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Timesizing News, October/2012
[Commentary] ©2012 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

10/31/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. UPDATE 1 - Continental eyes output cuts after in-line profit (Adds background, analyst comment), By Andreas Cremer and Jan Schwartz, Reuters.com
    * Demand weaker "in some areas" including diesel engines-CFO
    * Q3 adj EBIT 838.5 mln euros vs. 743.7 mln a year ago
    * Continental affirms 2012 sales, profit outlook
    * Expects to outgrow global passenger-car production in 2013-CFO
    BERLIN, Germany - Continental, Germany's biggest tyre maker, will scale back some production as Europe's debt crisis saps demand, it said on Wednesday as it announced third-quarter profits in line with forecasts.
    Demand in areas such as diesel engines for smaller cars mainly destined for austerity-strapped southern Europe is weaker than three months ago, Wolfgang Schaefer, finance chief at Hanover-based Continental, which also produces auto parts, told Reuters.
    "The road ahead is getting bumpier," Schaefer said.
    Continental has not ruled out paring employees' working hours under government "Kurzarbeit" rules, he said. These provide a public subsidy to help companies avoid dismissals. But Continental will first cut back on overtime, Schaefer said.

    Continental's third-quarter adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose to 838.5 million euros ($1.09 billion) from 743.7 million a year ago, above a consensus forecast of analysts in a Reuters poll of 837 million.
    Benefiting from growth in North America and Asia, the company affirmed its outlook for 2012, saying group sales may increase more than 7 percent to over 32.5 billion euros while margin on adjusted EBIT may exceed last year's 10.1 percent.
    Continental raised its outlook in August, having previously aimed to boost sales by 5 percent to more than 32 billion euros and match the 2011 profit margin.
    Continental shares were down 1 percent at 78.79 euros at 1113 GMT.
    The company ranks fourth among the world's biggest tyre makers, trailing Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, Michelin and Bridgestone, the global market leader.
    CFO Schaefer said Continental stands by its goal to expand faster next year than global passenger-car production, which the company expects to grow between 1 and 3 percent from more than 79 million units in 2012.
    "Continental can't extricate itself completely from the market downtrend but its international presence and strong tyre business offsets weakness in automotive operations," said Hanover-based NordLB analyst Frank Schwope
    (Reporting By Andreas Cremer; editing by Jason Webb)

  2. Nokian planning to cut output at Finnish plant, Crain News Service via TireBusiness.com
    NOKIA, Finland — Nokian Tyres P.L.C. will start statutory negotiations on Nov. 5 at its Nokia plant to adjust the production downwards, to meet the market situation.
    The agenda of the negotiations includes possible changes in the shift system and utilization of short-time working methods, the company said, adding the possible adjustments have been planned to be done mainly with layoffs during 2013.
    The negotiations concern approximately 600 workers and staff at car tire production, maintenance and quality departments at Nokia as well as all 260 of Nokian Heavy Tyres' employees. Possible personnel cuts will amount to a maximum of 45 persons, according to the tire maker.
    This report appeared in European Rubber Journal, a UK-based companion publication of Tire Business.

10/30/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. UPDATE 2 - MAN SE profit plunges as crisis bites (Adds analyst, CEO comments, shares and background), by Andreas Cremer, Reuters.com
    * MAN keeps 2012 outlook, group profit margin of 6 pct
    * Q3 operating profit 185 mln euros vs 321 mln euros
    * German plants to shut between Dec 21-Jan 11 -CEO
    * MAN will keep cutting costs -CEO
    * Shares rise 2.9 pct
    BERLIN, Germany - German truck maker MAN SE's third-quarter profit tumbled 42 percent as slowing economic growth in its main European markets eroded demand from haulier companies and construction firms.
    Owned by Europe's biggest car maker Volkswagen, MAN is halting assembly lines this week at its Munich-based headquarter factory and at a plant in Salzgitter after orders dropped 14 percent between July and September to 3.5 billion euros ($4.52 billion).
    Truck makers are facing tough times as the euro zone debt crisis squeezes demand in European and as other markets ease due to a slowdown in the global economy.
    "Truck makers are deep in the mire," said Hanover-based NordLB analyst Frank Schwope. "Demand is weak and production cutbacks are indispensable."
    Both Volvo, the world's second biggest manufacturer of heavy-duty vehicles, and Scania, recently reported sharp falls in profits. Volvo has said it expects no growth in European and U.S. markets next year.
    MAN's third-quarter operating profit fell to 185 million euros ($238.74 million) from 321 million euros a year earlier, missing a consensus forecast of 199 million euros in a Reuters analyst poll.
    Still, MAN, which also makes diesel engines and industrial turbines, reaffirmed its outlook for a 2012 profit margin of about 6 percent from 9 percent in 2011.
    The company had already lowered the targeted profit margin from 8.5 percent in July. MAN now expects revenue from commercial vehicles to decline more than 5 percent this year instead of as much as 5 percent as previously forecast.
    MAN shares were up 2.2 percent at 78.43 euros at 1247 GMT, extending this year's run to almost 11 percent.
    MAN plans to halt production at its headquarter factory and Salzgitter plant again between Dec 21 and Jan 11, including in this stoppage an engine plant in Nuremberg, Chief Executive Georg Pachta-Reyhofen said on a conference call, confirming a Reuters story.
    It will use workers' residual leave and overtime hours to avoid more drastic cutbacks during the planned stoppages, Pachta-Reyhofen added.
    Once those steps have been exhausted, MAN may apply for subsidies under the German government's short-work programme, called "Kurzarbeit," the CEO said. The scheme allows companies to preserve jobs by cutting workers' hours when plant usage is low and have the government compensate staff for part of their lost wages.
    "We will keep working intensively to cut costs," the CEO said, noting past efforts to trim the number of lease workers. "The (quarterly) result isn't satisfactory."
    (Reporting By Andreas Cremer; Editing by Christiaan Hetzner and Louise Heavens)

  2. ISTAT - ISTITUTO NAZIONALE DI STATISTICA : Large firms labour indicators, 4-traders.com
    ROME, Italy - Labour indicators for large firms (enterprises with 500 employees and more) are calculated with reference to the base year 2005 using the Ateco 2007 classification (Italian edition of Nace rev. 2).
    In August 2012 the seasonally adjusted employment index in large firms is unchanged compared with July 2012 (-0.1% both in industry and in services); net of workers in cassa integrazione guadagni (Cig = short-time working allowance) decreased by 0.1% (-0.1% both in industry and in services). The percentage change of the average of the last three months compared to the previous three months was -0.3% gross of Cig and -0.6% net of Cig.
    The unadjusted employment index in large firms decreased by 0.9% compared with August 2011 (-1.7% net of Cig); the percentage change in the first eight months of the year 2012 with respect to the same period of 2011 was -0.8% (-1.4% net of Cig).

    In August 2012 the seasonally adjusted index of gross average earnings per hours worked increased by 2.6% with respect to the previous month (+0.6% in industry and +3.4% in services). The percentage change of the average of the last three months compared to the previous three months was -0.4% (+0.2% in industry and +0.3% in services).
    The unadjusted index of gross average earnings per hours worked increased by 2.5% compared with August 2011 (+2.1% in industry and +2.7% in services). The percentage change in the first eight months of the year with respect to the same period of 2011 was +0.5% (+1.6% in industry and +0.1% in services).

10/28-29/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Petition to Applaud the Obama Administration for Supporting Work Sharing Programs, by Kevin Rychel, 10/28 ForceChange.com
    OAKLAND, Calif. - Target: US Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis
    Goal: Applaud Obama Administration for issuing federal grant for state work sharing programs
    Work sharing is a form of unemployment benefit that provides employers with an alternative to laying off workers in times of temporary business decline. Instead of laying off employees, the employer reduces the hours and wages of all or of certain workers. These workers are then eligible for partial unemployment benefits to supplement the gap in their income.
    Work sharing programs are good for employers because they allow for a temporary reduction in pay-roll costs, for the retention of skilled workers, for and the avoidance of future hiring and training costs. They are good for workers because they allow for them to maintain their job, their income, their health and retirement benefits.
    The programs are financed through state unemployment insurance trust funds that are paid back through employer unemployment taxes and through federal reimbursement. Work sharing programs are voluntary for employers to participate in based on their particular circumstances and are currently (as of January 2012) implemented in 23 states and in the District of Columbia.
    Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of nearly $100 million in grants to states that either implement a work sharing program or improve their already-existing program. A significant portion of this grant (about 2/3) goes to outreach and promotion of work sharing programs to employers.
    The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates that the states that choose to take advantage of this funding could save up to $1.7 billion a year for up to three years as well as reduce their unemployment rates. Rhode Island (which has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation at 10.8%) has used work sharing to prevent more than 15,000 layoffs since 2007, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. 
    The expansion and further implementation of work sharing programs will prevent countless layoffs, reduce U.S. unemployment, and save money for employers that choose to implement the program. Applaud the Obama Administration for supporting work sharing programs.
    Dear Madame Secretary Hilda Solis,
    I am writing this letter to applaud your Department’s recent announcement of nearly $100 million in available federal grants to states for work sharing programs. This is a major domestic policy accomplishment for the Obama administration and for the well-being of the U.S. as a whole.
    If states choose to accept these funds, employers will have the opportunity to participate in a program that has showed massive success in European countries (most notably Germany) and that provides an avenue towards unemployment reduction that saves the employers money as well. As you put it yourself, a “win-win” situation.
    Work sharing is a progressive alternative to lay offs and I am pleased to see this policy both supported and implemented by the Obama Administration. Thank you for supporting work sharing programs for American workers.
    [Your Name Here]

  2. A wired age spurs calls for a day off - Companies, groups say it's healthy to unplug, by Martha Irvine, 10/29 AP via Boston Globe, B7, amplified from 11/01 DelCoTimes.com ("Can true solitude be found in a wired world").
    Dan Rollman, CEO of RecordSetter.com, and others from the group Reboot created the Sabbath Manifesto, a call for a day to unplug from the constant use of technology. (photo caption) CHICAGO, Illin., USA — When was the last time you were alone, and unwired? Really, truly by yourself. Just you and your thoughts — no cellphone, no tablet, no laptop.
    Many of us crave that kind of solitude, though in an increasingly wired world, it's a rare commodity.
    We check texts and emails, and update our online status, at any hour — when we're lying in bed or sitting at stop lights or on trains. Sometimes, we even do so when we're on the toilet.
    We feel obligated, yes. But we're also fascinated with this connectedness, constantly tinkering and checking in — an obsession that's starting to get pushback from a small but growing legion of tech users who are feeling the need to unplug and get away.
    "What might have felt like an obligation at first has become an addiction. It's almost as if we don't know how to be alone, or we are afraid of what we'll find when we are alone with ourselves," says Camille Preston, a tech and communication consultant based in Cambridge, Mass.
    "It's easier to keep doing, than it is to be in stillness."
    One could argue that, in this economy, it's wise to be constantly wired — to stay on top of things, to please the boss. Preston knows people who get up in the middle of the night to see if their boss has sent them an email.
    But she and others also see more hints of limit-setting going on, this movement of solitude-seekers with roots in the technology industry, ironically enough.
    "When I think about truly disconnecting, I look to my truly techy friends," says Cathy Davidson, a Duke University professor who co-directs the school's PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge.
    Those friends, she says, take long, unwired vacations and set "away messages" telling people to write back after they return. "And they stick to it," Davidson says, wishing she could do the same.
    "They've come up with a socially acceptable convention for their own absence from the world of technology and everybody recognizes it."
    One organization called Reboot has started the Sabbath Manifesto, a call to unplug one day a week to find solitude — or to simply take a day of rest with family and friends.
    Bigger corporations, some outside the tech industry, are starting to catch on to this type of limit-setting.
    To encourage work-life balance, Volkswagen shuts off mobile email in Germany 30 minutes after employees' shifts end and turns it back on 30 minutes before their next shift starts.
    Google, Nike and the Huffington Post, among others, provide space for employees to take naps, or to meditate. The idea is that employees who take time to themselves to reenergize will be more productive.
    John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist, thinks there might just be something to that.
    He has spent much of his career tackling the topic of loneliness and isolation, which researchers have proven can affect humans adversely, all the way down to gene expression.
    "Feeling ignored sparks feelings of loneliness," says Cacioppo, director of the University of Chicago's Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.
    But getting away, he says — "that's the opposite of being lonely."
    It's time that you take by choice, Cacioppo says. So while the cognitive effects are still being studied, he says it's very likely that that type of solitude is good for the brain.
    Dan Rollman had little doubt of that when he and a few others from Reboot, a group of Jewish "thought leaders," gathered in 2009. That's when they created the Sabbath Manifesto, inspired by the traditional Jewish sabbath, but aimed at people from any background who are encouraged to unplug one day — any day — of the week.
    The idea came to Rollman when he found himself craving a simpler time, when stores closed on Sundays and life slowed down.
    "I knew I wanted a day of rest," says Rollman, who is CEO of the company RecordSetter.com.
    The Manifesto — described as "a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world" — has 10 principles. They are suggestions ranging from "avoid technology" and "connect with loved ones" to "get outside," ''drink wine" and "find silence."
    To help with this, the organization has created "The Undo List" — an email that arrives Friday afternoons "with ideas for conversation topics, readings, local outings and creative endeavors to ease the time away from technology and help make the day better." There also are specific activities for subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
    Rollman himself avoids doing work on Saturdays, whenever he can, and often unplugs altogether then — and encourages his employees to do the same.
    "There's a huge sense of relief," Rollman says. "It is a liberating feeling to walk out of one's door and not have your cellphone in your pocket."
    Leah Jones, a 35-year-old Chicagoan, hasn't gone quite that far.
    But she has cut back, turning her cellphone to "silent" mode from 11:30 p.m to 6 a.m. and putting it away when she goes out.
    "I'm a better friend when I don't have my phone in my hand," says Jones, who is 35 and vice president of social and emerging media at Olson public relations.
    For her, solitude might simply be sitting home and watching a few episodes of TV.
    "I might tweet while I watch it, but it's a perfectly acceptable way to spend an afternoon," she says.
    Is that really solitude, though?
    Davidson, at Duke, thinks it is.
    "For some people it's dancing and blasting rock music," she says. "We tend to think of it as solitude, which is sort of a lofty term, when in fact for many people, it's also about being joyful.
    "The real issue is fun vs. work."
    And often, she says, her students are better at it than she is.
    "They seem very fine to go off on a bike ride and leave a cellphone," she says.
    Renee Houston, an associate professor of communication studies at Puget Sound University in Washington state, also finds herself envying a colleague who regularly unplugs. "He will drive two hours to go to the coast just to step away, just have time to think," she says.
    She's not there yet but is finding small ways to set limits. Her family has a rule, for instance — put cellphones away during dinner unless there's a crisis.
    She, too, has noticed more after-hours tech limits in the business world. But it can be as difficult to set those limits with close colleagues or friends who've come to expect instant responses, and get miffed if they don't get one.
    "The friend is saying, 'But wait! It's me!'" says Cacioppo from the University of Chicago. "But you have to wonder — what kind of friend are they?"
    The key, he and others say, is to develop a reputation for being responsive, but not hyper-responsive. He sets those limits himself — has given up Facebook and generally answers emails or texts from colleagues or students within half a day, if it's nothing too urgent. If you make yourself available all the time, people come to expect it even more, he says.
    "And the more responsive you are, the more trivial things you get queried about."
    Davidson, from Duke, says it also helps when there is a "built-in alibi" — the message from a work or social circle where unplugging is accepted, and even welcomed.
    But Jones in Chicago says you also have to let yourself off the hook and resist the urge to constantly check in to see what friends are doing.
    Social networking "makes it seem like everybody's doing something awesome," she says. "But you can't always worry about what other people are doing.
    "You have to give yourself permission to miss out."
    Online: Sabbath Manifesto: http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/about

  3. No shock, please: French government shies away from shaking up workweek, cutting labor costs, 10/29 FoxNews.com
    PARIS, France – The 35-hour work week? Untouchable [like US Social Security?]. The social safety net? Untrimmable [like US consumer spending unless deeper downturn desired?]. So how on earth can France's Socialist government keep its promise to make the country, and Europe, more competitive in the global marketplace? Slowly and carefully, President Francois Hollande says.
    [No, with cleverly disguised import barriers like Switzerland and Japan and Iceland... Anyway, it's an unnecessary promise about an elite-driven but self-destructive goal.]
    After meetings with world finance chiefs [pompous faddists] Monday, he acknowledged "there are measures to take" on reducing the cost of labor in France, among the world's highest — but said they "should be spread out over time."
    [Hopefully he's just stringing them along. They, like the IMF and the World Bank, are Typhoid Mary's.]
    Many [in-the-box] economists say France could be running out of time, however [like USA and China and UK and the IMF and the World Bank?], and that could have repercussions beyond its borders. Geographically and economically between Germany and Spain, France has allied with its northern neighbor to manage the eurozone crisis, but its huge state debts and chronic unemployment are making it look increasingly like struggling Spain.
    [It needs to cut its workweek further and gain fuller employment and higher domestic wage&spending levels. Compared to domestic spending, exports are trivial for all but citystates like Singapore, and even there....]
    The head of the World Trade Organization said that "it's particularly urgent" for France to loosen up its economy. "This link among growth, competitiveness and jobs ... is the major problem of France and to a certain degree Europe right now," Pascal Lamy told Hollande at the Monday meeting.
    The French government is hoping that gradual change is the way to go, and that a series of private meetings and cautious public statements in recent days will mollify both fearful workers and employers who say it's no longer worth the cost to hire.
    "It's not going to be a question of shocking or brutalizing the French economy," Economics Minister Pierre Moscovici said Friday. "It's going to be continuous action, spread over our entire mandate."
    The WTO promotes free trade and has criticized government intervention in big French companies, saying France should stop protecting its industry.
    But after Hollande was elected in May, the Socialists' first response to France's lagging economy was to create an agency essentially dedicated to meddling: the Ministry of Industrial Recovery. That failed to keep unemployment from rising, or some of France's biggest corporations from announcing thousands more layoffs — including carmaker Peugeot Citroen, Air France and retail giant Carrefour.
    Hollande then asked one of the country's most respected businessmen, former Airbus chairman Louis Gallois, to spend months drawing up plans to make France more competitive. But as reports leaked over the past week about the report's recommendations — rethinking the controversial 35-hour week, shifting some of the tax burden to workers, cutting public spending — the government swiftly distanced itself.
    "I'd advise against the idea of a shock, which has more of an attention-getting effect than a real therapeutic effect," Hollande said Thursday. Without offering details, he said he would prefer a "pact" among the government, workers and employers.
    France has only to look south to neighboring Spain for reasons to go slowly with major labor reforms. Spain, facing the possibility of default, had little choice but to impose stark reforms, but the results have been dire: Tens of thousands of people joined anti-government protests as unemployment hit 25 percent.
    France isn't in as bad shape as Spain — borrowing costs remain low and the jobless rate is just over 10 percent. But it faces many of the same long-term problems: Rigid work rules, including the 35-hour week, high administrative costs, strict government oversight of layoffs and generous severance when job loss is inevitable. The upshot is that corporate profits end up being taxed more than 60 percent.
    Since 1984, French unemployment has been below 8 percent for only 16 months.
    The government, and the French, hope Germany's more robust economy is ultimately a better comparison. And some say there are signs that the French are ahead of their government in realizing that something has to give.
    Despite the official length of the French work week — it's equal with the Democratic Republic of Congo as the shortest in the world, according to World Bank figures — French employees actually labor on average about 40 hours weekly, according to several polls. Other surveys have found that even on vacation, a sizable number check in to the office even while on vacation.
    "There's a maturation that is happening in French society, even if we still have leaders who can't admit it," said Gerard Dussillol of the pro-market Thomas More Institute.
    But the French themselves have their limits, especially when it comes to taxes. According to recent surveys, six in 10 French think the cost of labor is hurting the economy, but fewer than three in 10 think the burdens should shift to workers.
    "When you take a paystub in France and one in Germany, and you see it costs 25 percent more in France than in Germany, you don't need a study" to know which country will come out ahead, said Dussillol. Meanwhile, Hollande and others fret about France's eroding share of global GDP, which has been cut in half to about 2 percent since 1990.
    The heads of major French companies came together to demand that the government lower their labor costs by a total of €30 billion over two years. On Monday, Moscovici said that wouldn't happen, explaining that the government could neither risk raising taxes on already struggling consumers nor abandon its plan to reduce the deficit.
    Economists are doubtful about real labor reform under a Socialist government, saying they expect the competitiveness report from Gallois, due Nov. 5, to fall into the same dust-gathering category as 40 other studies compiled over the past decade.
    "The rest of the world continues to finance the French economy," said Jean-Christophe Caffet, an economist for Natixis.
    Markets are starting to take notice.
    Standard and Poor's downgraded France's largest bank BNP Paribas on Thursday and lowered expectations for 10 others, citing high unemployment, lower domestic growth and the European recession.
    "We've been in this kind of infernal machine for a long time," said Dussillol. "Certain economic systems are stable for years and then suddenly it falls apart."
    Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.

10/27/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Long-shot candidate seeks seat over incumbent - Gerry Manata, a Democratic candidate who has progressive ideals, campaigns to unseat Katcho Achadjian, who has more money and recognition, by Jonah Owen Lamb jlamb@thetribunenews.com, San Luis Obispo Tribune via SanLuisObispo.com
    SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif., USA - A 35-hour workweek. A ban on disposable diapers. Overtime for farmworkers.
    This progressive wish list [overtime is not progressive but employment-funneling and labor surplusing] belongs to Gerry Manata, the Paso Robles man whose run for California’s newly formed 35th Assembly District looks as improbable as his hope for a 35-hour workweek.
    [His shorter workweek wish conflicts with his overtime wish.]
    The incumbent, former county Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, is expected to win handily over long-shot Democratic candidate and school bus driver Manata. Achadjian has more money, a voter registration advantage and a recognizable name.
    Odds aside, the two men in the race couldn’t be more different. Freshman Republican
    Assemblyman Achadjian, who emigrated from Lebanon in the early 1970s, started a small business and worked his way up through local politics, firmly believes in the power of the free market and thinks government gets in the way more often than not.
    His opponent, Manata, is a progressive from Chicago who got his first taste of politics in the 1960s as a member of Students for a Democratic Society, wrote two anarchist-influenced books in the early 1970s and worked for Tom Hayden’s failed 1976 bid for the Senate. Manata said government can be a force for good, from environmental regulation and labor laws to financial regulations and food safety.
    “Historically, the district has never gone to a Democratic candidate. There are more Republicans registered,” said Pat Harris, chair of the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Party. “It’s really, really unlikely that he will win that seat.”
    Money and voters
    As of Sept. 7, out of the newly drawn 35th District’s 216,195 registered voters, more than 86,000 were Republicans while only 73,913 were Democrats. There were more than 43,000 voters with no party preference.
    Since January, Achadjian has spent about $130,000 and raised $170,778, which is far less than the $455,680 he spent in his first run for the Assembly two years ago. He still had $182,619.30 on hand as of Sept. 30.
    Manata hasn’t filed a campaign finance report with the state.
    Manata said that while he has no illusions about his chances in the race, he doesn’t think anyone should run unopposed. So, as a member of the Paso Robles Democratic Club, he put his name forward as an experimental candidate and was given the nod to run. With little to lose, Manata is waging a campaign that makes no apology for his beliefs.
    “Your standard party-line Democrat in this area gets nowhere,” he said. “So I’m standing for my principles instead of going toward the middle.”
    He is doing little in terms of campaigning, aside from some precinct walks for Democrats in general and perhaps a mailer. The only support he was given from larger Democratic circles was a small sum from the Los Angeles County Democratic Club to file papers.
    Manata says that on a long list of issues, Achadjian fails where it matters.
    “We workers, students, middle-class Americans, small-business owners, the poor and disabled have taken a real hit in the last few years. Mr. Achadjian’s solution seems to be that the same groups should suffer even more,” according to Manata’s website.
    Manata’s positions on most issues are to the left of the Democratic Party’s:
    • He advocates increased environmental regulations and cleanup.
    • He says taxes should be increased on sodas, pesticide use and gasoline.
    • He advocates the creation of a state bank and a unicameral state Legislature.
    • He believes plastic bags should be banned, as well as Styrofoam.
    Achadjian, who describes himself as a moderate Republican and who has a track record of some bipartisanship, stands firm on a litany of conservative issues, including his stances against abortion, gay marriage, new taxes, regulation, high-speed rail and realignment; and his support for school vouchers and concealed weapons laws as they stand.
    Achadjian says he has not been in lockstep with his party. For instance, he voted for a law allowing some undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children to get driver’s licenses. Also, he was appointed by the Democratic Assembly speaker to the Little Hoover Commission, which was charged with recommending ways to reduce redundant state operations.
    Although Achadjian signed a no-tax pledge, the California Republican Assembly scorecard noted that he voted in support of its views only 63 percent of the time and, on several occasions, for fee increases. Several of these votes he defends because they are not a general tax but rather a user fee.
    According to the CRA, Achadjian voted for the following: increased user fees on boaters to fight the spread of quagga mussel; an annual $50 charge for lobbyists, PACs and campaigns to stay active; allowing counties to increase real estate filing fees by $7; and leaving some vehicle fees in place, some of which would go to support the Carl Moyer Program that helps farmers and truckers retrofit vehicles to meet clean air standards.
    Achadjian said that in almost all of these cases, he voted for user fees so only the people or organizations using the services would be impacted.
    When it comes to California’s budget woes, Achadjian said, “The best way to increase revenue is to improve the state’s business climate and economy rather than raising taxes.”
    Achadjian said he is especially proud of several bills with direct impact on the county, including:
    • AB 1125, which authorized local government to access state and federal grant funds for a two-tiered rate program to offset the cost of the new sewer in Los Osos.
    • AB 2161, which added the county to a list of counties eligible for renewable energy development grants.
    Achadjian had little to say about his opponent.

  2. Grays Harbor Furlough Days Conflict With Election, by Drew Dawson, (10/26 late pickup) KMAS News Radio via masoncountydailynews.com
    GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash., USA - After the November 6th election, final results might be hard to come by in Grays Harbor County. It’s a simple matter of economics, and the County’s need to save money by scheduling unpaid furlough days for some employees; including those in the county auditor’s office. This could result in delayed election results.
    [Better to trim worktime than workforce and markets. But doesn't trimming worktime trim pay and markets? Not if it's done systemwide AND: slow enough to avoid bankrupting businesses and fast enough to create a wage-raising income-maintaining employer-perceived "shortage" of labor - which obviously requires a period of job mobility to take hold. = First time I've said this! /spelled out this timing issue. And the "system" can be as small as a single company or town, or as large as a planet. And it must be done first or any currency unification will be unsustainable and have as many problems as benefits.]
    The initial tally should be posted on the Auditors website around 8pm, November 6th and ballot count updates for close local, state, or national race would normally be available on Friday following Election Day. But that’s a scheduled furlough day, and Monday the 12th is Veterans Day and all county offices are closed. The first ballot count update could be postponed until sometime Tuesday November 13th – a full week after the election.
    Citizens who currently are not registered to vote in Washington have until this Monday, Oct. 29, to register in person to vote in the General Election. Residents can register at their county elections offices. Secretary of State Sam Reed urges Washington residents who haven’t registered yet to do so if they want their voice heard in this key election. To register to vote in Washington, people must be: a citizen of the United States; a legal resident of Washington State; at least 18 years old by Election Day; not under the authority of the state Department of Corrections; and not disqualified from voting due to a court order.
    October 31st is the deadline for Thurston County residents to pay their second half property taxes. The deadline is the same day for Mason County property tax payers. In Thurston County, taxes can be paid through the county treasurer’s office web site, at the treasurer’s office, at the courthouse parking lot drop box or by mail, so long as it is postmarked by the due date. Penalties and interest will be charged for those who do not have their payments in on time.

10/26/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. 35-hour week claims denied, The Connexion via connexionfrance.com
    PARIS, France - A former big business boss tasked with a report on boosting competitivity of French businesses denies he will advise jettisoning the fixed 35-hour week.
    French daily paper Le Parisien said several sources told them Louis Gallois, a former business chief and top civil servant tasked with the report by the prime minister, will advise complete removal of a fixed number of working hours. The report is to be submitted on November 5.
    Instead, the sources claimed, similar to the situation in Germany, it is suggested there should be an à la carte system with working time negotiated business by business with unions and bosses.
    However the claims have been denied by Mr Gallois’s office. They said in a statement that: “The information in Le Parisien concerning a possible stance of Louis Gallois on the 35-hours, is incorrect.”
    Mr Gallois, a former head of aeronautics group EADS, has consulted widely for the report, especially among fellow businessmen.
    The 35-hour week was put in place in 1998 under Socialist Lionel Jospin, bringing the figure down from a previous 39. Le Parisien said ending it would be a “mini-revolution” which was widely sought on the right with claims that it is a brake on French growth and competitivity.
    It could potentially be embarrassing for President Hollande if he is seen as taking a “right-wing” stance; however he has stated his wish to use Gallois’s conclusions to boost growth.

  2. Competitiveness Cacophony: Attack On France's Sacred Cow, by Wolf Richter, Testosterone Pit via BusinessInsider.com
    = French Are Freaking Out After Rumored Plan To Attack Their Sacred Cow (alt.header)
    [So who's spreading the rumors and why?]
    PARIS, France - References to the financial crisis are piling up in France’s economic data. The latest was housing.
    The total amount that banks granted for mortgages plummeted by 30.5% so far this year from the same period in 2011—despite the low rates. For all of 2012, an estimated €115 billion in mortgages will be granted, versus €162 billion in 2011.
    “We have never before seen a drop of this magnitude at this speed,” said Michel Mouillart, author of the study. What took two years during the crisis of 2008-2009, he said, is now happening in one year.
    The government has been flailing about to counter economic trends that started while Nicolas Sarkozy was still president. And one of the most bandied-about catchwords these days is “competitiveness” — entailing among others the cherished and untouchable 35-hour workweek, equally untouchable wages, and sky-high employer-paid payroll taxes and social security charges. An explosive mix.
    [Hey, you can always raise rank&file "untouchable" wages if you want more domestic consumer-base spending and real recovery. But sacrifice your quality of life to join a race to the bottom? How dumb is that?! And so what if taxes are high if your getting tons of public services, unlike USA where roads and bridges are going to hell, railways suck, and post offices, libraries and halfway houses are closing right and left. And as for a 35-hour workweek being radical in the age of robotics, get real! The U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek in 1933 and some of our most conservative industries, like insurance and academe, had 35-hour workweeks half a century ago. If long hours are so competitive, why don't we go to unregulated hours like China so we too can start jumping off the roof of our factories like the suicidal burnouts at Foxconn in Shenzhen?! And who cares about trade competitiveness - its benefits are deteriorating in this global "soft spot" and are mixed blessings at the best of times! Why keep sacrificing the 70% of our economy that is consumer-base spending for the 17% that's exports?! Let's get off the broken record on this!]
    To keep the government out of the danger zone in case this mix blows up, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had entrusted this task in June to Louis Gallois, former CEO of aircraft maker EADS and of state-owned railroad SNCF.
    Gallois would head the Investment Commission, and one of his jobs would be to put together recommendations on how to raise the competitiveness of French businesses. The report would be submitted to President François Hollande by November 5.
    Alas, last Friday, elements of the report seeped to the surface. Written mostly by CEO associations, apparently, it calls for a “competitiveness shock” by slashing €30 billion from employer-paid payroll and social security taxes. To fund it, the report calls for “massive reduction in public spending” (which would trigger total war from all concerned), moderate increases in General Social Contributions and Value Added Taxes (screaming from workers and households out of whose pockets this would come), and a new eco-tax on diesel (about 74% of all automobiles in France are diesel-powered... expect taxis to paralyze Paris for a few days).
    Instant cacophony. In the spring, President Sarkozy had tried to implement a similar program of payroll tax cuts—and cost transfers from companies to households, which might have contributed to his defeat.
    Hollande distanced himself from the fallout immediately. It “only commits the author,” he said coolly. Labor Minister Michel Sapin shrugged it off: “The Gallois report isn’t the only one,” he said. Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici tried to step out the brushfire. “I’m here with Louis Gallois who is assuring me that these aren’t even leaks but distortions,” he told reporters in Berlin where he attended an economics forum. But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault defended the report: “I don’t want to bury it,” he said. “There will be lots of things that will be taken up, and there will be others that won’t be.”
    CEOs weren’t so sanguine. “The problem must be dealt with, we don’t need another report,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan on Saturday. “If we want to create jobs in France, and if we want that the industry doesn’t emigrate from France in a massive manner, we need to reduce the charges that weigh on labor.” He was supported by the CGPME, an employer union of small and medium companies with about half a million members.
    But on Thursday, le Parisien provided another glimpse at Gallois’ “Competitiveness shock,” and a shock it was. “Based on our information,” it wrote, the report proposed to “bury” the 35-hour workweek.
    Shrapnel flew in every direction. It’s the Socialist sacred cow, instituted in 1998 under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, cherished and loved and ridiculed too—though many managers, sales people, entrepreneurs, and others work often ungodly hours (same as elsewhere).
    How could a Socialist government even come up with such a thing! It was the conservative agenda! It was Gallois’ “bomb,” le Parisien wrote. It was THE shock proposition. It would eliminate any reference to a legal limit of the workweek and shift to an “à la carte system, as in Germany,” with the length of the workweek being negotiated company by company.
    [Here we go again. The worst are full of a passionate intensity while the best lack all conviction. Hollande and his crew should be pushing for a 32 or 30 hour workweek and automatic conversion of overtime into training & hiring. This is not rocket science. It's dropdead obvious. And Germany should be moving on to that too. They can't keep hammering the unemployment insurance fund forever.]
    Oh là là! The electronic ink wasn’t even dry when the denials started hailing down on France—including categorically from Gallois’ Commission.
    The leaks and the resulting cacophony had ground down what little credibility the yet unpublished report on competitiveness still had. Perhaps, given the uproar, it will be hastily rewritten and watered down to be put on a shelf and forgotten.
    This report to raise France’s competitiveness wasn’t the first one: since 2005, members of parliament, prestigious institutions, economists, expert commissions, and think tanks have presented a total of 25 such reports to the various French presidents. All of these reports warned about the increasingly uncompetitive French economy—and all of them were soon left to gather dust on some shelf. A fate that awaits Gallois’ report as well.

10/25/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Germany Has Outperformed the U.S. Because of Work Sharing, by Dean Baker, CEPR via BusinessInsider.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Nicholas Kristoff uses his column [appended below this article] to take a shot at Mitt Romney's economic policies. While the basic point, that austerity will lead to slower growth and higher unemployment, is correct, placing Germany as a basket case alongside the U.K. is not. While the U.K. has aggressively cut its budget deficit, Germany has not been as ambitious in this respect. (Its deficit had not been as large.)
    Germany is primarily feeling the effects of budget cuts in the other euro zone countries, which are largely coming at its own insistence. In this case, Germany is in the same sort of situation as Ohio would be if Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio's economy all went into recession. The effect has been to sharply slow Germany's growth, although since the start of the recession, Germany's growth has been roughly equal to that of the United States (somewhat higher on a per capita basis). By contrast, the U.K. has seen sharply lower growth, its economy is still smaller than it was before the downturn began.
    In spite of having comparable growth, the unemployment rate in Germany is more than 2 full percentage points below its pre-recession level. By contrast, the unemployment rate in the United States is 3.3 percentage points above its pre-recession level. The difference is that Germany encourages employers to reduce workers' hours rather than lay them off. The result is that many workers are putting in fewer hours, but still have jobs in Germany. The government makes up for most of the lost pay with money that would otherwise have gone to unemployment benefits.
    While close to half of the states have work sharing programs as part of their unemployment insurance program, the take-up rate is very low. The Obama administration has attempted to increase take-up by having the federal government pick up the cost for the next two years. (This measure was attached to the bill that extended the payroll tax cut.) However, because most state budgets are so flush, there has been little interest in getting this money from the federal government.
    Romney’s Economic Model, op ed by Nicholas Kristof, NYT, A31 & NYtimes.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Mitt Romney’s best argument on the campaign trail has been simple: Under President Obama, the American economy has remained excruciatingly weak, far underperforming the White House’s own projections.
    That’s a fair criticism.
    But Obama’s best response could be this: If you want to see how Romney’s economic policies would work out, take a look at Europe. And weep.
    In the last few years, Germany and Britain, in particular, have implemented precisely the policies that Romney favors, and they have been richly praised by Republicans here as a result. Yet these days those economies seem, to use a German technical term, kaput.
    Is Europe a fair comparison? Well, Republicans seem to think so, because they came up with it. In the last few years, they’ve repeatedly cited Republican-style austerity in places like Germany and Britain as a model for America.
    Let’s dial back the time machine and listen up:
    “Europe is already setting an example for the U.S.,” Representative Kenny Marchant, a Texas Republican, said in 2010. (You know things are bad when a Texas Republican is calling for Americans to study at the feet of those socialist Europeans.)
    The same year, Karl Rove praised European austerity as a model for America and approvingly quoted the leader of the European Central Bank as saying: “The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect.”
    Representative Steve King of Iowa, another Republican, praised Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for preaching austerity and said: “It ought to hit home to our president of the United States. It ought to hit all of us here in this country.”
    “The president should learn a lesson from the ‘German Miracle,’ ” Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, a Republican, urged on the House floor in July 2011.
    Also in 2011, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, denounced Obama’s economic management and said: “We need a budget with a bold vision — like those unveiled in Britain and New Jersey.”
    O.K. Let’s see how that’s working out.
    New Jersey isn’t overseas, but since Sessions and many other Republicans have hailed it as a shining model of austerity, let’s start there. New Jersey ranked 47th in economic growth last year. When Gov. Chris Christie took office in 2010 and began to impose austerity measures, New Jersey ranked 35th in its unemployment rate; now it ranks 48th.
    Senator Sessions, do we really aspire for the same in America as a whole?
    Something similar has happened internationally. The International Monetary Fund this month downgraded its estimates for global economic growth, with only one major bright spot in the West. That would be the United States, expected to grow a bit more than 2 percent this year and next.
    In contrast, Europe’s economy is expected to shrink this year and have negligible growth next year. The I.M.F. projects that Germany will grow less than 1 percent this year and next, while Britain’s economy is contracting this year.
    Karl Rove, that sounds a lot like stagnation to me.
    All this is exactly what economic textbooks predicted. Since Keynes, it’s been understood that, in a downturn, governments should go into deficit to stimulate demand; that’s how we got out of the Great Depression. And recent European data and I.M.F. analyses underscore that austerity in the middle of a downturn not only doesn’t help but leads to even higher ratios of debt to economic output.
    So, yes, Republicans have a legitimate point about the long-term need to curb deficits and entitlement growth. But, no, it isn’t reasonable for Republicans to advocate austerity in the middle of a downturn. On that, they’re empirically wrong.
    If there were still doubt about this, we’ve had a lovely natural experiment in the last few years, as the Republicans in previous years were happy to point out. All industrialized countries experienced similar slowdowns, and the United States under Obama chose a massive stimulus while Germany and Britain chose Republican-endorsed austerity.
    Neither approach worked brilliantly. Obama’s initial economic stimulus created at least 1.4 million jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. But that wasn’t enough, and it was partly negated by austerity in state and local governments.
    Still, America’s economy is now the fastest growing among major countries in the West, and Britain’s is shrinking. Which would you prefer?
    I’m not suggesting Obama distribute bumper stickers saying: “It Could Be Worse.” He might want to stick with: “Osama’s Dead and G.M. Is Alive.”
    Yes, there are differences between Europe and America. But Republicans were right to call attention to this empirical experiment.
    The results are in. And, as Representative King suggested, the lessons “ought to hit all of us here in this country.”

  2. Drop 35-hour week: government report, TheLocal.fr
    PARIS, France - A new government report on international French business competitiveness has suggested ending the the 35 hour working week.
    [Sacrifice your domestic consumer spending and efficiency (lots more unemployed people will result from unspreading the natural market-demanded employment!) over which you have some control for ONE and only ONE of your industries, EXPORTS, where you have NO CONTROL over demand? How stupid is that! The dopey French still don't realize that the 35 Hours is actually a more advanced form of the German Kurzarbeit they so admire, and they need to go down to 32 or 30 Hours now to max employment, wages and spending, and lose their residual dependency on their lethal and parasitic export industry that just wants to join the global race to the bottom.]
    The Gallois report, lead by former EADS chairman Louis Gallois, was originally launched by the government to look into France’s slumping competitiveness by cutting social welfare charges paid by companies.
    The report suggests “a possible abolition of the 35 hour week”, with employees' working hours to be negotiated between unions and employers.
    A 35 hour week was introduced in 2000, under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s socialist government, and has been heavily protected by law since.
    The report, which will be handed over to President Hollande on November 5, is expected to urge that social welfare charges paid by companies be cut by €30 billion ($39 billion) in the next two to three years.
    The burden of financing France's social programmes could then be transferred to sales or income taxes, though that would be a highly controversial decision for a Socialist government.
    [WHAAAT? Transferring the tax burden from the rich to the poor? More colossal stupidity! Why not just take the whole money supply out of circulation and die quickly. These communists-for-the-rich pay lip service to Milton Friedman but forget that he said, "You get less of what you tax, more of what you subsidize." So here's France joining the braindead that have sales taxes and getting ... less sales. Every economy needs to decide they need less currency decirculation, and currency decirculation equates to a small and extremely wealthy subset of the population - which eventually decelerates the velocity of monetary circulation sooo much that they evoke recession and depression. We need to change our silly suicidal values of wanting a few much richer people and instead WANT MANY MORE, LESS-RICH PEOPLE - this is an economic SYSTEM REQUIREMENT for maxing volume and velocity of monetary circulation = economic dynamism, and the economies that "get it" first and "just do it" first are going to waaaay outdistance those that don't. Sounds like Hollande needs a cleaner sweep of the socialists for the rich that remain in his government.]
    Gallois has already sparked union outrage by saying that France needed a competitiveness "shock" to turn its economy around.
    In their data, INSEE said the managers of industrial companies surveyed "characterised their past activity as very weak" and "were also pessimistic, but in a less pronounced manner, about their own prospects in the coming three months."
    French manufacturers' outlook also continued to worsen, while they considered their order books to be "depleted".
    At the worst point of the global financial crisis the French industrial sentiment index fell to 69 points in March 2009.
    Nicola Hebden/The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.fr)

10/24/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Woodford County manufacturer to cut hours, combine shifts, by Jerry McDowell mcdowell@mtco.com, Bloomington Pantagraph via pantagraph.com
    ROANOKE, Illin., USA – Parsons Co. has reduced employees’ work week to 32-35 hours through the end of the year, temporarily combined its second and third shifts, and will shut down most manufacturing operations between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the company announced this week.
    The slowdown follows similar slowdowns by its client, Caterpillar Inc., at some of its Central Illinois facilities as demand wanes in the current economy.
    “Once targeted inventory levels are achieved, normal hours of operation are expected to resume,” the company said in a statement.

    Parsons said it does not expect the slowdown to impact the startup of operations at its new facility under construction in Goodfield. There, a 55,000-square-foot building will be used to assemble Caterpillar tracks and undercarriages when it is finished later this fall.
    Some Parsons employees said there also have been layoffs and job eliminations at the company. The company declined comment.
    “Due to the regular ebb and flow of employment numbers, Parsons’ normal practice is to refrain from publicly discussing employment figures except when significant ‘permanent’ changes occur,” said Kevin Trantina, chief operating officer at Parsons. “Thankfully, the current slowdown has not required employment changes worthy of a public announcement and hopefully it will not do so in the future.”
    Company President Bob Parsons declined further comment.
    Two months ago, Parsons reported a workforce of more than 270 employees, manufacturing thousands of parts in three buildings along Illinois 117 in rural Roanoke. At that time, it expected to hire 40 to 60 more people in the coming six months, the majority in Roanoke, with 10 to 15 employees initially at the new Goodfield plant.
    Now those plans are uncertain.
    “The current downturn and inventory reduction in construction and mining equipment will certainly delay the growth of our workforce in the near future,” Trantina said in an email. “How much it will be delayed is unknown. We are still optimistic about the prospects for growth in 2013, but our need for additional employees at either location will be determined by the future business climate in our industry.”
    That climate is heavily influenced by Caterpillar, which this week announced record third-quarter profits, but also predicted that it could be early next year before orders catch up with inventory, meaning production slowdowns in the near future.
    Caterpillar said last month an unspecified number of workers at its East Peoria complex will get time off during the holidays because of declining business and economic conditions. Shortly after that, the company announced it would shut down parts of its operations in Decatur in November and December as demand for some products drops.

  2. Today in labor history: The 40-hour workweek, People's World via peoplesworld.org
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - On October 24, 1940, the 40-hour workweek went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new law had been signed by President Roosevelt in 1938.
    For millions, a movement to bring back the 40-hour workweek is actually needed today. Due to high unemployment, among many other factors, many who are lucky enough to have a job work up to 60 or more hours when their bosses say it's needed.
    No one knows better than the workers themselves the harm this can do to personal and family life, health, overall wellbeing and just about every other aspect of our lives.

    [Nevermind "dealing from a weak hand" and crying for pity. Totally unnecessary today now that's it's more and more obvious that a workweek automatically adjusting for technological productivity to maintain full employment and maximum consumer spending is an absolute SYSTEM REQUIREMENT, and nothing but a purely rhetorical economic recovery will happen till it is implemented.]
    What many younger workers today don't realize is that from 1940 until perhaps 1990 or even longer most people, including businesses, operated under the assumption that when people work more than 40 hours they do not just themselves but their companies harm. Mistakes and dangerous situations develop when people work until they are physically and mentally exhausted.
    Despite the common sense in this, many bosses refuse to accept the truth that working more than 40 hours makes the worker less useful and less productive in both the short and the long term.
    It took the organized activity of workers, led by their unions, to build awareness of this and lead the struggles for the 40-hour workweek. It took those things earlier in American history to end child labor and win the fight for the eight-hour day. It seems it will take beating back the attacks we see on the rights of workers today to restore not just full employment but decent wages and a 40-hour workweek.

10/23/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Nick on Politics: Part 2 -- An Election Primer, by Nick Garrett, Bay Net via thebaynet.com
    CALVERT COUNTY, Md., USA - The following is Part 2 of my campaign primer for the 2012 General Election:
    Campaign’s Policies
    I think it would safe to agree that the four major issues for this campaign are A. job creation, B. economic development, C. healthcare, and D. foreign relations. So we have to look at each candidates plan to address each of those categories.
    [Garrett seems to quickly forget about this outline, as shown by our attempt to assign these four major-issue-letters below. A and B are merged, and we only found a brief mention of C. Adds up to a confusing "primer."]
    It should be noted that neither candidate will get us out of debt and the facts when the math is accurately addressed show that both will still be deficit spending and adding to the national debt. So much for “my plan is better than your plan.”
    A. Jobs and B. economic development
    President Obama’s Plan
    1. Tax cuts to help America’s small businesses hire and grow!
    The president would cut taxes in half for 98% of businesses on the first $5 million in payroll. Further, the benefit would target the majority of businesses that fall below that threshold. The plan is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. The drawback is that the President would be reliant on Congress passing the tax cut in order for it to work. From a political sense it is smart because he is forcing the Republicans to put their money where their mouth is. It would make them look hypocritical if they vote against a tax cut when that is what they have long asked for.
    2. A complete payroll tax holiday for added workers or increased wages!
    Companies that hire new workers or provide raises to current employees will enjoy a complete reduction in payroll taxes for the period extending through 2012. This plan also involves reducing some regulations to make access to capital easier.
    3. Putting workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America!
    Tax credits for those who hire veterans returning from war of up to $9,600. Investments in over 35,000 public schools, upgrading them and renovating them for internet use and developing more inspiring science labs. Providing funds to keep police and firefighters on the job while preventing 280,000 teacher layoffs. Providing funds for roads, airports, waterways, and railways would put hundreds of thousands of workers back on the job immediately according to the Obama plan.
    4. Pathways back to work for Americans looking for jobs
    A work-sharing program would provide a unique approach to extending unemployment insurance. For example, if an employer chooses work sharing over layoffs there would be an alternative to receiving unemployment, and or government extension of unemployment. This way beneficiaries can retain benefits while developments reduce the number seeking UI benefits.
    Mitt Romney
    Believe in America is Romney’s “plan” to create 12 million new jobs and has five parts:
    1. Energy independence (by 2020)
    2. School choice
    3. New trade agreements, and retaliation against nations that cheat on them
    4. Cut the deficit
    5. Cut regulations and taxes on small businesses, and C. repeal the ACA [Affordable Care Act]
    In Mitt Romney’s “Believe in America” plan, Glen Hubbard, professor of finance and economics at Columbia University says, “Our problems transcend the 2012 presidential election” [this is always the case so can we quit wasting words?]. One can certainly make a compelling economic case that the Obama administration’s policies, taken together, have worsened prospects for economic growth. But it should not escape notice that they have accomplished this by deepening longer-term problems that have threatened the nation’s prosperity in earlier years. Economic shifts and economic policies that had encouraged consumption and government spending, and discouraged business investment and exports, diminished growth before the crisis. Even many Democrats have agreed that President Obama, while inheriting a mess to begin with, has not dealt with everything in an effective way. However, this is not about the past. This election seems to be about which candidate has a clear plan moving forward. Democrats and even undecided ‘08 Obama supporters have noted that without another election to worry about and four years of experience that Obama may now approach governance differently. That being said it could be a dangerous miscalculation if he approaches policy the same way in the second four years as he did during the first four years.
    Romney points out in his plans that “restoring predictability into the market is a priority and essential for sparking hiring and investment.” In reading both candidates plans, one does get the impression that Mitt Romney is very clear and concise about what needs to be done to get things back on track economically.
    [Jawohl! Pick up where the Bush regime left off in redistributing the nation's money supply to The Onepercent and the 0.01% who already have more than they can spend, donate, or even invest (communism for the rich!) and thereby steepen and speed-up the economy's diagonally downward spiral.]
    His plan involves participation with the private sector and the government as a support role whereas President Obama is continuing to use government only as a potential solution for the challenges of the nation.
    One criticism of the Romney plan is that there is no guarantee of when jobs will develop. The plan is a slower steadier plan for recovery then one that creates jobs today. This could be great if a term for President was ten years instead of four. It’s easy for one president when elected to undo the work of his predecessor. Romney says he would introduce five bills to Congress on day one:
    1. The American Competitiveness Act reduces the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent;
    2. The Open Markets Act implements the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea Free Trade Agreements;
    3. The Domestic Energy Act directs the Department of the Interior to undertake a comprehensive survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies and initiates leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration;
    4. The Retraining Reform Act consolidates the sprawl of federal retraining programs and returns funding and responsibility for these programs to the states; and
    5. The Down Payment on Fiscal Sanity Act immediately cuts non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent, reducing the annual federal budget by $20 billion
    He also plans on five executive orders on the first day of his presidency. They include:
    1. An Order to Pave the Way to End Obamacare directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health care solutions that work best for them;
    2. An Order to Cut Red Tape directs all agencies to immediately initiate the elimination of Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy or job creation, and then caps annual increases in regulatory costs at zero dollars;
    3. An Order to Boost Domestic Energy Production directs the Department of the Interior to implement a process for rapid issuance of drilling permits to developers with established safety records seeking to use pre-approved techniques in pre-approved areas;
    4. An Order to Sanction China for Unfair Trade Practices directs the Department of the Treasury to list China as a currency manipulator in its biannual report and directs the Department of Commerce to assess countervailing duties on Chinese imports if China does not quickly move to float its currency;
    5. An Order to Empower American Businesses and Workers reverses the executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the playing field in favor of organized labor, including the one encouraging the use of union labor on major government construction projects
    It is appealing that the Mitt Romney’s plans involve the private sector and many partners at the table and relies on government as part of the picture.
    D. US foreign policy
    In his autobiography “Decision Points” President Bush talks about the pinnacle of his presidential leadership being in the air just after the terror attacks and getting reports from everywhere about attacks. He had minutes to make decisions and put systems into play.
    [No he didn't. The White House was essentially fostering these attacks for months to get a pretext to gain control of Iraqi oil. The Bush regime made sure they never caught Osama so they could keep falsely blaming Saddam Hussein for 9/11 till they got his mouth shut permanently.]
    That one series of events cemented his reputation in history.
    [Yep, his reputation as the worst pResident ever. The USA won't recover for decades unless it really piles onto the worksharing-Timesizing bandwagon.]
    President Obama faced with a similar situation watched 13 Arab countries with anti-American protests going on all at once. Only days later four Americans were dead and in some countries protests continued. Originally thought to be over a video, one thing was clear: American foreign policy is such that countries formerly bordering on terrorists had peaceful demonstrations. America did not panic or retaliate. This may be progress in US/Arab relations at a time when we need allies against a nuclear developing Iran. All at once 13 Arab countries had protests occurring simultaneously.
    Neither campaign has specific plans outlined but both provide broad vision as to where they see America moving into the 20-teens. Overall the goal of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy is to keep the American people safe by continuing to focus on areas of concern such as terror and cyber-attacks while drawing down numbers of troops in traditional theaters of war from previous administrations. The Romney plan desires to promote American idealism while opening relationships that could be questions and provides the data you might need to decide for whom you will choose as our 45th President.
    I hope if there is any take-away from this that you realize it takes more than facts to know what’s really going on. Both sides can use facts to his or her advantage by offering us, the electorate, just a little piece of the picture. Unless you are going to do countless hours of research, this is unfortunately what will frame our thinking. Now at least there is enough information clarified here that you can put together and be completely confident with whom you choose.

  2. Let's Bring Back the 40-hour Work Week, infographic posted by ComeRecommended, (10/22 late pickup) The Savvy Intern via youtern.com
    CARSON CITY, Nev., USA - The 40-hour work week has been replaced with a 24/7 working culture in the U.S. But, for every extra hour of work, there is a direct cost to employees and their employers.
    What many fail to realize is the 40-hour work week was a well-thought out business decision stapled in America’s history for over three generations. Years of research proves working longer hours does not correlate with increased productivity in the long-run.
    [because the longer the human job hours in the age of robotizing jobs, the fewer the human jobs, and the more the downsizing of the consumer base, consumer spending and foundational consumer markets via the employment basement. Robots don't buy stuff. Ergo, no market for increased productivity? = no point in the productivity. The only productivity or productivity increases that matter are MARKETABLE productivity and MARKETABLE productivity increases, and keep downsizing instead of timesizing and guess what! = less MARKETABILITY.]
    The trade-offs made by employees to commit to more hours at work come at the expense of their health, happiness, and ultimately the productivity levels of the company.
    According to a recent infographic, three of every four American employees put in more than 40 hours of work each week. The research conducted by OnlineMBA was aimed at revealing some of these lesser-known statistics and consequences of working overtime:
    We Are Working More, But Earning Less (numbers adjusted for inflation)
    • Average income in 1970 was $59,000
    • Average work week in 1970 was 35 hours
    • Average income in 2012 is $51,000
    • Average work week in 2012 is 46 hours
    Workplace Stress Is Widespread… and Costly
    • Three in four Americans feel stressed at work
    • Workplace stress costs U.S. employers approximately $200 billion a year in lost productivity
    There Is Nothing to Gain From Overworking Employees
    • After eight hours of work, productivity decreases by half
    • 60 hours of work a week will only yield an extra quarter of output

10/21-22/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Obamacare's rhetoric vs. its reality, by Robert J. Samuelson, 10/21 Washington Post
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – Just recently, the Internal Revenue Service issued an 18-page, single-spaced notice explaining how to distinguish between full-time and part-time workers under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The difference matters, because the act requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance for those workers. At the same time, no company has to buy insurance for part-time employees, defined as those working less than 30 hours a week.
    Here’s a sample:
    This notice expands the safe harbor method described in a previous notice to provide employers the option to use a look-back measurement period of up to 12 months to determine whether new variable hour employees or seasonal employees are full-time employees, without being subject to a payment under section 4980H for this period with respect to those employees.
    Obamacare has faded as a campaign issue, perhaps because it doesn’t suit either the president or Mitt Romney. It’s not popular, a minus for Barack Obama. Its resemblance to Romney’s Massachusetts program is a minus for him. But Obamacare’s relentless march to full-fledged introduction in 2014 demonstrates that, for all its good intentions, it will make the health-care system more confusing (see above), costly and contentious. It won’t control health spending — the system’s main problem — and will weaken job creation.
    Consider the treatment of full-time and part-time workers as an object lesson.
    Exempting part-time workers is a concession to practicality. If companies had to provide insurance for all part-time and seasonal workers — often unskilled and poorly paid — the high costs (a worker-only insurance policy can run more than $5,000) would eliminate many jobs or inspire mass evasion. On the other hand, exempting too many “part-time” and “seasonal” workers would make achieving near-universal insurance coverage much harder.
    So there’s a balancing act: preserving jobs vs. providing insurance. The problem isn’t small. In September, 34 million workers, about a quarter of total workers, were part-time, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the bureau defines part time as less than 35 hours a week; Obamacare’s 30 hours a week was presumably adopted to expand insurance coverage. There are now 10 million workers averaging between 30 and 34 hours a week. To the bureau, they are part-time; under Obamacare, they’re full-time.
    Employers have a huge incentive to hold workers under the 30-hour weekly threshold. The requirement to provide insurance above that acts as a steep employment tax. Companies will try to minimize the tax. The most vulnerable workers are the poorest and least skilled who can be most easily replaced and for whom insurance costs loom largest. Indeed, the adjustment has already started.
    As first reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants — owners of about 2,000 outlets, including the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains — is studying ways to shift more employees under the 30-hour ceiling. About three-quarters of its 185,000 workers are already under, says spokesman Rich Jeffers. The question is “can we go higher and still deliver a great [eating] experience.” The financial stakes are sizable. Suppose Darden moves 1,000 servers under 30 hours and avoids paying $5,000 insurance for each. The annual savings: $5 million.
    As a reaction to Obamacare, this makes business sense, but in other ways, it doesn’t. Waiters and waitresses going below 30 hours a week will lose income. They make about $15 an hour with tips, says Jeffers. A server who drops five hours would lose $75 a week. Although some servers under the limit might increase their hours and incomes, jobs will become less attractive because earnings will be effectively capped. Turnover, already 50 percent annually, might rise, as would Darden’s training costs. On average, servers receive 35 hours of training, says Jeffers.
    Many companies, especially in the fast-food, retailing and hotel industries, will explore similar changes. Some workers will resent the limits on their wages. Others will think that companies have illegally denied them insurance, even though the IRS guidelines permit much flexibility in calculating who exceeds the 30-hour limit. That’s why the IRS notice is so long and complex. Still, some firms will cheat; enforcement will be hard.
    The argument about Obamacare is often framed as a moral issue. It’s the caring and compassionate against the cruel and heartless. That’s the rhetoric; the reality is different. Many of us who oppose Obamacare don’t do so because we enjoy seeing people suffer. We believe that, in an ideal world, everyone would have insurance. But we also think that Obamacare has huge drawbacks that outweigh its plausible benefits.
    It creates powerful pressures against companies hiring full-time workers — precisely the wrong approach after the worst economic slump since the Depression. There will be more bewildering regulations, more regulatory uncertainties, more unintended side effects and more disappointments. A costly and opaque system will become more so.

  2. Morehouse plans to furlough employees, cut budget, 10/22 AP via NorthJersey.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA — Morehouse College will furlough faculty and cut its budget because of a drop in enrollment.
    Interim Provost Willis Sheftall told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Atlanta college has 2,360 students, or about 125 fewer than projected. He blamed the drop in enrollment on a poor economy and changes to a federal loan program for students.
    Typically about 8 percent of Morehouse students who make a deposit to attend the college don't enroll. But that figure has jumped to 16 percent this year.
    Sheftall described the situation as a "challenge" but said it is not a crisis.
    Morehouse officials plan to increase fundraising. Faculty and managers will have to take five or fewer furlough days.
    [Timesizing instead of downsizing, or at least instead of more downsizing -]
    The college also plans to reduce its part-time faculty during the spring semester.

10/20/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Obamacare Calls 30 Hours of Work per Week 'Full Time', by Matt Cover, (10/18 late pickup via nation.foxnews.com) CNSnews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – A little-known section in the ObamaCare health reform law defines “full-time” work as averaging only 30 hours per week, a definition that will affect some employers who utilize part-time workers to trim the cost of complying with the ObamaCare rule that says businesses with 50 or more workers must provide health insurance or pay a fine.
    “The term ‘full-time employee’ means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week,” section 1513 of the law reads. (Scroll down to section 4, paragraph A.)
    That section, known as the employer mandate, requires any business with 50 or more full-time employees to provide at least the minimum level of government-defined health coverage to those employees.
    In other words, a business must provide insurance if it has 50 or more employees working an average of just 30 hours per week, which is 10 hours per week fewer than the traditional 40-hour work week.
    If an employer meets the requirements and does not offer health insurance, it must pay a penalty per employee for each month it does not offer coverage – not exceeding $750 per employee over the course of a year.
    The obscure provision recently reemerged in regulations issued by the IRS for how employers must account for which workers are full-time and which ones are not.
    Under these standards, published in September, employers can choose a “look-back” period of between 3 and 12 months to measure if an employee has worked an average of 30 hours per week.
    If an employee has worked 30 hours per week during this time, the person would count as a full-time employee for at least the next six months, regardless of how much they work, thus preventing employers from cutting hours to avoid the mandate.
    In other words, an employer calculates the hours an employee works during at least a three-month period, determining if they employee has worked 30 hours or more per week on average.
    If the employee meets the 30-hour threshold, they are counted as full-time for at least six months. If the employer has at least 50 such employees, he must provide them with health insurance or pay a fine.
    The IRS regulations do not apply to seasonal or temporary workers, only to regular employees.

  2. How much flexibility do we have to set up alternative workweek schedules? by Joseph Beachboard, BusinessManagementDaily.com
    McLEAN, Va., USA - Q. Our company employs nurses that care for patients in their homes. We would like to begin running 12-hour shifts and set up an alternative workweek schedule. What are the rules for instituting an alternative workweek for our employees?
    A. Under the Industrial Welfare Commission’s Wage Orders 4 and 5, employers in the health care industry may institute (for eligible employees) “a regularly scheduled alternative workweek schedule” that allows work in excess of 10 hours but no more than 12 hours in a day without overtime pay.
    If a health care employer establishes an alternative workweek schedule, the normal overtime rules won’t apply for affected employees. Instead, nonexempt employees will be entitled to one-and-one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek and double time for all hours worked in excess of 12 in a work day.
    Time-and-one-half is not owed for hours worked beyond the regularly scheduled alternative workweek schedule, such as the 37th through 40th hours in a week in which employees are scheduled to work three 12-hour shifts. The rules provide that employees who are temporarily assigned to a work unit covered by a valid alternative workweek schedule shall be subject to the same overtime standards as full-time employees.
    Employees must meet two conditions to qualify. The first is that employees must work for a health care industry employer. This includes “hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care and residential care facilities, convalescent care institutions, home health agencies, clinics operating 24 hours per day, and clinics performing surgery, urgent care, radiology, anesthesiology, pathology, neurology or dialysis.”
    In addition, individuals must qualify as employees in the health care industry. “Employees in the health care industry” includes employees providing patient care, working in a clinical or medical department (including pharmacists dispensing prescriptions in any practice setting) or working primarily or regularly as a member of a patient care delivery team. Also qualified are licensed veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians and unregistered animal health technicians providing patient care.
    The terms expressly exclude “those persons primarily engaged in” providing meals, performing maintenance or cleaning services or performing business office or other clerical functions, as well as those primarily engaged in performing a combination of excluded duties.
    Employers must follow an elaborate procedure in order to adopt and implement an alternative workweek schedule. Steps include providing a written agreement, disclosing it to affected employees and gaining their approval via a secret-ballot election held at the employer’s expense. Employers must report the results of any election conducted pursuant to the alternative workweek schedule rules to the Division of Labor Statistics and Research within 30 days after the results are final.
    If you would like to institute an alternative workweek schedule, keep in mind that Wage Orders 4 and 5 create a penalty that applies when an employer requires an employee to work fewer hours than those specified in the alternative workweek schedule agreement.
    Under an alternative workweek schedule agreement, if an employer “requires an employee to work fewer hours than those that are regularly scheduled by the agreement,” it must pay overtime at the rate of one-and-one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours and double the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours for the day the employee is required to work the reduced hours.

  3. Germany Is Barreling Headlong Into A Painful Inflation Trap, by Wolf Richter, Testosterone Pit via BusinessInsider.com
    BRUSSELS, E.U. - It was a blatant act of fear mongering just before the EU Summit: if Greece were allowed to default and exit the Eurozone, it could trigger the exits of Portugal, Spain, and Italy, which, in a worst-case scenario, could cost the world economy €17.2 trillion in economic growth.
    “Hence it is incumbent upon the community of nations to prevent Greece from a sovereign default as well as leaving the euro, and the domino effect that this event could induce,” the study urged.
    The study was commissioned by the politically powerful Bertlesmann Foundation, which owns 77.6% of Bertlesmann SE & Co., a multinational media company based in Germany. The foundation is known for its agenda—now including the doctrine that taxpayers must always bail out certain bondholders in order to prop up confidence in the financial markets.
    “Insolvency procrastination” is how a quintessential German industrialist responded. And if after Greece’s exit, the whole Eurozone dissolved? “To throw good money after bad is something that normally only over-indebted businesspeople do,” he said. “It’s irresponsible.”
    Tough words for the EU Summit crowd. Heinrich Weiss, Chairman and CEO of SMS Holding GmbH, didn’t mince words as he laid out his euro pessimism in an interview with Manager Magazin.
    SMS is, in a sense, a microcosm of the German export economy. The family-owned company has about 10,500 employees. Its subsidiaries excel in mechanical engineering, machine tools, and plant construction for processing steel, aluminum, and nonferrous metals. Some of the items it manufactures are so heavy that getting them to the port can be a headache, given Germany’s aging bridges and infrastructure constraints. And it exports: 57% of its orders came from Asia, 28% from Europe and Russia, 14% from the US, and 1% from Africa.
    During the financial crisis, its order intake collapsed by 55%, from €5.3 billion in 2008 to €2.3 billion in 2009. Then orders recovered, reaching €3.4 billion in 2011 (annual report). During bad times, the company lives off its order backlog. It was €6.3 billion in 2008. In 2009, SMS ate up 26% of its order backlog, and in 2010 reduced it further to €4.5 billion. In 2011, it recovered a bit. Due to the order cushion in 2008, sales actually increased during the worst part of the financial crisis, from €3.6 billion in 2008 to €3.9 billion in 2009—but then, the order drop-off caused sales to plummet to just over €3 billion in 2010 and 2011.
    The business is cyclical, with ups and downs every two or three years, Weiss explained. After the few good years recently, a downturn would be expected. “But I’m afraid that this one will be deeper and longer than we have become used to,” he said.
    Since over 80% of the company’s revenues came from outside the Eurozone, he expected that SMS would be able to ride out the debt crisis unscathed. But over the summer, their customers worldwide became “more reticent”—and postponed projects. The debt crisis had begun to impact the rest of the world [also read.... The Noose Tightens On Germany’s “Success Recipe”].
    The bond-buying program by the ECB and the establishment of the ESM bailout fund may have calmed the waters, but “as citizen and family entrepreneur,” he was convinced the calm would be temporary, and things would get worse. Why? The “inflation trap,” he said, there being nothing more “anti-social” than inflation.
    Consumers would be in a tough spot. Due to the existing “Transfer Union,” it’s “certain today that the standard of living in Germany cannot be maintained.” When citizens feel the loss of wealth due to these transfers to Germany’s neighbors and due to rising inflation, domestic demand for consumer goods would “shrivel over the medium term.” But stimulus programs with borrowed money would be “the last thing we can afford,” he said, calling it a “scandal” that Germany hasn’t been able to reduce its debt despite “record tax revenues.”
    To get through the crisis, SMS would do three things, he said: remain “at the top of its sector,” maintain a financially conservative approach to be able to live off its reserves, and.... “prepare for inflation.” His strategy: invest a big part of their free liquidity “in industrial substance.” All inflationary times have proven that those who invested in substance, for example in well-run companies, had “fewer losses,” he said. So they’re looking for acquisitions.
    And the next 12 months? SMS was currently using overtime to keep up, he said, but with orders for 2012 dropping to €3 billion, capacity utilization will fade, and the company might have to shift to part-time work (Kurzarbeit) next year. He couldn’t give a forecast; the situation was “too uncertain,” he said, but for 2013, “we’re pessimistic.”
    Two thermometers into corporate brains plunged to depth not seen since the trough of the financial crisis when the US was losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month. One was based on responses from CEOs of America’s largest corporations; the other was based on responses from analysts and their industry contacts. Just before Lehman, these people had exactly zero predictive capabilities. So, could they now have ulterior motives? Read.... Fear of Impending Economic Collapse Or Just Manipulation?

10/19/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Is the 15-hour work week closer than we think? Interview by Kai Ryssdal, Marketplace.org
    BRISBANE, Australia - You don't work as hard as you say you do, according to the U.S. Labor Department. They just released a study that found the typical worker claims to work 40 hours a week -- while actually working around 37.
    But either way, your work week is still a lot longer than the 15-hour work week that economist John Maynard Keynes predicted we'd all be working by now.
    So what happened?
    Prof. John Quiggin's an economist at Queensland University in Brisbane Australia and author of "Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us." He looked into the 15-hour work week and found that part of the problem lies in an increase in consumption that Keynes hadn't predicted.
    [And that was the result of a deliberate policy of CEOs in the 1920s and after - to distract labor from its power issue of workweek reduction and More Leisure/Free Time (= the most basic freedom) by pushing the Gospel of Consumption. See Ben Hunnicutt's great history of the Great Depression, Work Without End.]
    Keynes predicted that new technologies would allow workers to become more productive. This would mean they wouldn't have to work as many hours and could devote more time to leisure. Using an equation, he found that eventually, people would be able to work about 15 hours a week and still maintain their standard of living.
    But Quiggin says Keynes didn't predict the rise in consumption. And then again, Keynes certainly didn't predict "time wasters" like weeding through spam emails or updating Facebook at work.
    Then again, maybe we put too much emphasis on "hard work."
    "It turns out that a lot of the things that are most valuable really didn't come from hard work aimed at making money," says Quiggins. "For example, if you look at the Internet, it really...arose because university professors like to chat to each other."
    But if your job is something you love or would do anyway, you're probably okay not working a 15-hour work week. You tell us.
    About the author - Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy...

  2. Your friend who claims to have a 75-hour work week? He's probably lying, posted by Sarah Kliff, Ezra Klein's Wonkblog via WashingtonPost.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Most of us know the type: the friend who complains about the horribly long hours he’s been pulling at work lately.
    Federal data suggests that friend isn’t quite telling the truth.
    The New York Times’ Catherine Rampell flags this Bureau of Labor Statistics report that explores the gap between how much people think they work and how much they actually work. It finds that, on average, Americans overestimate how much time they spend toiling away in a cubicle by 5 percent to 10 percent.
    Those who work the longest hours are prone to the greatest exaggeration... [Chart, omitted,] maps the gap between estimated work hours and actual work hours (as recorded in a diary) as measured by three separate surveys.
    Two surveys here...show some striking disparities for those who think they’re pulling the longest days. Turns out, those who claim a 75-hour work week put in only 50 hours at the office.
    It’s worth noting that same phenomena occurs when people are asked how much time they spend on other tasks, such as housework. “When asked to provide such daily and weekly estimates,” BLS economists John P. Robinson, Steven Martin, Ignace Glorieux and Joeri Minnen write, “survey respondents tend to give estimates that add up to considerably more than the 168 hours,” the number of hours in one week.
    A few other interesting tidbits from the report: Women are more likely to overestimate their working hours than men as their work week gets longer. [Graph, omitted, is] drawn from a Belgium study, which charts the gap between estimated and actual hours worked by gender.
    The gap between perceived and actual work hours looks to have grown over time. In 1965, people overestimated the hours they worked by an average of 1.3 hours for the week. Now, they overestimate by 2.4 hours, on average. Economists think this has to do with the changing nature of the economy. “With the movement of the labor force into more service occupations and other occupations in which work schedules are becoming more irregular (with no time clock to punch as a vivid reminder),” they write, “Workers have fewer benchmarks to use in estimating the number of hours in their workweek.”

10/18/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Govt needs to act on working hours: union, AAP via TheAustralian.com.au
    SYDNEY, N.S.W., Australia - The NSW government should investigate the impact of longer working hours on the mental health and productivity of the state's workforce, Unions NSW says.
    The state's peak union body says with 25 per cent of full-time workers doing more than 50 hours work per week, a government taskforce should be set up to examine the issue.
    Secretary Mark Lennon says the health effects of longer working hours should be a major concern for the O'Farrell government.
    "Sadly, the eight hour day has become a distant memory for a vast swathe of the NSW workforce," Mr Lennon said in a statement on Friday.
    "The reality is that long hours are of no benefit to anyone, they increase stress and mental illness and eat away at productivity."
    He said international research showed long working hours were impacting on the productivity and mental health of the workforce. Digital Pass $1 for first 28 Days
    A cut back in excessive hours would help reduce compensation claims and workplace injuries, he added.

  2. Take Back the 40-hour Work Week, by Sam Chandler, itbusinessedge.com
    MELBOURNE, Australia - Americans have grown accustomed to being busy. We wake up, go to work (or maybe hit up the gym first if we’re not too busy), work, work, eat lunch at desk, work, stay in the office late, go home for a few hours of personal time (cleaning, chores, relationship maintenance), then bed (phew). Long hours, too little sleep, lack of vacation time – for many of us, it’s no longer a work to live situation; we’re living to work.
    According to a new survey by Hogan Assessments, more than 92 percent of business people reported regularly working more than 40 hours per week, while almost 48 percent reported working 50+ hours each week – proof that the 40-hour work week is, essentially, dead, replaced by the new standard 50+ hour work week. As our society consistently finds more efficient ways of doing things, it is unlikely our jobs are getting harder, and making up for leaner departments only accounts for so much. So why are we so much “busier?”
    A recent New York Times article called out our obsession with work, proposing that these long hours and our constant busyness is self-imposed, rather than a symptom of the work itself. In other words, we are choosing to stay busy in the name of productivity and self-worth, not because we actually have more work to do.
    Some people blame constant connectivity and the advent of smartphones for keeping us glued to work. It’s true we are more available then we ever have been, but we’re also part of a generation where technology is constantly evolving to offer us faster, more efficient tools to increase our productivity. Rather than complaining about being constantly plugged in and ‘too busy,’ we need to use the plethora of tools and tech available to us so we can fully capitalize on the 40 hours a week we have devoted to the workplace and enjoy the rest of our lives guilt-free.
    Our desire to increase our efficiency and free ourselves from the “busy trap” is evidenced by the rise in popularity and prevalence of productivity tools and applications. Five years ago, no one had even heard of Dropbox, Evernote, or Asana. Now, they are used by tens of millions of people – both at home and in the office. Not only are more people using technology with the hopes of being productive, they are actually increasing their productivity. A recent study found that empowering employees through technology and mobility drives productivity – proof that we should be spending less time on work, rather than more.
    So where would we be without these tools? We’d be in the office working longer hours. For example, let’s take a look at Mad Men, set in the 1960’s office space. When extra work needs to get done, people sleep at their desks and come into the office on the weekends – no one is working from home or emailing from their cell phone. The office is the only place where workers can connect, collaborate and, essentially, work. With the rise of mobile and cloud technology, we are now able to get work done anytime, anywhere, whether we’re on vacation, at a client’s office, or working from bed. Connectedness is our friend, not our enemy, so let’s stop blaming it for our work woes.
    The connectivity enabled by productivity tools empowers more of us to work, in more places, more. Entrepreneurs low in funds can start a business from their home office, their car, or a coffee shop. Parents with young children can work from home rather than quitting their jobs or sending their children to day care. A small business from the middle of nowhere can set up shop online and collaborate with vendors on the other side of the world. We can even travel and still send and receive emails, collaborate on projects, and get just as much done as though we were sitting at our desks.
    Without the connectivity afforded by productivity tools and application, we would have no choice but to stay late and come into the office on weekends – so why are we doing this anyway? There are so many tools right at our fingertips that can help us to finish our tasks and projects faster and when convenient, so we can actually leave the office at five and take our vacation time with a clear conscience. Let’s stop complaining about technology “taking over our lives,” use it to our advantage, get business done during the 40 hours a week allotted for work, and leave the 50-hour workweek for the slackers.
    Sam Chandler is one of the Founders and chief architects of Nitro, where he currently serves as CEO. Sam's leadership and vision for Nitro is driven by his desire to make people's lives easier with great software - making, creating, and sharing - as simply and easily as possible. Since joining the company in 2005, Sam has played a major role in growing Nitro’s revenues four-fold, profitably expanding operations in the United States, Europe, and Australia, and leading the company through a Series A capital raising, a capital restructuring, and multiple asset acquisitions. Prior to Nitro, Sam founded and served as Managing Director for Aliqua, a marketing service firm whose operations were later merged with Nitro in 2004. Outside of work, Sam serves on the board of directors of Australia's largest community foundation, the Melbourne Community Foundation, and acts as an advisor to startups in the U.S., Asia, and Australia. Sam studied business and economics at Melbourne's RMIT University and Politecnico di Milano, Italy...

10/17/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Reminder: Friday is state furlough day, by Henry Miller, (10/16 late pickup) Statesman Journal (blog) via community.statesmanjournal.com/blogs
    SALEM, Ore., USA - Michelle Dennehy, the wildlife communications coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, sent out a reminder that Friday is a furlough day for state offices.
    [= trimming workweek, not workforce.]
    That means if you’ve got business with Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon State Marine Board, Parks and Rec. etc., procrastination is not your friend this week if you plan to head out this weekend.

    Many hunters who missed the tag-sale deadline for western Oregon deer are picking up a tag after the deadline.
    Those won’t be available on Friday because you can only get them at department offices.
    Dennehy included a reminder about how the late sales work: To buy tag after the deadline, you need to contact Fish and Wildlife’s Licensing Services Division in Salem at (503) 947-6100) or through a field office that sells licenses.
    If you are buying the tag at a field office, headquarters in Salem will need to fax an affidavit to the office for the hunter to sign.
    And it will cost you $17 for the duplicate-tag fee.
    And if you need added incentive, some private lands are beginning to open for public entry thanks to the rain.
    Many are allowing just walk-in, not motorized access at this point.
    For the current status and latest updates, as well as contact information for the landowners, go to the online private lands access page.

  2. A missed opportunity to save Hoosier jobs, by Derek Thomas, (10/16 late pickup) Indiana Institute for Working Families via Martinsville & Morgan County Reporter-TImes via reporter-times.com
    FRANKLIN, Ind., USA - Just a week ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that the U.S. unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8 percent—the lowest level since February 2009. The report was laden with renewed optimism, including positive news with regards to labor force participation, increases in the number of hours worked, as well as the number of jobs created.
    In the same week, in Indiana, Columbus-based engine manufacturer, Cummins, Inc. (Indiana’s largest employer for automotive manufacturing), announced it would cut the hours of 350 employers by 20 percent—down to four days a week.
    The news got worse. Shortly after this announcement, Cummins announced it would be cutting as many as 1,500 jobs from its total workforce—likely to affect our local workforce. To top it off, The Republic, a Columbus-based newspaper, reported that other firms were likely to follow suit.
    So what gives? On one hand, the U.S. economy is clearly making inroads. Yet, Indiana manufacturing is experiencing significant layoffs.
    As the Indianapolis Business Journal reported, Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger attributed the layoffs to “heightened uncertainty … regarding the direction of the global economy, (ultimately) lowering demand for our products.”
    Given the hyper-partisan gridlock in Congress, you might be surprised to know that a bi-partisan group of Indiana congressmen did in fact come together to vote yes on the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Those lawmakers included Richard Lugar, Joe Donnelly, Marlin Stutzman, Mike Pence, Andre Carson, Larry Buschon, and Todd Young.
    Within the act was a provision known as “work sharing.”
    What is Work Sharing?
    Work sharing is a voluntary unemployment insurance program that targets jobs preservation by providing employers with an alternative to layoffs during times of decreased demand. Typically, if a firm sees a 20 percent decrease in demand; it would lay off 20 percent of its workforce. Under work sharing, the employer has the option to decrease pay for a particular line or department within the firm by 20 percent for a short period of time — usually about 6 months or until demand picks up.
    The 20 percent loss incurred by the employee is partially made up by the state—usually half.

    For example, an employee normally earning $600 per week would, under a work sharing program, receive $480 in wages (or 80 percent of $600) and $60 in unemployment benefits (half of the 20 percent employee loss). Instead of the $390 she would receive under normal unemployment benefits, the employee is temporarily earning $540 (90 percent of her original income) and is able to maintain health benefits and avoid the ranks of the unemployed.
    In terms of cost to Indiana’s unemployment insurance trust fund, four work share claims equal one traditional unemployment claim. And, because the federal government is offering grants to states that don’t already have the program, work sharing has the potential to save the unemployment trust fund over $50 million in the next three years.
    Why is it Important for Indiana?
    According to Fitch’s Ratings, Indiana’s economy “remains considerably concentrated in manufacturing, particularly transportation equipment, expos[ing] the state to economic downturns.” Moreover, because of Indiana’s heavy reliance on exports in manufacturing, nearly one-quarter of these jobs are at the mercy of the global economy’s ups-and-downs. Indeed, in the IBJ article, Linebarger acknowledges that demand will “inevitably rebound.”
    Giving businesses a tool to take a more nimble approach when responding to the global economy, thus saving money on recruitment costs, is why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, signed work sharing legislation this year. Allowing workers to remain employed and retaining skills is why Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, also signed work sharing legislation this year.
    This was a lost opportunity to save Hoosier jobs. Indiana should utilize and prioritize work sharing as one tool in a box of many to mitigate temporary decreases in demand, now and for future global downturns.
    Derek Thomas is the Senior Policy Analyst for the Indiana Institute for Working Families. The institute conducts research and promotes public policies to help Hoosier families achieve and maintain economic self-sufficiency.

10/16/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The Lilly Ledbetter Act exacerbates gender gap, discourages hiring, by Sally Brady, Virginia Tech Collegiate Times via collegiatetimes.com
    BLACKSBURG, Va., USA - On his first day in office, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act. The administration coined it the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” bill.
    However, the law does not give fair pay for equal work, but rather extends the period of time that women are able to file a claim of wage discrimination. With each new paycheck, the six-month time frame for filing a lawsuit resets. The bill passed with minimal Republican support.
    The Republican members opposed the bill primarily because of how it affects employers — and therefore job creation — and on the belief that, as a result of the new legislation, gender discrimination — and hence, not hiring — in the workplace would likely increase because employers would fear lawsuits from female workers.
    The Obama Administration cites the Department of Labor statistic that full-time working American women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
    They claim this is the ‘wage gap.’ However, the statistic does not account for the number of hours per week women and men work on average. To a considerable degree, the ‘gender wage gap’ is more a ‘gender hours gap.’
    The Department of Labor considers full-time employment to be 35 or more hours per week. Men are more likely to work more hours, while women are more likely to work less than 35 hours per week. In 2009, 66.6 percent of American workers working less than 35-hour workweeks were women. In comparison, just 45.1 percent of workers logging more than 35 hours a week were men.
    [So why are we always spinning France as radical or "famously leisurely" for having a 35-hour workweek?]
    Adjusting for education, experience, race, industry and occupation, nine cents per hour was attributed to gender discrimination, according to Blau and Kahn’s “Perspectives,” and between five and seven cents per hour, according to Consad Research of Pittsburgh.
    The wage gap depends on the labor-force participation rate by women, which is a function of a number of variables, both personal and societal.
    In a study done by the University of Chicago of college-educated women who graduated between 1992 and 1993, only 25.6 percent were working 10 years later. Women are likely to opt out of the labor force in order to spend time with their children.
    The Lilly Ledbetter Act provides a forum to air grievances that may or may not be related to wage differentials. However, it obscures the fact that differentials are due to choices. Even with Lilly Ledbetter, you would expect these differentials to continue and perhaps resolve a few individual claims.
    However, it does not affect the decisions of women regarding labor-force participation.
    As a piece of social legislation designed to improve women’s wages in comparison to men, the Lilly Ledbetter Act is more likely to result in fewer employed females because firms fear potential litigation, adverse publicity from such cases, and the amount of resources they would have to devote to defending themselves against such claims.

  2. Pan-democrats push for standard working hours law - Lawmakers want 40- to 44-hour standard week and employees who work longer to be paid 1½ times their usual wage, by Phila Siu phila.siu@scmp.com, South China Morning Post (subscription) via scmp.com
    54: the number of hours respondents in a retail worker survey said they worked per week (blowout stat)
    HONG KONG, China - Pan-democratic parties have joined hands to push for a "long overdue" law on standard working hours that they say is on the statute books in 130 countries and regions, including Taiwan.
    The experiences of those places showed the effects of instituting standard hours in the workplace were not as bad as local businesses had claimed, the parties said.
    Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan noted that the government had finished an impact analysis in June but had not released the results. 
    "Various political parties have been pushing for a law in standard working hours for so many years. The government has had enough time to listen to all their views," Lee told a news conference yesterday backed by nine pan-democratic parties, including the Democratic Party, Civic Party and People Power.
    "The government has all the information it needs about this law. All it takes is the determination to implement it."
    Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung has said the report will be submitted to Legco this month.
    The pan-democrats are calling for a 40- to 44-hour working week and want employees who work longer than this to be paid 1½ times their usual wage rate.
    In August, the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs said most respondents in a survey of retail workers worked more than 54 hours a week.
    Businesses have warned that the minimum wage law implemented in May last year has led to a surge in employers' operation costs and many companies were finding it hard to survive. The Employers' Federation, which represents about 500 employers, has expressed concern that standard working hours will make the city less attractive for doing business.
    The pan-democrats made their voices heard yesterday before Matthew Cheung attends a Legco meeting today to discuss a non-binding motion raised by Labour Party lawmaker Peter Cheung Kwok-che on the issue.
    Lee believes that with the support of the nine pan-democratic parties and the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions, the law "can definitely be passed".
    The nine parties, together with the FTU and labour-sector lawmaker Poon Siu-ping, have 32 votes. Thirty-five votes are needed to pass a bill.
    The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, with 12 votes, has not made its stance clear in a survey the Confederation of Trade Unions sent out recently.

10/14-15/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Time's Up for Post Offices; Plan Would Cut Hours, by Shelley Hanson, 10/14 Wheeling News-Register via TheIntelligencer.net
    VALLEY GROVE, W.V., USA - Ohio Valley residents who use rural post offices are giving mixed reviews of the United States Postal Service's plan to reduce hours of operation at the facilities.
    Valley Grove resident Patty Naumann would rather see the village's post office stay open seven hours a day - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. - to accommodate the senior citizens. But if the postal service has its way, the Valley Grove Post Office, along with hundreds of others across the country, will operate with reduced hours starting in 2014. The postal service had been considering closing some offices. The Valley Grove office would be open four hours per day. Others would operate two, four or six hours a day.
    "They take an hour and a half lunch break - they could do away with that," Naumann said. "And they could do away with Saturdays. ... Four hours would be such an inconvenience."
    Shawn Kesler works at the Valley Grove Post Office. The U.S. Postal Service is proposing to cut the hours of operation at small offices such as Valley Grove’s starting in 2014.
    Naumann, who is the village clerk, noted in Valley Grove the postal service rents its space from the village for $420 a month. The space is connected to the village offices/community building.
    "We've never raised their rent and they don't pay any utilities. We even change the light bulbs. They can't say they have any overhead," she said, noting the postmaster's salary would be the exception.
    Many seniors would rather mail their bills at the post office instead of using their home boxes because they don't want to leave checks unattended, Naumann said.
    In neighboring Triadelphia, where service would be reduced to six hours a day, resident Jason McCoy said he wouldn't mind fewer hours to use town's post office. He would do his business first thing in the morning, as he lives nearby.
    "I would rather they cut Saturdays than cut people's jobs," McCoy said.
    Naumann noted the USPS has scheduled a public meeting on the matter for 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Valley Grove Community Center, 3470 National Road.
    In Belmont County at the Lansing Post Office, where hours would be reduced to six daily, Virginia and Eugene Paoletti said they would rather see hours reduced than their post office be closed.
    "That's what we're afraid of. We hate to see it go," she said.
    But fewer hours would interrupt their routine, Virginia Paoletti noted. And using a post office box is easier than trying to reach their mailbox at home. The Lansing Post Office is located along U.S. 40 with parking in front of the building.
    Blaine residents Dave Ward Sr. and his son, Dave Ward Jr., said they prefer to use the Lansing Post Office instead of the Blaine facility, which is proposed to operate two hours a day. Ward Sr. uses the post office to deliver eBay items, but still has mail delivered to his home. Ward Jr. uses a P.O. box.
    "This one is nice and we don't have to go to the big one in Bridgeport. I live in Blaine but I still come here," Ward Sr. said. "With the eBay packages it's easier for me here because I don't have to print out the shipping labels."
    Ward Jr. said a reduced hours would not impact him much.
    "I'm more about saving money. ... It would bad for him but not for me," Ward Jr. said of his father, adding he also doesn't want to see postal workers lose their jobs.
    "My main concern with the USPS is that someday soon, if nothing is done and the U.S government stands by and is inactive in finding solutions for this problem, the American people will have to bail them out," he added.
    Bridgeport resident Jodie Clark does not want reduced hours at the Lansing office.
    "It sucks," Clark said of the plan. "This is my favorite post office. ... They help you out and they don't blow you off."
    She noted Lansing's 7:30 a.m. starting time is better for her schedule. After taking her children to school, she stops at the post office. At the Blaine Post Office, former Blaine postmaster June Bossell, who retired seven years ago, was getting her bills ready to be mailed. Bossell does not understand how it will operate on two hours a day. She also is concerned the USPS' future
    "They're trying to save money, but how are they going to make money? You can't make money if you're closed," Bossell said.
    Belmont resident Jackie McCombs uses the Blaine office for work-related mail and doesn't believe two hours a day is enough for anyone.
    "I think they need to find a better way to finance it. ... You can't make it to the post office in two hours," she said.
    John Burdock, Barton Volunteer Fire Department president, said he would rather see Barton's hours reduced than it close. The post office is proposed to operate four hours a day.
    "If it shut down it would be like the community losing its identity," he said.
    Barton resident Jackie Smolenack said having a P.O. box is convenient for her, but she is not opposed to reduced hours. She noted it serves as a gathering place for retirees who chat there in the morning.
    "We thought we were going to lose it in the flood, but they brought us another one," Smolenack said of the trailer used to house the operation.
    USPS spokesman David Van Allen said public hearings are being scheduled. People should call their post office to determine when the meetings are slated. In addition to the Valley Grove meeting, two others have been announced: Powhatan Point, 5 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Village Building; and Yorkville, 5 p.m. Nov. 14, Yorkville Fire Department.
    Following is a list of local post offices and proposed hours:
    Adena, six; Alledonia, two; Alma, four; Amsterdam, six; Bannock, two; Barton, four; Beallsville, six; Beech Bottom, four; Benwood, four; Bergholz, six; Bethany, four; Blaine, two; Bowerston, six; Brilliant, six; Cameron, two; Clarington, six; Colerain, four; Colliers, four; Dallas, two; Deersville, two; East Springfield, four; Empire, four; Friendly, four; Glencoe, two; Glen Dale, six; Glen Easton, four; Hammondsville, four; Hannibal, four; Harrisville, four; Holloway, six; Hundred, six; Irondale, four; Jacksonburg, four; Jacobsburg, six; Jerusalem, four; Jewett, six; Lansing, six; Lafferty, four; Maynard, two; Morristown, four; Mount Pleasant, four; Neffs, four; New Athens, four; New Manchester, six; Newell, four; Piedmont, four; Pine Grove, six; Powhatan Point, six; Proctor, six; Reader, six; Scio, six; Shirley, two; Short Creek, two; Smithfield, Ohio, six; Smithfield, W.Va., four; Stratton, four; Tiltonsville, four; Triadelphia, six; Valley Grove, four; Warnock, two; Windsor Heights, four; Yorkville, four; [sic]

  2. Drilling Company's Change to Workweek Didn't Violate FLSA, Eighth Circuit Rules, By Jay-Anne B. Casuga, 10/15 Bloomberg News Assoc. via BNA.com
    ARKANSAS, USA - A natural gas drilling company in Arkansas did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act when it redesignated the workweek of drilling rig operators, but did not change their actual work schedules, resulting in their overtime hours being split between two payroll periods, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled Oct. 10 (Abshire v. Redland Energy Servs. LLC , 8th Cir., No. 11-3380, 10/10/12).
    According to the court, the drilling rig operators at Redland Energy Services LLC initially worked 12-hour shifts for seven consecutive days from Tuesdays through Mondays, followed by seven days off.
    In May 2009, Redland reduced the size of its drill rig crews, and changed the designation of the operators' workweek to Sunday to Saturday--the same workweek for company truckers, office staff, and other employees. In a memo to employees, the company stated: “There will be no adjustment to your work week, which will remain from Tuesday-Monday [but] you will begin to have a reduction in overtime hours as your work week will be split into 2 payroll periods.”
    Roy Abshire and four other operators sued Redland in November 2010, contending that the FLSA bars Redland from changing an existing workweek to reduce overtime rates.
    Redland argued that it changed the workweek to increase administrative efficiency. By placing all employees on the same workweek, the company said, it reduced the time needed to “prepare payroll” and lowered “payroll expense by reducing the number of hours that drill rig employees must be paid at the FLSA-mandated overtime rate.”
    The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas granted summary judgment to Redland, and the employees appealed.
    Affirming the district court ruling, the Eighth Circuit found that an employer does not run afoul of the FLSA merely because it designates a consistent workweek in which employees earn fewer overtime hours “than they would if the workweek was more favorably aligned with their work schedules.”
    The FLSA does not require a workweek that “maximizes an employee's accumulation of overtime pay,” and an employer's effort to reduce its payroll expenses is not contrary to the statute's purposes, the court said. As such, Redland's modification of the operators' workweek did not constitute a violation of the FLSA, the court held.

  3. Toyota retirees to get option of 'half-time' working hours, 10/15 (10/16 over dateline) The Yomiuri Shimbun via The Daily Yomiuri Online via yomiuri.co.jp
    TOYOTA CITY, Aichi Prefctr., Japan - Toyota Motor Corp. will offer retired employees who want to stay on the option of working half the number of hours of regular workers at some plants from April, according to sources.
    The "half-time" system is a response to the growing number of employees who hope to continue working after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60, and is one option the automaker plans to implement to aid employment among its retired staffers.
    If the experiment goes smoothly, Toyota will consider introducing the system at all of its plants, the sources said.

    Under the system, employees who wish to keep working after retiring are expected to be given the option of working full-time or half-time.
    The Toyota Motor Worker's Union adopted the measure at a regular convention Saturday, along with other steps aimed at making it easier for workers to stay on after turning 60.
    Companies are obliged to reemploy retirees who are willing to work through the age of 65 under a revised law that will take effect April 1.
    Toyota's "half-time" system could spread to other manufacturers if it proves successful, according to observers.

  4. Work sharing: why? how? how not... - Economic Papers No. 42 (citation, intro & summary only), by Jacques H. Dreze, 10/15 (Dec/85 very late pickup) Université Catholique de Louvain via EU Commission Working Documents via Archive of European Integration via University of Pittsburg via aei.pitt.edu
    LOUVAIN, Belgium, EU -
    Item Type: EU Commission - Working Document
    Additional Information: Sections are bookmarked.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    Subjects for EU documents: Employment, Labor Market > Employment/ Unemployment
    EU Series: Economic Papers
    Depositing User: Barbara Sloan
    Official EU Document: Yes
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2012 11:11
    Number of Pages: 72
    Last Modified: 11 Oct 2012 11:11
    URI: http://aei.pitt.edu/id/eprint/36937
    1.1 As soon as it became clear to Europeans that the recession born in the midseventies was going to be severe and protracted, some of them became concerned with the prospects for redistributing work over people so as to reduce the extent of involuntary unemployment, i.e. with the prospects for work sharing. That was not an innovation. A similar concern had arisen in the thirties, leading to the dramatic unsuccessful attempt by the Front Populaire to impose abruptly a 40 hours week in France. (See for instance, Economie Europeenne (1980) and Fontaine (1984) for a summary account of that earlier development. Average weekly hours in French manufacturing did not come down to the 40 hours target until ... 1982!)
    In recent years, a number of policy measures designed to promote work sharing have been implemented in European countries, and several reports have attempted to assess their impact; see, for instance Van Den Bergh and Wittelsbürger (1981), Hart (1984) or Commissariat Général du Plan (1985).
    The overall impression conveyed by these reports is one of limited effectiveness of work-sharing measures in reducing unemployment - at least if one goes by hard evidence [which ignores the defacto worksharing that occurred as the workweek was reduced from over 80 hours to around 40 between 1800 and 1950]. (See also Part II below.) Also, some authoritative voices asserted that these measures are misdirected and bound to be self-defeating; see Layard et al. (1984).
    [And these biases may well have influenced the selection of "hard evidence."]
    Yet, with unemployment rates among the young reaching 25% or more in several European countries and no major improvement in sight (Cfr European Economy,November 1984, Table 8, p. 16), it is understandable that motivations to bring about some degree of work sharing should persist.
    The present paper is not meant to replicate the existing collective reports, but rather to provide an appraisal of the recent European experience, and of the prospects for work sharing, in the light of the modern microeconomic analysis of labour contracts. This calls for some theoretical considerations(Part I) before turning to the evidence (Part II), and I must beg readers to endure the detour. A brief summary of the arguments may serve the dual purpose of providing the patient readers with markers, and the less patient or less interested readers with an excuse for jumping to the conclusions, or discarding the paper altogether.(1)
    1.2 To begin with (Section 2), I shall argue that most people attach a positive value to having a "regular job" (as opposed to a "casual job", or no job at all). Within the context of regular jobs, their sup~ly of hours and effort obeys the standard neoclassical assumptions. There are substantial variations across individuals, and for given individuals over time, in the value of a job and in the supply of hours. From the viewpoint ot business firms, "regular jobs'' are the typically preferred form of employment. But the provision of such jobs entails fixed hiring costs (of screening, training and long-term commitments). Also, the provision of these jobs requires the existence of working posts, and the expectation of continued need for the additional employee, hence of continued output demand. Accordingly, the provision (supply) of regular jobs is inelastic to their short-run cost.
    Next (Section 3), I shall argue that short-run disequilibria on the markets for regular jobs can occur, can sometimes become sizeable and are subject to selfaggravating tendencies. In such situations (well illustrated by present circumstances), the resorption of disequilibrium can be very slow. It would be both undesirable and unrealistic to rely on wage flexibility alone to clear labour markets in the short run.
    The theory of "implicit labour contracts" explains why the wages of employees on regular jobs remain downward rigid in periods of slack demand for labour. Quantity adjustment~ take place, preferably in the form of partial unemployment or temporary layoffs, which combine labour hoarding by firms with some degree of work sharing among the employees under contract. New entrants to the labour market are not part to these arrangements, however. There is no market mechanism whereby work could be redistributed efficiently between workers under contract and newcomers. In addition, the effectiveness of preexisting contracts requires a degree of rigidity for the wages specified in new contracts as well. And the fixed costs of new hirings, coupled with rigidities in the organisation of work, stand in the way of work sharing among newcomers in the form of part-time employment. There results an inefficient allocation of regular jobs, from which many newcomers (in particular the young) are left out. Special measures are needed to correct that inefficiency (Section 4).
    The scope for special measures is based on three considerations (Section 5). First, there are externalities, the most obvious of them being the unemployment compensation, which is a cost to society but not to individual agents. Second, there are complex legal provisions, which may or may not facilitate work sharing. Third, there are many "public good" aspects to the organisation of working time, providing scope for leadership through public policy.
    After a brief interlude (Section 6), which offers a normative alternative to Part I, I turn at last to the record (Part II). Selected fragments of evidence from various sources are organised under three headings:
    (i) Trading jobs, i.e. replacing a worker under contract by a newcomer (Section 7) : there is scope for such replacements to the extent that the value of a job varies widely over individuals; the most obvious measure calls for early retirement (voluntary) with mandatory replacement; measures of that kind have been introduced in several countries, pulling large numbers of workers out of the labour force; although hard figures on new hirings are scanty, those which exist reveal a large measure of success when but only when replacement is mandatory; this is the easiest form of work sharing; but more detailed work remains needed to quantify prospects, both numberwise and costwise.
    (ii) Sharing jobs; this can take two forms (Section 8):
    (a) a worker under contract is replaced by a newcomer on a part-time basis (typically half-time); measures to that effect have been introduced in some countries, with negligible effects; still, surveys suggest substantial potential interest in progressive retirement schemes;
    (b) newcomers are hired on a part-time basis, so that a single working post is filled by more than one person; this is in principle easier, since no worker under contract is involved; measures facilitating part-time employment have been taken in some countries, and hirings of public servants on an 80 %basis have been introduced in the Benelux countries; there is no indication of growth in part-time work by men; the growth for women is concentrated in those countries which are lagging behind in this respect, and reflects a trend towards greater accommodation of worker preferences rather than a cyclical pattern. One specific difficulty with job sharing seems to arise from rigidities in the organisation of working schedules, which stand in the way of part-time early retirement and of part-time contracts on a 75 % or 80 % basis. This is the area where innovative measures, difficult as they may be, seem to offer the greatest challenge. Additional data on part-time work in Europe are collected in the Appendix.
    (iii) Trading hours for jobs, i.e. reducing weekly (or annual_ working time for workers under contract in order to create new jobs (Section 9): this is the most controversial measure; it is also a difficult one, because large numbers of workers under contract are involved, and because the measure interferes with the organisation of work; more significantly, firms engaged in labour hoarding will not hire additional employees in response to reductions in hours, whereas exuanding firms will resist such reductions; the short-run elasticity of emoloyment with respect to hours worked is probably very small, and we know very little about the long-run elasticity. There is no clear evidence of promising prospects along this line, outside of isolated situations (like continuous operation with multiple shifts).
    In conclusion, both short-run and long-run policy prospects are evaluated (Section 10).
    1.3 The summary just given indicates that the paper covers a broad range of issues. Length considerations will force me .to deal with some of these issues very briefly. In particular, aspects well covered in accessible documents (like implicit contracts theory) will be treated summarily.(2) Also, I shall refrain from any peripheral developments. This is not a paper on employment policies in general, but specifically on work sharing. Thus, the issues of the trade-off between work sharing and other measures, or between employment and other objectives (like price stability), are not taken up. This is not belittle their significance. Promoting overall employment through an adequate combination of supply-side and demand management measures remains the first priority, in the light of the present essay.
    [Click here for *full paper.]

10/13/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Social Security cutting hours to trim spending, by John Fritze john.fritze@baltsun.com, Baltimore Sun via articles.baltimoresun.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — With widespread budget cuts on the horizon, Social Security beneficiaries will soon get a preview of how customer service can be affected by a more austere federal government.
    Though the agency made no public announcement, the Woodlawn-based Social Security Administration told employees this month it will cut hours of operation at its 1,233 field offices for the second time in as many years.
    Nearly 180,000 people visit the offices every day to apply for Social Security cards as well as retirement and disability benefits.
    The union representing Social Security employees and advocates for the elderly and disabled criticized the move, which will cut more than five hours from office schedules every week. The groups worry that hours will be reduced further when Congress returns to Washington after the Nov. 6 election to deal with the nation's fiscal crisis.
    "Shorter hours at Social Security offices shortchange beneficiaries and applicants, many of whom are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities," said Marty Ford, director of public policy for The Arc, a Washington advocacy group. "This is the unfortunate real-world impact of several years of underfunding and cuts to the administrative budget of the Social Security Administration."
    The administrative costs to run Social Security are paid from the same trust fund that provides benefits to 56 million Americans, including 873,000 in Maryland.
    The 75-year-old program is expected to spend $11.4 billion on administrative costs this fiscal year, about $22 million less than in 2011. 
    A spokesman for the agency said he did not know how much money the reduction in hours would save, but the move was intended to target overtime costs.
    Employees can be forced into overtime when benefit applicants arrive just before closing; the screening process can take more than an hour.

    "We are operating on significantly less funding than either the agency or President Obama requested," spokesman Mark Hinkle said in a statement. "We are doing the best we can under a tough budget situation."
    Beginning Nov. 19, the agency's field offices will close a half-hour earlier each day. In most cases, that means closing at 3 p.m. rather than 3:30 p.m. Starting next year, the offices will close at noon on Wednesdays. Employees will continue to work the half-hour, finishing interviews and processing paperwork.
    It is one of several cost-cutting moves Social Security has made in recent months. The agency reduced its office hours by 30 minutes last year. This month it stopped mailing annual statements to enrollees, including to people who ask for them. It has also cut back or closed contact offices altogether.
    Increasingly, the agency is encouraging beneficiaries to file applications online or over the phone.
    Witold Skwierczynski, president of the Social Security Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the emphasis on Internet applications puts people at risk of making bad choices. Applying for benefits is complicated, he said, and a big part of what field office employees do is to guide people through the process.
    "Often, people just give up and they really answer questions incompletely or not at all," Skwierczynski said. "When you switch things to the Internet, the result is bad service — people making choices that are disadvantageous. What they're proposing, doesn't cut it."
    Failing to fill out applications correctly can lead to denials.
    That, Skwierczynski said, can add to an already heavy backlog of disability appeals.
    A study last year found that the average appeal took just over a year to process despite efforts by the agency to reduce the delay.
    Customer service cuts have been common among public agencies during the sluggish economic recovery. Though the U.S. Postal Service does not receive taxpayer money, it has faced similar choices about whether to close offices and distribution centers. Its officials have asked Congress to allow it to discontinue Saturday delivery as a way to stem loses.
    The bulk of Social Security funding — about 70 percent — comes from dedicated payroll taxes. A wide-ranging debate has evolved over whether temporary payroll tax cuts created by the Obama administration could harm the program. But most budget analysts say the greatest threat to the program's long-term health is the aging of the nation's population. By 2033, there will be nearly twice as many seniors as today, according to Social Security estimates. And the life expectancy of a 65-year-old has increased from 14 years in 1940 to 20 years today.
    With about 10,000 employees, Social Security is the largest employer in Baltimore County.
    Service cuts have become a top concern for advocates, including groups such as AARP. The state director of the seniors lobby said economic and demographic trends are causing demand for services to grow.
    "The Social Security Administration provides critical services and guidance to millions of Americans seeking to claim the benefits they've earned," Hank Greenberg said in a statement. "While we appreciate the need for Washington to make difficult budgetary decisions, AARP will continue to advocate for adequate funding to allow SSA to better serve all Americans."
    Social Security hours
    Beginning Nov. 19, the agency's 1,233 field offices will close a half-hour earlier each day — usually at 3 p.m. instead of 3:30 p.m.

  2. Everydayonomics - Keynes got it wrong, but he has a point, op ed by Matt Wade, Brisbane Times via brisbanetimes.com.au
    BRISBANE, Qld., Australia - How would you fancy working 9 to 12?
    It might sound too good to be true, but that is what one of the world's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, predicted work hours would be by the end of the next decade.
    In a paper written in 1930 called Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren, Keynes mused about what working life would be like 100 years into the future. He argued that rising productivity and growing living standards would allow us to work much less.
    [Rising productivity certainlydoes give us the capability of working much less. However, the capability has to be deliberately pursued by cutting work hours rather than freezing long hours and cutting the work force, as we've done. "Growing living standards" in this context does not compute. The fact that we have made all jobs insecure has meant a decline in living standards and quality of life, the most glaring example being the fact that it now takes two parents working to support a family and insecurity-mulitiplied single-parent families are generally hurting.]
    By about 2030, Keynes thought, ''three-hour shifts or a 15-hour week'' would be more than enough to secure a standard of living far higher than in 1930.
    [The Technocrats in the early '30s advocated a 16-hour workweek (four 4-hour days). Canada's Mark Twain, Stephen Leacock, advocated a 20-hour workweek in his 1920 book, The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, and inventor-sociologist-economist Arthur Dahlberg also advocated a 20-hour workweek in his 1932 book, Jobs, Machines and Capitalism. (See Bibliography page.) Based on that, the U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek bill in 1933, only to watch as some Philly and Chicago businessmen successfully lobbied FDR to block it in the House. FDR realized his mistake by 1935 but then could only get a 44-hour workweek passed in 1938, to be cut two hours a year for two years. However, it still succeeded in cutting unemployment 2% for every 2-hour cut (1938 19.0%, 39 17.2%, 40 14.6%). Then it was frozen again at the 40-hour level due to the demands of World War II, and remains frozen to this day at that pre-automation level.]
    He assumed that, as prosperity grew [not when funneled to "the one percent"], leisure would gradually replace work at the centre of our lives [has to be fought for - doesn't happen by itself]. The point at which people could devote most of their energies to ''non-economic purposes'' wrote Keynes, could be reached ''much sooner'' than expected.
    [Absolutely, but not unless it's FOUGHT FOR. It does not happen by itself.]
    Keynes was right about the rapid growth in production per capita but not about our work habits. We have opted for a much higher standard of living than what he thought we would settle for [now reversing as more and more are "part-timed" or totally downsized]. And [if we still have a "full time" job].
    The University of South Australia's annual Work and Life Index report published last month found Australians work an average of 36.2 hours a week (including paid and unpaid overtime) - about twice what Keynes predicted we would be doing, back in 1930.
    [We dropped the ball and are now an embarrassment to intelligent life in this quadrant of the galaxy.]
    Australia's proportion of part-time workers is much higher than the OECD average. But even part-timers - who average about 20 hours a week - put in more time than Keynes thought the economy-wide norm would be by now.
    Full-time work hours have remained fairly constant about 40 hours a week over the past decade. But the university's research found one-fifth of employees worked 48 hours a week or more - 28 per cent of male workers and 10 per cent of female workers.
    Rather than doing less work, as Keynes predicted, our economic guardians at the Commonwealth Treasury say we need higher rates of workforce participation to counter the negative economic effects of an ageing population. Policy attention has turned to two groups from which a greater work contribution might be drawn: older workers and women.
    But the findings of the Work and Life Index suggest it could be very difficult to persuade those groups to lift their work hours. It showed far more workers above 50 years of age would rather reduce their hours than increase them. Women workers did not show great appetite for significantly lifting their hours either. When asked if they wanted more work, women working part-time said they would like just two hours a week, on average. Those working full-time said they would like to slash their work hours by nearly nine hours a week on average - more than a full working day. (Most men doing long hours also wanted to work less).
    An important discovery of the survey is a marked rise over the past few years in the proportion of full-time working women who feel pressured by work and dissatisfied with their work-life balance.
    ''This mob is really tired,'' says Professor Barbara Pocock, of the University of South Australia and a co-author of the index.
    ''If you think this group of full-time women, which is a big slice of the workforce, are going to enthusiastically work through to 70 with a few tax adjustments or a change in the pension eligibility, forget it. It ain't going to happen. They have doubled up on care and work over decades of their lives and they are going to approach retirement in a much different state than someone who has had a wife at home for 30 years. I think there is a real issue there about retirement and ageing.''
    Keynes's long-term predictions on work hours might have been wide of the mark but his essay draws attention to something largely ignored in debates about work in Australia: leisure time. The results of the annual work-life index survey suggest many Australian workers could do with more free time. As Keynes warned in his 1930 essay, ''we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy''.
    [Then get off your ass and fight for shorter hours. Short-sighted control-freak businessmen have succeeded now for 72 years in retailing this myth that shorter hours happens by itself and distracting the workforce onto precarious higher pay and benefits. All they've done is weakened their markets and funneled the money supply to a tiny population who have waaay more than they can spend, donate or even invest. Result? A spiraling downturn with every up-arc spun as "recovery" with ever more-strained credibility.]

10/12/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Mr Chicken cuts hours to stave off closure, by Raymond Hainey, BermudaSun.bm
    HAMILTON, Bermuda - A city fast food restaurant has changed its hours in a bid to avoid massive cuts in hours for staff or closure.
    David and Beryl Furbert, who own Hamilton’s Mr Chicken, said a combination of recession and the high cost of doing business in the city forced a change.
    Now the restaurant will only open from 11am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, instead of throwing open its doors for breakfast at 7am.
    But the fried chicken outlet will now stay open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, starting from tonight.

    Mr Furbert said: “It’s a combination of the recession and operating and maintenance costs, which have not gone down, they have gone up, which has created a lot of pressure on the business.”
    Ms Furbert added: “The sales were even as of last year, but the City of Hamilton is really expensive for a fast food restaurant to operate.”
    Mr Furbert said: “The economy is putting a squeeze on everyone — we had a meeting between ourselves and we had concluded that, to keep everyone employed, we needed to cut back on hours.
    “In the final analysis we came up with a possible solution which we hope will work.”
    Staff were told of the changed opening hours at a meeting yesterday — and some suggested later hours at the weekend to capture the late-night reveller market.
    Mr Furbert added: “What we are thinking of doing is looking for another location.
    “We own the building we are in, so if this new procedure doesn’t pan out, we look for another location outside the city and rent the space to a tenant for a bar or a higher-end restaurant.”
    The move means the Queen Street restaurant’s 12 full and part-time staff’s hours and jobs are safe.
    The jobs of the 10 full-time and part-time staff at the original Southampton Mr Chicken are unaffected.
    Mr Furbert added: “We have looked at everything before we looked at the big step of closing the restaurant altogether.”
    Ms Furbert said that — because of the rising number of jobless Bermudians —the firm, which also operates at Heron Bay in Southampton, had let go seven expatriate workers at the end of their contracts, while the last of the four remaining work permit holders would not be renewed.
    Mr Furbert said: “We said we couldn’t see our way to renewing their permits because so many Bermudians are out of work.
    “We went from getting maybe 10 applications a month to 10 a day sometimes.
    “We can’t, in conscience, have somebody brought in here when there are so many Bermudians looking for a job.”
    Mr Furbert said Mr Chicken has been open on Queen Street for six years, while the original Mr Chicken in Heron Bay had been in operation for more than a quarter of a century and continued to outperform its Hamilton stablemate.
    He added: “This is definitely the worst economic climate I have seen in that time.
    “But the changes only affect the Hamilton store, the Southampton one is holding its own.”
    The restaurant’s formerly opened between 7am and 10pm, seven days a week.
    The restaurant will continue to open for breakfast on Fridays and Saturday, operating between 7am and 4am. On Sunday, the new hours will be 8am to 8pm.

  2. PCB Aquatic Center Cuts Hours [but not jobs?] Despite Resident Opposition, WJHG-TV via wjhg.com
    PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla., USA - Residents were upset at Thursday night's Panama City Beach City Council meeting due to changes put in place to shorten hours for the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center at Frank Brown Park.
    Councilmen are saying that due to the amount of money it would cost to keep the pool open at it's current hours, the pool would be a financial drain for the city's budget.
    Currently the pool is open 13 hours a day, from 6 am to 7 pm, but the new hours that will take effect in early November will open the pool at 11 am, cutting it to an 8 hour day - a change many swimmers say is a grave mistake.
    Several residents spoke out against the change, many stating that the change wasn't a matter of cutting hours as much as it was marketing.
    "In my opinion, the issue is getting more people to the pool and they're not going to come to the pool if it's closed," said Esteban Berenguer.
    "At one point, they were talking about as much as they market tournaments that come down here, they were going to - and apparently they haven't helped - market the Aquatic Center," said resident Debbie Sasser. "What ever happened to that?"
    Tracy Baranowski said the changes would have a serious effect on her ability to spend time with her children in a routine they've established over the years. "You're taking my Saturday with my kids, you're taking my Sunday with my kids, and you're taking my Monday morning before work or before school."
    However, city officials say it isn't that simple.
    "Across the board we asked all of our department heads to cut by 3.5% this year, so I had to tell residents of Panama City Beach that we're cutting that firefighter coming to their house, that paramedic EMT by 3.5%, that police officer by 3.5%," said city councilman Keith Curry. "Then I have to at the same time justify spending another $425,000 for a pool that doesn't effect all the residents."
    City manager Mario Gisbert brought up several comparisons to other cities. "Everyone around us has winter hours, we're not doing something that's above and beyond what the other municipalities are doing, we're just trying to do something to help keep our budget balanced."

10/11/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work in your garden, not the office: Benefits of a four day work week, by Kieron Monks, Metro World News via Metro.us
    LONDON, Great Britain - We should be gardening instead of working on Friday, a British think-tank has claimed. The National Gardening Leave report from the New Economics Foundation demands that employers introduce a four-day week and growing areas for staff to tend.
    "The four-day week has huge benefits for employers," report author Andrew Simms told Metro. "Studies show lower absentee rates and a more motivated workforce, and the business saves money by shutting down for a day." A trial in Utah, USA, slashed absentee rates by 14%, saving millions of dollars, while the practice has become common in Germany and the Netherlands.
    The benefits for workers are more obvious with reduced stress and more free time, Simms says: "For women, especially high-level executives, a shorter week is the only way to balance work and family life."
    The report does not suggest gardening should be mandatory, but claims the activity has uniquely wide-ranging benefits including mental and physical health, community cooperation, and improving the urban environment by creating green spaces. Simms says gardening is the "new rock and roll" with a cross-demographic appeal shown by growing popularity in inner-city areas.
    The Thorntons Budgens convenience store in North London has developed a roof garden and manager Nathalie Quinn told Metro it has transformed the business. "We have our meetings on the roof and it enables us to get some fresh air, relax and see things from a different perspective," Quinn said, adding that "we have a mixed cultural background here and it has helped us connect as a team."
    Independent economist Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says that a four-day week is "long overdue after proven successes in Europe", adding that it has helped unemployment. "You can hire more people on shorter hours," he added.
    However, Weisbrot does not see that growing areas will have appeal to employers: "Businesses still don’t care much about sustainability issues."

  2. Town staff offers input on budget, by Bill Rea, Caledon Citizen
    CALEDON, Ont., Canada - Caledon councillors suggested last year that staff input be sought in putting together the Town’s budget for 2013.
    Eleven staff members took council up on the idea, and responded to surveys that were distributed to all Town employees.
    The 11 staffers came up with 23 suggestions. They included going to work sharing for a four-day week for all non-union staff; reviewing memberships in organizations, when it’s required there be only one member of certain organizations for each department; reviewing subscriptions for inserts in lawbooks, since many of them are available online; send information like notices of public information meetings by email where possible, as opposed to regular mail; retrofitting washrooms with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and motion sensors; retrofitting the lighting in corporate service areas to require fewer lights; etc.
    [Hey, worksharing is making it up to the top of the list!]
    The staff report that recently went to council stated all the recommendations will be taken under consideration as the 2013 budget is being prepared.

  3. Low working hours for Irish employees, Cork News via thecorknews.ie
    DUBLIN, Eire - Irish workers throughout the European Union put in some of the lowest weekly working hours in Europe last year, with the European Labour Force survey showing a 38.4-hour working week for Irish full-time employees.
    The 2011 study, shows weekly working hours ranging from 42.2 hours for UK workers to 37.7 hours for Danish employees (with Irish workers second from bottom of the table on 38.4 hours).
    Full-time employees across the EU worked an average of 40.4 hours a week in 2011, with women averaging 39.3 hours and men 41.1 hours.
    The LFS results refer to employees’ country of residence, as distinct from country of employment.
    This survey also shows that market services such as trade, transport and financial activities accounted for 44.6% of Irish employees (the second highest market services sector proportion, just behind Cyprus on 45.3%).
    In industry, including construction, the proportion of Irish workers (18.9%) was towards the lower end of a range extending from 13% in Luxembourg to 38% in the Czech Republic.

10/10/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The new normal workweek: 28 to 29.5 hours, God's World Publications via World Magazine via worldmag.com
    ORLANDO, Fla., USA - If you pay attention to your city’s business news, you'll probably see more stories like the one The Orlando Sentinel ran Sunday.
    The newspaper reported that Orlando-based Darden Restaurants no longer offers full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters, and LongHorn Steakhouses.
    The “Affordable Care” Act, aka Obamacare, stipulates that large companies will face heavy fines unless they provide “affordable” health insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.
    Even those who aren’t rocket scientists can figure out the next step: Make sure most employees max out at 29.5 hours.

    The Sentinel reported that Darden, which has 185,000 employees, one-fourth of them full-time, is experimenting with a 28-hour-per-week maximum at some sites.
    It also appears that some Olive Gardens are limiting employees to 29.5 hours, and that Darden is eliminating busboy positions at Red Lobster and reducing the number of servers per shift.
    Of course, if 29 rather than 40 hours becomes a standard workweek and the amount of work to be done remains the same, unemployment could go down. So what if Americans become poorer? We’ll have more time to visit the doctor—if we can get an appointment.
    [If shorter hours happens too slowly and uncoordinatedly to create a wage&spending-raising employer-perceived labor shortage and wages are still going down and the money supply is still funneling up to the 0.01% and coagulating, we have the option of letting the poverty rate control the workweek: too much poverty? adjust the workweek further down. And if employers complain that the workweek is getting too short to manage, switch from the poverty rate controlling the workweek to the poverty rate controlling income per week (or per month) per person. In other words, Netherlands' failing attempt to centrifuge the money supply by beefing up part-time pay and benefits instead of redefining full-time downward can be turned into a transition strategy for going from the Timesizing Program to the next program in the strategic order.]

  2. Rash decision, Frederick News Post (subscription) via fredericknewspost.com
    FREDERICK, Md., USA - The Board of County Commissioners decided last Thursday, somewhat on the spur of the moment, to institute a longer workweek for new employees, beginning Nov. 1.
    Apparently Commissioner Billy Shreve has been stewing about the county's 35-hour workweek, and proposed upping it to 40 hours: "I think the reality is that America bases its workweek on a 40-hour week," Shreve announced during an interview after the BoCC meeting.
    [Except for all the industries that base on 35 hours like insurance and academe, plus all those that are trying to duck paying benefits by going to less than 30, like the ones in the previous article.]
    The vote was 3-2, with commissioners Blaine Young and Kirby Delauter siding with Shreve. And while Young asserted that the subject had been broached by the board on several previous occasions, commissioners C. Paul Smith and David Gray thought the decision deserved more consideration and chafed at the quick turn of events.
    "There is no urgency to this that prevents us from having this discussed," Gray proclaimed. Smith was also peeved at the speed and lack of deliberation with which the subject was dispatched, grumbling, "We might have just enacted a policy that will tie our hands and hurt us rather than help us. I have a legitimate question, but to heck with my question. Just vote for it, and move on."
    We're not suggesting that this new longer workweek is necessarily a bad idea, but we're solidly with Smith and Gray on their conviction that it was handled in almost cavalier fashion. This is a change that definitely rates more consideration, discussion and evaluation than this example of willy-nilly governance afforded it.
    This ruling could have any number of ramifications affecting the county's payroll and the morale of workers, to name just two. These and other potential contingencies should have been thoroughly examined and thought through by those who could shed light on them -- the county's finance and human resources departments, among others.
    Has anyone forgotten the ill-fated employee buyout plan for city of Frederick employees that was supposed to encourage early retirement, reduce staff and save on payroll? That program, despite being vetted by accountants and others, was fraught with unintended consequences that worked against the plan's very purposes.
    We encourage the Board of County Commissioners to step back from this rash decision and put it on hold until all of its potential effects have been analyzed and its implementation has been carefully considered.
    Shreve described this vote as "a simple decision." Along with Smith and Gray, we suspect it's a little more complicated than that.

10/09/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Blue Door cuts hours due to business decrease, by Nicole DeCriscio, DePauw University Student Newspaper via TheDePauw.com
    [Cutting hours, not jobs, is reinvented thousands of times a day every day across the world by businesses under stress.]
    GREENCASTLE, Ind., USA - For the Blue Door Café, the introduction of Starbucks to Greencastle has not been an ideal business situation.
    Prior to October 4, the Blue Door was open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week. However, now the local business closes at 4 p.m., with the exception of Wednesdays, which their closing time is 9 p.m.
    “We didn’t have enough business to support staying open beyond four o’clock,” Dennis Furr, one of the owners of the Blue Door said. “It seems like right now our small business is getting affected by the importation of a big business in our community.”

    For the Blue Door, it is a game changer.
    “We always try to adapt as best we can,” Furr said.
    However, sophomore Kathleen Raymond-Judy questions the selection of the hours that they are cutting to adapt to competing with the new Starbucks.
    “It doesn’t make sense that they would close during the hours that students would be able to go there,” Raymond-Judy said.
    Blue Door hopes to eventually return to their previous hours, presumably after the hype about the Starbucks dies down.
    “This isn’t the first time that we’ve adjusted our hours due to outside forces,” Furr pointed out. The Blue Door typically cut hours during Winter Term when there are less students and faculty members on campus and try to extend hours during finals, he said.
    Those students aren’t off campus per-se — they seem to be at Starbucks, he said.
    “Both the Greencastle community and the DePauw community for years have been talking about the importance of local business and the importance of supporting local business,” Furr said.
    Furr sees this as a definitive time for both the Greencastle community and the DePauw community to stand up show support for small businesses here in Greencastle.
    “This will show us if DePauw and Greencastle really stand by what they say,” he said.
    Furr leaves the ultimate fate of small local businesses to the residents.
    “The decision is up to the consumer,” Furr said. “If they decide that they want to continue to support a local business, like Blue Door, then that is what will make us survive, nothing else.”

  2. Toronto EMS paramedics refuse overtime - City must hire 200 more EMS workers to keep up with increasing call volume, union official says, by Victoria Ptashnick, Toronto Star, GT8.
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - About 150 unionized paramedics are refusing to work overtime to underscore the city’s desperate need to hire 200 more paramedics, says the group’s spokesman.
    Ken Horton, a Toronto EMS [Emergency Medical Services] veteran of almost 30 years, said he hopes the move will force the city to solve the problem of severe understaffing that has been getting worse over the last decade.
    Paramedics decided to refuse overtime at an emergency meeting last Wednesday, said Horton, a CUPE Local 416 steward. They then took their names off an overtime contact list indefinitely.
    “We’ve had instances where people will wait eight hours for an ambulance,” he said. “It’s ridiculous for people to say that this is a world-class ambulance system.”
    According to a City of Toronto operating budget report, EMS paramedics arrived at critical calls within 8:59 minutes in 62.9 per cent of cases in 2011.
    Assigned emergency call volumes have increased from a monthly average of 15,848 in 2002 to 19,800 in 2011, a 24.9 per cent jump over nine years, according to the same report.
    Horton said about 80 paramedics work at night and usually double that number during the day. Those staffing levels are not enough to cover the increase in call volume, he said.
    According to the budget report, the Health ministry requires all Ontario EMS service providers to achieve, on a yearly basis, a target response time of 8:59 minutes 84 per cent of the time.
    Horton said Toronto needs more paramedics to achieve this level of service.
    He said about 30 paramedics have been taking their names off the list every day since last week’s meeting.
    EMS workers told CityNews last week that 30 per cent of service is based on overtime hours. Horton said he believes that is accurate.
    However Toronto EMS superintendent Kim McKinnon said the number is much less.
    “I was able to confirm that Toronto EMS’ overtime budget can be up to 5 per cent only,” she said in an email.
    McKinnon also said the EMS is not experiencing any operational issues because of the overtime refusal.
    “I don’t foresee having any problems because of the group refusing to work overtime,” she said, adding it’s been business as usual.
    Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he doesn’t think the province will “let the public be put in harm’s way over this. I don’t think it’s fair for these people to try to do that.
    “They don’t need to stay and work with us if they don’t like our terms. We negotiated with Local 416 and the terms are fair to the worker and the taxpayer.”

  3. Short-time workers double in German metals sector, Expatica Germany via expatica.com/de
    BERLIN, Germany - The number of staff in Germany's key metalworking and electronics sector employed short time due to slacker demand doubled in September, the main industry association said Tuesday.
    The Gesamtmetall employers association confirmed a report in the daily Bild that 29,500 staff were working shorter hours for less pay last month -- twice the number in August -- as firms in Europe's top economy weather tougher times.
    Gesamtmetall president Rainer Dulger warned against "panic", telling Bild that things could not always go "full speed ahead" in the industry, which encompasses Germany's mighty automobile sector.
    He said the sector was not suffering from a "crisis mood" and that compared to the worst years of economic turmoil in 2008 and 2009 with around 480,000 short-time employees, the current number was relatively low.
    "If the situation gets worse, the government will need to put in place measures quickly for short-time work, which has proved effective," he said.
    Gesamtmetall employs 3.6 million people in Germany and is heavily reliant on exports.
    Short-time work in Germany traditionally involves the state paying between 60 and 67 percent of workers' net salary for six months.
    During the economic crisis of 2009, Berlin extended this scheme for up to two years, which helped keep unemployment levels down. It ended earlier this year amid robust growth in Germany.
    But fearing a looming slowdown, the powerful IG Metall trade union called in late August for a return of the programme.
    In 2009, more than one million employees across the country were working short time on average, at more than 49,000 companies. In 2010, the number fell to an average of 429,000.

  4. UK Small Businesses Enjoy Less Regulation, Shorter Work Week, London Daily Telegraph via Reason.com
    LONDON, U.K. - British small business owners work fewer hours than their counterparts in the US, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands, researchers have claimed.
    A survey of 3,000 small companies across the six countries found that British entrepreneurs have the shortest working weeks, clocking up an average of 38.5 hours a week, while Germans have the longest, at more than 47 hours.

    [The Brits have this backwards. Why wouldn't you want to work harder/longer on your own stuff?]
    Surprisingly, British companies also reported being less adversely affected by red tape than business owners in any of the other countries featured in the survey.
    [But the British economy is in worse shape than any of the countries mentioned except Spain.]

  5. Lithuania has the second shortest workweek in the EU – 39.6 hours, The Baltic Course via baltic-course.com
    RIGA, Latvia – Latvian residents working full-time in their main job have an average workweek of 40.6 hours, which is the seventh lowest figure across the European Union member states, according to the EU statistical office Eurostat data for 2011. The average workweek in Lithuania is 39.6 hours a week – the second shortest workweek in the EU, whereas Estonians work 40.8 hours a week on the average – the ninth shortest workweek in the EU.
    Men in Latvia work 41 hours per week on the average, which is the third lowest figure in the EU, whereas women work 40.1 hours a week, which is the same as the EU average, informs LETA.
    Residents of Denmark have the shortest workweek, 38.9 hours on the average, whereas Greek residents work the longest hours, 43.7 hours per week on the average.
    The average workweek for the EU is 41.6 hours per week, and 41.5 hours in the eurozone.
    The EU's shortest workweek for men is in Denmark, 39.7 hours, while the longest in Greece – 45.1 hours.
    Lithuanian men work 40 hours a week on the average – the second shortest workweek in the EU, whereas in Estonia the figure is 41.2 hours – sixth shortest workweek in the EU.
    The average workweek for men in the EU is 42.6 hours, and 42.4 hours in the euro area.
    The shortest workweek for women working full-time is in Ireland – 36.8 hours per week, whereas Austrian women have the longest workweek of 42.1 hours.
    Women in Lithuania work 39.3 hours a week on the average, which is the fifth shortest workweek in the EU, whereas women in Estonia work 40.3 hours a week – 12th longest workweek in the EU.
    The average workweek for women in the EU is 40 hours a week, and 39.8 hours in the eurozone.

10/07-08/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Aleo solar introduces reduced working hours, Translated by Becky Beetz, 10/08 pv magazine via pv-magazine.com
    PRENZLAU, Germany - Aleo solar AG has announced it will not extend its temporary worker contracts in a bid to reduce inventory. It is expected that production will again be ramped up early next year.
    The Germany-based company has introduced reduced working hours from October 1 at its factory in Prenzlau. Company spokesman, Hermann Iding told pv magazine Aleo solar and the workers’ council have taken the measure to ensure job security.
    The photovoltaic manufacturer has recorded weak sales for the last few months, due to the simultaneous lowering of solar subsidies in almost all of the company’s key markets. As such, demand for its products in Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and the U.K. has faltered.
    "In order to reduce increased inventory, we need to reduce production volumes and adjust employment," continued Iding. He added that employees had previously reduced their working time accounts and contracts with temporary workers were not extended. It is expected that production in Prenzlau will ramp up again early next year.
    Due to the negative sales trend, the board of aleo solar again downgraded the company’s sales and earnings forecasts last week.

  2. Freightliner furloughs begin today, 10/08 WSOC-TV via GastonGazette.com
    MOUNT HOLLY, N.C., USA — About 2,600 people in Gaston County will have to take a week off work starting Monday without pay.
    Freightliner is forcing workers in Mount Holly to take the time off because demand for the trucks they build dropped by half in just two months.

    [Yep, nuthin quite like FORCING them workers to work less when there's no demand for it and they might find a company all set up for selling it useful again next week instead of bankruptin' the company this week. If they united to spread this furlough across many partial workmonths instead of taking it all in one week, maybe their managers would get a little less black and white, get a little more predictably gray, and maybe even hire some more of their own hoped-for markets out of our millions of downsized, "disabled," welfare, etc. populations.]
    Some workers have already taken four furlough days in the past few months.

  3. Restaurant Chain Cuts Hours to Avoid Obamacare Costs, by Martin Gould, 10/08 NewsMax.com
    [And here's a real popular Wrong Reason for doing the Right Thing -]
    ORLANDO, Fla., USA - A major restaurant group is experimenting with cutting its employees hours in the hopes of cutting the costs of healthcare.
    Darden Restaurants, which owns the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Yard House chains has stopped offering full-time schedules to hourly workers, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The company plans to offer a maximum of 28 hours per week per employee.

    The test is being conducted in what the company calls "a select number" of restaurants in four markets but would not give details.
    The Orlando-based group told the Sentinel the changes were "just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications healthcare reform will have on our business," adding, "There are still many unanswered questions regarding the healthcare regulations and we simply don't have enough information to make any decisions at this time."
    Under a section of President Barack Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act due to go into effect in 2014, large employers face fines of up to $3,000 per employee if they fail to provide insurance for employees who work an average of 30 or more hours per week.
    Darden said it offers health insurance to its 185,000 employees nationwide but many are on a limited-benefit plan which will be phased out under Obamacare.
    The Orlando Business Journal reported that Darden plans to open 500 new restaurants in the next five years, adding an estimated 50,000 new jobs.

  4. Ferry Crash Highlights Industry's Woes, by Joanne Chiu, 10/07 Wall Street Journal via wsj.com
    HONG KONG, China — Concerns over long work hours for ferry crews after last week's deadly crash highlight the difficulty in this Chinese city of attracting new talent to the industry, an unusual paradox given Hong Kong's historic role as a global shipping center.
    Last Monday night, a high-speed commuter ferry collided with a boat filled with workers and their families on a company pleasure trip to view fireworks celebrating China's National Day, in the city's worst seaborne accident in over four decades.
    The death toll in the crash rose to 39 late Friday after a young girl hospitalized in critical condition succumbed...

  5. SSTA union suspends 'work to contract', 10/08 BBC News via bbc.co.uk/news
    EDINBURGH, Scotland - Members of a Scottish teaching union have suspended industrial action over changes to their pensions.
    The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) had been conducting a "work to contract" since May.
    Union members were not carrying out any work beyond their contracted 35-hour week.
    [It's OK for the Scots to have a 35-hour hour workweek, but mention it in the context of France and suddenly it's "those lazy uncompetitive high-tax French!"]
    The union said dropping its action demonstrated good faith in Scottish goverment attempts to broker a Scottish solution with the UK government.
    The dispute centres on the proposed changes to public sector pensions by the UK government, which the SSTA has claimed "amount to an additional tax on public sector workers".
    An SSTA spokesman said: "It is the SSTA's position that the most unacceptable aspect of the proposed pension reform is the link to state pension retirement age and the SSTA will continue to campaign in rigourous opposition.
    "However, the SSTA reserves the right to reinstate the work to contract and further may ballot for appropriate industrial action."
    The union did however continue to advise members that 35 hours was their contractual maximum.
    Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary, added: "It has been clear from feedback that we have had from members that by working to contract members have 'got their lives back'.
    "Perhaps we should remind ourselves and our employers that teacher goodwill is finite and that the 35 hour week and arrangements within Working Time Agreement are reality."
    The Scottish government has said it is committed to public sector pensions which were affordable, sustainable and fair.

  6. Rulings go against employers using 'fluctuating' workweeks to cut overtime costs, by Ann Belser, 10/08 Pittsburgh Post Gazette via post-gazette.com
    [This is the clearest presentation of this issue yet (compare 10/02/2012 #3 below) -]
    HARRISBURG, Pa., USA - Here's the rule: If someone works more than 40 hours, their salary covers the first 40 hours and overtime is to be factored at that salaried rate.
    But employers often try to reduce their costs by using what is called a "fluctuating work week," in which workers receive their salary over the entire week -- no matter how many hours long that week is -- and then overtime is calculated on one hour of that longer week.
    Two recent federal cases, however, have helped tilt the playing field in favor of Pennsylvania workers and the traditional overtime calculation.
    Here's how the math shakes out: If a worker gets a weekly salary of $400, under Pennsylvania law that means the wage is $10 an hour for a 40 hour week. So the worker who earns $400 a week, and works 10 hours of overtime, should be paid an extra $150 (time and a half) for the extra 10 hours, for a total of $550 that week.
    Under the same scenario, with a fluctuating work week, that base salary would be tabulated $8 at an hour -- $400, divided by 50 hours worked. Overtime would then be calculated at a time-and-a-half rate, or 150 percent of the $8 hourly rate, meaning overtime wages are $12 an hour, not $15. The result is that an employee on a "fluctuating work week" would be paid $440 total -- $320 in "regular" wages, and $120 in overtime, but just $40 "extra" that week.

    Drivers for Frito-Lay, those people who move the bags of Doritos into the stores and arrange the shelves, were being paid by the fluctuating workweek standard, and sued claiming that Frito-Lay violated the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968.
    The case was heard by U.S. District Judge Joy Flower Conti, who ruled in 2011 that the workers were covered by Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Law that prohibits the fluctuating workweek for workers who aren't paid by the job or the day.
    And Judge Conti's decision was cited in an August 2012 decision by U.S. District Judge Cathy Bisson in a case against Kraft Foods Global Inc., in which Kraft admitted to paying employees only half-time for extra hours work with that half being the determined by the base pay divided by the total number of hours worked that week.
    Joe Fieschko, the attorney who represented the Frito-Lay workers, said the fluctuating workweek model is popular among employers who want to save money.
    "The thing about this fluctuating workweek is the longer you work, the less you are paid," he said.
    Under the fluctuating workweek model, if an employee is paid $400 for the week, then for a 40 hour week his compensation would be $10 an hour. But, once that employee works more, the base hourly rate goes down.
    At 50 hours that base rate drops to $8. And if the employee worked double an average week -- 80 hours -- the compensation would conceivably drop to base rate of $5 an hour (which would be below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour) for all of the hours. The overtime pay would be $7.50 an hour (an extra $2.50 tacked on to the second 40 hours) for a total of $500 for the week.
    The fluctuating workweek is allowed under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, which used to cover the drivers when they were under the Federal Motor Carrier Act. That law still covers long-haul truckers and drivers of large trucks, but it no longer applies to short-route drivers of smaller delivery trucks.
    While federal law allows employers to use the fluctuating workweek model, Judge Bisson was clear that Pennsylvania law does not.
    "Had the Pennsylvania regulatory body wished to authorize one-half-time payment under [the law], it certainly knew how to do so," she wrote.
    It's not just trucking companies that have tried to use fluctuating workweeks to reduce overtime costs.
    Mr. Fieschko also has successfully represented insurance adjusters, warehouse workers and park rangers who worked at Fort Necessity and at the Friendship Hill National Historic Site's Albert Gallatin house.
    This isn't a new technique -- employers have been trying to make workers put in more hours, for less money, for decades. Mr. Fieschko said a lot of the case law goes back to 1938, 1939 and 1940, as courts ruled against the employers of that day who were testing the original version of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

10/06/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. How to row your financial lifeboat - Reset priorities if a job loss looms, by Chuck Jaffe, MarketWatch via articles.marketwatch.com
    BOSTON, Mass., USA — My friend Steve called me earlier this week; he had time on his hands, as he was spending the week on furlough from his job.
    The move saved his job,
    but also scared him to the point that he had a basic question: “What have I done wrong?”
    Steve knew the furlough was coming; all employees at his company had to accept two or three weeks of leave without pay, and they had some flexibility to schedule them. He took one as soon as he could, and set the other one for the holiday season thinking it would feel like a kind of “unpaid vacation.” Read more: 5 not-so-obvious jobs set to take off.
    But before his first week was over, Steve was already nervous about missing one paycheck. Even worse, he’s worried about what happens if this furlough plan is only a temporary stopgap on the road to layoffs.
    “It’s not that I couldn’t make the bills this week,” Steve said, “but it made me realize that I couldn’t go long without a job, and I’m worried about how long I’ll have one.” Read more: Unemployment at lowest level since 2009.
    Anticipating a layoff and living through one are two different things. But the more you can anticipate trouble, the easier it is to handle. And as bad as a furlough is, a missed paycheck holds a lot of good lessons.
    In fact, anyone who is simply looking to cut spending and boost savings can benefit from the preparation process, too.
    All hands on deck
    Think of your layoff plan as a decision about which expenses get a spot in your financial lifeboat.
    The more that can be tossed overboard early, the easier the process becomes. Cast off wishes and wants, and your needs can be met for a lot longer.
    First, review where the money goes; tally all bills due, plus all regular expenses.
    From there, the issue is one of priorities and timetables. Without money coming in, you must reconsider everything you are paying for.
    The ultimate goal of those first two steps is a list of priorities and necessities. What do you really need? What cuts go into effect after 30 days? 60 days? 90 days?
    Utility bills, for example, must be paid, but a family might be able to save money by bundling services, cutting usage and more. That’s a first cut, with eliminating services coming later.
    If, like Steve, you’re not in this situation now but fear it, understand that any emergency preparations you make in advance — or any changes you can put in place early on — will allow you to survive longer.
    Financial advisers have varying advice on how big of an emergency fund to keep. In these times, when income may be in question but also when the stock market is making investors nervous, cutting back on investments, getting ahead on bills and building a war chest is important.
    Your plan should not just include changes in spending habits, but also a program for paying bills. Don’t jeopardize your credit rating; pay bills on time. But consider paying just the minimum, and don’t be afraid to call creditors so that the heaviest bills are not all due at the same time.
    What the plan should not include, until all other options have been exhausted, is more debt. By taking the steps necessary to stay afloat, the hope is to avoid sinking deeper into debt. Then, once you’re working again, you won’t be saddled with years of payments.

  2. Short-time working to avoid redundancies, Scroll via Acas.org.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - Employers may take on more than they bargained for if they try to force a reduction in hours on their workforce - even if the intention was to try to save jobs.
    When demand is dipping, how can employers bridge the shortage of work without having to make redundancies?
    No employer wants to lose staff with valuable skills, knowledge and experience often gained over many years at that place of work. One option is to ask employees to reduce their hours with the aim of spreading the shortfall between numbers so that no-one has to be let go.
    But is it as straightforward as it sounds?
    This practice, known as 'short-time working', occurs when employees are laid off for a number of contractual days each week or for a number of hours during a working day. In many situations, normal practice would be for the workforce or their union to agree to short-time working as an alternative to redundancies.
    But without an agreement, employers need to be very cautious. If an employer doesn't have an express right in contract or an implied right that has been established over a long period by custom and practice, they will not be able to reduce an employee's pay in line with any reduction in hours.
    There's also a risk that if an employer takes this action unilaterally without the right to, it may well lead to claims of constructive or unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. Employees could also sue for loss of wages in a civil court or make a claim for deduction of wages at a tribunal. Furthermore, employers who dismiss staff because they refused to take a reduction in hours may well have to pay them redundancy money. It's a complex area best approached with expert advice from a solicitor or a relevant trade union.
    Certainly, if an employee is put on short-time working (that is, received less than half a week's pay) because of a shortage of work for four consecutive weeks - or for 6 out of 13 weeks - employees can give an employer written notice that they intend to claim a redundancy payment.
    Acas has written the Advice leaflet, Lay-offs and short-time working which outlines the key issues and explains what employers and employees need to know. Further information about Lay-offs and short-time working can be found on the Acas website. Acas also provides practical training for managers, supervisors and employers on Managing change.
    Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area (www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2031) for more information. This news content or feature has been generated by Scroll. Commentary, opinion and content do not necessarily represent the opinion of Acas.

10/05/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. France looks to upend school year traditions, AP via CBSnews.com
    "France has the shortest school year and the longest school day." Lisa Bennett (blowout quote in 10/15 Ottawa Metro, 18)
    PARIS, France — French children go to school four days a week. They have about two hours each day for lunch. And they have more vacation than their counterparts almost anywhere in the West.
    It may sound a bit like the famously leisurely work pace enjoyed by their parents, most of whom work 35 hours per week as dictated by law.
    [Oh please. More American hypocrisy about the 35-hour workweek being radical "famous leisure." Our most conservative industries, insurance and academe, had 35-hour workweeks FIFTY YEARS AGO, and a 30-hour workweek passed the US Senate nearly EIGHTY YEARS AGO. The fact that we're not down to 28 or 24 hrs/wk by now is just testimony to our group masochism and stupidity - with massive resulting oveproducing-underconsuming dysfunction for our pathetic economies.]
    But the nation's new government says elementary school kids risk classroom burnout, and is moving to help them cope. The issue: French school days may be relatively few, but they are at least as long as a day of work for adults. Even 6-year-olds are in class until late into the afternoon, when skies are dark, attention flags and stomachs rumble.
    As a candidate, President Francois Hollande promised to change things by adding a fifth day of classes on Wednesday while shortening the school day. For France, it's something of a revolutionary idea that would overturn more than a century of school tradition. The thinking is that the days are too full for young children under the current system and that Wednesday free time could be put to more productive use.
    "France has the shortest school year and the longest day," Hollande said at the time, promising change.
    His education minister, Vincent Peillon, will decide this month how to carry out the reform. He has said he may also compensate for a shorter school day by trimming France's sacred summer vacation. A panel of experts will present their conclusions on Friday, and the president is expected to address the issue on Tuesday.
    No proposal affects tradition — and potentially family and municipal budgets — as much as what the French call changes to the "scholastic rhythms."
    There's been a midweek break in French primary schools dating back to the 19th century, a government concession to the Roman Catholic Church, which wanted children to study the catechism on their weekday off. In today's secular France, Wednesdays currently are a blur of sports, music, tutoring for families of means, or a scramble for working parents struggling to get by — who must either find a sitter or send their kids to a full day at a state-run "leisure center."
    Things aren't exactly easy for French kids.
    Despite long summer breaks and the four-day school week, French elementary school students actually spend more hours per year in school than average — 847, compared with 774 among countries in OECD, a club of wealthy nations. But the time is compressed into fewer days each year. The French school day begins around 8:30 and ends at 4:30 p.m., even for the youngest, despite studies showing the ability of young children to learn deteriorates as the day goes on.
    But many parents are afraid that the changes will force them to figure out extra childcare five days a week, especially at schools where the afterschool program amounts to sitting silently at a desk for two hours or near-chaos in the play areas. Under the education proposal, school would end at lunchtime on Wednesday.
    "It's completely unrealistic," Valerie Marty, president of the national parents' organization, said of the proposed timetable. "They have to figure out who will take care of the children after school, who will finance it."
    In France, the answer is usually the government.
    The state is expected to provide for just about everything education-related: Classes come under the national budget, and lunches and leisure are the domain of municipalities. So if school lets out most days at 3:30 p.m., under the plan most recently floated, more working parents than ever would need afterschool care — and towns would have to figure out what to do with restless children. That would almost certainly involve something more constructive than sitting quietly at desks, kicking around a ball, or playing cards until the evening when parents get out of work.
    The Education Ministry has proposed more organized extracurricular activities like sports, theater and art to replace the relatively free form time children now have after school. But that means trained staff and, of course, more money from local budgets already strained in difficult economic times.
    Marty, who has three children, proposes something entirely different: lengthening lunch to three hours.
    "After a meal, children have a moment when they're tired. They're not ready for intellectual activities and could do something more relaxing," she said, suggesting theater, or quiet time in a library for others. Afterward, she said, classes could resume until evening.
    Trimming the hallowed summer break is another tricky proposition. The school year ends at the beginning of July. Some families take July off, some August. But nearly everyone takes a month, and many French families travel for the entire period.
    Peillon said he was flexible about vacation time: "If the question of vacation is blocking things, I'll propose that the prime minister leave it alone."
    Eric Charbonnier, an OECD education expert supports the proposed changes. He believes the current system isn't working for the children most in need of a good education.
    "A schedule with long days and lots of vacation is not one that will help the students who are having problems," he said.
    Peter Gumbel, a British journalist who has lived in France since 2002 and written a book about the country's education system, said the length of the school day is only part of the problem. He says that French schooling is outmoded, dull and grinding. His take is clear from his book's title: "They Shoot Schoolchildren, Don't They?"
    [Let them that are without sin cast the first stone.]
    "You have to tackle head-on the fundamental questions of the classroom," he said, citing "the sheer heaviness of the national curriculum, the enormous amount of hours, the enormous amount of unbroken attention required, and the sheer boredom and tiredness."

  2. Putting a little cold water on the September jobs report, by Mark Lacter, LAobserved.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Rather than focus on idiotic conspiracy theories* about how the White House manipulated the September employment numbers (it can't be done, really), the anti-Obama crowd should concentrate their fury on one aspect of the report that's legitimately less than terrific: The number of people who are working part-time but want to be working full time rose by 582,000. That helps explain why the Labor Department's household survey (that's the one determining the unemployment rate) rose by 873,000 in September. From the WSJ:
    "Workers told the Labor Department they took part-time work (usually 35 hours of less) because of slack business conditions or because it was the only job offered. Part-time jobs now account for 6% of all jobs, double their share before the Great Recession [so shorter hours are indeed happening anyway, but not the best way]. For businesses, part-time workers offers the flexibility needed to pair the supply of labor with the level of new orders and production. The option protects profit margins. The problem for the consumer sector, and thus economic activity overall, is that involuntary part-time work doesn't supply the income necessary for full-time consumption. Part-time work also generally doesn't include benefits such as health care and retirement plans, adding further financial challenges to households without full-time employees."
    *More on the idiotic conspiracy theories from NYT columnist Catherine Rampell:
    "In case you still believe that the models the bureau uses are being manipulated to put President Obama in a better light, note that there are not even any political appointees currently serving in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They're all career civil servants who have worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations. (The commissioner of the bureau is supposed to be a political appointee, but right now that position is vacant. The acting commissioner, Jack Galvin, has been temporarily holding the position since January, and he is a career civil servant.) I also called the Bureau of Labor Statistics to ask about another conspiracy theory I heard: that the bureau changed one question on its household survey recently. Fran Horvath, a senior economist, said that was not so."

  3. Working hours in Bulgaria slightly above EU average, SofiaGlobe.com
    SOFIA, Bulgaria - Working hours for full-time employees in Bulgaria, at 40.9 hours a week, were slightly above the averages for the European Union and for the euro zone, going by statistics from EU statistics agency Eurostat’s labour force survey for 2011, released on October 5 2012.
    In the EU, the average working hours for full-time employees was 40.4 hours and in the 17-member euro zone, of which Bulgaria is not a member, the average weekly total was 40 hours.
    In line with trends across the EU bloc, men in Bulgaria worked longer hours (41) than women (40.8).
    Across the EU, weekly working hours for full-time employees ranged between 37.7 hours in Denmark to 42.2 hours in the United Kingdom, Eurostat said.
    On average in the EU27, employees working full-time usually worked 40.4 hours a week in 2011, with women averaging 39.3 hours and men 41.1 hours.
    The longest weekly working hours for full-time employees were in the UK [economy in the toilet] (42.2 hours), Austria [toilet?] (41.8), Cyprus [toilet?] and Portugal [toilet!] (both 41.1), and the shortest in Denmark (37.7) [toilet?], Ireland [toilet!] (38.4), Italy [toilet!] (38.8) and the Netherlands (39.0) [flyin'high]. In all EU member states, men had longer working hours than women among full-time employees.
    [Basically ALL these economies need to either GET emergency worksharing, or move on from worksharing to permanent timesizing with shorter workweeks to maximize employment and domestic consumer spending.]
    According to Eurostat’s labour force survey, in Bulgaria 6.8 per cent of employees were in the agricultural sector, 31.8 per cent in industry, including construction; 39 per cent in markets (a category that includes, for example, the wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services, communication, financial, insurance and real estate sectors); and 22.5 per cent in “non-market services”, meaning public administration, education, health, arts, entertainment and recreation.

10/04/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Cummins reduces workweek for unionized workers at Columbus plant, Indianapolis Star
    COLUMBUS, Ind., USA - Engine maker Cummins has reduced the workweek by one day for the rest of the month for unionized workers at its fuel systems plant in Columbus.
    Cummins said 350 of 512 workers at the plant are affected by the reduction from five to four workdays a week.
    The move reflects “weakening global economic conditions” that have slowed orders for its truck engines and other power systems products, the Columbus-based company said.
    No layoffs were made. “Our goal is to minimize the effect on our employees,” said Cummins spokesman Jon Mills.

    Cummins has made cost-cutting moves at other plants, including weeklong shutdowns, to adjust production to declining orders, he said.

  2. Is America a country of part-timers? – Capital Economics, FXstreet.com via NASDAQ via community.nasdaq.com
    BARCELONA, Spain - Paul Dales of Capital Economics notes a shift in the labour structure in the US and asks whether the US is becoming a nation of part timers.
    He starts but highlighting that [sic], "The sharp rise in the share of employees working part-time may not be as big a concern as it seems at first sight. After all, most of these extra part-timers are still working between 30 and 35 hours a week. What's more, the share of part-time workers in the US is low by international standards."
    He notes that the percentage of part time workers rose to a 30 year high at 20%, a percentage he equates to an extra 3.4m employees working part time involuntarily mostly as they can't find full time work. [So shorter hours are happening anyway, but too slowly and unsystemically to maintain employment, wages and spending.]
    However, he doesn't see any cause for concern as most of the additional part-timers are still working between 30-35 hours a week and the share of part time workers in the US is low by international standards.
    The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

  3. ..Cities with the longest [and shortest] working hours, Rediff.com
    BASEL, Switzerland - In terms of [longest] working hours, Asian cities still lead the field with an average of 2,154 hours annually, followed by Africa with 2,138 hours, the Middle East with 2,023 hours and South America with 1,989 hours.
    [Note that the least prosperous regions have the longest hours.]
    People work the least in North America (1,904), Oceania (1,849), Eastern Europe (1,829) and Western Europe (1,757), according to a UBS study on price and earnings.
    [Or to cut the confusion and cast this sentence in the same mold as the first -]
    In terms of shortest working hours, Western European cities still lead the field with an average of 1,757 hours annually, followed by Eastern Europe with 1,829 hours, Oceania with 1,849 hours and North America with 1,904 hours.
    The average of all 72 cities surveyed is 1,915 hours per year; annual working hours are below this figure in all Western European cities.

    At 2,375 hours for Mexico City and 1,558 hours for Paris, the two capitals are at the top and bottom of this year's list, the UBA study points out.

  4. The Truth Behind the 4-Hour Workweek Fantasy, by Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review blog network via blogs.hbr.org (blog)
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - In a frenetic, overscheduled world, the fastest path to success is promising the masses a way out. It worked for Tim Ferriss, whose book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich became a worldwide blockbuster, and it's a winning formula for a bevy of globe-trotting pundits who muse about visiting Benedictine monasteries and rocket to the top of The New York Times' "most emailed" list with essays on "The Joy of Quiet." I've even tapped into the escapist mania myself, with a popular HBR piece last winter called "How to Take a Month Off."
    Getting away from it all is top-of-mind for me right now, as I'm finishing up an enforced convalescence (I had to obliterate my schedule for three weeks to recover from sinus surgery) and planning an actual vacation later this fall. My downtime helped me realize the acuteness of many professionals' desperation; they're miserable, overworked, and hungry for morsels like Tony Schwartz's recent HBR piece, "More Vacation is the Secret Sauce."
    Schwartz cites studies arguing you'll get better health and performance if you vacation regularly. And many, including me, have seen creativity boosts post-vacation (after all, you'll never get to immerse yourself in another culture — surely a spark to innovation — if you don't take time off). So we should all start cashing in those frequent flier miles, right?
    Unfortunately, as with many American cultural obsessions, we look too quickly for the easy answer. Stymied at work? Not as engaged or productive as you'd like to be? It's a lot simpler to blame burnout, stingy HR policies, and a lack of beach time than it is to honestly evaluate ourselves and our performance. Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge believer in the restorative and galvanizing power of vacations, especially international travel. But to earn the right to take time off, we also have to meet a few necessary preconditions in today's competitive global marketplace:
    You've already built your expertise. There's plenty of buzz these days about flex-time and other innovative workplace arrangements. I'm a believer here, too; I've worked from home for six years and it's made me far more productive. But some employees — who assume less face time means fewer hours worked — are in for a rude surprise. You can't compete by working a 40 hour week, much less 35 or 30. You don't have time to develop your famous "10,000 hours" of expertise on the employer's clock. That's your nights and weekends, and your vacation. In short? You shouldn't be sipping pina coladas until you're confident of the value you can bring in today's economy.
    Your work can't be just work. How exactly does Tim Ferriss pull off a "4-hour workweek"? He doesn't. As he declares in this blog post about his schedule, "the goal was never to be idle...The goal is to spend as much time possible doing what we want..." For Ferriss, on the day in question, that included radio interviews, writing a magazine article, and reviewing website designs. You'll never get your 10,000 hours of practice if you don't enjoy the process enough to blur the distinction between "work" and "not work." (When I'm not "on vacation," I'm usually working seven days a week — though on the weekends, I assign myself more enjoyable tasks, like reading new books in my field.)
    Your vacation shouldn't be just vacation. When I'm in Paris later this fall, will it be "vacation"? Certainly it will be fun, and I won't be doing my regular projects. But it's a project of another sort: a necessary investment in upgrading my global outlook and contacts. I've scheduled meetings with business school professors and authors, and have started reading up on contemporary French politics and culture. By the end of my two weeks, I'll have done more than consume an inordinate quantity of baguettes and fromage; I'll hopefully have a valuable new perspective to add to my skillset.
    It's easy and alluring to say to yourself, Take more vacation: you deserve it! But a better question to ask is whether you're ready to leverage your vacation — to truly dedicate the time and effort needed to become the kind of person, and professional, that you want to be.
    Dorie Clark is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the National Park Service. She is the author of the forthcoming Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press 2013). You can follow her on Twitter at @dorieclark.

10/03/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Work sharing: New developments during the Great Recession and beyond, seven scholarly articles plus conclusion in book form edited by Naj Ghosheh and Jon C. Messenger, International Labour Organization (publisher) via ILO.org
    GENEVA, Switzerland - Table of Contents -
    1. An introduction to work sharing: A strategy for preserving jobs, creating new employment, and improving individual well-being
    Jon Messenger and Naj Ghosheh
    2. Work sharing as an alternative to layoffs: Lessons from the German experience during the Crisis
    Lutz Bellmann, Andreas Crimmann, Hans-Dieter Gerner and Frank Wiessner
    3. European diversity of work sharing as a crisis measure -The experiences of Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands
    Jörg Flecker and Annika Schönauer
    4. Work sharing in Japan
    Kazuya Ogura

    5. The Turkish experience with work sharing policy during the Global Economic Crisis from 2008-2010
    Erinç Yeldan
    6. Results of the implementation of the suspension and partial unemployment insurance programmes in Uruguay (2009-2010)
    María José González
    7. Work sharing as a potential policy tool for creating more and better employment: A review of the evidence
    Lonnie Golden and Stuart Glosser
    8. Conclusion: Lessons learned from the Great Recession and implications for policy

  2. Sweden: Suppliers ask for bridging loans and short-time work backing, by Simon Warburton, just-auto.com (subscription)
    LONDON, U.K. - Scandinavian supplier body, FKG, is asking the Swedish government to provide bridge financing and short-time working backing for component firms in anticipation of any future slowdown.
    Anecdotal evidence suggests Sweden has been marginally less hit by the global economic crisis in mature markets, but the bankruptcy of Saab late last year with its trail of enormous debts to parts makers, as well as financial uncertainty, has driven the supplier organisation to suggest the moves to Stockholm.
    "We are trying to convince our government to launch bridge financing to prepare for the next slowdown as you did in the UK, which was very successful," FKG managing director, Fredrik Sidahl, told just-auto.
    "We need to [have] some labour rules such as they have in Germany, such as short-time working. The Swedish government is prepared to take that decision - the unions are sticking behind it but someone has to to press the button."

    The FKG chief added there was a current slow-down in Sweden, maintaining the country where the supplier body is based was "not vaccinated" from the global economic situation.
    Sidahl maintained any government-backed scheme whether through bridging loans or short-time working would be cheaper in the long term than having massed ranks of unemployed.
    A stark warning of that was posted only last week during the Paris motor show when the French government announced unemployment rates had soared past the three million mark.
    France is undergoing a painful round of automotive restructuring in a bid to address chronic overcapacity with PSA Peugeot-Citroen's decision to close its Aulnay plant and axe up to 8,000 jobs taking centre stage.
    "It [loans or short-time] definitely costs less than having people unemployed," said Sidahl, who revealed he had seen the UK approach to its auto landscape at first hand last week at the British Embassy in Paris.
    "I met Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise at the UK Embassy in Paris," said Sidahl. "We will talk again. In the UK, you have an Automotive College, but we don't have that in Sweden. Sweden needs to focus on base industries such as automotive, which is the technical leader.
    "Bridge loans have not been done in Sweden before - they are a simple type of short-term loan for SMEs. Up to six months to bridge the time when the SME buys new machinery [for example] and if volume goes down."
    The FKG is due to meet the Swedish Minister of Internal Affairs this month to discuss its requests.

  3. Sustainable Prosperity: Rethinking the Work Week, by Antonia Sohns, (10/02 late pickup) Worldwatch Institute via worldwatch.org
    [Hey, lookee here! World Watch Institute may finally be moving to the next level of strategizing.]
    In the U.S. and around the world, the employment structure can exacerbate unemployment in times of financial distress. (graphic caption)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Unemployment plagues today’s nations. In Europe, unemployment rate was 11.2% in June. Within those European unemployment statistics, workers under 25 face an unemployment rate of 22.4%. (As comparison, national unemployment in the US is 8.1%.)
    In order to ameliorate unemployment, improve individual well-being and protect the environment, governments around the world need to restructure our collective employment regime. By encouraging the development of a new employment model, they can ensure sustainable prosperity while creating quality green jobs for all.
    Currently, most employment structures, like the American system, do little to “share” work. Instead, productivity growth is decoupled from hours worked, and employers pay benefits per person rather than per hour. This model results in a society of higher unemployment and larger incomes for the over-employed because during economic downturns, employees are forced out of the labor market so employers don’t have to cover their benefits. As a result, the remaining employees are worked harder.
    [Another result of decoupling productivity from hours worked is less-than-maximum consumer spending = a weakening 70% of the economy, not to mention a laughable definition of "productivity" in terms of per person regardless of megahours rather than a valid definition by person-hour.]
    This employment system is no longer sustainable as people work 40 hour and 50 hour work weeks and struggle to get by. This model must be reformed.
    Shared work can reduce unemployment by allowing people to work part-time, as full time workers are required to work fewer hours. According to a report released by the European Green Foundation last year, transitioning to a work-week of fewer “working” hours will boost job creation. In France, a shift to a 35-hour working week created 350,000 jobs between 1998 and 2002. Additionally, no European country has managed to achieve an unemployment rate below 6% without having at least 25% of its workforce employed part-time, and [without having] the average working hours not exceed 21 hours per week.
    In fact, Europe has been at the forefront of experimenting with different work-week models and can provide insight into how models influence development and employment.
    Despite income disparity between European nations and differences in culture and history, Europeans share a similar full-time working week of around 39 to 43 hours. The difference in hours is due to the three dominant models of European employment. In Scandinavian countries, Austria, Netherlands and the UK, work is shared on the basis of three-quarters of the population working full time and one-quarter working part-time. Sweden, for example, employs this model and has the longest average part-time hours in Europe – with 23.5 hours, or nearly 3 days of part-time work per week. Another more traditional model employed by countries in Eastern and Southern Europe, does not commonly use part-time employment due to lagging economies and the legacy of recession and the sovereign debt crisis. The third model rejects widespread part-time work, and therefore bears higher costs of unemployment. Yet, countries like France, Belgium and Finland, which use this model, have managed to kept productivity high.
    If a part-time work model is rejected and government seeks to reduce unemployment, the only solution to share employment is by reducing full-time working hours.
    It is vital that work hours and productivity be understood as distinct from one another. Nations with the most work hours are not necessarily the most productive. Therefore, decreasing work hours doesn’t mean that production will be diminished.
    Furthermore, modifying employment structure will benefit society by promoting gender equality, as women are more able to enter the work force to fill part-time positions. Sharing of work hours will also help to erode barriers by distributing work between new employees and older generations, and insiders and outsiders.
    Reforming the employment structure will additionally benefit the environment. A recent study revealed that reducing working hours by 10% could diminish individual carbon footprints by 15% due to decreased consumption of goods and energy. Also, the US emits 50 to 70% more greenhouse gas emissions than European nations, and the US has a longer work-week.
    In order for successful transformation of the employment structure and therefore society, individuals and communities will need to cooperate in negotiations of new employment models. The systems must be tested in order to understand how the flow of capital will be affected, and to realize all the benefits of a modified working regime.
    Though the concept of shared working hours seems radical at first, in the current global economy of low growth and high productivity and a surging world population, the decoupling of productivity and hours worked must be addressed by political and business leaders alike. By implementing systemic change, more individuals will be able to work, instead of some working more and others less— helping people make ends meet, encouraging healthier lifestyles and ensuring a sustainable future.

  4. Greek enterprises cut salaries and working hours in order to survive under the huge pressure of the financial crisis, Ekathimerini via Balkans.com
    ATHENS, Greece - Local enterprises have cut salaries and working hours in order to reduce labor costs and survive under the huge pressure of the financial crisis, according to ICAP’s HR Pulse survey, which was published on Tuesday.
    At the same time, though, the increasing number of enterprises turning to investment in training and new technologies in an attempt to respond to the contemporary demands of the market is an encouraging sign amid the relentless change that labor and salaries are undergoing.
    In the second quarter of the year -- the period covered by the ICAP survey -- reducing working hours was an option chosen by 25 percent of companies as a means of cutting labor costs over the next three months, while only 5 percent responded by saying that they had already implemented the measure.
    Only 13 percent of companies said they are not planning to cut their labor costs, down from 18 percent in the previous quarter. Still, less than half (47 percent) said they had already cut their costs per employee, while 80 percent said they have not reduced spending on marketing training.

10/02/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Polish firms begin tightening their belts - Companies are cutting hours and hiring, as Poland's economy hits the brakes, Warsaw Business Journal via wbj.pl
    [Cutting hours, not jobs, is reinvented thousands of times a day every day across the world by businesses under stress.]
    WARSAW, Poland - Polish firms are adjusting to survive in a tougher economy by cutting work hours and putting hiring on hold.
    “In Q2, business owners cut work hours, on average, by an hour a week compared to the previous quarters,” said Maria Drozdowicz-Biec' from the Office of Investment and Economic Cycles.
    These are some of the first moves made by firms in times of a slowdown, which – according to macroeconomic indicators and economists – is beginning to hit.
    The indicators leave no doubt that the euro zone fell into recession in Q3 and this affected Polish industry as well.
    Its condition is now the worst it has been since July 2009, with manufacturing PMI dropping more than expected in September to 47 points from 48.3 in August. For the sixth month in a row the index has now shown a contraction of the sector.
    Manufacturing output has also been declining steadily since May. Unemployment is likewise on the rise.
    The unemployment rate in August, adjusted for seasonal factors, was at 12.8 percent. Ms Drozdowicz-Biec' said businesses are deciding to cut working hours because it is less costly and safer than firing employees.
    “Small businesses are the most concerned about the slowdown. Small firms are also the ones which are more likely to cut salaries before they reduce jobs,” added Dariusz Gobi, director of the Pomorska Izba Rzemies'lnicza (MSP).

  2. Lawmaker: Air Force changes policies after scandal, by Paul J. Weber, Associated Press via SeattleTimes.com
    [Here's a new reason to reduce working hours -]
    AUSTIN, Tex., USA - The Air Force is responding to a sex scandal at its training headquarters by reducing instructors' working hours and cracking down on even those who swear at recruits, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
    Democratic U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said she was encouraged by policy changes at Lackland Air Force Base following a tour and meetings with commanders but remained concerned with whether the changes will stick. She said the goal is to reverse a culture of intimidation that left some trainees afraid to speak up.
    Speier, who visited the San Antonio base with two other Democrats on the committee, said she was also told the Air Force is more rigorously vetting instructors and installing "drop boxes" on base where recruits can report instructor misconduct without being seen by instructors or filmed by surveillance cameras.
    "Part of what they saw was just the intimidation and the beating down (of trainees)," the California congresswoman said. "They so intimidate the trainee that they become totally unable to speak up."
    Investigators say more than 40 women at Lackland in the past year had inappropriate contact with their instructors or were sexually harassed or raped. Five instructors have been convicted since July on charges ranging from adultery to sexual assault, and nearly a dozen more have been under investigation.
    Last month, the Air Force put a female commander over the training wing where about 36,000 airmen graduate each year.
    The appointment of Col. Deborah Liddick was not groundbreaking. Liddick is the Air Force's third woman to take over basic training in the last decade. But her selection came at a crucial and visible moment for a base rocked by allegations of widespread misconduct among male instructors, dating back to last year.
    Speier said she's "not big on symbolism" but that she believes the new leadership is taking the scandal seriously.
    "We have a cultural chasm that still needs to be closed. That's going to take some time," she said.
    Speier toured the Texas base with fellow U.S. Reps. Susan Davis and Loretta Sanchez, also both Democrats from California.
    It was the second visit to Lackland by members of the House Armed Services Committee in the past month. The panel's chairman, California Republican Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, toured Lackland and left saying that he believed the Air Force was being diligent in its investigation.

  3. Despite employee challenges, courts find fluctuating workweek method proper for calculating overtime pay, (9/27 late pickup) CCH Employment Law Daily via employmentlawdaily.com
    [Compare the clearer presentation of this issue above on 10/02/2012 #6 with regard to Pennsylvania.]
    RIVERWOODS, Illin., USA - In the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1942 landmark decision in Overnight Motor Transp Co v Missel, the fluctuating work week method (SWW [sic - seems to be a disastrous introductory typo for FWW]) for calculating overtime compensation was first recognized. Ultimately, the FWW method made its way into the federal regulations, 29 CFR Sec. 778.114. The FWW method is used primarily by employers whose employees may be called upon to work a fluctuating number of hours each week. Despite its lineage, the FWW has retained its vitality as demonstrated in two recent decisions involving employees who received commissions or bonuses under their employers’ compensation plans.
    Under the FWW method, an employee receives a fixed salary as compensation for all hours worked, including overtime. The fixed salary must provide compensation at a regular rate that satisfies the minimum wage. Under applicable regulations, 29 CFR Sec. 778.114(a), the employee need receive only an additional 50 percent of his regular rate for each hour of overtime.
    In Kornbau v Frito Lay, the snack food giants was granted its motion to dismiss a claim by route drivers that it was not entitled to use the FWW method to calculate overtime. In this instance, a federal district court in Ohio found an unambiguous regulation, 29 CFR Sec. 778.118, upon which Frito Lay was basing its overtime payments. The court found that the wage scheme under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Frito Lay and a union complied with the plain language of Sec. 778.1 18 and did not violate the FLSA or case law interpreting the Act.
    Pursuant to the CBA, Frito Lay paid its route sales representatives (RSRs) a guaranteed weekly salary plus commissions based on the amount of product delivered and “per carton” returns to the warehouse. RSRs routinely worked more than 40 hours a week. At issue in this case was the way in which overtime pay was calculated. Frito Lay used the variable rate overtime (VROT) method of calculating overtime payment, which is modeled after the FWW method. The employees alleged that use of the FWW method to calculate overtime pay for RSRs was unlawful because Frito Lay did not meet the requirements of 29 CFR Sec. 778.114. Specifically, they alleged that Frito Lay’s overtime payment system did not yield time and a half as required by the FLSA.
    Half-time method. Frito Lay moved for dismissal of the employees’ complaint, arguing that its VROT system was allowed under Sec. 778.118 and complied with the FLSA. Using the VROT method, total wages earned in the week were divided by the actual hours worked to determine the “regular rate.” Half of this rate was then multiplied by the number of overtime hours worked, such that an employee received time and a half for the overtime hours. Frito Lay did not purport to meet the requirements of Sec. 778.114, but rather it argued that its VROT calculation was endorsed by Sec. 778.118. This section discussed the calculation of overtime payments based upon commissions. In support of its position, Frito Lay cited Kaiser v At The Beach, Inc, which relied in part on Tenth Circuit precedent to apply Sec. 778.118’s half-time calculation to weeks employees received commissions.
    Here, the court found that a plain reading of Sec. 778.118 supported Frito Lay’s interpretation. Frito Lay was adding commissions to the employees’ other earnings for the workweek, and the total was divided by the total number of hours actually worked in the workweek to obtain the employee’s regular rate for that particular workweek. The RSRs were then paid extra compensation at one-half the regular rate for each hour worked in excess of 40 in the workweek. This was the half-time method of overtime payment. To read the applicable sections as the employees urged would violate the clear language of Sec. 778.113(a) and add extra analysis to what appeared to be simple and straightforward language in Sec. 778.118, stated the court.
    Non-discretionary bonuses. In Switzer v Wachovia Corp, a federal district court in Texas concluded that Wachovia Bank’s payment of non-discretionary bonuses did not preclude it from paying nonexempt employees on the FWW basis. Because the employer’s non-discretionary bonuses were based on performance, not the number of hours worked, such additional compensation did not invalidate the employer’s use of the FWW method.
    The plaintiffs worked as financial specialists for Wachovia, were classified as “nonexempt salaried with overtime.” According to the employees, Wachovia violated the FLSA because it failed to satisfy the requirements for the FWW payment method. Specifically, they alleged that the bank’s payment of non-discretionary bonuses precluded its use of the FWW method.
    In this case, the employees argued that they were not paid on a fixed salary because the bank paid them non-discretionary bonuses. The bonuses were calculated based on: (1) sales and production growth; (2) portfolio growth; and (3) customer service. Here, the court found that the language of the FWW regulation did not support the employees’ position. It was undisputed that the employer paid a fixed amount “as straight time” for the hours each employee worked, as well as the non-discretionary bonuses. The regulation did not preclude such a bonus. Case law relied upon by the employees to invalidate the FWW involved additional pay that was based on the number of hours worked.
    The court agreed that additional pay based on the number of hours the employee works would be inconsistent with the FWW method. However, it noted that Wachovia’s non-discretionary bonuses were based on performance, not on the number of hours worked. Moreover, the court observed that in 2008 and 2009, the years at issue in this case, the DOL construed the FWW regulation to permit bonus payments. As such, Wachovia was entitled to summary judgment that the payment of non-discretionary bonuses did not preclude use of the FWW method for paying its employees.
    Although the DOL shifted course in 2011, and viewed bonuses to be inconsistent with the FWW payment method, the language of the regulation remained the same. The regulatory language does not preclude bonus payments that are not based on the number of hours the employee worked. The DOL’s 2011 pronouncement is contrary to its publicly-disseminated prior position and the 2011 interpretation was not issued until well after Wachovia was no longer using the FWW payment method for the employees.

10/01/2012 – 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 ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. 30 Eastern Connecticut post offices to have hours cut, by Alison Shea, NorwichBulletin.com
    NORWICH, N.L.Cnty, Conn., USA - Half of the post offices in Windham and New London counties will have their hours cut as part of a nationwide plan to save the Postal Service money.
    About 13,000 offices nationwide, including 61 in Connecticut, will have their hours reduced in the next two years as the Postal Service tries to keep its head above water, according to Christine Dugas, the U.S. Postal Service’s spokeswoman for southern New England.
    Letters have already gone out at many post offices, and will be mailed shortly in others, asking post office box-holders and delivery customers to fill out surveys about what hours would be best for them.
    A sample letter sent to customers of Thompson’s post office on Thompson Hill, and provided to The Bulletin by Dugas, said USPS won’t consider closing an office unless more than 60 percent of those surveyed seek closure. The letters also say USPS is looking for businesses interested in hosting postal retail centers that would sell stamps and serve as mail pickup spots.
    Letters are specific to the offices, but most follow this template and announce a public meeting to discuss the results of the survey, Dugas said.
    The targeted offices are smaller, more rural outposts. In rural Eastern Connecticut, the cuts are especially deep — 19 offices in Windham County, 11 in New London.
    Most of the offices selected will drop from the eight daily window hours seen at all the offices to six, but some are facing more severe cuts. A few will be cut to four, and Gilman PO in Bozrah and Ballouville PO in Killingly are each slated to go to two hours of window service daily, according to the Postal Service.
    A debt of $13 billion is forcing USPS to make big changes.
    As email and electronic methods of paying bills have grown, fewer people use stamps, which is the postal service’s main moneymaker. Some 3,500 offices, including Gilman, were put on a closure list a year ago, but USPS backed down from that approach amid public outcry.
    “People were clear in public meetings about how passionately they felt about their small, rural post offices. They wanted to keep them open, even if it meant we had to reduce the hours,” Dugas said.
    Changes won’t include reducing Saturday hours in locations that offer them, Dugas said. But they could include a change to a “Village Post Office” concept, which puts postal retail items — stamps, envelopes and boxes, among other mailing supplies — into other existing community hotspots such as grocery stores and libraries. It could include expanded rural delivery and increased access to boxes in post office lobbies.
    "Even if the window is closed, some lobbies may be able to stay open 24 hours a day if the area is secured,” Dugas said.
    Afton Seal, the director of the Guilford Smith Memorial Library in South Windham, across Main Street from the post office there, said she was contacted by the Postal Service about hosting a Village Post Office. She said she hasn’t seen a contract yet and plans to talk over the request with the library’s board next week.
    From the few patrons she’s told, she said, “I’m not seeing a positive response, but I think that’s because it’s change, and because the post office is open convenient hours. We’re only hope 21 hours a week” and closed Mondays and Wednesdays, she said.
    Still, Seal said, it’s better than a full closure.
    “I think something’s better than nothing. Or better than that big of a change,” Seal said.
    Jim Caswell of Scotland, stopping by North Franklin post office Monday afternoon, said it’s hard enough for him to get to there as it is, without its hours being cut.
    Vending machines that sold stamps would soften the blow, he said.
    In Lebanon, cutting the hours would hurt, resident Dave Nichols said. As a business owner, he’s in the post office two or three days a week, he said.
    “It’s convenient because the bank is right next door,” he said. And if so many post offices had less convenient hours, he added, “it would make the rest really busy."

  2. Five-day workweek would definitely boost productivity, by Ali Bin Saad Al-Zamil, Okaz newspaper via SaudiGazette.com.sa
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - There is no doubt that the Kingdom’s leadership has embarked on a vigorous initiative for nationalization of jobs and mak[ing] investments in developing the country’s human resources. In clearer terms, there have been concerted efforts to remove impediments with regard to solving the unemployment problem and achiev[ing] sustainable development.
    In this context, Minister of Labor Adel Fakieh recently spoke about actions and measures to be taken with regards to giving private sector employees two days off a week with the eventual goal of adopting a five-day workweek across the country.
    Fakieh said that issuing a decision to minimize [actually means "maximize"?] parity in work hours between the private and public sectors was a historic moment.
    I agree with the view of the minister. If this decision is implemented, it will attract a large number of jobless Saudis, which will in turn help bring down unemployment. The opinion of some businessmen that the move will adversely affect the private sector is unwise and imprudent. Some businessmen have even claimed that they will incur huge losses if a five-day work week is implemented.
    I say to them that the concept that an increase in work hours would automatically translate into an increase in productivity is fundamentally wrong. Here I would like to emphasize that what is true is just its opposite; it has been scientifically proved that the psychological and social aspect of a worker is the basic yardstick in this respect. In other words, whenever a worker has the feeling of stability and recovery in his/her social environment, it would be a strong motivation for boosting productivity. This will only be realized if employees are given more time off to socialize and spend with their families.
    The most striking evidence in this respect is the case of four economic powers — The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Germany — where average work hours have been decreased in recent years. In contrast, economically weaker countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and others enforce longer work hours with little to show in return.
    Hence, the effectiveness of the five-day workweek is beyond any doubt and and there is no justification for the apprehensions and fabricated lies regarding its adverse implications. Not only will a five-day workweek attract more Saudis to the private sector and encourage current Saudi employees — who have long complained about long work hours — to continue in their profession.
    I can claim emphatically that if a decision to reduce work hours is taken, the first one to rejoice first will be those who are objecting to it now.

  3. The 35 hour workweek is not as simple as "only working 35 hours", posted by madflo, Hacker News via ycombinator.com
    PARIS, France - The 35 hour workweek is not as simple as "only working 35 hours". It is the case for blue-collar workers (French: "ouvriers") but things are less rigid [=enforced] for white-collar workers and management (Fr: "cadres").
    "Ouvriers" are paid by the hour and "Cadres" per day. All engineers working in IT should have a "cadre" contract, so they do not really count their hours.

    [Cadres are like the "exempt from overtime" aka "management" category in the U.S. and they both get the same answer: "shadow time accounting": if consultants can keep track of their billable time, managers can keep track of their on-the-job time and French "cadre" contractors can certainly keep track of their billable time. This is not a new problem. We have 100 years' experience dealing with it between 1840 and 1940 when we jerked the workweek down from over 80 hours a week to 40. And this kind of time accountability is the key to emergency worksharing and permanent timesizing, without which economies will split into fewer and fewer unlimited-workhour burnouts producing evermore unmarketable output, and more and more disemployed dependents hidden in a variety of categories such as unemployed, on-welfare, disabled, incarcerated, homeless, suicidal, living with parents, and of course, self-employed with no clients.]
    Boss or staff, in the French startups with whom I did have the pleasure to work, the 35 hours are far away from the really worked hours.

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