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Timesizing News, February/2013
[Commentary] ©2013 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

2/28/2013 – 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. Salvation through work, review of Ben Hunnicutt's new book “Free Time, The Forgotten American Dream” by Edward Hadas, (2/27 late pickup) blogs.reuters.com (finder's credits to Tom Walker of Vancouver BC & John DeGraaf of Seattle)
    LONDON, U.K. - "It has been computed by some political arithmetician that if every man and woman would work for four hours each day on something useful, that labour would produce sufficient to procure all the necessaries and comforts of life … and the rest of the 24 hours might be leisure and happiness.”
    When Benjamin Franklin wrote that in 1790,
    the American thinker was a few centuries ahead of his time. But the modern economy is so productive that everyone would have far more “comforts” than were available in Franklin’s day, even if the standard working week were shrunk from 40 to 20 hours. The four-hour day, though, isn’t on the horizon. Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, a professor of Leisure Studies at the University of Iowa, explains why not in a fascinating new book, “Free Time, The Forgotten American Dream”.
    For more than a century, labour activists continually demanded – and were granted – shorter working hours. By the 1930s, futurologists were sure that the trend would continue. Workers wanted more leisure time, and, thanks to ever more efficient machines, they could have it, while still enjoying steady improvements in the material standard of living.
    The experts were wrong. In 1935, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt moved from favouring to opposing the six-hour working day. That was the beginning of the end. For the past few decades, the standard working week in rich countries has remained constant, or even lengthened. Far more women are in the paid workforce than ever before. A recent attempt to introduce a 35-hour week in France was soon abandoned. It seems that people have had a change of heart regarding the relative value of consumption and leisure.
    What changed? Certainly not productivity growth. Technological developments have continually saved more labour, much of it tedious or dangerous. The old historic pattern – more leisure time along with more goods and services – could have continued unabated.
    Indeed, since Franklin’s “necessaries and comforts of life” were and are available in unprecedented abundance in rich countries, the decision not to work less – so as to enjoy more of the luxury of free time – is especially striking. An additional peculiarity is that most people are do not seem very happy about the move away from shorter hours. Workplace stress and complaints of “work-life” imbalance, especially from parents, are ubiquitous.
    The complaints are certainly heartfelt, but very few people actually volunteer to take part-time jobs when full-time – 40 hours a week – is available. What is going on? Many people would say they need the money, but I think the best explanation is not economic, but cultural. People must feel that paid work gives them something which leisure time does not. More hours in the job gives them more of that something.
    That something is considered so valuable that it takes precedence over family and fun. The elite in any society always take the largest share of whatever that society considers good. Today’s social elite – in business, finance and politics – compete to work especially long hours, a complete reversal of the traditional association of aristocracy with ample leisure time.
    And what is the “something” that jobs provide? It’s partly a sense of purpose: people want to feel useful. And it’s partly social status, which paid work provides in modern societies. In short, the hours in the job make life more meaningful to many workers. Fewer hours are felt to bring less meaning, less fulfilment. At the extreme, unemployment, zero hours of paid work, is generally felt to be demeaning, even if the welfare state ensures that joblessness has little effect on consumption.
    The current arrangement of working hours may be a cultural choice, but in many ways it is a bad one. Hunnicutt blames the belief in “Salvation by Work”, the snide description of educator Robert Hutchins, for the decline of nobler aspirations. Hunnicutt hankers for the “higher progress” of each individual, identified by the poet Walt Whitman as the ultimate goal of American society. More prosaically, the new preference has led many mothers away from unpaid but valuable parental labour and into tedious paid work, often actually of little social value. And unemployment rates would be lower if the available hours of work were shared out more evenly.
    The bad choice can be reversed, but there is no sign that a change is imminent. I believe what is missing is something basically spiritual: a more modest appraisal of what work can contribute to life. Work is truly good, but other goods should often take precedence. The Benedictine slogan “ora et labora”, work and pray, is a good place to start. Franklin, an atheist, would be appalled. However, while the industrial economy could easily provide his hours of “leisure”, no amount of work can create “happiness”. For that, something more like prayer is needed.

  2. Peterson Offers Testimony on SharedWork Proposal, JacksonCountyDaily.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA — State Senator Bob Peterson (R- Sabina) on Wednesday urged members of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee to support his legislation that would create a shared work program, also known as short-time compensation. Peterson is sponsoring Senate Bill 25 with Senator Frank LaRose (R- Copley).
    In his testimony, Peterson noted that a shared work program provides employers and workers an alternative to layoffs. Rather than eliminate positions, a plan is adopted to reduce the hours worked of all employees. Under this scenario, workers would continue to earn their normal pay per hour, but also collect prorated unemployment for the hours they no longer work. If enacted, Ohio would join 25 other states in establishing a shared work program.
    “Creating a shared work program in Ohio will give companies such as the Kenworth Trucking Company in Chillicothe an additional tool to retain skilled workers instead of losing them through layoffs, and then having to find and retrain new employees,” Peterson said. “In addition, my proposal is designed to be budget neutral, as any employer who chooses not to participate will retain their option for layoffs.”
    Senator Bob Peterson represents the 17th Ohio Senate District, which encompasses all of Fayette, Clinton, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Pike and Ross counties as well as portions of Lawrence, Pickaway and Vinton counties. For more information, please visit http://OhioSenate.gov/Peterson.

  3. How are some agencies avoiding likelihood of furloughs under sequester? posted by Josh Hicks hicksja@washpost.com, WashingtonPost.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Official communications in recent weeks have shown that some federal agencies are better-positioned than others to avoid furloughs if the Friday sequester deadline passes without Congress passing an alternative deficit-reduction plan.
    The Government Accountability Office, the Small Business Administration, the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Agency for International Development have all said unpaid leave won’t be necessary to meet their cost-saving targets if the deep automatic cuts take effect later this week.
    So how have those agencies managed to avoid the likelihood of furloughs while others are talking doom and gloom?
    Some union leaders and lawmakers, especially Republicans, say planners just have to put their minds to it.
    “They really haven’t done their homework,” said John J. O’Grady, president of a Chicago-region chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. “They’re under illusion that [the sequester] wasn’t really going to happen.”
    O’Grady said most agencies haven’t yet maximized reductions in contractor spending and that some have provided five-figure bonuses to managers during the past fiscal year, despite the automatic cuts looming.
    But many experts who study federal budgets have said other factors come into play.
    “Agencies have enormous discretion in this regard, but some are so predominantly personnel-driven that they have little choice but to furlough,” said Patrick Lester, director of fiscal policy for the Center for Effective Government.
    Indeed, the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Aviation Administration have said in recent weeks that they expect furloughs to be necessary under a possible sequester, and all dedicate a relatively high percentage of their budgets toward pay and benefits.
    Lester said agencies that rely heavily on grants and contracting are less likely to depend on unpaid leave to meet their reduction targets. “They have the ability to push the cuts into their contracts — they can delay them,” he said.
    [This distinction between personnel- and contract-driven agencies and their resulting difference in furlough flexibility is new to us.]
    Most agencies don’t fall neatly into the contract- and personnel-heavy categories, leaving room for critics to question virtually every government entity that says it might resort to furloughs.
    Conservatives have challenged agencies to identify and trim more waste, while union leaders have urged them time and again to reduce spending on private contractors — even pressing Congress to pass legislation to that effect.
    As for the relatively small GAO, which has about 2,900 workers, Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro sent a memo to employees last week saying the agency could likely meet its sequester target by halting new hires, trimming travel expenditures and reducing IT investments.
    “We project that we would no longer require furloughs at GAO to absorb the potential reduction associated with sequestration,” Dodaro said.
    Similarly, the SBA has said it had reduced staffing levels enough through early retirements to avoid furloughs and that the agency expects to meet demand for its small business loans moving forward, according to an article by the Associated Press.
    “We are not slowing down giving loans to anyone,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills told reporters last week, noting that the agency aniticates a sharp decline in demand for the 504 loans that spiked last year due to a now-expired provision allowing the funds to be used for refinancing mortgages.
    Smithsonian Institution spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said on Wednesday that the museum operator has budgeted “very, very conservatively” since the start of the fiscal year, anticipating that the sequester would happen.
    Like other agencies, the Smithsonian Institution has delayed maintenance and repairs, adjusted contracts and reduced staff travel and training to help achieve its target savings, according to St. Thomas.
    Two-thirds of the organization’s roughly 6,000 workers are federal employees — the rest work for the independent Smithsonian trust fund. But St. Thomas said the institution does not expect to use furloughs for any of its personnel if the sequester takes effect.
    USAID said in an agency notice to employees last week that it does not intend to furlough workers this year and instead anticipates meeting its reduction targets by halting new hires, modifying contracts and cutting planned IT investments.

2/27/2013 – 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. Question: Should France increase its 35 hour work week to 40 hours, or would that be too austere? - Protests are starting as the people rebel against having to possibly work an extra 5 hours a week, Q by pdooma - A by mrTimesizing, answers.yahoo.com
    SUNNYVALE, Calif., USA - Answer [to] question: France and every other country should LOWER its workweek as far as it takes to achieve full employment and maximum consumer spending and markets and marketable productivity and sustainable ifnot profitable investment targets.
    We did it for 100 years, 1840 to 1940, from over 80 hrs/wk to 40 and it worked and worked well. The last 4-hr cut 1938-40 brought unemployment down 2% for each annual 2hour cut: 19.0%-17.2%-14.6%.
    France cut 4% unemployment, 12.6% down to 8.6%, when it cut from 39 to 35 hrs/wk between 1997 and 2001 before the US-led recession hit them in the summer.
    If 35 hrs/wk is radical then some of our most conservative industries - insurance, universities... - were "radical" in the 1960s (Wall St clerks worked 37.5) and what would you call the US Senate, which passed a 30-hr workweek on Apr.6, 1933? Dumb President Franklin D. Roosevelt blocked it in the House and regretted it 2 yrs later when he saw how much makework and artificial job creation he had to do to try to support a longer workweek: the CCC, WPA, NRA, TVA... - and most of them only had a 30-hr workweek anyway cuz they couldn't even dream up enough busywork to fill 40hrs for everybody. Then there were The Four Socialisms: minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workmen's comp and social security, that wouldn't have been necessary if FDR had stuck it to the private sector and made them employ (and fund!) their own markets, however short a workweek it took, instead of dragging taxpayers via government into being The Employer of Last Resort.
    So then FDR started doing just that: dragging taxpayers into supporting a long, frozen, pretechnology workweek forever so tech worksavings can never give us more of the most basic freedom, free time, without which the other freedoms are meaningless or inaccessible. And all this makework continues to this day in Americorps and Peace Corps and block grants and industrial policy and enterprise zones and "bridges to nowhere"...
    Our universities have turned into mere ways to please please keep young people out of the job market as long as possible because there's already 3 or 4 or 100 desperate resumes for every job opening without more jobseekers.
    Makework has spilled over into the private sector with tens of thousands of individual locomotive engineers pulling one freight car in tractor trailers, tearing up our highways and endangering little cars - most of which freight could be on the rails with a fraction of the personnel - but truckers have hundreds of lobbyists in DC, desperate to keep all those jobs. Efficiency is a joke in a frozen-workweek economy. Ecological sustainability is a joke cuz we have to fill those Frozen Forty hours doing Something, even if we can't sell it.
    Even high tech is full of private-sector makework: spam & adware writers..& blockers, virus writers & checkers, spyware writers & extractors...
    Ignoramuses (ignorami?) keep calling the French lazy as if everyone should go back to the 80 hour workweek of 1840 to prove we work hard, as if we can compete with 24/7 robots that just need a squirt of oil every 2wks and as if we want to further bunch up all the natural market-demanded employment on fewer and fewer burnouts while the guy/gal nextdoor is losing his/er house cuz s/he can't even find part time.
    Our grandparents could live well with only one breadwinner until the babyboomers grew up, entered the job market around 1970 and restored the labor surplus of the 1930s Depression.
    But today we're earning so little we're practically forced back to child labor = sending the kids out to work with mom and dad already working 40 hours for peanuts plus 10 hrs overtime at Walmart without pay cuz they had to clock out already and if they complain, they're canned cuz there's a dozen people waiting for their job.
    We have more worksaving technology than ever before in history, but in response our CEOs have been downsizing instead of timesizing, cutting jobs instead of hours, and now they're wondering where their markets went.
    But oh dear, what about productivity? "Productivity" doesn't mean a thing unless it's marketable. Recall the old Ford-Reuther paradox: Henry Ford: "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Walter Reuther (labor leader): "Let's see you sell them cars." French workers are more productive per hour than Americans cuz they're better rested and not so scared of overproducing themselves out of a job. The US tries to hide its louzy hourly productivity by talking only about production per worker with no mention of the megahours they're working.
    And as for competitiveness, China's 24/7 workweek may be "competitive" but do you really want to compete in a race to the bottom? And every country's mainstay is domestic consumer spending, not their import-export industry that's always getting all the media and crying about "uncompetitiveness." US consumer spending is 70% of the economy, trade is only about 17% yet that's all we hear about.
    And working longer and longer hours with more and more worksaving technology? We are truly "an embarrassment to intelligent life in this quadrant of the galaxy." Trimming the workweek and convereting overtime into training&hiring till we have full employment and maximum markets is no longer a flouncy lifestyle choice or a plea for mercy for the poor suffering wage slave or a call for Justice and Less Inequality. It is a system requirement.

  2. Nearly 2500 Washington state employers used program to save jobs in 2012, by Rolf Boone, The Business Blog via TheOlympian.com
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA - Nearly 2,500 employers in Washington state tapped a state program known as Shared Work last year, helping those businesses avoid having to cut jobs.
    Shared Work, a state Employment Security Department program, allows employers to reduce the hours of their full-time employees by up to 50 percent. Workers then collect partial jobless benefits to make up for some of the lost wages.
    In 2012, 2,449 Washington employers, and more than 29,000 employees, were approved for Shared Work. It saved an estimated 19,000 jobs and more than $12 million in jobless benefit payouts.
    Although nearly 2,500 employers used the program, the number of employers has dropped by about one-third since 2010.
    Fifty-five percent of employers who used the program last year had 50 or fewer employees; 27 percent had more than 100 employees.
    A recent survey shows that most employers using Shared Work cut their payroll costs by 11 percent or more. About 8 percent used it to cut payroll by more than 30 percent.

  3. SharedWork program could help employers reduce layoffs in Ohio, by Tiffany L. Parks, (2/26 late pickup) theDailyReporterOnline.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - Rep. Mike Duffey believes Ohio has the potential to set a national benchmark with House Bill 37.
    The proposal, which landed in the legislature earlier this month, would create SharedWork Ohio, an initiative designed to allow employers and employees to collaborate in reducing work hours to prevent layoffs.

    “... shared work provides workers and employers with an alternative to layoffs,” said Duffey, R-Worthington, in recent sponsor testimony before the House Commerce, Labor and Technology committee.
    In this sense, Duffey said, shared work could be visualized as allowing employers to convert a typical layoff — in which workers lose 100 percent of their hours and pay — into a a cost-neutral swap where employees keep their job and benefits while avoiding any potential downward spiral from losing their job, and employers keep their talented workforce intact, saving money on orientation and training...

2/26/2013 – 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. Furloughs are looming, but the feds are still hiring, by Stephen Dinan, (2/25 late pickup) WashingtonTimes.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The federal government is facing massive furloughs beginning later this week, but it is still running help-wanted ads seeking workers to answer phones — at up to $81,000 a year — or to drive cars for the State Department, for as much as $26.45 an hour.
    Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and Congress’s top waste-watcher, sent a letter Monday to the White House budget office asking it to halt new hiring in low-priority jobs as a way of trying to preserve more important positions such as food safety inspectors and Border Patrol agents.

    [This is not about preserving positions - they are already preserved by the sacrifice of a few working hours by all.]
    His letter identified 10 help-wanted jobs posted on the federal hiring website, USAJobs.gov, which he said could save as much as $1.4 million a year if the government canceled the hiring.
    Among them were the staff assistant job at the Labor Department, which paid up to $81,204 a year for someone to do scheduling and screening calls; a new lawyer for the Morris K. Udall Scholarship program, with a salary of up to $155,000 a year; and a new director for the Air Force’s history and museums program, with a salary topping out at $165,300 a year.
    There is also an ad for 10 “motor vehicle operator” jobs at the State Department, ranging in pay from $22.76 to $26.45 an hour for duties described as: “Drive and operate vans, trucks, and passenger vehicles on shuttle runs, special, long distance, and overnight trips; Perform maintenance and minor repairs on vehicles that includes but is not limited to changing flat tires and checking vehicle oil; and Assist passengers and loads and/or unload luggage.”
    “Are any of these positions more important than an air traffic controller, a border patrol officer, a food inspector, a TSA screener, or a civilian supporting our men and women in combat in Afghanistan?” Mr. Coburn asked in his letter to White House budget office acting Director Jeffrey Zients.
    The budget office did not immediately return a request for comment.
    Congress and President Obama are staring at $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts due Friday, which the White House says would cut everything from military programs to support for local education.
    The Senate is expected to hold a vote this week on a plan to replace half of the cuts with tax-rate increases, though that plan is unlikely to clear a Republican filibuster in that chamber.
    The House, controlled by the GOP, has not passed any legislation this Congress. Republican leaders say they are waiting on the Senate to act first.

  2. Amsterdam to raise legal age for prostitutes to 21, restrict working hours, by Toby Sterling, Associated Press via CTVnews.ca
    [Here's another reason for shorter hours we didn't think of!]
    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Amsterdam plans to raise the minimum age for prostitutes from 18 to 21 and force brothels to close during early morning hours.
    At a press conference Tuesday, mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the moves came from a decision to crack down on crime in the city's famed Red Light District and protect sex workers -- mostly women -- from abuse.
    Amsterdam is home to about 8,000 professional sex workers, the city estimates,
    half of them who operate behind windows with red velvet curtains and red lights. Van der Laan said under the new regime, all windows would be closed from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m.
    Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000.
    It has been tolerated in Amsterdam since the 1600s, when the spice trade made it one of the world's wealthiest port cities. But the city has been tightening its rules since 2006 and shuttered a third of its brothel windows from 2007 to 2009.
    Van der Laan said the city intends to introduce the new measures by July.
    "We think the situation is so grave that we have to act," he told reporters.
    He said young prostitutes were particularly vulnerable because they were often groomed by pimps who force them into service when they turn 18. He said the city's first priority was to keep women from being pushed into prostitution and its second was to help those who wish to exit the profession.
    Other measures he plans to introduce include forcing all brothel owners to submit a business plan.
    The Dutch tolerance of prostitution has always been a subject of debate, and after it was legalized, city officials realized that move had not served to reduce abuses. A proposed new national law would create a database of registered prostitutes, but it has never been passed by Parliament.
    Dutch officials are now studying Sweden's prostitution laws as a possible model. Swedish law criminalizes only visiting prostitutes and does not punish the prostitutes themselves.

2/24-25/2013 – 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. Shared Work program saved 165 jobs in the Hudson Valley last year, 2/24 Mid-Hudson News via midhudsonnews.com
    ALBANY, N.Y., USA – A total of 630 workers participated in the state’s Shared Work program in the Hudson Valley region last year, the state Labor Department said. The agency estimated 165 jobs were saved with 85 Shared Work plans approved.
    Shared Work gives employees an alternative to layoffs. Rather than lay off a percentage of workers to cut costs, an employee can reduce their work hours while they collect partial unemployment insurance benefits to make up for the lost wages.
    The program allows workers to keep their health insurance, retirement, vacation pay, and other fringe benefits. The employer, in return, gets to keep the skilled and trained workers. Donna Leland of Steingard Associates in South Fallsburg said they have used the Shared Work program for a couple of years. “We did not want to lose our current employees to layoff, and it worked very well for us,” she said.
    “The program allows us to keep our core staff on through the winter months and has kept employee turnover to a minimum, saving has considerable time and money. And our employees feel more comfortable knowing they have a year-round job and are not pressured to fund another seasonal.”

  2. Increasing in the working hours depends on the employee's consent, 2/25 Mondaq News Alerts (registration) via mondaq.com
    BRASILIA, Brazil - If the employer provides the most favorable condition for their employees, for example, reduced working hours, the advantage is incorporated into the employment contract and may only be amended with the consent of both parties, as provided in article 468 of the Consolidated Laws Labor (CLT). Therefore, the employer who provides working hours higher than the one that was already being performed is obliged to pay overtime due to the amendment.
    In a case judged by the Regional Labor Court of the 3rd Region (TRT-MG), the employer stated that in 1998 he restructured its staff and changed the workweek of 32 hours and 30 minutes to 44 hours, however, he alleged that [he] maintained all the advantages gained by employees hired until the date of the amendment, including the reduced working hours.
    In the case of the claimant, he was appointed to perform position of trust, whose journey [=employment] is 44 hours per week, and he accepted by his own free will and began to receive bonus due to the new duties. However, judge Júlio Bernardo do Carmo reached a different conclusion.
    As stated by the reporting judge, since the amendment of the working hours, determined unilaterally by the company, the employee, who used to perform working hours of 32 hours and 30 minutes, started to perform working hours of 44 hours per week, without the payment of overtime.
    Thus, despite the increasing of the number of working hours, there was no corresponding increase in salary. The witnesses stated that there was no option for the previous working hours and that amendment was mandatory. Therefore, the judge concluded that there was a harmful salary change for the employee since he performed overtime without the corresponding payment.
    Case No. ED 0002178-97.2011.5.03.0010
    The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances...

2/23/2013 – 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. Yahoo! Answers - Open Question: Fluctuating Work Week? by jordan, sg.answers.yahoo.com
    SUNNYVALE, Calif., USA - I currently work for Hollister co as a manager where they pay you 'half pay' for anything exceeding 40 hours within your work week. I understand that they claim a 'fluctuating work week' as to why they don't pay time and a half, but seeing as I have been made to work AT LEAST 40hrs a week every week I've been here (since 2010), are there grounds for a tort against them via FLSA and ohio labor laws? Any constructive input would be greatly appreciated!
    - I am familiar with how the 'fluctuating work week' is supposed to be composed
    - I have read a few cases and plenty of ORC, but it appears as if I do not apply to their fluctuating work week claim seeing as I have never worked less than 40 hours in a work week
    Answers ...
    Short answer: yes.
    Long answer: Have you kept a log = can you prove they are continuously making you work at least 40hrs/wk?
    This sounds like they're trying to use the 'exempt-from-overtime' managerial classification as a blank check on your life, which is common in a high-joblessness few-options labor-surplus sinking-wages economy such as we have in the US and all over the "frozen full time" globe right now thanks to discontinuing workweek reduction in 1940 (US) while continuing to introduce waves of automation and now robotics.
    I saw a legalistic article on workweek flexibility recently but it was from Calif. = "Workplace Law - Sara Boins: Rules on four-day workweek," Monterey County Herald via montereyherald.com - this particular article is currently archived on Timesizing.com/1gtscase.htm, scan down to 2/22/2013 & article number 3; but my guess is that your issue is federal and not Ohio-specific anyway so there may be some relevance.
    Otherwise, try googling variations on wording such as 'labor-hours advice' and finding an online labor lawyer who does freeby professional online Q&A - they definitely exist.

  2. Air traffic controllers face furloughs under sequestration, by Sean Reilly, (2/22 late pickup) FederalTimes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Federal Aviation Administration may furlough “the vast majority” of air traffic controllers and other employees if across-the-board budget cuts take effect as scheduled next Friday, top officials told aviation trade groups in a letter Friday.
    The agency, whose workforce totals about 47,000, is also considering closing more than 100 air traffic control towers around the country, eliminating midnight shifts at some 60 others, and cutting back on preventive maintenance and supplies, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in the letter.

    If needed under sequestration, the cutbacks would begin in April, they said. Employee furloughs would average one day per pay period through the end of the fiscal year in September.
    “All of these changes will be finalized as to scope and detail through collaborative discussions with our users and our unions,” LaHood and Huerta said.
    The scheduled cuts, required by the 2011 Budget Control Act, will cost non-defense agencies about 5 percent of their budgets unless Congress and the Obama administration agree to head them off. While almost 4,000 FAA employees were furloughed for about two weeks in 2011 after Congress failed to pass a stopgap spending bill on time, those temporary layoffs did not affect air traffic controllers. In this case, “travelers should expect delays” because fewer controllers will be on duty, LaHood and Huerta said.
    Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could be slowed by up to 90 minutes during peak hours, according to their letter.
    The cutbacks could also reduce the number of flights that can be in the air at any particular time, Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said in a statement. As a result, he said, the public could face fewer options and higher ticket prices.
    “Air traffic controllers are accustomed to performing under pressure and they will rise to this challenge if confronted with it,” Church added. “But these kinds of indiscriminate cuts will not help improve the efficiency of the world’s safest air space.”
    Here is a list of 200 airports from which the department says it will select 100 whose towers will be closed by April 1.
    • BFM Mobile Downtown Mobile, Ala.
    • DHN Dothan Regional Dothan, Ala.
    • TCL Tuscaloosa Regional Tuscaloosa, Ala.
    • ASG Springdale Municipal Springdale, Ark.
    • FSM Fort Smith Tower Fort Smith, Ark.
    • FYV Drake Field Fayetteville, Ark.
    • ROG Rogers Municipal-Carter Field Rogers, Ark.
    • TXK Texarkana Regional-Webb Field Texarkana, Ark.
    • GEU Glendale Municipal Glendale, Ariz.
    • GYR Phoenix Goodyear Goodyear, Ariz.
    • IFP Laughlin/Bullhead International Bullhead City, Ariz.
    • RYN Ryan Field Tucson, Ariz.
    • APC Napa Tower Napa, Calif.
    • CCR Concord Tower Concord, Calif.
    • CMA Camarillo Tower Camarillo, Calif.
    • EMT El Monte Tower El Monte, Calif.
    • FUL Fullerton Municipal Fullerton, Calif.
    • HHR Jack Northrop Field/Hawthorne Municipal Hawthorne, Calif.
    • LVK Livermore Tower Livermore, Calif.
    • MER Castle Atwater, Calif.
    • OXR Oxnard Oxnard, Calif.
    • PMD Palmdale Regional/USAF Plant 42 Palmdale, Calif.
    • POC Brackett Tower La Verne, Calif.
    • RAL Riverside Municipal Riverside, Calif.
    • RNM Ramona Ramona, Calif.
    • SAC Sacramento Executive Sacramento, Calif.
    • SCK Stockton Tower Stockton, Calif.
    • SDM Brown Field Municipal San Diego, Calif.
    • SMO Santa Monica Tower Santa Monica, Calif.
    • SNS Salinas Municipal Salinas, Calif.
    • SQL San Carlos San Carlos, Calif.
    • STS Charles M. Schultz-Sonoma County Santa Rosa, Calif.
    • VCV Southern California Logistics Victorville, Calif.
    • WHP Whiteman Los Angeles, Calif.
    • WJF General William J. Fox Airfield Lancaster, Calif.
    • BJC Broomfield Tower Westminster, Colo.
    • FTG Front Range Denver, Colo.
    • BDR Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Bridgeport, Conn.
    • DXR Danbury Municipal Danbury, Conn.
    • GON Groton-New London Groton (New London), Conn.
    • HFD Hartford-Brainard Hartford, Conn.
    • HVN Tweed-New Haven New Haven, Conn.
    • OXC Waterbury-Oxford Oxford, Conn.
    • ILG Wilmington Tower New Castle, Del.
    • APF Naples Municipal Naples, Fla.
    • BCT Boca Raton Boca Raton, Fla.
    • CRG Craig Municipal Jacksonville, Fla.
    • EVB New Smyrna Beach Municipal New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
    • FMY Page Field Fort Myers, Fla.
    • FPR St. Lucie County International Fort Pierce, Fla.
    • HWO North Perry Hollywood, Fla.
    • ISM Kissimmee Gateway Orlando, Fla.
    • LAL Lakeland Linder Regional Lakeland, Fla.
    • LEE Leesburg International Leesburg, Fla.
    • OCF Ocala International-Jim Taylor Field Ocala, Fla.
    • OMN Ormond Beach Municipal Ormond Beach, Fla.
    • OPF Opa-Locka Executive Miami, Fla.
    • ORL Orlando Executive Orlando, Fla.
    • PGD Punta Gorda Punta Gorda, Fla.
    • SGJ Northeast Florida Regional St. Augustine, Fla.
    • SPG Albert Whitted St. Petersburg, Fla.
    • SUA Witham Field Stuart, Fla.
    • TIX Space Coast Regional Titusville, Fla.
    • VQQ Cecil Jacksonville, Fla.
    • ABY Southwest Georgia Regional Albany, Ga.
    • AHN Athens-Ben Epps Athens, Ga.
    • CSG Columbus Metropolitan Columbus, Ga.
    • FTY Fulton County-Brown Field Atlanta
    • LZU Gwinnett County-Briscoe Field Lawrenceville, Ga.
    • MCN Middle Georgia Regional Macon, Ga.
    • RYY Cobb County-McCollum Field Atlanta
    • JRF Kalaeloa (John Rodgers Field) Kapolei, Hawaii
    • ALO Waterloo Tower Waterloo, Iowa
    • DBQ Dubuque Regional Dubuque, Iowa
    • SUX Sioux Gateway Sioux City, Iowa
    • IDA Idaho Falls Regional Idaho Falls, Idaho
    • LWS Lewiston-Nez Perce County Lewiston, Idaho
    • PIH Pocatello Regional Pocatello, Idaho
    • SUN Friedman Memorial Hailey, Idaho
    • TWF Joslin Field-Magic Valley Regional Twin Falls, Idaho
    • ALN St. Louis Regional Alton/St. Louis, Ill.
    • ARR Aurora Tower Sugar Grove, Ill
    • BMI Central Illinois Regional at Bloomington-Normal Bloomington-Normal, Ill.
    • DEC Decatur Decatur, Ill.
    • DPA Dupage West Chicago, Ill.
    • MDH Southern Illinois Carbondale/Murphysboro, Ill.
    • MWA Williamson County Regional Marion, Ill.
    • SPI Springfield Tower Springfield, Ill.
    • UGN Waukegan Regional Chicago/Waukegan, Ill.
    • BAK Columbus Municipal Columbus, Ind.
    • BMG Monroe County Bloomington, Ind.
    • GYY Gary/Chicago International Gary, Ind.
    • HUF Terre Haute International-Hulman Field Terra Haute, Ind.
    • LAF Lafayette Tower West Lafayette, Ind.
    • MIE Delaware County Regional Muncie, Ind.
    • FOE Forbes Field Topeka, Kan.
    • GCK Garden City Regional Garden City, Kan.
    • HUT Hutchinson Municipal Hutchinson, Kan.
    • IXD New Century AirCenter Olathe, Kan.
    • MHK Manhattan Regional Manhattan, Kan.
    • OJC Johnson County Executive Olathe, Kan.
    • TOP Philip Billard Municipal Topeka, Kan.
    • LOU Bowman Tower Louisville, Ky.
    • OWB Owensboro-Daviess County Owensboro, Ky.
    • PAH Barkley Regional Paducah, Ky.
    • CWF Chennault International Lake Charles, La.
    • DTN Shreveport Downtown Shreveport, La.
    • LCH Lake Charles Regional Lake Charles, La.
    • MLU Monroe Regional Monroe, La.
    • NEW Lakefront New Orleans
    • BAF Barnes Municipal Westfield/Springfield, Mass.
    • BVY Beverly Municipal Beverly, Mass.
    • EWB New Bedford Regional New Bedford, Mass.
    • LWM Lawrence Municipal Lawrence, Mass.
    • ORH Worcester Regional Worcester, Mass.
    • OWD Norwood Memorial Norwood, Mass.
    • ESN Easton/Newnam Field Easton, Md.
    • FDK Frederick Municipal Frederick, Md.
    • HGR Hagerstown Regional-Richard A. Henson Field Hagerstown, Md.
    • MTN Martin State Baltimore, Md.
    • SBY Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Salisbury, Md.
    • ARB Ann Arbor Municipal Ann Arbor, Mich.
    • BTL W.K. Kellogg Battle Creek, Mich.
    • DET Coleman A. Young Municipal Detroit
    • JXN Jackson County-Reynolds Field Jackson, Mich.
    • MKG Muskegon County Muskegon, Mich.
    • SAW Sawyer International Marquette, Mich.
    • ANE Anoka County-Blaine Airport (Janes Field) Minneapolis
    • FCM Flying Cloud Eden Prairie, Minn.
    • MIC Crystal Tower Crystal, Minn.
    • STC St. Cloud Regional St. Cloud, Minn.
    • BBG Branson Branson, Mo.
    • COU Columbia Regional Columbia, Mo.
    • JEF Jefferson City Memorial Jefferson City, Mo.
    • JLN Joplin Regional Joplin, Mo.
    • STJ Rosecrans Memorial St. Joseph, Mo.
    • GLH Mid Delta Regional Greenville, Miss.
    • GTR Golden Triangle Regional Columbus/West Point/Starkville, Miss.
    • HKS Hawkins Field Jackson, Miss.
    • HSA Stennis International Bay St. Louis, Miss.
    • MEI Key Field Meridian, Miss.
    • OLV Olive Branch Olive Branch, Miss.
    • TUP Tupelo Regional Tupelo, Miss.
    • GPI Glacier Park International Kalispell, Mont.
    • HLN Helena Regional Helena, Mont.
    • EWN Coastal Carolina Regional New Bern, N.C.
    • HKY Hickory Regional Hickory, N.C.
    • INT Smith Reynolds Winston Salem, N.C.
    • ISO Kinston Regional Jetport at Stallings Field Kinston, N.C.
    • JQF Concord Regional Concord, N.C.
    • GRI Central Nebraska Regional Grand Island, Neb.
    • ASH Boire Field Nashua, N.H.
    • CDW Essex County Fairfield, N.J.
    • TTN Trenton Mercer Trenton, N.J.
    • AEG Double Eagle II Albuquerque, N.M.
    • HOB Lea County Regional Hobbs, N.M.
    • ROW Roswell International Air Center Roswell, N.M.
    • SAF Santa Fe Municipal Santa Fe, N.M.
    • BGM Binghamton Tower Johnson City, N.Y.
    • FOK Francis S. Gabreski Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
    • IAG Niagara Falls International Niagara Falls, N.Y.
    • ITH Ithaca Tomkins Regional Ithaca, N.Y.
    • POU Dutchess County Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
    • RME Griffiss International Rome, N.Y.
    • CGF Cuyahoga County Cleveland
    • MFD Mansfield Tower Mansfield, Ohio
    • OSU Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio
    • TZR Bolton Field Columbus, Ohio
    • YNG Youngstown-Warren Regional Vienna, Ohio
    • ADM Ardmore Municipal Ardmore, Okla.
    • LAW Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Lawton, Okla.
    • OUN University of Oklahoma Westheimer Norman, Okla.
    • PWA Wiley Post Oklahoma City, Okla.
    • SWO Stillwater Regional Stillwater, Okla.
    • WDG Enid Wooding Regional Enid, Okla.
    • LMT Klamath Falls Klamath Falls, Ore.
    • OTH Southwest Oregon Regional North Bend, Ore.
    • PDT Eastern Oregon Regional at Pendleton Pendleton, Ore.
    • SLE McNary Field Salem, Ore.
    • TTD Portland-Troutdale Portland, Ore.
    • CXY Capital City Harrisburg, Pa.
    • IPT Williamsport Regional Williamsport, Pa.
    • LBE Arnold Palmer Regional Latrobe, Pa.
    • LNS Lancaster Lancaster, Pa.
    • PNE Northeast Philadelphia Philadelphia
    • RDG Reading Regional-Carl A. Spaatz Field Reading, Pa.
    • CRE Grand Strand North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
    • FLO Florence Regional Florence, S.C.
    • GYH Donaldson Center Greenville, S.C.
    • HXD Hilton Head Hilton Head Island, S.C.
    • MKL McKellar-Sipes Regional Jackson, Tenn.
    • MQY Smyrna Smyrna, Tenn.
    • NQA Millington Regional Jetport Millington, Tenn.
    • ACT Waco Regional Waco, Texas
    • BAZ New Braunfels Municipal New Braunfels, Texas
    • BPT Jack Brooks Regional Beaumont, Texas
    • BRO Brownsville/South Padre Island International Brownsville, Texas
    • CLL Easterwood Field College Station, Texas
    • CNW TSTC Waco Waco, Texas
    • CXO Lone Star Executive Houston
    • FWS Fort Worth Spinks Fort Worth, Texas
    • GGG East Texas Regional Longview, Texas
    • GKY Arlington Municipal Arlington, Texas
    • GPM Grand Prairie Municipal Grand Prairie, Texas
    • GTU Georgetown Municipal Georgetown, Texas
    • HYI San Marcos Municipal San Marcos, Texas
    • RBD Dallas Executive Dallas
    • SGR Sugar Land Regional Houston
    • SSF Stinson Municipal San Antonio
    • TKI Collin County Regional at McKinney Dallas
    • TYR Tyler Pounds Regional Tyler, Texas
    • VCT Victoria Regional Victoria, Texas
    • OGD Ogden-Hinckley Ogden, Utah
    • PVU Provo Municipal Provo, Utah
    • HEF Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field Manassas, Va.
    • LYH Lynchburg Regional/Preston Glenn Field Lynchburg, Va.
    • ALW Walla Walla Regional Walla Walla, Wash.
    • MWH Grant County International Moses Lake, Wash.
    • OLM Olympia Regional Olympia, Wash.
    • PAE Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field) Everett, Wash.
    • RNT Renton Municipal Renton, Wash.
    • SFF Felts Field Spokane, Wash.
    • TIW Tacoma Narrows Tacoma, Wash.
    • YKM Yakima Air Terminal/McAllister Field Yakima, Wash.
    • CWA Central Wisconsin Mosinee, Wis.
    • EAU Chippewa Valley Regional Eau Claire, Wis.
    • ENW Kenosha Regional Kenosha, Wis.
    • JVL Southern Wisconsin Regional Janesville, Wis.
    • LSE La Crosse Municipal La Crosse, Wis.
    • MWC Lawrence J. Timmerman Milwaukie, Wis.
    • OSH Wittman Regional Oshkosh, Wis.
    • UES Waukesha County Waukesha, Wis.
    • CKB North Central West Virginia Bridgeport, W.Va.
    • HLG Wheeling Ohio County Wheeling, W.Va.
    • HTS Tri-State Milton J. Ferguson Field Huntington, W.Va.
    • LWB Greenbrier Valley Lewisburg, W.Va.
    • PKB Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Parkersburg, W.Va.
    • CYS Cheyenne Regional/Jerry Olson Field Cheyenne, Wyo.

2/22/2013 – 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. Detroit City Council votes to impose furlough days on the city's unionized workers, WXYZ.com
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - Detroit City Council members say they don’t know if they will be leading the city for long, but they are still making tough decisions.
    One of the decisions made on Thursday will hit the city’s unionized workers in the pocketbook.
    The council voted to approve a resolution of Mayor Dave Bing’s that imposes furlough days on city workers. Workers will now have 26 mandatory furlough days a year, which amounts to a 10% pay cut.
    [Better 25 furlough days and a 10% paycut (reducible if state legislators ever enact worksharing), than 365 furlough days and a 100% paycut.]
    “We’ve got city workers living in cars. We’ve got city workers making $24K a year who will now be cost shifting. What is going to happen they are going to go from working, to drawing under-employment. So it’s really not a benefit to the city or the state,” said AFSCME Local 1220 President Gerald Thompson.
    Thompson says the city should have put more into negotiations with city workers, instead of just forcing them into these furlough days.
    Unions have told city leaders to expect lawsuits.
    The vote for cash saving furlough days comes as Governor Rick Snyder looks over the Financial Review Team’s report declaring a financial emergency in Detroit.
    The governor could call for a state takeover, and leave council members out of a job.
    “We have to keep doing what we can,” said Saunteel Jenkins, Detroit City Council.
    Jenkins says she has not given up on her role as a city leader, and this is just one example of how council is making tough decisions to keep the city solvent.
    The furlough days are expected to save Detroit more than $5 million.

  2. Kirtland braces for employee furloughs, by Charles D. Brunt, ABQjournal.com
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., USA - Like all U.S. military installations, Kirtland Air Force Base is bracing for potential budget cuts that would result from sequestration – including civilian employee furloughs, curtailed flight time, fewer training courses and deferred construction and maintenance projects.
    Base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said Thursday that Kirtland officials have already reviewed all existing contracts to determine where cuts could be made.
    “We have also instituted a hiring freeze except for approved, mission-critical vacancies, canceled all non-mission critical TDYs, and reduced supply purchases,” she said. TDY is the military acronym for temporary duty assignments.
    In addition, the more than 2,000 civilian Department of Defense personnel at Kirtland started receiving letters Thursday noting that furloughs could begin in April...

    “I can assure you that, if we have to implement furloughs, all affected employees will be provided at least 30 days' notice prior to executing a furlough and your benefits will be protected to the maximum extent possible,” [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta's letter says...

  3. [Here's one in aid of workweek flexibility, though not directly relevant to worksharing and Timesizing -]
    Workplace Law: Rules on four-day workweek, by Sara Boins, Monterey County Herald via montereyherald.com
    MONTEREY, Calif., USA - Q: One of my employees asked me if she can work a four-day week, 10 hours a day. She told me that she is willing to sign an overtime waiver. Is that legal?
    A: Many hourly employees see a benefit to working four-day workweeks, 10 hours a day, commonly known as 4/10s.
    It can mean cutting down on commuting costs, reducing day care costs, spending more time with family, and essentially always getting a three-day weekend. But if an employer in California wants to allow its employees to work 4/10s, there is a complex procedure that it must follow.
    Pursuant to California's Labor Code, an employer must pay employees overtime when they work more than eight hours in a workday and more than 40 hours in a workweek.
    An employee cannot waive the right to overtime. However, the Labor Code and the Industrial Wage Commission wage orders allow an employer to propose an "alternative workweek schedule," or AWS, that would allow employees to work schedules like a 4/10, and would not require that the employer pay overtime up to the 10th hour worked.

    If an employer wishes to propose this type of schedule, it first must determine a unit of employees to which it intends to offer the AWS. For example, the unit can consist of employees working at a certain physical location, a particular shift, in a specific division, and can even be just one employee. Once the employer has made that decision, it must follow these steps:
    · The employer must provide the affected employees with a written agreement proposing the modified workweek specifying, for example, whether they would work 4/10s or whether they would have a menu of schedule options, which could include the standard five-day a week, eight-hour-a-day schedule.
    · The employer must provide the employees with a written disclosure explaining the effects of the proposed AWS on the employees' wages, hours and benefits.
    · As a part of the disclosure, the employer must hold meetings with the affected employees, providing notice beforehand, to discuss the effects of the AWS. If at least 5 percent of the employees primarily speak a non-English language, the disclosure must also be provided in the non-English language.
    · A minimum of 14 days later, the employer must hold a secret ballot election, during working hours, so that the employees can vote on the proposed AWS.
    For an AWS to be valid, at least two-thirds of the affected employees in the work unit must vote for it. The employer must report the election results to the Division of Labor Statistics and Research within 30 days after the results are final.
    · If the employees vote in favor of the AWS, it cannot be implemented for another 30 days.
    · If, for example, the employees voted to approve a 4/10 schedule, overtime would not be owed until the employees have worked more than 10 hours in the workday.
    The employer would have to then pay time and a half for hours worked over 10 up to 12 hours, and then pay double time once the employee has worked more than 12 hours.
    These are just the basic rules for implementing an AWS. It is wise for an employer to seek legal advice prior to proposing a modified work schedule.
    Sara Boyns is a lawyer with Fenton & Keller in Monterey. This column is intended to answer questions of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice. Mail queries to "Workplace Law," c/o The Monterey County Herald, Box 271, Monterey 93942 or to websiteEmail@fentonkeller.com.

2/21/2013 – 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. FEMA slashes work hours for Sandy recovery effort, by Bob Jordan @BobJordanAPP, Asbury Park Press via app.com
    MANASQUAN, N.J., USA - Even though an estimated 40,000 New Jersey families remain displaced and thousands of businesses are closed because of superstorm Sandy, work hours have been slashed for federal employees assigned to the recovery effort in New Jersey.
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency put its state staff of 1,600 on a standard 40-hour schedule this week after allowing nearly unlimited overtime after the storm struck Oct. 29.
    The rollback of hours doesn’t affect New York, where FEMA staffers can still log 55 “core hours” each week, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

    [This is the first we've heard of FEMA cutting hours - 'course it's only grotesque chronic overtime hours (55 "core" hours with our unemployment rate? what an outrage!) which should have meant additional jobs&pay for many instead of super-additional pay for a few and super-additional costs for taxpayers without diminishing unemployment taxes, let alone taxes for welfare, disability, homelessness, prisons...]
    New Jersey isn’t being shortchanged, said the FEMA spokesman, Darrel Habisch.
    “As FEMA programs in any disaster operation matures, the need for long hours decreases. This is a natural progression of each program’s cycle. Some programs require more intensive labor and others decrease in labor requirements as the disaster recovery process continues,” Habisch said. “Each disaster is different in relation to geographic area, population needs and speed of recovery.”
    Habisch said overtime will be allowed “when warranted.”
    “We want to be smart with the deployment of labor and expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
    The staffing change was made amid complaints about a backlog of flood insurance claims. Members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation wrote to FEMA last week to express a “growing concern” with how long it’s taking to process claims filed with the National Flood Insurance Program. Officials said staffing for that program isn’t being reduced.
    Gov. Chris Christie complained that the flood insurance program’s handling of claims “has stunk” and that tens of thousands of cases remain unresolved.
    New Jersey soon will receive $1.82 billion in federal disaster aid as a first installment in a massive Sandy recovery package.
    A spokesman for Christie said it’s anticipated FEMA will be staffed adequately to help push out that money “and meet continuing needs of New Jersey, and if that turns out not to be the case, we’re certain adjustments would be made.”
    The reduction in work hours “is not unexpected and along the lines of what we experienced after Irene (in 2011) as well,” said the spokesman, Michael Drewniak. “At some point FEMA begins to scale back operations as time passes and the cleanup and assistance programs progress.”
    Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said, “The humanitarian aspect of the storm recovery is less, but in terms of rebuilding there is a lot of work ahead of us. I’ll leave it to FEMA to decide what staffing levels are needed to get it done.”
    “They just need to make sure they’re serving everybody adequately,” Pallone added. “Clearly there’s still a great need for people to meet with and talk with FEMA representatives, especially as programs for grant money become available for homeowners and businesses and public assistance projects move forward.”
    Public officials in New Jersey’s hardest-hit towns also said they hope recovery efforts aren’t impacted.
    “So far we haven’t had any problems with accessibility to their people, so I hope that remains the case. Our recovery is moving along well,” said Stafford Mayor John Spodofora.
    “It’s the first I’m hearing about it,” Long Beach Township Mayor Joe Mancini said. “I don’t know what the impact will be. Hopefully there will be none.”
    New Jersey has 256,000 registrations for FEMA assistance, but the deadline for new applications is at the end of the month. Habisch said the number of people seeking help for the first time has been waning.
    So far, $360 million has been paid out for home repairs or replacement, rental assistance and other needs. Another $446.7 million in low-interest disaster loans has been approved for more than 6,400 homes and businesses.
    FEMA, which has its state headquarters in the former Avaya office complex in Middletown, has placed 111 families in Fort Monmouth housing and 35 families in temporary trailers.
    Bob Jordan: 609-984-4343; bjordan@njpressmedia.com

  2. Agenda 2015 -...35 hour working week, (2/20 late pickup) Work and Business Policy Commission via YourBritain.org.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - In the last 30 years the amount of GDP paid out in employee's wages has shrunk from 68% to just over 50%. This naturally means working people in the UK are working longer hours and getting paid less for the wealth they produce through their labour.
    The next Labour government should follow the brave steps taken by the French Socialist government in the late 90's and introduce a maximum working week of 35 hours without loss of pay.

    [Make that "the next ANY government" because this explains the slowdown in the global economy. This is happening everywhere. Where is the missing 18% going that isn't going into employee wages? It's funneling by default to the wealthiest brackets, who spend (& donate) the smallest percentage of their money of all the brackets. Result? The consumer base is diminishing and so is all the rest of the economy which is "based" upon it. It is a SYSTEM REQUIREMENT to have a certain huge amount of the money supply in high-velocity circulation to support every big chunk that's coagulated in the financial sector. In other words, every dollar of (sluggish!) investment power in the economy REQUIRES a certain multiple of dollars of (dynamic!) spending power in order to sustain/maintain it, let alone for it to yield a profit. This requirement is being violated everywhere in the world today because of our failure to maintain and increase employment with lower and lower workweeks appropriate to our higher and higher worksaving technologies. We are SCREWING ourselves with a forever frozen 1940 workweek. We have allowed ourselves to be turned into roadkill, a surplus commodity, common as dirt and cheap as dirt still reflexing forever on the protestant/puritan work ethic which our robots do eversomuch more competitively than us. Let's get a strategic focus here and start sacrificing long hours for fuller paypackets and stronger economies!]
    The policy when introduced in France was extremely popular and if adopted in the UK would put the Labour Party unequivically on the side of working people by allowing them to spend more time with family, friends and pursuing leisure and cultural activities outside work.
    [Again, it is not about crying for pity and making bleeding-heart lifestyle arguments. This is a SYSTEM REQUIREMENT. We MUST share the vanishing employment to have any markets for the mountains of stuff the robots are churning out. The wealthy are screwing themselves as well as everyone else by supporting employee-consumer downsizing aka "efficiency" in response to technology - instead of timesizing.]
    It would help benefit the voluntary and community sector by freeing up more time for working people to contribute to the community. From an economic point of view it would lead to increased productivity with studies showing that when working hours are reduced people produce more in less time.
    The increase in stress related illnesses and family breakdown as a result of the long hours culture needs to be tackled. A 35 hour working week would be an imaginative and popular way to do this.

2/20/2013 – 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. DOD furloughs: a four-day work week for Pentagon? by Robert Burns, Christian Science Monitor
    DOD furloughs would affect 'vast majority' of 800,000 workers, Defense secretary tells Congress. DOD furloughs could shave 20 percent off of pay and last 22 weeks.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress on Wednesday that if automatic government spending cuts kick in on March 1 he may have to shorten the workweek for the "vast majority" of the Defense Department's 800,000 civilian workers.
    They would lose one day of work per week, or 20 percent of their pay, for up to 22 weeks, probably starting in late April.

    To dispel the notion that this is mainly a problem for the nation's capital, the Pentagon's budget chief, Robert Hale, told reporters that the economic impact would be felt nationwide. The biggest potential losses, in term of total civilian payroll dollars, would be in Virginia, California, Maryland, Texas and Georgia, according to figures provided by the Pentagon.
    Hale said the unpaid leaves for civilian workers would begin in late April and would save $4 billion to $5 billion if extended through the end of the budget year, Sept. 30. That is only a fraction of the $46 billion the Pentagon would have to cut this budget year unless a deficit-reduction deal is reached.
    Panetta also said the across-the-board spending reductions would "put us on a path toward a hollow force," meaning a military incapable of fulfilling all of its missions.
    In a written message to employees, Panetta said that he notified members of Congress Wednesday that if the White House and Congress cannot strike a deficit reduction deal before March 1 to avoid the furloughs, all affected workers will get at least 30 days' advance notice.
    "In the event of sequestration we will do everything we can to be able to continue to perform our core mission of providing for the security of the United States, but there is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force," Panetta wrote.
    Adding his voice to the budget debate, Secretary of State John Kerry said the fiscal impasse is a serious threat to American credibility around the world.
    "Think about it: It is hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries that they have to resolve their economic issues if we don't resolve our own," Kerry said Wednesday at the University of Virginia.
    House Speaker John Boehner put the blame on Obama and said he agrees with Panetta that automatic spending cuts would devastate the military.
    Boehner released a copy of Panetta's letter formally notifying Congress that the Pentagon will have to consider furloughing a large portion of its civilian workforce if sequestration kicks in.
    "The furloughs contemplated by this notice will do real harm to our national security," Panetta wrote in his congressional notification letter, adding that it would make troops less ready for combat and slow the acquisition of important weapons.
    "Overall, sequestration will put us on a path toward a hollow force and inflict serious damage on our national security," Panetta wrote.
    Panetta was flying Wednesday to Brussels to attend a NATO defense ministers meeting. Spokesman George Little told reporters en route that Panetta would tell his counterparts that across-the-board budget cuts will hurt not only the U.S. military but also the ability of NATO to respond to crises.
    Little said the Pentagon is also discussing the possibility of not being able to send military units on planned rotations to various places around the world. In anticipation of cuts, the Pentagon has already decided not to send one aircraft carrier back to the Persian Gulf, reducing the U.S. presence there to one carrier.
    The Pentagon has begun discussing details of the furloughs with defense worker union officials.
    President Barack Obama has exempted military personnel from furloughs.
    Obama was continuing to pressure Republican lawmakers to avert the automatic cuts by supporting a Senate Democratic plan that would replace the immediate cuts with a mix of spending reductions and tax increases. He was conducting interviews with local television in eight markets: Boston, Charleston, S.C., Baltimore, Oklahoma City, Okla., Wichita, Kan., San Antonio, Texas, San Francisco, and Honolulu.
    The only civilian Pentagon workers who would be exempt from furloughs would be Senate-confirmed political appointees such as the defense secretary and deputy defense secretary, as well as a relatively small number of workers deemed essential to protect the safety of defense property and personnel.
    Panetta said the administration is still working with Congress to avoid automatic budget cuts by reaching agreement on a deficit reduction plan.
    Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Lolita C. Baldor and Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

  2. Wisconsin Dems claim work-sharing bill undermines private unions, by Michal Conger, WashingtonExaminer.com
    MADISON, Wisc., USA - A proposal going through the Wisconsin state legislature would allow employers to reduce employees’ hours, including union members, instead of laying off workers.
    Democrats in the state jumped on the bill, saying it undermines private sector unions by allowing employers to create a work-sharing program without approval of union representatives. Several state senators claim Republicans, after a victory over public-sector unions last year, are turning their sights on private unions.
    A work-sharing program allows an employer to cut hours from full-time to part-time instead of laying off workers. Employees with reduced hours are then eligible for unemployment benefits to help make up for lost wages. But Democrats say the bill as-written is an attack on unions.
    President Obama has encouraged work-sharing programs, but Democrats argue union approval is a necessary part of the legislation.
    Twenty-four states have work-sharing programs, and all but one require union approval, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Sign Up for the Politics Digest newsletter!
    “Republicans began their war on bargaining rights with Act 10, and with this bill they have now turned their attention to private sector unions,” Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson said in a statement on Tuesday. “This bill is a clear opening shot at undermining private sector unions.”
    State Senator Julie Lassa co-authored a bill that would subject work-sharing programs to the approval of union representatives. Her bill would replace the Republican-authored Assembly and Senate bills under consideration.
    “This is the beginning of ‘divide and conquer’ part two,” said Lassa in a statement. “The Farrow-Brooks bill says that private sector unions shouldn’t be able to negotiate for their members. It’s one more step toward their goal of ending the right of Wisconsin citizens to have their voice heard in the workplace.”
    According to the Wisconsin State Journal, votes could happen as soon as Thursday.

  3. GE furloughs 500 workers, Courier-Journal.com via AP via Lexington Herald Leader via Kentucky.com
    LOUISVILLE, Ky., USA — General Electric has furloughed about 500 workers and temporarily stopped production of a new refrigerator line, a hybrid water heater and a washer line.
    The Courier-Journal cited a statement from GE that says the moves are due to a decrease in appliance sales. Company spokeswoman Kim Freeman said sales were down nearly a million units in 2012 as compared to 2011 and 2013 has started off slower than expected.
    GE says second-shift production of the "french door" refrigerators will be shut down for five weeks while production on the water heater and washer line will stop for one week.

  4. Australia: Is there a Cap on Working Hours?, by Nicole Dunn, (2/19 late pickup) Mondaq News Alerts (registration) via mondaq.com/australia
    CANBERRA, Australia - Historically "award employees" working hours have been regulated by the relevant award. Awards have specified ordinary hours of work and the applicable penalty rates if an employee works outside those hours. Awards have also regulated how work can be scheduled or rostered.
    Non-"award employees" have not been subjected to such stringent regulation.
    The Working Hours Case (2002) 114 IR 390 was a test case brought by the ACTU to revise federal award provisions. The AIRC [as it then was] acknowledged problems surrounding long hours but were not willing to do more than adopt a standard provision that permitted employees to refuse overtime where this would mean working "unreasonable" hours.
    The National Employment Standards (NES) set by the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act), gives all employees, including managers and other professionals the right to object to working unreasonable hours.
    Section 20 of the Act sets ordinary hours for a full time employee who is award/agreement free as 38 per week where there has been no agreement reached between the employer and employee on the subject of ordinary hours of work.
    Section 20(1) of the Act provides that where an award/agreement free employee has agreed with the employer on ordinary hours of work, the ordinary hours of work will be as agreed. (This must be read subject to the provisions of section 62 of the Act and section 12 of the NES which sets the maximum hours of work for a full-time employee at 38 hours per week plus reasonable additional hours). An employee may refuse to work additional hours if they are unreasonable (section 12(3) NES and section 62(2) of the Act).
    Section 12(4) of the NES (section 62(3) of the Act) sets out what is to be considered in determining whether additional hours or refusal to work additional hours are reasonable.
    The considerations are:
    Any risk to employee health and safety.
    The employee's personal circumstances.
    The needs of the employer.
    The employee's entitlement to overtime payments, penalty rates or other compensation.
    Whether the employee's level of remuneration reflects an expectation of working additional hours.
    The notice given by the employer to the employee of any request or requirement to work additional hours;
    The notice given by an employee to an employer that they refuse to work additional hours.
    The industry work patters.
    The nature of the employee's role and level of responsibility.
    Whether the additional hours are in accordance with the averaging provision of any applicable award.
    Any other relevant matter.
    Section 62 of the Act provides that an employer must not require an employee to work more than 38 hours per week unless the additional hours are reasonable. Award and agreement free employees may agree to average their ordinary hours over a six month period (section 64 of the Act), however hours must not be unreasonable in any given week.
    Section 147 of the Act requires that all modern awards set out ordinary hours. Unsurprisingly, modern awards provide for ordinary hours of work as 38 hours for a full time employee.
    There is no requirement in the Act for ordinary hours to be set out in an enterprise agreement. Given that ordinary hours is an entitlement under the NES, any enterprise agreement which does not contain an ordinary hours clause is unlikely to be given approval by the Fair Work Commission.
    A part-time employee is generally someone who works less than 38 hours per week or whatever the "standard" is for that type of work.
    The Federal Magistrates Court in the matter of MacPherson v Coal & Allied Mining Services Pty Ltd (No.2) [2009] FMCA 881 held that an increase in a mining workers rostered hours from 40 to 44 per week was not unreasonable on the facts.
    In this matter an Mr MacPherson, an electrical fitter working at Rio Tinto's subsidiary Coal & Allied Mount Thorley/Warkworth open cut mine in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, commenced proceedings claiming the change in his roster from a rotating three week Monday to Friday roster which averaged 40 hours per week to a 44 hour two week roster made up of four shifts (three 12 hour shifts and one of 8 hour shift) Monday to Friday was unreasonable additional hours.
    Mr Macpherson argued that the additional hours were unreasonable as they disrupted his family life including;
    his ability to take his sons to sports training;
    his ability to coach his sons soccer team; and
    his family meal time.
    Magistrate Kenneth Raphael accepted the evidence presented on behalf of the employer that the new roster was accepted by the majority of workers and that a 44 hour roster was popular in the mining industry.
    Magistrate Raphael noted there are a number of factors to be taken into account in determining whether additional hours are reasonable. Those factors are:
    The total number of hours worked on a particular shift.
    Extent of any night work.
    Number of hours worked without a break.
    Time off in between shifts.
    Risks to health and safety.
    Personal circumstances of the employee(s).
    Operational requirements of the employer.
    Notice given by the employer to the employee(s) of the requirement to work additional hours.
    Remuneration received for the additional hours.
    Work patters permitted under an enterprise agreement [this would also apply to any applicable award].
    Total working hours
    Length of shifts.
    Industry working patterns.
    Applicable OH&S legislation and guidelines.
    Magistrate Kenneth Raphael held [at 63]:
    "... In my view the benefits to the employer of the new rosters outweighs the detriment to Mr McPherson which I believe is adequately compensated for by the work pattern allowance and by the extra rostered days off arising out of the new shifts. I am satisfied that the extra rostered hours over the statutory 38 hours are, as they affect Mr McPherson, reasonable."
    The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
    Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author

2/19/2013 – 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. State Labor Department Announces New York Job-Saving Program Saved Nearly 3,300 Jobs in 2012, NewsLI.com
    Labor Commissioner Urges Employers to Contact Department of Labor for Help in Avoiding Layoffs and Retaining Workers to Keep NY’s Economy Growing ALBANY, N.Y., USA - State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera announced today that 3,280 jobs were saved in 2012 by employers using the State Labor Department’s Shared Work program. Commissioner Rivera urges any employer in New York who is considering layoffs to immediately contact the State Labor Department to get help in retaining their workers.
    “As New York’s job growth continues, we also need to do everything possible to help businesses retain their workers and avoid layoffs,” said Governor Cuomo. “Our successful Shared Work program has worked for 3,280 New Yorkers and their families, and I urge any employer who is struggling to contact the Labor Department immediately.”
    Shared Work gives employers an alternative to layoffs. Rather than lay off a percentage of workers to cut costs, an employer can reduce the hours of workers while they collect partial unemployment insurance benefits to make up for the lost wages. The program allows workers to keep their health insurance, retirement, vacation pay, and other fringe benefits. The employer, in return, gets to keep the skilled and trained workers.
    “The success of our Shared Work program speaks for itself,” said Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera. “As New York continues to rise, it is because of programs like Shared Work that protect businesses, workers – and the families they support. I’m proud of the work the Department of Labor has done with this program to retain jobs and keep companies running.”
    Employers from across the state have benefited from the Shared Work job-saving program.
    In the Western New York region, 120 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 2,160 workers participated, and an estimated 560 jobs were saved.
    Norm Bitterman, Plant Manager at Hard Manufacturing in Buffalo, said: “The Shared Work Program is an excellent program! It has provided us protection against total layoff and given us the ability to retain our workers. We are a UAW shop, and, due to the nature of our business, we need this flexibility. It is working very well for us and we are very pleased with the program.”
    In the Finger Lakes region, 120 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 2,030 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 530 jobs were saved.
    Dale Warner, Director of Human Resources at The Riverside Group in Rochester, said: “While Shared Work was not entered into lightly, it allowed us to keep our employees working during a severely slow production period in lieu of a layoff. By retaining those employees, our skill set was in place when production increased, allowing us to keep pace with the workload.”
    In the Central New York region, 65 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 990 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 260 jobs were saved.
    Brittany Donah, Business Manager at Gallery of Machines LLC in Marathon, NY, said: “We have used the Shared Work Program for some time now and have found it to be extremely beneficial to our company. The program helped us reduce our payroll in the tough economic times without losing our key, trained employees. If we were to lose our employees due to a complete layoff, it would take years to find and train machine tool mechanics to their current level and knowledge. We are a small company and do not have the cash flow of the larger companies. Without the Shared Work Program, it is possible that we could have gone out of business.”
    In the Mohawk Valley region, 35 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 950 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 245 jobs were saved.
    Genevieve Raymond of Human Resources at Kason & Keller in Fonda, NY said: “Shared Work is definitely a worthy program. It’s been a great tool to help us avoid layoffs and has helped our employees prevent loss of skills due to lack of work.”
    In the North Country region, 25 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 295 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 75 jobs were saved.
    Kathy Seery, Administration Manager at Sundance Pool & Patio Inc. in Watertown, NY said: “Since our business is a seasonal one, we would have to lay off a large portion of our staff had it not been for Shared Work. The program allows us to keep our core staff on through the winter months and has kept employee turnover to a minimum, saving us considerable time and money. And our employees feel more comfortable knowing they have a year-round job and are not pressured to find another seasonal. It has been a win-win situation for us.”
    In the Hudson Valley region, 85 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 630 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 165 jobs were saved.
    Donna Leland at Steingart Associates Inc. in South Fallsburg, NY said: “We have used the Shared Work Program for a couple of years because we did not want to lose our current employees to layoff, and it worked very well for us. Our workers need specialized skills and, had there been a layoff, we would not have been able to just hire people off the street. The Shared Work Program absolutely helped our business get through a tough time.”
    In the New York City region, 100 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 925 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 240 jobs were saved.
    Arlene Kagan at COR-RBD LLC in Flushing, NY said: “The Department of Labor’s Shared Work Program made it possible for us to keep the business going during a slow period and keep talented employees on board. We have been so pleased with the program that we plan to use it again during next year’s slow season.”
    In the Long Island region, 145 Shared Work plans were approved in 2012. A total of 1,160 workers participated, and the State Labor Department estimates that 300 jobs were saved.
    Joyce Campbell, Office Manager at Dolliver Land Surveying PC, said: “The Shared Work program has been invaluable to us. It has saved us from having to lay off workers and then search for employees, which can be an expensive and difficult task, especially on eastern Long Island, where it is sometimes hard to find trained workers.”
    To apply for the Shared Work program, employers can call the State Labor Department at (518) 457-5807.

  2. KC government employees on brink of three week furloughs, posted by Matt Stewart, WDAF TV – FOX 4 via fox4kc.com
    KANSAS CITY, Mo., USA — There are 2,800 government employees who work at the Richard Bolling Federal Building in downtown Kansas City. They — and most other federal workers across the country — will soon be forced to take time off work without pay unless Congress can agree on a new budget deficit reduction package.
    They have three more days to get a deal done or else federal furloughs will begin in April. Government workers would then be forced to take about three weeks off work without pay this year to help the government save $1.2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
    This is all a part of the government’s self-imposed sequester.
    To sequester is to cut government spending, and Congress and the President agreed that unless they came to terms with budget cuts by March 1, automatic budget cuts would take effect, reducing domestic programs by 9 percent and defense programs by 13 percent.
    If the sequester happens, more than two million federal workers will bring home less pay this year.
    “Well, ideally, we would have done the right thing, and that’s pass appropriations bills and reduce spending where we think is fit,” said Sen. Ron Paul, (R) South Carolina. “The sequester is sort of a hammer.”
    President Obama wants a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, while Republicans say they agreed to a tax increase last month and don’t want to do raise taxes again. They have until the end of this week to come to an agreement — or else the federal worker furloughs will begin.

2/17-18/2013 – 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. Senators Refuse To Answer If Lawmakers Should Take Furloughs, by Jessica Doyle @financialista, 2/18 W*USA 9 via wusa9.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- March 1st could be a very bad day for the region's workforce. Without a deal on Capitol Hill, sequestration will force deep federal spending cuts. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers and private employees could be furloughed.
    The threat got one WUSA 9 viewer so mad, she made this proposal: " ... Congress should step up to the plate and take 1 furlough day each week until they actually make some decent decisions about how to make the economy better." We decided to take her proposal to our four local Senators; would they be willing to accept furloughs, if federal workers were forced to?
    All of the democratic lawmakers have spoken out against sequestration and have expressed their opposition to furloughs for any workers. But none of them answered our specific question, would they be willing to personally accept furloughs?
    Here is the response Maryland Senator Ben Cardin's office gave to WUSA 9:
    "Senator Cardin has repeatedly said that Congress should not allow sequestration to occur. It will have a devastating impact on our economy and we cannot let it happen. He is working with his colleagues on the Finance Committee and Senator Mikulski, who is chair of the Appropriations Committee, to work toward a resolution that will not put our economy and American families at risk. Senator Cardin has been a staunch defender of federal workers, repeatedly reminding Senators, the White House and the Republican House about the great sacrifices they have made through a multi-year pay freeze and cuts to agency resources under the latest continuing resolution that funds the government. Furloughs are an extreme measure that should be avoided at all costs due to the demoralizing effect they will have on our economy, especially here in Maryland, and particularly middle income families."
    Senator Cardin also granted us an interview. His answer was very similar:
    "We don't want furloughs. I don't want it for the federal workforce. It is the wrong thing to do. It will cause major disruptions of services. It will impact wrong on individuals. We need to eliminate the possibility of that type of action."
    The office of fellow Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski also provided a written statement that did not directly answer our question. Here is the entire response:
    "I'm against furloughs. Federal employee furloughs threaten community and national safety and threaten our economy. They are one of severe and significant consequences of recent budget conflicts that cycle through ultimatum, delay, and crisis. Sequester is the latest of these conflicts. I'm focused on using every tool within my reach to fight sequester and stop downgrades, shut downs, or furloughs."
    The office of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine provided this comment: "Paycheck or no paycheck - Senator Kaine will continue to do everything he can to avert the devastating impacts of the sequester on the federal workforce."
    Senator Mark Warner's office offered this statement in the same vein: "Senator Warner will report for duty and continue working for a bipartisan solution whether the lights are on or not."
    Technically, the 27th amendment of the Constitution does not allow members of Congress to change their own pay in a current session, essentially banning the type of pay cut that would come with a furlough. But lawmakers have options. For example, they could voluntarily pay extra income tax to help pay down the national debt.
    All four Senators did vote in favor of the "No Budget, No Pay" act. It dictated that if Congress fails to pass a budget by April 15, they lose their paychecks, temporarily. The income goes into an escrow account and is paid back when the current Congress ends, even if a budget doesn't ever pass.
    So, what do you think? Should Congress be penalized If federal workers are furloughed due to sequestration? WUSA 9 has created a petition with our partners at POPVOX.com, helping you speak out on this issue (http://on.wusa9.com/YsYbch). So far, hundreds have written letters in support of financial penalties for lawmakers. We are receiving responses from across the country including Texas, Colorado, Arizona, California and Hawaii. The number of people opposed as of 8:00 AM ET Monday morning. Zero.

  2. Short-time working hours, 2/17 (2/16 late pickup) Business Blog via businessgolfnow.com
    [This hilarious English sounds like it's been machine-translated but we'll try to make it a little more comprehensible without spoiling the hilarity.]
    LONDON & PENZANCE, U.K. - If you wait to reduce overhead staff, something that you can not afford to delay, short-time work may be a way to save money without allowing employees to go[.]
    The unemployment rate soared past about two million mark. But redundancy can be costly, both in terms of pay-offs and costs of future rehiring once business improves.
    Danny Cooper, manager of enterprise architects RLT Built Environment [Chyandour, Penzance], decided to reduce the working week to a couple of staff in September.
    “We want to keep our staff as the entire process of recruitment and training of people can be very long, but we really need to do something about our cash flow. This time last year we expanded and it is difficult to find the right person, “he said.
    “If you have two people working half the week it’s the same cost savings as a human being made redundant, but you have the flexibility to move them back to full-time when things improve.
    “It’s in the contract anyway, but still not as popular with our staff – even though they can see the problems we have. We made more fun by convincing them it was only temporary, and they are brought back to full-time hours when things get better. Hopefully, it’s only for four to six weeks when we have some more work to come and get it. ‘
    Terms of the contract
    Nic Hart, partner in employment law at Davenport Lyons [London], said that the question of the various businesses in different sectors and sizes of short-time work has increased massively over the past four months.
    “From anecdotal experience, employees in different organizations will say that they have pay cut by working a short time [on short-time working while waiting] for the company [business] to increase,” said Hart.
    If you do not disclose the terms of the contract, and your employees will not agree to a reduction in time, short-time work route may be more complicated. In this case, any change in pay / hours [is] left..open [to be] sued for breach of contract.
    If they do not agree with it [you] need to go through a process of consultation with your employees. It may take 30 days if you have more than 20 employees, or 90 days if you have more than 99 staff. You will then be required to give notice for termination of the contract long before your new drawing.
    Hart added: “My first suggestion is to look at the contract, and [say you] are looking to do a deal, then contact the consultant. If staff agree to a change in the hours immediately you will still need to draw up a new contract – but it’s easy to do ‘.
    Benefits for staff
    John Purcell, Acas advisory believed a reduction in time can be the best option available for both your business and staff.
    He said: ‘Short-time work may seem more beneficial for employees as opposed to working full time, but [it's] for less money. It is also something that [a] few employees want [in order] to spend more time with their families. Of course, to some [it's] still very difficult. ‘
    Purcell added as an alternative to redundancies [it] also have a less damaging effect on your overall workforce. “This means that your staff are more likely to suffer from the syndrome victims left behind to worry about their friends who have lost their jobs and feel guilty because [they haven't, ‘ he added.
    A temporary measure
    Short-time work should not be viewed such as the risk that after a certain period, the employee can resign and still claim [compensation].
    “It is worth mentioning that if you have an employee with 20 years of experience, they began to think of redundancy as their right. And if they are over 40, [as part of] the basic salary, which can be a chunky amount of money, “ added Davenport Lyons’ Hart.

2/16/2013 – 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. Forced furloughs - Study: Massive Air Force cuts will damage readiness, economy, by Adam Kredo, (2/15 late pickup) Washington Free Beacon via freebeacon.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Impending defense cuts would cause the United States Air Force to furlough nearly 180,000 civilian employees across the globe, costing critical personnel nearly $8,000 each, or $1.4 billion in total, according to Air Force projections.
    Nearly $500 billion in looming defense cuts, known as sequestration, are expected to imperil critical defenses by forcing the Air Force to markedly reduce weapon system sustainment and reduce the number of hours that pilots fly their aircraft
    [Better to cut hours than cut jobs. But nothing can disguise the fact that the fanatical Republicans in Congress, by playing chicken with America's budget and coddling America's insulated wealthiest, are sending out a personal invitation to terrorists everywhere to Attack America Now! It's the old GingriNch contract on America lurching back from the lagoon.]
    These cuts would impact the economy of every U.S. state, as more than 500 military construction projects that provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of workers would be canceled or deferred.
    The Air Force is additionally facing a $1.8 billion shortfall for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which mainly target terrorists across the globe, and is being forced to cope with $12.4 billion in reductions that “will have drastic, long lasting impacts,” according to internal assessments.
    “The budget uncertainty resulting from our ‘challenges’ has caused the Air Force to take actions to reduce spending,” Vanessa Bolin, an Air Force liaison in the House of Representatives, informed lawmakers earlier this week in an email circulated across Capitol Hill.
    Air Force bases across the country would bear the brunt of the impact, as employees are initially furloughed for up to 22 days, according to Air Force projections.
    States that rely heavily on their military industry would be particularly hard hit.
    Thirty-six maintenance repair programs at bases across economically ailing California have already been deferred, according to the Air Force.
    These include multiple repair programs at Beale Air Force Base, Edwards Air Force Base, Travis Air Force Base, and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
    Nearly 11,000 civilian Air Force members would be furloughed in California, which equates to about $83 million in lost pay according to Air Force projections.
    Alaska, another state that heavily relies on its military industry, would also face cutbacks. Thirteen maintenance projects have already been deferred at the state’s multiple bases.
    Texas, Florida, and North Carolina will also face severe phasedowns.
    More than 16,000 Texan civilian employees would face furloughs equaling about $127 million in lost pay, according to the Air Force. It anticipates slashing nearly 30 construction projects, including repairs to facility toilets and showers.
    More than 12,000 civilians in Florida would be placed on the chopping block, draining nearly $100 million from their collective wallets. Thirty-five projects at the state’s multiple air bases have been slated for deferment.
    Overseas operations would also be impacted.
    Air bases in South Korea, Japan, Germany, and the Arctic also would have to put multiple maintenance projects on ice.
    Former Defense Department officials warned that sequestration would harm America’s nascent economic recovery and lead to a military that is unprepared to defend the country.
    “Welcome back to the late 1970s—a bad economy, a hollowed-out military and a declining America on the world stage,” said Gary Schmitt, a former Defense Department consultant.
    Steven Bucci, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, believes the Air Force should have released these projections earlier.
    “Why did they not raise these issues until now?” asked Bucci, director of the Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. “Pre-election, everyone basically said, ‘We can live with these cuts. We don’t like them, but we could still execute our strategy.’
    “Heritage was saying back then that this was bunk,” Bucci said.
    “Sequestration will be a huge killer of readiness and capability, and will certainly eliminate even the little bit of modernization out there now,” he said. “It will put America at risk.”

  2. Sequester-Driven Layoffs, Furloughs Possible on Hill, by Emma Dumain, (2/14 late pickup) Roll Call News via rollcall.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - If the sequester comes to pass, officials warn that the country’s defense operations would be significantly weakened. So would the security systems in place on Capitol Hill.
    [Maybe when it "comes home to roost" right on Capitol Hill, these radical Republicans will back away from the T(NT)-Party suicide budget-bombers. It's always self-insulating robopathic plutocrats who force empires into a benevolent dictatorship, but then they brand him a "traitor to his class" and install their own benevolent-only-to-themselves dictator who gives the empire the coup de grâce. Only World War II saved FDR from this fate.]
    On Thursday, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer summoned his nearly 925 employees to break the news that the looming automatic spending cuts could necessitate furloughs and layoffs, the first in institutional memory for the department.
    “You can’t sugarcoat bad information,” Gainer told CQ Roll Call on Thursday afternoon.
    Gainer reported to his team that depending on how much of a cut the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms is forced to make, management could be looking at a salary shortfall of $4 million to $5 million and general expense reductions of $7 million. Those numbers would only increase over time, Gainer said, noting that his department has already shaved $22 million from its budget over the past three years.
    “They’ve all been working very hard,” Gainer said of his team, which includes Senate security officers and officials, information technology specialists and staffers working on a range of administrative tasks. “There have not been raises, we’ve [frozen] hiring, we’ve cut back on some of our contracts and buying, and I don’t know what, if any, relief we’ll have.
    “But the organization in the next 10 years will not look like that of the last three years or five years,” he continued. “We’re all going to have to do the proverbial ‘more with less.’”
    The determination of whether to trigger layoffs and furloughs — every employee would probably have to take one day of unpaid leave per month beginning in April — would depend on how many employees choose to take advantage of a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment program. The program, announced Thursday morning, would give most employees a financial reward for retiring from the department.
    Employees have until Feb. 28 to take advantage of the program, and they would have to retire by April 30.
    Gainer said Thursday that employees were already beginning to request retirement paperwork, something he called a good sign given the grim alternatives.
    As for where he might look to lay off employees if it becomes necessary, Gainer said the chamber’s overall security will not fall victim to the budget knife. Nor, he said, will information technology security be affected, especially as cybersecurity threats increase.
    But the general reduction in manpower would hit home not only for the stretched-thin Senate Sergeant-at-Arms staff, but also for the lawmakers and their staffers who rely on support services that Gainer’s team provides.
    The Capitol Police is also looking to make changes that could lead to inconveniences for the people who work on Capitol Hill.
    Last week, Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus said in an email that the force was devising a sequester contingency plan “carefully designed to accommodate the reduced funding levels; with the goal of ensuring that the safety and security of the Capitol complex will be maintained.”
    On Thursday, Gainer, who is also chairman of the Capitol Police Board, said the plan proposes budget cuts by closing entrances around the Capitol complex. This strategy would result in saving overtime payments to the officers assigned to secure these doors and security checkpoints.
    The House Sergeant-at-Arms’ office declined to comment on how it plans to confront the potential sequester. It might be less of a challenge for the department’s leader, Paul Irving, than for his Senate counterpart, however, given that Irving has considerably fewer direct reports. The House Chief Administrative Officer handles all of the corresponding administrative functions that Gainer’s office oversees in the Senate.
    Whatever changes are felt in the legislative branch, they were predicted months ago by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., who was chairman of the House Administration Committee and a fierce defender of the institution of Congress up until his defeat in November.
    “I’ve always thought the legislative branch was a pretty important function, as opposed to many different executive branch agencies, and if sequestration occurred, I think we would sustain cuts that would be felt,” he warned. “We’re going to find out what it means.”
    EmmaDumain@cqrollcall.com | @DumainBlogette

2/15/2013 – 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. Furloughs could stop, teachers could face pay cut, posted by Hayley Thomas, (2/14 late pickup) Paso Robles Press
    PASO ROBLES, Calif., USA — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District met with a state mediator representing Paso Robles Public Educators last Tuesday, Feb. 12 in an effort to push past gridlock pertaining to furlough days.
    The district proposed the elimination of furlough days and the return of a 183-day school year, with 180 instructional days and three teacher work days. However, teacher salary would be cut 4.86 percent.
    “The budget could not support the elimination of furloughs without some other cost-saving reductions,” a district press release stated.

  2. Railway employees demand reduction in working hours, HindustanTimes.com
    LUDHIANA, Punjab, India - Railway employees who are the members of All-India Loco[motive] Running Staff Association and All-India Guard Council staged a protest at the loco shed here on Friday to demand the government to meet their demands which, they claimed, have been pending for five years now.
    All India Loco Running Staff Association secretary (Ferozepur division) Paramjit Singh said they had organised a divisional-level protest. He said that around 17,000 posts [=positions], including that of drivers, guards and class-four employees, had been vacant for more then a decade. “Because of the vacant posts, other employees have to work overtime,” he said.
    “The stag shortage also leads to train accidents. These employees need to be paid more salaries. Besides, the government should reduce work stress by hiring more employees,” he said.
    He pointed to medical reasons too. “Doctors such that long working hours have a domino effect on efficiency [sic]. Reduced work stress will only ensure the safety of passengers,” he added.
    At present, Paramjit Singh said, railway employees were working for 15 to 17 hours at a stretch.
    He said that the railways should fill the vacant posts.

    They had submitted a memorandum to senior section engineer Des Raj Vishal, he added.

2/14/2013 – 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. Shorter Work Week Would Mitigate Employment Woes, Whitman College via WhitmanPioneer.com
    WALLA WALLA, Wash., USA - As a soon-to-be-graduated senior, my next big concern is where I’m going to work. Although it’s been over four years since the recession of 2008, job prospects are still fairly grim. Typically, the formula for dealing with unemployment has been to encourage economic growth and promote education and training to meet demand for workers in new and emerging sectors of the economy.
    Both of these tactics begin to address some of our employment problems, but they don’t fully address the long-term unemployed and the many jobs lost in the recession which may not come back. Addressing these problems requires us to rethink how we treat labor in the United States.
    Currently, Americans have embraced a work ethic of “more is better.” Americans are working harder more days a week and more hours a day without a significant increase in wages. When we wonder where all of the jobs went, the answer is simple. They went to those who weren’t laid off. If you are lucky enough to have a job, chances are you are now doing the work of at least one other person who lost their job during the recession. People are often working 60-80 hours per week for no additional pay and can’t leave their current job for a better one because it simply doesn’t exist. This is great for corporations who realize this increased productivity as pure profit, but it is detrimental to both employed workers and those seeking work.
    The ethic of more is better creates three groups of workers: those who are stressed and overworked, those who are unemployed and those who are underemployed. These trends have been further exacerbated by the decline of unions and advances in technology. Although some might argue that this is a simple question of retraining and educating workers to work in our modern high-tech economy, the “skills gap” typically reported in the media is largely a myth.
    Although the American education system is often discussed as falling behind those of other countries, when it comes to higher education we are turning out more individuals with certifications and college diplomas than we have available positions for, especially at the level of wages that they expect to earn with their degrees. This isn’t limited to supposedly “useless” degrees. Currently, the United States is producing more scientists and engineers than can be supported by our current research facility resources, more lawyers than we can possibly employ and more business school graduates than we currently have jobs for. Historically, these degrees would assuredly earn an above average income. Today, such incomes are hardly assured.
    The drive of efficiency moves towards an economy with fewer available jobs for the unemployed and increased hours and lower wages for workers who manage to find employment. As such, the best way to rapidly decrease unemployment is to set the maximum work week to 40 hours and bring back overtime even to the tens of millions of salary-exempt workers [correction: overtime-exempt, salaried workers] that are currently being exploited by their employers.
    This isn’t a revolutionary concept. The work week shrunk from 72 to 60 to 50 to 40 hours a week as industrialization took hold and industry no longer needed people to work 12-hour days.
    The 40-hour week became the standard in 1935 [correction, in 1940 per the overtime section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938]. Yet, currently, not only has there been no drop in the work week to match increases in productivity, but the work week is actually increasing for those who still have full-time employment.
    If we believe that everyone has a right to work and a right to education we need to create a job marketplace that gives people the chance to apply their degrees to a job that fits their skills. As it stands we have fewer high-paying jobs for more skilled workers than we can properly employ. Less work can in fact be more, unless we want to embrace high unemployment and increased stratification as the new normal. We need to channel the values of past labor leaders and fight for a basic right to work, sustainable living wages and a shorter work week and workday so more people can enjoy a fulfilling job that makes use of their skills and education.

  2. JadeWeserPort puts 400 on short-time working - Wilhelmshaven terminal is attracting only two vessels a week, by David Osler, 2/14 Lloyd's List via lloydslist.com
    WILHELMSHAVEN, Germany - Germany’s newly-opened deepwater container hub,, JadeWeserPort is to put its 400-strong labour force on part-time working, a spokeswoman for the majority partner in the operating consortium has confirmed.
    The Wilhelmshaven facility — dogged by technical problems throughout its conception and construction — has only been attracting two or three vessels a week on average since it started up five months ago, as exclusive data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence indicates.
    News of the reduced hours was broken to employees at a meeting with management on Tuesday, and discussions with the works council are due to begin tomorrow.
    “We expected things differently, certainly we did,” said a representative of Eurogate, which holds 70% of the concession.
    “Nobody is really happy with the situation, but we always knew that it would take time to position the port on the market. The economic situation of the industry doesn’t make things better.”
    Separately, Axel Kluth, head of the state government-owned concern that owns JWP’s infrastructure, has written to Lower Saxony’s economics minister Jörg Bode and Bremen state councillor Heiner Heseler to tell them he is not available after August 2013, when his current contract expires.
    JWP was scheduled to begin operations in August last year, but the opening was delayed by two months after problems with the sheet piling saw cracks appear in the container handling area.

  3. Warning that doctors' long working hours are putting patients at risk, by Julia McWatt, (2/15 early pickup) WalesOnline.co.uk
    The General Medical Council has warned Doctors that long shifts could be causing stress. (photo caption) CARDIFF, Wales, U.K. - Patients are being put at risk because junior doctors are suffering with exhaustion and stress by working up to 100 hours a week during their busiest shifts, the General Medical Council has warned.
    Research by the regulatory body found that some doctors in training are fatigued and feeling the strain of their working patterns, especially during peak times, increasing the potential for mistakes.
    The research was aimed at understanding the impact of the Working Time Regulations which are intended to promote health and safety by restricting the hours doctors work.
    Under the Working Time Regulations junior doctors in the UK should not be working more than 48 hours a week, averaged over 26 weeks.
    They are also bound by the New Deal contract which was designed to limit the hours they can work.
    The study found that while the regulations had led to fewer hours, it had also produced more shift work, leaving some doctors suffering exhaustion and acknowledging that there were times when they performed poorly.
    Doctors said they welcomed the regulations for improving their work-life balance, but many said they had less time to manage their workload because of badly designed and understaffed rotas.
    Some also said that the shorter working week was responsible for a lack of continuity in out-of-hours care and meant they had access to fewer training opportunities.
    Meanwhile, most felt unable to challenge bad rotas and working practices while many reported not being able to take rest breaks or eat or drink during long shifts.
    This small scale study builds on evidence that too many hospitals are relying on doctors in training to provide care and treatment without adequate supervision from senior colleagues.
    Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “It is clear the current system is not working as it should – in some cases doctors are still too tired and there are issues around continuity and training opportunities.
    “We must never go back to the ridiculous hours worked in the past when patients were routinely put at risk by exhausted young doctors, but the current system is too complex and the way it is implemented far from satisfactory.
    “Given our responsibility for medical education and training across the UK, we will continue to work with the NHS, medical royal colleges and postgraduate deaneries to help address these problems to maintain and enhance the quality of training.”
    The study comes as the NHS in Wales continues to grapple with the problem of recruiting and retaining enough junior doctors to fill necessary positions.
    Dr David Samuel, Chair of the British Medical Association's Welsh junior doctor committee, said: “The BMA has been raising concerns about the poor implementation of the working time directive for many years.
    “Badly designed, understaffed rotas can leave junior doctors doing long stretches of night shifts with fewer training opportunities. There is clear evidence that tired people are more likely to make mistakes and so it is essential that this problem is addressed.
    “The solution does not lie in increasing working hours. There is clear evidence that long working hours increase the potential for doctors to make mistakes.
    “Hospitals must not continue to rely on the outdated working practices of junior doctors. We need to move to a consultant based system of delivering healthcare service to patients and ensure that high quality patient care and high quality training go hand in hand.”
    Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “We welcome this research from the General Medical Council which is an important contribution to the debate around trainee doctors’ working hours.
    “While there are different views on the Working Time Regulations, there is general agreement that their relationship with the New Deal contract - which also limits the hours that trainee doctors work - makes it unnecessarily complex when designing rotas and this needs to be addressed.”

2/13/2013 – 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. Asteroid strike, furloughs - it's always something, by Mike Causey, FederalNewsRadio.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - As you probably know, an asteroid about the size of the average building in downtown Washington, D.C., (12 to 13 stories) is heading for Earth. That's the bad news.
    According to NASA, the 130- to 160-foot long space streaker will miss us by 17,000 miles. That's the good news.
    So, unless NASA is wrong and that 130-foot long rock actually hits Earth on Friday, the biggest problem facing federal workers, government contractors and the people who depend on them is the prospect of furloughs.
    If Congress and the White House fail to reach agreement on spending or tax cuts, Uncle Sam will send hundreds of thousands of workers home. Worse-case scenario, like the Defense Department, would be one-day-per-week furloughs between March and the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30. Other agencies (like Treasury's Bureau of the Public Debt and Financial Management Service) believe they can make the necessary savings without resorting to layoffs.
    (Think about it: This time last year if somebody said they were going to sequester your sister, you would have probably slugged them. Now that we know what it really means (sort of) we still don't like the idea. But it is no longer a dueling offense).
    Thanks to this game of legislative chicken, being played by the House, Senate and White House, productivity has probably slowed as agencies plan for and brace for a March 1 shutdown.
    Prepping for possible furloughs has been a full-time job for many workers in many agencies. They've had to dust off previous shutdown guidelines, parse words, talk with lawyers to determine how things will work when hardly anybody is working because they are not allowed to work. Forced furloughs raise lots of questions. For example:
    • Can furloughed feds take a day of vacation to preserve their full paycheck? Answer — no!
    • Can a furloughed fed take a day of sick leave instead? Answer — probably not. If you do it, the smartest move is to probably just die to tie up loose ends.
    • Will this sequestration, if it happens, be like previous shutdowns? What's the difference between the shutdown of 1995-96 and a smaller one in the FAA last year? Feds got retroactive pay from Congress after the 1990s shutdown. But Congress said 'no' to retroactive pay last year. The Transportation Department found the money to pay the furloughed workers. What happens this time if what we are afraid might happen happens?
    Today at 10 a.m., EST Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, will join our Your Turn radio show to talk about the lead up to sequestration, and what forced furloughs would mean to federal workers, contractors and the general public.
    Later in the show, Federal Times reporter Stephen Losey will give us the latest on the sequestration struggle, the possibility of a 1 percent pay raise, the OMB furlough instructions and the American Federation of Government Employees report on possible cuts in government contracts.
    Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080...

  2. South Koreans battle for civilised working hours, Agence France-Presse via NDTV.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - A growing number of South Korean corporations are turning their backs on a workaholic culture once seen as indispensable but increasingly viewed as unhealthy, unproductive and inefficient.
    Long working hours, often followed by intense late-night drinking sessions with the boss, have long been a feature of the Korea Inc. that transformed a war-ravaged nation into Asia's fourth-biggest economy in a matter of decades.
    Rapid development has brought new values and new priorities, with employees demanding a better work-life balance than the previous generations who were told their patriotic duty lay in pulling the country out of poverty.
    For more than two decades, Yie Jong-Man, a 53-year-old bank manager in Seoul, could only dream of sitting down at home to a family dinner after work.
    "I used to work until 10, 11 at night or even later because there was so much work to do, or simply because my boss wouldn't go home," said Yie, who has worked for the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) since 1986.
    "I couldn't spend enough time with the family when my two kids were growing up. They were nearly always asleep when I went home," he told AFP.
    But things started to change in 2009 when the IBK, the fourth largest bank by assets, adopted the unprecedented policy of shutting down all office computers at 7:00 pm to ensure people went home.
    The "PC off" rule was a success and many other banks are set to follow suit this year.
    In 2011, an average South Korean worker put in 44.6 hours a week, the second highest after Turkey among members of the 34-nation Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
    But the exhausted workers ranked only 28th in terms of productivity.
    And a report last year by consulting firm Towers Watson showed that only 17 percent of South Korean workers were "highly engaged" in their work, far lower than the average of 35 percent among the 28 advanced nations surveyed.
    --- Making the country 'more livable' --
    The impact of long-working hours on family life has been partly blamed for a sliding birthrate that has made South Korea one of the world's most rapidly aging societies -- a trend that is expected to take a heavy economic toll.
    A recent UN report showed those aged 60 or over will account for 39 percent of the South's population by 2050, up from 17 percent last year, while the size of its youth population will be halved by 2060.
    "Part of the reason for the falling birthrate is both men and women here absolutely lack the time for proper childcare," said Lee Sam-Sik, researcher at the The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.
    "There's an urgent need to change our culture of overwork in order to boost the birthrate, strengthen the long-term competitiveness of the country and, more than anything else, make this country more livable," Lee said.
    During last year's presidential election, all the main candidates vowed to cut overtime and improve people's quality of life.
    The winner, Park Geun-Hye, promised to bring working hours down to the OECD average by 2020.
    And even the giant family-run conglomerates, or "chaebols", that dominate the national economy have started to make concessions -- albeit slowly.
    The South's top automaker Hyundai Motor agreed to cut working hours for some 30,000 plant workers and to dump its decades-long graveyard shift, 10 years after negotiations started with the labor union.
    And 35 banks and other financial firms -- with a combined workforce of more than 100,000 -- recently agreed with the industry's umbrella union to embrace the "PC off" rule by the end of 2013.
    "Some say fewer work hours means less profits, but I don't believe that is the case anymore," Sung Nak-Jo, spokesman for the Korean Financial Industry Union.

    "We used to be working long hours in a constantly exhausted and unfocused state... Now is the time to do something to achieve more sustainable, effective and humane growth," he told AFP.
    As the clock passed 6:30 pm at the IBK branch in the busy shopping district of Dongdaemun, Yie Jong-Man and the other managers started calling out to their staff: "Everybody, please wrap things up! Let's go home!"
    Those wanting to work after 7:00 pm need special permission from their supervisors, whose performance is evaluated on not only how much revenue they earn but also how early their subordinates go home.
    "Now I can have dinner with my wife... but I wish I had done that when my kids were little. Now they are all grown up," Yie said.
    "Things will be better for younger fathers at our bank... I guess that's how we become a better nation not only in economic terms but in cultural and social terms."

2/12/2013 – 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. Part-time state workers see hours cut, by Joe St. George, WTVR.com
    RICHMOND, Va., USA — Thousands of part-time state workers in Virginia are seeing their hours reduced.
    This comes as the Commonwealth of Virginia begins to implement President Obama’s Healthcare law which mandates any employee working over 30 hours a week be eligible for health benefits.
    “Folks are upset — a lot of them don’t understand it,” Ron Jordan, Executive Director of the Virginia Government Employee Association, said.
    Under a directive by Gov. Bob McDonnell, which passed the General Assembly during the budget process, part-time workers are now required to work no more than 29 hour work weeks — even though some have worked over 40 hour weeks for years.
    “This will hurt my family,” one part-time state employee told CBS 6 by phone.
    “This blind-sided me,” said another who wishes to remain anonymous.
    “This is a very unfortunate consequence of a law that the governor did not support.,” Paul Logan, a spokesman for Governor McDonnell, said.
    “That law is now in effect and it requires actions such as this one. The Commonwealth of Virginia is grappling with the same issues that many businesses in the private sector are as they struggle to deal with the costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act,” Logan added.
    These cuts come in a time in which full-time state workers are expecting a three percent raise in August 2013.
    In total over 7,000 employees will be impacted across the state according to a survey released by McDonnell’s office linked below on page eight.
    DMV workers, ABC workers, and even University staff at VCU and Community Colleges are affected.
    “I don’t think that is fair but this is a bill that’s been thrust on the people,” Mike, a full-time state employee, said.
    ABC stores, which have over 600 workers that work over 30 hour work weeks, indicated they will add new part-time employees to make up for the hours of work they can no longer offer current employees.

  2. Germanna notified staff of hours cuts under governor's directive, Fredericksburg.com
    FREDERICKSBURG, Va., USA - Germanna Community College has notified part-time employees that their hours will be kept at an average of 29 hours per week or less to avoid the need for health-care coverage.
    The college’s Human Resources Department sent an email to all part-time employees on Friday to tell them of the change, which was directed by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s chief of staff, the college announced in a news release on Monday.
    Germanna has 263 part-time teaching faculty and 152 people classified as part-time staff. It employs more than 600 people overall.
    The email distributed Friday states that managers and supervisors must now keep all part-time employees to an average of 29 hours per week or less. That totals a maximum of 1,450 hours per week per year based on a 50-week work year, the email states.
    Previously, part-time employees were limited to 1,500 hours per year.
    The change goes into effect immediately, within the current pay period, the email states.
    College spokesman Mike Zitz said Monday that he did not know how many people would see a reduction in hours as a result of the directive. Not all part-time faculty are over the limit, he said.
    The change was ordered by McDonnell’s office in response to the federal health care reform that considers employees who average at least 30 hours per week as full-time and thus eligible for health insurance.
    The Germanna news comes on the heels of a similar announcement at the University of Mary Washington.
    [Good golly, Miss Molly! You mean there's an actual University of MARY Washington as well as George Washington University? And UMW is where? Also in Fredericksburg! And to think, they could have one-upped Williamsburg's WIlliam and Mary College if only they'd called it George and Mary College cuz they'd be honoring a president instead of a king. So here again, shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way, and it looks like Obamacare is going to be a lot more useful and more historic for its huge contribution to shortening working hours as CEOs push us deeper into the Age of Robotics. And to our knowledge, this is the first time a state governor (here, Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell) has been pushing hours cuts to duck Obamacare. But now, from Germanna to Germany -]

  3. Socialists back 30-hour workweek initiative, (2/11 late pickup) TheLocal.de
    BERLIN, Germany - Leading members of Germany's socialist Left party are backing an initiative to shorten the country's workweek to 30 hours without lowering wages in a bid to create more jobs.
    More than 100 prominent German politicians, trade unionists and economists are demanding the measure in an open letter published on Monday.
    “We need to make shortening working hours a project for society as a whole, it cant be a purely wage-related political task.” Hein-Josef Bontrup, professor for economic law in Gelsenkirchen and co-initiator of the letter, told daily newspaper the Tageszeitung.
    Signed by leading politicians from The Left party, Katja Kipping and Sarah Wagenknecht, the “Project Shorter Working Hours” argues that introducing a weekly 30-hour limit would help combat mass unemployment in Germany.
    “Along with the three million unemployed people in Germany there are over three million part time workers working on average 14.7 hours a week, which for them is insufficient,” the letter said, adding also that an oversupply in the work market was pushing down wages.
    [AND consumer spending per capita, AND all derivative markets = ALL markets. This modification is a system requirement instead of continuing system amputation with downsizing.]
    Change would need to be phased in over several years though and would only work if there was no drop in pay.
    [Or if any drop in pay was temporarily made up by Germany's famous Kurz-arbeit.]
    Bontrop told the Tageszeitung he was aware that union bosses would be sceptical of the move because they believed their employees would be too scared about a pay cut and having to do the same amount of work in less time.
    “My experience is that a fundamental knowledge and awareness is lacking,” he said, adding that many union leaders "don't get first-semester economics. You have to limit labour otherwise you can't raise wages."
    [If only English-language economists still taught that instead of their sneering Lump of Labor sophistry.]
    The Local/jcw
    [And another take, adding info about the current German unemployment rate and the makeup of the 100 signees -]
    A 30-Hour Working Week: Could It Happen in Germany? by Antonia van de Velde, (2/11 late pickup) CNBC.com
    BERLIN, Germany - A group of 100 German academics, trade unionists and politicians is calling for a 30-hour working week with full pay, German daily Tageszeitung reported on Monday, with the petitioners arguing that a shorter working week is the best way to address rising unemployment.
    Germany's unemployment rate, which increased to 7.4 percent in January, remains well below the 26 percent reached in Spain. But in an open letter published on Monday and cited by the newspaper, the group said a reduction in working hours could help German workers.
    Under the plan, devised by politicians from left wing parties, philosophers and academics, a 30-hour working week would be introduced gradually over the course of several years. It would markedly improve productivity, the group argued, which in turn would help employers pay out full wages.
    "We need a project by society as a whole to reduce working hours. This can no longer simply be a collective bargaining policy matter," the paper cited Hein-Josef Bontrup, professor of commercial law at the Westfalische Hochschule University and one of the driving forces behind the letter assaying.
    Bontrup said trade union leaders argued that workers did not want a shorter working week because they feared it would lead to lower wages and a higher workload. But he said that view was the result of a lack of fundamental understanding."Even some trade union leaders do not understand things taught in the first semester of an economics degree," the paper cited him as saying.

2/10-11/2013 – 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. Walnut Valley teachers approve contract with furlough days, by Steve Scauzillo, 2/10 (2/09 late pickup) San Gabriel Valley Tribune via sgvtribune.com
    WALNUT, Calif., USA - Teachers from Walnut and Diamond Bar overwhelmingly approved a contract Friday night that contains about a 2 percent pay cut over the next three years.
    Teachers of the Walnut Valley Unified School District voted by a margin of 444 to 19 to ratify a tentative contract agreement between the teachers and the district.
    The agreement will help WVUSD balance its budget for this year, as well as for the the following two school years.
    "We've done our part. Now it's their turn," said Larry Taylor, president of the Walnut Valley Educators Association on Friday evening, just after finishing the vote count.
    The agreement calls for about 650 teachers at Walnut High School, Diamond Bar High School and 12 elementary and middle schools to take two furlough days before the end of the current school year, plus four more furlough days in school years 2013-14 and 2014-15.
    [Workday cuts for all are much less traumatic than job cuts for a "few"... And the paycut should be less thanks to California's state worksharing program.]
    In dollars, the two furlough days equal about a 1.09 percent salary reduction by the end of May. The four days in 2013-14 and four days in 2014-15 each amount to 2.2 percent salary reductions, Taylor said. The deductions are not compounded, so the average cut in annual salary amounts to almost 1.9 percent through June 2015.
    Teachers on the lower end of the pay scale will be deducted $680 this year. Higher-paid teachers with more seniority will lose about $900 this year and about $1,800 each of the following two years if the furlough days are implemented, Taylor estimated.
    However, the furlough days for the two future years could be eliminated before they start if the district closes escrow on a property in Diamond Bar it sold to Lennar Homes for $40 million.
    The developer could close escrow in July, but has until 2014.
    Either way, the concessions will help the district close a $4.3 million deficit, Taylor said.
    More importantly, the concessions could begin to reverse a "negative declaration" the district filed with the Los Angeles County office of Education in December. It is one of three districts to file such a financial marker out of 80 school districts in Los Angeles County. The district has until March 15 to submit a revised spending blueprint that shows balanced budgets through the 2014-15 school year.
    "They've spent themselves into this vast deficit," Taylor said, referring to the school board. "Now, we'll have to get through this."
    In his message to union members, Taylor pointed to the district's hiring of a new assistant superintendent of business, who works as a consultant, plus a recent raise to Superintendent Dean Conklin of $25,000 for burying the district in debt.
    The district says the state has continued to cut school funding, forcing the district to spend reserves and file a negative declaration.

  2. Wacker Chemie stops short-time work at polysilicon plant, 2/11 Reuters via XE.com
    FRANKFURT, Germany - Wacker Chemie has stopped short-time work at its polysilicon plant in the German town of Burghausen amid growing demand from its solar-sector customers.
    [Current crisis over with minimal training costs for company and trauma for employees thanks to short-time work alias worksharing.]
    'The company is ramping up its current capacities, which are currently curbed to two-thirds of full utilization,'
    Wacker Chemie said in a statement on Monday.
    Wacker Chemie last week said that rising demand in China and the United States had halted a slide in the price of polysilicon, potentially bringing an end to years of margin declines for a key ingredient needed for making solar panels.
    (Reporting by Arno Schuetze) (arno.schuetze@thomsonreuters.com)(+49.69.7565.1197)
    [Another take -]
    Wacker ramping polysilicon production and ending short-time work due to demand, by Mark Osborne, 2/11 pv-tech.org
    Wacker noted that it has sold more polysilicon in January than previously expected and recent new order intake was in excess of either inventory or current utilization levels to meet demand. (photo caption)
    BURGHAUSEN, Germany - In a rapid turnaround from last year, Wacker Chemie has stopped short-time working schedules at its Burghausen polysilicon plants and will ramp capacity utilisation rates due to renewed demand.
    Wacker said it has sold more polysilicon in January than previously expected and recent new order intake was in excess of either inventory or current utilisation levels to meet demand.
    Ewald Schindlbeck, president of Wacker Polysilicon said: “We sold more polysilicon than expected in January. Our order intake has increased so much over the last few weeks that plant utilisation levels are currently insufficient to produce the quantities ordered.”
    The company had reduced production utilisation rates to 80% of nameplate capacity in the third quarter of 2012 due to weak demand. Wacker noted that utilisation rates in the fourth quarter were lowered further to “to two-thirds of full utilisation.”
    Wacker started to reduce production of polysilicon in early October 2012 and instigated short-time work for about 700 employees at its Burghausen site in Germany.
    Although the company said it would increase polysilicon production at the site it did not say at what utilisation rates it was planning reach or how long the surge in demand would last.
    There have been fears that a potential import tariff imposed on polysilicon into China, the largest market for high-purity polysilicon would spark a stockpiling rush by tier 1 module manufacturers, eager to avoid the risk of rising polysilicon prices.
    However, there could also be strong demand from Chinese tier 1 producers due to the expected strong growth in the domestic utility-scale market for PV modules as China is expected to become the largest market for modules in 2013.
    Tier 1 module manufacturers rely heavily on imported polysilicon from the US, Europe and Korea due to high purity levels and volumes.

2/09/2013 – 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. Job cuts, furloughs 'on everybody's mind' - Local defense contractors and base workers bracing for pay cuts or job losses, by Barrie Barber, DaytonDailyNews.com
    [Barber seems particularly obsessed with everybody's age, so we've..deleted it. A timesizing economy has no need of mandatory retirement to make room for young people, so our current age obsession vanishes.]
    DAYTON, Ohio, USA — The debate about sequestration and defense spending cuts is about more than numbers to Stephen Barno.
    The..Tipp City man, a proposal manager at a Beavercreek area defense contractor, has concerns major budget reductions set to kick off next month might mean he won’t have a job.
    “It’s always a situation where contracts aren’t available and having a job and being part of the workforce is a major concern,” he said. “The potential is always there for layoffs. I know other industry companies are being put into the situation of reducing manpower and trying to do more with less.”
    Barno did not want to mention the name of his company.
    As budgets decline and contracts dwindle, some area defense employees are facing lower paychecks, he said.
    “Many, many people are being asked to take pay cuts of 25 to 50 percent,” Barno said. “What that means is the government is not getting the people that they need.”
    David L. Hart..who is married and has three sons, has similar concerns about the future.
    “I am concerned for my employment depending on how deep the cuts are and how dramatically my employer is affected,” said Hart, director of sales and marketing at Segue Technologies Inc., a Beavercreek information technology support firm. “I think that’s on everybody’s mind.”
    The threat of sequestration, or automatic, across-the-board reductions could strike Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the rest of the military if Congress and President Barack Obama fail to reach a deal to avert the reductions by March 1. The Air Force faces cutting $12.4 billion from its budget from sequestration between March and September, part of about $500 billion in less spending the defense budget would face over a decade.
    “That’s a huge chunk of money to accomplish reductions in a relatively short amount of time,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel of the Arlington, Va.-based Professional Services Council, a trade group representing defense-related service companies.
    Preparing to cut back on spending
    Thousands of employees outside the fence at Wright-Patterson could also be impacted. The Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association, for example, represents about 250 companies with around 15,000 employees in the region. Nearly 35,800 jobs, from retail to restaurants, are indirectly tied to Wright-Patterson, a base 2011 economic analysis found.
    The fallout could hit defense contractor employees such as Barno and Hart and mean the furloughs of 13,000 civilian employees at Wright-Patterson like Thomas Robinson. Much of the base’s civilian workforce could face 22 unpaid furlough days, or a 20 percent pay cut through September.
    [This pay cut would be 10% or less if Ohio quit fussing around and enacted state worksharing legislation.]
    “That’s an income loss and along with it comes all kinds of other complications,” said Robinson, executive assistant for the American Federation of Government Employees Council 214 at Wright-Patterson.
    “Health insurance and all those other costs stay the same even though our pay drops,” said Robinson, who has refinanced the mortgage on his Dayton home to cut expenses. “It will mean no more going out to restaurants.”
    Robinson...who has worked at Wright-Patterson since 1976, said the last time a furlough happened was in the mid-1990s.
    “We ended up getting paid for those days, but that’s not what we’re seeing here,” he said. “The upcoming sequestration is going to cut payroll. There’s no way around it.”
    Barno has pared back spending in anticipation of potential hardship ahead.
    “It’s a trickle down issue. If I don’t make a salary, my money is not going to the community,” Barno said. “It impacts us as a family making financial decisions, planning for the future. At my age, it’s looking at retirement. When can I really retire?”
    He’s searching for jobs in both Dayton and the Washington, D.C., region.
    For now, he has cut back on travel, kept an old car running longer, shops at grocery warehouses to save on bulk purchases and stopped eating out at restaurants on a checklist of several items to save money.
    “Basically, instead of going to a movie, and out to eat, we make a pizza and watch a DVD,” he said.
    Barno said he’s experienced layoffs twice before, in 2010 and 2011, because of defense budget cuts.
    That brought other consequences. “The last time I was laid off, I could not get (health) insurance” because of a pre-existing condition, he said. “So you’re at risk that you don’t have a major catastrophe when you’re without that insurance.”
    Even before the latest budget crisis, he has faced bumps in the service contractor industry. In 2007, Barno watched his pay plummet by about $20,000 to an annual salary of $45,000 at a former employer.
    Already, defense contractors say they are grappling with Air Force requirements to offer the lowest cost, technically acceptable bid to win base service contracts.
    “The acquisition machine gears down to the lowest price which isn’t always necessarily the best solution,” Hart said. “You get your lowest price but it may not be the most cost efficient.”
    The process drives contractors to “undercut” each other, and some employees face the prospect of working in the same job for significantly less money, he said.
    Hart hasn’t lost hope about his future nor does he dwell on what might happen. He pointed to his firm being in a pool of businesses chosen to compete for orders from a $1 billion military services contract.
    “We’re bidding on work and we expect to grow significantly in the next five years,” he said.
    He’s also confident about the necessity of what his company does and the future of the base.
    “The Air Force is not just going to shut down and go out of business and they need their IT systems,” he said. “They’re not going to shut down Wright-Patt. It’s a mega-base for the Air Force with a lot of important missions.”
    Still, with furloughs on the horizon and less money in employees’ wallets, a leader of an area charity anticipated the phone ringing more often for help with utility bills, rent and food.
    “It’s making us pretty nervous because we have limited resources, also,” said John C. Peters, president of the Mary Help of Christians St. Vincent DePaul Conference in Fairborn. “So far we have never had to close our door to clients, but we’ve come awful close sometimes and it’s getting more and more difficult.”
    The charity has had a sharp increase of people asking for help, rising from 300 a decade ago to more than 1,400 more recently. “We’d have trouble with another significant increase,” he said.
    Staying on the story
    The potential defense cuts could have a major impact on the Dayton-region’s economy. Our reporter Barrie Barber and our Washington bureau is following this story every day.
    (This box can go anywhere in the package. Doesn't have to stay with this story.)
    Good pullquote
    “It’s a trickle down issue. If I don’t make a salary, my money is not going to the community,”
    Stephen Barno, a proposal manager at a Beavercreek area defense contractor

  2. Meat inspector furlough looms - Congressional action must be taken by March 1, or a policy requiring a furlough of up to two weeks takes effect, by Jerry Hagstrom, AGweek.com
    LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA — Sequestration could force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to furlough up to 6,000 meat inspectors for up to two weeks, plunging the meat industry into chaos and raising consumer prices, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Feb. 7 in wide-ranging comments on the sequestration and the prospects for a new farm bill.
    [Well here's a jolly new thought - now sequestration is going to poison America cuz 6000 meat inspectors are getting furloughed. But at least they're not getting canned.]
    In response to questions after a speech to the National Biodiesel Board, Vilsack said that the sequestration — an across-the-board cut in government spending set to go into effect on March 1 if Congress does not change it — would require that the USDA’s Food and Safety and Inspection Service “furlough over 6,000 food inspectors for two to three weeks.”
    “As soon as you take an inspector off the floor, that plant shuts down,” Vilsack added, noting that removing inspectors even for a short period would affect several hundred thousand workers and would affect the supply of meat and eventually consumer prices.
    A USDA spokeswoman said there are about 6,500 federal meat inspectors.
    The sequestration, Vilsack said, “is horrible policy,” adding that the potential problem at FSIS “is just a tiny piece of my life.”
    “It is really hard to manage the department,” Vilsack said, adding that sequestration will require that the cut be made in six months, which means it is essentially double the percentage required.
    Some Republicans have proposed that cuts to the Defense Department should be avoided and that the way to do it is to increase domestic cuts, which could make the problem at USDA worse. The Obama administration has proposed delaying the cuts and including a tax increase.
    Vilsack said he is worried that Congress might decide that the way to avoid deficit reduction is to “do away with the direct payments” that crop farmers get whether prices are high or low. The problem with that, he noted, is that Congress has been planning to use the $4.9 billion in annual budget authority for the payments to write a new farm bill.
    He praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for reintroducing the farm bill the Senate passed last year, but said he believes the Senate Agriculture Committee will have to adjust that bill because it will not satisfy Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the new ranking member.
    Vilsack also said he expects House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., “to work their magic,” but that the dairy issue is still unresolved in the House.
    He noted that dairy farmers want a program to support them when “milk and feed prices get to the point there is less than a $4 cushion between them,” but that there has to be a mechanism that does not reward overproduction.
    Vilsack noted that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the proposal last year “socialism” and said that “somewhere they have got to figure out how to remove the volatility, create greater stability and not break the bank.”
    Vilsack also told the biodiesel producers that the farm bill needs a strong energy title and that they should also form alliances to pass the “food, farm and jobs bill.”

2/08/2013 – 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. Working less would slow climate change, group argues, CBC News via cbx.ca/news ('nice catch credit' to Fernande Faulkner of Vancouver via Madeleine Aubrey of Ottawa!)
    [This expands on an article we caught several days ago - scan below to 2/03-04/2013 #1, "New Paper Projects Significant Carbon Emission Reductions by Reducing Work Hours."]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Want to save the planet? Stop going to work.
    [No need to get silly, but do start & support campaigns to chisel the workweek loose from the sacred 35-40 hour level as the point where benefits and overtime begin, and switch to a workweek that ADJUSTS every 3 or 6 months, or even just once a year, AGAINST "unemployment," preferably including underemployment (=forced, low-pay part time), welfare, disability, homelessness, and prison. As long as comprehensive unemployment is too high, the workweek is too high. Let's adjust it downward 1-2 hours a year and more smoothly convert chronic overtime into jobs, meaning into OT-targeted & funded training & hiring. Or ... the global standard workweek could adjust against global warming: too much warming? too high a workweek!]
    That's the conclusion of a report from Washington think-tank the Center for Economic and Policy Research this week. The report makes the claim that even a 0.5 per cent annual reduction in the length of the average workweek [= only 12 minutes of the standard 40-hour week] could be enough to cut between eight and 22 per cent of every degree of global warming that's expected between now and 2100.
    The CEPR is a left-leaning think-tank based in Washington, D.C. Although scientific opinion on the topic is divided, the CEPR makes a baseline assumption that the average temperature on earth is set to increase by somewhere between 0.75 and 2.34 degrees Celsius over the next century, a process that they attribute at least in part to human activity.
    The group says between 40 and 60 per cent of global warming's potential impact is effectively locked-in already, so put another way, the CEPR is saying as much as half the rest of the impact could be cut simply by reducing work hours.
    "By itself, a combination of shorter workweeks and additional vacation which reduces average annual hours by just 0.5 per cent per year would very likely mitigate one-quarter to one-half, if not more, of any warming which is not yet locked-in," economist David Rosnick says.
    The group advocates a global move toward a European model of shorter work weeks and more vacations. Europe had about the same hours worked per person as the U.S. in the early 1970s, but by 2005 they were about 50 per cent less, the CEPR notes.
    "The relationship between [work and climate change] is complex and not clearly understood, but it is understandable that lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the report reads.
    Between now and the year 2100, the CEPR estimates that the average worker's income is going to increase by 1.3 and 2.7 per cent, per year. A reduction in the number of hours need not eat into that growth, as the CEPR says productivity increases should be enough to keep incomes growing while reducing the world's carbon footprint.
    "For all practical purposes, some amount of climate change is inevitable. However, the amount of warming is very much under our control," Rosnick said.

  2. Budget problems cause Detroit furlough days to begin next week, WXYZ.com
    DETROIT, Mich., USA - More financial cuts are coming to Detroit.
    City leaders announced plans to begin furlough days for city workers. The council made the decision yesterday.
    Starting Monday, February 11, most workers get a day off without pay.
    A letter from the city's Labor Relations director says furloughs will happen every other Monday.

    Mayor Dave Bing and council member James Tate tell 7 Action News they will both take 10% pay cuts as well.

  3. Harrisburg Bar Owners Against Cutting Hours for Bad Behavior, by Hilary LeHew & Andy Shofstall, WSIL TV via wsiltv.com
    HARRISBURG, Illin., USA -- Harrisburg bar owners and their patrons are not happy as the city considers cutting hours for its liquor establishments.
    Last call could come a little sooner in Harrisburg. Thursday night the city council began discussing tougher rules on alcohol sales. The move to limit hours for taverns and liquor stores comes after a rash of late night violence outside bars.
    The city wants bars and liquor stores to open an hour later and close an hour earlier on most days. Meanwhile, bar owners say the new rules are unfair and they're all losing business because of one bad apple.

    Keith Walker is co-owner of E.L. Shagwells in Harrisburg. He admits every establishment has its share of problems from time to time when alcohol is involved, but says it's all about how it's handled.
    "We do call the police, we do have people arrested, we do have a barred list, and so forth. And we do have good security," he explained.
    Just down the street from Shagwells is Poor Boys, a bar with a history of problems, including a stabbing this New Year's Eve. It's a big reason Mayor Eric Gregg has pushed revisions to reduce hours for liquor license holders across the city.
    "We're doing our part and we're gonna continue to put more teeth into it and again, we're gonna do our best and not have any more bad situations where people are getting severely injured in this community," said Gregg.
    Cutting hours is a scary thought for Troy Sico. He owns Centerfield Bar and Grill and says business has been slow since last summer. "We need all we can get to pay our bills," he said.
    Meanwhile others like Walker are concerned for the safety of the public if hours are cut. "More people are gonna come out earlier and drink more, power-drink more, because the hours have been shortened, I think this in return will cause more DUIs," he said.
    Patron Michael Shaw attended Thursday's council meeting and pointed out a bigger problem. He says it's not the people, it's the enforcement.
    "You need to prosecute the people that are causing the problems, and therefore, they will understand that this shouldn't be going on inside of an establishment," Shaw explained.
    Mayor Gregg says the city will consider all of those concerns as it decides what's best for the entire community. The city council will vote on the measure at its next meeting and if approved, the new laws will take effect March first.

2/07/2013 – 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 U.S. Postal Service said it would end Sat. first-class mail delivery beginning Aug.5 in an effort to curb losses, WSJ, A1 pointer to A6.
    Postal Service Reports $1.3 Billion Loss, by Betsy Morris & Eric Morath eric.morath@dowjones.com, WSJ, A6 target article.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Postal Service said Friday its cash crunch is worsening and predicted it will have to default for a third time on a more than $5 billion annual payment required by Congress to prefund future retiree health care.
    The warning came two days after the agency announced it would end Saturday delivery of most mail except for packages in a move designed to save $2 billion annually, seizing an opportunity to circumvent a congressional mandate.
    [Cutting a workday, not the workforce - and consumer base.]
    The agency, which is required to operate like a business but also must follow congressional legislation, narrowed its net loss to $1.3 billion from $3.3 billion in its fiscal quarter. But it projected that cash on hand will drop to below $1.3 billion in August—enough to run the service only five days—unless it can convince Congress to lift a mandate to prefund retire health care and allow other cost-cutting measures.
    Even then, the Postal Service said, its cash position is likely to worsen significantly in October when it's required to make another payment to the Department of Labor for its worker's compensation plan. That payment is about $1.4 billion.
    "We ended the quarter at dangerously low levels of liquidity," said Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett. "We cannot continue to operate on the precipice."
    The fiscal first quarter, which ends Dec. 31 and includes holiday shipping, is normally the agency's strongest. This year the period also included a deluge of election-related mail. But its most profitable mail category—First-Class—continued to contract. If the Postal Service stays on plan, it will lose $7.5 billion this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, Mr. Corbett said.
    Postal Service Inspector General Dave Williams, whose office independently audits the Postal Service, confirmed that the agency has no margin for error. "A single serious event, such as Katrina, 9/11 or anthrax would more than devour the last little bit of cash—there are a lot of ways of going out of business."
    If that happens, it would require either a taxpayer-funded bailout or a combination of widespread layoffs and deferred payments to suppliers, Mr. Williams said. If the agency isn't able to pay its workers' comp bill, the federal government would have to decide whether to stop the payments or compensate injured workers out of other funds, he said.
    The Postal Service has maxed out its $15 billion borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury, which is its only line of credit, Mr. Williams confirmed. The agency would need congressional approval to raise that debt limit.
    "We need fundamental changes to stay liquid and find a point to return to profitability," said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.
    The biggest drag on the Postal Service is a congressional mandate that requires it to prefund health benefits for future retirees.
    [This is a cyanide pill that the radical 'Republicans' in Congress force no other agency to swallow.]
    The Postal Service employs 522,000 full-time employees covered by a government plan. Mr. Donahoe would like the Postal Service to be able to create its own plan, and says it could leverage its size to get the same benefits for less cost.
    The Postal Service has done a lot to cut costs already. It has reduced its work force by about 20% in the past five years. It is in the process of closing or consolidating more than 200 plants—about half of all such processing facilities.
    The agency doesn't receive an annual taxpayer subsidy toward its annual $73 billion operating budget. It is reimbursed by Congress between $80 million and $100 million a year for services like delivering mail to the blind and overseas voters. It raises the rest by selling stamps and postal-related products. "The post office is supposed to act like a business, but it's board of directors is Congress, who make decisions based on politics, not finance," said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
    Mr. Williams said the Postal Service suffers under several untenable mandates from Congress, including the requirement to prefund retiree expenses, the resistance to closing post offices and processing plants and the inability to raise prices more than inflation. "You can't survive with those mandates," he said.
    Delaying reforms will make more fixes difficult, Mr. Williams said.
    Some don't see the situation as quite so dire. Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers union, said if not for the health-care prefunding mandate from Congress, the Postal Service would be better than a break-even operation.
    "The USPS reported a $100 million operational profit delivering the mail, despite the continuing poor economy," he said. "The decline in first class mail was more than offset by gains in standard mail and in package deliveries–providing the operating profit."

  2. Swedes open to pay cuts to save jobs, The Local.se
    STOCKHOLM, Sweden - In a review ordered by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Ipsos pollsters found that 61 percent of those surveyed would agree to income reductions through collective wage negotiations if doing so meant avoiding making workers redundant.
    The model is tried and tested in Sweden, but not wholly uncontroversial.
    As the financial crisis hit in 2008, affecting the export-dependent Swedish economy, then manufacturing union boss Stefan Löfven set about negotiating an emergency deal between employers and employees who were members of the influential IF Metall union.
    The "crisis deal" saw shorter working hours and lower salaries but no one lost their job.

    Many of Löfven's counterparts at associated blue-collar unions were critical of the move at the time.
    The results of this week's opinion poll were welcomed by employers' organization Teknikföretagen.
    "It's good that there is an increased awareness of our need to be competitive in the global market," spokesman Åke Svensson told DN.
    The new head of IF Metall, Anders Forbe, said he was not surprised by the result.
    "With high unemployment and challenges in finding new jobs, I think this is a spontaneous reaction," he said.
    By the union's own calculations, a row of crisis deals has saved between 12,000 and 15,000 Swedish jobs in the past few years.

  3. Labor Ministry proposes flexible working hours, Warsaw Business Journal via wbj.pl
    WARSAW, Poland - Labor Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz has published a proposal to make working hours more flexible in Polish labor law.
    The idea is to allow employers to shorten working hours, for example to seven a day, and then make up for the difference at a later time within a 12-month period.
    The amended law would also allow employees to start at a different time on different days of the week.
    “Introducing the flexible working hours serves better work organization,” reads the Ministry of Labor statement.
    “It's a mechanism that will allow employers to to adapt to the rapidly changing economic situation. It will also help keep people's employment. Similar resolutions were implemented in 'anti-crisis bill' that was in force between August 2009 and December 2011.”
    [We're not sure if this is true worksharing - it may be just rearrangement like four 10-hour days, but at least it's directed toward helping "keep people's employment" like worksharing.]

2/06/2013 – 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. Workweek Creep Is Turning Leisure Into Weisure - Social media is just the latest technological assault on our free time, and on our language; by Paul McFedries, IEEE Spectrum inside technology via http://spectrum.ieee.org
    (There is a) systematic bias to see the digital and physical as separate; often as a zero-sum tradeoff where time and energy spent on one subtracts from the other. This is digital dualism par excellence. And it is a fallacy. —social media theorist Nathan Jurgenson
    TORONTO(?), Canada - In the mid-2000s, the phrase on the lips of every cultural maven, pundit, and lifestyle reporter was work-life balance, a near-mythical state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person’s job and personal life are equal. At the heart of this popular phrase was the idea that our society was becoming work-obsessed to the point of dysfunction, and only by dialing back the workweek creep—the gradual extension of the workweek marked by performing work-related activities during nonwork hours—could we regain equipoise.
    Well, that didn’t work.

    ["Weisure" doesn't work either, Paul, nor do some of your other alleged (or attempted?) assaults on our language, such as "disconnect porn" which you define with no reference to sex so you should try "disconnect spam" if your only problem is that it's irritatingly voluminous.]
    Those of us lucky enough to have jobs are working more than ever, and leisure is increasingly giving way to weisure—free time spent doing work or work-related tasks.
    [The subtitle to Ben Hunnicutt's wonderful 1988 time-based history of the Great Depression enshrined the Privilege of Actually Having a Job in return for a blank check on your life: Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work. Clearly by "right to work" he meant "privilege of working."]
    So our cultural Cassandras had to come up with something else to demonize, and they’ve settled upon technology itself. They say that our former work obsession has morphed into a technology obsession in which we prefer fiddling with shiny gadgets over relating to real people. The new cri de coeur is for tech-life balance. We must, the battle cry goes, learn to use technology in ways that don’t interfere with or reduce the quality of our personal lives or relationships.
    Hence the proliferation of disconnect porn—articles and features that tell us to turn off, tune out, and drop in on people in the real world. We hear about black-hole resorts, which block all incoming and outgoing Internet signals, part of a larger category of technology-free traveling called disappearance tourism. We’re told to increase our doses of NST (non–screen time) and to spend more time living IRL (in real life). This demonization of the online experience and insistence that the overconnected unplug and revel in the real has been dubbed the IRL fetish.
    But some people reject the very idea of tech-life balance because they believe we can no longer separate “tech” from “life.” The sociologist Nathan Jurgenson calls this belief digital dualism and describes it as viewing the physical as fully “real” and the online as merely “virtual” and compares these digital dualists to the Cartesian philosophers who believed that the mind was separate from the body.
    But according to Jurgenson and others, cyberspace (a term they reject because of its inherent dualism) is real not only because it is imbued with the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of a couple of billion people but also because it has off-line effects. Witness, for example, the often-horrific consequences of cyberbullying, such as the recent suicide of teen Amanda Todd. Moreover, the real world isn’t separate from what happens online because we now think about online processes even when we’re not connected. When a particularly tasty-looking meal arrives we think about posting a picture of it to Facebook; when we watch a presidential debate, we reach for the phone to tweet our reactions to it; when we’re on a trip, we are already deciding which images and thoughts we will post to our vacation Tumblr.
    But surely the fetishization of IRL experiences derives not from dualistic thinking but from a fundamental asymmetry in how the online and the off-line are enmeshed. That is, in the same way that the mind is fully created by and dependent upon physical structures such as neurons and synapses and is animated by the release of neurotransmitters and other physical processes, so too is cyberspace fully created by and dependent on fiber-optic lines and routers and is animated by social processes such as the posting of photos. On the other hand, the colonization of the physical by the virtual is only partial. Yes, we often think about Facebooking or tweeting or Tumblring a current experience, but often we’re just engaged in the business of life with no thought to the online realm. As long as that remains true, what need is there for tech-life balance? However, if your first thought with any new experience is deciding whether it’s tweetable or Facebookable, then we should probably talk.
    This article originally appeared in print as "Balancing Act."

  2. Short-time working due to structural economic problems - Entreprises, guichet.public.lu
    LUXEMBOURG, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, E.U. - In order to protect jobs and thus prevent redundancies, Luxembourg labour law allows businesses to make use of various short-time working (chômage partiel) schemes depending on the nature of the difficulties encountered and subject to certain conditions.
    The scheme for short-time working due to structural economic problems is intended to support business encountering structural difficulties.
    During the short-time working period, the State reimburses the business 80 % of the salaries normally received by the employees concerned for the inactive hours. Reimbursement is limited to 250 % of the social minimum wage. The business still has to pay social security costs and salaries in respect of hours worked. ...
    Who is concerned
    The scheme for short-time working due to structural economic problems is aimed at any business facing structural difficulties.
    It can be applied to all employees with their place of work in Luxembourg.
    Special case
    Short-time work cannot be applied to apprentices, nor to interim workers.
    If an employee entitled to re-employment support is placed on short-time working, the re-employment support is suspended until the end of the short-time working period.

    To apply for short-time working due to structural economic problems, the business must:
    • be established in Luxembourg;
    • hold, where applicable, a business permit granted by the competent authority.
    Short-time working due to structural economic problems generally comes under the scope of a job protection plan, alongside other measures which may, if the company's economic situation so requires, be used consecutively and/or applied simultaneously.
    Duration and deadlines
    Short-time working applications must be submitted by the 12th day of the month preceding the requested short-time working period (for example, before 12 September for a short-time working application relating to the month of October).
    Under no circumstances can short-time working benefits be backdated.
    How to proceed
    • Restructuring plan
      Before applying for short-time working due to structural economic problems, the business must:
      • contact the secretariat of the Economic Committee (Comité de conjoncture) to verify that the problems encountered are indeed structural problems;
      • draw up a restructuring plan at the request of the secretariat.
      This restructuring plan must include the precise commitments that the business intends to implement according to an agreed timetable.
    • Initial application
      The business must then submit its short-time working application to the secretariat of the Economic Committee of the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade.
      The form must be duly signed by the business manager and by the employee committee.
      If the company has less than 15 employees or does not have an employee committee, each employee concerned must sign the form individually.
      The application must be accompanied by the following documents:
      • the annual financial statements for the last 3 financial years;
      • proof of payment of social security contributions;
      • a restructuring plan.
      If the application is accepted, short-time working due to structural economic problems can be used to complement the measures defined in the restructuring plan throughout its duration.
      No eligibility period is stipulated for this type of short-time working because it is not possible to arbitrarily set the period required to deal with structural problems.
      The business must nevertheless submit a monthly renewal application.
      During periods of short-time working due to structural economic problems, companies may also lay off workers, where appropriate, provided that such redundancies form part of the restructuring plan.
    • Monthly renewal
      For applications following the initial application, the business must:
      • submit the duly-signed short-time working application only, within the stipulated deadlines;
      • indicate any changes compared with the previous months (e.g. number of employees affected).
    • Maximum period of short-time working per employee
      For each employee, the inactive hours resulting from short-time working due to structural economic problems cannot exceed 50 % of their normal monthly working hours.
      Temporary job protection measures
      Until 31 December 2013, inactive hours resulting from short-time working due to structural economic problems may exceed 50 % of the normal monthly working hours provided that:
      • at the end of the year, the total duration of inactive time does not exceed the total duration of the equivalent of 10 months legal or collectively agreed working time and;
      • the job protection plan covers the full period where compensation is paid.
    • Salaries and social security costs
      During the short-time working period, the employer pays the salaries in respect of the hours worked as normal and advances at least 80 % of the salaries in respect of the inactive hours.
      Within 2 months following the month of short-time working, the employer sends the employment administration (ADEM) the copies of the payslips of the employees concerned showing the inactive hours. These payslips serve as a claim declaration.
      The State then reimburses the employer 80 % of the salary normally received by each employee for the inactive hours:
      • as of the 17th inactive hour for full-time employees;
      • as of the 9th inactive hour for part-time employees;
      • up to a maximum of 250 % of the social minimum wage.
      If the employees take part in continuous vocational training during these hours, the State reimburses the business 90 % of the salaries normally paid, subject to an upper limit of 250 % of the social minimum wage.
      Temporary job protection measures
      Exceptionally, until 31 December 2013, the State will also cover the first 16 inactive hours within the scope of short-time working due to structural economic problems, provided that the business has concluded a job protection plan with the staff delegation and that this plan has been approved by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

      Social security costs and taxes relating to the salary actually received by the employee for inactive hours (i.e. 80 % of the normal salary) are still paid by the employer.
      Who to contact
      Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade Economic Committee
      19-21, boulevard Royal
      L-2914 - Luxembourg
      Phone: (+352) 2478-2478
      Fax: (+352) 460448
      Email: info@cdc.public.lu
      Website http://www.cdc.public.lu/
      For more information ...
      Additional information (may not be available in English)
      • Chômage partiel sur le site du Comité de conjoncture
      • Foire aux questions sur le site du Comité de conjoncture
      Legal references (French only)
      • Loi du 31 juillet 2012
        Mesures en faveur de l'emploi
      • Loi du 16 décembre 2011
        Lutte contre les effets de la crise - Code du travail
      • Règlement grand-ducal du 25 juin 2009
        Fixation du taux d'indemnisation des chômeurs partiels
      • Code du travail, Livre V, Titre Premier, Chapitre Premier
        Mesures destinées à prévenir les licenciements conjoncturels
        [Never thought of this before buuut - Luxembourg (Grand-Duché de Luxembourg) speaks French and the Principality of Liechtenstein (Fürstentum Liechtenstein) speaks German!]

2/05/2013 – 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. Senate bill report SB 5356, apps.leg.wa.gov/documents
    This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA - Title: An act relating to changing the unemployment insurance shared work program by adopting short-time compensation provisions in the federal middle class tax relief and job creation act of 2012.
    Brief Description: Changing the unemployment insurance shared work program by adopting short-time compensation provisions in the federal middle class tax relief and job creation act of 2012.
    Sponsors: Senators Holmquist Newbry, Conway, Kohl-Welles, Rolfes and Kline; by request of Employment Security Department.
    Brief History:
    Committee Activity: Commerce & Labor: 2/04/13.
    Staff: Mac Nicholson (786-7445)
    Background: The unemployment insurance (UI) shared work program allows employers to temporarily reduce employee hours rather than lay-off workers, and allows the workers to collect partial unemployment benefits. Eligibility is limited to full-time employees who are paid on an hourly basis, and there must be a 10 to 50 percent reduction in usual weekly work hours. Employers seeking to participate in a shared work plan must submit a plan to the Employment Security Department and must have been registered in Washington for at least six months prior to applying for the program. A shared work plan can last up to one year.
    Employees participating in a shared work plan must be eligible for regular unemployment benefits, and be able and available to work all hours offered by the employer. Fringe benefits must continue to be provided to participating employees on the same basis as before the reduction in work hours, and health benefits cannot be reduced due to a reduction in hours.
    UI benefits made to employees under a shared work plan are charged back to the employer.
    Recent federal legislation modified federal law concerning shared work programs, and provides temporary funding to reimburse states for certain shared work benefit and administrative costs. States seeking to operate a shared work program after August 2014 must conform state shared work law requirements to federal law.
    [So this bill aligns Washington State's shared-work program with the federal worksharing program embodied in the federal Jobs Act of last Feb.]
    Summary of Bill: Changes are made to the shared work program as follows:
    • participating employers must have at least two employees, one of which is covered by a shared work plan;
    • part-time employees may participate in a shared work plan; and
    • participating employees must have been hired on a permanent basis.
    Health care benefits, retirement benefits, and paid vacation, holiday, and sick leave benefits must continue to be provided to shared work employees under the same terms and conditions as when the employee worked usual weekly hours. A change in such benefits applicable to non-participating employees may also apply to participating employees.
    The shared work plan must include an estimate of the number of layoffs that would have occurred, and when feasible, must include a plan to give advance notice to employees who will see a reduction in usual weekly hours. Employers must also attest that participation in a shared work plan is consistent with employer obligations under federal and state law.
    Shared work benefits paid between July 1, 2012 and June 28, 2015 will not be charged to employers.
    Appropriation: None.
    Fiscal Note: Available.
    Committee/Commission/Task Force Created: No.
    Effective Date: The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately.

  2. The Case for a 25-Hour Work Week (This Is Not a Joke), Inc.com
    One researcher says people should work less per week, but work more weeks total. Crazy or brilliant?
    ODENSE, Denmark - The 40-hour work week is an outdated model, according to Science Nordic's James W Vaupel, head of the new Danish Max Planck research center. Instead, he argues, we should only work 25 hours a week--but keep working until we’re octogenarians.
    “We’re getting older and older here in Denmark. Kids who are ten years old today should be able to work until the age of 80. In return, they won’t need to work more than 25 hours per week when they become adults,” Vaupel told Science Nordic. “In the 20th century we had a redistribution of wealth. I believe that in this century, the great distribution will be in terms of working hours."
    Vaupel is adamant that, in socio-economic terms, the important standard is the aggregate amount of work people do in their lifetimes, not at what point in their lives they do it.
    Spreading out working hours over the full course of a person’s life, Vaupel argues, is both psychologically and physically beneficial at all stages of life.
    A 25-hour work week will allow younger people to spend more time with their children, take better care of their health (which will help raise average life expectancy), and improve their over-all quality of life, while for the older population -- many of whom have more time on their hands than they know what to do with -- work can serve as both a psychological and physical outlet.
    ”There is strong evidence that elderly people who work part-time are healthier than those who don’t work at all and just sit at home,” Vaupel told Science Nordic.
    Whatever you may think of this theory, there are certainly many who think (including Sheryl Sandberg) the status quo (the 40/50 hour work week) is not only detrimental to one's health, but actually not that productive.

2/03-04/2013 – 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. New Paper Projects Significant Carbon Emission Reductions by Reducing Work Hours, by Mel Fabrikant, 2/04 ParamusPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - A new paper finds that significant reductions in carbon emissions are possible through reducing work hours, and could help to reduce climate change. The paper, “Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change,” by David Rosnick of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), finds that 8 - 22 percent of every degree of warming through 2100 would be cut by an annual 0.5 percent reduction in work hours.
    Assuming 40-60 percent of potential global warming is effectively locked-in, about one-quarter to one-half of the warming that is not already locked in could be cut through this reduction of work hours.
    “As productivity increases, especially in high income countries, there is a social choice between taking some of these gains in the form of reduced hours, or entirely as increased production,” said economist David Rosnick, author of the paper. “For many years, European countries have been reducing work hours – including by taking more holidays, vacation, and leave – while the United States has gone the route of increased production.
    “The calculation is simple: fewer work hours means less carbon emissions, which means less global warming.”
    The paper estimates the baseline impact from emissions associated with four different climate change scenarios, using the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change produced by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
    The paper notes that the pursuit of reduced work hours as a policy alternative would be much more difficult in an economy where inequality is high and/or growing. In the United States, for example, just under two-thirds of all income gains from 1973–2007 went to the top 1 percent of households. In this type of economy, the majority of workers would have to take an absolute reduction in their living standards in order work less. The analysis of this paper assumes that the gains from productivity growth will be more broadly shared in the future, as they have been in the past.
    “Increased productivity need not fuel carbon emissions and climate change,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said. “Increased productivity should allow workers to have more time off to spend with their families, friends, and communities. This is positive for society, and is quantifiably better for the planet as well.”

  2. Rolling furloughs at Shenandoah's Pella plant, by Tess Nelson, 2/04 SW Iowa News
    SHENANDOAH, Iowa, USA - Pella Corporation is implementing rolling furloughs at the Shenandoah plant starting Feb. 11.
    Kathy Krafka-Harkema, corporate public relations manager for Pella Corporation, explained rolling furloughs are being implemented because winter is always a slower time of year for construction and the products that are manufactured in Shenandoah are custom products built to order.
    “As construction slows down in the winter, we implement what we call a rolling furlough to spread out our workload,” said Krafka-Harkema.
    A rolling furlough, Krafka-Harkema explained, is when an employee might be scheduled for a week off without pay, and then return to one or more weeks of work after that.
    “During the time they are on furlough and off of work, the important thing is that their benefits stay in place for them and their families,” said Krafka-Harkema.
    Rolling furloughs is a way Pella can manage through the slower times of year and keep as many people working as possible, as well as keep the benefits in place.
    ally, in that week the employee is on furlough, they do have the opportunity to apply for unemployment if they choose to.
    This is the first time a rolling furlough has been set in place at the Shenandoah plant, however, Krafta-Harkema said it has been used previously in other facilities.
    Prior to the announcement of furloughs, Shenandoah Pella employees were offered to take a voluntary leave of absence.
    “We first offer people the opportunity to take a voluntary leave of absence and then if we have additional needs to spread that workload out, then we go to furlough.”
    The Shenandoah Pella plant employs roughly 300 people, so Krafka-Harkema said during the rolling furlough, at any given time, about 10 percent of the workforce is out on furlough.

  3. Federal report - Furloughs, paychecks & pensions, by Mike Causey, 2/04 FederalNewsRadio.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In a perfect world, we would all have a minimum of six months of cash in the bank, credit union or in a water-tight jar in the back yard. It would be enough money to cover the rent/mortgage, food and bills because you lost your job or your income was reduced drastically.
    Unfortunately, most people don't live in a perfect world. Many people, for a variety of reasons, live paycheck to paycheck.
    For tens of thousands of federal workers and government contractors, the prospect of a 20 percent salary reduction — from April through September — gets closer every day Congress and the White House continue to fight over taxes and spending cuts. In 2011, the politicians set a deadline for "sequestration," a Dr. Strangelove sort of political-fiscal weapon so awful that nobody would dare set it off. Sequestration was supposed to begin last month but the politicians moved its start date a couple of months.
    When and if it happens — and a growing number of people believe it will — Defense and some other federal agencies plan to save money by furloughing workers one day a week for a total of 22 days. Some agencies believe they can get by without furloughs, or by only having a few furlough days, by freezing hiring, firing temps and reducing spending for travel and training.
    The last time there was a governmentwide shutdown (1995-96), Congress voted to pay employees for the time they had been furloughed. But, last year, after a small furlough at the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress said no-work-no-pay. Transportation Department officials found enough money to reimburse the furloughed feds.
    Pat Niehaus, president of the Federal Managers Association, says she lived through the last furlough/shutdown and this one will be different. "I don't believe Congress will reimburse furloughed employees for pay lost because of a furlough," she said. And many agree. Niehaus was a guest last week on our Your Turn radio program, along with Federal Times reporters Sean Reilly and Stephen Losey...
    Bad as the possibility of a furlough/pay cut is, many workers are concerned about what that lost pay would mean to their high-three salary computation for retirement purposes. Losing 20 percent of your pay for six months would be rough. Getting a smaller lifetime retirement benefit because of that would be even rougher.
    Annuities of most workers are based on their length of service and their highest three-year average salary. Because of the two-year pay freeze, there has been no change in the high-three for employees since 2011. So what impact would a prolonged pay cut have on their future benefits? Typical is this query from a reader/listener:
    "Hi Mike, I am a couple years from retirement. Reading about a possible furlough this year, I have not seen anything about a furlough of this magnitude's impact on high-three computation. Or hopefully non-impact.
    "Can you give us some guidance? If there is an impact, many of us would probably start reviewing our retirement plans." — Just Wondering. 
    OK, can you stand a little good news? If so:
    Short answer: No!
    Benefits strategist John Elliott says that unless someone is furloughed for six months or more in a calendar year, it would have no impact on the employees' high-three. He cites OPM on the subject.
    "An aggregate nonpay status of 6 months in any calendar year is creditable service. Coverage continues at no cost to the employee while in a nonpay status. When employees are in a nonpay status for only a portion of a pay period, their retirement deductions are adjusted in proportion to their basic pay (5 U.S.C. 8332 and 8411)."
    Sorry to shock you with work-related good news! Don't worry. It won't happen often.

  4. Lincoln University cuts hours, outsources jobs, by Chris Barber cbarber@journalregister.com, 2/04 Daily Local News via dailylocal.com
    LOWER OXFORD, Pa., USA -- Lincoln University President Robert Jennings announced Monday the school’s administration would cut hours and outsource jobs. In a written statement, Jennings said that the university has suffered the effects of a declining enrollment with decreased income.
    “Due to the economy, families are struggling and our enrollment has felt the effects, declining by about 75 to 100 students annually due to their inability to pay,” he said.
    He also said that in January 2012 the state rescinded $558,000 in funding due to a shortfall in revenues.
    Jennings said he has cut departmental budgets and reduced non-essential spending, but that more cuts were necessary to save jobs, maintain a balanced budget and continue to offer a high level of instruction.
    No professors are facing salary cuts, but all administrators are facing the salary reductions effective Feb. 1. Additionally, all non-grant-funded clerical personnel who are working 37.5 hours a week have been reduced to 30 hours a week effective Feb. 11. However, no employees will lose their benefits.
    The housekeeping, maintenance and grounds department currently employing about 70 workers will be outsourced. That will happen in April or early May. Jennings said preferential treatment will be given to the employees by the agency that wins the bid.
    Jennings concluded his announcement by saying that the union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, and state agencies have been notified of the cuts, which are projected to save about $2 million.

  5. Effects of short time work, by "rombos," 2/03 (2/02 late pickup) EssayForum.com
    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Some people work only for few months a year and take rest of the time off to do whatever they like. To what extent do the advantages of this arrangements outweigh the disadvantages?
    In this busy world, many people prefer to labor only for a limited time in a year. This type of working style is welcomed by myriad people, as it has many advantages.
    To begin with the advantages, when people work for a short duration and engage in their interested activities for the rest of the time, it helps them to alleviate their stress level. For instance, those who work in coal mine or ship usually takes long break from their job. It actually rejuvenate their mind and make them fit for the next session of their duty.
    In addition, this trend helps the employees to spend more time with the family. It improves the family bonding and thereby contributes to the wellbeing of the whole family. For example, working parents can spend much time on looking after their children, which in-turn helps them to mould their children in a socially acceptable manner.
    On the other hand, this can affect the economical stability of the family. In other words, the money earned by working for a short period of time, people are unable to meet the needs for the entire year. Moreover, this working style can also affect the economy of the country due to the reduction in the per capita income of its citizen.
    From the above discussions, it is clear that working for a short time in a year has more merits than demerits. I hope that in future this type of working schedule may gain much popularity.

2/02/2013 – 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. Will Wisconsin Accept Federal Funding for Work Sharing? Work Sharing Bill Could Be the One Easy Issue in a Very Contentious Session on Unemployment, by Jon Peacock, WisconsinBudgetProject.org
    MADISON, Wisc., USA - In the last couple of years, Wisconsin hasn’t exactly been aggressive in pursuing opportunities for federal funding. However, I’m guardedly optimistic that state policymakers will decide to take advantage of federal start-up funds to help initiate a work sharing program that allows employees whose hours have been reduced to collect partial unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
    As I explained in a WCCF blog post yesterday, State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) presented a draft of work-sharing legislation at a recent meeting of the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, which advises the Legislature and Governor on UI issues. The council agreed to forward the proposal to the U.S. Department of Labor for review – to ensure that Wisconsin would qualify for federal start-up funding under a law passed by Congress about a year ago that encourages states to adopt this type of work-sharing legislation.
    The UI Advisory Council consists of an equal number of labor and business representatives, and for many decades the unwritten practice has been that the Legislature doesn’t make any changes in the UI statutes that haven’t been endorsed by the Council. That process avoids substantial policy swings that could cause erratic change in the UI program and in the employer taxes that fund it. There was a significant exception to that unwritten rule last session, and the usual consensus procedure may be in grave danger this year and in the future if the majority party decides to end run the Council.
    Thus far, the work sharing bill seems to be getting a positive reception from both the business and labor members of the Council. It could represent the calm before a very stormy session on UI issues because some GOP lawmakers have said that they want to pass a sweeping set of changes sought by the business community, regardless of whether those measures are approved by the UI Council. As Shawn Johnson reported in a recent Wisconsin Public Radio story:
    “Some in labor worry the move would do to unemployment law what the governor did to public sector collective bargaining.”
    One of the most controversial measures would make it easier for employers to deny unemployment benefits to people they fire. It would substantially change the standard established in a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision 72 years ago, which gradually became the practice in many states. Another part of the sweeping changes would repeal 11 longstanding exceptions to the rule that prohibits employees from receiving UI benefits if they quit their job. For example, an employee would no longer be able to get benefits if they quit a job after being required to work a new shift for which they cannot get child care.
    We’ll follow up on the work sharing bill and the much more controversial UI measures as the session proceeds. For more information about work sharing and the federal law that encourages states to allow it, see this recent report by the National Employment Law Project.

  2. Let's help WV businesses avoid costly layoffs, by Sean O'Leary, WTRF.com
    CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - Every business faces ups and downs, and how a business reacts and adapts to a downturn plays a large part in its success.
    During tough economic times, businesses often face difficult decisions and can be forced to lay off valuable, trained employees in order to survive. Not only do businesses lose their skilled employees and the time and resources spent training them, but workers lose their jobs, families lose their incomes and communities lose tax revenue.
    Under West Virginia's current unemployment system, businesses do not have the flexibility to arrange alternatives to layoffs. Instead, the state's unemployment system incentivizes layoffs, because layoffs are the only cost-saving option our unemployment system supports.
    But across the country, more and more states are modifying their unemployment systems to provide employers greater flexibility when facing possible layoffs, through a program called work sharing. The way work sharing works is simple: When facing a temporary downturn, a business can reduce its workers' hours, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits based on the reduced hours. This allows the business to temporarily cut costs without resorting to layoffs.
    The benefits of work sharing are easy to see. Employees get to keep their jobs and benefits, and avoid any risk of long-term unemployment. Businesses get to save money while keeping their work force intact. And when economic times are better, the business is fully staffed and ready to go, with no need for rehires and retraining.
    As for costs, work sharing is cost-neutral for both the state and for businesses.
    It's true that work sharing benefits are paid out of state unemployment trust funds, and are charged back to the business when calculating their experience rating. But absent work sharing, those same benefits would be paid out and charged back due to layoffs. The only difference is, under work sharing, nobody loses his or her job.
    West Virginia's current system allows for partial unemployment benefits following a reduction in hours under limited circumstances. But the requirements for partial unemployment are rigid, usually requiring a reduction in hours of more than 50 percent. Work sharing not only allows for more employees to qualify, it puts the decision about how to reduce hours in the hands of the employer.
    The best part about work sharing is that it is completely voluntary. Work sharing is only used by businesses that apply for it. Businesses still have the right to enact layoffs, but with work sharing they have an alternative that will preserve their trained and knowledgeable workforce, while at the same time saving jobs, at a cost no greater than conventional layoffs.
    Work sharing is a great example of businesses and their employees working together for their mutual benefit.
    The policy has enjoyed broad bipartisan support for more than 30 years, and now 24 states give their businesses the option to use work sharing. Most recently, Republicans and Democrats, and labor and business groups have worked together to support work sharing in neighboring Ohio.
    Tony Seegers, director of labor and human resources policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, called work sharing, "a useful tool for employers and employees to weather difficult economic situations," while the Ohio Manufacturer's Association said work sharing is, "a win/win/win for employers, employees and communities." And after work sharing legislation passed with strong bipartisan support in the Ohio House of Representatives, Speaker of the House Representative William Batchelder said work sharing is, "something that should be celebrated at a time when differing viewpoints and inability to compromise seem to be at their highest levels."
    Right now, federal incentives have made it the ideal time to adopt work sharing. These incentives include grants for startup, implementation and outreach, as well as the temporary financing of benefits.
    Leaders in West Virginia, both in the Legislature and in the business community, should follow suit with their colleagues in other states and come together to support a policy that is "based in the spirit of cooperation" and grant West Virginia businesses the opportunity to use work sharing to keep their workers on the job.
    Sean O'Leary is a policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

2/01/2013 – 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. Retail Workweek Hits 3-Year Low In ObamaCare Shift, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily via investors.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The fly in the ointment of January's jobs report was the apparent shift to part-time work ahead of a key ObamaCare deadline.
    Although retail payrolls grew by 32,600, total hours worked in the industry dipped, Labor Department data out Friday showed.

    [Notice that in spite of all the denials that workspreading works, it even works when it isn't done intentionally, as here - employers are cutting hours and employment (dba payrolls) is growing.]
    The explanation? Rank-and-file retail workers logged the shortest workweek since early 2010: just 30.1 hours, on average, vs. 30.4 in December.
    Remarkably, aggregate hours worked in the retail sector fell below their January 2012 level, even though industry payrolls are up 200,000 over that period.
    A similar trend showed up in leisure and hospitality: January payrolls rose by 23,000 even as aggregate hours dipped 0.3%.
    Meanwhile, the ranks of part-time workers due to business conditions or because they can't find full-time work, trending lower in the past few years, rose by 212,000 to 7.8 million.
    While the data are volatile and the shift to shorter workweeks in January was less than dramatic, this may be the start of something big. All signs suggest that businesses are starting to adjust their employment policies in response to ObamaCare. It's possible that much of this shift may occur in the next few months.
    The 30 Or 50 Rule
    New Treasury Department guidelines released early last month give businesses until June 30 before their staffing levels begin to influence fines that may apply in 2014 when the ObamaCare exchanges launch.
    The law exempts companies with fewer than 50 employees from providing health care coverage. Firms with at least 50 workers face fines based on the number of employees who receive ObamaCare subsidies, which are only available to people who lack affordable coverage from an employer.
    But those fines — up to $3,000 per ObamaCare subsidized worker — won't apply for part-time workers, which the law defines as 30 hours per week.
    An obvious strategy to minimize fines is to cut some workers to just below the 30-hour threshold. Staying below the 50-worker threshold — based on total hours rather than a simple head count — also may be an option.
    TrimTabs Investment Research CEO David Santschi said last week he expects sluggish growth as "businesses prepare for the full implementation of ObamaCare," adding to the impact of fiscal-cliff tax hikes.
    The National Retail Federation on Friday urged President Obama to "delay health care reform mandates that will force employers to cut their payrolls or reduce hours for workers."
    A number of larger retail and restaurant employers have signaled that they may keep a lid on worker hours to avoid the responsibility of providing coverage that meets ObamaCare guidelines.

  2. Leisure centre in plans to cut hours, Lancashire Evening Post via lep.co.uk
    PRESTON, Lancs., UK - Opening hours at a Preston leisure centre could be slashed in a bid to save cash.
    City council chiefs have revealed that they are looking at shutting Fulwood Leisure Centre earlier at weekends in an attempt to shave £29,000 off the running costs.
    [And what more fitting workplace to cut working hours than a leisure center?!]
    Prices for leisure services at its two leisure centres are also set to rise, by an average of around four per cent, but councillors say they will still be comparable other local authorities’ current rates. In response to a question at a full council meeting, Coun Tom Burns, cabinet member for culture and leisure, revealed Fulwood may close earlier on Saturday and Sunday evenings, after research showed fewer than 120 people were using it at it at these times.
    [Funny how the old racist pejorative 'coon for raccoon has become homophoned in England into honorific Coun for Councillor.]
    He said: “We have been reviewing leisure centres for the last 18 months. We are looking at it in a very positive way to keep all the facilities going - our leisure centres are excellent. We are looking at reducing hours on Saturdays and Sundays when we have got fewer users.”
    Coun Burns said leisure centre visitors would be consulted on the planned changes to opening hours.
    He added West View Leisure Centre in Ribbleton was not affected by the plans, as it is well-used by groups with disabilities at these times.
    The news came shortly after an announcement in the chamber that Preston Council’s sports and health development team had achieved a 99 per cent score in an assessment by Quest, an organisation which assesses leisure management for Sport England.
    Councillors also discussed another move to close down back offices in the Town Hall today and for the next eight weeks, to help cut carbon emissions and avoid a ‘carbon tax’ of £90,000 a year.
    The plan is for staff affected to work from home, take annual leave or ‘hot desk’ in other offices on Fridays.
    Lea Coun Christine Abram asked for reassurance workers would not be forced to take holidays if they could not make childcare arrangements.
    Chief executive Lorraine Norris said desks would be available to those in need of them. She added: “The town hall will be open to the public, with the ground floor opening as normal. This is something I am proud to say staff have embraced.”

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