible that
consultants are now getting paid for the hours they do rather than just
being paid for some of them. We went through a very detailed negotiating
process with the Scottish Executive and representatives from NHS employers.
"Throughout that process we were making it clear to them that we were quite
clear that consultants were working those sorts of hours, so none of these costs should be a surprise."
NHS Argyll and Clyde has admitted to one of the largest jumps in the
expected bill, from £1.4m to £5.4m.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran has experienced a jump of £1.45m, NHS Borders £1m and
NHS Lothian is predicting a rise of at least £5.6m.
Asked how any increase in the bill would be funded, NHS Argyll and Clyde
said: "Funding will require to be met from the total allocation from the
Scottish Executive health department, any overall financial shortfalls will
require to be covered from internal savings programmes."
NHS Shetland, where the bill is £94,000 higher than predicted, said it would
find any extra cash required "by deferring other potential developments or
finding efficiency savings within areas which do not affect services to
Some of the health boards have not yet finished negotiating settlements with
their consultants, even though the initial deadline was May. NHS Fife, for
instance, has agreed deals with only 39% of the workforce.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said that it was wrong to suggest
the contract was designed for England, pointing out differences which exist
north of the border such as the normal working day running from 8am to 8pm
rather than 7am to 7pm.
She said: "The Scottish terms and conditions were developed in partnership
in Scotland to meet the needs of the health service in Scotland."
The spokeswoman also said that the contract improved the working lives of
all consultants in a number of ways, helping recruitment and retention.
Examples include recognising emergency work as part of their normal job and
linking pay rises to achievement.
10/06/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 10/05 from GoogleNews & are searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA with backup from *Ken Ellis (KE) of New Bedford MA (except #1 & 12 which are from 10/06 hardcopy, and Australian & Far East stories which are 10/06), and with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- [Re worklife limits - which will eventually be replaced by better workweek limits plus disability & rehab provisions -]
Saving social security,
letters to the editor, NYT, A30.
- By Maron Waxman of NYC.
...Raising the retirement age...imposes hardships on lower-income wage earners, who are more likely to have physically demanding or lower-level jobs. They deserve the opportunity to enjoy some leisure after a lifetime of work.
[An economy based on a rigid and arbitrary workweek unrelated to under- and un-employment rate is unsustainable, especially if that economy has a rigid and arbitrary worklife limit unrelated to soundness of mind or able-bodied status. The workweek must automatically fluctuate against comprehensive unemployment in order to provide a maximum customer base via a maximum full-time workforce, regardless of how few hours per week come to define "full time". With this kind of modernization of the developed economices, In the short term, there will be no such thing as "deserving leisure" as a dependent on other people if you're still sound of mind and able-bodied, and in the longer term, able-bodied status will matter less and less as technology offsets bodily disablities one after another. Witness Stephen Hawking.]
- By Edith Fierst of Chevy Chase MD.
Raising the retirement age as life expectancy rises would not work.
[Edith has just given the key reason why not raising the retirement age would not work. The rise of life expectancy represents a blank check on the economy that, in the best case, is infinite as medical science improves and therefore completely unsustainable. The whole concept of arbitrary retirement will be replaced by shorter workweeks (ie: weekly mini-retirements) and better disability and rehabilitation provisions.]
Many people retire early for good reason (poor health, physically demanding work, family responsibilities).
[Each and every one of these so-called "good reasons" will be mitigated or eradicated by the shorter-hour definition of "full-time job" inherent in automatically unemployment-offsetting workweeks. Shorter "full" time work will allow more health-insurance coverage and more healthful rest in the first place. Shorter worktime (SWT) will lighten physically demanding work and hugely multiply job options for people who need physically undemanding work. And SWT will make it increasingly easy to discharge family responsibilities as constantly inrushing worksaving technologies increase comprehensive unemployment and automatically decrease "full-time" workweeks.]
But benefits are reduced for life for those who retire early.
[This is another unnecessary injustice of the current American system, which simply needs to switch to automatically unemployment-offsetting workweek adjustment.]
If early retirees retire at 62 when normal retirement age rises to 67 in 2027, they will lose 30% of their benefits.
[Colleague Kate is under the impression that full retirement age is already 67 for her, and she's only 56. Is this 2027 date really accurate?]
A third of all retirees, including half of American women, already receive benefits below the poverty line for a single person....
[The poverty line is arbitrary and unadjusted for regional cost-of-living variations. The real argument to make here is the tremendous brake on the American customer base and economy posed by the fostering - thanks to a rigid, pre-technological, 1940-level workweek - of a larger and larger segment of the population that is handicapped by unemployment, underemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration, forced retirement, forced unretirement regardless of pay or lack thereore, forced self-employment regardless of clients or lack thereof, and forced part-time without benefits. Our current unemployment-maximizing approach minimizes customer demand. Anyone who can think two moves ahead in chess should be able to understand that. And government makework is an impotent alternative. The private sector must be designed in such a way that it rehires immediately all its own castoffs, and automatic adjustment of the workweek against unemployment is the only market-oriented technique of accomplishing that goal. Future managers must become experts at workload slicing and shift suturing. Worktime management is paramount for any intelligent species that wishes to move beyond this particular plateau (or backwater) of progress and advancement.]
Clairton Public Library marks 100th anniversary
McKeesport Daily News, PA
by JENNIFER R. VERTULLO
CLAIRTON, Pa. - Starting as a small book collection in the basement of the city's former highschool in April 1904, members of Clairton Women's Club knew there was a
place in their town for an educational pastime.
Moving back and forth between vacant storefronts and school buildings, the
library has seen many incarnations. But since 1960, Clairton Public Library
has been comfortable in its Miller Avenue home.
Today, the library offers everything from children's books to mature fiction
and reference catalogues - a collection library board members and Clairton
School District officials have worked hard to acquire over the years.
"We're still moving on. We're still here," library director Emma Anderson
said. "We're keeping up with libraries in Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.
We just need support, and it wasn't always easy."
Running a library in a financially distressed city is difficult, she
explained. After the library was established with some city funds
and some funds from the school-district budget, resources weren't always available.
Anderson said the library was thankful to get state and federal grants for books and equipment. "We got a lot of books with that money," she said. "We were able to pay for things the public could use, but we couldn't afford them on our own." In 1972, the library began receiving state aid on a regular basis - totaling several thousand dollars per year. That didn't seem like much to library officials, Anderson said.
The library lost school-district support in 1986 and had to cut hours of
operation to 20 per week. "We couldn't have programs," Anderson said. "We weren't here for the students. We didn't have the books to help them in their studies."
Two years later, more funds became available again and the library was able to remain open 30 hours per week.
As Clairton's financial status improves, the library regains support from both the school district and the city. "The library is particularly important to me because I believe the way we solve a lot of problems in society is through education," said City Manager
Ralph Imbrogno, who also serves on the library's board of directors. "It's particularly important to see all of our citizens, from young children to senior citizens, make use of the library as a pastime and as a means to better our society."
The Friends of Clairton Public Library Group, run today by President Lorraine Kossum, has helped establish many programs and extracurricular activities over the years. In 2001, a junior "Friends" group was established as a public-service organization and nationally acclaimed local authors - Paul Paulicelli, Boyce Allen and Trisha Gadson - have visited the library to host book reviews in the last year.
This week, several activities were planned to encourage participation in the
library's centennial celebration.
Clairton Public Library officials invite residents of all ages to participate in this week's activities and pick up a book while they're there. "When you read a book, it almost becomes a part of you because the knowledge in the book becomes a part of what you know," Imbrogno said. "It becomes part of your mindset."
- Monday was Forgiveness Day, when overdue books were accepted at a $1 fee whether they are 30 days or 30 years overdue.
- Yesterday was Health Day. Visitors were invited to stop in for a free blood-pressure screening while seeing what the library has to offer.
- Today is set aside for kindergarten-aged visitors, and
- an open house is planned for tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m.
- A Community Day celebration is set for Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. It will
take place at Clairton Park and will include crafts, face painting and more.
Library cuts back 3 hours
The Grand Rapids Press, MI
By Juanita Westaby
KENT COUNTY, Mich. - Don't count on Wednesday nights at the Byron Township
library this winter.
Because Kent County voters rejected a 0.12-mill increase for the Kent District Library [KDL] system, the Byron Township branch will be open 3 fewer hours. As of Jan. 1, the library will close at 5 p.m. Wednesdays instead of at 8 p.m.
Township Board members, having just seen completion of a $1.7 million library building in December, expressed frustration about the cut. "They told us, 'You build us a new library, and we'll give you more hours,'" said Treasurer Carol Houseman. "We built them a new library - and it's not even a year - and they're cutting back hours."
Voters in the primary renewed a 0.88-mill levy for library operations but rejected the additional millage. In September, the KDL board slashed a total of 53 hours of operations from its 18 branches.
[What's the breakdown? Were there layoffs?]
Township Supervisor Larry Silvernail questioned the KDL's priorities, particularly money that will be spent on new checkout technology.
"It seems to me in our economic times, when jobs are down, we should forgo the technology and put people back to work," he said.
[This would imply that there were layoffs.]
KDL director Martha Smart said voters were informed going into the election
that cuts would be made if the additional 0.12-mill levy was rejected. She
said the Internet has placed more demands on libraries because it allows
more patrons to browse and place library items on hold from their homes. That means
library staff have to spend more time handling materials, and some of those
employee hours have to be diverted from branches' hours of operations.
Smart said KDL is spending $614,000 on the checkout technology, which
places microchips in each library item. It will allow personnel to check out
entire stacks of books at one time, rather than handling each item
individually. Smart said the system will hold down personnel costs by
"The goal is to be able to have the library services people are demanding
and not have to keep going back to the public for additional millages," she
said. "Even though in the short run, there's an additional cost with the (microchips), in the long run there will be savings."
Smart said the Byron branch was open 45 hours a week 10 years ago. That was raised to 48 in 1999 and continued at that level through 2003. When the new building opened, the KDL added 4 hours [raising it to 52?], which will be cut by 3 in January.
[Leaving it at 49? If so, it's still one more hour a week in exchange for the new building - and seemingly a lot more service.]
Financing plan foes reiterate objections
Brookhaven Daily Leader, MS
by Matthew Coleman
Brookhaven, Miss. - Opponents of a tax plan to help lure a Home Depot to Brookhaven urged city officials Tuesday to let the home-improvement store pay its own way instead
of providing city revenue for the infrastructure.
Approximately 30-40 citizens, mostly objectors, filled the city board room
Tuesday night for a public hearing on a tax increment financing [TIF] plan. The
TIF plan would allow the city and county to provide infrastructure to the
proposed development on Brookway Boulevard.
Many of those in attendance Tuesday night had also attended a similar
hearing Monday morning before the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors. Like
supervisors Monday, aldermen last night took no action on the proposal.
Speakers made many of the same points they expressed at Monday's county meeting.
Bill Behan, president of Columbus Lumber Co., said he was not trying to stop
efforts to bring a Home Depot to Brookhaven. However, he contended a TIF
plan was unnecessary to help the second-largest retail company in the United States [after Wal-Mart].
Behan said bringing a Home Depot was not economic development but economic
displacement because limited sales would be drawn away from existing local
businesses. He expressed concerns for those businesses, many of whose
owners, he said, had dedicated their lives to Brookhaven.
"There will be locally owned businesses that will not survive with Home
Depot in the marketplace," Behan said.
Eddie Cagle, who worked with Wal-Mart before joining Columbus Lumber, drew
some comparisons between his former employer and Home Depot.
Those included the large company's practice of lowering prices, while
raising prices on other products to reman profitable. Cagle also mentioned
the potential for payroll cutbacks that could affect employees and their families.
Cagle said Home Depot was not wanting to come to Brookhaven to help the
community but because Lowe's is 20 miles away in McComb.
"It's a major war between them," Cagle said.
Cagle made some sarcastic comments about the "professional highschool-student" level of service provided by places like Lowe's and Home Depot. In
a similar tone, he questioned how much additional sales-tax revenue would be
generated by shoppers from Meadville, Bude, Monticello and Wesson coming to
Cagle said representatives of Ergon Properties, which is handling
development of the site for Home Depot, were bluffing when they say the
store will not come without the TIF plan. He urged aldermen to have Home
Depot pay its own way if it wants to be in Brookhaven.
[Amen to that. The bloody nerve of these slimy wealthy developers, trying to get taxpayers to subsidize the economic rape of their own communities!]
Former Supervisor Bill Loving was the lone voice in favor of the Home Depot
plan Tuesday. He also spoke at Monday's county hearing.
[Bill-loving is right - loving the higher tax bills everyone's going to get once the big box stores gut the current diverse ecosystem of small businesses.]
Loving mentioned several instances in which he found products cheaper at
places outside of Brookhaven.
[Then drive 20-30 miles outside of Brookhaven on more expensive gas to save the couple of bucks on those products, moron!]
He said he understood some businesses may not survive with a Home Depot here.
[Bill "Business Killer" Loving.]
"But the people of Lincoln County need some help," said Loving, adding that
a few dollars makes a difference to the working man.
[What bleeding-heart hypocrisy! This sexist b*st*rd is going to start a cascade of layoffs throughout his community in the name of giving "some help...to the working man."]
Loving's comments motivated Linda Pickett, of Perkins Hardware, to speak.
She said she and her husband had operated the store for 12 years, working
six days a week and sometimes on Sunday to help customers and keep the business going. "We don't mind the work. We do it because we love it," Pickett said.
Pickett said the store looks out for its employees and had cut hours only
once in 12 years, in 1995 during a recession. Regarding prices, she said
their store is cheaper on many items sold by larger stores.
"But most people never take the time to come look," Pickett said.
John Koehler, of Delta Welding Supply, pointed out sponsorship of local
youth sports teams by local businesses. He questioned whether Home Depot
would be as civic-minded.
Like Behan, Koehler pointed out Home Depot's size.
"It surprises me to even think we'd help somebody like that," Koehler said.
[Yeah, the small "helping" the huge. How much is Home Depot or the developers "helping" Bill Loving to get him to betray his business and taxpayer community like this, we wonder.]
The help being sought is funds to provide a road, water and sewer, a traffic
signal and other infrastructure to the 11-acre site on the boulevard. The
infrastructure would also be in place to help with possible future
development of 15 surrounding acres.
[Development in the sense of more businesses requires a stronger customer base. The only way communities like Brookhaven, Miss., are going to get a stronger customer base is by community-based worksharing along timesizing lines. If they go the overpopulation route, they'll just strain local resources and turn the community into just another little piece of the Third World in America.]
Chris Gouras, a consultant for Ergon Properties, cited revenue totals
showing the site generating a total of $2,837 in property taxes for the city
and county now.
With the development, real and personal property taxes for the city and
county were estimated at over $80,000. Based on anticipated $15 million in
annual sales, the city's share of sales tax was estimated at $194,000.
[All that's without factoring in the larger loss of tax revenue due to the cascade of small-business failures that a new mall on the boulevard would trigger - and then people would no longer have the stores within walking distance - they'd have to drive to the mall - on more expensive gas. The big box stores have done the same here in Cambridge-Somerville, Mass. We saw a big Somerville Lumber and Grossman's Lumber built in North and West Somerville and the excellent family hardware stores we had in Harvard Square and Union Square died, leaving only Masse's on Walden St. and Tags in Porter Square. Then a Home Depot came to Assembly Square Mall and Som Lum and Grossman's both died. Now we have to drive a million miles to Assembly Square and walk a million miles through the caverns of Home Depot once we get there. This is progress?]
All or part of that new revenue could be pledged to pay off a bond issue for
the infrastructure project....
[If the city and county need new revenue, let them tax those who have more money than they know what to do with - and there are apparently plenty of those people around if developers are straining to impose their unwelcome services on doing-fine communities like Brookhaven.]
Gouras said construction of the store would result in about 100 construction
jobs over an eight-month period, with an payroll of around $2.2 million.
[Eight months is soon over.]
Once built, the store would have 75-100 full or part-time employees and an
annual payroll of about $2 million.
[And those jobs would be low-paying and the profits would be yanked out of the community and vacuumed into the pockets of Home Depot's top executives, to speed America's slide to the Third World. Brilliant.]
- [Another article on overtime addiction in a frozen-workweek world -]
Protesters decry rules
Kansas City Star, United States
by Linda Man
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - About 50 unhappy workers Tuesday showed up at the Bush-Cheney headquarters in Independence to protest new overtime rules.
The changes became official Aug. 23 and affect the Fair Labor Standards Act,
which identifies which types of workers must be paid overtime for working
more than 40 hours in a work week.
The protesters, who contend that millions of workers are losing overtime
benefits, delivered petitions containing signatures of 10,000 Missouri
residents who want to kill the changes.
"We can't live," without overtime pay, said Ella Hayes, a janitor. Hayes
said overtime helps pay for necessities such as child care and health care.
Randy Kiser, an AFL-CIO staff member, said he hopes the Bush administration
will listen because the law "affects working families - whether they're union
Wednesday's HOME-spun wisdom
Today is the birthday of the late George Westinghouse.
Read more about this famous inventor.
Westinghouse was born in Central Bridge, New York on October 6, 1846. From
early age, he had a creative mind and his father's shop was just the place
to try out new ideas. Once when asked to cut some pipe, George, instead,
designed a power device that cut the pipes automatically in a fraction of
the time thought necessary. At age 19, he received his first patent: a
design for a rotary engine. A year later, home from the Civil War,
Westinghouse found his destiny.
In 1866, perhaps the year that changed his life, Westinghouse was riding a
train suddenly brought to a halt to avoid colliding into a wrecked train on
the rails ahead. Inspecting the sight, he mused that there must be a safer
way to stop a heavy train. Existing braking systems were inadequate.
Based on compressed air - the idea used to power rock drills while
tunneling - George began to experiment with a new type of braking system for
trains. At 22 years of age, he developed the air brake, a device that
stopped trains using compressed air. Legendary success insured, he pressed on.
By 1881, he had perfected the first automatic, electric block signal, a
device designed to avoid wrecks, save lives and help move rail traffic.
Westinghouse's safety devices instilled passenger confidence and provided
operational efficiency to rail owners. The materialization of a colossal
railroad industry resulted. But, railroading was not the only business
touched by his prowess.
From patent rights purchased from Nikola Tesla, the brilliant intellect who
discovered the basis for most alternating-current machines (the rotating
magnetic field), Westinghouse helped spearhead the development of
alternating current. The Age of Electricity was thus set in motion.
And, from the workings of a simple well in his back yard, he figured out an
efficient way to transmit clean, natural gas to homes - for lighting and
heating - and to industry for fuel. The natural gas industry owes its
existence to Westinghouse.
After that, in Pittsburgh, about 1905, Westinghouse showed his new
alternating current electric locomotive. Not long after, his new engine was
seen everywhere. Ships were next; Westinghouse marine turbines began a new
era of power on the seas.
It is little known that one of his 361 patents is a citywide telephone
switching system, created long before widespread use by the telephone
companies. Or, that the first radio station in the world was Westinghouse
KDKA in Pittsburgh; that the first practical induction motor, the first
contract to harness the enormous water power of Niagara Falls and the first
power station turbine generator were all credited to Westinghouse; and, that
Westinghouse led the world in using atomic power to propel ships in the
Navy. Remember Westinghouse appliances? Sewing machines, washers, dryers,
the first "turnover" toaster, irons, grills, percolators, am-fm radios and
That's not all. Starting in 1871, George Westinghouse gave his employees a half day off on Saturday, the first step toward a five-day work week. In 1908, he began a pension fund for workers; in 1913, paid vacations were initiated.
Finally, Westinghouse designed for personal use the first illuminated
tennis court. To supply electricity to the 1500 light bulbs, he wired the
first private alternating-current power plant.
George Westinghouse died on March 12, 1914. Millions benefited from his
companies and those that sprung up because of his innovations. During his
career, he formed about seventy companies. He and his wife, Marguerite,
together in marriage over 47 years and to whom he credits his success, are
buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Tesco's new policy that punishes the sick
Socialist Worker, United Kingdom
U.K. - A Tesco warehouse worker told Socialist Worker what it's like to work for
Britain's biggest supermarket chain:
"Although the treatment of staff in the warehouse is pretty bad, the general
feeling is that we have it a lot easier than the shop floor staff.
Tesco are introducing a new sickness policy. This is supposedly voluntarily,
although it is being imposed on all new members of staff.
Staff will not get paid for the first three days of their time off.
There is no leeway with this - no matter how serious the reason you have had
to take time off, you will lose three days pay.
With the old warehouse contracts you were not paid for the first day taken.
The sick day structure works as follows:
If you are away from work on two separate occasions in a six-month period,
you are put on stage one of the procedure. You are kept on stage one for six
If during that six-month period you take time off on two occasions you are
put on a stage two. Stage two lasts for six months.
If during this six months you take time off on two occasions you are placed
on a stage three. Stage three lasts for three months.
If you take time off on one occasion during this period you will be
One man who works in the same warehouse as me has recently been diagnosed
with cancer. Because he went to management and informed them of the
situation they placed him on the sickness procedure.
This means that every time he has to take a day off, or even an afternoon
off for a check-up, it counts against him.
It is quite feasible that this man will lose his job, in what the
management calls a contractual dismissal, in order to get well. Of course,
he is also losing money every time he takes time off.
We work shifts of 6 days on and 1 day off for six weeks, and then 9 days off. Shifts are 6am-2pm and 2pm-10pm. The staff get one 30-minute unpaid lunch break in an 8-hour shift [actually 7.5 minus the halfhour lunch].
[6 days of 7.5-hour shifts is six weeks of a 45-hour workweek - followed by 9 days off. That averages out to 6x45 hours over 6+1&2/7 weeks = 270 hrs ÷ 7.2857 wks = 37 hours a week, which is not bad. However, the 9 instead of 7 days off at the end continuously cycles people through the week and keeps their lives in turmoil, instead of just having 7 days off at the end to keep things lined up with the 7-day week.]
In the warehouse where I work management is fairly flexible on tea and
toilet breaks as long as it doesn't interfere with the amount of work done.
But most warehouses enforce a set break before and after lunch.
There is little or no say over holiday. You take your nine days off at the end of your 6-week rota. Any flexibility is completely up to management.
Bank holidays are incorporated into the days you have off according to the
above plan, and can't be taken on the actual bank holiday unless your nine
days happen to coincide with it. This includes Christmas.
[Aha. There's the catch on that "generous" (but deranging) 9-day 'rota.']
This is partly the reason that around 30% of staff take sick leave around this time.
There is a general feeling of hatred towards the company. They see that the company
directors and shareholders are making huge amounts of money out of them.
Pay-raise discussions for staff take place a few weeks after the yearly
announcements of the directors' large bonuses, and yet we are told there is
no growth in the marketplace and so pay increases can only be around 3%.
The main union for Tesco workers is Usdaw, who the workers have very little
faith in. The Tesco/Usdaw Partnership Agreement means that the union works
very closely with Tesco management...."
[How convenient. Just as in China or the old Soviet union.]
Latham's safe whoever wins - ...Fear of a Green alliance
by Tom Skotnicki
BRW Australia Business Review weekly, Australia
CANBERRA, Australia - Labor insiders regard the strong support of the Greens - more than 10% nationally - as a two-edged sword. It provides Labor with the possibility of
winning an unlikely victory even if it struggles to attract much more than
40% of the primary vote. Traditionally, three-quarters of the Greens'
preferences go to Labor, but the proportion could be higher this election.
A lot of Greens voters are believed to be disaffected or potential Labor
voters attracted to the Greens by issues such as the war in Iraq, detention
centres and the environment. But despite the invaluable role that the Greens
could play in putting Labor in government, some people within the Labor
Party dread the prospect of dealing with the Greens in government. The
Greens could have up to seven senators, once they all take up their seats
after June next year. If Labor wins government, the Greens could hold the
balance of power. This would force Labor to take the Greens' policies
seriously, not just on the environment but on economic and trade issues,
where it is to the left of Labor.
An example of the Greens' growing sensitivity about the portrayal of its
policies was the way that Greens leader Bob Brown recently took one
journalist to task for a report on the party's policy on recreational drugs.
Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson played on a similar theme with his line
about the Greens being like a watermelon, "green on the outside and red in
the middle". One senior Labor figure said the "potentially unholy alliance"
line being pushed by the coalition was being echoed within sections of the
If business has concerns about Labor's industrial relations policies, how will it react to the Greens' proposals for a 35-hour week and more emphasis on job sharing to tackle unemployment? The Greens are also advocating limits on unpaid overtime, although there is so far no indication of how it would want this policy enforced.
Harmony is still assessing retrenchment options
Business Report, South Africa
by Nicky Smith
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's largest gold producer, Harmony Gold Mining,
would only be able to tell how many people needed to be retrenched at the
end of its December quarter, the company's marketing director, Ferdi
Dippenaar, said yesterday.
Yesterday Harmony and the National Union of Mineworkers announced they had
come to an agreement on a way forward for the company's restructuring
programme. A voluntary retrenchment programme was still being used.
At least 20 000 Harmony workers were to have gone on strike yesterday as
part of what Dippenaar referred to as "positioning" in the negotiations with
the company. The union knows that the company which has been battered by the
strong rand can ill afford to have its mines come to a standstill. In return
the company had played its forced retrenchments card.
The resolution, Dippenaar explained, was that union leadership had now
agreed to organise acceptance for moving to continuous operations (conops)
across all of the group's gold mines in a bid to maximise returns on assets.
This means 11 days on and four days off for workers and that the mine runs
all day and all night every day of the week, stopping only for scheduled
cleaning and safety shifts.
There has been 80% agreement to conops across the company's mines
which is being implemented to save jobs at mines and restore struggling
mines to profitability.
Simon Kendall, a gold analyst with UBS, said he would like to see evidence
of retrenchments or otherwise before "reading too much" into what either the
company or the unions had to say. "They don't really have any choice [but to
retrench]," he said.
Nick Goodwin, a gold analyst with Tlotlisa Securities, said Harmony did not
have many options on its hands to cut costs if it had decided not to
retrench workers from its marginal Free State operations.
Another analyst said: "It could be a short-term reaction to the improved
rand gold price. Things are looking a little better and maybe this has led
to a change of heart," he said.
Dippenaar said only once conops was implemented across the group would it
be known how many jobs still needed to be shed.
The share price gained R3.29 to R89.29 yesterday, while the gold sector
Struggle for power a smokestack issue - Mortars shell GIs at electrical plant
Chicago Tribune, IL
By Rick Jervis
ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq - The Musayyab power plant sits on the eastern bank of
the Euphrates River in this city like a steel giant laboring to breathe. Two
of its four towering smokestacks spew a steady stream of white smoke, a sign
that the turbine engines attached to them are working. One smokestack puffs
out weak wisps. The fourth is dormant.
Like many of Iraq's 30 electrical plants, Musayyab is struggling to return
to full capacity. Because of bad parts, outdated technology and the stress
of war, the four-turbine diesel plant produces less than half of its
But the Musayyab plant has an added liability: It is within the razor-wire
confines of a U.S. military base. Created to protect the plant, the base
raises concerns from plant officials, who fear mortars aimed at Marines will
one day bludgeon the plant, and from military officers, who monitor nearly
1,000 mostly Iraqi employees and temporary staffers who work there each day.
"Our job is to make sure Iraq has power," said Capt. Henry Parrish, camp
commandant and the Marine in charge of securing the plant. "We do everything
we can to make that happen."
`We do everything we can'
Restoring power plants such as Musayyab, a 1960s-era facility that churns
nearly half of Baghdad's power, to full capacity has been a priority for the
U.S.-led coalition and a major step in the rebuilding process - a "tier-one
asset" in Marine parlance.
The sprawling base, 30 miles south of Baghdad and home to 1,000 Marines and
sailors attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was built around the
plant to protect it from insurgents.
But securing it has been a challenge. Shrapnel from mortars aimed at the
Marines has punched holes in fuel tanks that run the plant. Oil pipelines
that once fueled the facility have been ruptured by insurgents. Workers have
been threatened and killed. In August, the plant's manager disappeared on
his way to work.
On a recent afternoon, Iraqi employees smiled and waved as Parrish strode
into the lobby of the power plant, flak jacket on. Parrish smiled back and
greeted them in Arabic.
"Salaam aleikum," he told a guard at the door, pronouncing the Arabic
greeting with a Georgia accent.
"Aleikum essalam," the guard answered.
Married with three children and one on the way, Parrish, 34, has a finance
degree from Georgia Southern University, where he also was a running back on
the football team. In the Marines he completed command training at the
Expeditionary Warfare School.
But no amount of training prepared him for his task as plant protector, he
"I had no idea what I was getting into until I got here," Parrish said.
The Musayyab plant has been battered by war. During the 1991 Persian Gulf
war, U.S. missiles knocked it out of commission, plant officials said. The
facility was repaired and went untouched during last year's invasion. But
failing parts and outdated equipment have greatly reduced its output.
With all four turbine engines working properly, the plant is designed to
crank out 1,280 megawatts per minute, plant officials said. Currently, with
one of its turbines out and the others running under capacity, it is
producing 550 megawatts per minute, they said.
The lower output accounts for the frequent outages, brownouts and power
surges plaguing Baghdad and surrounding cities, officials said.
But finding spare parts is the least of plant officials' worries, they
said. Plant employees have been targeted by insurgents, and some have been
followed as they leave for home. One worker was killed in a car bombing
outside the base's front gate, a plant official said. As a result, employees
are working fewer hours, cutting back on production, the official said.
On Aug. 18, the plant's manager was driving to work in the nearby town of
Musayyab when gunmen shot out a tire and took him from his car, according to
a witness, said Marine spokesman Capt. David Nevers. The manager hasn't been
Everyone here `is in danger'
"Everyone in this company is in danger," said Ali Hassan, 25, a chief
engineer in the plant's main control room.
"But we try not to think of it too much. Electricity is for all Iraqis. It
has to go out."
Another threat for employees and the plant are the rockets and mortars
fired almost daily at Marines on the base. Two weeks ago, 15 mortars landed
in less than an hour, officials said.
More recently, a mortar shell exploded near a 3,000-gallon tank holding
diesel fuel for the plant, Parrish said. Shrapnel from the mortar sprayed
across the tank, punching quarter-size holes in its base, leaking fuel.
One plant official, who asked not to be named, said the plant would be
safer outside a U.S. base. But that is not an option U.S. military officials
are willing to consider.
"[The base] was put here initially because there was a threat," said Lt.
Col. Robert Durkin, the base commander.
"If we leave and something happens, then 40% of Baghdad is out of
power and everyone's up in arms. We'll stay until the Iraqi government
brings in a security force capable of taking over," Durkin said.
One of the first tasks assigned to Parrish when he arrived in June was to
improve plant defenses against mortars, he said.
He fortified mortar positions surrounding the plant that had been erected
by the Army, which previously occupied the base, and set up artillery guns
to fire 155 mm rounds in an effort to discourage enemy fire, he said.
He also began meeting with plant officials, listening to their concerns and
adjusting security plans, he said. The daily meetings fostered friendships
and sometimes stretched into long conversations about the differences
between Islam and Christianity, among other topics, said Parrish, a devout
"Everyone just wants peace," he said, "so they could work."
Another concern for Parrish was the nearly 1,000 plant workers who entered
the base each day - people who could relay the base's layout to insurgents or
bring in bombs.
Each morning, every person who enters the plant is patted down for bombs
and other weapons, Parrish said.
Mobile phones, which could be used as detonation devices or to help
pinpoint targets for mortar teams, are not allowed, he said. And every
vehicle that enters the base is searched by bomb-sniffing dogs.
"You have to be diligent," Parrish said. "But you have to be courteous.
These people work here. It's their livelihood."
Marine officials said a team of U.S. military personnel recently visited
the base to assess plant security and eventually train and establish an
Iraqi security force to take over protection of the plant.
Until that happens, it's Parrish's job to help keep Baghdad neighborhoods
"Our goal is to get them up to capacity," he said. "The sooner that
happens, the sooner we leave."
For younger workers, family matters - Generations X and Y placing less emphasis on careers, study says
by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, F1
Employers take heed: Baby boomers might have been content to put work above all else, but that's not necessarily true of Generation X and Y. A study released yesterday by the Families & Work Institute reveals that younger generations - ages 18 to 37 - are far more family-centered than older workers and, surprisingly, less focused on advancing in the workplace than their predecessors.
The study, commissioned by the American Business Collaboration, a consortium
of eight top US firms, found that 52% of college-educated men were
focused on career advancement in 2002, down from 68% a decade
earlier. Additionally, 36% of college-educated women were interested
in increased work responsibilities or advancement in 2002, down from 57%
Stan Smith, national director of Next Generation Initiatives at Deloitte &
Touche, which is a member of the business collaborative, said the message is
clear: ''These are highly motivated professionals who want to get the job
done but also want to honor their obligations to their families. So, it is
important [for businesses] to offer informal work arrangements that permit
reduced hours, compressed hours - you name it."
Ellen Galinsky, president of the New York-based Families and Work institute,
said the research reveals a profound shift in attitudes and suggests that
working men and women are redefining their priorities.
''Baby boomer women were pioneers," Galinsky said. ''Boomer men grew up in
an era when work was more a part of your identity. Their children - the
GenX and GenYs - were the children of divorce, the children of people who
gave their all to work and then lost their jobs. And, today, they don't want
to be stick figures in their children's lives. They see that life can be
fleeting and tenuous. So, they are more intentional about the way they want
to live it."
The study says members of Generation Y were between the ages of 18 and 22
when they were surveyed in 2002. Members of Generation X were between the
ages of 23 and 37, and baby boomers were 38 to 57 at the time of the survey....
Rosalind Barnett, director of the Community, Families, and Work Program at
Brandeis University,...said one reason for the shift is that younger generations are more
likely to delay childbearing in order to pursue education and secure a good
job so that they will be better prepared to fulfill their parental duties. And,
realizing that both spouses must work, men are more likely to share
housework than prior generations, she said....
Carol Evans, president and chief executive of Working Mother Media in New
York, said only 57% of US companies offer flex time to workers and
just 36% allow employees to telecommute or work from home....
A handful of others appears to be paying attention. [Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris
Glovsky and Popeo, a Boston law firm,] offers flex
time, a part-time partnership track for men and women, and telecommuting. It
also has backup child care at its Boston site and at-home backup care. Both
programs are subsidized by the firm, according to Wendy Starr, director of
So does Deloitte & Touche. About 1,200 of the company's 30,000 US workers
have flexible schedules. This summer, the company began testing a pilot
program that permitted 15 employees to take five years off for educational
or personal reasons and then return to the firm without losing their
''We really need these people," said Deloitte's Smith. ''These are people
who want to know what options they have in their careers, and they want a
blueprint. They want to keep the family important."
Diane E. Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
RiverView reduces staff - Federal and state cuts, increased payments lead to staff cuts
Crookston Daily Times, MN
by Natalie J. Ostgaard
Although RiverView Health has seen great growth over the last couple of
years, its CEO, Deb Boardman, says that at the same time, the organization
is feeling the pain of federal and state budget cuts and reduced payments
from private insurance companies. In response, RiverView is reducing its
expenses by about $550,000....
Boardman explains that over the last few months, the organization has been
analyzing where it could feasibly make cost reductions, using industry
benchmarking as a guide. This takes into account a number of factors such as
the number of clients and workers, measurements and industry standards in
determining where staff and other expense reductions could be made.
Unfortunately, when reductions are made, some people inevitably find
themselves out of work. At this time RiverView's cost reductions involve
primarily staff. Some reductions were made over the last several months in
the areas of expenses and employee attrition, but they were not significant
enough to offset the declines in reimbursements, Boardman adds.
She explains that, although approximately 16 full-time equivalent positions
will eventually be eliminated in about an eight-month period, only five
employees are actually losing their jobs. The reductions cover all types of
positions - clinical and non-clinical - in approximately 10 departments.
HR Director Jean Tate says RiverView is taking advantage of
retirements, requests for reduced hours and other staff changes to implement some of the reductions. Most of the employee reductions involved cutting hours, but some were also made by outsourcing and adding some duties to existing jobs.
"Our objective is to affect as few people as possible," says Tate, "and we
are putting together a program to assist those who are impacted."
That program includes a severance package, employee assistance services and
working with Minnesota Work Force Center to help the displace workers find
"In some cases, those effected qualify for other open positions at RiverView
and will have preference for those jobs," she adds.
While RiverView is reducing staff in some areas, it's also added nearly 70
employees over the past two years.
"This is a minor adjustment that we need to make to respond to declining
payments, but we are continuing to see growth in our business," Boardman says.
Revenues have increased more than 20% in each of the last two years,
adds Bennett, due to offering new services and programs never before
available in Crookston in expanded and renovated facilities. But, "declining
payments are forcing us to look at reductions. It's a very difficult
environment to deal with."
Health care organizations throughout the state are experiencing similar
problems. "More than 25 of the hospitals in the state of Minnesota are
losing money right now," says Dwain Fagerlund, chairperson of the RiverView
Health board. "At a recent hospital trustee conference attended by some of
our board members, nearly every session dealt with financial issues. It is a
big problem in the healthcare industry right now."
"We've done well at managing our expenses," Boardman concludes, "it's just
that no one wants to pay for what we're doing."
The problem of unpaid overtime
Japan Today, Japan
by Terrie Lloyd
A reader wrote in and asked about an article on overtime a while back,
asking as an employer what the actual practical overtime rates actually are.
This got me checking about the latest on the whole overtime issue, now that
the economy is starting to move again, and what I found was interesting - it
looks like the government is starting to implement labor laws to protect
people from excessive overtime.
First, though, to answer the specific question. On checking with the Tokyo
Labor Bureau, we were told that the law allows the following overtime rates
for regular employees normally working 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week.
weekdays, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the rate is 1.25 times the normal hourly pay.
Between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., the rate is 1.5 times. On public holidays (or in
the case of a typical weekday worker, Sunday as well) the rate between 9
a.m. and 10 p.m. is 1.35 times, and between 10 p.m. and midnight, it is
1.60. In all cases, overtime rates are only paid on your base salary, not on
bonuses, special allowances, and other non-base remuneration.
Employers can require you to work hours convenient to the company, providing
those hours don't exceed 40 hours per week for mid- to large-size firms and
45 hours per week for small firms. Note that working Saturdays and Sundays
is not considered overtime if those days are your regular work days.
Generally, companies only pay overtime on units exceeding 30 minutes past
your regular work hours, and also providing you have received permission to
do that overtime. In reality of course, many companies in fact expect
employees to work unpaid overtime, as a means of showing devotion to the
company and a willingness to support the rest of the team.
Thus, "good" workers show up at the office 30 minutes early and leave the
office 11-12 hours later, around the same time as their boss does.
[No wonder highly technologized Japan has high unemployment and low consumer demand.]
This means that the average unpaid overtime being pulled by most workers is
around 20 hours per week. This is known as "Service Zangyo."
[Probably meaning "Service Zero.]
It is no coincidence, then, that the government is considering changing the
Industrial Safety & Health Law next year to require companies who make
their staff work 80 or more hours of overtime per month [almost 20/wk avg], to provide those
employees with doctors visits and interviews.
The move is apparently aimed at reducing the rash of suicides and cases of
chronic fatigue plaguing male workers. Part of the plan is that doctors who
spot workers under overtime-induced stress would then counsel both the
worker and their employer, encouraging them to reduce the employee's hours
and make them take holidays.
The problem of unpaid overtime is particularly rampant at present, because
of the overlap between companies' continuing focus on reducing manpower
costs and the more recent pickup in the economy. In light of the huge shift
to part-time workers, the remaining full-timers, especially in smaller
companies, are under severe pressure to get everything done with less
resources. As a result, in 2003 the Labor Standards Office ordered over
18,511 small companies across Japan to back-pay employees for extra hours
worked, versus just 1,500 such orders issued in 2002.
According to a recent Japan Times article, a professor at the Kansai
University has estimated that Japanese employees worked a total of 27.33
trillion yen of unpaid overtime in FY2002, equivalent to an extra 8.18
million full-time jobs. The article then goes on to illustrate the cases of
a 34-year-old bank employee and 27-year-old supermarket worker who work on
average of 300 hours and 150 hours of unpaid overtime per month
respectively. No wonder the two individuals had decided to call the
Association of Labor Lawyers hotline for help. It's a wonder they had enough
energy left to find the number.
Terrie Lloyd is the founder of DaiJob, Inc. He also writes a weekly
newsletter for entrepreneurs and business people about business and
political opportunities in Japan. You can find the newsletter at
www.terrie.com. For further contact with Terrie, email him at
Bush trade policies promote outsourcing, experts say
Keokuk Gate City Daily, IA
by Steve Dunn
KEOKUK, Iowa - The outsourcing of jobs to other countries is no accident, about 20
citizens were told Monday night during a televised town hall meeting at
Keokuk's City Hall.
"The current administration promotes a lot of policies that encourage
companies to move to other countries where the wages are lower and environ-
mental restrictions are less," said David Leshtz of the Iowa Fair Trade
Citing NAFTA specifically, Jim Jontz, president emeritus of Americans for
Democratic Action, said NAFTA is a laundry list of factors that make it
easier for companies to go to Mexico.
"Big companies got a lower risk of doing business in Mexico," Jontz said.
"They lobbied hard to get it through Congress. The prices of products though
are not lower, but the owners of companies are making more money. However,
there is nothing in NAFTA to protect workers."
Jerry Kearns, a staff representative with the United Steel Workers of
America, noted how outsourcing and imports have hurt Lee County. A couple
hundred jobs were lost when Ferro-Sil closed in Keokuk as the result of
outsourcing, he said.
Other Southeast Iowa industries affected in one way or another include
Exide Technologies, Case Corporation and Conifer Corporation in Burlington;
Blue Bird Body Company, Celestica Corporation and Trans Bus Inc. in Mount
Pleasant; Design Engineering and Manufacturing Co. in New London; and
Alpharma Inc. in Palmyra, Mo.
Alluding to his U.S.-made tie and Cambodian-made shirt, Keokuk City Council
member Bill Olmsted said Americans have themselves to blame in some ways.
"In many ways it becomes our fault," said Olmsted, referring to the choices
Americans make when buying products made in America or overseas.
David Osterberg, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, said, "We
haven't gotten back to the same number of jobs we had at the start of the
recession in March 2001, even after three years."
The number of jobs in the U.S. has dropped by one million since March 2001.
In addition, the national unemployment rate, which was about 4% in
the late 1990s, has risen to about 6% and has not really changed that
much. The unemployment rate for young college graduates hasn't recovered
either, according to Osterberg.
Many of the job losses have come in manufacturing and information
technology, according to Osterberg. About 30,000 manufacturing jobs have
been lost in Iowa alone since March 2001.
On top of that, wages have not been increasing much, and family units are
working more hours, he said. The high point in manufacturing wages was from
1959 to 1973.
Government services are even being outsourced now, Osterberg said. He cited
the example of a border patrol contract that allowed uniforms to be made in
"You can be on either side of the political spectrum and be real worried
about outsourcing," he added.
Government procurement should favor domestic employment, he said. In
addition, private firms should be required to be transparent in their
business dealings and the U.S. tax code should not reward offshore
investment, he said.
Jontz said the U.S. faces new decisions about trade agreements modeled after
NAFTA such as the Central Free Trade Agreement.
"We're also negotiating with individual countries," he added. "The coverage
in the agreements would expand the sectors affected such as services. The
jobs in all of these sectors will be compromised and officials' ability to
make public policy also will be affected."
The good news is that none of these proposed new trade agreements have to
look like NAFTA and none of them will take effect before the general
election on Nov. 2, Jontz said.
"Kerry has taken positions that offer voters a very clear choice," he said,
referring to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
"The polls show today's undecided voters care a lot about jobs," he
continued. "Many of these voters do not make the connection between the
policies that Bush is negotiating and supports and the loss of jobs. If this
information can get out, it will have a big impact on many of them."
According to the Citizens Trade Campaign, Kerry opposes the Central American
Free Trade Agreement, which Bush has negotiated and is awaiting
congressional action. Kerry also opposes the Free Trade Area of the Americas
being negotiated by Bush, which would expand NAFTA throughout the western
hemisphere. Kerry says he will renogotiate both agreements and fix NAFTA,
the Citizens Trade Campaign says.
Kerry and Bush also differ on core labor standards. Kerry says U.S. trade
deals must include the core, internationally-recognized labor standards that
guarantee the rights of workers to form unions and bargain collectively and
prohibit child labor, prison labor and discrimination, the Citizens Trade
On the other hand, Bush's trade deals only ask trade partners to enforce
their own existing labor laws whether or not they meet international
standards. Bush's trade deals also allow countries to lower their existing
labor standards to attract investment.
The Citizens Trade Campaign also says Bush has negotiated trade deals that
provide extremely weak enforcement of labor and environmental standards, but
extremely strong enforcement of investment, patent and other business
protections. Kerry says that the enforcement of labor and environmental
protections in trade agreements must be as strong as the enforcement of
Kerry also opposes trade agreements that give foreign corporations greater
property rights than U.S. companies and that empower foreign corporations to
attack domestic labor, environment and consumer protections. Bush has
negotiated and signed trade deals that give foreign corporations exactly
these rights, the Citizens Trade Campaign says.
Referring to the enforcement issue, State Rep. Phil Wise, D-Keokuk, brought
up the trouble Roquette America, Inc. has had with NAFTA.
"The enforcement of NAFTA is either incompetent at the least or
conspiratorial at the worst," said Wise.
When trying to point out the impact of outsourcing and unfair trade
agreements, Wise said the issue should be localized as much as possible.
Roquette America, Inc. in Keokuk and Sheaffer Pen Corp. and DuPont in Fort
Madison have 500 to 600 hourly jobs that could be adversely affected some
day, the veteran legislator indicated.
Some of the audience members present for Monday's town hall meeting agreed
to meet again at 7 p.m. next Monday at the Keokuk Labor Temple to get out
the word about Bush's and Kerry's positions on outsourcing jobs and new
Mixed reviews on furlough plan
Union Democrat, CA
By CHRIS NICHOLS
A dozen Calaveras County department directors yesterday told county
supervisors that the county's mandatory furlough plan is slowing
productivity and hurting staff morale.
Under the current plan, most county employees must take five unpaid days
off work, saving the county nearly $300,000. Supervisors this summer called
for the furloughs to cut into a deficit that hit $2.45 million in June.
Directors pointed to what happened the first furlough day, Sept. 3 - the
day the Pattison Fire near Valley Springs erupted - as reason to change how
the mandatory days off should be done.
The skeletal crew of county workers on duty that day were swamped with
calls for help. Many county employees had to be called in or volunteered to
work without pay during the fire.
Several directors, speaking at a furlough study session during yesterday's
weekly supervisors meeting, said they wanted more staff available on
furlough days and more control over when employees take the mandatory days off.
Directors supported a change to the furlough plan suggested by County
Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell. Instead of a full day off, offices
would have the option of closing an hour early one day each week for the rest of the year, Mitchell said.
Members of the Calaveras County Employees Association are to complete a
vote this week on whether to approve Mitchell's suggested change to the
Though it was too close to call this morning, Stacie Link, secretary for
the association, said employees will most likely vote against the change.
Link said employees would rather be forced to take a full day off so the
public can "feel their pain."
"If employees are going to lose days, if they're going to suffer, then the
public needs to feel it," Link said.
The furloughs are currently scheduled just before or after holidays, a fact
that does not make managing the Animal Control Dept. any easier, said
Director Jerry Howard.
"Extending holidays extends the workload and creates a backlog and doesn't
make the public happy," he said. "Just because it's Frog Jump weekend,
routine work doesn't end."
The four remaining furlough days are now set for Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving; Feb. 18, the Friday before President's Day; March 25, Good Friday;
and May 20, the Friday of the Calaveras County Fair and Frog Jumping Jubilee.
County officials must notify all employees by Wednesday about any changes
to the Nov. 24 furlough day.
One by one, directors spoke yesterday, listing a myriad of problems with
the five furlough days. Sheriff Dennis Downum expressed concern about
deducting pay from his administrative staff members, many of whom already
work hundreds of unpaid hours each year.
Public Works Director Rob Houghton said his department and its contractors
could not take entire days off and still complete projects, like paving
county roads, in a timely manner.
Supervisors and county administrative officials acknowledged there is no
"It isn't an easy process and it isn't always fair," said Francine Osborne,
the county's deputy administrative officer. "But this is what the board
decided to get through this tight year instead of laying off a small handful
Rather than furloughs, Supervisor Merita Callaway suggested departments
find their own way to reduce costs. Several directors supported this
suggestion and said it would give them more flexibility in managing their
staff and budget.
Legally, the county may not be able to give directors this control,
Supervisors and county officials said they would continue to explore
options for how to manage future furlough days but did not expect any major
changes to the current plan this fiscal year.
Report: State faces nursing shortage
AP via Providence Journal, RI
PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island hospitals face a significant shortage of nurses
over the next two decades, at a time when aging baby boomers will increase
demand for care, a study released today said.
The report's findings are consistent with surveys conducted nationwide.
U.S. authorities have warned that the country could fall 275,000 nurses
short of the numbers it will need by 2010, in part because of increasing
health care demands from a growing elderly population.
The state study, conducted for an independent health care research
organization called The Rhode Island SHAPE Foundation, was based on surveys
of more than 2,359 Rhode Island nurses, interviews with experts and
statistical information from hospital and other health care facilities.
It was done by Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm. A 20-person advisory
committee made up of business, government, medical and community leaders
oversaw the work.
In Rhode Island, about 72% of approximately 20,000 licensed nurses
are working in the profession, the study said. The number of nurses is
expected to drop as the work force ages.
The report found that Rhode Island is short about 1,200 nurses.
It said by 2010, the state will be short anywhere from 1,800 to 4,200
nurses; and by 2020, the nursing shortage could be up to 10,000.
The study goes on to say that one in eight practicing nurses under the age
of 60 plans to leave the field in the next three years.
"The findings offer both bad news and good news to Rhode Island," said
Dayle Joseph, dean of nursing at the University of Rhode Island and chair of
the advisory committee. "The bad new is, today's nursing crisis could
balloon into tomorrow's health care disaster if we don't act quickly. The
good news is, it's not too late to take action."
Across the country, hospitals are trying to recruit and keep more nurses.
Too few nurses can cost patients their health and sometimes their lives,
study after study shows.
Hospitals generally say they haven't hired more nurses because they are in
short supply. They also blame financial pressures, such as technology costs
and cuts in government and insurance reimbursements. Most oppose
hard-and-fast limits on how many patients nurses may handle.
Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty said today he intended to pre-file legislation to
establish a nurse scholarship program and expand a nurse reward loan
"If we fail to address this nursing crisis, our other efforts to promote
quality care will not succeed," Fogarty said.
The Nurse Reward program forgives the interest on student loans for the
first four years of repayment to qualified graduates.
A shortage of nurses is a factor in about one-fourth of patient injuries
or deaths in hospitals, according to the Joint Commission on Accreditation
of Healthcare Organizations' 2002 report.
The Institute of Medicine says long work hours and fatigue contribute to errors.
A 2002 study by Harvard and Vanderbilt university researchers, examining
millions of 1997 hospital cases, found preventable deaths and patient
complication rates were up to nine times higher in hospitals where the most
care was given by licensed practical nurses and aides, not better-trained RNs.
Compuware again recognized as one of 101 Metropolitan Detroit's best and brightest companies to work for - Compuware's HR practices and commitment to work/life balance honored by the Michigan Business & Professional Association for 4th consecutive year
PRNewswire-FirstCall via Yahoo News
DETROIT - Compuware Corporation today announced it was named as one of 101 Metropolitan Detroit's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For by the Michigan Business and Professional Association. This annual award honors Metropolitan Detroit
companies that recognize employees as their greatest assets and work with
imagination and conviction to create organizational value and business
results through people.
The 101 recognized companies were rated in the areas of Compensation and
Benefits, Training and Education, Recruitment and Retention, Employee
Communication, Diversity, Work/Life Balance and Community Service and
Culture. Additionally, the selected companies had to show a unique thought
process with top support from senior management and policy makers, above
average programs, services and solutions for employees and adaptation to
various new factors in the marketplace.
Compuware continues to treat employees as its greatest asset by providing a
premier work environment, stellar benefits and work/life programs. In
support of this philosophy, Compuware recently implemented flexible work
arrangements including flextime, part-time and job sharing and continues to
offer an array of work/life and wellness programs.
Compuware's benefits also include a comprehensive medical plan and company
paid life, dental and disability insurance, as well as stock benefits. At
Compuware's Detroit headquarters, employees are offered an onsite gourmet
cafeteria; state-of-the art Wellness and Child Development centers;
physician, chiropractor, massage and dry cleaning services, as well as
access to numerous onsite retailers.
"Receiving this award year after year demonstrates Compuware's continuing
commitment to our employees," said Thomas M. Costello, Jr., Compuware Senior
Vice President, Human Resources. "Compuware's emphasis on superior benefits,
a balanced work/life environment, open communication and charity and
community involvement creates a unique culture that honors and respects the
contributions of our employees."
Compuware Corporation (Nasdaq: CPWR - News) maximizes the value IT brings to
the business by helping CIOs more effectively manage the business of IT.
Compuware solutions accelerate the development, improve the quality and
enhance the performance of critical business systems while enabling CIOs to
align and govern the entire IT portfolio, increasing efficiency, cost
control and employee productivity throughout the IT organization. Founded in
1973, Compuware serves the world's leading IT organizations, including more
than 90% of the Fortune 100 companies. Learn more about Compuware at
For sales or marketing information
Compuware Corporation, One Campus Martius, Detroit, MI, 48226, 800-521-9353,
Kelly Rionda, Compuware Corporation, 313-227-8660,
Sheriff's deputies in Yuma County win $430,000 in overtime case; more damage payments likely
AP via Tucson Citizen, AZ
YUMA - The Board of Supervisors agreed to pay more than $430,000 to former
and current sheriff's deputies and corrections officers as part of a
settlement in an overtime case.
The board voted Monday to pay the interest owed on $941,190 in back
overtime owed to the 650 employees and former employees. But the board still
has not figured out how to settle the most costly part of the case, possibly
$1.8 million in damages.
The county previously paid the court-ordered backpay.
Arizona law provides for damages of up to three times wages owed if an
employer fails to pay when the wages are due. But attorney Bob Yen, who is
representing the deputies and officers, said the class-action plaintiffs
have asked for $1.8 million.
The damages part of the case remains unsettled.
"It just depends. If they were to come back with a number we felt is
reasonable, we would then go to the court and seek approval and then give
notice to each of the plaintiffs in the suit," Yen said.
Eleven deputies first sued the county in 1996. The case later was given class-action status, eventually attracting hundreds of employees and former employees.
The deputies contended they were owed overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a standard work week.
At the time, the sheriff's office only paid overtime when some employees
worked more than 171 hours within a 28-day period [avg. 42¾ hrs/wk], on-par with a federal
standard. The department has since changed its policy.
Arbitrator crafts contract for deputies
The Grand Rapids Press, MI
OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. - About 90 Ottawa County road patrol deputies soon will have a new three-year labor contract, 21 months after the last contract expired
and with a binding arbitrator's seal.
A state arbitrator recently decided a long-standing contract dispute involving road patrol deputies with the Sheriff's Dept.. Wage, health insurance and the method for calculating overtime pay had divided the two sides.
Union representative Jim DeVries said the arbitrator awarded a 4%
retroactive raise for 2003 and 3% raises for this year and 2005.
"We always compare ourselves with deputies in Kent, Muskegon and Allegan
counties," he said. "We needed the 4% raise to catch up with those places."
Road patrol deputies make about $51,000 a year, depending on longevity,
The arbitrator generally sided with county administrators on health
insurance issues, allowing an increase in co-pays for prescription medicine.
The co-pay will be $20 for generic drugs and $40 for name-brand prescriptions.
Road patrol deputies also must pay a portion of their health insurance
premiums, which they must pay retroactively to 2003.
DeVries said the arbitrator sided with the union on an overtime issue.
Previously, the hours in a "comp" day or vacation day for a deputy were not
included in the work week total for purposes of overtime pay.
A deputy might take a vacation day on a Monday, then not be paid overtime
for working Saturday because of the hours calculation, DeVries said. The new
contract allows for overtime pay under those circumstances.
The contract, expected to be approved by the county board soon, expires at
the end of 2005.
Waterbury may be in bind over judge's decision
Waterbury Republican American, United States
by Cara Rubinsky
WATERBURY [Conn.?] - City officials could face at least a $1.5 million budget gap
if an appeals court rules a judge was correct in overturning the new fire
The oversight board and the city have until Oct. 21 to file an appeal.
Firefighters had hoped to return to their old schedule Monday, three days
after Waterbury Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Gallagher overturned their
contract, which was imposed by the state oversight board and took effect Sept. 11.
But city officials said the new schedule will remain in place at least
until the appeal is filed. Not clear is whether attorneys will have to ask a
judge to stay Gallagher's ruling or whether firefighters will automatically
continue to work under their new contract until the appeal is resolved.
Avoiding a deficit if firefighters revert to their old contract will
require Herculean effort. Even one year with a deficit means five more years
of control by the state oversight board, created in March 2001 to help the
city recover from a $100 million deficit. The board has powers to impose
contract provisions. It could be dissolved by January 2007, but only if the
city ends this fiscal year and next in the black.
The city is counting on the new contract to save $1.5 million in the $325
million city budget for 2004-05, which was already tighter than some
oversight board members would have liked. Officials have not yet developed a
contingency plan in case Gallagher's decision is upheld.
At issue in the union's lawsuit was whether the oversight 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. Mayor Michael J. Jarjura and the fire union
said that agreement would have saved $1.5 million.
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 one the city and union reached.
Firefighters, contesting the oversight board's authority, boycotted both
rounds of arbitration.
In her ruling, 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
Most of the savings in the new contract are expected to come from reduced
overtime. The contract extended the work week from 42 to 50 hours and cut
the number of shifts from four to three, meaning more firefighters are
available to work on each shift.
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 worked under their old contract.
As of Sept. 15, overtime totaled more than $700,000 for the fiscal year,
which started July 1. The $18.3 million fire department budget for the year
includes just $1 million for overtime. If the new contract stands and
overtime continues to average $5,000 a week, the city will come in just
under budget. Officials have determined they can use federal money to
purchase some items they had intended to buy with city money, giving them a
bit more wiggle room in the overtime account.
None of that is likely to matter if the new contract is struck down. The
old contract mandated a force of 329 firefighters, but the city only had
300; the empty positions had to be filled by paying overtime. The new
contract decreases the minimum number of firefighters.
Seventeen firefighters have filed retirement papers since the oversight
board imposed the new contract. Not yet clear is whether they would be
allowed to return if Gallagher's ruling stands. If they cannot or will not
return and firefighters go back to their old contract, the city will have to
hire more firefighters or pay overtime to fill the additional positions.
Other costs would likely be associated with reverting to the old contract,
though no one is sure exactly how much they would be. Because the work week
under the old contract was eight hours shorter, firefighters would likely be
entitled to overtime for at least some of the additional hours they have
worked since the new contract took effect. Also unclear is how salaries
would be affected. The contract grants firefighters a 7% raise, but
they are making less per hour than they did under their old contract.
[And that's a paycut, folks.]
"It could be a much bigger problem than $1.5 million," Jarjura said, adding
he believes the city and oversight board have strong grounds for an appeal.
"I would use all of my power and my skills to avoid any deficit. We're
cognizant of that problem, there was already, most of the overtime account
was used up, so it's a tight budget, it's a difficult process, but we will
again do whatever is necessary to end the fiscal year on balance. I'm not
throwing in the towel."
Then there's the question of how the union would get a new contract. 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 they
"I can't imagine us not appealing because there's so much uncertainty as to
what would transpire if the ruling was allowed to stand," Jarjura said.
Michael Cicchetti, oversight board chairman, said the board will almost
certainly appeal, probably before the Oct. 21 deadline.
"It's all but official at this point," he said. "From the people that I've
talked to on the board, most of them are prepared to appeal this since it's
not in the best interests of the city."
Daniel French, fire union president, said the union's attorney is looking
into the issue, but firefighters seem to have no choice but to continue
working under the new contract at least until the city and oversight board
decide whether to appeal.
"If that's standard procedure and that's law, then that's what it is,"
French said. "I don't know what other options we'd have. We're not thrilled
with this contract, but we do respect the law, and if that's what it is it
Down on the farm - Dairy workers fight for their right to organize in Oregon
by Family Farm Defenders
Thanks to a backroom deal hatched between the American Federation of Labor
(AFL), the Farm Bureau, southern white segregationists, and new deal
democrats, farm workers and domestic servants were specifically excluded
from the right to engage in activities of mutual aid, protection, and
collective bargaining as extended to other U.S. workers under the 1935
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Starting in WWII and through the mid
1960s the infamous "Bracero" program facilitated the migration of close to
four million seasonal farm workers from Mexico into the U.S. as a cheap
labor option for agribusiness. This easily exploited throwaway labor force
persists today under the auspices of the federal H2-A Guest Worker program.
Such institutionalized discrimination has been reinforced by U.S. refusal to
recognize the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the
International Labor Organization (ILO)'s rules on just compensation, forced
labor, and union organizing. As a result, farm workers in the U.S. today
remain among the most abused in the world, with no federal right to form a
labor union, to earn overtime pay, or protection against child exploitation,
workplace injury, and toxic exposure.
Through the historic struggle of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers
(UFW) that began in the 1960s, California was forced to pass its own
Agriculture Labor Relations Act in 1975, extending federal NLRA guarantees
to farm workers. Similar farmworker organizing drives led by the Coalition
of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), and
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) are winning victories in FL,
NC, and OR. Many of these struggles are documented in a March 2004 Oxfam
report titled "Like Machines in the Field Workers Without Rights in
American Agriculture" (available online at www.maketradefair.com). Just like
the UFW's earlier CA grape boycott, these grassroots efforts are
successfully bridging the economic and cultural divide that often separates
rural workers from urban consumers through popular education, corporate
campaigns targeting the likes of Taco Bell and Mt. Olive, as well as
pro-fair trade, anti-sweatshop, global justice activism.
In the rolling desert-like grasslands along the Columbia River in
northeastern OR another epic labor battle is now underway against one of the
largest factory dairy farms in the Pacific Northwest. Threemile Canyon near
Boardman, OR, employs 140 mostly Latino immigrants to manage its herd of
18,000 Holstein and Jersey cows (30,000 head total including calves), as
well as raise potatoes, corn, wheat, and alfalfa. Threemile's daily output
of 1.3 million pounds of milk finds its way to national retail chains such
as Safeway, as well as processors like Tillamook County Creamery
Association, the famous OR-based co-op cheese maker. In a remote corner of
the U.S., one now finds half mile long confinement barns, high tech
carousels milking 500 cows at once, and workers facing a grueling 60 hour
work week in a hell on earth reminiscent of a 19th-century Dickens novel.
The 225 square miles on which Threemile Canyon sits was originally owned by
aerospace giant, Boeing Corp. and subleased to farmers for irrigated
operations. In early 2000, the ND-based potato giant, R.D. Offut bought out
Boeing and launched a $185 million joint venture with Bos Family Oregon
Farms, a mega-dairy outfit based in Bakersfield, CA. One of the first jobs
of Threemile's new management team was to address a backlog of environmental
lawsuits due to massive water withdrawals from the Columbia River blamed for
the destruction of wild salmon runs. By cutting its water demand in half (to
120,000 acre feet per year) and setting aside 23,000 acres of endangered
juniper sage habitat for conservation, Threemile was able to turn a "green
leaf" and placate many of its most outspoken critics. Everyone from the
Nature Conservancy to the Wall Street Journal has since dumped accolades on
Threemile as a great model of ecological stewardship and responsible
business. In fact, Oregon's ex-Governor, John Kitzhaber, is quoted on the
factory farm's own website as saying" this farm merges economic and
environmental values in a superb example of sustainable agricultureŠ I
predict this will be the model and the standard for this kind of development
in the future."
Part of this sustainability includes recycling of potato skins and other
pesticide-laden crop waste as feed to the locked-up dairy cows, which are
also pumped full of synthetic hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics.
Oregon taxpayers forked over $20 million in low interest loans and tax
credits to get the mega dairy off the ground, while the residents of
Portland are paying Threemile another $500,000 a year in exchange for taking
their food waste for its composting operation. Ratepayers for Portland
General Electric are poised to spend another $1 million annually on the
"green power" from Threemile's methane project. Manure from the herd an
estimated 675 tons per day is destined for a pair of 50 foot tall methane
digesters to produce electricity. Without the guaranteed milk market offered
by Tillamook, the massive taxpayer subsidies, as well as the $100 million
line of credit from the Bank of the West, Threemile would probably not be
Conditions for workers on such factory farms are extremely filthy,
dangerous, exhausting, and poorly compensated. Three Latino workers on a
mega-dairy in CA died recently when they were overcome by hydrogen sulfide
and ammonia fumes. Workers are sometimes forced to work in manure up to
their waist, and end up with open festering sores that in turn contaminate
their own families. Workers frequently break bones from being kicked by cows
and from slipping on manure drenched concrete floors, which explains why the
rate of injury on dairy farms is the highest in all of agriculture and
higher than that in any other private industrial sector, according to a 2003
Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health article. One worker quoted in an
Aug. 27, 2004 Salon.com article said, "I worry every day that I will break
my hand or get hurt, but I never say anything for fear I'll lose my job. No
American would do this job. This is a shit job, for shit money." Dairy farm
workers in OR earn as little as $5.15 per hour and are often forced to work
12-16 hour days with no overtime or bonus pay. Until Feb. 2004, farm workers
in OR did not even have the legal right to a lunch break or rest periods.
In Feb. 2003 the United Farm Workers (UFW) launched an organizing drive at
Threemile Canyon after a hundred workers went on wild cat strike and walked
off the job following a cut in pay. Union activists soon encountered
harassment, intimidation, and in some cases physical assault and illegal
firing. Safety violations were rampant, and OSHA now has a dozen citations
against Threemile in its records. In all of 2003, though, federal and state
regulators only managed to inspect 51 out of the nation's estimated 86,000+
dairy farms. Seventeen workers who sued Threemile for minimum wage
violations and illegal payroll deductions accepted an out of court
settlement for $70,000 in June 2004. Plaintiff Reginaldo Rodriguez, remarked
"I feel very satisfied with the money that we won...but we're concerned
about the company retaliating, because the employee handbook says that we
don't have rights...that the company can fire us at any time."
Agribusiness outfits prefer to hire undocumented workers so that they can
simply fire them at will if they get hurt, sick, pregnant, complain, or
otherwise prove to be a problem and a drag on profitability. This also
enables them to avoid pesky workman's compensation claims and skirt around
other laws about employment non-discrimination and workplace safety. A
different spin is provided by Agnes Schafer, vice president of Kansas
City-based Dairy Farmers of America (DFA): "Farmers in general are
pro-Hispanic because it's economical and it's people who want to work and
who value agriculture." DFA has long been criticized by family farmers for
its ruthless corporate-style management that places short-term profit above
the interest of its own dairy co-op members. DFA is currently under
investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Justice in several states for anti-trust
activities involving manipulation of milk prices and corruption at the
Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Under intense public pressure to negotiate with
UFW, Threemile hired Portland television celebrity and public relations
flak, Len Bergstein, to advise them in their union busting work. In a
February 24, 2004 Oregonian article, Bergstein asserted, "the history of
this thing is that the union lies about the operations of the farm for their
own purposes. They've been unable to gain widespread support, so they make
these outrageous charges without any regard for the truth." Among these
charges is growing worker concern that Threemile is contributing to the Mad
Cow epidemic in the U.S. through its sloppy handling of dead animals,
foodwaste, compost, and feed rations with the same mechanical equipment,
leading to dangerous cross contamination. Reminiscent of the gross animal
abuse scandal now embroiling KFC, an employee at Threemile stated, "I saw
how they killed the calves with hammers; they hammered the calves' heads
until they killed them." One upset worker who videotaped such livestock
abuse at Threemile was promptly fired. Other workers have been told by
supervisors to continue milking cows regardless of mastitis since the
elevated bacteria levels would still be diluted enough to pass regulatory
health inspection. Utilizing secondary consumer-based boycotts, the UFW has
mounted a grassroots pressure campaign against Threemile's major milk buyers
and financial creditors. Feeling the heat, both Tillamook in April 2003 and
Safeway in June 2004 have now called on Threemile to negotiate with the
union, leaving DFA (owner of the Borden/Elsie the Cow label), Bank of the
West, and Sorrento Lactalis (maker of "Precious" and "Sorrento" brand cheese
products), as targets. On April 24th, 2004, when Bush's Interior Dept.
Secretary, Gale Norton, appeared at the Portland, OR zoo for an Earth Day
ceremony marking Threemile Canyon's conservation efforts, protestors were on
hand to expose the green washing and union busting behind the award.
On Aug. 18th, 2004 dozens of Threemile farmworkers and their supporters
formed a "human billboard" along Highway 395 in Herminston OR to protest
the illegal firing of union activist, Daniel Sepulveda. Sepulveda was sacked
for insubordination after an altercation in June that led to his
hospitalization with a crushed foot. According to supervisor, Shawn Francis,
Sepulveda intentionally put himself in front of his moving truck and got run
over. Threemile has brought in union-busting consultants to met with workers
in small groups of 3-4, and convincing them to sign an anti-union petition.
One of the consultants has reportedly even told workers that it is illegal
to have a union in Oregon. While the corporate managers at Threemile Canyons
have made some concessions on wages, healthcare, and safety to undercut the
UFW drive, they still refuse to recognize the union itself and are lobbying
for new state laws allowing indefinite farmworker contracts and outlawing
Union offer to cut bonuses is rejected by German retailer,
Retailer KarstadtQuelle AG rejected an offer by its union to cut bonus payments. Karstadt, one of Germany's biggest employers with about 100,000 employees, needs union support to avoid going bankrupt as it restructures. But service-industry union VER.DI said it was opposed to job and wage cuts and longer working hours, top elements of the overhaul. A spokesman for Karstadt, which owns businesses in such areas as department stores, coffee chains, mail order and travel, said what the union proposed "was not enough."...
Congress reinstates truck-driving rule for more hours
AP via Billings Gazette, MT
WASHINGTON - Congress overturned a court order and quietly reinstated
a trucking industry-supported rule that allows drivers to stay behind the
wheel longer between rest periods.
A federal court threw out the regulation last summer, saying the Bush
administration had failed to consider its impact on truckers' health.
The rule, which had been in effect for nine months, allows drivers to work
up to 11 consecutive hours, one more hour than previously permitted, and to
log a maximum of 77 hours over seven days, 17 more than before. It replaced
a rule that had been in place since World War II.
In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down
the rule after it was challenged by the consumer group Public Citizen. The
court allowed the rule to stay in place temporarily at the request of the
agency that came up with it.
The temporary delay in enforcing the court order remains in effect. The new
law means the longer-hours rule will be permanent.
Last week, Congress extended the rule for up to a year by adding it to a
separate measure allocating money for highway construction. No announcement
of the change was made. The chairman of the House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and the committee's top
Democrat, Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, signed off on it.
Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, said the trucking industry had
done an end run around the federal court.
"They didn't want it decided on the merits. They wanted it decidedpolitically," she said.
Claybrook said the 30% increase in the amount of time a trucker can
now drive makes the roads more dangerous. Fatigue is a predominant cause of
large truck crashes, which kill 5,000 people a year, she said.
Transportation Dept. spokesman Brian Turmail said the new rule reduces
the risk of accidents because it requires drivers to take at least 10 hours
off between shifts, two more than before. The rule also reduces the maximum
work day from 15 hours to 14.
"It's designed to make the roads safer by significantly reducing
fatigue-related crashes," Turmail said.
The law keeps the rule in place until Sept. 30, unless the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration comes up with a new one.
Turmail said that agency, which is responsible for trucker safety, is
conducting a comprehensive review of the physical effects of drivers'
operating their vehicles.
That's what was missing from the agency's original deliberations, the
overturned court order had said.
"The agency neglected to consider a statutorily mandated factor - the
impact of the rule on the health of drivers," wrote Judge David B. Sentelle.
"The FMCSA points to nothing in the agency's extensive deliberations
establishing that it considered the statutorily mandated factor of drivers'
health in the slightest."
The trucking industry supports the law, saying that switching back and
forth between old and new rules would be disruptive.
American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said in a statement
that reinstating the old rule "could have caused great damage to the
Public Citizens' Claybrook said that going back to the previous 60-year-old
rule would have little effect because most truck drivers are familiar with
Teamsters union spokeswoman Eugenia Gratto said the truckers prefer the
original rules because they're safer than the one that increased truckers'
hours on the road.
"We're certainly disappointed it was slipped in the bill," Gratto said. "A
lot of congressional members didn't know about it."
In 2002, the trucking industry gave $377,000 to members of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Industry, according to the nonpartisan
Center for Responsive Politics campaign watchdog group.
Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
(July 31+) Aug.1-10/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
1998 and previous years.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, 'flung' into print as a campaign piece during the 1998 race for Joe Kennedy's empty Congressional seat. The handbook is available online from *Amazon.com.Top |
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