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

5/31/2011 – 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, but still an afterthought when it needs to be front and center, and still *dismissed by economists and business schools. Excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Question of the Day: How Do You Get Back into the Work Week? by Emily Jane Cappiello, Merrick Patch via patch.com
    [This is the kind of question we like to see!]
    MERRICK, N.Y. - You just had a three-day weekend dotted with time with friends, family, a ton of food and your mom's famous potato salad.
    Now it's Tuesday and you need to send the kids off to school and go back to work. If you thought Mondays were bad, getting out of bed after that extra day is especially hard. Once you get to the office, you realize that you have 140 e-mails and the voice messages are more than you can handle.

    How do you get back into the swing of things? What are some of your tricks to help you focus and get your work done instead of dreaming about boating?

  2. Millville Zoning board to continue Walmart Supercenter proposal Thursday, by Jim Cook Jr., The Bridgeton News via NJ.com
    MILLVILLE, N.J. The Millville Zoning Board will be considering the Walmart Supercenter expansion near the Route 47/55 interchange this Thursday. A public comment hearing will follow testimonies arranged by Walmart attorneys.
    The Wal-Mart Stores Inc. company began its presentation last month at the May meeting, but lasted for hours and will continue to be reviewed June 2.
    The existing Walmart opened in 1995 after an approval process that ended in 1992. The current proposal on the table suggests a 40,000 square foot expansion from the currently 120,000 square foot building.
    According to testimonies from Peter Dolcy, a civil engineer with Walmart since 1993, said that the expansion includes additions and modifications to the parking lot and shade tree areas.
    Water basin runoff improvements and two water purification modules will be added to ensure higher water quality in the expanded building. Dolcy noted that there are no trash grates on the existing water basins, something called for in the improvements.
    Dolcy also said there will be a 29,500 square feet expansion to the main part of the building. The current length of the building is 380 feet long which will increase about 90 more feet in the expansion.
    About 100 parking spaces will be removed from the current Cumberland Crossing shopping center to assist with accessibility. The parking area will see a total of 85 shade trees and close to 800 other plants, trees and shrubs.
    This is not just an expansion, but an upgrade of the entire facility, said Perry Petrillo, the architect who gave testimony on the project last month.
    Were upgrading, but were also maintaining a scale similar to the shopping center that is there today, Petrillo said.
    Also giving testimony at last months meeting was Sherry Thomas, market manager of most Walmart stores in southern New Jersey. She raised the common concern that the Millville Super Walmart would be too close to the supercenter in Vineland.
    Thomas used Deptford as an example, showing that their stores are just over 2 miles away and that the current expansion would not encroach on Vineland.
    Gerald Chudoff, a representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152 is expected to attend the meeting and voice opposition.
    Chudoff spoke to The News last month regarding his plans to address specific flaws in the application.
    The current Cumberland Crossings shopping center is vacant of many stores, which Chudoff says will stay vacant if Walmart is granted expansion.
    The Staples moved, the Pathmark shut down, Chudoff said last month. Its practically empty and Walmart wants to add 40,000 square feet to the current building. The city wont be able to get new tenants in the other stores.
    It draws the life out of the community, Chudoff added.
    Chudoff also raised the concern for the treatment of the 500 to 700 employees that typically make up a Walmart Supercenter, that live under the national poverty level.
    He also added that a full-time work week for a Walmart employee is only 28 hours per week, which causes difficulty in claiming available health insurance.
    The Zoning Board meeting where the Walmart Supercenter proposals will be heard is this Thursday, June 2 with an agenda session at 7 p.m. and the meeting at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall in Millville.

  3. Change in overtime pay rules that will cost officers cash angers Scottsdale police union, The Arizona Republic via therepublic.com
    [Welcome to the world of common sense and reality for a bunch of Scottsdale divas. Evidently there are still plenty of unions trying to expand the workweek, worsen the labor surplus and further disempower employees (and themselves), and that's why American unions are down from over 35% to less than 13% of the nation's workforce. They just don't understand the meaning of OVERtime and keep trying to make it chronic.]
    PHOENIX, Ariz. - The union representing Scottsdale police is complaining about new rules on overtime pay they say will hurt officers who work beyond their scheduled shifts.
    The new rules mean all city workers won't be paid overtime until after they actually work 40 hours in a workweek. That means if an employee had a vacation day scheduled during a work week but is called for an extra shift, they won't be paid overtime.
    Supporters say the new policy is a structural change that will lead to long-term savings.
    Police union president James Hill tells The Arizona Republic that officers may not take an extra shift if they are not earning overtime.
    City officials project a savings of $800,000 in the next fiscal budget.

  4. Information transfer a challenge at teaching hospitals - New training system works: program head, by Karen Seidman kseidman(at)montrealgazette.com, MontrealGazette.com
    A year after McGill University's teaching hospitals ended the era of 24-hour shifts for residents in internal medicine, the transfer of patient information between daytime and nighttime shifts seems to be one of the biggest challenges facing the new system [photo caption] [Information transfer? A basic part of the most important management skill of the future = managing shorter shifts. Let's wake up and get with it.]
    MONTRÉAL, Qubec - Does your daytime doctor know about the heart palpitations you had overnight?
    A year after McGill University's teaching hospitals ended the era of 24-hour shifts for residents in internal medicine, the transfer of patient information between daytime and nighttime shifts seems to be one of the biggest challenges facing the new system, the head of the program says.
    Physicians both for and against the new system say it produces more transfers of information, which opens the possibility for more errors in exchanges of information.
    But Dr. Tom Maniatis, program director for the McGill internal medicine residency training program, said the new system is going well and has generated positive feedback - despite some initial resistance from physicians who had a hard time abandoning the old system.
    "Overall, we find residents are more rested and able to learn better," Maniatis said. "On the day side, we see the continuity of care has improved, the environment is more stable and there is less fragmentation."
    After generations of training doctors using 24-hour call shifts, McGill decided last year that the old way of training was not as good for patients and could affect residents' ability to learn.
    The university's teaching hospitals - the Montreal General, Jewish General and Royal Victoria - were faced with research showing that sleepy doctors don't perform as well, and they are dealing with a grievance against 24-hour shifts filed by a McGill medical resident four years ago and which is expected to see a ruling in weeks.
    Last week, an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said national standards are needed to protect patients from doctors so sleep-starved they could be considered legally impaired, adding that working while sleep-deprived is neither normal nor acceptable.
    The new system means medical residents in internal medicine - the secondlargest program at McGill, with 150 residents - work either days or nights, but not both. And night shifts are restricted to two-week periods and only for about four weeks per year.
    The change sparked a philosophical debate among practising physicians. Are we creating a generation of lazy doctors? Is shift work appropriate in the medical profession? Are shorter working hours for residents detrimental to our overburdened health care system?
    Maniatis calls the new system "more resource intensive," saying it requires about 20 per cent more residents.
    He said he doesn't agree with the talk about lazy doctors.
    "The philosophical discussions just reflect the magnitude of the culture shift, which is huge. Doctors for generations trained in a certain fashion, and this is different.
    "But we're a teaching centre, and we need to try new and exciting things."
    In fact, Quebec's 3,000 medical residents are pushing for this kind of change throughout the system. Members of the Fdration mdecins rsidents du Qubec, who have been threatening to strike this summer, want to reduce the maximum number of straight hours worked from 24 to 16.
    Under the new system, patients are followed better and go home faster, said FMRQ president Dr. Charles Dussault.
    He added that other hospitals and teaching programs are starting to eliminate 24-hour shifts, but he agreed that the transfer of information between shifts is a challenge.
    "We need to make sure those handovers are done properly," Dussault said.
    Maniatis said hospitals have set up teaching sessions on how to exchange information effectively.
    Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of the Collge des mdecins du Qubec, said it's too soon to judge how well the new system is working.
    "All we know is that the system should offer medical services required by patients on a 24-hour basis," he said.
    He added that some residents have complained about having to be in the hospital more frequently under the new protocol.
    Meanwhile, Paul Brunet, president of the Conseil pour la protection des malades, said medical professionals should not be asked to be on duty for 24 hours.
    "If we are going to ask for more humanity for patients, we have to support more humanity for doctors, too."
    [So it's Welcome to the world of common sense and reality for yet another group of divas.]

  5. New rules unveiled to improve working conditions for nurses, by Kendra Lin, CNA via Focus Taiwan News Channel via focustaiwan.tw
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - The long-standing problem of excessive working hours for nurses in New Taipei City will be addressed with the city's Labor Affairs Department announcing new regulations on Tuesday.
    Nursing staff in hospitals across the city will not work more than 10 hours per day under the new rules, which will go into effect in June 2012. Total on-duty hours will not be longer than 230 hours per month, said the department.
    The news came after a forum was held by the department a day earlier. Major hospital executives attended the forum to discuss work hours with representatives from nursing professional groups.
    One conclusion that came out of the meeting was that nurses' on-call hours would be included in the working hours limit.

    The time nurses have to wait on call is currently not counted, and is not fair considering their workload, said Jane Lu, chairwoman of Taiwan Nurses' Right Promotion Association (TNRPA).
    Lu also pointed out some nurses could not take the 30-minute break after four hours of work, as required by labor law.
    In Taiwan, nurses are required to put in two to four hours of overtime daily, without pay, which is not the case in other countries, according to the National Union of Nurses Association (NUNA).
    Regulating total working hours is more important than capping daily hours because most nurses prefer working four days a week, depending on the hospital's shift system, said Chen Li-shuei, president of the New Taipei City Nurses Association.
    The department said at the end of the meeting that nurses in the city cannot work longer than 10 hours starting June 1, 2012. In urgent circumstances, the total of regular and extended working hours for nurses cannot exceed 12 hours per day.
    Those who have already been on duty for 12 hours straight should not resume work until after a 12-hour break.
    The government will begin examining hospitals starting next year to ensure the implementation of the new standards, said Kao Pao-hua, commissioner of the department.
    [This is a real welcome to common sense for an under-appreciated but over-exploited profession, nursing. And here are some shorter hours in response to tragedy -]

  6. Businesses devise innovative ways to conserve electricity this summer, (6/01 over dateline) Asahi Shimbun via asahi.com
    [Necessary due to the tsunami and tsunami-nuked nukes. Nuclear power = The Insane Energy Source: "Our Pollution Lasts Longer!" (30,000 years) - is now being abandoned by all intelligent nations, starting with Switzerland and Germany.]
    TOKYO, Japan - Consumer incentives, shorter working hours and a program that turns off unused appliances are some of the additional energy-conservation measures that companies are taking to cope with possible power shortages in the summer.
    Aeon Co., a department store chain, will reward shoppers with e-money coupons called "WAON" worth 200 yen if they present bills showing a cut in household electricity use by 15 percent or more in July compared with the same month last year. The program applies to households in the service areas of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co.
    The cost for the project is covered by money that Aeon saved in its own efforts to conserve power.
    Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. will give employees a half-day off work once a week at its head office in Minato Ward, Tokyo, from mid-July to mid-September.
    The off-work hours will vary depending on the floor. For instance, on Monday morning the fourth floor will be closed with all air conditioners and lights turned off, while on Tuesday morning the sixth floor will be closed.
    The program will save per week about the same amount of electricity that would be saved if the entire head office was closed for a half-day.
    Although the employees' work hours will be reduced, the company will not cut their pay.
    NTT Software Corp. says it will release a program in July that will automatically turn off personal computers when employees leave their desks for lunch or go home. The company expects that alone will cut electricity use by 25 percent.
    Under the program, employees will carry cellphones featuring wireless LAN connections that will pinpoint their locations via a dedicated server. When the employee is away from the desk for a prescribed period of time or at a certain distance, the employee's computer and printer will automatically turn off.
    Photocopiers, which workers often forget to turn off, will also automatically shut down when all employees in that section where the photocopiers are located leave the office.
    If employees work on holidays, the program enables them to turn on only nearby office equipment.
    The cost for this program includes 533,000 yen for a server and related items, in addition to network redesign expenses. However, cellphones supporting the program will be limited to three NTT DoCoMo models in July.
    A growing number of companies will start business earlier during the summer to reduce the afternoon peak electricity demand.
    Tokyu Corp. said May 30 it will begin operating its Tokyo-bound trains on the Toyoko Line and the Den-en-toshi Line before 5 a.m. in July to service the increase in early morning commuters.
    Roppongi Hills, a posh facility that includes a TV station, business offices, museum and hotel in the heart of Tokyo, also plans to help conserve power.
    The facility uses six gas-turbine power generators, each with an output of 6.36 megawatts, to power all segments of the facility--include the Mori Tower office building where 12,000 people work, four high-rise apartments, a large hotel and 220 stores. The building where TV Asahi Corp. is located is not included.
    Since Roppongi Hills does not receive power from TEPCO, it is not obligated to reduce its electricity consumption.
    However, in light of public sentiment toward saving energy, Roppongi Hills has implemented measures that resulted in a 15-20 percent reduction in electricity use since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
    The facility supplied its surplus electricity--4 megawatts during daytime and 3 megawatts at night--to TEPCO from March 18 to April 30.
    It also plans to cut its power use by 20 percent this summer, which will allow it to supply up to 5 megawatts to the utility.
    More than 20 groups from the central and local governments visited Roppongi Hills to see how the self-sustaining power supply system functions.

5/29-30/2011 – 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. There's a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Deal With a Jobs Crisis -- Why Is Germany Doing It So Well? by John Schmidt, 5/30 AlterNet.org
    Germany's success indicates that one way to fight unemployment would be some modest efforts to give U.S. employers incentives to cut hours, not workers. WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Great Recession hit harder in the United States than in most of the rest of the world. Among the world's rich economies, we experienced the third largest increase in unemployment, trailing only Spain and Ireland. Most advanced economies saw substantially smaller increases in unemployment and one --Germany-- actually saw its unemployment rate decline.
    Can we learn anything from countries that weathered the Great Recession better than we did? The experience of two countries --Denmark and Germany-- seems particularly informative. Denmark had a model labor market before the downturn, but ironically, offers a cautionary tale. Germany's economy has been up and down since unification in the early 1990s, but points one way out of our mess.
    For most of the 2000s, Denmark had what was arguably the best labor-market performance in the world. Unlike most European countries, unemployment rates were at, or even below, US levels, and employment rates (the share of the population holding a job) were well above those here. Denmark managed this while offering high wages and comprehensive benefits such as health care, paid sick days, paid family leave, and union representation.
    Denmark's success is widely attributed to its "flexicurity" system, which provides flexibility to employers and security to workers. Flexibility comes in the form of limited job protections for workers. In the United States, private-sector workers have almost no legal rights to their jobs and, absent a union contract, can legally be fired for almost any reason. In Europe, however, workers have a range of legal protections against dismissal. Denmark has more protections than we do here, but noticeably less than workers in the rest of Europe.
    Danish workers accept less job security because they know that national unemployment benefits are generous and the system spends real money getting unemployed workers into new jobs. This is the "security" half of the "flexicurity" system.
    A key part of this system is a set of programs that provides training, education, job-search assistance, and other services and incentives to unemployed workers. Even before the Great Recession, the Danes spent over one percent of GDP on these activities. In the United States, we spent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of GDP on comparable programs.
    Flexicurity worked well when the Danish economy was booming. Training, education, and help matching the jobless to vacancies work well when there are plenty of jobs. These same policies, however, have limitations when there just aren't enough jobs: the unemployment rate in Denmark, which was just 4.0 percent in 2007, has been rising steadily since 2008, and now stands at 7.8 percent.
    The Danish experience is a cautionary tale for the United States because it has become fashionable here to argue that our current unemployment is "structural." That is another way of saying that high unemployment is largely the fault of the unemployed themselves, either they lack the necessary skills or are unwilling to relocate to where the new jobs are.
    [Or that it's an "act of God" that we can do nothing about.]
    But, Denmark already does far more than we could ever hope to do here to provide training, education, and other supports to the unemployed. If unemployment were "structural," the Danish response would be near perfect. Their approach has not made a noticeable dent, however, because unemployment there, like here, is the result of deficient demand, not a deficient workforce.
    There is an economy, however, that has figured its way around the Great Recession. Unemployment in Germany is lower now than it was before the downturn (not to mention lower than in Denmark, now, too).
    Germany has done well because its labor-market institutions encourage employers to cut hours not workers. Instead of laying off 20 percent of workers, say, a firm can instead lower the average hours of its employees by 20 percent. Both accomplish the same goal, but from a social point of view, cutting hours is much better because it shares the pain more equally and keeps workers tied to their jobs.
    The German system gives employers many incentives to cut hours instead of workers. The most obvious is their "short-time work" system, which pays partial unemployment benefits to workers who have their hours reduced. German workers who lose one day of work per week are entitled to receive unemployment benefits equal to one-fifth of the usual weekly unemployment check.
    Other aspects of the German system also help. Legal protections against dismissal make it cheaper for employers to reduce hours than to fire workers. And many Germans are covered by union contracts that allow flexibility around the length of the work week and the spread of hours throughout the year.
    Together, these systems helped reduce the total number of hours worked in Germany by about 4 percent between 2008 and 2009. Over the same period, total employment remained unchanged. Essentially all of the adjustment to the Great Recession in Germany fell on the average hours worked by existing employees and none fell on laid-off workers. By contrast, two-thirds of the adjustment to the downturn in Denmark and the United States fell on employment and only one-third on the average hours worked.
    German successes suggest that one way to fight unemployment --at a relatively low cost to the federal government-- would be some modest efforts to give US employers incentives to cut hours not workers.
    Expanding the small programs already in place in 20 states to allow "part-time unemployment benefits" --sometimes called "work-sharing"-- is an obvious place to start. Implementing a new tax credit to employers that expand paid time off --paid sick days or paid family leave, for example-- is another route.
    Germany used variations on these kinds of policies to lower the unemployment rate during the Great Recession. Imagine how different the world would be if the unemployment rate in the United States today were, say, 4 percent, not 9 percent.
    John Schmitt is a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

  2. Is it time for the US to initiate the 32-hour work week? by Tylor Claggett, 5/30 China.org.cn
    SALISBURY, Maryld. - It was not that long ago that a 60-hour work week was considered standard in the U.S. The evolution to a 40-hour work week came about because of changes in the way Americans lived and earned their livelihood. Over the past few years, the global financial crisis and other major events have challenged us to rethink the length of the U.S. work week.
    Much has been written recently about the U.S. unemployment rate, which as of April remains high at about 9 percent. Although they are unwilling to hire, many corporations are sitting on tremendous piles of cash. According to Bloomberg, S&P 500 firms had $1.18 trillion in cash on hand in early February. The U.S. Department of Commerce in April reported the 21st straight month of U.S. manufacturing growth. High unemployment coupled with a growing manufacturing sector suggests significant increases in worker productivity. And, sure enough, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced non-farm output per hour worked increased by 2.6 percent, on an annual basis, during the last three months of 2010. This seems counterintuitive when the DOL also announced real average hourly earnings fell by 1.0 percent in March year on year.
    When taken together, this data on the U.S. economy paints a rather strange and paradoxical picture. Now may be the time for a radical new approach. Let us assume a firm employs four workers, each working a 40-hour week. What would be the consequence of the same firm hiring a fifth worker and placing all five workers on a four-day, 32-hour work week?
    If the five workers had staggered days off, the firm would have the same number of workers on the job each day of the work week. The workers could schedule their dental and other appointments during the one weekday a week they have off. This could make workers less likely to ask for administrative leave and this could reduce stress at work and at home.
    Second, there are questions of employee compensation and labor costs. For workers to indeed be better off with a 32-hour work week, total compensation should remain the same as before. This means the same pay as before for 40 hours of work in addition to the same benefits package. In order for the employer to remain whole (and not have to pass increased labor costs on to customers, which would be highly inflationary), perhaps there could be an off-setting tax credit for implementation of such a plan.
    Third, from a government revenue perspective, there would be more taxpayers and a dramatic reduction in expenditures for unemployment and many other social welfare benefits. Most social science research suggests that people are overall better citizens if they have a job and consequently feel productive. So, maybe, with appropriate individual and business tax laws, governments could possibly receive a similar amount of revenue.
    If the three components above were given proper consideration, perhaps one could argue such a plan might narrow the gap between the haves and the have-nots, because some wealth would most likely be shifted to workers from other sectors of the U.S. economy. But workers may also become even more productive than they are today, because they would probably enjoy an overall higher quality of life. Theoretically, the unemployment rate would be reduced significantly and there would be an accompanying lower amount of "social wreckage."
    Obviously, with such a reform, the devil is in the details. Many unemployed Americans do not have marketable skills; they are the so-called structurally unemployed. The proposed policy does not address this very significant issue. To gain the listed advantages, safeguards against cheating would also be necessary throughout the process. Many four-day-a-week workers would moonlight, or start and run side business during their off hours. This might create additional societal wealth, but it could also reduce the need for that fifth 32-hour-per-week worker. Employers might try to cut corners on compensation for four day per week workers, and they may also try to game a tax credit incentive plan. Finally, no one should underestimate the political difficulty of the proposed plan's required tax reforms.
    Nevertheless, there are significant changes occurring in the American workplace. So, perhaps what we are seeing today is just another evolutionary cycle that could result in a shorter U.S. work week sometime in the near future.
    The author is a columnist with China.org.cn. Dr. E. Tylor Claggett is a professor of finance and director of the Financial Planning Track at Salisbury University, US. His recent research fields cover Financial Planning Track, Investments and Financial Management. He is a Fulbright scholar with Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2008-2009.

  3. Count Some Cars This Summer, It's Free - Plan your kids summer with these two words in mind slow down, by Ruth Kuchinsky-Smith, 5/30 Patch.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - My son and I were driving home last week and he really wanted to show me something so I pulled over to redirect my attention.
    I was looking at his point of interest when the car said, 30 seconds to placing emergency call.
    Now this is a new car (well, new for us, anyway) and I am not very technologically savvy, much to my entire familys humor at times. Needless to say, I have no idea that we have this service, so I ignore it.
    A few seconds later as my son and I are chatting, it says, Dialing.
    So my son says, Wed better go before the car calls somebody.
    Like the boy in the old movie Flight of the Navigator, I complied.
    Whew! Everyone is in such a hurry these days, I thought.
    I know weve all said that at one time or another. Or maybe its just my generation.
    The good part is summer is upon us and I am thrilled. It is time to slow down and I, for one, am very grateful to the farmers of yesteryear.
    We have summer break because the farmers used to need their children and anyone else around to tend to crops. They make their money when the proverbial sun shines long into the night.
    Since most of us arent farmers, theres talk of extending the school year. Heaven forbid! It is the time to regenerate. No more pencils, no more books! And I can tell you that I, personally, dont like homework.
    The problem is the rest of the world may not be able to slow down as we once did as kids. And now with both parents working, it is a problem to some.
    The first day after school is over is PJ day at our house. We get up late, eat an unhurried breakfast, play games and take bike rides, sometimes still in their pajamas.
    But I know that there are some kids who are back out on the bus stop for summer camp at one of the nearby schools. Those kids do not look particularly happy. And I do feel bad for them as I believe they need some time to just do nothing.
    When I was young (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), I would get up on a summer morning, grab my checkerboard and checkers and head over to my grandparents house to hang out. They were, after all, right next to us.
    We also used to sit on the porch on occasion and count cars. Now I grew up in Northeast Philly and this house was right on Frankford Avenue.
    At first we counted all cars we saw. On a good day we might see 20. Then as I grew older we had to revert to counting red or blue cars to cut down on the number.
    Eventually we got to counting yellow or pink cars. But during those times I got to know my grandpa and just slowed down and watched a locust come out of their shell. That takes hours.
    I know that some of you must have a place for your children this summer. You are wisely choosing camps for them. And that is good. But maybe, just maybe there could be a time when they could just do nothing and yet have it be something.
    Look for camps that are more tuned into down time. Their minds do not always have to be challenged. Look for something new they may have wanted to try during the school year but really didnt have the free time to do so.
    My son and daughter want to try another instrument, so this summer I will give them lessons on the new one for just a month. If you rent an instrument and pay for lessons for a month it costs roughly $120.
    Rolo May, a philosopher on the creative mind, indicated that creativity comes only when the mind is allows to freely roam about. You know yourself that it is difficult to be creative when you are rushed all the time.
    Check out the free stuff that the libraries offer. Better yet, just read. Talk about being able to just let your mind go.
    There is one deal that I have found. The Delaware Museum of Natural History has a great family membership for $55. This museum is a gem in itself but it also allows you to get into a lot of other attractions, including the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia, the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Natural History...
    Weve talked before about quality versus quantity time. Realize that you can only really have a quality moment if you have spent a quantity of time.
    Planning an event to do with your child is not the same as pulling over on the highway to look at something important, even if it means we ignore the technology and the busy world sometimes.
    Technology was supposed to give us a shorter workweek and lots more leisure time. Is it doing that for you and your kids? Wrap your free time around that!

  4. For some Alabama tornado victims, red tape adds to misery, by Mike Oliver, 5/29 The Birmingham News via blog.al.com
    JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. - Thousands of Alabama tornado victims face challenges big and small in a slow crawl back to some measure of life as it was before April 27. They are cleaning up, fixing up, or finding a new place to live. They are healing from injuries and dealing with grief.
    It's hard enough as it is. For some victims, their difficulties get compounded as they deal with the government agencies and insurance companies that are part of the recovery process. In some cases, victims don't like the way the system works. In other cases, they believe they are victims of errors or slow responses.
    [There's an easy fix = stop dealing with the government.]
    But there are also many who are satisfied so far with the agencies and companies that are helping them along. And even if the responses they're getting aren't ideal, they're not complaining. They are, after all, happy to still be alive.
    Dealing with FEMA
    Fifty-nine-year-old Don Collier, whose Hackleburg house was destroyed, found that his insurance would leave him about $50,000 short of paying for repairs. Collier, who runs a small cattle farm and also works at NACCO Materials in Sulligent, applied for an immediate grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but was rejected.
    FEMA officials urge that applicants receiving initial rejections should contact the federal agency again, especially if they applied before knowing how much insurance money they will receive.
    But Collier isn't interested. "I was turned off to the whole thing the first time I filled out a FEMA application," he said.
    Instead, he has applied for a Small Business Association loan to cover the shortfall. He isn't, however, thrilled with the prospect of taking on long-term debt.
    "Right now I'm figuring on building a smaller house and a smaller farm shop to keep from having to sink myself in debt," he said.
    Lonnie Garrison, 53, who lives south of Hackleburg, is another victim referred by FEMA to the SBA.
    SBA loans generally have better rates than those available commercially and allow for deferred payments, but Garrison believes that won't help him.
    He did not have any insurance on his possessions, and he's still paying on funeral and burial expenses for his late wife, who died before the tornadoes.
    "I lost everything I have," he said. "Why would I want a loan? I can't even pay it back."
    Garrison lived in a house owned by his boss at Stuart's Body Shop. The destroyed house was next to the body shop, which was also hit by the storm and has not been in operation since. His boss is letting him use a camper parked next to where the house used to be. He started receiving unemployment benefits last week and he received $200 from a food benefit program.
    FEMA, which had received 77,000 applications to go through as of Friday, gave him two months' rent, but he says he's had trouble finding out if he will get any more money or a trailer. "They keep giving me the runaround," he said.
    Lisa Woodall believes she wasted her time applying for help from FEMA.
    She lost both her Ninth Street home in Pleasant Grove and her automobile. Woodall said her insurance companies -- Allstate for the house and Geico for the automobile -- have helped her and daughter Kaitlyn get on their feet. Geico paid off the $8,700 remaining on her car loan while Allstate paid for the family's hotel stay and food and plans to pay for moving them into temporary housing this week.
    Woodall said her disappointment is with FEMA. After filing a claim with the agency for damages, FEMA sent her a rejection letter two days after an inspector surveyed her house.
    "I knew they weren't going to actually (pay) the bulk of everything because I had insurance, but I never knew how it worked," she said. "I actually thought FEMA would come in and give me something to help along the way."
    FEMA officials say they are not allowed to duplicate benefits already covered by insurance, and that they can help only victims below a certain income level. Others are referred to the SBA.
    Still, Woodall said she has spoken with other storm victims who share her sentiments about FEMA's impact.
    "I've talked to several people and when I ask did they get anything from FEMA, they are like 'no.' I just think they are wasting people's time for signing up."
    FEMA says it had made 11,900 grants and given out $60.4 million in grants and low-interest loans as of Friday.
    Kevin Dancer of Tuscaloosa is one person who likes the response he got from FEMA and others.
    He is staying in the home of his 57-year-old mother, Delois Sadler, so she isn't alone. Her home, covered by a blue tarp, is the only livable house remaining on her street in Rosedale in Tuscaloosa.
    Dancer said the cleanup process was swift. Volunteers came through the neighborhood to help clean the yard within days of the storm. FEMA also responded quickly, he said, assessing the damage and sending a check within a week for roughly $8,000. Dancer is uncertain if that's enough to cover the repairs.
    When power crews came through to reinstall electric poles, they ran lines to Sadler's home. By mid-week last week, a window-sized air conditioner pumped cold air into Sadler's home.
    "I don't see any reason to complain at the moment," Dancer said.
    Seeking cold air
    Getting air conditioning has been an issue for David and Edie Waldon of Concord.
    Four weeks after a tornado knocked three big pine trees on top of their house, they sat on chairs in the shade of their carport on a steamy 92-degree day. They have tarps over the many holes in their roof and they're still living there. But they have no power.
    A new power pole went up more than a week ago along with a temporary fix to give them partial power-- at least enough to run the air conditioning. But it can't be connected until it passes inspection from a Jefferson County building inspector. And Waldon, a retired coal miner and welder, said he just recently found out that their contractor needs a building permit before the inspection takes place. The Waldons, who say they won't get too upset about their situation because they know many of their neighbors suffered worse damage, were still waiting and sweating on Friday.
    Mike Thomas, senior plans examiner for Jefferson County, said property owners need to make sure contractors have permits and should call the county inspections office whenever electricity is being restored to a damaged house. In fact, the power company won't connect until an inspection is done, he said.
    The county's 17 inspectors -- four electrical inspectors, six for buildings and seven for plumbing and gas -- are busy because their hours have been rolled back in a county cost-saving effort to 32 hours a week, Thomas said.
    "Even with the difficulties, we are trying to be responsive as quickly as we can," he said.
    Private insurance companies are crucial to making a survivor's path to recovery easy or difficult. Different people have had different experiences.
    Terrell Hagler, 79, who lost his home in the tornado that hit the Walker County community of Argo, tried to file a claim with his insurance company only to discover that the company was a scam. He knew only a Post Office box in Arizona, and neither he nor industry regulators could locate the company, he said.
    Hagler, a 27-year Army veteran who is living with a nephew, was initially ineligible for help from FEMA because he thought he was insured. Now he hopes FEMA will provide him a trailer.
    "They say I've got a good chance for a grant," he said.
    Daisy Bryant of Tuscaloosa praised the work of insurance company Aflac, which she said was doing "everything right." But she said she experienced a "difficult time" with another company, Progressive, which insured a couple of destroyed automobiles she had used in conjunction with her daycare business.
    She made a claim on the day of the tornadoes, she said, but she considers Progressive's response time in reaching a settlement to have been slow.
    "Because of the fact they are not moving the way they are supposed to, it has stagnated my summer program," she said Wednesday.
    She reported Thursday that her claim was settled.
    Progressive spokeswoman Leah Knapp confirmed an agreement on Bryant's claim.
    "Our goal is to settle claims as quickly as we can so that our customers can get back on the road fast, and we're glad to hear that she's satisfied," Knapp said.
    E. D. Hughes, meanwhile, continues to wait on Allstate Insurance to provide her with a summary and settlement offer for the damage done to her Smithfield Estates home in Birmingham.
    She's frustrated because a structural engineer who visited her on behalf of her insurance company told her that the house's foundation is solid, but she believes otherwise.
    "I felt my house move," she said. "My floors are not level."
    Hughes, who is living in a hotel and suffered a leg injury and a broken nose from the tornado, was approved for an SBA loan. She doesn't know what steps to take next because she lacks an insurance settlement.
    "I would just like answers," she said.
    Efforts to reach a spokesman for Allstate were unsuccessful.
    Anthony Harris' 12th Avenue home in Pleasant Grove was damaged when a tree fell on it. Harris, who owns Alpha and Omega Barber and Style Shop in Pleasant Grove, said Encompass Insurance had a check for his family in hand within two days of the storm. The Harris family has been living in a hotel for three weeks, but the insurance company is helping the family to locate an apartment.
    Harris said he was rejected by FEMA, but he learned there are other avenues. He took the rejection letter to the Salvation Army, he said, and it provided him with a $300 voucher and food.
    Terrel LeGrand, 81, who visited his roofless house in Walker County last week to retrieve items, said the insurance process has been tedious. But he understands the companies are overwhelmed. "It's been slow, but I'm not going to criticize them," he said.
    LeGrand, who is negotiating to buy a home for himself and his wife in nearby Sumiton, said that despite his relatively smooth road to recovery, he feels different after the disaster.
    "I'm just kind of numb," he said.
    News staff writers Tom Spencer, Val Walton, Robin DeMonia, Toraine Norris, Matthew Busch and Izzy Gould contributed to this report.

5/28/2011 – 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. Bill to extend work hours for teens unfair, indecent, letter to editor by Christopher McKinnon of Augusta, Morning Sentinel via onlinesentinel.com
    AUGUSTA, Maine - The newspaper's editorial backing L.D. 516, a bill to allow employers to extend work hours for teenagers, got it all wrong.
    There's nothing new about bosses trying to squeeze profits from underpaid workers. Millions of adult Americans work full time for poverty wages. Read Barbara Ehrenreich's, classic "Nickel and Dimed."
    If parents are each working two jobs, and they can't make ends meet, Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, has an idea: extend their child's work hours. It won't pay the bills, but it will increase the boss' profits.
    Exploitation in this, the richest nation on earth, is the norm, not the exception. Read David Shipler's study of productivity and loss, "The Working Poor: Invisible in America."
    Adults in low-wage jobs have little to shield them from exploitation. One only has to look at the tens of millions who struggle to get by on miserable wages to see the injustice.
    Since passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938), however, Americans have sought to protect their children from this type of cruelty. From the late 18th century, when children labored 10 hours a day in the nation's first water-powered mill, to the final stages of the Great Depression, it took nearly 150 years to end the worst forms of child labor abuses.
    L.D. 516 creates an opening to reverse those hard won gains. It is part of a broader ideological trend that aims to subordinate the working class to the rigors of free enterprise, from which businesses seek exemption. The operative idea: "Subsidies for rich, market-discipline for the poor."
    L.D. 516 is an unreasonable addition to regulations that put profits before people. It will do next to nothing for an economy in crisis. It is unfair and indecent. It should be rejected.

  2. Internship remains a very public matter, TheNational.ae
    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Maitha al Dinhani often runs out of things to do at her internship and wishes she had more opportunities outside of her responsibilities in translating economic and political documents.
    But the UAE University student, 22, said although she believed she might get better work experience interning in the private sector than she does at a government-run research centre, it is not something she would consider.
    "Each has positives and negatives, but I do not know anyone who is working for these companies," Ms al Dinhani said.
    "Even though the work in the private sector can be more interesting, I know that in the public sector there are shorter hours, more holidays and higher salaries, and the jobs are secure. I want my internship to lead me to that kind of job."
    As the latest series of measures to improve the representation of nationals in the private job market was announced this month, Ms al Dinhani and some of her peers are still looking for government positions.
    After those announcements, the public relations firm Bell Pottinger organised a round table with a number of its interns to consider the progress made so far.
    Khadija al Naklawi, one of those interns, admitted she was nervous about taking a placement outside the public sector and that she was the only one among her friends to do so.
    "My work is very interesting and I think I am getting much better experience that will help me in my career - participating in meetings or writing memos and press releases - than my friends are getting at their internships," Ms al Naklawi said.
    Robert Gardener, the director of Bell Pottinger's Middle East division, said he had faced some wariness from students while recruiting for internships.
    But Mr Gardener said that was partly due to a lack of information from private companies about the benefits of looking beyond shorter hours and better pay.
    "It is unfortunate because there is something to be offered on both sides," he said. "Khadija is confident going into meetings and has had exposure to solving problems; skills that I think will be useful for her whether she goes into a public sector job after this or not.
    "For us, having someone with local insight and contacts is invaluable."
    Budour Saleh Mubarak, an intern at the Abu Dhabi Education Council, said that when she was approached at her school by a private employer, she was wary of the unknown.
    "I did not know the type of work and felt afraid that it might be a bad experience," Ms Mubarak said. "I did not know the company and did not want to be the first Emirati to go there."
    She said she sometimes tired of her training: "I do not like the machine, every day, the same thing again and again."
    But Ms Mubarak is confident her internship will lead to a permanent position that will carry her through her career.
    "It is common for people and families I know to stay in one job for their career and not move around so much," she said. "It will be better to get into that position early on."
    Ms al Dinhani and another intern at the research centre, Noura al Kendi, acknowledged they sacrifice some luxuries working for the government, such as work flexibility.
    "Many documents are sensitive, so in many government jobs we are not allowed to work from home," said Ms al Kendi. "If our hours are from 8am until 3pm but the work levels are different, we are not allowed to leave early but just sit in front of our desk.
    "In private companies maybe there is better flexibility to get things done, and if it is interesting work, maybe you would not even notice the longer hours."
    A recent report by the Ministry of Labour showed there are between 20,000 and 30,000 Emiratis in the private sector, out of 3.8 million employees. But 70 per cent of employees in the government sector are Emirati.
    Three resolutions were issued this month to focus on encouraging the next generation to be active in the private job market.
    "The private sector has such a huge range of opportunities and, especially for interns, it is important to realise that anything worth achieving is not always easy," said Claire Duce, a partner at the UAE branch of the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, who oversees the company's Emiratisation strategy.
    "It is about being in a position to shape your own destiny and that will mean long hours.
    ["Shape your own destiny" by giving up more of your own free personal time to be controlled by somebody else? Claire Duce has a Scrue Luce. But there are still millions of prisoners who love their chains.]
    "The first three to five years are the hardest but you will find yourself in a better position if you treat it as an extension of learning."

  3. 6-hour duty for public school teachers proposed, by Virgil Lopez/Sunnex via Manila Sun.Star via sunstar.com.ph
    MANILA, Philippines - AS THE Philippines braces for school opening next week, a lawmaker sought lesser classroom hours and administrative tasks for public school teachers each day.
    Senator Manny Villar filed Senate Bill 2454, providing a six-hour workday for public school teachers and exempting them from compliance with the regular eight-hour duty.
    Besides higher pay, teachers have been clamoring for shorter working hours, since their current work schedule allegedly leaves them stressed out and exhausted, the senator said.
    Cutting the number of working hours will allow the country's half a million teachers to have more time to innovate and enhance classroom teaching.

    The Teachers' Dignity Coalition said the proposed measure was long overdue.
    "The bill would be of big help to teachers assert their long violated rights regarding the number of working hours, especially those in the provinces," TDC spokesperson Emma Policarpio told Sun.Star.
    The bill repeals Sections 13 and 14 of Republic Act 4670 or the Magna Carta of Public School Teachers.
    Under the three-year-old Memorandum 291 of the Department of Education (DepEd), teachers were tasked to allot six hours for actual teaching a day, with the remaining two hours to be spent in teaching-related activities.
    As a result, teachers are required to render a total of eight hours a day. This is in accordance with the established rule on eight-hour workday for government employees under the Administrative Code of 1987.
    "We are also proposing that any work performed in excess of six hours a day shall be paid an additional compensation of at least 25 percent of their regular remuneration," Villar said.
    Under the Salary Standardization Law-3 (SSL), an entry-level public school teacher will receive a monthly pay of P18,549 next year.

  4. Vicar blasts cuts as 'daft', Slough and Windsor Observer via sloughobserver.co.uk
    SLOUGH, England - Controversial plans to cut hours at a popular after-school club for teenagers have been blasted as 'utterly daft' by a vicar.
    And the clergyman fears young people will end up back on the streets causing trouble if their services are cut.
    Reverend Jan Cotman maintains Slough Borough Council's plans to reduce hours at Manor Park Young People's Centre are "bizarre" and will cause more problems than the proposed savings are worth.
    The council is debating dropping five of its community centres after the Government cut 1m from its youth services budget.
    The Manor Park Young People's Centre is not one of these, but its evening programmes for upwards of 40 youngsters at a time may be slashed from five days a week (Monday-Thursday and Saturday) to just Saturday.
    Speaking at Monday's meeting of the North Slough Residents' Forum, Rev Cotman of St John's Church, said: "This youth centre is the future of our generation.
    "What the young people have now is virtually nothing, and it seems to be a false economy by cutting this service.
    "When I came to Slough 10 years ago, they were standing on Farnham Road lobbing stones at cars.
    "Anything that cuts prevention is bizarre; it is utterly daft. You can't quantify the knock-on effects."
    PC Sian Griffiths, from the Farnham neighbourhood policing team, said the force was in favour of keeping the centre open as often as possible.
    She added: "Everything we suggest - go to the movies, go bowling - costs money, so it's very important for us to be able to say `go to the youth centre'."
    Rev Cotman also chairs the Paving The Way group, which meets with young people each month at the centre in Villiers Road.
    Baylis and Stoke representatives Cllr Natasa Pantelic and Cllr Fiza Matloob met with Rev Cotman and a group of young people at Paving The Way's meeting this week.
    Cllr Pantelic said the council had been forced to cut funding and hours to youth services in response to the Government cuts.
    She said: "We still have responsibility for creating provision for young people, so we have no choice but to bring services together to provide something inside the funding envelope."
    Paving The Way proposed also having the centre open on Monday evenings and bringing the council's youth bus on Wednesday evenings.
    Rev Cotman said: "It's not as good as it was, but it would be a step in the right direction."

5/27/2011 – 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. Northeast Ohio's wet spring is more than unpleasant, it's costly for farmers, others, by Stan Donaldson & Pat Galbincea, Plain Dealer via blog.cleveland.com
    CLEVELAND, Ohio - For Northeast Ohio residents who depend on dry weather for their livelihoods or just for bragging rights on ball fields, this spring's rains have doused their prospects.
    From farming and road and construction projects to landscaping and Little League baseball, the weather has halted or hindered businesses, created potential health problems and put a damper on outdoor activities.
    Last month was the wettest April in the region's history with 6.89 inches of rain. This May, 6.97 inches of rain has fallen so far. That's 4.19 inches above normal.
    And there is a chance of more rain today, Saturday and Sunday, said Tom King, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
    Those who depend on dry weather, meanwhile, say they just want to make a profit or break a sweat without needing a poncho.
    Farmers in the region have been unable to plant and tend to fields, said Tim Malinich, an educator with the Ohio State University Extension in Lorain County. That will have an economic impact because seasonal yields will be down.
    "They just can't get out there right now," Malinich said. "You only have so many days to grow, and now it is getting to the point to where they are too far behind."
    From April 1 to May 23, Ohio farmers had just 8.4 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. They had 25.7 days for the same time period in 2010.
    As a result, large parts of some of Ohio's crops like winter wheat, soybeans and corn went unplanted, the agencies reported. Only 11 percent of this year's corn has been planted, down from 87 percent at the same time last year in the state. And just 4 percent of the soybean crop has been planted, compared with 48 percent last year.
    Working with animals is more expensive for farmers, too.
    Eric Grim, a Lorain County dairy farmer, said he has had to spend extra for corn feed because the fields on his farm in New London are too soggy for his 110 cattle to graze.
    "With the price of corn and all of the commodities going up, it has been a big commitment," Grim said. "It was not in our budget to give feed to the cattle at this point of the year."
    The cows normally would be out grazing in early April, but Grim, 51, said he has had to keep them sheltered. If the animals were allowed to stand in water it could create a cesspool of disease and make them sick.
    The rains may lead to human illness, too.
    Joe Lynch, program manager for the Cuyahoga County Health Department, said there are concerns about mosquito populations and possible West Nile virus outbreaks because of the above-normal amount of rain. 30CGRAIN.jpgView full sizeKen Marshall, The Plain Dealer
    Lynch said mosquitoes have already hatched in woodland pools -- water where mosquitoes laid eggs last fall -- and are already biting park visitors. Normally, those pools would have dried up by late May.
    The problem, Lynch said, is compounded by collected water -- in containers, gutters, bird baths, pool covers -- that will become stagnant as the weather warms, making egg-laying easier.
    "People should clean those gutters and get those pool covers dry," Lynch said. "Get rid of all sources of stagnant water or we'll have even more mosquitoes by the end of June."
    The wet conditions have driven up costs for businesses like landscaping or construction and lightened the wallets of their workers.
    Jack Kinzie, owner of Cactus Jack Landscaping in Cleveland, said he has put several projects on hold. He and his crew have done some patch-up jobs but haven't been able to consistently cut grass because it has been too muddy.
    "Clients still want their lawns cut because the rain doesn't keep grass from growing," Kinzie said. "The only thing is that you are still mowing it for the same price but it just took two hours [instead of one] to do it."
    Terry Joyce, president of the Cleveland Building Trades Council, said contractors have worked fewer hours this spring, getting smaller paychecks.
    "In winter or . . . spring, working 24 to 32 hours a week is typical," Joyce said, "but this spring, our workers are really suffering through some pretty dismal paychecks.
    "Does it push up project costs? I know some contracts take into account weather-related problems, and if it stretches past those number of days, yes, the project could be more costly," Joyce said.
    Construction of an early childhood center for preschool to third-graders at Hawken School is three weeks behind schedule because of the weather, said superintendent Scott Looney. Builders told him the work will be completed by Aug. 20 when school opens in the fall, but it will require double shifts to get the job completed.
    Part of the shell of the new building has been completed -- iron structures are secure -- but tasks like the pouring of the concrete floor can't be done as long as it continues to rain.
    Road work, too, has been affected.
    Some projects were delayed, said Jackie Schafer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation. Recently work was halted on the installation of a noise wall at Interstate 90 and Euclid Avenue because of rain and high winds.
    But some new projects were created.
    Earlier this month, crews had to repair a slope failure on Interstate 480 East and Ohio 176 because mud and debris spread out onto the highway.
    On ball fields, sports like baseball and softball have been set back to a point where they won't catch up.
    Mickey Vittardi, a recreation director in Parma, said the adult softball and co-ed leagues, which have about 100 teams, are two weeks behind schedule. Many of the canceled games will not be made up.
    In Cleveland Heights, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Larry Shaw said that the 100-plus baseball and softball teams that play in the city also have had many games washed out.
    "The weather has made things miserable and this is the worst spring that I can remember," Shaw said. "But we have a great grounds crew here, and we will try to make up as many games as we can."
    To reach these Plain Dealer reporters: sdonalds@plaind.com, 216-999-4885, pgalbinc@plaind.com, 216-999-5159

  2. Honda back to full UK production levels by September - End is in sight for shortage of parts following Japanese tsunami and earthquake, by Terry Macalister, The Manchester Guardian via guardian.co.uk
    Honda's Swindon factory has been working a two-day week, but flexible working hours arrangements mean pay has been maintained for its 3,000 staff.
    SWINDON, U.K. - The Honda car factory in Swindon will not return to full production until September following the Japanese tsunami and earthquake, which have damaged the supply of parts from the far east.
    The announcement from the company came as it reported an 81% slump in output from its Japanese factories in April compared with last year. Honda said it hoped to resume normal output domestically sometime over the summer.
    Ken Keir, executive vice-president of Honda Motor Europe, said: "We are extremely pleased that our European manufacturing operations can now plan for production to return to normal."
    Toyota, the world's largest carmaker, has said it plans to bring its UK production based on the Burnaston plant in Derbyshire back to full operations next month, while its business in Japan may be at less than full capacity until the end of the year.
    Toyota reported a 78.4% decline in output from its Japanese factories last month, while a spokesman for the UK operation would only say that it was running at 30% to 40% of capacity.
    Some factories in Japan have been damaged by the earthquake and need to be repaired; many of the parts used in UK car production are sourced from Japan and are now subject to disruption. Honda has been working a two-day week at Swindon, where it makes the Civic, CR-V and Jazz models, and is accustomed to producing nearly 140,000 vehicles annually. The company said normal production would begin "during September" and it would work hard to make up for lost output during the remainder of the year.
    Flexible working hours arrangements mean pay for the 3,000 staff had been maintained, said the company. Similar moves were seen at Toyota.
    Andy Piatek, director of manufacturing at Swindon, said: "I am proud of all of our associates as they have shown great flexibility and commitment during this difficult time."
    The earthquake and tsunami in March impacted negatively on wider growth in Japan and the national economy contracted by 0.9% in the period, but shortages of supplies caused by the disruption caused industrial and consumer prices to increase.
    The Japanese government's statistics bureau has revealed that the country has overcome deflation, where prices fall rather than increase, for the first time in 25 months after consumer prices rose by 0.6% last month. A period of deflation is a serious threat to an economy because it deters consumers and businesses from spending in expectation of falling price.

5/26/2011 – 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. Mayor Greg Fischer's $502 million budget helps libraries, includes furloughs, by Dan Klepal, Louisville Courier-Journal via courier-journal.com
    LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer presented a budget Thursday that would spend millions of dollars to expand libraries, improve public safety and hire high-paid directors to lure new business to town while freezing pay for non-union workers and requiring others to take furloughs.
    The mayors proposed budget doesnt raise taxes or fees.
    Fischer told Metro Council members Thursday they're not going to like everything in his $502 million budget, but that it will help the city grow into one of the most vibrant, entrepreneurial and compassionate communities in the world.
    In fact, there are things about it that don't please me, Fischer said during 25-minute address to the council. But, he added, the only way we can improve the city's revenue without raising taxes is to grow the tax base.
    The spending plan pays for opening seven library branches on Sundays, hires four economic development directors at about $100,000 each, and pays for fire and police recruit classes despite revenue growth projected at just 1.4 percent.
    Fischer said he was able to present a balanced budget that includes those investments by using cash from one-time sources and by cutting costs elsewhere.
    That cost-cutting includes instituting a hiring freeze, not providing a raise for non-union employees, requiring a one-week furlough for employees making more than $70,000 a year, and asking for a voluntary furlough day from those making less than $70,000.
    I know some of you will question spending money on economic development staff in tough times, Fischer said. But I'm looking and planning ahead for the next decade.
    Fischer also wants to invest $1.4 million in libraries restoring Sunday hours at a cost of $250,000, beginning the design of the Southwest Regional Library in Valley Station for $500,000, and renovating the Western Library branch for $400,000. His budget also buys new furniture at the Fairdale branch for $250,000.
    There are investments in education elsewhere in Fischer's budget: $250,000 for a paramedic training academy; $300,000 for training programs for existing employees throughout government; and $300,000 for tuition reimbursement.
    We know a well-trained workforce can help us better serve the community without increasing staff, the mayor said.
    Better libraries
    Louisville Free Public Library Director Craig Buthod applauded reopening library branches on Sundays, saying children were particularly hurt by the closures, which happened in December 2008 as part of Mayor Jerry Abramson's plan to reconcile a budget deficit.
    People (were) rattling the doors on Sundays when we were closed, Buthod said.
    EMS Director Dr. Neal Richmond said the new paramedic academy will allow his agency to recruit and train locally, whichi will result in a more diverse corps.
    There's a shortage of paramedics and we've always been in a position to bring in people certified elsewhere, Richmond said. The only way to ensure a really well-trained, diverse group of candidates is to train them here from the very beginning.
    Employee furloughs
    Fischer also is asking unionized employees to voluntarily take at least one furlough day, or more if they want.

    Anissa Brady, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 2629, said she's not sure how many of her members will agree to Fischer's request.
    We'd like to see no furloughs, but I think some workers will if it prevents layoffs, Brady said.
    Fischer's budget also hires 15 new trash collectors a move that he said will save $355,000 by reducing overtime.
    That's a no-brainer, Fischer said.
    Public safety takes up 57 percent of the budget, including a police budget of $148.4 million and a fire budget of $49 million. There will be20 new cadets for police and 30 for fire.
    This is a huge commitment of resources, but nothing we do is more important, Fischer said of public safety spending.
    Fischer would invest in public safety in other ways, including $500,000 for a new alert system that will notify citizens of emergency situations by text, phone or email.
    The recent plant explosions and an ethanol leak in Rubbertown really made us understand our responsibility of notification, Fischer said.
    Spending detailed
    The city budget is actually $712 million a figure that includes federal and state money that must be spent in specific ways. The general fund portion of the budget pays for most city services and employee salaries.
    This is a spending plan that will directly affect every one of our 5,500 employees and our 740,000 residents, Fischer said.
    Other aspects of the budget include:
    $4.9 million provided to nonprofit agencies that provide social services for the poor.
    $1 million to add bike and pedestrian paths to River Road, which Fischer called the No. 1 priority of the biking community.
    $800,000 to synchronize traffic lights on major suburban roads: Dixie Highway, Preston Highway, Hurstbourne Parkway, Bardstown and Shelbyville roads.
    $100,000 to the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund, matched with private funding.
    $100,000 for a summer-jobs program for teens, to be matched with private donations.
    The Metro Council's Budget Committee will begin holding hearings on the spending plan next week, and will ask questions of every metro department over three weeks before passing a final spending plan on June 23.
    The council traditionally has added millions of dollars in additional revenue to the budget and spent most of it on social programs.
    Council members on board
    I don't think we'll find that level of difference this year, but we will take our own look, Metro Council President Jim King, D-10th District, said.
    When asked if the mayor's idea to spend more than $400,000 on new department directors was a good one, Republican Kelly Downard, R-16th, said he's willing to defer to the mayor.
    He's running the ship, and he thinks he needs those people to complete his mission, Downard said.
    On increased library funding, Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7th, said that's proof the mayor has listened to the council: It's been a priority of ours for years.
    The administration had to close a $22.5 million deficit in putting together the budget by using $3.5 million in cash seized by police during drug and other kinds of investigations; $3 million for the sale of surplus property; finding $2.8 million in one-time health care savings; and $1 million by laying off about 20 business managers during a reorganization.
    Fischer warned the city's nonprofits and Metro Council members that next year's budget will have fundamental changes that might include cuts in funding they have come to rely on.
    We got through this year, Fischer said. But I regret to inform you that this budget was hammered together with more stopgaps than solutions. I don't like delivering bad news, but I owe it to you to be honest and give you as much time as possible to start working on your Plan B for next year.
    Reporter Dan Klepal can be reached at (502) 582-4475.

  2. Halton Hospital rejected Unison safety claims over digital secretaries, by Oliver Clay, RuncornAndWidnesWeeklyNews.co.uk
    LIVERPOOL, England - Hospital bosses have hit back over accusations that plans to sack medical secretaries will endanger patients lives.
    Last week the Runcorn Weekly News reported that 150 medical secretaries at Halton and Warrington Hospitals are facing pay cuts, shorter hours and redundancies.
    Public sector union Unison called the proposals a dangerous cost-cutting exercise.
    Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust said it is looking at using electronic transcription, digital dictation and electronic reporting instead of secretaries.

    A trust spokesman said the devices will not impact on patient safety and are already used elsewhere in the NHS.
    He also dismissed an anonymous Weekly News readers claims that 2.75m had been spent on cost-cutting consultants to come up with the idea.
    The spokesman said the real figure was 1.75m, which had led to 6m of savings.
    He did not say whether Unisons claim that half of the medical secretaries would be sacked is true.
    He said: A review is looking at how admin functions in the hospital work in particular with respect to new technologies.
    All of them have come into use recently to speed up reporting and correspondence.
    Their potential introduction will mean that some traditional administration roles in the hospital may change quite significantly.
    In planning for the future, we need to ensure we have the right levels of staff with the appropriate skills.
    We have been consulting throughout with all staff and their union representatives, and considering options from all parties.
    Any changes will not impact on patient safety and are designed to improve GPs reporting and correspondence.

5/25/2011 – 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. Back to Work: How to Find The Best Flexible Jobs, by Sue Shellenbarger, online.wsj.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - A mother of four returning to the workforce writes with a common question: How can she find companies hiring part-time professionals with flexible work arrangements?
    She is picking a good time to look. Employment of temporary workers has been running 11% to 12.5% above year-earlier levels in the past several months, the American Staffing Association says, based on federal jobs data.
    A common route back to work is through staffing agencies that specialize in flexible jobs. Aurora, Colo.-based company 10 to 2 puts part-time professionals on its payroll and places them in jobs requiring 30 hours a week or less, typically in finance, marketing, project management and sales, says founder Jill Ater. Mom Corps, in Atlanta, places professionals in 12 states in part-time and contract jobs and work-at-home gigs, says CEO Allison O'Kelly. Some websites, such as FlexJobs, post flexible part-time or contract openings.
    Most parents returning to work after career breaks network, attend professional meetings and may take courses on industry trends. Most organize resumes around skills and career highlights. A few mention volunteer activities if these demonstrate transferable job skills. And most confine any explanation of time out of the workforce to a brief, matter-of-fact mention in a cover letter.

  2. 'Doomsday' for library: Committee recommends budget that contains cuts, by Lauren Foreman (425-9763), JacksonSun.com
    MADISON, Wisc.The Madison County Budget Committee tentatively approved a 2011-12 budget for the Jackson-Madison County library system on Tuesday that the library board labeled as its "doomsday" budget.
    The budget will require the library system to cut hours, cut a position and reduce a planned pay increase because it leaves the library with less operating revenue, according to the library board. The budget must be given final approval by the full Madison County Commission before it takes effect.

    The library board presented the county's Budget Committee with three budget options, one that would allow the system to maintain its current program, another that would allow for some improvements, including an expansion of the North Branch, and the "doomsday" proposal.
    "What we've done is gone with the 'doomsday,' " Budget Committee Chairman Doug Stephenson said.
    The budget is in the "best interest" of the library, Stephenson said, because it has the best chance of gaining the approval of the full commission, which has had a contentious relationship with the library board.
    "I'm more concerned with getting 13 votes," Stephenson said during Tuesday's meeting.
    The "doomsday" plan keeps the city and county contributions to the library budget the same but includes a net loss of $60,000 in operating revenue because the library system would assume a $60,000 payment to the retirement system for its employees. The plan also assumes a loss of about $15,000 in other revenue, such as from copies, fines, fees and for computer usage.
    A planned 1.5 percent raise for library employees would be cut to 1 percent under the plan. The system would not re-hire the adult reference librarian, would reduce Tennessee Room operating hours to 20 hours per week and would reduce materials spending by almost $50,000, said Richard Salmons, director of the Jackson-Madison County Library.
    He said the budget would also come with a reduction of library operating hours.
    The library, which is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday would be closed on Sundays and operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays under the "doomsday" budget plan.
    The reduction in operating hours would have the effect of a pay cut for employees even with the 1 percent raise, library officials have said.
    "It will affect the community," Salmons said.
    In December, Madison County commissioners voted to pay a controversial library retirement debt of $60,540 for missed payments into the retirement system for library employees. The "doomsday" plan puts the burden for the county's portion of retirement payments on the library system.
    "This takes county pay for retirement out of the operating budget," Salmons said.
    The December decision from commissioners to fund half of the library's $121,080 debt accrued from missed retirement system payments came after the city of Jackson committed to pay half of the debt.
    "At this point, it looks like the city is going to continue to pay their $60,000," Salmons said.
    Stephenson described Tuesday's vote as the Budget Committee's hands-off approach to the funding dispute.
    "All 25 (commissioners) have their own opinion, own vote on that," he said. "Lot of history."
    Stephenson said he did not know how commissioners would vote to finalize county budgets.
    "I think there's a lot of different feelings about what we need to do with the library," he said.
    Budget Committee members approved department budgets with adjustments including 2 percent raises for many of the departments.
    Jackson-Madison County school system administrators reworked their budget request to bring a $1.4 million education capital budget down to about $930,000, pending School Board approval.
    The Madison County Budget Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss implementing a salary survey.

  3. China urges greater attention to safety at iPad factory, Reuters.com
    BEIJING, China - China asked Foxconn Technology Group and other Taiwanese firms to pay more attention to safety, after a deadly blast at a Chinese factory making iPads for Apple .
    Production in parts of the plant in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu was suspended by Foxconn, Apple's biggest manufacturing partner, after three workers died and 15 were injured in a blast in a polishing workshop where Apple's signature products undergo finishing. [ID:nN22240885] [ID:nL3E7GO20B]
    "We hope that Foxconn and other Taiwanese companies can learn a lesson from this, fulfil their safety responsibilities, strengthen internal oversight controls, scrutinise hidden dangers in a timely manner and ensure safe production," Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday.
    Foxconn, the world's largest contract manufacturer, counts Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd among its listed units.
    "After the accident happened, the local government immediately undertook rescue work, and set up a joint investigation team. As I understand it, the initial findings are that this was a production safety accident," Fan told a news conference.
    "Foxconn has said that it will make an all out effort to treat the (affected) workers and reassure family members, and will remove hidden safety dangers in accordance with relevant demands," Fan said.
    This is not the first time Foxconn has been hit by controversy.
    A string of worker suicides at its sprawling plants shone a harsh spotlight on what critics dubbed a militaristic culture pushing its workers to the brink to meet a flood of unceasing global orders for Apple's slick new generations of devices.
    Since then, Foxconn -- which many experts say is the only viable partner for Apple, given the vast economies of scale stemming from its string of gargantuan factories employing well over a million workers -- has raised pay, cut working hours and promised a better work-life balance for its employees.

    (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Chris Lewis and Anshuman Daga)

5/24/2011 – 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. At Well-Paying Law Firms, a Low-Paid Corner, by Catherine Rampell, NYT, A1.
    This is the first article in a series - Working for Less: Off the partner track - examining how new workers are being hired at lower pay and benefits.
    WHEELING, W.Va. The nations biggest law firms are creating a second tier of workers, stripping pay and prestige from one of the most coveted jobs in the business world.
    Make no mistake: These are full-fledged lawyers, not paralegals, and they do the same work traditional legal associates do. But they earn less than half the pay of their counterparts usually around $60,000 and they know from the outset they will never make partner.
    Some of the lawyers who have taken these new jobs are putting the best face on their reduced status. To me theres not much of a difference between what Im doing now and what I would be doing in a partner-track job, said Mark Thompson, 29, who accepted a non-partner-track post at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe when he could not find a traditional associate job. I still feel like Im doing pretty high-level work writing briefs, visiting client sites, prepping witnesses for hearings.
    Asked whether he hopes someday to switch onto the partner track, given the higher pay for this same work, he is diplomatic. Im leaving all my possibilities open, he said.
    Lawyers like Mr. Thompson are part of a fundamental shift in the 50-year-old business model for big firms.
    Besides making less, these associates work fewer hours and travel less than those on the grueling partner track, making these jobs more family-friendly. And this new system probably prevents jobs from going offshore.
    But as has been the case in other industries, a two-tier system threatens to breed resentments among workers in both tiers, given disparities in pay and workload expectations. And as these programs expand to more and more firms, they will eliminate many of the lucrative partner-track positions for which law students suffer so much debt.
    Mr. Thompson is one of 37 lawyers in Orricks new program, which is based in this small Rust Belt city an hour southwest of Pittsburgh. An international firm headquartered in San Francisco, Orrick is one of a handful of law firms, including WilmerHale and McDermott Will & Emery, experimenting with ways to control escalating billing rates.
    For a long time the wind was at the back of these big law firms, said William D. Henderson, a historian at Indiana University-Bloomington.
    They could grow, expand and raise rates, and clients just went along with absorbing the high overhead and lack of innovation. But eventually clients started to resist, especially when the economy soured.
    For decades, firms used essentially the same model: charging increasingly higher rates for relatively routine work done by junior associates, whose entry-level salaries in major markets have now been bid up to $160,000 (plus bonus, of course), a sum reported by the big law schools. Even under pressure to reduce rates, firms are reluctant to lower starting salaries unilaterally for fear of losing the best talent and their reputations.
    Everyone acknowledges that $160,000 is too much, but they dont want to back down because that signals theyre just a midmarket firm, said Mr. Henderson. Its a big game of chicken.
    So now firms are copying some manufacturers which have similarly inflexible pay because of union contracts by creating a separate class of lower-paid workers.
    At law firms, these positions are generally called career associates or permanent associates. They pay about $50,000 to $65,000, according to Michael D. Bell, a managing principal at Fronterion, which advises law firms on outsourcing.
    These nonglamorous jobs are going to nonglamorous cities.
    Orrick moved its back-office operations to a former metal-stamping factory here in 2002, and in late 2009 began hiring career associates. Costs of living are much cheaper in Wheeling than in San Francisco, Tokyo or its 21 other locations, saving $6 million to $10 million annually, according to Will A. Turani, Wheelings director of operations.
    Its our version of outsourcing, said Ralph Baxter, Orricks chief executive. Except were staying within the United States.
    Similar centers have cropped up in other economically depressed locations. WilmerHale, a 12-office international firm, has in-sourced work to Dayton, Ohio.
    Theres a big, low-cost attorney market there, said Scott Green, WilmerHales executive director. That means we can offer our services more efficiently, at lower prices.
    Whats good for clients, of course, isnt quite as good for those low-cost lawyers.
    Lower salaries make it even more difficult for newly minted lawyers to pay off their law school debt like the $150,000 in loans that David Perry accumulated upon graduation from Northwestern University School of Law in 2009.
    Mr. Perry, 37, became a career associate at Orrick after unsuccessfully seeking public service work (which would offer the option of loan forgiveness). But he says he loves his lifestyle job, which enables him to work from home and spend time with his infant son while still doing interesting work.
    I didnt have the strong desire to make loads of cash, he said.
    Other career associates at Orrick said they too were content, even if this track was not their first choice out of law school.
    Heather Boylan Clark, 34, was a seventh-year associate at Jones Day before applying for a career associate position after the birth of her second child. She makes 40 percent less than before, but says she still does challenging work, and, more important, has greater control of her schedule.
    Im not killing myself to be hitting specific numbers of billable hours in any given year, said Ms. Boylan Clark, a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. Now Im always home for bedtime.
    To some extent, firms have been using lawyers off the partner track for years, known as staff attorneys, although usually on an ad-hoc basis. Executives at Orrick were quick to clarify that the new class of career associates should not be confused with such attorneys, and emphasized efforts to make career associates feel valued.
    There are no second-class citizens at Orrick, said Mr. Baxter. This is a career path for people who want it because they prefer the attributes.
    But while Ms. Boylan Clark and others switched from partner tracks at other firms, Orrick has not encouraged associates on its partner track to switch to career associate out of concern that it would seem like a demotion, according to Laura Saklad, Orricks chief lawyer development officer.
    Thats just about perception, though, Ms. Saklad said. These are not second-class jobs, but the program is so new that they may be perceived that way.

  2. Merkel Ally Favors Cut in Labor Market Subsidy, Bild Reports, by Brian Parkin, Bloomberg.com
    BERLIN, Deutschland - German Chancellor Angela Merkels Free Democratic coalition partner wants to reduce a labor market subsidy introduced in 2008 during the banking crisis to help companies keep workers on their books, Bild newspaper said.
    The FDP wants to reduce the so-called short-time work [Kurzarbeit] facility thats available to companies to six months from 12 months, the newspaper said, citing lawmaker Johannes Vogel.
    [How about just switching funding to a tax on overtime with an exemption for OT-targeted training & hiring = sustainable Timesizing.]
    The instrument allows companies to keep workers on call until sales pick up, paying their wages and social security contributions with the help of Federal Labor Agency aid.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.net
    To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

5/22-23/2011 – 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. Work hours increase, 5/23 menmedia.co.uk
    [... IF you're still working at all.]
    LONDON, England - Almost three quarters of people are working longer hours in 2011 than they were a year ago, according to a survey by accountancy and business advisory firm RSM Tenon.
    Its survey found that 70 per cent of respondents were working more hours per week compared to 2010 and more than the average 31.8 hours per week.
    However, few are compensated for their extra effort, with eight per cent of respondents reporting that they received any overtime payment for additional hours worked and only 6 per cent being given any time back in lieu.

    This change in working culture is highlighted by the fact only seven per cent say they now work fewer hours than in 2010.
    Chris Ratten, corporate recovery director at RSMs Manchester office, said: "Following the latest unemployment figures it is clear that the jobs market is improving but is still unstable.
    "Many companies may have over-compensated for the recession and shed more jobs proportionately than the work they have lost."

  2. MPs want shorter working hours - Federal politicians struggling with parliament's extended sitting hours are demanding more moderate working hours, 5/23 Ninemsn.com.au
    CANBERRA, Australia - The Gillard government agreed to extend parliamentary sitting hours and days during negotiations with key independent MPs to form minority government.
    The agreement resulted in weekly sitting hours being extended by 7.5 hours, with the lower house now sitting about 40 hours over four days.
    An interim report looking at the impact of the parliamentary reforms says extended sitting hours could have "potential adverse effects" on MPs and their families.
    "Current sitting hours cannot be sustained," the report by the House of Representatives standing committee on procedure says.

    Committee chair Julie Owens says concerns about health, work quality and family relationships were "presented strongly" by backbenchers on both sides.
    "I'm not sure it's ever politically wise to raise the issue of working hours as a member of parliament but ... it is not wise to be silent on this matter," she told the lower house on Monday.
    The House of Representatives should start at midday on Mondays, the committee said, arguing the 10am start time caused MPs to "significantly alter" their travel habits.
    "For some members it is no longer possible to travel in the morning on sitting Mondays," the report says, noting those travelling from Western Australia.
    Monday morning travel would not be a viable option during the winter months because of uncertainty due to fog.
    The committee suggests adding the two hours to Tuesday's sittings by starting at midday instead of 2pm.
    Parliamentary divisions, that require MPs to be in the chamber after 8.30pm, should also be deferred until the following sitting day, the report said.

  3. Flexi work hours help women rise in corporates: Assocham poll, 5/22 Press Trust of India via Business Standard via businessstandard.com/india
    [Flexing hours ain't the cutting of hours that's needed for sharing the vanishing work, but at least it's thawing the frozen pre-computer workweek.]
    NEW DELHI, India - Women professionals are moving up in the corporate ranks, encouraged by the flexible working hours they are getting from their employers, a survey found.
    "Due to flexi working hours, childcare facilities at offices and options of working from home, women professionals are moving up corporate ranks and managing home as well with aplomb," an Assocham's survey said.

    The survey covered 4,000 professional, including 2,500 women, the chamber said.
    The findings reveal that most of the working women, especially the mothers, prefer flexible working hours so that they could manage at both home as well as workplace.
    "Comfortable shifts allow mothers to take care of kids and give them an option to spend more time with their family," the chamber said.
    Mothers working full-time give themselves slightly "lower ratings" as parents than do at-home mothers or mothers employed part-time, it added.
    The respondents said flexibility in office timing, brings greater job satisfaction, reduces absenteeism and minimises stress.

5/21/2011 – 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 three-day weekend: a dream deferred, by Michael Posner, Toronto Globe via TheGlobeAndMail.com [finder's credits to Dianne and Gail]
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Is there anything nicer than a weekend in spring?
    Actually, there is a three-day weekend in spring.
    Seventy-two precious hours of freedom. Finish that book on the bedside table. Stroll the park, scour the barbecue, plant the garden. Or, if you're really ambitious, tackle the clutter in the basement. More related to this story
    Canadians enjoy five or six of these brief furloughs a year. In fact, they savour them tonics for the spirit like bottles of vintage wine.
    The regular weekend is like a speed bump. It slows you down, but doesn't last long enough to change your basic habits. Three days, on the other hand, is a legitimate rest. It allows you to reset the psychic thermostat.
    So here's the real question du jour: Why aren't there more of them? What's so sacred about the five-day workweek, a regimen set in place in North America seven decades ago that has been virtually immoveable since (unlike in many European countries)? In an age of high-tech efficiency and higher productivity, why isn't the working world organized to provide us with more leisure time?
    The benefits social, economic, ecological would be legion.
    [They won't happen until we quit whining and start putting "economic" first in the list and demonstrating the advantages for CEOs to CEOs.]
    Certainly, we were promised it. For more than a century, a loud chorus of visionaries has lauded the fruits of science and technology, and the personal liberties they would confer.
    It hasn't worked out that way. Indeed, as they embark on their annual Victoria Day weekend National Patriots Day in Quebec Canadians (tethered to BlackBerries, laptops and iPads) are more likely to be struck by a grimmer calculus. Our so-called work-life balance has lost its equilibrium. Increasingly, we are logging longer hours. Increasingly, we have less time for recreational pursuits.
    The statistics confirm what, in our weary bones, we already know. According to one recent American study, the amount of leisure time per capita hasn't changed significantly in 105 years.
    [And free time without financial worries is The Most Fundamental Freedom for those of you who are always singing the praise of Freedom - think about it.]
    To the extent that is has changed, it's for the worse. Although the time Canadians spent on leisure pursuits increased from 5.5 to 5.8 hours per day between 1986 and 1998, by 2005 it had reverted to the 1986 level, a decrease of 18 minutes per day.
    In her 1993* book, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, Harvard professor Juliet Schor documents the steady annual rise of work hours after 1970.
    [*My copy says 1991 but everything on the web now only goes back to '93 for some reason.]
    The uptick about nine hours per year applies to both men and woman, white- and blue-collar workers. The surprise factor derives from the productivity numbers, which doubled between 1948 and 1990. By then, Americans produced enough goods and services to have adopted a four-hour workday or a six-month work year. Or, writes Prof. Schor, every U.S. worker could be taking every other year off from work with pay.
    It never happened, of course. The productivity dividend was squandered. Leisure time became a casualty of prosperity.
    Reclaiming the Utopians
    None of this was expected. On the contrary, for more than a century, the West's reigning mythology of infinite progress promised a cornucopia of leisure.
    In 1888, the third best-selling book in America after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur was Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward: 2000-1887. The central character in this utopian novel, Julian West, falls asleep in the 1880s and wakes up in the year 2000. The world he apprehends has been transformed into a kind of paradise. Working hours have been reduced dramatically. People retire at age 45, with full benefits. And, via technology, goods and services are delivered almost instantaneously.
    In the 1920s, biologist Julian Huxley said a two-day workweek was inevitable, because we can only consume so much. If only he could see us now.
    [According to Ben Hunnicutt's Work Without End, the 1920s was when control-freak CEOs, worried about the movement for shorter hours and concerned about losing more facetime control over the workforce and heedless of any possible ecological backlash, successfully substituted the Gospel of Consumption for more of the most fundamental freedom, free time.]
    Endorsing Huxley, economist John Maynard Keynes observed in the 1930s that society would eventually face a pressing social issue: The great problem of what to do with our leisure.
    Their fears were unfounded. Industrial society's ability to function with reduced work capacity was clearly demonstrated during the Second World War, when millions of men went off to the front. Had the same methodologies been preserved after 1945, argued philosopher Bertrand Russell, and the workweek cut to four days, all would have been well. Instead, the old chaos was restored, those whose work was demanded were made to work long hours, and the rest were left to starve as unemployed. For Dr. Russell, the morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery.
    The post-war decades yielded a harvest of new labour-saving devices. By 1970, American writer Alvin (Future Shock) Toffler envisaged an irreversible exodus from the workplace, precipitating a boom in leisure-time activities. These roseate forecasts achieved consensus as the computer era dawned and gathered pace, spurred by the development of the integrated circuit in 1958.
    From the ashes of the work ethic will rise the phoenix of leisure, trumpeted electronic engineers Alan Burkitt and Elaine Williams, in 1980. People will have the opportunity of using more free time to pursue their leisure interests, and more money to spend on them. And computer scientist Christopher Evans maintained that the microprocessor would at long last make the humanistic dream of universal affluence and freedom from drudgery a reality.
    The cult of hard labour
    So what went wrong? Ben Hunnicutt thinks he knows. The problem is that work has taken the place of religion in our lives, says the American sociologist, who teaches at the University of Iowa.
    All the mythologies associated with work are the same ones associated with God. Except work is a false God. The notion that we can grow our economies forever, reach full employment it's easier to believe in the resurrection of the body.
    The research of Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild verifies Prof. Hunnicutt's theory. For her 1997 book, The Time Bind, When Work becomes Home and Home Becomes Work, Prof. Hochschild interviewed employees for an American corporation that had put enlightened, family-friendly policies for work-sharing, flex-time, parental leave and sabbaticals in place. Yet the usage rate proved shockingly low not because management subtly discouraged their adoption, or because employees were unaware of the programs, or because they could not afford them. Higher-paid workers were even less likely to use flex-time than lower-paid workers.
    What I realized, says Prof. Hochschild, is that the village well has gone to work. If you asked these people where they felt good about themselves, where they felt supported, where they felt safe it was always work. One man said, I've worked for the company 30 years. I get pink slips at home.'
    And for all its mega-pixelated marvels, technology itself now degrades the quality of our leisure. As French philosopher Jacques Ellul noted, our leisure time, instead of ... representing a break with society, is literally stuffed with technical mechanisms of compensation and integration. ... Leisure time is mechanized time and is exploited by techniques which, although different from those of man's ordinary work, are as invasive, exacting, and leave man no more free time than labour itself.
    It's time for a change time to move, incrementally, toward a four-day workweek.
    Utah implemented exactly that plan four, 10-hour days, with no cuts to pay or benefit, for its non-essential public employees in 2008. Half a dozen other U.S. jurisdictions are said to be studying it. The European community has gone much further. In Scandinavia, working parents have the right to insist on a four-day week, without salary cuts. In the Netherlands, that right applies to all employees.
    The 72-hour gospel
    So, how rich are the potential dividends of a four-day week? Let us count the ways.
    Fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions: Let's assume there'd be about 20-per-cent fewer cars on the road for morning and afternoon rush hours. That would constitute a major reduction in crude oil usage. The same percentage decline would apply to chemical compounds spewed by cars and trucks carbon monoxide and dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, ozone, lead and chloro-fluorocarbons. Global warming might even be reduced.
    Disposable income: The 20-per-cent savings on gas, car maintenance and insurance would accrue to personal pocketbooks. The family sedan would last longer. Money otherwise allocated to these budget categories could be spent consuming other goods and services so that overall levels of demand and consumption would not be affected.
    Corporate incentives: Far from seeing the four-day week as a threat to productivity, the business world should welcome it. There would be significantly less absenteeism. With less stress on employees, companies would also be able to cut budgets for workplace stress-reduction and physiotherapy programs. Their own costs for heat, lights, security and building or office maintenance would also decline.
    The well-being app: And finally, the three-day weekend's Killer App call it the Well-Being App.
    There'd be more time. Time for the family, a demonstrable, arguably urgent, need. And more time for the self. You could start that cottage industry you've been planning for years. Finish the screenplay. Take your kids on long hikes.
    With more time, you would be able to cook more and eat out less (additional savings). You would watch less television. The habit is actually a reflex of exhaustion European studies show that four-day workers are less inclined to park in front of the tube.
    Instead of dropping your toddler at the day-care centre, you'd have one more day a week with him or her. Instead of missing the ballet class or the hockey game because of a corporate meeting, you would be there for it, video-camera in hand.
    As a practical matter, we need not adopt a one-size-fits-all template, says John De Graaf, who runs the Seattle-based movement Take Back Your Time. We have to recognize that people have different needs.
    But in dozens of ways, large and small, the three-day weekend would begin to repair the breach that has formed at the heart of Western culture a breach in the quality of our lives.
    Perhaps we need to become like Bartleby the scrivener in Herman Melville's short story. His boss repeatedly gives him assignments, to which the inscrutable legal assistant repeatedly says, I'd prefer not to.
    If Facebook and Twitter postings can inspire a revolution that topples a dictator in Egypt, a campaign for a four-day workweek should be a piece of cake.
    You have the next three days at least to think about it.

  2. Who wouldn't buy tickets from Hue? San Francisco Chronicle (blog) via sfgate.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - By now, we're sure you've heard about the Raiders coaches and employees selling season tickets to avoid taking a paycut in these lean times of the lockout.
    Employees have to move ticket plans worth 10 percent of their salaries (during the lockout) in order to avoid pay cuts or furloughs. Now, it can't be easy selling NFL tickets right now ("please send a check ... and no, we didn't know when the games are") ... but then again, employees and coaches should have more time on their hands these dats.
    "It was like Christmas," Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said in one report, recalling his reaction when he heard of the new policy. "And with a big sigh of relief."
    Season tickets range from $260 to about $2,000 with a stadium club membership, but we imagine Joe from Hayward might have a hard time saying no to a very persuasive Hue Jackson on the phone.
    Called "The 2011 Plan," the Raiders' incentive program is creative and runs counter to the NFL trend -- one-third of the teams in the league have reduced costs with salary cuts or furloughs.
    "We looked at it from the opposite perspective," Raiders chief executive officer Amy Trask told the Chronicle. "Why not empower employees to help us raise revenues."
    Why not? The Raiders, 8-8, were last in the league in attendance last year with an average crowd of 46,431. The more ticket salesmen, the better.
    The Cardinals, meanwhile, are invoking a one-week forced furlough for all non-contracted employees starting Sunday after midnight. They won't be allowed to attend the team's training facility or check email.
    Arizona's coaches are contracted employees and have already seen their salaries cut by 35%.
    Teams like the Cardinals and Dolphins, who issued massive paycuts, can't be proud of themselves. The owners knew the lockout was coming, pushed for it even in a time of extreme success and wealth, and are now punishing the little guy just because they can.
    I bet those employees would love to try and sell some tickets to save a chunk of their paycheck.

  3. Budget planners endorse one-day furlough throughout Palm Beach County schools, by Allison Ross, PalmBeachPost.com
    PALM BEACH, Fla. - In a move that brings next year's budget one step closer to approval, Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Bill Malone and the volunteer budget advisory committee have agreed on a proposed budget that recommends a one-day furlough for all employees to save the district about $5 million and close the district's $35.4 million budget shortfall.
    The original recommendations released to the public at the beginning of this month had about $33.5 million in proposed cuts, leaving an approximately $1.9 million shortfall.
    The updated recommendations, which will now go to the school board for the ultimate vote, restore a little more than $2 million in previously proposed cutbacks and cut more than $1 million more.
    Among those restorations is the adding of 14 school police officers that were to be eliminated.
    The updated proposals also reflect a number of other changes from the original proposals. Among them:
    * Restoring all but two of the eight school psychologist positions.
    * Reducing the amount employees are reimbursed for travel to 44.5 cents a mile from 51 cents, saving about $78,000.
    * Cutting the transportation budget a further $180,000 by providing only uniform shirts for bus drivers.
    * An additional $200,000 reduction to landscape services.
    * Restoring $696,430 to pay for buses to take kids home from after-school activities.
    During the meeting Friday where the district and the advisory committee reconciled changes, Malone said that he had spoken with principals about the proposed cuts to school police.
    "In every single one of those meetings, they expressed grave concern about the safety in the schools," Malone said.
    Even with the restoration of some positions, the district expects to have a $2.1 million surplus if these recommendations are approved.
    Bus drivers and employees on a 180 duty-day contract would not be affected by the furloughs, as they only work when students are in school. Teachers would take their furlough on a teacher planning/non-teaching day.
    "It's been a great process and taken a lot of hard work by all the committee members," budget advisory committee Chairman Ed Tancer said.
    But he added that he's looking warily at future years and at further budget problems expected for 2013.
    Committee member Brian Crowley expressed concern over the use of non-recurring funds and fixes to plug this year's budget gap, including the use of furloughs.
    "We're fixing things up to this moment, but we're not fixing things," Crowley said.
    School board Vice Chairman Debra Robinson said the proposed budget is "moving in the right direction," adding that she has a two-page list of concerns. She said she was glad that the superintendent recommended the furlough.
    Chief Financial Officer Mike Burke noted that the budget is still in flux pending a number of things, including property value assessments and the results of negotiations with the county's teachers union, which is pushing for raises for all teachers.
    Also during the meeting, Malone announced that he expects that fewer than 400 permanent employees whose jobs are being cut will not be placed in new jobs.
    "I'm comfortable saying that the net impact on the size of the workforce will be less than 2 percent of the total workforce," he said.
    The school board is expected to review the budget recommendations on June 1. Board members are scheduled to tentatively approve the budget on July 27.

5/20/2011 – 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 novel solution to unemployment: "Work-sharing", by Robert Skidelsky, CNN (blog) via globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com
    [Novel only since 1940. From 1840 to 1940, cutting the workweek and sharing the vanishing work was basic to our concept of progress.]
    LONDON, Great Britain - As the world recovers from the Great Recession, it has become increasingly difficult to discern the true trend of events. On the one hand, we measure recovery by our success in regaining pre-recession levels of growth, output, and employment. On the other hand, there is a disquieting sense that todays new normal may be slower growth and higher levels of unemployment.
    So the challenge now is to formulate policies to provide work for all who want it [no, for all who need it in order to be indespendent] in economies that, as currently organized, may not be able to do so. This issue is much more acute in developed than in developing countries, though interdependence makes it, to some extent, a common problem.
    The problem has two aspects. As countries become more prosperous, one would expect their growth rates to slow. In earlier times, growth was fueled by capital scarcity: capital investment attracted a high rate of return, and this created a virtuous circle of saving and investment.
    [No, in times of war and plague, growth was fueled by labor scarcity, rising wages and spending, rising marketable productivity and plentiful profitable investment opportunities. In times of peace, depression was fueled by labor surplus, sinking wages and spending, sinking marketable productivity and a scarcity of profitable investment opportunities.]
    Today, capital in the developed world is abundant [because of a scarcity of marketable productivity and sustainable let alone profitable investment opportunities]; the saving ratio [irrelevant] declines as people consume more; and production shifts increasingly to services [non sequitur], where productivity gains are limited [false; consider word processing]. So economic growth the rise in real incomes slows [multiple non-sequitur]. This was already happening before the Great Recession, so generating full-time jobs that pay decent wages was becoming ever more difficult [ignores primary factor: labor surplus]. Hence [non seq] the growth of casual, discontinuous, part-time jobs.
    The other aspect of the problem is the long-term increase in technology-driven unemployment, largely owing to automation. In one way, this is a sign of economic progress: the output of each unit of labor is constantly rising. But it also means that fewer units of labor are needed to produce the same quantity of goods.
    The markets solution is to re-deploy displaced labor to services. But many branches of the service sector are a sink of dead-end, no-hope jobs.
    [More to the point, they are less urgently demanded, as Dahlberg pointed out. And ever lower wages, which bar the "employment basement" (via the consumer base that rests on it) from ever possibly purchasing its own output.]
    Immigration exacerbates both aspects of the problem. A large part of migration, especially within the European Union, is casual here today, gone tomorrow, with none of the costs associated with full-time hiring. This makes it attractive to employers, but it is low-productivity work, and it increases the difficulty of finding steady employment for the majority of a countrys workforce.
    So, are we doomed to a jobless recovery? Is the future one in which jobs are so scarce that many workers will have to accept a pittance to find any employment, and become increasingly dependent on social transfers as market-clearing wages fall below the subsistence level? Or should Western societies anticipate another round of technological wizardry, like the Internet revolution, which will produce a new wave of job creation and prosperity?
    [Show us a dozen good jobs from the Internet revolution and we'll show you a thousand resumes looking for them.]
    It would be foolish to rule out the last possibility a priori. Capitalism has a genius for reinventing itself. It has seen off all of its challengers, and there are no new ones in sight. Moreover, no one can predict the discovery of new knowledge; if they could, it would already have been discovered. But there is also a more troubling possibility: if, by proceeding on our current profligate path, we succeed in making natural resources scarce, we will require a new wave of technology, regardless of the cost, to rescue us from calamity.
    But lets put these grim prospects aside, and ponder what a civilized solution to the problem of technology-driven unemployment would look like. The answer, surely, is work-sharing. To the Anglo-American economist, any such proposal is anathema, because it smacks of the dreaded lump of labor fallacy [*Tom Walker has taken notice!] the idea, once popular in trade-union circles, that there exists only a certain amount of work, and it should be shared out fairly.
    [Hey, at least he's poking fun at it by calling it the dreaded lump of labor fallacy.]
    Of course, this is a fallacy when resources are scarce [no it is never a fallacy, because work in terms of willingness to pay for specified activity is never infinite and unpaid activity is not "work"], but even economists never thought that growth would continue forever. The disciplines founders expected that, at some point in the future, mankind would attain a stationary state of zero growth [references??]. Then we would require only a certain amount of work much less than we perform now to satisfy all reasonable needs. The choice would then be between limitless technology-driven unemployment [and recession] and sharing out the work that needed to be done [and prosperity].
    Only a workaholic would prefer the first solution. Unfortunately, such people seem to be in charge of policy in the United States and Britain. Many other European countries are adopting the second solution. Work-sharing schemes, in many different forms, are becoming the norm in Holland and Denmark, and have made inroads in France and Germany.
    [More than inroads in Germany, which breezed through the last downturn with Kurz-arbeit, their word for worksharing.]
    ..A Danish law enacted in 1993 recognizes a right to work discontinuously, while also recognizing peoples right to a continuous income. It allows employees to choose a sabbatical year, which could be divided into shorter periods, every four or seven years. 
    Unemployed people would take the place of those on leave, who, for their part, would receive 70% of the unemployment benefit they would get if they lost their jobs (typically, 90% of ones salary). Danish unions have managed to use such statutory individual rights to reduce the working hours of entire company workforces, and thus increase the number of permanent jobs. The idea of a universal basic income, paid to all citizens, independent of their position in the labor market, is a logical next step.
    [Conduces into parasitism and unsustainability.]
    This will not be everyones cup of tea. And, as I suggested above, all schemes aimed at easing the burden of work and increasing the amount of leisure risk falling victim to our genius for conjuring up new disasters. After all, both capitalism and economics need scarcity to justify their existence, and will not give it up readily.
    [Job scarcity, yes, because it's a control lever - that's become prohibitively expensive.]
    Robert Skidelsky, a member of the British House of Lords, is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University.

  2. Short time working continues at Honda, StockMarketWire.com
    SWINDON, U.K. - Workers at Honda's car plant in Swindon are to continue on a two day week throughout June and July.
    Production at the Honda plant was halved during April because of a shortage of parts caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier in the year.
    The workforce will remain stay on full pay during these two months under an agreement where they will make up the time lost at a later date.

5/19/2011 – 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. You might need help some day, by Barbara Frisbie of Anderson CA, Record-Searchlight via redding.com
    REDDING, Calif. - Several recent letters to the editor say harsh things about people on welfare, disability and Social Security, including one from a little girl. The problem is not with Americans on these programs, but with the systems providing these services. For the little girl, please study the economy right now. Hundreds of thousands of people have educated themselves, worked most of their lives, and then lost their jobs due to a thing called "recession." What would you have these people do to "get a job"? Before you comment on the poor, consider what you might do if you were a parent with hungry children and no money to buy food. Food stamps, Medi-Cal, and cash aid to families are all paid for by money deducted from peoples' paychecks. So is Social Security.
    To the guy who wants to take votes away from the poor and seniors as a punishment for receiving government aid, you'd better thank your lucky stars that you aren't over 65 and ill or unable to get a job because you are considered too old. Should all seniors just be shot or something when they have lost their usefulness? There are several science-fiction books and movies that you might enjoy, but this is the real world.
    What needs to be done is for the current abuses of the systems to be addressed. Go and get an application for food stamps. If you are American, you will be required to furnish your birth certificate, proof of address, a utility bill in your own name, rent receipts, and several more items. Below the section requiring these things, there is a statement that if you are not a U.S. citizen, you are not required to furnish these items. If all illegal immigrants were removed from welfare and Social Security, the state deficit would go away. If this were a federal mandate, our country would have more jobs and more money to help our own poor and elderly citizens.
    To all of those people who think poor and elderly people need to "get a job" or just go away, please remember that one day you will be one of us old, ill or out of work. What will you do then? Will you ask for repayment of money you paid into the system to be made to you, or will you just quietly curl up and die?
    George_McGillicutty writes:
    You are absolutely right. The problem is with the system. It allows people to be on the public dole far too long. It creates an atmosphere of laziness, and inhibits continued education and training. The standards need to be kept much more strict, with the burden of proof falling to the citizen regarding the continuation of benefits, instead of falling to the county and state. Prove to me that you absolutely cannot find any kind of work. Prove to me that you absolutely cannot work because of your back injury. Prove to me that you are not just trying to get a free ride, then you can get assistance. You must prove this in a weekly appointment, or your benefits will be halted.
    Those who cannot find work, will instead be required to volunteer for work maintaining public facilities. No jumpsuit required. This must be done for 30 hours a week, with 20 hours a week spent applying for jobs of all income levels in the area.
    [Isn't it a bit of a clue that our standard workweek is too long for the age of automation when we we can only dream up 30 hours of phony work for the unemployed? And btw, that was the full-time workweek of the WPA and the CCC in the Great Depression before the last 75 years of worksaving technology.]
    If you are injured, then you must fill out a daily record of where you go, and what you do, to make sure you are in no way attempting to defraud the government. In order to corroborate your itinerary, you will be fitted with a tracking bracelet. You will be subject to a monthly physical to determine your physical capabilities. Depending on your physical capabilities, you may be assigned specific tasks to be completed for the public good.
    The problem isn't the people who need a helping hand, it's everyone else.

  2. How Germany retained jobs despite downturn and what it means for us, by Zachary Roth, The Upshot via The Lookout via news.yahoo.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - As the United States struggles to replace the 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession, it makes sense to look at the one developed nation that came out of the global downturn with lower unemployment than it had going in: Germany.
    You'd expect Germany's jobs problem to have been more severe than America's. After all, the recession's impact on the German economy was greater than it was in the United States. German GDP declined by 3.8 percent, compared to 2.6 percent over here. And in response, Germany's government provided much weaker fiscal and monetary stimulus than America's did.
    [Want smaller government? CUT THE WORKWEEK as deep as it takes to get full employment and markets.]
    And yet, according to numbers compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany's jobless rate in 2009 was 7.5 percent--1.2 percentage points lower than it had been two years earlier, before the recession hit. During that same period, the U.S. unemployment rate increased by a whopping 4.7 percentage points. And in the last two years, Germany's jobs situation has largely continued to improve, while ours has stayed relatively flat.
    So what explains Germany's success? A new study by the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) concludes that the German jobs economy has benefited greatly from the country's labor market institutions, which stress job security by keeping workers connected to their current employers. In short, CEPR senior economist John Schmitt finds, German employers adjusted to the downturn by reducing workers' hours, instead of laying them off.
    It's not that German employers are naturally more generous than employers anywhere else in the world. Rather, they took advantage of several initiatives that provided German bosses incentives to keep workers on at reduced hours. One such program, known as short-time work, provides part-time jobless benefits to workers who have had their hours reduced thanks to a dip in demand. Collective bargaining agreements also led employers to initiate reductions in working time--a process that no doubt benefited from the greater representation that organized labor enjoys on corporate boards in Germany than it does in the United States. Finally, most German companies use "working-time accounts," which let workers "bank" hours during times of high demand by working more than usual. Then, when things slow down and employers need to cut hours, they pay workers for the hours they accumulated previously.
    [The Germans' heightened time consciousness and manipulation place them in a good position to lead the way into a sustainable future via full application of the Timesizing Program and its successors.]
    In other words, the mechanics may vary, but the principle is the same: finding ways to make it easier for businesses to keep workers on while reducing their hours when a downturn hits, instead of just cutting them loose.
    To be sure, Germany's system may not always make sense. During boom times, it can be inefficient, because it discourages workers from leaving industries or companies where demand is falling, and moving to industries or companies where it's rising.
    [These two sentences are complete nonsense. We've just learned that "Germany's system" is a response to "when a downturn hits," so why are we talking about boom times??? (The only people who seem to need "solutions" for boom times are American CEOs, who have a compulsive need to turn boom times into downturns by disemploying and impoverishing their consumer base and decirculating crippling percentages of their economy's money supply in their own superstuffed Black Hole-brand pockets.) ]
    But it's clear that the German approach is far better at limiting joblessness during a downturn--and the United States is now experiencing the heavy costs of going through a sustained economic slump without such safeguards.
    That's the lesson from the German experience that the report draws for the United States. The study notes that "US labor-market institutions did little to encourage firms to reduce average hours rather than employment levels." In part, the decision to reduce jobs over hours stemmed from the way that U.S. companies provide benefits--health insurance in particular. Under this system, it was more cost effective for employers to save money by laying workers off, rather than reducing their hours.
    Another lesson is that education and training may not be the answer. Some analysts have argued that our unemployment problem is driven largely by "structural" factors -- that is, a mismatch between the types of job openings that exist in a given area, and the skills that workers in that area have. The answer, they contend, is re-training programs.
    But the report contrasts Germany's experience with that of Denmark, which spends more than 12 times what the United States does to train and activate workers, with not much better results. Denmark's jobs situation is almost the reverse of Germany's. Before the recession, unemployment was at just 4.0 percent and growth was strong. But by 2009, joblessness had jumped by 2 percentage points. That suggests, says the report, that when the problem is a lack of demand, retraining can't do much to help.
    "To the extent that US policy makers have decided on any course of action, it appears to be, in President Obama's words, to 'win the future' by investing in education and training," the report concludes. But that only works, it adds, "when there are jobs to be had. For the immediate future, the experience of Germany looks to offer a better way forward."

5/18/2011 – 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 family secret behind the economic boom, by David Wroe (david.wroe@thelocal.de), The Local via thelocal.de
    The quiet achievers known as the Mittelstand \-\ The backbone of Germanys booming economy isnt huge industry it's thousands of small and mid-sized firms spread across the country...
    COLOGNE [KÖLN], Germany - During the depths of Germanys recession in 2009, Carl Martin Welcker did something the family firm had never done since Welckers great-grandfather founded it 131 years ago. He went to the bank for a loan.
    Welcker, the fourth-generation managing partner of the Cologne-based firm Alfred H. Schtte, was faced with a drop of up to 90 percent in orders for the machine tools the firm manufactures, which are used in factories around the world.
    At that point in time, it doesnt matter how healthy you are you are in a tough situation, he told The Local. I went to the bank and said, It doesnt matter that I never needed help. I do now.
    At the same time, he made massive use of the federal governments Kurzarbeit scheme, allowing him to reduce his employees work hours and in some cases their wages rather than laying them off.
    I went to the guys and said, Well go through it together and we are not laying anyone off, he said.

    That was just two years ago. Last year, Schttes sales rose 200 percent and will likely rise even more this year a stunning turnaround that highlights the rebound of Germanys economy since it suffered its worst recession since World War II between 2008 and 2009.
    As fast as it went down, its gone back up again, Welcker said.
    Schtte is one of what author Hermann Simon, of the consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, has famously called the hidden champions the thousands of small- and medium-sized firms that form the backbone of the German economy.
    The Mittelstand, as they are called in German, are playing a key role in the torrent of strong economic data coming out of Germany. Last Friday, official figures revealed the economy grew by 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011, its largest year-on-year growth since reunification. The country's economic output has now exceeded the pre-crisis level of early 2008.
    Figures released earlier in the week showed that exports had reached 98.3 billion in March, the highest monthly figure since record-keeping began in 1950. Unemployment fell below 3 million for the first time in almost 19 years in late April.
    These hidden champions are playing a central role in Germanys economic recovery, Hermann Simon told The Local.
    The breakfast of champions
    The typical Mittelstand is an unpretentious, quietly successful manufacturing firm run by its owners often families covering several generations with a loyal, local workforce that has been trained at the firm through apprenticeships.
    More than two thirds are family-owned and based in small cities or rural communities especially in the Rhineland and Baden-Wrttemberg. The average age of these firms is 70 years. They employ more than two-thirds of the countrys workers and contribute half of its GDP.
    Mittelstand firms such as machine tool-makers suffered heavily during the global recession but also bounced back quickly because their products are what Simon calls postponable but indispensable. They sell things that businesses absolutely need but rarely need right away.
    The strength of the growth is probably temporary we wont have a new export record every month as we did in March, he said. But the long-term prospects are quite good to very good.
    The Mittelstand have inherent strengths, many experts say. Management consultant and author Bernd Venohr told a recent conference in Vienna that they focus on long-term survival and consider themselves part of their local communities, which commands the loyalty of their workers and their suppliers.
    The owner-managers consider themselves stewards of a firm they will pass onto the next generation rather than flashy CEOs.
    "The culture was helpful to survive the crisis," Venohr told The Local this week. "The Mittelstand behaved counter-cyclically: they tried to keep qualified staff, invested in research and development and sales, whereas many publicly listed companies with short-term performance pressures laid off people."
    Having avoided firing people in 2009, firms like Schtte still had their fully trained workforces when the economic climate improved, which helped them bounce back faster.
    Germany still has a strong industrial base, other than say Great Britain or the United States, Welcker said. There were also smart and lucky decisions by politicians and entrepreneurs, (such as) Kurzarbeit.
    He said this allowed companies like his to keep the employees on board and prepare for a bigger and better future instead of just shrinking towards oblivion.
    Indeed, Welcker never ended up having to draw on the line of bank credit he eventually secured for his firm. Things picked up before he needed it.
    Mittelstand firms also tend to make high-quality, specialised products such as machine tools that cant be bought elsewhere. Emerging economies, most obviously China, cant get enough of Germanys well-made tools.
    China may be the worlds factory, but Germany companies are building it, Venohr said.
    Riding the dragon
    Indeed China overall is a major factor in the current boom, presenting both a massive opportunity but also a longer-term challenge to German manufacturers, experts say.
    For now, it is sucking up German exports, especially for the automotive industry.
    We are doing a lot of forecasting work and we always tell our companies that its not a question of whether, but how much, the demand is shifting to Asia, said Gerhard Hein, the director of economics and statistics with the German Machine Tool Builders Association.
    Take China for example: the demand is one third of the entire order intake from abroad in the case of German machine tools. This portion will increase and ... in say 2013 or 2014 we will see 60 or even 65 percent of worldwide machine tool demand coming from Asia. This is the big challenge.
    German Mittelstand firms have been flexible enough to adjust well to the new demand from the Far East, Hein said. But he and others agree that the looming issue is that China wont be satisfied to remain a second-rate manufacturer itself.
    The Chinese are always clever enough that they never buy a mere machine. They always ask for know-how, process support, training of the workforce and other after-sales services, Hein said.
    It wont be long before China is a competitor as well as a customer.
    China is the most serious competitor to the Mittelstand, Hermann Simon said. They are saying, We want to be world class. We are determined to become world class.
    Until then, commentators agree that the next few years should be a healthy time for the hidden champions.
    Im quite confident we are at the beginning of an upswing that should reach for three or four years, said Gerhard Hein. We will see a strong jump in production in 2011 and also a prosperous 2012 for the Mittelstand.
    Bernd Venohr agreed China would become a "formidable competitor" and said speed bumps such as a possible burst of China's real estate bubble could spring up but added, "mid-term, I am optimistic."

  2. Taking a bite out of schools and our future, by Pete Mazzaccaro via Erik Hubbard, ChestnutHillLocal.com
    Philadelphia, Penn. - On Sunday, some 200 local residents attended a rally at the Trolley Car Diner to protest impending cuts to the citys education budget.
    The group of public school parents and children wanted to call attention to the fact that those budget cuts at both the state and local level will further cripple public schools by dramatically harming a number of important programs.
    What will be cut? Locally, according to Protect Public Education, an organization of parents and educators fighting the cuts in Philadelphia, public schools in the city will see the end of all-day kindergarten, the elimination of transportation, a 50 percent reduction in gifted and talented programs and across-the-board reductions to staff, including police, nurses, music teachers and counselors.
    PPE and other education advocates warn that those cuts will only further erode the quality of education afforded to students who need it the most. I have to agree.
    The reduction of Kindergarten alone will be devastating to many, as parents will be forced to pay more for after-school care and cut hours off of their work schedules. Its also giving up valuable education time to children at what most experts believe is a critical age.

    Philadelphia public school advocates are not alone. Battle lines have been drawn across the state and across the country as tighter budgets have sent politicians everywhere scrambling to save money by working over budgets to cut spending.
    Driving across Montgomery County, you cant help but notice the signs on lawns for a coming and heated battle for positions on school boards in nearly every district. The cuts to state aid and dwindling revenues everywhere have left school boards faced with the same tough choices cuts in programs or higher taxes. As many of the red signs I see suggest (Im guessing Republican by the color because the signs are never specific), a lot of school board candidates are telling voters theyve been taxed enough. That message will likely resonate with nearly anyone paying high property taxes without a child in school. In fact, the tax message resonates with nearly everyone.
    As citizens, then, were forced with an even tougher choice. One that, in fact, seems impossible: higher taxes or less quality in the schools? For many, neither option is acceptable. As a result, Ive noticed that parents are beginning to turn on teachers and public school unions. The logic goes: If the unions demanded less, then we could make up some of the losses and keep programs. But the unions wont budge, so were forced to lay off people and cut kindergarten.
    At the rate this is going, there will be no end to the cuts. States and municipalities are going to continue to look for cost savings in public service. And because public school parents are not a strong lobbying group, theyll be forced to continue and accept reduced quality at their schools. When will it end?
    We cannot continue to make education a budget issue. The best achieving nations in the world right now have the strongest pubic education systems. We have to stand by public education funding and make it a priority, not another line item that could use a good trim to avoid tax increases and bolster a politicians resume.
    Education is the best thing we can spend money on to make sure our children do better than we do. Right now, were not doing a very good job of making sure that happens.

5/17/2011 – 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. Layoffs, reduction of work hours announced at Westerly Hospital, by Judy Benson, TheDay.com
    WESTERLY, Conn. Westerly Hospital announced this morning that it would lay off 29 staff members, reduce hours for 59 others and eliminate several open positions.
    [Presumably there'd have been a lot more layoffs without the hours reductions.]
    These reductions in staff are an unfortunate result of our ongoing efforts to make the hospital viable and competitive in the face of changes that are affecting our patient volumes and dramatically different ways in which health care is to be funded in the years ahead, Charles S. Kinney, hospital president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. We have not set out simply to cut positions; we have aimed to look closely at our processes what we do, when we do it and how we can do things better and in ways that respond to what we are seeing now and in the future.
    The hospital employs 859 full- and part-time workers, the equivalent of 613 full-time positions.
    Kinney said the hospital will always have a prominent and leading role in the health care of this community, but not in all of the same exact ways we have in the past.
    Notifications to employees being laid off will begin on Wednesday. Some will not be told until other employees whose jobs are being cut decide whether to exercise their seniority rights and move into remaining positions, the hospital said.
    The hospital said it hired Carpedia, an outside consulting firm, to find efficiencies and more cost-effective ways of running the hospital.
    Nick Stahl, hospital spokesman, emphasized that there will be no elimination of hospital services, although some adjustments to hours may occur. The changes reflect the fact that more services are being provided in outpatient versus inpatient settings.
    These trends are having a negative effect on the hospitals revenue, as the national system aims to lower the cost of health care overall, the news release said.

  2. Las Vegas officials approve spending plan for new year, by Alan Choate, Las Vegas Review-Journal via lvrj.com
    LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Las Vegas officials approved a $455.2 million spending plan for the next fiscal year on Tuesday, and while it includes an expected $4.2 million shortfall it still presents a much rosier fiscal picture than was expected after the recession.
    Even so, the city needs to keep identifying ways to cut costs, said Finance Director Candace Falder, since it will probably be about a decade before Las Vegas' revenues really recover.
    "This looks very healthy, but we're not out of the woods yet," she said. "We really need to do what we've been doing the last three years."
    Mayor Oscar Goodman praised city management as well as employees and the unions that represent them for making concessions and cuts that prevented much larger shortfalls.
    "If anybody thinks we're not going to have to do it again, they're wrong," he said. "It's not getting better. Hopefully, we're in a holding pattern."
    The city has $72.6 million in reserves that can absorb the fiscal 2012 shortfall. But continuing to rely on those funds will deplete them, Falder said, which would leave the city financially vulnerable and hurt its bond rating.
    Las Vegas expects $451.1 million in general fund revenue in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. That's down from $462.3 million in the current fiscal year. Spending is also down -- expenditures were $460.4 in the current fiscal year, compared to the $455.2 million next year.
    The general fund pays the city's operating expenses, the largest chunk of which is wages and benefits. Before the recession, general fund revenues were as much as $100 million higher.
    Since 2008, when the city first started responding to the recession, Las Vegas has eliminated 615 positions, including 270 layoffs, initiated buyouts, cut hours and programs and negotiated labor concessions with employees to save money.
    No layoffs are planned in the next budget year, but another buyout program is scheduled.

    Public employees have taken heat in the past for salary and benefit packages that some in the private sector find overly generous. A city study found that in a number of cases, but not all, salaries were higher than comparable positions in other jurisdictions. Some of the discrepancies have been addressed with lower salary scales for new-hires, but the city is actually hiring for only a handful of positions.
    There's some good news for city officials in the budget -- consolidated sales tax revenue is expected to climb by $5.2 million to $211.7 million. Property tax revenue, though, is projected to plunge by $10.3 million to $91.5 million. The budget can be amended if necessary during the year.
    It will be eight to 13 years before those levies recover to pre-recessions levels, said City Manager Betsy Fretwell.
    "That is not an easy thing to overcome, especially when those make up 70 percent of your revenues," she said.
    The budget assumes that concessions granted by the city's four employee unions stay in place, including pay cuts and the suspension of all raises. Three of the four have agreed, but the city and firefighters have not reached a deal worth $6 million in savings.
    Should a deal not be reached, one option the city has for reaching that savings goal is to reduce firefighter overtime, said Mark Vincent, the city's chief financial officer.
    Separate from the general fund budget is spending on capital projects, which are funded by separate sources such as the fire safety initiatives tax, tax credits and savings from completed projects.
    The 2012 capital budget is $447 million, $150 million less than the current year, and will be used to maintain city assets such as roads, sidewalks, medians and buildings, Falder said.
    Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

  3. Human resources: power to the people, by Virginia Marsh, Financial Times via ft.com
    James Schrager - Clinical professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, University of Chicago Booth School of Business - Growth should always be pursued, as expansion drives rewards for investors and managers. It is harder in difficult times, but special opportunities are often available when the economy slows acquisition prices are reduced, providing growth potential at a discount. Tough times can weaken competitors. Although stock prices and pay packages may not respond immediately, once the market resets, foundations set in adversity can later power big gains. (photo caption) LONDON, England - At the height of the recession, it took Andrew Cosslett, chief executive of InterContinental Hotels, little more than the flick of a switch to summon his 400 knights, the groups top executives around the globe, for in-depth briefings a couple of times a month.
    A distinguishing feature of the latest recession has been the greatly increased availability of communications technology. As well as providing far more opportunities for flexible working, it has given business leaders much better access to employees, and vice versa.
    Many of our general managers are very remote, says Tracy Robbins, executive vice-president of global human resources at InterContinental. [The briefings] helped them feel connected. Nothing took them by surprise.
    The knights briefings were backed up with a new Leaders Lounge, an online portal launched in 2009 that enables executives to swap information, receive regular video messages from top management and access e-learning.
    Another key difference from previous recessions has been organisations attitude to their staff.
    Palle Ellemann, a Copenhagen-based HR consultant, says: In the past 10-15 years, there has been a much stronger belief that organisations are people driven and that lay-offs have huge costs not only in losing talent, but also in the trust of those that stay. At the same time, expectations of how companies act in [lay-off situations] are a lot higher. This can even be a good opportunity if all the values you talk about are proven through the crisis.
    Now, as companies look to put the recession behind them and position themselves for growth, talent management is still high on the agenda.
    A global survey of 700 chief executives, published last month by the Conference Board, the US business research group, found that talent how to find, keep, grow and reward it was the second most pressing challenge; those in Asia went further, rating it their number one issue. Talent was not even in the top seven challenges globally in the previous two surveys, says Rebecca Ray, vice-president and managing director of human capital.
    Even at companies that have had to make deep cuts during the recession, the approach was more strategic, reflecting an emphasis on retaining talent, says Michael Rendell, global HR services practice leader at PwC, the consultancy. This time there has not been wholesale slash and burn, he says.
    Many companies were forced to cut or scale back graduate trainee schemes during the recession. But a few, concerned about longer-term skills shortages, kept them going.
    Even though it cut overall staff numbers from 300,000 to 250,000, Citi, the financial services group, barely touched its trainee programmes. This year it plans to recruit 1,800 trainees and 1,400 summer interns globally, says John Harker, head of HR for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We did not want to denude our pipeline for the future, so we kept our presence on campus, he says.
    Equally, Citi has tried to retain the skills of working mothers, part of efforts to create a family-friendly organisation. Its flexible working and maternity buddy initiatives, for example, have contributed to a 96 per cent return rate among new mothers.
    To help it attract a wider talent pool, KPMG, the accountancy firm, has opened its graduate trainee programmes to older candidates such as women returning to the workplace after starting a family. It also has schemes to attract ethnic minorities and school leavers. We realised we needed to go further than the traditional milk round [of recruiting on campus], says Michelle Quest, UK head of people.
    Those that are not yet ready to recruit staff post-recession can still be proactive, says Claire McCartney, a resourcing adviser at the UKs Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Companies can keep talent warm for the future staying in touch so they can respond quickly, she says. In this, new technology has helped, making it far easier to set up alumni groups of former employees, for example.
    Financial incentives still matter, but career development and training are increasingly sought by employees. People value opportunities to [learn new skills] very strongly, says Mr Rendell at PwC.
    Underwriters Laboratories, a US safety testing organisation with nearly 7,000 employees around the world, has stuck to its goal of investing 2 per cent of revenues in training. Among other things, this has demonstrated that the commitment to training is real, says Keith Williams, chief executive. It has been perceived in a positive way. People feel the organisation cares about them. And it will give us advantages post-recession.
    Others responded to the slowdown by bringing more training in-house and using staff who are now free to deliver courses to colleagues, often via sophisticated intranets such as InterContinentals Leaders Lounge.
    Learning is becoming more self-centred, says Michael Dickmann, a professor in HR at Cranfield School of Management. You have to be more proactive and the master of your own career. Companies can give you career opportunities but not security.
    As well as job openings, KPMGS intranet includes case studies to give staff a clearer idea of what different jobs entail. Ms Quest says the accountancy firm has also maintained global mobility programmes for top talent, an area many organisations cut during the recession.
    These include the Tax Trek, whereby newly qualified tax accountants can undertake a short placement in an overseas office, almost as a thank you for their hard work, she says, or Go Network, which entails longer assignments usually of 18 months to two years.
    More broadly, companies are becoming more adept at moving key staff from the slower growth cold spots to the hot spots in the global economy, says Mr Rendell at PwC.
    Such programmes require careful management, says Matt Crosby, an associate director at Hay Group, the consultancy. They are fraught with risk. [For those posted overseas] finding a job to come back to can be difficult, he says.
    The big challenge in the near term will be rebuilding trust in the workforce and finding ways to motivate jaded staff at a time when workloads have risen. In spite of signs that the economy may be returning to growth, CIPD research shows that trust in senior leaders has continued to decline this year. There is fatigue with new initiatives after so much change, Mr Crosby says.
    There also needs to be realignment in many cases, individuals targets and rewards are the same as two years ago in spite of sharp shifts in corporate priorities. A common challenge is that individuals do not understand corporate strategy and their place in it and therefore dont see the value in what they do, says Ms Ray at the Conference Board.
    Companies should give more support to line managers, she says. Among other things, they can help motivate staff through informal career chats and by recognising individual and team achievements, something that research shows people seek. It is important to celebrate small wins, she says.
    But companies also need to be more systematic about redistributing responsibilities post-recession, says Mr Rendell at PwC. This is still an issue. Resource planning is in its infancy in many organisations.
    Flexible working
    Such is the draw of flexible working that McDonalds, the fast-food chain, allows two friends or family members employed in the same outlet in the US to cover one anothers shifts without prior notice.
    European employees with wanderlust can apply for a McPassport, enabling them to work for the chain across the continent. And those unhappy with their shift allocations can turn to McTime, a scheme that allows employees to manage their schedules.
    Staff say the policies which have helped improve diversity have made them prouder to work for the company.
    Research by PwC, the accountancy firm, last year found that nearly half of UK employees rated flexible working as the most prized benefit.
    In some countries, flexible working is well entrenched and backed by the state. The German government, for example, set aside 5.1bn ($2.2bn) in 2009 to support a Kurzarbeit or short-time working programme that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates saved almost 500,000 jobs.
    The German system is geared to making reductions in staff difficult in bad times, says Michael Dickmann, a professor in human resource management at Cranfield School of Management.
    KPMG introduced a version of Kurzarbeit in the UK in 2009. More than three-quarters of staff, including partners, volunteered to work a four-day week or take a sabbatical, saving the accountancy firm 4m ($6.6m) or the equivalent of 100 full-time jobs.

    Similar arrangements were available pre-recession, says Michelle Quest, UK head of people at KPMG, but the programme opened peoples eyes to the possibilities, she says.
    Like others, she says flexible working helps employees achieve a better work/life balance, which in turn improves productivity.
    More research on flexible working is needed, says Rebecca Ray, a vice-president at the Conference Board, the US business research organisation. We need more documentation of success stories, productivity levels and the impact on revenues.

5/15-16/2011 – 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. Project expected to boost economy, by Donna Kelly, 5/15 NewsChief.com
    WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Orange Dome is coming down.
    That is scheduled to happen in late June, and will be the first visible sign of The Landings at Winter Haven, a $150 million private- public project city officials expect to breathe new life into the city's economy.
    But the local economy is already starting to feel the boost as the three-phase, four-year project gets under way, creating a new gateway into the city east and west of U.S. 17 as that major thorough- fare enters the city's southwest corner.
    That boost is in part linked to a clause in the contract between the city and developer Tony Benge that specifies the consideration of local vendors for the project that will remake the Chain of Lakes Complex into a combination of business and public facilities.
    But it is a clause Benge said he is happy to fulfill.
    "We've been impressed with the local talent in the community," Benge said.
    His business partner, Taylor Pursell, agrees.
    "There's no reason to go anywhere else," he said. "The more of these dollars that stay in the local community affects the impact exponentially."
    Expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs and $48 million in economic impact upon completion, Benge and Pursell, who will be a principal owner in The Landings, said the project is already giving a shot in the arm to local companies hired to work on engineering, traffic studies and preliminary design.
    These firms include Pickett Survey and Tucker Construction.
    And Benge and Pursell hired local printing firm Thompson Printing to create business cards and event banners, and used Traditions Bank for financial services.
    Dave Carter of Carter Engineering said this bodes well for Winter Haven-based businesses, especially after several economically difficult years.
    His company is just starting to work on site planning and preliminary design while coordinating efforts with the developer, city staff, subcontractors and others involved with The Landings project.
    Like other consulting firms weathering the recession, Carter has had to cut work hours and expenses in the past few years.
    But the economic boost generated from the upcoming opening of Legoland and the development of The Landings has made a positive difference for Carter, who has a staff of six employees.
    "We've gone from a maintain workload staff to everyone working as hard as they can to accommodate," Carter said. "We've gone from an idle to full blast in the matter of a few months."
    Carters said businesses in Winter Haven are in a "very unique spot" because of the coming of Legoland and The Landings.
    "That is going to have a trickle down effect to other businesses such as landscaping and title companies," he said.
    His company has experienced a "definite uptick" over the past few months. He attributes this to a stirring economy and people deciding to begin projects they've had on hold.
    "The Landings -- that will kind of get things started," Carter said.
    Benge said The Landings project has already drawn interest from a number of potential tenants.
    "A large portion of key tenants have been set," he said, adding that he hopes to announce them in the near future. "The rest of the negotiations will continue over the summer."
    According to Dave Dickey, the city's community and economic development director, said Chick-fil-A has filed preliminary paperwork with the city.
    Construction is expected to begin in March 2012 with noticeable changes by that June.
    Initial construction is likely to be on the public facilities as those currently in use cannot be demolished until they are completed.
    Upon completion, the $150 million mixed-use development will include two hotels with a combined 400 rooms, four or five restaurants, half a dozen fast food establishments, a movie theater, a major retailer and several smaller retailers as well as residential apartments.
    The private-public partnership between the City of Winter Haven and Landings Winter Haven Partners LLC, the project will also include a new facility housing general recreation, a pool and Theatre Winter Haven.
    This will be built on eight acres retained by the city for public facilities.
    Donna Kelly can be reached at 863-401-6969 or donna.kelly@newschief.com

  2. Sex Assault Charge Slams France's Socialists, by Jean Granville, 5/15 FrumForum.com
    PARIS, France - IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahns arrest for sexual assault pretty much puts an end to his candidacy for 2012, and possibly to his career as a politician.
    When Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Strauss-Kahn as the French candidate for IMF directorship, he wasnt doing him any favors. Sarkozy knew that Strauss-Kahn would have to come back to France some time before the end of his term in order to run in the 2012 presidential election, which in turn would complicate the Socialist partys choice of a candidate. In addition, it wouldnt look very good on the part of Strauss-Kahn to quit his post in order to return to run for political office. And in fact, the position wouldnt help him with the French left which doesnt like the IMF, an institution they see as the embodiment of the free-market.
    [Unlikely. Everyone knows it's a thinly veiled instrument of suicidal American foreign policy described in John Perkins' 2005 book, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman," which confirmed from the inside what Chomsky has been saying for decades.]
    Nevertheless, Strauss-Kahn was performing well in the polls. It may not have meant much a year before an election, but he had a good chance to run well. There were issues: a few weeks ago, he was spotted getting out of an expensive Porsche, which in itself isnt damaging but is a problem for a politician who was asking Greece to lower their wages while pushing for the opposite policy in France. All that was expected by Sarkozy who knew that the IMF position would complicate any Strauss-Kahn political run.
    Some people speculate that the alleged sexual assault incident was planned by Strauss-Kahns opponents, but information is scarce and quite frankly, it doesnt make much of a difference. Thats because Strauss-Kahn has been linked to scandalous behavior before. Less than 24 hours after Strauss-Kahn was shamefully arrested trying to flee the U.S., stories are emerging that were ignored or under-reported earlier. Strauss-Kahn has been known for years to have a problem with women and it is quite possible that he has behaved criminally: A journalist claimed in 2007 that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her.
    The French media though tends to look the other way in those sorts of cases. French political culture has a reputation for being relatively blind to politicians private lives. Many French politicians cheat on their spouses without anyone taking any interest in the story. Whether this is the right way to deal with such matters is open to debate.
    Even if the story involving a hotel chambermaid is a conspiracy, which it doesnt look like, that probably wouldnt save Strauss-Kahn. His past is coming to the surface and his reputation is irremediably hurt now. Hes history. If it is a conspiracy, its a very good one: the kind that damages the target even if [the conspiracy is] discovered.
    That leaves Sarkozy with much less dangerous Socialist opponents: Martine Aubry, the daughter of Jacques Delors, ex-president of the European commission, secretary general of the party, and the politician who originated the 35 hour week; Franois Hollande, another socialist apparatchik with no particular charisma [SMEAR ALERT]; and Sgolne Royal who lost to Sarkozy before and lacks credibility. None of them looks very frightening for Sarkozy.

  3. Wage push counter-productive: business, by Belinda Merhab, The Age via theage.com.au
    CANBERRA, Australia - At least 100,000 small businesses would reduce their employees' working hours if unions achieve a $28 a week increase in the minimum wage, a business lobby group says.
    The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said the Fair Work Australia Minimum Wage Panel - which began hearings in the annual wages review on Monday - must deliver fairness to small businesses as well as workers.
    The ACTU is seeking a rise of $28 a week for the nation's lowest-paid workers, a group predominantly made up of women and people of non-English-speaking backgrounds.
    The proposed increase would see the minimum wage rise from $569.90 to $597.90.
    ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said such a rise would be counterproductive, prompting businesses to cut working hours as well as putting pressure on inflation.
    "An increase of anything like what the union movement is seeking this year would see at least 100,000 small businesses move to reduce working hours," Mr Anderson told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
    "That would be a tragedy, not just for their employees but for those businesses and for the customers.
    "We need to make sure that these decisions don't have a counterproductive impact either on working hours or putting additional pressure on inflation which could just simply lift interest rates and no one would be the winner."
    The proposal would add $3.6 billion to the wages bill of struggling small- and medium-sized businesses, he said.
    In its submission, the ACCI said last year's record $26 a week rise for workers saw one-third of Australia's small businesses reduce working hours.
    The ACCI is proposing an increase of $9.50 per week.
    ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said the $28 a week claim, which would affect 1.4 million Australians, was justified to help those who had lost ground and were struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, while the rest of Australia went forward.
    "People on award wages have actually gone backwards compared to what's happening in the rest of the community, not to mention the level of profits and the level of executive salaries which have again started to skyrocket," Mr Lawrence said.
    "The claim is sustainable because of the state of the economy.
    "We have unemployment going down and we have inflation within the Reserve Bank's band, the Australian economy has actually survived the global financial crisis in a much stronger position than just about any economy you can think of."
    He said last year's increase had a positive effect on the economy, with jobs growth continuing.
    Minister for Workplace Relations Chris Evans said the federal government updated its submission to the case following last week's budget and supported an increase, but would not specify a figure.
    "We've taken the view that low-paid workers ought not be left behind and the mechanism there is for Fair Work Australia to make an appropriate decision about the quantum of any increase awarded," Senator Evans said in Brisbane.
    Fair Work Australia will make its decision in June.

5/14/2011 – 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. Labor movement supports needs of working families, letter to editor by Alyssa Marino of Whippany, DailyRecord.com
    WHIPPANY, N.J. - The labor movement is driven by working citizens, for working citizens, against unfair treatment and for the benefit of all members. Organizations within the labor movement work collectively to campaign for better treatment from employers, governments and other entities.The movement was created under the mindset that groups have more power than individuals, and employers are forced to listen to the concerns of this majority. Modern-day unions have helped workers earn higher wages and better working conditions, as well as other needs and rights. These union victories have been invaluable to families involved in the labor movement. Working families cannot speak for themselves in the face of low wages, cut hours or lack of benefits. They depend on larger entities, such as unions, to speak on their behalf and bargain with employers.
    [If unions had stuck to their power issue and kept cutting the hours defined as "full time," working families would be able to speak for themselves and they would have the "scarcity power" to be heard, instead of being powerless superfluities whom CEOs can safely ignore.]
    This movement started back in the 16th century, and is still going strong today.
    [Actually it's quite weak = less than 13% of the workforce, down from over 35% in the 1950s because it didn't stick to its power issue = redefining "full time" lower and levels of worksaving technology rose higher.]
    As long as there are workers, and families with needs that are not being met by employers, there will be unions. Labor movements in the U.S. have been at the center of social changes for centuries. Without the labor movement and the associated struggles, there would be no child labor laws, limited (or no) worker compensation and safety laws, no unemployment insurance, no Social Security or Medicare, etc. The labor movement also played a key role in the advancements in civil rights and womens rights.
    If these advancements dont illustrate the influence of the labor movement on families, I dont know what will. The labor movement has allowed for workers to compete, achieve and provide for their families for generations.

  2. Customers aren't always right, letter to editor, Grimsby Telegraph via thisisgrimsby.co.uk
    GRIMSBY, U.K. - I felt compelled to reply to the letter A Lack Of Manners. I also have worked in retail since I was 16 and have seen a lot of changes.
    Sales assistants are under a lot of pressure, it's not like the good old days when you stood behind a counter. There is a lot of backroom pressure that the general public does not know about or see.
    I know that is no excuse for bad manners, and if you get bad service, complain, I am sure the management of the establishment would want to know, as bad service could lose them custom.
    I work with some lovely and very hard-working people who I feel I must stand up for.
    Sometimes we do make mistakes and if we do, tell us so we can learn from them.
    Have you ever thought that maybe the reason they didn't take you to where the product is, is because they do not have enough staff to be able to give you the one-on-one service that you deserve? I know this is just not good enough but unfortunately this is out of the control of the assistant, as it seems the norm nowadays is to cut hours and work with fewer staff.
    How many places have we all been in where it is nigh on impossible to find someone to help you, or had to stand in a long queue at the till as only one person is serving? Again not good enough, but again not the assistant's fault.
    One area where I totally disagree is "that the customer is always right". They are certainly not. Don't get me wrong, there are some very nice customers out there who make our job a pleasure to do, but some are not.
    Are customers right to talk down to you or be rude? Are customers right to take out their bad day on someone trying to help them? Are customers right to have conversations on their phones when you are trying to serve them? No, they are not.
    If customers want respect from the staff in the shops they frequent then they need to show respect in return. After all, we are all human and just trying to get through our days as trouble-free as possible.
    Customers are asked if they require a bag for their goods as part of the recycling effort are we not being told daily to try to save the environment?
    The assistants are doing as they have been directed, don't take umbrage just because you are asked.
    I am sure they are more than happy to provide you with one, but a lot of customers do decline so saving the company money and helping the recycling effort in the long run.
    As for the marigold incident, perhaps if you explained yourself correctly, you would have been directed to the right area, after all, marigolds are flowers, so in this instance the assistant was right.
    If you had asked for rubber gloves then I am sure you would have been directed to the household goods department.
    All in all the majority of retail assistants out there are good at their jobs and do it with a smile, a please and a thank you. Perhaps if some customers put the same into practice, the retail world would be a happier place.
    A happy retail worker (details supplied).

5/13/2011 – 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. First Thoughts: What we learned this week, comments, msnbc.com
    ...NEW JERSEY - Alan, NJ #4 - Fri May 13, 2011 9:27 AM EDT
    I noticed the President called on businesses to hire more people.
    I always thought businesses hire more employees to meet current or future demand, not just for the sake of hiring.
    But if the President says it then I think he could lead by example. He had an income of $1.7M, on which he paid around $450K (26%), leaving $1.25M. So, assuming he and his family can live on $250K, which is in the top 2%, this leaves $1M. This means he could employ 10 people at $100K (inc benefits). I don't know what these people would actually do, maybe Michelle needs some help around the house, but if its good enough for the President then it should be good enough for American business.
    Nashville_fan #4.1 - Fri May 13, 2011 9:31 AM EDT
    Poor mistreated American businesses, making record profits, getting bonuses even when their businesses are complete disasters, and getting bailed out by the taxpayers whenever they screw up . . . all with zero tax liability themselves.
    Somebody pass me a tissue.
    Alan, NJ #4.2 - Fri May 13, 2011 9:36 AM EDT ...
    I looked up General Motors on Wikipedia. Did you write their wiki page because that's exactly what it says.
    no joe, no bo, nj
    Thanks for the laugh, Alan.
    Kind of keeps you from crying over the destructive policies of this president.
    The inflation numbers were announced this morning- 2.7%. Sounds okay, right?
    Well, first, people need to understand the recalculation involved. So, "quality of life" items are factored in- how many ipads a month do you buy? I am guessing that even the most "techie " among us only buy one every year or two, so, while it is nice that you get more bang for your buck, you still cannot eat them.
    Food at home was up 3.9% last month - and that is the GOOD news. Wholesale food prices are up 6.8%; due to competition, grocery chains are eating the costs. How do they do that and still make a profit? They cut hours, and lay-off employees.
    Kind of explains the rise in new claims for unemployment.

    [There'd be more claims for unemployment if they didn't cut hours.
    There'd be NO claims for unemployment if we cut hours enough economywide to create a job for everyone, however short a workweek it takes, and pay would rise because there'd be no more 5000 resumes pouring in for every 5 job openings, each underbidding the other.]
    In other news, we [taxpayers] are going to unload GM stock this summer - Obama sees it as a drag on his campaign. Good for us, right?
    Wrong. We are going to take a bath, to the tune of about $20billion.
    Do not get me started on the inflation rate for gas - which affects everything, not just driving to work. Obama's "plan" is to demagogue the issue - maybe even raise taxes on the oil companies. Hmmm - so, in response to a rise in consumer [prices], his solution is to raise the cost of doing business?
    Makes as much sense as whining that businesses should hire more people because it will be good for his re-election.
    Obama says he needs four more years because he cannot "finish the job" in only one term. If he gets it, he will finish us off.
    [But the other side was finishing us off faster - great choice!]
    He should have stuck to WTF. That is how most people feel about his presidency.
    Especially when they pay for their groceries or fill up their cars.
    [So we can choose between the Dems = slow strichnine drip, or the GOP = massive doses of arsenic, various flavors.]

  2. Library to have its opening hours cut, ThisIsSomerset.co.uk
    FROME, Somerset, U.K. - Frome Library will operate on reduced hours from October, Somerset County Council has announced.
    The library is one of 23 that the county council agreed to continue funding when it announced controversial cuts to the service. But now it has been revealed that it will be operating under shorter hours.

    An extra 30,000 has been found to help 11 community run libraries, which lost their council funding in the cuts.
    The extra funding was revealed by Councillor Christine Lawrence, cabinet member for community services, as part of her decision to take forward savings proposals agreed by the council's cabinet in February to make a 25 per cent reduction in the library service budget.
    The library cuts were viewed with anger by people who staged a number of protests around the county's libraries, including one outside Frome Library in which hundreds of signatures were collected in a petition.
    The new opening hours will be: Monday 9.30am to 1.30pm, Tuesday 9.30am to 5pm, Wednesday 9.30am to 5pm, Thursday, 9.30am to 1.30pm, Friday 9.30am to 5pm, Saturday 9.30am to 4pm.
    The county council said it is in discussion about what will happen to the town council-run tourist information centre's hours, which is housed in the library after moving from the Round Tower earlier this year.
    A spokesman for Frome Town Council said: "We are disappointed that the county council has decided to reduce the hours at the library.
    "The town council operates the information centre in the library and we might have to offer a reduced service as a result.
    "Visitors and residents alike will suffer. We are in discussion with the county council to see if the opening hours of the information centre can be retained."
    A county council spokeswoman confirmed the new opening hours from October.
    She said: said: "The new opening hours will vary for each library and were devised based on responses to questionnaires completed by library users, analysis of visits and computer usage, and the experience and knowledge of library staff."

5/12/2011 – 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. Idaho Legal Aid to begin shuttering offices on some days to save money, by John Miller, AP via DailyJournal.net
    BOISE, Idaho Money woes are forcing a non-profit legal aid outfit that helps thousands of Idaho's poorest residents to begin shuttering its offices on selected days.
    Idaho Legal Aid Services, which has already cut hours of its staff and 21 attorneys, has a $250,000 hole in its $2.6 million annual budget. Its leaders say employees at nine offices will now take forced days off without pay starting on May 27. If that's not enough, layoffs could be in the offing, said deputy director James Cook.

    [So far, timesizing is preventing downsizing.]
    Congress in April cut about $15.8 million from the federal agency that provides about 60 percent of Idaho Legal Aid Services' funding.
    And a bill in the 2011 Idaho Legislature that would have shored up its coffers died amid opposition from the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, which has tangled with Legal Aid Services in the past over labor laws that govern migrant workers.
    Cook says the demise of this year's legislation kept Idaho as the only state that doesn't provide any funding for legal aid for poor people to get assistance with domestic violence cases, disputes with their landlords, foreclosures, child abuse and neglect cases.
    "The sad part about it is, the population that's eligible for our services has gone up," Cook said. "Part of the problem is, our budget has remained the same for a long time."
    With the recent recession, the number of Idaho residents living at 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and are eligible for services from Legal Aid has swelled to 187,000, Cook said. The group says only one in five of Idaho's indigent seeking help are able to be served because of lack of funds and a reduced staff.
    Idaho Legal Aid has seven offices in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Boise, Caldwell, Lewiston and Coeur d'Alene, as well as two satellite offices in Nampa and Boise.
    It provides direct legal assistance to more than 2,000 people annually, as well as advice over two telephone hot lines for seniors and domestic-violence victims to another roughly 2,000 people.
    Congress in April cut the 2011 budget for the federal Legal Services Corporation to $404.2 million, from $420 million in 2010. That's where Idaho Legal Aid gets more than half of its funding, with the rest coming from grants and donations.
    Anticipating a cut, Idaho Legal Aid leaders went to state lawmakers in March with hat in hand, hoping to convince them to add a $10 user fee on civil cases in Idaho's courts. That would have raised an additional $800,000 annually money to help victims of domestic violence, abused and neglected children, elder exploitation, foreclosures, and veterans' issues, according to the legislation. 
    Though it passed the House on a narrow 38-32 vote, the bill didn't get a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee after opposition from the Idaho Farm Bureau.
    Old animosities, it turns out, may have helped stall the bill.
    Back in 1996, the Idaho Farm Bureau and Idaho Legal Aid were on opposite sides of the debate to extend workers compensation to injured farm workers, with the Farm Bureau fighting the measure and Legal Aid promoting it as a protection for migrant workers who help harvest the state's crops.
    The Farm Bureau lost that battle, but the advocacy group continues to oppose measures that help Idaho Legal Aid.
    "What's that money going to be used for?" John Thompson, a spokesman for the Farm Bureau, told The Associated Press on Thursday. "The bill spelled out that the money was supposed to be used for helping people who need it. We don't oppose that. But at the same time, does that money free up the organization to do other things that could adversely affect agriculture?"
    Cook insists his group hasn't been a thorn in Idaho agriculture's side.
    "We do have a farmworker unit, but it's tiny," he said, adding most of Idaho Legal Aid's representation is focused on victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
    Idaho Legal Aid does plan to return to the 2012 Legislature in another bid to pass the funding legislation.

  2. Palm Harbor tackles decreased tax base, by Juliana Torres, Tampa Bay Newspapers via tbnweekly.com
    PALM HARBOR, Fla. The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, which oversees the communitys library as well as its parks and recreation services, likely will face a decreased budget again this year, straining already overstretched resources.
    The agency will have about 3 percent less property tax revenue to use in the upcoming fiscal year, according to Pinellas County Property Appraisers preliminary taxable value estimates sent out May 3. While the drop is by no means the most drastic reduction in property values across Pinellas County, it comes on top of substantial budget cuts that include reduced operation hours and staff for both the Palm Harbor library and parks and recreation.
    I think its going to be a difficult year, said Arlene Zimmermann, treasurer for the Community Services Agency. The money we get has been cut the past couple of years. It has a real effect on us and the services we can provide.
    Impact on services
    A special taxing district created in 1985 generates a majority of the funds for the Palm Harbor Library and Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation. Property owners within the district, which covers the area south of Tarpon Springs and north of the cities of Dunedin and Clearwater, pay an additional tax that amounts to $49.14 per $1,000 of the propertys value. The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, a nonprofit organization, oversees the management of those funds, divided between the communitys library and parks and recreation.
    However, with property values decreasing across Florida since 2007, the two community entities have been struggling to make ends meet.
    Gene Coppola, director for the Palm Harbor Library, said he initially estimated a $279,000 deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
    That means Im going to have to try to pull rabbits out of my hat to find out how Im going to keep the current level of service without cutting staff and services, he said.
    The library has already reduced the number of hours its open during the week by 13 hours this year. The decreased hours have consolidated employee shifts, allowing for the entire staff to be on the floor when the library is open.
    But the library cant further reduce its hours, currently a total of 40 hours between Monday and Saturday, without losing state funding and other benefits.
    Coppola said he had to lay off two staff people and freeze several options over the past few years, bringing a staff of once 27 employees down to 19. It does benefit from more than 300 volunteers, which its website touts as the largest library volunteer base in the state.
    Frankly, training a volunteer is not the same as staff, Coppola said.
    Coppola said the library has outsourced services, such as maintenance, to outside companies and will try to reduce the amount of staff required by further collaborating with the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative.
    Were trying to centralize more of our services, he said.
    The Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation also will be dramatically impacted by additional cuts, said its interim director, Erica Lynford.
    Were feeling the squeeze tightly here, she said. I think we do a lot with a little here in Palm Harbor.
    The organization has already trimmed budget programming and cut hours of operation at many of its facilities, Lynford said. Open positions within the Community Activity Center have been frozen and will go unfilled, while another maintenance position became part time.
    Looking forward, Lynford said parks and recreation is looking at Penny for Pinellas funding to upgrade field lighting. Newer, more efficient lighting would not only save an estimated $20,000 a year in energy costs, but also require less labor and maintenance. While the current antiquated system needs to be manually turned off, the newer lights could be manipulated remotely from a computer, Lynford said.
    Unlike the library, however, a small portion of the parks and recreation budget is generated through usage fees.
    The Community Services Agency wont have more concrete revenue figures until later in the year. The property appraisers property tax value estimates will be updated in June. The preliminary tax roll will be published July 1.
    The Palm Harbor government
    Though the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency does much of the administrative oversight that an elected council would do for a city, many Palm Harbor residents are unfamiliar with the group.
    When I told my friends I was on the Community Services Agency, they didnt know what I was talking about, Zimmermann said with a laugh. Most people have never heard of it.
    The agency, established in conjunction with the Palm Harbor Community Services District, is a nonprofit entity. The seven volunteers who serve as its board of directors are appointed by other representative entities for the community. The Palm Harbor
    Friends of the Library, the Palm Harbor Recreation League and the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce each appoint two members to the board. The Pinellas County government appoints the final, at-large member.
    The agency primarily manages funds collected through the special taxing district. Its responsible for hiring directors to manage the day-to-day operations of Palm Harbors library and parks and recreation organization. The board also hires a director for the East Lake Community Library, which is funded separately from the Palm Harbor district, receiving money instead through the countys general fund.
    The three respective directors report directly to the agency. The board reviews the budget for each of the three entities before its submitted to the county.
    Its a very unique setup. Its been very interesting for me, quite a learning experience, Zimmermann said, who is in the last year of her second two-year term on the board. Even the two libraries are very different and have different goals.
    The retired Palm Harbor resident said when she and her husband first moved from New Jersey nine years ago, she had never heard of the concept of an unincorporated area, a community outside any city boundaries like the Palm Harbor is. Now, she said she thinks its important for residents to understand what the agency does.
    Im proud to be involved with this. We do need to get the word out there, she said.
    Incorporation efforts
    The question of how Palm Harbor should be funded initially prompted some residents to push for the area to incorporate into a city, creating a government that would have more direct control over its tax base and services. Those in favor of incorporation formed the Palm Harbor Coalition and got as far as sponsoring a feasibility study in 2008.
    The efforts were met with resistance from some residents who would have been included within the potential citys boundaries, many of whom lived in the Crystal Beach community. A few versions of a bill that would have allowed Palm Harbor residents to vote on the issue didnt make it out of the state legislature.
    The latest incorporation effort this past September failed to gain a sponsor at the Florida Senate level, said the coalitions president, Jim Kleyman.
    There was no way to rule out the Crystal Beach from this process, he said, explaining that the boundaries were to be based on the Palm Harbor Fire District boundaries.
    For now, Kleyman has decided to focus his energy into volunteering within services and agencies in Palm Harbor. He agreed that funding deficiencies threatening the Community Services Agency were the larger issue affecting Palm Harbor, though he said hes not given up on incorporation.
    I still think its a really important issue in this community. The point is to have more, not just more monetary control, but strategic control. It could be done without raising taxes, he argued.

  3. Komatsu eyes four-day workweek, 5/13 (over dateline) The Japan Times via search.japantimes.co.jp
    Outside the box: Komatsu Ltd. President Kunio Noji talks about the firm's plan to move to a four-day workweek during a news conference in Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Thursday - Kyodo photo caption.
    KANAZAWA, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan The president of Komatsu Ltd. said Thursday the construction machinery maker is considering shifting to a four-day workweek at its headquarters in Tokyo to cope with anticipated power shortages this summer in the region.
    "We will increase the number of days off to reduce the use of electricity during peak hours at our headquarters office" President Kunio Noji said at a press conference in Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture.
    To counter electricity shortages in Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s service area due to the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Komatsu has been promoting energy-saving steps at its factories in the area and in the quake-hit region served by Tohoku Electric Power Co.
    These measures are aimed at cutting the factories' power use by more than 30 percent during peak hours and include the introduction of an in-house diesel power generation system.
    "We are considering how we can modify our working style to cut (power use) by 30 percent at our headquarters as well, such as by closing floors by rotation," Noji said.
    Instead, the company is considering lengthening its works day to secure enough working hours over a week.

5/11/2011 – 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. McIlhinney-sponsored work-share amendment passes committee, by Crissa Shoemaker DeBree, phillyBurbs.com
    HARRISBURG, Pa. - A measure to help preserve jobs by giving employers alternatives to layoffs has passed the state Senate's Labor and Industry Committee.
    The amendment to Senate Bill 1030 would allow employers to implement a temporary shared-work program that would reduce employee hours by 20 percent to 40 percent, rather than lay off workers. Affected employees would be able to receive unemployment for the lost time.
    Employers who take advantage of the program won't be able to lay off employees during that time, or can't hire or transfer new workers into the affected unit.

    The amendment was introduced by state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-10. It still requires approval from the state Department of Labor. Senate Bill 1030, which covers unemployment benefits, now will go to the full Senate for consideration.

  2. Staff at Eborcraft furniture makers put on short-time working, by Mike Laycock, The Press, York via yorkpress.co.uk
    YORK, U.K. - Production staff at one of Yorks oldest manufacturers have been put on short-time working in response to the downturn in the economy.
    Twenty-eight employees at Eborcraft furniture makers, based at Chessingham Business Park in Dunnington, have been affected by the temporary measure.

    A couple of employees who were taken on as temporary staff in recent times have also been made redundant, said a spokesman.
    He said the measures had been taken as a temporary measure to protect the long-term future of the business, and switching staff to short-time working had helped keep the number of redundancies down to a minimum.
    The spokesman said: We have had to take these measures as a result of the general downturn in the economy, which is having an impact on us as it is many businesses.
    The firm, which was established 115 years ago, manufactures bespoke natural wood veneer furniture, concentrating largely on the office market.
    Its website said it uses the latest machinery and technology, combined with a traditional hand-finished touch, to create high-quality furniture, and its state-of-the-art cutting, drilling, assembly and finishing processes means it can be flexible in its design and production.
    Eborcraft was formerly based at Huntington, but moved to a 28,000 sq ft site at Chessingham Business Park in the mid 2000s, after acquiring a former Norwich Union Life data centre.
    The new building accommodated Eborcrafts state-of-the-art cutting, drilling, assembly and finishing processes, which allowed it the flexibility of building anything from workstations to superior boardroom or reception furniture.

5/10/2011 – 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. Mail Order Mandate to Cost Florida Jobs, by Mike Vasilinda, Capitol News Service via flanews.com
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Tucked inside the 400 page state budget is a provision requiring more than a hundred thousand state employees and retirees to order their prescriptions by mail from out of state. The provision has more than 900 locally owned drug stores crying foul.
    There are fewer calls these days to this family owned Pharmacy. Thats because a little debated provision in the state budget requires the 3 thousand state employees to order their prescriptions 3 months at a time from a national mail order supplier. The change is putting a pinch on small neighborhood pharmacies like the one Lynn Massey has operated for more than 25 years.
    Ive not laid anyone off, but Ive had to cut hours says Massey.

    Mail order contractor CVSs website shows one facility in South Florida, but the pharmacists say it is just as likely the prescriptions are being filled in Rhode Island or Illinois, sending jobs out of state.
    Representative Jimmy Patronis has taken concerns about the plan to the highest levels. Its a fine line between the fiduciary responsibility of getting the best bang for our buck, for those resources, and challenging somebodys ability to make a living, says Patronis.
    The nine hundred locally owned pharmacies in Florida say they werent even given a chance to compete on price
    Missing from the budget language is the phrase any willing Provider. Had those words been in the bill, Massey says she and the 900 other local pharmacists could have competed on price. Potentially even cheaper she says, adding, I dont know what the state is sending out of state as far as the money goes.
    While Massey has cut employees hours, others pharmacies have left staff go. With the mail order requirement in the budget for the second year in a row, the lost business is likely to have a cumulative negative effect on locally owned drug stores.
    The Department of Management Services, which administers the program, says it does not have actual cost savings, but provided a CVS Caremark estimate of four point one million in 2010.The mail order mandate has been in effect since January 2011 and will run through June 2012.

  2. Pennsylvania budget ideas: Senate Democratic Caucus, Patriot-News via pennlive.com
    HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Patriot-News reached out to conservative-leaning and liberal-leaning groups and individuals to gather their thoughts on alternatives to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's first stab at budget-making. Here's what the Senate Democratic Caucus had to say:
    In this exceptionally difficult fiscal environment, every proposed change in public policy must be viewed through the prism of how the alteration will impact the state economy and job creation. Examined in this light, it is clear that Governor Tom Corbetts proposed budget makes unacceptably deep cuts in education, economic investment, county support, and municipal assistance programs. The loss of federal stimulus funds makes an already tough budget exceedingly difficult.
    The governors spending plan is not the best budget plan for Pennsylvania. The citizens deserve better and should not be stuck with false choices that unnecessarily lead to great hardship. A bad situation should not be made worse. There are alternatives.
    The governor has made it clear that no tax or fee increases will be part of his budget plan. He would prefer to force a policy debate in which lawmakers would have to play one draconian budget cut off another. Whats worse, his unconscionable decision to arbitrarily dismiss a reasonable and modest Marcellus Shale tax levy on an industry capitalizing on a Pennsylvania resource is potentially debilitating.
    Senate Democrats have a better plan for Pennsylvania. Our plan focuses on more creative approaches to leverage new federal resources, offers sensible suggestions to consolidate service delivery systems, and expands cost saving initiatives already proven to save state dollars. Plus, given the governors hard position against a reasonable Marcellus Shale tax, our plan does not anticipate the use of energy tax revenues for important budget restorations.
    The Senate Democratic plan would provide more than $750 million in new budget savings, combined with a reasonable tax menu that delays new corporate and business tax breaks until we can afford them. It also uses new revenues available through the modernization of our wine and spirit shops with other changes to generate a total of more than $1.1 billion in savings and efficiencies used to restore critical education and economic development investments.
    1. Fiscal Responsibility to Address Budget Challenges - $750 million
    The loss of $3 billion in federal stimulus funds presents us with unprecedented budget challenges and, as a result, we must make difficult cuts in state programs. We must identify duplicative or overlapping service delivery systems, eliminate obsolete or inefficient programs and services, and find program cuts that will not cause irreparable harm to our citizens.
    Key areas must include corrections and sentencing reform policies to reduce prison costs, green building and new energy efficiency savings, workforce cuts through attrition and retirements that avoid the need for employee furloughs, and new procurement savings through the continued use of strategic sourcing and competitive bidding.
    Key Senate Democratic Alternatives:
    Department of Public Welfare (DPW) - $533 million savings
    * Expand Medical Assistance (MA) capitation plans statewide - $50 million
    Managed care providers have saved Pennsylvania more than $2.7 billion during the past five years. Yet, nearly one million of the more than 2.2 million medical assistance recipients continue to receive assistance through a fee-for-service plan managed by DPW. Expanding our MCO system throughout the state could save more than $150 million annually when fully implemented.
    * New Long Term Care Efficiencies - $200 million
    Significant new efficiencies can be introduced to reduce costs within our long term care system. Further shifts from institutional to home and community based care, new managed care options and new initiatives that leverage federal resources could all be used to generate state savings.
    * Consolidate pharmacy purchasing programs - $25 million
    Pennsylvania currently purchases pharmaceuticals through 17 different programs administered through 9 different state agencies spending more than $2 billion annually. Even modest efficiencies through a single purchasing mechanism would provide significant savings.
    * Eliminate Fraud & Abuse within MA Delivery System - $60 million
    Enacting a False Claims Act, cross checking claims through linked databases between DPW and Labor and Industry, and new provider incentives to reduce fraud would combine to save state dollars.
    * Increase Hospital In-patient Assessment - $160 million
    During the current year, we instituted a 2.95 percent provider assessment to leverage more than $500 million in new federal resources. Fortunately, the assessment could be increased to generate significant additional state savings and restore more than half of the original $150 million in cuts to hospital supplements in the Corbett budget plan.
    * Sliding scale income co-pay plan for loophole kids - $38 million This DPW program provides essential support services to severely developmentally disabled children. While this care can become extremely expensive, some modest co-pays for wealthier families receiving care could provide real budget savings.
    Corrections/Probation & Parole - $75 million
    Our corrections system, with more than 51,000 current inmates, and 35,000 receiving state supervised probation or parole supervision, must be controlled. Even tough on crime states such as Texas have changed policy to reduce prison costs.
    * Merge agencies to streamline parole process and integrate supervision.
    * Enact sentencing reform to strengthen intermediate punishment alternatives.
    * Federalize inmate health care provided by outside institutions
    * Expand specialty courts
    Department of General Services (DGS)/Procurement/Human Resources - $92 million
    State procurement purchases total more than $4 billion annually. During the past several years, substantial savings have already been realized through strategic sourcing and other initiatives to improve management of our vehicle fleet. However, significant additional savings could be realized through the following reforms.
    * Procurement reform -P-cards, E-purchase, competitive bidding - $50 million
    * Fleet/Property Management savings - $10 million
    * Reduce employee overtime payments - $15 million
    * Conduct health insurance eligibility audit - $17 million
    Maximize Revenue - $50 million
    New revenue generation initiatives could be initiated in several areas. Court fee collections currently total nearly $480 million annually. Pennsylvanias chief justice admits collections could be increased significantly. A Revenue Department modernization plan is already in place to increase revenue collections. A greater investment now would significantly increase receipts. It is estimated that hiring an additional 20 auditors would yield an additional $12 million in collections.
    Total budget savings through new efficiencies and collections- $750 million.
    2. Tax Fairness Revenue Maximization Plans - $390 million
    Pennsylvanias current tax system ranks among the middle of the 50 states. Our personal income tax is second lowest among states that impose an income tax. Our sales tax rate is average with multiple exemptions for purchases including food and clothing to ease the tax burden on poor and working families. Unfortunately, our corporate tax menu remains unfair, including a corporate tax rate that is among the highest in the nation. The rate remains high because too many of our corporate tax payers, more than 70 percent, pay nothing.
    We must reform our corporate tax system by adopting combined reporting, as most states do, to require corporations such as Exxon to file a state tax return consistent with their federal return. The additional revenue we receive by eliminating loopholes and tax shelters in our current tax system would provide sufficient revenue to reduce our corporate net income tax rate by 25 percent and institute other tax reforms to benefit Pennsylvania employers, including a full transition to a single sales factor in apportioning profits, and more generous net operating loss provisions to smooth adverse business cycles and aid start-up industries.
    We must also continue the fight to confront high local property taxes. Property tax rates in Pennsylvania rank among the highest in the nation. Gaming funded tax relief has reduced this burden modestly for many families, but high rates and an inequitable local tax system that place some of the greatest tax burdens upon struggling families and businesses living and working in distressed communities should not continue to grow.
    Key Senate Democratic Alternatives:
    * Adopt Combined Reporting to reduce CNI to 7.5%
    * Marcellus Shale Tax for local infrastructure and environmental programs
    * Delay phase-out of capital stock and franchise tax one additional year - $80 million
    * Maximize Internet sales tax collections - $75 million
    * Un-couple from federal accelerated depreciation - $135 million
    Total new revenue from tax changes - $290 million
    * State Store revenue increase - $100 million
    Total budget savings - $750 million
    Total revenue for restorations: $1.140 billion
    3. Revenue Surplus - $300 million
    There is a wide disparity between the estimated revenue surplus the governor noted in his budget presentation and what is generally accepted as a reasonable end-of-year projection. Governor Corbetts projected revenue surplus was less than one-third of the Senate Democratic estimated revenue surplus. The governors estimate is unrealistic given the economic uptick and declining unemployment rates.
    Governors estimate - $78 million
    Current surplus - $232 million
    Senate Democratic Estimate - $300 million, is $222 million above governors.
    * One-time revenue transfer of $180 million from Tobacco Settlement Fund could be avoided.
    * Maintain all funding for Tobacco Settlement Programs within the Tobacco Settlement Fund - $324 million transfer
    4. Key Restorations
    Protect Education Progress
    During the past eight years we have made unprecedented education progress at all grade levels, closed the performance gap between our best and worst achieving students, and become a leader among all states in classroom performance. Now, facing significant state funding cuts, coupled with cuts in direct federal aid and pension funding challenges, local school districts will be forced to make drastic cuts that could impact future progress.
    While progress has been made, significant improvement remains necessary. A recent federal Department of Education Report estimated that only 20 percent of our current work force possesses the necessary skills that 60 percent of the 21st century jobs will require. It is critical for our future economy that we make the resource investments necessary to meet this challenge.
    The current year education budget is balanced with nearly $750 million in federal ARRA funds. School districts and Higher Education institutions expected much or all of this funding to be gone next year, given the budget challenges we face for FY 2011-12. They did not expect deeper cuts, totaling more than $1.8 billion. Our budget plan would restore those cuts, particularly focused on the needs of the poorest, struggling school districts.
    * Restore basic and higher education cuts to state FY 2010-11 funding levels.
    * Bolster the safety net: Maintain essential care for the elderly, support for working and middle class families and aid for children.
    States have a core responsibility along with our federal partners to maintain essential health care and social service programs that serve our elderly, persons with disabilities, and poor children. Budget realities require a critical review of how we provide these services, prioritizing those that are most important. We must continue to search for new or more cost effective ways to deliver service, and make difficult cuts where necessary.
    Two-thirds of our medical assistance budget serves the elderly and disabled individuals. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain access to basic health care and critical support services in the most cost effective community and home settings.
    Key Democratic Alternatives:
    * Increase inpatient hospital assessment to restore $87 million in cuts for hospitals.
    * Restore critical county programs, including Human Service Development Fund - $24 million
    * Save HEMAP Program to maintain state aid for mortgage foreclosure assistance - $10 million
    * Maintain Tobacco Settlement Fund to ensure funds used for health care
    * Restore Adult Basic Health Insurance Program
    5. Jobs First Agenda
    [Here's a really really fundamental problem. Jobs ARE first, because they are the sustainable HEALTH of the economy and the society, but here they are number FIVE on this news agency's agenda after all the sickness disability and bandaids and palliatives and crutches. That's a kind of subsidy for sickness and a tax on health, and as Milton Friedman said, you get more of whatever you subsidize and less of whatever you tax - so this is another little way Americans are bringing themselves down.]
    Senate Democrats have crafted a detailed jobs plan, PA Works, to create jobs by making strategic investments to grow our economy. The plan also seeks to reduce state costs where possible through program consolidations, restructuring, and leveraging federal and private investment resources. Pennsylvanias economy has begun to rebound. Now we must sustain that growth.
    Senate Democratic Recommendations:
    * Several of the program consolidations and efficiencies recommended by Corbett budget within DCED were part of our PA Works plan.
    The Governors proposed budget consolidates major grant programs and local development assistance. It also eliminates multiple duplicative programs as recommended by our PA Works program. Key programs retained by the Corbett budget include appropriations for the Ben Franklin Partners, Infrastructure Financing Improvement Program, World Trade Assistance and Main and Elm Street programs.
    * Maintain core DCED programs with track record of success
    Our budget plan would restore Housing & Redevelopment Assistance providing $17.5 million for critical local programs. Dedicated funding for Industrial Resource Centers would provide aid for manufacturers still recovering from the economic downturn. Tourist Promotion Assistance must be significantly increased to leverage local matching grants, key investments throughout the commonwealth.
    * Continue to advocate for PA Works training initiatives including agency consolidation, Shared Work, and Train to Work plans.
    Consolidating all job training programs within a single agency will provide significant efficiencies to redirect more than $40 million in administrative savings to direct investments for on the job training and shared work programs. This puts more unemployed Pennsylvanians back to work.

    * Restore key program cuts for hospitals and enact other new initiatives to leverage significant additional federal resources.
    In total, the recommended changes would generate an additional $1.14 billion in budget savings that could be invested in key education, economic development, and social service programs while restoring aid for essential county and municipal programs.
    The proposed plan would make additional spending cuts where necessary, but by leveraging new revenue, and including significant additional federal resources, the plan maintains total state spending within $27.4 billion.
    Most importantly, our proposed plan continues the critical state investments to grow our economy and plan for our future. As important to consider, given the governors position against a modest energy tax, the Senate Democratic plan does not include additional Marcellus Shale revenue for 2011-12.
    However, Senate Democrats believe that a reasonable and modest Marcellus Shale energy extraction tax would provide key funding for investments in environmental protection, local infrastructure and potentially enable other key budget restorations. The amount of dollars for investment in jobs, environmental protection and budget restorations from a modest shale tax is significant. Each 1 percent of energy tax that is levied would generate an estimated $41 million annually.
    The PA Works plan supports a modest and reasonable energy extraction tax as a means to invest in green energy projects and create even more jobs. Given that there are now more than 3,000 drilled wells, with an addition of an estimated 100 new wells each month, clearly the Marcellus Shale industry is established in Pennsylvania and able to make a reasonable contribution to its future.
    Future Year Impacts Additional savings, efficiencies
    Several of the recommended savings initiatives will have even greater impacts for future fiscal years. For FY 2012-13 the tax changes would save more than $350 million. This includes the assumption that the phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax would resume. DPW managed care plans, long term care initiatives, Corrections sentencing reform, and procurement initiatives would save an additional $300 million.

  3. Why are libraries renting video games? letter to editor by Phillip Ragno of Spring Valley OH, DaytonDailyNews.com
    DAYTON, Ohio - Re Libraries spend thousands on security to combat theft, April 23:
    Just a few months ago, libraries were detailing how they were going to cut hours and possibly staff if a levy was not passed.
    Was the true intent of the levy to spend tens of thousands of dollars to purchase security equipment?
    This money has been spent to help prevent the theft of audiovisual materials such as DVDs, CDs and video games. I personally think this group of audiovisual materials has no place in the libraries and should have been the first to go in any belt-tightening effort.

    [Amen to that. Guess there are libraries that haven't figured out they're in education, not entertainment.]
    This would have minimized the expenditure of funds for the security equipment and eliminated the need to hire collection agencies, as five libraries in the Miami Valley have already done.
    The loaning of this type of material by libraries has had a detrimental impact on video and audio retail businesses in this area.
    More difficult to visualize, but also real, is the monetary losses to recording artists because of this practice.

  4. State workers respond to change in work week, ABC 4 News via abc4.com
    [Utah did not really do a work-sharing and job-creating cut in the 40-hour workweek; it just saved a day of commuting by compressing five 8-hour days into four 10-hour days. Even so, apparently having a three-day weekend was helpful to many employees, especially single parents.]
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Utah state workers returned to work today to news their schedules will change this year. The state legislature voted to override Governor Herbert's veto on a bill reinstating services on Fridays.
    "It kind of came out of nowhere, so that was really frustrating, kind of a let down." That is how state employee Clarice Garcia feels about the Special Session vote Saturday to bring back the five day work week.
    She is just one of the thousands of Utah state employees adjusting to the news there lives will change again in the fall. They have worked ten hours, four days a week, since 2008. It was an effort by Governor Huntsman to conserve money by heating, cooling, and lighting buildings one day less a week, and conserve fuel for those commuting to work. Now lawmakers are sending them back to a five day work week.
    Jesi Wasden is a receptionist at Workforce Services and welcomes the change. She used up all of her sick leave caring for her mother. 'My mom's on disability. she's on all services for workforce and her doctors aren't there are Friday's."
    Others say while the four day work week required some initial adjustments in their personal lives, changing back to a traditional work schedule will be even more difficult. Garcia says it helped create a work-life balance. "It gave me more time with my family and it was less time that I had to take my daughter to daycare."
    The new law does allow for added flexibility in scheduling state employees. It gives state agencies latitude to decide which offices should be re-opened, and leaves room for some employees to continue a four-ten work schedule.
    Lawmakers who voted to overturn the Governors veto say expanded services are necessary, and the four day work week did not bring anticipated savings.
    The director of the State Department of Human Resources says they are now in the planning phase for implementing HB 328. Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to figure out how to pay for it. They all have until September to figure it out.

5/08-09/2011 – 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. Some employers rethink five-day workweek - Some see improved productivity, but old habits die hard, by Eve Tahmincioglu, 5/08 MSNBC via msnbc.msn.com
    HOUSTON, Tex. - Bert Martinez, CEO of a business-training firm in Houston, has decided to blow away the five-day workweek for himself and his staff of 28.
    Starting next month the entire company is going to work for four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days, and the companys workweek will stay that way if productivity and profits stay the same or increase. Its all part of Martinezs strategy to take back his personal life, and his general inclination to shake things up at the firm.
    I want to spend more time with my family, and Im really curious to see if results are going to stay the same, Martinez said. Will we lose money or make money? Well see what happens.
    Martinez may be onto something. While his experiment may sound unusual, its actually part of a growing movement to rethink the standard five-day, 40-hour workweek that has been around in this country since the New Deal.
    One larger example of the phenomenon is seen in Utah. In 2008, then-Gov. Jon Huntsman launched the Working 4 Utah plan to shift state workers who were putting in five-day weeks to a Monday-through-Thursday, 7 a.m.-to-6 p.m. work schedule. The verdict: Employee satisfaction, energy savings and a boon for the environment.
    I dont think we have any plans to go back to five days, said Jeff Herring, executive director of the Utah Department of Human Resource Management. Still, he added that the state is continuing to monitor the new work system to make sure its saving money and working both for employees and the public that uses state services.
    Its a radical idea and not without its critics. Utah State Rep. Michael Noel called the initiative stupid in a New York Times article last week that said other states are considering following Utahs lead. Some experts question whether we would ever be able to abandon the five-day grind so entrenched in corporations and society at large.
    But others are questioning the very notion of the formal work day.
    We are in fact seeing many more companies willing to be flexible in all areas of the workweek fewer days, fewer hours per day, some long days and some short days, etc., said Allison O'Kelly, CEO of Mom Corps, a staffing and search firm.
    The trend is driven more by the bottom line than any desire to improve work-life balance for employees. In the case of Utah, the move to four-day schedules was driven largely by the tough economy and budget issues.
    Many companies also shook up their workweeks at least temporarily, implementing steps such as furloughs that sent employees home without pay for a few days.
    Today about 34 percent of employers offer some sort of compressed workweek benefit, up from 26 percent in 2008, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. But will these initiatives grow more widespread once the economy accelerates?
    I dont see it happening, said Robert Whaples, a professor of economics at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. He said the traditional five-day, 40-hour week simply has been in place too long.
    Whaples said the move to the five-day week began in the 19th century, when a six-day workweek was more standard. Workers got Sunday off for religious reasons, but as the country's affluence grew people wanted more leisure time.
    The kind of jobs they were doing wore them out. It was tough physical labor on farms, in factories and mines, Whaples said. It made sense to have time off."
    Since then there has been little movement to change the basic five-day week. Calls for change by some working parents represent only a small subset of the population, he said.
    The problem, according to Cali Yost, CEO of consulting firm Work+Life Fit Inc., is that many if not all human resource policies and corporate financial reporting systems are built around and reinforce the inflexible 40 hours, five-days-a-week, in the office model.
    Karissa Thacker, a management psychologist, thinks it goes even deeper.
    The five-day workweek goes back to kindergarten, Thacker said. The structure and conditioning people have around the five-day workweek is huge.
    Despite technological advances that should have led to radical changes in the structure of the workweek, she added, were still very early in the curve in terms of how the workplace is changing.
    Some believe were actually going backward when it comes to rethinking how and when we work.
    Its pathetic, said Nadine Mockler, founder of Flexible Resources Inc., a staffing firm. Most companies are not allowing flexibility. They want people there, they want face time, they want to make sure work is getting done, and now people are working even longer.
    This is happening, she added, even though providing such flexibility makes the workforce more efficient.
    Leigh Steere, co-founder of management research firm Managing People Better, agreed and pointed to a study done by Microsoft in 2005 that found workers who put in 45 hours a week said they were only productive for about three days.
    Employers should be paying based on results delivered and not hours worked, she said. Should a person who can deliver a project in two days be paid the same as a person who takes six days to perform the same work?
    While productivity is important, for many four-day advocates its more about gaining personal time.
    Im a better husband and a better father, said Utahs Herring about his extra day off. The state has also seen a rise in volunteerism among its workers as a result of the four-day week.
    There were some early challenges, including figuring out how to find child care with extended hours for employees who were now working until 6 p.m. Public transportation was another issue. State officials worked with transit authorities to adjust scheduling, and officials put resources into helping working parents find child care options.
    Martinez, the CEO from Houston, is hoping his experiment is as successful. The father of five, including 10-year old twins, is optimistic he can find a better work-life balance.
    We were told that by being connected to the Internet we would get more done and have more time to ourselves and with our family, he said. That didnt happen. Now Im looking for my own rest and recovery. Lets see if it makes us more productive too.

  2. Hunger strikers persist in tenth day of protest, by Alisha Azevedo, 5/09 Daily Californian via dailycal.org
    BERKELEY, Calif. - Five hunger strikers protesting the consolidation of staff positions in three UC Berkeley social science departments entered their tenth day of fasting outside California Hall on Friday as meetings between administrators and student representatives had not resolved protesters' demands.
    The gender and women's studies, African American studies and ethnic studies departments are currently facing staff consolidation through the organizational simplification initiative of Operational Excellence. The initiative plans to reorganize staff members within the departments and cut work hours as part of a restructuring effort to save $500,000 in the Social Sciences Division.
    About 12 hunger strikers began fasting April 26 and released a joint statement of demands along with their supporters - the Coalition for Gender and Women's Studies, African American Studies and Ethnic Studies and the Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Graduate Front - to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.
    The demands included reinstating cut staff positions, ending Operational Excellence, supporting a California legislative resolution advocating for ethnics studies in the state and "publicly (acknowledging) the unfulfilled promise of the creation of a Third World College at UC Berkeley."
    Junior Veronica Rivas, an ethnic studies and media studies double major participating in the hunger strike, said at a rally Friday afternoon that going without food for 10 days has made studying more difficult but that the strikers have continued attending classes and some professors have given them extensions on their work.
    "We're not sure how long this will take," she said. "We know that this may not be a success, but it is a stepping stone in a fight that has gone on since before the (19)60s."
    Since the beginning of the strike, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri and Dean of the Division of Social Sciences Carla Hesse have met with two groups of five representatives of the hunger strikers on April 27 and May 3 to discuss the demands.
    Following the May 3 meeting, however, strikers sent a letter to Birgeneau stating that the administration's consideration of only the last two demands as being the "most feasible" to address was not enough to stop the strike.
    "To agree to symbolic gestures without solid actions to back up your investment in our departments is to make empty promises," the letter from the strikers stated. "We will continue striking until we see acknowledgement that all four demands which are both well within reach of the UC Berkeley administration and are acted upon in good faith."
    Basri and Hesse issued a response letter May 4 stating that Hesse had proposed to increase faculty advising and mentorship to students to compensate for the loss of "informal staff support" to students. Hesse also stated that the two faculty members who would serve as advisers would be relieved of one class each to make more time for advising beginning in the fall.
    The letter also stated that both Basri and Hesse were "happy to express public support" for a California legislative resolution advocating for ethnic studies in the state.
    However, sophomore and student organizer Marco Amaral said the protesters and hunger strikers consider the letter "unacceptable" and that they would rather keep current staff members in the department than have faculty advisers.
    "We must stand and fight," Amaral said at Friday's rally. "This cannot end with this hunger strike. This is a beautiful sight - we have shown the administration that we can come together for a common cause. That is our education."
    The strike has gone "relatively peacefully," and there have been no arrests or citations associated with the protests, UCPD spokesperson Lt. Alex Yao said on Friday.
    Yao added that to his knowledge, the strikers have complied with campus policy and have not stayed on campus overnight.
    Campus spokespeople could not be reached for comment Friday.
    Harvey Dong, an ethnic studies lecturer who took part in the 1969 Third World Liberation Front student movement to establish ethnic studies on the campus, said at Friday's rally that the staff cuts negatively impact the department because part-time staff members cannot carry out their work as effectively.
    But Dong encouraged students to try to reach an agreement with administrators and end their strike.
    "Personally, I would say to stop the hunger strike, because we need you," he said. "You guys are the moral force on this campus, if there's any morality left at all."

  3. Protestors say no 'significant' progress in Maldives peace talks, 5/09 HNS via Haveeru Online via haveeru.com.mv
    MALE, Maldive Islands The first round of peace talks held yesterday between the government and the anti-government protestors came to an end with no significant progress made, the youth representatives who participated in the meeting said.
    Abdulla Bochey Rifau, who is an active member of the minor opposition Peoples Alliance (PA), said the government is still firm on its stand.
    The government says protesting is not the solution and asked to present our demands to the government in an official manner. Thats just a formality, he said.
    The only positive outcome of the talk was that the government has assured that prices of the most commonly demanded items will be lowered via the State Trading Organisation (STO) for the coming Ramadan.
    Rifau, who claimed that the government showed no sign of relenting, said the youth are considering presenting their complaints in a formal manner.
    Three officials from the Presidents Office and the State Minister for Finance, Ahmed Naseer participated in the talks.
    Rifau said protestors demanded the government not to create any more political positions until the economy recovers, to cut back on the allowances including the overtime allowance of political appointees, reduce the budgets of various government authorities, and not to open offices after hours unless necessary and to shorten working hours in order to reduce their recurrent expenditure and utility bills.
    Further demands by the protestors include invalidating the positions of presidential envoys and advisors, and to remove foreign consultants from their positions.
    Youth representatives also brought to the governments attention their concerns about the new dollar exchange rate, and the prices of goods and services.
    The meeting, which was initially scheduled to be held at the Galolhu Police Station, was later shifted to the Home Ministry.

5/07/2011 – 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. Equal time - More moms and dads say they want to share parenting duties equally - This Mothers Day, one new mom turns to an old pro to find out: Why is it still so hard to do? by Jenna Russell, (5/08 early Sunday edition) Boston Globe via boston.com
    WATERTOWN, Mass. - Amy Vachon has the life most working mothers only dream of. Vachon, 48, works 32 hours a week at a job she loves. Her husband does the same, and they switch off picking up their two kids. She makes dinner on Mondays and Fridays, he cooks on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and they eat out on Tuesdays. In Amy Vachons world, doing laundry means whites only Marc, also 48, handles the familys dark loads. He schedules their kids dental checkups; she handles doctors appointments.
    The Watertown couple willingly became poster people for equal parenting in 2006, when they started blogging about it on their website, equallysharedparenting.com; their public role was cemented in 2008 by a New York Times Magazine cover story. Since then, they have become the ideas best-known spokescouple. Their book, Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents, was published last year and came out in paperback last month.
    Nearly a quarter century after Oakland, California, psychologist Diane Ehrensaft published one of the first books about shared parenting, Parenting Together, couples like the Vachons are still the exception to the norm. Just how much of an exception is a matter of discussion. Ehrensaft takes a sunny view today, pointing to dramatic changes in parental roles since she did her research 25 years ago. Francine Deutsch, a social psychologist at Mount Holyoke College, is much less encouraged. Deutsch, whose book Halving It All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works came out a dozen years ago, says she doesnt see evidence that the practice has gained much ground. According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Families and Work Institute, almost a third of women, 31 percent, say their partners take equal responsibility for their children, up from 21 percent in 1992.
    The big factor that makes it hard for people is the workplace the demands of the workplace are berserk, says Deutsch. Its very hard . . . to have two parents working 50, 60, 70 hours a week, so theres a lot of pressure for someone to cut back. That is almost invariably the mother, and that starts a spiral.
    Some changes are clear. Tallies of the hours men and women devote to housework and to child care show mens totals have increased, but a stubborn gap persists. Narrow the scope to consider only parents in dual-earner families, and the gap shrinks further. Dismayingly, though, even when a woman works and her partner stays home, she often still spends more time than he does on child care, according to unpublished research by Suzanne Bianchi, a UCLA sociology professor.
    Set aside real life and ask people what they wish were true, and the picture looks more modern and egalitarian. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 62 percent of adults polled said marriages work better when both partners work outside the home and share child-care responsibilities. So why are so many families unable to put that vision into practice?
    My interest in the subject is not strictly clinical. Since having my first child in 2008 and my second a year ago, I have made my own foray into equal parenting. My household arrangements evolved organically, out of strong beliefs and career realities my husbands hope of postponing day care for as long as possible; my unpredictable schedule and from an unspoken understanding that we were equals. He had switched careers a decade ago, from journalism to teaching, in part because he realized, much more presciently than I, that it would make having a family easier.
    From the start, he matched me diaper for diaper (in truth, he probably outmatched me). After my first maternity leave ended, in the spring of 2009, he took three months off to stay home with our daughter. When he requested the leave, he was told he was the first male employee of the school system where he works to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the 1993 federal law that gives millions of workers of both sexes the right to take time off with a new baby without pay. His colleagues reacted to his decision with surprise and curiosity, while I was just surprised: Was it really that unusual?
    As I set out to catch up with the Vachons, I hoped they would reveal what really made it work. My husband and I had tried to share the load from the outset, but I wondered about couples who wanted to shift the balance midstream, after becoming dissatisfied. Can people really change that much? Yes, say the Vachons.
    Its hard, but people who convert are some of the most motivated, because they werent happy the way they were, says Marc. The sad part is a couple thats unhappy that does nothing.
    When they met 11 years ago, the Vachons both knew what they wanted out of marriage. They discussed the concept of equal parenting though not the possibility that they would be parents together during their first date. One of the revealing things about them is how they reached the same conclusion from such different places. Amy had watched her mother reinvent herself from stay-at-home mom to breadwinner after her father died suddenly. Amy always knew she would be self-sufficient and have a career and that she would need a partner willing to do his share. Marc, an engineer with an MBA who could be described as a reformed overachiever, cut back his work schedule long before he married because he wanted more time to play tennis and go hiking. Instead of an asset, his laid-back lifestyle was seen as a liability by most of the women he dated, because it raised concerns that he might be a slacker.
    To Amy, a Type A personality who plays the violin and oversees 11 employees in her job directing the clinical pharmacy program for Atrius Health, that is simply . . . funny.
    I so would not have considered dating you if I thought you were a slacker, she tells her husband.
    A recent visit to their home, in a quiet neighborhood not far from Watertown Square, reveals an almost alarming lack of clutter. There is no visible pile of bills in their kitchen, and in their daughters closet, labeled plastic bins designate the proper places for Patterned Tights and Extra Jewelry. On a recent weeknight, their children, Theo, 5, and Maia, 8, go to bed with barely a word of protest. Their two gray cats, Twinkle and Zippy, are more unruly than the kids as they stalk the rice and turkey burgers left over from dinner. Asked if they have any conflict-causing flash points in their home lives at the moment, Amy says she has grown uncomfortable with Marcs gradual takeover of the household finances and plans to reinvolve herself this year, to get back to the basic competence each believes he or she should maintain in each domestic duty. In fact, they feel it can make sense for partners to gravitate to tasks they like better or are better at, as long as they dont take those things over completely not for equalitys sake, but more so you can pinch-hit for each other, says Marc.
    Since putting themselves in the public eye, the Vachons have heard from grateful couples who thanked them for illuminating another path, but they have also faced criticism, some of it personal and surprisingly harsh. Naysayers labeled them rigid and petty for scorekeeping, judged their careers to be destined for mediocrity, and expressed pity for those poor children, whose parents, they concluded, must argue about everything. They were taken aback Amy, in particular, struggled with the critiques but they concluded that some people felt threatened because what they were saying challenged the core of their family identities. Today, shed tell doubters: Bring it. Were happy to take the criticism, because we believe in this so strongly.
    The most common misunderstanding about their approach is what they now call the 50-50 myth the idea that their family life runs with mathematical precision. Its not about putting a hatchet down every task, Amy Vachon says. The goal is not to fixate on who does what, but for both to be fully invested, not only in the doing but also in the thinking and planning, so both know what needs to be done, without being asked.
    Its the difference between being willing to drop off the enrollment form for summer camp and realizing, months ahead of time, that the right camp must be found; between picking up a box of Huggies on request and knowing when supplies are running low.
    That kind of true sharing, instead of delegating, is the last frontier of equal parenting, says Amy. I can assign him to do tasks... 
    And I can be the dutiful soldier, says Marc, but thats not equality.
    Its easy to see how some resistance to shared parenting is rooted in societys insistence that men be family breadwinners. But if men are expected to draw their identities and self-esteem from their work lives and paychecks and find it hard to lessen their grip on that realm, what I learn from the Vachons is that there is a parallel strain of resistance for women, mothers in particular.
    Amy Vachon, a confessed control freak, admits that she still struggles sometimes with relinquishing household power to her husband. Hardest to hand over are the tasks she cares about deeply or that shape how their household and specifically, her mothering is perceived by the world. That includes things like planning the kids birthday parties and responding to requests for parent volunteers. If people choose to judge their familys failure to pitch in at the school yard sale, the indictment is likely to fall on her, not Marc, she says.
    I think we vastly underestimate how much the woman has to let go to make [shared parenting] really happen, Amy says.
    Unlike most moms, including me, Vachon resists the urge to tweak a less-than-perfect outfit dad has put together. Instead, she stops and asks herself some questions: Are the children safe? (Yes.) Do I want to dress them every day? (No.) Matching clothes are not on the list of top values I want my kids to have, she says. So Marc has helped me figure out whats important in life. Unless its picture day at school, in which case, she unapologetically admits, she will insist their clothes be camera-ready.
    As she talks, I think of how I hang on to some tasks, like packing lunches, imagining that I will do it better. I never had a reason to doubt my husbands competence, but still sometimes I did, especially later, when we had a second child, and he took a second leave from work to care for them both. On more than one evening this spring, I sped home down Route 3 with my adrenaline racing, envisioning the baby screaming, the toddler unraveling, their fathers patience thinning. Rushing in to save the day, I usually found a scene of lamp-lit domestic bliss instead: my husband reading our pajama-clad 2-year-old a story, the baby playing happily at their feet. It was idyllic and it was not what I expected. But why not?
    Deutsch, the Mount Holyoke professor, recalls one mother she interviewed who described her realization that there could be two number ones. That revelation, and the resulting transformation of fatherhood, is essential to progress, Deutsch says. But we also need to transform motherhood, [so] that the mother does not have to be the only fundamentally important person. . . . Whenever we are trying to counter norms, there are costs to be paid, and if men are willing to pay some, women have to be willing, too.
    Deutsch has recently been recruiting a fresh crop of shared-parenting couples for a new project. Finding them has not been easy. Im surprised by how difficult it is, and I do find it discouraging, she says. Come on, were in the 21st century!
    But there is evidence things are changing. The Families and Work Institute found that, on average, men in the newest generation of dads in their 20s spend more time per workday with their children than older fathers do.
    Or consider Tom Bleakney, who worked as a nanny for years after earning his masters degree in special education and now runs a Scituate day-care center, The Kids Place, with his wife, Jennifer. Call this 41-year-old businessman at work and you may be asked to wait while he changes a diaper. The couple started their business after realizing that neither of them wanted to leave their children Thomas, now 7, and Cassady, now 4 to go to work. We decided it would be best, the ideal situation, Tom says, if our kids could get both Mom and Dad almost all the time.
    Based on his observations of their daily routines, Bleakney estimates that as many as 40 percent of the couples whose children he cares for divide the family workload roughly equally. But some fathers feel their commitment isnt recognized. They say they do more with their kids than their dads ever did, but they get more grief from wives and other family members who still think they dont do enough, according to Bleakney.
    Of course, shared parenting was going on long before blogs like the Vachons called attention to it. Even 50 years ago, the Don-and-Betty-Draper traditional model was the province of the upper middle class, while in many working-class families, mothers and fathers worked different shifts and split up the child care between them. The Vachons say they have seen couples with all kinds of jobs doctors, firefighters, house painters succeed at equal parenting, but they acknowledge they have never encountered an equal partnership in which one partner has an elite, top-tier super career. And thats OK, says Amy: We wouldnt want the president of the United States to be an [equal-sharing] parent.
    The recession may make part-time work seem risky, but two part-time jobs may be safer than one income in a volatile job market. Having two and losing one, you can potentially scale back, says Marc Vachon. In the traditional model, where do you go? He should know. Laid off in 2007, Marc was jobless for almost a year a period when the couple had to consciously recalibrate their balance and think about what we were going to share, Amy says, to avoid slipping into more traditional roles (in reverse). Amy did not increase her work hours while Marc was unemployed; instead, they cut back on extras like their twice-a-month housecleaner (whom they have since reinstated). Marc walked away from several interested employers because they didnt offer flexible hours before landing his current position, as an IT manager for a market research firm. This, I know from my own experience, is the true test of commitment: sacrificing income and in our case, dipping into savings while my husband was on leave to give both parents equal time with the children.
    Recent economic pressures have accelerated changes in the 21st-century family, experts say, as more men lose jobs and more women earn advanced degrees and boost their earning power. Instead of seeing the trend as a negative, men might view it as an opportunity, Amy suggests. Theyve been missing out for years, she says. Now they can remake themselves and become real equals at home.
    Among their friends, however, the Vachons dont trumpet their success at sharing or assume its for everyone. Talking about having time for themselves and their children and feeling their lives are in balance is like bragging about how much money you have, says Marc. In a sense, they dont have to talk about it. After all their exposure, people know what they stand for and seek advice when and if they want it. Were just the equally shared parenting couple, like another couple are the vegetarians, says Amy.
    For me, embracing shared parenting and letting go has meant accepting that my 2-year-old wants Dad to make her oatmeal and that she will sometimes throw herself facedown in her crib if I go to get her in the morning instead of him. No, Mommy! she might tell me. Go away! What I feel then is a mix of joy and pain the sting of rejection and the pride and elation of knowing she has two equally nurturing, capable caretakers.
    Jenna Russell is a reporter for the Globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com

  2. New Arizona-South Dakota Union Laws May Be Illegal, by L. S. Carbonell, LezGetReal.com
    PHOENIX, Ariz. - Federal labor regulators are suing Arizona over the new constitutional amendment that requires workers to hold secret ballot elections before a company can be unionized. The National Labor Relations Board has indicated it is also planning to sue South Dakota for a similar amendment. Current Federal law says employers can choose to accept a union if the majority of their employees sign a card saying they want to unionize. Where it goes after they choose to refuse the card check is another matter altogether. Those who wish to unionize must, by Federal law, have the option of using card checks.
    There are a couple of reasons this card check law exists. Secret balloting is something conducted in a specific place, just the way our elections are conducted. They involve being able to fill in a ballot, drop it in a box and have it counted. The card check law came into existence because the meetings where employees were choosing to join unions were being subjected to harassment, attacks, disruptions and spies. There was nothing secret about the secret ballot process. It was an invitation for employers to fire anyone recorded as having attended the meeting or to send in goons to attack those trying to attend the meetings. It was voter intimidation taken to violent levels.
    The history of labor rights in this country is not peaceful and pleasant. It involves a lot of bloodshed beatings, cripplings, bombings, killings. Establishing labor unions was a war between workers and employers, between those who wanted to retain their power to kill workers with unsafe conditions and those who wanted to protect workers lives. In the beginning, workers werent creating unions to get better wages or benefits. They were fighting for their lives against companies that considered them expendable. The Triangle Shirt factory fire and those Harlan County, Kentucky, miners riots that Rand Paul didnt know about were just the most famous incidents. Not only were labor unions born of this violence, but OSHA was eventually created to protect workers and national minimum wage laws and child labor laws were passed.
    Ask any employee of any retail chain they will tell you that there are signs in their break room warning them of union activity, promising them that their employer is a paternalistic entity that will protect them. Then ask them how many hours per week they are limited to. It will be less than the states threshold for providing benefits. Ask them what happens when two employees have been with the company long enough to be making around fifty cents an hour more than when they started. They will tell you that those employees have had their hours cut while a new employee has been hired and given those cut hours. It saves the company about $10 a week. At one of our local supermarkets, it has meant cutting two employees to 12 hours a week and giving the saved 16 hours to a newbie. The last time anyone could live on $85 a week was about 30 years ago.
    [But the pay will be much higher, and so will consumer markets and all the other markets that depend on them, if we redefine "full time" as 35, 32 or 30 hours a week, as far down as it takes to achieve full employment and our full potential population of employed, earning and actively spending consumers. Unlike cutting the workforce, the workweek can be cut without cutting the consumer base. In fact, the workweek is the only variable that can be cut with only positive effects and no adverse effects. Any reduced income is strictly transitional during the lag time before employers realize the job desperation on the part of jobseekers is fading - and the temporary reduced income can be cushioned by state worksharing programs.]
    The war on unions began when textile manufacturers in New England persuaded Southern states to pass anti-union legislation, euphemistically called right to work laws, in exchange for moving their plants south. Its been very effective. The current crop of companies moving to avoid unions are auto manufacturers who are paying half the wages they paid in the North in their new plants in places like Tennessee. The propaganda campaign told Southerners that they could have those new jobs if they didnt even think about joining unions and told Northerners that they had lost those jobs because of unions. Both were outright lies. When the opportunity presented itself, those textile manufacturers moved to third world countries where not only were the wages pennies a day, but the state provided health insurance. It was always about their bottom line.
    Labor unions came into existence for a reason. Minimum wage laws, child labor laws, health and safety laws all came into existence for a reason. When conservatives talk about taking back our country, they are talking about taking it back to a time when the average American only had a fourth grade education because that was all that was needed to stand in a textile mill 12 hours a day breathing in cotton fibers that would kill them in their mid-twenties. They are talking about returning us to a time when a mine collapse didnt mean a rescue operation, but only waiting until the dust cleared to branch the shaft off in a new direction. They are talking about a time when contagious diseases like influenza killed millions who were crammed into slums. They have been sold a lie that somehow this nation was better in the days before the Great Depression. That lie is based on how well society covered up its ills and basked in its mythology.
    The dangerous thing for America is in the under-the-mainstream-radar news from China and other so-called emerging markets. Their people are starting to look at either pushing for employee protection laws and environmental laws or forming unions. At the rate the corporate-bought politicians are going, those out-sourced jobs will come back to America, as the sweat shops we fought so hard to eliminate in this country. We will become the third-world hellholes. All for an up-tick in the shareholders dividends.

5/06/2011 – 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. Justice delayed - DA frustrated with state stand-off over rolling back prosecutors costs, by Hilary Dickinson hdickinson@beloitdailynews.com, BeloitDailyNews.com
    BELOIT, Wisc. - Justice in upcoming criminal matters is likely to be delayed in Rock County.
    District Attorney David OLeary announced Thursday that the 12 assistant district attorneys (ADAs) in his office will no longer be working on Fridays beginning May 13. Thus, they will be working 32 hours a week instead of 40 hours starting next week.
    OLeary and Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts will continue to work on Fridays and handle all in-custody matters.
    The changes were directed by the Office of State Employment Relations and the Department of Administration after Wisconsin prosecutors this week rejected temporary pay cuts and furloughs to make up a budget shortfall.

    The rejected state proposal would have altered the Wisconsin prosecutors current contract to force an additional six days of unpaid furlough prior to June 30, according to a press release issued by OLeary.
    It boils down to them intentionally violating the labor agreements, OLeary told the Daily News.
    He said he decided to not have the ADAs work on Fridays because it is typically the slowest day of the week, which means everything else other than in-custody matters will have to be continued.
    It will delay the criminal process for victims and everyone else in the system, OLeary said.
    He said he already has received phone calls from Rock County judges concerned about the impact of having no ADAs available on Fridays, a day that holds calendar calls and preliminary hearings. In addition, Fridays are the designated days for Spanish-speaking interpreters to be in attendance.
    OLeary said its yet to be seen if some cases are not going to be prosecuted any more.
    I hope not, but the reality is we only have so much time to deal with the volume we have, he said. Thats our fear, but Im doing everything to make sure that doesnt happen.
    He said the Rock County District Attorneys Office will continue prosecuting the most serious cases, but traffic and ordinance citations are not going to be getting their full attention.
    No Rock County judges in the criminal division were available for comment on Thursday, but Judge R. Alan Bates who works in the juvenile division and served in the criminal division from 2004-2008 spoke to the Daily News.
    I cant imagine the disruption and delay its going to cause, Bates said. Its going to cause you to lose 20 percent of your chance to have ADAs in the courts and they do 99 percent of the court appearances.
    For instance, Bates said Judge James Daley in the criminal division might have anywhere from 80 to 100 calendar calls on a Friday, and it will be suddenly very difficult to not have Fridays available to accommodate all those court proceedings.
    Bates said it will be difficult to move those proceedings around, and it will limit the time for the District Attorneys office to review police reports, make decisions on the charges, negotiate with the defense attorneys, and decide which cases go to trial and which get settled.
    OLeary said the DOA and OSER have labeled the layoffs as permanent so he does not know when the ADAs might return to working five days a week.
    He said he has asked the DOA and OSER how much money will be saved by the layoffs of Wisconsin prosecutors and he cannot get an answer. He also said other options for additional funds are available at the state level in the district attorney account, but the DOA and OSER are reportedly only interested in making the prosecutors take the six unpaid furlough days.
    The starting pay for an ADA is $40,000 and the top of the pay scale is around $100,000, according to OLeary. Still, he said not many in the state have reached the top level because the middle group is thinning out as many are leaving the profession.
    As for the ADAs in his office, OLeary said they will continue the work that is necessary.
    Its frustrating being treated this way, as well as (the DOA and OSERs) refusal to answer legitimate questions by the DAs across the state, he said.

  2. The soggy, chilly spring has left farmers, gardeners, golfers and and Little Leaguers frowning, by Quinton Smith, The Oregonian via OregonLive.com
    GRESHAM, Ore. -- Travel agents and ski resorts may love what it's done for their business, but few others in the Gresham area say two months of record wet, cold weather has been good for them.
    Gresham Little League has spent twice what it normally does on drying agents for its fields. Garden centers say business -- until a few days of decent weather this week -- is off 50 percent.
    And golf courses? Can't tee it up when the fairways are under water.
    The official gauges at Portland International Airport measured 5.04 inches of rain in April, 2.2 inches above normal and the third-wettest in 71 years. The total for March and April was 11.47 inches, the most for those two months since record keeping began in 1940.
    But anyone with a rain gauge will tell you that because of its location near the Cascades foothills, the Gresham area gets a lot more than that. The gauge at Schaeffer's Nursery on Southeast Orient Drive, for example, measured 7.75 inches of rain in April alone.
    It's cold, as well. According to the National Weather Service this year had the least -- just six -- 60-degree days by April 30. That is the fewest ever, breaking a 56-year-old mark.
    Garden stores hope the glimmer of nice weather before Mother's Day this weekend will help them recover a bit. But store owners say it is bad news for business if avid gardeners skip early spring plantings.
    "Once you lose business you rarely get it back," said Lynn Snodgrass, co-owner of Drake's Seven Dees garden center on Southeast Stark Street. "And we really need two or three nice days to motivate buyers. The first nice day they're just out enjoying it."
    Diminished sales also have a trickle-down effect. Snodgrass slowed her seasonal hiring and cut hours for others. On really cold, wet days she asks for volunteers from among her staff to go home early.
    Except for an extended ski season on Mount Hood, outdoor spring activities like baseball and golf have been a struggle.
    Scott Shields, head pro at Gresham Golf Course, said his business is off about 10 percent from a normal, drier spring. The wet, slow months last year were April and May, he said. This year it is March and April.
    "Everyone is dealing with it," Shields said. "It affects your bottom line and it's very hard to catch up, especially if you lose May and June. So we're trying to be optimistic about those months."
    To encourage play, most public courses offer discounts. Because of its location in Welches, The Resort at the Mountain struggles with cold, wet conditions. It recently offered a coupon offering two golfers 27 holes of golf, a cart and lunch for $89 -- about half its summer rate.
    Youth and adult sports have also been affected.
    The city of Portland has closed many of its soaked grass fields to soccer, rugby, kickball, lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee protect them from excessive wear. Gradin Sports Park in Gresham had its two grass soccer fields closed repeatedly this spring, moving youth games to artificial surfaces at Gresham and Sam Barlow high schools.
    But for some, trying to get those games played has a cost.
    Jason Trickel, president of Gresham Little League, says his organization will spend $25,000 this spring on drying agents to spread on fields -- more than double the usual expense.
    "You can sink up to your ankles in many of our fields," Trickel said. "You're trying to outfit all those fields and it can get expensive real fast."
    Gresham Little League has 665 kids playing ball on nine fields. When games are constantly rained out and rescheduled, Trickel said, that cuts practice time, as well. Many coaches then spend their own money to rent local gyms or indoor batting cages for practice, he said.
    "We call it Oregon baseball, but some people don't call it names that nice," Trickel said.
    Governments are also affected by the cold and wet.
    Landslides have closed two Multnomah County roads -- Palmer Mill Road in the Columbia River Gorge and Thompson Road northwest of Portland. Michael Pullen, a county spokesman, said Thompson has been closed since January and will involve expensive repairs once the ground dries. But he doubts Palmer Mill, a steep, little-used route between the Historic Columbia River Highway and Bridal Veil, will be repaired and reopened at all.
    "This is not as hard as 1996, but it's in the worse-than-normal category," Pullen said.
    And then there is Larch Mountain Road east of Corbett that is popular with tourists because of the views from the top. The county locks a gate at the bottom for the winter when it first snows and doesn't open it until the threat of snow eases.
    "I have the feeling we won't open it until June or July this year," Pullen said.
    With 19 schools and 1.7 million square feet to heat, the Gresham-Barlow School District is the area's biggest landlord. The district expects a 10-15 percent increase in its heating bills for March and April alone, said Terry Taylor, director of facilities. That's a budget hit of $12,000 to $15,000, he said.
    "The last few months have been really challenging," Taylor said.
    While travel agent Doug Walker has been around Gresham long enough to not wish hardships on his fellow business owners, the bad weather has helped bookings at Walker Travel.
    Spring has been very good for last-minute bookings, he said. Most leisure trips are planned and booked six to eight months in advance, Walker said. This winter and spring many of those dropped to 30 days.
    "The leisure traveler is thinking ahead, but the bad weather pushes them," Walker said. "When you have 45 days of straight rain, people just call and say 'Get me out of here.'"

5/5/2011 – 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. ELECTION 2011: Meet your Motherwell and Wishaw MSP candidates, Wishaw Press via wishawpress.co.uk
    WISHAW, Scotland - The people of Wishaw and Motherwell will go to the polls tomorrow (Thursday) to decide who will replace Jack McConnell as MSP for the towns.
    Voters will also be helping to elect Central Scotlands seven regional MSPs as well as taking part in the referendum on the voting system used to elect MPs to the House of Commons.
    Ravenscraigs new 32million sports centre will host one of the largest election counts in Scotland and candidates can expect a late night perhaps around 4am as the results of five constituencies will be tallied up there.
    The battle for Motherwell and Wishaw constituency will be settled at the state-of-the-art facility along with Airdrie and Shotts, Coatbridge and Chryston, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth and Uddingston and Bellshill.
    Returning Officer Gavin Whitefield said: By using Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility, we can accommodate the five Scottish Parliamentary election counts in one location and we will co-ordinate the count for the Central Scotland Region.
    We will also carry out the count for the UK-wide referendum at Ravenscraig on May 6. It provides excellent facilities for the operation of the count, and is easily accessible for staff, candidates and supporters. Our election team have organised the logistics required to allow the elections and the referendum to run smoothly on May 5 and 6.
    Polling stations around Wishaw and the surrounding areas will open at 7am and close at 10pm. The boxes will then be taken under police guard from the polling stations to Ravenscraig for the vital count.
    In Motherwell and Wishaw Labour are defending a majority of almost 6000 and in 2007 the other six parties only managed to poll just short of 7000 votes between all of them.
    The tussle in neighbouring Airdrie and Shotts constituency could well be closer as Labour has a majority of just 1446, but there were a total of 1536 rejected ballot papers in the constituency four years ago.
    Check the Wishaw Press website at www.wishawpress.co.uk on Friday for results from the election.
    Here's your chance to meet the six candidates vying for your vote:..
    CONSERVATIVES - Bob Burgess
    FORMER milkman Bob Burgess is the Conservative candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw and hopes that his commitment to keeping local people in work can deliver him a seat in Holyrood.
    Sixty-seven-year-old Burgess has been in politics for more than 30 years, leading a union revolution for the USDA before switching his Labour allegiance to Conservative.
    He and wife Jean have been married for 48 years and together started their trophy engraving business in Motherwell nearly 30 years ago before moving into Netherton, Wishaw.
    Ive always been involved with the people of Motherwell and Wishaw, said Bob. Ive been in the Conservative Party for the last 30 years, going through from secretary to treasurer, vice-chairman to chairman.
    By being involved Ive seen everything thats happened and everything that has failed. There have been so many failures across Motherwell and Wishaw as far as planning is concerned, when you see Forgewood, Gowkthrapple, Millbank Road the whole ethos of good planning just is not there.
    The trees in Kenilworth Avenue were a recent example of a lack of consultation. If trees need to come down as theyre a danger or dead then fair enough. These are the kind of things Ive seen and would like to prevent.
    Bob was a pupil at Motherwell Central and lived in the area before moving to Wishaw. He worked in the steel mill and then as a milkman, from where he began his political career. His hero is Winston Churchill and concedes that the greatest national and local issues facing the people of Motherwell and Wishaw lie in the economy.
    He said: I probably still consider myself a Socialist Tory. I still believe people are entitled to a good job where their place of work and wages are right. You dont run a company down because youre in a union.
    Instead of trying to sort the deficit by doing away with jobs, why not job share?
    [ie: work share, cuz "job" tends to mean a 40-hr/wk job]
    Why not cut hours down to 30 hours a week, keep all the workers in place that you need.

    At the moment it seems to be We need to get rid of 700 jobs, so just do that, whereas it needs to be dealt with in a more controlled manner keep people in place who others need.
    Weve got everything costed, but the SNP are saying lets freeze local community charges for the next five years. How can you budget for five years? Just now we should be looking at controlling it, getting everyone settled down in jobs and keep those working in jobs, and go from there. Let the economy grow and come up rather than go for massive cuts.
    Keeping people in jobs will help control the financial situation it makes sense to me to cut hours and wages of those working by X amount for a two-year period to let things try and get back to normal. Its maybe the wrong thing to say, but that is how I feel about it.
    We cant just ignore it or throw money at it again. It has to stop.
    Bob likes to consider himself a good people person, taking hundreds of boys and girls through judo clubs to championships as well as working with local handicapped people.
    In his spare time he likes nothing more than to play Elvis on his guitar and read. My perfect weekend would be working in the morning before spending the rest of the day relaxing with Jeannie, he said. The people of Motherwell and Wishaw are great people. I might be a Socialist Tory but Im still Rab Budgie Burgess, the guy from North Motherwell..\..
    LABOUR - John Pentland
    JOHN Pentland replaces the outgoing former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell as Labours local parliamentary candidate.
    I think it is essential to know your constituency area and the needs of the people of that area, said Mr Pentland, who joined the Labour Party over 30 years ago.
    I was born in the constituency of Motherwell and Wishaw and have lived here all my life, so I know this area and I know the people.
    Fighting for what really matters is the aim of the Scottish Labour Party and that is also my aim. What really matters is what the people of Motherwell, Wishaw, Craigneuk, Newmains, Cleland and all surrounding villages want. Their wishes will dictate my priorities as an MSP, and I will pursue them with complete passion. That is what the people of Motherwell and Wishaw constituency will expect and I will not let them down.
    John Pentland was elected to Motherwell District Council in 1992, serving in Planning, Leisure Services, Environmental Health, Staffing and Policy and Resources Committees, and was vice-chairman of the Finance Committee.
    He was then elected to North Lanarkshire Council and served as Convener of Finance, becoming finance spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities for five years from 2002.
    In these roles, I felt I could make a difference and I feel proud that I did, said Mr Pentland.
    I joined the Labour Party over 30 years ago because I wanted to make a difference.
    In Motherwell and Wishaw we want to see a freeze in council tax, best health services, clamp down on knife crime, a strong economy, employment opportunities, quality education in good school buildings, strong communities and hope for the future.
    These hopes, needs and aspirations of the people of Motherwell and Wishaw are reflected throughout Scotland. If communities are served well and progress and prosper, then the whole country will also prosper.
    Central to this will be the creation of jobs to allow people into employment, working for their own self respect, hopes and ambitions.
    The Labour candidate worked as a welder with Butters Brothers in Craigneuk and spent 28 years with the British Steel Corporation at the Clyde Alloy plant. He is also a member of the Community Union (formerly Iron and Steel Trades Confederation).
    During my employment with British Steel, I was an active shop steward and played a significant role in gaining good working conditions, he told the Wishaw Press.
    I have worked as PA to Frank Roy MP since 1997 and I was chairman of the Board of North Lanarkshire Municipal Bank from 1997 until 2011. I was also chairman of Greenhead Moss Community Trust since its inception until 2010, a member of the Board of Wishaw and District Housing Association, have a strong working partnership with local primary and secondary schools and have been active in assisting local churches in a variety of issues.
    I was also chairman of the Board of Environmental Key Fund which has delivered funding for a number of projects in the constituency, including funding for Craigneuk Memorial Wall, restoration of St Andrews Church organ, and funding for Wishaw Lawn Tennis Club.
    As a councilor, Mr Pentland has held regular surgeries and maintained an open door approach for constituents.
    He said: My policy has always been to listen and assess problems, and then take appropriate action, and this will continue to be my ethos.
    Through my various roles in political administration and direct involvement with the community, I have gained valuable experience in dealing with a wide range of issues that affect peoples lives and the experience will be put to good use at Holyrood.
    My wife and family fully support me in my political work.
    SNP - Clare Adamson
    SNP CANDIDATE Clare Adamson is a proud local mum who believes that Motherwell and Wishaw both have the resources to offer plenty on a national and local scale they just need to be tapped into.
    I was born in Motherwell and moved to Wishaw when I was seven, she said. I moved away for university but came back here to bring my family up.
    I came back to this area because I find the people really loyal, very committed to the area. The people I know who are involved in and work for the community, you just could not get harder working, more dedicated people to their own area.
    Ive always been passionate about the area as its where I grew up. I joined the SNP shortly after the closure of Ravenscraig, knowing what devastating effect it could have and I feel the SNP have policies that can really make a difference here; things havent been adequate for a long time.
    Clare joined the SNP in the early 1990s, feeling that the SNP were the only party who fought to the end to save the Ravenscraig. Since then she has worked as a party organiser and was heavily involved in the Ochil constituency, working for former MSP George Reids campaign.
    When I moved back to Wishaw I stood for the council here as well, she explained.
    Before I was elected as a councillor, I worked for four years at the SNP headquarters as a campaign organiser, so I really had four years right at the heart of the SNP.
    Ive shown commitment. Many of the people Ive dealt with have said that Ive worked really hard on their behalf and Ive always felt that the people in this area have been badly let down by national politics. Labour had all the power the council, the Scottish Parliament and the government but still they couldnt do anything to regenerate this area. I am absolutely passionate about making sure we make the most of our position here. We have some great assets and I think we just dont make enough of what is in this area. Ill be doing as much as I can to raise our profile.
    For Motherwell and Wishaw, the Future Jobs Fund and the apprenticeships we hope to deliver every year are absolutely fantastic.
    Were looking to try and commit to getting 25,000 apprentices a year, which is amazing.
    Free education is also very important. I dont think people in Wishaw and Motherwell will like the idea of having debt hanging over them for their education; the right to free education is vitally important for young people in this area.
    Alex Salmond is talking about the re-industrialisation of Scotland and renewable energy. Well, we still have one of the biggest greenfield sites in the whole of Britain and I would be hoping that Lanarkshire could play its part by bringing some of the work for renewable energies here.
    Clare spent 20 years as an IT developer before moving on to the role of project manager, managing up to 30 developers and multi-million pound projects, gaining a wealth of business management experience.
    But now its the people of Motherwell and Wishaw she is looking out for.
    She said: The people here have always been hard-working and honest but they havent been given enough opportunities for jobs, apprenticeships and education, theyve been sadly lacking.
    I grew up here and with the opportunities education gave me Ive been able to achieve a lot in my life, but at the end of the day I saw that for a lot of my friends who had stayed in Motherwell and Wishaw really nothing was changing for them here; there was no big idea coming through, no big developments.
    I felt the people here deserved a bit of the ambition and the drive that Id seen in other places.
    Clare (43), is married with one son. Her hobbies include painting and watching live music, particularly folk music.
    My perfect weekend?, she asks rhetorically.
    Sunshine, friends and family thats all it takes!
    JOHN Swinburne is the leader of the All Scotland Pensioners Party and is committed to improving the lives of pensioners living in the UK.
    Eighty going on 45, John started his party back in 2002 fighting to improve the governments treatment of the elderly and their pensions.
    A year later, he was elected to the Scottish Parliament, but it was far from the start of his political career.
    He said: I was in the Labour Party for many, many years, but I didnt leave Labour, the Labour Party left me. All of a sudden they lost all their principles, with New Labour bearing little resemblance to the Labour Party I was brought up with.
    When I first became involved in politics I was a shop steward and as a shop steward I went along to union meetings, someone asked me to join Labour and I joined.
    Ive always had an interest in politics but we the All Scotland Pensioners Party are not a political party, we are a pressure group for pensioners. People of every sort of political persuasion can join our party because the only qualification you need to join us is to be over the retirement age. We also look after our children and grandchildren though, as thats part and parcel of being a grandparent.
    I feel obliged to try and make Holyrood a better place not by my presence but by ensuring that all the other MSPs start to turn up for every debate. Its insulting to the electorate that 90 per cent of the MSPs who have been elected in the past have failed to turn up at debates for no reason at all.
    The average attendance of MSPs is one hour a week. I would change that by putting forward a members bill to demand that MSPs only get paid as per their attendance in the debating chamber; make them clock in and clock out and pay them pro rata. They say not all debates concern them, but every debate should concern them.
    As a pensioners MSP, the main issue to address is abolishing means testing for pensioners and making sure all pensioners are paid a decent weekly pension. Were saying 180 per week the governments poverty level is 171 per week, and yet after means testing a pensioner would only be awarded 137 per week, and if hes married the spouse would only get 72 per week: hows that for gender equality?
    We have the worst pensions in the whole of developed Europe and no-one cares. It is criminal the way people who have worked hard all their lives paying their taxes are left scrambling to have a reasonably comfortable, decent life.
    Alongside the partys commitment to improving pensions and the role of MSPs in Holyrood, John will also campaign for free local services and facilities for pensioners, as well as introducing a graduate tax.
    We believe in a graduate tax for students, the ones who have got through university free of charge who are now earning over 50,000, he said.
    We would recommend those people paying an extra 10p in the pound.
    This would stop poor students being hounded for money, leaving university with a degree and also a big 30,000 millstone around their neck.
    Mr Swinburne, a Steelman through and through since 1940, has four children and 13 grandchildren....
    FATHER-OF-SIX Tom Selfridge represents the Scottish Christian Party.
    Id like to win in the election to get a voice in parliament for Christian values principally, the 52-year-old former Labour councillor said.
    The mainstream parties are pursuing an agenda that is anti-family and that is what Im concerned about.
    Im originally from a big family myself Id regard myself as a family man but I dont agree with many of the legislations going through particularly to do with the family. For 2000 years weve had this concept of what family is and we didnt need anyone to constitute what a marriage was. Now were redefining marriage and that seems absurd to me. Our laws have always been orientated around Christian values and marriage being one of the cornerstones of that then all of a sudden were redefining all of these.
    The Scottish Christian Party aim to see Christian beliefs and morals maintained across parliamentary decisions, but also are adamant of keeping the finger on the pulse locally.
    The big issue is about jobs and how to save jobs, said Mr Selfridge. We need to help small, local businesses. The whole agenda of environmental issues is a big one for me personally too. There could be a second wave of the North Sea and all our towns and communities could be involved in it. The whole second wave could be using solar, wind and sea power and could be done all around our coast. The benefits would be great for the country and our selling powers down south. There is a whole industry to be tapped into there.
    Tom was a Labour councilor for Cambusnethan from 1995 to 2007, before deciding to leave the party.
    Asked to describe his strongest personal characteristics, modest Tom said: Id rather leave others to speak about myself, but if someone was representing me Id like to see integrity and not self-serving; someone in it for the good, not focusing on their own agenda all the time. Anybody being involved in that from a Christian perspective you would imagine would have those kind of qualities. If anyone knows me I would hope they would see that in me.
    I used to be a Navy diver then started working in bomb disposal. When I left the forces I pursued saturation diving deep diving in the North Sea. It was while I was doing this that I became interested in politics and became a councillor. I was involved in the voluntary sector and I could see a lot of stumbling blocks with alcohol, drugs and housing so I became involved in local politics. When I became involved in local politics, I aspired to national politics.
    Tom lives in Motherwell and is separated a single dad to six children. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and riding his motorbike. Asked about his ideal Saturday, Tom said: Waking up with the sun coming in through the windows, being able to watch football in the afternoon then relaxing.
    LIBERAL DEMOCRATS - Beverley Hope
    AGED 27, Liberal Democrat Beverley Hope is the youngest of the six Motherwell and Wishaw candidates.
    Passionate and enthusiastic, Beverley considers her age an advantage in understanding some of the biggest issues this election: young people and the jobs market.
    A lot of my peers and younger folk are in a vicious circle where you cant get a job for lack of experience but then you cant get experience in order to get the job that you want, Beverley said. Gaining more apprenticeships and vocational courses for young people who perhaps are not aspiring to university are where the new jobs should be created.
    There are problems with young people not having things to do I push a lot to find ways to let them do something constructive with their spare time, to make sure theyre all getting the recognition for the work they are doing so that they are getting accreditations to give themselves the best possible opportunities.
    Beverley graduated from St Andrews University with a degree in German and International Relations. She then moved to Cardiff to gain a postgraduate degree and began working with her local MP shortly after.
    But it was the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2002 that first drew the young candidate to politics.
    She said: I first joined the Lib-Dems when I was at university in St Andrews where Menzies Campbell was a popular figure. It was on the back of the Iraq intervention that I began to take an interest in the Lib Dem policies which I thought were a lot better.
    Since then Ive been working with a lot of politicians locally in Edinburgh and have gained wider campaigning experience in the Glasgow East by-election that have both got me more hooked.
    I think that the Liberal Democrats have a lot to offer the people of Scotland and, although were not in the best favour because of what is happening down at Westminster, nevertheless our policies chime in with what a lot of Scottish people want to have and are passionate about their politicians delivering for them.
    The main policy we differ from the rest of the parties on is the changes to the police force. We want to keep policing localised and keep it within the community it is serving.
    We are also pushing to create more jobs, mainly green jobs, boosting the economy. My personal passion is for helping young people who are within the transition between education and employment getting the opportunities which ordinarily they should be getting.
    Single Beverley currently works for Friends of the Awards as a development officer, who in turn support the Duke of Edinburgh Award, dedicated to the personal development of young people from all backgrounds.
    Its something very close to my heart and I love working with young people, something I hope to do a lot more of in the future, said Beverley.
    Ive always been a hard-worker and quite determined, knowing where my commitments were going to lie and where my future plans were going to make sure I aspired to them.
    In my free time I do lots of hillwalking and climbing and I like following rugby.

  2. Cuts possible in county landfill hours, services, by Kristin Harty Barkley, Cumberland Times-News via times-news.com
    CUMBERLAND, Va. Allegany County leaders are considering closing one of the countys four refuse disposal sites and reducing operating hours at the others as they struggle to find ways to cut costs in fiscal 2012.
    In a proposal outlined Thursday by Public Works Director Paul Kahl, the county would close the Piney Plains refuse disposal site near Little Orleans, which is currently open two days a week.
    Mountainview Landfill in Frostburg would be open 40 hours a week instead of 57; the site near Flintstone would reduce its hours from 32 hours a week to 24 hours a week; and the site near Oldtown would be open half as often 16 hours a week instead of 32 hours a week, according to the plan presented to the Allegany County Board of Commissioners.
    The commissioners, who wont vote on the issue until after they review the plan and receive public comment, dont expect residents to be pleased.
    What were doing is essentially increasing the costs and decreasing the services, Kahl said, noting that the bag disposal fee is scheduled to increase from 50 cents to 75 cents in January. High gas prices are also making it more expensive for residents to travel to dump their trash.
    A combination of state cuts and county revenue losses have had a major impact on the countys budget, shrinking it by about $1 million compared to last year. In recent weeks, commissioners have been looking at cuts to services and possibly staff to avoid increasing the property tax rate.
    This is one of the painful budget cuts that we have to look at, Kahl said.
    The commissioners plan to schedule meetings in Flintstone and Oldtown later this month so that residents can give input about possible changes at refuse disposal sites. Changes could take place as early as June 1 for the Piney Plains, Flintstone, and Oldtown locations, and July 1 for Mountainview, Kahl said.
    The commissioners discussed the possibility of increasing the bag limit for residents who dispose trash for others in their neighborhood, and Commissioner Creade Brodie wondered aloud whether it might be wiser to keep the Piney Plains site open, for at least another year.
    We might want to look at going ahead and increasing the fee to $1 a bag and leaving it as it is, Brodie said. Its going to inconvenience a lot of people.
    Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at kbarkley@times-news.com.

5/04/2011 – 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. School Board Votes to Eliminate Positions, Cut Hours, by Linda Park, Newark Patch via patch.com
    NEWARK, Calif. - Elimination of numerous positions and the reduction of work hours were finalized by unanimous votes from the Newark Unified School Board of Education during Tuesdays board meeting.
    The approval authorized the elimination of 23 full-time equivalent positions for the 2011-12 school year, affecting 27 certificated employees who will either have their positions eliminated or their work hours reduced.
    The board also voted to reduce nine classified services and reduce work days for a number of classified management, confidential and supervisory employees.

    All of the resolutions dealing with staff changes were lumped together and voted on as a single item. To see all of the staff changes approved by the board, download the agenda packet here.
    The only comment from the five-member board about the decision to eliminate and reduce the positions came from Board President Charlie Mensinger, who suggested each item be voted separately because the resolutions seemed more personal.
    The rest of the board disagreed.
    Board members also discussed the estimated cost of searching for and hiring a new district superintendent once Superintendent Kevin Harrigan steps down.
    Steven Shields, chief business official for the district, suggested that the board set aside a budget of $35,000 for the project.
    The cost of services when the Newark Unified School District was searching for a top chief before Harrigan's hiring in 2008 was $28,750, according to Shields.
    Shields made several suggestions for funding the project.
    He said that the boards budget allocation for discretionary expenditures is about $13,750, with another $5,000 in encumbered monies. He suggested $12,500 of that be reserved for the hiring process.
    In addition, the position may be vacant for a part of the next fiscal year, so any salary allocated to that period in the district budget can go toward the project as well, he said
    The board agreed to add a superintendent search item to a future meeting agenda to discuss the issue further.
    Several people attended to the meeting to plead with the district to revisit cutting the districts music and art programs in the junior highs.
    Music students and parents said the programs are very important to the students and parents may transfer their children to private schools if the district will no longer offer them.
    Members of the board agreed to add an agenda item in a future meeting for discussion, but not to vote on other potential options for the music department.
    Harrigan said that they are researching partnerships, but those partnerships take time, so they can look at adding the discussion in mid-May or June.
    I would caution us to look very carefully at reinstatement, but instead look at optional program design, Harrigan said.

  2. 60000 Thai workers dealing with aftermath of Japan's earthquake, tsunami, Thai News Agency MCOT via MCOT online news via mcot.net
    BANGKOK, Thailand The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have impacted over 60,000 Thai workers in Thailand, with another 80,000 are at risk.
    According to Amporn Nitisiri, Director-General of Thailands Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, nearly 61,000 workers -- 60,704 exactly -- working in Japanese owned companies cut working hours, with 140,000 overall at risk. 
    The situation in the Japanese homeland caused 60 business operators in Thailand to reduce production output due to insufficient raw materials and led them to cut overtime working hours and to stop operations under Article 75 of regulations guiding foreign investments.
    The five most-affected provinces are Ayutthaya, Samut Prakan, Chonburi, Chachoengsao and Pathum Thani, Mrs Amporn, said citing the latest information as of April 28.
    Some 300 businesses with 80,130 employees are now being watched for possible impacts from the disaster in Japan, the labour official said.
    However, not all the affects are negative. Twenty-six businesses with 23,016 workers have benefited from more orders. The firms include food processing, auto parts, ceramics, aluminium, construction materials, and fruit and vegetable exports.
    Meanwhile, Yongyuth Mentaphao, president of the Federation of Automotive Labour Unions said Thailands auto production has dropped by half in the past two months.
    A number of companies have not yet reduced employee salaries but some with less production capacity cut working days to Tuesdays and Wednesdays only and reduced employee salaries to 75 per cent.
    The union leader said he disagreed with adopting salary-cutting measures under the law as the problem is not caused by economic crisis and car orders are still as as high as 30,000 units.
    The federation asked the government to help in paying workers as some companies cannot shoulder the burden.
    Auto parts production of some companies in Japan has resumed. Mr Yongyuth said workers should not worry as it is monitoring the situation and believes that it will ease by late October.

5/03/2011 – 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. Treasury plan would help determine full-time workers for health cover, by Jerry Geisel, BusinessInsurance.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C.The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled potential approaches Tuesday to what constitutes a full-time employee as it pertains to the health care reform law requirement that employers offer full-time employees coverage or pay a penalty if they do not.
    Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and starting in 2014, employers with at least 50 full-time employeesdefined as employees who work an average of at least 30 hours per weekmust offer coverage or pay an annual assessment of $2,000 for each full-time employee not offered.
    [The good news = the U.S. Treasury Dept. and the PPACA define "full time" as 30 hours a week. The bad news = they're still only talking about a minimum instead of a maximum.]
    In Tuesdays announcement, the Treasury Department said it is asking for public comment on determining whether an employee meets the 30-hour threshold.
    Under one approach suggested by Treasury in Notice 2011-36, an employer would calculate each employees full-time status by looking back at a defined period of not less than three but not more than 12 consecutive calendar months to determine if the employee worked an average of 30 hours per work during this measurement period.
    If the employee met the 30-hour standard by that measurement, the individual would be considered a full-time employee during a subsequent stability period, regardless of the number of hours the employee worked during that subsequent period.
    For an employee determined to be a full-time employee during the measurement period, the stability period would be at least six consecutive months after the measurement period.
    If an employee were determined not to be full-time during the measurement period, the employer would be allowed to exclude the individual in calculating its full-time employees during a stability period, Treasury suggested.

  2. Thatcher's legacy: UK 'is the only nation working [longer] than in the 1980s', by Daniel Martin, DailyMail.co.uk
    LONDON, England - Britain is the only country whose people work harder [only in the sense of longer, apparently measured in quality-unrelated face time] than they did in the 1980s, an international study has found.
    [And therefore Thatcher's "beneficiairies" have less of the most fundamental freedom, free time, despite Thatcher's lip service to Freedom, which was just blahblahblah.]
    Margaret Thatchers workplace revolution [or devolution back toward Dickens' "dark Satanic mills" - and they think this is something to boast about?] has seen Britons working more hours per week than when she was in Number Ten.
    [The English-speaking economies are gettin' dumber and poorer.]
    The former Tory prime ministers "success" [our quotes] at cracking down on union restrictive practices and freeing the countrys entrepreneurial spirit means we work much harder than we used to.
    [Oh brilliant! Every bunch of sheep should have such "freedom" and "success"! So this so-called "entrepreneurial spirit" would be akin to the spirit of the happy slave, who never has a moment for him- or her-self? We stand in a strange no-man's-land, where the right is going back to the same stupid rat race of the past and the left has not got beyond makework and charity. Neither have moved on to worktime economics. But there are more glimmers of the future in the rest of Europe -]
    Meanwhile, across Europe, people now work fewer hours than they did in the 1980s.
    The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents industrialised nations, found that the richest people in the UK have seen their working hours soar the most.
    [The most over-scheduled slaves of Mammon?]
    The wealthiest fifth [filth?] of Britons now work three hours a week more than in the mid-1980s.
    This is the highest rise in all of the OECDs 34 members.
    The poorest fifth, those in the lowest 20 per cent of the income range, are working one hour longer.
    Britain is one of only three countries in which this income group has seen its hours get longer.
    By comparison, the lowest income group in Finland is working seven hours less, in the Netherlands six hours less, and in Germany four hours less.
    On average across the OECD, the low-income worker is at work for three hours less, and the high-income earner 20 minutes less.
    The report does not give figures for other income groups. Britons now work an average of 35 hours a week.
    The OECD report, Growing Income Inequality, confirmed that Britain has among the most unequal earnings in the Western world, and that the gap between rich and poor is widening.
    [Third World, here they come!]
    Since the mid-1980s, average income has risen by around 1.9 per cent after inflation is taken into account.
    But while the richest fifth of the population saw their incomes increase by 2.1 per cent, the poorest fifth saw theirs go up by only 0.9 per cent.
    The gap between the rich and poor is widening across most of the OECD, but not by as big an extent as in the UK.
    [which has long hours - in the age of automation - and so, the most concentrated employment and the most deactivated-through-un(der)employment consumers.]
    The gap between rich and poor is larger only in Mexico, Turkey, the U.S., Greece and Israel.
    One of the reasons for the rich-poor gap across the Western world, says the OECD, is that over the past few decades the number of hours worked by the poor has fallen more sharply than among the rich.
    [If this is average hours, and includes the un(de)employed, it indicates a need for employment-balancing via emergency worksharing and sustainable timesizing.]
    The report said: Average annual hours worked per person in dependent[??] employment fell slightly in most OECD countries over the past ten years.
    But more working hours were lost [=downsized??] among low-wage than among high-wage earners, again contributing to earnings inequality.'
    In Britain, the number of hours worked by both groups went up.
    But the rich have seen their hours rise much more than the poor perhaps contributing to income inequality.
    The OECD report did not include the actual hours worked by different income groups, only how much their working weeks increased or reduced.

  3. Staff opting to leave or cut hours to help college purse, by Suzan Uzel, Cambridge News via cambridge-news.co.uk
    CAMBRIDGE, England - Fifty members of staff at Cambridge Regional College will go after taking voluntary redundancy while others have offered to cut their working hours as part of a drive to make savings of 2.4 million.
    The college, which is still looking for more voluntary redundancies, was told by the Government its 42 million budget will be cut by 4.4 million from August 1 this year, as previously reported in the News.
    The college, which employs more than 800 members of staff, confirmed there would have to be a reduction of 80 full-time posts, which could include job shares and cutting hours.
    Anne Constantine, principal, told the News that the college had made spending cuts across the board to avoid job losses, and was still looking for voluntary redundancies.
    She said: Consultation is continuing and we are also exploring redeployment opportunities throughout the college for staff whose jobs are at risk.
    We have made significant non-pay savings in order to reduce job losses, including cuts in departmental spending across the board. Like many other further education colleges, we have to cope with a reduced allocation from the Government. Our priority is to make sure our students are not affected, and we are not planning to cut any courses.
    We have so far agreed 50 voluntary redundancies throughout the college. Several staff have offered to cut their working hours, which we expect to produce further savings equivalent to several jobs.
    Mrs Constantine previously said every effort would be made to avoid compulsory redundancies.
    Una OBrien, regional official for the University and College Union, said: On a local level we are seeing large numbers of redundancies at Cambridge Regional College and we are also beginning to assess the massively adverse effects of other cuts, for example to the education maintenance allowance, new funding restrictions to English for Speakers of other Languages and to provision for students who have disabilities.
    As we move forward it will be increasingly important for management, unions, staff and students to work together to lobby Parliament to express opposition to these cuts and to protect our excellent local provision.

5/01-02/2011 – 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. Testing Budget Solutions, Utah Trims the Workweek, by Kirk Johnson, New York Times via nytimes.com
    [No, compression (of 40 hours into four 10-hour days) is not "trimming" (of 40 hours into four 8-hour days).]
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah States across the country have come up with all manner of ways to try to close their yawning budget gaps, from furloughs to layoffs to cuts in pay and benefits for public sector workers.
    Utah quietly went a different way.
    In 2008, before the recessions worst ravages hit, managers here started an experiment: if state workers crammed 40 hours of work into four days and nonemergency services were closed on Fridays, might the same amount of work get done for less money and a reduced impact on the environment?
    Many other states and cities subsequently imposed reduced work schedules on employees often four days of work, but for reduced pay in emergency measures. But now, at least a half-dozen states, including Texas and Oregon, have begun looking at the Utah model as a possible permanent solution, and they are seeking advice.
    What they are hearing is a bitter babble of disagreement over whether the 4/10 system, as it is called, has been a forward-thinking view of how to deliver services more efficiently or a failure dashed on the rocks of human nature because state workers were not really getting two additional hours of work done on each of those four days.
    Its not efficient; its stupid, said State Representative Michael E. Noel, a Republican who led a drive in March passed by strong majorities in both state chambers to return to a traditional five-day workweek. Gov. Gary R. Herbert, also a Republican, promptly vetoed the idea, saying that Utahans had grown accustomed to the system and that going back would cost money that the state just did not have to spare.
    How much a shifted workweek really saves, if anything, is in dispute. A study in 2009 by the governors office found substantial savings from Friday closings, especially in energy costs for heating and gasoline. A subsequent audit by the Legislature, however, said the gains had been overstated.
    But the fight is not simply about work schedules.
    The 4/10 system was put into place by Mr. Herberts predecessor, Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former ambassador to China who is a potential contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Huntsman took some moderate positions as governor and was not universally popular among the conservative Republicans who control the Legislature.
    Mr. Herbert said specifically in his veto message that the Legislature had overstepped legislative branch authority in trying to undo Mr. Huntsmans workplace legacy, which was put into place by executive order.
    What should be the proper length of a workday or the workweek? Labor experts and historians say that, in some ways, is what Utah is really debating.
    [Bad segue. Utah is only compressing the same old 40-hour workweek into four days instead of five, not changing its length or in any way debating its proper total length.]
    It is a question America has debated repeatedly, from the Industrial Revolution through the early 20th century, when labor-saving technology seemed to promise an age of leisure and reduced work hours, and into the modern era of mobile computing and communications that has made every kitchen table a potential workplace [and increased work hours]. [Funny how few among our supposedly intelligent species can grasp the idea that maybe, just maybe, if we're constantly introducing more work-saving technology, there is NO proper fixed length of the workweek, and Reuther's idea of an adjustable workweek repeatedly changing to adapt to technology is the only sustainable design.]
    Im really on call all the time, said Elizabeth Sollis, a community relations employee for a state agency whose phone rang at 7 a.m. on a recent Friday off. She said she answered the call, from a resident who had a question.
    Other state workers say they agree with the 4/10 critics.
    I think government should be open five days a week, particularly in these tough economic times, said Darren Rogers, who works in the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which handles things like unemployment benefits and training. I have found its hard to do the work and sometimes hard to get everyone scheduled within those four days, he said.
    One benefit, managers say, is that Friday closings have compelled Utah to improve its online services, offering ways of, say, filing for unemployment benefits that did not require a visit to a state office.
    Fewer trips by residents to state offices and the reduced commuting pattern on Fridays for the 16,000 or so workers on the 4/10 schedule have further contributed to the energy savings, said Jeff Herring, who oversees the states work force as executive director of human resources.
    But there are some consequences, both sides agree, that simply cannot be measured, like volunteer work.
    Utah has the highest rate of volunteerism in the nation, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency. Among cities, Salt Lake City, the state capital, ranked third in the nation for volunteering, the group said, beaten only by Minneapolis-St. Paul and Portland, Ore.
    And having Fridays off provides a perfect opportunity for giving back, said Rhetta and Brett McIff, who work in the Utah Health Department. They were overseeing a youth group in their community south of Salt Lake City on a recent Friday, planting trees for Earth Day at a community garden. They both lead volunteer government committees and help out at the Y.M.C.A., too.
    Our Fridays are sometimes busier than our regular day at work, Ms. McIff, 37, said as the children dug holes under a bright spring sun.
    Other Friday volunteers, like Kevin Olsen, 46, who works for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said that helping out as a reading tutor in his daughter Jessicas fourth-grade class also allows him to spend more time with her. He and Jessicas mother are divorced, and they share custody in cities about an hour apart.
    Mr. Noel, the repeal leader in the Legislature, said he had heard from business leaders frustrated by Friday closings, but also from many constituents who felt that state workers were being coddled by three-day weekends that many people in private industry would covet. Fairness and equity in tough economic times, he said, emerged as a consideration.
    People look at this and say, Theyre working only four days; they need to be working just like were working, he said. Mr. Noel said he thought that enough votes could be assembled to override the governors veto in coming weeks, but that no specific plan was in place yet to try.
    Legislators in other states say the uncertainty here had probably thrown some cold water on the discussions elsewhere.
    It is a little bit of a setback, said State Representative Paul Holvey, a Democrat from Eugene, Ore., who sponsored a bill to study a Utah-like labor plan for his state, only to see it founder. He said he planned to press ahead next year.
    Legislation in Oregon is not going forward at this point, he said, but conversation is.

  2. Change work laws, says Greens MP, TheAge.com.au
    CANBERRA. Australia - Greens MP Adam Bandt will call today for an overhaul of industrial relations law, saying there is an increasing feeling the current arrangements are unsustainable.
    He will tell the Australian Industry Group that workers and their families are bearing the risk of a highly flexible and increasingly casualised workforce.
    He will say that changes are needed to ensure people have control over their working lives so that flexibility works for them and that we need to move from ''flexibility to sustainability''.
    Many people are working longer hours than they would like to, while some are working fewer, he will say.
    The gains from the more flexible system are not being shared fairly, Mr Bandt says.
    ''Wages as a share of GDP have fallen from a high of 62 per cent in 1983 to just over 52 per cent in 2008,'' he says.
    He says there needs to be intervention to deal with these problems. Possibilities include giving people an enforceable right to work shorter hours; allowing employees to share in productivity gains in the form of shorter hours, or legislating for a shorter working week

  3. DOH to inject funds to help understaffed hospitals, 5/01 (5/02 over dateline) ChinaPost.com.tw
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday a plan to spend NT$1 billion to help hospitals recruit and retain nurses and medical care staff. Minister Chiu Wen-ta of the Cabinet-level DOH also urged hospitals to improve working conditions for medical workers to avoid overwork and exceptionally long working hours.
    In an open letter, Chiu also asked hospitals to designate reasonable working hours for medical physicians and surgeons.
    Some nurses and medical care staffers took part in a Labor Day demonstration in Taipei yesterday to protest their long work hours and tight schedules.

    They also planned to organize labor unions to fight for their interests under the new Labor Union Law that just became effective. The new rules now allow nurses and medical care staffers to set up their own labor unions.
    Chiu said the DOH plans to raise the financial subsidies to hospitals to NT$2 billion next year to help hospitals improve the working conditions, wages and job satisfaction of nurses and medical care staffers.
    Since medical physicians and surgeons are now the only medical workers still excluded from the nation's Labor Standards Law that stipulates maximum regular working hours and overtime, Chiu said the hospitals should take the initiative to set reasonable lengths of work before the end of this year for those working at various departments.
    There are now rising turnovers at medical institutions concerning nurses and medical care staffers as well as doctors in emergency departments, forcing more hospitals to close their understaffed emergency units during late night shifts.
    The government-run Kaohsiung Municipal Minsheng Hospital became the latest casualty of low staff numbers. The city government has give permission to the hospital to temporarily suspend its emergency department from 10 p.m. to early morning before new medical workers are added.
    Senior executives at organizations of state-operated and privately-run hospitals said they back the call for improving the working conditions of medical workers, including hiring more staff and increasing compensation.
    But they said the DOH should increase medical payments to the hospitals by the DOH's Bureau of National Health Insurance so that they can have sufficient funds to beef up manpower, shorten working hours, and avoid operating losses after increasing employees.
    A recent survey showed that hospitals have an average manpower shortage of 10 percent for nurses and medical care staffers. As high as 90 percent of hospitals said they have difficulties in hiring an adequate number of staffers.
    As many as 230,000 people in Taiwan hold licenses for working as nurses and medical care staffers, but only 130,000 of them are now actually serving on the medical job market.
    Many of the qualified medical workers have taken up non-medical jobs to work as salespersons of health foods or flight attendants to avoid exhausting work hours and long late night shifts at hospitals.
    Some medical workers said there is an even higher turnover for pharmacists at major hospitals, with 20 to 30 percent of them moving to community pharmacies or clinics after gaining some practical work experience at larger hospitals,

  4. Revealed: bank staff on 32-hour work week - Employers say practice is 'no longer tenable' in public sector, by Anne Marie Walsh & Michael Brennan, 5/02 Irish Independent via independent.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - WO-thirds of Central Bank staff are contracted to work just 32.5 hours a week compared with a norm of 39 hours across the private sector.
    The state agency tasked with overseeing the biggest banking crisis in the history of the country last night confirmed 699 of its staff worked these hours.
    The revelation led to employers' group IBEC warning that working weeks of 32 and 35 hours were "no longer tenable" in the public sector.
    It also comes as the Government faces intense pressure to deliver major changes to public sector work practices under the Croke Park Agreement.
    The Central Bank confirmed 65pc of its administrative and professional staff -- regardless of grade -- were employed on a 32.5-hour-a-week contract, while 35pc work a 35-hour week. The hours exclude lunch, but are well below private sector norms.
    The Central Bank accepted the 32.5-hour week was "not sustainable" and said it was seeking to reduce the number of staff on such contracts.
    IBEC director Brendan McGinty said: "In the vast majority of cases in the private sector, 39 hours would be fairly standard, and you're talking about paid hours exclusive of the lunch break."
    Mr McGinty also said many lunch breaks in the private sector had been pared back from one hour.
    "The reality is that average levels in the public sector have been significantly behind the private sector for some years, and this is no longer tenable," he added.
    The Central Bank, which has an independent status due to its role as the watchdog for the financial system, is not part of the Croke Park deal.
    However, a review of the deal is due to be carried out by the implementation body to discover if it is delivering the necessary savings.
    The Government wants to be able to show savings from the deal to meet its election promise to reduce the burden of the universal social charge on the lowest paid workers.
    The working week revelations come after an Irish Independent investigation revealed highly paid county managers enjoy annual leave entitlements of up to 43 days a year.
    The local authority bosses subsequently volunteered to accept a cap of 32 days on holiday entitlements, which is still well above the 25-day average among private sector managers.
    The Central Bank professional and administrative staff on a 32.5-hour week earn salaries ranging from about 28,000 to almost 67,000. Staff employed since December 2008 are on 35-hour contracts.
    Central Bank workers must take a minimum of a half-hour lunch, but the remaining 30 minutes is clocked up as flexitime, which can be converted into a maximum of one day off a month.

    A Central Bank spokeswoman last night insisted that, in practice, management and many staff worked more than their contracted hours.
    She said while the Central Bank was not a signatory to the Croke Park Agreement, progress had been achieved in the past two years to change working hours.
    As a result, she said the ratio of those on the lower-hour contracts should drop from 65pc to 56pc by the end of the year.
    However, it is understood the longer 35-hour contracts are only being introduced for existing staff if they are promoted and new recruits.
    The Central Bank is headed by Governor Patrick Honohan and its 1,300 staff includes those employed by Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield.
    Meanwhile, about 400 workers attended a May Day protest in Dublin yesterday to signal their opposition to any further pay cuts.
    SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor called for a levy on incomes of more than 100,000 to raise 1bn for job creation.
    He suggested a dividend could be given back to those who were levied if the State managed to make a return on the money it raised.

  5. Workers celebrate May Day, 5/02 Nigerian Observer via nigerianobservernews.com
    ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigerian workers, yesterday joined their counterparts around the world to celebrate May Day.
    May Day celebrations started in the 1860s when workers campaigned for shorter working hours in many countries.
    In Sokoto, Governor Aliyu Wamakko, told the workers that the State Government had put machineries in motion to implement the new national minimum wage of N18 ,000.
    Wamakko made the announcement in Sokoto during the celebration of the May Day.
    Represented by the Head of Service , Alhaji Abdullahi Wali, the governor said : we have set this machinery in motion to thoroughly evaluate the position of the State Government with a view to appropriating implementation.
    Describing the day as significant , Wamakko said that he was running a people-oriented government, putting top priority on the welfare of the generality of the people, irrespective of religious, political or ethnic differences.
    According to him, workers are crucial to the efficient delivery of services to the people. A happy and motivated workforce is what we desire always.
    We have completed over 1,000 of the 2,000 houses we are building for workers in Sokoto City while each of the 23 local governments Areas also has between 30 to 50 houses, he stated.
    He also disclosed that disbursement of the over N 1.7 billion loan meant for workers to buy vehicles had commenced.
    Restating the commitment of his administration toward the welfare of workers, Wamakko urged them to rededicate themselves to their duties.
    We will all be held accountable for all our deeds in the hereafter, the governor said.
    The Chairman of the NLC in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Yabo, called for an immediate implementation of the new N 18,000 national minimum wage.
    He also appealed to the State Government to renovate the states secretariat of the NLC, saying: it is seriously dilapidated which is an embarrassment to the state council.
    Yabo expressed dismay over the attitude of senior and junior civil servants toward their jobs, advising them to turn new leaves.
    In Lagos, Mr. Ekanem Ekanem, Chairman of the air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to be more labour-friendly and allow for consultation and dialogue on issues bordering on workers welfare.
    Ekanem who made the call in his message at the celebration of Workers Day, also called on government to meet workers demand of improving their welfare for greater performance and productivity.
    Workers demand in respect of welfare should be met immediately because government needs to create an environment for workers to survive. Without welfare, there is no way workers can grow.
    If the remunerations of workers is good, they will be happy to do their job and the workforce will excel, he said.
    The unionist said that an average Nigerian worker deserved about N70, 000 per month as minimum wage, stressing that the N18, 000 was far from it.
    He also advised government to create more jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.

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