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Timesizing News, March 2-31/2011
[Commentary] ©2011 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

3/31/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. A closer look at compensation,by William L. Holahan & Charles O. Kroncke, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via jsonline.com
    MILWAUKEE, Wisc. - Public employees are often seen as lazy, uncaring, overpaid and overly job-protected, especially after a bad day at the Department of Motor Vehicles. With recession-generated job losses and budgets under strain, they are now considered fair game for paring back, and the idea of reducing their compensation resonates well with many voters.
    In several states, legislation has been passed or is being prepared that will require increased employee contributions toward health and pension benefits. There are instances of politicians and pundits calling for a reduction in accrued benefits based on work performed in the past.
    Worker compensation packages that include both current compensation (salary and health insurance) and deferred compensation (such as pensions and deferred payment of health insurance premiums) are the result of competitive job markets for non-union employees or past collective bargaining for workers. Along with the rest of the labor force, public employees have taken their hits in the last decade, especially during the Great Recession. Their pay and benefits adjust more slowly than in the private sector, but for several budget cycles before this recession, they have had their salaries eroded by inflation.
    More recently, they have seen their incomes cut due to furloughs - required unpaid days off. While some employees take these furlough days off, many others, such as managers or professors, ignore the furlough and work anyway. For them, it is simply a pay cut. More cuts are on the way - as even "job security" is on the chopping block, allowing younger workers to replace older, higher-paid workers.
    The pretext for such cuts is that public employees are overpaid. Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Scott of Florida, among others, assert that public-sector employees are paid 30% more than private-sector employees, and they conclude that cuts therefore can be made without much exodus of employees. They arrive at this figure by comparing average salaries in the private and public sectors.
    But there is a flaw in using this simple comparison of all private-sector workers to all public-sector workers: It ignores the different mixtures of task and talent requirements, essentially a comparison of fruit when there are different mixtures of apples and oranges. For example, since so many public employees are teachers and other professionals, the percentage of people with advanced degrees is higher in the public sector.
    To make the more accurate comparison that accounts for differences in tasks, education levels, experience and labor market competitiveness in the two sectors, advanced statistical work is required. Numerous statistical studies - including the frequently cited study by economists Keith Bender and John Heywood of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - have shown that there is no premium for working in the public sector, even when taking benefits into account.
    In fact, public employees earn less, and the gap is greater for the more highly educated public employees. Therefore, care must be taken in the imposition of significant cost-saving cuts to avoid a large exodus of the best public employees to other states when the recovery comes.
    It is critical that public-employee compensation meet competition throughout the business cycle - downturns and upswings. For instance, in Wisconsin, the collective bargaining bill includes a provision to reduce compensation now as well as to cap the future growth rate in compensation to the growth rate of the consumer price index. However, since during most recoveries, the wage index rises faster than the consumer index, such a wage constraint will create a public-sector labor shortage when the recovery comes and when the need for more nurses, snowplow operators and teachers grows. Under the bill, public-employee compensation in Wisconsin can fall but cannot rise.
    To attract employees, the total compensation package, including deferred income, must be sufficient to attract good workers to the public sector. That is, the summation of wages plus benefits must be sufficient, not the individual components; there is an explicit trade-off between salary and benefits both in competitive job markets for individuals as well as in collectively bargained group labor contract agreements.
    Historically, the benefits available to public-sector employees are better than in the private sector. In the popular press, this is often expressed as a needlessly high percentage of benefits to salary. Often ignored, though, is that this high percentage is the natural result of a cost advantage accruing to all large organizations.
    Whether public or private, all large employers find it less expensive per employee to offer a range of benefits such as health insurance, sick days, holiday pay and pensions compared to the cost per employee for the average-sized or small firms. Because large employers have this advantage in providing non-salary benefits, it is not surprising that they offer employees a larger share of their compensation in the form of benefits and that employees accept the offer. In addition, tax breaks, available for both the employer and the employee, further incentivize this choice.
    Even though this greater benefit-to-salary ratio is based on the cost advantages of large organizations, this is difficult to explain to the taxpayers and leaves public employees exposed to the charge of receiving excessive benefits. To focus on benefits alone, while ignoring the incentives of both firms and employees to trade off salary for benefits, easily distracts from the fact that the total compensation has been at or below competitive levels and is in decline.
    Given the current political/economic climate, public employees are consenting to the call for increased contributions to their health and pension packages. We'll see how this has to be adjusted when the recovery comes.
    William L. Holahan is chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Charles O. Kroncke is associate dean of the College of Business at the University of South Florida and a former dean of business at UWM.

  2. No Saturday mail delivery would save $3 billion, by Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post via San Francisco Chronicle via articles.sfgate.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Postal officials, eager to stave off an estimated $7 billion in losses this year, think they can save about $3 billion annually by stopping weekend mail deliveries while still keeping post offices open Saturdays.
    A new Government Accountability Office report agrees USPS could save $3.3 billion by cutting the work hours of letter carriers and reducing operational costs to better match declining mail volume. Auditors said total savings would depend on how quickly the Postal Service implements any changes and whether they'd have any impact on overall service.
    The report also warns that any change would negatively impact loyal mail customers, including catalog businesses, local newspapers, the elderly and rural Americans. Eliminating Saturday deliveries could also "diminish USPS's image, in part by reducing public contact with carriers," the report said.
    In a statement, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe agreed with GAO that careful planning and implementation would be necessary to end six-day deliveries, adding, "We are prepared to make that happen."
    Any final decision on curtailing mail deliveries rests with Congress, which maintains a constitutional mandate to provide universal mail delivery.

3/30/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. BP's Lost Laptop And The Price Of Increased Productivity, by L. S. Carbonell, LezGetReal.com
    BURLINGTON?, Vt.? - My younger daughter is an executive assistant. What separates her from the secretarial work I did three decades ago is the level of work she does that used to be handled only by bosses. The side effect of her career is watching her start to reach for her laptop and pull back when we’re just going to the mall. That laptop is as much a part of her daily baggage as her purse. For me to do what she does, I would have been walking the five blocks home from the office carrying an IBM Selectric typewriter and a box of files….uphill….in a Vermont winter. Instead, I worked overtime.
    A month ago, a BP employee happened to lose a laptop filled with the documentation for the people who have filed claims for restitution from last year’s oil disaster. Part of the digital revolution is the widespread use of laptops that office personnel take home to work, take on trains and planes to work, take everywhere so they can snatch a few minutes of work.
    BP has set up a credit monitoring service for those persons whose information was on that lost laptop. There was enough basic stuff – names, birth dates, addresses and Social Security numbers – to allow an identity thief to take out credit cards and whatever else identity thieves do. But, that’s just a matter of addressing the problem after the fact, not preventing it from happening in the future. The problem of easily misplaced laptops and some basic security failures is more widespread than it should be.
    I am not the most computer competent person in the world, not by a bloody long shot. But there are a few things I do understand, thanks to the goddesses Penelope and Abby and a massive international credit card theft that effected a store I used to work in. There are no unbreakable passwords. There are programs that crack passwords before you can pour a cup of coffee. There are people out there who break through firewalls and security protocols for the fun of it. There are criminals all over the world who threaten our security systems without even being on the same continent as our data. The more wireless we are, the less secure we are. And the more we are capable of taking sensitive data on the road with us – on our cell phones, laptops, I-pads or whatever Steve Jobs will unveil next month – the more vulnerable that data is.
    The problem with that BP laptop is not computer security. It’s a labor problem. Businesses call it “increased productivity.” Employees call it being overworked and underpaid. The first thing businesses look at to cut costs and increase the salaries for CEOs [yes, for sure] and increase the dividends they are paying to shareholders [no, not even this any more] is the cost of personnel. Retail is the worst abuser of employees. Standard operating procedure in retail chains is to keep workers below the hours-per-week threshold a state sets for providing benefits. It ranges from 24 hours a week to 36. The largest pool of employees for companies like Walmart is the employment designation defined by that threshold. For the supermarket chain I used to work for, that designation was “20 to 28 hours per week.” They have dropped it to “0 to 28 hours per week,” allowing them to cut their longest serving employees to 10 hours a week. The last time anyone could live on $80 a week was thirty years ago when I was barely getting by on $90. To save a whopping 50 cents a hour, ten freaking dollars a week, they have hired a new cashier and cut two older workers from 20 to 10 hours a week.
    In white collar jobs, the culture of “increased productivity” has resulted in people like my daughter taking their laptops everywhere. Office personnel do not have enough time during the work day to do their work. In the thirty years my husband worked for the Federal courts, we watched work loads go from what one person could do in a day to one person doing the work of one-and-a-half people or even two people. When conservatives holler about the increase in Federal employees, they never talk about the increase in court cases being filed, food processing plants to be inspected, any of the thousands of things that government workers have to do. Making government more efficient does not happen by cutting personnel to the point where they can’t do what they are supposed to do.
    “Increased productivity” even impacts our military. The reason the Iraq and Afghan Wars have been fought by tens of thousands of National Guardsmen is because we simply do not have enough people in our regular military. The National Guard was not intended to fight foreign wars, but we don’t have enough soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to fight a single war. We don’t have enough personnel in the military to guard our embassies or diplomatic personnel. But the “productivity” statistics for our military sure look good.
    We are paying for this “increased productivity” in ways very few of us see. In the middle of the last decade, half the children of Walmart employees in Georgia were enrolled in S-CHIP and other taxpayer-supported health systems because those employees had no access to employer health insurance and earned so little they qualified for Federal programs. Even when Georgia’s S-CHIP went bankrupt, Republican Governor Sonny Perdue could not see the correlation. We pay to fill the gap – in health insurance for children, food stamps, rent subsidies and other assistance programs that people would not need if they could work full time with benefits.
    We are paying for “increased productivity” in health care costs. The United States consumes more medication for stress-related health problems than any other nation – from ever-increasing levels of medication for headaches and body pains to blood pressure meds to ulcer meds to antidepressants. Our longevity is dropping compared to other industrialized nations. The hidden element of our national drug problem, the part that doesn’t relate to ghettos and gang bangers, is the part of our society using cocaine and marijuana to cope with their high-pressure jobs. Our jobs are killing us, not with the obvious killers like miners’ black lung or asbestos exposure, but with stresses to our bodies and an inability to control our diets caused by “increased productivity.”
    We are paying for this “increased productivity” in the loss of security. Holding on to a job means meeting “employee expectations.” It’s high-tech piece work. Sorry, that’s a term we don’t usually hear anymore. “Piece work” is a system of getting paid for each piece of whatever is made by a worker – a pair of gloves, an assembled widget, a knit hat. The amount paid per piece was usually in pennies. “Employee expectations” or “job goals” amount to piece work. The employee must fulfill x-number of tasks in a workday or get fired. With salaried office workers, sometimes the only way to meet those expectations is to take the work home, and carrying that work home is an invitation to having our security shredded by someone simply leaving the laptop in a taxi.
    In all probability, that lost BP laptop was picked up by someone who figured he/she had fallen into a $500 gift, took it to a friend and had the hard drive wiped. It is doubtful the laptop was targeted for its data. It’s just too improbable to think that some identity thief followed a BP employee around hoping that person would forget the laptop in a coffee shop. That would require the thief to know that the employee had the data on the laptop to begin with.
    Increased productivity – getting the most work for the least money – contributed to the oil disaster by pushing for ignoring warnings to control costs and finish on a purely arbitrary schedule. Increased productivity at BP paid for former CEO Tony Hayward’s racing yacht. The United States has the largest CEO compensation to rank-and-file pay ratio in the world. We have major companies like Bank of America and General Electric paying no taxes while shipping jobs overseas and tightening personnel rosters to the point where people take their work home.
    No matter what all the pundits and politicians say, there is only one cause for our nation’s economic and social problems – we don’t have enough jobs that pay decent salaries and have decent benefits. We don’t just have an unemployment problem. We have a much larger under-employment problem. There are far too many of our recent college graduates working two part-time retail and service jobs at minimum wage. Those of us who do have jobs are working longer and harder for smaller salaries than our parents made – that’s my parents, not most of yours, that generation that fought World War II and belonged to unions that fought for them to have good jobs at good pay with good benefits.
    The Tea Party keeps saying they want to “take back our country” – well, please do. Take it back to when we had good jobs that could be left at the office at the end of the day. Take it back to full-time work with full-time pay and real benefits. Take it back to when the top income tax bracket was over 90%. Take it back to the strongest economy this nation has ever known – the 1950’s. What we have lost since then in our economy is far more important then the loss of not being able to get a divorce, not being able to terminate life-threatening pregnancies, not being able to force pregnant teens into marriage, not being able to hide gays and lesbians in “white marriages,” not being able to pretend we were all WASPS. The social “issues” that are driving the right wing are irrelevant diversions designed to keep people from looking at what we have really lost in the last 50 years.
    All the computer security in the world won’t protect our data if it’s walking around town in a laptop, and until companies stop expecting their employees to carry those laptops home to finish work they should have been able to do at the office. We already have systems that allow home computers and laptops at home to tap back into the office to work. It isn’t secure enough. A person who has lost almost everything because of a company’s mismanagement of an oil well shouldn’t face the prospect of losing whatever is left because that company encourages its employees to finish the day’s work at home. BP’s corporate culture has raped the Gulf Coast twice. How much more do we have to endure before the culture of “increased productivity” finally gets held accountable for the damage it is doing to all of us?

  2. Help? In Texas for federal workers, what's that? by "admin," EightFeetDeep.com (blog)
    AUSTIN?, Tex. - Here we are in familiar territory. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Deja vu all over again. I’ve seen this picture. Whatever cliché one wants to use or abuse, another government shutdown showdown rears its head like a missing Egyptian Cobra rearing its head in surrender in the Bronx Zoo.
    How many times have we seen this place? Is this the third concurrent resolution coming to an end, the second? I know it's more than one.
    The issue is more than just will I be “furloughed” from my part-time job and be paid or not be paid after all the congressional hubris settles. Will a budget finally be passed so I can have my measly $204-attaboy tied up, supposedly because [of] the budget SNAFU? (For those of you who don’t know but always wondered: “Situation Normal, All F***ed Up.”) 
    On a whim, I called one of our Texas Workforce Commission Centers a few days ago where the wait to speak with a live person for one minute turned into about a five-minute wait. Still, I spoke with a very nice, Hispanic-sounding lady to whom I explained my circumstances and to whom I asked whether I could receive unemployment benefits if we are furloughed.
    Being the government, of course, it wasn’t something lending itself to a simple answer. Yet, the person with whom I spoke said it depended on whether I made money during a certain time period over the last couple of years. It also depends on whether the state asks the federal government for money to pay the unemployment.
    “Say what?”
    I chuckled and said: “Good luck with that.”
    The TWC lady laughed and said: “Yeah, no kidding.”
    (Note: This is where my computer fizzled out the other day)
    Thus, if federal workers are furloughed if the government is shut down on the next budget stalemate, the odds of getting unemployment would be unlikely because the state government and our fine-haired governor will do nothing to rankle their radical right voters.
    So if federal workers can’t pay bills, so what? Let them eat from garbage bins in the street. Been there, have been close to doing that.
    We have some remarkable Christian leaders in this nation and in the state of Texas, don’t we? God help them. Someone sure needs to do so.
    This entry was written by admin, posted on March 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm, filed under I just don't know, Politics.

  3. Urgent: Nashville's Hudler confirms Q2 furloughs, by "Jim," Gannett Blog via gannetblogspot.com
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville Tennessean Publisher Carol Hudler, who also is president of the regional South Group of newspapers, told employees the following in an early-afternoon e-mail, according to two of my readers:
    "Many of you have been wondering if we will be asked to take another furlough in the 2nd Quarter. Most of our employees will not. Our top executives and a few others in higher paid positions will be asked to take a furlough. Those staffers will be notified by their department heads by the end of the day today."
    The furloughs come only a week after Gannett disclosed top executives got huge pay raises last year. Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow's doubled to $9.4 million, in part for cutting costs through furloughs and other austerity measures.

    From my earlier post: Amid a further slide in revenue, Corporate is mandating another round of unpaid furloughs for some newspaper employees in western and midwestern markets during the second quarter, which begins Friday. That is according to readers I know, who e-mailed me over the past 12 hours.
    There are signs that South Group papers might also furlough employees; but I have few details. I've heard nothing about the East Group of dailies, nor about GCI's other big division, broadcasting; its financial position has been stronger than the newspaper groups', however. (Breakdown of newspapers by group.)
    I assume any furloughs will be for one week's duration; that's been the case in all but one of the four furloughs GCI has required since the first, during the first quarter of 2009.
    Yesterday, at least two West Group dailies were notifying individual employees getting furloughed -- suggesting this round will be more "targeted,'' rather than across all the U.S. papers.
    Only well-paid staff?
    I got conflicting reports about higher-wage employees being the only ones targeted. One West Group reader said they understood only those making more than $80,000 would be furloughed.
    But another reader from that group told a different story: "Judging from personal experience, the furloughs are not limited to people making $80,000 or more, although there is a certain income level below which people will not be affected."
    There's a precedent for furloughs based on income. During the second-quarter furlough of 2009, employees making $90,000 and above were told to take two unpaid weeks off; everyone else got one.
    That spurred additional unhappiness when some people discovered they were making less than co-workers in the same or substantially similar jobs.
    Bad timing
    This fifth furlough round comes as GCI's revenue continues falling, even from the already low levels set during the Great Recession. Last week, COO Gracia Martore warned investors that publishing revenue would be down 6% to 7% in the current quarter, worse than the 4.7% decline in the fourth quarter.
    The timing of any furloughs will be awkward. Last Thursday, Corporate disclosed that the company's highest paid employees got big raises last year. Indeed, Martore and CEO Craig Dubow saw their pay double. She got $8.2 million; he got $9.4 million.

3/29/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Layoffs and Furloughs and Their Effect on Internal Controls, Clifton Gunderson LLP via cliftoncpa.com
    WAUWATOSA, Wisc. - Faced with increasing pressure to reduce costs, hold the line on taxes and balance the budget, local governments are turning to furlough days and layoffs as a way to generate cost savings. While this may be an effective cost-cutting strategy, government officials must also consider the impact that furloughs and layoffs can have on internal control structures.
    Considering Internal Controls
    There are several things to consider when determining if furlough days or layoffs are an appropriate mechanism to achieve savings.
    * The impact on the level of the services that are being provided by the affected employee group
    * The impact on employee morale
    * The expected savings from a reduction in workforce
    Internal Controls
    Less public attention is typically given to another important consideration: The impact of furlough days and layoffs on internal controls.
    Internal controls are the policies and procedures that are designed to keep an organization safe. In a sense, they are checkpoints in a process that are designed to slow the process down to make sure the best interests of the organization are in place. Many of these controls are executed by individual employees, and when these positions are temporarily or permanently vacant, there can be significant impact on the organization's ability to protect itself.
    Furloughs and layoffs both involve temporarily reducing the organization's workforce. Furloughs have typically been used to reduce an employee's work schedule by a set amount of time, such as one furlough day per month. Layoffs are generally used when the return to work cannot be guaranteed, such as when there is a sudden drop in the demand for a service provided by the organization. Because of their differences, furloughs and layoffs lead to different issues to consider within the internal controls of the organization.
    The Risk of Furloughs
    In the case of a furlough day, the organization's natural response is to maintain the current duties and responsibilities within the existing control structure. Generally, the work that is missed during the furlough period is accomplished by working more efficiently during the remaining days. The cost savings are intended to be achieved without decreasing the safety of the organization.
    However, there are still risks that should be considered as a result of implementing furlough days. In order to achieve the same level of output in a smaller period of time, employees may rush to perform the work, leaving the process incomplete or inaccurate. In addition, employees may find shortcuts that work around the systems of control.
    Problems can continue up the chain of command as well. Managers may need to compensate for the furlough days as well. They may be in a similar rush if they were also furloughed, or they may be more involved in the details as they help staff catch up. Having management down in the trenches creates some additional risk. Sometimes the big picture can get lost and lead to an unnoticed opportunity or an unchecked risk that can cost the organization far more in the long run than was saved in the short term.
    The organization needs to be aware of the risks created by furloughs and respond accordingly. Choosing the appropriate timeframe for a furlough can greatly reduce the need for staff members to rush to complete their assigned tasks. This, in turn, leads to a better work product that management can review, rather than create. This allows management to maintain its focus on the bigger picture, which can allow management to recognize opportunities for cost savings and additional revenue sources that may not have otherwise been identified.
    The Risk of Layoffs
    Layoffs typically have more of an impact on the organization's internal controls than furlough days. With a layoff, the indefinite end creates a need to redistribute the duties and responsibilities of laid off employees. While management may conclude that the service portion of the employee's position can be managed by others, that employee may have served in some aspects of the internal control structure that must now be shifted to other employees. As the pool of employees shrinks, so does the ability to properly segregate duties.
    In addition, staff that become responsible for the new areas may not have the same level of experience or institutional knowledge as the former employees, which can lead to inefficiencies and inaccuracies in the process.
    An organization needs to consider the risks created by layoffs and respond accordingly. Careful consideration should be given to the reallocation of tasks to ensure that the organization is minimizing its risk exposure resulting from overlapping responsibilities. Consideration must also be given to the skill sets available in the remaining staff to ensure that the staff responsible for the task has the skill set necessary to complete the job correctly.
    When they are done right, furloughs and layoffs can contribute to substantial savings on the expense side of the government. Evaluating the impact on the morale of the employees, the level of service provided to the taxpayer, and the security of the organization are critical to a successful implementation. With proper oversight and awareness of the risks created by the reduced level of staffing, organizations can achieve the desired level of savings and maintain risk at an acceptable level.
    The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal, accounting, or tax advice or opinion provided by Clifton Gunderson LLP to the reader. The reader also is cautioned that this material may not be applicable to, or suitable for, the reader's specific circumstances or needs, and may require consideration of non-tax and other tax factors if any action is to be contemplated. The reader should contact his or her Clifton Gunderson LLP or other tax professional prior to taking any action based upon this information. Clifton Gunderson LLP assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

  2. Mayor's Budget Proposes To Close Some City Recreation Centers - No New Taxes Or Fees Proposed, 3/29 WBAL Baltimore via wbaltv.com
    BALTIMORE, Maryld. -- Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is proposing to close some of the city’s recreation centers, cut hours at the city’s libraries and reduce the 311 call center operation in her budget plan for the next fiscal year.
    The proposal calls for no new taxes. It continues furloughs for city employees but also calls for a 2 percent cost of living salary increase for most employees.
    City officials said the budget plan is needed to close a $65 million deficit.
    The plan to close some of the city’s 55 recreation centers follows the recommendations of a task force appointed by the mayor. Rawlings-Blake proposes to have 27 centers operated by the city; close as many as 10 centers, and have non-profits and community groups take over the rest.
    The mayor’s proposal includes no significant cuts to public safety. It reduces resources for animal control. It includes a plan to keep some of the city’s swimming pools open from the end of May through Labor Day.
    Library hours could be cut by as much as 20 percent.
    Hours of operation at the city’s 311 center could be reduced from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days per week to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days per week.
    The proposal also asks city residents to pay a fee for bulk trash pickup starting Jan. 1, 2012.
    "Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake said, "is still feeling the effects of the Great Recession. Through sacrifice and smart budgeting, we will ensure that City Government tightens its belt to get more value for every tax dollar by doing what families are doing every day: making tough choices about what we can afford and focusing our scarce resources on core priorities."
    City finance officials said the city’s revenues for fiscal year 2012 are lower than they were in fiscal year 2008. The news doesn’t get better. Officials are expecting property tax revenues to actually drop from current levels in fiscal year 2013.
    The effort to save money can be seen on the budget proposal itself. The pictures used in the preliminary plan are in black and white, a $7,000 savings from the cost of color photographs used in years past.
    The budget proposal will be presented Wednesday to the Board of Estimates.

  3. Parts shortages force cuts in work hours at Honda plants, by Dan Gearino dgearino@dispatch.com, 3/29 Columbus Dispatch via despatch.com
    MARYSVILLE, Ohio - Honda employees in Ohio will work only partial shifts beginning Wednesday, because of a dwindling supply of parts from Japan. The move is taking place several days earlier than planned.
    This affects the assembly plants in Marysville and East Liberty, the engine plant in Anna, the transmission plant in Russells Point, and all other plants in North America, the company said today.

    At each plant, employees will work until they have met the production goals for each shift, which will be less than the goals for a full shift. The goals will vary for each plant, and the company declined to get into specifics.
    "We are making every effort to keep plants operating without extensive interruptions," the company said in a statement.
    Last week, Honda said it would maintain normal production through Friday. Because the plants are inactive on most weekends, that meant the interruption originally was going to take place no earlier than Monday.
    The change, announced to employees today, is part of an attempt to scale back on manufacturing immediately to make the current parts supply last as long as possible, said spokesman Ron Lietzke.
    Employees can take vacation time or unpaid time off for the remainder of their shifts. They will also have the option of reporting for training or other non-production duties, which would help them avoid the loss of wages.
    Honda employs about 13,500 people in Ohio, where it assembles the Accord, CR-V and Acura TL, among others. The company has a morning and evening shift at each plant. Both shifts are covered by today's announcement.
    Lietzke declined to speculate about how long it might be before the supply of parts returns to normal and full shifts can resume.

3/27-28/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Regional vote slams Sarkozy, 3/28 WSJ via online.wsj.com
    PARIS, France — French voters delivered a blow to President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of next year's presidential election, choosing Socialist and National Front candidates in regional elections on Sunday.
    The elections were to choose the representatives of France's cantons who will sit on the general councils of the country's departments. But they were a key test of voter mood 13 months before French voters decide their next president.
    Mr. Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement gathered about 20% of the votes cast nationwide, well behind the Socialist Party, which had about 36%, according to the Interior Ministry. The National Front gained 12%.
    "We in the majority can be a bit disappointed," said Jean-François Copé, general secretary of the UMP. "We must take lessons [from] these results, and of course we will, in particular over the surge of the Front National."
    The vote showed the rising popularity of the FN party, which in January elected Marine Le Pen—a 42-year-old daughter of the party's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen—as its leader.
    "The restructuring of French political life is under way," Ms. Le Pen told French television after the vote.
    She has tried to rid the party of its racist image, and instead focused her message on economic nationalism.
    She has compared Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. But she also wants France to exit the euro, which France shares with 16 other countries, and she wants to protect French business from imports.
    "We need a strong state," Ms. Le Pen said last week in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. "We're for the market economy, but we consider that the state must act pre-emptively to avoid the excesses of the market."
    The FN threatens France's two main political parties because she is attempting to combine their key populist attractions.
    The Socialist Party has drawn support over the years for its moves to tame corporations, for example through high payroll taxes and laws reducing working hours.
    [France struggling to take back the shortest hours title from Germany?]
    Mr. Sarkozy has led a high-profile campaign to rid France of illegal gypsies and to ban women from wearing the full-body niqab outfits favored by a small number of Muslims.
    However, his main problem is the economy. He was swept into office in 2007 with a promise to put France back to work. The financial crisis and recession derailed his plans, leaving the French economy with weak growth and high unemployment, which was 9.2% in the fourth quarter of 2010.
    The president's approval rating has been around 30%, according to recent opinion polls.
    The two main parties fear that Ms. Le Pen could match the feat of her father, who reached the second round of the 2002 presidential election.
    Mr. Le Pen beat Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the first round, on voter fears of collapsing law and order.
    [Nonsense. It was purely a function of the more-split vote on the left - there were a lot more small leftwing parties than small rightwing parties to draw votes away from the big one.]
    But he then lost in the second round to the center-right Jacques Chirac, whose party Mr. Sarkozy has inherited.
    [The chastened French would rather vote for the devil they know than the devil they don't know. They'd rather vote for a familiar gangster than an unfamiliar nutcase.]
    The cantons send representatives to the general councils of France's 100 departments, its main administrative divisions. The departmental councilors also vote in elections to France's senate, or upper house, as the councilors play a role in voting for senators.
    Voter turnout Sunday appeared low, at around 46%.
    Write to Sebastian Moffett at sebastian.moffett@wsj.com

  2. The HR answer blog - Working Hours and Overtime Calculations, by Rebecca Mazin, 3/27 AllBusiness.com
    WASHINGTON, U.S.A. - It's payday, and Jodi has just come storming in waving her pay stub, announcing: "Where’s my overtime, I worked 10 hours last Friday!" Jodi doesn’t let you get a word in as she continues, "I needed this money, I worked these hours, and you shortchanged me!"
    Sick Days and Overtime
    You don’t want to rush into an answer, but you think that Jodi took a few sick days recently so you ask, "Did you take any sick days for this work week?" Jodi continues to be indignant and replies, "Yeah, that’s the week I was out for two days when my kid had a temperature of 101. I couldn’t come to work then."
    The next step is to calmly explain to Jodi that overtime is paid when employees work more than 40 hours in a work week. The key here is work. Sick time, vacation days, holidays and personal days are not considered work days for the purposes of calculating this extra compensation for overtime eligible staff.
    Overtime After 8 Hours in One Day?
    If Jodi works in Alaska, California, or Nevada she would earn two hours of overtime since these states require OT to be paid to non-exempt employees after 8 hours in a workday. Federal law only requires payment after 40 hours in a workweek. Jodi may also earn the premium pay if she is a government employee in some locations.
    Check your state laws too for those that require overtime to be paid if employees work more than 10 or 12 hours in a work day.
    In all of these situations it does not matter whether an employee works less than 40 hours in the work week, the extra pay is triggered by the lengthier day.
    Training Time Counts
    Don’t think that the days that employees sit in meeting rooms for orientation, safety training or customer service skills brush up can be considered non-working hours. When training, or meetings, are mandatory and the company benefits, it’s considered working hours for overtime purposes. Even if the training is a team building class that includes fun, games and paintball it will be counted towards a work week total.
    Training or meetings do not have to be considered working hours if:
    1. They are held outside regular working hours, and;
    2. Attendance is entirely voluntary, and;
    3. The topic is not directly job related, and;
    4. No work is performed.
    So the optional yoga class on Friday afternoons at 5:00 PM will not send payroll skyrocketing with overtime payments.

3/25-26/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Audit: EDD has problems, but don't blame furloughs, by John Ortiz, 3/25 Sacramento Bee (blog)
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Bureau of State Audits says that the state Employment Development Department, squeezed by soaring unemployment rates and funding problems, has struggled to meet federal standards to process first-time benefits claims. While a hiring spree and allowing employees to work more overtime eased the crunch to degree, the department is still dealing with technical issues -- phones, software -- that are slowing the public's access to services and has put federal stimulus funding at risk.
    Furloughs? Not an issue, auditors said:
    We also found that the former governor's furlough orders, which affected program representatives, had minimal impact on the department's performance because the average overtime hours worked by program representatives generally exceeded their average number of leave hours.
    [Huh? We're delighted with the "don't blame furloughs" but has the net effect of the furloughs alias leaves been simply to convert straight-pay straight-time into time&ahalf-pay overtime? - and ifso, how does this relate to the department's "funding problems"?]
    A few highlights from the report...:
    * The department's initial claims workload grew by 148 percent from July 2007 to June 2010.
    * California's unemployment rate soared -- showing a 132 percent increase over those years.
    * The federal government granted extensions of unemployment benefits, thus, individuals received benefits for longer periods of time.
    * The State's Unemployment Fund became insolvent in January 2009 -- federal loans were needed to pay benefits.
    * The department projects the State's Unemployment Fund deficit could rise to $13.4 billion by the end of 2011.
    * If the State defaults on the federal loan, California employers could eventually face $6 billion in higher federal unemployment taxes annually.
    * Because the department consistently failed to meet certain core performance measures, the United States Department of Labor classified the State as being "At Risk" for fulfilling requirements.
    * The department increased staff and allowed them to work overtime to improve performance--these efforts substantially increased the volume of initial claims it processed.
    * Other efforts intended to improve its performance have been mixed.
    * The new scheduling system's impact--which the department indicated would result in more timely nonmonetary determinations--appears negligible.
    * Other automation projects have the potential to improve performance, but have not been implemented.
    * The new phone system--developed to increase the public's timely access to unemployment services--provides enhanced voice response options; however, access to agents may continue to be a challenge.
    * The State may forfeit $839 million in federal stimulus funds if the department does not meet the federal deadline for implementing certain changes to its unemployment claims process.
    * The department has taken an average of four or more weeks to determine the eligibility of claimants trying to qualify for the California Training Benefits program, during which time the claimants did not receive unemployment insurance benefits.

  2. A windfall courtesy of Will and Kate, By Anthony Faiola, 3/26 (3/25, 9:44 PM) WashingtonPost.com
    Prince William to wed Kate Middleton on April 29: Britain’s Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton, are to be married April 29 at Westminster Abbey in London. (photo caption)
    DERBY, ENGLAND — The Royal Crown Derby porcelain factory ramped down to a four-day workweek two years ago, stung by the casual dining trend and a flood of cheap china from, well, China. But a sudden rush of business has its production floor of 150 workers back on full-time schedules, cranking out more gilded baubles and collectables fit-for-doilies than at any point in the past three decades.
    The 261-year old company’s financial white knight: Will and Kate, Inc.
    The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is shaping up as more than a dreamy moment for girls who long to be princesses or royalists keen on reinvigorating the genetic pool of the House of Windsor. The big day, according to the London-based marketing firm Verdict, is set to deliver a $1 billion jolt to the flagging British economy while ringing up hundreds of millions in longer-term gains as the couple rekindles global interest in the British royal family. Compare that to, say, Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Tex., which generated a relatively paltry $615 million.
    But what the royals giveth, the royals also drain away. And some Britons — particularly royal skeptics — are fuming at the April 29 wedding’s cost to the taxpayer. To be sure, Prince Charles, William’s father, will be footing the bulk of the undisclosed wedding bill with some help from the wealthy Middletons. But the British government will be covering substantial security costs. In addition, Britain will see a loss of productivity on a Friday in April that would not otherwise have been a national holiday.
    But proponents insist that the wedding effectively heralds the return of a royal gravy train that seemed to have run out of steam after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. For the wedding itself, hotels and everyday Londoners have their eyes on the prize, hawking rooms ranging from $40 to $12,000 a night for the 600,000 onlookers that London tourism officials expect will flock to the capital for the event. That figure roughly matches the number who made the pilgrimage in 1981 to watch Charles and Diana in the opening chapter of their ill-fated fairy tale.
    Kiss Me Kate beer is already on tap. Across Britain, shelves are filling up with the predictable bride-and-groom teddy bears shipped from far away factories in Asia, as well as the not-so-predictable Will and Kate refrigerator-freezers. Even Buckingham Palace is cashing in, peddling official royal wedding merchandise including frilly pillboxes and plates.
    Since this is 2011, more than a dozen royal wedding apps are now available for download. And then there are the gambling parlors making a mint off royal bets. The firm William Hill is offering 38-to-1 odds that Prince Harry — the groom’s younger brother and best man — will forget to take the wedding rings to Westminster Abbey.
    Yet for a wedding that many seen-it-all Brits are proudly declaring themselves profoundly uninterested in — one poll conducted for Republic, an anti-monarchy group, showed 76 percent “couldn’t care less” or were “largely indifferent” — sales of pricey, British-made products, from $180 loving cups to $19,000 commemorative clocks, are going so surprisingly well that companies such as Royal Crown Derby are seeing a 20 percent jump in overall revenue. That is on top of a surge in sales of frocks worn by Middleton and bought from mainstream London retail outlets, making them more accessible to the masses than the pricey designer dresses favored by Diana.
    “What can I say?” said a beaming Bob Betts, managing director of Smith of Derby, a 155-year-old clockmaker whose first $19,000 Will and Kate clock sold off the shelf of a local department store within two hours. The stunned company, in this city 112 miles northwest of London, is now in the midst of producing at least 100 more. “When you see Kate walk into a room now, you can almost hear the ca-ching,” Betts said.
    On the one hand, it suggests that some Britons may be closet royalists, sneaking home, under their fashionable Burberry raincoats, a Will and Kate enamel box that only a grandmother could love. Or that the grandmothers themselves are splurging.
    But sales patterns also point to another major factor: The colonial appeal of the royal couple, who are driving an extraordinary wave of renewed interest in the British royal family in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan, China and Russia. Overseas customers account for roughly 40 percent of sales of Will and Kate memorabilia from Royal Crown Derby, for instance. But the biggest foreign buyers are Americans, who always seem to have time — and money — for a royal family they threw off nearly 235 years ago.
    U.S. companies are peddling commemoratives, too — from replicas of Middleton’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring to Kate dolls by the Franklin Mint at $195 a pop. Thousands of Americans are expected to fly in for the wedding, though with just over four weeks to go, many London hotels have yet to sell out and are counting on a last-minute surge in bookings.
    “It’s not quite like the presidential inauguration, where I was defending every room at the hotel months before,” said Anthony Stewart-Moore, general manager of Marriott’s Grosvenor House, London’s largest five-star hotel. He headed Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in 1993, when Bill Clinton was first sworn in. “But we are about 74 percent sold out already, and the booking window is going to close. . . . Who’s coming? Americans. But also Europeans and the British themselves. This is a big, happy day.”
    Grosvenor House, like other London hotels, is trying to cash in on wedding fever. On the wedding day, their Middleton-themed “royal afternoon tea,” for instance, will be a banquet including scones with strawberry preserves from Middleton’s hometown of Bucklebury, followed by “Kate champagne cocktails” and cupcakes topped with icing in the form of her engagement ring, which formerly belonged to Diana.
    With the queen’s 60th anniversary on the throne next year, a celebration known as the Diamond Jubilee, officials are hoping that renewed interest in British royals will bring a huge increase in tourism and continued sales of royal-related items. They note that tourism surged by 200,000 the year after Charles and Diana’s wedding.
    But skeptics maintain that the House of Windsor is still a big drain on the British economy. They decry the wedding security costs to be borne by taxpayers at a time when the Conservative-led government is pressing ahead with historic budget cuts.
    “As far as we’re concerned, we shouldn’t pay a single penny,” said Graham Smith, spokesman for Republic, the anti-monarchy group.
    Scores of Londoners are vowing to use the holiday to fly to Spain or the south of France for a bit of R&R. Even that, though, may generate some much-needed revenue for airlines hit hard by the December snowstorms that embarrassingly shut down Heathrow Airport for days.
    Yet some of those escaping the wedding chaos admit they will be glued to the TV. Antonia Windsor, 35, a freelance journalist, said she would be heading from London to the island of Jersey right before the big day.
    “But,” she said, “I’ll be watching with grandma. She’s a big royalist.”
    Special correspondent Karla Adam contributed to this report

3/23-24/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Lauzon Announces the Next Phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan, 3/23 Seaway News via cornwallseawaynews.com
    OTTAWA, Ont., Canada - Stormont- Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon is pleased to announce the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan which will have positive benefits for Ontario families, seniors and job-creating businesses.
    “Canada has weathered the global recession in a stronger position than nearly all major economies, with 480,000 new jobs created since July 2009. But the global economy is still fragile, we need to stay focused on the economy,” said Lauzon. “This isn’t the time for an unnecessary election; we need to stay the course to help create jobs and economic growth.”
    Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has been trying to force an election recently, arguing now is the time to increase taxes on Canadians- starting with a $6 billion tax hike on employers, likely followed by a GST hike and new ‘carbon tax’ on householder energy bills.
    “As we try to fully recover from the global recession, massive new liberal tax hikes would stall Canada’s recovery, kill jobs, and increase the cost of living for families and seniors,” said Lauzon.
    The next phase of our Conservative Government’s Plan keeps taxes low to promote jobs and growth, while supporting Ontario families and seniors. It includes:
    Supporting Job Creation: a new Hiring Credit for Small Business to support job growth, supporting Ontario’s manufacturing sector by extending tax relief for investments in new equipment and machinery, an expanded work sharing program, and major new investments to help the agriculture, forestry and mining sectors grow.
    Strengthening our Families and Communities: up to $5,000 grants for Ontario families to make their homes more energy efficient; up to $840 in new annual financial support for Ontario seniors in need; a new Family Caregivers Tax Credit, a new Children’s Arts Tax Credit; loan forgiveness to attract doctors and nurses to rural Ontario; a new $3,000 volunteer firefighters’ tax credit; and the waiving of license renewal fees for hunters and firearm owners.
    Investing in the Economy of Tomorrow: increased support for research and technology, improved federal student loans program for Ontario students, and more.
    Preserving Canada’s Fiscal Advantage: keeping Canada on track for balanced budgets by eliminating ineffective spending; limited spending growth; and closing unfair tax loopholes.
    The next phase of the Plan also reinforces the Conservative Government’s long-standing rejection of the former Liberal government’s legacy of balancing the federal budget on the backs of Ontario and other provinces through deep transfer cuts to healthcare and education.
    Indeed, under the Conservative Government in 2011-12, Ontario will see record high major federal transfers totaling $17.7 billion – an increase of nearly $7 billion from the former Liberal government. Further, Ontario will see growing transfer for healthcare ($10.7 billion – a nearly 40% jump from the Liberals) and social services (over $4.5 billion- a 40% jump over the Liberals).
    “This increased support will help hospitals, schools, and other critical services in the province,” said Lauzon. “While the former Liberal government radically and recklessly slashed transfers to our home province, our Conservative Government continues to ensure Ontario has record support to provide the healthcare, education and other important services families depend on.”
    The next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan will provide important support to Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry municipalities and communities, by providing $20 million over two years to extend the Eastern Ontario Development Program. Further, our Plan will legislate a permanent investment of $2 billion in municipal infrastructure through the Gas Tax Fund, providing certainty to the municipalities of SD & SG.
    “Budget 2011 is on the right track to implement measures that will benefit all constituents of SD &SG; families, seniors, students, communities and small business owners,” said Lauzon, “this low tax plan for jobs and growth will keep Canada competitive to continue to build for jobs and growth.”
    For further information, please contact:
    Kayleigh Heathcote
    Office of Guy Lauzon
    National Conservative Caucus Chair
    Member of Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry

  2. Cost control is key for Toyota and its customers, BY Laura Cork, 3/24 WorksManagement.co.uk
    LEEDS, U.K. - Strict control of costs, including a move to short-time working, enabled Toyota Material Handling's three European factories to remain in operation throughout the recession – despite a sharp decline in the forklift truck market of 50%.
    Cost control is key for Toyota and its customersAndrew Elliot (pictured), executive VP for marketing at Toyota Material Handling Europe, told WM that the factories – in Mjolby, Sweden; Ancenis, France; and Bologna, Italy – took difficult decisions to reduce headcount and, in some cases, moved to three-day weeks. "The downturn hit us as hard as anyone, with a 50% reduction to the market in a very short space of time," he said. Downsizing cut the workforce by 15%, he added.
    Market recovery has now meant a return to full production, first with agency labour and now some additional permanent employees, and the organisation is looking to recruit more.
    The European forklift market recovery is patchy, he said, and some markets – including Italy – may not recover to pre-recession levels, though others such as Germany and Russia are "booming" and fast approaching 2008 volumes. The UK market is bouncing back, says Toyota, but again may not recover to 2008 levels for some considerable time.
    Cost control is still firmly on Toyota's agenda – but now for its customers. Toyota's theme for CeMAT, the forthcoming European materials handling event in Germany (2-6 May), is 'driving down costs'.
    At its recent press event in Sweden (16-17 March), TMHE previewed the order picking products it will unveil at CeMAT, which included an automated order picking truck that can be combined with driver-operated trucks in a semi-automated environment.
    "Driving down costs is now our core message," said Elliot. "Customers are focusing on reducing their operating costs... and our product, service and solutions offer is designed to help customers reduce the cost per load of goods moved, as well as the overall cost of their material handling operations."

3/20-22/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. No work in sight: An exclusive report on SLO County unemployment - Despite signs the economy is improving [what signs??], times remain tough for the long-term unemployed, whose numbers continue to rise, By Julie Lynem, jlynem@thetribunenews.com, 3/20 San Luis Obispo [SLO] Tribune via sanluisobispo.com
    SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Like many unemployed San Luis Obispo County residents, Mark Maez works hard to find a job.
    Each day, the Arroyo Grande man rises early to make it to his information technology internship at Business Computer Solutions, a computer service company in Grover Beach. Then, he goes to the nearby One-Stop Career Center to check for new job listings.
    Similar stories:
    Half a million California job seekers prepare to lose benefits
    Biz Buzz: More join county jobless ranks
    Unemployment rate falls in 24 states, rises in 10 ...

    It has been nearly two years since Maez, 46, was laid off from a management position at Hayward Lumber, where he had worked for about eight years. After applying for about 40 jobs — ranging from banks to retail stores — he’s starting to wonder if any work is in sight.
    “It seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel,” Maez said. “After I was laid off, I thought I would get another job with no problem. But there have been no callbacks, no interviews.”
    For Maez, and other long-term unemployed people like him, some of the encouraging signs of economic recovery remain elusive.
    The U.S. economy has been slowly improving since the third quarter of 2009, according to those who keep tabs on the labor market, and yet hiring has been sluggish.
    The number of long-term unemployed nationwide, defined as those jobless for 27 weeks or more, has been unprecedented in this recession, economists say. In February, 6 million unemployed workers were in this category, accounting for nearly 44 percent of the unemployed. That figure remains near the high of 45.6 percent last May. That share of the long-term unemployed is one of the highest on record, the bureau reported.
    In California, a record 1.03 million were counted as long-term unemployed in January, according to the most recent figures available from the state’s Employment Development Department. That was 46.5 percent of all unemployed Californians that month. A year earlier, 768,000 were counted as long-term unemployed, 36.3 percent of the total unemployed.
    By comparison, the share of long-term unemployed during the recessions of the early 1990s and in 2001 peaked at around one-quarter of unemployed workers, the EDD reported.
    The department does not keep such data on a countywide basis.
    Fighting perceptions
    Anecdotally, those who work closely with the jobless locally say they are seeing the effects of more people out of work for longer periods of time.
    “It is a vicious cycle,” said Beverly Cook, employment service specialist at the Five Cities One-Stop Career Center in Grover Beach. “For one thing, employers say they want somebody that’s working. People looking to hire will most likely hire someone who already has a job.”
    There’s a perception, Cook said, that people who have been laid off lost their jobs because of something they did wrong. Or, employers believe that workers who have been unemployed for an extended period may have lost their skills.
    “Employers don’t have time to train,” Cook said. “They want someone coming in who is up on the latest.”
    Moreover, the long-term jobless run the risk of becoming discouraged and dropping out of the work force altogether. They also experience a decline in wages and had fewer benefits than with their previous employer, according to a Pew Research Center poll last year on the impact of the long-term unemployed.
    “Some were making $22 or $23 an hour, and they say that ‘I’ll be happy if I get something making $12 an hour,’ ” Cook said.
    New skills not rewarded
    Recognizing the possibility of being shut out by potential employers, Maez enrolled in Laurus College to be certified as an information technology technician. The One-Stop Center helped him get the funding for the training, he said.
    So far, his newfound skills have not yielded results.
    “From what I’ve seen, employers are receiving so many applications that you really need to know someone or do something that catches their eye,” he said.
    Cambria resident Julia Haas, who has been unemployed for more than a year, said she, too, has had difficulty finding work despite having more than a decade of experience as a cook.
    Haas, 55, lost her job at The Carlton hotel in Atascadero after The Carlton Restaurant and Grill closed in 2010. She has exhausted her unemployment benefits and makes ends meet by doing temporary work when she can get it.
    “It gets discouraging every time you go out and look for work,” she said. “But at least I am getting out of the house and doing something positive.”
    At the One-Stop Career Center, employment specialists work with clients in hopes of finding jobs before they reach the point of being unattractive to potential employers.
    Cook’s advice for job seekers is to treat every day like a workday.
    “Get up and get dressed just like you’re going to work,” Cook said. “Get out of the house and network and volunteer to get you back in that work mode.”
    Little job growth seen
    For job seekers in California, it could be several years before finding work gets easier.
    The unemployment rate for the nation last month dropped to 8.9 percent, with the economy creating 192,000 jobs.
    Meanwhile, California’s January jobs report showed just 12,500 jobs created, reducing the state’s unemployment rate to 12.4 percent from 12.5 percent.
    Lauren Appelbaum, research director for the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, said that the recently release
    d employment figures are just the beginning.
    California’s working-age population continues to grow more quickly than the nation’s, and yet there are not enough jobs being created in the state to support that growth, she said.
    The lackluster employment growth picture is likely to persist for the foreseeable future unless some important steps are taken to rapidly create jobs, she said.
    “It’s not a big recovery yet,” Appelbaum said. “There are different estimates for how long it’s going to take to get to where we were before. The estimates I see are 2015 and 2016, and that’s conservative.”
    Appelbaum noted that more employers in California could be taking advantage of workshare or short-time work programs, which allow employers who need to trim expenses to keep people on the payroll.
    Instead of laying off a few employees to save money, companies reduce the hours of many workers.
    Employers pay employees for the hours they do work and then apply for partial unemployment benefits to pay employees for the hours they are not working.
    “Even a modest use of worksharing nationwide has the potential to reduce layoffs by about 2 million workers per year. This would significantly increase the ranks of the employed,” Appelbaum said.
    Hopeful signs
    Although the state has a long way to go before it returns to higher levels of employment, Juan Millan, labor market specialist for the state’s EDD, said there are glimmers of hope.
    San Luis Obispo County saw an increase of 2,400 people entering the labor force from December to January of this year, he said.
    Work-force centers throughout the state are reporting more people searching for jobs, he said.
    As well, the state projects 2,000 jobs will be generated in the county between now and 2018 in education services, health care and social assistance, and leisure and hospitality, he said.
    “I think people are beginning to understand that we’re coming out of the recession,” Millan said. “They have more confidence.” One day, Maez believes that he will find a job. Until then, being without one makes him nervous.
    Maez owns his home, but he’s slowly depleting his savings, and he’s had to cut back on extras such as dining out and going to the movies. His unemployment benefits — $350 a week — will run out in the fall.
    Maez would like a $50,000 annual salary, but he’s willing to accept much less right now.
    “It gets depressing,” said Maez, who has the support of his girlfriend and 74-year-old mother, both of whom have jobs. “But what I would say to people in this situation is don’t give up. Keep on trying and pushing. Something will open up.”
    How local businesses are feeling
    The UCSB Economic Forecast Project conducts quarterly business sentiment surveys. Here’s a look at last year’s fourth-quarter results from 127 businesses in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. All but one of the responses reflect an improving outlook.
    Is your firm better off than a year ago? 86% of respondents said same, better or much better.
    Will you be expanding your work force in the next 12 months? 85% of respondents said same or expanding.
    In six months, will your firm be better off? 65% of respondents said better or much better.
    Are present business conditions better than a year ago? 54% of respondents said better or much better.
    Will present business conditions improve in the next five years? 77% of respondents said some improvement or much improvement.
    Will present business conditions improve in the short term? 90% of respondents said same, some improvement or much improvement.
    Do you expect there will be more or less unemployment in the next 12 months? 88% of respondents said same, less or much less.
    What do you think will happen to interest rates in the next 12 months? 98% of respondents said unchanged, rise or rise sharply.
    Do you think it is a good time or a bad time to purchase major house-hold items or cars? 62% of respondents said good or very good.
    Do you think it is a good time or a bad time to buy a home? 88% of respondents said good or very good.
    Do you think buying a home will be more or less affordable six months from now? 54% of respondents said same.
    Jobless rate shows little improvement
    The unemployment rate in San Luis Obispo County in January was 10.3 percent, up from 10 per-cent the month before but down from 10.6 percent in the same month a year ago, according to the latest data available from the state’s Employment Development Department.
    The county ranked seventh, along with San Diego County, for the lowest unemployment rate among the 58 California counties. The peak unemployment rate for the county was 10.7 percent last July.

  2. Ich bin ein example: What we can learn from Germany about jobs, by Gero Breloer via Zachary Roth, Federal Employment Office via AP via 3/22 The Upshot via news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout
    [=transl: I am a Beispiel]
    BERLIN, Germany - As the United States struggles to fix its ongoing jobs crisis, could it learn a thing or two from Germany?
    That country's government painted a rosy economic picture yesterday, saying the early part of 2011 saw strong growth, which is expected to continue for the rest of the year. In reality, things have been up and down for Germany since the global downturn—its economy bounced back strongly in early 2010, then seemed to flag late last year, and now looks to be on the upswing again. That volatility has triggered debates both there and here about whether spending cuts or old-fashioned Keynesian policies have proved more effective—with the usual suspects lining up on each side.
    But here's the thing: Through it all, no one disputes that employment levels—though lower than America's during the boom years—have during the downturn held remarkably steady, relative to the United States. Even at the nadir of the recession, Germany's employment level was down by just 0.5 percent from its pre-downturn peak. No wonder economists talk about Germany's labor market "miracle."
    Compare that to the situation state-side: Yes, the economy is finally producing jobs again, but economists say at this rate it'll take until 2019 to replace the nearly 8 million lost during the Great Recession. And the official unemployment rate is still 8.9 percent—a full point higher than Germany's.
    A range of analyses suggest that steps taken by German policymakers and employers, both before and during the recession, successfully limited the damage the downturn was able to do on the country's labor market.
    First, Germany has focused very directly on protecting existing jobs. Through its *"kurzarbeit" program, the government provides subsidies to employers who avoid laying off workers during periods of low demand; instead bosses are encouraged merely to reduce the hours that employees work. Employers themselves have also created more flexible arrangements with their workers: Under a system of "working time accounts," employees work overtime without additional pay when demand is high during boom times, then during the downturn work shorter hours, again at regular pay. The system helps everyone better weather the ups and downs of the economy without the need for layoffs.
    A new study released last week by the Brookings Institution found that the "working time accounts" system helped keep joblessness down. A more suggestive finding of the Brookings study, though, is that the greater stability of the German jobs economy comes from the measured pace of its expansion. During the boom years, the Brookings researchers found, German companies cautiously avoided ramping up hiring—meaning, in turn, that they didn't need to scale back as drastically once things went south.
    For U.S. employers to adopt ideas such as the kurzarbeit program or working time accounts would require a far-reaching change of philosophy. Here, even the most aggressive jobs strategies—stimulus spending, for instance—are much less direct. They aim to boost economic growth, under the theory that doing so will lead naturally to job creation. That's usually a safe assumption, but it means that if for some reason the growth strategy fails, the jobs strategy fails too. That's largely what happened last year, when anemic growth kept unemployment sky high.
    Some argue there's also a more deeply rooted explanation for Germany's relative success in holding onto jobs. As the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson has written, Germany's manufacturing firms still hire large numbers of domestic workers, rather than turning to lower paid foreign workers as many of their U.S. counterparts do. That's not because German execs are inherently any more civic-minded than American one—instead, they're acting under the constraints of Germany's "co-determination" system, which aims to ensure that corporate boards contain an equal number of labor and management representatives. Here, by contrast, organized labor is fighting to avoid seeing its clout reduced still further.
    This is not to say that Germany's approach represents a workers' paradise. Its "Hartz Reforms"—implemented between 2003 and 2005 based on the recommendations of a commission led by former Volkswagen executive Peter Hartz—scrapped some payroll taxes, offered subsidies to encourage entrepreneurship, begun paying job placement centers based on their record of success at placing workers, and reduced the duration of jobless benefits, in order to spur the unemployed to find work quickly. Some argue that similar measures here would help reduce unemployment.
    Of course, there are some important underlying differences between the U.S. and German economies. For one thing, Germany didn't have a housing bubble, and so didn't suffer the enormous loss of household wealth the U.S. did. Still, Germany actually experienced a slightly larger economic contraction than did America. So the comparatively robust state of Germany's jobs-based recovery means its example is worth paying attention to—especially as America's struggle to replace its millions of lost jobs will linger on for years to come.
    (The Federal Employment Office in Berlin, Germany: Gero Breloer/AP)

  3. Image of France as a generous welfare state marred by grim reality - Hervé Boulhol, the OECD's France expert, says the French finances have deteriorated for the last 35 years, 3/21 Manchester Guardian via guardian.co.uk
    PARIS, France - Thousands will pour into the Galeries Lafayette this week to enjoy the last few days of the spring sales and beat the recession. Tourists and Parisians will find huge discounts on designer clothes on every floor of the ornately domed department store that dominates Boulevard Haussman, Paris's main shopping street.
    As a measure of confidence, the sales present a gloomy picture of France's middle classes and their appetite for shopping. Marc Jacobs, Chloé and Lacoste offer 30% discounts. Givenchy dresses are knocked down by 40% and the Galleries' own ranges can be bought for 50% less than the list price. Only Prada, Dior and a handful of international brands hold their value .
    Like their British counterparts, French shoppers can only be enticed with massive bargains. Technically, France like Britain, has escaped recession. But to ordinary French workers, blue and white collar, the pain of the last two years lingers. Shopping is expensive even in the sales, especially when a mix of high taxes and punishing national insurance leaves you with one of the lowest rates of take home pay of any western country. Only Belgium and Hungary exceed its average 45% tax on pay.
    France appears to have a natural order still in place with food and wine at its heart and a generous welfare state to support the sick, the elderly and those out of work. Yet this picture disguises a slow decline, made worse by the financial crisis, that leaves the average French family struggling to make ends meet.
    Loïc Sadoulet, a professor of economics at the Paris-based business school Insead, says the word that sums up France is disconnect. By which he means the rosy image and the dour reality are miles apart.
    A trip on the Paris Metro makes the point. It was always dowdy, if not a little shabby, which most residents and visitors accepted as part of its charm. Now there are major stations closed for refurbishment and some passageways are reminiscent of ancient caves with green slime and blown plaster adding to the effect. The construction at one station of glass screens to prevent passengers falling on the tracks can only be described as makeshift, with bits of wood screwed to the platform floor to hold the metal posts in place.
    Paris train workers joined the protests against pension reforms last October and closed the city for several days after similar shutdowns in 2007, 2005 and 2003, over government plans to cut pensions and welfare.
    An apocryphal story about France's slide from greatness goes back to the decision in 2005 on where to hold the 2012 Olympics. It is said the top brass from the IOC arrived for a fact-finding mission just as the Metro workers began another strike. A quick look through the records showed that the frequency of strike action meant there was a strong likelihood an Olympic year would be no exception. With little else to separate the bids, London was declared the winner.
    True or not, the French establishment vowed revenge and last year president Nicolas Sarkozy pushed through a law forcing vital public services to provide a minimum service during industrial action. Railway workers will be among the state employees caught by the law.
    Recent polls have revealed the confusion many French workers feel about the colourful and sometimes violent protests against Sarkozy's welfare cuts and plans to end decades old employment protections. A majority say the reforms are necessary while telling pollsters they support the protests.
    This perplexing need to adopt both sides of the argument has paralysed debate, especially on pensions and the totemic 35 hour week.
    [Instead of adopting flexible adjustment of the workweek against unemployment as more and more technology takes over human employment, France went for just another frozen level. And 35 hours is hardly radical considering many US sectors (colleges, insurance companies, NGOs,...) have a 35-hour workweek with no government intervention and the US Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933.]
    Unlike Germany, which has spent 10 years discussing and implementing reforms with a view to becoming more competitive, the French have reached a position of stasis. Apart from the new strike law and bill freeing universities from state control, pensions reform is almost all Sarkozy has to show for his four years in power.
    Next month the Paris-based think tank, the OECD, will publish its biannual report on the French economy. It is expected to argue the Elysée palace must move more quickly to tackle a low growth, high unemployment economy that could spark widespread social unrest.
    Antonio Gurria, the OECD boss, will stand next to finance minister Christine Lagarde and politely urge her to free small and medium sized businesses from the straitjacket that has stifled growth and innovation for decades.
    Innovation has tended to come from France's industrial behemoths – France Telecom, Renault, engineering firm Alstom and Compagnie Générale des Eaux, the water company that spawned media giant Vivendi and Veolia, a waste management firm that empties many of the UK's dustbins. Others such as Pernod Ricard and the luxury goods maker LVMH dominate their industries. However, the government's support and reliance on their tax revenues has been at the expense of smaller firms.
    The strategy is also undermined by the vulnerability of these large businesses to innovative rivals with access to cheap skilled labour. Renault and Peugeot have seen Mercedes, BMW and Audi sweep them aside in the race for Asian customers. Air France remains loss making and the oil business Total, with its close links to France's former colonies, is vulnerable to the changing political weather in many of the world's hotspots. Last week it was forced to suspend production in Libya and is embroiled in bribery allegations over deals in Iraq.
    Hervé Boulhol, the OECD's France expert, says the country's finances have deteriorated for the last 35 years. Since the financial crash the situation has worsened. "The public finances must be fixed because while France has been largely immune to the worst of financial crisis, at least so far, it needs to address deep-seated problems," he says.
    Boulhol reels off a list of measures that Sarkozy could implement to bring the country more firmly into the 21st century. First it must get more women into work by reforming a tax system that encourages them to stay at home to reduce the household's taxable income. The result is the lowest employment rate among the 30 rich nations assessed by the OECD.
    Second, its benefits system, which accounted for 3.5% of GDP in 2005, first in the OECD rankings, must be reformed. It is a source of Gallic pride but the system is largely universal, and boosts the incomes of the richest, as much as the poorest. Boulhol describes it as "regressive spending" that would be better channelled to the poorest. It may be the main reason middle income couples have continued to have children, unlike Italian and German families, but offering the same benefit to the wealthy is "just about writing cheques to people who are not going to change their behaviour," he says.
    A third problem is that France has the largest number of people in retirement as a proportion of the overall population.
    The battle last year, which saw school cooks join teachers, factory workers and students on the streets of Paris, Marseille and Lyon, was eventually won by Sarkozy. A law pushing up the minimum retirement age to 62 was passed along with measures that mean younger workers must wait till they are 67 to pick up their full entitlement.
    Bruno Tardieu, a full time official at one of the country's most active anti poverty groups, ATD Quart Monde, is concerned that a growing number of working class people are being shut out of the benefits enjoyed by a decreasing number of white collar workers. He says every town is blighted by high unemployment, while 26% of young people are out of work compared with 20% in the UK.
    A volunteering scheme designed to put 200,000 young people back into the workplace is directed largely at college educated under 25s and not those with poor qualifications. Tardieu will meet government officials this week to focus on ways to include low skilled people in the scheme.
    "It is elitist. Poor groups don't know it exists. It offers very low pay. And it presumes the young person will be housed and subsidised by their parents, which is often not possible for people from poorer families," he says.
    Back at Insead, Sadoulet argues that the French fear of Anglo-Saxon capitalism has paralysed the debate and left poor workers to bear the brunt of globalisation.
    The number of "year in, year out" workers are growing he says, as companies resist giving full benefits to new employees. After six months, staff accrue full employment rights. A short term, six-month contract can be rolled over for another term, but then the workers must be laid off. Studies show that after a year of work, usually on the minimum wage, these workers spend a year on the dole, hence the "year in year out" tag that dogs them.
    "France has spent two decades ignoring the problem and the longer it is left the bigger it will become. The debate about what to do, who should shoulder the cost, and how best to encourage innovation, is in its infancy compared with the UK and Germany," he says.
    "There is still a knee jerk reaction that says simply tax the rich some more. But increasingly ambitious people are leaving, they are going to London, to Silicon Valley, and anyway, there simply aren't enough rich people to pay for the current level of welfare bills", Sadoulet says
    Union leaders point to the success of the country's banks and risk averse property market as reasons to be cheerful. Here was good reason to avoid the risk taking of the Anglo Saxons.
    They have a point. Compare Sarkozy, who pledged €40bn (£35bn) to boost bank finances and a further €320bn to guarantee interbank lending, with Gordon Brown, who had to pledge about £850bn to prop up the British banking system, of which £117bn was pumped straight into the worst hit banks.
    But while Britain suffers wild property crashes, prices in many areas of France keep rising and finished higher in 2010 on the year before despite predictions of a slump. The steady rise has taken prices beyond the UK and shut middle income families out of the market, or prevented them moving. The long-term effect is the same as in the UK, where the financial crisis has left the incomes and assets of the wealthiest largely untouched, while hitting the growing number of – young people, immigrants and unskilled workers – who stand on the outside of protected, unionised industries.
    Much of the French establishment, like the wider population, supports the unions' conservative, old world view that globalisation is to be feared, feeding the sense of paralysis.

3/18-19/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Menasha's unionized city workers to take first of six furlough days Monday - Furloughs begin for Menasha's union workers, by Michael King, 3/19 Appleton Post Crescent via postcrescent.com
    MENASHA, Wisc. — Six furlough days for about 50 unionized city workers, the first of which comes Monday, should be accomplished without any real disruption of services, said Mayor Don Merkes.
    "Employees and management worked together to find the best method to maintain services to the community while filling a gap in the 2011 budget," said Merkes.

    Furlough dates are: Monday, April 25, June 20, Aug. 22, Sept. 26 and Oct. 31. Other union employees will be scheduling their furlough days on a rotating basis.
    The six furlough days equate to a 2.3 percent pay cut. Non-union personnel will not take furloughs but will begin contributing to their retirements plans in April.
    "Service levels within the city will be maintained as best as can be managed with garbage collection delayed one day to Tuesday," Merkes said.
    The 2011 city budget adopted in November included $250,000 in unidentified personnel savings that Merkes said would come from a combination of furloughs, layoffs or retirements.
    Merkes said the furlough agreement and the non-union retirement contributions will cover 50 to 75 percent of the $250,000 in personnel savings needed to balance this year's budget.
    "The other portion will be picked up through retirements," Merkes said. "We won't fill those positions immediately and there may be small projects that we don't do as well."
    Besides garbage collection, other services that will be idled on furlough days include: sewer cleaning, street cleaning, sign making, building maintenance, equipment repairs and maintenance.
    "The primary impact will be on (Doty) Island for Monday refuse collection," said Tim Jacobson, public works superintendent. "Any other impact would be emergencies" since workers will not be available.
    Jacobson said the furloughs are due to the debt from the "steam plant fiasco. It has nothing to do with what's going on in Madison. The loss of service is due to the (failed Menasha Utilities) steam plant."
    "I am confident that the dedicated people who work for the city of Menasha will maintain the momentum as we move toward a final resolution of steam utility matters, and begin new development at Lake Park Villas," Merkes said.
    Michael King: 920-729-6622, ext. 33, or mking@postcrescent.com

  2. Italian youth unemployment reaches thirty percent, By Marianne Arens, 3/18 World Socialist Web Site via wsws.org
    ROME, Italy - Recently published statistics reveal the extent of social polarization in Italy. While the so-called “Paperoni” (Scrooges) revel in luxury at the top of society and squander millions, a large section of the population is condemned to a life of poverty and hopelessness. Social conditions are reminiscent of those that triggered social rebellions in North Africa.
    At the beginning of March, the government statistics office Istat published figures for unemployment that revealed far higher levels than had previously been made public. Youth unemployment has officially reached 29.4 percent, almost three percent more than a year ago. This means that almost one in three young people between 15 and 24 has no job.
    In the south, the situation is even more dramatic; in some areas, from three quarters to eighty percent of all young people are without work. Not infrequently, the Mafia is the largest, if not the only employer.
    The official unemployment rate for the whole of Italy is currently 8.6 percent. Compared to December 2010 it has increased by 0.2 percent, with 83,000 jobs wiped out during the past two months.
    These figures relate only to the so-called “active” part of the population. This contrasts with the so-called “inactive” population, which accounts for 37.8 percent of those of working age between 15 and 64. These are people who have not been actively looking for work in the last four weeks. This means that more than a third of the potential workforce has dropped out entirely of the statistics.
    Unemployment statistics have been produced in this way according to European Union requirements since 2004 and are published monthly. Thus a person who has done at least one hour’s paid work during the week surveyed is counted as “employed”. Workers at Fiat and other companies that are repeatedly put on short-time working are still categorised as “employed”; this despite the fact they struggle to make ends meet and are dependent on the cassa integrazione, short-term government funds.
    Cuts in education are contributing to the high level of unemployment and social decline. Under the so-called “Gelmini reforms” (named after the Education Minister Maria Stella Gelmini), government funding for research and teaching are being reduced and their privatization made easier; student grants are also being pruned. This means that many young people are doomed to a life without work, education and study; one without perspectives.
    By contrast, the number of millionaires and billionaires is rising, headed by the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s third richest man. He represents a corrupt layer of the super-rich. According to bank statements revealed during his current trial on charges that he paid an underage girl for sex, the prime minister last year expended 24 million euros for his personal use, including two million euros for the maintenance of luxury villas, over half a million for gifts to young girls and 120,000 euros for neckties.
    Personal assets of $7.8 billion place Berlusconi 14th on Forbes list of the “most powerful people” in the world. His wealth ranks him 108th, and he is no longer the richest Italian. He has been overtaken by the Ferrero business family (makers of Nutella) with $18 billion, and the entrepreneur Leonardo Del Vecchio (Luxottica opticians) with $11 billion. In addition, Giorgio Armani, the brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle, and the Benetton family are now also listed.
    A total of fourteen Italian billionaires can now be found on the Forbes list. As for the number of millionaires, with nearly 300,000, Italy is in fifth place in Europe behind Germany, Britain, France and Switzerland, and ninth worldwide. Never before have there been so many millionaires in the “Belpaese”.
    And never before have there been so many poor people. Old age and child poverty are rampant. According to figures from the 2010 poverty report, almost eight million Italians, representing thirteen percent of the population, live in relative poverty, meaning that their income reached no more than half the average.
    Five percent of the population of sixty-one million, or three million people, are regarded as living in absolute poverty. Those in this category must go into debt to pay for rent, clothing and food, and cannot afford either holidays or leisure activities. The so-called “fourth week” is infamous, the time at the end of the month in which the last penny has long since been spent.
    At the same time, the price of basic foodstuffs and other essentials is rising. According to Istat, the price of petrol has increased over the past year by almost twelve percent, and heating costs have risen in the same period by 17.2 percent. Bread and fresh fruit have become much more expensive.
    Along with the social crisis, the number of suicides is increasing. In recent weeks, there were a number of cases in which workers took their own lives because they had lost their jobs and so the means to keep their family secure.
    In mid-February, a 35-year-old worker from Bergamo doused himself with gasoline and set fire to himself after he had lost his job. In Naples, a worker who was sacked from a supermarket killed himself with a bullet to the head. Carmine Spina, a young worker from Pratola Serra, hanged himself on the stairs. His company had kept its staff on short time working for three years, being paid just €700 a month from the cassa integrazione.
    The coming months will exacerbate the situation even more, both through the effects of the government’s Stability Law, and also as a result of inflation hitting basic needs, and the impact of the latest labour contract at Fiat. The latter firm, Italy’s biggest employer, has recently implemented an unprecedented contract, destroying workers’ historic achievements and raising the general level of exploitation.
    Under the “Stability Law”, the government will cut approximately fifteen billion euros in social and cultural benefits by 2013. This applies to the health service, schools, universities and pensions; hundreds of thousands of jobs are to be cut and cultural achievements destroyed.
    The scale of these savings represents just a fraction of the wealth of Italy’s super-rich. The assets of the fourteen Italian billionaires who made it onto the Forbes list increased by more than four billion euros last year to 45 billion euros.
    Italy is a deeply divided country. The graphics produced by Eurostat show that the Italian “boot” is clearly divided in two, both when depicting gross domestic product, as well as unemployment. The division runs just below Rome. Regions such as Naples, Calabria and Sicily are deeply impoverished.
    The growing poverty of the South demonstrates the bankruptcy of the reformist left in Italy. Thirty years ago, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) under Enrico Berlinguer had proclaimed the development of the “Mezzogiorno” on their banners. Calls for the establishment of industries in the southern regions were taken up, and government funds were used to establish plants by Fiat and Alfa Romeo, steel company Italsider and other major corporations around Naples or Sicily.
    Today, one after another of these factories is being closed. The successor parties to the PCI have completely abandoned their “Mezzogiorno” plans, and today, in some cases, even support the separatism of the Northern League.
    On 15 February, Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the largest PCI successor organisation, the Democratic Party (PD) gave an interview to the newspaper Padania, the official organ of the separatist Northern League, in which he described federalism (i.e. the breakup of Italy) as a “historic, epochal reform of Italian democracy.”
    Bersani offered the League a pact, and said, “I commit myself and my party to stand up for the federal process. We want a dialogue with the League. ... I’ve always been of the opinion that, despite varied and often conflicting positions in the country there are two real forces for autonomy: the PD and the League. We identify with it and want to maintain and renew this great tradition.”
    The Northern League has long vehemently advocated autonomy for northern Italy, in order, it claims, to shake off the costs and national responsibility for the poorer south. It does not shy away from calling for the breakup of the country. On March 2, parliament adopted a law brought in by the League to strengthen the fiscal autonomy of Italian municipalities, which will further discriminate against the south.
    The Northern League is also Italy’s most xenophobic party. It opposes refugees on an openly racist basis. The League has mobilised the military domestically against refugees, the poorest of the poor, and enforced laws prohibiting “illegal immigrants” from renting an apartment, and requiring doctors to report any such immigrants they treat.
    By allying themselves with the League, the so-called “left” politicians participate actively in the division of the population in Italy. A principled working class alternative is completely absent. Meanwhile, the deep social polarization is giving rise to conditions comparable to those in Egypt and Tunisia prior to their revolutionary uprisings.

3/16-17/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. The early bird gets... Nothing, By Zane Miller, 3/16 Graphic via .pepperdine-graphic.com
    NEW YORK NY(?) - Today I've worked on a project, presented a court case, written a paper in two different languages, worked five hours, and by the time you're done reading this I'll have written a column. Why? Because since I was a kid, everyone has told me that hard work is rewarded by success, specifically monetary success. And it wasn't just said to me— every aspect of our culture engrained it in me. We all grow up learning from our books, movies, teachers and parents that if you put your nose to the grindstone, you'll come out ahead.
    Except that's not true at all. A common misconception is that the United States is both the hardest working and the highest earning (referring to gross domestic product per person) country in the world. The United States is neither, and in fact, barely makes the top 10 in both categories. This may catch you by surprise, but it's not the most interesting part of the story.
    The most baffling revelation is that there is little or no correlation between average annual income and average hours worked when compared by nation.
    [Not baffling at all. Just basic market forces of supply and demand. There's no relation between pay/income and hours but there is between average annual income and perceived shortage of labor, and the shorter the hours, the 'shorter' (scarcer) the labor and the higher the wage levels and the average annual income. Generally the longest hours go with the lowest pay AND vice versa on a system-wide basis, but the system can be a city, state, region or nation.]
    Here's a (depressing) example. A 2008 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development study showed that South Koreans are by far the hardest workers in the world, beating out the United States by 12 spots. Koreans average about 43 hours a week, or 2,256 hours per year, compared with a 35-hour workweek in the United States. It is common in South Korea for a worker to expect to work from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and have three precious days of vacation every year, which I imagine are filled with excitement sleeping.
    Despite all this hard work, South Korean's make on average $17,600 less than Americans every year. As sad as that is, the statistics get even worse.
    Last month France was crippled by riots. Employees in oil refining and transportation joined many industries across the country and stopped working. The resulting fuel shortage stopped the country in its tracks while protesters overran police barricades, international flights were cancelled, and ships full of goods were stranded at sea by clogged harbors. The country only began to crawl when President Sarkozy issued an emergency order for the nation to tap into its oil reserves.
    Why the nationwide protest? Because of a measure by the French government to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. The new and improved retirement age would still put France three years below the international average of 65. Notorious for its attitude towards working, France is one of the "lazier" countries on the list. Their 30-hour workweek puts them a full 30 spots below South Korea in terms of working hours. Despite the 696-hour annual difference, the average French resident earns almost $23,000 more a year.
    A comparison of these two factors is sufficient to diminish anyone's hard work ethic. It begs the question: What exactly leads a population to economic success? It's a question that would take a lot more than 700 words and a few studies to answer, and one that economists have been working on for decades. It would be nice if we could find a simple formula like hard work equals income, but it is more likely a complicated (and subjective) combination of productivity, culture, industries, natural resources, tax rates, and many other less exciting statistics that no one would write a column about.
    Since that sounds both boring and hard, I'll just share some other interesting comparisons. Despite the fact that their military and political might has grown to rival that of the United States, Russians make an average of less than $10,000 a year. China, a close economic competitor, averages less than $4,000 per person per year. On the flip side, Germany, Canada, France, and Japan all work less than the United States and have higher average incomes. If you need a little patriotic pick-me-up after this middle-of-the-road performance from the United States, you'll be satisfied to know the U.N. declared the U.S. the most "productive country in the world."
    Congratulations. If you can figure out what that title actually means, let me know. Or better yet, write a column about it.

  2. Health official calls for observance of working hours, 3/17 AngolaPress via portalangop.co.ao
    LUANDA, Angola – The chairperson of Physicians Order, Carlos Pinto de Sousa, asked Thursday the health professionals to fulfil their responsibilities, specially those related to observance of normal working hours at public institutions with a view to provide better services to the patients.
    Speaking to Angop, on the quality of medical assistance, the health official said that non compliance with the working timetable at hospitals has been affecting strongly their implementation.
    “Most health professionals work at public institutions, where there are also working time and rules.
    Therefore, I ask them to abide by the existing rules, as this does not prevent them from working in other health institutions", stressed Carlos Pinto.
    According to the chairperson of Association of Physicians, the medicine is a liberal job but it should be exercised with due attention and seriousness.
    Carlos Pinto de Sousa stated that the Physicians Bar, in cooperation with the Ministries of Health and Home Affairs, is working with a view to detect those exercising the health activity without authorisation.

3/13-14-15/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Postal Service, APWU agree to four-year-plus contract, BY Frank Washkuch, 3/15 DMnews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -The US Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union tentatively agreed to a new four-and-a-half-year contact on March 14. The deal, which would run through May 20, 2015, includes a 3.5% wage increase over the life of the contract, with the first raise taking effect in November 2012.
    The deal must be approved by both the APWU's rank-and-file bargaining committee and its general membership. The USPS said it expects the union to ratify the agreement, which would affect about 205,000 clerks, mechanics, vehicle drivers and custodians, within two months.
    “The last time, in late 2006, it took about five weeks,” said Sally Davidow, senior manager of communications at the APWU.
    The USPS reported a net loss of $451 million in January, when it also cut work hours by 3.3%. The Postal Service also saw a net loss of $8.5 billion in its 2010 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2010. The USPS has said the prefunding of retiree health benefits costs it $5.5 billion per year and has urged Congress to address the issue.
    The contract with the APWU also includes limited long-distance reassignments, changed wages for new employees and increased workforce flexibility, according to the union.
    The Postal Service's negotiations with the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association came to an impasse last November at the end of their last contract. The two sides are “still talking,” said Mark Saunders, PR representative for human resources, labor and stamps at the USPS.
    The USPS will begin negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union about 90 days before their contracts expire this November. The NALC represents mail carriers in metropolitan areas, while NPMHU employees work in mail processing plants and post offices.

  2. Armstrong chamber serves up Service Canada, 3/13 BCLocalNews.com
    ARMSTRONG, B.C., Canada - Service Canada will be the talking point when the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce hosts its Business-4-Breakfast seminar Wednesday morning at Glad Tidings Church Hall, 2570 Pleasant Valley Road.
    Joining the chamber will be Laurie Orange, citizen services specialist for Service Canada, who will give a general overview of what this branch of government offers. Topics of interest to business owners and employers will include ROE (Record of Employment) on the Web, work sharing and changes to Canada Pension Plan.
    This networking event is the third of the 2011 ‘Business-4-Breakfast’ networking seminars in a series presented by the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

    “This will provide an educational opportunity to our members and local businesses designed to assist them in working with Service Canada, while providing important networking opportunities,” said Bruce Brown, Armstrong chamber director. “We are excited to have Laurie speak and address questions facing area businesses.”
    Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by the presentation from 8 to 9.
    Pre-registration is required for this event. Tickets include breakfast and are $6 for chamber members and $10 for non-members. To reserve space or for more information, call 250-546-8155 or e-mail staff@aschamber.com.

  3. Cap work week at 36 hours, by Bruce Mounster, 3/14 Tasmania Mercury via themercury.com.au
    HOBART, Tasmania - Tasmanians should not have to work longer than 36 hours a week, Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said yesterday.
    Mr Harkins, who enjoyed yesterday's Eight Hours Day public holiday in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel region south of Hobart, said it was important to remember that people worked to live, not lived to work.
    He said instead of working more hours compared with 30 years ago, Tasmanians should be working fewer.
    "A 36-hour week, that's a nine-day fortnight, would be a good point to aim for," he said.
    Mr Harkins said such an arrangement, already adopted by the Victorian construction industry, offered improved productivity with fewer stressed and/or sick workers.

    Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Mark Bowles, who was in the office as normal yesterday, said if people wanted to work fewer hours they would need to sacrifice pay.
    Mr Bowles said he hadn't seen any evidence that a reduction to fewer than 40 hours a week improved productivity.
    He said longer working hours ought to mean more pay.
    "We support freedom of choice, for people to choose the hours they want to work," he said.
    "If people want to work a standard eight-hour day, there are plenty of employers who offer that but a large component of Australians aspire to build prosperity."
    Mr Harkins said some people chose to work longer than eight hours but others had no choice.
    When reminded yesterday was a celebration for eight-hour working days, Launceston taxi driver Paul Cole said: "They just don't exist."
    Until recently, he shared a cab with an owner-driver and they each worked 12-hour shifts.
    Mr Cole now had a taxi all to himself and he continued to work 12-hour shifts not because it made him richer but because he enjoyed it.
    "Most of the time I work seven days a week because I enjoy doing it. I'd much rather drive a taxi than sit at home watching TV," he said.
    Eight Hours Day commemorates the union movement's struggle in the 19th century for days of eight hours' work, eight hours' rest and eight hours' recreation. In 1874, Tasmania became the last state to grant the eight-hour working day.

  4. JAPAN QUAKE: Power Shortage Hits East Japan As Crisis Worsens, by Yasuhiko Seki, 3/15 Market News International via AutomatedTrader.net
    TOKYO, Japan - Retailers and restaurants in eastern Japan are scaling back operations during rolling blackouts, while railway operators are cancelling numerous trains and drivers are lining up at gas stations, as Japan struggles to contain its worst nuclear crisis.
    Tokyo Electric Power Co, which supplies electricity to wide-ranging nine prefectures, depends heavily on the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plants on the Pacific coast to meet power demand in Tokyo, about 200 kilometers south, and its neighbouring cities.
    Lawson Inc and FamilyMart Co, which each operate more than 3,000 convenience stores in areas served by Tokyo Electric Power Co, said they will close their stores when they lose their interior lighting at night, as the electric utility launched the first-ever rotating power outage on Monday.
    Seven & i Holdings Inc, the nation's leading retail group, said it will close some of its 7,800 outlets, including Seven Eleven convenience stores, and shorten working hours to save power.
    Skylark Co, which operates various restaurants, including Gusto restaurants, said it will close some shops during the blackouts, while suspending delivery services.
    East Japan Railway Co, or JR East, reduced service to some 70% of normal levels on Monday.
    Tokyo Electric shut down reactors at two nuclear power plants as well as five conventional power plants on the Pacific coast following Friday's powerful earthquake and tsunami that are feared to have killed more than 10,000 people.
    As a result, Tepco can supply only about 31 million kilowatts, or 10 million kilowatts short of an estimated peak-time demand, forcing it to implement its electricity-rationing plan on Monday, even on a smaller scale than planned.
    As the nation's power crisis worsened, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average plunged to a nearly two-year low. On Tuesday afternoon, It was at 8,276.30, the lowest since April 2009.
    On Tuesday, Tepco conducted rationing from the morning as a fresh crisis hit the quake-damaged nuclear power plant.
    Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday warned about a rising risk of further radiation leaks from the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where onsite radioactivity has soared to a level dangerous to human health.
    While telling the public to "stay calm," Kan urged residents of Fukushima Prefecture, about 200 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, to complete evacuation within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant in order to avoid exposure to possible nuclear fallout.
    "Following hydrogen explosions at Reactors 1 and 3 as well as a fire at Reactor 4, the level of radioactivity on site is has become substantially high," he told a news conference. "The risk of further radiation leaks is rising."
    He also asked those located outside the 20-kilometer radius but within a 30-kilometer radius to stay inside buildings, whether at home or offices, to minimize contact with the atmosphere that may be polluted by drifting radioactive substances.
    Public broadcaster NHK quoted officials as saying that another explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have damaged the reactor vessel and released radioactive water or air, although a fire that had been reported earlier was said to have gone out. It was the third explosion at the plant but the first where officials had seen a significant rise in radioactivity.
    Past explosions at the plant had damaged buildings surrounding the reactor containers but this was the first where the reactor itself had been suspected to have been damaged.
    The nuclear plant was damaged by the earthquake itself and also suffered from a lack of power in the hours following Friday's quake and tsunami, which interfered with cooling the reactors.
    A Tepco official from the Fukushima plant told reporters that he has instructed some workers to evacuate from the plant area.
    As the power crisis worsens, the government plans to lower the required level for legally mandated private-sector oil reserves amid uncertainty in supplies of gasoline and other fuels, the Nikkei reported today, without citing sources.
    With the change, oil wholesalers and other private-sector dealers will be able to reduce their required oil stockpiles from a 70-day supply to a 67-day supply, the business daily said.
    The reduction is the equivalent of 1.26 million kiloliters.
    Still, some gas stations, which were inundated with motorists seeking fuel, temporarily closed operations due to the shortage of gasoline stockpiles due to the impact of the quake, tsunami and traffic jams.
    Japan's gasoline inventories stood at 2.17 million kiloliters as of March 5, down from 2.24 million a week earlier, but the latest amount is enough to meet two weeks' worth of demand, according to the Petroleum Association of Japan.
    The damage from the quake and the rolling blackouts also continue to disrupt peoples' lives not only in the Tohoku area in the north but also those who live in the greater Tokyo area.
    "I just want to take a bath and have a hot meal," a woman in her early 50's who lives in Urayasu City, just on the outskirts of Tokyo, told Market News International.
    A Urayasu City official said the city had aimed to resume full-scale water supplies by the end of Thursday but that the plan was now subject to the effect of rotating blackouts.
    "While the size of the economy in the quake-hit area is smaller than Hyogo Prefecture, which was hit by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, this time's quake may have a bigger impact on the nation's economy than the one that the Great Hanshin Earthquake had, given the impact on distribution and power networks," said Mitsuru Saito, chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co.
    The Great Hanshin Quake in 1995, which killed more than 6,000 people, caused direct damages of Y9.9 trillion and indirect damage of Y2.6 trillion in Hyogo Prefecture, whose gross domestic product stood at Y19.5 trillion based on 2005 data. GDP of Miyagi Prefecture, the epicenter of the deadly quake, totaled Y8.5 trillion, while that of quake-hit Iwate and Fukushima prefectures stood at Y4.5 and Y7.9 trillion, respectively, according to the 2005 data.
    tokyo@marketnews.com ** Market News International, Tokyo Newsroom: 81-3-5403-4833 **

  5. Banks Cut Hours, Allow Work From Home as Japan Reels From Quake, By Takahiko Hyuga and Philip Lagerkranser, 3/15 Bloomberg.com
    TOKYO, Japan - JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) are among global banks allowing employees to work from home or leave the office early as Japan’s strongest earthquake disrupts public transport in Tokyo.
    JPMorgan employees in Japan are being allowed to work from home, or take vacation if their managers approve, said spokeswoman Sachiko Hasegawa in an interview. Credit Suisse is allowing employees to leave work early, according to Isamu Kajino, a spokesman for the Swiss bank.
    The banks, along with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), said they have no plans to move operations out of Japan, even after Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned the risk of radiation leaks at an earthquake-damage nuclear plant north of Tokyo is rising.
    “Our business is as usual,” JPMorgan’s Hasegawa said.
    The German Embassy in Tokyo has said it recommended its citizens in Japan consider leaving the country following last week’s earthquake and explosions at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s nuclear power plant in Fukushima. About 100 Germans live in the Tohoku area, where a magnitude 9 quake struck March 11, while 2,600 people are in Tokyo and 900 in the Kanagawa area, according to Mari Shindo, a spokeswoman at the embassy.
    The power plant, where four of six reactors have been damaged by explosions, is 135 miles (220 kilometers) north of Tokyo. The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami rose to 2,478 at 2 p.m., according to the National Police Agency in Tokyo.
    Business as Usual
    UBS AG, Morgan Stanley (MS) and Bank of America were among other financial companies that said their operations in Japan aren’t being affected by the disaster.
    “Our goal is to remain open as long as the markets remain open, and to operate as normally as possible under challenging circumstances,” said Mika Watanabe, a spokeswoman for New York- based Morgan Stanley, in an interview.
    CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, the Asian securities affiliate of France’s Credit Agricole SA, has non-essential Japan-based staff working from home, said spokeswoman Simone Wheeler. The firm’s business, including broking and trading, is operating as normal, she said.
    Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604)’s 174 retail brokerage branches are doing business as usual, and employees are allowed to take holidays if needed, according to spokeswoman Keiko Sugai.
    “We don’t see any employees moving out of Japan except people who were scheduled to take a holiday,” said Natsumi Akita, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. The U.K. lender has no plans to move operations out of Japan, she said.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at thyuga@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

  6. Capcom slashes Street Fighter IV iPhone to 59p, pledges proceeds to tsunami victims - Street Fighter IV on iPhone now 59p, sales will go to relief effort, by Steve McCaskill, 3/15 PocketGamer.co.uk
    TOKYO, Japan - Capcom has become the latest Japanese publisher to pledge its support to the victims of Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
    The company has donated 100m yen and implemented a number of other initiatives to assist relief efforts in the affected areas of Japan.
    Firstly, Street Fighter IV on iPhone has been reduced to 115 yen/59p/99c. For the next week all proceeds in all markets will go to the relief efforts.
    In addition to this, players of Monster Hunter Frontier Online affected by the disaster will not have to pay their monthly usage fees.
    Friday’s earthquake and tsunami means that millions of people in Japan are still without electricity, and Capcom has promised to close or shorten hours at its amusement centres and offices in areas that are powered by Tokyo Electric Power or Tohoku Electric Power if necessary.
    Finally, Capcom won't be holding any events in the near future and has already cancelled this year Monster Hunter Festa national fan tournament.
    Other publishers showing their support for the victims of the earthquake include Sony, Nintendo, and Namco Bandai.

  7. Japan Fashion Week is Canceled, by Laurel Pinson, 3/15 NBC New York via nbcnewyork.com/blogs
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - In the wake of the devastating damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami -- not to mention growing fears of radiation in Tokyo -- the organizers of Japan Fashion Week have officially canceled the events planned.
    Many of the brands involved in the week had already either canceled shows or postponed indefinitely, but the announcement also comes on the heels of some serious dips in the stocks of some of the country's most powerful retail brands. According to WWD, Shiseido fell 9.18 percent, Takashimaya slid 13.79 percent, and Fast Retailing -- Uniqlo's parent company -- fell a whopping 17.5 percent.
    WWD [Women's Wear Daily] also reports that some retailers remain closed on Tuesday, or planned shorter hours.

3/11-12/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Worsening Scenario . . . - Work and finding a Job, by veteran "Plated Drake" (argentum draconis) 3/12 wrongplanet.net
    [Linguistic info for Plated Drake: if argentum draconis is supposed to be the Latin for "plated drake," it isn't - it means "silver of the dragon" - I no longer have my giant Latin dictionary or I could tell you the Latin for "plated drake" in terms of a drake being a male duck. "Plated" would presumably require a Latin military term referring to body armor. (I believe the Latin for "silver dragon" would be draco argentius.)]
    PIEDMONT REGION, N.C. - Well, here's the scoop . . . as some of you know, I'm working two part time jobs (both of which are customer service oriented, which I hate), moved back in with my parents after 4 years living solo. Currently one of the jobs has cut back over half the hours I used to work (ie 28 hours/week down to 14), and will likely cut more this coming week. 
    [At least they're cutting hours instead of an abrupt end of the job, so there's still some money and adjustment time.]
    My parents have been getting onto me to find something, but the pickings are still slim, and I want the hell out of customer service. I've tried Craigslist, Monster, and Careerbuilder, recently revised my resume, and still getting the phishing customer service emails. I don't know what to do . . . and my parents aren't exactly patient. I know they're wanting to retire, but at the same time I don't think they're facing the facts of the current economy (I'm even paying them rent). Any suggestions, because one side or the other isn't listening, and I don't know if it's me.
    I'll admit that I'm getting tired of sending resumes that aren't being replied to, and I'm lucky if i send out 5-10 applications a week. I'm 30, and the only son who's having the harder time (AS [Asperger's Syndrome?] reason likely, but I'm trying not to let that be the deciding factor). I'll admit to playing WoW [?] when not doing anything, given that gas prices are $3.50/gal over here. Not to mention one of my jobs goes into furlow (sp?), meaning that I'm still employed by them, but I'm not working any hours. They do have an summer thing I can do and get paid, but it's questionable as to whether or not I'll get any decent hours.
    I'm beyond p1$$ed at things right now. Seems these corporate advisors are making a bad situation worse, and none are stepping up to correct it.
    Any plausible help/advise would be appreciated. Sadface (emoticon)
    [This is happening to a lot of young veterans as the last story in our Doom du Jour section today (3/11-12/2011) testifies. And it's so easy to correct with emergency worksharing and permanent timesizing. Basically all we have to do is take control of this hours-cutting process which seems to be inevitable since it's happening anyway (though not the best way) and by doing it systemically on a city, state or nationwide basis, we will maintain and raise wages and spending, centrifuge the huge concentration of money in the tiny topmost brackets and get the economy back in balance and dynamic again.]

  2. Four-day state workweek reax, by Dennis Thompson, 3/11 State Workers Blog via Statesman Journal (blog) via community.statesmanjournal.com
    SALEM, Ore. - The idea being floated of a four-day workweek for state employees has garnered a lot of reader attention. Here’s one e-mail I received this week from Keizer resident Eunice Porter pointing out some flaws in the notion. (Although Eunice does assume the idea is one I came up with and endorse — a mistake that happens more often than you’d think.)
    "I really must take issue with your recommendation for state employees to work 10-hour days. As a retired state employee, let me tell you that the ordinary employee loses steam between the 7th and 8th hour, not to mention having sat at a desk/computer that long with possibly a headache. Mistakes are then made, not to mention a lag in productivity.
    "Another factor is eating. Working past six at night makes for fast food or takeout. Neither is good for one’s health. Many state employees are already obese. This leads to higher health risks/claims. Eating just before bedtime (one has to rise early) is looked upon as detrimental. For several months of the year employees would leave home at dark and return also then.
    "For the best of all considered for the state leave the work day at 8 hours."
    This entry was written by Dennis Thompson, posted on March 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm, filed under State Workers. Bookmark the permalink.

  3. What the future holds for the aging ex-Maytag worker, by Ryan Sweikert, 3/11 Knox News via Galesburg Register-Mail via galesburg.com
    GALESBURG, Illin. — In a virtually non-existent local job market, older former Maytag workers had a harder time than younger ones landing full-time jobs that would provide a suitable replacement for the income they earned at Maytag.
    According to those polled in the Maytag Employees in Transition survey, the median household income for ex-Maytag workers is $10,000 less now than when the plant closed in September 2004. Before the closing, Maytag workers reported a survey-wide median household income range of $40,000 to $50,000 a year at the factory. Today, their median household income is between $30,000 and $40,000.
    However, when the data is broken down by age group, the youngest employees surveyed, those in their 30s, report increased household income, rather than a decrease. That may be largely because they were paid less at the plant to begin with.
    Furthermore, other job considerations, such as number of hours worked, success of retraining and the need to have a combination of jobs in order to make ends meet all play into an employee's sense of life satisfaction. The youngest Maytag workers seemed to have less trouble recovering from the plant's closure. Indeed, many have been able to improve their financial situations by developing more lucrative careers.
    Survey data shows that at the plant, those in their 30s reported a median household income between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, which was $10,000 less than the median factory income for all workers. Current median household income for those in their 30s is as much or more than median income at Maytag. In fact, workers in their 30s stand out in the survey as the only age-group whose median household income is more now than it was at Maytag.
    Median household incomes have fallen from the last year at Maytag for all other age groups 40 years and older. For respondents in their 40s, the median household income was $40,000 to $50,000. Now it is $30,000 to $40,000 a year. For those in their 50s, it was $50,000 to $60,000, but it is now $40,000 to $50,000. Those in their 60s, reported median household incomes at $40,000 to $50,000 during their last year, but it has now dropped to between $30,000 and $40,000.
    Younger workers who had less time put in at Maytag were the quickest to bounce back. Survey responses indicate that some young workers viewed the closing as an opportunity to try something new.
    'The closing of Maytag was a blessing for me personally,' said one 34-year-old male survey respondent. 'It forced me to apply myself and get back to school.'
    'For my family it was a blessing,' echoed Mark Semande, 38. 'The Maytag closing allowed me to find a job I liked more and earn more money doing it.'
    The number of workers making as much or more in their current work than the median income at the plant diminished by age. It is important to note, however, that because those surveyed were the last group to be laid off and had the most seniority, the majority of those workers surveyed were in their 40s and 50s. They were at the plant the longest and therefore had the highest earnings.
    Only 48 percent of those in their 40s, 39 percent of those in their 50s, and 35 percent of those in their 60s are making as much or more now than the $40,000 to $50,000 median annual household income at Maytag. Those who had the most time invested in the plant, but were not yet eligible to receive a full pension, were the hardest hit by the plant's closure.
    'Our lives changed with the closing of Maytag as far as a sense of security,' wrote a 55- year-old female respondent. 'I thought I could retire from there and never have to work again.'
    The boon of retraining
    In 2002, when Maytag employees were first told of the impending layoffs, they were informed about job retraining assistance provided by the government. Employees had the option to retrain for two years in a field of their choice at local colleges or vocational schools. Sixty-seven percent of those in their 30s, 79 percent of those in their 40s, 49 percent of those in their 50s, and 17 percent of those in their 60s decided to take advantage of retraining programs. Of those who retrained, 40 percent in their 30s, 58 percent in their 40s, 55 percent in their 50s, and 40 percent in their 60s were able to land a job in the area they studied.
    Obtaining a job in the chosen field of training, however, did not always equal success for many workers.
    'Retraining does not help if there is not satisfactory employment available,' wrote respondent Wilden McKown, 61, who attended classes for a Commercial Driver's License after Maytag only to discover a lack of local driving jobs.
    Of those in their 40s who retrained, only 58 percent got a job in their chosen field. Of those who were hired in their chosen occupation, 42 percent are earning a better wage than at Maytag. Compare that to a lower 22 percent of retrained workers in their 50s who earn a better wage now than when at Maytag.
    Fifty-five percent of those in their 50s who retrained reported receiving work in their chosen field. All of those in their 60s who retrained now make less than the median household income for those in their 60s at Maytag.
    For those in their 30s who got a job in the area they retrained in, 100 percent are making more now than the median of all workers at Maytag. The data shows that although the retraining had its flaws, it did aid many workers in landing a job.
    'My life has changed 100 percent for the better since Maytag,' wrote a 48-year-old female respondent who studied business during retraining and got a job in the field. 'College was the best transition for me and gave me confidence and skills that I need for my current job.'
    But age was also a factor in the success of Maytag workers who retrained. Though fewer ex-Maytag employees in their 30s were surveyed, the data suggests that those in their 30s had a greater success rate via retraining than any other age group. The ability to retrain successfully, obtain a job in a new career and make as much or more than at Maytag seems to correlate directly with the age of the worker. For some older workers, factory work was the only career they felt they were capable of.
    'It is really hard to get a job having no experience other than factory work,' wrote a 51-year-old female respondent who had worked at Maytag for 28 years.
    Others identified so strongly with their work at Maytag that to start all over in a new career was horrifying.
    'After leaving Maytag, I lost my sense of worth,' wrote one 57-year-old female respondent. 'Our lives were turned upside-down, not knowing how we were going to survive.'
    For whatever reason, retraining seemed to work less toward the success of older Maytag workers. However, it is worthwhile to note that whether they obtained a job in their chosen field or not, 21 of 22 respondents who reported household incomes of $60,000 or more are 40 years or older. Current household incomes for all but one respondent in their 30s were capped at $60,000, which means that while younger workers seemed to bounce back quicker, the amount of money they now make is limited.
    Of those who retrained, 25 percent of those in their 60s, 13 percent in their 50s and 24 percent in their 40s have household incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 a year. Still, there were several employees surveyed who did not retrain who now bring in double the household income they had at Maytag.
    Working longer, harder for less
    Although employees in their 30s report greater household incomes than they had at Maytag, they also work longer hours now. Eighty percent of those in their 30s work overtime in their current job, an average of 52 hours a week. Thirty-eight percent of those in their 40s and 37 percent of those in their 50s work overtime, but their average hours per week are lower. Those in their 40s reported working an average of 41 hours per week, while those in their 50s worked an average of 41, and those in their 60s averaged 35 hours a week.

    And while younger workers report working more hours than older workers, more of those in their 40s and 50s have had to work multiple jobs in order to arrive at their current income. Although the majority of each age group works one full-time job, 45 percent of those in their 40s and 28 percent of those in their 50s work more than one job, sometimes three or four, in order to make ends meet.
    Unemployment, too, seems to rise with age. None of those in their 30s are currently unemployed, while 11 percent of those in their 40s, 12 percent of those in their 50s, 38 percent of those in their 60s and all of those in their 70s are now jobless. Most of those in their 60s and 70s who are unemployed receive pensions from Maytag and have retired. For many, however, a pension alone is not enough to live on, although Social Security income increases the pot for those now eligible.
    Retirement and employment
    Those who received a full pension from Maytag, after 30 years of service, are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Of those in their 50s who receive a pension, 41 percent now work a full-time job and 28 percent work two jobs in addition to the pension they receive. Twenty-four percent of those in their 60s work a full-time job in addition to a pension, and 14 percent work two jobs.
    'I was very lucky to get my 30 (years) in and be eligible for a pension,' said Russell Koerner, 55. 'Receiving that money along with what I make on the job I do now has kept me moving without missing a beat.'
    Those who had 30 years put in at Maytag could draw a pension regardless of their age. Those with 30 years or more draw $32 for each year of service per month, in addition to a supplement of $825 per month until age 62, when the supplement drops off and the pensioner can begin to draw Social Security. At age 55 and older, workers have the option to draw pension at a reduced rate. Those who chose to begin drawing pension at 55 received half of what they would get at 65. For employees in their 30s and 40s, as well as many of those in their 50s, the additional and often crucial pension payments were out of the question.
    'I was forced to retire,' wrote one 58-year-old female respondent, of her Maytag layoff. '(Then) after just a few months I was forced to go back to work while my husband drove 60 miles one-way for a job that paid $8.50 max.'

3/09-10/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Can I collect unemployment benefits if my hours were greatly reduced even though i'm still employed? 3/10 Yahoo! Answers via answers.yahoo.com
    SAINT PAUL, Minn. - I live in the state of Minnesota and my hours went from full time-45 hours per week to part time-28 hours per week but the catch is that I'm still employed with them and have another part time job too which is 13 hours per week but my hour cut from that one job makes a huge difference in my income.
    From: Phil
    Probably, because Minnesota is one of the 20 states that has a worksharing or sharedwork program which helps employers and employees cut hours instead of cutting jobs. Go to sharedwork.info and scan down the alphabetical list of states to Minnesota - click on Minnesota for the official state webpage on shared work - plus there are three news articles that you can check out but you have to click on their dates and then scan down to those dates and the right article number.

  2. Bill would change hours teens can work during school year, by Matt Wickenheiser, 3/09 BangorDailyNews.com
    [Here's some bad news, but at least it's raising consciousness of workweek manipulability and how it is quite possible to go backwards as well as forwards. And of course, it's flying in the face of the whole hidden agenda of prolonged "education" = to keep young people OUT of the job markets as long as possible (see our Realms of Modern Makework page, "realm" 3) - ]
    AUGUSTA, Maine - A bill that would allow teens to work more hours during the school year drew some criticism Wednesday from groups that saw the move as a rollback of Maine’s child labor laws.
    The bill, filed by Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, was supported by industry groups including the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association during a public hearing Wednesday in front of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.
    “Here’s the bottom line: Maine is considerably more restrictive than anybody else in New England. Not just a little bit, a lot,” said Dick Grotton of the restaurant group. “We’re just trying not to be the bottom rung of the ladder. The next up is Connecticut — they restrict hours of work per day to six rather than four, [let students] work until 11 p.m. rather than 10, 32 hours a week, not 20.”
    Grotton said officials with Gov. Paul LePage’s administration have spoken with various industries, asking for examples of state laws they felt were stifling business. This was one of the issues, he said.
    During the summer, when school isn’t in session, 16- and 17-year-olds can work 50 hours a week, which is the most liberal policy in New England. But during the school year their hours are restricted. An employer can allow them to work only four hours in the day, and only until 10 p.m. on a day that is followed by a school day. The total hours they can work for an employer is 20 during the week.
    During weeks in which school is not in session for five days, some additional hours are allowed. And students, if they choose, can work beyond the limits by working for multiple employers.
    Plowman’s bill would allow employers to have teens work six hours a day, as late as 11 p.m., for a total of 32 hours a week. Plowman’s bill was amended ahead of the hearing from an entire scrapping of existing laws to the increase in weekly hours, daily hours and nightly quitting time.
    Plowman could not be reached for comment.
    “There’s no attempt here to go back to any type of draconian situations; it’s totally up to them to take the jobs that fit their schedule,” said Greg Dugal, executive director of the innkeepers group. “I think it’s important we look at things and try to make them work for everybody.”
    Groups opposing the law included the Maine AFL-CIO and the Maine Women’s Lobby.
    “Our big concern is that we understand that the child labor laws and protections are there for a very good reason, to ensure that our young people are succeeding in school,” said Laura Harper, director of public policy for the Maine Women’s Lobby. “We feel that the existing protections help students strike a healthy balance and are a healthy entry point into the work force.”
    Both Grotton and Dugal said the single biggest problem was the cap of four hours a day.
    Generally, the dinner hours run from about 5 to 10 p.m., said Dugal.
    “Four hours is so restrictive that they can’t work from the dinner hour through the evening,” said Grotton. “You can’t have someone come in at 5 and leave at 10.”
    “We’re not hiring a lot of 16- and 17-year-olds for this reason,” said Dugal. “We would like to, and they would like to work the shifts.”
    And, he added, things generally wind down by about 11 p.m. — which is the new proposed end time for teens on school nights.
    Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the AFL-CIO, said he believed the current law struck the appropriate balance between allowing teens to work and earn money, gain experience from employment and do well in school. He worried that increasing hours would undermine workplace safety for teens and would harm their education as well.
    “We all recognize in this economy that a good education is of utmost importance if people want to achieve economic security,” said Schlobohm.
    According to Grotton, Vermont and New Hampshire have no daily cap on hours worked by teens, nor does federal law. Massachusetts and Rhode Island allow up to nine hours a day. Likewise, federal law, New Hampshire and Vermont don’t have a limit on how late teens can work; Massachusetts is set at 10 and Rhode Island at 11:30. As for hours per week, federal law and Vermont have no limit, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are at 48 and New Hampshire is at 30.
    Harper and Schlobohm said they were concerned that teens would be pressured to work more hours than they wanted by employers. If they were unwilling to work the extra hours, they likely would find themselves unemployed, they said.
    Both groups opposing and supporting the law change were surprised that the Maine Department of Labor testified in favor of the bill. In the past, under other administrations, the department had been an advocate of the current system, even noting in brochures that teens who work more than 20 hours a week may not do as well in school as their counterparts who work less, Harper said.
    Dugal said he was “shocked,” as the department always had opposed any proposed changes.
    “I didn’t expect it,” said Dugal.
    Harper said she was “deeply disturbed” by the department’s testimony.
    “We have a Department of Labor that has historically protected this law,” said Harper. “It sends a very troubling signal to all of us who advocate for kids, for families, for a fair economy, when we see the department reverse its position so dramatically.”

3/06-08/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Fox's Mark Fitzgerald Provides Testimony to Pa. House Education Committee regarding furloughs of school district employees, 3/06 Education Law via educationlaw.foxrothschild.com
    HARRISBURG, Pa. - Mark Fitzgerald, a member of Fox Rothschild's Education Law Group, provided testimony regarding economic furloughs for school district employees on March 3, 2011. Here is an excerpt of his testimony:
    We have first hand perspective of the budget crises hitting every type of school district in the Commonwealth. From your wealthiest to some of your poorer districts, the economic crisis that has hit local governments does not discriminate. Complicating the situation is the Act 1 index limitations to levy taxes. In all respects, revenue streams to allow districts to stay solvent are withering. In this environment, school districts must have flexibility within their budget to control costs. Such flexibility begins with the ability to more freely control its personnel and management of staff. I believe I can speak from direct experience as to the important role flexibility can play in a school district’s management of its staff, especially in these trying economic times.
    Pennsylvania and its citizens have been faced with, and continue to struggle through, some of the most trying economic times in recent memory. In terms of the economic environment for school districts, we are truly facing an unprecedented new fiscal reality. Not a single school district in the Commonwealth is immune from the continued economic downturn facing the country. In fact, because school districts are so reliant on property taxes to fund their respective budgets, the last few years and the next several years will show an ever decreasing revenue stream for school districts as property values and real estate transactions have tumbled. Many school districts in Pennsylvania are attempting to balance ongoing and increasing costs. As a result, school districts are looking for greater flexibility in managing those costs.
    Unfunded and underfunded mandates serve only to exacerbate the already difficult fiscal situations school districts face. For example, increased healthcare costs for employees, rising pension obligations for employees, and increased special education costs, is putting significant pressure on every budget. The burden to fund those ever increasing costs are being placed on local revenue, which has contracted significantly.
    With regard to payroll costs for employees, it is no secret that the vast majority of a school district’s budget goes toward personnel costs. For 2008-2009, employee salary and benefits accounted for 62.4% of school district expenditures for Pennsylvania public school districts. While school districts recognize this is money well spent because experienced staff is a primary component to student achievement, school districts require the flexibility to make decisions as to who are the best qualified and most effective employees for the school district.
    In an Act 1 environment, where school district budgets are prepared on an accelerated schedule, flexibility and certainty in developing that budget is of the most vital importance. To that end, school administrators and school boards need to have the ability to review their budgets, and reduce staff for fiscal reasons. Currently, school districts are limited in how they can furlough professional staff based on outdated language from the Pennsylvania School Code.
    School districts are currently only able to suspend professional employees as outlined under Section 1124 of the Public School Code. These circumstances are: (1) when there has been a substantial decrease in pupil enrollment in a district;
    (2) through curtailment or alteration of an educational program as a result of substantial decline in class or course enrollment or to conform with standards of organization or education activities required by law or recommended by PDE;
    (3) consolidation of schools or school districts; or (4) as the result of reorganization of a school district. These limitations offer very little flexibility to school districts looking to manage their human capital.
    The argument has been made that furloughing employees for economic reasons would lead to the elimination of course offerings. We do not believe that is the case, and, in fact, will likely have the opposite effect. Over the past several years, the courses which have been eliminated under the standards just listed include entire course offerings of arts, music, band, and other non-core academic programs. In other words, if the course was not mandated, it was often a candidate for being cut. The question remains, is it preferable for a school district to eliminate entire swathes of arts, music and other education programs, rather than employees so that programs may still be offered? The suspension of employees for economic reasons, while an unfortunate by-product of a downturned economy, could serve to save valuable courses and programs that students might otherwise lose.
    Section 1151 of the School Code provides for the demotion of professional employees. While this section does not make mention of demotions for economic reasons, case law has established that school districts are permitted to demote professional employees for economic reasons, so long as such demotions are not arbitrary and capricious under the law. Expanding the provisions of Section 1124 would similarly allow school districts to furlough employees for economic reasons. As a result, far less staff will be affected and more courses and programs will be maintained. Under such a standard, superintendents would be empowered to review the entire school system as a whole to identify where reduction in staff will need to occur.
    It remains clear that even if the economy does begin to rebound during this fiscal year, school districts will continue to face huge budget deficits. With the Act 1 index set to contract even further in the coming years, flexibility to furlough professional staff for economic reasons is a necessity.
    Under current law, even if a school district is granted a furlough under Section 1124 of the School Code, Section 1125.1 of the School Code mandates a last in - first out process of staff reduction. In other words, regardless of performance in the classroom, connection with students and staff, and/or the ability to provide cutting edge educational instruction, the only factor currently determining who keeps their job following a furlough is seniority. In all respects, such a mandate is highly arbitrary and has led to problem educational results for students. It is highly problematic that seniority alone drives who stays and who goes. Such a process punishes school districts for hiring new staff, and has hurt the profession in terms of continuity of new and seasoned teachers educating children. Bottom-line, it is arbitrary that a teacher who has never taught in a certified area could bump a seasoned teacher who has taught in a certified area simply due to seniority. As an example, under current laws, a District may receive approval from the Department of Education to curtail a music program under Section 1124 of the School Code. As a result the District then identifies the least senior teacher within the program to furlough under Section 1125.1 of the Code. It is not uncommon such a teacher holds multiple certifications. In this example, this teacher may have never taught students in one of her certification areas, yet she would have the ability to bump a less senior teacher with real years of experience teaching students in a subject area.
    Provisions that allow school districts to consider performance-based factors and qualifications to teach or hold a particular position, rather than merely seniority, enable school districts to retain those professional employees who are the most effective in their positions with the district. Residents of each school district duly elect school board members to make decisions that are in the best interest of the district, the taxpayers and most importantly, the students. Those school board members hire administrators who are well-trained in evaluating the effectiveness of their professional employees. As I mentioned earlier, demotions of professional employees for economic reasons are deemed legal if such demotions are not arbitrary and capricious. Undoubtedly, if all furloughs, including economic furloughs, allowed for multiple factors in combination to determine which employee to furlough (performance based, need based, seniority), such a process would not be arbitrary.
    Private sector employers have the ability to make adjustments to their workforces when hit with difficult economic times. School districts are not only unable to furlough professional employees for economic reasons, but are also constrained in other aspects of managing their workforce. School districts must provide full hearings to employees facing a demotion from full-time to part-time employment. Further, under transfer of entity provisions in the Public School Code, in some instances, school districts must first offer employment to displaced employees from other schools that have closed before offering employment to other candidates. Unchaining school districts from these burdensome requirements, as well as allowing the furlough of professional employees for economic reasons, would provide greater flexibility to districts.
    The ability to furlough professional employees, as well as other measures that provide mandate relief and flexibility to school districts, will give school boards options in difficult economic times rather than forcing the districts to cut or reduce programs for students or increase property taxes. Allowing these staff reductions based on criteria such as performance, certification and qualification to teach a particular grade or subject, rather than solely on seniority, ensures that the educational program will continue with the best qualified individuals rather than those who have the most seniority.

  2. International Women's Day - A hundred years, by Mahmuda Imam, 3/07 (3/08 dateline issue?) Dhaka Daily Star via TheDailyStar.net
    DHAKA, Bangladesh - This year, we are going to observe 100 years of International Women's Day. During the 19th and early 20th century women worked in large numbers in factories across the industrialised nations in deplorable working condition and for pitiful wages.
    In 1857, 15,000 women workers in garment factories demonstrated and marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better wages and voting rights. They were attacked by baton-wielding police. It was in this context of radical socialist ideology and the suffragette and labour movements that the idea of International Women's Day was conceived.
    In 1910, at the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen, Clara Zetking of Socialist Party of Germany proposed that March 8th be declared as International Women's Day in recognition of the need to address women's issues globally. Today, we celebrate it as a day when we pledge anew our commitment to ensuring the equality of women in all spheres of life.
    From those early events it took nearly half a century for the United Nations to declare 1975 as International Year of Women. In 1979, the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was created. CEDAW is a human rights document for women. The Bangladesh government has reservations about Articles 2, and 16 (c), which are the heart of CEDAW.
    The new millennium has brought some new ideas about women's role in society. Today, women have made significant strides in politics, media, business, law, science, medicine. Yet, a large number of the world's women remain poor and vulnerable. Many women live in a war zones as internally displaced people and refugees. They face, death, starvation, trafficking, sexual abuse, lack of education and health care, and poverty.
    It is not to say that the state and status of women across the world have not changed for the better. A hundred years back women were not allowed to vote, now, in a number of countries, women are heads of government. Bangladesh is an example in this regard. In a country which has had a female prime minister for the most part of the past two decades, women still remain captive to patriarchy at all levels. The reason is obvious; while the faces have changed at the top, the system has remained unchanged. Thus, the struggle is and will be to bring about essential changes in the system.
    In Bangladesh, women have come a long way since 1905 to establish their rights. The inheritors of Begum Rokeya's dream have been struggling to create equal space for women in the public sphere over the past several decades.
    Women's empowerment cannot be complete without political empowerment. The Union Parishad is an important area for empowering, mobilising and transforming local people for their development. Participation of women in local government bodies is a crucial factor for women's development, particularly at grassroots level. It is encouraging that many female UP members want to build their career in politics, which is a positive trend for women leadership in rural Bangladesh.
    Most of them express their willingness to participate in the election, and are preparing themselves for contesting in general seats and for chairmanship to overcome their marginalisation. This led to creation of the position of vice-chairman in Upazilla Parishad in the recent elections.
    The contribution of the government and NGOs to women's development is notable. It has directly or indirectly pushed women's political empowerment process forward at grassroots level. Women members have to face socio-cultural and institutional challenges. As a result, they do not get support from their male counterparts. It requires changes both in structure and in the mindset of people.
    To eradicate discrimination from the society, free women from exploitation and deprivation so that they can enjoy their rights, power, authority and dignity.
    The writer is an activist and Member Gender Trainers' Core Group.

  3. Women's Rights: 100 years later, 3/08 SriLankaGuardian.ORG
    2011 marks 100 Year Anniversary of International Women’s Day (1911-2011)
    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - International Women’s Day grew from women’s struggles starting in the early 1900s when women were deep in the struggle for the right to vote, the right to work for fair and equal pay, shorter working hours, the right to free expression and respect which was often denied them in society. So this is the centenary celebration which is to be held on 8th March, this year.
    International women’s day was fist celebrated in 1975 by United Nations and thereafter it is being continuously celebrated yearly on 3rd March every year. This year’s theme is appropriately of the United Nation’s calls for, ”Equal access to education, training and technology :Pathways to decent work for women”. This day is the most suitable day for assessing and recognizing their (women’s) achievements regardless of divisions on the national, ethnic or cultural fields. In Srilanka, the case is very pathetic. Still the domestic violence is existing in a grater extent. How many cases of abuses/violence on their wives after consuming liquor by their husbands. The males are dominating in society, wherever you go this is the case. Even they are employing in an estate or in a trade the salary given to women is not equivalent with that of men.
    Take the case in the south, how many widows who lost their husbands due to the civil unrest fought by the four forces against the LTTE. At the same time, there were thousands who became widows from the Tamil community especially in North and East as a result of the civil unrest fought for the last 30 years prior to May 2009. As a responsible nation, we all must get together and do something to heal the wounds of all those Widows to uplift their living conditions with a livelihood to come out of this misery ,and to become true Srilankans along with the assistance of the government. We have heard of hidden stories of bravery of our women of different ethnic groups who were caught up in the conflict areas .Still there are gender based violence occur almost in everywhere.This prevents women enjoying their right place in the society.
    Ordinary women should be commended on this day on their courage on the progress made for their rights .The UN is promoting participation of women in achieving sustainable development, peace and security for all and respect of for human rights for all. In Srilanka the empowerment of women is not that enough in any field whether it is in political, religious or social and hence empowering women to work side by side with men is an immediate need for now.

3/04-05/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Furloughs, staff cuts, bus fees could help D-11 balance budget, by KRISTINA IODICE, 3/05 Colorado Springs Gazette via gazette.com
    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs School District 11 took out its budget ax last week as the board began to consider about $13 million in cuts for next school year that could mean implementing bus fees, furloughs, fewer teachers and across-the-board pay cuts.
    It’s the fourth year of cuts for the district of about 29,450 students. It’s also the biggest cut the district has faced, said D-11 Finance Director Glenn Gustafson.
    At a roughly four-hour retreat on Wednesday, the board got a look at what departments are being asked to cut and a tentative timeline for shaping the budget.
    School board President Tom Strand said hundreds of ideas were discussed at the retreat.
    “Everything is on the table,” he said.
    Restructuring and reutilization of schools were among the dozens of items presented to the board at the retreat.
    “Just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean they like it,” Gustafson said.
    The administration brought the idea of making adjacent West Elementary School and West Middle School a kindergarten through sixth-grade facility, Strand said. Seventh- and eighth-graders would attend Holmes Middle School, or any middle school if they had their own transportation.
    The board wants more details, especially on what the savings would be, Strand said. He said that major change should only be considered if it yields significant savings.
    One worst-case scenario includes cutting 170 full-time positions, but not all of those would be teachers, Strand said. The board hopes to avoid layoffs, Strand said, but 85 percent of the budget is tied to salaries and benefits.
    The district typically sees a turnover of about 200 teachers each year through attrition or job changes, Gustafson said.
    “We have more teachers now than we had 10 years ago with 10 percent higher enrollment,” Gustafson said.
    Decreasing teaching staff will be considered before districtwide pay cuts, he said.
    Changes in the central administration office also are being considered, with Superintendent Nicholas Gledich and Deputy Superintendent Mary Thurman looking ways to increase efficiency and save money, Strand said.
    Thurman said vacant positions create the possibility to reorganize. Deputy Superintendent Michael Poore will leave District 11 this summer to take the reins in an Arkansas district.
    While administrative leaders continue to figure out details and savings on some potential changes, amounts on some proposals have been projected.
    Increasing the walking distance for students in sixth grade and up would save about $400,000. Imposing a transportation fee also is on the list, and potential savings would depend on the fee.
    An across-the-board 1 percent pay cut would save almost $1.6 million, according to documents presented at the Wednesday board retreat.
    A single furlough day for district employees would save more than $800,000 on a day that was just for staff, such as a professional development day. Food service and transportation employees normally don’t work on the 12 such days in the school year.
    If a furlough was on a school day, with all 3,653 full time employees off, the savings would reach about $817,000 — but that would mean no class for students.
    However, the best interest of students remains a primary concern, board members said.
    “We want the school experience to change as little as possible,” said Jan Tanner, school board vice president.
    The board wants input from employees, parents and district residents, Strand said.
    “We’re going to have to do a lot of work in March,” he said.
    Tanner said there will probably be multiple meetings and work session to go over the budget and possible cuts.
    “It’s important that everything gets looked at,” Tanner said. “It really is going to be hard.”
    The final budget must be approved by the school board by June 30.
    All area school district officials are steeling themselves for severe financial cuts in light of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s 2011-2012 budget released last month, chopping K-12 education by $375 million and higher education by $36 million.
    “Everyone is in this together and sharing ideas,” Tanner said.
    Colorado dramatically lags other states in per pupil spending. The state ranked 42nd last year in spending per pupil, at about $8,167, according to Great Education Colorado.
    Along with state cuts, districts will lose federal stimulus and education jobs money, which are set to expire.
    Contact the writer at 636-0162.

  2. Furloughs Loom for Belmont Teachers Next Year, By Laura Dudnick, 3/04 Patch.com
    REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - The Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Board of Trustees approved tentative agreements with district employees and teachers Thursday night that pave the way for four furlough days for the 2011-2012 school year.
    The furlough days will be implemented with both the teachers and classified employees, which includes administrative staff, custodians and paraeducators.
    Assistant Superintendent Penny Weaver said the school district is planning ahead by approving furlough days until the state budget passes later this year and the district knows how much money it will receive.
    "That’s why it’s really important for the district to have good data to plan as efficiently and conservatively as possible, to anticipate what the state shortfall is going to be," Weaver said.
    She added that the four furlough days the board had approved for this school year have been reinstated after the district was able to come up with enough money to keep all 180 school days.
    There is "sufficient funding to have 180 days of instruction this year," Weaver said.
    The school board on Thursday night also agreed to reserve $160,000 to reduce the sizes of kindergarten through third grade classes from 30 to 1, to 29 to 1, for the 2011-2012 school year, Weaver said.

3/02-03/2011 – 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 (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. The Battle Over Budget Cuts, by Dean Baker, 3/02 CounterPunch.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - There is a new economists' sign-on letter being circulated that warns bad things will happen if there are big cuts to the public investment portion of the federal budget, as Republicans in Congress are now advocating. The argument in the letter is correct, but it is nonetheless painful to see this sort of thing being circulated right now.
    The politicians in Washington may have missed it, but we are still in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate is still 9.0% and virtually no forecaster, including those in the administration, expects it to return to normal levels any time soon. In addition to the unemployed, we have more than 8 million people underemployed, and millions more who have given up looking for work altogether.
    In such times, we might expect that there would be discussion of a big new stimulus programme. After all, we do know how to generate growth and create jobs. As a large and growing body of research shows (pdf), we just have to spend money. This means that tens of millions of people are suffering as a result of unemployment or underemployment simply as a result of bad economic policy.
    The politicians who could, in principle, push through more stimulus have been intimidated into silence by the business lobbies and the media which have decided to make concerns about the deficit the top and only economic priority. In this context, it would have been reasonable to expect that a letter drafted by prominent liberal economists (the lead signers include Alan Blinder and Laura Tyson, two of the top economists from the Clinton administration) would centre on the need to boost demand to create jobs. Economists, who don't have to run for office can say such things, even when politicians can't.
    But there is no mention of stimulus, just a plea not to cut public investment. This plea could even be taken as an implicit endorsement of cuts to other areas of spending like Medicare, Medicaid and social security.
    In fairness to the authors of the letter, the state of politics in Washington is quite bleak right now from a progressive standpoint. The Republicans won a huge victory last fall, with the conservative wing of the party on the ascendancy. They seem virtually certain to retake the Senate in 2012. Arguably, the best that can be hoped for is to shelter a few selected areas from spending cuts. 
    While that may be true at the moment, it is hard to see this path as anything other than a slower road to disaster. After all, no one believes that the economy is going to turn around based on the sort of budget that is likely to come from a compromise with the Republicans. And President Obama is virtually certain to be held accountable for the state of the economy in 2012. Furthermore, even if he does manage to get re-elected, he will still be dealing with the same sort of congressional opposition he faces today. And, of course, no one in their right mind can think that the current economic situation is acceptable.
    At some point, we have to talk about changing the terms of the debate. This is where our two honcho Democratic economists need to be taken to the woodshed. They could be trying to argue the case that the economy needs additional stimulus to get back to normal rates of unemployment. The Republicans may block this path, but at least, then, the public might understand that people are unemployed or underemployed because of a political decision, not an act of God.
    If they think increased stimulus is an impossible lift at this point, why not argue the case for work-sharing? We can encourage employers to shorten hours instead of laying people off. If we can reduce the rate of layoffs by just 10%, this would translate into almost 2.5m additional jobs over the course of a year.
    In principle, this work-sharing doesn't even have to cost any money. It's just substituting payments for short-time work for unemployment benefits. Work-sharing is the reason that Germany's unemployment rate has fallen in this downturn, even though it has seen less GDP growth than the United States.
    Pushing for either more stimulus or work-sharing would at least set out a positive agenda, as opposed to splitting the difference on a really bad path. Of course, if our leading Democratic economists had been a little more farsighted, we never would have been in this mess in the first place.
    They would have been talking about the housing bubble back in 2002-2004, when it could have been reined in without wrecking the economy. Better yet, they could have been talking about the stock bubble back in the Clinton years before that set the US economy on a path of bubble-driven growth.
    It would be good if Republican plans to shut down the government and/or gut large areas of public investment can be thwarted. But serious progressives have to move beyond a situation where we are choosing between bad choices and worse ones. The folks setting the economic policy agenda for the Democrats are not going to get us there.

  2. Should Teachers Be Furloughed? 3/3 WILK-FM via wilknewsradio.com
    HARRISBURG, Penn. - Businesses can furlough workers when times are tight. But, should the same logic apply to Pennsylvania's school teachers?
    It's an emerging debate in Harrisburg. School boards and administrators want the option of economic furloughs. The PSEA -- the state's largest teachers union -- believes furloughs may be appropriate, under certain conditions.

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