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Timesizing News, June 2009
[Commentary] ©2004-09 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

6/30/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Dollar advances as consumer confidence falls, The Associated Press.
    NEW YORK — The dollar rose slightly Tuesday after a private research group said consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June.
    The 16-nation euro bought $1.4042 in late New York trading, down from the $1.4086 it bought late Monday. The British pound fell to $1.6462 from $1.6573, while the dollar advanced to 96.32 Japanese yen from 95.99 yen.
    The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 49.3, down from its revised May level of 54.8.
    Because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the United States, economists and investors watch it closely.
    Meanwhile, a key housing index released Tuesday showed home price declines moderated in April.
    "It appears that the consumer confidence report provided players with an opportunity to take profit on short (dollar) positions as the greenback had clearly become oversold amid illiquid, pre-holiday trading conditions," Bank of New York Mellon senior currency strategist Michael Woolfolk wrote in a client note.
    Volatility in foreign exchange markets is expected to remain high this week as closely watched U.S. employment figures are released and the European Central Bank makes an interest rate decision, Woolfolk said.
    The ECB is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged at its meeting Thursday and cautiously note some signs that the economy of the 16 countries that share the euro is stabilizing following unprecedented liquidity injections and big declines in the cost of borrowing.
    Higher interest rates can support a currency as investors steer funds to better returns in investments denominated in that currency.
    Also Tuesday, official figures showed Germany's jobless rate edged down to 8.1 percent in June, posting a weak seasonal improvement as programs to put workers on shorter hours helped stabilize employment amid a serious recession.
    In other late trading Tuesday, the dollar advanced to 1.1621 Canadian dollars from 1.1566 late Monday, and edged up to 1.0853 Swiss francs from 1.0818 francs.

  2. Breaking News: Vibe Magazine Folding - VIBE Media Group Goes Out of Business, Photo District News via pdnonline.com - New York,NY,USA.
    VIBE, a staple of music journalism since 1993 and one of the most influential publications aimed at African-American readers, has folded.
    The entire VIBE Media Group is shutting down effective Tuesday, according to a memo from CEO Steve Aaron. The staff had been in the process of editing a tribute issue of the magazine commemorating Michael Jackson.
    The company was unable to secure financial backing, or to restructure a "huge debt," Aaron wrote. Declines in the music industry and in advertising worked against the business. "It’s also unfortunate that in a recession many companies reduce the multi-cultural campaigns," Aaron added.
    VIBE Media Group was owned by private equity firm Wicks Group of Companies.
    VIBE's last regular issue was published in May. VIBE Media Group had launched another spin-off title in June The Most!, a glossy celebrity title meant to replace two issues cut from VIBE's publication schedule.
    VIBE, which was founded in 1993 by Quincy Jones, billed itself as “the definitive voice of urban culture, influencing global music, life, and style.”
    The magazine's photo editor was Robyn Forest, and the associate photo editor was Delia L. Desai, according to a recent masthead. Mark Shaw was the art director.
    It had been a tough year for VIBE, which faced a steep drop in ad pages and circulation. Earlier this year, the magazine cut its rate base to 600,000 from 800,000, the second such cut in a year. VIBE also reduced its frequency from monthly to 10 times a year. Employees were put on a four-day workweek March 1.
    VIBE rivals include The Source and XXL. In 2007, the company closed Vibe Vixen, a spin-off title aimed at women.
    Another music magazine, Blender, folded earlier this year. Blender was published by Alpha Media Group.
    VIBE's closure was first reported Tuesday by AOL’s Daily Finance site. The VibeMagazine Twitter feed sent out a message early Tuesday afternoon saying simply, “Thanks for everything.”

6/28-29/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Cultural affairs: Nevada museums cut hours this week - Cuts leave no staff for new exhibits at Springs Preserve, By Ed Vogel, Capital Bureau, 6/29 Las Vegas Review-Journal - Las Vegas,NV,USA.
    Cyndy Toy, an administrative assistant at the Nevada State Museum in Lorenzi Park, feeds pigeons outside the facility Tuesday. Toy says the birds will have to go on a diet when she moves to a four-day work week. [photo caption]
    CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Faced with a one-third cut in his budget, Department of Cultural Affairs Director Michael Fischer did what any realistic business manager would do: He cut hours of museums and libraries, laid off some employees and reduced the work week of many others to 32 hours.
    "I feel horrible for the people working in the museums," said Fischer, who quit a lucrative dental business to head a state agency because of his love of history. "There just wasn't enough money. If there had been $2.5 million more, we wouldn't have had to lay off anybody or reduce hours."
    The Legislature increased taxes by $1 billion during the 2009 session, but not enough to keep museums and libraries from cutting hours.
    An emotional state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, even mentioned during one hearing how important libraries are to his younger constituents.
    Legislators did restore some funding to the agency. Gov. Jim Gibbons had proposed a 40 percent cut in Cultural Affairs spending in his budget in January.
    Horsford said Tuesday that legislators talked with the agency's administrators and determined what funding would be necessary to keep museums and libraries open at least some of the time.
    "It was difficult," Horsford said. "All agencies had cuts. We tried to preserve essential services like education. We cut spending by about $1 billion. There simply was not enough to preserve all services for museums, libraries and archives."
    Additional funds could be appropriated in September that might allow museums to open on additional days.
    During a Thursday meeting of the Interim Finance Committee, state Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, proposed giving $1.1 million in secretary of state reserve funds to the Department of Cultural Affairs.
    "This department was cut more severely than others," he said. "I think it is important we address this deficiency."
    But Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said there are other agencies that could use the money, and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, suggested looking at whether some federal stimulus funds might be used by the department.
    "We all struggled with the cuts to Cultural Affairs," she said.
    The Interim Finance Committee will discuss ways to augment the department's funds in its next meeting in September.
    Starting Wednesday, most state museums will be open four days a week, not the normal seven days.
    The Nevada State Museum in Lorenzi Park will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, while the Lost City Museum in Overton will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
    The state Railroad Museum in Boulder City won't be cutting days, since it is open only on Saturday and Sunday for 7-mile train rides.
    The state Museum in Carson City will be open Wednesday through Saturday. The state Library and Archives in Carson City still will be open every weekday, but its hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    The Nevada Historical Society in Reno will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
    When the Legislature adjourned in 2007, it set funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs at $31.7 million. When it adjourned this past June 2, funding for the agency was placed at $21.3 million.
    Two years ago, the agency's staff was 187 people. Now it will be 142, with 51 of them working 32-hour weeks and earning 20 percent less.
    [Better than zero hours and 100% less. Time for people to demand full employment and the higher pay that would bring about by market forces - however short a workweek it make take in the age of robotization.]
    Twelve people were laid off.
    Still, during a news conference on June 9, Gibbons said he did not believe anyone in state government had been laid off.
    He only has to walk a few feet past his parking lot behind the state Capitol into the State Library and Archives to see the effects of budget cuts.
    Shelves of books in what had been a Nevada section have been moved closer to the main bookshelves so remaining employees will have an easier time reshelving returned books.
    The periodical shelves have many empty spaces for newspapers and magazines that state government cannot afford to buy.
    "It's temporary," said Daniel Burns, Gibbons' communications director. "When things turn around, it will be restored."
    Burns said Gibbons had very difficult decisions to make at a time when state tax revenues are declining.
    Cutting the Cultural Affairs budget was one of those, Burns said.
    Peter Barton, administrator of the Division of Museums and History, predicted people will be angry once they drive to a museum for a visit and find it closed.
    "We are taking from the public their own asset," Barton said. "Our collections belong to Nevadans."
    He expects to lose additional employees because they cannot make ends meets on pay that is 80 percent of what they previously earned. Three employees already have found jobs with the federal and local governments.
    Another victim of the cuts is the just finished $47 million state museum at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.
    Legislators found $5 million to complete the exhibits needed before it can open to the public, but they rejected funding the staff needed to actually open the place.
    That museum could be ready to open to the public in October 2010, but will remain locked until the Legislature in 2011 funds its staff.
    "This will be a wonderful community resource," said David Millman, director of the museum in Lorenzi Park. "When we open it depends on when we have staff."
    Barton said by state law museum admission is free to children under age 18. Adult admission is $4 to $6, depending on the museum.
    "Where else can a family of four go for an afternoon and spend less than $15 and learn something of their history? Fischer asked.
    Attendance is down 15 percent so far this year, according to Barton, but June attendance is up slightly. He expects more people will choose museums since they will be looking for places close to home to visit during the recession.
    "We took the resources we had and applied them in a manner so that the most people have an opportunity to visit our museums," Barton said.
    "The museums are open on the peak visitation days. Almost everyone who visits a museum goes away with a positive outcome. It is a lot of fun."
    Contact reporter Ed Vogel at evogel @reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

  2. Our view: Jefferson County commissioners must agree on a budget cut plan to deal with loss of occupational tax, Posted by The Editorial Board, 6/28 The Birmingham News - al.com - Birmingham,AL,USA.
    "We are either going to sink together, or we are going to rise together," said Jefferson County Commissioner William Bell. [Photo caption]
    Sometimes, you can be both right and wrong. A perfect example: the opposing positions taken last week by Jefferson County commissioners.
    Thursday, commissioners were to sign off on putting a resolution on this week's commission meeting agenda that would cut another $31.7 million from county spending, a move necessitated by the loss of the county's occupational tax.
    But two of the five commissioners, Jim Carns and Bobby Humphryes, wouldn't go along. They said they hadn't had enough time to study the proposed cuts and had questions about them.
    That drew angry reactions from at least two of their colleagues who wanted to move forward with the cuts. "We are either going to sink together, or we are going to rise together," said Commissioner William Bell. Commission President Bettye Fine Collins, who had to leave the meeting to testify in court, later said she wouldn't bring the resolution up because of the opposition.
    So at a time when showing unity would be the absolute very least commissioners could do as they try to convince lawmakers to re-enact the occupational tax, they lay an egg.
    But here is where commissioners, individually, are right.
    For Carns and Humphryes, they're right not to rush to approve a spending-cut plan they don't have a firm understanding of.
    Earlier last week, we saw the result of budget cuts that weren't well thought through: cancer patients and others being turned away at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital because the commission forced hospital staff to abide by the same workweek reduction imposed on other county departments, even though Cooper Green isn't funded by the occupational tax.
    The reduced workweek and reduced pay also only applied to hourly workers, and not to salaried employees, such as commissioners. "Until we find ways to make cuts across the board and at all levels of the county, I'm not going to vote for any more cuts," said Humphryes.
    And here is where Carns and Humphryes are wrong. They know the financial quandary the county is in and either have or can get the information they need to make a rational decision. Plus, nothing is stopping them from proposing changes that spread the burden of the cuts among both hourly and salaried workers.
    It does look like they are taking a populist stand against budget cuts at a time decisive action is needed to keep the county afloat. Collins says without such action, the county won't be able to pay its bills next month.
    Plus, Carns' and Humphryes' position is undermined by the fact, as noted by Collins, that they voted, as legislators, in 1999 to repeal the occupational tax.
    But the other three commissioners pushing for quick action -- Collins, Bell and Shelia Smoot -- are also wrong. They haven't undone the disastrous decision to cut staff time at Cooper Green. Neither have they proposed a way to include salaried workers in the work-reduction mandate, nor cut their own salaries.
    As we have said before, for the commissioners' spending-cut plan to have credibility with legislators and with the public, they must personally share the pain.
    Collins, Bell and Smoot are right, however, in saying they can't just continue to put off the day of budget reckoning, and in insisting the commission sink or swim together.
    Too often over the past two years, commissioners have bitterly split among themselves. That was particularly true with the county's unresolved sewer debt crisis.
    Carns and Humphryes favored bankruptcy; Collins, Bell and Smoot wanted to make a deal with creditors. That division, which became bitter and personal, was one reason bills to allow the county to divert excess revenue from the county's school sales tax to pay toward the sewer debt went nowhere with lawmakers.
    The county can't let the lack of unity on budget cuts be an excuse for lawmakers to bail on re-enacting the occupational tax.
    While Collins says she doesn't intend to bring up the budget-cut resolution at Tuesday's commission meeting, there is still time for Carns and Humphryes to get their questions and concerns addressed, and for commissioners to fine-tune the plan to make sure it's fair. The resolution could be brought up Tuesday for consideration with the unanimous consent of all commissioners.
    Isn't that the key -- a plan all five commissioners can sign off on?
    It isn't a matter of right or wrong. The people of Jefferson County, who depend on the services the county must now cut, don't need a rushed plan or more delay. They need a good plan. And they need their commissioners to work together to create it.

  3. Union workers reject offer by Globe paper, By Frank McGurty, 6/28 Reuters - USA.
    TORONTO - Unionized workers at The [Toronto] Globe and Mail overwhelmingly rejected what the Canadian newspaper said was its final contract offer, the union said on Saturday, but the two sides will meet again on Tuesday.
    Union members, including journalists, sales staff and circulation workers, voted 260-32 to reject the offer, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union said in a statement.
    The Globe and Mail, a division of CTVglobemedia, said on Friday it told workers it would implement the terms of its offer on July 1. The current contract expires a day earlier.
    It said it expected to continue publishing the paper and updating its websites in the event of a strike or lockout.
    But after the Saturday vote, the union said the paper agreed to resume talks on Tuesday.
    A Globe spokeswoman confirmed that the two sides would meet again on Tuesday.
    "The purpose is to hear the union response to management's proposal," the spokeswoman, Nancy Evans, said by email.
    The union said Globe workers were prepared for a strike if necessary. The union said its members at the newspaper have never gone out on strike in its almost 60-year history.
    The union, which represents 450 workers at the national paper, said the paper's offer included pension benefits cuts of up to 50 percent; salary reductions in some wage categories; a general two-year wage freeze for all employees; longer work days and a longer work week.
    [So in some cases and places, things are going backwards.]
    The Globe said on Friday it had adjusted its position and is now offering to allow current employees to stay on a defined benefit pension system, though with higher contributions. The company wants others to move to a defined employee-contribution plan.
    Many newspapers and media companies have seen their fortunes turn sour as the economy went into recession and advertisers slashed spending.
    To cope with the downturn, media groups have laid off staff and sought salary, benefit and other concessions from their remaining employees.
    The Globe has not been immune. In January, it revealed plans to cut about 80 jobs through layoffs and voluntary severance.
    The union said it was sensitive to the newspaper's plight and that it was willing to make sacrifices to help the Globe weather the tough times. It was it was willing to accept a wage freeze. "But we are not prepared to accept the gutting of our pension plan," said Sue Andrew, the chair of the union's Globe unit.
    CTVglobemedia is owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan; Torstar Corp, which publishes the Toronto Star newspaper; BCE Inc, parent of Bell Canada; and the Woodbridge Co, an investment vehicle for Canada's billionaire Thomson family. Woodbridge is also the biggest shareholder of Thomson Reuters.
    The company's other media properties include the national CTV television network, and specialty channels Business News Network and MuchMedia.
    (Editing by Will Dunham)

6/27/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Traffic up at library, By Lauren Radomski, Fergus Falls Daily Journal - Fergus Falls,MN,USA.
    Library traffic is up in Fergus Falls as residents look to capitalize on budget-friendly reading material and Internet availability.
    Libraries historically see a boom in business during tough economic times, said Peg Werner, director of the Viking Library System. People may end magazine subscriptions, drop home Internet service and stop movie rentals, only to turn to libraries for these services instead, Werner said. Computer and Internet availability becomes especially important to job seekers looking to update their resumes and apply for jobs online.
    “Libraries during a financial time such as this are absolutely the best deal in town,” said Walt Dunlap, director of the Fergus Falls Public Library.
    In Fergus Falls, library patronage is up by every measure, from the day’s visitor count to the number of people enrolled in children and adult programs, Dunlap said. Part of the growth is from cyclical summer traffic, which brings visiting lake residents to the library every year. The library also gets travelers off of the Central Lakes Trail, like the cross-country bicyclist from Boston who stopped to check his e-mail earlier this month.
    But this summer, the library feels busier than ever, particularly when it comes to computer usage. Dunlap has also observed a three-fold increase in the number of people accessing wireless Internet on their own laptops. In fact, it’s to the point where library staff have had to rearrange furniture to meet the demand for outlet access.
    Demand for a spot at one of the library’s permanent computer stations is so high that staff have imposed a time limit: no more than two 30-minute sessions daily. Users must wait 60 minutes between sessions.
    Lynn Haagenson brings his laptop to the library weekly because his Elizabeth MN home gets only dial-up.
    “It’s always busy here,” he said. “I’m surprised by the number of seniors who use it, who actually bring their laptops here.”
    Baby boomers make up an increasing number of library patrons across the country, Dunlap said. Those visitors may have decent pensions, he said, but the state of the economy means they, too, are attempting to save where they can.
    Increasing library traffic comes at a time when there are fewer dollars available to fund library services, Werner said. Sometimes that means fewer staff, shorter hours and a backlog of backroom work.
    It also means the library’s expansion project is on the back burner, Dunlap said. The $5 million project would add 12,500 square feet to the building’s south side and put it in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Supporters have proposed funding the project through a combination on fundraising, grant and city dollars.
    But a work session in late March, members of the Fergus Falls City Council said they believed the library project could wait a year or two. Some questioned what effect a college at the Regional Treatment Center would have on library usage and whether a new building at a new location may be a better option in the future.
    In the meantime, library staff are working with the space they have and encouraging patrons to keep the expansion project on the minds of local leaders.
    “We continue to look for the library community to let the council and the mayor know how they use the library,” Dunlap said.

  2. Two in coroner's office retire after Jefferson County cuts workweek to 32 hours, Posted by Carol Robinson, The Birmingham News - al.com - Birmingham,AL,USA.
    [The fluctuating workweek can have unintended consequences which would be mitigated if it was done on a citywide, statewide, or nationwide basis across all jobs.]
    Jefferson County's new 32-hour workweek has led two veteran death investigators to announce plans to retire, a move that drops the number of deputy coroners to four.
    The work force reduction in the coroner's office -- which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- will lead to delays in responding to death scenes, and in determining why and how those deaths occurred, authorities said.
    "I believe it is fair to say that there will be an outcry when human remains are left out in the public view for extended periods of time," said former longtime Chief Deputy Coroner Jay Glass, who retired in 2008. "In addition, there are many times where the potential for civil unrest can and will increase greatly when a homicide victim cannot be removed from a scene in a timely manner."
    Stan Pitts, a former Mountain Brook police officer who joined the coroner's office in 1982, and Paul Price, a former Birmingham police officer who joined the coroner's office in 1986, said they have no choice but to retire. With a 32-hour workweek, they would lose up to 5 percent of their pensions if they continued to work, in addition to the 20 percent pay cut.
    "I really hadn't planned to retire, but I'll make more money retired than I would working," Price said. "It's a no-brainer."

    Pitts agreed. "At this point, I wasn't ready to leave, but I have worked too long to have money taken away from me."
    Jefferson County Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Brissie said he understands.
    "All the people here work together as a team and want the office to function correctly," Brissie said, "but I can't argue with them about losing retirement money."
    Since the early 1980s, the coroner's office had grown from essentially a one-man shop to one with a medical examiner plus three full-time, board-certified forensic pathologists and eight deputy coroner investigators with 200 years' combined experience. The office already was short two deputy coroners when the county announced the reduced workweek in response to losing the occupational tax revenue.
    "I have spent a good part of my adult life creating a good medical examiner system in this county," said Brissie, a 29-year veteran. "I don't want to see somebody come in and just lay it on its side."
    Demanding work
    Their work is extensive and complex, ranging from identifying bodies to determining the cause and manner of death to notifying families. They investigate, notify victims' families, track down fingerprints, subpoena dental records and testify in court cases that could mean life or death for someone else.
    And they do that for about 1,800 cases a year.
    "Last weekend we had 11 cases, including two homicides and some traffic fatalities," Brissie said. "We can't schedule our cases. We can't say we're going to have just one suicide today."
    Unlike other county offices or departments, there are no projects to eliminate to offset the time and financial crunch.
    "Do they not want me to investigate suicides, or traffic fatalities?" Brissie said. "There's no way we can function properly if we eliminate anything."
    "They're treating all departments the same, but what we do is different than patching potholes," Price said.
    Brissie said they're trying to fill one position, vacant by a previous retirement, but it takes time. Being down one person costs roughly $50,000 in overtime, and that increases drastically with multiple vacancies.
    "We have enough people to stagger the shifts, but you can imagine if we had two homicides and an auto fatality on the interstate, it could be several hours before we can get to them," Brissie said. "If we had a mass disaster, four people wouldn't be able to respond."
    "We're stretched mighty thin and I don't think people realize what our responsibilities are as far deceased people in this county," Pitts said. "It's just a shame."

6/26/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. County furloughs can start Monday, judge rules, By Marie Rohde and Steve Schultze, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee,WI,USA.
    Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has the right to shorten the workweek for county workers to 35 hours to help the county cope with its financial problems, Reserve Judge Dennis J. Flynn said in a decision issued Friday.
    That means that Walker's order on unpaid furloughs will take effect Monday, unless an arbitrator rules that Walker's actions violated the county's labor contract. The arbitrator said he would issue a decision before Monday but had not done so by late Friday.
    Initially, Walker said the projected shortfall was $14.9 million, but revised figures show that it is about $4.5 million. Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said Friday that the shortfall could be as low as $650,000.
    The board voted 16-3 Thursday to urge Walker to rescind his furlough order.
    Walker responded, saying Holloway's figures are based on the $5 million sale of county land to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that he says should not be included when calculating the deficit for 2009.
    "UWM has repeatedly told us that they can't close on that until March 2010 or later," Walker said.
    In his ruling, Flynn said the fiscal crisis is real and that Walker is obligated to act to avert spending more money than is available.
    "When a significant and unexpected income shortfall occurs under a budget passed by the Milwaukee County Board, the County executive is duty bound to reasonably act in response to the new economic reality," Flynn wrote.
    Flynn went on to say: "Ultimately, it is the county executive for Milwaukee County who is responsible under the law for selecting a course of action for dealing with the fiscal crisis from the many choices that exist. . . . Walker has a right and even a duty to respond to Milwaukee County's 2009 fiscal crisis."
    Flynn said county workers do not have a right to a 40-hour workweek since a contract change in 1982. He also said that implementing the reduced hours now will not cause irreparable harm because workers could seek back pay and benefits if they win in court later.
    Milwaukee County District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees challenged Walker's order for the shorter workweek both in court and with a grievance to be decided by the arbitrator.
    The furloughs would affect the union's 1,800 members and hundreds of other county workers.
    In its lawsuit, the union argued that Walker was usurping the power of the County Board in issuing the executive order. They asked Flynn, a retired judge from Racine, to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the unpaid furloughs.
    Mark Sweet, a lawyer for the union that filed the lawsuit, said that he was disappointed with Flynn's ruling but would evaluate its next step.
    "We knew that it would be more difficult to win an injunction," Sweet said.
    A key issue before the arbitrator is whether Walker's order is effectively permanent and thus exceeds his authority.
    An earlier decision by an arbitrator allowed the county to reduce hours for up to four weeks.
    Walker has said that he may be forced to resort to layoffs if the arbitrator in the current case limits the furloughs.
    [So here we have another suicidal union that would rather have jobcuts (and member cuts) than hourscuts - that would rather the burden of the recession fell completely, unsharedly and devastatingly on a few than mildly and sharedly on all - so much for the whole concept of "union"!!! Instead of harming themselves like this, the Milwaukee County District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees should be fighting for steeply graduated income taxes to relieve the budget crisis, since the wealthy these days have concentrated sooo much of the national income and wealth, they can't even invest it sustainably anyway.]
    "If he rules we can only do it for four weeks, we'll do it for four weeks," Walker said. He expected the arbitrator to at least allow four-week furloughs because of a similar ruling in 2005.
    The furloughs would save the county up to $6.8 million over a full year, according to county budget staff.
    Walker said the shorter workweek is preferable to layoffs because he can reinstate hours as early as next month if the budget numbers improve.
    [So here's a case where management is much smarter than labor. In fact, only about half the labor movement has ever been farsighted and intelligent on this top-priority issue throughout history, and that's why labor is in the tank today = sheer selfish and self-damaging stupidity when the whole point of unions is to "all sacrifice together" and fight for longer term betterment.]
    Deputies, jailers and hospital workers would be exempt from the furloughs. County supervisors, with the exception of Joe Sanfelippo, have not agreed to take a pay cut that would be comparable to the income lost by other county workers.
    [Joe Sanfelippo is a hero. The rest of the supervisors should be replaced.]

  2. New Madrid Cuts Work Week To Four Days, fox4kc.com - Kansas City,USA.
    In an effort to cut costs the City of New Madrid, Mo. will shorten their work week from five days to four. Starting on July 6 the city's 35 employees will work a 10-hour-day, four days a week.
    The city isn't making this a permanent change just yet, the program is on trial through Oct. 31.

6/25/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Herman Miller says worst is over, by Julia Bauer | The Grand Rapids Press, Michigan Business Review - MLive.com - Ann Arbor,MI,USA.
    ZEELAND -- Although most employees for Herman Miller Inc. still are on a four-day work week, the future is looking a little less choppy, CEO Brian Walker said Thursday.
    In fact, the savings from the shortened work week were offset slightly by performance bonuses, paid to employees who managed to meet aggressive performance goals in a brutal economy.
    With order rates improving in healthcare and government, Herman Miller closed a deal Wednesday to buy a Sheboygan, Wis., manufacturer of upholstered patient chairs and other furniture for the health industry.
    Nemschoff Inc., with sales of $90 million last year, was acquired for roughly $65 million to $85 million, Walker said.
    In a Thursday morning conference call with industry analysts, Walker said the acquisition would contribute an estimated 4 cents per share to profits within two years. Such a buy in an economic slump makes sense, he said.
    "History has shown that organizations that rebuild market share in tough times rebound faster and are stronger," Walker said.
    Another relatively new high-tech sector is also gaining traction, he said. Convia Controls, sold as "Convia-Enabled" Wiremold products, provide modular power and lighting distribution systems that are adaptable for different applications.
    The building control system is debuting in a big way at the new Green Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., Walker said.
    "That connection to the green building industry is a big deal for us, and a big deal for Convia," he said.
    Herman Miller reported its fourth quarter and 2009 annual results on Wednesday, after the market closed.
    Fourth-quarter profit fell 82 percent, to $7.2 million or 14 cents per share, compared to $39.5 million or 71 cents per share last year. Excluding restructuring charges, net income was 20 cents per share.
    Sales for the quarter were down 38 percent, to $319.9 million from $519.1 million last year.
    For the fiscal year, net income fell 55 percent to $68 million, or $1.25 per share, from $152.3 million, or $2.56 per share last year. Sales dropped 19 percent to $1.63 billion from $2.01 billion a year ago.
    Competitor Steelcase Inc. earlier this week reported it broke even for the first quarter, and forecast the same result for its current quarter. The Grand Rapids company also said it would cut 200 white-collar jobs and close an unspecified number of smaller plants worldwide.
    Executives from both Steelcase and Herman Miller said Thursday the industry pace was finally starting to improve, ever so slightly.
    "It's not all very nice and even," Walker said. "But just as you see in the general economy, there's a greater level of confidence that at least we can find our way to the other side.
    "It's not as if we've seen a tidal wave of folks coming back to buy office furniture. But the business climate is, people are beginning to think more rationally," he said.
    "This has definitely been one of the most challenging years in Herman Miller history."

  2. Library to cut hours, staff again, CARA PALLONE/The News-Review, NRToday.com - Roseburg,OR,USA.
    Douglas County Library System patrons will continue to notice shorter library hours and fewer materials in the 2009-10 fiscal year.
    Effective July 1, there will be 18 fewer hours for library services countywide. Library Director Max Leek said each of the branch libraries will chop two hours from its operation schedule. The Oakland Library is excluded because it is open the fewest hours already. The Headquarters Library in Roseburg is also an exception because its hours were slashed this year.
    Other reductions will be apparent on library shelves, Leek said.
    “The obvious and most visible change is a reduction in open hours throughout the county,” Leek said. “Also visible will be the reduced numbers of magazine, books, DVDs that we provide. All of those are significantly reduced. They were this year and will be next year.”
    The shorter hours, Leek said, are a consequence of roughly an 8 percent cut in the library's budget.
    Systemwide, the equivalent of 5.5 full-time employees will be lost. Two part-time employees on the circulation desk will be laid off at Headquarters Library.

    [So if they were only slashing jobs instead of mostly just hours, there'd be a lot more layoffs than this.]
    “We have fewer positions, and in some cases, layoffs,” Leek said. “But it also means vacant positions are not being filled and hours are being trimmed from schedules.”
    With fewer people to fill in at the 10 branch libraries, Leek said there is a possibility that there will be some intermittent closures at some of them in the next year.
    The library forecast does hold some brighter news, however. Patrons will soon be able to download audio books from the Internet, and the library has also seen an increase in volunteers and support from the community. Thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation and the Friends of the Library, Leek said, the Douglas County Library System will provide updated computers and broadband Internet access for public use.
    Information about library services and new hours of operation at branch libraries is available at www.dclibrary.us.
    • You can reach reporter Cara Pallone at 957-4208 or by e-mail at cpallone@nrtoday.com.

6/24/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. County government braces for up to 40 layoffs, By TAMMY WELLS, Biddeford Journal Tribune - Biddeford,ME,USA.
    ALFRED, Maine — York County government has declared a fiscal emergency that could mean as many as 40 layoffs spread over the district attorney’s support staff, rural patrol, the registries of deeds and probate and the county commissioners office.
    “It will mean a reduction in services,” said County Manager Richard Brown.
    The chairman of the county’s budget committee, John Sylvester of Alfred, was more blunt in his assessment of the situation.
    “That cripples county government,” said Sylvester.
    [Yep, the tiny phalanx of America's 30,000 wealthiest individuals are continuing to destroy government even as they turn to government to save them. Talk about suicidal! The only short-term solution here is wartime steepness of graduated income and estate taxes because as Will Rogers said, "I guess we're going to git the money from the rich cuz they's the only ones thet's GOT any."]
    Commissioners declared the financial emergency at a special meeting Tuesday morning. In all, the county must cut $932,000 in spending by the end of the year.
    Departments, with the exception of York County Jail, were told to submit figures to Brown by 10 a.m. Friday to outline reductions in spending of 17.36 percent from now until Dec. 31, the end of the county’s financial year.
    The problem, officials say, lies within the legislation that last year forged a melded state and county corrections system and that mandates the county must earmark prisoner boarding revenues only for jail use.
    York County employs about 200 workers, about 90 at York County Jail. No jail corrections staff will be laid off because the state mandates minimum staffing levels – in fact, commissioners Tuesday also approved the hiring of five more corrections staff for the jail – a move they made with chagrin.
    “This, to me, is ridiculous,” said commissioner Richard Dutremble.
    “I completely agree,” said commissioner Dan Cabral.
    Workers after the meeting questioned that move to hire, wondering why the positions weren’t first offered to county workers facing layoffs. Brown said that decision was up to jail authorities but pointed out that the jail has a 30 percent job turnover rate, so additional vacancies are likely.
    Because jail staffing cuts are apparently out of the question, it means all of the layoffs will come from the remaining pool of 110 workers.
    It appears as if most layoffs will all come from two unions: Maine State Employees Association, which represents about 50 clerical and support staff within the district attorney’s office, the registries of deeds, probate, sheriff’s office and commissioners office; and from the 24-member County Patrol Association that represents the rural patrol and detective divisions of the sheriff’s office. As well, there are a few other, non-unionized workers employed by the county.
    There is currently no provision for layoffs or cuts to management.
    “It will be a tough time holding these departments together with fewer people,” said Brown. “We haven’t looked (at management cuts) yet. Those who are left will be doing the work of those going.”
    Last week Brown discussed the possibilities of a reduced workweek of 30 hours with MSEA local 1297. On Tuesday he said the county can’t mandate a shorter workweek, that the offer must come from the union. Brown also said a reduced workweek by the estimated 50 members off the union would eliminate some layoffs, but likely not all of them.
    MSEA local 1297 president Rachel Sherman said the unit represents just 25 percent of the county’s entire workforce, including the jail.
    “If the financial news is to the extent that has been conveyed, then it may be possible that this disaster is far too encompassing for any concessions by our little unit to matter,” she said. “We are still waiting for requested documents and information before we can even begin to figure out what difference any concessions could possibly make.”
    Brown said more specific information would be available next week but said the county could lay off anywhere from 20 to 40 people. It is believed the actual figure is about 30.
    The shortfall comes as county officials a year ago built jail revenues from prisoner board into the 2009 budget, as they have for many years. Traditionally, prisoner board revenues earned by York County Jail have been used to reduce jail expenses and thus lower the jail’s impact on the rest of the county budget. But when the jail consolidation bill was approved by the Legislature last year, it included a provision that the boarding revenues must be used only for jail expenses.
    County commissioners said that provision wasn’t spelled out in the original legislation, so they built the revenue into the 2009 budget.
    That projected boarding revenue of $932,000 for this calendar year is in addition to the nearly $8.7 million cap set aside from county funds annually to operate the jail through consolidation legislation. A cap was set for each of Maine’s 16 counties for jail expenses. With the cap and the boarding revenue, the jail’s cost to the county is nearly $10 million of the annual $18 million county budget.
    State Board of Corrections member Phil Roy two weeks ago said it was discovered early on that York County’s $8.667 million cap was too high but that Maine Municipal Association and others were resistant to modifications.
    In nearby Cumberland County, Finance Director Vic Labrecque said the situation is different. When Cumberland County submitted figures to the state for a capped assessment of $11.6 million annually, he just subtracted “everything that would go away,” as if the jail didn’t exist, including boarding revenues.
    “We’re in fair shape,” Labrecque said.
    Sylvester, who is also vice president of MMA, said the agency favored a cap as the original jail consolidation legislation was being worked out because it locked in the amount property tax payers would pay.
    “This is very unfortunate. If the state is not prepared to step in and take over county government, there are not too many alternatives (to layoffs),” Sylvester said. “County government services are critical to the residents of York County.”
    Sylvester said he believes there should be an effort forged that would allow counties to keep the assets that have been earned.
    “County government cannot function with half its workforce,” he said.
    Commissioners met with some members of the county legislation delegation to discuss the jail consolidation bill later Tuesday.
    — Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 or twells@journaltribune.com.

  2. JeffCo Commissioner Carns to take pay cut, by Crystal Jarvis, Bizjournals.com - Charlotte,NC,USA.
    [Compare District 3 County Commissioner Bobby Humphryes, who is doing the same thing - see below, 6/20/2009 story #2.]
    Jefferson County Commissioner [District 5] Jim Carns said he plans to slash his own pay by 20 percent and chop his district’s fiscal operating budget by 33 percent to match cuts recently made by the county to help save more than $38 million.
    The county, which was recently denied the right to spend its occupational taxes collected from county workers, is now suffering financially without the funds. To save money, the commission recently voted to close all of its satellite courthouses and shift workers’ workweek to four days, which sliced their pay by 20 percent.
    “Jefferson County citizens face serious legal and financial difficulties for the foreseeable future,” he said in a written statement released Wednesday. “I believe officials elected by them must share in the painful remedies essential to restoring Jefferson County’s economic health.”
    Carns reduced his staff by one-third and declared to return 20 percent of his compensation to the county, he said. Also, travel by anyone in District 5, run by Carns, will not be paid with county funds.
    “The loss of operating revenues previously generated by Jefferson County’s occupational tax impacts everyone from its employees to the citizens we are paid to serve,” he said. “Those we ask to make significant sacrifices to adjust for the current financial crisis should not be required to do so by those who are not willing to share the burdens.”
    [Carns is a good manager, practicing what Lincoln Electric calls, "All sacrifice together, starting at the top." Looks like a nice guy too, from the photo with the article.]

6/23/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Union wants Walker at hearing on shorter workweeks, By Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee,WI,USA.
    [The next exciting episode in the continuing saga -]
    The union fighting Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's mandated 35-hour workweek filed legal papers Tuesday demanding that Walker cut short his motorcycle trip around the state to attend an arbitration hearing.
    The union wants Walker and Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph Czarnezki to attend Wednesday's hearing.
    Deputy Corporation Counsel Timothy Schoewe said Walker was not personally served with the subpoena to appear at the hearing - something the union lawyer said is not necessary.
    "They shouldn't have waited until the day before the hearing," Schoewe said.
    Mark Sweet, a lawyer representing Milwaukee District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said state law allows that Walker's office be served and that was done.
    Walker was on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in western Wisconsin and Iowa on Tuesday as part of his effort to promote Milwaukee County business and tourism.
    He has said the trip is not to drum up support for his Republican bid for governor, as some critics have claimed.
    On May 14, Walker issued an order that most county employees work five fewer hours a week beginning June 28. He said the measure was necessary to erase a budget deficit for 2009.
    The union disputes the necessity for the cutbacks.
    The union earlier filed a lawsuit asking that the order be invalidated, saying Walker exceeded his power. A hearing was held last week by Reserve Judge Dennis J. Flynn, who said he would rule on the matter by the date the shorter workweeks are to take effect.
    The union also filed a grievance, claiming that Walker's order violated the county contract with the union. A hearing on the grievance will be heard by an arbitrator Wednesday.
    Schoewe said the hearing would be closed to the public and the news media.
    In anticipation of the grievance hearing, the union filed an open records request demanding documents that concern Walker's decision. Sweet said the records are necessary for the grievance hearing.
    Schoewe said the request was improperly made and denied it. Tuesday, the union filed a second lawsuit, asking for a hearing on the denial of the records.

  2. Moonlighting's a way of life for workers in tough job market, USA Today - USA.
    By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY Most weekdays at 5:30 p.m., after putting in eight hours as an insurance agent in Lawrenceville, Ga., April Hamby scurries about 100 yards to the Kroger supermarket two doors away. She's not there to pick up some milk and bread. Instead, Hamby, 35, works an additional six hours as a cashier before driving home 35 miles and slipping into bed by 2 a.m. so she can get up at 7 a.m. and begin the grind anew. She also works at Kroger many weekends.
    "Some days I want to walk next door and say, 'I just can't do this anymore,' but then I think of all the things I have to do with the money," she says.
    Many Americans are coping with the worst job market in a generation by doubling up. They're scrambling to pick up the slack as they, or their partners, lose jobs, endure pay cuts or watch their retirement savings shrivel. Job jugglers often earn a fraction of what their families cleared before the slump, but the double duty at least lets them scrape by.
    [And increases the labor surplus and guarantees that wages will sink further and they'll have to run even faster and longer to stay in the same place financially. That's why after defining the problem in Timesizing's First Phase and getting companies to convert their overtime into training and hiring in Phase 2, we use Phase 3 to include in the overtime-to-jobs conversion individuals who evade the corporate workweek ceiling by moonlighting for other companies. That way there are lots of corporate training programs in place for them to use to upgrade their skills and get the income they want within the standard workweek instead of having to overwork and monopolize the vanishing market-demanded employment. Then in Phase 4 we tie the length of the workweek to the un(der)employment rate (or any other problem variable) so that gradual workweek reduction can squeeze out the natural employment on everyone like toothpaste - and get government out of the role of employer and charity of last/first resort. Then in Phase 5 we give people the option of shifting pressure to solve residual un(der)employment from further workweek reduction to stricter controls on one or more of the population variables (imports, immigration/outsourcing, births) before offering the option of moving to the next balancing program (income per person).]
    "There's been a definite pickup (in holders of multiple jobs)," says Roy Krause, CEO of Spherion, one of the USA's largest staffing firms. "More and more, we're seeing it as a necessity."
    Moonlighting takes a toll on workers, adding stress and leaving little time for friends, family or leisure. Yet in some cases it offers a creative outlet and even a springboard to a new career.
    Second jobs more popular
    About 10% of Americans surveyed by CareerBuilder.com in March said they'd taken a second job in the last year; 18% said they planned to do so in 2009. Middle-aged workers are even more likely to double up. An AARP Bulletin survey last month found 19% of Americans 45 to 54 worked a second job the past year. "They're responsible for elderly parents, as well as their kids," says Steve Williams, research director for the Society for Human Resource Management.
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were an average 7.6 million holders of multiple jobs the first five months of this year, or 5.3% of all employees, about the same as last year.
    Workers are often driven to moonlighting by a partner's layoff. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 8.9% to 9.4% in May. The average workweek shrank to 33.1 hours, lowest since 1964, as employers imposed furloughs and slashed hours or pay. Hamby took the Kroger job in August after her husband, Joey, saw his income as a house painter dwindle amid the real estate slump.
    "The cupboards were getting bare, and I could hardly make my house note and car payment," Hamby says, adding the couple — with three daughters 11 to 16 — were falling behind on utility bills.
    The Kroger job pays about $200 a week to supplement her $40,000-a-year salary at State Farm Insurance. "It really helps with gas and groceries," she says.
    Yet that's less than a quarter of her husband's former earnings. While the Hambys have caught up on bills, they've cut out weekly dinners out and Disney World trips. And moonlighting means time away from her daughters. "Usually I'm at every softball game."
    There are bright spots. Hamby likes the Kroger stint, partly because of the chance "to interact with more customers." She has even quoted premiums and lassoed insurance prospects on the checkout line. And she so enjoys balancing the register and working with numbers, she might become an accountant.
    Yet CareerBuilder Vice President Rosemary Haefner says clients should weigh the benefits of a second job against the toll it takes. After commuting and child care costs, "It may not be that much more money in your pocket," she says.
    Those who moonlight should do so in a field they "have a passion about," says Melanie Holmes of Manpower employment. "If you're a sports nut, get a job in a sporting goods store."
    Gardening for dollars
    Last year, Christy Larman's husband, Bill, a factory manager, lost his job and had to take a lower-paying slot. So Larman joined the assembly line at a packaging plant. Then, when Bill's workweek was cut to four days, Christy, 46, got a part-time gig at a garden center. The packaging job "is very robotic," says the Dover, Ohio, resident. At the garden center, where she takes care of plants, runs the register and helps customers, "I get to use (my) creative side."
    Still, the jobs are draining. After a 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. factory shift, she works at the garden center 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends. "I may be sore and I've got to stand on my feet X more hours."
    Moonlighting means the couple are no longer tapping savings and are even putting away some money. But Christy's jobs pay minimum wage, and the Larmans earn two-thirds of Bill's former salary. Out: movies. In: $1 video rentals.
    Some job jugglers up the ante. Billy Myers of Springfield, Mo., has three jobs to get by. After getting his master's degree in experimental psychology, he couldn't find a job as a researcher. So he landed a spot as an analyst for an outdoor-gear chain. But his $28,000 salary doesn't cover expenses. So, in the evenings this spring he taught a research class at Drury University and a psychology class at Missouri State. After class, he logs up to four hours on lesson plans.
    At his day job, "I turn over numbers," he says. "But it's not as fulfilling as seeing a student finally get something."
    Experts differ over whether moonlighters should come clean about other gigs with their bosses. Holmes tells clients "to be honest" but to emphasize "it won't affect their first job." But career coach Eileen Blumenthal says it's OK not to be candid these days. "Clients that might have been quite open" are more cautious now. "The stakes are so high."

6/22/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Economy Taking Toll On Dallas' Hope Cottage, Reporting Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News - Dallas,TX,USA.
    DALLAS -- Hope Cottage, the venerable Dallas pregnancy and adoption agency, may have to lay off staff and curtail some operations if it can't come up with $50,000 in donations.
    It is sending out letters to former presidents, board members, and adoption families asking for urgent donations.
    "The options are layoffs," said Interim CEO Dr. Lottye Brodsky, "which would be terrible but something we have to realistically look at; (and) shorter hours, which we really don't want to do because babies are born at all hours of the day or night."
    Hope Cottage has a staff of 16 which counsels pregnant women for free and tries to match them with potential adoptive families. But Brodsky says 90% of the time they help women find a way to keep their children instead of adoption.
    The only fees it collects is when an adoption actually occurs.
    When asked if the financial crisis might ultimately force Hope Cottage to close its doors, Brodsky was adamant in her reply: "No, no, no. We would be severely limited, but no, we've been here 91 years and we'll be here a lot longer."
    Contact Hope Cottage at www.hopecottage.org.

  2. Culinary Union agrees to wage freeze, by Liz Benston, Casino City Times - Newton Center,MA,USA.
    LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Sympathetic to recession-reeling Strip casinos, the Culinary Union has agreed to postpone by one year a wage increase that was supposed to take effect June 1.
    The agreement, which is expected to be approved by union members today after months of negotiations, will spread an expected 34-cents-per-hour increase in wages due this year over the remaining years of the contract. That means a big part of the union's hard-won contract struck in 2007 — the wage and benefit increase of $3.47 per hour, spread over five years — survives.
    The revised contract affects nearly 40,000 Culinary Union members on the Strip. Workers at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore are covered by a separate, 10-year contract that isn't part of the agreement. Of the major casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard, only the Venetian, Palazzo and Imperial Palace aren't covered by Culinary contracts.
    Strip casinos will save tens of millions of dollars in the short term but will end up paying out that money over the long haul.
    In return for the one-year delay in wage increases, Strip casinos late Wednesday agreed to several union proposals, including a provision extending recall rights — a requirement that casinos call laid-off union workers back to work, by order of seniority, as soon as positions become available.
    "We think this is a very good deal for members," Culinary Union Political Director Pilar Weiss said. "We understand that the economy is extremely strained but we're going to protect jobs and benefits."
    Although casinos won't save labor costs, flexibility is important as they face an uncertain future, MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said.
    "All of us are hopeful and feel a certain level of confidence in our longer-term future but we have, in the short term, very serious issues to grapple with related to cash flow," he said.
    The negotiations were unlike those in other industries that have asked unions for rollbacks, as well as some meetings in years past between casinos and the Culinary Union that became acrimonious or sparked public debate.
    Similar negotiations with downtown casinos are ongoing.
    Significantly, this time the union rejected attempts to allow for additional hourly reductions for full-time workers. The revised contract still guarantees a 40-hour workweek for most positions. Many industries, including casinos, have reduced labor costs by replacing full-time workers with part-time employees, who may not be eligible for health insurance and other benefits.
    Las Vegas casinos have laid off and reduced hours for thousands of union and nonunion workers in an attempt to cut costs against sinking earnings and slash billions in debt accumulated when business was booming.
    Since the recession, an estimated 5,000 of the Culinary's membership of 55,000 in Las Vegas have lost jobs or work fewer hours.
    Employers have the discretion to make economic layoffs, Culinary contracts generally prevent casinos from employing part-time workforces that are more than 25 percent union members in any particular job classification.
    In addition to increasing recall rights from six months or a year to two years, Strip casinos also agreed to offer five unpaid personal days for Culinary workers and a commitment to resolve outstanding union arbitrations within 120 days.
    Arbitrations are disputes that arise between union members and management over a variety of issues including layoffs, job changes and seniority rights.
    More recently, workers have filed grievances with the Culinary — a first step in the dispute process — for layoffs that didn't follow union procedures, changes in job stations and tip pooling.
    "It's a big deal to have a commitment to expedite these because sometimes they take a long time to resolve and you get a backlog," Weiss said. Settling these cases will help clear up unknowns for workers who are insecure about their job status, seeking reinstatement or owed back pay, she said.
    The agreement also extends the five-year contract struck in 2007 by one year, to May 31, 2013. All terms in the 2007 contract will remain the same in the final year except for wages and benefits, which are up for negotiation in May 2012.
    The union might be able to negotiate a further increase in wages and benefits if the economy has rebounded by then and can support it, Weiss said.
    The plan also would put the MGM Grand on a similar contract cycle as the other Strip casinos. Union members at MGM Grand would receive the same wage and benefits package as workers at the other properties. The Culinary contract at MGM Grand, which was in negotiation since it expired in November 2008, will now expire in November 2013.

6/21/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Hoover Dam sign hurt business, so it's gone - Boulder City leaders complained, and state agency listened, By Jean Reid Norman & Jeremy Twitchell, Las Vegas Sun - Las Vegas,NV,USA.
    Nevada Way, the main drag through Boulder City, is no longer a locals-only route to Hoover Dam.
    Until a few weeks ago a large sign above the intersection with Buchanan Boulevard, where the Nevada Highway (U.S. 93) becomes Nevada Way, told motorists they should turn left onto the U.S. 93 truck route if they wanted to get to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Continuing straight, they sign said, would take them into Boulder City’s Historic District.
    The state Transportation Department had installed the sign figuring the town would be thrilled with it.
    But business owners complained to the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce that the sign was doing more harm than good. They pointed out that both routes head to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, and before the sign started diverting all the tourists to the more expedient way, more of them were stopping in downtown Boulder City. After the sign went up, the downtown stores and restaurants saw a drop in business.
    Chamber Executive Director Jill Lagan said she and Mayor Roger Tobler took the concern to state transportation officials, and they changed the sign to show that both roads lead to the lake and the dam.
    “It was an amazing feat,” Lagan said. “All of our jaws are dropping. It was done in 14 days.”
    Rudy Malfabon, deputy director of the Transportation Department, said the agency tries to change signs if they are confusing or aren’t working as planned. This was an easy and inexpensive fix that could be done in the department’s Las Vegas sign shop, he said, so it happened quickly.
    “Sometimes we can be pretty responsive like that,” he said.
    Henderson’s City Hall will be closed on Fridays beginning in late August or early September.
    The closure, unanimously approved Tuesday by the City Council, is expected to save the city $1.6 million a year in salaries and utility costs.
    The Development Services Center, which handles building permits, business licenses and customer service for city utilities, will be affected by the closure, as will the City Clerk’s office and the Marriage License Bureau operated by the Clark County clerk. A few other city departments have some workers in the office on Fridays as well, but most of the city’s employees have been on a four-day workweek since 1983.
    Henderson’s share of consolidated tax revenues declined for the 25th consecutive month in March, leaving the city anxiously awaiting the next set of numbers.
    If the sales tax revenue totals for April, expected to be released in the coming week, come in too low, they could force the city to make more budget cuts.
    Mayor Andy Hafen said he is on “pins and needles” waiting for the April numbers.
    The 20.9 percent decline from March 2008 to March 2009 was the seventh consecutive month of double-digit decreases when compared with the same month of the previous year, and was the second-worst decline recorded in the past two years — topped only by the 22 percent decline from December 2007 to December 2008.
    The consolidated tax is a revenue collected from several sources, including sales, cigarette and liquor taxes. The money collected in Clark County from those taxes is divided among local municipalities based on population and local sales receipts. In Henderson it accounts for about half of the city’s general fund.
    To cope with the economic slump, Henderson has frozen hiring, delayed several construction projects, cut the budgets of all departments (except for fire and police) by 10 percent, set up a furlough program, cut annual cost-of-living increases for most city employees and bought out 104 veteran employees. Together, the efforts are projected to cover the city’s estimated $57 million shortfall in the current year and save many millions more in the coming years.
    In anticipation of further revenue declines, the City Council has asked all departments to come up with a three-tier plan to cut their budgets by 5, 10 and 15 percent. Those recommendations have been collected and city officials are expected to begin prioritizing them in the coming weeks.
    “We cannot sustain 20 percent negative sales tax rates,” Hafen said. “If we go another few months with those types of deficits, we really are going to have to take drastic action — maybe beyond what we’ve already outlined in our five-year plan.”

  2. What if YOU had to work for free?, By Jon Taylor, head of employment law at EMW Picton Howell, Mirror.co.uk - London,UK.
    [Reality check: "Working" for free is...slavery.]
    Times are hard, and struggling firms are desperate to save money – without throwing valuable staff on the scrapheap.
    But that means some tough choices, for employers and their staff.
    Figures show unemployment at its highest level for 12 years, and so if you do still have a job it’s tempting to cling to it at all costs. But should you, for example, work for nothing? Forty thousand British Airways staff have been asked to give up their wages for four weeks in order to save their jobs.
    While other workers are being asked to take an unpaid holiday, work shorter hours or give up some perks – all to avoid the looming spectre of redundancy.
    So where do you stand if you’re asked to make this sort of sacrifice?
    Cash-strapped companies are trying to be more creative in how they save money, and I expect more employers will follow BA’s example and ask staff to work free for a time.
    They can only do this with your agreement and you are perfectly entitled to refuse. If your employer tries to force you to work for nothing you have the right to claim for unlawful deduction of wages at an employment tribunal.
    The time for which you are expected to give up your wages must also be a finite and relatively short period.
    Again, your employer can’t make you take unpaid leave without you agreeing. However, it might be presented as an alternative to redundancy, so it may be better to take unpaid holiday than lose your job.
    Of course, you may worry that if you refuse you could fall out of favour with your employer or be the first in line for redundancies.
    But if your employer punishes you, this will strengthen any unfair dismissal claim and may give you grounds for unfair dismissal even if you’ve worked there for less than 12 months.
    As the recession bites, all employers are looking at ways of getting more production for less money.
    Again, you have to look at your contract. If you’re in a salaried position where you’re required to work the hours that are necessary to get your job done, then your employer can lengthen your hours.
    However, if you’re on an hourly rate or have specific provisions in your contract that detail overtime pay after a specific time, then they will have to get your agreement first.
    Again, you have to make the judgement - if working longer hours for a limited period means avoiding redundancy, then maybe it’s a better option.
    If you’ve been asked to do a similar job to the one you’re doing now in another part of the company, employers can reasonably require you to move to a different department.
    However, if your new role is wildly different to your job title or job description in your contract, then you may have grounds to refuse.
    If they’re asking you to move to another office a long way from where you are, and are not willing to bear any relocation expenses, this would be an unreasonable request and they can’t discipline you for refusing.
    You might work in a greengrocer’s, and your boss asks you to take £20 worth of veg while he knocks £20 off your salary. Without your agreement this is unlawful.
    If your contract says you are entitled to a certain salary, any attempt to give you less is grounds to claim an unlawful deduction in salary at an employment tribunal.
    Unless an agreement can be reached with staff, to reduce pay the employer needs to terminate then re-engage working contracts.
    This requires a collective consultation with staff, often involving the unions, and a 30-day notice period. It would also open the employer up to potential claims for unfair dismissal.
    YOUR employer may have the right to impose shorter working hours – it depends what it says in your contract.
    Particularly in manufacturing companies that have to deal with ups and downs in the market, there is often a clause allowing them to change the number of hours you work.
    Even if contracts don’t allow it, employers can still shorten them by terminating your contract then re-engaging you under new conditions.
    This requires consultations with unions and can be a long and drawn-out process.
    More of your wage goes into your pension fund
    THIS is a perfectly legitimate thing to do and something I’ve seen regularly over the past 18 months as companies have looked for ways to save.
    If you earn £15,000 a year, you would pay tax and National Insurance on all of that. But if you opt to get paid £12,000, with £3,000 going directly into your pension scheme, then that £3,000 goes in there tax free.
    So there is benefit for the employer and the employee.
    It cannot be imposed by bosses as it is an unlawful cut in your contractual salary.
    Getting rid of the subsidised canteen and charging for hot drinks
    This was recently raised by healthcare insurance company AXA, where staff were asked to vote to cancel their Christmas party, switch off the air conditioning and get rid of Fruity Fridays, where staff are given free fruit every two weeks.
    It’s unlikely that things like air conditioning are a contractual entitlement, so there’s nothing stopping employers taking such measures in order to cut costs.
    It’s more a matter of good industrial relations. In difficult times, an employer doesn’t want to add to the problems with a disgruntled workforce.
    Cutting pension contributions or closing schemes
    SOME companies have closed their pension or final salary schemes, or reduced how much is paid into them.
    Employers can do this with or without agreement of the workforce, as long as they go along the necessary path.
    It is always very unpopular and employees could opt to take industrial action.
    Employers often see industrial action as a way of saving money as they don’t pay staff on strike. And striking at a time like this may damage the already vulnerable business even further.
    IT’S not just BA employees who are having a tough time…
    - AXA PPP Healthcare Staff have been asked to choose between job cuts, a 10% salary cut, no bonuses or a 10 % increase in working hours without extra pay, as well as which perks they’d prefer to lose – the Christmas party, air-conditioning, maternity benefits or overtime.
    - Debenhams After a pay freeze last summer, many staff have been told bonuses will be cut. d tesco As the supermarket giant moves a distribution depot from Chepstow, South Wales to Pilning – nine miles away – many of the 750 workers are being offered a salary of £18,000 and not the £21,000 they receive now.
    - Dairy Crest The giant milk producer is considering scrapping its final salary pension scheme, leaving its 3,500 members with a potential shortfall in retirement.
    - BT To avoid redundancies the telecoms giant is to loan out staff to other companies or the public sector. It has also frozen pay rises.
    - KPMG Many of the global accountancy firm’s 11,000 British employees have agreed to take unpaid sabbaticals or reduce their working week to four days, with a 20% pay cut.
    - Honda After a four-month lay-off workers are back at Honda’s factory in Swindon, Wilts, after agreeing a 3% pay cut over the next 10 months.

6/20/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Grass-mowing sheep? Public has lots of ideas - Hennepin County sought input on how to save money; and commissioners got an earful, By MARY JANE SMETANKA, Minneapolis Star Tribune - Minneapolis,MN,USA.
    Preparing for another round of budget cutting, Hennepin County earlier this year decided to let the public weigh in on how to save money. Suggestion boxes were placed in public libraries, and county residents were encouraged to submit ideas by e-mail.
    In the ideas streamed, some thoughtful, some practical, others angry or wacky.
    There were the basics: Turn off lights at night. Replace bathroom paper towels with air dryers. Keep county cars and computers longer. Cut the county workweek to four days.
    And the more creative: Follow the lead of an Arizona sheriff who denies jail inmates coffee and feeds them 40-cent meals. Or, buy a flock of sheep to keep the grass short at county properties -- sheep that "can be moved from place to place" -- in fact, they "might need two flocks! And a county shepherd."
    A few were tinged with anger, like the suggestion that the county charge Twins fans who don't live in Hennepin County more for tickets at the new ballpark, since the county financed much of the construction.
    Said County Board Chairman Mike Opat, "I don't think we'll be buying sheep anytime soon. But we certainly got advice."
    Now, just months after cutting budgets, board members have to find more ways to save money. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget-balancing decision last week will cut county revenue by about $8 million this year and $16.4 million next year. And that doesn't include human services cuts, which are expected to hit Hennepin County especially hard. "Everything's up for grabs here. It's going to be ugly," said Commissioner Mark Stenglein. "We certainly don't have all the answers."
    In fact, the county is considering some of the ideas that were submitted by residents.

  2. Humphryes voluntarily takes pay cut, Posted by Robert K. Gordon -- Birmingham News, al.com - Birmingham,AL,USA.
    [Compare Jefferson County District 5, where County Commissioner Jim Carns doing the same thing - see above, 6/24/2009 story #2.]
    Jefferson County Commissioner [District 3] Bobby Humphryes today said he will take a 20 percent pay cut "in order to be able to look the employees in the eyes."
    [Now that's a good employer! = all sacrifice together, starting at the top - just like timesizing Lincoln Electric of Cleveland.]
    The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to switch about 3,200 hourly workers to a 32-hour workweek beginning Monday to help make up for a loss of revenue after a judge declared the county's occupational tax illegal.
    Working a four-day workweek will mean a 20 percent pay reduction for hourly employees.

    But commissioners spared about 370 salaried workers from any pay cut. Those workers include commissioners, their appointed staff members and supervisory personnel who are exempt from the ability to earn overtime.
    Some hourly employees have expressed outrage that their pay is being cut while others are not.
    "I have requested that the payroll department reduce my base salary by 20 percent beginning July 1, 2009," Humphryes said in a prepared statement. "This salary reduction is to remain in effect as long as our employee's hours remained reduced."
    Federal law prevents a reduction in pay for salaried employees.
    [But with a prorated reduction in hours it's the same hourly pay. And the Agriculture Dept. has made an exemption for this - see the next story. Their labor lawyer (if any) in Jefferson County, Alabama, seems to be incompetent.]
    "In order to be able to look the employees in the eyes, I feel that I must do what is right and make the same sacrifices that the employees of Jefferson County will have to make," Humphryes said.
    [See also yesterday's story on this (#2).]

  3. Are we allowed to cut full-time employees' hours to meet budget requirements?, By Susan Lessack, Business Management Daily - Falls Church,USA.
    Q. Can we legally reduce the hours of full-time employees in one of our divisions because it needs to cut overhead?
    A. Yes, if you do it prospectively. You can always reduce the hours of nonexempt employees. Exempt employees, however, are supposed to be paid the same salary each week regardless of how many hours they work, pursuant to the “salary basis” requirement.
    However, the U.S. Department of Labor has approved a practice in which an employer reduces an exempt employee’s workweek as a result of economic conditions and implements a fixed reduction in salary to match the lower hours. The DOL frowns on changing the workweek back and forth to avoid the salary basis requirement.
    Susan K. Lessack (lessacks@pepperlaw.com, (610) 640-7806) is a partner in the Berwyn PA and Philadelphia offices of Pepper Hamilton LLP (www.pepperlaw.com). She concentrates her practice in employment counseling and employment litigation. Ms. Lessack’s experience includes counseling employers on matters related to compliance with federal and state labor and employment laws, counseling regarding employee discipline and terminations, conducting investigations of employee conduct, including harassment, training employers on their obligations under employment laws and litigation avoidance, and developing employment policies. She defends employers in litigation of employment discrimination claims, wrongful discharge claims, and claims under federal and state employment-related statutes, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.

6/19/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Lingle seeks cut in workweek - 15,600 workers would take off from their jobs three Fridays a month, By Richard Borreca, Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Honolulu,HI,USA.
    These are examples from a question-and-answer sheet provided by the governor's office:
    Question: Can an employee use paid leave (e.g., vacation, sick, comp time) in lieu of furloughs?
    Answer: No
    Q: Will furloughs affect the number of hours of vacation or sick leave earned?
    A: No, nor will furlough days be counted as a break in service.
    Q: Will furloughs affect calculation retirement benefits?
    A: Yes. Those benefits are based on actual pay. "Average final compensation" for service and disability retirement benefit purposes is based on the employee's three or five highest-paid years of creditable service. Any furlough might lower the "average final compensation" level.

    If the courts don't stop her, Gov. Linda Lingle will set in motion two years of "furlough Fridays" for at least 15,600 state employees.
    [And if the courts do stop her, Hawaii's wealthy will just have to start paying more taxes, because they're the only ones who have any money in this recession, to pay for state services or accept reduced state services and deeper state recession.]
    With the state facing an unresolved $688 million shortfall over the course of its two-year budget, Lingle announced the specifics yesterday of her administration's plan to deal with the looming budget crisis.
    She said the state budget has already been reduced by $2 billion through the next three years, and now an additional $688 million will be cut by reducing state workers' pay through furloughs.
    To deal with the cuts, Lingle essentially is arranging most state departments to close or limit hours of services on three Fridays a month.
    The specific closings are posted online on the governor's Web page, www.hawaii.gov/gov/furlough.
    The plan does not affect the Department of Education, the University of Hawaii, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the judiciary, the Legislature and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs because Lingle cannot order personnel changes in those departments.
    However, she noted yesterday that she can restrict funds going to the education and university systems. She said the Education Department will have a $278.4 million budget cut and $106.8 million will be cut from UH.
    Although public worker union representatives were not available for comment yesterday afternoon, three of the four unions have filed suit in Circuit Court, contending that the furloughs are illegal or violate the state Constitution.
    The fourth union, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, has filed a grievance protesting the cuts.
    Lingle said if they are successful in blocking furloughs, she will be forced to lay off workers.
    "If the furloughs are not implemented, the state would have to lay off at least 2,500 executive branch employees to make up the projected revenue shortfall," said Lingle, who originally projected 10,000 layoffs.
    She repeated her warning that state department heads are already working on lists of workers to be laid off and how to handle closing certain state programs.
    The furloughs allow Lingle to cut state worker paychecks by 13.8 percent, starting next month, but she said it saves workers' jobs.
    Changes due to the furloughs will also be dramatic.
    [But not as traumatic and future-destroying as layoffs.]
    Most state departments would be closed on Fridays, except for two days in December, until July 2011.
    Other state departments would rearrange their hours of operation and others would remain open with reduced staffing.
    For instance, the Airports Division would shorten hours to 6.8 hours a day, although airport rescue and firefighting will continue with around-the-clock operations.
    State agencies continuing with normal operating hours include Aloha Stadium, Child Welfare Services, state correctional facilities and the Defense Department, including veterans services and family guidance centers, operated by the Health Department.
    Workers in those agencies, however, will be staggered or rotated around their furlough days. Lingle also said employees would not be able to file for overtime.
    Finally, Lingle said both her office and the lieutenant governor's office will remain open during normal hours.
    The judiciary and the Legislature have not yet said if they also would take furlough days.

  2. Some Jefferson County employees say pay cuts should be spread to commissioners, department heads, Posted by Barnett Wright--Birmingham News, al.com - Birmingham,AL,USA.
    "I've got two different opinions about whether salaried people can be cut or not. Our people say they can't because of federal labor standards laws. I've heard since somebody else thinks they can," Commissioner Bobby Humphryes said... (Photo caption)
    Some Jefferson County hourly workers are angry that their workweeks are being cut from 40 hours to 32, slashing their pay by 20 percent, while paychecks are being kept whole for county commissioners and supervisory staffers.
    [Ah the stupid/suicidal powerful always have a thousand ways of rationalizing why it should not be that ALL SACRIFICE TOGETHER. But the smart/sustainable powerful cut the crap and ALL SACRIFICE TOGETHER, STARTING AT THE TOP - as at Lincoln Electric.]
    Denise Trimmier, of the Jefferson County Employees Association, said Thursday workers are "very angry and very upset that salaried employees are not being cut right now. In their minds, they are the only ones being affected."
    Commissioners contend that their hands are tied. They say lawyers have advised them against cuts for salaried workers, saying such action could cause legal problems under federal labor laws.
    Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said salaried employees, if ordered to take a pay cut, could ask for overtime payments for work done in the past.
    [And so they should in the future, but bankrupting taxpayers to correct all the bad contracts of the past is self-destructive - but going forward, exemption from time accountability is just an invitation to bad prioritization and bad management. No one should have a blank check on anyone's time. That's just slavery in a suit.]
    "We'd have to go back and pay them overtime for all the work that they could claim they have done past the normal work hours," Collins said.
    Labor law experts agree that the county generally cannot cut hours from the workweek for salaried employees, as it can for hourly workers. However, they said, there are other options such as full-week furloughs or straight reductions in pay for salaried workers.
    Shorter workweek
    The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to switch about 3,200 hourly workers to a 32-hour workweek beginning Monday to help make up for a loss of revenue after a judge declared the county's occupational tax illegal.
    But commissioners spared about 370 salaried workers from any pay cut. Those workers include commissioners, their appointed staff members and supervisory personnel who are exempt from the ability to earn overtime.
    Mary Sexton, an employee in the environmental services department, said reducing the pay of only hourly workers is not the most equitable way for the county to save money.
    "If they are so concerned about recovering money, they would recover more from the salaried workers than the hourly workers," she said.
    Commissioner Bobby Humphryes said the matter may need further study.
    "I've got two different opinions about whether salaried people can be cut or not," he said. "Our people say they can't because of federal labor standards laws. I've heard since somebody else thinks they can."
    Other solutions
    Some labor and legal experts say the county could find ways to make the cuts fair to everyone.
    Chad Carson, assistant professor of management at Samford University's Brock School of Business, said the county is limited in what it can do with salaried workers, but could explore other methods to reduce pay.
    "What some firms are doing is placing salaried workers on furloughs, sabbaticals, anything to cut costs," he said.
    Jim May, a labor and employment lawyer with Birmingham's Littler Mendelson, said furloughs are "certainly an option" available to the county.
    "You don't owe an exempt employee if there are no hours worked in a week," May said.
    The county also could simply reduce salaries.
    May also said there is "no legal prohibition" in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act preventing businesses or the government from reducing pay of all workers.
    "As a pure legal matter, I don't think it is illegal or against the Fair Labor Standard Act" to reduce the pay of supervisors or other exempt employees, May said.
    Still, the county should be cautious, he said.
    Some salaried employees could argue that the county is violating the law if they are being paid a reduced amount because they are working fewer hours.
    "I don't think it's a legal bar, but if I had a client in the private sector and we were working through this, I would probably say you need to stay away from reducing their salary that corresponds with the number of hours you're going to reduce them," May said. "It's very complex. It's a brier patch to step into the Fair Labor Standards Act."
    County Attorney Jeff Sewell said the county has extra rules to follow.
    "Unlike most employers, the county is restricted by personnel board rules that do not allow a furlough," Sewell said. "Department of Labor regulations provide severe financial penalties for improperly deducting from an exempt employee's salary." [See also tomorrow's story on this (#2).]

6/18/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Union Fights Against Shorter Workweek - County Executive Labels Cut Necessary, WISN.com - Milwaukee,WI,USA.
    [Only half the union movement has ever had a clue where their power issue lies = if they can only get one of their two historic goals, higher pay and shorter hours, and it's higher pay in the short term, they wind up with neither in the longer term because they're pinning an arbitrarily and artificially higher price on a surplus commodity, their own working hours. But if they can only get one and it's shorter hours, they wind up with both because cutting hours cuts the labor surplus and harnesses market forces on their side as employers bid against one another for what they need of a scarce commodity. less plentiful working hours.]
    MILWAUKEE -- A plan to shorten Milwaukee County workers' hours will go to court Friday.
    The County Worker's Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday, saying County Executive Scott Walker does not have the right to order a 35-hour workweek.
    Last month, Walker declared most employees must start working five fewer hours a week beginning June 28.
    He said the shorter week is needed to reduce a nearly $15 million budget deficit.
    "We have a prior ruling by an arbitrator that says we can do the 35-hour workweek, and we feel confident that as long as those facts are entered, that it will be upheld and we'll be able to go forward effective June 28 and do the 35-hour workweek," said Walker.
    A hearing is scheduled for Friday over whether the union can get a temporary restraining order on the shorter workweek.

  2. New Doctors, Struggling for Balance, By Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times - United States.
    Regardless of your profession, the struggle to balance work and personal time is a challenge. In today’s Doctor and Patient column, Dr. Pauline Chen explores the often unbalanced life of doctors in training, who cope with long hours, intense medical training and the life or death needs of their patients.
    Dr. Chen recalls the stress of her early days in training, and the toll it took on her temperament, family and friends. To learn more, read the full story, “Taking Time for the Self on the Path to Becoming a Doctor,”...

    Taking Time for the Self on the Path to Becoming a Doctor, By PAULINE W. CHEN, M.D., New York Times - United States.
    Over the next two weeks in hospitals and medical centers across the country, new medical school graduates will begin their internship. Among their many worries — moving to a new city, meeting new colleagues, adjusting to medical training — is a more profound, existential concern that had once plagued me.
    Do I have to lose my self in order to become the doctor I want to be?
    I learned the answer to that question partway through my internship. Not in the hospital but in the checkout line of a local grocery store.
    The customer in front of me was an older woman — she wore a faux camel-hair coat and had hair dyed a matching color. I remember that she had wanted her groceries bagged in a particular fashion, but the sales clerk, a young woman with impossibly long pink acrylics, was perplexed by the woman’s demands.
    I felt as if I had stepped into an avant-garde theatre production. Each time the young woman bagged the groceries, the older woman admonished her and asked her to go through the process yet again. The muscles of my jaw tightened with each round of bagging, and even though I was off for the day, all I could think was: I’ve got sick patients to take care of, I can’t wait for this!
    Unable to bear it any longer, I stepped forward and bagged the woman’s groceries myself, shoving the plastic bags into her arms while resisting the urge to push her on her way. I imagined steam rising from my head as I ranted. But a part of me was as shocked as the people still standing in line. I had never lost my temper in a store, and I had never raised my voice in public. Now, a few months into internship and with a three-minute provocation, I had the capacity to act like a grizzly bear sprung loose from a trap.
    I walked out of the store horrified. That night thinking back on the event, I grew more ashamed of my behavior. But I also realized that it was not the first time I had snapped. Over the previous months, I had thrown myself into my work and shunned everything I once enjoyed and nearly everyone I loved. I believed I needed to do so in order to become a surgeon.
    But I had lost my self in the process, and the stress made me irritable. I was no longer the nonconfrontational person I once was.
    I had, for example, raised my voice a couple of days earlier at a receptionist in the radiology department when she couldn’t schedule my patient for a CT scan. I had scolded a nurse who had had the misfortune of being the fifth person to page me as I scrambled to finish a procedure. And only a week prior, I had squabbled with my family after my mother innocently asked, "Why do you have to work so hard?"
    According to a study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, I am far from the only doctor who has behaved this way. The researchers interviewed residents, or doctors in training, from seven different specialties and found that they set themselves up for burnout by accepting, even embracing, what they believed would be a temporary imbalance between the personal and professional aspects of their lives. While the young doctors interviewed defined well-being as a balance between all those parts, many felt that their medical training was so central to their ultimate sense of fulfillment that they were willing to live with whatever personal sacrifice was required, even if it meant a temporary loss of a sense of self.
    I spoke to the lead author, Dr. Neda Ratanawongsa, who now practices general internal medicine at San Francisco General Hospital and is an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
    “It’s partly a coping mechanism,” Dr. Ratanawongsa said. “We tell ourselves that we can do everything but not at the same time, so we are going to put off the thing that defines us as a person — time with children, running a marathon, painting, playing music — in order to get trained because being a doctor is also rewarding.”
    That delayed gratification works well initially because residents believe it is only temporary. “A lot of what matters to residents at this time is the sense that they are learning to care for patients well and growing as doctors. They feel that what they are doing is going to be worth it.”
    But when the imbalance persists for longer than initially expected, professional growth is not enough to sustain most young doctors. “The ones who are happier,” Dr. Ratanawongsa observed, "are the ones who have held on to one or two things and have said, ‘I’m not just another resident. I play the guitar, I run races, or I go home to family.’ They don’t do these things to the same extent as they did before residency, but they do them enough to maintain a sense of self.”
    Residents who don’t find this balance are at risk of burnout, clinical depression or, more commonly, subtle forms of stress. “These residents may feel that even if they can give excellent care most of the time, there are times when they snap at a patient or don’t order a test fast enough because they are so burnt out."
    Although her study focused on doctors in training, Dr. Ratanawongsa sees the same challenges among doctors who have finished and are currently practicing. “There is always this expectation that at some point things will turn around. The interns say, ‘When I finish internship and become a second-year resident, things will get better.’ The residents say, ‘When I finish training, I will finally have balance again.’ And doctors in practice may believe that they will find more balance once they have retired.”
    The danger is that physicians may end up leaving the work force or will become less effective caregivers. Dr. Ratanawongsa suggests that doctors learn how to create a better sense of balance in their lives from the moment they begin training. “We are taught to put our patients before ourselves; it’s in our charter of professionalism. I agree with that, but I also think there has to be some sense that I matter, too, at some point. If something important is going on with our loved ones or with ourselves, we need to be able to advocate for ourselves. And we need time to reflect on who we are and where we are going.”
    In the months after that incident at the grocery store, I continued to devote my life to my training — there was no other way to become the surgeon I wanted to be — but I also learned to find time for myself. Even 18 years later, I can still remember those moments away from work well — late morning breakfasts with the Sunday Times in hand at the greasy diner down the street from the hospital, glorious springtime drives in a friend’s used convertible, afternoons running on a boardwalk and walking along the beach. I lost a few extra hours of sleep each time I did something for myself; but in the end I, and my patients, would gain much more.
    “My belief,” Dr. Ratanawongsa said, “is that doctors will have a greater capacity to know their patient as a person if they know themselves. That kind of knowledge requires a sense of balance and an understanding of why they chose to become a doctor. It comes down to their capacity to be an empathic, caring and compassionate provider; and it comes not from their medical knowledge but from their soul.”
    “This is something we should never sacrifice, even temporarily.”

6/17/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Haywood passes budget that includes tax hike, by Becky Johnson, Waynesville Smoky Mountain News - Waynesville,NC,USA.
    After months of struggling to solve a $7 million budget shortfall, Haywood County commissioners voted 3 to 2 Monday night (June 15) to raise property taxes by 1.7 cents in lieu of more severe cuts to county workers.
    The two commissioners who dissented gave different reasons for their vote: one opposed any tax increase while the other thought taxes might need to be raised even more. Commissioners Mark Swanger, Bill Upton and Kirk Kirkpatrick voted for the budget and associated tax increase. The county’s new tax rate will be 51.4 cents. The increase amounts to an extra $42 a year on a $250,000 home.
    Commissioner Kevin Ensley, the lone commissioner opposed to the tax increase, said there was no easy answer to solve the budget shortfall. But ultimately, he believes county government should do what a business does when income dries up.
    “In private business we have to cut expenses to the level of operating revenues,” said Ensley, who owns a surveying company and has seen his revenue cut in half by the recession. “As a business owner maybe I am more acclimated to making cuts.”
    Ensley suggested furloughs and shortened work weeks for more county employees instead of raising taxes.
    Meanwhile, Commissioner Skeeter Curtis voted against the budget because he felt the cuts were too deep and perhaps taxes should be raised more instead.
    “Are we increasing the tax enough or are we going to have to hit it harder next year?” Curtis said. “If times continue to go bad, we’ve got no other cuts to make.”
    The bare bones operation in the current budget will come back to haunt the county, Curtis said. Whether its deferring the purchase of computer software or replacing roofs on buildings, it will pile up in the laps of future commissioners to deal with, he said. Curtis partly blamed past boards of commissioners for today’s budget crunch. They kept the tax rate artificially low by dipping into the county’s savings, leaving the current board with little options, Curtis said.
    Curtis also said county workers are suffering too much of a blow. The county is reducing its workforce by 32 employees. Thanks to early retirement and natural attrition, the county has already eliminated the lion’s share of those jobs, leaving only seven people that actually have to be let go. Another 11 employees will be cut to a 36 hour work week.
    Curtis’ larger concern was the decrease to county benefits, namely a suspension of retirement contributions and reduction in health insurance benefits.
    County employees will see their deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums skyrocket. Curtis questioned how some county employees will afford it, citing some who earn only $20,000 a year.
    “I don’t know how in the world if you are making $20,000 a year you are going to afford an increase in your deductible going up from $900 to $3,000 a year for a family,” Curtis said. “How do these people survive?”
    Commissioner Mark Swanger, who voted for the budget, said it went against his principles but had to be done.
    “I have always opposed tax increases, but again, circumstances demand in the absence of an acceptable alternative that I vote in a manner that is in the best interest of our county,” Swanger said.
    Swanger said the county made many difficult cuts to get this far, from no increase in teacher supplements this year to a total elimination of contributions to non-profits, be it programs for the elderly or Folkmoot.
    Commissioner Bill Upton said there were simply no more places to cut.
    “We don’t need to go in our budget and find more positions to cut,” Upton said.
    The budget process has seen a high level of public input, with many residents turning out to voice their opinions any time commissioners convened. Opponents even pitched in to comb the county budget for more places to cut in lieu of the tax hike.
    The county enacted temporary measures over the past six months to make ends meet. Those included a hiring freeze, furloughs, a shortened workweek and suspended benefits. Some employees that have been operating on furloughs and shortened workweeks will return to normal hours with the enactment of the new budget.

  2. Today's Business Leaders Should Learn From Companies That Outperformed During the Great Depression, Says Boston Consulting Group Report -- Analysis of Depression-Era Winners - Such as P&G, IBM, GE, DuPont, and Even GM and Chrysler - Reveals What It Takes Not Only to Survive the Downturn but to Thrive in the Upturn, SYS-CON Media (press release) via marketwire - Montvale,NJ,USA.
    Business executives today should learn from the companies that emerged from the Great Depression in a much stronger competitive position, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
    Most companies performed badly during the Depression, but some fared far better than their peers. To understand what drove industry-beating performance, BCG studied the companies that performed relatively well. The firm analyzed the shareholder value performance of about 140 companies representing nearly 80 percent of the New York Stock Exchange's market capitalization and identified about 30 outperformers based on cumulative total returns from the market's 1929 peak to its 1936 peak.
    Daniel Stelter, global leader of BCG's Corporate Development practice and a coauthor of the report, "Green Shoots, False Positives, and What Companies Can Learn from the Great Depression," said there is much that today's top managers can learn from the Depression era's stars: "Companies that succeeded did so because they undertook a set of bold and decisive moves -- and although they may have had some good luck, it is hard to argue that they did not earn their good fortune."
    As the authors acknowledge, history is written by the victors. But survivor bias notwithstanding, the report (part of BCG's ongoing "Collateral Damage" series of papers on the current downturn) describes in detail the stories of six companies that used the crisis to fundamentally improve their competitive position: General Electric, IBM, Procter & Gamble, DuPont, and -- perhaps ironically given their current struggles -- General Motors and Chrysler. "We believe the lessons are just as relevant today as they were nearly 80 years ago," said Stelter.
    General Motors: An Early and Decisive Response to Cut Costs and Refocus the Product Range
    Similar to today, the automobile industry was among the most adversely affected in the Great Depression. Half of all automakers closed down. Yet two companies managed to thrive: GM delivered a profit in every year of the Depression and Chrysler showed a loss in only one year. The actions taken by the two companies during this period strengthened GM's position as the market leader and propelled Chrysler into second place. In contrast, inaction and some poor choices significantly hurt Ford Motor Company's position and permanently damaged the smaller competitors in the auto industry. So what did GM and Chrysler do right?
    GM was quick to mothball plants and lay off workers in 1930, rapidly scaling back production in its middle-market and expensive brands and driving a one-third reduction of the breakeven point on its lower-end Chevrolet brand. Limited backward integration kept fixed costs low and transferred risk to suppliers, allowing a quick scaling down of production. GM maintained a policy that no more than 33 percent of parts would be manufactured internally. It also used the same engine and parts across different brands to further reduce inventories and create flexible capacity. At the heart of GM's success was its decision to realign its product offering to fit the needs of a consumer base with less money to spend -- "a car for every purse." It expanded aggressively into the low-priced car market by shifting production to Chevrolet, its high-volume discount brand.
    Chrysler: From Start-up to "Big Three" Through Efficiency and Innovation
    Like GM, Chrysler -- a start-up until it merged with a larger company (Dodge) in 1928 -- eschewed backward integration, enabling it to remain flexible when the Depression began and to cut costs quickly. But what truly differentiated Chrysler was its focus on cost reduction through efficiency. Chrysler realized a 50 percent increase in production efficiency, which gave the Plymouth, its recently introduced discount brand, the highest unit profit of any auto brand in the 1930s. The company also correctly predicted that the road expansion program undertaken as part of the New Deal would lead to greater demand for faster, more powerful cars. The carmaker had the courage to continue to invest in R&D during the tough times, becoming the first manufacturer to use a wind tunnel to design more aerodynamic cars. Its innovative "airflow" design and semi-unit body construction used for building faster cars became the industry standard.
    General Electric: Began Strong, Finished Stronger
    Going into the Great Depression, GE was already a thriving company. However, as the largest player in its industry, GE quickly suffered the full brunt of the downturn. When sales dropped off in 1930, the company was quick to respond by cutting costs and reducing excess capacity, but it did so in a well-thought-out and disciplined fashion. To retain as much of its talent as it could and maintain its competitive advantage in the long term, it shortened the workweek, cut wages, and shifted skilled employees to lower-skilled jobs rather than lay them off. Perhaps most pivotal to its long-term success was its sustained investment in innovation. Although GE's management felt obliged to cut R&D spending in half between 1930 and 1933, it cut less than the company's competitors did. And after 1933, it increased R&D every year for the remainder of the 1930s. This greater commitment to innovation positioned GE to benefit from New Deal government spending and laid the groundwork for later successes in a variety of fields.
    IBM: Bold Moves by a Smaller Company
    Much like GE, IBM was in a sector hard-hit by the Great Depression. Thomas Watson, IBM's president, realized the significant potential for growth in his new industry. Assuming correctly that the business machine market would continue to grow despite the economic downturn (because companies would seek efficiency improvements during tough times), Watson made two fundamental decisions. First, IBM would maintain its production capacity and not lay off workers. Second, it would increase its investments in innovation. Watson used mergers and acquisitions to increase innovation capacity, acquiring three companies between 1930 and 1933 -- notably Electromatic Typewriters, which provided IBM with the technology to develop the electric typewriter. At the same time, when the opportunity arose, Watson divested the company's weighing-scales division. IBM vaulted from fourth position in the market before the Great Depression, with 11 percent of market share, to a close second (behind Remington Rand), with 22 percent of market share in 1939.
    Procter & Gamble: Relentless Expansion
    Unlike capital goods and business machines, the categories in which P&G operated remained relatively resistant to the Depression in terms of sales. P&G was able to continue to increase both sales and profits, widening the lead over its closest competitor. P&G identified two key opportunities. First, competing brands were advertising less, so P&G was able to increase advertising spending to gain share. Second, P&G identified several gaps in the market and, with a strategy of acquisition and innovation, moved to fill them with new products. And at a time when competitors were putting less marketing and other support behind their products, the cost of P&G's strategy was relatively less than it would have been under normal business conditions. Leveraging developments in the chemicals industry, P&G introduced the first synthetic detergent in 1933, the first synthetic shampoo in 1934, and the first liquid oral dentifrice in 1938. All of these products were successful -- but they were also precursors to many products launched in the 1940s and 1950s, such as Tide and Crest, two of the most successful brands in the company's history.
    DuPont: Rapid Innovation
    In the years before the Great Depression, the U.S. chemicals industry had experienced a period of innovation and success. Much of that success continued through the 1930s, but DuPont significantly outperformed the industry, increasing its profits by 60 percent between 1929 and 1937. Rather than cut back in response to the Depression, DuPont expanded. With R&D budgets at most companies being cut and the rate of new patents shrinking nationally, DuPont reoriented its research program to focus on innovations with a near-term payback. Investment in R&D led directly to the introduction of neoprene in 1931 and nylon in 1939, giving the company a first-mover advantage with two of its most successful products for decades to come. DuPont was also one of the first companies to introduce an acrylic glass product (Lucite), launching it in 1936. With sales falling 50 percent between 1929 and 1933, continuing to increase R&D was a risky decision, but it paid off quickly. In 1937, 40 percent of DuPont's sales were of products that had not existed a decade earlier.
    Lessons for Today's Executives
    The success stories of these six companies and others that outperformed during the Depression offer important lessons for today's business leaders, the BCG report argues. Among them:
    1. Control costs: cut costs early and decisively, strengthen the core, increase flexibility, and protect cash. Aggressive cost cutting and tight cost management are obviously crucial in a recession. However, the first lesson from the Great Depression is that it is not enough to cut costs. Well-managed companies also use the opportunity to strengthen operations, variabilize cost structures, and reduce breakeven levels. For example, GM and Chrysler successfully used external vendors to strategically manage costs, and were able to significantly cut breakeven levels through improvements in production efficiency. Maintaining a healthy balance sheet, a good cash position, and access to credit are also preconditions for pursuing the winning strategies of past recession champions. All of the winning companies BCG analyzed were able to succeed only because they managed to secure their financial fundamentals.
    2. Protect revenues: reprioritize the portfolio in line with changing preferences, review marketing carefully, capitalize on government spending, and accelerate product launches. The 1930s saw consumers trading down heavily. Companies that were able to shift to lower-priced, better-value product offerings won disproportionately. Those that anticipated and capitalized on government spending (including New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rural Electrification Administration) also saw outsized revenue gains. During downturns, companies tend to put the brakes on product development, believing that the upturn will be a safer time to launch new products. Many of the winners BCG studied -- such as IBM, GE, and P&G -- successfully launched new and better products during the Great Depression, gaining share at a lower cost and then benefiting in the upturn as competitors struggled to catch up.
    3. Invest in the future: commit to R&D and keep an eye out for value-adding M&A. Recessions, though difficult, do eventually end. Successful companies go beyond the necessary short-term measures (conserving cash, cutting costs, and protecting revenues) to invest in the future. The successful investments made by companies such as DuPont, GE, and Chrysler in the 1930s differentiated them from their competitors for several decades to come. Even more important, innovation was the catalyst for periods of renewed growth. Several of the Great Depression winners proved that with competitors weak or failing, stronger players can take advantage of opportunities to make acquisitions that are more affordable and more likely to create value.
    The report notes that all the companies that emerged as winners from the Great Depression had one thing in common: they used their strength to compete on the most critical success factor in their industry. Once companies have done their homework and determined what is required to ensure survival, they need to pick their battles and invest heavily in a limited number of initiatives, say the authors. Expending scarce resources across too many initiatives risks wasting a unique opportunity.
    "Companies today are facing similar if not quite such dramatic challenges: rapidly declining demand, a strong tendency toward trading down by consumers, fundamental shifts in industry structures, increased protectionism, and a stronger government role," said David Rhodes, global leader of BCG's Financial Institutions practice and coauthor of the report. "Companies that act quickly and decisively to control costs and protect revenues in a demanding environment will succeed today and lay the foundation for long-term success."
    BCG's "Collateral Damage" Series
    Based on its long history of helping companies survive and thrive during global economic downturns, BCG created its "Collateral Damage" series, which identifies the "new realities" of a world in crisis. The series is providing a big-picture analysis of the crisis as it evolves in different regions, countries, and sectors. It offers senior executives practical guidance for protecting their companies from the worst of the crisis and preparing them for economic recovery.
    Current titles in the series include:
    -- "Collateral Damage: What the Crisis in the Credit Markets Means for Everyone Else"
    -- "Collateral Damage, Part 2: Taking Robust Action in the Face of the Growing Crisis"
    -- "Collateral Damage, Part 3: Asia, Advantage, and Action"
    -- "Collateral Damage, Part 4: Preparing for a Tough Year Ahead: The Outlook, the Crisis in Perspective, and Lessons from the Early Movers"
    -- "Collateral Damage, Part 5: Confronting the New Realities of a World in Crisis"
    -- "Collateral Damage, Part 6: Underestimating the Crisis"
    To receive a copy of the report or arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com.
    About The Boston Consulting Group
    The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 66 offices in 38 countries. For more information, please visit www.bcg.com.

6/16/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Working, partly unemployed, New York Times, A1 pointer to B1.
    [And the target article -]
    Out of work, part time - To avoid layoffs, states chip in..to replace pay as work hours are cut - Keeping a skilled work force in place until times get better, by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, B1.
    BERLIN, Conn. - As companies struggle to make it from recession to recovery, many are turning to a novel but unheralded program that cuts their costs while sparing their workers' jobs.
    Under the program, known as work-sharing, employers reduce their workers' weekly hours and pay, often by 20-40%, and then states make up some of the lost wages, usually half, from their unemployment funds. [which the companies' continuing employment is sparing]....
    Even though 17 states have adopted the program, and many executives and economists hail it as a way to keep workers employed and companies staffed with skilled labor, only a fraction of the businesses and workers that are actually eligible are benefiting.
    [Well, maybe that's because this is the first time the New York Times has put it on the front page of its business section, B1, - and still hasn't put it on the front page, A1 - even though it is The Single Most Important Issue - and Solution - in the U.S. and the world today. Hello, hello, are we beginning to wake up at last??]
    That is largely because of inertia and ignorance [possible due to media's ignoring of the program], government officials say. Many companies are unaware of the program's existence, and few states advertise it - even though the program is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany, who work-sharing program has inspired other nations.
    [See next article (#2) today (below).]
    With [official!] unemployment in the United States above 9% and climbing, pressure is growing on the states that have work-sharing to increase the number of companies and workers that participate, and on the 33 states that don't have work-sharing to embrace the program.
    At his metal-working plant here in Connecticut, Andrew Nowakowski, president of Tri-Star Industries, says the program is good for employers, workers and the economy.
    "It's a lot better than layoffs," said Mr. Nowakowski, whose skilled machinery operators make metal parts for products as diverse as cellphones and car engines.
    His 29 nonmanagerial employees now work three- or four-day weeks. "The alternative would have been to lay off three to seven workers," he said, "but that would mean that when things become busier, I'd run the risk of not having the trained people I need."
    [and as long as things don't become busier, by disemploying three to seven more people and plunging them into total insecurity and spending-pullback, it would further depress markets and make things a little more UNbusy than they already are. In short, it would reinforce the economic downspin.]
    Tri-Star's employees like the program even though it means lower take-home pay. "Without this, it would have been four or five guys out the door, and one of them could have been me," said John Drzata, who runs an elaborate, five-spindle precision lathe that etches threading into metal parts.
    Jim Cassidy, who works Monday through Wednesday, uses the extra days off to go camping in the Berkshires, although some workers use them to look for spare jobs, like painting.
    "We get to keep our jobs and keep our benefits," Mr. Cassidy said. "You lose your job, you lose everything."
    The State of Connecticut makes up more than half the wages the workers lose because of shorter workweeks. New York participates in the program, too.
    States have different unemployment insurance formulas [compare different election systems and standards, resulting in differential results = anybody learning from these various experiments??], but generally, a worker being paid $600 a week, if laid off, might receive $300 in jobless benefits. With work-sharing, if that worker's hours drop 20%, wages would fall to $480 and work-sharing would make up at least half of the lost wages ($60), for a total of $540 a week.
    With savings from reduced income taxes and from commuting fewer days, some workers nearly break even.
    The state and federal governments have hardly publicized work-sharing, in contrast to the European Union, whose leaders have urged the Continent's employers to embrace work-sharing to combat rising unemployment [AND falling markets!].
    But since the downturn began, some states have beaten the drum to make sure more employers are aware of teh program. Mr. Nowakowski first learned of Connecticut's program last October when a state official phoned his office manager to publicize it.
    As a result of such outreach efforts, 5,000 Connecticut workers [and consumer-keylinks!] are participating in work-sharing, up from 250 a year ago.
    In Washington State, 39,119 are participating, up from 6,039 a year ago. And in Massachusetts, 10,127 workers are, compared to 621 a year ago - and 458 employers, up from 31 last year.
    "I frankly don't understand why there aren't more states that participate in this program," said Suzanne Bump, the Massachusetts secretary of labor and workforce development.
    [She's talking as if it's already a federal program that states can participate in, and it isn't. The closest Obama has come is mentioning worksharing in his inaugural address, but like all other US Presidents so far, he is clueless about the centrality, priority, strategy, pervasive influence and urgency of this agenda - of which the most flexible and market-oriented version is Timesizing.]
    Many states are not participating because they did not focus on the program during good times and because it could create new burdens and paperwork for already overloaded unemployment agencies.
    [And because it should be self-funding via an overtime tax with a complete exemption for overtime-to-jobs (& training if needed) conversion?]
    "But that pales compared to the program's benefits," said M. Patricia Smith, the New York State labor commissioner.
    Typically, participating employers file a weekly report of each employee's reduced hours, and a week or two later, workers receive partial unemployment benefits, often called short-time compensation.
    Some states limit work-sharing benefits to employees who had been working 35 or more hours a week before the cutbacks. Other states allow part-timers to participate. Some states give employers just two options: having employees work 24- or 32-hour weeks [always sooo tempting to be arbitrary and inflexible]; others let companies cut employees' hours anywhere from 10 to 60%.
    Most states require employers to continue providing full-time benefits, like health coverage, to employees on reduced hours.
    At Columbia Steel Casting, a 350-employee foundry in Portland, Ore., management likes work-sharing because when it lays off skilled machinists, they are hard to lure back. They often take jobs at Boeing.
    ["Once bitten, twice shy."]
    "People don't quit other jobs to come to work in foundries where it's extremely hot [and they've already been laid off once]," said John Birkhofer, an HR manager. "It's different from when you're hiring counterpeople for McDonald's."
    Mr. Nowakowski said it took 18 months to train apprentices to use Tri-Star's complicated lathes. "I would do whatever i could to maintain this core group of employees long term," he said.
    Work-sharing will not prevent layoffs in industries in a profound tailspin, like automobiles.
    [Yes, it can, in its timesizing form, because that can start even at low levels of local employment, and spread it, and optimize local markets, and spread local skills and income... and of course, if it is implemented at a national level, where any subdivision of the national economy is free to have a lower 'reinvestment' threshold or overtime-to-jobs-conversion trigger, then dying industries can transfer their employees to surviving industries with maximum smoothness, market-determination and hope-of-resurrection.]
    Economists say it is for companies confident of a rebound when the economy improves.
    [But mainstream economists have little imagination, much self-contradiction about when and if the economy will improve, and for decades, many of them have been spinning the whole worksharing approach as a *failure and only for stupid true believers in the "Lump of Labor Fallacy."]
    "The great thing about this program is you're not decimating your company," said Linda Saloom, business operations manager at Saloom Furniture, in Winchenden, Mass., whose employees are working 32-hour weeks.
    [So this program is the small beginning of Timesizing in the still-largest (tho'bankrupt) world economy - and has the potential of developing into full Timesizing and sustainable full employment - with fluctuating adjustment of the workweek and overtime-to-training conversion.]
    "Our company is not broken. The economy is broken."
    [Well, Winchendon, Mass., "the toy city," with a carousel horse gracing the main square, is a great little town. But we have to say, any company in a broken economy is also broken, but can become a island of health by maintaining its jobs on a company level, regardless of how low a workweek that requires. There are a number of American companies that independently "invented this wheel" and have been doing it for decades, including Nucor Steel and Lincoln Electric, but real economy-level healing will require these companies to coordinate and spread.]
    Several executives that use work-sharing explained companies' choices. Needing to cut payroll by 10% for six months, recession-plagued managers could lay off 10% of their workers, perhaps incurring anger and heavy severance payments. Or they could use work-sharing, avoiding severance payments and the expense of rehiring and retraining later.
    "Just the ability to hang on to people in tough times and not force them out the door is good for morale," said David Edgar, VP for HR at Reflexite, a manufacturer based in Avon, Conn., that makes reflective material for highway signs, motorcycle helmets and roadwork vests.
    Mr. Edgar acknowledged there were limits. "I don't think people would want to be on a 32- or 24-hour weeks [sic] for seven, eight months," he said.
    [Unless they could get full-time pay and benefits therefor - as they would in a systemic redefinition of "full time" downward to achieve full employment whatever "short" workweek that might require.]
    "There might be a tipping point when people ask, 'When do we get some layoffs so we can get back to 40 hours?'
    [Well, people like that are assuming something no one can assume = that they won't be among the layoffs. And they're perpetuating and deepening the downturn, which is based on downsizing.]
    Reflexite cut most employees' hours from February through April, but with orders increasing as highway construction picks up under the stimulus plan, all workers are now back at 40 hours.
    [As if there's anything Sacred about that 70-year frozen number in the age of robotics and lights-out manufacturing!]
    "A lot of my friends got laid off at other companies," said Dave Korncavage, a logistics supervisor and 19-year employee at Reflexite. "They're hoping to get called back, but maybe that won't happen. Their employers don't have anything creative like this. Maybe if they did, my friends would still have a job."
    [And we would still have a sustainable economy instead of a continuing downturn.]

  2. Europeans rely on mix of concessions to save jobs, by Matthew Saltmarsh, NYT, B8.
    PARIS — Rising European unemployment has business and government looking to offset the pain, and some of the solutions belie the region’s reputation for inflexibility.
    A report released Monday by the European Union found that some 1.9 million jobs were lost in the first quarter, the worst drop since figures were first collected starting in 1995. The unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in April, up from 6.8 percent a year earlier.
    But analysts and labor experts say the figures would have been even starker without some of the job-saving measures used to combat the worst recession in decades.
    “Collectively, workers and employers are finding some other solutions” to job cuts, said Andrew Watts, a senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute, a body based in Brussels financed by unions to research labor issues.
    Many countries have short-time compensation programs, tailored for the manufacturing sector, under which employers can apply for temporary assistance to lift the wages of workers working reduced hours.
    France has a publicly financed partial unemployment plan, allowing companies experiencing difficulties to temporarily lay off workers and draw on state money to pay them during those periods.
    Several companies have applied for the funds, many in the auto and auto supply sectors.
    The automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën is in the process of a voluntary layoff plan for 3,500 of its 108,000 workers in addition to cutting workers’ hours. Laurent Cicolella, a spokesman, could not provide an exact figure for those affected by partial unemployment as it “changes week to week,” but he added that the number had been falling since last fall.
    In the Netherlands, 223 companies had used a similar program by mid-January.
    Germany also has several measures to reduce working time, many of which are specifically framed as employment-saving measures.
    The federal “Kurzarbeit” system, which translates as “short work,” provides a state-supported backup for companies resorting to short-time working outside the provisions of collective agreements.
    German unions have also shown some flexibility.
    In a contract through April 2010, the most powerful union, IG Metall, representing 3.6 million workers, reached a 4.2 percent wage deal in November, via two pay increases each of 2.1 percent. The first increase was Feb. 1.
    The second was scheduled to take effect May 1, but many companies, in agreement with unions, are deferring it. A survey released this month by IG Metall in Baden-Württemberg state, home to Daimler and Porsche, found that 20 percent of responding members in the region had postponed the second increase until December, and a further 15 percent delayed the raise for a shorter period.
    In France, as in other European countries, employers are not normally allowed to lower contracted salaries without employee consent.
    But if a business with operations in France has “serious grounds” to think that its economic viability is in danger, and employees refuse a reduced salary, then a company could proceed to layoffs.
    To avoid this kind of situation, some companies have tried to negotiate salary reductions. The auto rental company Hertz, owned by a consortium of private equity firms, asked French management last month to swallow a pay cut of around 5 percent over three months, without offsetting time off. Slightly more than two-thirds of the 150 managers offered the deal agreed, according to the Confédération Générale du Travail union.
    Hewlett-Packard, the computer giant, confirmed that it was engaged in similar negotiations to cut the salaries of its 6,000 workers in France, ranging from 2.5 to 15 percent.
    The Finnish carrier Finnair announced in December plans to temporarily lay off 1,700 cabin crew members on a staggered basis this year to cut costs. The layoffs will last two to three weeks a worker.

  3. FAA chief seeks rules to prevent commuter-pilot fatigue, By ANDY PASZTOR and JOSH MITCHELL, WSJ, A6.
    [Note backwards motion at a big airline: "Pilots' hours would increase and there would be shorter turnaround times on short haul flights" for British Air (BA pilots offered shares for pay cut deal, 6/17 Reuters).]
    The top U.S. air-safety regulator said Monday that within a few months he hopes to draft tougher rules to alleviate fatigue among commuter airline pilots.
    The move, and the speedy timetable for implementing it, is an indication that Randy Babbitt, the recently confirmed head of the Federal Aviation Administration, considers commuter pilot fatigue to be among the agency's top safety concerns. Commuter airlines account for more than half of all commercial flights in the U.S. They typically fly under contract from major carriers, ferrying passengers between smaller destinations and larger hubs.
    Emerging from an industry-wide summit on commuter airline safety held in Washington, Mr. Babbitt also indicated his agency expects large carriers to provide more guidance and resources to enhance the training and professionalism of pilots at their smaller commuter partners. The closed-door session convened by the FAA was attended by airline executives, pilot union leaders and other industry groups.
    Mr. Babbitt's comments indicate the agency is moving more aggressively than many airline officials had expected. The FAA now appears poised to act on more than a decade's worth of sleep research by crafting new standards for tighter limits on flight hours and workdays for commuter crews.
    "The bottom line is, I'm going to want a new rule" aimed at combating commuter-pilot fatigue, Mr. Babbitt told reporters. "I'd like to do it in the coming months."
    Congressional and public concerns about commuter airline safety have grown since the Feb. 12 crash of a Colgan Air Inc. plane outside Buffalo. Investigators discovered that the captain of the turboprop, flying under contract to serve Continental Airlines Inc., failed a number of flight-proficiency tests in his career. The crash also highlighted questions about adequate crew rest for many commuter pilots.
    During Monday's session, Mr. Babbitt was blunt in calling for industry action. According to Mr. Babbitt's prepared remarks during the meting, the FAA chief said: "There's a public perception" that pilots can "repeatedly fail (proficiency tests) and still keep their job." Regardless of the size of the plane or the airline, Mr. Babbitt said, "We want passengers to have no doubts about the qualifications of the person flying their plane," according to an agency transcript.
    Pilot union leaders have been prodding the FAA to beef up academic requirements for new commercial pilots, and emphasize additional "mentoring" of such pilots by veteran aviators. After the meeting, Mr. Babbitt said Monday that some mainline carriers tentatively agreed to share facilities and other training resources with commuter airlines, with the goal of ensuring that pilots across the industry meet the same standards.
    The FAA has stopped short of agreeing to raise minimum requirements for issuing various licenses to pilots, such as total number of flight hours or time spent behind the controls of multi-engine aircraft. But in many ways, proposed fatigue rules are bound to be more controversial with airlines.
    Write to Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com and Josh Mitchell at joshua.mitchell@dowjones.com

    [THREE articles today on shorter worktime in America's two top newspapers?! If it continues, this is a breakthrough. Next step is for them to realize that any incidents of 'timesizing' instead of downsizing are parts of a potentially unified worksharing strategy that can solve the economic crisis from the bottom & therefore sustainably. And the third step - by stopping the strain to fill a frozen 70-year-old eight-hour day, this agenda can save the biosphere = it's central, all-pervasive and all-facilitating, so we need to move fast on it.]

6/15/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. On a Furlough, but Never Leaving the Cubicle, By SUSAN SAULNY and ROBBIE BROWN, NY Times, A1.
    Roland Becht, a state worker in San Diego, said short-staffing had left him able to take only two of his eight furlough days. (photo caption)
    Wendy Roberson, a state employee in California, founded the Fun Furlough Fridays Club partly as a joke, but also because she honestly believed that she would be having long-weekend-type fun on her forced time off.
    Not quite. The Fun Furlough Fridays Club? It never met. Instead, Ms. Roberson has found herself working as hard as ever on most Fridays, and every other day of the week. Further, she has come to resent the very idea of a furlough more and more with each paycheck, every one 10 percent less than it used to be, as mandated by California’s budget cutters.
    And she has taken off only about half of the time to which she is entitled.
    “Sometimes it’s just too busy at work,” said Ms. Roberson, whose pay was cut in February as part of the state’s effort to close a multibillion-dollar budget deficit. “You start to feel guilty.”
    [Americans are going to have to learn to set and keep limits.]
    In California and elsewhere, people have put their imaginations to work trying to make the best of furloughs — temporary, usually unpaid, leave — ever appreciative that they are a far better alternative than layoffs.
    But for many, the plans to turn the unpaid days into modest holidays spent appreciating the simple things in life like afternoon movies, walks in the park, naps or trips to see Grandma have given way to a different reality.
    Some people take the time off but feel bad about doing so, out of loyalty to bosses and colleagues left to carry the workload. Others work quietly — and sometimes openly — through furloughs, because they fear for the long-term safety of their positions and hope their self-sacrifice impresses the management.
    [Americans are going to have to learn to set and keep limits.]
    And some say the message from the management is unclear, leaving employees wondering: Is this real time off?
    [Americans are going to have to learn to hold management to their word.]
    “I think it’s a joke,” said Roland Becht, who works at the California Department of Motor Vehicles in San Diego. (More than 200,000 state employees are supposed to have two furlough days each month.) “I’ve tried to schedule furlough time and was denied because we’re short-staffed.”
    [Americans are going to have to learn to hold management to their word.]
    American workers are finding themselves at a new frontier, and the rules are being written on the fly. Some companies have strict policies forbidding work during furloughs, or close down for days at a time.
    ['Strict'? How about "that's the meaning of the word 'furlough'."]
    Others simply tell workers, however unrealistically, to squeeze in furlough time when they can.
    [Americans are going to have to learn to push back, set and keep limits.]
    “In terms of what employers are doing, it’s all over the map,” said Alison Hightower, a lawyer in San Francisco who specializes in employment and labor disputes. “Employers have to think about it ahead of time and clearly tell the employees what they can and cannot do.”
    [No, the state legislature has told California employers what they can and cannot do. Employees are going to have to learn to hold management to the law.]
    Trying to cope with budget shortfalls and huge amounts of red ink, governments and companies across the country are turning to furloughs as a cost-saving measure that allows them to retain their employees. Furloughs are being instituted this year at law firms, city halls, states, media companies and myriad other businesses.
    Robert Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said the furlough experience could be traumatic.
    “A furlough is a dangerous and risky bet because it severs the relationship between an employee and their compensation [huh?],” Dr. Bruno said. “A worker’s emotional reaction to a furlough takes control of rational thought.”
    “It begins to look punitive, intentional or not,” he said.
    Ms. Roberson and Mr. Becht were among the few people interviewed for this article who were willing to allow their names to be published. Others asked to have their names and workplaces withheld out of fear of retribution from bosses or colleagues. And some were hesitant to complain openly about their employment situation, given how many of their friends and family members had lost jobs.
    “You’re not sure what they’re watching,” one furloughed man, an online salesman in Chicago, said about his bosses. “Do some people feel that they have to work those hours? Yes.”
    [Americans are going to have to learn to set and keep their own limits - and stop screwing themselves.]
    And as more people are laid off or placed on unpaid leave, the burdens rise for those left at their desks.
    [Those left at their desks are going to have to learn to set and keep limits - and stop acting like they are victims with no choice.]
    Mr. Becht, who has managed to take two of his eight furlough days, said he was often overwhelmed on the front line dealing with customers at the motor vehicle office. He works about an hour of overtime a day to keep up with the crush of customers [is he paid for this?]. Work is more stressful than ever, he said.
    “I really don’t blame the management at our local level,” said Mr. Becht, who took a 9.2 percent cut in pay several months ago. “I understand they can’t let three or four people off when you’re already understaffed.”
    But of the furlough, he added: “It’s not doing what it was designed to do.
    [Then MAKE it do what it was designed to do.]
    We were imagining three-day weekends. There was some optimism. It was a trade-off for sure, but people were O.K. The mood now, I would say, is down. People are working in fear because they don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
    To make extra money, Ms. Roberson teaches belly-dancing at girls’ birthday parties on weekends, something she has been doing more of lately.
    “I really try hard not to even check my e-mail on furlough days,” she said. “That would be cheating myself, because I’m not getting paid to work.”
    [Ah, one American is learning. Why is it so difficult? why so few 'get it'? Because "in each period, there is a general form of the forms of thought, and, like the air we breathe, such a form is so translucent, and so pervading, and so seemingly necessary that only by extreme effort can we become aware of it." Alfred North Whitehead, quoted by James Carroll in "Nuclear weapons debate takes new form," 6/15/2009 Boston Globe, A11. And the general form of our period includes feeling victims of time, not its masters. We suck sympathy for having No Time. Yet Being So Busy makes us feel important. Sharing worktime by cutting the workweek and getting just as much or more pay because we've cut the labor surplus makes us feel guilty. This is going to be tough indeed for our generation, but the current depression will linger on, invisibly deepening and deepening until we do this - and start timesizing, not downsizing.]
    Karen Ann Cullotta contributed reporting from Chicago, and Malia Wollan from San Francisco.

  2. Henderson considers closing all city offices on Fridays, By Jeremy Twitchell, 6/14 Las Vegas Sun - Las Vegas,NV,USA.
    On a Friday morning, Henderson’s cavernous Development Services Center feels particularly empty. Aside from shoes squeaking as the occasional customer or employee walks the freshly cleaned floor, the only thing to punctuate the quiet is the loudspeaker that announces the next number to be served.
    It’s one reason the Henderson City Council is scheduled to consider a measure Tuesday to close City Hall altogether on Fridays.
    The other reason: the closure is projected to save the city $1.6 million a year in labor and utility costs at a time when nearly $60 million has already been cut from this fiscal year’s budget.
    According to the posted agenda item, if approved, the Friday closures would begin July 1.
    But the city needs to further evaluate staffing levels, service levels and other factors before closing, city spokeswoman Cindy Herman said. So, if the measure is approved, it likely wouldn’t be implemented until September, she said.
    Most city offices already are closed on Fridays. But when Henderson went to a four-day work week for most employees in 1983, it kept a few offices open to provide basic services.
    Besides the Development Services Center, which issues building permits and business licenses, and handles customer services for utilities, the clerk’s office is also open for passports and other services. A few employees also work Fridays in the finance, human resources and information technology departments.
    With the recession and decline in construction, the Development Services Center has lost about half of its employees, most of whom have retired or transferred to other departments and not been replaced.
    On the morning of Friday, June 12, some 11 customers trickled through the center over the course of about a half hour. Employees say it’s slightly slower than usual, but, yes, things usually are pretty slow on Fridays.
    One employee said the question basically comes down to whether the city spends more to keep City Hall open on Fridays than it brings in by doing so. After a brief pause, the employee said the city “probably does.”
    One customer, Troy Beer, was at City Hall to pull a permit for a job his family’s company, Sunworld Masonry, just lined up for the following Monday. When he hears that the city is considering closing on Fridays, he disapproves.
    “I think that would be terrible,” he said.
    Beer is down at the city to pull permits about twice a month, and while he usually tries to plan to do it between Monday and Thursday, he said, sometimes he just can’t make it on any other day than Friday.
    “Sometimes, if you’re in crunch time and you need something done right away for the following week, it’s really nice to be able to come in on a Friday and take care of it,” Beer said.
    But Beer’s No. 1 argument for keeping the Development Services Center open on Fridays is one of the main reasons the city is considering closing. “It’s really empty on Friday, so it’s nice if you can come down here then, because you can get in and out,” he said.
    Another customer, Diane Phillips, is applying for a business license. She said her opinion on the Friday closure depends on how it affects employees.
    “If (the city) is cutting their salaries, I don’t approve,” she said.
    Herman said no decision has been reached regarding salary reductions or positions being cut. Those decisions will be part of the study the city will do, she said.
    She said the city will also look at switching employees to the same four-day work week that their colleagues work.
    The study will also look at how the city might maintain some services.
    For example, Herman said, many residents pay their bills at Utility Service’s customer service windows on Fridays. “We want to maintain excellent the customer service level at which residents have ranked us in various customer surveys,” she said.
    If City Hall closes on Fridays, the city also will have to figure out what to do with the marriage license bureau the Clark County clerk’s office operates there on Thursdays and Fridays.
    The city worked for months to get the service set up in City Hall last year. The counter worker in the bureau said she issues on average 10 marriage licenses each Friday.
    Herman cautioned that no final decision has been made and said the city will carefully evaluate all factors. “It really just comes down to conducting the analysis,” she said.

  3. Siemens labour reps seek shorter work week - paper, 6/14 Reuters - USA.
    FRANKFURT - Siemens (SIEGn.DE) labour representatives want to negotiate a permanent cut in working hours in exchange for lower pay to pre-empt any moves by the German conglomerate to axe jobs, its works council head told a newspaper.
    "We will sit with the board at the start of the new fiscal year and discuss what other possible measures would be needed if the (economic) crisis continued," Lothar Adler said in a Sunday pre-release of an interview in daily Die Welt's Monday edition.
    Siemens has so far made temporary cuts to the working hours of around 20,000 of a total of 135,000 employees in Germany in response to the worldwide recession.
    Under German law, companies can reduce working hours for up to 24 months as a means of avoiding mandatory layoffs.

    Adler said that, under the current arrangement, there could be problems if the economic downturn persisted beyond that deadline. Such a scenario would have to be discussed once Siemens' fiscal year starts in October.
    He rebuffed speculation that Siemens is discussing with its workforce a major job cuts programme on top of the one launched last year to save 1.2 billion euros by 2010.
    Siemens announced last year it would cut 17,000 sales and administration jobs worldwide.
    (editing by John Stonestreet)

6/14/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. College cuts face growing criticism from the Louisiana business business community, Posted by Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com - New Orleans,LA,USA.
    The state's colleges and universities have been the most vocal critics of the governor's plan to slash higher education spending in the upcoming fiscal year, but a business community fearful of losing more skilled workers has also begun to voice opposition to the plan.
    The Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region has not taken an official position on the budget, but Managing Director Bob Brown said the council considers higher education "one of the core institutions for a healthy state."
    "The business council is not in any way supportive of the draconian cuts that are proposed," Brown said.
    Gov. Bobby Jindal has proposed making a 15 percent, or $219 million, cut to colleges and universities for the next budget year, a blow that the Senate tried this week to soften by proposing to delay an income tax break and dip into the state's rainy day fund.
    Jindal has said those moves would only delay what is an inevitable and necessary cut to manage budget shortfalls, but Brown and others in the business community believe that a delay would be less harmful than the cuts planned now.
    "If you take this level of cuts right now and apply it immediately, the type of cutting you'll end up doing by default is across the board," said Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana. "By doing that you run the risk of taking out programs that have been good, that have been hallmarks of some institutions. The concern ultimately is that we won't have institutions in our state to provide the real education we want for knowledge-based jobs."
    Slashing funding for schools without giving them time to restructure would disrupt the bond that the business community has tried to forge with universities to develop the state's high-tech and knowledge-based economy, Erwin said.
    "We know we need to create more knowledge-based jobs, and to do that you need a work force that is highly educated," Erwin said. "If you pull the rug out from these institutions, they won't be able to provide that."
    Erwin said there should eventually be reductions in the higher education system, but that such cuts should come only after enough data are collected to determine the best course of action.
    "We will have to look at priorities, areas of quality, low-completion programs, duplication of degrees," Erwin said. "It doesn't necessarily have to mean closing institutions, though we may need to look at that because there are universities close together that don't have large populations."
    Brown worked at the University of New Orleans in the early 1990s, when statewide budget cuts to higher education pushed the university to reduce its work week to four days, shed nearly 90 jobs and cut back on course offerings.
    "I've seen firsthand what it does," Brown said. "Immediately it creates tremors which will cause your most marketable, your most productive and your most prominent professors in research to get happy feet."
    [Not when there's nowhere for them to go, as now, because everyone's cutting back, or worse, cutting jobs. See the second-next sentence about programs disappearing.]
    As those professors leave, graduate students interested in research follow. After a while, programs disappear because there's no demand for them, Brown said. When that happens, the business community is left without a broad talent pool from which to select employees over many industries.
    "You would have a diminishing pool of knowledge workers and an expanding universe of need for knowledge workers," Brown said.
    The Northshore Business Council authored a resolution imploring its delegation "not to implement drastic cuts to institutions of higher education ... because these cuts will adversely impact the Northshore region in ways both short term and long term."
    The council "has taken notice of the academic improvements and programmatic advances which have occurred in recent years as these institutions have received better funding from the Louisiana Legislature, enabling them to produce graduates who are better prepared to meet the needs of employers," the resolution said.
    It encourages lawmakers instead to phase in the cuts or implement tuition and fee increases that would bring the state's tuition charges more in line with tuition rates at similar universities around the South.
    GNO Inc., the economic development association for the 10-parish region, also advocates a tuition increase in lieu of cuts and a dip into the "rainy day" fund this year, giving schools time to reform and restructure.
    GNO Inc. "will oppose the use of the rainy day fund if it is not contingent upon reform measures being implemented," the group's position paper says.
    Erwin agrees with that tack.
    "We recognize that cuts are needed, but we're requesting that some dollars be found to mitigate the hit so that they would have time to restructure," Erwin said. "Bankruptcy gives companies time to restructure. That's what higher education needs."
    Jaquetta White can be reached at jwhite@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3494.

  2. Cheap trips during reduced workweek, Nashua Telegraph - Nashua,NH,USA.
    Q: I am trying to look at the brighter side of my company reducing my position to part time and am wondering if you can suggest some midweek excursions in the mid-Atlantic area. If you had Tuesday and Wednesday off work for the entire summer, what (cheap) two-day trips would you plan for someone who loves the outdoors?
    A: Way to think positive. Here are a few affordable, outdoorsy options:
    • Bike, canoe, kayak and bird-watch on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The winsome towns of Oxford, Chestertown and St. Michaels are packed with B&Bs and affordable eateries (crabs!). They have galleries and museums, too. For more information, visit www.visitmaryland.org.
    • Check out Shenandoah National Park, with hiking trails, waterfalls, horseback riding and incomparable views of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Camp out or book a cozy cabin. For more information, visit www.visit shenandoah.com.
    • Tour New York on two wheels. Take the dollar bus (check Web sites for deals), get a cut-rate hotel room through Priceline.com and explore the city by bike. For rental information and trail maps, visit www.bikenewyork.org.
    • Visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, scene of major Civil War-era action (including abolitionist John Brown's doomed attack), as well as gorgeous scenery and challenging hiking trails. Take a ranger-led tour or explore on your own. For information, visit www.nps.gov/hafe.

6/13/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Views mixed on incentives for trade-ins, By: George Moore, Meriden Record-Journal - Meriden,CT,USA.
    Dennis Crosby doesn't like getting eight miles per gallon in his 1983 Ford F-150, but he's not all that excited about a government proposal that would give drivers up to $4,500 to trade in old "clunkers" for new, gas-efficient models.
    Under the proposed "Cash for Clunkers" program, the driver of an older gas guzzler could receive a voucher of $3,500 to $4,500 toward the purchase of a new, fuel-efficient vehicle, as long as he or she traded in the old vehicle as scrap. The goal is to take outdated, pollution-heavy vehicles off the road and boost auto sales.
    Regardless of the voucher, Crosby said he is not ready to commit to a long-term new-car investment, since he is concerned about the possibility of losing his job. His workweek has already been cut back by a day and he has taken a pay cut as a result of the poor economy.
    "If you lose your job, then you lose your car," he said of the program as he was filling up at the Citgo on West Main Street in Meriden. "To me, it's kind of a gamble."
    The program will appeal mainly to people with older cars who were already thinking about getting a new car, said Richard P. Larrick, a Duke University business professor who writes a blog about gasoline consumption.
    "I think they're trying to make it a little less painful," he said of the program.
    For people with clunkers who were thinking about buying a new car, he said, the program would both reduce the price of the new vehicle and, of course, result in fuel savings. The program, he said, does encourage significant gasoline savings by targeting the most inefficient vehicles.
    His blog, at www.mpgillusion.com, points out that improving miles per gallon at the low end of the car efficiency spectrum saves a lot more gas than trying to optimize fuel use among more efficient cars.
    "You realize that all the action is in getting rid of the cars in the teens and getting them into the 20s," he said, referring to miles per gallon.
    But people who drive very old vehicles are not likely to be in the market for a new car, said Harte Auto Group Owner Gregory Harte.
    "They're driving a real junk car for a reason," he said. "They can't afford something new. They're trying to get every last breath out of it."
    The $3,500 or $4,500 voucher, of course, is only a fraction of the price of a new car.
    "What kind of new car can I get for $3,500?" asked Santos Libron, who drove his 1988 Ford pickup to the West Main Stop & Shop.
    Still, many in Congress are excited about the bill because it would improve fleet efficiency while boosting auto sales.
    "This bill is a win-win: It cleans up our air and it helps revitalize our American manufacturing economy," said U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., in a statement.
    The House of Representatives approved the bill, formally called Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS), by a margin of 298-119 on Tuesday. Murphy voted in favor. The bill awaits action from the Senate. President Barack Obama has supported the legislation.
    The proposal states that drivers with a car that gets 18 mpg or less could receive a $3,500 voucher for a car that gets at least 22 mpg. Drivers could receive a $4,500 voucher if they trade in a car that gets 18 mpg or less for a vehicle that gets at least 10 mpg over the trade in. The owner of a pickup truck, sports utility vehicle, or minivan that gets 18 mpg or less could receive a voucher of $3,500 for a new vehicle gets at least 2 mpg more than the trade-in. The owner could receive a voucher of $4,500 of the new vehicle gets at least 5 mpg more than the trade-in.
    The trade-in vehicle must have been owned by the purchaser for at least one year. The old vehicle must be scrapped in order to take it off the road.
    Larrick said the program probably would not be appealing to people who own slightly worn cars that are still worth well over $4,500 in terms of trade-in value.
    Wayne Gdovin, who drove his 1989 Chevrolet pickup to the Shop & Shop Friday, said he would not want to use such a program. His old truck allows him to save money, he said, since he can work on it himself, unlike new cars, which require more specialized service.
    "At least I can work on that," he said, nodding to the truck. "I don't need to take it to a garage at $80 an hour."
    (203) 317-2275

  2. Hold the presses - A French postal strike, Author: Patrick Mattimore, Examiner.com - USA.
    [Another indication that the French have no idea what they're doing right (shorter workweeks), let alone a visiting American like Pat Mattimore on a traintrip thru France.]
    GEX, East-central France - Normally, une greve (a strike) in France has all the news value of a dog bites man nonstory - they come up about as often as Tuesdays. However, today I arrived at the Saturday morning street market in my town of Gex to an unusual postal strike. Les facteurs (mailmen) were striking to protest the national government’s decision to cut postal services on Mondays.
    What that means is that the postal workers will have a weekly enforced day of nonlabor without wages. Now in the U.S., you might conclude that, of course, the workers are striking. Their wages are being cut. But hey, this is France. What’s being cut is the work week. Forget wages. Normally, anytime there’s an excuse to work less it’s un jour de la rejouissance (a day of rejoicing). In fact, having the government declare an unexpected holiday is such welcome news that it might by itself cause workers to go en greve [nonsensical - contradicts flow - bad writing] or declare un autre conge (another holiday).
    Hence when I saw the striking postal workers at the market today I didn’t react immediately. Usually, I use any excuse to hear and speak French, but I just didn’t feel like being filled up with patter this morning or dropping mon blatheur on someone else (note that blatheur should be the French word for blather). Big mistake. I got home and opened my weekly Gex newspaper (Le Pays Gessien) and on the fait divers (news briefs) page there was a story about the strike.
    That’s when I learned les facteurs were fighting against a shorter work week.
    [Or rather, against less pay, packaged as a shorter workweek.]
    Formidable (amazing)! By now it was 1:00 p.m. The chance of finding the striking facteurs or factrices to interview at the market was slim.
    [Why? Doesn't he still have four hours till 5:00 p.m.?]
    But I had to try. This would be the story that would forever change Americans’ opinions of the French. Although they had left the market area, I found some facteurs and factrices milling around la poste (the post office) which was closed, since it’s never open at 1:00 in the afternoon.
    [Inadequate info. What's the usual lunch hour and closure policy??]
    Incroyable (unbelievable)!
    So, I got a chance to interview une factrice. She told me they were indeed striking because the government was trying to cut off Monday service. She explained to me that important perishable deliveries that didn’t get livrer (to deliver) on Monday would get spoiled just like my Monday International Herald Tribune (which ma factrice manages to deliver half the time on Tuesday anyway).
    [And what about no delivery on Sunday and probably Saturday?]
    But now I was going to ask the gotcha question. So why did the facteurs and factrices take another day off to dramatize the fact that they wanted to work more? And why didn’t they just put notices in peoples’ mailboxes along with the mail asking for support? La factrice told me that they had to strike Saturday because their first day of enforced vacance was going to be Monday. Well, the first answer wasn’t entirely satisfactory since I also asked how long they had known les lundis bleus (literally, blue Mondays) were happening, and after consulting un autre factrice she told me one month.
    But the answer as to why no notices in people’s boxes was a surprise. It seems there is a law prohibiting les facteurs and les factrices from putting those types of notices in mailboxes since they are government employees.
    Okay, despite the greve on Saturday answer I was hooked. I signed the petition to get the government to rescind its decision. I am also going to try and organize a greve for Tuesday.
    Patrick Mattimore is an Examiner from San Francisco [on a train journey through France].

6/12/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. The inside job - Conflicting News About the Job Market, by Liz Wolgemuth, U.S. News & World Report - Washington,DC,USA.
    It's no secret that the average workweek has been shrinking over the course of this recession. Well, it's no secret to people who enjoy reading Labor Department news releases. There are plenty of workers who probably feel like they're working extra hours. But, the average work week dropped from 33.7 hours in May 2008 to 33.1 hours in May 2009. [Why should this be surprising, Liz - if the people who still have 'full-time' theoretically 40-hour jobs are too insecure to draw the line at 40 hours or disclose the long hours they're really working, they'll relieve employers of hiring more staff, there'll be less unautomated employment to go round, and official figures on average workweeks will shrink - which, btw, should be good news in a high tech economy - after all, isn't the whole purpose of technology to 'make life easier for everyone'? - but it never happens when in a hypocritical 'free' market economy, "full time" employment is ruthlessly, invisibly controlled at the pre-technology 40-hour level and has been since 1940 - 69 years ago. "Free market" - hardly.]
    The number of workers employed in part-time jobs has risen by more than 2 million in the past year, while the number who are working part-time involuntarily (meaning they'd rather be working full-time but had their hours cut or can't find full-time work) has jumped by 4.4 million over the course of the recession. (Is it fair to figure that some workers--older workers in particular--who would have been satisfied previously with part-time pay now need more income? Or, is this largely driven by employers cutting part-time jobs, then cutting full-time jobs down to part-time?)
    Harvard economist Jeffrey Frankel noted yesterday in a blog post (which David Leonhardt picked up) that while the considerably slower pace of May job losses sure seemed like good news to some, the average work week was at its lowest level since 1964. Frankel says:
    "Hours worked suggests that the hope-inspiring May moderation in the job loss series may have been a monthly aberration. If firms were really gearing up to start hiring workers once again, why would they now be cutting back as strongly as ever on the hours that they ask their existing employees to work? If one factors in falling wages, to compute total weekly earnings, the picture looks still worse. My bottom line: the labor market does not quite yet suggest that the economy has hit bottom."
    It's worth noting, one other piece of BLS data which seems a little brighter: the diffusion index, which measures the spread of industries adding or slashing jobs (a 50 represents a perfect balance). May's 32.7 percent figure is an improvement over the previous five months, showing job losses weren't as widespread.

  2. Open question - What reasons can i give for working shorter hours at a job i started? by Antony, Yahoo! Answers.
    i applied for this job and when applied the hours were 10-3 as advertised, [= a 5-hour workday, 25-hour workweek?]
    i got the job and ave been put down for 10-6
    i want to work the 10-3 tho i guess its just the basic hour thing and they rota you down fulltime, but i wanna ask fo ther 10-3 and need some good reasons to go with that
    please can someone help
    [So much for employers who are intense about enshrining "employees' freedom to choose longer hours."]

6/11/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. City to move to four-day workweek, By GUY RHODES, Tuskegee News - Tuskegee,AL,USA.
    Upon further review, Tuskegee City Manager Al Davis has decided city workers cut to 32 hours a week under a cost reduction plan will work Monday through Thursday of each week.
    Under the original proposal approved by the Tuskegee City Council effective Monday (June 8) of this week, non-public safety city employees were to work 32 hours a week with offices open Monday through Friday.

    The cost reduction action was taken in an effort to bring the city’s budget into balance over the next two fiscal years (2010 and 2011) and the remainder of FY 2009 that ends September 30 of this year. The current deficit is about $2.5 million. That total is from carrying over previous deficits of $1.9 million with another $600,000-plus added this year.
    Economic woes nationwide have impacted Tuskegee and other towns and cities. Reduced tax collections and fees over a period of time have led to the deficits.
    The cost reduction plan eliminated 11 full-time jobs leaving the city workforce at about 110 full-time employees. Of those, about 50 are firemen and police who are not subject to the 32-hour a week furlough program.
    About 66 percent of the city’s budget prior to the cost reduction went for salaries and benefits. Most city governments operate with about 50 percent going for those budget items.
    Davis informed the Tuskegee City Council of his plan to have city offices open only Monday through Thursday at the Tuesday (June 9) regular council meeting.
    The change won’t impact public safety that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Friday garbage collection will also continue.
    “After looking at the situation, we believe residents will be better served by having full staff working four days a week rather than having limited staff spread over a five-day workweek when we would be short personnel in some offices,” Davis explained.
    Davis pointed out that city court is conducted on Thursdays.
    “After looking at the week’s schedule, Friday is the most logical day to close city offices,” he said.
    The city manager also noted the Utilities Board of Tuskegee (UBT) is a separate entity from city government. That means UBT offices for payment of utilities bills and other operations will operate Monday through Friday at Tuskegee Municipal Complex.
    Davis said there will be savings to the city associated with the Monday through Thursday workweek, primarily for utilities and operation of vehicles. However, his staff won’t be able to determine the amount saved until a couple of weeks operating only Monday through Thursday.
    The change to city offices operating only four days a week won’t be immediate.
    “We’ll need a couple of weeks to make sure citizens are adequately notified of the change,” Davis said.

  2. Cuts to impact courts?, by Jack Zemlicka, Wisconsin Law Journal - Milwaukee,Wisconsin,USA.
    In an effort to address the estimated $14 million shortfall facing Milwaukee County, County Executive Scott Walker has asked all county departments cut back on hours of operation.
    But only departments under the direction of the county executive can be mandated to have the workweek reduced
    — seven constitutional offices, including the courts and district attorney’s office, do not have to comply with the request.
    Milwaukee County court officials have declined a request from Walker to shut the system down for five hours a week starting at the end of the month.
    According to clerk of courts John W. Barrett, that would have cut access to the courts by more than 12 percent and forced judges to significantly shuffle their calendars.
    “The reduction would [have resulted] in a month-and-a-half less court time over the course of a year, so I expect our calendars would be pushed out at least that far and maybe even further,” Barrett said.
    A 35-hour work week would have resulted in about $842,000 in savings over the next six months.
    Although the courts have declined to reduce hours, Chief Judge Jeffrey A. Kremers said that they are investigating other cost-saving measures.
    This could include everything from closing the intake courts on the weekend, which would save $133,000, to cutting costs for juror lunches by $35,000.
    “We are continuing to find ways to close the budget gaps and it’s an ongoing process,” Kremers said.
    While staff hours will not be cut, most entrance points will be closed prior to 8:30 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m. starting on June 29.
    Further, only “necessary court-related” personnel will be able to enter the courthouse through the 9th Street tunnel entrance from 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. and from 4:30 – 5:00 p.m.
    These changes will accommodate reductions at the Facilities Management Division, which manage the entrances.
    Walker spokesperson Fran McLaughlin argues that the impact on the legal community will be minimal because “cases don’t start at 4:30 in the afternoon.” Kremers agreed.
    “The public will still have the same access to the courts and they will run the same hours as they always have,” he said.
    But Milwaukee criminal defense attorney Dennis P. Coffey called the changes “asinine.” Coffey regularly handles cases in the county and said that limiting entry points will inevitably lead to delays.
    He worries that a client trying to make an 8:30 a.m. hearing will encounter a lengthy line to get into the courthouse if only one entrance is open.
    “I think there are going to be incredible complaints and I think they are essentially going to slow the system down to point where morning cases will not get done in the morning,” Coffey said.
    Personal injury attorney Jonathan P. Groth said that even with every entrance open, he’s had cases delayed because witnesses or jurors were running late.
    “You probably are going to have a bottleneck,” said Groth, of Pitman, Kyle & Sicula S.C., in Milwaukee. “I’m fearful to some extent it will result in increased delays of the court’s time, attorney’s time and everyone’s time.”
    Coffey also took issue with the notion that trials do not begin at 4:30 p.m., because in some cases witnesses or other experts may be scheduled to testify late in the day.
    “What if someone ends up having to pay an expert to come back the next morning?” said Coffey. “If we are going to impose arbitrary limits, why not let us be done at 3 p.m.?”

6/10/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Walker County Messenger: Citing revenue shortfalls, Walker commissioner considers furloughs, Daily Citizen via northwestgeorgia.com - Dalton,GA,USA.
    In the midst of declining sales tax revenue, Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said on Tuesday she is considering “every available option” to see to it that county operations continue as normal, but admits reductions are likely.
    “Walker County has held out as long as it possibly can,” Heiskell said. “We are going to have to find ways to further cut our budget but now we are into the quick.”
    According to Walker County Financial Officer Greg McConnell, the county is facing a budget shortfall of some $1.7 million.
    “We have watched the trend over the past several months as sales tax collections have declined,” McConnell said.
    The ailing economy is blamed for the revenue shortfall as more and more people across the county have tightened their belts on spending due to job losses.
    “As people have lost jobs they have had to resort to pinching every penny,” Heiskell said. “We too are looking for the most frugal way to spend taxpayer dollars.”
    Heiskell said the difficulty with finding new ways of cutting department operating budgets is that these budgets are already bare bone.
    "When I first took office, we found ways to trim operating costs and we have operated over my tenure as commissioner with that same approach,” Heiskell said. “So there really is not much left for us to trim.”
    Last week, it was announced that Catoosa County would begin furloughing employees one day per pay period. Because they are paid every two weeks, this amounts to a reduction of four hours per week.
    “The typical work week is a 40-hour week. With Catoosa’s furlough, that is the equivalent of a 36-hour work week for their employees,” Heiskell explained.
    The city of LaFayette has been operating over the past several months with many of their employees on a reduced work week of some 37 hours.

    When asked about the possibility of county employees being furloughed Heiskell responded, “This is something we are having to consider seriously. I realize that for some it is difficult to lose hours of pay, but if something is not done soon, I am afraid that layoffs are inevitable. We certainly do not want to lose any of our hard workers here with the county. So, this may be a way of sharing the burden instead of losing workers to cuts.”

  2. Steel makers cut jobs, curb costs, by MATHABO LE ROUX lerouxm@bdfm.co.za, Business Day via businessday.co.za - Johannesburg,South Africa.
    MANUFACTURERS are still reeling from the drop in demand spurred by the global economic meltdown and a slump in commodity prices, and more job losses are expected as producers try to curb costs and restore profit margins.
    Steel makers in particular are feeling the pinch. Mid-cap Highveld Steel and Vanadium said when releasing first-quarter results last week that it would embark on a labour restructuring programme as orders remained at low levels and steel prices kept going down .
    The Witbank-based company has already drastically reduced output, with the production of cast blocks now 18,3% below output at the end of last year, plate output reduced by 32%, coils down 60,5% and sections output 75,2%.
    With no sign when demand will improve and prices stabilise, Highveld will now also resort to job cuts, with as many as 300 on the line.
    Highveld’s larger peer, ArcelorMittal SA , is also in the doldrums, but while the group last year cut back on contract work it has not yet opted for job cuts.
    Mittal spokesman Sven Lünsche said last week the group was targeting a benchmark maximum production cost of $300 a ton at its operations globally. The group wants to remain profitable over the next few years, but also to position itself to take advantage of the upswing when global markets turn.
    Local operations are still well off this target. Cost of production was at between $340 and $420 a ton, Lunsche said, and the group was looking at a wide range of measures to cut costs. These could include shortening its work week.
    “It is a steep target and we are looking at achieving it later in the year. The sooner you get there, the better,” Lunsche said.
    Mittal has also cut production and output was at 60% to 65% total capacity.
    Jobs are also on the line at struggling heavy duty equipment manufacturer Bell Equipment . The Richards’ Bay-based company in March appealed to the Industrial Development Corporation for a R220m loan. Bell has already laid off 800 contract workers and cut production at its plants in Germany and Richards Bay, and has now also announced that it would embark on a voluntary retrenchment programme to ease production expenses.
    Bell group strategy and public affairs director Guy Harris last week said Bell aims to cut its wage bill 40%.

6/09/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Ford's Explorer plant layoffs could come next month, By Marcus Green • magreen@courier-journal.com, Louisville Courier-Journal - Louisville,KY,USA.
    Ford Motor's plans to lay off about 350 workers from its Louisville Assembly Plant could go into effect early next month, a union official said today.
    United Auto Workers and Ford officials are in negotiations that could delay or stop the action, but local union leaders are bracing for the job cuts, said Steven M. Stone, building chairman for UAW Local 862 at the Fern Valley Road plant.
    The company had proposed the layoffs in April and intends to cut the jobs July 6, Stone said.
    “We’re looking to try to prepare for a worst-case scenario as far as setting up meetings with the unemployment office and everything else because time is short,” Stone said.
    “We still hope something will be done but … we’re preparing for the worst.”
    A Ford spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
    The plant employs about 1,450 workers building the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle who have been alternating one work week with one week of furlough since last year as demand for the vehicles has slowed.
    [So shorter hours are happening anyway, but not in the best way.]
    Stone said any workers whose jobs are cut by the Ford plan would be eligible to be re-hired as part of a $500 million retooling of the plant to begin making a small, fuel-efficient vehicle by 2011.
    Reporter Marcus Green can be reached at (502) 582-4675.

  2. German Labor Costs Increased Most on Record in First Quarter, By Simone Meier, Bloomberg.com - USA.
    Hourly labor costs in Germany’s manufacturing and service industries increased the most on record in the first quarter as companies cut output and introduced shorter working hours to weather a recession.
    The cost of an hour’s work increased a seasonally adjusted 5.8 percent in the three months through March from the same period a year earlier, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said in a statement today. That’s the biggest gain since the data was first compiled in 1997. Hourly costs rose 1.7 percent from the fourth quarter when adjusted for seasonal swings and work days.
    [Yet the cost of an hour's "work" in the financial sector is thousands of times that, because of their cultivation of labor redundancy by buying stocks of downsizing companies instead of timesizing companies - and now who's getting the self-defeating bailouts that merely intensify the petrified black hole of wealth in the topmost minuscule of the population? Cut working hours enough to employ the maximum of consumers, no matter how short those working hours get. This is the only sustainable escape from this labyrinth.]
    To contact the reporter on this story: Simone Meier in Frankfurt at smeier@bloomberg.net

6/08/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 600000 New Jobs for the Summer, Truthdig.com - United States.
    With U.S. unemployment now at 9.4 percent, President Obama unveiled a plan Monday to provide more than 600,000 new jobs this summer, paid for under the $787 billion economic stimulus package. The initiative will create jobs by dolling up military facilities, improving roads and hiring teachers and some 125,000 teenagers for the summer.
    The Los Angeles Times:
    President Obama today promised to deliver more than 600,000 new jobs this summer with accelerated spending of some of the $787-billion economic stimulus that Congress approved at his urging earlier this year.
    Th[is] boost in employment will not offset the job losses of recent months—with more than 1.6 million jobs shaved from the economy since Congress approved the stimulus plan in February. Unemployment last month reached 9.4%, the highest since 1983...


    By ardee, June 8 at 3:58 pm #
    As I read this article I thought of the remark about lipstick on a pig. Thats what this job creation program is , temporary solutions when a permanent fix is required. Folks who have lost their careers are not going to be saved by stop gap summer employment or temporary minimum wage jobs.
    We are a nation bereft of leadership.

    By matti, June 8 at 3:35 pm #
    The bright spot I see is the work on National Parks. But even that may be fairly dim because I’m guessing most of these “parks” are really just tourist-trap “monuments” and that the few which are actual forests and other “park”-like places will be managed just as stupidly as they have been for the last half-century. Only now…with more! Yippee.
    The “summer jobs” things just makes me want to smash my head against a brick wall until I can be stupid enough to “think” it makes sense and join my fellow Citizens in brainwashed pseudo-life.
    When will people in this country start to understand some of the basic tenets of a well-functioning and socially-decent capitalist system?
    125,000 more teenagers on the job this summer will not make the employment situation better, it will make it WORSE!
    You know how when you lose your cubicle-slave job and you have to find something quick to pay the bills, and close to your suburban tract-house because your car’s been re-possessed? And you know how when you do it’s always some lame “service economy” lower-caste burger-flippin’, shelf-stocking, or register-jockeying job? And you know how you can never get one that pays you a decent wage, works you regular hours, or allows you to form associations with you fellow workers to achieve these things?
    That’s because there are MILLIONS of teen-age kids still living at home who are available to work those jobs and with whom you are in a race towards the bottom.
    They think the federal minimum-wage IS a lot of money, they’re mommas still cook their meals and wash their clothes for eff’s sake. They don’t care about funky, part-time hours, they’re still in secondary school, they CAN’T work a 9-5 full time job. They don’t care that they can’t unionize or struggle for a more fair cut of the profits, they only took the job to buy a kickin’ stereo system for their Honda CRX in the hope that its thumpin’ bass will finally convince that girl they like to cut’em some action.
    We DO NOT have a “kids slacking off in the summer” employment problem in this country, we have a “adults layed-off who need to feed and house kids” employment problem. Making up 125,000 new jobs for teens in the Department of Labor won’t just “not help” our REAL employment problem, it will make it WORSE.
    At the very least, these jobs should be offered to un-employed adults before they are relegated to these children.
    If the Administration REALLY wanted to solve the eployment problem, and by that I don’t just mean the current one but the chronic one, then they would outlaw teen-age workers -with some exceptions such as farm work, family need, emanicpated teens etc.- not hire more. If they combined this with a guarantee of a spare but not-destitute retirement at age 55 and a reduction of the “work-week” to 35 hours, they might just fix the problem, not just for now, but for good.
    [How many times must people reinvent and resuggest the obvious before the 'experts' get it? = Share the vanishing work, no matter how short a workweek it takes.]
    I won’t hold my breath though.

  2. Cal Poly Pomona cuts summer sessions, by Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times via latimesblogs.latimes.com - CA,USA.
    Citing “catastrophic” funding cuts, Cal Poly Pomona has canceled its summer sessions, offering instead pay-as-you-go classes that could cost students more than twice as much as regular summer courses.
    Cal Poly Pomona President J. Michael Ortiz, in an e-mail Sunday, told students that the governor’s proposed cut to the university of $20 million to $35 million had left him with “no choice” but to shut down the early and late summer sessions.
    “I’ve spent the weekend reading with great concern your numerous messages of distress over the cancellation of summer classes,” Ortiz said. But he stated that the “huge cut” was the equivalent of shutting down three of the university’s eight regular colleges.
    “The state budget crisis is real and much greater than previously predicted,” Ortiz said.
    Electrical engineering student Fernando Casillas, in an e-mail, questioned why the cuts were not taken in other areas, such as summer staff reductions or shorter hours for full-time staff. The cancellation was announced Friday, just 2.5 weeks before the first summer session was to begin.
    "I do feel that the decision was hasty and unfair," Casillas wrote.
    [What strange addiction to drama and violence - chop a few, and a few more, and a... - draws decision-makers into downsizing instead of just timesizing = everyone sacrifices a little, together?]

6/07/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Health, climate change vie for boost in Congress, By Richard Cowan, Reuters.com - USA.
    WASHINGTON - Barack Obama may be pressuring Congress as no U.S. president has for decades as he aims to get two big domestic goals passed this year -- reforming health care and fighting global warming.
    [And he should be prioritizing overtime-to-training&hiring conversion and fluctuating workweeks against under-employment - then he'd have millions of allies among the public to fight for healthcare reform and against global warming. If the US Senate normally works only a three-day workweek in the age of robotics, then all Americans should work only a three-day workweek. "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." Old Saying from Grannie (Louise Elizabeth Reppen Hyde, 1885-1969, Nottingham & Toronto).]
    "It's not impossible to do both, but that would be more than a Congress has ever given a president, maybe since the first First 100 Days," said Brookings Institution senior fellow Stephen Hess, referring to the start of Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" presidency in 1933.
    A further time constraint may be the pressures imposed by the campaign next year for congressional elections in November when the seats of all 435 U.S. representatives and a third of the 100 senators are up for grabs.
    Congress in the past often has shown itself to be unable to handle more than one big issue a year, but Obama and his fellow Democrats, who control the Senate and House of Representatives, see a window of opportunity this year to pass two long-standing Democratic goals.
    Expanding health care to the uninsured and reducing pollution associated with climate change would have an economic impact on nearly every consumer and most U.S. companies -- from health insurers and utilities, to oil refineries, ailing automakers, steel manufacturers and small businesses.
    Nonetheless, Democratic leaders are giving it a run, placing both initiatives on a fast track -- with or without much Republican support.
    "The one that has the highest probability of making it is health care," said Bruce Josten, an executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He noted a full legislative agenda later this year, including annual spending bills, a Supreme Court confirmation and tax legislation, could crowd out a climate bill debate in the Senate.
    Nevertheless, several congressional committees are pushing ahead with their review of the bill that aims to cut industry's carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 with alternative energy sources and energy efficiencies.
    The bill's prospects are strengthened by an unusual coalition of environmentalists, corporations and labor unions that have joined the effort. Obama is trying to sell climate change legislation as much more than doing something good for the environment. "Green" job creation and weaning the country off of foreign oil are his major talking points.
    According to several Democratic lawmakers, the White House is already working hard to woo Senate Democratic and Republican moderates who will hold the keys to obtaining the needed 60-vote majority in the 100-member Senate.
    In the meantime, environmentalists are heartened that four months into Obama's presidency such wide-ranging legislation is advancing, even with its concessions to some industries.
    "If it became law today it would be the most important piece of energy and environmental legislation Congress ever produced," said one activist.
    Of the two, health care might be the bill that is more likely to reach Obama's desk for enactment by year's end. Both houses of Congress hope to blend their respective bills into a compromise measure by October -- Obama's deadline.
    Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy has a major role in drafting the new health care bill as head of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill would require individuals and businesses to purchase insurance and prohibit insurance companies from refusing to cover anyone because of health history.
    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said for the next five weeks, the Senate's normal three-day work week will be extended to five so a health care reform bill can be passed. [Normal 3-day workweek = good enough for the Senate? Good enough for all Americans!]
    "I want to emphasize what the president said, that health care is an absolute priority," said Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House Democratic leadership, when asked by Reuters about the two bills' prospects. "But we believe we're going to do both" in the House, he added.
    In the midst of a deep economic recession and with medical bills contributing to an estimated 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, providing health care for those without insurance is paramount to Obama.
    Fifteen years ago, then-President Bill Clinton tried to keep a campaign pledge to enact universal health care, only to fail miserably. That contributed to significant Democratic losses in the 1994 congressional elections.
    Since then, the health care problem has worsened with medical costs escalating and 46 million uninsured. Democrats claim they've learned their lesson about unfulfilled promises.
    They still have to find a sound way to pay for expanding health care, a tough job amid staggering U.S. budget deficits.
    Republicans keep hammering away at any proposed government-run health insurance. "A government plan could undercut private health plans, forcing people off the health plans they like," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned.
    Behind the scenes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pressuring her lieutenants to speed up work on the climate change legislation, which won strong backing last month from the politically diverse House Energy and Commerce Committee.
    Pelosi hopes to pass this bill in June or July. Even if the legislation were to go no further this year, Obama would have a major accomplishment to tout in December, when world leaders are set to meet in Copenhagen to discuss global warming.
    But the legislation likely would result in higher energy bills for American consumers, an especially difficult sell during a recession.
    (Additional reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by Eric Beech)

  2. Parking citations, tied-out dogs, park hours get cut, by Jamie Page: Pensacola News Journal via pnj.com - Pensacola,FL,USA.
    [OK, this story is completely irrelevant, but I like the sound of Pensacola suggesting thoughtfulness - sortof a nice change from Coca-Cola suggesting drugs, or Pepsi Cola suggesting exertion - and I needed to lighten up and grab some partying! So, grump, maybe I'll put in a relevant story (below, #3) for the task-oriented - we were kinda light on 6/07 stories and this one arrived yesterday 6/6 carrying a 6/05 date!]
    What the downtown parking citation numbers say, a dog-tethering ordinance is in the works, and partying at county parks has resulted in shorter hours.
    $100 parking tickets on the rise...
    Dog-tethering ordinance...
    Nighttime park hours changed
    There'll be no hanging out late at night at low-lit county parks.
    Escambia County commissioners recently amended a county ordinance modifying the hours of operation for park facilities not equipped for nighttime use.
    Hours for visiting parks without proper lighting will be from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of county parks with boat ramps and parks with water access.
    Parks equipped for nighttime use will close from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

    Parks not equipped for night use that include a boat ramp or water access will be open one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. However, fishing will not be restricted at any time at these facilities, the ordinance says.
    The change came about when some Perdido Key residents complained of people partying and hanging out too late at certain parks, County Administrator Bob McLaughlin said.
    "But the big thing was making sure the boat ramps stayed open at night because people put their boats in at night and go fishing," Commissioner Kevin White said.
    The Sheriff's Office has been directed to arrest violators hanging out too late at county parks beyond the posted hours, McLaughlin said.

  3. Watsonville Heads for Four-Day Work Week, by Jessica Lussenhop, 6/05 SantaCruz.com - Santa Cruz,CA,USA.
    It’s been a little over a week since Watsonville’s city council approved a series of tentative agreements that will whack the city employees’ work week down to four nine-hour days, creating an overall 10 percent reduction in cost to the general fund and a service blackout one day per week, likely Fridays.
    [Meaning a 36-hour workweek.]
    During last week’s public comment, not a soul stood to weep for the lost wages or decry the city as draconian. A Zen-like sense of acceptance seems to have settled upon the city and its 557 employees. “People are pretty good about it. They knew it was coming,” says Rex Rackley, the city’s Lone Ranger of graffiti abatement and an employee of seven years. “I’m just happy to have a job.”
    The 2009-10 and 2010-11 biennial budget, in its current 300-plus-page incarnation, contains enough cuts to close a $4.5 million budget gap and is naturally a pretty gory read, rife with program cuts and service reductions. But the bulk necessarily had to come from employees, says administrative services director Marc Pimentel. “Nobody’s looking forward to a 36-hour work week. The work level won’t change,” he says. “But that’s the reality. We’re not going to complain about it.”
    It was only a few months ago that many city employees accepted a two-week holiday work furlough, and it seems to be the best approximation of what residents can expect Fridays in Watsonville to look like after July 17—no dumping your compost, no paying the water bill, no retrieving a towed vehicle.
    Pimentel says at least during the holidays, the impact seems to have been minimal. “We didn’t have this mountain of voice messages and just angry people saying, ‘I couldn’t get this done, where were you?? he says. “The fortunate thing is this is temporary. We’re all envisioning this as temporary.”
    That is, of course, if economic woes lessen. [Don't count on it!] While the agreements are only for one year with room to reassess if revenues pick back up, Pimentel is already projecting a deficit for the next three fiscal years, starting at $2.8 million for 2010-11. Watsonville’s high unemployment and foreclosure numbers mean the city will likely bounce back slower than its North County neighbors.
    Though the firefighters’ union has yet to cut a deal with the city, the police have already agreed to a 7.5 percent reduction, though Lt. Edward Gluhan says that citizens will see the same number of cops on the street, just not so many behind the desks at 215 Union Street. “It is very likely that our civilian staff will see an hour reduction. Some of the things they do will have to be done by officers,” he says. “It may impact how quickly they’ll be able to respond to lower priority situations.”
    The non-safety unions banded together in a coalition early on, hoping to make the most of the $2.8 million worth of concessions the city was asking for. But at first the amount was a shock, according to Operating Engineers Local No. 3 representative and coalition spokesperson David Cariaga.
    “We were taken aback by the steep amount of reduction they wanted,” he says. “We spent weeks, if not months, looking at the city’s budget, making sure it definitely was true. Once we believed the numbers, we changed our stance and worked with them.” He says the 18 members of OE3, SEIU Local 521, management, mid-management and a confidential coalition bargaining group that sat at the table quickly abandoned the quest for raises and settled for just minimizing the carnage.
    “[The city] did not come off their mark, [whereas] we probably moved off our mark four times in a three-week period,” says Cariaga. “That’s what they call hard bargaining.”
    In the end, Cariaga says, as the highly unpopular May 19 ballot measures neared and an increasingly bleak revenue forecast loomed, the coalition felt pressure to make a move. “[We thought,] if we keep holding out, what happens when the state taps the city for more money? Do we cut our losses now?” he says. “We thought, ‘What’s it going to be like when [our coworkers] get pink slips?’ We didn’t want to put our coworkers through that if we could prevent it.”
    The conclusion they reached: it is far better to have worked and lost 10 percent than not to work at all.
    ['Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.' From Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem In Memoriam:27, 1850. And then there's Dickens' 1859 Tale of Two Cities - 'Tis a far far better thing that I do than I have ever done before.' Spoken by Sidney Carton, as he went to the guillotine at the end of the book to save virtuous former aristocrat, Charles Darnay, out of love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.]
    The four-day work week has pared down some 80 to 100 layoffs to just eight—and some of the may be salvaged through early retirement and voluntary time off.
    “The city has a very collegial atmosphere. It was almost everyone’s top priority not to have any job cuts,” said one library employee who sat at the bargaining table. “It’s not easy, but it’s something that I can deal with. I have a kid, so four days a week is actually kind of nice.”
    But it’s still not smooth sailing from here. The state may come looking for a handout—in Watsonville’s case, up to a $1.85 million handout—and if so, jobs will again be at serious risk across all departments, according to Pimentel.

6/6/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Buffalo crash opened window into pilots' life, By CAROLYN THOMPSON, The Associated Press via google.com/hostednews/.
    CLARENCE, N.Y. — Long-suffering pilots for commuter airlines say it's about time that Washington and passengers alike pay attention to the cockpit, after a federal hearing into the deadly crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 exposed pilots who may have been exhausted, under-trained — and paid less than the bus or cab drivers who'd ferried their passengers to the airport.
    "We have been calling for years trying to get the public to understand what their lifestyle is really like," said Capt. Paul Rice, first vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, the nation's largest pilot's union, representing 54,000 flyers.
    [Not necessary. Just get your union to do their job and organize you to STRIKE.]
    Like Flight 3407's co-pilot, Rebecca Shaw, Capt. Dave Ryter earned around $17,000 in his first year with a regional carrier and flew coast-to-coast just to get to work because of his placement in Miami.
    "My wife held down a job and we lived in an apartment about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles International (Airport) and scraped by," said Ryter, who has 10 years with his regional airline and is a union officer with ALPA.
    Regional carriers like Ryter's, and Shaw's employer, Colgan Air, handle about half of all domestic departures and about a quarter of the passengers, about 160 million yearly, often flying under the names of their larger partner airlines, like Continental or USAir.
    But with smaller planes, shorter routes and less experienced pilots, they pay considerably less than their larger counterparts, despite pilot schedules that can include multiple daily flights for six days in a row.
    Rice described draining 14- to 16-hour duty days, much of that time unpaid and spent waiting in crew lounges. With no food on planes, pilots grab meals on the run from airport fast-food stands. Perks like holiday and overtime pay don't exist, he said.
    [This is getting as bad as trucking and medical internships! Who wants these people on-duty on their 17-zillionth hour of overtime?! They're accidents waiting to happen!]
    To earn six to eight hours of pay, "you can come to work at seven in the morning for an eight o'clock departure and park your last flight at nine o'clock that night," said Rice, whose union favors tougher FAA regulations on how many consecutive hours pilots can fly or be on duty. The issue has lingered on the agendas of the FAA and the NTSB since the mid-1990s.
    The National Transportation Safety Board's recent three-day hearing into the Feb. 12 crash near Buffalo that killed 50 people set off a cry in Congress for a review of safety at regional carriers, including training, scheduling and pay issues.
    The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has scheduled hearings Wednesday and June 17 on pilot fatigue and safety. A House hearing is also planned for June, although no date has been set.
    Pilots said fatigue and lower pay are eroding the quality of pilots entering the airline industry, both at regional and major carriers.
    "It used to be that airline pilot jobs were a coveted position," said veteran pilot Jeff Skiles, the first officer of US Flight 1549, which collided with Canada geese after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport in January and ditched into the Hudson River.
    "But even at the major airline level, with the bankruptcies and how they've decimated our contracts, it's just not an attractive job any more," Skiles said. "People aren't leaving the military to become pilots — there are plenty of other options. For instance, corporate flying has exploded quite a bit. What you're finding is the qualifications of the entry level pilots in the traditional airline business have gone from adequate to very inadequate."
    During last month's annual meeting of the Regional Airlines Association, one executive said the NTSB hearing into the Flight 3407 crash provided a skewed view of safety in an industry that, he said, treats entry-level professionals no differently than any other industry.
    "We have a very robust safety management system in place," said Joseph Randell, president and chief executive of Air Canada Jazz. "In a lot of industries, entry-level conditions are onerous for junior people who come in at a lower pay. There's nothing unique about the airline business in that respect."
    Russell "Chip" Childs, president and chief operating officer of Delta partner SkyWest Airlines Inc., said his company's research shows no correlation between pay and proficiency.
    "People need to understand also that first-year pilot pay is a little bit lower because the companies put in $30,000 in training costs into that individual that first year. That's very well accepted," Childs said.
    "Regional airlines pay so little at that entry level because they can," said Louis Smith, a retired Northwest Airlines captain and president of FltOps.com, which tracks the industry for those inside it.
    [Job desperation and lack of alternative job openings strikes again!]
    "And the pilots are getting compensated in two ways: One is income, the other is the all-important qualifications, jet time, (pilot-in-command) time, basically trying to get as much experience so they can leave as soon as possible, in many cases.
    "You can't live off the second compensation, which is experience," he said, "so you either rely on friends or family or you cut down to the bare bones and try to survive the hard times."
    Shaw, who chatted with Capt. Marvin Renslow about career options during the flight, lived with her husband and parents near Seattle. Getting to her Newark, N.J., base the night before the crash meant a redeye aboard a FedEx plane to Memphis and then another flight to Newark.
    That struck Dan Marzolf as "crazy."
    "I wouldn't want to have to travel for 10 hours and get on an airplane and do my job," said Marzolf, whose sister Jean Marie Srnecz was killed when Flight 3407 crashed on a house as it approached Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
    "They should be in the area 24 hours ahead of time and there should be a place for them to stay," Marzolf said. "It may mean passengers paying a little more money, but I'd gladly pay a little more money to know that my pilot was well-rested and ready for the job."
    Airport crew lounges are stocked with recliners suitable for a few winks, but they're not supposed to be slept in.
    Still, it happens.
    NTSB hearing testimony indicated Shaw talked of a couch with her "name on it" the morning of the crash. It is unclear where Renslow, who was in the middle of a two-day assignment, slept the night before the trip, but he logged into a computer from Colgan's crew room in Newark at 3 a.m. on the day of the flight, according to NTSB documents.
    "They don't have the money to get a nice hotel room with blackout curtains and an air conditioner and get three or four hours or sleep if they get there early enough to be ready to go," said Joe Mazzone, a retired Delta Airlines pilot. "You go to the crew lounge ... you sit down and you put your hat over your eyes and you try to get a few nods in the recliner before you sign in so you're a little more refreshed. That's what's going on."
    But he said those conditions "open up a large window of vulnerability" in the cockpit, especially when pilots are inexperienced and lack the confidence that comes with time at the controls.
    "One or two little errors can be tragic," he said.
    Flight 3407 experienced an aerodynamic stall on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport before plunging into a house. All 49 people on board and a man in the house were killed. Testimony and documents indicate Renslow and Shaw made a series of critical errors, some of which may be related to fatigue, inexperience and inattention to regulations.
    While NTSB investigators calculated Shaw was paid just over $16,000 in her first year with Colgan, airline officials said later her salary was $23,900. Renslow's salary was estimated at $55,000 to $67,000.
    Contributing to this report were Associated Press Writers Paul Foy in Salt Lake City and Joan Lowy in Washington.

  2. Councilors not short on budget ideas, By Michael Holtzman, Fall River Herald News via HeraldNews.com - MA, USA.
    FALL RIVER — The slimmed-down $203.3 million budget Mayor Robert Correia issued to the City Council last week drew some harsh responses, with one critic saying it “lacks information” and another calling the plan “a screwed-up budget.” But other councilors supported Correia's approach as a way to distribute needed cuts fairly during tough times.
    There were also questions about several revenue and expense assumptions Correia said he needed to balance a budget 4.5 percent lower than this year's spending plan. Those assumptions include union givebacks and uncertainties from the state.
    Also, one councilor said the 5 percent tax increase proposed would be too great a hardship, and several officials polled said they needed more time to review the documents and hear from department heads, starting at Tuesday night’s first budget review session (5:30 p.m., council chambers).
    “Nobody likes to raise taxes,” council President Joseph D. Camara said. “I just don’t think there’s a lot of choices.”
    Camara was not ready yet to support the tax hike to add $3.2 million to city coffers. “I’d like to find out if some of those things — budget assumptions — are going to come true. Like are the unions going to take concessions?” he said.
    “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a government as tight as it is this year. There’s not a lot of money to do anything,” Councilor Linda M. Pereira said. “We’re down to the bone.”
    Pereira said she thought the Correia budget, which includes 8 percent wage cuts from 700 municipal workers and a key health care concession to save $4.1 million, makes sense. She said she isn't ready to support a tax hike because of the city’s 16 percent unemployment rate, but echoed Correia’s stance that not raising taxes while asking for more state relief was a tough bargain.
    Pereira said she’s looking for savings by cutting expenses in city schools and replacing a Boston lawyer doing tax collections.
    “You can’t just say you need more police and fire and DPW and just lay off a couple of department heads,” Pereira said.
    The most veteran councilor, Leo O. Pelletier, called Correia’s budget “screwed up” and said, “We’re in a mess. The state’s in a mess, too."
    On the budget's suppositions of cost relief, Pelletier said, "You don’t know if this stuff’s going to pass or not.”
    On raising taxes, he said, “If that’s what you have to do to keep the city running — and not go bankrupt — that’s what you have to do.”
    The city seeks from the state a waiver to reduce this year’s retirement level allocation and a delay for net school spending requirements. There’s also a $5 million gap between what the Senate passed in unrestricted local aid and what the House passed, and final numbers may not be known for months.
    Pelletier said he recommended potential revenue boosts from a proposed $50 million housing development near the Bioreserve and by entertaining the Weaver’s Cove Energy plan for a liquefied natural gas terminal.
    Pelletier said he’s made those and other suggestions to Corriea but stayed mum on this budget “because he didn’t listen anyway. I’m sick of banging my head,” he said.
    Councilor Steven A. Camara is one of three councilors running for mayor this termm along with Cathy Ann Viveiros and Raymond E. Hague. Steven Camara was the only one on the council voicing outright opposition to a tax hike.
    “People are struggling to keep their homes and pay their rents. It would make a bad problem worse,” Steven Camara said.
    He listed suggestions he’s proposed that have gained limited traction: a four-day work week at Government Center to reduce energy costs; selling or reusing 15 old school buildings and eliminating more of the 68 jobs not under collective bargaining agreements.
    Only two of those jobs were eliminated since the state’s midyear reduction of $2.9 million in local aid: a council clerk in March and an assistant corporation counsel at the end of this month.
    “He doesn’t seem to respond to what suggestions we provide,” Steven Camara said of Correia.
    Viveiros, in a letter she wrote to Correia on Friday, criticized his budget as “sorely lacking in essential information needed to make an appropriate analysis and ultimate decision regarding its fiscal viability.”
    She noted the contrast in his brief message with little funding data and the fiscal 2009 message, which “provid(ed) a detailed itemization, by department, of the service impacts resulting from budget expenditures.”
    “What’s happened,” Viveiros said of a key area, “is they extracted all health insurance costs from individual departments. From a budgeting perspective, they should have left them in to do a correct analysis. The numbers are meaningless because it’s comparing apples to oranges.”
    Viveiros said she can’t “determine if there’s any justification” for what’s proposed if the effects on city services are not shown. She said she's not ready to say a tax increase is needed.
    Of Correia’s recent statement he received virtually no input from councilors that would have helped balance the fiscal 2010 budget proposal, Viveiros sent Correia a letter several days ago citing a Feb. 18 correspondence, a month before the city laid off nearly 150 workers.
    “I did in fact send to you a list of proposals that could mitigate some of the deficit created by the governor’s ‘9C’ cuts (of local aid at midyear), and also the anticipated reduction in local aid estimated for fiscal year 2010,” Viveiros said.
    Hague, the council vice president, said his concern about the budget is that “it’s predicated on a lot of things that haven’t taken place yet. To me, that’s not a balanced budget.”
    “If we just pass that and those things don’t happen,” he said, “we’re pretty much giving him (Correia) a green light to just chop up departments again because he’ll only have the money that’s left.”
    Hague said he’d favor a tax increase “if we cut some administrative positions” and start rebuilding depleted departments like public safety. “If you go to the tax well,” he said, “you have to give back to people you’re taxing.”
    Hague questioned if retiring police and firefighters would be replaced at a 1-to-1 ratio, or if those departments would be further reduced. He also questioned whether the city saved more money from layoffs than it lost in midyear state cuts.
    Councilor Pat Casey said she’s supporting a tax hike after hearing from residents they’d prefer higher taxes to further service cuts.
    “Nobody likes to see layoffs. But to survive the rest of this year, we had to do layoffs,” Casey said. “Some of my colleagues said the money was there. When it came down to it, the money wasn’t there to bring people back.”
    She said the budget approach Correia’s taken — incorporating uncertain assumptions — was the best option “because if we weren’t going this way, then automatically we’d be laying off people.”
    What’s most important, Casey said, “is we have to work together to help out.” She questioned if the council would do that with three members running for mayor.
    “I’m still really going through the budget. Before levying a tax burden, I want to make sure it’s needed,” Councilor Brian Bigelow said.
    Bigelow, an auditor, said he wants to see a tracking system showing monthly data of department costs. Referencing calls by Hague and Camara to cut administrative positions, Bigelow noted, “You need a couple of people on staff to do that.”
    In general, Bigelow said of the budget proposal, “I see an across-the board-cut, and I’m totally in agreement with that. ... In such tough economic times, we have to make sure it’s across the board.”
    Councilor Michael B. Lund, reached briefly, declined comment, saying, “I have more research to do.”
    E-mail Michael Holtzman at mholtzman@heraldnews.com.

6/05/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Job losses slow dramatically - Employers cut 345,000 jobs in May, the smallest loss since September - But the unemployment rate hit a 26-year high and experts say the market is still weak, By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com via money.cnn.com - USA.
    NEW YORK -- Job losses slowed dramatically in May, according to the latest government reading on the battered labor market, even as the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high. But some experts cautioned that the job market remains weak.
    Employers cut 345,000 jobs from their payrolls in the month, down from the revised decline of 504,000 jobs in April.
    This was the fewest jobs lost in a month since last September, when the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers caused a crisis in U.S. financial markets and choked off credit for many businesses. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 520,000 jobs in May.
    There were still widespread job losses, as most sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, construction, retail, and business and professional services posted declines in jobs.
    But there were also some signs of growth, notably in education and health services, as well as the leisure and hospitality sector. Nearly one third of industries added jobs during the month, the highest level of gains since last October.
    Still, the unemployment rate rose to 9.4% from 8.9% in April. Economists expected unemployment would increase to 9.2%.
    Strangely enough, economists said the rise in unemployment is partly a sign of an improved jobs outlook.
    [It's not strange at all when you consider that economists have lost all science and become little more than happytalking cheerleaders, like stock salesmen.]
    That's because people who had stopped looking for work started looking once again, and thus were classified as unemployed rather than "not in the labor force" - which is how the Labor Department counts most discouraged workers.
    [Nothing like being able to keep big chunks of your problem OFF your balance sheet - just like our big bankers!]
    "As conditions improve more people flock to the labor market," said Robert Brusca of FAO Economics. He believes the economy is poised to start adding jobs before the end of this year.
    [It's not the jobseekers 'flocking' to the job market that counts - it's the job openings that materialize to get them employed, and the wage levels they meet with.]
    "Jobs are doing what they do at the end of recessions and in early recoveries," he said. "No one can be optimistic enough to catch the turn when it comes."
    But other economists cautioned that even though it was a better-than-expected jobs report, there are still signs of weakness.
    Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re, said he doesn't expect a monthly gain in jobs until at least the middle of 2010. With employers still cutting jobs and hours, he said consumers won't have enough money to spur an economic recovery in the near term.
    "I think things are turning for the better. But it's a disappointingly slow turn," he said. "Consumers can't consume more with this kind of picture."
    Karl pointed out that the loss of 345,000 jobs in a month was worse than any one-month drop in the previous three recessions. There have now been 6 million jobs lost since the start of 2008, with nearly half of them occurring in the first five months of this year.
    "That 345,000, while an improvement, is still a lot of jobs," he said. "We're not out of the woods yet."
    The unemployment rate was the highest since August of 1983. And the official unemployment rate only captures part of the pain being felt by job seekers.
    More than a quarter of unemployed people have been out of work for six months or more, and the number of long-term unemployed reached nearly 4 million, the highest reading on records that go back to 1980.
    There were also 9.1 million people who were working part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work or they had their hours cut back. This was also a record high.
    When counting people who wanted full-time work who are working part-time, as well as some of the people who are not counted as unemployed because they had stopped looking for work, the so-called underemployment reading rose to a record level of 16.4%.
    What's more, the average work week slipped again to a record low 33.1 hours. That pushed average weekly wages down as well during the month.
    [But not as much as it would have pushed wages down if the workweek had stayed the same or been pushed up with the cuts done in the workforce instead of the workweek. That would have meant more anxious resumes pushing down the pay in fewer job openings.]
    Tig Gilliam, chief executive of Adecco Group North America, a unit of the world's largest employment staffing firm, said the average hours worked will have to increase before the economy will be ready to start adding jobs again, as employers will be cautious about restarting their hiring.
    Gilliam is also concerned that the number of temporary employees fell for the 17th straight month, another sign of employer wariness.
    "That's doesn't suggest a dramatic improvement in hiring soon," he said. "We're still in a difficult labor market and it's going to take us time the rest of this year to work through to where companies are adding back jobs."

    [Another newswire with relevant sentence from earlier version, "Companies have also begun trimming hours as a way to cut costs without laying off more workers" edited-out of this later version -]
    Steep fall in US job cuts 'encouraging', By Krishna Guha in Washington and Aline Vanduyn and Anuj Gangahar in New York, Financial Times via ft.com - London,England,UK.
    A sharp fall in the number of jobs being lost in the US has raised hopes that the world’s biggest economy could be past the worst of the recession and on the road to recovery.
    The latest non-farm payroll figures on Friday showed the pace of job losses slowed in May. US employers cut 345,000 jobs last month, the labour department said, far fewer than expected and the lowest monthly total since September.
    Unemployment rose to 9.4 per cent, its highest rate in 26 years. But the slowdown in job losses, to about half the average of the previous six months, fuelled optimism that the economy was bottoming out. “We think these numbers are consistent with the official recession being nearly over,” said Ian Morris, chief US economist at HSBC.
    Traders speculated that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates sooner than expected, with the two-year bond yield shooting up 25 basis points to 1.20 per cent and the futures market pricing in a rate increase by the end of the year.
    The Obama administration was cautious. “There is going to be more contraction. I am not satisfied and I don’t think this administration is satisfied,” Hilda Solis, labour secretary, told the Financial Times. Long-term unemployment jumped 268,000 to 3.9m.
    Ten-year US Treasury yields rose 12 basis points to 3.83 per cent, while oil hit a seven-month high above $70. The dollar was also higher. But equity reaction was muted: the S&P 500, up about 40 per cent from its March lows, was roughly flat and the Vix index – seen as Wall Street’s fear gauge – was slightly lower.
    There were still more jobs lost in May than in the worst month of either of the preceding two recessions, and might have been cushioned by technical adjustments. Hours worked – the broadest measure of labour market activity – fell 0.7 per cent and wages were flat, resulting in a fall in earned income. Nonetheless, the moderation in job losses was broad-based and accounted for by the private sector, with private-sector losses almost halving from 596,000 in April to 338,000 in May.
    “We are getting close to a bottom,” said Richard Berner, chief US economist at Morgan Stanley.
    [Dream on. Only if we cheat and define an ad hoc 'bottom' to fit the data.]
    “The question is what the shape of the recovery will be.” Most economists expect a subdued recovery. Some are concerned that the economy could bounce along the bottom for a long time and might slip back into recession once the effects of fiscal stimulus fade.
    [We should have learned from the Great Depression that the metaphor of a "bottom" is invalid, especially when its promulgators have us "bouncing along the bottom for a long time" implying we never leave it, but then "slip back into recession" implying we do leave it and then return.]
    But there is also some chance the recovery could be sharper than expected as financial strains ease and companies seek to replace the 6m workers fired in the recession. Vice-president Joe Biden said the White House would announce plans to raise stimulus spending Monday.
    Additional reporting by Sarah O’Connor and Alan Rappeport

  2. CHRB approves Hollywood Park date cut request, by Larry Stewart, ThoroughbredTimes.com - Lexington,KY,USA.
    The California Horse Racing Board, by a vote of 5-1, on Friday approved Hollywood Park’s request to race only four days a week through the end of the current meeting on July 19, thus eliminating Wednesdays.
    The one dissenting vote came from CHRB Chairman John Harris.
    “I guess I’m the lone voice in the wilderness,” Harris said, expressing concerns about the impact of no Wednesday racing in Southern California on the industry as a whole throughout the state and at Northern California tracks in particular.
    During a lengthy debate, racing union leaders talked about how the shortened work week—Thursday through Sunday—would affect their members. Hollywood Park officials claimed that, because of a horse shortage, they are not able to adequately fill race fields five days a week.
    Representatives from Southern California tracks Del Mar, Los Alamitos, and Fairplex Park all voiced support of the Hollywood Park initiative. Ed Halpern, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, and Madeline Auerbach, vice chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, were among others in agreement.
    Auerbach said she and the members of her group waited to hear arguments before deciding upon a position.
    Hollywood Park eliminated Wednesday racing on May 21 and announced on May that 28 it would seek CHRB approval to follow that format the rest of the meeting.
    Martin Panza, racing secretary at Hollywood Park, provided extensive data to support the contention there is a horse shortage.
    Hollywood Park struggled to fill races during the first four weeks of the current meeting, which began on April 22, and canceled racing on April 30, because of insufficient entries.
    “This is not just a California problem, it is a national problem,” Panza said.
    Robert Hartman, general manager of Northern California’s Golden Gate Fields, complained that his track needs Southern California racing to attract bettors.
    [So a bettor shortage has created a horse shortage?]
    Chris Korby, executive director of the California Authority of Racing Fairs, also made a case about the
    at Hollywood Park on a number of Northern California fair meets.
    The meeting opened with the CHRB approving dates for summer fair meets in Stockton, Pleasanton, Vallejo and Santa Rosa, all Northern California sites.

  3. Short workweek sparks little interest from government workers, By Rob Shaw rfshaw@tc.canwest.com, TimesColonist.com - Victoria,British Columbia,Canada.
    The B.C. government is pushing ahead with a voluntary four-day workweek for civil servants, despite relatively low initial interest.
    [Hey, just like Rae Days in Ontario - which they're going to have to do again - all of us are - and it's going to be permanent.]
    Only 821 of about 15,000 eligible government employees signed up for a 10-week pilot program to take 20 per cent of their normal work time as an unpaid leave of absence this summer.
    While it saves the province just under $2 million, the numbers fall well short of the around 2,000 employees who indicated interest through an online survey. Nonetheless, the program is set to continue. Government has been looking at ways to cut costs as it undergoes dramatic belt-tightening in the wake of an economic slump and deficit budget. The voluntary shorter workweek was one idea suggested by employees to avoid layoffs in the civil service.
    But it appears many workers were unhappy when told they could not spread the impact of their reduced pay over the rest of the calendar year. Government officials say to do so would have required an expensive change to the payroll system that would have negated some of the savings.
    B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president Darryl Walker said the idea was interesting, but the details weren't that attractive to members in the end.
    "I think the concept was a good concept and then we started getting into the details of what it really meant ... and then you start to pile on problems," he said.
    Outside the pilot program, ministry supervisors have been encouraged to grant unpaid leaves requested by employees, said an official, who spoke only on background because of a looming provincial cabinet shuffle. While employees have been able to ask for unpaid days in the past, they have rarely been granted by supervisors.
    The province is expected to review the pilot program this fall and possibly institute a similar voluntary reduction in December, when government employees have only three workdays between Christmas and New Year's.
    Walker said the union is open to talking about a revised program in the future.

6/04/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Law and order first in line for Fresno Co. budget cuts, By Brad Branan / FresnoBee.com - Fresno,Calif.
    Law and order is expected to take the biggest hit as Fresno County plans to cut spending by $41 million, or 2%, under its proposed 2009-10 budget.
    The $1.7 billion budget includes proposals to eliminate 120 out of 7,000 county positions, trim park hours and maintenance, abolish the public guardian's office and scale back tourism outreach.
    But the biggest — and, perhaps, the hardest — cuts will be to justice services. The sheriff, the district attorney and the coroner are elected — unlike most department heads, who work at the discretion of County Administrative Officer John Navarrette.
    Sheriff Margaret Mims and District Attorney Elizabeth Egan plan to fight Navarrette's proposed cuts. So does Public Defender Ken Taniguichi.
    What's more, employee groups are threatening legal action over another budget proposal — Navarrette's plan to institute weeklong furloughs and a 36-hour work week for some county employees.
    Once county officials resolve those problems, they can expect to return to the table when the state approves its budget. Navarrette said any state-budget solution will likely lead to more belt-tightening for the county, particularly if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is successful in his plan to borrow from local governments.
    Navarrette said he doesn't expect justice officials to quietly accept his proposed cuts. Justice services received more cuts in the proposed budget because the Behavioral Health Department, the Public Health Department and other human services already cut employees this year in anticipation of the coming budget gap, Navarrette said.
    The bulk of the county's budget is for welfare and other human services, and because they're largely funded by state and federal governments, the county has far less control over them.
    The sour economy has left the county with few choices, with revenues declining from vehicle license fees, property taxes and sales taxes, he said.
    "I've never seen the county in the economic waters we're in," said Navarrette, a county employee for more than 20 years. "It's unprecedented."
    The Board of Supervisors will hold budget hearings the week of June 15 before approving a final budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.
    Of the 120 positions on the chopping block, 77 are in justice services. But the figure is expected to rise significantly because Mims didn't submit proposed cuts for the Sheriff's Office as Navarrette asked.
    Instead, Mims asked for more money than what she was told is available, something she has done in the past. Mims said her proposal reflects what she needs to keep services at existing levels — at a cost of an extra $13 million, on top of the $160 million budget Navarrette proposed.
    Mims concedes that she submitted such a budget for strategic reasons. She wants to force supervisors to make the difficult choices, such as whether to close parts of the jail.
    Because he had to submit a balanced budget to supervisors, Navarrette made the needed cuts in Mims' budget by slashing overtime pay.
    That's not an acceptable solution, Mims said. She has said overtime is necessary for an around-the-clock operation like the Sheriff's Office, particularly at the jail.
    [Only under Bad Management.]
    "I know I'm going to have to cut services," said Mims, who adds that her top priority is to prevent the layoffs of sworn officers.
    The Sheriff's Office has about 1,100 employees, including about 400 sworn officers.
    Egan says she can't spare any employees, either.
    The proposed budget would cut 19 positions from the District Attorney's Office. None of the positions are filled.
    If approved, the District Attorney's Office would have 252 approved positions, down from 300 about a year ago.
    Not having enough employees would slow down prosecution of cases in Superior Court, force victims to frequently return to court and possibly require suspects to be released, Egan said.
    More cuts are proposed in the Public Defender's Office, too — 24 positions. Only three of those positions are vacant in an office with 127 employees now.
    Taniguichi said his office can't afford the losses. He said he's already near the point where he will have to turn down cases, because his attorneys will have too much work to properly represent defendants.
    Unlike other services, indigent defense isn't optional for the county, Taniguichi said. If the Public Defender's Office turns down cases, judges will assign them to private attorneys, who will charge far more than his office, he said.
    Thus, making cuts in his office will end up costing the county more money, he said.
    The county has requested bids from private attorneys interested in handling such cases.
    The reporter can be reached at bbranan@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6679.

  2. ArcelorMittal cuts work week at Ukraine's biggest mill, KyivPost.com - Kiev,Ukraine.
    Ukraine’s biggest investor and steel mill are feeling the recession.
    ArcelorMittal Kryvy Rih, Ukraine’s largest steel mill, announced plans in late May to cut its work week for daytime workers from five to three days. Officials at the mill said the measure was necessary as a temporary adjustment amid low demand for steel during the global recession.
    It remained uncertain whether the shortened work week had the blessing of the plant's influential trade union. But officials at the factory defended the move, pointing to other Ukrainian mills which also cut their work weeks and labor forces amid falling steel orders.
    The Kryvy Rih-based mill was purchased in 2005 for $4.8 billion by Mittal Steel, then the world’s largest steel group. The London-headquartered group outbid rival Arcelor, only to get bigger by merging in 2006-2007 with the France-based group.
    The ArcelorMittal group has been hailed for boosting tax payments and modernizing their Ukrainian mill. But the current economic crisis is proving a tough test for the entire steel sector of Ukraine, which ranks among the top 10 producing countries worldwide. Low orders are also painful for Ukraine’s economy, which depends on steel exports for a large share of foreign currency earnings.

  3. Paid time off, by Goldfarb & Maharg-Bravo, NYT, B2.
    [Vacation Central -]
    Oh, to “work” at BBVA. The Spanish bank’s offer to let staff take up to five years off at 30 percent pay looks very generous. The bank is also offering more conventional part-time work to reduce payroll costs. That these moves could make financial sense for BBVA says much about Spain’s onerous labor laws and its overstaffed banking sector.
    [And this criticism of 'onerous' labor laws and 'overstaffed' economic sector says much about how Spain got into a situation of having the highest jobless rate in Europe (18.1% in April per "Steel maker plans deep layoffs in Spain"). 'Expert' commentators want to criticize as if US-UK levels of downsizing are the answer, without breathing of hint of the sustainable alternative, timesizing = cutting hours for all and maintaining wages and markets, instead of cutting jobs for a few, and a few more, and a few more... until... no markets... and no economy to support the unspendably bloated black hole of credit held by the top ten-thousandth of the population.]
    BBVA, led by Francisco González Rodríguez, the chief executive, is among Europe’s most efficient lenders. Its cost-to-income ratio of 41 percent is below the continent’s average of 58 percent. Trying to cut costs further looks essential in a market where business may be slow for at least a couple of years.
    BBVA stopped branch expansion in overbanked Spain in 2006. Its investment in technology will probably lead to more office closures. With nonperforming loans rising and the economy in Mexico, one of BBVA’s major markets, slowing, every bit helps.
    But firing workers in Spain is expensive. The novelty of BBVA’s latest approach is that it can help employees as much as it does the employer. The paid time off — at a minimum of 12,000 euros (about $17,000) a year, with health care valued at 3,600 euros to boot — will afford many the time to do as they wish, including postgraduate work.
    That could help employees collect new qualifications or recycle talent into other industries. Employees may go back to BBVA, but some will not. That should not bother BBVA much. It will be spared the paperwork tied to letting longtime employees go and the expense of paying six weeks of severance for every year worked.
    Government and union grumbling looks off-base; the plan is voluntary. But it is not risk-free. Technology changes fast, and returning employees could struggle to readjust. Women are also probably more likely to take up the offer, which could lead to sex imbalances. BBVA has reserved the right to refuse applications.
    Some United States law firms have done something similar, but only with yet-to-join recruits and only for a year or so. BBVA’s plan looks smart enough that other companies — even those beyond banking and outside Spain — might keep a close eye on it.

6/03/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Pleas to preserve Little Rock Cannery in Hernando get attention, by Barbara Behrendt, St.Petersburg Times via Tampabay.com - St. Petersburg,FL,USA.
    BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Emma Lee Brockington comes all the way from Zephyrhills to put up her produce at the Little Rock Cannery in north central Hernando County.
    On Tuesday, she and more than a dozen kindred spirits pleaded with county leaders to preserve the cannery in the face of budget cuts.
    "I could not survive without the cannery,'' she told the county's Budget and Finance Committee. "My husband's a diabetic. I'm a diabetic.''
    The speakers ranged from those who have used the facility since it opened in 1975 and others who have raised generations of their families canning vegetables, sauces and preserves to those who have been forced by tough economic times to feed families from their own gardens.
    "That is how we raise the family,'' said Cindy Boyer, a mother of eight and grandmother of two. "I don't know what we would do without the cannery.''
    The committee will recommend to the County Commission that county agricultural extension agent Stacy Strickland and county staff find a way to lessen the $49,000 impact of the facility on the budget and "make darn sure that we keep the cannery open,'' in the words of Commissioner Jeff Stabins.
    "People are getting back to basics and this is basic,'' said Commissioner Rose Rocco, chair of the budget committee. She said the county could also consider raising the fee for the cannery, which is $10 per family per year.
    The cannery concerns mirrored several budget-cutting issues discussed Tuesday by the committee, which can suggest actions but can't settle any of the county's budget woes, such as an $11 million revenue shortage.
    The committee recommended that the commission consider furloughs to cut down on payroll costs. Staff estimated that 14 furlough days a year for employees working for the county departments would save about $545,000.
    Stabins asked if the furloughs could be tied to higher-salaried workers rather than the lower-paid staff, or whether they could be geared to impact hourly help less than salaried staff.
    Committee member Greg Myers didn't want to stop at considering only furloughs. He asked staff for information about savings if county facilities were to close one weekday and have employees work a 32-hour week.
    Staff estimate of the payroll cut would be a $2.4 million savings. Myers wondered how many other costs would be saved such as facility use and utilities. But Stabins balked at pushing for such a "draconian step.''
    At Myers' urging, Stabins agreed to ask the staff to bring back more details of both the 32-hour work week and a 37 1/2 work week like the one adopted by the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
    Deputy county administrator Larry Jennings warned that those changes will need to be negotiated with the Teamsters union, which represents county workers.
    The committee recommendation to not allow employees to cash in 80 percent of their unused leave beginning in 2010 was not subject to negotiations, Jennings said.
    The group also heard about the budgets of Community Relations, Parks and Recreation, Facilities Maintenance and the County Jail.
    The recommendations included changes in park fees, seeking more cooperation from sports leagues to maintain fields, and continued efforts to reduce costs for Parks and Recreation.
    Gregg Sutton, the assistant county engineer who oversees facilities maintenance, agreed that the department will be able to cut as much as other departments.
    The committee recommended that the county continue to push to cut the number of Hernando inmates at the county jail, which has driven up the cost of the jail contract with Corrections Corporation of America.
    The county hopes to soon begin using ankle bracelets to keep nonviolent inmates out of the jail. Jim Gantt, the county's purchasing director, said that could save the county another $200,000 to $300,000 per year.
    Stabins asked how much in additional cuts county departments will be asked to endure. The latest request was $1.7 million.
    Jennings said more cuts depend on how much constitutional officers are willing to trim their budgets. With Sheriff Richard Nugent turning in a budget equal to last year but not yet addressing $4.2 million in cuts requested by county administration, the county is a long way from balancing its spending plan for 2010.
    Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

  2. 49 furloughed at Maui Prince, Makena Resort, by Harry Eagar, MauiNews.com - Wailuku,HI,USA.
    The Maui Prince Hotel and Makena Resort signed a two-year contract extension with ILWU Local 142 on Monday, but it included a furlough of 49 bargaining unit workers - about one quarter of the staff.
    Willie Kennison, Maui Division director of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said the move was painful but the best way to both preserve benefits for the furloughed workers and to get work hours up for senior workers.
    "The senior people are having a tough time making their hours," he said Tuesday.
    Although no other layoffs were announced, the union has been negotiating with employers about work hours at other resorts and also at nontourist businesses. "Everywhere," said Kennison.
    In April, hotel occupancies hit an all-time low of 59 percent on Maui, according to the Flash Report of Hospitality Advisors. Resorts are struggling to get the numbers up, and most have cut staff or are likely to be forced to.
    One of very few exceptions is the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa. Managing Director Matt Bailey said Tuesday that he hasn't laid off anyone, and "we are contemplating whether we need to hire more people."
    He attributed that, in part, to keeping the lid on hiring last year; and, in part, to pretty solid bookings this summer. The Grand Wailea is part of the Hilton reservations network, and that has proved to be "a very powerful advantage."
    Everett Dowling, owner of Makena Resort, said that the hotel's business is down 30 percent from May 2008.
    "It's hard, but this, too, will pass," he said.
    The temporary furlough agreed to with the union protects the seniority, status and some of the benefits of the employees, and keeps them on the roster to be called back when business improves.
    Kennison said that among his members, the immediate problem "is not so much layoffs but reductions in work opportunities" - shorter hours.
    "Our union and its workers are fully aware of the economic difficulties and the need to work with hotel management and ownership to ensure the long-term success and viability of the operation," he said.
    Donn Takahashi, president of Prince Resorts Hawaii, said: "The intent of both the union and the hotel is to protect the employees' jobs while achieving the necessary savings during these challenging economic times. The furloughed employees will remain active members of the resort and will be called back to work as conditions improve."
    At Kapalua Resort, John Durkin, chief financial officer at Maui Land & Pineapple Co., said a push is on to create "genki" - Japanese for energy or liveliness - by getting more visitors into the resort.
    The Villas at Kapalua are being offered at $199 a night, with as much golf as you can play for $399 for five days; or $499 for persons not staying at resort-managed rooms.
    In better times, a round at the Plantation Course cost around $250.
    Today, the two Kapalua courses are under capacity, so the resort can enhance revenue at little cost to itself. "Instead of getting $250, we get $400," said Durkin, and "get people shopping in the shops, tipping the caddies and eating in the restaurants."
    And also, he hopes, create a sense of life and activity around the resort.
    Harry Eagar can be reached at heagar@mauinews.com.

6/02/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Layoffs – a Last Resort, Community Blog via SearchPooch.com.
    If you are an employer of staff – from two to two thousand – the worldwide recession may mean you are considering making some of them redundant. However, advice from experts in the human resource field suggests this may not be the best option. Some of them fear employers are getting rid of staff without thinking of the consequences, reminding them that employees are often key to the success of a business, so that the cost of getting rid of staff is greater than the savings that will be made. They quote Peter Drucker, management guru, who said: “Layoffs should be a last resort…discarding skills and knowledge is a short-sighted strategy.”
    Jens Butler, of Ovum, a business advisory firm, says, “What’s needed is long-term vision.” Certainly up to two thirds of the costs of running a business can be spent on employment, but staff are an investment that is hard to re-make. Staff members often have knowledge of the business that has been hard-won over years of experience. When good times return – as they will – that experience will need to be regained by new employees – a costly and difficult task. As well, there is the need to pay redundancies, where these exist – and the added cost of advertising, selecting and re-hiring staff later. And a cost that is difficult to quantify is the affect of staff cuts on the morale of those who remain. It’s difficult to put your best foot forward if you are constantly looking about for a knife in your back.
    Current thinking is that this recession will not last as long as some have predicted, meaning it is best to hold on to the very real talent that your staff members provide.
    What can managers and employers do meantime, in order to hang on to their staff? Some tips provided by the experts include the following.
    * Suggest staff take unpaid vacations – they may even enjoy them.
    * Remove bonuses for senior positions – they don’t really need them.
    * Consider instituting shorter hours on a rolling basis – four-day weeks are proving popular in some places.
    * Give away recruiting for now – if a staff member leaves voluntarily, is it possible to leave the position unfilled?
    * Put off capital expenditure – it can be made when the economy recovers, but a staff member lost is usually lost forever.
    * Cut back temporarily on pension and insurance schemes.
    * Focus on expansion and diversification, thinking laterally.

  2. Lima library cuts hours, staff, by Hannah Poturalski, 6/01 LimaOhio.com - OH.
    LIMA, Ohio - Community members will see noticeable cuts at the Lima Public Library beginning in July.
    Scott Shafer, director of the library, said business hours will be reduced from 65 a week to 51 a week. This will mainly affect Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as Wednesday evenings. While the 14-hour reduction in hours may seem small, Shafer said the busy times of the day will be much busier now.
    Karen Sommer, head of public relations for the library, said the number of people to come through the library on a daily basis is 1,039.
    "The average person knows the economy is bad and will see why we have to make these cuts," Shafer said. "We will still provide the best service we can, in bad times people need institutions like this."
    Along with business hour cuts, Shafer said 15 of the 87 part-time workers will lose their jobs July 6.
    "The hardest thing to do is cut back on people you want to have working," Shafer said. "Hopefully when the funding comes back we can get these workers back."
    Kathy Stark, president of Ohio Association of Public School Employees union Local 776, said employees have recall rights for two years, and agreed with Shafer about hoping to get the workers back when possible.
    "It's no one's fault ... the legislators haven't given libraries enough funding," Stark said. "People are devastated and angry, they just want to work."
    Shafer said the library will furnish the laid-off workers with informational packets about unemployment and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows laid-off workers to continue health benefits for a limited period of time.
    "We will do what we can to help as much as possible with the transition," Shafer said.
    The staff that continues work at the library will see a reduction of 2.5 hours in their workweek. Stark said the reduction of the workweek by 2.5 hours will save about $150,000 a year.
    Shafer said these new rounds of cuts come from reduced funding from the state. The library receives 2.2 percent of the state's general revenue fund and Shafer said the library hasn't received the entire projected amount yet.
    Shafer said early in May the proposal was made to reduce the workweek from 40 hours to 37.5 hours. Shafer said he thought that would be enough reduction in revenue to get the library through the recession. Shafer said though with the state's budget being off 26 percent in May, the lay-offs are necessary.

6/01/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. SF's budget casualties barely beginning, by Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle via sfgate.com - CA, USA.
    Starting July 1 in San Francisco, it will cost more to ride Muni buses, park at metered spaces and buy cigarettes. At least one drop-in center for homeless people will close. Social workers and case managers will work shorter weeks.
    Services for those with HIV and AIDS, drug and alcohol addictions and mental health problems will be scaled back. Roughly 1,600 city positions will be eliminated - either through layoffs or not filling vacancies - including everybody from nurses to typists to lawyers.
    And that's the relatively good news.
    The bad news is that Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposed budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year - which will be released today, giving the Board of Supervisors a month to make changes - doesn't begin to cover the anticipated financial whacks from the state.
    As California grapples with its own budget crisis, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting state money sent to cities and counties, including $175.2 million to San Francisco.
    Newsom said his budget proposal doesn't deal with even half of the governor's current projection, a number many city officials expect to grow. That means the city cuts are almost certain to get even deeper.
    "It's not much to write home about," Newsom said of his budget package as he shook his head. "It seems all we've been doing at City Hall is working to get this budget done, but it could be blown out of the water in the next week or two by the decisions in Sacramento."
    Further cuts expected
    The economic crisis has hit San Francisco in a big way, mostly through major reductions in hotel tax and sales tax revenue. The current $6.6 billion budget must be cut by about a half-billion dollars before the new budget year starts July 1.
    Newsom has stressed preserving basic services, refusing to lay off police officers or firefighters, and tapping the rainy day fund to prevent teacher layoffs. Healthy San Francisco, the city's first-of-its kind universal health care program, will continue to grow.
    But the hits will certainly be felt, especially among the poor. Drop-in centers where homeless people can access showers, the Internet and counselors will close. One source said two would shut in the Tenderloin and one in the Mission District. Another in the Bayview would be scaled back. Nonprofits that work with the mentally ill and drug addicted will see their city support slashed at the same time they're losing private donations.
    Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said publicly funded mental health services would only be able to serve half as many people as they do now, resulting in a huge increase in mentally ill people living on the streets.
    "For the more affluent and comfortable sectors of San Francisco, this budget isn't even going to touch them," she said. "For extremely poor San Franciscans, this budget is going to be felt very deeply and is going to jeopardize the health and well-being of thousands."
    Mitch Katz, director of the Department of Public Health, said the city has always offered far more of these kinds of services than other cities and resents the pushback among advocates "as if it is a crime" to scale back during economic hard times.
    Trent Rhorer, the director of the Human Services Agency, spared 200 jobs by having 1,200 people, including social workers and caseworkers, work 37 1/2 hours a week instead of 40.
    Stimulus money for jobs
    His agency will be the site of one of the few new programs being created in this year's budget. Called San Francisco Jobs Now, it will use $23.2 million in federal stimulus money to get temporary jobs for as many as 1,000 people who currently receive public assistance money and make less than twice the federal poverty level, or roughly $21,000 a year for a single person. The jobs will last through September 2010, when the federal money runs out.
    The jobs will include city slots such as street cleaners and park maintenance positions, nonprofit jobs such as case managers, and private positions such as receptionists at firms, cashiers at shops and housekeepers at hotels. The federal funds will cover the entire wage, though private employers will have to pay the equivalent of 20 percent of the wage toward benefits.
    "It's consistent with the federal government's goals to help stimulate the local economy by putting hundreds if not thousands of people to work and at the same time getting money into the hands of families who desperately need it," Rhorer said.
    Many jobs, though, will at the same time be eliminated by a controversial proposal in the mayor's budget that would contract out many services.
    Starting in January, the mayor wants to contract out positions such as jail health workers and security staff at hospitals, the Hall of Justice, City Hall and museums. Most of those are now staffed by sheriff's deputies who would be reassigned, helping to cut down on overtime. Museum guards, though, are not sheriff's deputies and would be laid off.
    The mayor has tried before to outsource hospital security staff and reduce the hours of museum guards, but both ideas have been defeated by the supervisors.
    Trying to save legal team
    More cuts are expected in the offices of the city attorney, district attorney and public defender. Public Defender Jeff Adachi has been in a monthslong battle with Newsom to preserve jobs in his department because he said the city would be constitutionally required to pay for pricier private lawyers to defend the poor if his office isn't staffed to do it.
    Adachi said late last week he had heard nothing, even though department heads are usually given advance information from the mayor's office so they can prepare for hearings before the Board of Supervisors.
    "The silence has been deafening," he said. "I'm very hopeful that through all of our advocacy and the public support we've received that we've made our case."
    No such luck. It appears Adachi's office will take a $1.9 million hit, equal to 10 or 11 lawyers, according to a City Hall source.
    But even when the 2009-10 budget is signed into law, it's doubtful it will stay that way for long.
    "We're expecting the city to continue having troubles and hit bottom at the end of the year," said Controller Ben Rosenfield, noting that the outlook won't improve anytime soon. "We're looking at a much more gradual recovery than we've seen before."
    On the chopping block in San Francisco's budget
    Here are some of the cuts expected in mayor's proposed budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, starting July 1:
    Muni: Adult fares rise 50 cents to $2. Discounted fares for seniors, the disabled and youths rise 25 cents to 75 cents. Monthly Fast Passes rise $10 to $55 and rise a further $5 on Jan. 1. Discounted ones rise $5 to $15 and $5 more in May. Some routes are being cut. Parking meter rates go up 50 cents an hour to $1.50 in neighborhoods and $3.50 downtown.
    Health: 500 layoffs, including secretarial staff at hospitals and certified nursing assistants at Laguna Honda Hospital (downgraded positions will be hired instead). Cuts to nonprofits that serve the mentally ill, people with drug and alcohol addictions, and those with HIV and AIDS. Closure of Central City Hospitality House, a homeless drop-in center in the Tenderloin.
    Human services: Shortened workweek for 1,200 people, including social workers and case managers. New program called San Francisco Jobs Now to put 1,000 low-income people to work temporarily using federal stimulus funds.
    Parks and recreation: Layoffs of 81 staff who work at recreation centers and clubhouses.
    Public safety: No layoffs to police or firefighters, but the departments will see a reduction of overtime hours for police and a smaller arson unit through not filling positions vacated by retiring workers.
    Contracting out services: A controversial proposal, this would start in January and contract out jail health workers and security at all city buildings, including City Hall, the Hall of Justice, museums and public hospitals.
    Other: New city taxes on packs of cigarettes, likely to be about 33 cents. Money would be used to clean up cigarette butts on streets and sidewalks. Cuts to staffing in mayor's office and 311 call center. Cuts to city attorney, district attorney and public defender offices.
    E-mail Heather Knight at hknight@sfchronicle.com.

  2. Calera residents, employees concerned about possible city cutbacks - Calera Mayor George Roy says no decision has been made about possible pay cuts or reduced hours, Posted by Scottie Vickery, blog.al.com - Birmingham,AL,USA.
    Calera residents and employees turned out in force at tonight's City Council meeting to protest a possible reduction in hours for city employees.
    "If you take away my services, you're jeopardizing my safety. You're jeopardizing my 11-month-old's safety," resident Sherry Boyd said during the standing room only meeting. "If we cut city jobs, people aren't going to move here. We aren't going to continue to grow."
    Going to the 32-hour work week for all hourly city employees is one of many possibilities city leaders are considering.
    "There's a lot of rumors going around," Mayor George Roy told council members during a work session before the meeting. "We have looked at a lot of things, and some of them have been talked about, but we have not made a decision on anything, and we will not make one tonight."
    Other options the council is considering include laying off five city employees--in addition to the 13 employees laid off in January--and putting others on a 38-hour work week.
    A 5 percent across the board pay cut for all employees, including salaried employees, is also under consideration.
    Bob Williams, speaking on behalf of Public Works employees, said he'd rather see the 5 percent deduction. "I feel strongly that if there was a 5 percent pay cut either in time or money, it should be from you, Mr. Roy, all the way down the line." Roy said if the 5 percent pay cut is passed, it will affect him like everyone else.
    "We're in hard times," Roy said. "It's not just in Calera. We are doing everything we can to keep the employees working and to keep the city going."

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