3/31/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Two Sides to Labor in China, by Keith Bradsher, NYT, B1.
HONG KONG, China — The shorter workweeks and higher pay that Apple’s biggest contract manufacturer, Foxconn, has promised would mean fundamental changes to factory work in China — assuming enough workers can be found in the first place.
[Here we go again - spoiled employers in the economy that has the worst overpopulation and biggest labor surplus in the world whining about a shortage because they can't find cheap enough labor on the coast now that the most desperately poor unemployed are inland.]
Gao Qing, 21, waits to interview for a job at the Liteon electronics plant in Guangzhou. She says she wants more than just a minimum-wage job.
No worker is likely to oppose higher hourly pay, of course. But one reason that workweeks of 60 hours or more have been possible at factories run by Foxconn and others is that at least some laborers already on the payroll have wanted the extra hours.
Perhaps just as important: there is a growing shortage of blue-collar workers willing to work in China’s factories. This shortage is a big factor in the long shifts and workweeks manufacturers have used to meet production quotas. It has already been forcing wages higher in China’s industrial heartland.
That does not mean the work is not also grueling and sometimes even dangerous, as the Fair Labor Association said in a report on Foxconn it released on Thursday. But it could mean that even if Foxconn intends to carry out its promises, the Chinese labor market may not be able to respond quickly.
“This is an evolutionary process,” said Ricardo Ernst, professor of global logistics at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. “The United States has a particular working environment in terms of shape and conditions, and you shouldn’t necessarily expect tomorrow morning to see the same working environment in Asia.”
Labor shortages are already so acute in many Chinese industrial zones that factories struggle to find enough people to operate their assembly lines. Factories often pay fees to agents who try to recruit workers arriving on long-haul buses and trains from distant provinces.
At midday this month in Guangzhou, the capital of the industrial Guandong province, about 100 workers stood outside the gray gates of the factory complex of one of Foxconn’s many rivals in consumer electronics, Liteon.
Behind them stood a couple of dozen agents hoping for fees from the factories for finding employees deemed acceptable. The agents’ fees can equal as much as a week’s wages for a worker, and they come out of the factory’s costs, not the workers’ pay. The workers themselves often receive signing bonuses as well, although these may only be a day’s pay.
So the added expense of hiring additional workers can make it cheaper to ask employees for extra overtime, even when the factories honor regulations requiring that workers be paid double time for overtime and triple wages for each hour worked on holidays.
But many workers also want long hours. The Fair Labor Association’s survey of Foxconn workers found that 48 percent said their hours were reasonable and another 34 percent said they actually wanted even more hours. Only 18 percent said their hours were too long.
In interviews with The New York Times over the last several years, workers at other factories in southeastern China have frequently said that they wanted long hours because they were young, had little to do during free time in their factory dormitories and were eager to make as much money as quickly as possible so as to return to their home villages.
When China imposed its current laws limiting overtime four years ago, the regulations set off considerable complaints from workers and companies alike. There is a limit of three hours a day of overtime and six days of work a week.
“The law is very restrictive about what it allows,” a foreign businessman in southeastern China said Friday. He insisted on anonymity lest his comments be construed as criticism of the government or of labor advocates. Labor laws in the United States are actually less restrictive, in some ways, in allowing workers to put in even longer hours than in China. Generally speaking, as long as American workers receive time and a half pay for anything over 40 hours a week, there are no limits on total hours.
China officially bans workers and factories from arranging longer hours even by mutual consent, for fear that employers will put inappropriate pressure on workers to put in extremely long hours.
The current Chinese law, which took effect in 2008, requires overtime pay for workers who put in more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week.
The Fair Labor Association accused Foxconn and Apple of consistently violating the legal limits on hours. The companies now say they will ensure full compliance with regulatory maximums by the middle of next year. Geoffrey Crothall, a spokesman for China Labor Bulletin, a nonprofit group in Hong Kong seeking collective bargaining and other labor protections for workers in mainland China, said there was considerable variation among workers in China in the number of hours they wanted to work.
“If you talk to workers, you quickly understand some want to work a minimum number of hours and just get by, and others want to work a lot more and earn more,” he said on Friday night. “The point is, Foxconn doesn’t give them a voice in the matter.”
Apple and Foxconn said that they would protect workers’ wages while eliminating excessive overtime. With wages rising close to 15 percent a year in southeastern China, Foxconn may be able to do this without increasing pay at a much faster tempo than previously planned.
The minimum wage in Shenzhen, where Foxconn has the bulk of its 1.2 million employees, has gone from 635 renminbi a month in 2005 to 1,500 renminbi now.
The rise in wages has been even faster in dollar terms, because the renminbi’s value has been climbing gradually in currency markets. The minimum wage in 2005 was worth about $80 a month at the exchange rate then. Today’s minimum wage is worth about $240 a month.
Higher food prices have offset a small part of the increase, but rents have soared. That makes it costlier for workers to rent apartments, which can cost the equivalent of $30 a month for each bedroom, instead of living in dormitories. But more workers are moving out of dormitories and into apartments anyway as their wages rise.
Workers’ expectations have climbed even faster, though, as the Internet has made it easier for them to see images of how more affluent families live elsewhere in China and in other parts of the world.
Workers at Foxconn often earn nearly twice as much as the minimum wage. The company has raised wages to keep them above the legal minimums, but the higher pay at Foxconn also reflects heavy overtime, the Fair Labor Association report found.
Gao Qing, a 21-year-old from Zhengzhou in north-central China with a high school diploma but no further education, stood outside the Liteon gate waiting to be hired this month. She said that finding a minimum wage job was no problem — but she wished she could find something better.
“It’s hard to find a good job,” she said. “It’s easy to find just any job."
Steven Greenhouse contributed reporting from New York.
- German proposal triggers intense debate over working hours, Today's Zaman via todayszaman.com
ISTANBUL, Turkey - A request made by the leading German [CEOs] operating in Turkey to increase working hours in the country has sparked a heated debate among experts and relevant institutions who have criticized such a demand from a European country.
The German giants Mercedes, Bosch, Siemens and Bayer had a meeting with Turkish Science, Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergün last week and asked him to increase the working hours for laborers as one of the conditions for more investment in Turkey.
[If these four clowns have money to invest, why aren't they lowering prices and raising wages in Germany to build up "flagging" German consumer spending? What a disgrace these four "Do as we say, not as we do" CEOs are to their country. Are they trying to get Germany hated again by all the rest of the world? "FIrst flush your economy down the toilet of concentrated employment and wage-bashing labor surplus and then we'll condescend to invest in you." On and on with different flavors of austerity and economic ruin at the insistence of dimwit investors - who then wonder what "act of God" clobbered the markets for the productivity they're invested in once the ripple effect from their employment funneling and consumption defunding comes round to undermine that productivity.]
They demanded that the two-month allowance be extended to 12 months to increase the hours employees may work under the Labor Law. Currently, a worker cannot work more than nine hours a day and 45 hours per week, but as long as the worker agrees, working hours can be increased to 11 hours a day for a period of two months. Many firms implement this option when they experience an increased level of demand in busy seasons. Workers’ unions strongly oppose this law, arguing that it would take away a worker’s right to receive overtime pay.
The Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-I.s,) President Mahmut Arslan criticized the German giants’ demand and said, “Certain groups always try to lobby the government to take such action but I find it interesting that a European country would demand something like this.” He said the working hours in the European Union-15 (EU-15) countries including Germany are 38.5 hours a week, whereas a laborer employed in the manufacturing industry in Turkey works around 52 hours a week. “This figure is 40.3 hours a week in Slovenia and 39.1 hours in Ireland,” he added. Noting that German politicians always bring up Turkey’s inability to comply with EU standards in order to become a member state in the union, he stated, “the motives of German firms are questionable as actions like this are only taken by signing collective labor agreements with unions in Germany, but it is asking the government to make a new law in Turkey.”
Ali Tezel, a social security expert in Turkey who also hosts a TV show in which he interviews people, claimed such moves by German firms show that the colonial mindset is still present in Europe and the fact that they see Turkey as “the China of Europe” is a product of that mindset. Tezel noted that Minister Ergün did not mention increasing the working hours; however, he [Ergün?] suggested starting work at an earlier time and therefore finishing earlier in the day. Reiterating that weekly working hours can only be increased by 3 hours a day and to 60 hours a week for two months in a year, he [Tezel?] said workers can only work up to 41 hours with overtime in Europe. He [Tezel?] suggested the government decrease the working time [per person], and by doing so, employment [i.e., the number of money-earning persons and associated consumers] would increase and Turkey would be able to comply with European standards.
Despite this, an official from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, said that currently there is no discussion on increasing the working hours but that what could happen in the future is unknown.
Professor at Çanakkale 18 Mart University Vedat Laçiner underlined the fact that employees do not need any more extension to the existing working hours and that conditions for working hours were renewed in 2003 anyway. He stated that normally any overtime work should be paid at the regular wage plus 50 percent; however, during the two-month period, compensation for work not done due to holidays is being completed by the workers without receiving any extra payment. Expressing that due to the abundance of job seekers as well as attitude of employers who are not actually looking for skilled workers, current employees do not really have any bargaining power with employers and their only choice is to accept the terms of the agreement. He explained the government is caught between attracting foreign investment and decreasing working hours, and trying to balance its employment policy based on these conditions. Compared to countries to the west, labor in Turkey is cheap, but comparing it with countries east of Turkey, labor is expensive, so the government policy toward working hours is to maintain investment in Turkey while keeping the workers satisfied.
Experts suggest that the government should focus on decreasing working hours to increase employment rates and implement better policies for employees. Turkish Development Minister Cevdet Y?lmaz said in September that a decrease in working hours by three to four hours per week would boost employment and would be more sustainable. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan also said that reducing weekly working hours, even by four hours, could bring the unemployment rate down by 3 to 5 percent. Noting that economic growth won’t come at people’s expense, he stated, “It is not possible for Turkey to continue a competitive policy that is based on cheap labor while it aims to have a gross domestic product [GDP] of $25,000 per capita [by its centennial in 2023].”
3/30/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- China's iPad maker promises more pay, fewer work hours, by Charles Duhigg & Steven Greenhouse, NY Times via Augusta Margaret River Mail via margaretrivermail.com.au
[More pay goes with fewer hours because fewer hours per person means more jobs and less pay-cutting labor surplus.]
SHENZHEN, China - Foxconn, which makes more than 40% of the world's electronics for companies such as Apple, Dell and Amazon, has promised to cut working hours in its Chinese factories and significantly increase wages.
Inspection by a monitoring group found widespread problems - including instances in which Foxconn violated the law and industry codes of conduct by having employees work more than 60 hours a week, sometimes for more than 11 days in a row.
The monitoring group, which surveyed more than 35,000 Foxconn employees and inspected three large plants in which Apple products are made, also found that 43 per cent of workers had experienced or seen accidents, and almost two-thirds said their compensation did not meet their basic needs.
Many said the unions available to them do ''not provide true worker representation''.
''There's this lingering sense among workers that they're in a dangerous place,'' Auret van Heerden, president and chief executive of the Fair Labour Association, said.
But Foxconn had ''reached a tipping point'', he added. ''They have publicly promised to make changes in a manner that they will have to deliver on it.''
Apple, which recently joined the Fair Labour Association, had asked the group to investigate plants that made iPhones, iPads and other devices.
In past months, a growing outcry over conditions at such factories has drawn protests and petitions, and several labour rights organisations started independently scrutinising Apple's suppliers.
Earlier this week advocacy groups called on Apple to ''ensure decent working conditions'' at all its suppliers.
Since January, Apple has released the names of 156 of its suppliers - which it had previously declined to identify - and has started posting regular reports on the number of hours worked by factory employees.
Apple, which has audited its suppliers since 2006, said it shared the FLA's goal of ''improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere''.
Foxconn did not reveal how much it would raise wages, nor details on how its promises would work. But the impact of Foxconn's hour and wage reforms could signal a big change in working conditions throughout China. Foxconn is China's largest private employer, with 1.2 million workers. In response to the report, Foxconn said it was ''committed to work with Apple to carry out the remediation program, developed by both our companies.'' Apple said the company fully supported the recommendations. ''Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple's supply chain a model for the industry, which is why we asked the FLA to conduct these audits,'' it said.
Foxconn's promises include a commitment that by July next year, no one will work for more than 49 hours a week - the limit set by Chinese law. Foxconn, which is based in Taiwan, has also pledged that despite cutting hours, employees' pay will not decline.
Experts say such promises will most likely require Foxconn to hire tens of thousands of extra employees, which along with the wage increases could cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Those moves, in turn, are likely to influence the prices paid by Foxconn's customers, and could increase the retail cost of such things as smartphones and tablets, unless Apple and others accept lower profit margins.
This is not the first time that independent monitors have criticised conditions at Foxconn - or that change has been promised.
In 2006, Apple said Foxconn had ''enacted a policy change to enforce the weekly overtime limits set by our Code of Conduct''.
But that change did not bring Foxconn into line with the law, or Apple's regulations.
During the week Apple chief executive Tim Cook (pictured) visited Foxconn's iPhone factory in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan province. The visit followed a trip to Beijing, where he met Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, regarded as the likely replacement for Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who is expected to step down later this year.
- Report: Postal Service work hours fell to historic low last year, Federal Times (blog)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - For anyone needing yet another marker of the U.S. Postal Service’s condition, here you go: Total work hours last year fell to their lowest point since the mail carrier became an independent federal agency in 1971.
[Well, maybe it's time we made it a dependent federal agency again. That worked for nearly 200 years of American history or from whenever the Postal Service was started after the British came out with the first stamp in 1840. But as with so many things that started deteriorating once the baby boomers replaced the labor surplus of the Great Depression around 1970, we started fixing things that worked and made "the mail carrier became an independent federal agency in 1971."]
That’s according to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s “Annual Compliance Determination” report released this week.
For fiscal 2011, total work hours dropped to just under 1.15 billion, the report says. With the exception of rural letter carriers, no craft was spared. Clerks and mail handlers were hardest hit, with their total hours dipping almost 4 percent. The decline shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the number of postal employees is also falling to historic lows. From 2008 to last year the career workforce tumbled from 663,238 to 552,251, about a 16 percent decline.
3/29/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Layoff-avoidance program keeps Washington businesses afloat, Media contact: Bill Tarrow 360-902-9376, Employment Security Dept. via Access Washington via esd.wa.gov
OLYMPIA, Wash. – More than two-third of employers who participated in the state’s Shared-Work layoff-avoidance program in 2011 say the program helped them survive the recession, according to a recent survey by the Washington Employment Security Department.
Another 20 percent of businesses reported that it probably helped.
The Shared-Work Program allows employers to reduce the hours of their full-time employees by up to 50 percent, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits to make up for some of the lost wages. This translates into immediate payroll savings for participating businesses and prevents the loss skilled employees.
“The Shared-Work Program is one of the most effective tools offered by any government agency to save jobs and save businesses,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. “Our economy would have been in worse shape, and our recovery would take longer, without this program.”
In 2011, 3,176 businesses and more than 38,000 employees were approved to participate in Shared Work, the second-highest year on record, after the peak in 2010.
The program also saved an estimated 26,000 jobs and more than $42 million in unemployment-benefit payouts in 2011. The estimate comes from information on the employers’ original Shared-Work applications combined with their actual use of the program.
Currently, 2,100 employers and 23,000 employees are enrolled.
“Shared Work is the main reason we’ve been able to hang onto our skilled employees and keep our doors open,” said Belinda Roberts, co-owner of Blue Crown Dental Arts in Kennewick. “I recommend it to any business considering layoffs.”
Most employers who responded to Employment Security’s survey reported cutting their payrolls by 20 percent or more. Additionally, 52 percent of businesses saved up to two jobs, while 30 percent saved three to five jobs, and another 12 percent saved five to 10 jobs.
Nearly 100 percent of participating employers said they would apply for the program again and recommend it to other struggling businesses.
Information about the program is available online at www.esd.wa.gov (search on “shared work”) or by phone at 800-752-2500.
Survey results: www.wa.gov/esd/Shared-WorkSurveySummary.pdf#zoom=100
Shared-Work hotline: 800-752-2500
More than two-third of employers who participated in the state’s Shared-Work layoff-avoidance program in 2011 say the program helped them survive the recession.
Another 20 percent of businesses reported that it probably helped them survive.
Shared-Work allows employers to reduce the hours of their full-time hourly employees, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits.
Nearly 32-hundred businesses and some 38-thousand employees were approved to participate in the program in 2011 – the second-highest year on record.
To learn more, visit esd.wa.gov.
- Q&A: Apple-Foxconn raises bar on US firms in China - auditor, by Poornima Gupta, Reuters via Moneycontrol.com
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - A month-long investigation by the Fair Labor Association [FLA] covering three Chinese factories run by Apple Inc's main contract manufacturer, Foxconn, revealed a host of issues from excessive overtime to problems with overtime compensation.
The D.C-based non-profit group has been conducting its probe at Foxconn facilities in Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu in China since February after Apple joined the group this year. The world's most valuable technology company hopes it will counter criticism it does not care about worker issues in its manufacturing chain.
Foxconn agreed to reduce working hours while protecting pay and benefits as remedial measures.
Reuters spoke with FLA President Auret van Heerden after its report was released. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: How did this package come together?
A: We had a closing meeting where we had the owner of Foxconn, CEO of Foxconn, the (senior vice president of operations) of Apple. We had a very big delegation of top managers from all sides. And they were very, very open to these recommendations.
Terry Gou, CEO of Foxconn, came up with a number of suggestions himself and he has really decided to get ahead of this game, in a way. He decided to not just look at incremental changes. He is really pushing the envelope. His decision to go to full compliance ... sets a very high bar for the rest of the industry.
Q: What are the next steps?
A: Apple has asked us to look at eight or nine of the final assembly suppliers - the key ones. That will last the rest of the year. Apple is an affiliate of the FLA. They also have a regular due diligence cycle, which they have to go with. We are not just looking at the final assembly but taking more of a risk-based approach and trying to identify three or four different levels of the supply chain where the greatest risks lie, and starting to analyze those.
Q: Any companies you are going to be looking at apart from Foxconn?
A: We're still planning that, so I can't give you any exact names right now.
Q: Would reducing overtime hours impact volume [of output]?
[Then we get a dramatic demonstration of this spokesperson's flipflopperitis -]
A: [NO=] I don't think so. [MAYBE=] They can't afford any kind of interruptions in supplies. So that's one of the reasons why this plan needs to be implemented over a one-year lead time. [YES, but=] They need to obviously hire a lot more workers to make up for the reduced hours.
They need to build dormitory facilities for those workers, make sure they're trained so that there is no wobble in the output.
Foxconn doesn't only supply Apple. It supplies 50 percent of, I guess, the consumer electronics (industry). So there are a lot of people who have a lot riding on this.
Q: How far-reaching is this action? Would it have an impact on the electronic supply chain?
A: Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this sector and since they're teaming up to drive this change, I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector.
And if you look at the labor market situation, there's a very tight labor market in China right now. There's a shortage of workers. [LOL!!! What utter nonsense in a nation with an unemployment rate of over 20% = over 200 MILLION people! The Big Lie lives! SKILLED workers may be scarce, but only because employers are sooo spoiled by the floods of job-desperate people, they never consider TRAINING people to relieve their mythical "shortage"!]
Foxconn is proposing this better deal ... This will start to attract more workers, and the best workers. So I think their competitors will be obliged to offer a similar package just in order to get enough workers.
Q: Was it your recommendation on overtime hours that Foxconn has agreed to implement?
A: It was their recommendation, they really bought into this. This is really coming from them. They decided to do this and they're driving this in. They know they have to do this on all their lines because otherwise workers on the other lines are going to protest that they want the same deal.
Q: Was it stressful to do these audits? Can you give some color?
A: It was certainly the biggest exercise that we or anyone has ever undertaken. This is by far the biggest factory assessment that has been done to date. And just the logistics of interviewing 35,000 workers over a three-week period was quite challenging.
I would say that what we found is pretty much in line with what we find elsewhere in China, so there weren't any surprises in that sense. The hours of work situation is what you really expect to find, and in a way what was quite interesting is what we didn't find.
We didn't find any child labor and we didn't find any wage violations. We didn't find any forced labor. But again I would say that tracks pretty much with the Chinese labor market situation.
And then I think for us really the most eye-opening part of it was this agreement to cut hours to Chinese legal limits. Not just to go to Apple code standards but to go beyond that. That was the biggest surprise for us.
Q: Is this a watershed moment in the Chinese labor market and would this have an impact on the wage situation in China?
A: Certainly the Chinese government has made it quite clear that they want wages to continue to increase in double-digit figures for the next five years, and they've signaled that clearly. They've even made some projections of it so we will continue to see wage increases.
And I think this additional free time workers have will mean they can consume more. And that again goes to one of the Chinese government's economic objectives - to boost domestic consumption. In that sense, Foxconn would be setting something of an example. That's very much what the Chinese government wants to see.
Q: Will this agreement lead to any problem in supply?
A: No. I'm sure that in making this commitment they've already done their homework and they know exactly how they're going to maintain supply at the same time.
Q: How do you plan to keep track of whether Foxconn is implementing these changes?
A: We will conduct onsite verification visits. We have detailed action plans with the actual deliverables, the names of the people who are responsible and the deadlines. We will continue to update those and we will report out publicly. This is something we will follow closely.
Q: Will this come to fruition in one year or will we see changes soon?
A: Some of the action items were immediate and they were dealt with on the spot, and others have one-month, three-month, six-month timelines. We have a list of items, we're checking them off as we go along, and the big one - of course the hours of work one - is due to be completed by July 2013.
Q: The survey reveals that many workers want to work more [more money, not hours unless that's the only way open to more money]. That seems counter to what Apple and Foxconn are striving for [not really, if Apple also wants more customers, and customers for their customers, and a non-rhetorical economic recovery].
[Workers actually want more MONEY, not more hours. But in the clueless economic theory of the moment, focused not on macro or micro but nano levels, the only way these workers see to get more money is workaholism - including more macro-level labor surplus and wage cuts and consumer spending cuts and money funneling and currency decirculation and economic weakening.]
A: It's an interesting finding. We find that in a lot of developing countries, workers have ambition, they have aspirations. Particularly migrant workers go to find work with a view to make as much money as they can in the shortest time possible. So they do push for extra hours, especially overtime hours that are paid at a premium.
There's something of a tension there between our code standards and our legal standards, which call for shorter hours and the objectives of these migrant workers. This will call for very, very careful consultation with workers to make sure that they don't resist this plan.
Q: Is Apple footing the bill for this?
A: I'm not party to those discussions as to how they are going to absorb the costs.
(Additional reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Gary Hill)
[Another "take" -]
Foxconn Auditor Finds 'Serious' Violations of Chinese Law, by Stanley Jones, Bloomberg.com
HONG KONG, China - An audit of Foxconn Technology Group found “serious and pressing” violations of Chinese labor laws, prompting the biggest maker of Apple Inc. devices to pledge to cut working hours and give employees more oversight.
Inspectors found at least 50 breaches of Chinese regulations as well as the code of conduct Apple signed when it joined the Fair Labor Association in January after deaths of workers at suppliers, the monitoring group said today. Foxconn will bring hours in line with legal limits by July 2013 and compensate its more than 1.2 million employees for overtime lost due to the shorter work week, it said.
“The eyes of the world are on them and there’s just no way they can’t deliver,” FLA President Auret van Heerden said. “It’s a real showstopper.”
Assessors found cases of employees working longer hours and more days in a row than allowed by FLA standards and Chinese law. They uncovered inconsistent health and safety policies and instances of unfair pay for overtime work. To meet its commitments, Foxconn must hire, train and house tens of thousands of workers to assemble products for Apple, Dell Inc. (DELL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and other customers, the FLA said.
“We are committed to work with Apple to carry out the remediation program, developed by both our companies,” Foxconn said in an e-mailed statement today. “Our success will be judged by future FLA audits and the monitoring of the implementation of the remediation program, by reviews carried out by Apple and other customers and by future employee surveys.”
Shares in Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Foxconn’s flagship, dropped 2.1 percent to NT$113.5 as of 11:54 a.m. in Taipei after dropping as much 3 percent, the largest decline since Feb. 21. Apple fell after the report was released, dropping 1.3 percent to $609.86 at the close in New York.
Apple said it appreciated the work FLA has done to assess conditions at Foxconn.
“We fully support their recommendations,” Cupertino, California-based Apple said in an e-mailed statement. “Empowering workers and helping them understand their rights is essential.”
Costs for Consumers
Apple, the world’s most-valuable company, will have to cut profit margins or pass the resulting costs on to consumers, said Alberto Moel, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong.
“The benefit we, the consumers, and Apple extract from these products at the expense of Foxconn and its workforce is completely unequal,” Moel said in an interview earlier this week. “Foxconn will also have to meet these requirements for all its customers -- Apple, Dell, HP -- because it is at risk of being audited at any production line.”
Foxconn’s pledges will leave more money in the pocketbooks of workers and give them more time to spend it, dovetailing with government plans to rebalance the economy away from exports and toward domestic consumption. Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang told Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook during a March 27 meeting in Beijing that multinational companies should pay more attention to caring for workers and share development opportunities, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Apple’s operating margin rose to 31 percent last year, from 12 percent in 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At Foxconn’s flagship company, Taiwan-listed Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317), the measure fell to 1.1 percent from 3.2 percent.
Apple built computers in the U.S. for much of its 36-year history. As the manufacturing capabilities in Asia improved, it joined other electronics companies in moving assembly lines to China to take advantage of less expensive labor. Now Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, read on the back: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.”
The conditions at those facilities have been under scrutiny in recent years, particularly after at least 10 workers committed suicide at plants owned by Foxconn. Three employees died last year and more than 70 were hurt in blasts at two iPad facilities, one owned by Foxconn.
Responding to the criticism, Apple agreed to FLA audits. After surveying more than 35,000 workers and logging over 3,000 hours on site, inspectors found long hours and a failure to engage workers in management decisions.
As Foxconn grows, it’s expanding to inland Chinese cities such as Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan and Zhengzhou in the central province of Henan -- where Cook visited yesterday -- to be closer to workers’ hometowns.
When most employees are migrant workers from other areas of the country, businesses can end up with a lot of dissatisfaction and turnover, the cost of which is “humongous,” Moel said.
“If you bring the factories to the workers, they can go home at night,” Moel said.
At two factories in Shenzhen in southern China and at a third in Chengdu, inspectors found the average working week exceeded both the FLA’s 60-hour cap and China’s 49-hour maximum.
Workers were excluded from decision making on health and safety issues, with management nominees dominating the company’s labor union, the FLA said. “Factories’ communications are almost entirely top down,” the report said. Fewer than 1 in 1,000 employees at three business units making Apple products were managers, it found.
Less Than Big Mac
Foxconn pledged to allow workers to elect representatives to union positions and other workplace committees, in line with government rules that are rarely followed in China.
The FLA auditors found no issues related to child or forced labor, according to the report. The average age of workers was 23, they found.
While Foxconn scored well for paying wages on time and at rates higher than the local minimum, more than 64 percent of employees said the basic wage was insufficient.
Foxconn workers in Shenzhen start on 1,800 yuan ($285) a month, rising to about 2,200 yuan after probation, the report said. The average wage in one of the Shenzhen plants was 2,687 yuan and in the other it was 2,872 yuan.
The minimum wage set by the government is 1,500 yuan a month, and 13.3 yuan an hour for part-time employees -- or less than the 15.5 yuan price of a Big Mac.
More than 80 percent of workers surveyed said they were either content with their hours or wanted more overtime to earn extra money, the report said. Still, employees who worked shorter weeks were more content and expressed a higher level of loyalty to the company, it said.
Today’s report isn’t the first time worker violations have been highlighted. Apple’s own annual audits have cited excessive working hours as a problem since 2006.
The companies haven’t made adequate changes in the intervening years, said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, a labor group in Washington.
“Apple and Foxconn don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point,” Nova said. “The burden is now on Apple and Foxconn to demonstrate that these promises are real by actually implementing these changes.”
To monitor Foxconn’s compliance, the FLA will give regular updates on its website, the new report said.
“We’ve set milestones and concrete deliverables for them to give workers a say,” said Van Heerden, a former South African activist who was imprisoned and tortured under the apartheid regime, exiled in 1987 and later appointed under Nelson Mandela as labor attache to the United Nations.
Companies working with the FLA must agree to disclose their suppliers and have them submit to inspections. The FLA audits about 5 percent of its members’ supply chains each year.
Apple’s membership in the independent FLA will increase scrutiny of its other suppliers, including Seoul-based Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Inchon, South Korea-based Hynix Semiconductor Inc.
“Apple is the most valuable company on the planet [=statement of faith, not reason] and Foxconn the biggest producer of electronics,” Van Heerden said. “This could set the bar for the electronics industry as a whole.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Stanley James in Hong Kong at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ben Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are Your Biggest Earning Days Over? by Kimberly Palmer, U.S. News & World Report via ReportChicagoTribune.com
CHICAGO, Illin. - Data suggests that pay tops out around age 40, and even earlier for women
Here's a disturbing prediction about your future raises: Around age 40, you'll stop receiving them. On average, raises stop at age 37 for women and age 45 for men. That's according to research by PayScale.com and is based on surveys completed by about 1.5 million people who hold a bachelor's degree or higher.
The reason, explains PayScale.com lead economist Katie Bardaro, is that for many jobs, experience eventually stops improving one's productivity. "You reach a point in middle-age where there is no more learning you can do in your job," says Bardaro. As a result, you stop receiving pay increases for increased competency. (PayScale.com's figures take inflation into account; workers do receive small pay increases as they approach retirement, but they largely reflect inflation and not a real wage hike.)
There are some exceptions to this general rule: Some professions, in which experience continues to add value, continue to see salary growth. Tech-heavy jobs are one example, along with lawyers and engineers, says Bardaro. "You're constantly learning [if you're a lawyer]: How to get clients to trust you, the law, how to win cases," she adds.
In other professions, such as non-physician healthcare positions, the learning curve drops off more abruptly. For pharmacists and nurses, Bardaro says, "You learn everything you need to know to do your job in school or in the first few years of doing it, so you don't have much more to learn." Those positions tend to start off with relatively high pay but don't grow as workers get older.
The gender difference in the age at which salaries flatten is largely explained by job choice, says Bardaro. Men tend to gravitate toward jobs in which growth continues (such as engineering) while women often work in fields with flatter pay curves (such as teaching, nursing, and social work).
Workers who want their salaries to grow over time should go into fields that allows for constant learning and increasing value. Otherwise, Bardaro says, workers should know that their salaries will soon flatten and plan accordingly when making major life decisions, such as buying a home, taking on other debt, or making big purchases.
Workers can also take matters into their own hands with these six strategies to rise above those income constraints:
1. Get more education. The research is clear: More education means higher income, and a lower chance of unemployment. According to the College Board, college graduates face a lower unemployment rate (4.6 percent versus 9.7 percent for high school graduates). Meanwhile, bachelor degree holders over age 25 earn a median salary of $55,700. High school grads earn just $33,800.
Even in fields where pay flattens out, such as teaching, more education allows for a higher plateau. And research by the Census Bureau shows that for those with professional or doctorate degrees, salaries continue growing after middle age, while those with master's, bachelor's, and high school degrees experience a flattening of income.
2. Keep working full-time. One reason women experience such a steep pay gap compared to men is that they tend to take job breaks and work shorter hours after having children.
[This would give women a stronger incentive than men to get "full time" redefined downward to levels more appropriate to the Age of Robotics and cut this excuse for a shorter-hours-based gender disparity.]
A survey by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business also found that mothers tended to pursue fields that didn't pay as well as the lucrative ones men pursued. And among those women who leave the workforce, a significant portion find it difficult to ever return. According to the Center for Work-Life Policy, only 4 in 10 women who stop working are able to find full-time jobs again.
Men in the Chicago study didn't experience the same pay decline after they became fathers. In fact, fatherhood had no effect on men's earnings, work hours, or career interruptions. (Other studies have found that men's income actually increases, on average, when they become fathers, perhaps because they feel more pressure to support their growing brood.)
3. Choose your field carefully. Career blogger Penelope Trunk, who worked with PayScale.com to generate these findings and wrote about them on her blog, urges women to consider choosing male-dominated fields that continue to experience high salary growth well into middle age. Engineers, doctors, and lawyers, for example, continue to become more valuable--and more highly paid--as they get older. She also suggests specializing within your field, which can lead to higher income as well.
3/28/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Quincy City Commissioners Meet about Budget, (3/27 late pickup) WCTV.tv
QUINCY, Fla. - A budget meeting in Quincy heats up as one city commissioner calls for the removal of the mayor.
James Buechele was at that meeting and has more on the impromptu vote to oust the mayor.
Tonight's meeting was supposed ti be a night where city manager Jack McLean would talk about ways for the city to pay off its debts to vendors. The tone changed toward the end of the meeting.
City Commissioner Keith Dowdell made a motion to remove mayor Derrick Elias from his position. Commissioner Angela Sapp, also, voted to remove the mayor but that motion failed by a 3-2 vote with Elias casting the deciding vote. Commissioner Dowdell was asked why he had no faith in the mayor.
Quincy City Commissioner Keith Dowdell says, "His choice of words in saying that we are at our bare bottom that's not true. We're gonna start cutting people that's not true. It's choice of words and the image you portray just like in the meeting tonight."
We also spoke to mayor Elias about the motion to remove him. He said he was shocked and surprised by the notion. He also added that he's was not impressed with the plan for the city to pay off its debt to vendors.
What was lost in tonight's meeting was the fact that the city now has a plan to get from out of the red. In two weeks, the commissioners will meet to see in the new payment plan is working. If not, there's still a chance the board will have to re-evaluate the budget....
Right now the City of Quincy owes more than $180,000 to its vendors.
Some companies haven't been paid in 90 days.
City Manager Jack McLean said last week, he'll try to balance the budget without layoffs.
McLean says a lot of the city's revenue comes from utility services.
Since we had a mild winter, McLean says the money they'd usually bring in, isn't there.
Tonight at 6pm in Commission Chambers, the Commission will hear from McLean about how he thinks they can get the job done....
by Some good ideas on Mar 27, 2012 at 07:32 PM
You need to cut your payroll expenses and there are other ways to that then to lay people off. Cut hours, reduce salaries, but don't lay people off and don't raise taxes. I meant what I said earlier. Leon county is profiting a great deal off of our Medicaid patients and Gadsden county is the one paying Medicaid to cover Gadsden County citizens. If the expense is paid by Gadsden County Citizens, the profits should be redeemed by Gadsden County citizens. I know that is county and this is city, but there enough money there for everybody to harvest and you all need to find a way to do that because Leon county has. We are paying Medicaid for our citizens healthcare coverage and Leon County is the one getting paid for treating them. You all need to look at renegotiation that or finding a way to keep those Medicaid claims in Gadsden's county
- The No-Hour Workweek: Reinventing Employee Expectations For The Modern Economy, by Jon Stein, Co.Exist via fastcoexist.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. - The 9 to 5 is dead, but we’re still harnessing workers with its outdated strictures. Happy workers are more healthy and more creative, so it’s time to start giving our workers the leeway to be happy (because otherwise they work all the time). The secret: Treat them like people.
A University of Southern California researcher, Alexandra Michel, recently reported on the disastrous effects of the highly stressful work environment of investment banking, citing insomnia, alcoholism, heart palpitations, eating disorders, and explosive tempers among the health hazards of the job. These toxic working habits are not sustainable for the individual or the company. Nor, evidently, do they produce good business practices.
The poster child of bad corporate culture, banks may be the worst culprit, but they’re not the only ones fostering negative working environments. A study by Gallup-Healthways found that nearly one third of all Americans, across all ages and income levels, were unhappy or unmotivated by their careers. That’s no way for us to work, or to live.
What is a Good Job?
There’s a noticeable shift in what people value most in their careers. The New York Times studied key words in a sample of commencement speeches last year. The words “world” and “love” showed up far more often than “money” and “success.”
Is the old adage that there’s more to life than money finally sinking in? It seems there’s a nostalgic desire to return to the good old days, where people worked 9 to 5, never on weekends, consumed less, and had ample time for their families and friends.
Because that’s not going to happen, HR departments are considering dozens of ways to make their people happier and healthier, shorter working weeks, unlimited vacation days, uplifting working environments, and new policies to address core needs.
These are worthy ideas, but alone they fail to address some crucial transformations in the world around us. Technology has irrevocably changed the way we conduct business and live our lives.
[No it hasn't. Our kneejerk downsizing response has changed things - for the worse. But it's not irrevocable.]
The 9 to 5 is dead and work is ubiquitous [ie: 24/7? = always on call = slavery]. We need to create new models accordingly [slavery ain't new].
The Startup Conundrum
When I founded Betterment, a better way to save and invest for what’s most important in life, my mission was to reinvent an old, broken process for the 21st century. The goal encompasses all aspects of the company: from the product itself and how we interact with customers, to the values with which we conduct business, and--most importantly--to how we nurture our team.
Startups are notorious for long hours, hard work, and high pressure. Technology means we’re permanently plugged in. [Only because of the job insecurity resulting from the downsizing, not timesizing, response to technology.]
Encouraging shorter hours sounds great in theory, but in reality it would likely just look good on paper. Everyone would still work all the time.
In designing a working environment that would bring out the best qualities in our team, we had to come up with a model to satisfy the demands of a startup while balancing the needs of individuals.
The “No-Hour” Workweek
The No-Hour Workweek means our team is constantly in contact.
["Constantly"? In short, the No-Hour Workweek is 24/7 on-call and therefore a lie. And this poor cretin, Jon Stein, has apparently succeeded in totally deceiving himself.]
Two-thirds of our team takes customer calls on weekends, and our development team frequently works into the wee hours of the morning. We monitor social media, catch up on emails, and work on projects at night and over the weekends, and we’re constantly attending industry and networking events.
["Constantly" is a 168-hour workweek, Jon, not a "No-Hour Workweek".]
The No-Hour Workweek also means that our team members can come in at 8, 12, [that's flexible workhours, not zero workhours] or not at all if they’d prefer to work remotely. It means they can work at the times they’re most productive, make family gatherings, attend to personal commitments, leave early for travel or yoga or drinks with friends.
We have tremendous respect for weekends and personal time [yeah sure - tremendous rhetorical respect]. To balance the inevitable overtime, we take away traditional time restrictions [oh great, a "balance" that makes it worse!]. Our people get to lead the lives they want [oh sure] and be treated as the adults they are [LOL], and we get a kick-ass team that loves to work [24/7 on a "no-hour" workweek].
To be successful [definition??] and to prevent it from turning into the All-Hour Workweek [failing - he's dimly aware of this or he wouldn't be trying to deny it], the No-Hour Workweek needs a framework in place:
[= ohnooo, an "outdated stricture" by another name?!]
Respect: Being connected 24/7 does not mean you place unrealistic demands [definition?] on each other. If something is urgent, we treat it as such, but we don’t expect an immediate response on every item. We’ve hired people that respect each other and work as a team. They understand how to balance the priorities of our business with the various commitments and needs of their colleagues. Without this understanding, the No-Hour Workweek would spiral out of control.
[This, like socialism, requires that "all men be angels" - the openness to abuse is 100%.]
Focus: In a startup there is always more to do [exactly!]. Each individual needs to understand his or her immediate priorities and what we expect of them [which can EASILY invisibly expand more and more = "expectation creep"]. With our guidance, they come up with specific, measurable goals to be reviewed every three months (and more frequently when necessary). It provides autonomy in the role and helps us work towards a common goal.
Environment: It’s still important to foster team morale. Friday team lunches, regular happy hours, ping-pong tournaments [note unrecognized and diversity-dashing cultural restrictions here - what if you don't like "happy" hours or ping-pong?], and a choice of workstations (couch, kitchen, nap-room, or desk), create a positive and cohesive work environment for our team. Despite all their options, our full team is in the office 95% of the time because they enjoy working here.
[Here we are, right back to the "happy slave".]
Leisure time: The expectation to switch on whenever needed means encouraging employees to switch off just as frequently.
[which sounds good but tends to get neglected ... more ... and more ... and if you object, "Insufficient commitment!" or "Not compatible with our culture".]
We are a team of entrepreneurs, and we all know the best ideas are inspired away from the desk. Time is finite; energy is not.
[Oh yes it is. It can multiply - or divide - time.]
Rest and recuperation are the best way to boost energy levels. More energy means more creativity. More creativity means better work. And that’s a good outcome for everyone, and the world.
[This article is a major piece of self-deceiving spindoctoring to justify a state of invasion into employees' lives, a total blank check, "happy slavery."]
Jon Stein is the founder and CEO of Betterment. Passionate about helping people make smart decisions with their money, he founded the online brokerage in 2008...
3/27/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Public v private sector pay: who earns more? - Work in the public sector and you will be paid more, get shorter hours and probably be more qualified - But it's not as simple as that..., by Simon Rogers, The Guardian via guardian.co.uk
[Business good, government bad??]
LONDON, U.K. - Public sector workers are more skilled, work shorter hours and earn more money than their private sector counterparts, according to a new analysis of the differences in pay out today.
But, if you have a degree, you will get paid better in the private sector - and, for five out of eleven years of data published by the Office for National Statistics [ONS], the private sector got better pay increases.
The key facts are:
• In 2011, public sector employees were paid on average between 7.7% and 8.7% more than private sector employees
• The public sector is made up of a higher proportion of higher skilled jobs – widening over the last decade as lower skilled jobs have been outsourced from the public to the private sector.
• The public sector consists of a higher proportion of older employees and earnings tend to increase with age and experience
Overall, pay is higher in the public sector. The 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings figures - which we extracted separately from here - show a gross median salary of £28,802 in the public sector in 2011, compared to £25,000 (we use the median rather than the mean average because it's more representative).
And over time, public sector salaries have stayed ahead of the private sector, as you can see above. But, and it's a big but, the increases in those salaries have not - look at the chart below and you can see that on a number of years, the private sector saw higher increases in pay. They seem to follow a pattern (if you can call two recessions a pattern).
Straight after the 2000-1 recession, the public sector was behind the private sector, before overtaking it - and around 2008, the same thing happened, before the public sector caught up.
There have been big changes in the public sector as many of the lower-skileld jobs have been outsourced to the private sector. In 2002, it was much more evenly matched. Then, around 12% of public sector employees were employed in low skill occupations compared with around 13% of private sector employees. Also, around 23% of public sector employees were employed in high skill occupations, with a similar percentage in the private sector.
Since then, the proportion of low skill jobs in the private sector has increased, and the proportion of high skill jobs in the public sector increased to around 31% of all jobs by 2011, compared 26% of all private sector jobs.
But, at the same time, people who are most highly qualified actually get paid worse in the public sector. Those with degrees get paid 4.1% less in the public than private sector.
The report says that:
Since the public sector is made up of a more skilled workforce than the private sector it would be expected that, on average, public sector pay would be higher than private sector pay (although the overall difference is determined by a number of factors).
Public sector workers tend to be older, as you can see in the chart above. Around 15% of employees in the private sector are aged 16 to 24 compared with around 5% of employees in the public sector - and around 44% of public sector workers are aged 35 to 49 compared with around 38% of private sector workers. The ONS says that earnings tend to increase with age in both the public sector and the private sector.
Average mean hourly earnings peak in the early 40s in both sectors. They decline slightly approaching retirement although the decline happens earlier in the private sector than in the public sector, possibly because the higher earners in the private sector are more likely to leave the labour market earlier
It also shows that if you're older in the public sector, you get paid better than in the private sector.
The figures also show that there is much more gender equality in the public sector - with women earning much more than they do in the private sector. In the private sector a significant proportion of low paid jobs, such as cleaning and catering, are carried out by women. "In the public sector, while women still perform lower paid jobs, such as caring and clerical work, there are also a high proportion of women employed in professional, higher paid occupations, such as nursing or teaching."
If you put everyone in order of their hourly pay, you get some interesting differences. For those at the bottom of the pay scale, will get paid more in the public sector - but those at the top end, the richest, get paid a lot more in the private sector. So, the bottom 5% of workers in the public sector earn less than £6.91 per hour, whereas in the private sector, 5% of workers earn less than £5.93 per hour.
At the top end, the top 1% of earners in the private sector are at more than £62.08 per hour. In the public sector it's less - £49.37 per hour and above.
Working out the differences between the two sectors is tricky - the ONS has assumed, for instance, that assume employees of the banks nationalised in 2008 were in the private sector throughout....
- Notes on 28 hour week (56 hour fortnight*) campaign, Australian Multicultural Union via australianmulticulturalunion.org
[*Aussie fortnight = American twoweeks, so this would be seven 8-hour days]
PERTH, Western Australia - By reducing the days required to attend to work from 9 per fortnight to 7 per fortnight, there would be an immediate saving to the worker [or rather, employer?] of 2/9's of the fuel bill as well as maintence costs 22.2% saving in fuel costs.
[So, alternating four-day and three-day workweeks to make up a seven-8hr/day fortnight?]
By Legislating for a Minimum [uh, wouldn't this actually be a Maximum?] Standard in working Conditions of a 28 hour week. There will be created demand for Labour of 38-28= 10 hours per week for every worker or 26.31%. In the Western Australian Economy, this would mean another 1,100,000 x 0.2631 = 289,410 jobs.
There would be an adjustment of at least 26.31 % increase in the prevailing rate of pay for every worker. So there would be a maintenance of prevailing take home pay and therefore no reduction in overall demand.
- Saskatchewan Archives cuts hours and staff, by Terrence McEachern
tmceachern @leaderpost.com, Regina Leader-Post via leaderpost.com
REGINA, Sask., Canada - The Saskatchewan Archives Board has had to cut hours and staff as a result of this year's provincial budget.
"We didn't get a sufficient increase to keep going at the status quo. So we had to reexamine where we're at in terms of staff and the ability to offer services," said Linda McIntyre, provincial archivist for Saskatchewan, who added the budget results were disappointing.
"We do know what it is we need in order to deliver our mandate-," she said.
The result is four fulltime and 10 part-time staff members will lose their jobs out of a total of 49 employees. In addition to the job cuts, the two archivists' offices in Regina and Saskatoon have also reduced their hours.
Now, the offices are only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Telephone services are only offered on these days as well. The changes were implemented on Monday.
According to this year's provincial budget released on Wednesday, the board received $4.341 million, an increase from $4.167 million in 2011-12.
McIntyre said Saskatchewan Archives been operating at a deficit of approximately $200,000 a year for the past two years. In terms of an exact amount needed, McIntyre said that still needs to be assessed as well as any further effects on archive services. The board plans to meet later this week to discuss the matter.
To accommodate for the cuts, the board will now have to maintain a balanced budget to move forward with providing archive services, she said.
The cuts come at a time where Saskatchewan Archives are already backlogged with email, written and telephone inquiries as well as drop-in requests for services.
Saskatchewan Archives is a third-party agency that reports through its board to the Office of the Provincial Capital Commission (OPCC). The minister responsible for the OPCC is Bill Hutchinson.
Hutchinson couldn't be reached for comment.
- Homestart 12th birthday celebration, ThisIsTamworth.co.uk
TAMWORTH, Staffordshire, U.K. - Tamworth's Homestart charity celebrated 12 years of offering vital care and support lo vulnerable local families with a special birthday celebration at Tamworth Town Hall last week.
Deputy Mayor Cllr [=Councillor?] Tina Clements was on hand to hand out certificates to Tamworth volunteers.
By training volunteers who themselves have been parents, Home-start makes sure families have the best support and a listening ear in whatever situations they face.
In her Annual Report, Senior Co-ordinator of Dawn Candy [Dawn Candy?!] said that over the past year, Homestart had been forced to cut hours for staff after reductions in funding, but had been able to find more funding and most cuts had been put right.
Chairman Richard Hughes said: "Our staff and volunteers have provided an excellent service during what has been a difficult year with economic difficulties, both national and local, increasing the worries of the families we support.
"We all look forward to being able to continue to provide a quality of service for which we have become renowned in this area, with the continued support of our various sponsors."
3/25-26/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Libraries Could Restore Slashed Hours - Hours Previously Cut For Budget Reasons, WRTV Indianapolis via theINDYchannel.com
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indianapolis Public Library leaders are considering a proposal to expand hours at branches throughout Marion County.
Budget cuts forced the library to cut hours about 18 months ago, sparking protests from community groups.
But due to a change in law, the library will get more money from county option income tax revenue, which may be used to restore slashed hours.
Board members will discuss the proposal at a meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Pike branch at 6525 Zionsville Road.
If approved, the hours could be restored by May.
- Businesses need help, but is the health care reform law the solution? by Patricia Anstett, 3/25 Detroit Free Press via freep.com
ST.JOSEPH, Mich. -- Job killer or job creator? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gets called both.
In St. Joseph, Larry Schuler, the fourth-generation owner of a Michigan family restaurant , is postponing plans to open a new restaurant in southwest Michigan.
He also must decide whether to cut the hours of some part-time employees to an average of no more than 30 hours a week, so he does not have to provide insurance for them that would be required by the law.
Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, welcomes the law. Last year, he earned a $15,000 tax credit that he used to help pay the salary of a new employee.
Other Michigan businesses also have benefited from the law, particularly a provision that helps pay costs of insurance premiums for early retirees 55 and older. Michigan's share of the money to date has been $141.5 million.
The law is being challenged in hearings beginning Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court. Even if the court overturns the entire law, changes still are needed, many business leaders say.
With U.S. health costs doubling in the last three years to $2.4 trillion, businesses need help, said Jessica Stone, outreach director of the Small Business Majority, a California nonprofit organization trying to help businesses understand the law.
But businesses are asking: Will help come from the Affordable Care Act? Or should the law be scrapped for something else?
To some, there's much uncertainty about law's cost to small businesses
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Larry Schuler has postponed plans to open another restaurant in southwest Michigan.
Schuler, whose family founded Schuler's Restaurant in Marshall 102 years ago, followed by his Schu's Grill & Bar on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, said there's just too much uncertainty about the cost employers will incur in 2014 because of President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Schuler testified in Congress last year for the National Restaurant Association about how he considers the law to be a costly, logistical nightmare, particularly for lower-profit small businesses like his with lots of part-time and seasonal workers.
Beginning in 2014, companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers will be required to offer insurance to anyone averaging 30 hours a week or face penalties. That would happen if an employee considers workplace insurance too expensive and chooses instead to buy what may be a cheaper policy on a Web-based state insurance exchange.
Schuler's insurance and business advisers expect his health care costs could increase as much as 300% in the next two years.
"We can't raise our menu prices that much to cover insurance," Schuler said.
Part of the increase is from ever-spiraling insurance rates; other costs would be for workplace coverage Schuler would provide to more employees and for the penalties he might end up paying.
Schuler's answer: Scrap much of the law except its most popular pieces, add more ways to control costs, hold down pricey malpractice awards and let insurance companies sell policies between state lines.
"We believe offering health care is the right thing to do," said Schuler, who, like other employers, sees health benefits as a good way to retain top workers.
To help businesses understand current and upcoming provisions of the law, nonprofit organizations have held workshops all over the country.
"Once people hear what's in it, their support turns dramatically to it," said Andrew Farmer, associate state director of AARP Michigan.
Part of the reason some businesses understand the need for reform is because small companies pay as much as 18% more than large ones for health insurance, said Jessica Stone, outreach manager for the Small Business Majority, a non-partisan organization meeting with employer groups around the country to help them understand the law.
Mark Hodesh, owner of the 100-year-old Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, employs eight others and got a $15,000 tax credit already through the Affordable Care Act.
The tax credits are available to firms with 10-25 employees who earn up to $50,000 a year and who have workplace coverage that pays half the monthly premium.
Hodesh put the money toward part of the cost of hiring an additional employee. He was delighted to hear that she used her first paychecks to support the local economy by buying a motorcycle at a local dealer.
He expects health care reforms will hold down costs more than the 300% increase in premiums he has seen since he began offering workplace coverage in 1997. "We feel as though offering health insurance is an integral part of our business strategy," said Hodesh, whose name is featured in a new Obama administration blog and video promoting the law ( www.healthcare.gov/mycare . The blog is at www.healthcare.gov/blog/2012/03/mycare_mark.html.)
"We compete with big-box companies (large national retail chains) every day and we need better people to do that,'' Hodesh said.
"To me, the Affordable Care Act is not a job killer but a job creator, an economic stimulus where the tire meets the road. Once people understand this is money in their pocket, not money out, it will just be a matter of time before the business community embraces this."
Another group to benefit from the Affordable Care Act are nearly 250 Michigan businesses that received grants to help pay health insurance premiums for early retirees through 2014, when they can buy insurance through state exchanges.
The most money -- $387.1 million -- went in 2010 to pay for early retirement health costs for retiring autoworkers covered by the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust Fund. Other large grants: State of Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, $64.37 million; State of Michigan, $46.9 million; General Motors, $31.2 million; Ford, $17.2 million; Delphi Salaried Retiree Association Benefit Trust, $11 million, and Chrysler, $7.87 million.
The money "was a huge shot in the arm" for Michigan companies with large health costs for their retirees, said Kirk Roy, vice president of the Office of Health Reform for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
He said the money "at least delayed" the decision by some businesses to drop workplace health benefits.
Blue Cross is helping employers calculate the financial impact of health care changes with a new program called GlidePath, which offers a computer analysis of each company's health spending under the Affordable Care Act, down to the likely tax penalties incurred if some workers choose to buy their own insurance rather than accept workplace coverage.
Unfortunately, many provisions of health reforms await rules from states and the federal government, Roy said.
"There are a lot of unknowns. The challenge is there's a lot to do and a lot to make happen."
For now, Kathryn Noles, 29, a server at Schu's, is glad she has two years to decide what to do about insurance.
Up to now, she has chosen not to accept a workplace policy because she can't afford to pay half of the cost. She works 25 hours or so a week in the winter and as much as 80 hours a week in the busy summer months.
"Right now, this is what works for me," said Noles, who tries to stay healthy to avoid costly doctor visits.
She and her husband live with her mother, and the couple is saving to afford their own apartment.
"Once our finances have stabilized next year ... we'll take a harder look at it."
Contact Patricia Anstett: 313-222-5021 or firstname.lastname@example.org
3/24/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Love beyond working hours, by Anubha Kumari Singh, Postnoon.com
HYDERABAD, India - Together yet apart, this seems to be the constant woe of women who are married to men clocking long hours at work. But even a day in each other’s company can do wonders.
If love is the tie that binds couples together, time is often the wrench that pries them apart. A married couple might spend a lot of time together, if they are in the same profession. But if they are in different professions, especially with husband an IT professional, then the equation changes a lot. The stressful working environment and long hours in the field allows for very less time for the couple to stay together.
And who would know this better than me. I am married to Nitin, an IT professional. We often find ourselves struggling to spend time with each other. I am busy working in the day and so is Nitin. While I can go home hours earlier than him, he prefers to keep me waiting in the office with the bribe that he will pick me up.
But you know what? Spending that hour going home together from office every night, is well worth the wait. And the the joy I derive from calling him up and asking where he is, is immeasurable. Adding to these long hours is that he has a five-day week and I have six. We only get a day with each other.
I still remember that time when Nitin got an onsite opportunity and I needed to stay back because of lack of leaves. Different time zones left a very narrow window for us to even speak over the phone. At work he had to find ways to balance his work as well his marriage. We used to communicate through emails, video chat or an SMS, but it was frustrating as we couldn’t spend time together. It was just after three months of our marriage and for any couple the first year of marriage is very important to understand each other. He was working hard on his project, but wasn’t happy as he wanted to be with me. We counted days to meet each other again.
Anu Singh, another newly-wed who shares the same sentiment as me, says, “My husband is at work in South Africa most of the time. It was just a month into our marriage and he had to go for 25 days to South Africa. His office didn’t allow me to accompany him and that was the toughest period for me. As I was in a new place, I didn’t have a job and stayed all alone at home. On a regular day, he works nearly 16 to 17 hours and we rarely get time to see each other. By the time he comes back home, he is exhausted and tired. Sometimes we don’t even get to see each other for more than a week.”
But it’s not so bad for us. All said and done, Nitin and I compensate for each others weaknesses and finish each others thoughts. To keep the romance alive, we spend quality time on weekends, just the two of us. We love and care for each other, which binds us closer than any spoken or written words. We both know that success in professional life is required but not at the cost of our marriage. To balance, we focus more on the little time that we spend together. Activities like cooking, playing board games etc have always helped us spend quality time. The best thing we do is to get involved in an activity which interests both of us, though in Nitin’s case, he has to bear the frustration of watching my favourite daily soaps on TV.
But it still helps as he gets something to discuss with me!
- Shorter hours, staff changes may be coming in Winter Haven library, by Ryan Little, (3/10 very late posting or date error) Ledger Media Group via NewsChief.com
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - The Winter Haven Public Library may have to shorten its hours and make staffing changes soon, city officials said.
The city, like others in the county, is getting substantially fewer county dollars to support the library than expected for the current fiscal year. But some cities, including Lakeland, were able to more closely approximate the amount. Winter Haven city officials had budgeted revenues of $420,000 from the Polk County Library Cooperative for the current year, but must now contend with a $62,104 deficit.
"We are having to re-evaluate how we provide services," said Winter Haven City Librarian Jennifer Kovac. "We are exploring the reduction of service hours at this point, which would end up reducing man power hours.
"Now what that will result with at the end of the day, it is too early to tell."
Lakeland, on the other hand, projected revenues of $810,000 and is receiving $810,260.70.
The Polk County Library Cooperative funds are generated by a special property tax paid by unincorporated Polk County residents. Winter Haven's deficit is the result of a budgeting process that starts in July and determines the amount of funds the cooperative gives to each library in the county.
The revenue figures for each city are determined by a Polk County Library Cooperative formula based on each library's budget and their percentage of county-wide circulation.
Cities often begin their budgeting process in March or April for the fiscal year that starts in October. But final figures weren't given out for the current fiscal year until Feb. 16 because the Polk County Library Cooperative must compile new information on circulation and city budgets each year.
Lakeland spokesman Kevin Cook said Lakeland accurately projected its revenue by using last year's equation to guess its share of the $2 million pot this year.
"The Polk County Library Cooperative keeps the city's representatives on the Board up to date at budget time as to the projections for revenues ... and what portion of that the cities will share," Cook said. "Each city can use their existing statistics to determine what award they might receive from the formula for the upcoming fiscal year."
While the circulation and budget information for each city changes every year, its change is very miniscule. In fact, Winter Haven's share of the total money available to libraries has been very similar for the last three years. It received 17.22 percent of $3 million in 2010, 17.3 percent of $2.65 million in 2011 and 17.89 percent of $2 million in 2012.
Specific questions posed to Winter Haven officials about how they estimated the revenue were not answered Friday afternoon. Instead, Community Services Director T. Michael Stavres released an email statement through Winter Haven spokeswoman Joy Townsend.
"If Lakeland was able to forecast a $264,000 drop in funding - outstanding. In Winter Haven's case, we anticipated a $34,000 decrease in funding. The actual decrease was about $98,000," Stavres said by email. "We're already in the budget process for next year. We will again forecast a decrease in Library Cooperative funding, but to what amount, we don't know what that's going to be.
"When we make that decision, it's based on the best information we have at the time."
3/23/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Vermont House OKs budget ending courthouse shutdowns, BurlingtonFreePress.com
MONTPELIER, Vrmt. — Courthouses should be back to a full schedule after four years of monthly one-day shutdowns and three new primary care health clinics will get help to open under a state budget given final House approval on Friday.
The Vermont House voted 99-41 to pass a budget of just more than $5 billion for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1. It now goes to the Senate.
That figure is overall state spending and includes federal funding passing through various state agencies, notably in the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and in the state’s transportation budget. It also includes the $1.3 billion general fund budget that gets most of the attention from legislative budget writers. That fund pays for public safety, human services and other state government programs.
Overall spending will be up about 6.4 percent in the fiscal year beginning July 1, and some Republicans complained that the government is growing too fast.
“Every time we increase the cost of living, we increase the number of people that cannot afford to live on what they earn,” said Rep. Tom Burditt, R-West Rutland, in explaining his vote against the bill.
Leaders of the Democratic majority in the House countered that the state’s economy is improving and that the budget can grow without increasing broad-based taxes like those on income and sales. The budget got support from some Republicans, too.
“A budget that is balanced, that doesn’t call for broad-based tax increases, that protects Vermonters and helps us rebuild our infrastructure and institutions. All this in the tailwinds of the Great Recession and Tropical Storm Irene,” said Rep. Eldred French, D-Shrewsbury.
Vermont’s court system saw some of the most obvious impacts from the budget cutting of recent years. When upper-level executive branch employees took a 5 percent pay cut in fiscal 2009, the judiciary sought to follow suit, Court Administrator Robert Greemore said. But Vermont judges’ salaries are set in law and couldn’t be lowered. Instead, the Supreme Court, which directs judiciary operations, began ordering furloughs — brief, wholesale shutdowns of the court system.
Since then, the court system has shut down for one day each month, saving about $1.2 million annually but creating big headaches in scheduling multiday trials and hearings, Greemore said.
The new budget should mean the last furlough day will come in June, but there’s one source of uncertainty: The judiciary is negotiating a new contract with its 220 unionized employees. The still-uncertain costs of that pact could eat up the money the courts are hoping to spend to end the furloughs, but Greemore said he’s hopeful it won’t.
Another feature of the budget is that it will help expand the network of health clinics in Vermont communities deemed as having too few primary care physicians in the area. New clinics are to be opened in Arlington, Bristol and Randolph.
- Board to consider canceling furlough, by Jennifer Easton/Sumner, The Tennessean via tennessean.com
GALLATIN, Tenn. - The Board of Education is expected to vote March 27 on whether the district employees furloughed in December will get to keep one day of pay.
The three-day furlough was approved by the board in last year’s budget as a measure to avoid eliminating jobs by saving $237,000 in the district’s general purpose budget.
The plan called for deducting one day of pay from some classified and administrative employees’ paychecks in January, February and March. However, Westmoreland school board member David Brown last month proposed deferring the March deduction to look at whether the board could afford to cancel or reduce it.
Brown has said he will propose eliminating the March pay cut. Director of Schools Del Phillips at Tuesday night’s meeting will recommend canceling the final deduction, a move that will cost the district an estimated $79,000, according to Sumner Schools Spokesman Jeremy Johnson.
The Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. in a regular voting session at the district’s central office in Gallatin, 695 E. Main St.
3/22/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Two for the Price of One: The 60 hour work week, by William Czander, OpEdNews.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. - When I was an undergraduate at CCNY. In the late 1960s, I had an opportunity to work with the late Professor John Neulinger who had a grant to study leisure and was writing a book on leisure. He believed that human civilization was on the road to becoming a leisure-based society where modern technology and science would free the average person from work and concern about providing for subsistence needs. Boy - did he miss the mark. Instead of expanding, leisure time is rapidly becoming extinct as America workers work longer hours with less time off.
Consider this curious fact from Juliet Schor (1991, The Overworked American), since 1948 the level of productivity of the U.S. worker has more than doubled. This means that the average worker could do their job in half the time as the 1948 employee and produce the same goods and services. This would suggest that Professor Neulinger was right: a 4-hour work day and lots of leisure time. But it did not happen. Instead management demanded that their employees do the work of two 1948 employees and executives and their stockholders got rich. What happened to the employees that were bounced out of their jobs? They had plenty of time on their hands but it wasn't leisure time.
The reduction of the work force led to change in the hours of work.
[No it didn't, because as he says below, downsizing didn't get going till the 1980s. So what did happen around 1970? The grown-up babyboomers entered the job markets and replaced the disempowering labor surplus of the Great Depression - and the Democrats started jumping up immigration quotas to get grateful voters.]
It was during the late 1970s that a trend toward a decline in work hours ended. From the early 1900s to the 1970s (except during the Second World War), the numbers of hours worked per week declined for most Americans. But in the late 1970s the share of employees working more than 40 hours per week began to increase. Those working 50 hour weeks also increased, 25-to-64-year-olds who worked 50 or more hours per week rose from 14.7 percent in 1980 to 18.5 percent in 2001, and continued to climb. In 2007, employees worked a half a day more each week than they did in 2002, and a day more than they did a decade ago. In 2010 American employees worked longer hours than any time since the industrial revolution. In addition, one-third of American employees did not take their 10 days of paid vacation offered by their company, leading to a vacation-deprived workforce (HR.com, 2006). According to Bauerlein and Jafffery (2011), Americans now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans. The differential isn't solely accounted for by longer hours. Almost all countries maintain that weekends off, paid vacation time and paid maternity leave are a right, not the U.S. (The only other countries that don't mandate paid time off for new moms are Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Samoa, and Swaziland, America is in good company). While most American corporations offer maternity leave, many do not offer paid leave and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act has so many restrictions it is considered worthless.
In the digitalized dispersed workplace employee presence is required to constantly monitor the many tasks they must perform. For these workers, besides long hours on-the-job, working at home at night, on weekends or during vacation time, on a BlackBerry or iPhone is a requirement. For traveling managers the airport, plane and hotel was once time away from the office, now there is no escape, the office follows them wherever they go. Given the global economy CEOs expect employees to be working around the clock. "We are now a 24/7 company." This was actually stated by the CEO of UBS, the global investment bank with 37 percent of its 64,617 employees in the U.S., he said this six months before he announced plans to terminate 8,700 employees at the end of 2010. Those who remained got brand new BlackBerrys.
By reducing the workforce, leisure has become nonexistent for most American workers who now work 200 hours a month and this excludes travel time to and from work which can tack on an additional 60 to 80 hours a month. Some workers work 300 hours a month and there are some who spend 100 hours/month in their car.
Contrast employment in America with France. In France, hours worked per week are fixed at 35 by law. If one works overtime pay is typically fixed by collective agreement, but also law requires that employees who work overtime must be paid with at least an extra 10 percent an hour. In the case of no other collective agreement, overtime is paid at an extra 25 percent an hour for the first eight hours and then at an extra 50 percent an hour. The 35-hour week has led many companies to be a lot more flexible about working hours. Some have implemented an 8 hour per day schedule with Friday afternoon off, whereas others make 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. required time at work and leave individuals to organize the rest of their time. Managerial jobs have always tended to be more flexible, with people often starting later in the day (10 AM or later), longer lunches and then finishing 8:00 p.m. All employees are entitled to two and a half days of paid leave per month worked. This amounts to a month of vacation every year. Italians get more, 45 days. But not Americans. They rank woefully last of all industrialized nations with an average of seven days, as few employees take their entitled vacation time of 10 days. If American workers are given a day off, they are so intimidated that they would most likely show up for work. Saulny and Brown, (2009) report that "Employees who were "furloughed' during the 2008 financial crisis came to work even when they were forced to take days off with no pay "because they fear for the long-term safety of their position and hope self-sacrifice impresses the management."
Unlike Americans, French employees fight for their work week and time off. French President Sarkozy and other politicians know that corporate CEOs in Europe work between 48 and 68 hours a week, and it infuriates them that their employees work a 35-hour week. When Sarkozy wanted to increase the work week and made it clear he favored the American approach, in response over a million of France's workers took to the streets in protest. But not in America; the workforce is so intimidated that they suffer quietly, put in their 60 to 70 hours a week and often are willing to give up their vacation or even work for free. It is not devotion to work that keeps Americans glued to the workplace, it is downright fear. CEOs love the American way. They almost get two employees for the price of one.
How did this happen?
In the late 1970s seven important strategies were promoted by business school educators and business writers. B-school students who went on to lead our corporations learned the following:
1. I was teaching Business Strategy in Fordham's MBA program in the early 1980s that I first noticed terminations as a business strategy in a textbook. Downsizing as it was called soon appeared in all business schools' strategy textbooks and accepted as sound business practice. MBA grads moved into executive suites at the turn of the century and got one employee to do the work of two and in the process ruined the lives of millions of hard working Americans. The use of layoffs as a strategy to boost earnings meant that terminations as a strategy went from being a CEOs decision of last resort to one of first resort (Uchitelle, 2006). It was given wording that neatly fit into the managerial glossary, with the popularization of words and phrases like downsizing, restructuring, reorganizing, transformation, reengineering, redesign, cost-cutting, rightsizing, staff cuts, early retirement, cost reduction, managed redundancy, and my favorite "lean and mean."
2. In the late 1980s human resource departments across America embraced two significant methodologies they learned in B-school. One, they accepted the concept of "human capital accounting" where employees were now treated as a "resource" and HR began to look more like finance departments. This resulted in employees being treated in a manner similar to a desk or computer, nothing more than a resource. Secondly, they introduced complex performance review systems. Employees were now working under constant surveillance and intimidation and they had little choice but to accept the long hours demanded of them. As Peter Block states " Performance appraisal is that occasion when once a year you find out who claims sovereignty over you." Performance review quickly became the instrument that destroyed commitment and kept the employee doing the work of two.
3. The employer/employee compact ended. No longer could an employee expect the security of staying with a company for his or her career and to be taken care of after retirement. Defined pension plans were gone and benefits were slashed. CEOs bought into the "lean and mean" metaphor, promoted by consultants and business writers. Strategies were put forth that suggested it was optimal to have a flexible workforce, expanding in good times, contracting in bad. Essentially, it meant one could reduce the work force and get those who remained behind to work harder, longer hours.
4. It was no longer considered good management practice to balance the interests of the shareholder-management-employee triangle. Executives were taught to focus on a single objective, the shareholder. They were motivated to maximize profit, and the "bottom line" became a popular metaphor used by executives. According to CEO Thomas Wilson, Allstate's corporate mission was clear: "Our obligation is to earn a return for our shareholders" (DiCello, 2008). Employees and the insured (customers) are not mentioned. Allstate lost $620 billion in the second quarter 2011.
5. An increased emphasis on mathematical and statistical modeling entered business school curriculum. During the early 1970's, business school deans, in their zeal to build their schools and seek favor among the science community, rushed to hire Nobel Laureates and in doing so added applied mathematical modeling to an ever-increasing array of financial and business problems. Decision analysis and decision modeling became widespread, assisted by sophisticated computer technology. Consequently, critical thought and diagnosis were virtually removed from the B-school curriculum in favor of an approach that emphasized formulation and implementation in the so-called decision sciences.
6. Professors of economics and finance climbed to central positions in business schools and substituted the words of "self interest" and "incentive to profit" for "greed." The Ronald Reagan concept of "trickle-down" economics prevailed, and promoted the belief that allowing the wealthy to "have more" would be good for the economy, and if the rich got richer, their wealth would benefit the lower classes. In the face of such odds, more of the nation's pool of talented students decided there was no point in becoming a doctor or an engineer, when one could be a banker. During the heyday of business school growth, 1970 to 1990, Harvard graduates who entered finance career jumped from 5 to 15 percent, while those going into law and medicine fell from 39 to 30 percent (Goldin and Katz, 1999). These MBA grads entered banking and corporate caverns in droves and we all know what happened.
7. Increasingly, university presidents were turning over their business schools to millionaire equity investment executives. Consider Kenneth Freeman who was offered the deanship of Boston University's B-School. He is from KKR, and his job was to oversee all of the firm's private equity investments around the world, including serving as director of hospital operator HCA, medical device maker Accellent, and building products manufacturer Masonite. In addition to his deanship Freeman will continue his affiliation with KKR as a senior advisor. Speaking of Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts, in October 2010 Henry Kravis, called the Buy-Out king, pledged $100 million to his alma mater the Columbia Business School to help construct new facilities in Harlem and the building will be named after him. B-schools seek these celebrity finance moguls to increase the school's visibility and of course bring in "big bucks," like David Booth with his $300 million gift in 2008 creating the Chicago Booth School of Business or Philip Knight (of Nike) who gave who gave $105 million to Stanford creating the Knight Management Center. They want produce a David Tepper, who made $4 billion in 2009, or equity multimillionaire celebrity politician like Mitt Romney. Among all executives who have played havoc with employees by reducing the workforce and demanding longer hours are the equity investors who are praised by B-school deans. Of course this sends a message to students that they too can become sinfully wealthy by getting an employee to do the jobs of two employees.
Think about what would happen if America adopted the European 35 hour work week. It would lead to a significant reduction in the numbers of millions unemployed. But this would lead to one unpopular side effect it would dramatically increase labor costs and lower the wealth of CEOs and their stockholders.
Bauerlein, M. and Jaffery, C. (2011) All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup. Mother Jones July/August 2011 issue Retrieved from: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speed-up-american-workers-long-hours?page=2
DiCello, N. (2008) Former Allstate CEO to Run AIG - Yikes! September 19, 2008 Retrieved from: http://cleveland.injuryboard.com/miscellaneous/former-allstate-ceo-to-run-aig-yikes.aspx?googleid=247858
Goldin, C. and Katz, L. (1999). Human Capital and Social Capital. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Spring, 29, 4, 683-724.
HR.BIR.com (2006) 1/3 of U.S. workers leave"and lose"vacation time. Retrieved from: http://hr.blr.com/news.aspx?id=18429
Saulny, S. and Brown, R. (2009) On a Furlough, but Never Leaving the Cubicle. New York Times, June 15, P.1
Schor, J.B. (1991) The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, N.Y.: Basic Books
Uchitelle, L., (2006) The disposable American: layoffs and their consequences. NY: Knopf
William Czander has taught in MBA programs for almost 35 years. In 2002 he left academe to work for Home Depot where he witnessed the absurdity of corporate life. He is now semiretired and serves on the faculty [of Fordham?] as an adjunct professor at several institutions. He holds a doctorate in psychology from NYU and completed two postdoc's: The Institute for Social and Policy Studies at Yale, and the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health in psychoanalysis. He is a member of a unique group of scholars and consultants who apply psychoanalytic thinking to organizations. He has written two books and is writing his third, an attempt to understand executive greed and self-destruction.
- Marion school district cuts teachers to balance budget, by Christy Millweard, KFVS via kfvs12.com
MARION, Illin. - Marion #2 School District announced it will cut almost 30 teacher positions, and cut back hours for about 30 more.
Superintendent Randolph Tinder says this school board has been working on a plan for months to help fix the district's financial problems.
Tinder says cuts from state and federal funding pushed the district over the edge this year, after it's already carried a multi-million dollar deficit for multiple years.
The school board decided to cut 14 certified teach positions, 15 non-certified teaching positions, and cut hours for 33 non-certified positions. That is out of approximately 230 teachers in the district. Tinder says the teachers affected have already been notified.
Tinder says the cuts will save the district about $2 million dollars.
"It's never easy when you have to affect people's lives and their jobs none of these positions are positions that weren't needed, or people didn't think were important, none of these people were doing a bad job, but the simple fact is schools are labor intensive organizations we get 70-80 percent of our money we spend on salaries and benefits," said Tinder. "And unless you can raise more money you have to spend less, and that means less people."
Tinder says even with these cuts, the district will shuffle around another $13 million to help balance the budget.
"No it's not financially sound, it's in much better shape but still there are all the factors that affect all school districts will continue to affect this one," said Tinder. "They've rained in spending now, but they're still subject to cuts in state and federal funding which is what pushed us over the edge this year."
Some parents say they're worried how this will affect their child's education. But the Superintendent says the board decided this would be the least detrimental to student learning.
"It will have the least impact that we think we could have on day to day operations of the school district and classrooms," said Tinder. "The bottom line is that we're going to do the best we can with what we have available, and our number 1 priority remains boys and girls."
Tinder says now the district will re-evaluate the roles and responsibilities of remaining teachers and positions to make sure student needs are met.
He says the road to a decision has been rough.
"The bottom line is it's hard for everybody, it's been extremely difficult for the Board of Education because these are their friends and neighbors and people they go to church with," said Tinder.
He says the board has looked at multiple options, and appreciate all the community input and participation at the local forums.
"It's just a matter of the point of view of the people making the decisions," said Tinder. "Our original plan would have eliminated 12 teachers in grades K-5 and we decided the increase in class size would be too detrimental to that age level."
Tinder says it's best if the district has a financial cushion in case more state or federal funding cuts come in the future.
"All this time from August until now, figuring out how to save the district financially, we think we have a good handle on that now for down the road, and so now the board can look to how can they make the district what they want it to be, how can they improve it, and how can they go about doing whatever it takes so those things that they judge shouldn't have been cut, they can afford to put back in," said Tinder.
Some people are wondering if other districts in the state or Heartland will have to take similar measures.
"Everybody feels it to one degree or another, it just depends how much money has been stockpiled or saved up for a rainy day and whether or not if you can continue, but no one can continue those kinds of reduction in revenue for a sustaining period of time," said Tinder.
Tinder says the teachers will finish out the school year, and the cuts will go into effect in August.
3/21/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Stabilizing Employment and the Economy Even During Tough Times - Work-Sharing Provision in Payroll Tax Extension Will Support Workers, Businesses, and the Economy during Recessions - A small provision of the bill encourages states to adopt so-called “work-sharing” programs as part of their unemployment insurance systems, by Matt Separa, Center For American Progress via americanprogress.org
President Barack Obama signs the payroll tax cut extension, Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. A small provision of the bill encourages states to adopt so-called “work-sharing” programs as part of their unemployment insurance systems. (photo caption)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A little-noticed provision of the payroll tax cut extension signed into law by President Barack Obama in February encourages states to adopt so-called “work-sharing” programs as part of their unemployment insurance systems. Work sharing—or short-time compensation, as it is referred to in the bill—is a policy that provides an alternative to businesses facing the unwelcome prospect of having to lay off workers. Instead of laying off a single worker, a business instituting work sharing could, for example, reduce the hours of five employees by 20 percent while partially supplementing the workers’ lost wages with unemployment insurance money. The idea is to help businesses avoid layoffs during down times by giving them the option to spread the cut in hours among a larger group of employees.
The work-sharing policy included in the payroll tax cut extension bill echoes a proposal put forth by the Center for American Progress in 2009. In that report CAP proposed several steps that Congress should take to promote work sharing. We encouraged Congress to provide incentives for nationwide implementation of state programs and to instruct the U.S. Department of Labor to provide clearer regulations to states stipulating how those programs should be run. Both of these provisions were included in the new law, and prior iterations of this policy were also featured in President Obama’s American Jobs Act and championed in stand-alone bills by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
As CAP’s proposal for work sharing points out, the program can provide tremendous economic benefits during a recession, as evidenced in other countries. Germany’s work-sharing program, for instance—known as Kurzarbeit—helped to keep total employment in Germany stable during the Great Recession, while employment in the United States during that same period dropped by almost 6 percent. Work sharing also makes sense from an investment perspective. Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi estimates that a work-sharing program such as the one recently signed into law would generate an enormous return on investment—$1.69 for each dollar spent on benefits under the program. This is even higher than the multiplier Zandi estimates for unemployment insurance—$1.60 for each dollar spent. Additionally, work sharing has a number of benefits that make it easier for workers, families, and businesses to weather tough economic times.
Work sharing 101
Faced with less demand for their products during a recession, businesses oftentimes try to reduce costs by laying off workers. The result of this type of cost-cutting approach is to increase unemployment and further weaken the economy. Work sharing is a policy designed to combat that trend by allowing businesses to retain employees while still reducing costs. The way it works is simple: Instead of laying off a few workers, a company would reduce the hours of a larger number of employees. These employees would then be compensated partially for their lost income through unemployment insurance, while retaining the majority of their workload. Although the reimbursement to workers is generally not enough to completely make up for their lost pay, it usually provides about 50 percent of the pay they would receive for the hours cut. Under such a scenario, a worker who had his or her hours reduced by 20 percent would receive unemployment insurance equal to about 10 percent of his or her total wages, meaning the employee would earn about 90 percent of his or her normal pay while working about 80 percent of his or her normal hours.
Key developments in work-sharing legislation
1982—Congress passes legislation authorizing states to implement work-sharing programs on a temporary basis and mandates that businesses must continue health and pension benefits under these programs.
1992—Congress passes legislation that permanently allows states to create and fund work-sharing programs but does not require businesses to pay health and retirement benefits, leading to confusion over whether this was something state programs had to mandate.
2012—The payroll tax cut extension containing work sharing is signed into law, including clarification that businesses must continue to provide full health and retirement benefits to participate in work-sharing programs.
Although some states had adopted work sharing prior to Congress passing the bill a few weeks ago, it was a fairly obscure program with only spotty implementation. As of 2011 only 20 states had modified their unemployment insurance programs to include work sharing as an option for employers. There were two primary obstacles that prevented more states from implementing the program. First, many states could not afford to pay for work sharing, as most states retained embarrassingly low unemployment insurance trust fund levels even prior to the recession. Second, confusion over work-sharing guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor made many states wary of stepping into an administrative muddle. (see text box) The payroll tax cut bill, however, solves both of these problems by providing for federal financing of state work-sharing programs for up to three years and clarifying the state requirements under the program.
Work sharing supports workers, businesses, and the economy
If adopted by all of the states, work sharing will be highly beneficial for workers, employers, and the larger economy. For workers, the program will allow them to retain their jobs, avoiding the economic insecurity and social stigma that accompany unemployment. Affected workers will also retain access to their full medical and retirement benefits under the new provision, providing added security for them and their families. Furthermore, workers in short-time compensation arrangements will have the opportunity to maintain their work knowledge and skills, preventing a diminishing of skills that can result from lengthy unemployment and that may hamper future career prospects.
Employers likewise will see benefits from work sharing. First, employers will still be able to reduce costs when faced with decreased demand for their products and services through short-time compensation. Because workers will remain on the job and thus maintain their knowledge and skills, employers will also see dramatically reduced turnover and retraining costs compared to those of layoffs since they will not have to replace workers down the line. As the economy continues to improve, businesses will also be able to ramp up production much faster with workers who are already on payroll, eliminating or greatly lessening the need to hire new workers. Further, companies may also realize the benefit of work sharing in indirect ways such as increased employee loyalty.
But perhaps the greatest benefit of work sharing will occur in the larger economy. As the experience in Germany shows, work sharing can keep unemployment low even during a recession. Research shows that work sharing also boosts economic output by more than 1.5 times what it costs to operate such programs, leading to more economic growth and a faster recovery. Because of this, economists across the political spectrum—from Jared Bernstein, a former Obama administration adviser, to Kevin A. Hassett of the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute—all support work sharing.
Although it’s an ostensibly small policy change, this program has tremendous potential to further our economic recovery and mitigate the effects of future recessions. It is heartening to see that Congress and the president have embraced a commonsense, bipartisan reform that will help keep workers in their jobs, provide more security for middle-class families, and allow employers to respond more quickly to economic changes all at the same time.
Matt Separa is a Research Assistant with the Economic Policy team at the Center for American Progress.
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- Sincerity needed with the change in official working hours: CSC, HaveeruOnline via haveeru.com.mv
CSC President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan speaking during a press conference on January 25, 2012: Fahmy has said that sincerity is needed with the change in official working hours. (photo caption)
MALE, Maldive Islands, Indian Ocean - President of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mohamed Fahmy Hassan has urged all civil servants to be more diligent and sincere in carrying out their work following the change to the official government working hours.
“The official working hours has been reduced by one hour, without making any changes to the salaries. Hence, I call on all government employees to be more diligent and sincere in their work and to refrain from wasting official hours unnecessarily,” Fahmy said.
He noted that though the official government working hours would be from 8.00 in the morning to 3.00 in the afternoon, employees would still be given a 45 minutes break and urged civil servants to use the time responsibly.
Fahmy added that the break given to civil servants would be decided by the respective government institution.
CSC President further added that despite the change in official working hours, employees would still have the opportunity to earn overtime.
“However, everyone must strive to carry out their work in the allotted official hours and must observe discipline. Making the best use of the official hours is entailed in work discipline,” Fahmy stressed.
- Apple: We're Making Progress to Reduce Excessive Working Hours [in China], by Angela Moscaritolo, PC Magazine via pcmag.com
[Compare story #2 yesterday. We included this story too cuz we HAD to get in "Daring Fireball", whatever that is.]
SHENZHEN, China - Apple said it made progress in February to reduce excessive employee overtime at its suppliers' factories.
In a recent update to its Supplier Responsibility website, Apple said that in January, supplier-collected data about 500,000 employees showed that 84 percent complied with its maximum 60-hour work week rule. Last month, that compliance rate increased to 89 percent, and the average employee worked 48 hours per week, Apple said.
"That's a substantial improvement over previous results, but we can do better," Apple said. The Cupertino tech giant promised to continue providing monthly updates.
Daring Fireball first reported Apple's update and noted that February's reduced work hours likely occurred while production of the new iPad was in full-force. As part of its supplier code of conduct, Apple limits factory working hours to a maximum of 60 work hours per week and requires at least one day of rest per seven days of work, barring emergencies or unusual circumstances.
[Oh now, that's REAL progressive. By making massive use of Chinese working hours "reduced" to the U.S. level of ca.1900, Apple is concentrating robot-diminished market-demanded working hours in China (and doing nothing for the U.S.], stifling shorter-hour job creation and wage spreading, making zero contribution to either economy's consumer spending and stifling its own markets. In short, Apple is being just as stupid and suicidal as Microsoft.]
Apple has come under fire in recent months over working conditions at its suppliers' overseas factories. A recent New York Times exposé detailed gang-like working conditions and questionable safety practices at Foxconn, the main assembler of the company's popular consumer devices.
In response, Apple asked the Fair Labor Association to investigate the facilities of its top eight manufacturing partners in China, starting with Foxconn [HQ: Tucheng, Taiwan; worst factory: Shenzhen, China]. The FLA's inspections got off to a controversial start last month, when the association's president called Foxconn's factories "first-class" and attributed a notorious string of worker suicides at the plants to "boredom." Labor organizations called his remarks "hasty."
Moreover, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based labor rights organization, said Foxconn hid underage workers from view during the inspection. Apple's Tim Cook said recently, however, that using underage workers is "abhorrent" and "extremely rare."
The FLA's first full report is expected soon.
Meanwhile, concerned customers have delivered petitions to Apple stores demanding the tech giant improve working conditions at overseas manufacturing plants. One of the customers who delivered those petitions was Mike Daisey, who made headlines recently after NPR's "This American Life" was forced to retract an episode in which it highlighted details of a trip Daisey took to China to inspect Apple suppliers. Another reporter found that much of Daisey's report was fabricated or embellished. Daisey defended the discrepancies by saying he is not a journalist and often blurs the lines between news and theater.
Apple told PCMag last month that it conducted 229 audits at supplier factories around the world in 2011 and it increases the number of factories it inspects each year.
"We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain," Apple said. "We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple."
3/20/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Jack Reed's push for 'work-sharing' praised in The New Yorker, by Ted Nesi, WPRI-TV 12 (blog) via blogs.wpri.com
In a long review of “The Escape Artists,” Noam Scheiber's new book about the Obama administration's economic strategy, PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In a long review of “The Escape Artists,” Noam Scheiber’s new book about the Obama administration’s economic strategy, The New Yorker’s John Cassidy argues that the original $787 billion stimulus law was not only too small but also too unimaginative to get the economy back to full employment after the financial crisis.
And who had the kind of idea Cassidy thinks Obama should have pushed for to make the stimulus more effective? None other than Rhode Island’s own U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who finally got Congress to approve his cherished work-share program just last month.
"In Germany, the government uses wage subsidies to encourage firms to hoard workers during recessions rather than shedding them. … To make this job-sharing system work and help out the affected employees, the government pays them about sixty per cent of their lost salary. Despite a global recession and a European debt crisis, the German unemployment rate is lower now than it was in January, 2009.
"Germany’s labor-market institutions are a product of the country’s history; introducing them wholesale to the United States wouldn’t be easy. But until recently the Obama Administration barely moved in this direction. It was left to Senator Jack Reed, of Rhode Island, to champion a federal job-sharing scheme, which was based on financing local initiatives, such as one in his home state. The White House finally adopted the idea in its 2012 budget, and Congress, in a recent agreement to extend payroll-tax cuts and unemployment insurance, agreed to fund a version of it. If the scheme is still in effect when the next recession begins, perhaps it will make the situation less severe."
- Apple's working hours in China down to 48 a week [8 hrs/day x 6 days/wk], within 1 hour a day of the US average [7.1 hrs/day x 6 days/wk], by Matthew Panzarino, TheNextWeb.com (blog)
[ - IF you're still working full time, that is. But Americans probably mess this up by working 8.52 hrs/day for five days a week.]
CUPERTINO, Calif. - Apple’s ongoing reporting of its efforts to address excessive work hours has been updated with new information. The latest numbers show that the average work-week has fallen to an average of 48 hours per week, that’s within 1 hour a day of the U.S. average, which sits at 42.6 hours a week.
This is even more impressive when you consider, as John Gruber of Daring Fireball points out, that this was during the ramping up of production for Apple’s new iPad, which was just launched last Friday.
Apple mentioned in January that it had collected data on 500,000 workers at its suppliers and found that 84% of them complied with the maximum 60-hour work week that it lays out in its employment code. In February of 2012, that number went up 5% to 89% and the average work hours fell to 48 per week.
Apple says that this is “a substantial improvement over previous results, but we can do better. We will continue to share our progress by reporting this data on a monthly basis.”
Apple posts other results on the page as well, including the fact that it required 52 facilities to implement policies prohibiting discrimination based on certain medical tests. 24 facilitates were found conducting pregnancy tests and were stopped, and 56 others were also required to put policies in place that prevented discrimination based on pregnancy.
Apple also continues to investigate incidents of underage labor in its factories but says that “this year, our audits of final assembly suppliers found no cases of underage labor.”
Underage workers were one of the primary complaints leveraged against Apple by fabulist Mike Daisey in his monologue, which was broadcast on a now-retracted This American Life episode earlier this year. Daisey’s reports of underage workers at Apple factories turned out to be outright fabrications.
Nevertheless, Apple says, “we will continue regular audits and go deeper into our supply chain to ensure that there are no underage workers at any Apple supplier.
3/18-19/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- What's a standard workweek? by Susan Lessack, 3/18 BusinessManagementDaily.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Q. What’s the definition of a standard workweek? One of our employees claims that overtime is defined as anything over eight hours per workday. Is he correct?
A. No. Generally under federal law, overtime is to be paid for hours worked over 40 in a week.
[And that hasn't been adjusted in 72 years despite wave after wave of worksaving technology, ergo concentration of work and wages resulting in decreasing consumer spending despite increasing production, ergo falling prices, rising dependency and permanent and deepening recession and depression, eliciting more and more creativity in ignoring it or spinning it as "jobless recovery" or "slower growth."]
The week that is used is whatever seven-day period the company normally views as its workweek.
You can—but don’t have to—also pay overtime for hours worked over eight in a day.
Hospitals are permitted to enter into agreements with employees calling for a 14-day period (instead of seven days) to be the basis for overtime. In those cases, employees receive overtime pay for working over eight hours in a day and 80 hours in the 14-day period.
- How Many Hours Do You Work Per Week? (Hint: If It's Over 40, You May Have a Problem, 3/19 Lifehacker.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - For years, the 40-hour work week was recognized as the sweet spot for workplace productivity and profits, a system, which AlterNet's Sara Robinson points out, is backed by 150 years of research. Every hour you work beyond 40 actually makes you "less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul." But you don't have to be a social scientist to notice that this wisdom seems to be going by the wayside. In fact, most of us just need to take a glance at our own working hours.
In an excellent (and long—you may want to bookmark this in you read-it-later app of choice) essay titled Why We Have to Go Back to a 40-Hour Work Week to Keep Our Sanity, Robinson lays out the decades of research backing the 40-hour work week wisdom and how it applies to both manual laborers and knowledge workers, discusses how a down economy and the "passion" of Silicon Valley helped us lose sight of these well-documented facts, and ultimately calls for the return of the 40-hour work week—not just as a route to better health, sanity, and productivity for all, but also as a way to create jobs, arguing that "[f]or every four Americans working a 50-hour week, every week, there's one American who should have a full-time job, but doesn't."
[Neat way to think about it! And it's getting to the point where: For every three Americans working a 40-hour week every week, there's one American who should have a full-time 30-hr/wk job, but doesn't."]
Robinson's conclusion says it all:
For the good of our bodies, our families, our communities, the profitability of American companies, and the future of the country, this insanity has to stop. Working long days and weeks has been incontrovertibly proven to be the stupidest, most expensive way there is to get work done. Our bosses are depleting resources from of the human capital pool without replenishing them. They are taking time, energy, and resources that rightfully belong to us, and are part of our national common wealth.
Her article is well worth a read...
[Scan down on this page to 3/14/2012 #2 for her article.]
3/17/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Jobless proposal would benefit workers, firms, 3/16 (late pickup) YumaSun.com
PHOENIX, Ariz. - The state is already paying unemployment benefits to unemployed workers, so why not turn that jobless time into something that is useful to both Arizona businesses and the out of work person?
[Why not? Because those are not unemployment benefits in the sense of being paid to be unemployed but in the sense of being paid to look for a job, and are actually called a "jobseeker's allowance" in Britain.]
That's the idea behind a proposed new law (SB 1388) that could help put those getting unemployment benefits back on the job, so to speak, while at the same time giving them skills that companies are looking for in new workers.
Here's how the law — which has already passed the Arizona Senate — would work. Companies would be able to use jobless workers for up to six weeks at 32 hours a week without paying them — as long as they agreed to give them job training.
[Note that 40 hours is a minimum when the private businesses (e.g., Walmart,...) are paying but they are fine with a 32-hour full-time workweek when someone else (e.g., the public sector) is paying - even though they do not want to fund that someone else by paying taxes.]
The jobless workers would still get their unemployment benefits from the state during this time period, so they would not be working for “free.”
[Yes, they would, because the employers getting the benefit would not be doing the paying. Instead, an inrelevant bystander, the taxpayer, would be saddled with the bill - or are we supposed to believe that the taxpayer would be getting some benefit because for six weeks an employer-created job shortage, jobseeker surplus would be getting alleviated, and that the employer would be getting no benefit from the on-the-job training? Who's checking on the abusable definition of "job training" here? and do you really need six weeks of training to flip a burger? and is there a job at the end? and aren't people on unemployment benefits supposed to be looking for paid work = paid by the employer not the taxpayer? and isn't this just passing more costs onto taxpayers at a time when wealthy decision-makers are cutting taxes, especially on themselves who can most easily afford taxes?... Sounds like Marx was right. Socialism IS inevitable - in the form of corporate socialism. This certainly isn't capitalism, and in fact, capitalism may need timesizing to survive.]
The proposal came from Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, who says it is a “return to work” bill. She said a similar program in New Hampshire has been successful in getting the jobless back to work, and that it is particularly useful for companies that say they can't find workers with the skills they need.
In effect, the state is paying for the needed job training ["needed" only if the companies guarantee jobs for trainees at the end of the training], but at no extra cost since unemployment benefits are already being paid.
Obviously, there is potential for abuse. Safeguards would be put in place to ensure companies actually provide useful training and to ensure they do not simply use the program to provide repeated free temporary workers with no intention of actually hiring someone. At the same time there is no commitment to hire a particular trainee if they do not work out.
[- thus making that training totally useless and an abuse of the taxpayer. This is just shifting more and more private-sector costs and risks and responsibilities onto government and taxpayers. We are constructing a completely parasitic private sector, year after year. And isn't that one of the things we didn't like about socialism and communism?!]
There is significant potential for the program, if it eventually becomes law. It could be a win-win-win situation. Companies benefit by getting free training time. Jobless workers get desirable skills and potentially a job. And the state moves some unemployed workers off the jobless benefits rolls.
- Financial Inclusion Adviser - Camden Futures, Manchester Guardian Jobs via jobs.guardian.co.uk
[And now, an ironic example, from the UK, of how employers are also fine with a shorter workweek if that allows them to duck payment of "full time" benefits.]
CAMDEN, U.K. - Employer: CAMDEN CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAUX
Posted: 16 March 2012
Industry: Charities - Advice , Charities - Community development , Charities - Poverty relief , Charities - Social welfare , Charities - Volunteer management
Hours: "Part Time" [our quotes]
Salary: £25,000 pro rata (28 hours per week)
[Prorated from 40 hours per week? Designed to just duck a level (30 hrs?) where employer would have to pay "full time" benefits? Ifso, this would guarantee that this adviser would have much in common with unemployed advisees...]
This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced advice worker to join Camden Futures, a unique new partnership funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. The post holder will work with volunteers to develop and coordinate an advice service for families with multiple needs.
Camden Futures, a partnership between Elfrida Rathbone Camden, Coram, Haverstock Healthcare and Camden CAB and supported by Camden Council, has been awarded a grant through the Big Lottery Fund to deliver improved, joined up support for local families with complex and multiple needs. The funding is for three years from April 2012. Camden is one of only 26 local authority areas across Great Britain receiving grants from the Big Lottery Improving Futures Fund.
Camden Futures will work with families who need help from more than one agency and where both children and parents have support needs. Families will receive support across a range of problems, including parents’ and children’s individual needs, family relationships, poverty and welfare advice. Workers will be based in GP surgeries and schools in the most deprived wards, linking up with health professionals, housing officers and others.
The CAB Financial Inclusion Adviser will coordinate advice services for families accessing help through the Futures programme and will work with partner agencies to achieve improved outcomes for children and families.
The post holder will assess the advice needs, organise provision across the range of social welfare areas, including welfare benefits and housing, and undertake some casework. The Adviser will also arrange and provide financial capability training and work closely with the partners and Camden Futures Coordinator.
- Have significant experience of generalist advice work and up to date knowledge and experience of debt casework.
- Have excellent oral and written communication skills
- Understand the advice needs of children and families referred to Camden Futures
Closing date: 2 April 2012
Interviews: week commencing 16 April 2012
http://www.camdencabservice.org.uk/recruitment.html or telephone for an application form 020 7624 6412
3/16/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- College Introduces New Academic Scholarships, Limits Work Hours, The Houghton Star via houghtonstar.com
HOUGHTON, N.Y. - If you’re a Houghton student, chances are good -- 80.3 %, in fact -- that you receive some sort of institutional aid from Houghton. This year alone, Houghton awarded over 11 million dollars in institutional aid, according to Marianne Loper, Director of Student Financial Services. With the move to Division III athletics and students waiting for jobs on campus, Financial Services is making changes to scholarships and work-study on campus.
Two new scholarships were added this year, according to Loper -- The James S. Luckey Excellence scholarship and the Arts Excellence scholarship. The James S. Luckey scholarship, equal to the amount of the first year of tuition, and the Arts Excellence Scholarship, an annual $5000 award, “are intended to attract high quality, academically capable, and spiritually engaged students to Houghton who have a stated interest or intended vocation in one of the three thematic areas of emphasis at Houghton in this coming year -- science and technology, global engagement, or the arts and Christian life” according to Loper. While only three students will be awarded the James S. Luckey Scholarship, four to eight students will be chosen to receive the Arts Excellence Scholarship.
Houghton was able, in part, to provide for these new scholarships because of the College’s switch to Division III in athletics, explained Dale Wright, Chief Business Officer. No longer able to award athletic scholarships, this freed up some money for additional academic scholarships, he explained.
Despite the increase in new scholarships, the College is struggling to provide for all the students who need assistance paying for their Houghton education. Last Saturday, a campus wide email was sent from Loper discussing the work study options on campus. According to the email, there are students waiting for jobs on campus. Two solutions were presented: reserve all the jobs for Houghton’s “neediest students” or ensure that “students to be held their awarded work study hours.” Student Financial Services has chosen the latter option and, starting next fall, Loper has asked students “to limit your work to average 10 hours a week. If you work multiple jobs, the total number of hours should not exceed 10. I am sure this will not be easy for some, but we are trying to be fair and give an opportunity for all to work.”
[So worksharing is happening at all sorts of levels.]
Some students are already concerned how this will affect them next semester. Junior Ben Valyou, who currently works over 10 hours in the dining hall, stated that 10 hours will not be enough for his tuition payments, and since he is able to eat during his shifts, fewer hours mean fewer meals which mean higher food expenses. He also stated that he believes there are plenty of jobs on campus: “From my experience working for Sodexo, I know that as the beginning of the new semester comes up the managers work pretty hard to make sure there aren't any unfilled shifts (and there are often quite a few that need to be filled). As I've heard it aptly said, ‘It's only students who wait until a month into the semester to decide to start looking for a job who have any trouble finding an on-campus job.’”
Senior Adam Townley also said there are jobs on campus that haven’t been filled, such as someone to shovel the snow for the flats. The position was never filled this semester, so Townley and another student split the responsibility for shoveling. Townley, a General Biology TA, also voiced concern over TA positions on campus. Often TAs must work over 10 hours, and he is unsure there will be enough eligible students to split the hours.
For those students currently working over 10 hours a week at campus jobs to help pay their education expenses, this new policy will make finding ways to fund their education difficult, as Loper’s email admitted. Some are even hoping another alternative will be found. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do to make up for my lost hours yet,” said Valyou. “I’m hoping at this point that the backlash the administration is going to get from this will be enough to make the point that it’s a bad idea.”
- GMH reevaluates 32-hour workweek plan, by Mindy Aguon, KUAM.com
[See original story 1/01-02/2012 #2.]
HAGATNA, Guam - A 32-hour workweek for the Guam Memorial Hospital may not be feasible after all. GMH intended to implement various austerity measures by the end of the month. But interim hospital administrator Rey Vega confirms that management is reevaluating the 32-hour workweek plan they had developed for administrative personnel. Vega attributes that to increases in overtime, departing employees and an increasing workload.
"With the recent rush of retirement and resignations, we're reevaluating our staffing pattern so that is an ongoing discussion with the board," he told KUAM News. "It may not be feasible so we're going to look at other ways to cut costs."
Vega confirms that the hospital has only been hiring nursing and clinical staff but administrative personnel are not being hired due to GMHs current financial problems. Governor Eddie Calvo in his State of the Island Address said GMH would be implementing its austerity plan by the end of the first quarter of the year.
- Chamber of Commerce to cut hours at welcome center, Lewiston Sun Journal via sunjournal.com
FARMINGTON, Maine — The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is making some changes after the executive director resigned.
Stacie Bourassa completed her position Thursday as executive director to return to the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area as finance administrator.
The chamber's Board of Directors is taking this opportunity to restructure the organization. Hours for the Wilton Road Welcome Center will be reduced but the chamber's 24-hour visitor kiosk remains available.
The Franklin County chamber, like many of its member and non-member businesses, has been experiencing challenges over the past few years due in large part to the state of the local economy. With no grant or federal funding, the chamber depends primarily on membership dues and revenue from special events to fulfill its mission, and membership is down.
The board and part-time staff will work diligently to ensure the chamber can continue to deliver and grow its services on behalf of its membership, but community support is critical to its success, according to a statement from the organization.
Chamber events planned this year include the 18th annual Home and Leisure Show on May 19 at the Farmington Fairgrounds; a Car and Bike Show on Aug. 19, also at the farigrounds; the chamber and Seth Wescott Scholarship Golf Classic on Sept. 21 at Sugarloaf; Chester Greenwood Day on Dec. 1 in downtown Farmington and the Holiday Food Basket program on Dec. 14.
As small business owners and nonprofits continue to tighten their spending, the question arises for some, “What does the Chamber do for me?” the chamber said.
It is unfortunate that membership dues are seen as expendable by many towns and local businesses. The chamber has considered whether it has effectively communicated the value of the benefits offered over the years, Bourassa said.
“Membership with a chamber is a partnership. You get out of it what you put in, like so many other investments,” Bourassa said. “There are a number of free and low-cost opportunities with the chamber to network, advertise and educate, and we are always promoting our great region and working collaboratively with other networks to advance our quality of place.”
“The current state of the economy does not support a ‘What did you do for me?’ attitude; rather we need to look to what we may achieve collectively to truly improve our condition," she said. "I will continue to support the chamber with my small business dues, as I believe in the power of the organization to improve our communities, and I encourage my friends and partners to do the same."
"The decision to leave the chamber was a very difficult one for me personally, but I am blessed with the opportunity to continue my work with the United Way and to focus my skills in an area that I feel I can affect the most change,” Bourassa said.
[Shorter hours and worksharing are constantly being done on the micro level (corporations and organizations) but with no consciousness of their potential. Shorter hours and worksharing are constantly being done on the micro level (corporations and organizations) but seldom on the macro level (economy wide).]
3/15/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- The 40-Hour Workweek: Coming to Save America - 150 years of experience says too much overtime sucks for you, your boss and the economy, by Allan MacDonell, TakePart.com
Don't cry, mister. All you're losing is your health, your humanity and your sanity. (photo caption)
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Working more and enjoying it less? Writer Sara Robinson can tell you exactly why that is.
[For Sara's whole article, see yesterday, 3/14/2012 story #2, below.]
In Wednesday’s Salon, Robinson explores the causes and consequences of America’s ever-expanding cult of unpaid unpaid [& paid!] overtime. Rampant job insecurity is cited as the engine powering a trend toward an all-too-common 55-hour workweek. The downside: Quality-of-life hits to individual workers, profit loss to employers, and economic stagnation to the country as a whole.
Robinson presumes she’s making a startling premise:
"It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits—starting right now, today—is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing."
Back in 1914, when Henry Ford cut factory shifts from nine hours to eight, the understanding that workers and employers were both best served by five eight-hour days was gaining acceptance—by labor and by business owners alike. The 40-hour principle, Robinson notes, was established as an American standard in 1937 as part of FDR’s New Deal.
[As we point out in comments on her article below (3/14/2012 #2), Robinson is in error. The actual year was 1940, after a 42-hour standard in 1939 and a 44-hour standard in 1938. See also our Depression history page based on Hunnicutt's Work Without End.]
Today’s more-is-more ethos is traced to Silicone [sic, LOL!] Valley startups of the late 1970s, where scientists and technologists exhibiting the “sci-tech personality” (eerily similar to Asperger’s Syndrome) routinely converted every waking hour into a working hour.
[We find this a secondary development that has missed the major deep-structure development in the early 1970s = a population boom hit the job market around 1970 (the baby boomers) and effectively changed the situation from a labor-empowering labor shortage/job surplus and replaced it with the same kind of disempowering labor surplus/job shortage that created, and prevailed throughout, the Great Depression. Momentum from the more gradually decreasing labor shortage/job surplus of 1942-1969 (1939-69 for Canada) slowed down general deterioration for 10-20 years, but several secondary developments countered this slowdown and speeded up the labor surplus/job shortage in the years following 1970: with rising unemployment, employers found they could delay raises without triggering employees' departure for better jobs; housewives, concerned about husbands' delayed raises, entered the job market; the Women's Lib movement reinforced this trend; now simplifying by exaggeration= no raises = consumer spending plateaus and CEOs find it harder to grow market share & switch to "growing" it by buying market share..by buying other companies = mergers&acquisitions begin a long boom, with attendant perception of overlap and consequent "no choice" mass layoffs >downsizing >"leansizing" >"rightsizing"; the Democrats, eager for grateful voters, began (1967 I believe) sporadic jumps in immigration quotas which had been virtually unincreased 1930-65 - and beginning in the 1980s, the Dems had sporadic amnesties for illegal entrants; unofficial unemployment was having such an hours-boosting, wage&spending-depressing effect on markets that depressed wages allowed more and more of the national income to stop spreading out to the hundreds of millions who wanted and needed to spend it and instead, to funnel to the wealthiest One Percent; the corelated spending decrease cut the amount of marketable productivity for Onepercenters to profitably invest in, so they started quickpouring all the extra money into the stock market and in the early 1990s, P/E ratios began to exceed all historic norms (except during the late 1920s); throughout the 90s Wall Streeters responded by inventing more and more wierd securities to try and absorb all this extra investing power within Wall Street, securities such as junk bonds, derivatives, hedge funds, single stock futures, CDOs=collateralized debt obligations, CDSs=credit default swaps, NINJA loans, liars' loans...; investment banking took off, inflated egos, enhanced myths of superiority, started Attitude like Leona Helmsley's "taxes are for little people"; part of banking culture got thoroughly corrupted with shortcuts = the S&L crisis tho' there was still enough integrity around to clean it up that last time thanks to regulators like Bill Black; great new bizschool and CEO idea to add to "rightsizing" = outsourcing! who needs costly older employees? fire them just before pension-vesting and hire grateful 20-somethings! then, offshore outsourcing! who needs corporate memory or culture? use bankruptcy to break pension contracts and transfer pension funds to Onepercenters; nevermind rising job insecurity and dissatisfaction and boredom and inefficiency and pilferage and sabotage, nevermind falling markets and mutual trust and marketable productivity and profitable investment and even stable investment; then starting(?) in 1999 under Clinton(!), antiDepression-bulwark legislation was repealed as outdated and oldfashioned and down went the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1938 which kept separate banking, brokerage/investment and insurance, enabling compound-complex conflicts of interest which only took nine more years to "ripen" into the financial crisis of 2008, still not cleaned up and with the major crooks still in power (Bernanke and Geithner) covering up for all they're worth. Do I despair? No, because the solution works very quickly once the millions of concerned progressives drop their important but unstrategic and far-secondary hobbyhorses and start pulling together on the most influential and effective point of leverage = the workweek, for example, by replacing downsizing with timesizing. You can't get upsizing, alias growth, by downsizing, Saint Schumpeter ("creative destruction") notwithstanding!]
In the early ’80s, according to Robinson’s timeline, a Reagan-era breed of management defined the “laser-like focus” of the sci-tech personality, which expressed itself in working to the exclusion of physical, emotional and psychological needs, as “passion.”
“Passion” is what drove the original Macintosh team to wear T-shirts proclaiming, “working 90 hours a week and loving it!” Robinson cites productivity experts who believe the original Mac would have arrived a year sooner if the team had worked half as many hours.
The extensive, well-documented Salon story, “Bring Back the 40-Hour Work Week,” goes on to explore the diminishing returns of overtime crunches, the effect of mandatory extra hours on unemployment rates, and the likelihood of restoring what for decades had been a win-win practice for labor and business—an honest eight hours a day, five days a week.
Robinson’s point of view is reasoned and unabashedly biased. The question she raises is one that deserves the consideration of everyone who works: Would America be better off today if we had a mandatory 40-hour workweek?
- Manitoba paramedics want cap on number of working hours, CBC.ca
Paramedics in rural Manitoba don't have a cap on the number of consecutive hours they can work, meaning some have worked more than 16 hours at a time, says Wayne Chacun, a representative with the Manitoba Government Employees Union's paramedic unit. (photo caption)
VIRDEN, Man., Canada - aramedics in rural Manitoba are calling for a mandatory limit on the number of consecutive hours they can work, as they say fatigue is jeopardizing their safety.
"Lack of sleep can be very scary for paramedics," says Wayne Chacun, a paramedic based in Virden, Man., and a representative with the Manitoba Government Employees Union's paramedic unit.
In an interview with CBC News, Chacun said the longest shift he has worked continuously was 20 hours long.
On-call duty makes the work schedules even more grueling, he added — in one day in January, Chacun said he worked a 12-hour shift, went home for a bite to eat, then was called back for another nine hours.
Chacun said paramedics don't like to admit it, but fatigue often jeopardizes the safety of patients, paramedics and the public.
"You hear of people hitting the gravel on the side of the road, but thankfully being able to correct before they hit the ditch," he said.
"You hear of the occasional accident that's happened. You hear of people that were exhausted and may have made a medication error with the patient. These are the extreme cases you hear about."
Wayne Chacun, who works as a paramedic in Virden, Man., says the longest shift he has worked continuously was 20 hours long.
Chacun said he has seen some improvements, but some paramedics have still been told to work even after they have alerted supervisors that their call would amount to more than 16 hours of work.
Chacun said he would like to see a cap of 16 consecutive hours as an absolute maximum for paramedics to work.
However, even that is longer than what is allowed in other sectors, such as trucking, which imposes a 13-hour limit on consecutive hours behind the wheel, among other restrictions.
Researchers like Blair Bigham, an associate scientist with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, have been studying the effects of fatigue among paramedics.
"We know from the research that when paramedics work greater than 12 hours they have an increased chance of making a mistake," Bigham told CBC News.
Bigham said policy-makers in Canada may want to consider regulating the hours of service for paramedics, but he conceded that the solutions would not be easy to find.
"To say that you're going to limit your paramedics to 12 hours might reduce some safety problems. But at the same time, you could find yourself with staffing shortages — that's not going to serve anybody," he said.
"I think this is a very difficult question for us to answer."
Province willing to listen
The Manitoba government says it is discussing the possibility of limiting the length of time paramedics can work.
"If paramedics say this is something that they want, then I would suggest that we would listen to them and do something about those types of things," said Gerry Delorme, the province's director of emergency preparedness and response.
Ambulance services review
For years, the paramedics' union in Manitoba has been demanding a provincial review of ambulance services.
Provincial government officials recently told CBC News they are still determining the scope of that review.
Delorme said the province receives very few reports of incidents involving ambulances.
Chacun agreed, saying he wants to reassure Manitobans that "we are doing everything we can to provide them with the best care we can.
"Sometimes we are working in extreme situations, and that the medics themselves would like to see this changed," he said.
Chacun added that rural ambulance services can have trouble retaining staff because paramedic salaries are higher in Winnipeg, which can result in a heavier workload for the other workers.
Chacun said the current collective bargaining process, which is addressing that issue, will take seven years before salaries are comparable.
The Assiniboine Regional Health Authority, which includes the ambulance service where Chacun works, says it doesn't want tired employees on the road, either.
"All of our supervisors have very explicit directions that if the paramedics say they cannot complete the call, or they're too tired, obviously we want what's in the best interest of the patient and the crew and the other people on the road," said Neil Gamey, the health authority's manager of operations for emergency medical services.
"So if they feel they cannot do the call, then they shouldn't be doing the call."
- Work hours linked to nurses' drinking, by Katie Marriner firstname.lastname@example.org, New Zealand Doctor Online
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Long work hours have been linked with harmful alcohol use in Kiwi nurses, a trans-Tasman study shows.
The study, by Otago University Christchurch and Queensland University, surveyed 4419 nurses and midwives, including 867 New Zealand nurses, a media release says.
No New Zealand midwives were surveyed.
The study results show nurses and midwives working more than 40 hours a week are likely to engage in harmful daily drinking, and, the longer the hours worked the more likely they are to drink.
Nearly 14 per cent of those surveyed had more than two standard drinks a day.
The study found nurses and midwives over 60 years of age were more likely to engage in harmful daily drinking.
However, lead Otago University researcher Philip Schluter says this is not surprising as other studies have shown similar results.
Inga 3/16/2012 (over dateline)
I wonder why they did not survey the midwives in NZ, as nurses have some of the worst working conditions in the world. They are treated like garbage by everyone - including the doctors...so you wonder why they drink? NZ doctors have the worst GOD complexes anywhere. I moved to NZ from South Africa, where nurses are treated with respect; but got out of nursing when I saw the horrible working conditions, and the disgusting way that nurses are treated. It was such a turnoff that those that are accustomed to being treated as a "professional" from other countries refuse to stay in the field. This is such a shame, as good nurses are needed - but the good ones either go off to Oz [Australia (Ozzie-touralia)] or go back to school to find a better career.
3/14/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- LAUSD Finalizes Budget Plan To Avoid Cuts Of Teachers, School Programs, CBS Local via losangeles.cbslocal.com
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Los Angeles Unified School District board approved a budget-balancing plan Tuesday that would save the majority of school programs if furlough and salary agreements can be reached with labor unions and if voters support a $298 parcel tax.
“Our class sizes, our counselors, our nurses, it provides a portion of adult ed., it provides a portion of early childhood, it provides also support for our police,” said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
The plan would save for the time being adult education classes, early childhood classes and would mean no increase in class size for grades 6, 7 and 8.
Superintendent Deasy said that more could be saved if the teacher’s union agrees to a pay cut in the form of furloughs of up to four days per teacher.
“We have been taking furloughs and it’s leaving the children without someone to teach them that day,” said teacher Rachel Vasquez
“It is not fair to assume that the first solution for any problem is to go to the employees and have them make sacrifices,” said Warren Fletcher, UTLA President.
The superintendent said even more could be saved if L.A. voters approve a $298 parcel tax come November — an idea that voters have said no to before.
“Everything is a hard sell in California; no one actually wants to fund public education. And that’s why we’re going to produce a revenue stream that Sacramento cannot cut,” Deasy said.
One thing Deasy would like to cut is the number of district layoffs.
Already 11,000 layoff slips have gone out, but that number could be slashed if state funding is finalized.
Those numbers would come from the governor’s office by May.
Deasy said that the finalized plan is just a bandage over a wound and that if more money is not brought in, the 2013-14 school year could also be in jeopardy.
- Bring back the 40-hour work week - 150 years of research proves that long hours at work kill profits, productivity and employees, by Sara Robinson, Alternet via Salon.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. - If you’re lucky enough to have a job right now, you’re probably doing everything possible to hold onto it. If the boss asks you to work 50 hours, you work 55. If she asks for 60, you give up weeknights and Saturdays, and work 65.
Odds are that you’ve been doing this for months, if not years, probably at the expense of your family life, your exercise routine, your diet, your stress levels and your sanity. You’re burned out, tired, achy and utterly forgotten by your spouse, kids and dog. But you push on anyway, because everybody knows that working crazy hours is what it takes to prove that you’re “passionate” and “productive” and “a team player” — the kind of person who might just have a chance to survive the next round of layoffs.
This is what work looks like now. It’s been this way for so long that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.
It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing.
Yes, this flies in the face of everything modern management thinks it knows about work. So we need to understand more. How did we get to the 40-hour week in the first place? How did we lose it? And are there compelling bottom-line business reasons that we should bring it back?
The Making of the 40-Hour Week
The most essential thing to know about the 40-hour work-week is that, while it was the unions that pushed it, business leaders ultimately went along with it because their own data convinced them this was a solid, hard-nosed business decision.
Unions started fighting for the short week in both the UK and US in the early 19th century.
[Especially in the 1840s when factory owners in New England introduced gas lighting and tried to get long sunlit summer 12-hour workdays continued throughout the year, whose workdays had previously been shortened by shorter winter sunlit hours. See Roediger & Foner's workweek history, Our Own Time, 1988.]
By the latter part of the century, it was becoming the norm in an increasing number of industries.
[No not yet. We basically won the 10-hour day by the Civil War (1861-65) in the context of a six-day week (=60hr workweek) with an occasional 5 1/2 or even 5 day workweek (=55 or 50hr workweek), but it did not become the norm until 1940, enforced by the overtime section of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.]
And a weird thing happened: over and over — across many business sectors in many countries — business owners discovered that when they gave-in to the union and cut the hours, their businesses became significantly more productive and profitable. As Tom Walker of the Work Less Institute puts it in his Prosperity Covenant:
"That output does not rise or fall in direct proportion to the number of hours worked is a lesson that seemingly has to be relearned each generation. In 1848, the English parliament passed the ten-hours law and total output per-worker, per-day increased. In the 1890s employers experimented widely with the eight hour day and repeatedly found that total output per-worker increased. In the first decades of the 20th century, Frederick W. Taylor, the originator of 'scientific management' prescribed reduced work times and attained remarkable increases in per-worker output."
By 1914, emboldened by a dozen years of in-house research, Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay [to above-market $5/day more to forestall unionization than "so his workers could afford their own product"], and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight. The National Association of Manufacturers criticized him bitterly for this — though many of his competitors climbed on board in the next few years when they saw how Ford’s business boomed as a result. In 1937, the 40-hour week was enshrined nationwide as part of the New Deal.
[No no no, the Fair Labor Standards Act was not passed until 1938, and in its overtime section, it enacted a 44-hour nationwide workweek starting Oct.24, 1938, a 42-hour workweek starting 10/24/1939, and a "40-40-40 Plan" starting 10/24/1940 = 40 hours maximum workweek, 40c/hr minimum wage, in 1940 - our workweek and Depression history pages based respectively on Roediger's "Our Own Time" and Hunnicutt's "Work Without End," both 1988.]
By that point, there were a solid five decades of industrial research that proved, beyond a doubt, that if you wanted to keep your workers bright, healthy, productive, safe and efficient over a sustained stretch of time, you kept them to no more than 40 hours a week and eight hours a day.
Evan Robinson, a software engineer with a long interest in programmer productivity (full disclosure: our shared last name is not a coincidence) summarized this history in a white paper he wrote for the International Game Developers’ Association in 2005.
[Hereafter we summarily insert "Evan" before every mention of "Robinson" by Sara Robinson herself, by which we assume, hopefully correctly, that she always means Evan. It's insanely confusing that she didn't do this - just nuts! - but we assume she was insanely overworked at the time else she'd have done it.]
The original paper [title??] contains a wealth of links to studies conducted by businesses, universities, industry associations and the military that supported early-20th-century leaders as they embraced the short week. “Throughout the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, these studies were apparently conducted by the hundreds,” writes Evan Robinson; “and by the 1960s, the benefits of the 40-hour week were accepted almost beyond question in corporate America. In 1962, the [federal U.S.?] Chamber of Commerce even published a pamphlet extolling the productivity gains of reduced hours.”
What these studies [that Evan Robinson's original white paper contained links to] showed, over and over, was that industrial workers have eight good, reliable hours a day in them.
[Irrelevant to the mass disemployment and weakening consumer spending of the age of robotics, but certainly an important first step in any sustainable solution.]
On average, you get no more widgets out of a 10-hour day than you do out of an eight-hour day.
[Juliet Schor ("The Overworked American" 1991) points out that at almost any level of the workweek, a small decrease will yield an output increase. So pushing this ("reductio ad absurdum"), will a zero-hour workweek yield infinite output? Nope, cuz at some (or several) points, the inverse variation is reversed to a direct variation. Otherwise there'd be no sense in cutting the workweek to create jobs. And the frustrating but workweek-halving history of 1840-1940 proves that cutting the workweek does create jobs. As Mother told us, "Sharing the work lightens the load."]
Likewise, the overall output for the work week will be exactly the same at the end of six days as it would be after five days. So paying hourly workers to stick around once they’ve put in their weekly 40 is basically nothing more than a stupid and abusive way to burn up profits. Let ‘em go home, rest up and come back on Monday. It’s better for everybody.
As time went on and the unions made disability compensation and workplace safety into bigger and bigger issues, another set of concerns further buttressed the wisdom of the short week. A growing mountain of data was showing that catastrophic accidents — the kind that disable workers, damage capital equipment, shut down the lines, open the company to lawsuits, and upset shareholders — were far more likely to occur when workers were working overtime and overtired.
[Yeah, check out statistics on truckers and bus drivers.]
That sealed the deal: for most businesses, the potential human, capital, legal and financial risks of going over 40 hours a week simply weren’t worth taking. By World War II, the consensus was clear and widespread: even (or especially!) under the extreme demands of wartime, overworking employees is counterproductive and dangerous, and no competent workplace should ever attempt to push its people beyond that limit.
[But that didn't stop hundreds (thousands?) of businessmen from pressuring for exemptions from the 40-hour workweek cap throughout the War.]
The Overtime Exception
There was one exception to this rule. Research by the Business Roundtable in the 1980s found that you could get short-term gains by going to 60- or 70-hour weeks very briefly — for example, pushing extra hard for a few weeks to meet a critical production deadline. However, there were a few serious caveats attached to this which used to be well-known, but have mostly been forgotten.
One is that increasing a team’s hours in the office by 50 percent (from 40 to 60 hours) does not result in 50 percent more output (as Henry Ford could have told them). Most modern-day managers assume there will be a direct one-to-one correlation between extra hours and extra output, but they’re almost always wrong about this. In fact, the numbers may typically be something closer to 25-30 percent more work in 50 percent more time.
Here’s why. By the eighth hour of the day, people’s best work is usually already behind them (typically turned in between hours 2 and 6). In Hour 9, as fatigue sets in, they’re only going to deliver a fraction of their usual capacity. And with every extra hour beyond that, the workers’ productivity level continues to drop, until at around 10 or 12 hours they hit full exhaustion.
Another is that overtime is only effective over very short sprints. This is because (as Sidney Chapman showed in 1909) daily productivity starts falling off in the second week, and declines rapidly with every successive week as burnout sets in. Without adequate rest, recreation, nutrition and time off to just be, people get dull and stupid. They can’t focus. They spend more time answering e-mail and goofing off than they do working. They make mistakes that they’d never make if they were rested; and fixing those mistakes takes longer because they’re fried. Evan Robinson writes that he’s seen overworked software teams descend into a negative-progress mode, where they are actually losing ground week over week because they’re so mentally exhausted that they’re making more errors than they can fix.
The Business Roundtable study found that after just eight 60-hour weeks, the fall-off in productivity is so marked that the average team would have actually gotten just as much done and been better off if they’d just stuck to a 40-hour week all along. And at 70- or 80-hour weeks, the fall-off happens even faster: at 80 hours, the break-even point is reached in just three weeks.
And finally: these death marches take a longer-term productivity toll as well. Once the crisis has passed and that 60-hour-a-week team gets to go back to its regular 40, it can take several more weeks before the burnout begins to lift enough for them to resume their typical productivity level. So, for a while, you’ll get significantly less than a full 40 out of them.
Wise managers who understand this will (a) avoid requiring overtime crunches, because they’re acutely aware of the serious longer-term productivity hit that inevitably follows; (b) keep the crunches as short as possible when they are necessary; and (c) give their teams a few days off — one to two comp days per overtime week worked is about right — at the end of a hard sprint. This downtime enables them recuperate more quickly and completely. It’s much more productive to have them gone for the next week — and then back on the job, rested and ready to work — than have them at their workstations but too fried to get anything useful done for the next month.
So, to summarize: Adding more hours to the workday does not correlate one-to-one with higher productivity. Working overtime is unsustainable in anything but the very short term. And working a lot of overtime creates a level of burnout that sets in far sooner, is far more acute, and requires much more to fix than most bosses or workers think it does. The research proves that anything more than a very few weeks of this does more harm than good.
Enter the Knowledge Worker
After WWII, as the GI Bill sent more workers into white-collar jobs, employers at first assumed that the limits that applied to industrial workers probably didn’t apply to knowledge workers.
["We're better than they are, nya nya nyaaa."]
Everybody knew that eight hours a day was pretty much the limit for a guy swinging a hammer or a shovel; but those grey-flannel guys are just sitting at desks. We’re paying them more; shouldn’t we be able to ask more of them?
The short answer is: no. In fact, research shows that knowledge workers actually have fewer good hours in a day than manual laborers do — on average, about six hours, as opposed to eight. It sounds strange, but if you’re a knowledge worker, the truth of this may become clear if you think about your own typical work day. Odds are good that you probably turn out five or six good, productive hours of hard mental work; and then spend the other two or three hours on the job in meetings, answering e-mail, making phone calls and so on. You can stay longer if your boss asks; but after six hours, all he’s really got left is a butt in a chair [like!]. Your brain has already clocked out and gone home [love it!].
The other thing about knowledge workers is that they’re exquisitely sensitive to even minor sleep loss. Research by the US military has shown that losing just one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a 0.10 blood alcohol level. Worse: most people who’ve fallen into this state typically have no idea of just how impaired they are. It’s only when you look at the dramatically lower quality of their output that it shows up. Evan Robinson writes: “If they came to work that drunk, we’d fire them — we’d rightly see them as a manifest risk to our enterprise, our data, our capital equipment, us and themselves. But we don’t think twice about making an equivalent level of sleep deprivation a condition of continued employment.”
And the potential for catastrophic failure can be every bit as high for knowledge workers as it is for laborers. Evan Robinson cites the follow-up investigations on the Exxon Valdez disaster and the Challenger explosion. Both sets of investigators found that severely overworked, overtired decision-makers played significant roles in bringing about these disasters. There’s also a huge body of research on life-threatening errors made by exhausted medical residents, as well as research by the US military on the catastrophic effects of fatigue on the target discrimination abilities of artillery operators. (As Evan Robinson dryly notes: “It’s a good thing knowledge workers rarely have to worry about friendly fire.”)
“Passion,” De-Unionization, and the End of the 40-Hour Week
How did this knowledge, which was so deeply embedded in three generations of American business management that it was utterly taken for granted, come to be so lost to us now? There are probably several answers to that, but there are three factors in particular that stand out.
The first is the emergence of Silicon Valley as an economic powerhouse in the late 1970s.
[On the contrary, we'd say the first is the restoration of the Great Depression labor surplus by the entry of the babyboomers into the job markets around 1970, with resulting diminished power and respect and raises for employees and correspondingly inflated power and respect and raises for CEOs.]
Since WWII, the valley had attracted a unique breed of worker — scientists and technologists who carried with them a singular passion for research and innovation. Asperger’s Syndrome wasn’t named and identified until 1994, but by the 1950s, the defense industries in California’s Santa Clara Valley were already drawing in brilliant young men and women who fit the profile: single-minded, socially awkward, emotionally detached and blessed (or cursed) with a singular, unique, laser-like focus on some particular area of obsessive interest. For these people, work wasn’t just work; it was their life’s passion, and they devoted every waking hour to it, usually to the exclusion of non-work relationships, exercise, sleep, food and sometimes even personal care [=the human robot]. The popular stereotype of the geek was born in some real truths about the specific kinds of people who were drawn to tech in those early years.
The culture that grew up in the valley over the next few decades reflected and valorized the peculiarities of what Lockheed’s company psychologists were calling by the late ’50s “the sci-tech personality.” Companies broadened their working hours, so programmers who came in at noon and worked through till midnight could make their own schedules. Dress codes were loosened; personal eccentricities were celebrated. HP famously brought in breakfast every morning so its engineers would remember to eat. The local 24-hour supermarket carried microchips alongside the potato chips, so techies working in their garages could stop in at 2am for snacks and parts.
And then, in the early ‘80s, Tom Peters [1982 book "In Search of Excellence"] came along, and promoted the Silicon Valley work ethic to the rest of the country in the name of “excellence.” He extolled tech giants like HP and Apple for the “passion” of their workers, and told old-industry employers that they could move into the new age by seeking out and rewarding that kind of passion in their employees, too. Though Peters didn’t advocate this explicitly, it was implicitly understood that to “passionate” people, 40-hour weeks were old-fashioned and boring. In the new workplace, people would find their ultimate meaning and happiness in the sheer unrivaled joy of work. They wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
There were two problems with this. The first is that this “passion” ideal didn’t recognize that the vast majority of people have legitimate physical, emotional and psychological needs — things like sleep, exercise, relaxation and the maintenance of strong family and social support bonds — that these engineers didn’t have to nearly the same degree. The second was that most managers, lacking windows into their workers’ souls, decided to cut corners and measure passion with one easy-to-chart metric: “willingness to spend your entire life at the office.” (It was about this time, with gourmet company cafeterias and in-house fitness centers and on-site child care sprouting up in high-tech campuses all over town, that I realized if a company is working that hard to make the workplace feel like home, it’s a strong suggestion that their employees risk sanction if they ever attempt to visit their actual homes again.)
These were the early morning-in-America Reagan years. The unions — for 150 years, the guardians of the 40-hour week — were falling under a [growing labor surplus! and] conservative onslaught; and in their place, the new cult of the entrepreneur was ascendant. All the old paternalistic contracts between employers and employees were torn up [while the contracts between employers and employers got fatter and between investors fatter still]. Where companies once hoped to hire people young and nurture their careers through to a pensioned retirement — a lifelong relationship that required managers to take the long view about how to keep their workforces sustainably healthy and happy — young Gen Xers were being given a 401k and told to expect to change jobs every three to five years. Even while employers were demanding new levels of “passion” and commitment, they were also abdicating their old obligation to look after the long-term well-being of their employees [and by extension, their future consumer base].
The rapacious new corporate ethic was summarized by two phrases: “churn ‘em and burn ‘em” (a term that described Microsoft’s habit of hiring young programmers fresh out of school and working them 70 hours a week until they dropped, and then firing them and hiring more), and “working 90 hours a week and loving it!” (an actual T-shirt worn with pride by the original Macintosh team. (Productivity experts estimate that we’d have probably had the Mac a year sooner if they’d worked half as many hours per week instead.) And this mentality soon spread from the technology sector to every industry in every corner of the country.
The new ideal was to unleash “internal entrepreneurs” — Ayn-Randian übermenschen who would devote all their energies to the corporation’s success, in expectation of great reward — and who were willing to assume all the risks themselves. In this brave new world, the real go-getters were the ones who were willing to put in weekends and Saturdays, who put their families on hold, who ate at their desks and slept in their cubicles. Forty-hour weeks were for losers and slackers, who began to vanish from America’s business landscape. And with their passing, we all but forgot all the very good reasons that we used to have those limits.
Within 15 years, everything America’s managers used to know about sustaining worker productivity was forgotten. Now, 30 years and a few economic meltdowns on, the cafeterias and child-care centers and gyms are mostly gone, along with the stock options and bonuses that were once held out as the potential reward for the long hours [and solid and sustainable consumer spending to undergird the economy]. All that remains of those heady, optimistic days is the mandatory 60-hour work-week. And, unless you’re an hourly worker — still entitled to time and a half by law — the only inducement employers currently offer in exchange for submitting yourself to this abuse is that you get to keep your job.
[Compare the subtitle of Ben Hunnicutt's 1988 book, Work Without End - Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work. Already spoiled-dumb CEOs were forgetting that job growth was a system requirement for economic growth, because profits required markets and markets required consumers and consumers required money and money required jobs. They slid into the suicidally stupid idea that you could get Growth (=UPsizing) by downsizing.]
Can We Bring It Back?
Bringing back the 40-hour work-week is going to require a wholesale change of attitude on the part of both employees and employers.
For employees, the fundamental realization is that an employer who asks for more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week is stealing something vital and precious from you. Every extra hour at work is going to cost you, big time, in some other critical area of your life. How will you make up the lost time? Will you ditch dinner and grab some fast food? Skip the workout? Miss the kids’ game this week? Sleep less? (Sex? What’s that?) And how many consecutive days can you keep making that trade-off before you are weakened in some permanent and substantial way? (Probably not as many as you think.) Changing this situation starts with the knowledge that an hour of overtime is a very real, material taking from our long-term well-being — and salaried workers aren’t even compensated for it.
[Never mind the clobbering effect on employment and consumer spending and marketable productivity and sustainable investment and...economic growth.]
There are now whole industries and entire branches of medicine devoted to handling workplace stress, but the bottom line is that people who have enough time to eat, sleep, play a little, exercise and maintain their relationships don’t have much need of their help. The original short-work movement in 19th-century Britain demanded “eight for work, eight for sleep and eight for what we will.” It’s still a formula that works.
For employers, the shift will be much harder, because it will require a wholesale change in some of the most basic assumptions of our business culture. Two generations of managers have now come of age believing that a “good manager” is one who can keep those butts in those chairs for as many hours as possible. This assumption is implicit in how important words like “productivity” and “motivation” are defined in today’s workplaces. A manager who can get the same amount of work out of people in fewer hours isn’t rewarded for her manifest skill at bringing out the best in people. Rather, she’s assumed to be underworking her team, who could clearly do even more if she’d simply demand more hours from them. If the crew is working 40 hours a week, she’ll be told to up it to 50. If they’re already at 50, management will want to get them in on nights and weekends, and turn it into 60. And if she balks — knowing that actual productivity will suffer if she complies — she won’t get promoted.
Of course, hiring new people is out of the question — again, especially when the workers are salaried. Squeezing extra time out of an employee when you’re not going to have to pay extra for it is seen as a total freebie by managers who cling to the delusion that they’re getting 50 percent more work in 50 percent more time. This belief also drives the fallacy that you can fire one "40"-hour/week person and divide their job between two other people who will each work an extra 20 hours per week for free — and that there is no possible downside to the company for doing this.
And of, course, that’s wrong.
And it hurts the country, too. For every four Americans working a 50-hour week, every week, there’s one American who should have a full-time job, but doesn’t. Our rampant unemployment problem would vanish overnight if we simply worked the way we’re supposed to by law.
We will not turn this situation around until we do what our 19th-century ancestors did: confront our bosses, present them with the data, and make them understand that what they are doing amounts to employee abuse — and that abuse is based on assumptions that are directly costing them untold potential profits. We may have to appeal to the shareholders, whose investments are at serious risk when employees are overworked. (At least one shareholder suit has already been filed against a computer game company that was notorious for working its people 80 hours a week for years on end. It was settled out of court on terms favorable to the plaintiffs.) We may have to get harder-nosed in negotiating with our bosses when we first take the jobs, and get our hours in writing up front — and then demanding that they stick with the contract down the line. And we also need to lean on our legislators to start enforcing the labor laws on the books.
But the bottom line is: For the good of our bodies, our families, our communities, the profitability of American companies, and the future of the country, this insanity has to stop. Working long days and weeks has been incontrovertibly proven to be the stupidest, most expensive way there is to get work done. Our bosses are depleting resources from of the human capital pool without replenishing them. They are taking time, energy and resources that rightfully belong to us, and are part of our national common wealth.
If we’re going to talk about creating a more sustainable world, let’s start by talking about how to live low-stress, balanced work lives that leave us refreshed, strong and able to carry on as economic contributors for a full four or five decades, instead of burned out and broken by a too-early middle age. A full, productive 40-year career starts with full, productive 40-hour weeks. And nobody should be able to take that away from us, not even for the sake of a paycheck.
[This is the thrust of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Timesizing program - to enforce the rhetorical 40-hour maximum with a more effective design for converting overtime into (OJTwhereneeded&) jobs.]
Sara Robinson is a trained social futurist and the editor of AlterNet's Vision page.
[But Sara has not done full disclosure until she discloses her specific relationship to Evan Robinson - and it would certainly cut the confusion if she included his first name every time she refers to him - we have inserted it above, hopefully accurately.]
3/13/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Technical Tuesday - Your 5-Hour Workweek, by Chris Rowe, Tycoon Report via tycoonreport.tycoonresearch.com
[Here's another Tim Ferriss with another version of The Four-Hour Workweek.]
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Today I'll let you in on a millionaire's secret -- and I'm 100% sure that most millionaires who read this will completely agree with this one.
As you may know, I'm retiring comfortably at age 34.
Frankly, it's later in life than I anticipated, considering I started managing money on Wall Street at age 18. I've known several people who needed to work fewer than 10 years to retire comfortably, but they love what they do so much that they just continue on in their careers.
Astonishingly, there are just a few concepts or "rules" to live by that I think can easily propel anybody into this kind of opportunity.
Throughout my lifetime I've been surrounded by two very different types of people, both of whom are successful and live a "working lifestyle".
The first type of person works 12+ hour days.
Not the 12 hour workdays that have 2 hour lunches, 1 hour snacks, 2 hours of chatting and 7 hours of real work. I'm talking about the person literally doing focused work for 12 hours or more, every day.
He gladly eats lunch at his desk while he works. He is up an the crack of dawn beating the traffic to work as the sun comes up. He's racing the clock, hoping the sun will never set. And, frustratingly enough, it eventually does. But he continues.
Sound like a miserable life? Hardly!
[Hardly? Only because it doesn't sound like a life at all. But each to his taste, as long as he is reinvesting in jobs after a certain unemployment-determined line on the workweek.]
The two coolest things about this type of person are:
1. He is VERY well paid.
[Then there are the 100s of millions of Chinese who word 12-hour days for peanuts. Generally, pay does not vary by hours or productivity but by supply and demand, just like the price of everything else.]
2. He is rarely actually "working" because he LOVES what he does. When you think about it, an NBA basketball player is CONSTANTLY "working", and working hardest during actual game time. But one can argue he is living a dream life.
[Then let him prove it by switching from employment consumption to employment production - for others - at a certain unemployment-determined level in the workweek.]
He is rewarded in so many ways other than financially.
["No overtime alone" would give him another source of reward - and enable him to flatten the secular rise in his investments instead of just increasingly volatile sine waves.]
This described my lifestyle, until recently, when I retired.
[He's lucky he survived unless he was truly like the little toymaker who "never worked a day in his life."]
Because of my personal situation, I've always been someone forced to work at least twice as hard for the same result. So to avoid insanity, I never did something I didn't love doing. [= Not the little toymaker.] But that "overdrive" style of work ethic brought me the results, financially, that a person gets from doing those 10 painful extra sit ups.
[Another moneygrubbing masochist.]
But now I'm moving more toward being the second type of person...
The second type of person does 15% of the work, with the same results.
I'll always work more than most people. So to me, 15% of the work means about 10 hours of work per week.
[This is not "working more than most people" - who still have jobs.]
In retirement, as over half our readership can attest, you still must work.
[Truer and truer as CEOs cannibalize pension funds for thousands (and associated consumer spending) into mere chest-thumping pecking order for a few dozen.]
Most people work 9 - 5, including a lunch hour. And this is how you, during your retirement, are able to work 5 hour work weeks and stay above water.
This comes down to the famous 80/20 rule, where 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of the work you do. You may not know this, but people with a net worth over $5 million actually have "80/20" tattooed on their chests. It's a secret society that I hope everyone reading this becomes a part of. You can choose your own color.
80% of the time most people spend is just fluff. In fact, what's typically done in the 80% infects the productive 20%.
Here's the secret to a 5-hour workweek: Technical Analysis.
You can spend hours and hours each day pondering how China's PMI might affect the market... or the impact of the Republican primaries... or the tensions in the middle east... or the alignment of Saturn and Pluto.
You can watch the financial television programs, talk to your friends, read the newspaper, listen to quarterly earnings conference calls and read analyst reports.
If you are doing any of these things in order to form an opinion, then you should have a job where you are paid to give that opinion.
But if you're not a talking head, an editor, a political comedian...
If you don't push buttons that make animal sounds and throw chairs around taking phone calls from viewers...
If you aren't a money manager that has to give client presentations or a corporate executive talking to shareholders...
Then you are almost certainly wasting your valuable time!
So, what might be a more profitable use of your time?
Consider that the S&P 500 just broke out to a very important level. It's above the May 2011 highs again, trading at 1,383. It should be bought.
See how long that took?
If it moves to 1,330 it should probably be sold until further notice. But, of course, I will have to click my keyboard a few times to look a a few other charts just to confirm that assumption.
That would be a 3.8% loss. Not a big deal. Just part of the business.
Tech stocks have been ripping higher. XLK is the ETF that tracks the tech sector portion of the S&P 500.
If you take just a few minutes and have just a bit of technical analysis knowledge, you can see that NUMEROUS stocks out there have formed classic bullish shakeout patterns over the last couple of weeks, as we discussed yesterday in my Technical Analysis Millionaire Mastery Program. That means the pump is primed for a lot more upside after weak traders have been shaken out of the market.
We went over about 6-7 trading ideas yesterday. And that mastery program is 3 hours per week!
This isn't an advertisement for the program. This is just my plea to you -- to just focus on pricing and eliminate all the noise that is nothing more than a distraction from the productive 20% of your time. Take 20% of the time you probably spend thinking about how to make money or protect the money you have, and apply that time to studying pricing, and risk management to protect inevitable losses from becoming unreasonable.
The first type of person I described "works hard". The second type of person "works smart". And then there is the rare third type of person who is a combination of the two -- the true Jedi. She focuses on that productive 20%, but multiplies that quality of productive work by 5.
You don't have to be the first type -- the laser focused nutcase who works twice as hard. That's who I chose to be, and I don't regret one second of it. But it's not for everyone.
You can be the second type who spends 15% - 20% of the time getting the same results.
I can't honestly say I'm the ultimate combination Jedi, but I do lean toward the combination. To be the combination Jedi is difficult, and frankly I was only able to lean toward that combination because I was forced to, due to my being a paraplegic. If that hadn't happened at age 15, I probably wouldn't have been as motivated to seek out the true answer to financial prosperity.
Finding something I love doing as much as what I have now and have had throughout my career might have instead been sheer luck.
The bottom line is you could probably eliminate 85% of what you focus on each week and still make the same amount of money or more.
I hope you study the number one forecaster of price, which is price itself. And spend the time you would have spent listening to "the noise", listening to more pleasant noises like the ones I am listening to right now -- a 3-year old and 5-year old playing in the pool behind our house.
Have a great week. I hope you'll listen to Teeka Tiwari and myself tomorrow morning on Morning GPS.
- Poverty and Newt - Gingrich’s rhetoric was clumsy, but he was right about work and the poor, by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal via city-journal.org
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has ensured that charges of Dickensian harshness will once more rain down on conservatives. In a November speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Gingrich proposed that poor kids labor as janitors in their schools; later, he expanded on the idea, noting that “really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works.” His words provoked predictable liberal outrage, culminating in Charles Blow’s emotional New York Times column “Newt’s War on Poor Children.” Unfortunately, if Gingrich had been more careful, he could have made an important point: poverty in America today, unlike poverty in Dickens’s time, is closely associated with unemployment and underemployment.
Blow chides Gingrich for ignoring the facts about poor working parents. What are those facts? “Three out of four poor working-aged adults—ages 18 to 64—work,” Blow observes. “Half of them have full-time jobs and a quarter work part time.” Blow also cited an analysis of census data by Andrew Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, who found that most poor children live in a household with at least one employed parent. “Even among children who live in extreme poverty—defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level—a third have at least one working parent,” Blow continues. “And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas—those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor—nearly a third live with at least one working parent.”
A less sunny way of putting Blow’s initial point, however, is that fully half of poor working-age adults work less than 35 hours a week, the Labor Department’s current definition of “full-time,” and that a quarter don’t work at all.
[So working hours are going down anyway, but not the best way.]
It’s hardly cheering news, moreover, that only a third of children in extreme poverty live with a working parent—especially because (though Blow doesn’t say it) precious few of those parents work full-time. Further, by using the phrase “working parent,” the columnist obscures a key fact: poor kids almost always live with a single mother. As he surely knows, the poverty rate for children living with single mothers is 30 percent, compared with 6 percent for those living with married parents. The fair-minded would probably look at the facts put this way and support neither Gingrich’s overly broad statement nor Blow’s indignation about it: a lot of poor people clearly aren’t employed full-time, or at all.
The problem of the unemployed and underemployed poor predates the Great Recession and persists through good times and bad. During the late nineties, the best labor market in 30 years—the unemployment rate was 4 percent—poor black men continued a long trend of leaving the workforce. In a 2003 paper, Isabel Sawhill and Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution calculated that the yearly working hours of the poor were half those of the nonpoor; full-time work, they argued, would probably do more to reduce poverty than any other antipoverty measure—including increasing educational attainment and doubling cash welfare. Yet in 2005, 38 percent of poor men between 25 and 35 weren’t working at all; those working full-time peaked that year at 29 percent.
The general rule that work reduces poverty has held during the Great Recession. Census Bureau data show that poverty jumped from 13.5 to 14.5 percent among people working fewer than 35 hours a week between 2008 and 2009. Among those who didn’t work, poverty rose even more, from 18.9 percent to 22 percent. But full-time workers saw no increase in poverty. And just 2.7 percent of men and women working full-time live in poverty.
In fact, as economists Peter Kuhn and Fernando Lozano, among others, have shown, since the 1970s, the hours worked by the richest quintile of the population have increased substantially—particularly among those working 50 hours or more—while the hours worked by the poorest quintile have declined. None of this is to say that low wages among those at the bottom aren’t a problem or that there aren’t powerful reasons—mental illness, physical disabilities, poor skills, prison records—that people who want work can’t find it. But evoking the Dickensian trope of the near-starving, exhausted worker is a fantasy that will do little to alleviate poverty.
Kay S. Hymowitz is a contributing editor of City Journal and the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
3/11-12/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- SXSW [annual interactive festival]: Work at home, play at office? by Dale Neal, 3/11 Asheville Citizen-Times (blog) via http://blogs2.citizen-times.com
AUSTIN, Tex. - Business attire is laid back at SXSW, with hipster’s skinny jeans and plaid shirts replacing the new pinstripe suit, but make no mistake: these are hard working people.
Timothy Ferriss became a business guru at SXSW with his best-selling book “The 4-hour Workweek.” Ferriss punctures our out-dated assumptions about work: that the office is a place you show up for 40 hours a week and work until you retire.
Ferriss also argues that new technology such as email and instant messaging is sucking our time and energy. Working smarter and delegating more efficiently can lead to more leisure and time.
Easier said than done.
The room in the Hilton is packed today for a panel “The Four-Hour Workweek is B.S.”
[And it is B.S. in an ever-deepening labor surplus with job insecurity for the employed and job desperation for the "un-".]
“You wouldn’t be here at SXSW if you weren’t passionate,” said Doug Marinaro, COO of LiquidSpace. “The problem isn’t a 4-hour workweek, but trying not to work a 176-work week.”
The panel is tackling an interesting trend: a growing mobile workforce using computers at home or in the field rather than plugging away for 40 plus hours in a cubicle of a corporate office. They point to the statistics: 40 million Americans are independent workers and 20 million are working from home, up 75 percent since 2005. And 8 in 10 Americans say they would work from home if they could.
Our phones have gotten smarter, but have we? Constantly on call, tied to the world by our iPhones, how do we set boundaries between work and the promise of play? How do managers work with a staff they rarely see face-to-face, when they can’t call a worker onto the carpet?
“This is a big transition, we’re going to make mistakes. We have to have compassion for people,” said Keith Perske of EBusiness Strategies.
Coworking comes up as a possibility, much like the Mojo Co-Working space Craig McAnsh has set up in Asheville, leasing out space to entreprenuers as they need it.
No one has the all the answers in a rapidly changing and more deeply networked world. But as Baratunde Thurston suggested in his keynote speech: the only thing you can bet on is more change. Can we shape a more flexible future for the office?
- Hollande's sins more those of omission, Reuters UK via blogs.reuters.com
PARIS, France - Francois Hollande’s sins are more those of omission than commission. The headlines might suggest otherwise. The socialist challenger to Nicolas Sarkozy as France’s next president has promised to cut the pension age to 60, tax the rich at 75 percent, renegotiate Europe’s fiscal treaty and launch a war on bankers. But these pledges aren’t as bad as they look. The real problem is that Hollande, who has a strong lead in the opinion polls, isn’t addressing the need to reform the country’s welfare state.
Hollande is a moderate. Like Sarkozy, for example, he is promising to cut the budget deficit to 3 percent next year, from 5.8 percent as estimated by the European Commission in 2011. But he still had to throw the left some red meat in the election campaign, which runs until May. That’s not just to prevent votes drifting to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left candidate. It’s also to avoid being outflanked by Sarkozy’s own populist attacks on corporate fat cats and bankers.
Still, the precise pledges probably aren’t what they seem, as I discovered on a trip to Paris last month.
Look at pensions. Hollande has said he’ll cut the pension age from 62 to 60 – at a time when Germany and other countries are raising theirs to 65 or more. But the fine print is more nuanced. This lower retirement age will only apply to people who have worked 41.5 years – in other words, since the age of 18. Given that increasingly people start working later, less than 5 percent of the workforce is affected, according to UBS.
Or take the 75 percent tax rate on income above 1 million euros. If Hollande as president really instituted such a rate, he would drive most of France’s remaining big earners off shore. But within hours of advocating the measure, an advisor was saying off the record that it might last only a few years. By the time it comes to implementation, enough exceptions and loopholes could also have been introduced to reduce the measure’s real bite.
Much the same goes for Hollande’s promise to renegotiate the euro zone’s new fiscal compact treaty. He is, in many ways, right to criticise this mutual austerity pact, the brainchild of Germany’s Angela Merkel. The snag is that he has no chance of changing the chancellor’s mind. While Hollande could theoretically refuse to ratify the treaty, that would create a mega-crisis. As a strong pro-European, the socialist is unlikely to want that – especially since France has its own huge borrowing needs.
More likely, Hollande would seek to “complete” rather than “renegotiate” the pact by adding some wording about the importance of growth. There is a precedent. The stability pact in the original Maastricht Treaty was rechristened the Stability and Growth pact in 1997 after France’s incoming socialist prime minister, Lionel Jospin, kicked up a fuss.
Finally, consider Hollande’s war against bankers. His headline-grabbing promise – to separate “socially useful” finance from “speculative” activities – isn’t scaring French financiers. Partly this is because there is a global trend. The United States has the so-called Volcker Rule, which bans banks from proprietary trading. Britain has the even more extreme Vickers plan, which will force banks to put their retail operations into ring-fenced subsidiaries to protect them from infection by investment banking business.
The other reason French bankers aren’t too fussed is because the Hollande camp has been indicating that it prefers Volcker to Vickers. One only has to look at how long it is taking America to implement the Volcker rule to see how a French version could be diluted by the time it is implemented.
There is a risk that, caught in his campaign anti-capitalist rhetoric, Hollande might have no other choice than actually trying to implement some of these proposals to the letter. The more he insists that he wants “substantial” changes to the euro treaty, for example, the more difficult it will be for him to climb down once he is president.
Still, the problem is not so much what the presidential candidate is saying but what he isn’t saying. France has a generous welfare system that it has only been able to finance by racking up debts and imposing high taxes. Spending stood at 56.6 percent of GDP in 2011, 11 per cent more than in Germany, while taxes amounted to 50.8 percent of GDP, 6 percent more than its neighbour across the Rhine. The bloated state machine, where unions still rule, is resisting reform. Meanwhile, various rules and privileges prevent the labour market functioning efficiently or add to labour costs, notably the 35 hour week or the over-regulation of services.
[Anything that "adds to labour costs" adds to domestic consumer spending and marketable productivity and sustainable investment - as long as it gets to sustainable investment via the 99% and doesn't go directly to The Onepercent via executive pay and perks. The Onepercenters are already spending all they care to and now have well beyond the percentage of the money supply that can even be invested sustainably, because they just haven't left a big enough percentage in the consumer base via the employment basement. That means a growing chunk of the money supply is being used, not for spending power or investing power, but merely for pecking-order power. As such, it is undermining itself, because it just ain't circulating quickly or fully enough. The 1% take ever longer to find attractive investments and as a result, the 99% take ever longer to find attractive (or ANY) jobs, and the population splits into underpaid overworkers and on-the-edge dependents, such as unemployed, welfare, disabled, incarcerated, homeless and, oh yes, "self-employed" with no clients. If we keep concentrating the money supply in the top 1%, or is it 0.1% - or is it, as Krugman claims, 0.01%? - we're spiraling down to the sordid savagery of the third world, where there's loads of money = all in the hands of tiny groups at the "top." How centrifuge the black hole of wealth among the wealthiest by market forces, gradually and flexibly? How about decontrolling our current frozen workweek and switching to market-determined workweek fluctuation via an unemployment-countering definition of job-convertible overtime?]
These high taxes and rigidities help explain why French annual growth averaged 0.6 percent less than Germany’s in the five years to 2011.
Other euro zone countries, such as Italy and Spain, are being forced by the crisis to reform. But France is not. Ten-year bond yields, at 2.9 percent, are admittedly 1.1 percentage points more than Germany’s, but that’s still a lot less than Italy’s and Spain’s levels of 4.8 percent and 5 percent respectively. To be fair, Sarkozy is now talking about supply-side measures such as cutting social security payroll taxes. But he wasted the opportunity to reform during the last five years and is unlikely to be given another chance. Hollande, meanwhile, isn’t even talking about such matters – and is keeping characteristically mum about how he will cut public spending.
This suggests two main scenarios for a Hollande presidency. One is that financial markets calm down, there is no reform and France wastes another five years. The other is that a new phase of the euro crisis erupts, forcing Hollande to embrace reform at last. But given his failure to prepare the French people for change, and their predilection for taking to the streets to protest at reductions in their privileges, this could be a rocky ride.
- Swiss turn down more holiday - but say yes to sex boxes, by Matthew Champion, metro.co.uk/news/world
ZÜRICH, Switzerland - Voters in Switzerland have proved they have fully embraced the new age of European austerity by rejecting proposals to increase minimum annual holidays by 50 per cent.
But while the Swiss turned down the chance for six weeks paid holiday per year, they did approve plans to create so-called 'sex-boxes' in Zurich to encourage prostitutes to ply their trade away from suburban areas.
The votes were among five referendums held among Switzerland's 26 cantons, or states, over the weekend as part of the country's direct democracy system.
[Switzerland is the most advanced democracy in the world, and what they can do with 9 million people they can do with 35 million in Canada or 300 million in the USA.]
Business leaders hailed the prudence of the Swiss people after they rejected a union's call for the minimum amount of paid annual leave to be raised from four to six weeks.
[They call their current minimum FOUR weeks' vacation legislation AUSTERE? Not by retarded North American standards! Europe moves ahead while N.America slips backward with the likes of Da Mitten (Romney), In-Saintorum, da Bam, the Gingrinch and the Harper.]
Officials said the proposals were rejected by two-thirds of voters in all 26 cantons.
Hans-Ulrich Bigler, director of the Swiss Union of Arts and Crafts, which represents 300,000 businesses, said the holiday proposals could have cost the Swiss economy six billion francs (£4.2 billion).
'In rejecting the initiative, citizens have kept a sense of reality,' Mr Bigler said.
Under the sex-boxes scheme approved by voters in Zurich, prostitutes will be encouraged out of residential areas into buildings with specially demarcated parking spaces. Prostitution is legal and regulated in Switzerland.
Sex boxes, sex box, Zurich The drive-in sex boxes are being installed at a disused industrial site in Zurich (Picture: CEN)
In the other referendums being held, citizens approved a limit on second homes in resort towns and voted in favour of new laws forcing a portion of lottery revenues to be spent on good causes.
And in Geneva, home to the UN headquarters in Europe and the site of frequent human rights demonstrations, new regulations were passed making it more difficult to protest, despite the UN itself saying the measure would 'unduly restrict' free speech.
3/10/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Budget Crunch May Force Winter Haven Library to Shorten Hours, by Ryan E. Little, (3/09 late pickup) TheLedger.com
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - The Winter Haven Public Library may have to shorten its hours and make staffing changes soon, city officials said.
The city, like others in the county, is getting substantially fewer county dollars to support the library than expected for the current fiscal year. But some cities, including Lakeland, were able to more closely approximate the amount. Winter Haven city officials had budgeted revenues of $420,000 from the Polk County Library Cooperative for the current year, but must now contend with a $62,104 deficit.
“We are having to re-evaluate how we provide services,” said Winter Haven City Librarian Jennifer Kovac. “We are exploring the reduction of service hours at this point, which would end up reducing manpower hours.
“Now what that will result with at the end of the day, it is too early to tell.”
Lakeland, on the other hand, projected revenues of $810,000 and is receiving $810,260.70.
The Polk County Library Cooperative funds are generated by a special property tax paid by unincorporated Polk County residents. Winter Haven’s deficit is the result of a budgeting process that starts in July and determines the amount of funds the cooperative gives to each library in the county.
The revenue figures for each city are determined by a Polk County Library Cooperative formula based on each library’s budget and their percentage of county-wide circulation.
Cities often begin their budgeting process in March or April for the fiscal year that starts in October. But final figures weren’t given out for the current fiscal year until Feb. 16 because the Polk County Library Cooperative must compile new information on circulation and city budgets each year.
Lakeland spokesman Kevin Cook said Lakeland accurately projected its revenue by using last year’s equation to guess its share of the $2 million pot this year.
“The Polk County Library Cooperative keeps the city’s representatives on the board up to date at budget time as to the projections for revenues ... and what portion of that the cities will share,” Cook said. “Each city can use their existing statistics to determine what award they might receive from the formula for the upcoming fiscal year.”
While the circulation and budget information for each city changes every year, its change is very miniscule. In fact, Winter Haven’s share of the total money available to libraries has been very similar for the last three years. It received 17.22 percent of $3 million in 2010, 17.3 percent of $2.65 million in 2011 and 17.89 percent of $2 million in 2012.
Specific questions posed to Winter Haven officials about how they estimated the revenue were not answered Friday afternoon. Instead, Community Services Director T. Michael Stavres released an email statement through Winter Haven spokeswoman Joy Townsend.
“If Lakeland was able to forecast a $264,000 drop in funding – outstanding. In Winter Haven’s case, we anticipated a $34,000 decrease in funding. The actual decrease was about $98,000,” Stavres said by email. “We’re already in the budget process for next year. We will again forecast a decrease in Library Cooperative funding, but to what amount, we don’t know what that’s going to be.
When we make that decision, it’s based on the best information we have at the time.”
Lake Wales, Auburndale and Haines City are among other municipalities who overestimated how much money they would receive from the cooperative.
The Winter Haven Library Board will meet Tuesday to decide how best to address the shortfall, Kovac said. Their recommendation will then be considered by the City Commission on March 26.
- HR Daily Advisor Week in Review 3/05-09/2012 — Layoff, Furlough, Pay Cut: Which Is Best?, by Steve Bruce, (3/09 late pickup) compensation.blr.com
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Is your organization struggling to contain costs? When labor costs are a major factor, companies have to choose between freezes, layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts. Here's an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of these options:
The economy may be coming back, but many organizations are still struggling to contain costs. When labor costs are a major factor (when aren’t they?), companies have to choose between freezes, layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts.
When you’ve trimmed all the fat you can trim from operations and marketing and the budget still isn’t balanced, companies have to turn to labor costs. But what’s the best option? There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Instituting a hiring freeze is an almost knee-jerk reaction in many organizations. But there are some problems:
The freeze is unpredictable. It depends on employees choosing to resign or retire. As a commentator on www.city-data.com points out, with a bad economy, fewer want to quit, so the hiring freeze becomes less effective.
No one can institute a true freeze. No matter how fervent the company is, some positions will have to be replaced because the company can’t run without them.
You can’t control who leaves. If it’s mostly key people that leave (and they are the most likely to find other opportunities), that’s a double whammy—you’re losing good people and you have to violate the freeze to replace them. With a layoff, you can retain those key workers.
A furlough is generally defined as a temporary, forced unpaid leave. This might be a week, or it might be Fridays for a period of time. Furloughs don’t produce the amounts of savings as layoffs do. You’re typically not reducing benefits costs, and you can’t reduce hours below the number required to qualify for benefits.
Furloughs do produce predictable savings, however. And you are less likely to lose top people.
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A layoff is a more permanent reduction in force. In most circumstances, legally, there’s no difference between a layoff and a termination, although there may contract obligations that define layoff return rights.
Laying off is also more cost effective than furloughs or wage reductions. If you reduce wages by 3%, your labor costs are reduced somewhat less than that because the company is still paying benefits. As www.city-data.com notes, when you lay off 3% of the labor force, the company will save not only on wages and benefits, but additional dollars by disconnecting surplus phone lines, office equipment, software licenses, etc.
What Do Employees Prefer?
According to a Library Worklife poll, when asked whether they would accept a pay cut to avoid a layoff, about 90 percent of respondents said yes.
However, most changed their answer as the percentage of the pay cut rose. Most would accept a 5 or 10 percent pay cut, but considerably fewer were ready to take a 15 or 20 percent cut.
When asked about their reasons, many respondents stressed the importance of loyalty to one’s institution and co-workers. One respondent stated “that to keep any business going the employees should be willing to do anything to help. If that means taking a pay cut, then that is what it takes.”
Another respondent agreed, but with the caveat that the workers should be able to examine the company budget so they could assure themselves that the cuts were truly necessary.
Other respondents wanted the company to guarantee that if they took pay cuts, so would top management, and that no one would receive a bonus. Another wanted company cars returned and travel curbed.
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Another finding of the survey was that some employees said they would accept the pay cut, but would immediately start looking for a new job.
Respondents to a similar survey by MSNBC.com were less likely to accept a pay cut, says Library Worklife. Only half of those surveyed by MSNBC (46.4 percent) would definitely accept a salary decrease, compared to 90.3 percent of respondents to the Library Worklife survey, and nearly a quarter of MSNBC’s respondents (23.8 percent) would rather give up their jobs than accept a pay cut.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, legal entanglements around layoffs, plus an introduction to BLR’s unique 10-minutes-at-a-time training system.
3/09/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Parents, drivers seek restoration of busing, by Michelle L. Klampe firstname.lastname@example.org, Press-Enterprise via pe.com
LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. - Dozens of parents, students and school bus drivers pleaded Thursday with the Lake Elsinore Unified School Board to reconsider its decision to end most school busing for the 2012-13 school year.
Eliminating busing is unsafe for the students who must now walk or bike long distances to school, several speakers told the School Board. The distance for some students could be six miles or more each way, they said.
“You’re placing a dollar amount on the safety of our children,” bus driver and parent Carrie Trimble told the school board.
The issue was not on the board’s agenda and no action was taken at the meeting. The panel heard two dozen speakers; an overflow crowd was on hand to show their support.
The board voted last month to end most school busing to save money. Next year, Lake Elsinore will only provide busing for special-education students whose busing is required under federal law.
Parent Carrie Payne urged the board to rethink its decision.
“Maybe we can walk together from Canyon Lake to Tuscany Hills (Elementary School),” Payne said. “Let’s see how long it takes.”
The district is facing a $15 million budget shortfall in 2012-13. District officials have said they would revisit the cuts if additional state funding becomes available.
Lake Elsinore Unified currently buses about 4,300 students, including about 400 special-education students. The 144-square mile district includes Lake Elsinore, Wildomar and Canyon Lake. It stretches west to the Candy Store on Highway 74 in the Ortega Mountains and north to the Horsethief Canyon area between Lake Elsinore and Corona.
The district spends nearly $6 million on busing each year, but receives only $2 million in state funding to pay for it. The district pays about $3.3 million out of its general fund — the fund used for day-to-day school operations, including teacher salaries — and the balance, about $500,000, comes from fees paid by families.
Under the proposed state budget, the district’s $2 million in transportation funding will be eliminated for 2012-13, said George Landon, assistant superintendent of fiscal support services.
Cutting all but the special education busing will save the district $1.2 million in general fund money, Landon said.
The district also has reached a cost-cutting agreement with its teachers’ union to have three unpaid furlough days this year and nine unpaid days next year, Landon said. Administrators also will take the furloughs. Negotiations are still under way with the district’s classified, or nonteaching union, he said.
- There Are No Weekends in China - How Asia's Biggest Dragon Is Driving Growth, MBA50.com via Forbes.com
SHANGHAI, China - China is the driving force of Asia, and you can't get 9% GDP growth every year by working a 35 hour week.
[Sure you can, but you can't even with an 80-hour week if you don't have machines, automation and robotics. People still don't understand that we have entire factory networks with ZERO-hour weeks because there are NO HUMANS THERE. It's called "lights out" manufacturing cuz they don't even need the lights on. But as Reuther retorted to Ford's provocative "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars." Lesson: Keep fewer and fewer people working longer and longer hours as you robotize and you'll defund and deactivate more and more of your domestic consumers - and kill your GDP growth.]
That is the view of John Quelch, Dean of the CEIBS business school in Shanghai.
[Another time-blind, tech-blind, blind man leading the blind.]
He sees a generation that feels privileged to be part of a moment in history, and as a consequence is highly committed to the opportunity to succeed both for themselves, their parents, grandparents and their country. This results in a level of enthusiasm for education and entrepreneurship that you would be hard pressed to find in the West at this time.
But China faces a difficult transition as it moves from being the factory to the world to being an innovation led economy. In this video interview, John explains what business schools like CEIBS are doing to develop the ideas and management skills that will make that change possible, in a country that now sees entrepreneurial spirit as a force for good.
He also takes a hard look at “guanxi”, the fabled networks of influence that is a central idea in Chinese society, and questions whether the perceived competitive advantage of such a network is as much as break on productivity as it is a driving force.
In the second part of our interview with John Quelch, he discusses the challenges that China faces to develop their leadership and management skills, and how CEIBS is providing providing students with skills in leadership, change management and human relations management – the supposed ‘soft skills’ that are often the hardest to learn how to do well.
He also talks about Corporate Social Responsibility in China, and a student-led initiative that has meant that CEIBS is the first certified carbon-neutral campus of any business school in the world.
And finally, if you ever wondered what John would have done had he not become an academic...
[Can't say we have - nevah hoid of 'im before & don't mind if we nevah hear of'im again...]
3/08/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- City inside workers closer to work stoppage - Management also at impasse with library workers, CBC.ca
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - The City of Toronto and its 23,000 inside workers will be in a legal lockout or strike position as of March 24, after the province accepted the city's request for a 'no-board' report from the province's Ministry of Labour.
The move is the last legal step before a possible work stoppage.
Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, said Thursday the union wants a deal, not a work stoppage.
"We're not looking for a conflict," Maguire said. "We're looking to get a negotiated settlement."
CUPE Local 79, the city's largest union, says its concerns include flexibility for its workers, particularly part-time employees.
"For full time members there is a proposal to cut hours by five hours a week, which means a cut in income of nearly seven per cent," Maguire said.
He added that the city has also proposed cutting the overlap time between caregiver shifts.
“It’s important for us, it’s important for the public, to have that kind of interface between caregivers in caring for our grandparents and our parents,” Maguire said.
Services provided by the union include long-term care, daycare, lifeguards, building inspection and clerical work.
The city is also at an impasse with the Toronto Public Library's union. Both sides in that contract dispute will be in a legal lockout or strike position by 12:01 a.m. March 24.
- International Women Day - Not Yet Uhuru for Nigerian Women, By Ruth Choji, AllAfrica.com
ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigerian women will today join their counterparts all over the world to celebrate International Women's Day (IWD). While it has been observed since the 1900s, IWD was originally called International Working Women's Day, before it was changed to IWD in 1975 by the United Nations.
Historically, women's oppression and inequality started the debate that lead to a 15,000 women matched [ie: marched] through New York City in 1908, demanding for shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. But over the years, the focus has shifted to celebration of love, economic empowerment, political and social achievement.
While the event has produced female presidents in countries like Liberia, Philippines, Germany and the rest; in Nigeria, the reverse is the case.
Seventy percent of the women folk have never heard of IWD, neither do they know if a day like this exists, nor if a day has been set aside for them. Leadership spoke with some women in different strata who express their different opinions but proffered solutions to the plight of Nigerian women.
Esther Isuwa, a trader simply said, "I am hearing about women day for the first time. Nobody has ever told me about it. Besides, of what benefit is it to me and my children? I lost my husband years ago and I come here to sell so I can take care of my five children.
Will the women's day help me take care of their school fees? If it won't help me, then I don't think I want to be a part of it. Except, of course, if widows like me will be given some assistance, otherwise, I don't have time to celebrate women's day"
Mrs. Grace Adajo, taking a leaning towards Isuwa's response said, "I have heard about women's day, but I see it only on TV.
Nobody has actually ever invited me or given me anything from the event. Women are suffering in Nigeria and government should stop paying lip service to women problems. Women are not allowed to share in major issues and some cultures still hold them down here.
Many are not allowed to work and yet, our government is talking about celebrating women's day. What are they celebrating? Hardship? Poverty? Most women are the ones feeding their homes now because the men have either been retired prematurely or there are no jobs for them.
So, what are women celebrating? The white people can celebrate because things are working for them in their country, but here, women don't have anything to celebrate except suffering and poverty.
But Kachollom Pam, a lawyer differed a bit and said, "I think we have every reason to celebrate because we have come of age. For the first time, we have female deputy governors, a woman contested for the position of president, women are now ministers and in sensitive ministries, and we have female pilots and women manning other important fields.
So, in a way, I will say that the Nigerian woman has truly come of age. Culture and religion was a barrier, but you can see that women, even those from Islamic background have been coming out to seek political offices. So while I agree it is worth celebrating, but it is not yet uhuru, notwithstanding, we have come a long way and we have definitely broken the glass".
In her summation, a gender advocate and educationist, Dr Laraba Alfa stated as a matter of fact, "If you go to back to history, you will realise that women have been suppressed all over the world. At a point, women were a threat to men, because if you look at the goddesses, most of them were women, and men could not understand why such things happen.
Even in schools, you find that they discourage women from studying medicine. The reason they give is that, women would get married and have children, when would they then have the time to work at night? And now, we are trying to encourage our daughters to go further than that."
Continuing, she noted that, "Even the United Nations' is focusing seriously on this issue, that is it set out the 8th of March apart for women activities. The Nigerian situation has improved as a result of this campaign, because at a point in time, we had only very few women in important positions, but today, more men are supporting women empowerment.
"This does not however mean there are no cultural issues that are not in support of our activities. If you look at Margret Ekpo and the women riot, that really brought about some difference in this country at that point in time. It was the effort of her likes that started turning things around in the country."
Concluding, Alfa stressed that, "It is not the men who promote national issues; rather, it is the women who on their own promote it.
3/07/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Dividends Emerge in Pressing Apple Over Working Conditions in China, by Eduardo Porter, (3/06 late pickup) New York Times via nytimes.com
CUPERTINO, Calif. - The American sweatshop opposition movement was born the day we discovered how our Nikes were stitched together. Two decades later, we are discovering how our cherished iPhones are made, giving Apple a “Nike moment” of its own.
Worker suicides at Apple’s main Chinese supplier, Foxconn, in 2010, followed by reports of forced overtime, child labor, minimum wage violations and unsafe working conditions at its suppliers, have contrasted with Apple’s status as creator of hallowed devices and its spectacular $13 billion in profit — 30 percent of sales — in the first quarter.
The reports have fueled a budding protest among students and labor unions who call for Apple to compel its suppliers in China to improve the conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers who assemble its products — workers whose wages contribute a mere $10 to the cost of a contract-free $549 iPhone 4.
But if the troubling conditions at Foxconn’s assembly lines raise anew fundamental questions about the responsibility of corporations in this age of global capitalism, the outcry raises a basic question too. Does pressure by consumers and governments in the West to improve multinationals’ behavior in poor countries do more harm than good?
Sweatshop opposition in the past offers limited hope. But Apple is different in some ways than the garment and shoemakers of earlier campaigns. Its high profile and deep pockets suggest that consumer pressure might indeed effect change for workers at Apple’s suppliers in China.
In the 1990s, when the anti-sweatshop movement was going strong, Paul Krugman, before he became a columnist for The New York Times, wrote that “as long as you have no realistic alternative to industrialization based on low wages, to oppose it means that you are willing to deny desperately poor people the best chance they have of progress for the sake of what amounts to an aesthetic standard — that is, the fact that you don’t like the idea of workers being paid a pittance to supply rich Westerners with fashion items.”
Today, globalization has a decidedly better track record than its alternative. Countries that receive lots of multinational investment have grown faster. They report less poverty and less use of child labor.
China is an example of globalization’s benefits. Foreign investment has surged over the last 20 years, driving spectacular economic growth. Wages in the nonfarm sector have risen 10 percent a year in real terms over the last decade, according to Nicholas Lardy of the Brookings Institution.
The nation’s poverty rate, measured by the share of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, fell to 17 percent by the middle of the last decade, from 64 percent in the early 1990s, according to World Bank statistics. In Bangladesh, ignored by foreign capital, half of the population live in abject poverty, roughly the same share as in 1981. As Joan Robinson, a British economist, noted half a century ago, “the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.”
This poses a quandary for would-be activists in the West. They see their task as convincing multinationals like Apple that whatever the cost of improved working conditions at its suppliers’ plants, it is less than the potential cost to its reputation of allowing workers to toil in sweatshop conditions. But they must not forget that the No. 1 priority for most of Foxconn’s workers is to keep their job. While outside pressure might improve their lives, it could also persuade Foxconn to replace them.
The anti-sweatshop movement’s origins can be traced to late 1980s Indonesia, a global hub of the apparel and footwear business. Reports of violations of workers’ rights at Indonesian suppliers to big brands like Nike and Reebok led unions and human rights groups to press the United States to suspend Indonesian trade preferences. Articles about women stitching Nikes in dismal conditions for 91 cents a day appeared in the press, mobilizing campaigns against the apparel giant.
For a while it seemed that activism could win the day: the Indonesian minimum wage rose from less than 80 cents to about $1.80 a day from 1990 to 1996. Wages at factories for brand-name sneakers rose even faster, as the brands forced suppliers to comply with the wage floor. Nike issued a code of conduct requiring suppliers to adhere to labor, health and environmental standards. Many other victories followed, with big brands repeatedly acceding to demands that they enforce better working conditions at their suppliers’ plants across the third world.
But in time, many of the victories of consumer activism turned a little sour. Though Indonesian factories that stitched sneakers for big brands like Nike did add jobs in the 1990s, despite the sharply higher wages, economists reported significant job losses throughout the economy. Activists bemoan the fact that even when they persuade brands to press their suppliers to improve working conditions, victories turn to defeat when suppliers try to pass on the additional cost of higher wages, shorter hours or increased benefits.
“When brands get caught at one facility, and pressure is brought to bear, they can be forced to push for changes at that facility,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, which monitors working conditions at plants that make college-brand clothes. “However, if those changes raise costs and slow delivery times, it is easy enough, a year or two down the road, for the brand to reduce orders at that factory in favor of others.”
The most telling commentary on the effectiveness of the anti-sweatshop movement is the prevalence, years later, of dismal working conditions and illegally low wages at many suppliers of the world’s large multinational brands
Apple’s critics should not despair, however. Despite failures and drawbacks, activists have made progress.
For one thing, they have persuaded major brands and retailers to take responsibility for working conditions along their supplier pipeline — something unheard-of two decades ago. And the anti-sweatshop movement has contributed to improvements in workers’ lives in concrete ways, forcing better compliance with health and safety norms and reducing the most egregious forms of harassment.
But the most promising consideration for critics is just how different Apple is from the companies singled out by the anti-sweatshop movement of the 1990s.
For starters, Apple’s enormous profit margins — owing to the great popularity of the inimitable products it sells — vastly outstrip the thin margins prevalent in the garment and footwear industry and make it much easier for the company to absorb the cost of improving worker conditions at its suppliers.
What’s more, supplier contracts in the electronic industry tend to be much longer than the three-month terms common in the apparel business. This gives Apple a much bigger stake in the long-term success of Foxconn as a supplier, and makes it less attractive to cut and run to a cheaper option.
And Apple’s vaunted ability to make suppliers twirl on a dime to satisfy its most exacting specifications in the shortest possible time suggests the company would have little trouble imposing rules on wages or workers’ rights.
Consumer pressure and bad publicity have already led Apple to make some big changes. In 2005 it created a code of conduct for its suppliers, monitored regularly. Last month it became the first electronics company to join the Fair Labor Association, a group set up in 1999 by companies, universities and nonprofit groups to monitor working conditions at garment makers in the third world. Over the last two years, Foxconn has announced repeated wage increases at its plant in Shenzhen.
These are early days. Who knows, if activists keep up the pressure, they might help lead to significant improvements in the lives of Foxconn’s workers and make us feel better about how our iPhones are made.
- centrotherm photovoltaics restructures after posting loss in 2011, (press release) PV-Tech.org
Management said it had started short-time working in the production area, as well as significantly reducing costs across the entire Group with the planned reduction of 400 jobs by mid-2012. (photo caption)
BLAUBEUREN, Germany - Despite an 11.9% increase in revenue for 2011, centrotherm photovoltaics reported a preliminary operating loss of €19.8 million on sales of €698.5 million. Its silicon and wafer segment and its thin film module segment took the brunt of the losses, leading to a major restructuring operation that will include job losses. centrotherm said it experienced order postponement and cancellations of some projects as a result of the current solar shakeout, which contributed to missing revenue guidance of €710 million and a small profit for the year.
“We failed to achieve the targets we set ourselves as a result of the surprising deterioration in the market and financial circumstances, particularly during the last few weeks of the year,” remarked Robert M. Hartung, CEO of centrotherm photovoltaics. “I am nevertheless pleased that we won new orders against the sector trend in our traditionally strong Solar Cell & Module business and that we grew our revenue by 50 percent in this segment.
"We have positioned ourselves very well for the future in strategic terms with our focus on our core competencies, a strong large-scale project business and by directing our sales efforts towards the MENA countries. We believe that photovoltaics is quite clearly on a medium- and long-term growth path due to rising energy demand worldwide, and the turnaround in energy policy that has started. We aim to benefit from this with a streamlined and efficient organization."
The company said that adjustments to individual large-scale projects within its silicon and wafer segment, primarily polysilicon-based plant business, amounted to a loss of €75.0 million. The drastic decline in polysilicon prices has forced higher-cost producers to shutter plants and others to delay or have projects delayed.
silicon and wafer segment revenue dropped drastically from €201.7 million in 2010 to just €57.9 million in 2011.
[We've never before noticed German overcompensation in English for the capitalization of all German nouns, but "there's always a first time."]
In the thin film module segment, the company reported in increase in revenue of €32.7 million, compared to €18.0 million in 2010. EBIT improved to a negative €21.4 million, compared to a previous year loss of €37.4 million loss.
Management highlighted that it had decided to close the thin film module segment at its Blaubeuren, Germany, site and to transfer some of its operations to Asia, noting this was the main potential market area for thin film in the future. No further details were provided in a statement.
In contrast, revenue in the solar cell and module segment exceeded expectations as revenue reached €607.9 million in 2011, against €404.5 million in 2010. However, management noted that mostly in the fourth quarter it experienced postponement and cancellations, requiring a revaluation of inventories, which led to a fall in segment earnings to €71.9 million, compared to €91.6 million in 2010.
centrotherm reported €423.4 million in new order intake in the 2011 financial year, with a significant 90% of orders placed within its solar cell and module segment.
The order book position stood at €423.0 million as of December 31, 2011, of which €234.6 million was attributable to the solar cell and module segment, €176.1 million to the silicon and wafer segment, and only €12.3 million to orders generated in the thin film module segment.
Restructuring and cost reduction
Due to the market dynamics, centrotherm photovoltaics is restructuring much of its operations, while attempting to reduce costs on weaker sales expectations. Management said it had started short-time working in the production area, as well as significantly reducing costs across the entire group with the planned reduction of 400 jobs by mid-2012.
Management structures are also to be streamlined and optimized. The refocusing entails centrotherm photovoltaics' concentrating on its solar cell and module segment, as well as in the semiconductors and microelectronics markets and its silicon and wafer segment.
"The course of our business the past 2011 financial year shows that we were unable to decouple from the difficult sector environment, despite our excellent market position and technological strength," commented Dr. Thomas Riegler, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. “We are still in a turbulent market environment characterized by moderate order intake. This requires us to flexibly adjust our organization capacities in order to maintain our future competitiveness."
3/06/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Pa. shared-work program now available, By Jason Scott, Central Penn Business Journal via CentralPennBusiness.com
[This would make Pennsy the 25th state with a worksharing program, we believe, giving us 50% of the states.]
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is now accepting shared-work applications for a new program that could prevent mass layoffs.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently approved the state's proposal to move forward with the program, which was introduced last year by Bucks County Republican Sen. Chuck McIlhinney as part of a comprehensive unemployment compensation reform designed to help businesses and claimants.
Senate Bill 1030, which was signed into law over the summer, ensured 45,000 state residents receiving an extra 13 weeks of federally funded benefits would not suddenly lose them. It also permitted an additional 90,000 to qualify for benefits.
In addition, people receiving unemployment benefits are now required to show they are looking for jobs through the state's CareerLink site.
The voluntary shared-work program allows employers to reduce employee hours by 20 to 40 percent per week, while allowing employees to receive unemployment compensation benefits for their lost time.
The total shared-work plan cannot exceed 52 weeks, and no employer will be permitted to take part in shared-work plans for more than 104 weeks out of a 156-week period, according to the law.
Participating employers must comply with all applicable federal labor laws and agree to not lay off employees during the term of the plan and not hire or transfer new workers into an affected unit.
- Updated: MUT disputes report showing teachers’ hours among lowest in the EU, by
Ivan Camilleri, TimesOfMalta.com
At 28 hours a week, Maltese teachers spend fewer hours in school than those in many other EU states, although the survey does not take preparation and correction time into consideration.
BRUSSELS, E.U. - Maltese teachers are spending much less time at school than their European counterparts, according to a new report.
The availability of Maltese teachers in public and private schools in the 2010/11 scholastic year stood at 28 hours a week – one of the lowest in the EU, a report issued by Eurydice, a European network of Education, found.
[So maybe Maltese kids are the smartest! Maybe they're best at learning on their own! Maybe they're best at handling the most basic freedom, free time! Does "Eurydice" (a misnomer for such a busybody-troublemaker if ever there was one) honor the highest hours per week? That for kids would be great preparation for long meaningless workhours and wage slavery. Truly the EU has no idea what it's doing right in terms of shorter working hours = hours on other people's agendas.]
This included 26 hours of teaching time for primary teachers and 20 hours of teaching time for teachers at secondary level.
The report defines “availability at school” as the amount of time each week teachers must be available, including teaching time, for performing duties at school or in another place specified by the school head.
However, it excludes preparation and correction hours which may be carried out by teachers at home.
Comparing like with like, the teachers’ European counterparts are spending much more time at their schools or in classrooms.
In 2010/11 teachers in Portugal were available at school for 35 hours a week, followed by 32 hours in the UK and Sweden and 30 hours in Germany, Greece, Spain, and Cyprus.
Other member states like Estonia, Latvia, France, Denmark and Romania consider a 40-hour week to be the minimum of a teacher’s working week.
Various calls made in the past years to increase Malta’s school hours, which is deemed as one effective way of enticing more women to return to employment, have been resisted by the Malta Union of Teachers.
Last year, following a call by the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry for school hours to be revised, the MUT vehemently opposed the idea and declared the proposal as “not negotiable”. A similar recommendation made by a British education expert received the same response.
University of Nottingham professor Roger Murphy, who has followed developments in Malta for years, had identified the short school hours as one of the main ailments of the island’s educational system.
He had said that when compared with a wide range of other education systems in developed countries, students in Malta were still receiving a very “low number of hours of schooling”. The MUT had also rejected this argument saying schooling hours in Malta “largely correspond to those of the rest of Europe”.
According to a European Commission study published last year, 78 per cent of Maltese fourth and fifth formers attended some kind of private lessons in 2008 – the highest level in the EU.
The report showed the private lessons industry had become almost crucial for Maltese students. The study concluded this was having a negative effect on students as it was “restricting children’s leisure time in a way that is psychologically and educationally undesirable”.
MUT: WORKING HOURS ARE NOT AN ISSUE FOR DISCUSSION
In a reaction, the Malta Union of Teachers [MUT] said this morning that working hours for teaching grades in Malta are on par with most other EU and Mediterranean countries.
It said working hours are not decided upon by an arbitrary decision by the union, but are agreed upon in agreements between the employers and the union.
"Both the ministry and the union have declared that working hours are not an issue up for discussion"
The union said the article failed to make comparisons in areas such as:
Working environments - whereby some of the older schools are literally falling apart;
Reform fatigue – where teaching grades in Malta have faced what appears to be the largest number of reforms, some without any consultation, in the whole of Europe;
Take home pay – whereby teaching grades have salaries that are much lower than those in the countries mentioned in the same article;
Lack of Resources – whereby many teaching grades need to buy their own resources to be able to teach their classes.
3/04-05/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Keep Getting Paid for Fewer Hours? How a Provision Congress Just Passed Could Help Rebuild the Economy - Tucked in the small print of the payroll tax bill is a work-sharing plan that could save more than a million jobs this year,
by Dean Baker, 3/04 AlterNet.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. - One of the little-noticed items attached to the extension of the payroll tax cut was a provision that would promote work-sharing as part of state unemployment insurance systems. The provision, which is based on a bill introduced in the Senate by Jack Reed and in the House by Rosa DeLauro, would reimburse states for money spent on work-sharing programs that are part of their unemployment insurance system. It would also provide funds for the states that do not currently have work-sharing systems to establish them.
This provision is a rare victory of bipartisanship and commonsense. The basic logic of work-sharing is straightforward. Under the current system of unemployment insurance, workers who lose their jobs can get roughly half of their pay in benefits. However, if a worker has their hours cut back because of inadequate demand, they don't get in any way compensated for the lost pay. This effectively encourages employers to go the route of layoffs, rather than shortening work hours, since that is the only way that workers can benefit from unemployment insurance.
Work-sharing gets around this asymmetry. It allows workers to be compensated for part of their lost pay when their employer reduces their work hours. This means that if an employer decides to reduce the work hours of 50 workers by 20%, as opposed to laying off 10 workers, the 50 workers can get half of their lost pay (10% of their total pay) covered by unemployment insurance. This means that workers will end up working 20% fewer hours for roughly 10% less pay.
This is an outcome that is likely to better for workers, employers, and the economy as a whole. It is better for workers because it keeps them on the job and in a situation where they can be continually upgrading their skills in accordance with changes in the workplace.
By contrast, workers who are unemployed for long periods of time have great difficulty getting re-employed. Employers are reluctant to hire workers who have been out of the workforce for one to two years or longer. Unfortunately, a large number of workers now fall into this category.
Work-sharing can also be beneficial to employers as many firms that have gone this route have discovered. By keeping workers on the job these firms are able to ramp up production quickly to meet new demand. If they had gone the layoff route, they would be forced to go through a costly and time-consuming process of hiring and training new workers. The expense associated with employee turnover can be considerable, even for the least skilled positions.
Finally, the work-sharing route is by far the better route from the standpoint of the economy and society. It is a personal disaster for workers who end up permanently shut out from the labor force, but it also an enormous loss to the economy and society. We want to take to be able to use the skills that people have developed over a working lifetime, not throw them in the garbage.
And, needless to say, the family of a worker who is unable to find unemployment will also suffer considerable hardship. It is much more difficult to raise children in a situation where a primary breadwinner suffers through a long period of unemployment.
The provision in the tax bill will go far towards promoting the increased use of work-sharing, but there is still a long way to go. At the moment, there are less than 50,000 workers nationwide on work sharing programs. The extent to which this number increases will depend on efforts by states to promote the program and also their willingness to allow employers flexibility in its use.
The potential impact of work-sharing on unemployment is enormous. While the economy as a whole is adding jobs, we still have an enormously high level of churn every month: roughly 4 million workers leave their jobs, with 2 million leaving involuntarily. If the number of people being laid off can be reduced by 5%, this would be equivalent to adding 100,000 additional jobs each month, which translates to 1.2m by the end of a year.
- Made men: Dockworkers with mob ties earn more than $400K for 'working' 24 hours a day (but only show up 30 hours a week), By Michael Zennie, 3/05 DailyMail.co.uk
[Hey, if 30 hrs/wk is good enough for the mob, it's good enough for 99percenters!]
NEW YORK, N.Y. - A small group of 'made men' with mob ties are raking in more than $400,000 a year as humble dockworkers at ports in New York and New Jersey, a new report reveals.
- Two of the men are relatives of Vincent 'the Chin' Gigante, a former Genovese crime boss
- Perks include unlimited vacation and you don't even have to be on site to get paid for working
- Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of public dollars are flowing to the ports employing these men
These longshoremen are being paid for working 24 hour a day, seven days a week -- even though they only show up at work as little as 30 hours a week for their cushy gigs.
These huge, inexplicable salaries come as the Port Authority shells out hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to upgrade the ports so goods can continue to flow into and out of the New York area.
The New York Post has named three men with ties to known mobsters who have raked in huge sums of money for working so-called 'low-show' jobs that continue to weigh down New York's ports with unnecessary labor costs.
For more than 60 years, organized crime has had a presence in the shady underbelly of the ports.
The Waterfront Commission, which issued the report naming the three men, was established in the 1950s because the Gambino crime family controlled the ports in New York and the Genovese family looked after the New Jersey ports.
Ralph Gigante is a union shop steward who was paid $406,659 last year, despite having base wages of $36 an hour. He testified that he works as few as 30 hours a week, but get paid whenever any of the dockworkers he oversees are on the job. That's 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Gigante doesn't have to be working and doesn't even have to be in the state to be paid.
His sole job duty is safeguarding the union rights of the workers under him. Despite this, he testified under oath that he has never read the union's contract in its entirety. And in 17 years on the job, he's only filed one union grievance, the Post reported.
Gigante inherited the job, which includes unlimited vacation and guaranteed overtime pay every day, from his cousin.
Gigante is the nephew of Vincent 'the Chin' Gigante, a Genovese boss who was once the most powerful mobster in the country before he was sent to prison on murder and racketeering charges.
Vincent Gingante was the father-in-law of Joseph Colonna, another high-paid dockworker.
Last year, Colonna was paid $401,105 for working as a mechanics foreman at APM Terminals at Port Newark.
And Paul Buglioli, whose dockworker father was a friend of Genovese mobster Nicholas Purina, was paid $474,947 last year to simply manage the time cards of employees at a Ports of America terminal in Newark, the Post reported.
It requires no special education or training and includes little manual labor.
Ralph Gigante, for one, defended his wages.
'(His) compensation is determined contractually, and the Waterfront Commission only brings up his name in this context so they can talk about his family and other issues that have absolutely nothing to do with him,” his lawyer Gerald Krovatin told the Post.
According to the Waterfront Commission, up to 40 percent of dockworkers are being paid without actually doing any work at any given time.
Meanwhile, Ralph Gigante's employer, Port Newark Container Terminal, received $150 million in capital improvement money from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- the agency that regulates and oversee ports, airports, bridges, tunnels and trains between the two states.
APM Terminals, the Dutch company that pays Colonna, received $30 million in public money from the Port Authority and a $144 million loan in 2000.
'At a time the container terminal industry says it is struggling and asking for substantial Port Authority subsidy in our harbor, the industry must help itself by eliminating "low- show jobs,"' Pat Foye, the Port Authority's new executive director told the Post.
- Kimberly Cuts Hours, Reported by Chris Womack email@example.com, 3/05 WIAT via CBS42.com
KIMBERLY, Ala. - The city of Kimberly is facing a potential 10% budget shortfall. Chris Womack shows how one department is being forced to do more with less. It worries Police Chief James Belding, who's forced to cut his five hourly officers time to 32 hours a week. "They're just concerned because they're not going to make as much money, but we've been through this situation before."
Two years ago the city made a similar move. With roughly half of the city's budget going to wages for city employees, that's also the first place to go when it comes time to make cuts. Kimberly city councilman Robert Ellerbrock introduced the cuts, saying it's what needs to be done. "There's nowhere else to cut money. Bottom line is that's the way it is. It's either you do that or you lay people off," he says.
Around 20 city employees will be affected by the cuts. Officials hope this time around will be similar to the last, when the hour cuts lasted for only 8-9 months. "If we get to summertime and we see revenues increasing, then we can pull people back on to full time if they so choose," explains Ellerbrock.
In the meantime, the police department is using three part-time officers to fill the scheduling gaps to ensure the city is under watch the whole time.
- Warehouse Workers Allege Walmart Suppliers Understated Work Hours, 3/05 HuffingtonPost.com
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Ever wonder how Walmart gets the price of toilet paper so damn low? In part, it could be because the workers who distribute products are paid below minimum wage, according to the allegations of a new lawsuit.
A class-action lawsuit filed against three Los Angeles-area based companies that handle Walmart's goods alleges that the firms pressured supervisors to understate the number of hours employees worked so that they could pay them less, according to MSNBC.
[In a timesizing-engineered labor "shortage" (as perceived by employers, actually a labor-employment balance at last), these employees could just assume, and take at their pleasure, comp time and keep the scores even. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but timesizing relativizes employer power.]
Walmart and other retailers aren't named in the suit -- a situation that often occurs because the companies don't directly pay the workers -- but the warehouse practices ultimately help products land on the big box shelves at cheap prices.
The Huffington Post previously reported that the class-action suit alleges workers "spend their workdays performing strenuous, unskilled physical labor in an environment where the temperature often exceeds 90 degrees." Furthermore, bosses "routinely responded with threats of retaliation and actual retaliation, including by sending the inquiring workers home without pay, refusing to give them work the next day ... and imposing other forms of discipline on them."
These types of warehouses are staffed by a large number of workers hired through temporary agencies to do difficult and often unstable work. Over the past decade and a half, Joliet, Illinois and its environs -- a region southwest of Chicago -- has turned into one of the world's largest hubs for dry goods heading to retail stores across the Midwest. It's also become an area with one of the highest concentration of temp workers in the Midwest, indicating the big-box industry's reliance on workers hired by third-party companies to staff warehouses they don't own.
Even when these temporary warehouse workers are paid legitimately, their wages are still $3 lower on average than that of their permanent counterparts, according to Mother Jones. But they make up more than 15 percent of the packers and pickers work in warehouses and often stay classified as temporary for years.
Some warehouses allegedly subject workers to terrible conditions and the employees stick with the companies for fear of being without work in a trying job market. An Allentown, Pennsylvania-based warehouse owned by Amazon.com reportedly had paramedics on standby to treat employees that couldn’t stand the 110-degree heat, according to a September report from the Morning Call. In addition, many of the employees were alleged forced to work 11-hour days during the holidays and maintain productivity levels even during the summer heat.
California warehouse workers have previously been threatened with layoffs for complaining about wage violations and unsafe working conditions.
- WA women want more work hours, by Shane Wright, 3/04 The West Australian via thewest.com.au via au.news.yahoo.com/thewest
PERTH, Western Australia - Almost 40,000 women with part-time work across WA want more hours and could solve some of the staffing problems facing local businesses.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal there are more than 66,000 people in the State who are now "under-employed".
["Under-employed" only with reference to a frozen pre-automation definition of "fully employed" = a different angle on skewed worktime.]
Of that group, 58 per cent are women and almost all of them are ready to add hours to their weekly roster almost immediately.
That is on top of the almost 60,000 who are officially described as unemployed, suggesting there is a big pool of workers that could be tapped by the State's businesses.
There have been growing concerns within the WA business community about a new shortage of workers, with the jobless rate at 4.2 per cent and expected to fall further.
Nationally there are more than 786,000 people considered "under-employed" of which about 722,000 are already working part-time, according to the ABS figures.
- Want uniforms, less working hours: Rural job scheme workers, by Prashant Sood, 3/05 IANS via TwoCircles.net
VELLANAD (Kerala), India - Women earning their livelihood through the central government's rural employment guarantee scheme in this panchayat near Thiruvananthapuram have a simple wish list: reduced working hours, higher wages, uniforms, and more days of work. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), say the women, helps them cope up with poverty but does not take them beyond their hand-to-mouth existence.
Chandamma, 72, is among a group of 12 women and a man digging out slit [silt?] from a water reservior [sic...] in the panchyat as part of works under MGNREGA. Her husband is blind and she lost her son in an accident.
Chandamma does not have a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card as the survey was carried out when her son was alive. She is eligible for old age pension, but the money does not reach her. MGNREGA is her only hope to a life of dignity.
[Wait till the BPL/Boston Public Library finds out its BPL/Below Poverty Line!]
Chandamma has a daughter who also works under MGNREGA and each of them earn Rs.150 for a day's work. The two women strive to make savings so that the money can last them when they will not get work under the central scheme on completing 100 days of wage employment.
According to officials, manual unskilled work under MGNREGA is provided to a rural household for 100 days in a fiscal year, but there is a demand that the minimum number of days for guaranteed wage employment should be extended to 200.
Chandamma is among the women who feel that MGNREGA should be extended beyond 100 days and its working hours reduced.
"Working hours should be reduced. Women have to manage their households, get their children to schools," she said.
Officials say that working hours under MGNREGA were 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the state government had demanded the timing should be between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For Anil Kumar, 37, the only man in the group of MGNREGA workers at the water reservior in Vellanad, the rural employment scheme has been a harbinger of hope.
Kumar, who looks older than his years, has been afflicted with ailments that have rendered him very frail and weak.
"If MGNREGA is not there, it will be difficult for me to survive," Kumar told IANS.
Kumar's two children are in school and he wants them to study as long as they want to.
"The daily wage should be raised to Rs.250," he said.
Thangamani, who has studied till Class 8, points to her clothes soiled by mud in the reservior and demands that uniforms be given to MGNREGA workers. She also demands that the workers should be given caps to cope with the scortching afternoon sun.
Officials say women workers spend the money they earn through MGNREGA in running households, but that was not always the case with men.
"Many men splurge their earnings on booze. Kerala has a high level of liquor consumption in the country," an official said.
He said more than 90 percent of MGNREGA workers in Kerala were women.
The "lack of industry" in rural areas and scarcity of government employment were factors that contribute to demand for MGNREGA, said the official.
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who visited Kerala last week, gave no assurance to the demand that the minimum number of days under MGNREGA should be extended to 200.
He said the government would, instead, train a youth in skilled work from families that have completed 100 days under MGNREGA.
"I don't believe children of NREGA workers should remain NREGA workers. They should be given training in modern skills," Ramesh said.
MGNREGA was launched in 2006 as an ambitious demand-driven scheme by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, to enhance livelihood security of rural households by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Govt to help boost wages of those in cleaning, security sectors, 3/05 ChannelNewsAsia.com
SINGAPORE - The focus on uplifting the wages of the low income has inevitably thrown the spotlight on the cleaning and security sectors.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Manpower Ministry Hawazi Daipi said it was expected as a larger number of low wage workers are traditionally from these two industries.
The Manpower Ministry is working with the National Environment Agency to strengthen its Green Mark accreditation scheme. It will introduce a requirement that cleaners employed in accredited companies receive appropriate wages.
The government is also studying how to shorten working hours and cut down overtime work for the security industry.
Mr Hawazi said cheap sourcing has prevented the market from ensuring training and standards translate to improved wages.
He said: "These measures to uplift the cleaning and security sectors will raise manpower costs for such services. Parallel efforts to raise productivity in the sectors will mitigate this, but it is inevitable that cleaning and security services will cost more for some buyers, especially those who cheap source today.
"However, the costs of cleaning and security services are typically small compared to overall operating costs. The incremental costs arising from these measures we are taking would be even smaller - just a fraction of these cleaning and security costs. Furthermore, we will phase in the changes so that they are even more manageable to businesses."
3/3/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Police Dept. personnel see cut in workweek, by Doug Staley, Massillon Independent via indeonline.com
MASSILLON, Ohio — Four police department employees — including two clerks, the parking enforcement officer and animal control officer — have seen their work hours slashed as the city continues to trim costs associated with a $1.8 million budget deficit.
The clerks and Animal Control Officer Vicki Davis have had their hours reduced from 40 to 32 hours a week, according Safety-Service Director George Maier. Parking Enforcement Officer Rhonda Smith’s hours have been trimmed from 25 to 20 hours a week, Maier said.
None of the affected employees are members of the police department’s union.
The reduction in hours, which was instituted last week, is expected to save the department roughly $50,000 a year and prevented the city from having to lay off one of the employees, according to Maier.
“We don’t want to cut but we’re about $1.4 million short in the police department’s budget. (Savings) is only a small part of that ... Unfortunately, it’s a painful decision that had to be made,” Maier said.
In addition to cutting the hours of employees, Smith’s office was moved from the municipal government building to the police department in order to save on equipment costs such as the use of a copier and a computer, according to Maier.
“She (Smith) has a line item for expenses that can be merged with the police department,” Maier said.
If Davis responds to an animal emergency while she is off-duty, she has been instructed to stagger her hours so that she doesn’t incur overtime, according to Maier.
The police department’s fuel budget also has taken a hit, according to Interim Police Chief Joe Herrick, and no new money has been allocated for training in the city’s proposed budget.
“We can’t do any training that we have to pay for,” Herrick said. “We can still do internal firearms training but we’re not going to be able to send people to police academy.”
Training is critical, Herrick added, due to several recent promotions and the retirement of Lt. Donald Witmer, who served as a firearms instructor.
To conserve fuel, the department is operating more two-man patrol cars, which limits the amount of territory that can be patrolled during a shift, Herrick said.
“Normally, we have seven or eight one-man cars during a shift and now we have two or three,” Herrick said.
Herrick also said the department’s budget for supplies, which could be used to purchase equipment such as firearms, also has been cut.
- Working mothers more happy, healthy, by Cristabel Ligami, The East African via theeastafrican.co.ke
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Mothers who work at least part time are healthier and happier than those who decide to stay home with their children, a new study suggests.
According to the study, being employed has multiple benefits for mothers and their families.
The study by the University of North Carolina investigated the level of depression in both stay-at-home mothers and those who have part-time jobs and the impact this has on the family’s well-being.
According to Munira Ahmed, clinical family and marital counsellor in Nairobi, a mother’s well-being is based on her perception of herself, her environment, comfort with the roles she assumes and her ability to make decisions and cope with problems.
After repeatedly interviewing hundreds of mothers over the course of a decade, the researchers found that those who worked 32 hours a week or less were more sensitive to their children’s needs, less likely to have symptoms of depression, and more likely to split household duties with their spouses than mothers who were not employed.
Also, working full-time didn’t adversely affect the working mother’s well-being.
“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favoured part-time work over full-time or not working,” said lead researcher Cheryl Buehler, professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina.
“However, in many cases the well-being of mothers working part time was no different from mothers working full time,” said Prof Buehler.
The researchers interviewed 1,364 mothers with one month-old infants in 1991, and then observed the women and their children for the next 10 years, checking in on them when the children were six months old, 15 months old, three years old, four and a half years old, and in first (six years old), third (eight years old), and fifth (10 years old) grades.
The families were from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and included single parents, college graduates, and high-school drop-outs.
The researchers defined working part time as working between one to 32 hours per week and about 25 per cent of mothers were employed part time during the study period.
The mothers reported whether they experienced symptoms of depression and rated their overall health as either “poor,” “fair,” “good” or “excellent.”
The results also showed that the working mothers experienced better work-life balance and fewer incidents of depression when their children were infants and pre-schoolers.
“It may also be that mothers who are at home with their children all day experience greater child-related stress, which is relieved to some extent once the children are in school,” the researchers theorized.
“Additionally, mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms may have more difficulty seeking employment or keeping a job.”
- 'Government job gives me time to study', by Amna Al Haddad firstname.lastname@example.org, TheNational.ae
DUBAI, U.A.E. // Working in the public sector has allowed Ahmed Al Hashemi to continue his education and improve his knowledge in the field of human resources.
The 28-year-old Emirati works in recruitment at a federal government office in Abu Dhabi.
He had always wanted to complete his education but found it difficult when he was working full-time in the private sector.
"The shorter working hours [from 7.30am until 2.30pm] gave me an opportunity to enrol myself in a well-known professional certification course related to human resources," said Mr Al Hashemi. "Since the classes are in the evening, I have time to go home, relax and spend time with my family before leaving again to attend the classes." He is also finishing an online bachelor's degree in HR management.
"I'm lucky to have a supportive department and my colleagues have always offered their help and advice with anything regarding my studies," he said. "The guaranteed holidays and two-day weekends give me time to focus on my university work, making it is easier to balance work responsibilities as well."
Mr Al Hashemi completed his high school diploma at the age of 20 because he struggled to adapt to the UAE education system after returning from the United States.
"I spent a large part of my life growing up in the US and was used to a completely different educational system," he said.
"We didn't have so many subjects to study at one time and we were expected to understand what was being taught to us.
"In the UAE, they give you about 14 subjects to study throughout the year and all we had to do was memorise. I became disenchanted with this system and decided to find an alternative way of finishing high school."
Over the past eight years, he worked for a semi-government body and two private companies before his career took off two years ago with his current employer.
Mr Al Hashemi believes working in the public sector is incorrectly perceived as an easy option.
"I've had the opportunity of being exposed to different trade shows and different aspects of the field that I haven't even heard of before," he said. "Contrary to what is always being said about the government sector, it can be very challenging and there are always very good opportunities."
3/02/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- TDIA Office To Cut Hours, Trenton Republican Times via RepublicanTimes.com
TRENTON, N.J. - The director of the Trenton Downtown Improvement Association is cutting his office hours and going to part-time employment.
Richard Jacobsen told persons attending a meeting on Thursday night that part-time employment stretches the remaining dollars available in a state grant that funds the position and office expenses. Jacobsen noted there's still much to be done in downtown revitalization. And by reducing office hours, he can remain in the position for a longer period of time.
The change was recommended by Jacobsen himself after consulting with TDIA officers.
[Timesizing, not downsizing - on a one-employee basis!]
Before all the grant funds are exhausted, officials are hoping the association will be receiving rent on downtown apartments at 1000 Tinsman. As of Thursday, the TDIA office will be open all day Tuesday and Wednesday plus Thursday mornings. It's located inside the Trenton Area Chamber of Commerce office.
When the TDIA grant started, Debbie Carman was hired as full-time director. When she took the job of chamber president, the board hired Richard Jacobsen who's been the full-time director for nearly the past year.
Regarding the vacant building at Five Points. The TDIA will be advertising for bids to make improvements in electrical as well as heating and cooling. Financing also is being sought to pay for the projects. Then permits will be obtained and interior work will begin. Basic apartments for student housing are to be located on the second floor with retail space on the first floor.
Jacobsen has started to take down the old acoustic tile and wood paneling in preparation for interior renovation. The interior also will be treated with a disinfectant to kill mold, mildew, and odor.
While the building was donated, the downtown association has previously paid for the following projects: removal of asbestos from the interior; tuck pointing on the exterior; bulging exterior walls were repaired; and residual tiling cement was cleaned off the bricks. The metal awning was removed and sold for scrap metal.
Among other projects downtown, Jacobsen said new banners have been placed on the light poles in the downtown area; and plans call for more to be purchased. Jacobsen noted renovations are nearing completion on the second floor of a downtown building owned by Kristi and Scott Weldon. There will be two upscale apartments on the second floor of a former law office building.
Members of Leadership Trenton have contacted local building owners regarding facade work. The individuals are volunteering their time to paint and spruce up the fronts of buildings if building owners provide materials. So far three buildings are scheduled for the work. Jacobsen invited other organizations, businesses, and individuals to contact him regarding community service projects for the downtown area. These can include projects such as cleaning streets and sidewalks, picking up trash at Sesquicentennial Park and adopting the maintenance responsibilities of planter boxes.
City economic development director Ralph Boots received support from persons attending the meeting to explore a potential idea that would be designed to gather farmer's market type vendors to a single designated area and draw people downtown. Boots indicated much work needs to be done as such an idea is very preliminary in nature at this time. More information could come later.
The election of officers was postponed until next month in hopes that more persons can attend the next public meeting of the Trenton Downtown Improvement Association April 5.
Among announcements, Jacobsen said a committee begins the planning soon to have the “community” Easter Egg hunt held at the downtown park early next month. Donations or cash, candy and prizes will be accepted by the association in conjunction with the Trenton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jacobsen announced TDIA will be planning the chili cookoff June 9 in the downtown area with professional cooks from the Chili Appreciation Society International, known as CASI. Plans also are expected to be made to have separate competitions for local and area teams to enter homestyle chili and or salsa for judging.
A reminder was given that partnership dues of $55 can be paid to the Trenton Downtown Improvement Association at 617 Main or mailed to the treasurer John Ausberger at PO Box 307 in Trenton. Individuals and businesses do not have to be located, or have property, in the downtown area in order to belong to the association. They just need to be interested in what's happening with the downtown. Meetings of the Downtown Improvement Association, held on the first Thursday evening of the month, are announced and are open to the public.
- Argentine Port Workers Prolong Strike, Halt Soy, Corn Barges, by Matt Craze, Bloomberg.com
ROSARIO, Argentina - Workers at Argentina’s grain ports continued a strike over working hours for a second day, delaying barges transporting corn and soybeans.
At least 10 more ships have joined the 57 that were detained by the strike at ports near the city of Rosario on the Parana River, which handle more than 80 percent of Argentina’s grain exports, Guillermo Wade, a representative of the port operators chamber, said in an e-mailed response today.
Talks between the workers union and the chamber failed earlier today, prolonging the conflict that is disrupting shipments from Argentina, the world’s third-largest soybean exporter behind the U.S. and Brazil. Argentina is also the world’s second-largest corn exporter behind the U.S.
The strike has spread to smaller ports in the country, including Bahia Blanca and Necochea, Wade said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Craze in Santiago at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at email@example.com
3/01/2012 – News bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Reduction to four-day work week at Stanfields no cause for concern, company president says,Truro Daily News via trurodaily.com
TRURO, Nova Scotia, Canada - A reduction to a four-day work week in some operations at Stanfields Ltd., is a "short-term" measure aimed at bringing inventory in line, company president Jon Stanfield says.
"Part of it is to kind of realign our production in Truro because we're overproducing, so we've got to get our production in line. That's just a business decision," he said.
Although the underwear and garment company has had a good business year overall, Stanfield said the third and fourth quarters did leave something to be desired.
"We're dealing with a couple of things that's going on in the market," he said. "One of our major customers is closing," Stanfield said, of Zellers.
"Zellers is a significant customer to us. That's just one of the things that's kind of happening in the market."
The company had supplied garments to more than 300 Zellers stores across Canada and the loss of that contract has had an impact on production.
The shutdown of some Zellers stores is expected to begin around month's end, while a second round is scheduled for the fall.
Stanfield said that Target, the company that purchased the Zellers stores, is not planning its conversion efforts until 2013. And while he is optimistic of Target signing on as a customer, the planning for that would not begin until the spring.
In the meantime, Stanfield said, the company made a business decision to go to a four-day work week with some of the plant's operations to avoid having to layoff any staff.
"We're going to some four day work weeks in some areas in the short term," he said. "And, our philosophy is, we want to protect our people as much as we can in terms of the available hours to work. We don't want to have to lay off people. That's not something we take lightly, it's not something we want to do because we need to have people in place when things start to level out to where we want them to level, you have to turn the button back on again. You can't simply just turn it on with new people. We need our people that we invested in, they've invested in us, their time and effort. We want to make sure we protect them to the best of our ability. At the end of the day, you know, we all have to make decisions, some are tougher than, others but we try to protect our people as much as we can."
Stanfield said while the demand for tee-shirts, athletic shirts and winter shirts have declined somewhat, the company's core operations (long johns and underwear) remains strong.
"So the core categories are still pretty solid," he said. "Stanfields is still in really good shape. We had a good year and you know we're actively looking to see how we can grow the company, either through organic growth or through acquisitions."
- German Businesses Unwelcome in Postwar Libya - Part 1: Paying for UN Abstention, by Uwe Buse and Takis Würger, Spiegel Online via spiegel.de
Before the Libyan revolution, Germany was the country's second-largest trading partner. But then Germany abstained in a 2011 UN vote to militarily intervene in its civil war. Now that the war is over, German businesses and think tanks are finding that most Libyans want little to do with them.
BENGHAZI, Libya - Henning Schnaars, who works for a shipping company in the northern German port city of Bremen, is standing with his two trolley cases on the side of a road in Libya. He has just been handed his first setback.
Schnaars stands with his back to the Benghazi airport, looking at a billboard. It depicts Libyan revolutionaries with outstretched arms and making the V-for-victory sign with their fingers. At the bottom of the billboard are the words, written in capital letters, "Merci La France."
"Oh, well," Schnaars says. At the moment, the French aren't exactly his favorite people.
Schnaars landed in Benghazi an hour ago and has just finished meeting with the airport's new director. It was a short conversation, with not even enough time for the coffee he had expected to be served. The director, who returned to Libya from exile during the civil war, had cut the meeting short after apologizing profusely, saying that he unfortunately had another appointment.
Schnaars was annoyed. He stood up reluctantly, took his briefcase and made his way to the door. It opened, and a delegation of well-dressed Frenchmen walked in, some wearing sunglasses. They saw a stocky German who hadn't had enough sleep and was standing there in his shirtsleeves without a jacket. A few of the Frenchmen grinned. One wished Schnaars "good business" as he walked by.
Schnaars was served his coffee, but it was in the waiting room, where he could hear his Libyan host enthusiastically greeting the French delegation through the closed door.
Punished for Its UN Abstention
Schnaars has come to Libya to re-establish his business here after the war -- and after Germany's abstention in the March 2011 United Nations Security Council vote to militarily intervene in the Libyan civil war. Schnaars, 55, a member of the Worphausen Volunteer Fire Department and a fan of small-town fairs, is the head of logistics for Carl Ungewitter, a family-owned shipping company in Bremen with 50 employees, which specializes in shipments to Libya. For more than 30 years, Ungewitter has been shipping parts for pipelines, asphalt pavers, oil rigs, cranes, excavators, trucks and all the other pieces of equipment needed to transform a desert into an industrialized country.
Business was going fairly well despite the unpredictability of Libya's leader at the time, Moammar Gadhafi, a man who once tried to dissolve Switzerland with the help of the UN because the Swiss had dared to arrest his son, and who once had Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death because they had allegedly infected Libyan children with AIDS.
Then, a year ago, the rebellion began in Libya, and things went sharply downhill for Ungewitter from there. Hardly any money left the country for nine months, which is a long time for a mid-sized company in Germany. If the company hadn't had a source of natural asphalt in a lake in Trinidad, some of which was used to resurface a major road in the western German state of Hesse, things would have been bleak for Ungewitter. Instead, it only managed to avoid bankruptcy by cutting back employees' working hours under the German government's Kurzarbeit (short-time working) program.
Still, by the end of last year, Libyan companies still had outstanding debts to Ungewitter in the six-figure range, and there were rumors that Libya's second-largest oil company was refusing to work with German companies anymore. That was because the Germans -- unlike the French -- hadn't sent in fighter jets in March 2011 but, instead, looked on as Gadhafi's troops massacred their fellow Libyans.
Business and Freedom
Schnaars has come to Libya to find out what the situation is really like. Of course, he also wants to reduce the amount of money still owed to his company. He has brought along a suitcase full of unpaid invoices, and he hopes to collect payment from the companies for which Ungewitter had organized shipment of goods.
Like Ungewitter, many German companies have done business in Libya, including the construction company Bilfinger Berger, oil producer Wintershall and technology giant Siemens. Until 2010, Germany was the Libyan dictatorship's second-largest trading partner, with only Italy doing more business with Gadhafi.
German politicians could not possibly benefit from being associated with Gadhafi, which led Germany's political parties and their affiliated foundations to keep their distance. Even today, after the war, employees of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation are the only ones venturing into Libya. Ironically, it is the foundation maintained by the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), the party of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was primarily responsible for wriggling Germany out of involvement in the conflict.
"These are no longer the days when the clever white man goes to Africa to explain the world to people there," says Ronald Meinardus. He and a few Egyptian colleagues landed in Benghazi soon after Schnaars' arrival. Now Meinardus is driving around the city to get a look at it. He is the organizer of a conference on the subject of freedom to be held in a Benghazi hotel over the next few days.
Meinardus is the Friedrich Naumann Foundation's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. The 57-year-old lives in Cairo and wears custom-tailored shirts with his monogram stitched into the chest pocket. He walks through the dusty Libyan streets in polished shoes, hoping to drum up support for economic liberalism among the Libyan people.
If Meinardus is successful with his conference, and if he manages to have his ideas about freedom take root in a new Libya, he could pave the way for the long-term success of Schnaars, the logistics manager, and the shipping company he works for. The FDP and its foundation aren't just interested in freedom; they also seek to promote the free market economy.
Trying to Sow the Seeds of Economic Liberalism
Meinardus and Schnaars are two of many people who have come to Libya on business since the end of the war.
When Meinardus is asked why he does what he does, he replies: "I love freedom. But please don't print that. It makes me sound too much like a missionary."
He looks out the window of his car until some graffiti catches his eye. Then he stops the car, gets out and contemplates an image of a German flag along with the words, in misspelled German: "Duetschland & Austria: Ihr seid spät! Aber vielen Dank!"(Germany and Austria: You're late! But thanks very much!)
Meinardus takes a picture of the graffiti, puts the image online via his Twitter account and writes: "Very warm welcome from all sides during my first visit to Benghazi - vote in the UN Security Council is not a big deal here (anymore)." Meinardus' trip is also an effort to make amends.
The next morning, Meinardus walks into a conference room at his hotel. About 100 Libyans are attending his conference, including liberal politicians, journalists and students. Meinardus gives a speech in Arabic in which he talks about freedom. The Libyans politely applaud.
'Wars Don't Stop Themselves'
Meinardus is followed by a local politician who talks about the despot Gadhafi. But now the Libyans applaud loudly.
An old man wearing a little red hat shakes Meinardus' hand and quotes, in perfect German, a "freedom song" from the former communist East Germany: "Water doesn't flow uphill on its own / And wars, too, don't stop themselves."
"I studied economics in East Germany," the man says, adding that he is now a member of a liberal Libyan party.
"What do you think about the conference?" Meinardus asks.
"It's very good, but people are afraid. Liberalism is light, but it's very bright for the Libyans. What do you call it when a room is without light?"
"Darkness," says Meinardus.
"Yes, Gadhafi was 42 years of darkness."
"How strong would the liberal parties be if there were elections today?" Meinardus asks.
"People would vote for the Islamists," the old man says.
Meinardus walks around the room until a young man in a tracksuit top gets up and blocks his path. "You want to separate Islam from the state? But that's the opposite of freedom," he says.
"No, no," Meinardus says. "Liberalism also means religious freedom."
As Meinardus walks away, the man in the tracksuit top says that he believes liberalism is an ideology of infidels. "We will rebuild Libya on our own, inshallah (God willing)."
Then he walks to the cold buffet.
Meinardus leans against the wall and says: "I believe our job is to explain to the Libyans that liberalism is actually the will of God."
Given the Cold Shoulder
Schnaars, the logistics manager from Bremen, just wants to do business in the newly liberated Libya. He wants to find out what conditions are like in the country, how its oil industry is doing and how people feel about the Germans, especially those who did business with Gadhafi. He wants to get a feeling for how his company could further its business interests in Libya.
"They actually want us," Schnaars says, sounding almost as if he were trying to convince himself. "The really good shipping companies only exist in Germany and Japan. The others don't really know what they're doing."
Schnaars was in Libya for the first time 30 years ago, just after finishing his training as a shipping agent. He spent a year on a construction site in the desert that Carl Ungewitter had leased to another company. Schnaars has fond memories of those days. "There was always good food," he says. "They had their own kitchen." There was also beer, which was brewed on-site. In the evenings the men played Risk, a board game in which players try to conquer the world. "There was no TV," Schnaars says, adding that there was also no overt evidence of the dictatorship. The Libyans he encountered, he says, didn't talk about those things -- and he never asked.
Schnaars sounds effusive when he talks about his past adventures. This time around, he says it feels like an adventure all over again, but for completely different reasons.
He parks his car in front of an iron gate on the outskirts of Benghazi. The headquarters of the Arab Gulf Oil Company, or Agoco, are behind the gate. Agoco is the second-largest oil company in Libya. It supported the rebels early on in their struggle against Gadhafi, providing them with gasoline as well as trucks and tractor-trailers to transport weapons, ammunition and medications. Schnaars has heard that some of the managers here are no longer interested in working with Germans. If true, it will be a problem for Schnaars and his company because Agoco is an important customer.
To prove that there is a difference between the German government and a German company, Schnaars plans to talk about the research he has done on behalf of the new Libya. He will say that he has discovered some of Gadhafi's accounts with a British bank, and that he has convinced government officials in Berlin to make sure that Agoco is removed from a European Union embargo list. "I'm the fifth column of the rebellion," he'll tell his Libyan counterparts. It's the same thing he told the airport director in Benghazi.
Schnaars walks into the Agoco headquarters building, carrying his briefcase full of invoices. In the afternoon, he leaves the complex. He has been able to hand the invoices over to the bookkeepers, and he has spent a lot of time sitting around in hallways and waiting rooms. But he has received no answers to his questions.
The next day Schnaars, hoping to improve his luck, spends even more hours in the hallways, waiting rooms and offices at Agoco. He speaks with managers. One tells him that Agoco is not happy with his company, while another says the opposite. Officially, the Libyans accuse him of having billed the company more costs than had been specified in an estimate for a particular order that was handled long before the war. But estimates are estimates, Schnaars says, and actual costs can sometimes be higher or lower than estimated.
The managers at Agoco seem unconvinced. They tell Schnaars that they don't want to hire his company for one year, but that the final decision hasn't been made yet. But at least he has spoken with them, and at least his meetings have yielded an outcome, if only a preliminary one. Schnaars suspects that the issue is politically motivated, and he knows there's nothing he can do about it.
Part 2: The Price of Freedom
In the evening, Ronald Meinardus of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation is drinking a non-alcoholic beer at the hotel bar. He talks about a liberalism that is rooted in the Enlightenment, one that guarantees the individual freedom of every human being. Meinardus says that it would be presumptuous to try to tell the Libyans how to live their lives. But when he talks to people from Benghazi, he sometimes injects one of his cleverly loaded questions into the conversation: Do Libyan women deserve freedom? Do religious people in Libya deserve the right to believe in any religion? What's so bad about drinking a glass of ouzo with fried calamari? Indeed, it's astonishing to see how easily Meinardus moves from John Locke to Moammar Gadhafi to a Greek aperitif.
When Schnaars asks his business associates how freedom is changing their lives, an engineer tells him freedom "is being able to establish my own party," adding that it should be Islamic.
A doctor says: "Freedom means that no dictator can bulldoze my house just because he wants to expand his palace." And when Mohammed al-Awjeli, who works for Sirte Oil, is asked about freedom, he says: "Come with me."
Awjeli takes Schnaars to the court in Benghazi, where the walls are covered with photos and posters of young fighters. He stops in front of a photo of a young man who looks to be about 20. He is carrying two guns, one in the crook of his right arm and the other slung over his shoulder. The young man is wearing a baseball cap backwards and making the V-for-victory sign with his fingers, but he still looks nervous. A second photo shows the man with his eyes closed and a pale face. He is wrapped in a white shroud.
Awjeli stands in front of the photos and says: "This is the price of freedom." Then he adds: "They just got going, without thinking too much." His words sound regretful, admiring and envious, all at the same time.
Schnaars meets other men with stories similar to Awjeli's. Most are older than 50 and have grown or almost-grown sons, who would ordinarily respect their fathers as their elders. But now, after the war, age and experience are no longer as important as they once were. The important question today is: Did you fight?
Ready to Reconcile -- but not with Germans
The next day Schnaars takes a short domestic flight to Tripoli, where he first meets up with a friend who has many contacts in the city and has arranged a dinner for him. Two days later, Schnaars is sitting in a restaurant in the old section of Tripoli, facing the house specialty on the table in front of him: baby camel in a clay pot. He is sitting next to a Libyan folk hero.
In 1984, Benghazi-native Wanise Elisawi was part of a group of conspirators who had planned a coup against Gadhafi. The Revolutionary Guards uncovered the plan, which led to the arrest of roughly 2,000 people. Twelve were hanged, and Elisawi spent the next 18 years in prison. He was tortured with electroshocks and forced to repeatedly run into walls at full speed.
Some of his fellow prisoners went insane. Elisawi and some of the others fed them and cleaned them. He says that this task -- and the Koran -- helped him maintain his sanity.
These days, Elisawi -- who calls his former powerlessness his "great trauma" -- wields considerable power. He works in the office of the prime minister, a modern glass cube in the city's government district, where men search for outlets to charge their mobile phones among moving boxes. Elisawi is a man of few words. He likes to be in control over others as well as over himself and his feelings.
Elisawi supervises the work of the cabinet ministers on behalf of the prime minister, checking to make sure that they're doing what they're supposed to. "This is a very meaningful job," he says. Elisawi spends a long time talking about retribution and justice in the way they are described in the Old Testament. But then he talks even more about reconciliation.
When asked about the members of militias who Amnesty International accuses of being responsible for the recent torture and killing of prisoners, he only says: "The majority of Libyans are against this." Then he adds that he has little interest in seeing Germans doing profitable business in Libya. Schnaars sits next to him looking uncomfortable.
Over the next few days, Schnaars continues driving around the city, meeting with Libyan shipping companies, customs agents, importers and exporters. To his great relief, he discovers that not everyone is against him because he's German, that they want to continue working with him and that it doesn't bother them that he and his company did business with Gadhafi for 30 years. In fact, most of the people he meets did the same thing.
Of course it's important, says the head of the purchasing department of an oil company, to exact revenge on those who were closely aligned with Gadhafi, but it's even more important to make a living for one's own future and for one's children. This is already difficult enough, he adds, now that so many things are changing.
For example, the 30-hour workweek in government-owned businesses is now subject to negotiation. Loyalty, which Gadhafi greatly valued and consistently rewarded, suddenly carries little weight. What's important today are the willingness to work hard, knowledge and competency. "This in itself is a completely new situation for many people here," Schnaars says, "just as it was back at home when East Germany ceased to exist."
Dreams for the Future
A bird market now stands in the spot where people were once tortured in Gadhafi's barracks. A woman has taken Meinardus, the importer of liberalism, to the site. Her name is Nada Ebkura, and she is a student and a guide of sorts for foreigners.
The market is swarming with hundreds of men, only men, and here she is in their midst, a woman without a headscarf.
"Whether it's car markets, weapons markets or bird markets, these are simply not places for women in Libya," Ebkura says. Then she talks about a Libya that, despite having killed its dictator, continues to oppress its people. "I can no longer go into a café without a male companion, without having to fear being berated as un-Islamic," she says. "Hardly any women dare to wear their hair uncovered anymore."
Men and women fought side by side during the revolution, Ebkura says. But today, she continues, she is the only woman at demonstrations and she is mishandled by men during them.
In the evening, Meinardus is sitting in a seafood restaurant on the shore, eating fried calamari -- without ouzo -- and discussing the state of the Libyan nation. He says: "Every reasonable person is really a liberal." Meinardus thinks the FDP's problem is that liberalism has already been implemented in Germany. "We have nothing left to do in Germany," he says. He then reflects for a moment and adds: "But we're needed here."
He looks out the restaurant window at the beach, where men and women would be swimming together in the future if he had his way. He gazes out at a city where walls are covered with graffiti calling Gadhafi a dirty Jew, a city where young women like Ebkura are afraid to drive a car alone after 8 p.m. lest it push the Islamists over the edge.
Meinardus had invited Ebkura to join him for dinner. She told him that perhaps her father would drive her. But she doesn't show up.
When Meinardus boards his flight at Benghazi's airport the next morning, he remarks on how nice it would be if the Libyans could relive the Enlightenment in their own way.
When Schnaars steps onto the plane that will take him home, he remarks on how nice it would be for his company if it were once again allowed to pave Libya's streets.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
- Top-Paying Part-Time Jobs, by Linsey Knerl, (I)Investopedia via San Francisco Chronicle via sfgate.com
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Whether you're underemployed, or just need a little extra scratch to make it through the month, a part-time job can be the difference between making it and striking out. Not all part-time jobs are equal, but good paying jobs at less than 30 hours a week do exist. Here are the top picks for those with a little less time on their hands.
Wait Staff Positions
Servers at restaurants have some of the most flexible hours in the part-time job market. If you're willing to work split shifts, late hours and up to six days a week, the potential to earn a more-than-average hourly wage is there. Demand for servers (no longer referred to as "waiters" or "waitresses") is highest during the summer months, states Nathan Laurie, President of Canada's "Jobpostings Magazine." "With tips, you can make anywhere from $150 to $300 a night, depending on where you work." Given the current job market, fast cash is definitely a significant perk for this part-time job.
Laurie also suggests painting homes as a viable option for those seeking seasonal work. While the hours are long, the earning potential is significant; "There are students who graduate debt-free just by working summers as a house painter," he remarks. The average annual salary for a full-time painter is $31,000, making it an attractive source of income for even part-time, entry level applicants.
If you don't mind being outdoors for extended periods of time, are good with your hands and enjoy a challenge, landscaping may be a good fit. Laurie emphasizes that it is an ideal job for those who want to make their own schedule. You don't have to go to work for a boss in this field. He adds that many landscapers are self-employed and "end up making more money than if they worked for someone else." It's important to note that landscaping isn't limited to seasons or geographic area, either; customers in cold areas of the country will benefit from a landscaper that can do double-duty with a snow blower or scoop shovel.
Don't underestimate the role of the bookkeeper, reminds Jennifer Folsom of Momentum Resources. "Every company needs this, and much of the work can be done part-time, remotely and around flexible hours." She emphasizes the importance of special skills that could set you apart from others in the competitive industry, however, including certification in software suites such as QuickBooks. Bookkeepers have a high earning potential, as much as $37,900 for a full-time annual salary; performing even 15 to 20 hours a week entitles part-time earners a significant chunk of that revenue.
Social Media Support
With corporate Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media pages clamoring for attention among wired consumers, company budgets are allowing for the addition of at least one part-time expert to stay on staff - even in this tumultuous economy. While it will take a bit more than an active Google+ profile to earn you the title of "social media strategist," a solid background, understanding of new technologies and a willingness to adapt can bring about opportunity. Social media jobs range from the lowest paid intern position all the way up to director status. Part time social media professionals can expect to charge $20 and up for a staff position or $50 or more for freelance and independent contractor positions.
Things are looking up for anyone who isn't committed to the idea of working 40 or more hours a week for an exciting benefit package. As companies look to cut costs and benefits, the part-time worker can fill the gap that companies struggle to fill - earning even more than they hoped.
- Unemployment In America Is There A Solution? by Glen Asher, Oye! Times via oyetimes.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A recently released study by the Congressional Budget Office entitled "Understanding and Responding to Persistently High Unemployment" examines the current state of the labour market and suggests an array of policy changes that could be made to reduce unemployment.
The United States is currently suffering from its longest stretch of unemployment greater than 8 percent since the Great Depression, the unemployment rate passed the 8 percent marker in February 2009 meaning that the American labour market has now suffered for three full years. The peak unemployment rate of 10 percent in October 2009 was only exceeded once since the end of World War II, during the 1981 - 1982 recession. As if that weren't bad enough, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014. As we all know, the official U-3 unemployment rate excludes individuals who would like to work but who have not searched for a job over the previous four week period as well as those who are working part-time simply because they cannot find full-time employment. If those individuals were counted, the unemployment rate would be in excess of 15 percent.
Compounding the unemployment problem is the share of unemployed American workers who have been looking for work for more than six months - the long-term unemployed. For the first time since data was collected in 1948, this number topped 40 percent in December 2009 and remains elevated.... [graph omitted]
The extent of long-term unemployed is much greater than what is normally experienced; had it followed its historical pattern, long-term unemployment would have been between 20 and 25 percent of all unemployed rather than 40 percent. This means that the burden of unemployment has fallen on the shoulders of Americans who have been unemployed for long periods of time, rather than the normal pattern of more workers being unemployed for shorter periods of time.
Now, let's take a look at who made up America's unemployed and long term unemployed in March of 2011.... [graph omitted]
Interestingly, the distribution of both unemployed and long-term unemployed came disproportionately from certain groups of Americans; males, people with a high school diploma, married people, African Americans, construction workers and people under the age of 25. As well, while the geographic distribution was more-or-less distributed in rough proportion to the size of the workforce, there were exceptions. Unemployment in the western states of California and Nevada was higher than would have been expected as was the case in Florida and Michigan where real estate and difficulties in the automotive industry led to higher rates.
These employment issues have a marked impact on the economy. Households with unemployed workers note a drop in earnings that often persists even when the unemployed family member finds a new job because of fewer hours worked and lower hourly wages. Older workers, in particular, often find that new jobs pay less and have less potential for earnings growth. As well, people that start their careers during times of high unemployment tend to have persistently lower earnings than their peers that start employment during when the economy is strong. Data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that among workers that lost their jobs between 2007 and 2009, 55 percent earned less per week once they were employed and 36 percent took at least a 20 percent cut in weekly earnings. This drop in income can persist for decades; workers displaced during the 1982 recession were still making 20 percent less than their non-displaced peers 15 to 20 years later.
What factors are causing high unemployment and high long-term unemployment?
1.) Weak demand for goods and services following the recession was related to a fall in household spending and the end of the wealth effect attached to home ownership. The CBO estimates that this accounts for 2.5 percentage points of the elevated unemployment rate.
2.) Mismatches between the needs of potential employers and the skills or location of the unemployed or frictional unemployment generally ranges from 4 to 5 percent but was at elevated levels after the end of the recession because of the inability of many workers to move to new geographic locations for work because of the collapse in housing prices that resulted in underwater homeowners. The CBO estimates that this factor accounts for 0.5 percentage points of the elevated unemployment rate.
3.) Incentives from extensions of unemployment insurance for people to stay in the labour force (i.e. not drop out of the statistical database) and continue searching for work accounts for about 0.25 percentage points of the elevated unemployment rate. The availability of UI also discourages unemployed people from taking jobs that are less than suitable because the benefits paid reduce the hardship of being unemployed, particularly as benefits are extended by the government with studies showing that these UI extensions elevate the share of long-term unemployment.
4.) Many employers believe that the skill sets of long-term unemployed workers erode and that long-term unemployed workers are of "lower quality" (stigmatization). Fortunately, when unemployment levels are very high, this affect is minimized as potential employers attribute the length of unemployment to economic conditions rather than individual issues. Unfortunately, even during periods of weak economic growth, long-term unemployment is still regarded as a stigma and results in a self-perpetuating cycle. The CBO estimates that this factor accounts for about 0.25 percentage points of the elevated unemployment rate.
Okay, what solutions does the CBO suggest for fixing the unemployment problem?
The CBO suggests that there are three main pathways that can be taken to prop up the job market; first by assisting households by increasing their disposable income thereby propping up the demand for goods and services, second by supporting businesses and third by increasing aid to state governments and government spending on infrastructure. The impact of these spending policies is measured using the number of full-time-equivalent employment (FTE) (one FTE is 40 hours of employment per week for one year) that is created per million dollars spent over the next two years.... [chart omitted]
The CBO suggests that, as a rule of thumb, an additional $30 billion expenditure used in 2012 for an option that would boost employment in 2012 - 2013 by about 9 FTE-years per million dollars of total cost would reduced the unemployment rate by one-tenth of one percentage point. For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which spent $825 billion, resulted in a 0.4 to 1.8 percentage point drop in unemployment in 2010.
In looking at the results of the CBO's analysis, it is apparent that the biggest employment gain bang for the buck is to increase aid to the unemployed, followed by reducing the employers share of payroll taxes for firms that increase their payroll and, in third place, by reducing employers payroll taxes for all firms. The poorest returns are for both reducing taxes on business income (not a surprise to me and a lesson to both President Obama and the remaining Republican Presidential candidates) and reducing tax rates on repatriated foreign earnings, a lesson the Bush II Administration learned the hard way in 2004 when they extended a generous tax holiday to American corporations that were supposed to create jobs in return as posted here. You'll also note that the jobs gain resulting from increased spending on infrastructure is also very, very low compared to the other alternatives, tied for third least effective policy with reducing personal income taxes in 2013.
As I noted above, the CBO's study shows that by far, the greatest employment gains are made by changing the current structure of the Unemployment Insurance system. Modifications to UI could be used to encourage unemployed people to return to work more quickly. Changes could include awarding reemployment bonuses to people who find a job quickly, offering wage insurance payments to people who accept a job that pays less than their previous job, using UI benefits to temporarily place unemployed workers with private-sector employers so that they can gain experience in a new occupation or industry or supplementing the earnings of workers who agree to accept shorter working hours rather than being laid-off (short-time compensation). As well, the UI system could be used to help unemployed workers relocate to areas where employment opportunities are greater; unfortunately, the general goal of programs that assist underwater homeowners are designed to keep owners in their current homes rather than moving them to a new location.
As well, the CBO suggests that direct government employment in public service jobs could reduce unemployment, as was the case during the Great Depression. As well, specialized training programs that improve workers skills that target specific industries and geographic locations could address the issues of skills mismatch, loss and the attached stigma faced by long-term unemployed Americans.
Programs also need to focus on America's youth who are suffering from 23.2 percent unemployment (January 2012). The use of career academies, small learning communities of high school students that focus on specific careers, have been proven to increase employment among young men from low-income families. In addition, apprenticeship programs that provide specific trade skills have been shown to result in both employment and earnings gains when compared to the training received at community colleges. With baby boomer tradesmen about to retire by the tens of thousands over the coming decades, there will be an increasing demand for trained journeymen.
The CBO's study shows that by far, the greatest employment gains are made by changing the current structure of the Unemployment Insurance system. Modifications to UI could also be used to encourage unemployed people to return to work more quickly. Changes could include awarding reemployment bonuses to people who find a job quickly, offer wage insurance payments to people who accept a job that pays less than their previous jobs, use UI benefits to temporarily place unemployed workers with private-sector employers or supplementing the earnings of workers who agree to accept shorter working hours rather than being laid-off.
All in all, the CBO has done a very interesting job in trying to solve what seems to be an unsolvable employment problem in America. While Mr. Bernanke suggests that America’s economy appears to be recovering more quickly than he expected, there are millions of unemployed Americans who would argue otherwise. At least the CBO is making an effort to suggest policies that would be most effective and efficient in changing the employment situation for the better, particularly in light of growing levels of government debt.
As an aside, I apologize for the length of this posting but the CBO study had so many interesting points that I felt should be included.
- Changing terms and conditions, by Peter Done, FT Adviser via ftadviser.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Q: I am looking to take over a business that employs 26 people but the employees work hours that do not suit the needs of my business. My intention is to change the hours and shorten lunch breaks from one hour to 30 minutes. Naturally employees will work shorter hours as a result. Once I have purchased the company can I go ahead and change the terms and conditions?
A: This is a lot more complicated than you might think and can be fraught with difficulties. What you are able to do at different stages will depend very much on the individual circumstances involved. The information you have provided here is very brief so will only allow for some general answers.
You do not have a right to unilaterally change terms and conditions, irrespective of your reasons for wanting to do so, unless the contract contains a variation clause. The first thing you need to do, therefore, is to get a copy of the main terms of the contract for these employees and see what their terms actually are.
It is not clear if you are talking about changing hours simply by shortening lunch breaks or if you were planning on further reducing hours. If you are looking at reducing the hours of paid work that the employees will be doing overall then you are getting into a redundancy situation.
One other matter to consider is whether or not this is, or will become, a transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations 2006 situation. This will be determined mainly by how you are taking over the business. To some extent what you can or cannot do in respect of changing terms and conditions stays the same irrespective of whether or not the regulations apply but the consequences can be much more severe if the regulations have engaged.
If this is a transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations 2006 situation then you need to inform the current employer of the measures you are planning on introducing post-transfer in order that they can consult with their employees. If they are amenable it would be helpful for you to attend those consultation meetings to see if the changes can be discussed and an agreement reached. Measures will include any intention to change contractual terms or working hours.
Without a clearer view of what changes you are planning to make it is not possible to see if what you are proposing would meet the definition of acceptable circumstances in which you can change terms and conditions. These only apply if you are considering an economic, technical or organisational reason that will result in a change in the workforce. If you cannot come into this exception then any detrimental changes could be treated as void as, if this is a transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations 2006 situation, the employees’ contractual terms are protected.
Once these workers become your employees you need to start consulting with them about the proposed changes if these have not already been agreed through prior consultation. Consider why you wish to bring these changes. What do you gain by shortening the lunch hour? If you are planning on changing the start and end times of shifts, what are you changing them to and what will this achieve?
You need to be very careful on the changes you introduce to make sure that you are not proposing something that could put a group of your employees at particular disadvantage. For example, if you wish to make employees start earlier or finish later this could cause problems for employees with childcare commitments or who care for other dependents. You may have employees who have medical treatment that sits on either side of their working hours and so cannot just adapt to a change. Consider if any of your employees have a medical condition that means that a shortened break is not advisable.
If you are proposing changes to the contract but on terms that are not less favourable and the employees agree to them, then you should be able to make the changes without any difficulties. However if that is not the case then this becomes a lot more difficult. You can try and negotiate changes as a package with an incentive to buy out the old contract. You may find that following a consultation you and the employees come up with a suitable alternative proposal that you are both happy with.
If you cannot agree to the changes then the only alternative left to you is fairly drastic. While you have no right to unilaterally change terms and conditions, you do have the right to end the contract. Your final option, therefore, is to dismiss and offer re-engagement on the new terms. However this runs the risk of an unfair dismissal claim, even if they accept employment under the new contract, so it is not an option to be undertaken lightly.
Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula
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