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Timesizing News, April 2-30/2013
[Commentary] ©2013 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


4/30/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Minnesota House panel OKs minimum wage hike, 40-hour workweek for all - House proposal would lift minimum wage, make overtime and family leave easier to get, by Rachel Stassen-berger, Minneapolis Star Tribune via startribune.com
    Barbara Johnson, owner of Lyle's Cafe in Winthrop, Minn., speaks in support of a bill to raise Minnesota's minimum wage during a news conference Monday at the State Capitol. (photo caption)
    ST. PAUL, Minn., USA - Lawmakers are looking to make it easier to get overtime [bad], double the amount of family leave that workers can take [good] and boost the minimum wage [good short-term, bad long-term] for up to 400,000 Minnesotans.
    [Making it easier to get overtime? Guess Minnesota isn't worried about its unemployment rate (dba concentration of market-demanded work on a declining percentage of its population, which of course necessitates its taxes for unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prisons... and facilitates concentration of state income and wealth within a smaller and smaller population of Minnesota citizens with the power and inclination to withdraw from the whole bother of paying taxes - which is just for "the little people."
    [Doubling the amount of family leave? Not as effective as doubling the weekend at spreading the vanishing work, but in the right direction.
    [Boosting the minimum wage? Possible immediate boost for consumer spending but longer term: arbitary, inflexible, gap-creating at the bottom of the wage ladder against new entrants, and unnecessary with enough timesizing to create that magic employer-perceived labor shortage (everyone else sees it as a labor-employment balance). State-level timesizing is definitely feasible and desirable, and Minnesota is already halfway there with its *state worksharing program.]
    On Monday, a House panel approved the sweeping changes, which backers say would make work pay off for Minnesotans struggling with poverty.
    [Uh, only the family leave part.]
    The bill could be headed for a vote by the full House as early as this week.
    But even among the Democrats who control the Legislature, there is some turmoil on how far to take the [1/3] worker-friendly changes. DFLers in the House and Senate have yet to agree on how much to raise the minimum wage and whether to require overtime pay after 40 hours.
    [Isn't this required by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, or are we still welcoming Minnesota to the 20th century?]
    At $6.15 an hour, Minnesota’s minimum wage is one of the nation’s lowest. Since it lags below the federal standard, most — but not all — workers in the state receive the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, although some small businesses in the state can pay as little as $5.25 per hour.
    Gov. Mark Dayton, as well as most Democrats in the Legislature and some Republicans, believe it is time for the state to raise the wage standard.
    “We want people who are working full-time to make enough money that they can support their families ... and achieve the American dream,” the governor said in a Star Tribune interview. “We’re below the nation. That, to me, is just indefensible.”
    ["The American dream" - wow, we haven't heard that anachronism mentioned for a few years. Minnesota's gov is definitely Last-Century. The only American dream left is suing the deep pocket or hitting the lottery.]
    Amount in doubt
    The measure approved in the House committee Monday would slowly raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2015. Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, originally proposed $10.55. A Senate measure would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 by 2015.
    “Something is going to happen on the minimum wage, I just don’t know what the number is,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said last week. He said that he, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Dayton will meet to arrive at a single figure.
    About 93,000 Minnesotans now earn wages at or below the federal minimum. If the wage floor rose to $9.50 an hour, between 350,000 and 400,000 Minnesotans could see a pay increase, Winkler said.
    “A raise in the minimum wage would be a substantial and significant increase in the purchasing power and ability of people who work to support themselves and their families,” Winkler said.
    But the nursing home industry has joined a number of other business groups in protesting the proposed increases.
    “An increase in the minimum wage will amount to an unfunded mandate for long-term-care providers,” Kari Thurlow, vice president of advocacy at Aging Services of Minnesota and Toby Pearson, vice president of advocacy at Care Providers of Minnesota, wrote to lawmakers.
    Changing family leave
    Legislators and the governor’s administration say they also want to bring the state law up to federal standards on family leave and the length of the workweek for nearly all employers.
    [Hey, is this Minnesota or West Virginia we're talkin'bout here? We thought Minnesotans had more gray cells twixt their ears if for no other reason than they're closer to Canada. With this much surviving cave culture, visitors better heed that famous Icelandic exhortation, "Minne sota (=less soda), more whisky!"]
    Because of exemptions for small businesses, about 8,500 businesses in Minnesota are allowed to grant only six weeks of family leave rather than the 12 weeks allowed by federal law, affecting between 178,000 and 425,000 workers.
    Overtime also varies. Between 80,000 and 115,000 Minnesota employees get overtime only after working 48 hours, because their employers are exempted from the federal law that mandates overtime after 40 hours.
    The move to require overtime after 40 hours instead of 48 was particularly controversial on Monday, since it would take in home health care workers and agricultural workers whose employers are now exempted.
    “The ag workers are not like factory workers, where they can go in and they can clock in and they can clock out,” said Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin.
    She, along with several Republicans, said agricultural work is so dependent on the weather that workers must sometimes work long hours to get the job done.
    After many Republicans joined Poppe in speaking out against the changes, an impassioned Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, lashed out at fellow committee members.
    “Where the hell are the workers in this particular argument?” Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, asked before the measure passed. “There used to be a compact: eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of family. … It is time America, and Minnesota, and this world, get back to that particular attitude.”

  2. Short-time working depresses turnover at Ponsse, EUWID Wood Products and Panels via EUWID-wood-products.com
    [Is this bad staff turnover - in which case, why the negatively charged verb "depresses" instead of positive "controls" or neutral "cuts"? Or is this good "turnover" referring to product flowthrough constrained by mysteriously motivated short-time working (=worksharing)?]
    VIEREMÄ, Finland - At €61.6m, turnover at the Finnish forestry-machinery manufacturer Ponsse showed a sharp year-on-year fall in turnover in the first quarter of 2013.
    This decline is mainly due to short-time working and related production cutbacks, which Ponsse had agreed with the work force in December 2012, on account of significantly declining order receipts in the second half of 2012.
    [Hmm, looks like this article is trying to blame after-the-fact short-time working for a market-caused decline in orders. So "turnover" in the headline refers to product flowthrough and the negative verb "depresses" is a dumbfounding attempt to whack their own employees. Didn't think any Finns were this stupidly self-destructive = another tiny elite trying to curry favor with "international" (ie: US) investors no matter what the cost to their country?]
    Only in mid-February 2013 did Ponsse resume production of harvesters and forwarders in two-shift operations.
    The year-on-year comparison for the first quarter must also be considered in the light of the relatively high turnover generated in the first quarter of 2012, which at that time had resulted from the catch-up effects deriving from the high order-book situation prevailing at the end of 2011.


4/28-29/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. FAA suspends furloughs, typo or not, by Kevin Bohn & Deirdre Walsh, 4/28 CNN.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- A typo kept President Barack Obama from signing legislation designed to end budget-related FAA air traffic controller furloughs blamed for widespread flight delays, a congressional source told CNN.
    But the fix is going into effect anyway, and the system will be back to normal by Sunday, the FAA said.
    The holdup was caused by an "s" missing from uses of the word "accounts." The bill gives the FAA permission to move money from other accounts to prevent having to furlough controllers. But the way the Senate version of the bill read would have limited the source of funds to an "account."
    The House fixed the typo in the version it passed Friday, and the Senate plans to fix it Tuesday, a senior House GOP aide told CNN. The FAA "is not impacted," the source said. The impact of forced budget cuts
    The FAA issued a statement Saturday, saying that it had suspended all employee furloughs and that "the system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening."
    The story was first reported by ABC News.
    In rare bipartisan accord, normally quarrelsome U.S. lawmakers passed the measure Friday, capping a major congressional initiative as delays snarled traffic at airports.
    The measure gives the Transportation Department budget planners new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.
    It also allows authorities to protect 149 control towers at small- and medium-sized airports that are slated for closure for budgetary reasons.
    Five things to know about FAA furloughs
    1. Since Sunday, more than 3,000 flights had been delayed because of the furloughs, the FAA said.
    2. The furloughs were unavoidable, the agency said, because it lacked the flexibility to avert them without action by Congress.
    3. The furloughs affected some 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers.
    4. Cost-cutting measures such as the furloughs and the planned closures of towers that are privately run or overseen by federal aviation regulators have become part of the debate on government spending.
    5. They have been highlighted by many to illustrate a clear nationwide consequence of the $85 billion in government-wide cuts that took effect in March and may otherwise not be apparent to the public.

  2. Wonkbook: With sequestration, everyone loses - even Republicans, by Ezra Klein & Evan Soltas, 4/29 WonkBlog via WashingtonPost.com/blogs
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - On Friday, I [Ezra or Evan?] wrote that Democrats have lost the fight to replace sequestration. In agreeing to the FAA fix, they showed that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. That means their leverage is effectively nil. Game over.
    Washington being what it is, Democrats losing on sequestration is taken to mean that Republicans have won on sequestration. But that’s a conceptual error wrapped in a sad commentary about modern-day politics. The sequester isn’t a zero-sum policy, where one side wins and the other side loses. It’s a negative-sum policy. Its persistence means both political parties lose. As does the rest of the country.
    That, of course, was the whole point of the sequester. It was meant to be such terrible policy that neither side would permit it to go into effect.
    Back then, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called the cuts “devastating,” and promised they’d never go into effect. “Devastating” was also the word chosen by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
    But after losing the 2012 election, Republicans executed an impressive tactical reversal on sequestration. Aware that the fiscal cliff was a loser and the debt ceiling would be a disaster, Boehner began working to persuade his members that the sequester represented their real opportunity.
    “The Republicans’ stronger card, Mr. Boehner believes, will be the automatic spending sequester trigger that trims all discretionary programs— defense and domestic,” reported the Wall Street Journal after an interview with the speaker. “It now appears that the president made a severe political miscalculation when he came up with the sequester idea in 2011.”
    This was a backflip on the high beam. And Boehner pulled it off. House Republicans went from running against the sequester to defending it as preferable to any possible compromise. Any remaining dissension dissipated under the sheer partisan glee Republicans felt watching Democrats rage impotently against the policy. Washington is a town where one party believes it’s winning only if the other party believes it’s losing. And so, as Democrats began acting like they were losing, Republicans became all the more convinced they were winning — and they dug in deeper.
    But from a policy perspective, Republicans are losing right alongside Democrats.
    Republicans wanted entitlement cuts. They’re not getting them. They wanted to protect defense spending. Instead, the Pentagon is getting gutted while Medicare and Social Security are left mostly untouched. They had an eye toward tax reform. Nuh-uh.
    Sequestration also includes one huge, but little-noticed, downside for the deficit-conscious Republicans. As any good budget wonk knows, our debt problems are much worse in the coming decades than in this decade. But most deficit-reduction policies save much more money in the second decade than in the first. Chained-CPI, for instance, cuts Social Security benefits by a bit more than $100 billion in this decade, but by hundreds of billions in the next decade. The White House’s proposals to further means-test Medicare save tens of billions in the first decade, but around $200 billion in the second decade.
    As Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget points out, sequestration ends after 10 years. It just shuts off. So rather than putting deficit-reduction policies in place now that will grow later, sequestration puts policies in place now that will vanish later. So where a bigger budget deal would start slowly to protect the economy and then ramp up as our debt problems worsen, sequestration will start fast, hurting the economy, and then disappear as our debt problems are entering a more critical phase.
    This is, for Republicans, a win only insofar as Democrats feel it is a loss. But that’s a very narrow and depressing definition of what it means to “win.” Sequestration was built to punish both parties, as well as the voters who support them. If left in place, it will do its job. Republicans may feel like they’re winning. But really, we’re all losing.

  3. Russians to enjoy shortest work week of the year, 4/29 Pravda via english.pravda.ru
    MOSCOW, Russia - Russians will enjoy a week of church and state holidays. On Monday, the Orthodox Holy Week begins - the last week before Easter. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill will perform liturgy and prayer at the Donskoy Monastery of Moscow, which will host the chrism ceremony.
    The Patriarch will sprinkle holy water on the heater, boiler, vessels with spices, wine and oil that are used for the making incense.
    During the Holy Week, Orthodox believers observed the most severe week of fasting. During these days, believers honor the last days of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion, which is remembered on Good Friday. The Holy Week ends at midnight on Saturday, when Easter begins and believers greet each other saying "Christ has resurrected."
    In addition, the current workweek will be the shortest of the year in Russia. Most Russians will have to go to work only on April 29 and 30. In honor of Labor Day, celebrations will last for five days - from Wednesday to Sunday, May 1-5, and Victory Day will last for four days, from Thursday to Sunday, May 9-12 inclusive.


4/27/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. White House: Furlough solution a “Band-Aid” on economy's wounds, NBCnews.com
    [or less punchy but text as well as video -]
    FAA furlough fix "good news" but "a band aid," WH says, by Stephanie Condon, CBS Interactive Inc. via CBSnews.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Facing the prospect of at least another week of widespread flight delays, the House on Friday passed legislation to ease up the sequester's impact on the Federal Aviation Administration.
    The measure passed, and now goes to President Obama for his signature, in spite of grumblings from Democrats that Congress is alleviating the impact of sequestration on America's powerful air travelers while failing to address the strain it has had on programs like Meals on Wheels, Head Start and federal unemployment insurance.
    "We ought not to be mitigating the sequester's effect on just one segment when children, the sick, the military and many other groups" are ignored, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor. "Let's deal with all the adverse consequences of sequester."
    The House passed the bill by a vote of 361 to 41, granting the FAA authority to use up to $253 million from various accounts to avoid reduced staffing and operations through Sept. 30. Because of the sequester -- the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in March -- the FAA on Sunday began furloughs of 47,000 employees, leading to flight significant delays. The bill passed Friday should avert those furloughs, as well as the closures of small airport towers.
    Congress faced pressure to act on the matter this week, before it leaves for a week-long recess. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent late Thursday night after after hours of intense, closed-door negotiations. Obama administration officials participated in the talks, even though Mr. Obama has said he wants to replace the sequester with a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction that includes both new tax revenues and spending cuts.
    "The president believes it's good news to eliminate this problem," White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Friday as the House was voting on the bill. However, he added, Mr. Obama "believes this is a band-aid covering a massive wound to the economy"
    In response to a disappointing economic report released by the Commerce Department Friday, Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, noted that the sequestration is slowing down the economic recovery.
    "These arbitrary and unnecessary cuts to government services will be a headwind in the months to come, and will cut key investments in the Nation's future competitiveness," he wrote in a White House blog post. "The Administration continues to urge Congress to replace the sequester with balanced deficit reduction, while working to put in place measures to put more Americans back to work, like rebuilding our roads and bridges and promoting American manufacturing."
    The GOP-led House has passed legislation to replace the sequester with other spending cuts, but they've resisted the Democrats' call for a "balanced approach" that would replace it with spending cuts and tax reforms. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., sent a letter to House Republicans Friday morning casting the FAA bill as a "victory" over the Democrats' call for more tax revenues.
    "Consider that the Democrats opening position was they would only replace the sequester with tax increases," he wrote. "By the first of this week Senator Reid proposed replacing the whole sequester with phony war savings. And by last night, Senate Democrats were adopting our targeted "cut this, not that" approach. This victory is in large part a result of our standing together under the banner of #Obamaflightdelay."

  2. Jobsearch 35 hours, 30 actions, Money Saving Expert Forums via forums.moneysavingexpert.com
    LONDON, U.K. - Robbie64, MoneySaving Stalwart
    Today, 9:35 AM, Join Date: Jan 2010, Posts: 705, Thanked 590 Times in 373 Posts
    Quote: Originally Posted by fedupfreddie
    View Post: Times have changed, I have to sign every 2 weeks and see my adviser once a month. There is the threat of a sanction for any failure to carry out instructions, it is a matter of having to prove compliance.
    I don't know how to prove it though.

    [Response:] As I posted earlier, it seems like your personal adviser is setting you up to fail so that you can be on the easy "hit list" of someone who can be sanctioned.
    [Decoding from US side of the Atlantic - Sounds like "sanctioning" gets you bounced off benefits.]
    When Universal Credit is rolled out (and it starts today in the north west) this 35 hour per week jobseeking is going to be the norm for unemployed claimants. How on earth someone can spend week in, week out, spending 35 hours a week every week looking for a job is beyond me. It's just setting people up to fail. And with UC there is the risk that people could end up homeless when they can't pay their rent when they are sanctioned. The rent payment part of UC was meant to be beyond the part of UC that could be sanctioned but there's talk that the Government are now going to include this too.
    I can honestly see some people on UC committing suicide though the stress and strain of jumping through hoops that the JobCentre have set up to make people fail and therefore get sanctioned.
    [So lemme get this straight. Neanderthal economists are spinning France as rad for its 35-hour workweek, but even punitive beast-killer gov't slashers in Britain don't have the nerve to require more than a 35-hour week from jobseekers? Btw, as Robbie64 says, is it even possible to jobseek for 35 hours a week? Recall that this is an extremely demoralizing/depressing exercise in today's economic conditions of massive but officially denied labor surplus.]


4/26/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Sequester Cuts Hours for Boston Bomber's Public Defenders, FrontPage Magazine via frontpagemag.com
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - Obama told everyone that the sequester would be a horrible disaster. And he was right. Just imagine poor Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers having to skip through four paragraphs on how he was abused by American drones as a child or how he suffers from Compulsive Jihad Syndrome.
    As the federal public defender office in Boston prepares to defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old charged in the Boston Marathon bombings, the lawyers involved face an added challenge: managing the case in the midst of furloughs.
    Federally mandated budget cuts known as sequestration could force Tsarnaev’s lawyers to take up to 15 days of unpaid leave before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Lawyers familiar with the office said it is feeling the pinch in other ways, including leaving vacant positions unfilled.
    “There’s no doubt that the sequester is going to affect the administration of justice in general, in Boston, and with this case specifically,” said John Cunha Jr. of Boston’s Cunha & Holcomb, former president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

    Or alternatively, it’s going to prevent the Muslim terrorist’s lawyers from affecting the administration of justice.
    Thirteen attorneys serve in the Boston federal public defender office. The furloughs would coincide with the early weeks of Tsarnaev’s defense, which Cunha said is a “crucial” time. “You start to figure out where you are and where the government is and where they’re going to go and how to protect this person’s rights.”
    I presume none of the lawyers eager to use taxpayer money to protect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s rights from Americans lost any legs at the marathon.
    About Daniel Greenfield
    Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.

  2. Long Hours Push Working Mothers Out of High-Level Jobs - A new study offers insight as to why women with kids leave the workplace, TheAtlantic.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Amid all of the discussions about "leaning in," "opting out," the "end of men," and "having it all," a singular question is missing—what exactly is it that drives working mothers out of high-achieving professions? The answer, according to new research, might be elegantly simple: too many working hours. New findings suggest that when the expected average working hours is more than 50 hours a week, women with children leave the profession at a higher rate than men and childless women.
    Youngjoo Cha, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University, published research in the latest issue of Gender & Society finding that professions that have average working hours have plenty of men and childless women, but very few working mothers.
    Cha doesn't think this is an accident. The pressure to work more than 50 hours a week pushes working mothers out of what we think of as male-dominated professions. While that might be an obvious conclusion for some, Cha crunched the numbers. Using the Census' longitudinal Survey of Income and Program Participation, she found a significant correlation between male-dominated professions and their tendency to have average working hours of more than 50 hours a week.
    "Overworkers" make up nearly a quarter (22 percent) of professions that are less than 10 percent women. When she looked at professions that have somewhere between 20 and 30 percent women, about 20 percent of workers put in more than 50 hours a week. Then, when she looked at professions with 70 percent or more women, "overworkers" made up just six to eight percent of those workers.
    Cha also created models tracking workers who leave professions. She found that "having children increases overworking women's odds of exiting male-dominated occupations by 52 percent, as compared to their nonmother counterparts." Full-time working mothers left their professions at a rate of 4.9 percent, but when you look at professions where they work 50 hours or more a week, that number jumps to 6.8 percent (though she noted that holding an advanced degree reduces the exit rate by 1.7 percent).
    Meanwhile, "being a father has no effect on the mobility of overworking men."
    Cha says: "When we compare the exit rate of full-time working mothers (4.9 percent) to that of their childless counterparts (4.5 percent), the differences are negligible. This suggests that motherhood status alone does not increase the exit rates; what drives women's exodus from male-dominated occupations are the joint effects of overwork and motherhood, which may reflect the 'greedy' as well as 'gendered' nature of family that demands disproportionately more hours from mothers.
    It's not the particular findings that surprised me, but how consistently I can actually see this influence in every dimension of women's labor market outcomes."
    She argues that although a lot of attention has been given to the idea that professional or managerial occupations require long hours, the real correlation between long working hours seems to more strongly associated with how many men are in the profession, not the nature of the work.
    "Work hours tend to be shorter in many female-dominated professional occupations, such as school teachers, librarians, and therapists, as well as lower-level managers, and the penalty for deviating from the norm tends to be smaller," Cha writes.
    She goes on to point out that even non-professional male-dominated occupations like construction often require mandatory overtime.
    America's somewhat unique in this tendency toward what she calls "overwork culture." Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom all cap working hours at 48 hours a week. And Americans have gotten worse over time. In 1979, 21 percent of men and 5 percent of women worked more than 50 hours a week. In 2000, 27 percent of men and 11 percent of women worked that much.
    Those numbers might be even worse today, since, as Cha says, "the definition of 'being at work' has intensified over the last few decades." Thanks to smartphones and at-home access to work emails, today's workforce might be even more tipped toward "overwork" than even those included in her data. Technology hasn't made the problem of overwork better. If anything, it's made it worse.
    Cha blames gender biases about work that haven't evolved much in the last few decades. "When people are really expected to dive into the workplace and have a complete devotion to work, that was probably possible because there was someone else who can do other things for that person," Cha says. "This overwork norm is basically built upon those assumptions."
    It's a conclusion that a recent report published by the Center for American Progress also comes to: "American society has consistently failed to adapt to the heightened demands placed upon its families and, in particular, on women. Our workplaces are structured today as though we were still living in the early 1960s."
    "Even the most fortunate—the better-educated and better-off professionals who tend to have access to paid leave, flexibility, sick days, and decent child care—find balancing the necessary demands of work and home an increasingly fraught and anxious-making endeavor in our era of 'extreme jobs' and 24/7 availability," they add.
    This constant demand on workers time shows in high-achieving professions—while women are increasing their numbers in high-achieving professions, they're still nowhere near gender parity. Women made up just 14.3 percent of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies in 2012, and in 2010 women made up 33.4 percent of legal jobs and 26.8 percent of physicians and surgeons. Unless these professions start reigning in working hours, it's unlikely they'll see much improvement.


4/25/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Hawkeye cuts hours for camera monitors, by Christopher Hong, CitizensVoice.com
    WILKES-BARRE, Pa., USA - Hawkeye Security Solutions is significantly reducing the hours of contracted security officers who monitor its cameras in response to recent revenue cuts.
    Hawkeye's board voted Wednesday to change its contract with Legion Security Services, whose employees, along with Wilkes-Barre police officers, watch its 250 surveillance cameras. Legion employees were constantly on duty under the previous arrangement, but now they will work just 12.6 hours a day. The 88-hour reduction will save Hawkeye $1,320 a week, excluding holiday pay.
    The cost-cutting measure is a response to the Wilkes-Barre School Board's decision earlier this month to withdraw its financial support of Hawkeye, which maintains cameras outside schools and the board's administrative building. The school board was paying Hawkeye $7,500 a month - half of the network's monthly income - and opted not to sign a renewed three-year contract worth $290,000. Now, the network receives $7,500 a month from the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority.
    Greg Barrouk, deputy city administrator and vice chairman of the Hawkeye Board, said the cameras will still be monitored 24 hours a day. The board will now rely more on two light-duty police officers, Barrouk said.
    The city created Hawkeye in 2009 to oversee its city-wide camera network, funded by a $3 million in state grants. The school board's departure is one of several financial hurdles the entity must deal with. The parking authority will decide in November whether to renew its contract, and a $200,000 a year data contract with Frontier Communications that was funded with the initial grant money expires at the end of this year.
    During Wednesday's meeting, board president Frank Majikes refused to discuss how Hawkeye will fill the gaps in its budget.
    "The only comment we can make at this point is we're exploring other avenues," Majikes said.
    The board must also deal with its monthly expenses amidst its declining revenue. This month, the board had to pay $3,670 to replace a camera in a city parking garage, which was broken for more than a year. City IT Director Lou Lau said on Wednesday that the board will need to replace seven to 10 more cameras in the near future.
    The board also incurred $5,494 for three months worth of legal fees from its attorney Alan Wohlstetter. Wohlstetter charges the board $510 an hour for any legal work he does on behalf of the board.
    Nearly all the work Wohlstetter performed in this billing period was related to handling Hawkeye's Right-to-Know requests, according to invoices. In one case, Wohlstetter charged Hawkeye $1,020 to handle an appeal after he denied a request by The Citizens' Voice seeking maintenance records for the cameras. Wohlstetter eventually fulfilled the request.
    Deputy city administrator Greg Barrouk said he will begin handling more requests but said he may still need Wohlstetter's assistance.
    "He was here since day one, I didn't come in until two years after. So there's a lot of stuff in the preliminary stages I wasn't aware about," Barrouk said.
    Wohlstetter, who works for the Philadelphia law firm Fox Rothschild, also worked with the city's parking authority last year when it explored a possible leasing agreement. Authority members severed ties with Wohlstetter in July 2012 when it scrapped the project.
    chong@citizensvoice.com
    570-821-2052, @CVChrisHong

  2. Alexander: Obamacare's 30-Hour Workweek Is A “Disincentive For Full-time, 40-Hour Employment”, The Chattanoogan via chattanoogan.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – At a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) said the health care law’s definition of a full-time workweek at 30 hours or more was “providing a disincentive for full-time employment.”
    Senator Alexander asked Secretary Sebelius, “Where did the definition that a full-time worker is someone who works 30 hours or more a week come from? I can’t find it in the Fair Labor Standards Act—it sounds more like France than the United States. …In the United States, normally we think of a full-time workweek as a 40-hour workweek. Don’t you think that the rule that says if you work less than 30 hours, you could be considered a part-time worker, is in some ways becoming a disincentive for full-time work, as some companies look at the health care law and say, ‘One way we can avoid it is to have more part-time workers’?”
    Senator Alexander said that as employers try to avoid the costs of the new health care law, “we have workers across the country going from full-time at 40 hours to part-time at less than 30 hours,” leaving them with “no insurance, no full-time job.”


4/24/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Accounting and Finance Staff Work Longer Workweeks in U.S. than Canada, by Michael Cohn, AccountingToday.com
    Morristown, N.J., USA — U.S. management-level accounting and finance employees work an average of 48 hours in a standard week, while non-management staff work an average of 42 hours.
    Their annual report, Benchmarking the Finance Function 2013: The Inner Workings of Accounting and Finance, from staffing company Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, the research affiliate of Financial Executives International, focuses on six key areas: workforce management, accounting operations, financial systems, sourcing, internal controls and compliance. The results are based on a survey of the finance departments of nearly 200 public and private companies in the United States and Canada.
    In Canada, the average workweeks for managers and staff are 44 and 39 hours, respectively. When hours regularly exceed their standard workweek, especially during peak workload periods, staff manpower is frequently supplemented with the use of interim professionals.
    The median number of internal staff in U.S. finance departments is 11, while the median in Canada is 16.
    Despite growth in the number of general ledger accounts, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of U.S. companies still reconcile accounts manually, placing a strain on staff and resources. Many companies are seeking solutions for automating the process of closing the books.
    Eighty percent of U.S. companies and 86 percent of companies in Canada use an enterprise resource planning system. The use of on-demand software is increasing.
    Payroll is the single most outsourced function for all respondent companies, followed by tax, the study found. Accounts payable is emerging as a possible candidate for additional outsourcing.
    “The finance function is undergoing a transformation amid a competitive business landscape and new regulations,” said FEI president and CEO Marie N. Hollein in a statement. “To operate with precision and achieve optimal productivity, companies need to identify areas of improvement, measure themselves against peers and competitors, and address fluctuating needs and priorities.”
    Larger companies are more likely to have an internal audit function responsible for compliance activities. At smaller firms, the compliance function most often resides with the financial reporting or general accounting departments.
    “Financial leaders are taking a fresh look at how their departments can commit assets to achieve the most value for the company,” said Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald in a statement. “Shared services centers, new technologies and the increased use of interim financial professionals are among the many tactics being employed to allow executives to apply resources where and when they are needed most.”
    Robert Half and FEI plan to host a webinar May 9, 10 to 11 a.m. PDT/1 to 2 p.m. EDT, based on the report findings, to enable accounting and finance executives to more easily measure their own operations and learn enhancements that can help improve department performance. The presenters include McDonald and FERF senior associate of research Thomas Thompson, Jr.
    For more information or to register, visit www.roberthalf.us/benchmarking. The complimentary session qualifies for one unit of continuing professional education credit in the United States.

  2. Library hours cut in St Helens to save £135,000 per year, StHelensStar.co.uk
    ST HELENS, Merseyside, England - Library hours in St Helens are to be cut as part of then local authority's response to making up a £50-million shortfall in government grant.
    St Helens Council’s Cabinet made the decision today following a six-week public consultation seeking residents views.
    Library opening hours will be reduced from 507.5 hours to 406 hours per week, however, the current number of 13 libraries across the borough will be maintained.
    The proposals will save £135,000 and many of which open five days a week.
    [Sic. Looks like the SH Star has already cut their editors!]
    New arrangements have also been made for the Local History and Archive service based on drop-in and group access,
    According to the council, this will allow groups to use the facilities when it is not open to the general public.
    A total of 750 people responded to a consultation mainly from Central, Rainford, Chester Lane, Newton le Willows and Eccleston libraries.
    A council statement read: "While the majority felt there should be no change to the current service there was little consensus about what alternative arrangement could be put in place or how the required savings could be achieved.
    "Opening hours have been developed to minimise impact on local communities."
    Barrie Grunewald, deputy leader of St Helens Council, said: “A lot of hard work has gone into the proposals to achieve savings while being able to keep all 13 libraries open.
    "The hours will minimise impact in the areas of greatest deprivation and will provide services during times when they are most used.
    "The council has so far saved £36-milllion to make up for lost government grant and face a further £14-million of savings this year.
    “Almost all other councils have reduced the number of libraries. We are determined to keep all ours open but due to the £50 million pound cuts imposed upon us, we will cut hours to make the necessary savings and protect all 13 libraries.”


4/23/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Furloughs underway for federal employees, by Steve Vogel, Washington Post via SantaFeNewMexican.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — After months of nervous anticipation, federal workers begin the first major round of furloughs this week, even as much uncertainty remains at some agencies about how much time, if any, employees will lose from their jobs because of mandated spending cuts.
    About 17,000 employees of the Environmental Protection Agency also face furloughs beginning this week, as do 480 employees of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
    But the Transportation Security Administration, which had warned that it would need to furlough 50,000 officers from their jobs protecting airline travel, said last week that the agency no longer expects to keep employees off the job.
    The Federal Aviation Administration was not so fortunate.
    The agency’s plans to furlough 47,000 workers, including air-traffic controllers for up to 11 days through the end of September, were set in motion Sunday in spite of a lawsuit filed by two airline associations and the pilots union Friday meant to halt the days of unpaid leave.
    The case may be heard this week.
    Both the FAA and its plaintiffs said they were concerned about air travel disruption and safety.
    While not citing furloughs specifically, the FAA reported significant delays at New York area airports Sunday afternoon and evening. Problems at La Guardia were the result of staffing issues and “compacted demand,” the agency said.
    A series of flights on the well-trod route between that airport and Washington’s Reagan National Airport, popular with politicians and executives, were delayed Sunday.
    Newark International Airport in New Jersey faced delays as well. Gate holds, taxi delays and traffic management procedures were affecting departures, the FAA said. But the bulk of flights in and out of National, Washington Dulles and BWI Marshall were listed as being on time.
    “I’m not really looking forward to a 10 percent pay cut,” said Steve Abraham, a controller at New York’s Kennedy Airport who begins his first furlough day on Wednesday.
    “It’s frustrating, plus we’re being put in a situation of being shorthanded at the busiest time of the year,” added Abraham, who has worked as a controller for 24 years and said morale among his colleagues has plummeted.
    Employees at agencies including Defense, Labor and the EPA recently have had their furlough days reduced, though uncertainty remains for some.
    Defense officials said that no final decisions have been made about furloughs for the department’s 800,000 civilian employees. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee last week that “hopefully we won’t have to” furlough employees.
    He added that the department hopes to “at least minimize it.”
    The department, which has already lowered the number of expected furlough days to 14 from 21, is examining whether a further reduction is possible. “Maybe we can get better, maybe we can’t,” Hagel told the committee.
    Hagel “has asked that we take another close look at furloughs, and we are in the process of doing that,” Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale told Pentagon employees Thursday.
    Officials attribute the changed furlough forecasts to new financial calculations made after Congress passed a short-term spending bill last month that has mitigated some of the effects of the automatic cuts, known as sequestration.
    EPA officials said employees now face less than 10 days of furlough, rather than the 13 days the agency had warned. “I do want to report that the number of furlough hours can be reduced,” Bob Perciasepe, acting administrator for the agency, told employees in a memo April 9.
    The EPA will “revisit our budget” in mid-June, Perciasepe added, “but as of now it will not be more than 79 hours.”
    Labor, which had said that 4,700 employees would face six days of furloughs, now says that 4,000 workers will be furloughed an average of five days. “This is a very fluid situation,” said Stephen Barr, a department spokesman.
    Though the trend has been decidedly downward, the uncertainty has been wearing for many federal workers. “Employees are frustrated and angry,” said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which estimates that 115,000 of the workers it represents face a loss of pay ranging from one week to nearly three weeks over the next five months.
    “In some cases, they make contingency plans and then the information changes again,” Kelley added. “In most cases, they have no flexibility in choosing days to address family or financial needs, such as scheduling day care or avoiding furlough days during periods where there may be financial strains.”
    Even with the reduced number of furlough days expected, the lost pay will hit many federal workers hard, union representatives said.
    “For some people, it’s a very big deal,” said Charles Orzehoskie, president of the American Federation of Government Employees’ local representing EPA workers. “Some people will have trouble making mortgage payments. Some people will have trouble making car payments. There’s a lot of anxiety about this.”
    Some federal employees have already begun furloughs, including some Labor employees who opted to waive the required 30-day notice period so they could start their furloughs immediately.
    Orzehoskie said morale at the EPA has suffered, both from the prospect of losing pay and public vilification of federal workers.
    “I don’t think it’s ever been this bad, and it’s getting worse,” Orzehoskie said. “Being denigrated, attacked financially — yeah, it affects performance.”
    One Labor employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of concern for her job, said she decided to begin her furlough so she could begin work at a part-time retail job. “I really don’t make a lot of money, and I knew it was going to cause a strain on me,” she said.
    Other federal employees are expected to start their furloughs in coming weeks, including 8,400 employees from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, up to 80,000 Internal Revenue Service employees, and 12,000 employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    The IRS told its workers Friday that their first furlough day will be May 24, with up to six more days through September. All operations dealing with the public, including taxpayer assistance centers, will be closed.
    “We know what a big financial impact losing a day of pay can mean,” the acting IRS commissioner, Steve Miller, told employees in a memo. “We wanted to make sure there is only one furlough day a pay period, and we have also worked to stagger the dates further so that there are some pay periods during the summer with no furlough days.”
    Furloughs for some U.S. Park Police personnel are also to begin this week.
    “We’ll continue to meet our public safety and security obligations,” said Jeffrey Olson, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

  2. Flight delays soar as FAA cuts hours for air controllers - East Coast sees major disruptions; ripples also felt at Tucson airport, Arizona Daily Star via azStarnet.com
    TUCSON, Ariz., USA - Flight delays piled up all across the country Monday as thousands of air traffic controllers were forced to take an unpaid day off because of federal budget cuts, providing the most visible impact yet of Congress and the White House's failure to agree on a long-term deficit-reduction plan.
    The Federal Aviation Administration kept planes on the ground because there weren't enough controllers to monitor busy air corridors. Cascading delays at some of the nation's busiest airports held up many flights into New York, Baltimore and Washington by more than two hours.
    At Tucson International Airport, there were a few flight delays Monday between Phoenix and Tucson, from Denver to Tucson, and from San Francisco to Tucson, according to the airport's flight website.
    "I can't even say if the delays were because of employee furloughs," said Viki Matthews, a Tucson International Airport spokeswoman. "All was calm and normal. It will be hard to determine what will happen the rest of the week."
    She advised travelers to check the airport's website - www.flytucsonairport.com - to see if flights will be delayed or are on time before they head to the airport.
    The FAA also advised travelers to see www.fly.faa.gov to get current delay information for their local airport.
    "Tucson is not among the airports where we expect to see serious delays on a daily basis," Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman, wrote in an email.
    "However, air traffic controllers at all of our facilities will be subject to furloughs. Depending on the time of day, the weather and traffic conditions at other airports, and staffing at FAA facilities that handle aircraft arriving at and departing from airports, it's possible that delays still could affect flight schedules at Tucson," Gregor wrote.
    He said Tucson International Airport's tower had 16 controllers as of March, and one controller will be on furlough every day.
    On Sunday night, Deborah Seymour was one of the first fliers to face the headaches. She was supposed to fly from Los Angles to Tucson. First her 9:55 p.m. flight was delayed for four hours. Then at 2 a.m., Southwest Airlines canceled it.
    "It's pretty discouraging that Congress can't get it together, and now it's reached the point that we can't get on an airplane and fly," Seymour said.
    In other parts of the nation Monday, the delays were so bad that passengers on several Washington-New York shuttle flights could have reached their destination faster by taking the train.
    Nearly a third of flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport scheduled to take off before 3 p.m. were delayed 15 minutes or more, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Last Monday, just 6 percent of LaGuardia's flights were delayed.
    The situation was similar at Washington's Reagan National Airport, in Newark, N.J., and in Philadelphia with roughly 20 percent of flights delayed.
    Monday is typically one of the busiest days at airports with many high-paying business travelers departing for a week on the road. The FAA's controller cuts - a 10 percent reduction of its staff - went into effect Sunday. The full force was not felt until Monday morning.
    One thing working in fliers' favor Monday was relatively good weather at most of the country's major airports. A few wind gusts in New York, snow in Denver and thunderstorms in Miami added to some delays, but generally there were clear skies and no major storms.
    However, the shortage of controllers could persist for months, raising the risk of a turbulent summer travel season. And it could exacerbate weather problems, especially spring and summer thunderstorms.
    There's no way for passengers to tell in advance which airport or flights will experience delays.
    FAA officials have said they have no choice but to furlough all 47,000 agency employees - including nearly 15,000 controllers - because the agency's budget is dominated by salaries. Each employee will lose one day of work every other week. The FAA has said that planes will have to take off and land less frequently, so as not to overload the remaining controllers on duty.
    Critics have said the FAA could reduce its budget in other spots that wouldn't delay travelers.
    Some travel groups have warned that the disruptions could hurt the economy as business travelers decide to stay home.
    Associated Press reporter Scott Mayerowitz and Arizona Daily Star reporter Carmen Duarte contributed to this report. Contact Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.


4/21-22/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. IRS to Close for 5 Days Due to Furloughs, by Kathryn Buschman Vasel, 4/21 (4/19 late pickup) Fox Business via infowars.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The IRS will issue official furlough notices next week to employees detailing that the agency will be closed for five days with unpaid leave for workers this summer because of the sequester.
    In a memo to employees, IRS Acting Commissioner Steve Miller said the furlough days will be May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30 with two additional days possible in August or September. During these days, all public-facing operations will be closed as will toll-free operations and Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
    “Despite successful efforts over the past year to find cost savings and our recent efforts to minimize the effects of sequestration, we still had to make tough decisions on the furlough dates and the best way to implement them,” he wrote in an internal memo shared with FOX Business.
    Every IRS worker will be covered by the furlough. Personnel in charge of preserving systems and building security might be asked to work these days, but will be taking furlough days on alternative dates within those pay periods.

  2. Draft Manifesto for the NDP Submitted by the Ontario Left Caucus, rossdowson.com via 4/22 (3/1983 very late pickup) Jane Gibson of Ottawa (nice catch, Jane!)
    TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Preamble
    Fifty years ago, the founders of our movement gathered in Regina and proclaimed their dedication to a Cooperative Commonwealth. In ringing terms, they set out their alternative to the grinding poverty, stark injustice and stormclouds of war that confronted their generation:
    "We aim to replace the present capitalist system, with its inherent injustice and inhumanity, by a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition, and in which genuine democratic self-government, based on economic equality, will be possible."
    Today, despite all the vows that a social crisis like the Depression of the 1930's would never happen again, the world is in the grips of an even more dangerous social, economic and political crisis. Mass unemployment is already a reality. Labour rights, our whole range of health and social services, are under fierce attack. Humanity itself is threatened with destruction from the nuclear war drive fuelled by international militarism. Never have we stood in greater need of fundamental solutions.
    The Liberals and Conservatives offer nothing but wait-and-see platitudes and policies that punish the population for the crimes of an economic system. Only the NDP offers a way out. In this era, socialism promises more than an ideal. It promises to be the only answer to the pressing challenges before us.
    The NDP (New Democratic Party, founded in 1961), like the CCF before it (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, precursor to the NDP, founded in 1932), is itself the creation and inheritance of the struggles of successive generations of workers and farmers, who realized that their aspirations for a humane society could never be met within the framework of a capitalist Canada. In contrast to the Liberals and Conservatives who are the parties of the major corporations and vested interests, the NDP remains the party of working people and their allies.
    Our goal is a socialist Canada, a new social order based on common ownership of our resources and industry, cooperation, production for use and genuine democracy. Only socialism can turn the boundless potential of our people and resources to the creation of a world free from tyranny, greed, poverty and exploitation.
    The World Economic Crisis [in 1983!]
    Canadians live and work in a world dominated by multinational corporate monopolies. These farflung business empires, of a scope and size unimaginable to previous generations, treat the entire planet as their domain. They are a law unto themselves, free to roam the globe in search of cheaper labour, more exploitable resources, more pliant governments and greater profits.
    In collaboration with Canadian capitalists, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have put themselves at the service of these largely U.S.-based cartels. They now hold the power of life and death over every region and industry in our country. By their dictates, our resources have been plundered, our manufacturing capability denied. Canadian workers are their pawns in a global game of mergers, shutdowns, and relocations. These U.S. conglomerates have robbed us of our wealth and of the very power to determine our own future.
    Massive world-wide unemployment and hunger are the legacy of these profiteering monopolies. Incapable of turning their technology and organization to the needs of people, they are collapsing under the weight of their hoarded wealth. They have distorted the economic development of the world so fundamentally - the resources they waste on war production, for instance, could eliminate hunger in the world - that world "markets" are glutted. Factories, shops and offices operate at half and three-quarters of their ability, while the world waits in need of the goods they could produce. There are no new frontiers for the multinationals. On the contrary, the crisis will only deepen. The micro- computer revolution will only intensify massive permanent unemployment, tedious and stressful jobs for remaining workers, and terrifying concentrations of knowledge and control in the hands of private corporations.
    The central question posed by microtechnology, as by the multinational monopolies, is political. What kind of society do we want to create with the most powerful extensions of human labour and intelligence since the industrial revolution? If harnessed to popular administration and planning, microtechnology could help us achieve an era of abundance for all, release us from monotonous toil and enrich our store of accessible information.
    The socialist option is the only alternative. Deepening of the world economic crisis is inevitable as long as profits dictate the course of humanity.
    Social Ownership: The Only Solution
    Canada is confronted by a political, social and economic emergency that demands straight-forward solutions. If we are going to stamp out unemployment, secure our independence from the multinationals and steel ourselves for sweeping technological change, we need a socialist industrial strategy based on public ownership of the decisive sectors of the economy. The flaws of capitalism are too basic, the power of the corporations too great, the chasm separating the compulsions of profit and the needs of people too wide, for anything less to succeed.
    The half-measures of a mixed economy dominated by big business cannot meet the challenge. The stock-in- trade of government intervention - tinkering with monetary and fiscal policy to stimulate investment and spending - has proven bankrupt. Welfare state policies such as "progressive taxation" and unemployment insurance, though won by hard struggles, have done nothing to correct deep-seated structures of regional and social inequality. Legislative reforms, aimed at the most blatant abuses of corporate power, are faltering. In these harsh economic times, corporations hold governments to ransom through their control of desperately needed investment. Even reform- minded governments have buckled under this pressure, and passed vicious legislation, slashing social services and trampling the basic rights of workers.
    Capitalism has failed, and so have efforts to reform it. That failure puts a campaign for the socialist alternative on the immediate agenda.
    New Democratic Party governments will replace corporate ownership with social ownership of the major firms in the manufacturing, resource, finance, transportation and communications industries. Only then can we plan for full employment, social equality and economic democracy.
    Socially-owned banks and insurance companies will ensure that peoples' savings serve the people. These savings will be mobilized for massive job-creating projects in critical areas such as housing and social services. To create new wealth, a socialist government will call a halt to the U.S. drain on our natural resources and use these resources as building blocks for a rounded industrial economy. To correct a disastrous balance of payments and create new jobs, we will break from our dependency on foreign multinationals and establish our own manufacturing capability in heavy industry and high-technology equipment.
    Economic Democracy
    The needs of people, not profit, are the driving force of a socialist society. This wholesale reconstruction cannot be accomplished by crown corporations that perpetuate management privileges. It will be accomplished by democratizing all levels of society, and by making workers' control the touchstone of industrial relations.
    Under capitalism, labour is a commodity. Workers are used as replaceable parts, extentions of machines - as long as they provide dividends. Employers use their power of ownership to devastate the lives of workers through layoffs, shutdowns and neglect of health and safety. Unions, despite their courageous efforts, have encountered difficulties eliminating even the worst abuses of management power.
    Socialism will dissolve the economic foundation of one-sided management privilege by relying on the needs and creativity of people. At the centrepiece of any NDP program will be the goal of enhancing the power that people can exercise over their own lives. This includes the passage of work environment laws to expand the scope and strength of collective agreements, giving workers decisive weight in every level of decision making, and ensuring that control over workers' pensions is placed in the hands of their elected union representatives. We believe in the ability of working people to manage their own productive institutions democratically.
    Women's Rights
    The modern Canadian women's movement has inspired us to renew and extend the socialist commitment to a society free from sexual discrimination.
    Women remain the oppressed sex in Canada. Sexual discrimination is not only tolerated, it is entrenched at every level of society.
    Years of piecemeal reform and dead letter laws have left women stranded in dead-end jobs at dead-end rates of pay. Loosely worded, poorly enforced equal pay laws and equal rights codes provide little protection for women at work. There are virtually no laws to protect women from the unemployment that is slated for them with the introduction of microtechnology.
    Beyond the workplace, women's basic rights are continually denied. Hospitals and governments still interfere with a woman's basic right to make her own decision about maternity. Women are left to shoulder the major responsibility of childcare, because daycare facilities are inadequate and under-funded. Violence makes victims of women in the home and in the community.
    By taking the profit out of discrimination, a socialist society will take a crucial step towards women's rights. In cooperation with the independent women's movement, NDP governments will place top priority on legislation to guarantee equal pay for work of equal value, and affirmative action to promote women in areas where centuries of systematic discrimination must be overcome. Universal quality daycare will be established, either by extending the school system or funding local parent-child centres. Emergency shelters for battered wives will be funded by government, not charity. In recognition of women's inalienable rights to control their own bodies, funds will be allocated to birth control research, education, and to free-standing abortion clinics. The choice of maternity rests with a woman, in consultation with her doctor. Laws and hospital regulations that deny access to safe abortions will be repealed.
    The Crisis of Federation
    After 116 years of Confederation, we have not resolved the most pressing issues of federalism. We have not overcome the injustices of centuries-old conquests. We have not taken control of the levers of independent economic and cultural development. We have allowed corporations to treat East, West and North as resource hinterlands, to scar them with boom and bust development that leaves behind only a wealth of regional resentment.
    The present constitution with its loopholed charter of individual rights cannot deal with problems of this magnitude. A renewed commitment to democracy and independence can. The crisis of Canadian nationhood can only be resolved on a basis of self-determination and equality of its peoples and regions.
    An NDP government will guarantee full rights to self- determination to the Quebec and Native nationalities. We will guarantee and extend the linguistic rights of long-established francophone communities outside Quebec. We will abolish the Senate and Governor- Generalship as patronage-infested relics of the aristocratic age. We will establish an independent economy which the working people of Canada will control. We will extend that independence to the world of culture.
    We will extend that control to regions, through decentralized planning, that puts an end to the tribute to Ottawa, Toronto and New York.
    Peace and World Justice
    Canada must establish a new and independent foreign policy to join the worldwide battle for peace and economic justice. In alliance with other international movements - for disarmament in the first world, for democracy in the second world, and for equality and national liberation in the third world - we can help tilt the balance that is now pushing the world toward nuclear annihilation. Such solidarity is only possible if we establish an independent economy, free from the dictates of the U.S. military-industrial complex, free to enjoy a world economic order based on cooperation rather than exploitation.
    For decades, the world has endured a balance of nuclear terror based on the supposed deterrent value of mutual assured destruction. That balance now rests on a hair trigger that could be brushed at any moment by the use of first-strike weapon systems. These weapons are designed primarily to re-establish U.S. supremacy through the threat of "winnable" nuclear war.
    These weapons are the centrepiece of U.S.-dominated alliances such as NATO and NORAD. Canadian membership in these organizations places us in the front lines of responsibility for the production, testing and launching of nuclear missiles. A breakaway from these organizations and establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in Canada could place us on the front lines of those fighting for a new world order.
    We are dedicated to a world in which all nations renounce the use of nuclear weapons - a world based on the twin pillars of disarmament and economic justice. Both are preconditions of the other. Multi-billion dollar budgets now wasted on the war drive could wipe out world hunger and illiteracy in one year. To play a part in the creation of such a world, Canada needs an independent foreign policy and an economic order that rejects production for war.
    An NDP Government in Power
    A New Democratic Party government will seek to give political power to unorganized and organized working people, to farmers, women, students and all groups subjected to national oppression. A New Democratic Party government will develop a plan to legislate the key elements of its democratically determined program as the first step towards transforming Canada into a socialist society. Such a government will seek to educate and mobilize in defence of its legislative program against entrenched power blocs that may seek to thwart the will of the majority.
    The New Democratic Party Left Caucus commits itself to a program based on the following objectives as priorities:
    1. Public ownership of the decisive sectors of the economy and, in particular, of the resource, finance, manufacturing, transportation and communication sectors, to permit the development of an independent economy, production for use, economic planning and industrial democracy.
    2. The development of a comprehensive industrial strategy dedicated to full employment. Massive public work programs and a shorter work week for the same takehome pay will be key elements in establishing everyone's right to a job.
      [Well it's not #1 on the list or first in #2, but at least its there, though not much emphasis on it since then and when NDP Premier Bob Rae of Ontario implemented a shorter work month ("Rae Days") instead of layoffs for provincial employees in the 1990s, the party backroom boys didn't "get" it, backstabbed him and lost their golden boy to the Liberals. But shorter worktime is still on the list, without NDPers realizing it's actually the ink and paper.]
    3. The development of a comprehensive social strategy to eliminate poverty in Canada. Such a strategy will include minimum wages corresponding to basic levels of need, indexed pensions, disability and welfare allowances.
    4. Full support for the rights of labour, including the abolition of all legislation limiting free collective bargaining, the encouragement of unionization, the safeguarding of the right to strike and to refuse unsafe work and the right to negotiate technological change.
    5. Full support for the demands of the women's movement. In particular, we will promote affirmative action programs, establish the right of women to control their own bodies and to be paid equally for work of equal value as decisive measures to lead towards the realization of guaranteed equality in all social, economic and legal matters to women.
    6. Legislation to guarantee the extension of fundamental human rights to all persons regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability.
    7. The constitutional extension of full democratic rights including the dismantling of undemocratic political institutions such as the Senate and reform of the patronage-ridden judicial system. We will undertake to pass legislation establishing democratic civilian control of police forces.
    8. The right of self-determination for the Québécois and Native peoples.
    9. Free, universal access to all levels of education from daycare to university.
    10. Protection of the family-based farm. Special measures to break the power of the bankers and agri- business processors will include easy access to credit, encouragement of cooperatives and rationalized food production through producer-controlled marketing agencies.
    11. Encouragement of an independent Canadian culture through measures guaranteeing funding and distribution rights for Canadian cultural workers and measures to offset U.S. domination of distribution rights in the theatre and magazine industries.
    12. Protection of our environment from unacceptable and unnecessary pollutants such as acid rain, nuclear and toxic wastes and the creation of a policy that promotes safe and renewable energy sources.
    13. An international policy reflecting a commitment to peace, global justice, the end of the nuclear arms race, and the declaration of a nuclear-weapons free zone in Canada.
    14. An independent foreign policy for Canada which will no longer be dictated by the U.S. military system. An NDP government will immediately withdraw draw from NATO and NORAD and promote the international antiwar and disarmament movements.
    The New Democratic Party is the party of the dispossessed and oppressed struggling to build a new world. We are both a social movement and a political party.
    As a social movement, we support all struggles against the injustices of capitalism. Unions - together with popular organizations fighting for world peace, social equality and environmental safety - are the life- blood of our movement. As a political party, we seek to become a government that can implement legislation to meet the needs of working people.
    We do not offer just a blueprint to a better future. We offer an invitation to all Canadians to join us, as we join them, in our common efforts to eradicate a social system based on exploitation, discrimination, poverty and war. The capitalist system must be replaced by socialist democracy. That is the burning issue of our era, the only hope of humanity.
    (union "bug" Local 15 ITU)
    For further information on ONDP Left Caucus contact Dave T.


4/20/2013 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from today will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Proposed Bill Would End 40-Hour Work Week, International Assoc. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, goIAM.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - House Republicans have introduced a bill that would end the 40-hour work week, dismantling an important component of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 and hurting middle-class families across the country.
    Sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby (AL), the dubiously-titled “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1406) would remove the requirement that employers pay a cash premium for overtime work and instead allow them to offer employees compensatory time off. The effect would be an FLSA that is undermined of its only incentive against excessive hours and a cheaper way for employers to demand mandatory overtime.
    Eileen Appelbaum, a senior economist with the Center for Economic Policy and Research, says the bill’s major effect would be to hurt workers, “likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.”
    IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger wrote a letter to Congress encouraging them to vote against the bill.
    “Employers can already work within the existing laws to allow workers adjusting work schedules around family needs without changing the 40-hour workweek,” Buffenbarger wrote. “‘Comp time’ proposals let the employer decide whether workers can use any accrued compensatory time. Additionally, nothing would prevent the employer from forcing workers to take time off individually or limiting whether workers can use the compensatory time at all if it is too burdensome to the work-load.”
    The bill was referred to committee and could come to a vote in the House as early as next week.
    [Above and below: the taboo frozen time background becomes discussable adjustable time foreground.]

  2. Suit filed to stop air traffic controller furloughs, by Hugo Martin hugo.martin@latimes.com, Los Angeles Times via latimes.com
    LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Pilots and a top airline group have filed a lawsuit to stop the federal government from cutting work hours for air traffic controllers this weekend, saying the furloughs will lead to travel delays of up to an hour across the country.
    Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation's airlines, on Friday joined a pilots association and operators of regional carriers in a suit that asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to prevent job furloughs called for under the so-called budget sequestration.
    The court is not expected to respond to the suit until next week. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration has called on the nation's air traffic controllers to take one to two furlough days for every two-week pay period starting Sunday to help the FAA cut more than $600 million from its annual budget.
    The airlines and pilots groups say the furloughs are unnecessary and will only frustrate travelers and hurt the nation's rebounding economy. The cuts in work hours among controllers, they argue, will reduce the capacity of the nation's air traffic system, delaying as many as 6,700 flights per day.
    "The FAA plan is irresponsible and unnecessary," Nicholas E. Calio, president and chief executive of Airlines for America, said at a news conference. The Air Line Pilots Assn. and the Regional Airline Assn. are also plaintiffs in the suit.
    Calio said the FAA should try to find savings by cutting other areas of its budget, such as maintenance and long-term planning.
    FAA officials said they don't comment on pending litigation but noted that transportation officials have addressed such suggestions in the past. During a White House press conference in February, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said there was no way to avoid the furloughs.
    "Our lawyers are looking at every contract to see what penalties we would have to pay as we begin to cut or adjust contracts," he said. "We're looking at everything possible; and everything possible that's legal, we will do."
    Calio said he doesn't expect the Court of Appeals to respond to the lawsuit until next week at the earliest. Until then, he said, delays will ripple across the air traffic system, damaging the nation's resurging economy.
    "If delays take effect, it will not be very long before the entire system comes to a grinding halt," said Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Assn., which represents more than 50,000 pilots at 34 U.S. and Canadian airlines.
    At Los Angeles International Airport, the nation's third-busiest airport, delays will average about 10 minutes but could extend up to 67 minutes, according to the FAA.
    Earlier this month the FAA delayed the closure of the control towers at 149 municipal and regional airports until June. But FAA officials said they could not postpone the furlough of air traffic controllers.
    Airline officials and pilots said the furloughs won't threaten the safety of air travel.
    "If we can't safely operate a flight, it won't go," Moak said.
    The National Air Traffic Controllers Assn., which represents about 14,700 controllers, issued a statement Friday saying Washington's budget feud has turned the nation's aviation system into a "political football."
    "We believe the FAA should consider postponing these furloughs just as they did the tower closures in order to work toward a solution that keeps controllers on the job and the American aviation system operating at full capacity," said Paul Rinaldi, the group's president.


4/19/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Michigan amends its UI law on various topics, CCH® Unemployment Insurance via hr.cch.com
    LANSING, Mich., USA — Michigan has amended its Employment Security Act as follows:
    Waiver. An individual who voluntarily testifies before another body concerning representations he or she made to the unemployment agency waives the privilege of confidentiality under the state unemployment compensation law.
    Contributions. Any contribution payment, or any payment of an Obligation Assessment, will be credited first to the interest on the Obligation Assessment; then to principal on the Obligation Assessment; and then to penalties, interest, and principal on a contribution delinquency, oldest quarter first.
    Wages. Wages earned by a volunteer firefighter will not be used to offset benefit entitlements the firefighter might otherwise have until the firefighter’s annual wages reach $10,000.
    Shared work plan. In order to apply for participation in a shared work plan, an employer must file all quarterly and required reports and be current in its payment of unemployment taxes; have a "positive reserve" balance in its account; have paid wages for at least the previous 12 quarters; not hire new employees into the unit during a plan, nor reduce hours of work below the number permitted under a plan; and certify that participation in a plan is in lieu of the temporary layoffs of at least 15% of the workers in the affected unit. An employer may apply for approval of more than one shared work plan.
    Benefits under a shared work plan are payable for a 52-week period, but will not exceed 20 times the worker’s weekly benefit rate.
    If federal funding is available pursuant to Section 2162 of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2012, benefits will not be charged or expensed to a participating employer. However, the unemployment agency will not use federal funding as a reimbursement for compensation paid to a claimant who is employed on a seasonal, temporary, or intermittent basis. In that case, benefits will be charged to the participating contributing employer’s account or reimbursing payments in lieu of contributions will be required.
    If federal funding is available pursuant to Section 2163 of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2012, any approved shared work plan will provide that the employer make a reimbursing payment in lieu of contributions equal to one-half of the benefits paid under the approved shared work plan. These payments will not be used for purposes of calculating an employer’s contribution rate. Federal funding also may not be used as a reimbursement for compensation paid to a claimant who is employed on a seasonal, temporary, or intermittent basis. In that case, benefits will be funded by the employer as reimbursing payments in lieu of contributions. If full or partial federal funding is not available, the benefits paid will be charged to the participating contributing employer’s chargeable benefits account or reimbursing payments in lieu of contributions will be required from the participating reimbursing employer.

  2. Showdown Looms At Trust Bank, by Shame Makoshori, AllAfrica.com
    HARARE, Zimbabwe - Trust Banking Corporation (TBC) Limited, which drifted into turmoil last month after failing to honour withdrawals, was this week headed for a showdown with trade unions following a controversial agreement by its works council that sanctioned unpaid leave and short time work for half the bank's staff.
    The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Trust Holdings Limited (THL), which controls the troubled financial institution, has been battling to rope in a cash-rich investor to pour in capital and arrest potential haemorrhage.
    At the end of 2012, TBC's capital was US$18,70 million, against a central bank requirement of US$25 million.
    TBC failed to produce its results for the full-year to December 31, 2012, and has attributed the delay to an ongoing audit by potential investors who could pump close to US$10 million needed to stabilise its balance sheet.
    The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe requires banks to publish their financial statements within three months after half-year or year-end.
    THL chief executive officer, William Nyemba this week complained that media reports on the crisis had scared away investors but said the problem that had resulted in a depositor exodus from TBC banking halls, and the bank pulling out of the ZimSwitch platform, was manageable.
    "Will you be happy to say it is me (reporter) who killed this bank?" Nyemba charged when reached for comment yesterday.
    "This is not unique to us, especially in this environment. There are companies out there that are failing to pay workers. It is a manageable situation. It is not news kuti mudaro (you can't do that). Is it newsworthy?" the THL boss pleaded with this reporter.
    Nyemba was not at liberty to respond specifically to the workers' issue. He said these were issues that could be handled by TBC's corporate communications manager, Gloria Mutekwa.
    Mutekwa had this to say when contacted for comment yesterday: "As with other organisations, staff employment terms and conditions are of a confidential nature between the Employer and Employee, as such it would be irregular to divulge such conditions publicly. All our employees are under agreed working conditions in compliance with our Labour Laws of the country. As an organisation, we value our employees and we ensure we handle them with mutual respect under fair conditions.
    It is however important to note that The Bank has embarked on various measures meant to re-organise its performance. In this regard, employment terms and conditions maybe varied with the consent of employees and within the confines of the law, for the benefit of the organisation and employees."
    But on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) was forced to intervene after a TBC works council had agreed that 50 percent of its 91 workers be placed on unpaid leave. Workers were divided over the issue, with some saying they had not been given the chance to present their views.
    ZIBAWU said the deal was unreasonable. TBC had failed to avail critical information to workers, said ZIBAWU in a letter addressed to the bank's workers committee on Tuesday.
    "The union has, in terms of section 25 of the Labour Act, declined to approve the works council agreement on unpaid leave and short time work," said ZIBAWU.
    "Due to insufficient information availed to the union about these measures, the union has not been able to give its blessings to the process. In addition, the union has been inundated with numerous complaints from Trust Bank employees who were not given a chance to vote in terms of section 25 of the Labour Act," ZIBAWU said.
    TBC has been failing to meet depositors' demand for cash since February following a run on deposits that worsened after the central bank's January Monetary Policy statement, which exposed serious under capitalisation in several banks, including Trust.
    ZIBAWU sources said while depositors have been battling to access their savings, a painful staggered salary payment system has been ongoing at TBC, with workers sometimes accepting salaries in tranches of about US$100 per day.
    Reports have linked TBC to a possible merger with Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu's Allied Bank, which is also under-capitalised.
    If a deal goes through, a new bank emerging from the transaction will have to raise about US$15 million to meet the US$50 million required by the central bank by June 30, 2013.
    Panic heightened two weeks ago when depositors found TBC automated teller machines without cash, while the banking halls were also not disbursing cash to those making withdrawals.
    The once powerful TBC dramatically collapsed in 2003 amid allegations of massive speculation and diversion into none core activities.
    It was given the green light to resume operations in 2010 but it has been confronted by an excessively harsh business climate and cutthroat competition.


4/18/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. An Indecent Proposal That Just Might Solve the Primary Care Crisis: Meet the 35 Hour Work Week, by Leslie Kernisan MD, TheHealthCareBlog.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA — A few weeks ago, The Health Care Blog published a truly outstanding commentary by Jeff Goldsmith, on why practice redesign isn’t going to solve the primary care shortage. In the post, Goldsmith explains why a proposed model of high-volume primary care practice — having docs see even more patients per day, and grouping them in pods — is unlikely to be accepted by either tomorrow’s doctors or tomorrow’s boomer patients. He points out that we are replacing a generation of workaholic boomer PCPs with ”Gen Y physicians with a revealed preference for 35-hour work weeks.” (Guilty as charged.) Goldsmith ends by predicting a “horrendous shortfall” of front-line clinicians in the next decade.
    Now, not everyone believes that a shortfall of PCPs is a serious problem.
    However, if you believe, as I do, that the most pressing health services problems to solve pertain to Medicare, then a shortfall of PCPs is a very serious problem indeed.
    So serious that maybe it’s time to consider the unthinkable: encouraging clinicians to become Medicare PCPs by aligning the job with a 35 hour work week.

    I can already hear all clinicians and readers older than myself harrumphing, but bear with me and let’s see if I can make a persuasive case for this.
    The crisis we face
    First, consider the situation:
    The most pressing and urgent health services research problem society must solve is how to restructure healthcare such that we can provide compassionate, effective healthcare to an expanding Medicare population, at a cost the nation can sustain.
    This is a problem with very high human stakes at hand. As we know, most older adults end up undergoing considerable health-related suffering at some point, with family caregivers often being affected as well. Much of this is due to the tolls of advancing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD, arthritis, dementia. (See this handy CMS chartbook for the latest stats on chronic disease burden in the Medicare population.) And a fair part of the suffering is inflicted by the healthcare system itself, which remains ironically ill-suited to provide patient-centered care to those medically complex older adults – and their caregivers — who use the system the most.
    Needless to say, the financial stakes are high as well, with projected Medicare expenditures usually cited as the number one budget buster threatening the nation’s financial stability over the next 50 years.
    A necessary part of the solution
    Next, consider an essential component to compassionately and effectively meeting the healthcare needs of the Medicare population:
    Medicare beneficiaries – and their family caregivers – must be partnered with good PCPs who can focus on person-centered care, and can collaborate with them as they navigate the many health challenges of late life.
    Especially once they are suffering from multiple chronic illnesses and/or disability, seniors – and their families — need a stable relationship with a clinician who can fulfill the role of trusted consultant and advisor as they go through their extended medical journey. Healthcare for older adults almost always becomes complex and stressful for seniors and their families. Even educated and activated patients who are willing and able to direct their own care will need a generalist who can maintain a longitudinal health dialogue with them, and who can help them sort through complicated medical situations as they arise.
    Now, much as been made of teams in primary care, and the importance of moving past our historic model of PCP as the person who knows it all, and does it all. This change is long-overdue, and I’m thrilled to see it coming. When properly implemented, I’m quite sure that team-based care will help older adults obtain the comprehensive primary care services they need and want.
    But even with excellent team-based care, I believe most older adults will want and need a PCP to function as their high-level medical strategy consultant and collaborator.
    Common challenges for PCPs of older adults
    For instance, consider the kinds of issues I routinely addressed as a general internist for older adults:
    • Following up on 6+ chronic conditions and 12+ medications, in an integrated whole-person fashion. Good luck outsourcing this to disease management.
    • Following-up on the work of multiple specialists, many of whom hadn’t explained their thinking to the patient and family. Yes these specialists should get better at explaining their thinking. No, they will probably not resolve the conflicts between their recommendations and some other specialist’s recommendations.
    • Resolving the conflicts inherent in attempting to follow clinical practice guidelines in patients with multiple conditions. For a fun read on how elderly patients routinely generate a gazillion conflicting clinical practice guidelines, read this JAMA article.
    • Adjusting care plans as a function of goals and what seems feasible for the patient. It is pointless to recommend chronic disease management per best practices if it doesn’t seem feasible to the patient and family. Also, many disease management approaches must be modified in the face of conditions such as dementia, cancer, advanced COPD, etc. I’ve spent my fair share of time taking diabetics with mild dementia off sliding scale insulin regimens. (Hello endocrinologists, please stop recommending labor-intensive blood sugar management.)
    • Explaining why certain commonly requested interventions – antibiotics, diagnostic tests, specialty consults – might not be helpful. People have questions. Answering questions takes time and attentiveness. It’s obviously much easier to rely on the historic approach of doctors and just tell people what to do, but that’s not good care.
    • Helping patients and families prioritize and identify a few key health issues to work on at any given moment. Many older patients have 15 items on their problem list. Prioritizing is key. (Not losing track of all the issues is hard though.)
    • Helping patients and families evaluate the likely benefits and burdens of possible medical approaches. Should that lung nodule be biopsied? Should knee replacement surgery be considered now, or still deferred? So many of the decisions we face have no clear right answer.
    • Helping patients and families cope with the uncertainties of the future. For instance, it’s impossible to predict how quickly someone with dementia will decline and become unable to live at home, but these issues are of grave concern to families and they need a clinician to talk to.
    • Addressing end of life planning. I’ve found this is often trickier in the outpatient setting than on an inpatient palliative care service.
    • Weighing in on family conflicts. I’ve had to watch patients and spouses squabble in the visit over what the patient is and isn’t able to do. Similarly, adult children worried about a parent will call and ask for me to intervene. (Stop her from driving! Make him take his pills!)
    I must say that I love doing the work above. It’s deeply satisfying to help patients make sense of all that is medically happening to them, and to support them as they cope with their health challenges. But it’s also, as you can imagine, difficult work that is cognitively and emotionally demanding. The pressure of 15-20 minute visits makes things harder than they should be, but even if we went to 30-45 minute visits, the work will remain fundamentally intense and somewhat taxing for the provider.
    Can anyone seriously argue that we won’t need PCPs to do the work above for Medicare beneficiaries over the next 20 years? (Plus we’ll need them do manage dementia, falls, and all the other geriatric problems too.)
    Ok. Then if we agree that the work above is essential to the wellbeing of millions of older adults, and is a crucial component to providing overall cost-effective healthcare to the Medicare population, we must get serious about how we can recruit and keep clinicians as Medicare PCPs.
    The benefits of a 35 hour work week
    If the work of Medicare PCP could be organized so that it fit into a 35 hour work week, we’d see the following benefits:
    • More clinicians would be willing to do, or stay, in the job. Let’s face it, we have ample evidence that work-life balance is important to the younger generation of physicians, especially those with young children. As much as this dismays the older generation of physicians, this trend seems to be here to stay, so perhaps we should learn to work with it. Debt relief – the usual hope for attracting people to primary care – is never going to be enough on its own.
    • PCPs would do the job much better. Providing compassionate, comprehensive person-centered care to medically complex patients demands cognitive and emotional energy. The work of Daniel Kahneman and others has shown that people do get cognitively depleted by work which requires complex decision-making. (Once depleted, they begin seriously avoiding cognitive and emotional challenges.)
    Given that we are asking PCPs to actively engage with patients and families, embrace shared-decision making, adapt to technological changes, and make a whole host of behavior changes, making sure that clinicians in this role aren’t burnt out by long working hours just makes sense.
    Summing it up
    The impending shortage of PCPs constitutes a national emergency. In order to provide the growing Medicare population with compassionate, effective healthcare at a sustainable cost, seniors will need stable relationships with PCPs who can function as their strategic medical consultants, collaborate in helping to meet healthcare goals, and provide emotional support.
    Doing this type of PCP work can be extremely rewarding, but it’s also cognitively and emotionally demanding.
    Structuring the job of Medicare PCPs into a 35 hour work week would probably attract more clinicians to the job. It would also help PCPs maintain the cognitive and emotional resources needed to do the job consistently well, and could reduce burnout in this group of key clinicians.

  2. OTE reaches agreement on working hours at shops, telecompaper.com
    ATHENS, Greece - OTE [Organismos Télepikoinónión 'Ellados = Hellenic Telecommunications Organization S.A.] announced that a Company Collective Agreement (CCA) was signed between its management and employee representatives on the working hours at OTE shops. The agreement ensures that customers will be better served as OTE shops will be fully staffed. It was also agreed that employees will not work on an intermittent work schedule three days a week and that the company will be able to effectively organise employees' schedule according to its shops' needs.
    Under the CCA, the working hours of employees in larger OTE shops are now counted based on the total hours worked quarterly. Employees will work 3-9 hours on a daily basis, while the work schedule will be organised per month. Any possible additional or fewer working hours will be offset by correspondingly reduced or increased work within the same quarter.

  3. State Rep. Anielski Announces "Shared Work" Legislation Passes Ohio House, (4/10 late pickup) OhioHouse.gov
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Independence) today announced that the Ohio House of Representatives has passed House Bill 37, legislation that creates the SharedWork Ohio Program.
    The program allows employers to reduce the number of hours worked by employees in lieu of layoffs. It also makes it easier for employees to avoid being laid off and to receive partial unemployment benefits.
    "Legislation aimed at maintaining jobs, such as House Bill 37, are crucial in creating a healthy economy," Rep Anielski said.
    Participating employers must submit a plan to the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The plan must satisfy certain requirements and be approved by the department. Each plan takes effect on the date on which it received approval and ends at the end of the 52nd week after the plan's effective date.
    HB 37 passed the House and now will go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.


4/17/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shared Work Keeps Ohioans Employed, by Speaker William G. Batchelder (R-Medina), (4/16 late pickup) OhioHouse.gov
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - During the course of my time as Speaker of the House, we have passed and enacted many pieces of legislation geared toward getting Ohio’s economy back on track. To a large extent, we have been successful because of actions such as the creation of JobsOhio, cutting back on regulations and paperwork for small businesses, and making smarter tax policy.
    Our goal has always been to have more businesses move to Ohio, to help the businesses we have expand, and to create jobs. But another important aspect is to ensure that jobs are not being cut under the weight of a struggling economy and cutbacks. That is why I’m pleased that the Ohio House recently passed House Bill 37, which creates the “SharedWork Ohio” Program.
    SharedWork Ohio would be a federally authorized, short-term compensation program. With the program in place, employers struggling in this difficult economy will have another option, rather than having to lay off their workers. Instead, they can reduce the hours of their employees in order to avoid losing skilled workers. Under this scenario, the workers can continue to maintain their retirement and healthcare benefits. While they receive their normal pay for regular hours, they can collect unemployment for the hours they no longer work.
    Although businesses will continue to have the ability to utilize conventional layoffs, SharedWork Ohio is an alternative that can ensure they keep trained workers on the job. All they have to do is submit a plan that meets specific criteria to the director of the Department of Job and Family Services. It cannot exceed the cost of traditional layoffs. Once approved, both the business and the employees are in a better position than they would be otherwise.
    The federal government provides full funding for shared work benefits for up to three years, and also provides grants to create and promote these kinds of programs in the states. If signed into law, my hope is that employers will be able to take advantage of this program so that more Ohio families are spared from the setbacks of joblessness.
    With SharedWork Ohio, employers and employees are able to partner in doing what is best for all. I’m pleased that this legislation received a unanimous vote from the Ohio House of Representatives, and I look forward to seeing it implemented in our great state.

  2. Smithsonian to close galleries due to budget cuts from Congress; Park police face furloughs, AP via WashingtonPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Budget cuts from Congress will soon reduce the number of free exhibitions on view each day at the Smithsonian Institution and will force unpaid leave for U.S. Park Police officers who guard the nation’s monuments in Washington, New York City and elsewhere, agency officials told Congress on Tuesday.
    The House Government Oversight and Reform committee met for about three hours to hear the impact of across-the-board budget cuts on the nation’s treasures at the Smithsonian, National Archives and National Park Service.
    Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough testified that the museum complex had made administrative cuts but must now reduce its security contract for gallery attendants because of the budget cuts. As a result, the Smithsonian can’t keep all galleries open at once and will begin rolling gallery closures after May 1.
    Facing a $41 million reduction in its budget, the Smithsonian will likely postpone or cancel some exhibits for 2014 and 2015, Clough said. One example is an initiative exploring the origins of democracy at the National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian also is cutting some education programs, including an outreach publication for teachers with digital lesson plans that serves 80,000 schools.
    “There is no question sequester will have an impact on our ability to serve the American people,” Clough said. “We will face hard decisions.”
    The most popular exhibits will not be closed, though, and families and school groups should not cancel their plans to visit the Smithsonian, said spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas. Still, visitors may find signs that read “third floor galleries are closed to the public” for a day.
    Separately, the National Archives saw a $20 million cut and already has reduced its operating hours at sites in Washington and suburban Maryland.
    Meanwhile, the police force that guards the monuments and memorials on the National Mall, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City and sites in San Francisco is being forced to furlough its 767 officers. They will have to take off up to 14 days unpaid from their jobs due to the budget cuts.

    National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis told the congressional panel that the agency had to make $153 million in cuts this year across 400 parks. Salary cuts were avoided in most areas, though about 900 positions have been left unfilled.
    The U.S. Park Police budget, however, is primarily devoted to salaries. So furloughs became necessary to achieve the savings Congress mandated, Jarvis said.
    “It was a very, very difficult law to implement halfway through the year,” Jarvis said. “We do not want to impact the public.”
    Safety and security will remain the agency’s top priority, Jarvis said. Some lawmakers questioned the wisdom of furloughing police officers around prominent memorials and sites after the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon. Jarvis said he needs Congress to give him authority to transfer expenses between park service accounts, rather than mandating cuts in each unit of the agency, in order to avoid such furloughs.
    California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who called the hearing, expressed annoyance with Jarvis for speaking publicly about the negative impact of budget cuts, calling such statements “political.” Jarvis has said previously that he is worried the cuts will mean bathrooms won’t be cleaned and trash won’t be picked up enough in parks.
    Issa also said Jarvis failed to respond quickly to his request for documents and information on the park service budget.
    “Americans need to know their government can save money,” Issa said. “The fundamental question is: Can we do better with less?”
    On the National Mall, Jarvis said the memorials would remain open 24 hours a day. But officials may cut back staffing at ranger stations after 10 p.m. Currently rangers are on duty until about 11:30 p.m. to interact with visitors who come to see the memorials at night.
    Some lawmakers said the park service should have started planning sooner for Congress’ budget cuts to avoid reductions in service.
    If the budget cuts continue into the next fiscal year, Jarvis said he would need authority from Congress to offer buyouts to reduce the workforce.
    Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said Congress needs to know how the budget cuts are affecting the public.
    “I will say this over and over again: Cuts have consequences — duh,” Cummings told the three agency heads. “I’m not starting with the position that you’re trying to screw the public.”


4/16/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Regal Cinemas cuts workweek for thousands blames 'Obamacare', by Jessica Chasmar, WashingtonTimes.com
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn., USA - The largest movie theater chain in the country has cut the workweek of thousands of its employees, blaming President Obama’s health care law in a company memo that announced its decision.
    Regal Entertainment Group scaled back shifts for non-salaried workers to part time, putting them under the threshold at which employers are required to provide health insurance, Fox News reports.
    “To comply with the Affordable Care Act, Regal had to increase our health care budget to cover those newly deemed eligible based on the law’s definition of a full time employee,” the memo reads. “In addition, some managers have requested guidance on what they should tell those employees negatively impacted and, at your discretion, we suggest the following: To comply with the Affordable Care Act, Regal had to increase our health care budget to cover those newly deemed eligible based on the law’s definition of a full-time employee.”
    “To manage this budget, all other employees will be scheduled in accord with business needs and in a manner that will not negatively impact our health care budget,” the announcement continued.
    A number of colleges and businesses, such as Applebee’s and Olive Garden, have taken similar measures in order to cope with health care costs. Other business are passing the costs onto the customers.
    “Mandating businesses to offer health care under threat of debilitating fines does not fix a problem, it creates one,” a Regal manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Fox News. “It fosters a new business culture where 30 hours is now considered the maximum in order to avoid paying the high costs associated with this law.
    “In a time where 40 hours is just getting us by, putting these kind of financial pressures on employers is a big step in a direction far beyond the reach of feasibility for not only the businesses, but for the employees who rely on their success,” he said.

  2. Under the Weather: Trying to reason with furlough season, by Todd Hill, MansfieldNewsJournal.com
    MANSFIELD, Ohio, USA - Tuesday dawned stormy in northwestern Ohio, with power outages resulting in Defiance and Fulton counties.
    That line of storms, accompanying a cold front, will pass over Mansfield during the 9 a.m. hour, but it’s a very thin line and weakening. Most of the energy from the storms has been shunted up over Lake Erie into Canada.
    Passage of the cold front means temperatures Tuesday won’t do much better than the low 60s for highs, about five degrees cooler than Monday. And while this cold front will transit our area cleanly, we won’t be done with it anytime soon.
    The boundary is expected to bog down over southern Ohio before turning around and coming back up here as a warm front, but that’s not expected to happen until Wednesday night, suggesting that most of Wednesday will be dry.
    After a warm day Thursday, with the warm front above us – look for a high temperature around 80 degrees – a strong cold front will finally push through on Friday, making for a rainy end to the work week.
    While Saturday’s forecast high temperature is only 50 degrees, some 10 degrees below normal, that’s not as chilly as was expected earlier. And springlike temperatures will return for Sunday.
    Thanks to the federal budget sequestration, the National Weather Service and its parent, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are facing an 8.2 budget cut this summer. In addition to freezing hiring and trimming travel and training, the agencies are going to have to force their staff to take four days of furlough before Sept. 30.
    That this will coincide with the peak of hurricane season didn’t occur to the leaders in the White House and Congress who have failed to do their jobs and reach a budgetary compromise.

    Below are the weather statistics for Monday, April 15, at my location 4 miles north-northwest of Fredericktown, Ohio:
    Conditions – Increasing clouds, mild
    High temperature – 68; low temperature – 36 (last year, 76 and 50)
    Precipitation – none
    High barometer – 29.95 inches; low barometer – 29.86 inches
    Peak wind gust – 14 mph, south
    High dew point – 52
    Heating degree days – 13
    Today's normal high and low temperatures (Mansfield) – 60 and 38
    Today's record high and low temperatures (Mansfield) – 84 in 2002, 16 in 1935
    Today's sunrise/sunset times – 6:49 a.m./8:11 p.m.
    Moon phase – waxing crescent, 33 percent visible
    U.S. extreme temperatures – 102 in Laredo, Texas; 7 below zero in Burgess Junction, Wyo.
    thill3@nncogannett.com, 419-521-7283, Twitter: @ToddHillMNJ


4/14-15/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Border Patrol union offers cut in overtime pay to avoid furloughs, by Connor Radnovich, 4/14 (4/13 late pickup) Cronkite News Service via TucsonSentinel.com
    National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, shown at a hearing earlier this week, said Friday his union would be willing to give up time-and-a-half overtime pay in order to avoid furloughs. (photo caption)
    TUCSON, Ariz., USA - Border Patrol agents would be willing to give up time-and-a-half overtime pay if it meant they would not have to be furloughed as part of mandated federal spending cuts, their union president testified Friday.
    [Here's a new wrinkle, even more sensitive than timesizing to avoiding jobcuts by accepting hourscuts: avoiding cuts in day-at-a-time straight-time cuts by accepting hour-at-a-time overtime cuts, at least in terms of pay. (But it's never a good move to offer employers slave labor.)]
    National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told a House subcommittee that in exchange for giving up overtime pay, agents would want a two-step increase in base pay. But Judd said the government would still come out ahead.
    “The reform I have just proposed saves tax dollars, reduces overtime pay and brings about financial certainty to both the Border Patrol agents and the agency alike,” Judd said to the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.
    Judd said agents would lose about $7,000 each in overtime while only getting back about $4,000 in the base-pay increase. He said the change could save the government $40 million in the first year and $125 million annually after that.
    Customs and Border Patrol officials declined to comment Friday on the specifics of the union’s proposal, saying they are still looking at the best way to deal with the cuts that could come under the so-called budget sequestration.
    But Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, said the union’s proposal merits consideration.
    “I think we need to take a hard look at it, both the department and the Congress, to see how it might better improve our border security and give some certainty to agents and to our efforts to secure the homeland,” Barber said at the hearing.
    Judd repeated assertions that furloughs or reductions of overtime hours would simply create holes in the border that smugglers would exploit to get people and drugs into the country. He said such a move would make the country less safe and erase the progress the Border Patrol has made over the last several years.
    Judd said agents routinely work overtime now to deal with crime on the border. Agents get regular pay for the first 85.5 hours they work over a two-week period and then time-and-a-half up to 100 hours. His plan calls for straight time instead of time-and-a-half.
    Agents are paid half-time after working 100 hours in a pay period, which Judd said happens often.
    “You’re already getting us on a very cheap wage,” Judd said. “What we’re proposing is an even cheaper overtime system.”
    The proposal is in response to the sequester cuts that were scheduled to result in furloughs of Border Patrol agents this month. Those furloughs were put on hold after Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a budget resolution March 26 that funded government operations for the rest of this fiscal year.
    The cuts are still coming, but Customs and Border Protection is taking a second look at where to cut. The agency has not indicated how long the reprieve might last.
    “CBP is re-evaluating previously planned furloughs and de-authorization of administratively uncontrollable overtime and will postpone implementation of both at this time,” agency spokesman Michael Friel said Friday in an email.
    Judd said the union hopes to get its pay proposal attached as an amendment to immigration reform bills that are expected to be introduced soon in the House and Senate.
    Furloughs and cutting overtime hours would be equivalent to reducing the patrol’s workforce by 20 percent, Judd said, a change that smugglers would be sure to exploit.
    He said the advantage of the union proposal is that it provides consistency and maintains the workforce currently stationed on the border. While other methods of patrolling – such as unmanned aircraft – are helpful, Judd said there still need to be agents on the ground to make arrests.
    TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

  2. 29-hour work week a misguided directive, by Shane Wade, 4/14 (4/11 late pickup) CommonwealthTimes.org
    RICHMOND, Va., USA - For hourly employees, there’s a big difference between a 29-hour work week and a 30-hour work week. Unfortunately, Gov. Bob McDonnell doesn’t understand that or the struggles of the working class.
    [With 30 you get Obamacare. With 29 you don't.]
    McDonnell recently announced a directive calling for all state agencies to limit the workload of hourly employees to 29 hours per week. The directive circumvents the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates that all state agencies or businesses with more than 50 employees provide health insurance to those who work at least 30 hours per week.
    Not only were agencies provided an inadequate amount of time to prepare for the changes, this action is and should be known as one of the most mishandled and self-serving executive actions McDonnell ever enacted.
    In seeking to express an opposition to a section of the mandate that would negatively impact small to medium-sized businesses, he robs more than 37,000 hourly state employees from achieving a higher standard of living. The directive is ultimately a misguided attempt to make a statement about the ACA.
    Fears about the cost of implementing the policy are less distressing when you realize that providing the benefits guaranteed by the act would cost Virginia around $110 million annually and, according to McDonnell himself, Virginia had a $448.5 million budget surplus for the fiscal year of 2012.
    Wage employees across the state of Virginia, including student workers here at VCU, will be negatively affected.
    As reported in the Commonwealth Times, there are about 300 adjunct professors here at VCU. They already work for relatively low wages and now they’ll have to adjust for a stricter work schedule and a decreased amount of reportable time.
    Students are already stretched by VCU’s increasing tuition, monthly student loan payments and the costs of living. Full-time students cannot be expected to become full-time workers. They also can’t afford to work less hours and be paid less.
    If VCU is to be academically triumphed, students will need time to properly address their studies, as well as participate in extracurricular activities. The proposed $52 million expansion to Cabell Library will mean nothing and be a waste if VCU cannot or refuses to pony up the additional $10 million per year to pay for our wage employees.
    It was manipulative and callous of McDonnell to activate a backdoor initiative to circumvent the federal mandate and dupe state employees out of their chance to get health care.
    While the initial cost of the ACA are high in order to help subsidize health insurance costs, there are tangible losses to these sorts of workplace reductions, including effects on employee morale, workplace productivity and retention and recruitment.
    Fifteen percent of Virginia residents under 65 don’t have health insurance, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings.
    That 15 percent could greatly benefit from having health insurance. The state could have benefitted if a larger percentage of the population had health care coverage and didn’t treat the emergency room as their primary health provider.
    The 29-hour work week directive is more likely to beget an increased number of non-emergency Emergency Response visits, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program requests and other social safety net programs.
    Neither the ACA nor our current healthcare system is the solution to the massive health care inefficiencies in America; they don’t incentivize individuals to be healthier, there’s too many bureaucratic inefficiencies involved in pharmaceuticals and the consumer doesn’t have adequate choices. The response, however, should not be a sudden, damaging directive aimed at workers.
    State institution executives, including university presidents, must make McDonnell understand how destructive his narrow-minded world view is. They need to speak truth to power and protect Virginians.
    The people need a voice that advocates for the public and the middle class, not corporations or political parties.

  3. Letter: Adjunct example can be misleading, 4/15 (4/14 late pickup) Albany Times Union via timesunion.com
    ALBANY, N.Y., USA - I am an adjunct faculty member of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
    While I don't speak for my employer, I do have another, informed perspective on "Hours cut to dodge costs," March 25, about Hudson Valley Community College cutting the hours of part-time teachers to avoid health insurance requirements under the Affordable Care Act, and Paul Rogan's letter in response, "Health care act hurts businesses," April 2.
    While I, too, find it regrettable that HVCC is cutting hours for its adjunct faculty, I must point out that not all adjuncts are trying to scrape together a living by teaching alone.
    Adjuncts come from many backgrounds, whether it be doctoral students, tenured professors at other institutions, or highly industrious and intelligent individuals who work full time in some other capacity. These roles as adjuncts are definitively part time, as we only have the time and energy to teach one or two courses. In this capacity, we won't be working in excess of 30 hours and, excepting the doctoral students, most of us have health insurance provided by the employer we work for full time.
    While HVCC is cutting back on adjunct work hours, life with the Affordable Care Act will go on as usual for many more of us. I also must point out that HVCC is not a private business, but is a publicly funded nonprofit institution of the State University of New York.
    There are fair criticisms that can be brought against the act, but suggesting HVCC and its adjuncts as an example of how the act would harm private business employment is a slippery slope that I wouldn't walk.
    Peter Bailie
    Adjunct professor, Department of Computer Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Schenectady

  4. Chairman's term won't give enough time to set work hours law, says legislator, by Phila Siu phila.siu@scmp.com, 4/14 (4/15 dateline issue) South China Morning Post via SCMP.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - The government will definitely not have enough time to legislate standard working hours if it works within the present terms it has set, a veteran labour activist says.
    Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan yesterday criticised Labour and Welfare Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung for setting the standard working hours committee chairman's term at three years. It was a form of procrastination, he said.
    "Why did Cheung set it as three years instead of at one or two years? That's because the Legislative Council's present term would end exactly by that time. And Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would have only a year left by then," Lee said.
    "There would definitely not be enough time to legislate this law," Lee said.
    The 24-member special committee was set up last week to look into the benefits and disadvantages of standardising working hours in Hong Kong.
    The committee's chairman, Dr Leong Che-hung, said he hopes to submit a report to the government by the end of his three-year term.
    During City Forum at Victoria Park yesterday, Lee cited a government report in November as saying that more than 300,000 of the city's workers did not get any overtime pay. That amounted to an annual average of HK$14.1 billion.
    Employers would have to pay out up to HK$55.2 billion more a year in wages if a labour law standardising working hours were introduced.
    Unionists have been calling for a 40- to 44-hour work week and for those who put in longer hours to be paid 1.5 times their usual rate of wages.
    [Maybe we'll soon be able to welcome Hong Kong to the year 1940, when on Oct.24, the USA implemented a 40-hour workweek with those who put in longer hours to be paid "time and a half." Now we need to modernize our overtime-disincentive design for employers and employees, since the addition of benefits since 1940 gradually reduced time&ahalf's disincentive value for employers, and time&ahalf was always more of an incentive than a disincentive for employees in the first place - what were we thinking?!]
    Another speaker at the forum, research fellow Raymond Yeung of Shue Yan University, pointed out that introducing such a labour law would usually take a long time.
    For example, he said, it took South Korea five years - from 1998 to 2003 - to introduce their 40-hour work week law.
    Honorary life chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Ho Sai-chu, said the issue was more complex than legislating minimum wage as it covered more workers.
    More than 220,000 people would benefit when the minimum wage level goes up to HK$30 an hour next month.
    But setting standard work hours at 48 or 40 hours a week would affect 1.32 million or 2.38 million people respectively.
    "Many people's salaries are calculated on a monthly basis. If we have this law, does it mean that we will have to change the calculation of their wages to an hourly basis?" Ho said.
    "We need to study very carefully to see if it will affect Hong Kong's economic development."


4/13/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. SRS work reduction hours grow, by Mike Gellatly, AikenStandard.com
    SAVANNAH RIVER SITE, Ga., USA - More workers than originally announced will face reduced work weeks and full furloughs at the Savannah River Site due to sequestration, if financial help does not arrive.
    Two work weeks have passed since furloughs began April 1 as a result of sequestration. Managing contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and the Department of Energy have reassessed and altered plans, meaning that more workers are affected, but they have pushed back when full-time furloughs will begin.
    “The Savannah River Site has 2,525 contractors on 32-hour workweek furloughs,” said DOE-SR Director of Public Affairs Jim Guisti. “Over 900 of these will go on full-time furlough June 1 for the balance of the year, while the other 1,620 will remain on a 32-hour week through September 30. These furloughs are the result of a variety of budgetary impacts.”
    The aim is to push back full-time furloughs as long as possible to wait for other sources of funding.
    Originally, a March 5 letter to Gov. Nikki Haley from Daniel Poneman, Deputy Energy Secretary, announced that a $104 million reduction in contractor funds would result in “furloughs or layoffs” of around 2,100 contractors. SRNS laid out a plan of around 2,000 “32-hour workweek furloughs.”
    “The larger number ... that allowed us not to have any full-time furloughs, while we try to mitigate the impact. That's what the goal is,” Guisti said. “Whether we are successful or not is yet to be seen.”
    The financial lifeline is the reprogramming of millions of dollars from other federal projects to be used at SRS.
    Sequestration cost SRS around $100 million, and the reprogramming would return a portion of that. The amount of funds to be reprogrammed has not officially been released, even to representative Joe Wilson, who has requested the information. However, in talking with The Aiken Standard, Sen. Lindsey Graham put the amounts at $80 million.
    “I think we are trying to resolve it so we can reduce the impact as much as we can, to the workers,” Guisti said.
    Asked about any movement in the reprogramming funds process, Guisti said it would be inappropriate for him to comment directly.
    “It requires a number of things to happen in Washington,” he said. Last week, Wilson sent a letter urging for the process to be expedited.

  2. Work smart, and not long, by Madhavi Rajadhaksha, (4/14 early pickup) TNN via Times of India via articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    NEW DELHI, India - In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes had famously envisaged that the world would replace [most] work with leisure by 2030 C.E.; people would work shifts that lasted only three hours and a working week would span 15 hours [five 3-hour days]. His speculation seems way[?] off the mark [still 17 years to go!], but arriving at the ideal number of working hours remains a laborious task, even today.
    [No, getting people like Madhavi Rajadhaksha to realize that there is no single "ideal number of working hours" is the laborious task. Once that's done, actually setting up systems that adjust workweeks against unemployment, low sales or lack of profitable investment opportunities is easy by comparison.]
    Earlier this week the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) proposed that working hours in private companies in India, particularly in the modern manufacturing sector, be reduced from the current 48 hours per week to 35. The union, with over six million workers under its ambit, will launch a national campaign from October pressing for this demand as a means to stem job losses and create employment.
    CITU president A K Padmanabhan believes that for educated, qualified workers to find employment, measures such as reduced hours have to be adopted. "The question of unemployment is the largest challenge India is facing today. While productivity has gone up over the years, the share of wages is falling and people are losing their jobs," he says. Critics have been quick to label the union demand as regressive and detrimental to India's economic growth. "The move will have an adverse impact on productivity which is undesirable at a point of time when we are facing stiff competition in the global market," says B P Pant, executive director, All India Organisation of Employers. But world over, countries have steadily reduced their work hours not only to improve productivity and ensure a better work-life balance, but also to fight economic crises.
    This is best captured by the shift in the global policy of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO had initially set the maximum working week for public and private industrial workers at 48 hours through its Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 which is ratified by 52 countries including India. Following widespread unemployment resulting from the 1930s economic crises, it however, lowered this threshold to 40 hours.
    The economic rationale behind reducing work hours is to spread the same volume of work over the existing number of workers so as to prevent lay-offs or create jobs by splitting the same work among more workers. This may mean lower pay for workers paid per hour, but it prevents job losses. In the wake of the 2009 economic crises many countries adopted work-sharing methods . Germany introduced a federal work-sharing programme, kurzarbeit, the largest such initiative, involving 64,000 establishments and benefiting 1.5 million employees. It was also adopted by middle-income countries like South Africa, Argentina, Turkey and Hungary whose export-centirc sectors and consumer goods industries had been hit.
    In the last decade, countries have reduced their statutory weekly working hours from 48 to 40. ILO's latest publication on the issue, Working Time in the Twenty-first Century (2011), estimates that 41% of countries provide a 40-hour week. The European Union leads with an estimated 67% of developed countries following this norm, with some like France working as little as 35 weekly hours.
    Developing countries too have adopted shorter work hours. Brazil reduced its statutory weekly hours from 48 to 44 in 1988, and China adopted the 40-hour week in 1995. Over 40% of countries in Africa work 40-hour weeks.
    Corporate economist and the author of Macroeconomics Demystified, Madan Sabnavis believes such measures make sense during an economic slowdown. "By lowering the number of hours, a company would cut down on its administrative costs. But such measures are temporary at best, linked to the production cycle," he explains.

  3. INTUC, BMS call 35-hour week utopian, GovernanceNow.com
    NEW DELHI, India - In the era of better technology, which has produced millions of unemployed people and also forced its workers to work overtime, the CPM’s trade union arm – Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has made a radical suggestion of reducing work hours to 35 hours from 48 hours a week. It also plans a campaign to push the idea.
    “We have a jobless growth for the last few years. In the 11th five-year plan when economy was growing at more than eight percent, employment generation was just 0.7 percent. But during the 10th five-year plan when the GDP growth was much less, we used to generate employment at 2.7 percent. The only way that we can increase job opportunities is through reducing working hours and include more people in it,” said Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU, who presented a report to this effect in the recently concluded CITU conference in Kannur.
    Sen said there should be four instead of three shifts in a day and more people should be employed.
    [That would involve a six-hour day and a 36-hour workweek with a one-day weekend, or a 30-hour workweek with a two-day weekend, as was passed by the US Senate in 1933 by a large majority, and as Lord Leverhulme recommended and W.K. Kellogg actually implemented in his cereal company. And as the CCC and the WPA actually practiced because there simply was not 40 hours of work for everyone who needed a full-time job.]
    “It will not impact productivity,” he added. He said this idea was still only a suggestion and CITU would discuss it with other trade unions.
    He also said that this idea had been implemented in France a decade ago, but the 35-hour week work was still generating debates across the world. “The social equilibrium has to be addressed, otherwise there is a chance that social unrest will take place. The best way is to include more people in the job,” said Sen.
    But the Congress’s trade union arm, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), doesn’t fancy CITU’s idea. “Will the company give the same salary in the reduced working time,” said Rajendra Prasad Singh, general secretary of INTUC. He added, “Even the public sector companies are reducing workforce. In this situation how can you expect companies to work on this formula?”
    [Half the labor movement has been suicidally blocked on this issue. And with general secretaries of unions like Rajendra Prasad Singh, who needs Wall Street vultures? Dump them or speed your plunge to deeper poverty. Shorter hours are a system requirement more and more urgent with each step farther into the age of robotics. Wake up, Rajendra, to the Ford-Reuther Paradox: carmaker Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" laborleader Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars." THAT is why more and more smart companies will be reducing worktime, not workforce&markets. We are in a diagonally downward spiral whose every up-arc is hailed as Recovery but from which there is no recovery without overtime-to-training&jobs conversion and downward workweek adjustment against un(der)employment as far as it takes to achieve and maintain full employment and the resulting maximally active consumer base.]
    The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), trade union arm of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also rejected CITU’s suggestion. “Why don’t CITU raise the voice as many post[s] are vacant in PSUs. There is no regularisation of daily wage workers,” said Akhtar Hussain, vice president, BMS. He termed it as a utopian idea.
    [And thereby revealed himself as having been promoted to his level of incompetence. Pie in the sky? Check a page of working models. "Utopian" in the age of robotics? Oh please. Forty years after humans have walked on the Moon? When miracles of longevity are happening to thousands of patients with clogged heart arteries every day? It's just surprising that these inertial defeatists in the INTUC or BMS have the naivete to call anything utopian in the sense of impractical or unfeasible in this day and age. They are clearly living in 1320 instead of 2013. Our most conservative American industries had 35-hour workweeks 50-60 years ago. Insurance. academe... Wall Street itself had 37.5 hours for clerks in the 1960s as colleague Kate can attest from personal experience.]
    Hussain said that the instead of 48 hours, the workers work for 60 hours in a week and they don’t even get overtime for it.
    [That is Hussain's fault for not organizing his sector of India's labor movement around its power issue = controlling labor's wage-depressing surplus by cutting the workweek. What's he been doing? Taking money from India's most suicidal entrepreneurs and industrialists who are OK with trying to get upsizing (=growth) by downsizing employee-consumers instead of hours and thereby defunding their customers' customers?]

  4. Statutory work hours feasible? by Li Kui-Wai, China Daily via chinadaily.com.cn
    [Not if China wants to hang onto its position as the Bottom in the worldwide Race to the Bottom! But China should then make sure it receives the free ass's head that Bottom always gets to wear. All us other kids are sooo jealous!]
    HONG KONG, China - The Hong Kong government has recently set up a committee to look into the feasibility of implementing statutory working hours, including a possible maximum number of working hours. This can be unnecessarily confusing and complicated if some economic concepts are not cleared.
    [Ohoh, an economics professor setting out to "clear" some economic concepts. Fasten your brain belts.]
    The government has already implemented a statutory minimum wage of HK$28 per hour since two years ago, which will be raised to HK$30 next month.
    [Minimum wages are system-destructive and should be replaced by maximum workhours to harness market forces in raising wages with flexibility and diversity and without opening a gap at the bottom of the wage ladder against new entrants.]
    There are always debates and vested interest in labor issues. Workers always ask for higher pay thinking that employers always generate profit. Businesses always minimize their wage payment as employers have to shoulder the business risk, and profit is not a guarantee. While people may take sides in any employer-labor relationship, the simple truth is that they need each other, and should be seen more as a complimentary than a conflicting relationship. It would be better to nurture a more harmonious relationship.
    [Ah, Chinese Harmony. Sounds like a restaurant.]
    The labor pressure groups are asking for a statutory regime of working hours. One concern is that there has to be a distinction between workers that are paid hourly and workers that are paid monthly.
    [Oops. Already we're losing clarity. What the perfesser is driving at is the distinction between wage workers and salaried or piece workers, and to have a time accounting system that handles both, you need shadow time-accounting of salaried or piece workers, who are paid by the task unit (including the whole job description = salaried) and not the time unit, since the number of workhours per hour is fixed at one, while the number of possible actual workhours per month varies from zero to (31x24=) 744.]
    Low-skilled workers tend to be paid on an hourly basis, and the minimum wage legislation has provided them with enough protection.
    [This from a comfy perfessor, who has no direct experience on which to judge whether low-skilled workers in China are being provided with "enough." It would be a sure bet that if he did have some direct experience, he personally would immediately decide that it was NOT enough, for him.]
    The issue for the hourly-paid workers is simpler [simpler than "low-skilled workers paid on an hourly basis"? they're one and the same! THIS he calls making things clear?], in that pay is calculated based on the number of hours worked. A law on working hours may ["may"?? how about "is designed to"!] put a cap on the maximum number of work hours, and extra or overtime pay will have to be made should employers ask the workers to work in excess of the statutory working hours.
    [But we only have to cap those with inflationary never-enuf-money incentive. If you're willing to reinvest your overwork earnings in training and jobs for others, hell, you can work all 168 hours a week cuz you love your job, want to share it with others and have deflationary incentive cuz you can't believe you're getting paid for having fun!]
    This is a double-edged sword. Employers can hire more workers to ensure that no one exceeds the maximum hours. The workers will have some kind of protection but may not be able to earn because of the cap on working hours.
    [He has not mentioned any double-edged sword here. It's win-win: a win if employers hire more workers because it lowers unemployment and raises consumer spending and marketable productivity and profitable investment, and a win if workers can't earn more by working chronic overtime instead of upgrading their skills and earning more within straight time. Prior establishment of a system to convert chronic overtime into training&jobs can help workers upgrade their skills and earn more within straight time. Oops, gotta stop the commentary and put it another article or two.]
    For workers on monthly salary, the law on maximum working hours may not be that straightforward due to a number of factors such as the nature of the profession, corporate culture, psychological strain, seasonality of the business and the supply of professionals. It is true that white-collar workers and professionals in Hong Kong tend to work after "office hours", and many even complain of heavy workloads or pressure from work, while others may not be able to leave "early" as other workers are staying behind after office hours. There is a large work/time disparity among professionals on a monthly salary.
    The nature of the profession often dictates working hours. Some work on shifts. Firemen may not have any fire to fight during their shift. Medical doctors may be on-call after the shift, especially when there is a lack of qualified medical personnel. Other professional jobs may require constant updating and upgrading, and many workers attend evening classes to ensure their competitiveness. Some sales persons have to travel to meet clients at odd hours. In short, it is impossible to have one law that suits people from all walks of life.
    One can complain about "overwork", while others may consider that an increase in productivity and efficiency. Hong Kong has a unique working culture. Firstly, distance to work is not that long and travel time is controllable. The hiring of housemaids lessens some of the workload of female workers. The culture has also been shaped by economic events. The outbreak of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 led to economic recession in Hong Kong until 2005. As a result, the unemployment rate topped 7 percent at one time. Fearful of losing their jobs many people worked longer in order to help their employers and fellow workers through the bad times.
    The problem for professionals and workers with monthly salaries is not so much about overtime, or the need to have maximum statutory working hours. The practice adopted during the time of the Asian financial crisis has to change. It is time to return to the 40-hour week, but employers may have to hire more. The question then is whether employers can afford it, and whether there are suitable workers to hire? For medical professionals, there is just insufficient supply, as the demand rises faster than the supply. Even with higher pay, medical personnel may need to work overtime. In other professions there may be excess supply of workers, and competition is high. But whether employers can hire more depends also on business prospects and other production costs.
    Discussion of statutory working hours does serve the purpose of arousing people's interest in their working patterns. One should not think of such a law as an extension of the minimum wage law. Statutory working hours can be both beneficial and detrimental to workers paid on an hourly basis, yet difficult to apply to workers paid on a monthly basis. While it is true that society prefers to have some norms on working hours, such norms should not rob people of the freedom of work. Ultimately, it is the availability of jobs and the supply of labor that count. We should think more in terms of expanding job horizons and employment opportunities for workers rather than restricting opportunities.
    The author is associate professor at the Department of Economics and Finance at City University of Hong Kong.
    (HK [hardcopy] Edition 04/13/2013 page6)

    [Another take today (qiki) -]
    Standard working hours exemptions call, RTHK.hk
    HONG KONG, China - An employer representative on the committee set up by the government to study whether standard working hours should be introduced in Hong Kong, says some jobs should be exempt from any such move. Ho Sai-chu, who's also honorary chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, says it's not practical to impose restrictions in some areas, including the police and fire services.


4/12/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Thurber's Thoughts: A collection of thoughts from a conservative in Northwest Ohio - Fighting the good fight and standing for Constitutional principles, (4/11 late pickup) thurbersthoughts.blogspot.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA — Ohio House passes 'Shared Work' program
    Press Release from the Ohio House: “Shared Work” Program Passes Ohio House
    The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 37, legislation that creates the SharedWork Ohio Program.
    The program allows employers to reduce the number of hours worked by employees in lieu of layoffs. It also makes it easier for employees to avoid being laid off and to receive partial unemployment benefits.

    “This bill gives more flexibility to employers and employees when assessing layoffs,” Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder said. “Rather than having to decide on a zero-sum scale, through the Shared Work Ohio program workers can still have the opportunity for partial employment. At the same time, this will reduce the strain on the state’s unemployment benefits system.”
    Participating employers must submit a plan to the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The plan must satisfy certain requirements and be approved by the department. Each plan takes effect on the date on which it received approval and ends at the end of the 52nd week after the plan’s effective date.
    HB 37 now will go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

    Maggie Thurber - Works at Corsair Communications, Attended University of Toledo, Lives in Toledo, OH: "I have a communication consulting firm, I'm a former public official and avid sailor/racer. I'm also a contributor to Ohio Watchdog."

  2. IMO seeks national policy on NCHDs' working hours - Delegates vote at the National NCHD Committee Meeting in Killarney, by Lloyd Mudiwa lloyd.mudiwa@imt.ie, Irish Medical Times via imt.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The IMO [Irish Medical Organisation] has called on the HSE [Health Service Executive] to immediately work with it on agreeing a detailed and chronological action plan for the implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) in relation to NCHDs’ working hours, in line with their 2010 contract.
    [The EWTD is an unnecessarily stifling 48-hour maximum workweek that lacks the option of working overtime on condition that overtime earnings be reinvested in overtime-targeted training and hiring, in order to smoothly and automatically convert chronic overtime and overwork (overtime per person from multiple jobs) into jobs, and training whenever needed.]
    At a National NCHD [Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors] Committee Meeting during the IMO AGM [Annual General Meeting] in Killarney, NCHDs debated motions highlighting issues with regard to their contracts, working hours, training and educational issues, workforce planning and duties.
    Newly-elected Committee Chairman Dr John Donnellan said: “In addition to calling for a detailed action plan for the implementation of the EWTD, we are asking that NCHDs be paid for all hours worked and that a national policy on NCHD-inappropriate tasks and a redefinition of the duties and responsibilities of NCHDs must be agreed with the IMO as a matter of urgency, with a practical timeline for implementation.”
    The IMO’s key objective, he said, was to ensure that the Irish health service continued to attract the best doctors and provide excellent training, defined career paths and the highest standard of patient care and safety, which he said could only be achieved by the full implementation of the contract, improved working conditions and the removal of inappropriate tasks.
    Dr Donnellan said the ever-increasing demands on an overloaded health service in turn increased demands on NCHDs, already working “dangerous and illegal” hours, many of which remained unpaid by hospitals that “unfairly” targeted NCHDs for cost savings, while making “no attempt” to actively improve patient care by reducing “unsafe” NCHD working hours.
    About Lloyd Mudiwa - Lloyd Mudiwa is Head of News at IMT and specialises in health policy, the HSE, medical regulation, NCHD issues, public health and health research.

  3. How many working hours do we need to torpedo the shirk ethic? (4/13 early pickup) Times of India via articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    DELHI, India - Hard work's pointless. So wrote best-selling French author Corinne Maier, tongue partly in cheek. This sniper at corporate culture should be happy all workplaces have their roving ambassadors of feigned professionalism. These types are mostly not in their seats. They've just stepped out. They're out to lunch. They've left for ill-defined assignments, having duly marked attendance.
    [Here's an angle on "shorter hours are happening anyway but not the best way" that we haven't paid much attention to yet! Let's hear it for Wally in the Dilbert cartoon strips! = chief reciprocator of current levels of employer loyalty to employees.]
    Or, if accosted, they're busy looking busy. Hail these karamcharis. Like all kaamchors, they're veterans of the unbearable flightiness of shirking.
    [No idea on exact translations of these Hindi(?) words but "shirk ethic" plays on "work ethic", and "the unbearable flightiness of shirking" plays on book&movie title, "the unbearable lightness of being."]
    If unions often champion this tribe of exalted nine-to-fivers, there's a reason. Why must wage earners maintain the pretence of being gainfully preoccupied eight hours daily? It amounts to veritable slave labour! So, disgruntled workers of the unionised world, unite. You've nothing to lose but your weekly 48-hour pains. CPM-linked CITU wants daily grinds of just seven hours - that is, a 35-hour workweek. That's the way to fight unemployment, it insists. Yup, it's all kaam ke vaaste.
    Q: Only, wouldn't trimmed work hours entail pay cuts?
    [System-wide? No. On a system-wide basis (and the system can be as small as a single industry or city) trimmed work hours mean pay raises, because pay goes by supply and demand, not by work hours or productivity or anything else, and cutting work hours cuts supply and raises demand, gets employers bidding against one another for good help (as during "wartime prosperity"), and harnesses market forces in flexibly raising wages and spending = win win win win, instead of today's WIN for employers & lose for everyone else; then win for employers & LOSE for everyone else; then win for employers & lose for everyone else...]
    In aspiration-driven India, will curtailed 'drudgery' suit millions who're happy to drudge more to earn more?
    [Hey, if you east Indian wage slaves really love your chains, you're welcome to them, but don't expect any outside economy with any self-respect to copy - or compete to the bottom - with you.]
    And why should unionised labour aristocrats get to pack up earlier than unorganised sector?...
    ["The squeaking wheel gets the grease," and organized squeaks are a lot more audible, less ignorable that unorganized squeaks. Time to move from "should" to strategy, and organization is a proven one that we've kinda dropped in the USA, so we've given you guys in India a big chance to kick our butt.]


4/11/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. SharedWork Ohio Passes the House: SB37, Politics are Personal via BeforeItsNews.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - The Ohio House of Representatives unanimously passed Sub. House Bill legislation sponsored by State Representatives Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) and Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) to help prevent layoffs across the state. The bill is now headed to the Ohio Senate where a companion bill has already passed, indicating a likelihood of bill passage in the near future.
    HB 37 creates SharedWork Ohio, a program that provides Ohio employers with an alternative to layoffs. Rather than layoff a set number of workers in order to cut costs, employers instead choose to reduce the number of hours worked for a specific group of employees. Those workers earn normal pay for regular hours, but collect unemployment for the hours they no longer work.
    Workers retain both their healthcare and retirement benefits under a shared work program. The bill is supported by the Ohio Chamber, Ohio Manufacturer’s Association, the NFIB, the United Way of Central Ohio and a group called Policy Matters.
    “This bill literally saves jobs”, said Representative Mike Duffey. “For Ohio families, this legislation has the potential to prevent the kind of terrible news that nobody wants to receive—that they no longer have a job. With SharedWork Ohio, both employers and employees have a reason to celebrate today.”
    Unlike traditional layoffs, which result in significantly higher unemployment premiums for affected employers, SharedWork Ohio costs less for Ohio employers as the result of reimbursements from the federal government that exists until 2015. This provides Ohio employers with a clear financial incentive to choose shared work over traditional layoffs beyond the natural incentive of keeping talented workers.
    “I appreciate Representative Duffey’s invitation to be a joint sponsor of this bill,” Rep. Scherer said. “Scott Blue, plant manager of Kenworth-Chillicothe was a leader in making this bill possible.”
    Under SharedWork Ohio, participating employers must submit a plan to the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The plan must be in lieu of layoffs and cannot exceed the total unemployment cost of a traditional layoff.
    HB 37 now will go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. If passed, Ohio will join 25 other states as well as the District of Columbia in passing shared work laws to help cope with unemployment.
    http://www.ohiohouse.gov/republicans/press/shared-work-program-passes-ohio-house
    If you think this sounds like a something that Ohio needs, write your Senator and demand his/her support for it; if not, tell him/her to vote NO. Be certain to follow the vote so you know if your Rep. is listening.
    ...Contact the author at PoliticsArePersonal (AT) Gmail (DOT) Com

  2. WI conservatives find an entitlement program they like, by Ryan Ekvall, Kansas Watchdog via watchdog.org
    Sharing: A Wisconsin ‘work-share’ bill is designed to keep workers working, but does it come at the expense of conservative principles on big government? (photo caption)
    [Oh please spare us the all-or-nothing, black-or-white thinking.]
    MADISON, Wisc., USA – The get-the-government-out-of-our-face party welcomed the help of the federal government this week, when Senate Republicans passed a new entitlement program for businesses and the already-employed.
    Through the “work-share” program, the state – via the unemployment insurance taxes it collects from businesses — would pay benefits to certain employees who have had their hours cut at work.
    [instead of getting laid off, which would really hammer the unemployment insurance fund.]
    The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote – Republicans in favor, Democrats against.

    [Explained further down.]
    The bill now goes to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.
    “This bill can help people keep their jobs and help businesses retain skilled workers,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in a statement. “By giving the private sector this flexibility, we’re providing an added safety net for Wisconsin workers when times get tough.”
    The initiative allows a state-approved business to reduce the hours of a group of at least 20 employees instead of laying off a few workers.
    Some fairly good-sized businesses experiencing production slowdown would be able to retain all their employees. Some employees would earn most of their full-time income while working fewer hours. Businesses that don’t participate in the program but pay into unemployment insurance would help pick up the tab.
    Work share is a depression-era entitlement program made permanent in parts of Europe, notably with Germany’s Kurzarbeit – German for “short work.”
    [First time we've heard it called an "entitlement" program - or "depression-era" for that matter. It was only back in the 1980s that most of the 17-18 states that have had it on the books for years first passed it.]
    Economists have found work sharing offers no reduction in unemployment or increase in production in Germany.
    [Uh, why are they looking for a reduction in unemployment from a program that is designed to prevent a rise in unemployment? And why would they be looking for an increase in production when the whole context of worksharing is a decrease in production - that's why the ultimatum of layoffs or worksharing in the first place!]
    “Study after study after study shows that European work sharing programs have done nothing to increase employment. One study of 16 developed countries found no evidence that work sharing programs created or saved jobs.
    ["Or saved jobs"? That is just plumb ridiculous. German unemployment stayed down throughout the downturn and even declined further to 1992 levels. Google "Dean Baker" of CEPR who has been publishing the data on "the German miracle" for nearly four years now.]
    If anything, the evidence suggests that work sharing slightly reduces the number of workers companies hire,” wrote James Sherk, a policy analyst for the conservative think tank The Heritage Center.
    [Again, the whole point of worksharing is to stop firings, not maintain hirings. James Sherk should know that, and if he doesn't, he's just straining to find SOMEthing to criticize a very successful program for. James "The Jerk" Sherk is shirking his duty to espouse the truth, however unwelcome it may be to his conservative think tank.]
    From The Economist magazine:
    “Kurzarbeit schemes may also deprive rival companies of a chance to put workers to better use elsewhere in the economy,” notes The Economist.
    [Uh, what incentive would the conservative Economist magazine of London think that competitive companies might have to help their rivals aka competitors??? And this quote is probably a few years old now, because according to colleague Kate who reads The Economist assiduously cover-to-cover, in recent months The Economist has been praising Kurzarbeit and even shorter hours in general.]
    “Rival firms will, after all, struggle to tempt a worker earning 80% of a full-time wage for 50% of the work.”
    [And what could rival firms possibly offer during a downturn that would tempt a worker, who is getting 50% more of the most basic freedom, Free Time, and foregoing only 20% of his/her usual income? This whole attempt at Kurzarbeit bashing is just too much of a stretch.]
    Party of pragmatism
    Wisconsin legislative Republicans, led by conservative superstar Walker, have pushed limiting the size of government. Walker has turned down billions of dollars in federal high-speed rail and Medicaid money, citing the need for his state and the nation to “break the cycles of generational dependence on the government.”
    [Well, we in "Taxachusetts" would like to thank Walker cuz we grabbed a bunch of that money to expand our own rail system. We've got ten trains a day now from Boston all the way up to Freeport, Maine with hopes of reaching Bangor. We've got our fingers crossed for a restoration of at least one train a day from Boston directly diagonal to Montreal, or even via a right angle at Springfield, Mass. And when Bill Kirby at Harvard Alumni Day tells us that the Chinese bullet train goes from Beijing to Shanghai in 2.5 hours(?), we dream of getting to downtown New York City in an hour and 15 minutes.]
    “Reforming entitlements, like Medicaid and unemployment insurance, puts an emphasis on independence and the dignity that comes with working hard to build a prosperous future of your own choosing,” the governor told a gathering at the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Business Day in February.
    [If FDR had got behind the Black 30-hour workweek bill in 1933 and pushed it through the House, he would have held the private sector's feet to the fire and made them fund their own damn markets by rehiring their own downsized employees, instead of cornering himself into dragging taxpayers to establish unemployment insurance and the other three socialisms (SocSec which later added Medicaid, minimum wage, & workmen's comp) and the whole alphabet soup of gov't makework (CCC, WPA, NRA, TVA...) which just goes on and on (Americorps, Peace Corps, block grants, enterprise zones, industrial "policy", corp.taxbreaks, NSF, NEA...) and spills over into private-sector makework and corporate welfare (trucking, fishing, farming, mining...; & in high-tech, virus writing, & checking; spam writing, & filtering; adware writing, & blocking; spyware writing, & extracting...).]
    With the work-share bill, however, Republicans showed they aren’t always averse to accepting federal funds that have a sunset expiration.
    [And worksharing is a temporary halfway step, on an emergency basis assuming the downturn is temporary (which it isn't) toward permanent Timesizing - which with only one "sin tax" where the sin is chronic overtime (OT) and you get a 100% taxbreak for reinvesting OT savings in OT-targeted T&H (training&hiring) - which with only this one strategically exemptable tax restores and maintains full employment without runaway inflation. If all this OT to jobs conversion doesn't maximize markets by delivering full employment, Timesizing adjusts "full time" downward as much as it takes to get the maxxed-up markets that full employment delivers, as shown by the wartime prosperity of 1941-45 - only Timesizing does it without all the destruction of consumers and product entailed in war.]
    The state Department of Workforce Development [DWD] noted “federal funding is available for both benefit payments and administrative costs” in a fiscal estimate for the bill. The estimate notes the state could receive up to “$641,216 of federal monies for implementation costs” and another $1.28 million for promotion and enrollment benefits.
    Last summer [wasn't it in the February jobs bill?!], the U.S. Department of Labor offered $100 million in grants to states to establish work-sharing programs.
    DWD noted that, because the funding comes from the federal government through August 2015, the state trust fund would save $4.7 million in unemployment insurance costs.
    The work-share program is a far less expensive endeavor with a certain end date, however, compared to Medicaid expansion. And it comes with the added incentive of using federal money, taxpayer cash nonetheless, to help pay off Wisconsin’s massive Unemployment Trust Fund debt.
    Wisconsin still owes the federal government more than $850 million from unemployment insurance loans the Badger State took out after depleting the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund several years ago.
    The federal government would cover the $456,000 price tag for integrated technology upgrades that would allow the state to track work-share participation. Wisconsin would get another $5,000 in federal funding for staff training.
    Last year, then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels [R] rejected the federal cash and the work-share program in the Hoosier state.
    [Dummy didn't realize that worksharing is a big halfway step to the forgotten Republican key to small government - when you balance the center, you can drop all the effort you've been putting in going around balancing everything around the sides - and dismantle the hundreds of costly state government programs in place to compensate for the lack of central balance.]
    “Work sharing in these types of cases simply has the effect of delaying the inevitable job loss,” Indiana DWD spokesman Joe Frank told The Statehouse File. “We suspect some of these types of issues are why only about 27,000 folks nationwide are taking part in this program and why less than half of the states are even offering it.”
    [No, it's more than half of the states now, and still spreading. And if you graduate from temporary worksharing to permanent timesizing, you change the economy-shrinking job loss, inevitable if you keep downsizing in response to technology, into economy-growing job creation.]
    In Wisconsin’s Assembly, the work-share bill picked up some support from Democrats, and opposition from a few Republicans.
    Senate Democrats found much about the bill to like.
    “Work share provides a number of useful benefits that are useful to employers, employees and communities. It helps minimize layoffs for employers … by reducing hours of many employees rather than laying off individual workers,” said Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, during floor debate.
    But Dems couldn’t pull the trigger because the bill doesn’t provide language that would, in the words of Lassa, “restore private sector collective bargaining rights.” She claims the bill would take away union employee rights to bargain over the reduced hours.
    If Walker signs the bill, it would go into effect June 30, according to the Wisconsin Legislative Council.
    Contact Ekvall at rekvall@wisconsinreporter.com

  3. Should we have 35-hour work week to address joblessness? GN Bureau via GovernanceNow.com
    DELHI, India - Faced with slowing growth and rising joblessness, the CPI(M)-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has demanded that the eight-hour work day be reduced to seven hours every day. That is, make it a 35-hour work week instead of the existing weekly 48 hours. Reducing the weekly working hours from 48 to 35 was one of the key proposals agreed by CITU's all-India conference that concluded in Kannur on Monday, according to a report in Indian Express.
    According to the report, CITU national president AK Padmanabhan said working for 35 hours a week is the only way to increase job opportunities. While better technology has increased income and improved productivity, job opportunities have come down, he said.
    CITU is following the example of France, which adopted a 35-hour working week under a Socialist government in February 2000 in order to check rising unemployment.
    While France’s example showed that unemployment fell initially, it rose sharply later.

    [That's because they needed to cut deeper, below 35 hours, and they did not have a good overtime conversion design to smoothly transform chronic overtime into OT-targeted training&hiring. There is nothing eternally curative about any frozen workweek however "low" when you're constantly injecting technology and downsizing in response to it.]
    In fact, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy had wanted it scrapped as early as 2004, when he was the country’s finance minister,
    [- but "Dino" Saur-kozy was one of the nitwits who wanted to copy America in its decade of fastest self-mutilation, along with Britain's Blair, Australia's Howard, and still in power, Canada's Harper -]
    while the current Socialist prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, had late last year suggested that it could be up for debate, only to backtrack following protests within Socialist ranks.
    [We'll debate anyone, anytime. ecdesignR@yahoo.ca . As Tom Walker says, "Why is the best remedy the forbidden one?" The taboo on the discussion of this obvious and 100-year tested (1840-1940) solution needs to be busted open and put on the table, all over the world.]
    While pro-labour and pro-Left factions advocate a 35-hour working week in an effort to get more people employed, pro-market advocates opposed to it say it is bad for business and competition for the private sector.
    In such a climate, do you think the CITU is right in advocating a 35-hour working week? Should we shave an hour off from mandatory work hours each day to give employment to more people?

  4. Incap transfers more jobs to Estonia, but cuts working hours, BalticBusinessNews.com
    HELSINKI, Finland - Incap Oy, Finnish contract manufacturers of electronics that has a production plant in Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa announced this week that it is continuing decreasing the company’s overhead expenses, writes Äripäev.
    Incap has already reduced working hours in the Kuressaare plant so that all the personnel in the factory will work only on four days a week during April and May.

    “The corporate functions in Finland have been decreased to a half compared with the previous situation. Some tasks will be transferred from Finland to Estonia and India, and functions are centralised to the factories.These actions will result in improved efficiency among others in finance, sourcing and IT,” the company said.
    Hannele Pöllä, head of communications, said that the solution was not the most satisfying one for the Estonian employees because they would have preferred to work five days a week.
    Pöllä added that the company’s management was reluctant to make the decision, but that there were no other options.
    She said that the current four-day workweek would be effective until the end of May and also applies on office personnel.
    By enhanced material sourcing, closing down the Helsinki factory and centralising corporate functions to Estonia the company estimates to gain further savings of approx. EUR 2.3 million in 2013.


4/10/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Things must be bad - Obama's CHEF could be on the chopping block as deep budget cuts take effect, by Beth Stebner, (4/09 late pickup) London Daily Mail via dailymail.co.uk
    • White House assistant chef Sam Kass told reporters Tuesday that he is likely to be asked to take time off without pay
    • One of around 480 White House staffers who are likely to get furlough notices
    • Comes as Washington feeling sharp effects of sequester
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Looks like there are too many cooks in the White House kitchen.
    White House assistant chef Sam Kass, who cooks weekly for President Obama, said Tuesday that he is facing a furlough brought about by crippling federal budget cuts.
    The chef, who is also the president’s senior nutrition policy adviser, is one of nearly 500 White House employees who are expected to receive furlough notices because of the so-called sequester.
    Speaking with food reporters Tuesday, Mr Kass said: ‘We’re being furloughed,’ according to Reuters.
    A White House spokesman who accompanied Kass to the press briefing declined to comment on the matter.
    News of the possible White House staff furloughs comes days after several members of the Obama administration announced that they would return a portion of their salaries to the federal government as a sign of solidarity to the austere days ahead in Washington.
    The chef cooks dinner several times a week for the president and while he likely won’t be preparing all of the president’s meals in the coming weeks, the New York Times’ Caucus blog cheekily notes that it is unlikely the president will miss any meals.
    It is unclear whether notices have gone out to other Obama aides informing them that they must take days off without pay.
    Mr Kass, who was trained in Chicago and Vienna, joined the White House Kitchen staff in 2009 and was named a Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives a year later, working with First Lady Michelle Obama on her ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative to reverse childhood obesity.
    He also helped create the vegetable garden on the South Lawn that has yielded 3,000 pounds of fresh produce for the first family.
    Mr Kass told reporters that effort won't be affected, according to the Associated Press.
    The sequester – which consists of $85 billion in cuts – went into effect last month after Congress failed to stop it.
    Hundreds of thousands of workers could be forced to take unpaid leave if those on Capitol Hill don’t reach an agreement to undo the cuts.
    Reuters and AP contributed to this report.

  2. CITU to campaign for slashed weekly work hours, by P Sudhakaran, TNN via Times of India via timesofindia.indiatimes.com
    KANNUR, Kerala State, India - The CITU will next month launch a nationwide campaign, demanding the working hours in private sector companies be slashed to 35 hours from the present 48 hours a week. The campaign is to create more job opportunities.
    "One of our major discussions at the all-India conference of the CITU that concluded in Kannur on Monday was on the rising number of unemployed youth despite an increase in the productivity and profit of several organisations, especially in the manufacturing and service sector," CITU national president A K Padmanabhan told TOI over the telephone on Wednesday.
    With the advancement of technology, especially robotics, the productivity per employee and also that of enterprises have increased. However, leading firms, including multinational companies, were not sharing their profit with the employees, he said.
    Employment generation during the 11th plan period was just 0.7% while the GDP grew around 8%. It reflected the increased productivity of individuals and rise in profits, which didn't create new jobs, Padmanabhan said.
    "If the working hours are slashed by over 25%, it will create more employment opportunities, and we are going to launch a campaign from May 30 to June 14, demanding large corporate firms to initiate the implementation of the new pattern."
    The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has been campaigning for reduced working hours since 2011, and the pattern has been successfully implemented in several countries, including France, he claimed.
    The WFTU will be launching a global campaign on October 3, 2013, demanding the reduction of working hours, the CITU leader said. Padmanabhan felt the reduced working hours would effectively address the exploitation of employees.
    "If there is any adverse impact on the unorganized sector or smaller enterprises, we can always solve it through discussions. The issues pertaining to shifts, too, can be solved amicably once the managements are ready to implement the new pattern," he said, adding that technological advancement should benefit not just the employers, but the employees as well. The CITU would oppose any move to reduce salary, he said.
    "Our demand is that the corporate entities—both in the service as well as manufacturing sectors—should give more profit share to employees. Even if the working hours are reduced the employees deserve their current salary," Padmanabhan said. He added the new pattern of working hours could be implemented in government sector as well.
    Padmanabhan sounded positive when asked if private firms would agree to the CITU's demand. "They will have to, because we are not demanding any undue share, but raising a justifiable demand. We know that the employees deserve a better deal," he said.
    [And from a workaholic flack for the luddite neanderthals among the Indian 1%, terrified of real freedom -]
    Slacking off, IndianExpress.com
    KANNUR, Kerala State, India - Memo to CITU: a 35-hour work week won't cut it for a growing India, and will only hurt workers.
    Memo to Indian Express - More Robotics! Longer Hours! More Desperate Resumes! Lower Pay! You dopes are sooo third-world!]
    At a time when labour lobbies around the world [where, exactly?] demand that workers be skilled to keep up with economic shifts, CITU wants a more relaxed week.
    [No, just a shorter workweek, which, because better rested, can be less relaxed and more energetic and productive. Productivity is per time unit, not per employee with no time accountability.]
    The CPM's trade union wing will campaign for a 35-hour working week, down from the current 48, claiming this will create more jobs. But given that Indian workers are among the least productive in the world, lower work hours could compel greater use of capital to maintain output levels.
    [Or maybe your current long hours are the main factor in your current luddism and low productivity.]
    A Boston Consulting Group report says labour productivity in India is $3,000 per employee a year, against $1,55,000 in the US and $1,04,000 in Japan [sic].
    [Does this mean 155,000 and 104,000? The writer is evidently an innumerate as well as a masochist.]
    This proposed change will only complicate matters further. Employees are rarely prepared to have their wages reduced along with reduced work hours.
    [Same old market cluelessness. Wages and prices go by supply and demand. As long as there's an oversupply of work hours, wages will go down, where they are in India today because of their long hours and the losing fight of their luddism (20 women with scissors cutting the grass instead of one power mower) vs. technology. Reduced work hours reduces the 500 resumes for every job opening and maintains (or raises!) wages. The economies where employees work the longest hours have the lowest wages, and vice versa. The U.S. cut the workweek in half between 1840 and 1940 and wages went up, not down.]
    Labour unions have no business capping hours
    [true, that should be done by smart businessmen like Edward Filene who said mass production demands mass consumption demands mass employment demands shorter and shorter hours, but if unions don't fight for shorter hours = labor "shortage" = higher wages = higher consumer spending = higher marketable productivity = profitable invesment, they have no significant long-term function and shrink to nothing, as in the USA]
    and incomes
    [capping hours uncaps incomes by capping wage-depressing labor surplus]
    for workers who want to put in the effort to earn more.
    [and thereby shoot themselves in the foot and all the way up the leg. Only stupid workers the world over don't understand that flooding the job market earns them less, not more. All smart professional associations limit access to their skills to maintain and raise their prices.]
    If they argue that the 35-hour condition is not binding on existing workers, then it is unlikely to create new jobs. The experience of other countries that have reduced work hours shows that it is existing employees who pick up the slack and get paid overtime, rather than new workers.
    [No, the USA went from a 44-hour workweek to a 40-hour workweek in two 2-hour steps between 1938 and 1940, and unemployment went down 1% for each hourcut: 19.0%-17.2%-14.6% in 1938-39-40. And France went from a 39-hour workweek to a 35-hour workweek between 1997 and 2001 and unemployment went down 1% for each hourcut: 12.6% in 1997 when it was voted in and 8.6% unemployment in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France. And with a smooth overtime-to-training&jobs conversion, results would be even better.]
    This is guaranteed to be the situation in India, where employers are reluctant to hire because labour law makes it near-impossible for them to fire.
    [Nothing is guaranteed. All things are possible.]
    CITU's demand is entirely wrong-headed for a country like India, where the problem is not a lack of jobs, but the distortions in the labour market.
    [Wha-a-at? This writer is an abfuscating defeatist. Workweek regulation is a system requirement during the age of robotics, per the Ford-Reuther Paradox = Henry Ford (carmaker), "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Walter Reuther (labor leader), "Let's see you sell them cars." How long must we put up with this article's kind of stupid heels-dug-in resistance from the flacks of cushioned onepercenters to whom the system seems to be working and "if it works, don't fix it"?!]
    India has one of the most rigid labour legislations, but only a sliver of the workforce is actually protected. It clearly needs a middle way, creating greater social security for informal workers (roughly 95 per cent of the workforce),
    [so this nitwit wants more socialist imposition on taxpayers instead of making the private sector recycle its own disposable employees? Not smart.]
    while moving existing organised labour to a more efficient regime.
    [Technological efficiency without compensating hours reductions is what got the world to its gulf between rising productivity potential and falling consumability potential.]
    Right now, the lack of flexibility for employers is the primary reason for low organised manufacturing.
    [When France went to a 35-hour workweek, employers got a lot more flexibility in firing because there was a macro safety net. Level the foundation of the house and you can save a lot of effort straightening the pictures.]
    It forces firms to rely heavily on capital, resort to informal arrangements and limit their scale. In such a context, the demand to reduce the work week for organised labour is truly absurd.
    [No, it turns millions of beggars into job-market participants and active customers, and swells firms' markets. Absurd is fighting workweek reduction is the second biggest poor country in the world, where employment concentration is the foundation of coaguatling monetary concentration, and inefficient luddism, and taxpayer-soaking makework. Efficiency in a long-workweek economy is a joke, because the entropy dump is the $circulation-slowing one percent instead of the resting&recharging 100% in terms of the most fundamental freedom without which the other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless, financially secure Free Time.]


4/09/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shared Work – FAQ's, State of Oklahoma via ok.gov
    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., USA - What is Shared Work?
    Shared Work, also called Short-Time Compensation, is an alternative to layoffs that may be used when the work available to employees decreases. Instead of the employer laying off some employees, all employees in the affected unit share the available work by working reduced hours and collect a portion of their unemployment benefits.
    The Shared Work application must be initiated by the employer. The employer's representative must complete the Application for approval, certifying that the plan is in lieu of layoffs that would involve at least 10 percent of the employees in the affected unit, and at least fifty employees within the company. The fringe benefits of each employee in the affected unit must be maintained at the level in effect before the shared work plan is implemented.
    How many employees must I have to qualify?
    The participating employer must regularly employ at least one hundred employees.
    What other requirements would the employer have to meet?
    " The employer must certify that the implementation of a shared work plan and the resulting reduction in work hours is in lieu of temporary layoffs that would affect at least ten percent (10%) of the employees in the affected unit and at least fifty employees within the company; and
    " The employer must have filed all reports required to be filed under the Employment Security Act of 1980 for all past and current periods, and has paid all contributions, interest, penalties and fees owing on the employer's account with the Commission.
    " A shared work plan may not be implemented to subsidize seasonal employers during the off-season or to subsidize employers who have traditionally employed workers less than thirty-two (32) hours per week.
    " If any employer that is eligible for a tax rate computation under Sections 3-101 through 3-118 of Title 40 of the Oklahoma Statutes is assigned an experience tax rate of five and four-tenths percent (5.4%) or greater for a calendar year, that employer shall be ineligible to participate in the Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program provided by this act for that calendar year.
    I'm not an employer. I work for the employer. Can I take Shared Work as an option?
    No. Your employer must apply for the program, meet the requirements, and receive approval.
    How many hours must be reduced in a Shared Work plan?
    The work hour reduced in a week must be at least 20 percent (20%) and no more than 40 percent (40%).
    Are there any requirements for employee participation?
    Not unless otherwise listed. However, the claimant must qualify for unemployment benefits based on the wages earned from employment during the base period of a claim (which is the first four of the last five calendar quarters).
    If we have union employees, must the union approved Shared Work?
    Yes. If your employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, a signed consent form from the collective bargaining representative must accompany the application for approval of a Shared Work plan.
    Must hours of work be reduced equally for all employees?
    All employees participating in the same Shared Work plan must be treated equally, with the same percentage of hours reduced. However, there may be multiple Shared Work plans for an employer covering different departments, shifts or unit.
    How much will the employee receive?
    This depends on the percentage of the work reduction. If the employee is reduced 20% of the week, then their unemployment payment would be for 20% of the weekly benefit amount they are eligible for. If the employee is reduced 40%, then their unemployment payment would be for 40% of the weekly benefit amount. Please note that each claimant must serve a one week waiting period.
    Can the employer terminate the Shared Work plan?
    Yes. An employer may terminate a Shared Work plan by providing written notice to the department. In addition, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission may terminate a shared work plan for good cause if the Commission determines that the shared work plan is not being executed according to the terms and intent of the Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program.
    Must an employee actively seek or accept work or accept other work while participating in Shared Work?
    No. However, to be eligible for Shared Work, a participating employee must be available for his or her normal weekly hours of work with the Shared Work employer. So, for example, the employee cannot take a vacation somewhere that is too far away for the worker to return back to work, if called.
    How are Shared-Work benefits charged?
    All UI benefits for participating employees for weeks during the effective period of the Shared-Work plan are charged to the Shared-Work employer. Shared work benefits paid under a shared work plan shall be based on benefit wages of the participating employee and shall be charged to the participating employer as provided in Sections 1-221, 3-105, 3-106 and 3-806 of Title 40 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
    Must the application specify which employees will be participating in the Shared-Work program?
    Yes. The plan must include the name, Social Security Number, normal hours worked per week, and the proposed reduction of hours per week for each employee.
    How will the employer know if the Shared-Work plan is approved?
    The employer will be notified in writing when the plan is approved or disapproved.
    How long can a Shared Work plan last?
    A shared work plan is effective on the date it is approved by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. For good cause shown, the Commission may designate the effective date to be on any day within a period of fourteen (14) days prior to the date the plan is approved by the Commission. The shared work plan expires on the last day of the twelfth full calendar month after the effective date of the shared work plan. Shared work benefits shall be paid for a maximum of twenty-six (26) weeks during the twelve (12) consecutive calendar months that the shared work plan is in effect.
    What other responsibilities do I have after the plan is approved?
    The employer is required to submit a weekly file, in a specific format, for each week of the furlough or reduced hours. The employer is responsible for preparing the file and any errors. This may require your IT department prepare the file. The weekly file must be submitted and received within 14 days of the ending date of the weekly claim.
    What if an employee does not wish to participate?
    The employer should discuss the program with the employees ahead of time. Once the application is approved, the weekly file will file a claim for each furlough week, triggering a payment to the employees listed (as long as they are otherwise eligible). The employer needs to determine whether an employee will be participating before submitting the application.
    I am an employee who will be furloughed. What are my options if the employer doesn't wish to participate in Shared Work?
    Here are the options if your employer does not apply or is not approved for the Shared Work program. If you are furloughed or your hours are reduced, and you are still working 32 hours, you will not be eligible for any unemployment benefits.
    If you are furloughed, or your work hours are reduced, and you will be working less than 32 hours for each week, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. This will depend on how many hours you work and how much you earn.
    Example: You make $25.00 per hour. Your hours are reduced to 24 hours during a particular week. If you file a claim for that week, you will be asked and required to furnish how many hours you worked and how much you earned. In this example, your earnings would be $600 for the week. Because the maximum amount allowed for unemployment benefits in Oklahoma is $386 per week you would not be eligible for any UI payment. All earnings must be reported and any earnings over $100 are deducted dollar for dollar from whatever your maximum weekly benefit amount is. In this example, any earnings of $487 or greater would be considered excessive earnings and you would not be eligible.
    However, if you only earned $10 per hour, using the same example as above, your earnings would be $240.00. If you are eligible for $386 per week in benefits, then you would receive unemployment benefits for $246.00.
    In addition, if you are applying for unemployment benefits because you have reduced hours or are on a furlough, you WILL be required to search for work for each week you claim benefits unless your type of layoff meets the requirements for a temporary layoff (layoff or furlough must be 8 weeks or less, and we must have a letter from your employer specifying these details). This requirement does not apply to the Shared Work claims.
    For additional information, email: SharedWork@oesc.state.ok.us

  2. CITU wants to fight unemployment by cutting work-week to 35 hrs from 48, IndianExpress.com
    KANNUR, Kerala State, India - Thirteen years after a Left government in France adopted a 35-hour work-week to tackle unemployment and allow more time for leisure, the CPM's trade union arm Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has decided to campaign for the same model in India.
    Reducing the weekly working hours in India to 35 from 48 was one of the main proposals agreed by the CITU's all-India conference which concluded in Kannur Monday.
    CITU national president A K Padmanabhan said working for 35 hours a week is the only way to increase job opportunities.
    While better technology has increased income and improved productivity, job opportunities have come down, he said.
    "We will first go for a campaign and then for an agitation to reduce weekly working hours," Padmanabhan said, adding that CITU would take the matter up with the government to amend laws in this connection.
    "The model of a 35-hour work-week should first be implemented in areas where large scale automation has taken place. The strategy for implementing this, including the number of shifts, could be worked out through discussions. The new working hours should cover small scale industrial units,'' he said.
    A report presented by CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said neo-liberalism has given rise to a jobless, rather than a job-loss growth model, severely increasing unemployment and widespread under-employment.

  3. Tough task to push for work hours law - Committee to look into possible legislation on the issue, but its members are already bracing for strong opposition from business community, by Thomas Chan & Phila Siu, (4/10 dateline issue) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - A special committee to look at the possibility of legislation on standard working hours was set up yesterday, but its members face a tough task.
    Former Executive Council member Dr Leong Che-hung was appointed chair of the committee for three years.
    Its 23 other members are from the labour and business sectors, government, academia and the community.
    Labour minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the committee was tasked with the job of promoting the standard working hours issue and advising the administration on whether a statutory regime was needed.
    Committee member Lee Tak-ming, who is also general secretary of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council, is bracing for an uphill battle.
    "It's going to be very tough pushing for this law, given the opposition from the business sector representatives on the committee. This law will have a much greater impact on business than the minimum wage law," he said.
    Lee added that it was uncertain whether the committee would reach a consensus within three years. "But even if it doesn't happen, at least there will be a public debate on this matter. Hongkongers will know more about it," he said.
    Leong, a former Hospital Authority chairman, made no guarantee of an agreement being reached in his three-year term, but hoped the committee would be able to steer the government in the right direction on the issue. It is expected to submit a report to the government at the end of that period, but there is no time limit on the committee's work.
    Another member, Chau Siu-chung, who is treasurer of the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions, is also expecting a battle with the business representatives he believes will strongly oppose legislating standard working hours. Of the 23 members, seven are employer and business representatives.
    Chau said he would propose a standard working week of 44 hours, with overtime pay of 11/2 times normal wage rates.
    Seven of the city's biggest business chambers sent a joint letter to the government in November, saying legislation on standard working hours would hurt the commercial environment. While they did not explicitly state any opposition to such a law, the chambers did warn in the letter that it would be detrimental to economic growth.
    The letter said: "The far-reaching implications of regulating standard working hours have the potential to rock the fundamentals which have underlined Hong Kong's success."
    Leong said yesterday: "Many Hongkongers work overtime. As a doctor, I often ponder the health effects of this." But he said he also feared that reduced hours might hurt the economy. The committee's first meeting is to be held in two to three weeks.
    [Another take -]
    Standard Working Hours Committee appointed, Hong Kong Special Autonomous or Administrative Region via HKSAR via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, China - The Government announced today (April 9) the formation of the Standard Working Hours (SWH) Committee and its appointments.
    The Chief Executive has appointed Dr Leong Che-hung as chairperson of the Committee for a term of three years starting from today.
    The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung welcomed the appointment. He said, "Dr Leong possesses a wealth of professional knowledge and has a distinguished record of community service, including proven experience in the work of high-level Government advisory bodies. I am very pleased that he has agreed to take up the chairmanship of the SWH Committee and I am confident that he will successfully steer the Committee under his able leadership.
    "I also welcome the appointment of 23 members drawn from the labour and business sectors, academia, community and government," he added.
    Among the members, 12 are serving members of the Labour Advisory Board (LAB). They will sit on the SWH Committee in an ex-officio capacity by virtue of their position on the LAB. As for the composition of the other 11 members, two are from the labour sector and the business sector respectively, three are academics, three represent the community at large and three are government officials.
    "The SWH Committee is tasked with the important mission of following up on the Government's policy study on SWH, promoting understanding of this complex subject and related issues, and advising the Chief Executive on the working hours situation in Hong Kong including whether a statutory SWH regime or any other alternatives should be introduced.
    "I trust that the SWH Committee will work in an objective, holistic and balanced manner and carry out informed and in-depth discussion on working hours with a view to building consensus and identifying the way forward," said Mr Cheung.
    The Labour Department will provide secretariat support to the committee.
    The first meeting of the SWH Committee will be held as soon as practicable.
    The membership list of the SWH Committee is as follows:
    Chairperson ----
    Dr Leong Che-hung
    Non-official Members ----
    Ms Susanna Chiu Lai-kuen
    Professor Chong Tai-leung
    Mr Lau Chin-shek
    Dr Kevin Lau Kin-wah
    Dr Jane Lee Ching-yee
    Professor Joe Leung Cho-bun
    Mr Ma Ho-fai
    Professor Raymond So Wai-man
    Members of the Labour Advisory Board as ex-officio members ----
    (Employee Representatives)
    Mr Leung Chau-ting
    Mr Chung Kwok-sing
    Mr Lee Tak-ming
    Mr Ng Chau-pei
    Mr Chau Siu-chung
    Ms Chan So-hing
    (Employer Representatives)
    Mr Ho Sai-chu
    Dr Kim Mak Kin-wah
    Mr Stanley Lau Chin-ho
    Mr Irons Sze
    Mr Emil Yu Chen-on
    Mr Thomas Ho On-sing
    Members who are public officers ----
    Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare
    Commissioner for Labour
    Government Economist
    Source: HKSAR Government
    [From the Secretary of Labour himself -]
    SLW on Standard Working Hours Committee and container terminal labour dispute, HKSAR via 7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, China - Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, on the Standard Working Hours Committee and the container terminal labour dispute today (April 9):
    On Standard Working Hours Committee ----
    Secretary for Labour and Welfare: I just want to announce that the Standard Working Hours Committee has been formally launched today and I am very very pleased that Dr C H Leong has accepted the invitation of the Chief Executive to become its Chairperson.The Committee comprises altogether 24 members, including the Chairman.In fact, the core group of its members comes from the Labour Advisory Board.In other words, all the 12 members of the Labour Advisory Board, including six employee members and six employer members will be on the Committee in an ex-officio capacity.In other words, by virtue of the position on the Labour Advisory Board.At the same time, there will be one each individual in their personal capacity from the labour sector and also from the business community.Other than that, there will be three members each from the academia, from the community sector and also from government itself.Of the three government representatives, one will be my Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare, one will be Commissioner for Labour and the third one will be the Government Economist.As we all know, Dr Leong is a very experienced community leader.He is very knowledgeable and professional in many fields, particularly very knowledgeable in government advisory work at the high level.He is formerly an Executive Council Member, Chairman of the Hospital Authority and more recently we worked very happily together on the Elderly Commission.He was Chairman of the Elderly Commission for six years altogether.So I am pretty sure that we can leave the Committee in the very skillful hands of Dr Leong, steering the very important task ahead.
    Basically, the Committee has three important missions.The first mission is to follow up on the Policy Study completed by the Labour Department last June.A very comprehensive document on the pros and cons on the experience elsewhere on standard working hours and that would provide a solid foundation on which the Committee can launch its work.The second mission is, of course, to stimulate community-wide discussion on this very complex subject of working hours.Finally, of course, is to recommend to the Chief Executive the way forward - whether we should legislate on standard working hours in Hong Kong or whether there are other better, viable alternatives.I am sure that under the very skillful chairmanship of Dr Leong, the Committee will discharge its mission successfully within the three years' term.The Labour Department will provide secretariat support to the Committee and we expect it to meet very shortly.
    Reporter: (legislation on standard working hours)
    Secretary for Labour and Welfare: We would keep an open mind on this very important issue of legislation. As Dr Leong said, standard working hour is a very very complex issue.
    We need to thoroughly deliberate in the community, we need to consider very very carefully, weigh all the pros and cons. The mission of the Committee is to chart the way forward and identify the way ahead, which is the best option to Hong Kong.
    On container terminal labour dispute ----
    Secretary for Labour and Welfare: As a result of our shuttling among various parties over the last few days, my colleagues in the Labour Department and myself have tried our very very best to set up a conciliation meeting as soon as possible, I am very happy to say that the first meeting will take place tomorrow at 10 o'clock in our Kwai Chung Labour Relations Office in Kwai Hing Government Offices.The arrangements for the meeting have now been generally agreed by all parties concerned, so there is no dispute over the arrangements.Two contractors will take part in the meeting, along with representatives from HIT in attendance.Let me make it very clear that HIT representatives will be in attendance throughout the meeting. I appeal to all parties concerned to really seize this opportunity, make the best use of this opportunity to talk sincerely and frankly, iron out the differences, narrow the differences, and display a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding with a view to reaching a satisfactory solution in the end.It is very important that solution must be in the interest not only of employees and workers, not only in the interest of the companies concerned and contractors, but also in the overall interest of Hong Kong.It is very very important because the port itself is very important to Hong Kong's economy.And also, because during the past few days, there have been suggestions from unions and legislators in Hong Kong and various parties that why don't we take the opportunity to really iron out all the differences, tackle the concerns of various unions working at the terminal.It is because at the moment, there are five different unions operating at the terminal that belong to three major union federations.I attempted to bring everybody together but it is difficult to reach a consensus.So the arrangement is tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the morning, the first meeting will be with CTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions) and the unions concerned, of course, plus Labour Department in the chair, HIT representatives in attendance and two contractors will be present.In the afternoon, 2.30pm, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and also the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions representing their own unions working at the terminal will attend a different session.In other words, there will be two platforms/forums for various parties to really sit down, talk frankly and sincerely, and as I said, in a spirit of mutual understanding and compromise.
    I hope that these vehicles would provide an environment in which to reach a satisfactory conclusion at the end.
    Reporter: Would the Government ask HIT to take on a more active role in these sessions? If not, why?
    Secretary for Labour and Welfare: As I said, I have actually been doing my very best over the past few days.I have seen the management of Hutchison Whampoa as well as HIT itself.I have met the contractors.I have been in touch with the union leaders concerned.Everybody is involved.I hope that these arrangements will provide a good starting point. At the end of the day I hope we can reach an ideal solution acceptable to everybody.
    (Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
    Source: HKSAR Government


4/07-08/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Reducing unemployment: Lessons from Germany - Germany has an explicit policy of pushing employers toward shortening work hours rather than laying-off workers, by Dean Baker, 4/08 (4/01 late pickup) AlJazeera.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Many of the pundits are once again celebrating the pick-up of the US economy. Unfortunately this upturn, like prior ones, seems to exist more in their heads than in the data. The big bright spot being highlighted is the 200,000 monthly rate of job creation since October. This only sounds like good news for those who don't remember that we created 240,000 jobs a month in the same five months last year.
    While the economy is not about to slip into recession, there is little reason to think we will see a marked upturn from last year's 1.7 percent growth rate. In fact, with the end of the payroll tax cut pulling money out of people's pockets and the sequester leading to layoffs and further cutbacks, we are at least as likely to see the economy slowing as picking up steam.
    This is bad news for tens of millions of people who are unemployed, underemployed, or have dropped out of the workforce altogether. There is little prospect that the economy will grow enough to substantially improve their employment prospects any time soon. Nor is there much hope for any policy shift that will provide a boost to the rate of growth. This is why it is a good time to look to Germany.
    The unemployment rate in Germany is 5.4 percent, more than two full percentage points below its pre-recession level. By contrast, even with the recent decline to 7.7 percent, the unemployment rate in the US is still more than three full percentage points above its pre-recession level.
    Labour market performance
    The difference in labour market performance is even more striking if we look at the employment to population ratio (EPOP), which measures the percent of the population that is employed. Before the recession the EPOP for people between age 16 and 64 was roughly 5 percentage points higher in the US than in Germany. In 2012, the EPOP for this age group in Germany was more than 5 percentage points higher than in the US, making a total shift in Germany's favour of more than 10 percentage points.
    If you think this difference is explained by a booming German economy then you haven't looked at the data. Growth since the beginning of the downturn has been almost identical in the two countries. From 2007 to 2012 Germany's economy grew a bit more than 3.0 percent. The US economy grew a hair less than 3.0 percent. The difference can't come close to explaining the gap in labour market outcomes.
    Jobs report sees reduction in US unemployment
    It is true that the US has a more rapidly growing working-age population than Germany and therefore needs more growth to keep its unemployment rate stable. However, this gap would still only explain a small portion of the difference in labour market outcomes.
    The secret to Germany's better outcomes is that the country has an explicit policy of pushing employers toward shortening work hours rather than laying-off workers. A key part of this picture is the short work [Kurz-arbeit] programme which is an alternative to unemployment insurance. With traditional unemployment insurance, when a worker gets laid off the government pays roughly half of the worker's wages.
    Under work sharing, if firms cut back a worker's hours by 20 percent, the government makes up roughly half of the lost wages (10 percent of the total wage in this case). That leaves the worker putting in 20 percent fewer hours and getting 10 percent less pay. This is likely a much better alternative to being unemployed.
    In addition to its formal short-work programme, Germany also has a system of hour banks where workers put in extra hours during good times. During a downturn they can draw on these hours to maintain their pay even if they are putting in fewer hours. There are also many agreements between unions and management to reduce work hours to address a drop in demand. These can be more easily negotiated in a country like Germany, where the unionisation rate is more than twice that of the US.
    Labour demand
    This institutional structure makes it much easier for Germany to deal with a reduction in labour demand by cutting work hours rather than laying people off. Of course, even before the downturn Germany had a much shorter average work year than in the US. Under the law, workers are guaranteed more than four weeks of paid vacation every year in addition to 10 statutory holidays, paid family leave and paid sick days.
    As a result, the average work year in Germany is almost 20 percent less than in the US. As a matter of simple arithmetic, if everyone in the US worked 20 percent fewer hours, we would need 25 percent more workers to provide the same amount of labour.
    While the picture is more complicated in the real world, there is no escaping the logic that more workers and more hours per worker are alternative ways to meet a growing demand for labour. There are good reasons for preferring the more-worker route instead of the longer-hour route [such as, more consumer spending].
    It is worth noting that the Congress and the Obama administration did try to encourage work sharing when they passed a provision of the bill extending the payroll tax cut which has the federal government picking up the cost of state short work programmes.
    Twenty-five states have short-work programmes as part of their unemployment-insurance systems, including several large ones like California and New York.
    Unfortunately, the take-up rate continues to be very low. Apparently governors and legislators would rather make cutbacks in areas like education or raise taxes than try to encourage businesses to switch from layoffs to short-work so that they can take advantage of free money from the federal government.
    A little prodding from the public may go a long way in this area.
    Dean Baker is a US macroeconomist and co-founder of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.
    Follow him on Twitter: @DeanBaker13
    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

  2. Despatches from Economic History - When the U.S. Considered a 30-Hour Work Week, by Philip Scranton, Bloomberg.com
    CAMDEN, N.J., USA - As Franklin D. Roosevelt's first month in office drew to a close, and the banks reopened after a successful shutdown, the president turned his attention to his next major challenge: mass unemployment.
    Roosevelt proposed direct state grants for relief-work programs, public works to create jobs, and a civilian conservation corps to be used for forestry, prevention of soil erosion, flood control and other projects.
    More esoteric and controversial plans soon emerged, as the Great Depression led to widening political divisions over how to help the unemployed.
    The need for jobs was clearly urgent. Pennsylvania’s Employment Commission, analyzing more than 30,000 interviews with the unemployed, found that the "average jobless worker is 36 years old, married, white, native born, physically fit, and with a good previous record at his calling," the New York Times reported. Almost three-quarters "qualified for skilled ratings in their specialties."
    Employers had not disproportionately fired elderly workers, nor were the unemployed chiefly unskilled laborers and shiftless "bums," as was rumored. Rather, most were "first-class" workers in their prime who had been unwillingly idled, many for years.
    This presented a significant conundrum for policymakers. Democratic Senator Hugo Black of Alabama proposed a federally mandated 30-hour work week. Critics responded that, because a full week's work was about 42 hours, wage packets would shrink by a third.
    Black argued that "there would be little incentive for proportionate wage cuts if all manufacturers were put on the same work hour basis," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

    Perhaps, but surely this would create a nationwide law-enforcement challenge comparable to Prohibition.
    Republican Senator David Reed of Pennsylvania claimed shorter hours yielding the same weekly pay would increase the labor cost of goods by a third, increasing prices. Given Depression-induced deflation, other senators said they hoped it would.
    The Senate approved Black’s 30-hour bill, a temporary two-year measure, on April 6 by a 53-30 vote. The House promised early hearings, even as resistance to the measure mounted. Critics asserted that a constitutional test was certain as the proposed law would "end all freedom of commerce" and eliminate "the power of the States over local matters."
    [No, it would pre-empt corporate welfare and parasitism on taxpayers, and with a good, general, non-micromanaged macro-level safety net, obviate all kinds of restrictions on firing and detailed government interference.]
    Industrial leaders were split. Packard Motor Co. President Alvan Macauley viewed it as "gravely dangerous at this time, and that it might result in a great increase in the production costs and in the prices of manufactured articles." For Frederick Rentschler, head of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co., Black’s proposal was "the most constructive plan yet advanced; although it may cause some hardships and inefficiency, it undoubtedly will be a great aid to relieving unemployment."
    [It only causes the "inefficiency" of a workforce of sufficient size and wage levels that it can purchase its own output, without reliance on unpredictable and uncontrollable export markets.]
    In a rare moment of agreement, both the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Federation of Labor opposed the bill on the grounds that it would significantly increase federal power.
    Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to a U.S. president's Cabinet, led the House Labor Committee hearings. The six-hour day, she affirmed, accompanied by industry- and region-specific minimum-wage rates, would create a means to share America’s work and "put a bottom to the fall of wages."
    Gerard Swope, president of General Electric Co., and AFL President William Green testified in favor, but they objected to the minimum-wage provision.
    Before April's end, divisions and controversies scuttled the bill's chances. Its passage was "no longer in the picture," Senate Majority Leader Joseph Robinson, an Arkansas Democrat, concluded. Congress would have to devise other means to reduce unemployment.
    (Philip Scranton is a Board of Governors professor of the history of industry and technology at Rutgers University, Camden, and the editor-in-chief of Enterprise and Society. He writes "This Week in the Great Depression" for the Echoes blog. The opinions expressed are his own.)
    To contact the writer of this blog post: Philip Scranton at scranton@camden.rutgers.edu.
    To contact the editor responsible for this blog post: Kirsten Salyer at ksalyer@bloomberg.net.

  3. Working Families Flexibility Act undermines 40-hour workweek, by Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic & Policy Research via The Hill (blog) via thehill.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - This week House Republicans will introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.
    The proposed legislation undermines the 40-hour work week that workers have long relied on to give them time to spend with their kids. The flexibility in this comp time bill would have employees working unpaid overtime hours beyond the 40-hour workweek and accruing as many as 160 hours of compensatory time. A low-paid worker making $10 an hour who accrued that much comp time in lieu of overtime pay would effectively give his or her employer an interest-free loan of $1,600 – equal to a month’s pay. That’s a lot to ask of a worker making about $20,000 a year. Indeed, any worker who accrues 160 hours of comp time will in effect have loaned his or her employer a month’s pay. This same arithmetic provides employers with a powerful incentive to increase workers’ overtime hours. Instead of having to pay time-and-a-half wages when an hourly-paid employee works longer than the standard 40-hour work week, the employer incurs no financial cost at the time the extra hours are worked.
    This bill is not just a problem for individual workers. The labor market remains a wild card in an economy still struggling to solidify a fragile recovery. With nearly 12 million people counted as unemployed and another 7.6 million part-time workers looking for full-time hours, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have promised to focus on job creation. This comp time bill does exactly the opposite. Instead of encouraging employers to increase hiring when business picks up and help jump start a more robust recovery, it gives them a strong incentive to increase the overtime hours of current employees instead.
    In principle a worker’s agreement to receive comp time instead of overtime pay is supposed to be voluntary. But anyone who has worked at a $10 an hour job understands what it is to get an offer from your employer that you can’t refuse. Under the provisions of the bill, employers are not supposed to threaten, intimidate or coerce employees into agreeing to comp time in lieu of wages. But employers don’t need to resort to such tactics. Everyone understands that in this economy, with unemployment still at recession levels, the employer holds all the cards. Workers who refuse to go along with an employer’s request for comp time instead of wages know that their commitment to their employer will be questioned. They fear that in a crunch they will be vulnerable to having their hours cut or being let go. In a weak job market, very few hourly-paid workers can risk that. Without a union to protect their right to refuse to trade overtime pay for comp time, and with no funds in the bill for enforcement of these provisions, the voluntary nature of such agreements is highly suspect.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is right when he says that working parents have a hard time being home when their kids really need them. Parents need the flexibility to take a child who suddenly develops a high fever to the doctor or to attend a meeting with their child’s teacher to develop his or her educational plan for the coming school year. The comp time bill House Republicans will introduce this Thursday does not address these needs at all. Employees cannot just take comp time when they need it. Rather, the bill lets an employer who receives a request for comp time decide when the employee gets to take it. The employer can even refuse the request and defer it to a later time if, in the employer’s view, letting the employee take comp time will “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”
    There are better legislative options available for helping hourly-paid workers deal with family emergencies. The Healthy Families Act would let workers accrue a few paid sick days each year so they can stay home for a day or two if they or a child came down with the flu. A ‘small necessities bill’ would provide workers with up to 24 hours a year unpaid to attend parent-teacher conferences or meet other urgent family needs. House Republicans are to be commended for focusing attention on working families’ need for flexibility. But there are far better alternatives than the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 to make flexibility a reality for hourly-paid workers.
    Appelbaum is a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the co-author of "Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences With Paid Family Leave in California."

  4. Pierre Gattaz calls for a review of the 35-hour workweek among the petit-to-medium enterprises (PMEs), 4/08 LeMonde.fr
    (Bing translation of: Pierre Gattaz appelle à revoir les 35 heures dans les PME; cleanup by PH3)
    PARIS, France - The président of the Grouping of Industrial Fédérations (Fr: GFI), Pierre Gattaz, candidate for the présidency of Medef [Movement of Enterprises DE (=of) France], indicated Monday that it was necessary at the grassroots to soften the 35-hour workweek, which pénalises, according to him, the PMEs.
    "The 35-hour workweek is one of these dogmas that must be reviewed with the social partners. It's best is to do it within the entreprise", argued Mr. Gattaz on BFM Business; Monday he received the support of Denis Kessler, the CEO of the reinsurer Scor, himself a former Vice President of Medef.
    "WE MUST PUT THIS ISSUE ON THE TABLE"
    "The best social dialogue is social dialogue at the grassroots," he continued. For the boss of the manufacturer of Radiall connectors, "it will undoubtedly necessary to soften (it). If we manage to bring lots of suppleness and flexibility to the 35-hour workweek throughout the grassroots, we will have won. We must put this issue back on the table, as a cost of labor".
    [No, it's a "cost" of having markets. These guys all want a free lunch, vibrant consumer markets that somebody else funds via wages. But bottom line, there's nobody else in this new world of tax-evading, all-costing and cost-sluffing plutocrats.]
    Mr. Gattaz also considers that the cost of labour puts the brakes on hiring in France.
    [Now there he's right. But if France had the full employment made possible by overtime-to-jobs conversion and automatic workweek adjustment against underemployment (= Timesizing), it could make hiring and firing MUCH easier without clobbering its consumer base.]
    "When you give 100 euros to someone (French employee) it costs the enterprise 185 euros, while when you give 100 euros to a German, it costs the company only 155 euros; there's a big difference and it's due to the French cost of labor," he fumed.
    He reckons France "needs a confidence shot, in tax structure and competitiveness. We are a Ferrari moving forward with both feet on the brakes," scolds the enterprise chief.
    [Trouble is, France won't stay a luxury car for long if it drops its micromanaging safeguards before getting the Timesizing macroeconomic safety net. And btw, why is he talking about an Italian luxury car when Italy is totally in the tank and France isn't? Why isn't he talking about a Citroën?]

  5. S. Korea's auto exports fall on less working hours, Xinhua via news.xinhuanet.com
    SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's automobile exports fell in March as top automaker Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors shortened working hours of their employees under an agreement with labor unions, a government report showed Monday.
    Automobile exports by the country's five automakers declined 16 percent from a year earlier to 258,067 units in March, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE). For the first three months of this year, car exports slid 8.9 percent from a year before.
    The fall came after Hyundai and Kia shortened working hours by three hours per day starting March under an agreement with labor unions. The nation's top two carmakers did not carry out extra works [sic] on weekends last month, the form of which the management and labor unions are negotiating.
    [What controls production is demand, not working hours in the age of robotics. And Hyundai and Kia can always hire part-timers if they really need the weekend work. This whole article smacks of Chinese propaganda to scare its own billions of wage slaves away from creating a wage-raising labor "shortage" (actually balance) by demanding shorter hours as the Koreans have had the sense - and self-respect! - to do. But the Chinese have allowed themselves to become grotesquely overpopulated for the carrying capacity of their landmass (as we're in the process of doing with suicidal Free Trade with them) and now they're as common as dirt and as cheap as dirt, with no overtime regulation whatsoever. In the current global Race to the Bottom, guess who's The Bottom, no matter how our CEOs and suckups, like Harvard's William Kirby, try to glorify them because of their bullet trains - that zoom past their pervasive karoshi and ecodevastation. First and foremost, freedom is not money; it's time. No time? = money meaningless. "For what shall it profit a man..."]
    Auto production plunged 13.1 percent from a year earlier to 365, 768 units in March, while domestic car sales fall [fell?] 0.3 percent to 131,136 units due to positive effect from the launch of new models.
    Hyundai and Kia saw their car production plunge 20.7 percent and 10.2 percent each in March from a year before, with their auto exports reducing 29.4 percent and 13.1 percent respectively amid supply disruption from less working hours.
    [So we're supposed to believe that Hyundai and Kia management failed to hire like banshees, train, retrain and crosstrain - and speed up the robots - for a whole year? There's less of this story in Korea, and more in China.]


4/06/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Cornell facility in Sullivan to start furloughs, by Victor Whitman vwhitman@th-record.com, Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record via recordonline.com
    MONTICELLO, Sullivan County, N.Y., USA — Sullivan County's Cornell Cooperative Extension will furlough employees Fridays for four successive weeks beginning April 19.
    Executive Director Greg Sandor said the Liberty-based center also will furlough its employees April 26, May 3 and May 10.
    Sandor said he's hopeful Cornell will raise enough money by mid-May to end the furloughs.
    He said employees will be given strict instructions not to work at home or in the field on these dates.
    Cornell Cooperative's programs at the center also will be closed on those days.
    "It is fully shut down," Sandor said.
    The Legislature last month confirmed a cut to Cornell Cooperative's contract by $83,000, a decision originally made when legislators adopted the 2013 budget. County lawmakers reduced most contracts with outside agencies by 20 percent to reduce the tax levy increase.
    Sandor said Cornell Cooperative's employees were stuffing envelopes Friday, preparing to mail out an appeal for donations from a members database.
    Cornell also is planning a larger-scale fundraising effort as part of its 100th anniversary campaign.
    "We have raised two grand already, and we are trying to raise $10,000," Sandor said. "People have been calling, writing. I am really impressed with the response we have been getting."
    Sandor said a total of 12 of 17 employees are affected by the furloughs.
    He said he's concerned about losing employees.
    Agriculture Issue Leader Samantha Higgins recently submitted her resignation. Sandor said she is leaving because of a commute, and the furloughs didn't play into her decision.
    "It is frustrating," Sandor said. "I am trying to keep good people in the center to do great work here. That is why I said, 'You (the county legislators) are taking us out at the knees.'"

  2. IMO calls on HSE to reduce working hours of junior doctors - New IMO Chairman Dr John Donnellan says that junior doctors are working illegal hours, by Maura Fay, Newstalk 106-108 fm via newstalk.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish Medical Organisation is calling the HSE [Health Service Executive] to immediately begin work on an action plan to reduce the working hours of junior doctors.
    Newly-elected chairman of the IMO Dr John Donnellan says that many junior doctors are at present working dangerous and illegal hours.

    A number of issues about Ireland's health system are being debated at the IMO's three-day conference taking place at present in Killarney.
    Amongst them is the fact that junior doctors in Ireland continue to work hours beyond EU-recommended levels.
    New IMO Chairman Dr John Donnellan says the HSE should develop a national policy re-definining the duties and responsibilities of junior doctors and have a timetable for its implementation.
    He says that junior doctors are working dangerous and illegal hours, many of which remain unpaid by hospitals trying to achieve cost-savings.
    HSE chief operating officer Laverne McGuinness recently told the Oireachtas committee on health that the Executive has made significant progress in reducing the working hours of junior doctors, but smaller hospitals in remote locations are sometimes unable to support the larger rotas needed to achieve this objective.


4/05/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Senate Approved "Shared Work Ohio" Aims To Prevent Layoffs, (3/28 late pickup) ohiosenate.gov
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - The Ohio Senate last week approved Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Senators Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) and Frank LaRose (R-Copley), which creates the SharedWork Ohio Program. If enacted, the bill would give employers an alternative to layoffs by instead authorizing reduced hours for their employees. The employees could then apply for unemployment benefits for the lost wages.
    “A shared work program enables companies to retain skilled workers when they may otherwise be forced to initiate layoffs, preventing them from losing valued workers that can be difficult to replace when a company resumes normal operations. It also prevents workers from the unenviable task of having to explain to their families that they have been laid off,” Peterson said. “Establishing a shared work program in Ohio will keep us competitive with the surrounding states that offer such a program, and give employers another tool to help maintain their workforce.”
    “This bill provides employers with a more compassionate alternative to layoffs – enabling them to retain highly-skilled and trained workers rather than losing them to a different employer,” LaRose said. “As we continue our efforts to make Ohio a more business-friendly state, programs like SharedWork Ohio will play an important role in attracting employers, while ensuring fair treatment for hard-working Ohioans.”

    Similar programs have been enacted in 25 other states. Senate Bill 25 now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

  2. Caterpillar laying off 460 workers, cites weakness in mining, by James B. Kelleher, Reuters via ChicagoTribune.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Caterpillar Inc said on Friday it was laying off 460 workers at a U.S. plant that makes mining equipment.
    The layoffs will affect about 11 percent of the workforce at the Decatur, Illinois, factory and reflect softening demand from the global mining industry, which is cutting back on capital investment because of a retreat in commodity prices.
    Caterpillar, which had already implemented temporary layoffs and line shutdowns as well as a shortened work week in Decatur, said the permanent layoffs were needed to "bring production in line with demand."
    It said the job cuts would take effect in 60 days.
    Caterpillar is the world's largest maker of mining equipment. The Peoria, Illinois-based company also makes construction equipment, gas turbines and diesel engines, and railroad locomotives.
    (Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

  3. As Federal Furloughs Loom, Self-Sacrifice Is All the Rage in Washington, by Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, A14.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The rush started on Tuesday when the flush new defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would give back a share of his salary for each day that Pentagon employees are furloughed.
    On Wednesday, President Obama jumped in with his own show of solidarity by pledging to return to the Treasury 5 percent of his $400,000 salary.
    By Thursday, the Obama administration’s stampede to embrace the politics of self-sacrifice was on.
    Cabinet secretaries practically tripped over themselves to hand over parts of their paycheck as federal workers brace for furloughs because of the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.
    Secretary of State John Kerry said he would give 5 percent of his $200,000 government salary to charity, and the Justice Department said that if its workers are furloughed, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. would give up his pay for however many days his workers go without a paycheck.
    Of course, they can well afford it. Mr. Kerry has an estimated net worth exceeding $200 million and Mr. Hagel, Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama are all millionaires.
    But by the end of the day, the merely affluent, at least by Washington standards, were lining up. Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary who has an estimated net worth between $93,000 and $700,000, will forgo 5 percent of her salary, her office said. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, who is worth between $750,000 and $1.7 million, will also give up a portion of his pay, although Treasury officials would not specify how much.
    All cabinet secretaries make about $200,000 a year, and the richest of them have multiple millions.
    Mr. Holder’s net worth is estimated between $4 million and $8 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which calculates the finances of government officials based on publicly available financial disclosure forms. Mr. Hagel’s latest financial disclosure documents show millions of dollars in assets in various investment accounts. The Obamas’ net worth is estimated somewhere between $2.6 million and $8.3 million, thanks in large part to income from the president’s book sales.
    Still, not all cabinet members were giving themselves pay cuts. Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary whose estimated net worth is as high as $5 million, had no plans to reduce her salary because her department was not expecting any furloughs, her office said. A similar dynamic has slowly been playing out on Capitol Hill, where the sequester cuts will affect the budgets of Congressional offices but not members’ salaries. (Like the president and cabinet secretaries, salaries of the House and Senate are set by law.)
    Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia and its hundreds of thousands of federal employees, said last month that she would stop collecting her pay for each day federal employees are furloughed.
    “If you’re a member of Congress, surely the notion of lead by example should not just be a slogan,” she said, adding that she would not be able to look her colleagues and constituents in the eye if she continued to collect her full salary. “You might feel a little better about seeing them in the elevator if you’re sharing in their pain.” Members of the House and Senate make $174,000 annually.
    Representative Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, has said she would give back 8.4 percent of her pay, an amount roughly equal to the cut that many domestic programs are facing.
    That was not enough self-sacrifice for Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who said he was giving up 20 percent of his pay.
    Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, a Democrat who is expected to face a tough re-election race in 2014, said he would return part of his salary to the Treasury. But a call to his office to find out how much was met with a voice mail recording saying that sequester cuts had forced it to reduce office resources.
    There have always been wealthy members like Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, [(]who sold off his successful real estate and construction businesses,[)] and Representative Scott Rigell, Republican of Virginia, a car dealer, who donate part or all of their federal salaries.
    But all this newfound altruism is forcing many others into awkward positions. The Republican leadership in the House, which has led the spare-nothing approach to budget cuts, was largely silent. Speaker John A. Boehner’s office would not say if he planned to return a portion of his pay. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, indicated through a spokeswoman that he had absolved himself from a pay cut because he had sponsored a bill that would have replaced the sequester cuts, although the bill had no chance of becoming law.
    The Democratic leadership in Congress also had little to say on the matter. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who is worth up to $180 million and has spoken out against Congressional pay cuts in the past, did not respond to requests about whether she would follow the president’s lead.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, also did not respond to inquiries.
    Both the president and members of Congress are limited in how they can alter their pay. The president’s pay is fixed by Article II of the Constitution, which says that any changes he signs into law cannot go into effect while he is in office. The 27th Amendment, which was ratified in 1992, sets the same limits on members of Congress.
    The thinking behind those measures was to stop rogue lawmakers who would try to give themselves pay increases. Few ever anticipated such a rush to give money back.
    “The idea was just the opposite,” said Thomas E. Mann, a scholar of Congress at the Brookings Institution. Of course, the donations back to the Treasury will do nothing to alleviate the $85 billion in cuts that will result from sequester, a fact that the president’s conservative critics are already pointing out. But many of those same conservatives, including Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor, trumpeted their own efforts behind the No Budget, No Pay Act, which passed Congress this year and stipulates that members of Congress are not paid until a budget is passed. The Senate and House passed their budgets last month.
    “It’s all symbolism,” Mr. Mann added. “But symbolism is often important.”


4/04/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. When America Came 'This Close' to Establishing a 30-Hour Workweek, by John de Graaf, (4/02 late pickup) AlterNet.org
    Saturday, April 6, 2013, marks the 80th anniversary of a long-forgotten event in American history that bears remembering, especially by progressives.
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA - The April 15, 1933 issue of Newsweek, one of the first in the magazine’s history, contains a remarkable cover headline: "Bill cutting work week to 30 hours startles the nation". Indeed only nine days earlier, on April 6th, the Black-Connery Bill had passed in the United States Senate by a wide margin [53-30]. The bill fixed the official American work week at five days and 30 hours [for interstate trade], with severe penalties for overtime work.
    In his new book, Free Time, labor historian, Benjamin Hunnicutt of the University of Iowa, explains that the bill originally had broad support as a means of increasing employment during the recession and maintaining full employment in the future.
    “We stand unflinchingly for the six-hour day and the five-day week in industry,” thundered AFL president William Green to a labor meeting in San Francisco that spring. Franklin Roosevelt and Labor Secretary Frances Perkins also initially endorsed the idea, but the president buckled under opposition from the National Association of Manufacturers and dropped his support for the bill, which was then defeated in the House of Representatives.
    In its place, Roosevelt advocated job-creating New Deal spending and a forty-hour workweek limit, passed into law on October 24, 1938, as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    But we came that close to an official thirty-hour workweek in America. Close, but no cigar…
    KELLOGG’S SIX-HOUR DAY
    Nonetheless, many American companies did go to a 30-hour workweek during the depression, most prominently, the Kellogg Cereal Company, which established five-day, six-hour, shifts in December, 1930. Kellogg’s and the workers split the pay loss resulting from the cut in hours; Kellogg’s initially paid his workers for seven hours a day, but upped that to the amount they had previously received for eight-hours work two years later, when he saw that hourly productivity had soared.
    In his earlier books, Work Without End and Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day, Hunnicutt reports that the measure added 400 new jobs to Kellogg’s Battle Creek, Michigan, work force, while improving family and community life dramatically. After World War II, Kellogg’s began abandoning the six-hour shifts in favor of eight hours, largely because increasing benefit packages made it cheaper to hire few workers and keep them on the job longer. But the end of the six-hour shifts didn’t come until 1985, when the last six-hour workers were told that if they didn’t accept the longer work days, Kellogg’s would leave Battle Creek.
    The six-hours workers were angry but there was little they could do to prevent the change. They held a “funeral,” complete with a mock coffin, for the six-hour day at Stan’s Place, a local Battle Creek pub, and Ina Sides, an African-American woman who had worked most of her life at the plant, wrote a eulogy:
    Farewell, good friend, oh six hours!
    Tis sad, but true,
    Now you’re gone and we’re all so blue!
    Get out your vitamins, give the doctor a call,
    Cause old eight hours has got us all.

    In 1992, I traveled with Hunnicutt to interview former thirty-hour week workers in Battle Creek. They spoke movingly of the free time they had when they worked shorter hours—“you weren’t all wore out when you got home,” one man told me. One couple, Chuck and Joy Blanchard, who had both worked at the plant, claimed that the six-hour day made Chuck a “feminist” long before the women’s movement. He and his wife shared the housework and he was a “room parent” at his children’s school.

  2. Border Patrol to cut overtime work hours - Critics worry areas of border will be unprotected, by Ruben Veloz, Fox News via KFOX 14 via kfoxtv.com
    EL PASO, Tex., USA — Starting April 7, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will cut work hours to an estimated 3,000-4,000 border patrol agents.
    This is just one of the results of sequestration cuts that are affecting the U.S.

    [Better hourscuts, especially overtime hourscuts, than jobcuts!]
    Like many borderland residents, Carla Escobar lives just a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
    Escobar tells KFOX14 she's afraid of how sequestration could affect her safety.
    "It's a concern especially with the drug cartels," said Sunland Park resident Carla Escobar, "It just leaves a lot of uncertainty for the people of El Paso and New Mexico."
    Since many of them have to drive two to three hours to get to the areas they patrol, some agents will be forced to leave their post after a five to six-hour shift in order to avoid overtime.
    Northeast El Paso resident Omar Ibarra worries that could leave our borders unprotected.
    "There could be more illegal drugs coming in to El Paso, and illegals that might commit more crimes," said Ibarra.
    Ramiro Cordero, a spokesperson for the El Paso Border Patrol tells KFOX14 they are working hard to keep El Paso's title as the safest city in the U.S.
    In a statement Cordero said: "U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working diligently to analyze the Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations bill and sequestration impacts, and developing a plan to implement this budget in a way that minimizes the impact on operations and our workforce."
    While the full effects on our border security is still not clear, Escobar hopes our country finds a way to stop the cuts from taking place.
    "It's not beneficial to our city, or to our protection," said Escobar.
    It's still not known how much of an impact these budget cuts will have on the borderland.
    As KFOX14 reported, four U.S. senators touring the Arizona-Mexico border, announced they were close to an immigration reform plan that included laws to strengthen our border.
    That bill is scheduled to be introduced sometime in April.
    [Great article! Thanks, John!!!!]


4/03/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Business launches salvo over work limit - Employers' coalition gathers forces to fight possible introduction of standard weekly hours, saying it will hurt competitiveness, by Phila Siu phila.siu@scmp.com, (4/4 dateline issue) South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, China - A coalition of over 50 business associations is planning to take out advertisements to spell out their objections to the introduction of standard working hours.
    The plan came under fire from labour activists who say the coalition is trying to exert pressure on the government.
    The move comes amid expectations of the launch by the government this month of a task force to examine the impact of a law regulating work hours. A source said the task force would consist of about 24 people, and all 12 members of the Labour Advisory Board had been invited to join.
    The Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference has written to its members asking for support and donations to pay for the ads in three Chinese-language newspapers on April 17.
    In the letter, it warns that a limit on working hours before overtime has to be paid would have "a huge impact on society and business".
    It says it goes against the city's free-market principles which offer maximum room for companies to develop.
    "Setting standard working hours is a complex, controversial issue, which needs in-depth discussion from all sides of society," the letter says. It questions how hours can be standardised across the vast range of occupations.
    "If working hours are standardised through legislation, business costs will increase significantly and the competitiveness of small to medium-sized companies will be weakened," it said. "The minimum-wage law was introduced not long ago, and both the business and labour sectors, as well as other sectors in society, still need time to absorb the impact of that law."
    The coalition's members mostly represent medium-sized businesses. They include the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturers' Association and the Hong Kong Small and Medium Enterprises General Association.
    Seven of the city's biggest business chambers, including the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, issued a joint letter to the government in November last year warning laws regulating working hours would hurt business.
    Confederation of Trade Unions policy researcher Poon Man-hon argued these fears were unfounded.
    The veteran analyst said his studies showed that the rise in labour costs would be only 4.5 per cent - as long as the law did not apply to management, who earned more than the general workforce.
    "Studies in other countries show the positive impact of such a law," he said. "The workers have a better sense of belonging and the turnover rate is lower. There is also less sick leave."
    He added: "The coalition is exerting pressure on the government. It's not rational. I think they feel they need to take a stronger stand on this matter after the minimum wage law went through."
    Labour Advisory Board employee representative Lee Tak-ming suggested setting standard working hours at 46 to 48 hours weekly and that overtime pay for workers in different industries should be different.
    For example, people in more physically demanding, low-paid jobs, such as cleaners, should be paid 1.5 times the hourly wage for overtime work, he said.
    The government estimated in a report released last November that employers would need to pay out up to HK$55.2 billion more a year in wages if working hours were regulated.

  2. Coal crisis: Parties unite to save jobs, CumnockChronicle.com
    CUMNOCK, Scotland - Political parties have united in East Ayrshire in a bid to prevent the opencast industry becoming "a Diageo of the south".
    A bid by Cumnock Labour councillor and coal mining veteran Barney Menzies..to secure cross-party support for the struggling mining industry proved successful this week - with councillors set to meet Scottish ministers to work out a way of saving jobs on opencasts.
    Cllr Menzies said that the industry needed support after high profile financial problems with two local operators - ATH Resources and Scottish Coal.
    [No, the industry needs emergency worksharing and permanent timesizing - and an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) with employee takeover would be good.]
    The councillor is a long-time employee of Scottish Coal, who are part of the Scottish Resources Group and will have served 40 years in the industry by this August.

  3. Work hours-survey, Yonhap News Agency via GlobalPost.com
    SEOUL, South Korea -- Eight out of 10 people employed here work more than the legal limit of 40 hours per week, a survey showed Wednesday.
    [South Korea is another economy like France that has cut the workweek but failed to implement a smooth and automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion mechanism, such as a corporate overtime tax with exemption for reinvestment in OT-targeted jobs plus an individual overwork tax with exemption for reinvestment in OW-targeted hiring. So like France, it's struggling with weaker domestic consumer spending than it should have.]
    According to the survey of 587 workers, 81 percent, or 475 respondents said they work more than 40 hours per week. The survey was conducted by the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, one of the country's major umbrella labor unions, last month.
    In 2004, the government implemented a policy to cap the weekly working limit to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week from the previous 44 hours as part of its efforts to improve labor conditions.
    Despite the policy change, a government report published last September showed that the country's average weekly working hours ranked the highest among the member states of the rich nations' club -- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- at 44.6 hours per week.
    In response, President Park Geun-hye's transition team said in January that it is mulling over shortening working hours by stretching the weekly limit across all seven days of the week, not five.
    "We plan to review ways to include weekends and holidays in calculating overtime work in order to change the practice of working long hours," a transition committee official said.


4/02/2013 – News and opinion 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 50 years from now will long have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Teachers to demand maximum 20 hours a week in classroom, by Richard Garner, The London Independent via independent.co.uk
    LIVERPOOL, England - Teachers are to demand a new contract limiting them to spending just 20 hours a week in the classroom.
    The move was agreed at the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference in Liverpool today as part of a demand for a 35-hour week for the profession.
    Delegates said research had shown the average working week for a primary school teacher was 50.2 hours a week – and that of a secondary school teacher 49.9.
    “We’re fed up with arriving at 7.45am and we’re there until 6.30pm,” said Richard Rose, a primary school teacher from Cambridgeshire. “There is no time to think, to eat to talk or even go to the toilet.”
    He said the “saddest thing” was a comment from a parent who was a teacher whose son had said he was “fed up with saying ‘daddy, can we do something on Saturday, can we do something on Sunday, can we talk tonight?’ but there is no time for that.”
    The proposed new contract sets out a new 35-hour working week made up of 20 hours pupil contact time, five hours for the planning and preparation of lessons, five hours of “non-contact time” – attending meetings – and a further five hours for marking.
    It also calls for a strict limit on class sizes with a maximum of just 23 pupils in infant classes for five to seven-year-olds. At present, there is a legal limit of 30 – but figures show the number of oversized classes is growing.

  2. Tens of thousands of Danish teachers locked out after talks over work hours collapse, by Richard Steed, AP via Vancouver Province via theprovince.com
    COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Tens of thousands of Danish teachers were locked out of schools on Tuesday after negotiations with municipal authorities over weekly work hours failed to produce an agreement.
    The National Teachers Union said 52,000 teachers were barred from entering schools, affecting some 875,000 pupils. Thousands of teachers held impromptu protests throughout Denmark, carrying signs and wearing white T-shirts expressing concern over a possible decline in the quality of education.
    The showdown centres on who has the power to schedule teachers' working time.
    The union has refused to accept a new working agreement that is part of sweeping school reform program.
    Municipal authorities want the right to determine how much time teachers spend in the classroom, and reject the Teachers Union's demand for a cap of 25 hours per week in class, with the rest of their working hours used for class preparation.
    Teachers currently spend on average 16 hours a week in the classroom.
    "We are prepared to spend more time teaching in the classroom, but we believe there must be a limit," said union executive board member Gordon Orskov Madesen. "We also need proper time for preparation to offer quality in each and every lesson."
    Michael Ziegler, chief negotiator for Local Government Denmark, an association of municipalities, said local governments should have more say in how teachers spend their working hours.
    "We believe that it should not be the Teachers Union who decides how teachers spend their working time," said Ziegler. "Instead, it should be decided locally and in a dialogue between the individual teacher and school management. Teachers need to have rules regarding working hours that are similar to all other employee groups."
    If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the central government could step in and force teachers back into schools.

  3. Guam Legal Services Corp. will move to 36-hour week, by Cameron Miculka, Pacific Daily News via guamPDN.com
    HAGATNA, Guam - The Guam Legal Services Corp. will move to a 36-hour workweek this summer in response to federal budget cuts enacted by sequestration.
    Executive Director Harold Parker said the office will have shorter hours -- operating from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. -- starting in July.
    Parker said some employees also will likely be required to take off a couple of hours during the week.
    Sequestration was the topic of the corporation's board meeting yesterday.
    There also were revisions to the center's health care and retirement plans and cuts to expenses such as traveling.
    Because the center falls under the nonprofit Legal Services Corp., which receives federal money, it has been affected by federal sequestration cuts.
    The center provides legal services and judicial access to low-income individuals.
    Parker said services already have been affected by the cuts, saying the center likely will not be able to take on as many contested cases as it normally does.

  4. White House budget staff given furlough notices, by Robert Schroeder, blogs.MarketWatch.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Nearly 500 staffers at the White House’s budget office have been given furlough notices due to the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
    Carney said 480 employees at the Office of Management and Budget have been given the notices, confirming a Bloomberg report from last month containing the same number. The report said OMB workers would need to take 10 days off between April 21 and Sept. 7.
    OMB’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a question about the total number of OMB employees. The Bloomberg report put that total at 500.
    President Barack Obama is preparing to release his next budget on April 10, so there is time for OMB staff to complete that document before taking forced, unpaid days off.
    Carney wouldn’t give information about other agencies but said: “As the impact of the sequester progresses, furlough and pay cuts remain possibilities for additional White House employees.” OMB is part of the executive office of the president.
    Meanwhile, Friday’s jobs report won’t show much evidence of the sequester, as Political Watch explained last week. Click here to read more about the sequester and the March U.S. jobs report.




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2002
2001
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