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


8/31/2013 – 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. Radio Workers Still Suffer from 14 1/2 Minute Work Week - Labor Day: Radio Scoffs at Notion that Radio is "Work" - Satire, by Corey Deitz, About.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - As we enjoy the Labor Day holiday in the U.S., it's a good time to reflect on how far our culture has come in providing a reasonable work week to the masses.
    Most people who meet me say things like, "You're so lucky. You only work 4 hours-a-day." And if I were to take them literally, maybe I could convince myself I actually put in a dreaded 20-hour, 5-day week. Of course, they're just counting the amount of time I spend on-air.
    [Of course, the U.S. technocratic movement in 1930 wanted a four 4-day workweek totaling 16 hours.]
    But, do you know who is getting away with the best scam ever? DJs who work on music-intensive radio stations! Those guys are putting in an overbearing 14 1/2 minutes per week - assuming they are working in a 6-day week.
    Once again, I am faced with a deadline to provide an article to Radio.about.com which reflects thought, insight, and eloquence. And as usual, I have failed. Instead, I have decided to tackle the work ethic in the Radio industry in honor of Labor Day.
    "Labor Day" is actually Latin for "three-day weekend when I will party until my body rejects my liver." Many people in our society get all kinds of "Labor Dayish" during this holiday but there is a disconnect, especially with those who work in Radio.
    Don't misunderstand: it's not that drinking is foreign to people in Radio. Just ask anyone who has done a morning show for 20 years. No, it's the word "labor" which frightens many in the business and sends them into a corner, curled up in a fetal position. People work in Radio to avoid working.
    People who enter Radio do so under the impression that it's always fun and fun things are not work. To a certain extent they are correct if you're speaking of on-air performers like deejays, air-personalities, talk show hosts, presenters, etc. Not only is fun the antithesis of work but look how short the workday is for on-air talent. Four hours is a typical on-air shift, maybe six hours for an overnight gig.
    That's certainly a far cry from a normal 40-hour work week. But, it gets even better! We're assuming the performer is "live" and actually sitting in that comfortable leather studio chair he or she must be afforded by most caring companies. (Excuse me while I snicker to myself.)
    But, in today's radio environment many people on-the-air are not on-the-air. They are recorded to sound like they are on-the-air. They are actually billions of bytes stored in digital files that were recorded an earlier time. They are not alive, they are voice tracks - an incredible simulation made to seem authentic by swift computer software automation. For all you know, the person "talkng" to you could actually be home, sitting on a commode. Now that's reassuring.
    The actual time it takes to record voice tracks for a four-hour period can vary, but having had some experience with the process I can tell you a trained deejay can bang out a complete 4-hour shift in a half-hour. And that includes one coffee run to the break room and the time it takes to text a reply to that pretty young thing he met at a recent remote broadcast.
    Well, one-half hour can still be a respectable amount of work. In some cultures. Somewhere. Who are we to judge? Work is work!
    Unless you are lucky enough to be a deejay at a music-formatted radio station which features "More Music, Less Talk." Then, you've hit the jackpot. Life's Lottery has blessed you with even less toil and trouble because the Program Director or a consultant has probably done a lot of research and they have found that people who like to listen to music, hate to listen to people talk between the music. In an effort to lessen the negatives, the Program Director tells his staff they only have two or three times each hour when they have to record a voice track. He also says something like, "And if you can't say it within 12 seconds, you shouldn't."

  2. Working Aussie dads told to 'man up' and stop missing out on their kids' lives, Courier Mail via couriermail.com.au
    SYDNEY, Australia - Aussie dads need to "man up'' and demand flexible work hours to spend more time with their families, a federal government agency says.
    Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Helen Conway said working fathers were "stressed to buggery'' but too afraid to ask for more time at home.

    She urged dads to commemorate Father's Day by "manning up'' to request family-friendly work hours.
    "Men see their mates who look down on them if they request flexible work,'' she told News Corp.
    "They think you're a wimp if you're caring for your kids, and there's a lot of peer pressure.
    "But they've got to man up and ask for flexible work arrangements.
    "Real men spend time with their families.''
    Ms Conway blasted the "antiquated thinking'' of employers who assumed mothers would look after the children and take care of the housework.
    But she said some ambitious men also feared that working part-time or fewer hours would stunt their careers.
    "They see women's careers disadvantaged because they've got flexible work, and they don't want their own careers disadvantaged,'' she said.
    "They've got to have the courage of their convictions.
    "They should feel they can ask for flexible work and put a finger on the chest of the employer a little.
    "If employees start asking for it, the employer can't ignore that.''
    [Sure they can and do, in a labor surplus, with piles of resumes clamoring to do every job for less.]
    Ms Conway said employers were more likely to knock back a man's requests for flexible work than a woman's.
    She warned bosses it was potentially discriminatory to grant flexible work hours to mothers, but not fathers.
    "Men are particularly disadvantaged around flexible work,'' she said.
    "For a happy healthy life people need balance, and it's only fair and reasonable men should be given the same opportunities as women - but that's not happening at the moment.
    "Employers are more prepared to accommodate women because they think women do all the caring.
    "That is really antiquated thinking.''
    Ms Conway said "ambitious men'' often felt they needed to "work hard and long hours''.
    "They're stressed to buggery working hours and hours, and missing out on their kids' lives,'' she said.
    "The kids never see their fathers and that's not good for children.''


8/30/2013 – 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. Reduced Budget Cuts Hours At White Sands, KRWG News via krwg.org
    ALAMAGORDO, N.M., USA - White Sands National Monument will open at 8 a.m. and close approximately one hour after sunset from September 3 through December 31, 2013. The monument will continue to offer visitor services and planned programming within the new operating hours. The new hours reflect changes in monument staffing and a reduction in the monument’s budget in 2013. For example, monument staff found that they were not able to safely provide adequate coverage for the operating hours of 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. during summer months.
    Average annual visitation for the monument is 450,000, which is the highest visitation of all the National Park Service sites in New Mexico. Seventeen permanent and approximately 10-15 seasonal employees make sure the visiting public has access to the monument. The staff ensures facilities are clean and in working order; conducts interpretive programs and staffs the visitor center; provides emergency services such as medical, law enforcement, and search and rescue; manages the cultural and natural features; and performs variety of administrative functions. “To carry out these necessary and mandated functions in the safest and most effective manner the decision was made to reduce monument hours. Making these small changes in operational hours will better ensure that we have the staff to provide visitor and employee safety while meeting the mission of the National Park Service,” stated Superintendent Marie Frías Sauter.
    Visitors interested in entering the monument before 8 a.m. may request an early entry permit or register to backcountry camp in the monument. Applications for early entry must be received by the monument at least seven days in advance of the requested date. Visitors interested in backcountry camping will need to obtain a backcountry camping permit at the visitor center. The visitor center is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. with extended hours during the summer. For more information regarding these options, visit http://www.nps.gov/whsa/parkmgmt/earlyentry.htm.
    Specific monument and visitor center hour and a detailed park closure schedule may be downloaded from http://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/hours.htm.

  2. ObamaCare Pushes Low-Wage Workweek Near Record Low, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily via news.investors.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Here's something worth paying attention to this Labor Day: The workweek in low-wage industries has fallen back to the historic lows seen at the depths of the recession.
    The White House and like-minded economists have disputed the notion that ObamaCare is having a meaningful impact on work hours by noting that the private-sector workweek has recovered pretty much back to where it was in 2007, before the economy tanked.
    But that view from 40,000 feet overlooks what is happening in industries likely to feel the brunt of ObamaCare's employment impact: those in which wages are modest and the ranks of the uninsured are high.
    A more rigorous analysis of monthly industry data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a stark contrast between workers in low-wage industries and the rest of the private sector.
    For the 30 million workers in industries where nonsupervisors average about $14.50 an hour or less, the workweek has been shrinking pretty steadily for the past 18 months, reversing a fledgling recovery in work hours.
    As of June, these workers averaged 27.7 hours per week — only four minutes more than the record low hit in March 2009.
    And preliminary data point to a further decline in the low-wage workweek in July, possibly to new depths. Sectorwide July data show the workweek shrank in both the leisure and hospitality and retail industries, among others. Those two industries alone account for nearly 75% of these 30 million low-wage jobs.
    Meanwhile, the 36.9-hour workweek in June for the other 84 million nonfarm private-sector workers remained a full hour longer than the 2009 low and a bit longer than it was before the recession.
    As a whole, low-wage industry groups added just shy of 1 million jobs in the 18 months through June, but total hours worked grew one-third slower than payrolls over that span. In effect, the shorter workweek in low-wage industries boosted payrolls by 320,000.
    For a profit-making firm facing a 40% federal and state tax rate, the $3,000 annual, nondeductible fine employers may face for each worker who accesses ObamaCare subsidies is equal to $5,000 in deductible wages.
    Thus, for a worker earning $15,000 in compensation, ObamaCare could raise an employer's cost by one-third.
    It shouldn't be a surprise that a good number of low-wage employers in industries with low profit margins have opted to cut hours rather than face such a penalty.
    While restricting hours has downsides for business, some employers may see little choice, given that small competitors are free of ObamaCare mandates.

  3. German labor ministry bans out-of-hours calls, emails to its staff, The Associated Press via NewsDaily.com
    BERLIN, Germany — Germany's labor ministry has banned managers from calling or emailing staff out of hours except in emergencies.
    The ministry says the measure is intended to prevent staff from suffering undue stress by being constantly on call.
    [Hey maybe one factor in the strength of the German economy is their insistence on preventing "work creep." When you're onduty you're ON, and when you're off you're OFF. Strong clear boundaries. "Good fences make good neighbors."]
    Daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday that the ministry is following the lead of major German companies such as automaker Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom.
    The newspaper cited official guidelines stating that no staff should be penalized for turning off their cellphone or failing to pick up messages after working hours "to prevent self-exploitation."
    It said managers were also being urged to refrain from calling staff while on leave but out-of-hours contact was permitted "in exceptional circumstances."


8/29/2013 – 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. S. Korea: Workers not happier from 44 hour to 40 hour work week - Benefit of cutting work week offset by no reduction in work, United Press International via UPI.com
    [But happiness is not the point. The point is SysReq (system requirement). If you want markets for all the stuff your robots are churning out with only two employees working a 40-hour workweek on low wages because so many people want their jobs and would do them for less, and you don't want to have a mushrooming population in welfare-disability-prison and higher government debt to support them and only you in the top 0.01% with the money to pay it off, you MUST cut the workweek and spread the work and skills as much as it takes to get full employment and maximum markets. And as for "Benefit of cutting work week offset by no reduction in work," that's an easy one: keep cutting the workweek until employers "get it" and hire more and wages get bid up by employer-perceived labor "shortage" and people have more time to shop ... and employers experience the strengthening domestic markets that result.]
    SEOUL, S.Korea -- A reduction in work hours does not necessarily mean happier employees, because employers often don't reduce the amount of work, a South Korean researcher says.
    Robert Rudolf of Korea University in Seoul looked at the impact of South Korea's recently introduced Five-Day Working Policy. South Korea introduced its reformative working policy in 2004, in which Saturday became an official non-working day. It also reduced the official working week from 44 to 40 hours.
    [in seven steps, from large companies to small, over seven years, 204-2011.]
    The policy was instigated to enhance living standards, boost the country's weak leisure industry and to reduce the negative effects of excessively long working hours, including low productivity and high rates of industrial injury.
    Rudolf's analysis is based on the detailed and nationally representative longitudinal survey of urban Korean households, the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study, conducted from 1998-2008.
    Rudolf found working wives and mothers were generally more pleased with the reformative measures than their male counterparts because women face higher work-family role conflicts and suffer more from long overtime hours.
    The study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found even though full-time workers, and women in particular, were generally thankful that their work week was cut by 4 hours on average, it had no significant impact on their overall job and life satisfaction. This is because much of the positive spin-offs gained from fewer working hours were often offset by rising work intensity demands set by employers, but some firms tended to give less holiday time, Rudolf said.

  2. A Shorter Workweek May Not Make Me Happy But I Want It Anyway, by Dodai Stewart, Jezebel.com
    SoHo (SOuth of HOuston St.), NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., USA - Since I'm just back from a short vacation and there's a three-day-weekend coming up, I feel like a new study about how a shorter workweek doesn't make you happier is total bullshit. Let me be the judge! Time off feels FANTASTIC.
    Nicholas Bakalar's piece on the "Well" blog of the New York Times cites research published in The Journal of Happiness Studies, something that sounds like a really interesting read. Bakalar writes:
    South Korea changed its labor regulations in 2004, reducing the work week to five days a week and 40 hours from the previous six-day, 44-hour week, providing a natural experiment to test whether working fewer hours would increase happiness.
    Using data from an annual survey of 5,000 Korean households, Dr. Rudolf analyzed overall job satisfaction and overall satisfaction with life before and after the changes in working hours. Using a five-point scale, ranging from very dissatisfied to very satisfied, he found that for both sexes, a reduction in hours had no effect on job or life satisfaction.

    Shut the front door you son of a businessman. What in the Ninth Circle of Hell is wrong with those people? Maybe they should go from five days a week to four days a week? I guarantee their "life satisfaction" meters will jump. Here's the deal: Saturdays you do all the stuff you can't do during the week. Sundays you sleep late and veg and watch British teen TV shows. If you also had Friday or Monday off, oh, imagine the places you'd go! Museums, movies, road trips, sailing excursions, lunches in random parts of town. All kinds of things to boost life satisfaction. Seriously, if I had a four-day workweek, I would be scoring SIXES on the five point scale of life. South Korea, you crazy.
    It should be noted that Dr. Rudolf, a wise man indeed, agrees with me:
    “I am a big fan of flexible working solutions with flex-time, part-time options, etc. In my opinion, higher personal freedom about their work flanked with well-designed performance targets will make workers both happier and more productive.”
    Exactly! When I am President/Queen of the U.S. this will be my platform.

    [Eureka! Dodai Stewart is someone in New York City who actually realizes that financially secure Free Time is THE most basic Freedom, without which the other freedoms are meaningless or inaccessible. Take That all you workaholic Americans who blather on about Freedom and Liberty but are terrified of free time!]

  3. Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you, by Lynn Parramore, Reuters Blogs via blogs.reuters.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired. But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.
    Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.
    As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.
    It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way: John Maynard Keynes, one of the founders of modern economics, made a famous prediction that by 2030, advanced societies would be wealthy enough that leisure time, rather than work, would characterize national lifestyles. So far, that forecast is not looking good.
    What happened? Some cite the victory of the modern eight-hour a day, 40-hour workweek over the punishing 70 or 80 hours a 19th century worker spent toiling as proof that we’re moving in the right direction. But Americans have long since kissed the 40-hour workweek goodbye, and Shor’s examination of work patterns reveals that the 19th century was an aberration in the history of human labor. When workers fought for the eight-hour workday, they weren’t trying to get something radical and new, but rather to restore what their ancestors had enjoyed before industrial capitalists and the electric lightbulb came on the scene. Go back 200, 300 or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze. “The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed,” notes Shor. “Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.”
    Fast-forward to the 21st century, and the U.S. is the only advanced country with no national vacation policy whatsoever. Many American workers must keep on working through public holidays, and vacation days often go unused. Even when we finally carve out a holiday, many of us answer emails and “check in” whether we’re camping with the kids or trying to kick back on the beach.
    Some blame the American worker for not taking what is her due. But in a period of consistently high unemployment, job insecurity and weak labor unions, employees may feel no choice but to accept the conditions set by the culture and the individual employer. In a world of “at will” employment, where the work contract can be terminated at any time, it’s not easy to raise objections.
    It’s true that the New Deal brought back some of the conditions that farm workers and artisans from the Middle Ages took for granted, but since the 1980s things have gone steadily downhill. With secure long-term employment slipping away, people jump from job to job, so seniority no longer offers the benefits of additional days off. The rising trend of hourly and part-time work, stoked by the Great Recession, means that for many, the idea of a guaranteed vacation is a dim memory.
    Ironically, this cult of endless toil doesn’t really help the bottom line. Study after study shows that overworking reduces productivity. On the other hand, performance increases after a vacation, and workers come back with restored energy and focus. The longer the vacation, the more relaxed and energized people feel upon returning to the office.
    Economic crises give austerity-minded politicians excuses to talk of decreasing time off, increasing the retirement age and cutting into social insurance programs and safety nets that were supposed to allow us a fate better than working until we drop. In Europe, where workers average 25 to 30 days off per year, politicians like French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras are sending signals that the culture of longer vacations is coming to an end. But the belief that shorter vacations bring economic gains doesn’t appear to add up. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the Greeks, who face a horrible economy, work more hours than any other Europeans. In Germany, an economic powerhouse, workers rank second to last in number of hours worked. Despite more time off, German workers are the eighth most productive in Europe, while the long-toiling Greeks rank 24 out of 25 in productivity.
    Beyond burnout, vanishing vacations make our relationships with families and friends suffer. Our health is deteriorating: depression and higher risk of death are among the outcomes for our no-vacation nation. Some forward-thinking people have tried to reverse this trend, like progressive economist Robert Reich, who has argued in favor of a mandatory three weeks off for all American workers. Congressman Alan Grayson proposed the Paid Vacation Act of 2009, but alas, the bill didn’t even make it to the floor of Congress.
    Speaking of Congress, its members seem to be the only people in America getting as much down time as the medieval peasant. They get 239 days off this year.


8/28/2013 – 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. Hillsborough Municipal staff regains work hours - They'll go back to 40-hour work week next month, by Gene Robbins, Hillsborough Beacon via Packet Online via centraljersey.com
    HILLSBOROUGH, N.J., USA - Municipal building employees regained workweek hours in a contract approved Tuesday night by the Township Committee.
    According to Mayor Frank DelCore, the 50 to 60 “white collar” employees who staff offices in the municipal government will return to a 40-hour work week in September. The hours had been cut in 2010 to 37.5 per week as a budgetary savings.
    [Bitsy 6.25% timesizing for everyone instead of 6.25% downsizing = total joblessness for 3-4 employees.]
    Through 2014, there will be no base salary percentage increase, he said, only the added amounts from the added hours.
    In 2015 and 2016, employees will see salary increases of 1.5 percent per year, he said.
    There were language clarifications, but no other major changes in benefits or other issues, the mayor said.
    The mayor called the agreement with Local 3697 of Council 73 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees “fair” for the bargaining unit and the taxpayers.
    Taxpayers will see municipal offices open for a longer work day at the end of September, the mayor said.

  2. How many work hours is too many? - Workaholics who put in more than 50 hours a week may see a decline in mental and physical health, by Dave Mielach, (8/27 late pickup) BusinessNewsDaily via Mother Nature Network via mnn.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA - Late nights and early mornings at the office may help your career prospects, but they can hurt you in another way. New research has found a link between overworking and the reduced well-being of workers.
    Employees who worked more than 50 hours in a week suffered from decreased mental and physical health, the research found.
    "We looked at the association between workaholism and physical and mental well-being," said researcher Sarah Asebedo, a doctoral student at Kansas State University. "We found workaholics – defined by those working more than 50 hours per week – were more likely to have reduced physical well-being, measured by skipped meals. Also, we found that workaholism was associated with reduced mental well-being as measured by a self-reported depression score."
    [What about the people who must always keep busy for the sake of their self-importance? or to avoid facing the emptiness of their lives?]
    The problem becomes complicated, however, when looking at why workers choose to put in extra hours. Asebedo and her research team of fellow doctoral students Sonya Britt and Jamie Blue attempted to describe why workers might overwork by looking at Gary Becker's Theory of Time Allocation.
    "This theory suggests that the more money you make, the more likely you are to work more,"Asebedo said. "It looks at the cost of time as if it were a market good. If you are not engaged in work-related activities, then there is a cost to the alternative way in which time is spent. Even if you understand the negative consequences to workaholism, you may still be likely to continue working because the cost of not doing so becomes greater."
    Once workers begin to think that way, they are at risk of falling victim to the negative health effects of working overtime, the researchers found. To help mitigate those feelings, workers should be sure to understand limitations at work. Additionally, workers can understand the role that work plays in their personal lives.
    The research "Workaholism and Well-Being" will appear in the Financial Services Review.


8/27/2013 – 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. Colstrip union workers furloughed, by Jan Falstad, (8/26 late pickup) TheRepublic.com
    BILLINGS, Mont., USA — For perhaps the first time in Montana history, union workers at Colstrip are being furloughed for up to 90 days.
    [Better furloughs than firings.]
    On Sept. 14, PPL Montana is starting mandatory leave for 36 workers, about 25 percent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1638. The furloughs will last at least one month and up to three months.
    The temporary layoffs are due to equipment failure on July 1 that idled one of four coal-fired generating units at Colstrip, said PPL Montana spokesman Dave Hoffman.
    “It’s an unfortunate situation, clearly,” Hoffman said. “When the plant doesn’t run, we just don’t need all those workers.”

    Unit 4 isn’t expected to be operational again until early next year. The cause of the equipment failure remains under investigation, Hoffman said.
    Workers received their furlough notices by email early Monday. They will earn less money on state unemployment, but PPL is continuing their benefits, including vacation, health care and seniority.
    Rex Rogers, business manager of the Colstrip local, said the layoffs are unique.
    “As I understand, this is the only place in the U.S. power plant industry that is having furloughs,” he said.
    Colstrip is the second largest coal-fired facility west of the Mississippi.
    Hoffman said this is the only mandatory layoff he is aware of at PPL Corp., based in Allentown, Pa., of which PLL Montana is a subsidiary.
    The Colstrip IBEW contract had prohibited furloughs, but union members agreed to accept them in their last contract finalized in May 2012.
    “We were faced with this bad choice or a worse choice, working weekends with no overtime,” Rogers said.
    Having a quarter of the local’s members out of work for up to three months won’t help retain skilled workers, Rogers said.
    “Being in southeastern Montana, this isn’t an area that is in high demand to live,” he said. “We can see before the furlough, we’re already losing members to other states.”
    In December, Bloomberg news reported that PPL is trying to sell its 16 Montana power plants because of low prices and periodic shutdowns in Colstrip and Billings.
    Hoffman said his company doesn’t comment on speculative reports.
    The Pennsylvania utility remains financially healthy.
    On Aug. 1, PPL reported profits of $405 million, or 63 cents per share, for the second quarter, 17 cents higher than last year. The utility expects to earn up to $2.48 per share this year.
    “They do see they can save money,” Rogers said. “All we see is their wage expenses will shift from PPL Corp. to the Montana State Unemployment Fund.”
    It would be a shame if these savings left Montana and went back to Allentown, Pa., the union press release said.
    The company’s U.S. profits are coming largely from one side of the business — the regulated sales of electricity — not from generating power, Hoffman said.
    “We’re a hybrid company that has a regulated component, as well as an unregulated supply side component,” Hoffman said. “We really believe that those components carry themselves individually.”
    After the Montana Legislature passed a deregulation bill 16 years ago, the former Montana Power Co. split up its business functions.
    PPL Montana, formed in 1998, bought the hydro-electric dams and Colstrip properties that generate power, which is largely unregulated by the state.
    PPL Montana manages the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip complex, which is owned by PPL and four other companies.
    NorthWestern Energy took over Montana Power’s regulated utility role, buying wholesale power from companies like PPL and selling it to more than 300,000 retail customers.
    As the state’s largest electricity supplier, NorthWestern has expressed an interest in buying more generating facilities.

  2. TGIT – Thank God It's Tuesday, by Tim Jones, GlossyNews.com (satire)
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA – Last November and December, I experienced some shortened work weeks thanks to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Both holidays were preceded by shortened three-day work weeks, so I had to be extremely focused, making efficient use of every minute of every work day.
    I cut way back on the amount of time I would otherwise spend watching lame YouTube videos involving practical jokes where some unsuspecting dude gets kicked in the family jewels (I can never get enough of that highbrow humor).
    This time, with only three days to get everything done, I chose not to waste my time sending around the couple dozen recycled humor emails I usually pass along each day, making fun of people from the South or one of those lame parodies on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Nope, no point wasting my co-workers’ time this week. There’d be plenty of time to waste their time by sending these around next week instead. Let’s stay focused, Tim.
    And that Elf Bowling video game that arrived in my email inbox every year about the holiday time? Well, this year I wasted almost no time – ten minutes tops – playing that mindlessly addictive video game. (But please permit me to brag just a little – I scored a 212 – my best score ever in five years of playing this game on company time.) This week was going to be different. I had five days of work to do in just three. I found that I got so much done in these shortened work weeks that it got me to thinking (uh oh….): Imagine how much more efficient workers would all be if we all had a three-day work week.
    There are many companies – and even a few cities (El Paso, TX, Melbourne, FL) and at least one state (Utah – always on the cutting edge of new trends) that are currently experimenting with a four-day work week. Instead of five 8-hour days, their employees work four 10-hour days, and they really get a lot of things done in these ten hour days…well, in the first 8 hours anyway. Polls of workers who have shifted to a four-day work schedule indicate that 85% prefer it to the previous five-day schedule and an overwhelming 99% prefer it to the seven-day 80-hour work week with no time off for Christmas.
    The advantages of a four-day work week are many:
    • Reduced commuting time and reduced energy consumption by eliminating one day of commuting travel per week
    • Less pollution in the environment from fewer days of commuting workers
    • Improved energy efficiencies from reduced use of electricity and heating in offices and factories which are closed one more day each week
    • You can get drunk on Thursday night and don’t have to make up transparent excuses for not showing up to work on Friday, like “I can’t make it into work today, boss because my four-year old Nate is sick with the measles again… Yeah, I know it’s the 7th time this year. He has a really low immune system…”
    If you ask me, it’s pretty obvious that working four longer days is much more efficient than five shorter days. But why stop there? If four 10-hour days is more efficient than five 8-hour days, then why not three 13.33 hour days? Better still, why not two 20-hour days? It works for medical doctors completing their residency and for college sophomores cramming for their Economics final so why not for the rest of us?
    Now I know what you’re thinking. Why not a one-day work week? You silly, there just aren’t enough hours – unless you’re working part-time. Then yeah, that could work just fine. Good suggestion.
    And you might push back and protest “What about sleep deprivation? Do you want your surgeon working on you if they have already worked 18 hours?” or “What if the bus driver carrying your child to school was so tired from working a 20 hour day that he fell asleep at the wheel?” These are valid points, which is why I would only apply the two-day work week to any job I might conceivably be interested in. And I have absolutely no interest in becoming a surgeon or a school bus driver – nor for that matter, since we’re on the subject, a farmer, coal miner, used car salesperson or dental hygienist. And I have to say, I am not really very much inclined to do any job that involves taking blood or stool samples, defusing IED’s or the routine use of tasers. But I digress.
    So think about it. Unless you’re an open heart surgeon / part-time school bus driver, your work week could begin say on Monday at 6am and be completely over by sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. No more thinking about work stuff for another five days. How awesome is that! Think how rested and refreshed you will be when you return to work the following Monday morning after five days off where you were able to stay up till 3am playing Halo 3 or catching up on every episode of Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of LOST (I always wanted to watch that show).
    Your entire family will be delighted that you’re around so much more, with the possible exception of your wife and perhaps your kids. But your Chocolate Lab, Tootles, will be thrilled. Your cat Freckles won’t particularly care one way or another. Sorry.
    For you men out there, there is one small possible downside to having all this extra “free time” on your hands with a two-day work week. Your wife may conclude that you have plenty of free time to step up to the plate more…. starting with taking Jake to the orthodontist, then driving Jessica to and from soccer practice. While you’re at it, could you be sure to get the groceries, take the car in – the transmission is running a little rough… Oh, and you might as well stop by the post office, the dry cleaners, the bank, the hardware store… And we could use 187 items I put on the shopping list for Costco (the preceding product placement was paid for by Costco)…..
    …. Oh and don’t forget to find a baby sitter for Saturday night and help Megan with her report on the history of the spoon – it’s due tomorrow. And could you figure out why the water in the bathroom sink is suddenly green? And what is that clanking sound is in the clothes dryer? Take a look at that. Oh, it sure would be great if you could finally get around to raking the leaves like you said you would last fall. They won’t just rake themselves, ya’ know.
    Yes, with all this extra time on your hands, you will have lots more time to take over countless chores and errands that you somehow were able to avoid back when you were slaving away five days a week at the office.….. On second thought, I think the five-day work week is fine just the way it is. A two-day work week? That has to be the stupidest idea I ever heard.
    I’ve got to get back to work. I’ve got a feeling today is the day I’ll break my record score of 212 in elf bowling. Wish me luck.
    Tim Jones is a free lance humor writer based in Seattle, Washington and author of the humor blog View from the Bleachers.net...


8/25-26/2013 – 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. Expert: Possible DoD Firings 'Tip of the Iceberg', by Brendan McGarry, 8/25 Military News via Military.com
    [Here's a reason all those civil servants who've been bellyaching about federal furloughs should count their blessings -]
    PENTAGON, Va., USA - The U.S. Defense Department’s possible plans to fire some 6,300 civilian employees next year if automatic budget cuts continue may just be “the tip of the iceberg,” according to a former budget official.
    [This also gives a definite chunk of Americans an intense self-interest in America starting wars -]
    The Pentagon’s base, or non-war, budget is set to be sliced by $52 billion to about $475 billion in fiscal 2014, beginning Oct. 1, under automatic cuts known as sequestration unless Congress and the White House agree on an alternative deficit-reduction plan. Any deal appears unlikely, though, as Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over taxes and spending.
    The job cuts would take place instead of mandatory unpaid leaves of absence known as furloughs, according to a planning document first reported by Tony Capaccio, a reporter at Bloomberg News.
    The number of layoffs may rise as officials review other sources of overhead costs, according to Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and a former White House budget official during the Clinton administration.
    “This is the tip of the iceberg in that process,” he said in a telephone interview.
    The 6,300 figure represents less than 1 percent of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce of about 750,000 employees.
    “It’s an awfully small number,” Adams said. “It needs to be substantially larger; maybe by a factor of five … The big problem the Pentagon has is the back office.”
    The Defense Department is estimated to spend some 42 percent of its base budget on overhead – the uniformed and non-uniformed support personnel who work in such areas as logistics, acquisition and administration. By comparison, the figure for most private-sector companies is about 20 percent.
    Reducing the Pentagon’s headcount in support positions makes sense, given the drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the pressures on the federal budget, Adams said.
    “That’s where they’ll get the money to save hardware programs and combat forces,” he said.
    The Defense Department faces $500 billion in automatic cuts over the next decade. That’s in addition to almost $500 billion in defense reductions already included in 2011 deficit-reduction legislation. The first installment of automatic cuts began March 1 and sliced about $37 billion from the fiscal 2013 defense budget.
    In response, the Pentagon ordered 85 percent of its civilian workforce, or about 640,000 employees, to take six days of furloughs before Sept. 30.
    Layoffs are cheaper than furloughs over time because the employer avoids having to pay health care and other benefits, Adams said.
    “The bill for furloughs long-term is more expensive long-term than the bill for RIFs,” he said, referring to reductions in force, the Pentagon’s term for the job cuts.
    While continued sequestration will ground aircraft, halt training exercises and hurt the military’s ability to prepare for missions, leaders need to be careful about equating readiness with funding for operations and maintenance, an account in which most expenses actually come from overhead, Adams said.
    “That’s where they have to bear down,” he said. “Making the false comparison between O&M and readiness avoids dealing with this back office issue."

  2. CVS to cut warehouse work hours, Modesto Bee via FresnoBee.com
    PATTERSON, Calif., USA - The CVS Distribution Center in Patterson has consolidated its shifts and will make 70 of its workers part time instead of full time.
    CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the company announced Friday that the warehouse's second shift has been consolidated into its first. Employees were notified that the change could be effective Sept. 30.
    "This consolidation is designed to increase the efficiency of our facility's operations and position the Patterson distribution center for continued success as part of CVS pharmacy's distribution network," DeAngelis said.
    The change will result in approximately 70 full-time positions being reduced to part-time positions. DeAngelis said no layoffs were announced.
    [Better than job cuts and if we all did it together, even just on a city level, market forces in response to the new shorter "full time" would maintain pay and spending and prevent companies like CVS from cutting their own markets and pounding more nails into their own coffins.]
    The company has some 520 employees at its 860,000-square-foot facility in the Keystone Business Park.


8/24/2013 – 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. Employers eligible for incentive to avoid layoffs, (8/22 late pickup) Whidbey News-Times via whidbeynewstimes.com
    WHIDBEY, Wash., USA - A new Employment Security Department program offers a layoff-avoidance incentives to Washington employers.
    The program allows them to participate through June 2015 with little effect on their unemployment taxes.
    Since 1983, Washington’s Shared-Work Program has allowed employers to temporarily reduce the hours of their workers, and the employees can claim partial unemployment benefits to help bridge the difference.
    The federal government will reimburse the state 100 percent for shared-work benefits paid from July through September 2012. Because of the federal sequester, the reimbursement is 94.9 percent for benefits paid since October 2012.

    The legislature adopted two key changes to qualify the state for the reimbursement. Now participating employers must have two or more employees and part-time employees can enroll.
    As before, both private-sector and public-sector employers can participate, employee’s hours must be cut by at least 10 percent but no more than 50 percent to be eligible for shared-work benefits, and an employer can enroll as many or as few employees as it wants.
    For more information visit at www.esd.wa.gov or call 800-752-2500.

  2. Create a health care plan that encourages full-time jobs, by Rick Bierman, MuscatineJournal.com
    MUSCATINE, Iowa, USA - Recently, union leaders in the United States have started to flip in their support of Obamacare. There are concerns that the law will destroy the 40 hour work week. The law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees' work hours below 30 hours a week. Many employers across the country are already doing this for a very good reason — they can save money by avoiding the part of the law that requires them to provide health care coverage for full time employees.
    The unions have a right to be concerned, as we all do. If employers in the private sector are taking advantage of this opportunity, how long before the public sector follows them? In these days of huge budget shortfalls at the city, county, state and federal levels, it would be too tempting not to. Work weeks could be cut to two 28 hour segments. This would create a 56 hour week divided between two shifts. Government services could be offered seven days a week ,and because the workers are part-time, there would be no overtime pay, no vacation pay, no pension plans and minimal health care expense.
    [Sounds all good to us. With 30% more jobs resulting from cutting the 40-hour workweek by 30%, the wage-depressing labor surplus would vanish, wages would rise, single parents would rejoice, we wouldn't need mandatory retirement because we could easily arrange a longer weekend every week, we'd be better rested and wouldn't get sick so much... It's pathetic to watch Americans, the supposed champions of freedom, LOVE their chains so much.]
    Union contracts will protect full time public sector jobs up to a point, but these contracts are periodically reviewed and changed.
    The Republicans warned that Obamacare would be a job killer [no, just an hours killer, hours that need to be killed in the age of robotics] and it seems that they might be right.
    There are some provisions in Obamacare that are very beneficial, but the Democrats and Republicans have to work together to create a health care plan that encourages employers to create, or keep, full-time jobs.
    [No, they have to work together to redefine "full time" downward in the age of robotics, so we can quit downsizing all the employees we no longer need and keep a full workforce to buy all the stuff the robots are churning out.]


8/23/2013 – 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. Unity mine workers to share shifts in bid to save jobs, BBC News Wales via bbc.co.uk
    NEATH, Wales, UK - Workers at Wales' largest drift mine have offered to share shifts between all 220 workers after management said they only had work for 66.
    It would mean workers at the Unity mine near Neath would only get on average a quarter of their previous pay but it would safeguard the pit's future.
    The miners came up with the proposal after all day talks involving the National Union of Miners (NUM).

    [NUM ain't so dumb!]
    Wayne Thomas, the NUM's general secretary for South Wales told BBC Wales reporter Gilbert John *how the system could work.

  2. Fathers' extremely long working hours can be detrimental to their sons´ wellbeing, (8/22 late pickup) News-Medical.net
    PERTH, Western Australia - Fathers' extremely long working hours can be detrimental to their sons´ wellbeing. This is the key finding of a longitudinal study by Jianghong Li (senior researcher at the WZB [Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung] = Berlin Social Science Center [Germany]) and four Australian co-authors, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
    The longitudinal study is based on data of more than 1,400 children in Western Australia. Around 19 percent of Western Australian fathers work 55 or more hours per week when their children are 5 years of age. Almost 20 percent of Australian fathers work so long when their children are 8 years old.
    Boys whose fathers worked 55 or more hours per week later exhibited more delinquent and aggressive behaviors than boys whose fathers worked fewer hours. Their fathers' long work hours did not appear to affect girls' behaviors. Mothers' work hours did not seem to matter, although few Australian mothers worked long hours and no firm conclusions can be drawn yet from this comparison.

    The culture of working long hours which has crept into many jobs in the new economy should be the next policy frontier. In Germany 15 percent of fathers of children with similar age (3-4) work 55 or more hours per week in 2011.
    The data come from the cohort study called "Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study" well-known under the name Raine Study. The Study has been following children from pregnancy to adulthood.
    Source: Berlin Social Science Center

  3. Local governments cutting hours over Obamacare costs, by Reid Wilson, (8/22 late pickup) WashingtonPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Many cash-strapped cities and counties facing the prospect of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars in new health-care costs under the Affordable Care Act are opting instead to reduce the number of hours their part-time employees work.
    The decisions to cut employee hours come 16 months before employers — including state and local governments — will be required to offer health-care coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Some local officials said the cuts are happening now either because of labor contracts that must be negotiated in advance, or because the local governments worry that employees who work at least 30 hours in the months leading up to the January 2015 implementation date would need to be included in their health-care plans.
    On Tuesday, Middletown Township, N.J. said it would reduce the hours of 25 part-time workers to avoid up to $775,000 in increased annual health-care costs. Earlier this month, Bee County, Tex., said it would limit its part-time workers to 24 hours per week when the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
    Last month, department heads in Brevard County, Fla., were told to plan similar cuts in advance of the 2015 deadline. Brevard County Insurance Director Jerry Visco estimated the new mandate would cost the county $10,000 per part-time employee — or $1.38 million a year if all 138 part-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week are covered, he told Florida Today. The Brevard County libraries have already cut hours for 37 employees.
    “It’s not something we prefer to do, but the cost of health insurance is significant and would really impact municipal budgets,” said Anthony Mercantante, Middletown’s township administrator. “It’s not something we can take on, particularly when we don’t know some of the other ramifications of the Affordable Care Act. There are far more questions than answers right now.”
    Middletown spends about $9 million a year, out of its $65 million budget, on employee health policies, Mercantante said.
    Elsewhere, Lynchburg, Va., administrators have cut hours for 35 to 40 part-time employees. Chesterfield County, just south of Richmond, is likely to cut the hours of “several hundred” employees, the county director of human resources told the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this year. Chippewa County, Wisc., will drop 15 part-time positions to avoid up to $163,000 in annual health care costs, the county administrator told Wisconsin Public Radio in April.
    In a statement provided to GovBeat, White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman said there is no evidence that the Affordable Care Act is prompting employers to add part-time rather than full-time positions.
    “Since the ACA became law, nearly 90% of the gain in employment has been in full-time positions. Furthermore, the law is helping make health insurance coverage more affordable which supports job growth,” Furman said. “Just yesterday, we learned that the growth in employers’ health care premiums has slowed significantly recently, to less than a third of the growth rate in the late ’90s and early 2000s.”
    Other supporters of the law suggested the cuts could actually cost counties and cities more money than if they simply paid for part-time workers’ health-care costs.
    “There are some costs of doing business where it really does cost you more money to have multiple people on the job,” said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “Why would you create more jobs than you need to at 20 hours a week, when if you’re really responding to the Affordable Care Act you would assign people to work 29 hours a week?”
    “I don’t think this is going to be a big direct-cost burden for counties and municipalities,” Burtless added.
    Mercantante, the Middletown administrator, says it’s the uncertainty that’s driving his town’s actions. “Towns are going to have to start looking at different types of health-care packages to offer to people given the new mandates, but I can’t tell you what those are going to be or how much they’re going to cost us,” he said.
    [Another take from a religious paper -]
    US Cities Cut Employees' Work Hours to Avoid Paying for Obamacare, by Melissa Barnhart, Christian Post.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Local governments across the country are facing the dilemma of cutting part-time employees' work hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying the increasing cost of health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    Even though the Obama administration has postponed, until January 2015, the employer mandate that requires all companies, school districts and municipalities to provide health care for employees who work 30 hours a week or more, or face a penalty of $2,000 to $3,000 per worker, many have decided to reduce their employees' work hours this year.
    In Middletown, N.J., for instance, Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante told the Asbury Park Press that part-time employees' hours have been reduced since May 1 to less than 30 hours a week, because, he said, "it's not clear how far back the federal government will look at employee hours. So to stay on the safe side, the township is making the move to reduce hours now."
    Township officials estimate that without adjusting employees' hours, heath care costs would have increased by $775,000 per year.
    Under the ACA, best known as Obamacare, working 30 hours a week is considered full-time employment.
    Last month, Florida Today reported that employees in Brevard County who work an average 30 hours a week are already having their hours cut to avoid the $1.38 million annual costs to pay for employees' health insurance under the ACA.
    Brevard County Library Service Department Director Jeff Thompson told Florida Today that 37 of his department's employees have already had their hours reduced to 28 hours, opposed to the recommended 25 hours per week.
    "Obviously, what I'm hearing is that people are unhappy," Thompson said. "They naturally were very concerned. It is regrettable."
    The impact is also being felt in Bee County, Texas, where part-time employees' work hours will be reduced to 24 hours a week starting Oct. 1. Similar accounts can be found in Virginia, where thousands of employees who work 30 hours a week will also have their hours cut.
    In Chippewa County, Wis., County Administrator Frank Pascarella told WPR that because of the costs of the ACA, the county is "restructuring the departments to eliminate three-quarter time positions, and basically go to a part-time position," in order to avoid $163,000 in added insurance costs under the new law.
    Douglas County, Wis., Administrator Andy Lisak also told WPR that officials are even more worried about the ACA's tax on Cadillac health plans, which is the term used to describe health care plans that cost more than $10,020 per year. These plans are expected to be taxed at 40 percent. According to Lisak, the tax would cost the county an additional $300,000 by 2018.
    The Christian Post reported last month that for employers who are already making adjustments before the employer mandate goes into effect, some are hiring more part-time and fewer full-time workers to avoid the mandate, while others might decide its best for them to dump their current health care plans and pay the fines instead.
    Ironically, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that saved the ACA by finding that the individual mandate is constitutional might have made this decision easier for companies. The Court decided that the mandate was constitutional, but not under the Commerce Clause, as Congress intended. Rather, the fines, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, are a form of taxation. The individual mandate is, therefore, allowed under Congress' taxing power.
    While companies may be reluctant to avoid the employer mandate if it is considered breaking the law and subject to fines, simply paying a "tax" makes avoiding the mandate more palatable.
    Some companies will find it more cost-effective to pay the tax and let their employees get the government-subsidized insurance than provide the insurance itself. This will further increase the costs of the law.
    [And speaking of religious papers, here's a story on the same subject from the same religious paper, with a religious spin -]
    MSNBC Host: True Christians Do Not Oppose 'Obamacare', by Napp Nazworth, (8/19 late pickup) ChristianPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - A true Christian would not oppose the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," MSNBC host Ed Schultz claimed on "The Ed Show" Saturday. Only a "phony Christian" would seek to repeal the law, he argued, because Jesus would want the government regulated health care program.
    "They're phony Christians, phony Christians when they say that they are Christian, but then they want to take away from their next door neighbor. They don't want to be their brother's keeper," Schultz declared.
    As a Christian, Schultz continued, he felt obligated to point out the "hypocrisy" of "right wing Christians" who believe that the country would be better off without the ACA.
    "Make no mistake," Schultz said. "There is no moral or religious case for taking away health care from 30 million Americans. ... If Obamacare is repealed, Americans will die. Children of God will die."
    The ACA and the civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s are the two most moral things the country has ever done, Schultz said.
    Schultz began the show by mockingly praying, with his eyes closed and hands held in the air: "Dear Lord, in this house of worship called Ed tonight, we bring praise to you, dear Lord. And give us the strength to fight back against these soldiers of defeat and these soldiers of deceit when it comes to Obamacare. Give us the strength to heal the sick and help the poor, because we know that's what you want Lord. Amen."
    After explaining that only a true Christian would agree with him on the policy matter, Schultz criticized those "who are using religion to try to steal your health care."
    Schultz questioned Ken Klukowski of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy organization, in the last four minutes of the 18 minute segment.
    "From a public policy standpoint," Klukowski said, "I want people to have as good quality health care as possible, which is why I oppose Obamacare."
    For much of the rest of the segment, Klukowski's position could not be heard because Schultz spoke over him as he was talking.
    Liberal comedian John Fugelsang was also on the segment. He compared the government health care program to the ministry of Jesus by arguing that the Biblical case for the ACA can be found in Matthew 10 where Jesus sent the 12 disciples out to proclaim his message and heal the sick.
    "In Matthew, Jesus says it, he lays it out. He says, you received without payment, now give without payment," Fugelsang said in reference to Jesus' words in Matthew 10:8. "This [Jesus] is a Marxist, this [Jesus] is a radical."
    Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com, @NappNazworth (Twitter)


8/22/2013 – 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. These crazy work hours will be the death of us, by Robert McNeill, BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
    BELFAST, N.Ireland, UK - I'm quite lucky. I rarely work after 3pm and, if want to nip out for a walk or some yoga, I do. My own boss, d'you see? Alas, all coins have two sides. So, I start work at 8 and don't take lunch till after work.
    Until recently, every fortnight I worked a six-day week, and I rarely get holidays.
    But I can live with it. Alas, a poor lad from Germany couldn't live with his work as an intern at an investment bank in London. The job killed him. At the age of 21.
    According to friends, he'd worked till 6am three days in a row. Why? It was an investment bank. The work was socially useless.
    But, presumably, the end-desire was filthy lucre.
    A ludicrous salary some time in the future for work that all right-thinking people despise.
    One intern told a London paper: "About 100 hours a week was the minimum and the average was probably about 110. I worked six-and-a-half-days a week."
    Another spoke of "every intern's worst nightmare", the so-called Magic Roundabout, "which is when you get a taxi to drive you home at 7am and then it waits for you while you shower and change, and then takes you back to the office".
    You hear a lot about the work-life balance.
    It's one of these subjects that, the more its importance is stressed, the less it is put into practice.
    Work is nuts. Who devised 9-5 and the eight-hour day? Why eight? It's too many.
    Fine when the factory was at the end of the road. Not so fine commuting. Part-time work is the ideal to which society should strive. Work would be shared out better, apart from anything else.
    The Scandinavian countries, which do everything right and are generally 33.6 years ahead of the rest of us, work fewer hours than other developed countries.
    I remember a party of Danes coming round a newsroom where I worked.
    We thought the long hours macho, they thought them bonkers. They were right. We live in an employer's world. How I long for a return of the unions having "too much power".

    A lot of loopy things went on, but the bosses couldn't boot us up the butt the way that they do now.

  2. Chart of the Day: which professions demand the longest hours? bvy Paul Hodkinson, Financial News via efinancialnews.com
    Bankers' working hours are in the news this week following the tragic death of an intern at Bank of America. Financial News looks at how the banking industry compares with other high-pressure professions.
    LONDON, UK - FN [Financial News] has compiled research to compare average working hours across different industries. In almost all cases hours ranged depending on workload, and workers did not consistently work the hours stated at the upper end of the ranges.
    • Bankers
    As perhaps expected, investment bankers work the longest, with those working in corporate finance typically putting in shifts of between 70 and 100 hours per week, according to finance career advice website www.askivy.net and Financial News’ own survey of readers.
    However, hours in other areas of finance were not as severe. Those working in sales and trading tended to work an average of between 50 and 60 hours each week, while those on the buyside worked between 40 and 60 on average, according to FN’s survey.
    An analysis by the Trades Union Congress in February found financial institution managers and directors were those most likely to work unpaid overtime. They were shortly ahead of teachers.
    • Corporate lawyers
    Corporate lawyers also featured high on the list with an average working week of between 60 and 80 hours, according to legal recruiter Scott Gibson at Edwards Gibson. He added that lawyers at corporate law firms had billing targets, which meant they had a minimum hours expectation regardless of market conditions.
    • Doctors
    Doctors are well known for working long shifts but in the UK they are not allowed to work more than 48 hours per week averaged over 26 weeks. However, that can mean – in extreme cases – that some doctors work nearly 100 in certain weeks, according to a report by the General Medical Council.
    • Contractors
    Next on the list are contractors on offshore oil and gas rigs, who typically work 12 hours on and 12 hours off continuously for two weeks followed by a two or three-week rest period ashore, according to website www.oilcareers.com. This amounts to an 84-hour working week, although averaged out over a longer period the hours are lower.
    • Accountants
    A 2013 survey by recruiter Robert Walters found the mean average for accountants' weekly working hours was 44.3, slightly below that of professionals working in human resources, legal, marketing, operations, projects, risk, sales, tax and Treasury. However, the report also found working times were growing with 26% of accountants now working more than 50 hours per week, compared to 20% in 2011.
    • Teachers
    Teachers work more than 50 hours per week on average, according to the National Union of Teachers.
    Other areas that are likely to have long working hours include small business owners, although there has been little research in this area.
    --write to paul.hodkinson@dowjones.com and follow on Twitter @MrPaulHod

  3. Shorter Working Hours Do Not Guarantee Happier Workers, Asian Scientist Magazine via asianscientist.com
    [but they sure beat longer working hours!]
    SEOUL, S.Korea - A reduction in working hours does not necessarily mean happier employees [who said it did?], as it might merely be adding stress to their general working environment, according to a study of Korean workers [funded by comfy short-sighted employers, no doubt].
    [It will certainly be adding stress if employers are really going for compressed working hours instead of genuinely reduced working hours.]
    To enhance living standards and also reduce the effects of excessively long working hours, South Korea introduced a five-day work week in 2004, making Saturdays official non-working days.
    The policy also reduced the official working week from 44 to 40 hours, seeking to improve productivity and lower the high rates of industrial injuries due to overworking.

    Now, in a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, Robert Rudolf of Korea University in Seoul has looked at the impact of this policy and found that shorter working hours may not necessarily improve people’s overall job and life satisfaction.
    The study, based on the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study, a national longitudinal survey of urban Korean households conducted between 1998 and 2008, focused on the overall individual and family happiness of married and co-residing couples living with children.
    Rudolf found that working wives and mothers are generally more pleased with the shorter work week than their male counterparts. This is because women face higher work-family role conflicts within the traditional Korean society, and thus suffer more from long overtime hours.
    Even though full-time workers, and women in particular, are generally thankful that their work week was cut by four hours on average, it has had no significant impact on their overall job and life satisfaction.
    According to the survey, this is because much of the positive spin-offs gained from fewer working hours are often offset by rising work intensity demands set by employers, while some firms tend to give less holiday time.
    These findings show either that traditional theory [what traditional theory? we've never heard of such a straw man before this gang of propagandists dreamed it up to knock down] is wrong to suggest that longer working hours alone have a negative impact on the personal happiness of employees, or it means that increased work intensity, because of cuts in official working hours, completely offsets any positive effects such a move might have.
    “If the latter holds true, it would be naïve to believe that work time reductions alone can increase worker well-being,” warned Rudolf.
    The article can be found at: *Rudolf (2013) Work Shorter, Be Happier? Longitudinal Evidence From The Korean Five-Day Working Policy. ...
    Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.
    [Hear, hear!]

  4. The Death of Moritz Erhardt, and Keynes’s Mistake, posted by Ruth Margalit, NewYorker.com
    LONDON, UK - It’s unclear what caused the death of Moritz Erhardt, a twenty-one-year-old intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in London last week. Erhardt, a German exchange student from the University of Michigan’s business school, was nearing the end of a seven-week summer internship at the prestigious bank when he collapsed in the shower of his East London residence. Reports indicated that he suffered from epilepsy, and may have had a seizure. This is a tragic story; what makes it even more grievous are revelations of the gruelling schedule Erhardt had kept in the weeks leading up to his death. (Epileptic seizures are also often brought on by exhaustion.)
    In an apparent attempt to win his bosses’ approval, Erhardt worked through the night eight times in two weeks, friends and colleagues say; in the nights leading up to his death, he worked until six o’clock in the morning for three days in a row. Erhardt was employed in the firm’s investment-bank division, which, even by the cutthroat standards of the City of London and of Wall Street, is notorious for the hours workers are expected to clock in. “I see many people wandering around, blurry-eyed and drinking caffeine to get through but people don’t complain because the potential rewards are so great,” an intern told The Independent. (In a statement, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said it could not comment on assertions about the hours that Erhardt had been working, and is waiting for the postmortem results.)
    Death from overwork [in Japanese: karoshi]—if this indeed turns out to have been the cause of Erhardt’s death—may be relatively rare, but it’s nothing new. Only a few months ago, a twenty-four-year-old ad man in Beijing suffered a cardiac arrest after working overtime for a month. In Japan there’s even a word for the phenomenon, and the Japanese health ministry has made a concerted effort to cut down on the number of such deaths. Erhardt’s death points to a curious phenomenon—one that highlights the changing nature of work and of leisure, and people’s reasonable expectations from both.
    In 1930, John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay called “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” in which he predicted that as technology improved and productivity, in turn, rose, we would be able to work much less to satisfy our needs. Within a century, Keynes estimated, no one would have to work more than fifteen hours a week. The argument seems almost naïve as 2030, Keynes’s target date, approaches.
    Work hours in the developed world did fall drastically in the first decades of the twentieth century, thanks to industrial innovations (as Keynes himself witnessed). The decline slowed in later decades, and since the nineteen-eighties, work hours have largely stalled at an average of forty hours a week. Today, no place in the developed world comes close to Keynes’s projected fifteen-hour workweek. Still, by the end of the twentieth century, the average number of annual hours worked was nearly half that of a century before, mostly because of the drastic change earlier in the century. This, in time, has led to a rise in leisure activities: playing sports, travelling, watching television.
    Yet the top ten per cent of earners “have not shared much in the gain of leisure,” Robert Fogel, an economic historian, wrote in 1994. Rather, those well-off people, Fogel noted, were working closer to the nineteenth-century standard of thirty-two hundred hours a year than to the current standard of about eighteen hundred hours.
    This is surprising, on the face of it, if you assume—as Keynes did—that people prefer leisure time and would spend less time at work if only they made enough money to afford putting in fewer hours. In other words, it seems to make sense that people who earn a lot of money would work less rather than more.
    Instead, the opposite has happened. To be sure, Erhardt’s salary of forty-two hundred dollars a month wouldn’t have put him in Fogel’s category of the top ten per cent of workers. But there’s no doubt that had he lived, and carried on working in investment banking, his wages would have increased exponentially. What’s more, Erhardt belonged to a field in which working hours barely decline as one climbs the corporate ladder. Alexandra Michel, an assistant professor at the U.S.C. Marshall School of Business, interviewed over five hundred bank associates for a paper on workplace culture: in their first year at the job, all of those interviewed reported working more than eighty hours a week; in their fifth year, that number remained a staggering ninety-seven per cent. “It is like a psych experiment where the light is always on,” one bank associate told Michel of his work environment. “The only temporal markers are secretarial shifts.”
    How did Keynes, whose forecasts proved otherwise prescient, get this so wrong?
    [Kiddo, it ain't ovah till da fat lady sings.]
    The answer might have to do with the fact that workplace cultures—including the hours people work—are often set not by workers themselves but by those who employ them. Employers prefer to hire a smaller number of workers who work longer hours than to pay less and spread the work around [and wind up paying more for lack of jobseekers - and profiting more from additional spending] for the simple reason that the first approach is more profitable [less and less in the long term], write Robert and Edward Skidelsky in their book “How Much Is Enough?” The outcome, according to the authors, is that the labor market is now “divided into those who are compelled to work longer than they want, and those who cannot get enough work.” The simplest solution, they argue, would be to gradually reduce the number of hours expected of employees. This solution isn’t likely to excite employers, of course. But one wonders, in light of these findings, if a workplace culture that acknowledged workers’ needs as much as employers’ bottom lines might have helped prevent the tragedy of Erhardt’s death.


8/21/2013 – 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. How They Voted, The-News-Leader.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - The Bill: HB 37
    The Provisions: The legislation creates the SharedWork Ohio Program, which provides a means for businesses to cut employee hours instead of resorting to layoffs. Employees can collect unemployment benefits on the lost work hours.
    The Votes: The legislation passed on a unanimous vote in the Ohio House and near-unanimous tally in the Senate. Most of the House signed on as co-sponsors.
    What They Said: "Quite literally, this bill will save jobs and prevent a tax increase for Ohio's employers," said Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Columbus).

    The Bill: HB 2
    The Provisions: The legislation requires Ohioans to register with OhioMeansJobs and review regular listings of applicable job openings in order to receive unemployment compensation. This was one of House Republicans' priority bills for the session. The new requirements take effect in October.
    The Votes: The bill passed by votes of 31-1 in the Ohio Senate and 91-6 in the Ohio House. Area lawmakers supported the bill, and Reps. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Matt Lynch (R-Chagrin Falls) were among the co-sponsors of the bill.
    What They Said: "This bill will result in immediately familiarizing those who have lost their jobs with those who are on the front lines in helping them to recover them...," said Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green). "… Unemployed individuals will know our state's commitment to helping them find work."
    The Bill: HB 14
    The Provisions: The legislation enables a juvenile court judge to require schools to transfer a child's academic records in the event of abuse or neglect. The provisions take effect in October.
    The Votes: The bill passed on unanimous votes in the Ohio House and Senate, with area lawmakers supporting. More than 70 lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors.
    What They Said: "This legislation will provide educational stability and continuity for children who are at the center of abuse, neglect or dependency complaints in juvenile court," said Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay). "These children are often temporarily denied access to an education while institutions assert the right to collect unpaid school fees as a reason to refuse transfer of records."

  2. Check your math! Fluctuating workweek damage calculation approved yet again, by Howard M. Wexler, (8/20 late pickup) Seyfarth Shaw LLP via Lexology.com (registration)
    [The good news is that this quirky legality is getting the phrase "fluctuating workweek" into use - and that phrase is key to the next vital economic-design upgrade, as in Reuther's phrase, " fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment." The bad news is that we're still wasting time talking about overtime damages instead of overtime conversion into training and jobs.]
    ALBANY, N.Y., USA - In a scene reminiscent of a high school calculus class, the Fifth Circuit took out its red pen and reviewed the math a lower court used to determine back pay for employees found to have been improperly classified as exempt from overtime. Unfortunately for the lower court, it flunked the exam: the Fifth Circuit held that it improperly calculated the plaintiffs’ damages by failing to utilize the Fluctuating Workweek (“FWW”) method.
    As we recently reported [here] and [here], the FWW method allows courts to calculate damages in misclassification cases by providing a “half time” premium, under which the employee receives an overtime payment of .5x, rather than a “time and a half” premium of 1.5x.
    In Ransom v. M. Patel Enterprises, Inc. [here], former executive managers of Party City were found to be improperly classified as exempt. In determining damages, the lower court calculated the employees’ “regular rate” of pay by dividing their weekly salary by the number of hours (55) it was intended to compensate them for. According to the Fifth Circuit, the Magistrate Judge then “devised his own formula” and held that the employees were entitled to .5x the regular rate for each hour worked over 40 and up to 55, and then 1.5x the regular rate for all hours over 55. This formula resulted in a damages award of $66,250.20 in unpaid overtime as well as an equal award as liquidated damages (plus $331,880.00 in attorneys’ fees).
    On appeal, the Fifth Circuit held that the lower court should have first computed the regular rate by dividing the employee’s fixed salary by the actual hours worked in each workweek and then determined the hourly overtime rate by multiplying the regular rate times .5x. The court not only vacated the overtime award but also the liquated damages and attorneys’ fees amounts, since “the new damages that will be awarded are relevant to the plaintiffs’ overall success in litigating this suit,” which is “the most critical factor in determining an attorneys’ fees award.
    This thorough decision is more good news for employers defending misclassification cases and reflects the continued acceptance of courts around the country of the FWW method of calculating overtime damages.

  3. Democracy said to be at risk in hours cut at County Hall, by Brian Tilley, HexhamCourant.co.uk
    [Another strange story: this time hourscuts from the dark ages threaten democracy!]
    HEXHAM, U.K. - The Labour administration at County Hall has been accused of attempting to take Northumberland back to the three-day week of the 1970s.
    [Oh yeah, those three-day workweeks were sooo common way back in the old-fashioned 1970s.]
    It is understood officers have been instructed to cram all the council’s formal business into three days leaving Mondays and Fridays completely free.
    The development has infuriated the council’s Conservative group, whose leader Coun. Peter Jackson, of Heddon, said: “This is like going back to the dark ages.”
    [Oooh yeah, those serfs back in the dark ages had those horrible three-day workweeks too!]
    And while Labour dismissed the Tory concern as “ambulance chasing,” Coun. Jackson said the “Stalinist” administration was attempting to stifle open debate.
    [There must be a name-calling hex on people in Hexham!]
    One move which was considered – and subsequently rejected – was switching meetings of the key planning and environment committee from the evening to the afternoon.
    Coun. Jackson said: “Instead of looking for ways to make the council more effective and accessible, this does reinforce our view that this Labour leader is intent on stifling proper, open debate and will increasingly go back to decision-making behind closed doors.
    “There is scant regard for proper democratic process and every reason to support the idea that Labour, with the support of the three Independents, are determined to push ahead with their Stalinist, one-party dictatorship of Northumberland County Council.
    “I know from years of experience that it does take a lot of work, five days a week and often more, for councillors to diligently carry out all of the various roles that they have to perform.
    “It is arrogant in the extreme for our friends on the Labour benches to imagine that they will manage on this three day a week programme.”
    Coun. Jackson was particularly concerned that Labour could even consider switching the planning committee to a time when working people would be far less likely to be able to attend.
    He said: “This is a slap in the face for democracy, designed to suit themselves and not the people we represent.
    “This committee deals with important and often controversial planning applications for issues such as opencast mining and new wind farms across the county.
    “This time change would seem to be a deliberate ploy to make it more difficult for objectors to make their representations.
    “There has been no attempt to consult on these changes, not even asking the town and parish councils who attend or even the committee members themselves.
    “This latest example of Labour’s indifference to local people is inexcusable.”
    A Labour group spokesman confirmed that switching the time of the planning committee had been considered, but the idea had subsequently been dropped. “It’s just another example of the Tories chasing ambulances,” said the spokesman.
    The council’s business chairman, Coun. Scott Dickinson, added: “The idea of a daytime slot for this meeting was modelled on the workings of other councils and was put in for members to debate.
    “For a number of reasons it was agreed by the working group that it wasn’t appropriate and it will therefore remain in its evening slot.
    “This is just the latest attempt by the Tories to play party political games with the council by running yet another scare story.”


8/20/2013 – 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. Sharing Work When Times Are Tough, by Sarah Rix, HuffingtonPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Who wants to think about the next economic slowdown? No one, that's who. With Americans still struggling to recover from the last recession, there is little enthusiasm for thinking about how to deal with another one. According to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2 million fewer Americans had jobs in July than at the start of the Great Recession, even though it has been officially over for more than four years. Some 11.5 million Americans, nearly 1.7 million of them aged 55 or older, were unemployed last month. Getting dislocated workers, especially older ones, back to work has been no easy task.
    In some respects, older workers have fared better than other age groups since the recession began.
    [Only because it's easier to regard their departure from the labor force as normal, i.e., "retirement" - and thereafter forget about them?]
    For one thing, their unemployment rate has remained lower.
    [Only because it's easier to merge their departure from the labor force and the unemployment rate with normal retirement and forget about them?]
    Still, the rate skyrocketed during the recession and is well above what it was at the recession's onset. And if older workers do lose their jobs, their chances of finding work have been pretty slim. Their average duration of unemployment is close to one year.
    Can it come as any surprise that many dislocated workers drop out of the labor force, opting for early retirement and permanently reduced Social Security benefits because searching for suitable jobs is so discouraging?
    [Bingo!]
    Some leavers do return, but that is difficult at older ages -- skills atrophy as time out of the labor force progresses, age discrimination rears its ugly head, and the job market is not always welcoming.
    The problems older jobseekers face are not new. Nor are older Americans the only ones struggling to find work. One difference, however, is that they have relatively little time to recover from having exhausted their savings, having gone further into debt, or having withdrawn money from an IRA or 401(k) to pay bills. Although they may say that they will never be able to afford to retire, it is unlikely that many of them will be able to work forever.
    Is there a way to protect some workers -- younger as well as older -- from job loss during economic downturns? While it's too late for preventive medicine to help those now jobless, some might be helped the next time around if more employers have access to and use a type of unemployment insurance known as short-time compensation or work sharing. Work sharing is exactly what it sounds like -- the sharing or spreading around of the available work within a firm or plant when times are tough.
    [And times are going to get less tough until we do this on a continuing basis in response to technology, instead of the usual downsizing response which guarantees tough times = substitute growth-friendly timesizing for growth-reversing downsizing.]
    Let's say that product demand has fallen, and an employer plans to lay off 20 percent of the company's employees to make ends meet. That is clearly bad news for the 20 percent, but it may not do much for the morale of the remaining 80 percent, who can't help but wonder if they might be next. Instead of layoffs, however, an employer might reduce everyone's work hours -- in this example by 20 percent -- and achieve comparable savings. If state law allows it, work sharers who are eligible for unemployment insurance can receive prorated benefits to offset some of the lost wages. States also require employers under new federal rules to continue to provide health and pension benefits to work sharers.
    While workers on work sharing who would not have been laid off also experience a reduction in hours and earnings, losses should be temporary, and unemployment benefits make up for some of them. Work sharing spreads the burden of a downturn more evenly across more workers than layoffs do.
    Work sharing has obvious benefits for the workers who would otherwise have been laid off: they aren't forced to look for work in a weak labor market; they maintain their skills; and they suffer relatively little lost income. They might even use their downtime to acquire new skills. Employers benefit, too. When demand picks up, businesses have skilled and experienced employees on hand to meet it. They aren't faced with the costs of hiring and training replacement workers and getting them up to speed. They can thus get back to full capacity with little effort or expense.
    Work sharing requires amending state unemployment insurance laws, but once that has been done, a program can be easy to implement. The decision to use work sharing is up to an employer. Work sharing won't work for all types of jobs and, by itself, will not keep all firms from going under -- some just might not survive a downturn. However, in the last recession, some states found that work sharing did help save jobs -- an estimated 166,000 jobs in 2009 alone, as reported by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Employment Law Project. Admittedly, this was a small percentage of the total number of job losers that year, but for those employees whose jobs were saved, work sharing "worked."
    Congress has made nearly $100 million in grants available to implement or improve work sharing programs in the states. At last U.S. count, 26 states had work sharing laws in place, the latest being Ohio, up from 17 at the height of the Great Recession. According to workforce development expert David E. Balducchi, "Work sharing is an employment policy backed by the Obama Administration and increasingly supported by Republican governors. It offers to employers a smart use of partial unemployment benefits to preserve rather than eliminate jobs."
    A timely expansion to other states of laws that permit the payment of prorated unemployment benefits to work sharers could find those states better prepared to weather the next downturn, which they are likely to have to do eventually.

  2. Crossroads GPS Attacks Obamacare For Giving Health Care To People Working 30 Hours A Week, by Josh Israel, Center for American Progress Action Fund via ThinkProgress.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS has launched a new web ad making the bizarre claim that because Obamacare protects 30-hour-a-week workers, the law “redefines full-time,” threatening jobs and wages.
    [Hey, isn't it high time that the Center for American Progress started thinking about redefining full-time downward?! After all, for most of American history, this was the handiest and most basic gauge of progress. Is the Center yet another group of labor sympathizers who participate in the prevailing cultural blindspot around workweek regulation as key to full employment and have lost sight of this powerful tool for labor power?]
    The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that employers provide health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours a week, or pay a penalty. This provision protects full-time workers against employers who seek to game the system by reducing their hours to avoid having to provide them with healthcare.
    The ad, part of a $20,000 effort in support of Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), urges viewers to thank him for co-sponsoring H.R. 2575, a bill that would amend the Obamacare employer mandate to only require insurance for those working 40 hours a week. The ad claims:
    NARRATOR: The 40-hour work week has always been the lifeblood of the American middle class: the dignity of a full-time job that puts food on the table and pays the bills. But now our jobs and wages are threatened because Obamacare redefines a full-time job as just 30 hours a week. That’s why Larry Bucshon is co-sponsoring the Save American Workers Act. It restores the traditional 40-hour work week so you can keep providing for your family.
    Crossroads makes no mention of the stagnant wages for those doing the work that earns huge profits for corporations, instead attempting to scare workers into thinking that the law somehow reduces the number of hours in a week. In fact, a July analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that very few employers have actually reduced workers hours because of Obamacare.
    Josh Israel is a senior investigative reporter for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.


8/18-19/2013 – 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 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. Charlotte-Based Bus Maker Files For Bankruptcy, 8/18 WITN.com
    CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA - A Charlotte-based manufacturer of hybrid and electric buses [DesignLine] has filed for bankruptcy protection following several weeks of furloughs and layoffs.
    [Now here is a company that died with dignity = minimum necessary departure from status quo at each point: first timesizing, then downsizing, then bankruptcy. This gives the company a maximum chance of survival at each point. It is now an appropriate takeover target, since it meets the future qualification of "in corporate extremis."]
    The Charlotte Observer reports (http://bit.ly/16Ut9Az) that federal court documents show DesignLine has assets of $14 million and debts of $37.5 million.
    DesignLine is the former employer of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who was Charlotte's mayor until the U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama's nominee in June. Foxx made $88,000 a year as deputy general counsel, a job he had throughout his tenure as mayor.
    The company's largest creditor is New Jersey Transit, which has paid $3.6 million for buses it hasn't received.
    DesignLine was founded in New Zealand but moved its headquarters to Charlotte in 2006. The company employed about 250 people there earlier this year.
    [Aha, this is why DesignLine has behaved so well under pressure. It's was founded in Hobbiton.]

  2. Spindelegger Demands Flexibility of Working Hours, 8/19 FriedlNews.com (registration)
    [This is a bit rough - evidently someone in Austria ran this through a computor translator without the benefit of a native English-speaker on hand.]
    VIENNA, Austria - Working hours have become the main issue of the election campaigns. The dispute was incensed by the claims [ie: aggravated by the demands?] of Minister of Economy Mitterlehner to allow up to twelve hours of work per day.
    [instead of current eight?? under the EU's Worktime Directive of a max of 48 hours a week?]
    After attacks of the Social Democrats, Interior Minister Mikl-Leiter of the Austrian People’s Party wanted to understate [ie: lower?] the demands.
    [So the Social Democrats, not the "People's" Party, are fighting the relengthening of the workday, refunneling of employment and re-igniting of unemployment?]
    Now, head of the People’s Party and Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger demands [=is demanding] more flexible working hours and attacks [=attacking] the Social Democrats.
    [Sounds like a troglodite wanting to go back to longer hours, higher un(der)employment and weaker domestic consumer spending. And this is laid-back anti-Prussian Austria? How depressing! They want to become like the U.S. and compete for the biggest welfare, disability, homeless, and prison populations in the world?]
    The daily working hours should become more flexible, if enterprises consider it necessary, Spindelegger said. “Flexibility of working hours between employers and employees is the order of the day.” However, the leader of the People’s Party [=Spindelegger] did not want to specify whether this involved twelve hours of work a day or even more. Whoever wanted to lay down the law [ie: get fewer hours or just get specific?] ignored the needs of the “modern labor market”, Spindelegger said.
    [Nice that workhours have become the main issue somewhere but nasty that the self-styled People's Party seems to want to go backward and coagulate employment in the age of automation.]
    He thinks that the collective agreement should not regulate working hours but every enterprise on its own so that both employees and the enterprise saw benefits.
    [Uh, isn't this a formula for just the enterprise to see benefits? and only short-term ones at that, because with longer hours per employee, they're liable to start downsizing their workforce - and customers' customers.]
    Employers, for instance, could complete past orders [huh? what's the problem here?] and employees gain more money [only short term because with more concentrated employment and more jobseekers, wages are pressured down] or time value accounts [like vacations that never get taken?] could be introduced. The latter is the People’s Party request, Spindelegger pointed out.
    [These clowns are not the People's Party - they're the Short-Sighted-Employers Party.]
    The Deputy Chancellor [=also Spindelegger?] considers it an important impulse [=initiative?] for the economy as part of the “unleashed economy” [ie: deregulated?]. The Social Democrats would, according to Spindelegger propagate [=achieve] the complete opposite, “the biggest employment destruction program of the Second Republic,” Spindelegger declares.
    [And just how do work-spreading shorter hours destroy employment? Au contraire, concentrating natural market-demanded employment on fewer people attacks full employment and marginalizes more people who would like to earn their own living, as in the big dumb USA. How sad that parts of Europe are so clueless about what Europe is doing right compared to America. Spindelegger seems pretty ignorant of history. The USA cut the workweek 44-42-40 hours a week in 1938-39-40 and achieved 19.0-17.2-14.6% unemployment rates. Is that an "employment destruction program"? Quite the contrary. France cut the workweek 39-35 hours in 1997-2001 before the US-led recession hit and achieved 12.6-8.6% unemployment. Is that "employment destruction"? Quite the contrary. Sarkozy attacked the 35-hour week via overtime enforcement and France's unemployment has gone back up. The US has become sloppier and sloppier about its 40-hour week enforcement and its unemployment-welfare-disability-homelessness-incarceration has gone waaay up. The "People's" Party is soon going to be the Slaves' Party with this kind of near-term convenience for some employers, longer-term funneling of natural market-demanded employment and weakening of domestic consumer spending.]


8/17/2013 – 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 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 denies employers cutting hours because of Obamacare, by Matthew Patrick, USFinancePost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Despite mounting evidence that businesses and local governments are cutting employees hours in order to comply with Obamacare’s requirements, the White House continues to insist that there is no evidence it is happening.
    Obamacare requires employers with more than 50 full-time workers to offer healthcare for employees. Under the law, a full-time worker is defined as anyone working more than 30 hours per week. For those who refuse to do so there is a $2,000 penalty per employee.
    So many workers’ schedules now are 29 hours per week, or less, to help cut costs during these difficult economic times.

    [But it's cutting these "costs" that's making these economic times difficult, because when employees are regarded as "costs," and cut, that cuts wages and consumer spending, and they don't call it the consumer BASE for nothing - it sure ain't the investor base! - they've got more money than God! - and where are the promised jobs? "Give us the whole money supply and we'll get it right back to work creating jobs!" they claim. Oh yeah? Nevermind "show us the money" - SHOW US THE JOBS. Trying to get jobs indirectly by giving money to investors and employers or government makework is not working. Let's try the direct route = quit the handouts to the wealthy, quit the government makework, and just cut the definition of "full time employment" as deep as it takes to spread the vanishing market-demanded employment to everyone for maximum consumer spending and a positive multiplier effect = prosperity. Funneling employment to the overworked and money to the über-rich just minimizes consumer spending and engages a negative multiplier effect = depression, oops taboo even to mention so...recession, oops threatens spin that it's over so..."slow recovery."]
    Among the industries fighting back in this fashion is the restaurant business.
    Officials estimate more than two million workers at large restaurant chains and other companies with more than 50 employees face the prospect of having their hours cut to part-time status.
    In May, Regal Entertainment, the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., announced it was cutting many of its workers to less than 30 hours. In announcing the move the company explicitly stated its decision was based on Obamacare.
    Even governments are doing the same thing.
    The city of Long Beach, Calif., recently announced it was cutting all of its 1,600 employees down to 27 hours to avoid having to provide them healthcare.
    Dearborn, Mich., also has cut many of its part-time employees to less than 28 hours per week. Mayor John O’Reilly, Jr. said it is not realistic to expect the city to provide healthcare for all of its employees.
    “If we had to provide health care and other benefits to all of our employees, the burden on the city would be tremendous. Health care is one of the largest budget items that increases annually due to the rising cost from insurance providers,” O’Reilly told the DearbornPatch.
    However, despite these examples and others, the White House position is that the reasons for so many companies cutting their hours have nothing to do with Obamacare and there is no evidence to the contrary calling the examples simply “anecdotal.”
    “We are seeing no systematic evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having an adverse impact on job growth or the number of hours employees are working,” Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors said. “Since the ACA became law, nearly 90 percent of the gain in employment has been in full-time positions.”
    However, NBC news conducted a survey of small business owners who told them a far different story.
    According to NBC News, the vast majority of small businesses and other entities they contacted in states ranging from Maine to California told them that they are indeed cutting hours to avoid complying with the mandate.
    As the evidence continues to mount that Obamacare is a drag on the economy, calls for its repeal will increase and could prove to be a winning issue during the 2014 midterm elections.
    Matthew Patrick earned a double bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Matthew covered the presidential primaries, including those in Iowa and New Hampshire, traveling extensively with former Vice President Al Gore, Sen. Bill Bradley and other presidential candidates. He planned and coordinated the network's coverage of Capitol Hill, the State Department and key issues such as Medicare and Social Security.

  2. Retail chain slashes employees' hours, cuts health care benefits, by Deborah Horne, KIRO Seattle via kirotv.com
    SEATTLE, Wash., USA — Retail chain Forever 21 occupies a large space in downtown Seattle and in the hearts of its loyal customer[s]. "They have good deals," said Michayla Tompson of Seattle. "They're fashionable. And I feel like with their pieces you can make it your own." "They're adorable," agreed Grace Blumenstein of Bellevue. "You can mix and match. Yeah, I really like the store."
    But what they didn't know -- until we told them -- is that the chain is cutting some full-time employees to 29 1/2 hours and taking away their health care coverage. This -- just as the Affordable Care Act kicks in -- requiring all employers to provide health care for anyone working at least 30 hours. It's a trend that seems to be happening across the country.
    ["The last temptation is the greatest treason:
    To do the right deed, for the wrong reason."
    from T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral,
    or in this case, Wall Streeters' Poverty in the Midst of Plenty, and Weakening Wages and Consumer Demand in the Midst of Robot-Multipied Overproduction Capacity.]
    "I don't think it's very fair," said Blumenstein. "They're just taking them away, midterm, It's not right." "I mean, new hires, that's your new policy," her mother Deanna said. "(But) people that are here? It doesn't seem fair that they would do that to them."
    Not fair, but is it legal? We put that question to Seattle labor lawyer Mike Subit. "Unless they are doing it for an illegal reason or unless it violates somebody's contract, they can do it," Subit said. "Whether it's a good idea or a bad idea, it's not an illegal idea."
    It is an idea that does not sit well with loyal customer Michayla Tompson. "For the customers, it's like yes, but no one really pays attention to the employees, which is very unfortunate," she said. "I know if I was in that position, I'd be having something to say about it."
    The employees' hours will be cut beginning Sunday. They lose their health care benefits at the end of this month.


8/16/2013 – 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 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. Secondary Sources: Commodity Booms, Part-Time Jobs, Fed Tapering - A roundup of economic news from around the Web, compiled by Phil Izzo, Wall Street Journal via stream.wsj.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA – Commodity Booms and Busts: David Jacks examines commodity boom and bust cycles. “The global economy witnesses protracted and widespread commodity booms once in a generation. This column introduces a new and publicly available dataset on real commodity prices over 164 years for 32 commodities. The evidence suggests that policymakers and researchers should, first of all, not confuse cycles for trends in real commodity prices. Second, we should also be more aware of the fact that we live in a world of scarcity. Commodity-specific differences in supply and demand generate differential paths in real commodity prices not only in the past but, presumably, also in the future.”
    –*Part-Time Jobs: Mike Shedlock looks at whether Obamacare is responsible for the rise in part-time jobs. “Q: Why doesn’t a chart of average weekly hours show the Obamacare effect? A: It does. You just have to look in the right places. Q: Is Obamacare responsible for the overall trend of declining workweek hours? A: The workweek has been declining since the series began, so the answer must be no. However, Obamacare has indeed contributed to the trend as shown above. Q: Is Obamacare to blame for rising part-time employment? A: Yes”
    –Fed Tapering: Tim Duy says that the Fed will be cutting bond purchases this year. “Regardless of the date of the tapering, however, the initial claims report reiterated that the writing is on the wall. Tapering is happening, and as long as that idea is still sinking in, I suspect the Federal Reserve is going to have a hard time keeping a lid on interest rates despite their best efforts to push back the timing of the first rate increase. I think there are still market participants who have yet to adjust their expectations that QE is not forever, and that expectation delivered unusually low term premiums. Hence rates remain under pressure until everyone comes to the acceptance that end of asset purchases is arguably a paradigm shift.”

  2. When life deals you furloughs make ... furloughade? by Michael O'Connell, FederalNewsRadio.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - One of the things many federal workers say motivates them to choose a career in public service is the ability to help other people.
    But when those same feds have to take an unpaid furlough day due to sequestration, not only are they losing a day's pay, they're losing an opportunity to help others.
    That's not the case with two federal employees who have found a way to turn a lost day of work due to sequestration into something positive.
    Warren Schaeffer, an IT specialist at the Defense Information Systems Agency, was talking earlier this year to fellow feds in the men's group at his church. They were batting around ideas, trying to figure out what they were going to do on their day off from work.
    "This idea just cropped up," Schaeffer told Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp Friday. "Let's just have a service day and invite church members and anybody else in the community to come out and serve the community, because that's what we're all about, serving the other folks that are really in need and take our minds of the thing, that we're still doing something useful, that we're not just wasting our time."
    Schaeffer lives in Fredericksburg, Va., which has a large population of federal employees who commute into Washington, D.C. Service project participants have come from a variety of agencies, including NSA, FAA, DoD and DISA. He and his colleagues performed yard work for people in need and pitched in at Habitat for Humanity, helping to replace shelving.
    "We had one single mom who moved into a new home, and the yard was trashed outside," Schaeffer said. "We've gone down and cleaned out all their trash and made about four dump runs. We've powerwashed one individual's home that was in dire straights. The homeowner's association was getting all over her case. She was another single mom."
    Eric Lackey, a Defense Department intelligence analyst stationed in Germany, took a different approach to serving others. On March 1 — the day sequestration went into effect — he launched Furlough2013.com, an online resource for people seeking information about furloughs.
    "There was so many rumors and speculation how the furlough was going to work and what rights federal workers had," Lackey told Federal Drive. "So, I went out and gathered as many resources as I could find that would allow federal employees to be more informed about what was going on."
    Lackey also sells furlough-themed merchandise to provide a way for people to express their opinions about the furloughs. He's sold a few hundred pieces of merchandise, mostly T-shirts, mugs and campaign buttons.
    [So where's the furloughade?!]
    "You see maybe people buying 50 buttons and then handing them out at work to their colleagues or maybe 10 coffee mugs, so an entire office might be sporting our coffee mugs," Lackey said. "It's been pretty exciting. It's kind of been a fun part of it and it helps fund the cost of running the website."
    Lackey has done most of the work on the website himself, though his wife assisted him with graphic design.
    "But, as far as the website content and different webpage development, I've done that on my own," he said. "That's one of the things about being stationed overseas is when I get home, I have the evening hours when other folks are at work and the news is coming out to get the information posted online, as well as shoot it out over Facebook and Twitter."
    Friday is the final furlough day for many DoD civilian employees, and other agencies will soon wrap up their furloughs as well.
    "Today, we're going to go out and finish up a yard that we started up last week," Schaeffer said. "We didn't get it all completed. And then the rest of the group is going to finish painting up the classrooms to get ready for Sunday school."
    He hopes to continue the community service with his fellow feds once they're all back on the clock full-time.
    "What we're planning on doing is maybe once or twice a month on Saturday is still continue doing service projects," Schaeffer said. "We do them now with the United Methodist men's group. We'll have that part and we'll have another Saturday where we'll invite guys to come in and continue with the service projects."
    Furloughs may be ending for 2013, but Lackey has already started preparing for a new round next year.
    "We have already made plans to continue it with a new website," he said. "I went ahead and purchased some names, just to be prepared. We're not sure, but we think we're going to go in the direction of something that will be more long-term and just provide information to folks and maybe turn it into a blog for people to go on and continue to share information."


8/15/2013 – 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 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. Obamacare Pressures Shave Work Week Across Industries, Reason.com (blog)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Anyone who insists ObamaCare employer penalties aren't having a meaningful impact on work hours simply hasn't looked closely at the evidence.
    In a private economy with 114 million workers clocking 34.4 hours a week on average, it's easy to miss important changes.
    What feels like a wave to modest-wage workers getting hit may appear to be a mere ripple from an altitude of 40,000 feet.
    After all, 1.4 million workers could lose an 8-hour shift and it would shave just six minutes off the average workweek.
    But if one looks closely, it's not hard to find industry groups with an unprecedented drop in work hours since ObamaCare became law.
    Among retail bakeries, home-improvement stores and providers of social assistance to the elderly and disabled, the workweek for nonmanagers has fallen to record-low levels — by far.
    ["The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed, for the wrong reason."
    But that seems to be the way evolution works, again and again.]
    Source: Investors Business Daily.

  2. Irish doctors taking working hours [down] to European level, BreakingNews.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish Medical Organisation is meeting with representatives from the European Commission next month to raise the plight of junior doctors.
    The meeting is part of the IMO's "24 No More" campaign, which is aiming to force the Government and the HSE [Health Service Executive] to address the working hours of Non-Consultant Hospital doctors [NCHDs].
    The IMO is balloting its members for strike action in a bid to reduce the hours, which they claim put patients at risk.
    Ireland and Greece are the only countries in the EU not to have implemented the European Working Time Directive, which prohibits working more than 48 hours in a week.

    The IMO says NCHDs are regularly working 63 hours a week.


8/14/2013 – 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. To some truckers, DOT rules to combat fatigue are tiresome, by Ben Kamisar, (8/13 late pickup) McClatchy via Kansas City Star via kansascity.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — For commercial truck drivers such as Charles Ryser, when the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning.
    Until July, Ryser and his father – who drive in a team from a base in Forsyth, Ga. – worked on their own terms. Charles took the day shift, while his father, David Ryser, got behind the wheel at dusk.
    But because of a Department of Transportation attempt to cut down on fatigued drivers, Ryser now has to comply with rules that lead to more downtime and force him to switch shifts regularly with his father, breaking him from his rhythm.
    [Truckers complain - everyone else is relieved.]
    “How is that safe, if you have someone trying to alter their sleep pattern on a dime?” he asked.
    Like it or not, the rules are here to stay, as efforts to roll back the changes pushed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation, have failed. Earlier this month, the DOT won a key legal victory after the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the vast majority of the rules. The American Trucking Associations and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, the two main groups that strongly oppose the rules, said that any further legal challenges were unlikely.
    The rules were crafted in December 2011 to restrict driving hours more tightly. The biggest change comes from restructuring the “restart” that truckers use to reset their weekly count; the DOT says the revision effectively lowers the maximum average workweek for truckers from 82 to 70 hours.
    In the past, a workweek could reset anytime after a trucker took 34 consecutive hours off. Now the clock can be reset only once a week and if time off includes two consecutive periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The regulations also add a mandatory 30-minute break after eight hours of driving, while reinforcing that truckers still may not drive more than 11 hours a day.
    The new restart, advocates say, is aligned with the body’s natural tendencies to sleep at night. The DOT estimates that the rule will help prevent 1,400 truck crashes, 560 injuries and 19 deaths per year, while affecting only the less than 15 percent of truckers who drive the most hours.
    The DOT doesn’t keep truck-specific figures in a way that allows for direct comparison, but a broader category that comprises trucks and buses showed 320,000 crashes in 2011, leading to about 4,000 deaths. While it’s difficult to pinpoint how many truck crashes are due to fatigue, a study sponsored by the DOT concluded that 13 percent of commercial drivers who were involved in serious crashes were fatigued at the time.
    But opponents argue that all truckers, not just those with extreme schedules, will feel the ripple effects.
    “What they are doing is applying rigidity where there actually needs to be flexibility,” said Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Not all driver’s jobs and businesses are run the same, and not all people run the same in regards to their body clock.”
    In the case of the Rysers, shipping delays can create unexpected downtime, potentially forcing them into restarts they’d rather not take. They flip their shifts to avoid that scenario.
    Now that the rules are permanent, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association plans to focus on a push for increased new-driver training. Currently, long-haul truck drivers don’t have mandatory training outside of the commercial driver’s license test.
    Not everybody is hesitant about stricter regulation.
    In fact, Henry Jasny, the vice president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, doesn’t think the rules go far enough. His group pushed to move the clock back to pre-2003 regulations, with no restart and a 10-hours-per-day driving limit.
    “Today the American public is less safe because this dangerous rule puts the economic profit of the trucking industry ahead of public safety,” he said in a statement released after the court decision.
    Trucker Charles Ryser thinks it’s a misconception that drivers don’t have downtime. Given the unpredictable nature of loading times, he’s been delayed for hours waiting for a shipment; that’s time he can use to rest.
    “We have way too many variables out here on the road,” he said. “We’ve got accidents, delays in shippers and receivers, traffic jams.”
    Drivers occupy one of the exemptions to federal overtime laws, and many get paid per mile. In the DOT’s analysis of costs and benefits, the new rules are an overall positive, providing a net benefit of $205 million annually. While costs were easier to predict, estimating the overall value of the law proved difficult, as the agency highlighted the unpredictable nature of the benefits, including reduced fatigue, coupled with the long-term health benefits of added sleep.
    “Studies show that working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers,” said Anne Ferro, the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. She added that the agency had reached out to industry stakeholders and included some of their recommendations in the final rules.
    But Dave Osiecki, the senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the American Trucking Associations, isn’t buying the health estimates, which he referred to as “highly speculative.”
    “The government has created hundreds of millions of dollars of health benefits on paper that are very hard to believe will ever be achieved,” he said. His group led the legal push against the regulations.
    Professor Jose Holguin-Veras, the director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation and the Environment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said that conclusively determining the costs and benefits was exceedingly difficult.
    “This is one of those issues that is very, very tough, because you have a tradeoff between productivity and safety. You have all those things intersecting,” he said. “There is not a clear best solution.”
    With the new rules in place, Charles Ryser said, he’d been forced to add downtime, something he’d hoped to avoid when he joined a team with his father. He said his truck could be out of service up to an extra 12 hours a week, translating to lost revenue.
    Congress asked the DOT to update its drive-time regulations in 1995, but the rules have been subject to a constant legal battle since they first came out in 2003.
    Email: bkamisar@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @bkamisar

  2. Employment & Labour: Sweden - Work environment and working hours regulations, InternationalLawOffice.com
    STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A government bill (2012/13:143) regarding the Work Environment Act and several working hours acts proposes that penalty sanctions will largely be replaced by fee sanctions in order to achieve a more efficient sanction system. However, penalty sanctions shall remain in force for certain infringements, including violation of an injunction or prohibition which has not been combined with a fine, and for more severe infringements.
    In accordance with the proposal, fees shall apply even if the infringement in question has not been performed with intent or negligence. The maximum fee suggested is between Skr100,000 and Skr1 million. However, the procedure for imposing the fee shall remain the same as provided for in the current regulation. The circumstances under which the fee may be apportioned are suggested to be clarified in the legislative text. The basis for calculation of the fees due to infringement of the working hours acts shall be stated directly in the respective act. A conflict resolution regulation will be introduced in order to ensure that both a fine and a fee (alternatively, a penalty) cannot be imposed for the same action. In accordance therewith, a fine will not be imposed and no penalty shall be enforced if an injunction or prohibition which has been combined with a fine has been issued by the regulatory agency for the action in question. The changes in the Work Environment Act and the working hours acts are proposed to enter into force on July 1 2014.
    For further information on this topic, please contact Erik Danhard or Julia DeMarinis Giddings at Hamilton by telephone (+46 8 505 501 00), fax (+46 8 505 501 01) or email (erik.danhard@hamilton.se or julia.demarinis-giddings@hamilton.se).


8/13/2013 – 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 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. Report Says American Work Week Has Dropped - Blames Part-Time Employment, by Mike Corbin mcorbin@wibc.com, 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis via wibc.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Bureau of Labor Statistics says Americans these days are working less than their parents [or grandparents?] did. The report finds that the average American work week has dropped from just over 38 in 1964 to about 34 hours in 2013.
    Carol Rogers is deputy director of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University. Rogers says this doesn't mean productivity has dropped. She says it's indicative of a major shift in the American workplace from manufacturing to the services industry. Rogers says the rise of part-time labor is the major reason for the decline in full-time work hours.
    Rogers says as the Affordable Care Act comes into play, those hours may further drop. Rogers says that will certainly be the case for those without a college education or proper job training. Rogers adds that more people are going back to school and part-time work can facilitate that if they can afford health insurance.

  2. Laddington Road - Sexist Haddington Road Agreement undermines work-sharing, by Niall Crowley, VillageMagazine.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland – The journey from “Croke Park” to “Haddington Road” has been bumpy for public-sector management or public-sector unions. Pay and working hours have been the main focus. Issues of gender equality have not received much attention.
    This is shameful given that the public sector is a major employer of women. In 2010 the education and health sectors employed 35% of all women employees in Ireland. 81.9% of those working in the health sector and 73.3% of those working in the education sector, were women.
    The public sector is dramatically gender unequal. 77.4% of clerical officers in the civil service were women in 2010, whereas only some 16% of those at the level of Secretary General and Assistant Secretary were women. Only 10% of women Assistant Secretaries are married. Women in the health sector accounted for 91.9% of nurses, but only 35.7% of consultants.
    77.4% of clerical officers in the civil service were women in 2010 whereas only some 16% of those at Secretary General and Assistant Secretary level were women
    One factor that makes the public sector attractive to women is the extensive availability of working arrangements that enable employees to balance work and family responsibilities. EU data highlight the importance of this. The labour-market participation of mothers is 12.1 percentage points lower than for women without children. The reverse is true for men. The labour-market participation of fathers is 8.7 percentage points higher than for men without children.
    Irish research in 2008 highlighted that women spend substantially more time on caring and household work than men. Women are more likely to work fewer hours per week in paid employment than men. Women represented 75.3% of those working less than 29 hours a week in paid employment in 2011. Flexible working arrangements are key to women remaining in the labour market.
    The rejected Croke Park Two proposals included provisions that undermined work-sharing and flexible working arrangements in the public sector. The INMO commissioned a gender impact assessment of the draft proposals by this author. It found that the proposals would disproportionately and negatively impact on women and would tend to push women with caring responsibilities to leave employment.
    The ‘Haddington Road Agreement’ also includes sections on “Work-sharing” and “Flexible Working Arrangements (Flexitime)”. It is hard to understand why these feature so prominently, and unhelpfully, in an agreement committed to “pay and productivity measures”. National and international research has found that productivity is enhanced by the use of flexible working arrangements.
    Male dominated management would appear to disagree. The Agreement states that work-sharing has created “a significant management challenge and overhead”.
    Research, however, points to the need for such arrangements to be managed differently from traditional working patterns. A focus on trust over control, and on outcomes rather than inputs is required. It is not inconceivable that issues of limited management capacity are at play in the perspective on flexible working evident in the Agreement.
    The Agreement does not provide much detail but it appears to presage a diminution in work-sharing and in flexible working arrangements. There is repetitive reference to management’s “discretion to alter or change an individual’s work-sharing arrangements”. The only criteria identified are the business needs of the organisation. There is no reference to any reasonable accommodation of those with caring responsibilities. Individual work-sharing arrangements are to be formally reviewed annually.
    The Agreement states that “it is now necessary to update the [flexible working arrangements] to better reflect the current needs of organisations” and that such arrangements are only possible “so long as they support and enhance the efficient operation of Departments/Offices”. The core time-bands may be amended and staff at Assistant Principal level and equivalent will not be able to avail of the arrangements unless they already do so.
    Several unions have secured some protection for their members. The “current work sharing arrangements as set out in various Departmental Circulars will continue to apply” to IMPACT grades in the local authority sector. “Management do not propose to review” flexibility in attendance arrangements for nursing and midwifery personnel in the health sector.
    These exceptions are a positive indicator of concern for gender equality. What remains unexplained is the apparent hostility of management to gender equality. The need for gender impact assessments of all such Agreements is conspicuous.
    Niall Crowley is a former CEO of the Equality Authority who works as a consultant about equality.


8/11-12/2013 – 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 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. The National Minimum Wage and 40-hour work week, letter to editor by Norris Witter, 8/11 KNews via Kaieteur News via kaieteurnewsonline.com
    GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Mr. Mohamed Akeel seems to be begging the issue on the National Minimum Wage Order. We have seen Mr. Akeel’s recent response to our letter dated July 23, 2013 and we are satisfied that rather than being helpful, his second letter, like the first, is intended to embarrass officers in the Ministry of Labour, who would have been trained under Mr. Akeel’s leadership. In fact, he wants to exhibit his superior knowledge, and it should be so, given his vast years as a labour officer or we would have been disappointed if he did not have the skills and competence. Therefore, his skills and competence are out of the question.
    We are however disappointed that (1) that as a former Chief Labour Officer he chose to go public on an issue which initially could have been discussed with his former colleagues of long years. We can only ask, what was his motive to go public? And we already answered that. Further, setting certain categories of worker hours of work like what he mentioned in his letter concerning the public sector is not equivalent to setting the National Minimum wage or the national working hours. He should know that long before that, the National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) had a 40-hour, five-day work week in the sugar industry.
    We also did indicate that we were conscious of conflicting aspects of the Order as against the Act and did say that the issue is being looked at for amendment. So the fulmination of Mr. Akeel was unnecessary. Reading his letter, one can only come to the conclusion that brinkmanship is preferred by him rather than constructive dialogue. His attempt to show his industrial relations acumen is not lost, but what a vain attempt it is? Imagine in a letter on a labour issue this patriotic Guyanese refers to a ‘green card’ that he does not have. Why lament that? What relevance has it to his letter?
    His last interesting paragraph gives us the impression that he is really after the Minister of Labour. After all, he seems to have taken umbrage at the Minister’s attendance at the Guyana Trades Union Congress’s (GTUC’s) Labour Day Rally 2013, which he describes as an Opposition rally and hinted that the Minister should have attended the Government rally. The Minister did also attend the Federation of Independent Trades Union of Guyana (FITUG) 2013 May Day Rally.
    We wonder if Mr. Akeel is referring to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union’s (GAWU’s) rally as Government rally and what yardstick he used to describe the TUC’s rally as ‘Opposition’ rally. We also wonder at his knowledge of the Guyana Public Service Union as a “separatists” union. It must be from his enormous industrial relations experience.
    Hail Akeel! You are an expert! Please try one more time so that we can know more of what is on your mind and what is bothering you. Come Clean and deal with the person you perceive as an “opposition and unpatriotic” Guyanese.

  2. Small business owners 'time-strapped' as working hours increase, by Michael Somerville, 8/12 RetailGazette.co.uk
    LONDON, U.K. - Small business owners in the retail industry are working 59 per cent longer than the average British worker, according to new research revealed today.
    The research, commissioned by Penelope, a call handling solution for small businesses, found that retail owners worked for 51 hours a week. The trend of working long hours shows no sign of slowing as evidenced by the recent employment statistics from the Office of National Statistics which show a 0.3 per cent increase in hours worked in the last three months alone.
    The survey results highlight the commitment workers in the retail industry are making in order to make their businesses a success. Small business owners are in a virtuous cycle when it comes to time and money, as 64 per cent of retail business owners state that they would prefer to have more money than time.
    ["Virtuous circle" for money = unsustainable, vicious circle for everything else, because owners' long hours elicit employee longer hours, and in the age of robotics, that means downsizing jobs and marginalizing more employee-consumers, downward pressure on wages, and weaker consumer spending and markets and...whole economy. Capitalism runs ever more poorly on a job shortage, labor surplus.]
    Ed Reeves, co-founder of Penelope said the results showed ‘the hard work being invested by small business owners.’
    He added: “Being the owner and operator of a small business means taking on multiple roles and being everything to every customer. Many of these owners are both time and cash-strapped and they need to make the most of every day because the amount of time being squeezed into the working week is enormous.”


8/10/2013 – 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 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. Volume of MSPB furlough appeals still soaring, posted by Sean Reilly, (8/09 late pickup) FedLine via Federal Times (blog) via blogs.federaltimes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - For anyone who’s keeping count, the total number of appeals filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board [MSPB] for fiscal 2013 (as of close of business yesterday) stood at 34,210, or close to five times the agency’s normal yearly caseload.
    Of those, around 29,000 (or 85 percent), are furlough-related, Board Clerk Bill Spencer said in an email.
    Comments
    grumpy Says:
    August 10th, 2013 at 8:31 am
    Anyone filing an appeal due to the sequestration-forced furloughs ought to be ashamed of themselves. The resulting workload will now make preclude timely review and resolution of far more meritorious appeals cases.
    The furloughs were the result of a completely dysfunctional congress as well as a totally intransigent administration.
    [Intransigent or unwilling to be blackmailed into further government debt and dismantling during continued private-sector downsizing? The irony is, the furloughs are better than firings and we've needed to downsize worktime per person (instead of the workforce) and spread the shrinking human employment for decades now while we continue to automate and robotize. Robots don't buy their own output. Humans do. But only employed humans have the money to do so.]
    Take your appeal on this to the voting booth and not to the MSPB.

  2. Avoid layoffs with Shared Work program, by Mike Irwin, WenatcheeWorld.com
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA – Local employers are now eligible for a special incentive to participate in a layoff-avoidance program run by the state Employment Security Department, the agency announced last week.
    The incentive allows employers to participate in the federally-backed Shared Work program through June 2015 with virtually no change in unemployment taxes paid by businesses.
    “Shared Work was already a good deal, but the incentive really sweetens the pot,” said Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke. “Any employer that is struggling to meet payroll without losing valuable workers should give it a try.”
    Since 1983, Shared Work has allowed employers to temporarily reduce the hours of their workers with employees claiming partial unemployment benefits to help bridge the difference. The federal government reimburses 94.9 percent of Shared Work benefits.
    The program is available to private and public-sector employers with two or more employees. Both part-time and full-time employees are eligible.
    For more info, call (800) 572-2500 or visit esd.wa.gov and use “shared work” as keywords in the search box.


8/09/2013 – 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 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. Structuring A Ministry Workweek, by Bert Alcorn, SixMinutesOfBanter.com
    VENTURA COUNTY, Calif., USA - This has been a looming question during my time in ministry. It has become much more relevant for me as the elders have increased my hours and responsibility at Anthem Church.
    Finding a “work / life” balance is a constant tension with pastors and is only amplified when a wife or kids enter the equation.

    Dave Bruskas over at The Resurgence writes:
    If I could choose one word to describe the structure of a common workweek for a pastor, it would be “messy.” Pastoral ministry is less about a vocation, and more about a lifestyle. If you call yourself a pastor, you are likely on duty 24/7/365. Your life is far more like that of a small business owner than a teacher or professor, with set classroom times and office hours. Unanticipated events will arise requiring your attention. You’re always on call.
    Further complicating matters is the fact that activities qualifying as “ministry work” are broad and various. For example, a pastor may jog on a lunch hour while praying for his church. He may take the same hour thinking through strategic plans for reaching the unchurched as he walks through the local mall. He may even schedule a round of golf with prospective church members or unbelievers to discuss Jesus. And while those not familiar with the “vocational ministry” lifestyle may see the pastor in these activities and assume he is off duty and resting, whereas the pastor feels as if he is working diligently.

    Blocks, Not Hours
    Additionally, there are weekly scheduled tasks that must be completed. My conviction is that these regular duties should be completed in a six-day workweek. Personally, I have found that it’s healthier and more productive to look at a workweek in terms of time blocks rather than hours. It’s also healthier and livable to arrange these blocks in a six-day cycle instead of a five-day frame. This is a system that works well for me and for other Mars Hill pastors, and it may be helpful for you as a way of structuring the hectic demands of a ministry lifestyle.
    Each day has three blocks of working hours, assuming you break for lunch, dinner, and sleep. These blocks are four hours each and may look something like this: 8 a.m.–Noon, 1 p.m.–5 p.m. and 6 p.m.–10 p.m. A normative six-day workweek for a pastor likely means he is working 14 blocks per week. My routine schedule would look like the following:
    Sunday 3 blocks
    Monday 2 blocks
    Tuesday 2 blocks
    Wednesday 3 blocks
    Thursday 2 blocks
    Friday 2 blocks
    Total 14 blocks
    While to some this may seem extreme, it isn’t unusual. A volunteer elder who faithfully serves Mars Hill Church regularly devotes at least 10 blocks of time to his workplace. He then likely gives at least two blocks of time per week to evening church activities (e.g., preparing for and leading a community group), as well as two more blocks of time on Sunday for worship and service, for a total of 14 blocks per week devoted to work and the church.
    Keep in mind, this schedule allows me to have dinner with my family five nights a week and affords me a complete day off weekly. There’s also built-in flexibility: if you preach four nights a week, you can take some morning blocks off to be with your family.
    A Case Study
    Pastor Matt Rogers is a real-life example of this schedule. He is an unpaid elder at Mars Hill Church who works 50–60 hours per week. He spends a portion of just about every evening and all day Sunday leading 13 teams that are responsible for 600 Welcome Team volunteers at Mars Hill Bellevue. He sees it as a blessing to serve where God has uniquely gifted him and loves training and raising up leaders who deeply love the church.
    There are some things in Pastor Matt’s chaotic week that he keeps consistent. He wakes up at 5–6 a.m. to pray and read his Bible, has breakfast with his family, takes one daughter to school, spends time with family in the evenings, and has one-on-one time with his wife after the kids go to bed. He says he’s had to cut out time with coworkers in the evenings, some great nonprofits he worked with in the past, and anything that doesn’t involve the family on Saturdays. He loves this schedule because he feels that Jesus has called him to serve.
    Ministry Is Exhausting
    I’ve had the privilege of working alongside hundreds of pastors in twenty years of vocational ministry. Most of them were consistently tired. The calling of ministry is exhausting; it’s hard to “endure everything” for the sake of the elect (2 Tim. 2:10).
    Perhaps the best way to view work is exemplified by the Apostle Paul. He makes the case in 1 Corinthians 15:10 by saying, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
    Grace and hard work aren’t at odds. Grace empowers hard work for the glory of God and the joy of his people.

  2. Front page - Study on work hours sent to King - 'Cancellation of huroob cases a must for sponsorship transfer’, by Saleh Al-Zahrani Okaz/Saudi Gazette (8/10 early pickup) via saudigazette.com.sa
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – A study on work hours and a two-day holiday for the private sector has been sent to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, a source in the Ministry of Labor said.
    An earlier Ministry of Labor study stressed the need for unifying work hours in the public and private sectors on the grounds that it will encourage more Saudis to join the private sector following the enforcement of an aggressive plan last year to force companies operating in the largest Arab economy to employ more Saudis.
    In June, the public sector switched its official weekend to Fridays and Saturdays, bringing the Kingdom’s working week closer in line with other countries in a move long desired by many of the country’s businesses.
    The source also said that an employer cannot postpone a worker’s annual vacation for more than three months after the end of the year without the worker’s written consent. He stressed that a worker has the right to annual vacation at the end of each year.
    Annual vacation should not be postponed until the next year, he added.
    The source said that a worker with a huroob (runaway from sponsor) report must first get it canceled at the pertinent passport department before the transfer of sponsorship.
    A major concession announced by the Ministry of Labor in May allowed runaway workers charged with the huroob violation to rectify their status either by returning to their current sponsor or transferring to another sponsor without the permission of the current sponsor. But dispute on rights and claims between such a worker and his previous sponsor must be settled by special legal departments, the ministry said.
    However, a Ministry of Labor source had created confusion by saying that cases against all expatriates will be canceled in the new mechanism to correct the residency status of foreigners.


8/08/2013 – 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 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. IMO balloting junior doctors on long working hours, RTE News via RTE.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish Medical Organisation has begun a ballot of its 2,000 non-consultant hospital doctor members for support for action to reduce long working hours.
    The result of the ballot will be known on 2 September.
    IMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Eric Young said it was unsafe to have doctors working straight shifts of 24 hours and longer.
    The IMO wants the Health Service Executive to fully implement the European Working Time Directive, which limits working time to no more than 48 hours a week.
    Minister for Health James Reilly has told the European Commission that this will be in place for NCHDs by the end of 2014.
    There are over 4,800 NCHDs in the health service.
    Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Young said: "Doctors might start working at 9am, work right through to 9am the next day and then do a full day's work before they can go home.
    "It's not safe for patients, it's putting them at risk in terms of the administration of drugs, prescriptions that are being issued, records that are being kept on patients and obviously it impacts on patient safety."
    In the event of strike action, he said, it is hoped that patient care would not be affected.
    "Normal cover will be provided but it may involve clinics and elective work may be affected, so it may have some short-term implications."
    Any possible action could involve work stoppages by junior doctors, he said.
    "If that is not successful and we don't get sufficient progress we will have rolling national action throughout the country."

  2. In wake of probe, Walla Walla County seeks better accounts of work hours - County commissioners are crafting a policy after a state audit of the Sheriff’s Office, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin via union-bulletin.com
    WALLA WALLA, Wash., USA — Walla Walla County commissioners are considering a policy to track paid leave for managers following a state investigation last year into a suspected loss of public funds at the Sheriff’s Office.
    The Washington State Auditor’s Office investigation ultimately concluded there was no wrongdoing because the county has no policy governing when administrative employees use vacation hours, leaving Sheriff John Turner with sole “discretion” over the matter for his department.
    Investigators, however, did raise concerns that the Sheriff’s Office was not tracking hours administrative employees were at work.
    “... (I)f they are not tracking time, how does anyone know how much extra time they are entitled to take off …?” an auditor stated in investigation notes obtained by the Union-Bulletin.
    County commissioners held a July 15 work session to discuss developing guidelines to address the matter.
    “It is important that we have a tracking mechanism,” Commissioner Perry Dozier said following the work session. “We need open communications with other elected officials, too, so everybody is on the same page.”
    The Auditor’s Investigation
    According to commissioners Greg Tompkins and Dozier, a “concerned constituent” raised the concerns about Sheriff’s Office administrators not using vacation time during absences from work.
    As required by state law, commissioners reported the concerns to the Auditor’s Office, which began an investigation in July 2012.
    The office issued a final letter Dec. 18 stating the employees who were under investigation are “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act, meaning they have no set schedule for when they are required to work.
    “We found the County’s policy does not describe when exempt employees should use vacation time when they are not at work,” wrote Sarah Walker, fraud manager for the Auditor’s Office. “Based on the exclusion from the Fair Labor Standards Act and County’s policy not addressing exempt employees’ use of vacation, the Sheriff has the discretion and the responsibility to oversee the work of these employees.”
    In a phone interview in June, Walker told the Union-Bulletin the Auditor’s Office investigation was limited to an examination of three command staff member’s security key data, computer records and payroll sheets for the month of June 2012.
    In spite of the limited scope of the investigation, Zac Wilson, an investigator with the Auditor’s Office, raised concerns about how the Sheriff’s Office tracks hours for exempt employees.
    In investigation notes from August 2012 Walker wrote:
    “(Sheriff John Turner) did point out to Zac that the employees in question are exempt employees, so they are not required to keep track of time; Zac is going to be asking for a clarification, since if they are not tracking time, how does anyone know how much extra time they are entitled to take off for the extra hours worked?”
    The U-B Investigation
    In April the Union-Bulletin requested records that included work documents related to the Auditor’s Office investigation. The documents released include key card data, computer access data and payroll sheets for January through July of 2012.
    Records of the security key use and computer use for the three command employees show similar patterns of use, with one exception: the data for Undersheriff Edward Freyer show no activity for several weeks-long periods during those seven months.
    The periods include two weeks during the end of February and beginning of March, two weeks in June and nearly the entire month of July. Freyer, who annually accrues 96 hours of vacation a year, claimed 24 hours during that period.
    In response to the Union-Bulletin’s records request, Turner wrote a guest column in May that the newspaper published in its opinion pages, weeks before the requested documents were released to the newspaper.
    The column referenced the Auditor’s Office final letter, and spoke highly of Freyer’s work for the county.
    “Per our county’s policy manual, an FLSA exempt employee ‘is compensated in relationship to the overall level of expected job performance over a period of time, and not according to the number of hours that are worked,’” Turner wrote.
    He added that “the vast majority of the time it averages out to be far greater than 40 hours per week without any additional compensation.”
    Turner also responded to U-B questions with a hand-delivered packet of information including policy manuals, a letter asking for complete disclosure of his written response and several letters of praise for Freyer by other area law enforcement officials.
    “Just because our building’s key card or computer system shows no access, that in no way means that the Undersheriff was not working,” Turner wrote. “Eddie, due to his tenure, is more ‘old school’ in nature; he prefers reading paper over a computer screen, and telephone and face to face conversations over e-mail.”
    However, Tom Cooper and Sgt. Brad Ansorge of the Sheriff’s Office confirmed the key card and computer data correspond with their observations that Freyer would take regular, weeks-long absences to work as a security contractor or consultant, sometimes overseas.
    “(Freyer) was gone two weeks after he was there a month,” Ansorge said.
    Cooper and Ansorge both said Freyer has spoken openly in the office about working overseas.
    Additional sources within the Sheriff’s Office, who would not go on record for this story, confirmed that Freyer talked openly about his work outside the department.
    Ansorge has been a Sheriff’s Office deputy for 25 years. Cooper is a 24-year veteran, but was removed from the duty roster in April following a knee injury that had placed him on “light duty” status since December 2012.
    Cooper has also announced he plans to run for sheriff in the 2014 election.
    Turner hired Freyer, a retired FBI agent, as his undersheriff after Turner won the 2010 election. As of July 2012 Freyer’s salary was $6,507 a month.
    Freyer and Turner met in Iraq in 2008 while employed by the Department of Defense as law enforcement professionals in counterterrorism activities.
    Freyer has refused to comment to the U-B for this report.
    “I have nothing to say to you,” Freyer said over the phone in late June. “If I thought you were going to give anyone a fair shake at the Sheriff’s Office, I would talk to you. But I’m not going to do that.”
    Turner acknowledged in his May column in the U-B that he knew there had been some discontent within the Sheriff’s Office about command staff work schedules.
    “I knew there have been grumblings and misconceptions about how differently I run my command staff in order to accomplish our mission versus previous administrations,” Turner wrote.
    Cooper, a vocal critic of Turner since the 2010 election, noted that under previous Sheriff Mike Humphreys, hour tracking applied to everyone in the department.
    Humphreys, in a brief phone interview, confirmed that exempt as well as non-exempt staff tracked their hours the same way. He also said his employees were allowed to work outside the Sheriff’s Office when they were off duty, with the understanding that it would not interfere with their regular work schedule.
    Ansorge said, “It’s quite apparent (Turner) eliminated the checks and balances for his command staff.”
    In Turner’s response to U-B questions about Freyer working outside the Sheriff’s Office, he wrote that “off-duty work has never interfered with any Sheriff’s Office employee’s official capacities, nor has it negatively impacted work product or service to our county.”
    Turner, in a phone converstation with the U-B earlier this year, said he also spoke with Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, in response to concerns about command staff schedules. He said Barker confirmed to him the Walla Walla Sheriff’s Office operates according to “best practices.”
    In a phone interview with the U-B, Barker confirmed he spoke with Turner about flexibility in command staff schedules in general, but said Turner did not ask about allowing an employee to be absent for weeks at a time while still drawing a full paycheck.
    County Reactions
    Walla Walla County Commissioner Jim Johnson confirmed the board’s policy discussions were prompted by the Auditor’s Office investigation and reports that Sheriff’s Office administrators were not reporting extended absences as vacation time.
    “I think that whole situation brought (the policy issue) to the forefront,” he said.
    Tompkins, prior to the commissioners’ June 15 work session, said, “We need to look at all our policies now.”
    During the work session Lucy Schwallie, county personnel and risk manager, told commissioners she compared Walla Walla County with 12 other Washington counties regarding policies covering exempt-employee use of paid leave.
    She said four of the counties that responded had no policy, similar to Walla Walla County. The other eight counties had policies that included different types of requirements for reporting leave time, and would necessarily have some mechanism for tracking employee hours.
    Schwallie also said some counties have provisions for rewarding an exempt employee who works an excessive amount above a standard work week, while others include provisions for docking the salary of exempt employees who take too much leave.
    “This is a tricky area,” Schwallie said. “Any change in policy will have to be run by the attorneys.”
    Following the work session, Johnson said the county will likely try to craft a policy that clarifies the use of leave time by exempt employees.
    “We’ll try to come up with a policy that’s a little more clearly laid out,” he said. “I think it would be good to have that codified a little bit.”
    Luke Hegdal can be reached at lukehegdal@wwub.com or 526-8326.
    Fellow law enforcers laud Freyer's work in county
    Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner, responding to Union-Bulletin questions about Undersheriff Edward Freyer’s work schedule, has said repeatedly that Freyer is a valuable, hard-working member of the Sheriff’s Office.
    Freyer’s work schedule came under scrutiny following an investigation by the Washington State Auditor’s Office into suspected loss of funds due to concerns whether management level employees were not reporting extended absences as vacation time.
    In a follow up investigation by the U-B, staff members at the Sheriff’s Office reported that the Freyer is gone from the Sheriff’s Office while he works as a security consultant or contractor, sometimes for weeks at a time.
    Turner responded to the Union-Bulletin questions with a packet of information that included high praise for Freyer.
    “Many examples of Eddie’s work ethic come to mind,” Turner wrote. “His professional manner of fulfilling his Undersheriff duties, his efforts to keep our Balloon Stampede and County Fair free of crime and tragedy, his work with SAR, SWAT, CART ....”
    Turner acknowledged that Freyer has a flexible schedule, but stated, “... (Forty) hours per week or 2,080 possible regular work hours per year are only a benchmark ... I know that Undersheriff Freyer has worked many hundreds of hours over 2,080 hours each year.”
    Turner also solicited letters from other area law enforcement officials, including a letter from Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber.
    Bieber agreed to an interview with the U-B at his office June 24. He said he could speak only to the cooperative work Freyer had done with the Walla Walla Police Department, and not Freyer’s schedule at the Sheriff’s Office specifically.
    “There’s a considerable amount of work Eddie does for us,” Bieber said. “The work’s getting done, and it’s valuable work to the community.”
    Freyer leads both SWAT and Search and Rescue and has worked long hours for both, Bieber said. Bieber also mentioned Freyer’s work with the Child Abduction and Response Team.
    “When we need him, in the 15 months I’ve been here, he’s been available,” Bieber said.


8/07/2013 – 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. Report: Hours cut for Randolph County's 145 teacher assistants, by Kathi Keys kkeys@courier-tribune.com, Greensboro News & Record from Asheboro Courier-Tribune NC via Courier-Tribune.com
    ASHEBORO, N.C., USA — Randolph County Schools’ teacher assistants will have a 6 percent reduction in their employment for the 2013-14 school year.
    The reduction in force affecting 145 county school regular education teacher assistants — 139 employees and six vacant positions — was approved by the Randolph County Board of Education at a special meeting Monday afternoon.
    The move retains all teacher assistants at a 94 percent employment rate, reducing average salaries by about $1,200 a year. They’re able to retain their benefits, but only work on student days and one teacher workday prior to the start of the new school year.
    Several teacher assistants and other school employees attended Monday’s session, but no one spoke during the public comment time on the agenda. When the board went into closed session on personnel matters and to consult with its attorney, some of the assistants, who did not want to be identified, gathered outside the Central Office board room and talked about their situation.
    None of them knew what workday they’re supposed to work before classes start for students on Monday, Aug. 26. Teachers have workdays on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 15-16, and the entire following week, Monday through Friday, Aug. 19-23.
    “I’m going to be at open house,” said one elementary school assistant who has been helping teachers in three different grades. Other assistants agreed that it was important for them to be at open house so students and parents become acquainted with them, too. Open houses at elementaries are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 22.
    Others mentioned the need to help teachers get their classrooms ready for students, adding that teachers “already work 24/7.” Those who are assigned to several teachers also said they feel guilty when they have to leave one classroom to help out in another, knowing a situation might arise where a teacher has to divert attention from the class to attend to a rowdy student or unexpected occurrence.
    “They’re very dedicated and irreplaceable,” said Mary Luper, a teacher at Level Cross Elementary School, about the value of the assistants in the classroom. “They’re not doing our paperwork. They teach and are highly qualified.”
    She also asked, relative to the additional demands being placed on teachers, “Are young people going to want to be teachers?”
    During the meeting, the board was told that the reduction will save $215,000 toward the estimated $915,000 state budget shortfall the school district is anticipating this fiscal year.
    Todd Lowe, finance officer, said they’re still addressing other areas to reduce such as staff development and remediation and instructional supply allotments. They plan to use some of the textbook fund money and will be able to pay about 12 Exceptional Children bus drivers from EC funding instead of state transportation money.
    “We’re not going backward,” explained Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey. “We’re above or equal to what we spent last (fiscal) year.”
    The only other area he presently expects to be reduced is student instructional supplies, with an estimated $2.70 less per student anticipated. He said other areas may be impacted.
    Gainey thanked school board members for delaying action three weeks ago on reduced employments for 11 different categories of classified personnel. The staff originally recommended in July that the hours of 218 classified positions, including teacher and media assistants, be reduced to 80 percent employment because of anticipated state budget cuts.
    He noted that the delay allowed the staff to further examine the budget. The state budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year was also approved; cuts for teacher assistants were not as drastic as originally proposed in the N.C. Senate document.
    On July 15, the board asked the staff to investigate available resources to prevent the reduction to 80 percent employment which would have been the equivalent of 38 teacher assistant positions at the 17 elementary school[s]. It was also decided to hold a special meeting in early August to further address the matter; that session was held Monday night.
    The result was the 10 other classified categories were not affected by Monday’s reduction in force and remain at 100 percent employment.
    Board Chair Tommy McDonald said, “The board decided to stop and have the budget looked at again and it made a difference.”
    Board member Todd Cutler pushed for the $215,000 to be taken out of the fund balance so all teacher assistants would remain at 100 percent employment, but his motion died for lack of a second. He voted against the approved motion reducing teacher assistants’ employment from 100 to 94 percent.
    Both Gainey and Lowe asked that the money not be taken out of the school system’s $4.5 million fund balance for a recurring budget item. Lowe said $500,000 has been earmarked from fund balance for this year’s local budget and he anticipates it being needed. He also explained that he’d like to keep at least 10 days of operational funds in the fund balance (it costs $448,000 to a day to operate the school system); eight days is the minimum recommended by financial officials.
    Also, at the meeting, Catherine Berry, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, presented a revised board policy pertaining to the testing and assessment program which was approved on first reading.

  2. Short-term Work Hours, Income Still Down, posted by Katherine Lim, NL Times via nltimes.nl
    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Dutch Federation of Employment Agencies (ABU) statistics show a decline in the number of working hours of provisional employees by -5% throughout period 9 (from week 25 to 28) in contrast to the exact period in 2012 (with the same number of working days).
    Likewise, short-term employee earnings dropped by -2% compared to the period 9 of last year (with the same number of working days).
    These are the figures released by ABU compared to the same period last year:
    Sector   Drop in No.of Working Hours   Drop in Sales
    Administrative   -4%   -1%
    Industrial   -4%   -1%
    Technical   -7%   -5%
    Medical   -35%   1.5%
    Source: Staffing Industry


8/06/2013 – 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 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. Ohio makes two big changes in its unemployment rules, by Patricia F. Weisberg, Crain's Cleveland Business (blog) via crainscleveland.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - On July 11, Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill modifying unemployment compensation practices and procedures. Two of these changes will impact the way employers in Ohio manage the unemployment application process.
    SharedWork Ohio
    The first change allows employers to reduce workers' hours while permitting the workers to collect unemployment compensation benefits. Twenty-five other states have already adopted similar programs.
    Under SharedWork Ohio, an employee can continue working with reduced hours rather than being laid off and also collect unemployment benefits to make up the difference for the hours that were cut. This benefit allows the potential for employees to maintain their existing healthcare and retirement benefits.
    To qualify, participating employers must submit a plan to the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The plan must be in lieu of layoffs and cannot exceed the total unemployment cost of a traditional layoff.
    Legislators who support this measure believe that the program will be less costly for employers. They argue that traditional layoffs often result in higher unemployment premiums. In addition, it is anticipated that the SharedWork plan will cost less for employers due to reimbursements from the federal government until 2015. During the two-year period, the federal government will reimburse Ohio for SharedWork benefit payments. These benefit payments will, therefore, not be charged to employer's accounts.
    It's important to note that the program will not occur automatically. Employers must take affirmative steps to participate in SharedWork Ohio plan.
    New Penalty for Employer's Failure to Cooperate with ODJFS
    The new law allowing for the Shared Work Ohio plan makes other changes to Ohio's unemployment laws. One of the significant changes is that Ohio law will now require an employer's account to be charged in the event the employer engages in a pattern of failing to timely or adequately respond to requests for information regarding a claim, thus resulting in an improper overpayment.
    In the past, for various reasons, many employers opted not to provide information to an initial or subsequent request from ODJFS regarding a former employee's application for unemployment benefits. Now, if an employer engages in a pattern of failing to timely or adequately respond to these requests, the employer's account will not be credited if OJDFS decides that it erroneously paid unemployment benefits to a claimant. As a result, in general, it is now even more important to cooperate with ODJFS and provide the necessary information in a timely manner. In some situations, it will be more prudent to consult with legal counsel as to how and when to respond to these requests. If there are other issues and special circumstances giving rise to the employee's separation from employment, legal counsel should be sought before taking any other action.

  2. A primer on compressed workweek schemes, by Julia M. Britanico (amica curiae), BusinessWorld Online Edition via bworldonline.com
    [This has nothing to do with jobloss-avoiding or job-creating timesizing, but we can't resist a "primer" and it's interesting to learn that the Philippines are still in the Dark Ages with a 48-hour workweek. That's the U.S. level of about 1926.]
    MANILA, Philippines - In response to rapidly changing technological and economic landscapes, companies are often constrained to look for operational strategies which will enable them to meet the demands of their clients while maintaining or reducing overhead costs within the limitations of local labor laws. It is within the employer’s legitimate sphere of management control of the business to adopt economic policies or make changes or adjustments in its organization or operations that would insure profit to the company or protect the investment of its stockholders.
    One such strategy adopted by companies is the implementation of a compressed workweek (CWW). If anchored on a voluntary basis and on conditions mutually acceptable to both the employer and its employees, the adoption of a compressed workweek is recognized as beneficial in terms of reducing business costs and helping save jobs while maintaining competitiveness and productivity in industries.
    While a number of companies observe a shorter workweek, most companies have a six-day workweek, or a total of 48 hours a week, considering that the Labor Code provides that the normal work hours per day shall be eight hours. Work may be performed beyond eight hours a day provided that the worker is compensated for overtime work.
    Under a CWW, the normal workweek is reduced to less than the normal six days but the total number of normal work hours per week shall remain at 48 hours. The normal workday is increased to more than eight hours without corresponding overtime premium. This can be adjusted accordingly in cases where the normal workweek is shorter than six days.
    Let’s take for example an establishment which has a normal workweek from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The company may opt to implement a compressed workweek from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., without having to pay its employees the corresponding overtime premium for the additional two hours of work rendered per day from Monday to Thursday.
    In the foregoing example, the workweek was compressed by distributing the eight hours which should be worked on Saturday to two additional two hours per day from Monday to Thursday, eliminating Saturday as a workday. While there was a reduction in the normal number of workdays, the normal number of work hours per week has remained constant.
    The adoption of CWW and other flexible work arrangements were devised by the DoLE to assist companies in coping with the global economic downturn. The adoption of a voluntary flexible work arrangement such as a CWW is considered to be a better alternative than the outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishments. A CWW is deemed to be mutually beneficial to both employers and employees. From an employer’s perspective, a CWW is beneficial as it allows employers to legally prolong working hours without being obliged to pay overtime premium. Meanwhile, a CWW is also advantageous to an employee, who will have a shortened workweek, and thus, more time to spend with his or her family or engaged in other activities.
    For the implementation of a valid CWW arrangement, the following guidelines should be observed:
    • The employees voluntarily agree to work more than eight hours a day, the total in a week of which shall not exceed their normal weekly hours of work prior to the adoption of the compressed workweek arrangement;
    • There will not be any diminution whatsoever in the benefits of the employees;
    • If an employee is permitted or required to work in excess of his normal weekly hours of work prior to the adoption of the CWW scheme, all such excess hours shall be considered overtime work and shall be compensated in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Code or applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), if any;
    • The effectivity and implementation of the new working time arrangement shall be by agreement of the parties; and
    • The employer shall notify DoLE of the adoption of the CWW scheme.
    Additionally, the implementation of a CWW must not amount to a diminution of benefits for the workers involved. As such, unless there is a more favorable practice existing in the company, work beyond eight hours will not be compensable by overtime premium provided the total number of hours worked per day shall not exceed 12 hours. In any case, any work performed beyond 12 hours a day or 48 hours a week shall be subject to overtime premium.
    Notwithstanding the implementation of a CWW, an employer may opt to revert to the normal eight-hour workday, as the reversion shall be considered a legitimate exercise of management prerogative, provided that the employer shall give the employees prior notice of such reversion within a reasonable period of time.
    Julia Anna M. Britanico is an associate of the Labor & Employment Department of the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW). She may be contacted through or at 830.8000.


8/04-05/2013 – 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 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. Employers eligible for special incentives to avoid layoffs: 13-036, 8/05 Access Washington via esd.wa.gov
    OLYMPIA, Wash., USA – Washington employers are now eligible for a special incentive to participate in a layoff-avoidance program run by the Employment Security Department.
    The incentive allows them to participate in the program through June 2015 with virtually no effect on their unemployment taxes.
    “Shared Work was already a good deal, but the incentive really sweetens the pot,” said Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke. “Any employer that is struggling to meet its payroll without losing valuable workers should give it a try.”
    Since 1983, Washington’s Shared-Work Program has allowed employers to temporarily reduce the hours of their workers, and the employees can claim partial unemployment benefits to help bridge the difference.
    The U.S. Congress was so impressed at how well Washington State’s program saved jobs during the Great Recession that it passed legislation in 2012 encouraging all states to create similar programs or to make existing programs more accessible.
    As an incentive, Congress offered to have the federal government cover most of the cost of shared-work benefits for three years, from July 2012 through June 2015. This year, Washington State’s legislature adopted minor changes in state law to make employers in this state eligible for the incentive.

    As a result, the federal government will reimburse the state 100 percent for shared-work benefits paid from July through September 2012. Due to the federal sequester, the reimbursement is 94.9 percent for benefits paid since October 2012.
    The legislature adopted two key changes to qualify the state for the reimbursement:
    • Participating employers must have two or more employees. Previously, employers with one or more employees were eligible.
    • Employers can enroll part-time employees. Previously, only full-time employees were allowed
    .
    Other criteria that haven’t changed:
    • Both private-sector and public-sector employers can participate.
    • An employee’s hours must be cut by at least 10 percent but no more than 50 percent to be eligible for shared-work benefits.
    • An employer can enroll as many or as few employees as it wants.
    Employers can find more information at www.esd.wa.gov (enter Shared Work in the search box and select the first option on the results screen) or by calling 800-752-2500.
    Web links
    *Shared-Work website
    *Shared-Work fact sheet
    Broadcast version
    Employers that are trying to avoid layoffs have a new incentive to participate in the Employment Security Department’s Shared-Work Program.
    Shared-Work allows employers to temporarily reduce workers’ hours, and the employees can claim partial unemployment benefits.
    The program has been saving jobs in Washington since 1983. Congress was so impressed that it’s offering incentives for states to create similar programs - or improve existing programs.
    As a result, nearly all of the shared-work benefits paid out from July 2012 through June 2015 will be covered by the federal government – meaning employers won’t be taxed for those benefits.

  2. Ohio: Shared work, unemployment reforms signed into law, 8/05 HR.BLR.com
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - Ohio employers contemplating layoffs have expanded options under Ohio’s new shared-work program, recently signed into law under Substitute House Bill (HB) 37 by Governor John Kasich. SharedWork Ohio allows employers to reduce hours for a specific group of employees instead of laying them off, while employees collect unemployment for their lost hours.
    The program allows Ohio to take advantage of federal subsidies available through 2015. Ohio is the 26th state to adopt a shared-work program.
    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 also creates a 25 percent penalty for individuals who fraudulently claim unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. In addition, the legislation provides that employers will not receive credit for improperly awarded benefits if the Office of Unemployment Compensation determines that the employer contributed to the incorrect payment by failing to respond promptly to inquiries regarding claims.
    The governor also signed into law Substitute HB 2, which requires a UC claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs to be eligible for benefits. In addition, the law requires claimants to contact a local one-stop office within 8 weeks of applying for UC benefits.

  3. The ripple effect: Locals feeling furloughs, by Rob Johnson, 8/04 Pensacola News Journal via pnj.com
    PENSACOLA, Fla., USA - The furloughs of Department of Defense civilian workers on military bases in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties will drain this area’s economy of about $2.6 million per week, roughly equivalent to the estimated revenue from the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show before sequestration grounded the Blue Angels.
    Scheduled as 11 unpaid days for about 8,000 workers between early July and Sept. 30, the unpaid furloughs already are rippling through the Northwest Florida economy in the form of reduced purchasing power that crimps some local businesses.
    [Eleven 8-hour days = 88 workhours. Three months of 40-hour workweeks = 12x40 = 480 workhours. So this is an 18.3% hourscut for 8000 workers, which if translated into layoffs would be 1465 jobs lost, which would be more like a tidal bore than a ripple.]
    “The impact is immediate. There’s been great concern among our customers about the loss of income,” said Mark Whibbs, president of Vince Whibbs Automotive Group in Pensacola, which counts civilian workers from the military bases as a significant part of its clientele seeking Cadillacs, Buicks and Chevrolets.
    “We’ve already felt a certain preparation by our customers who are going to be directly impacted by sequestration. It has delayed purchases, and it has stopped purchases in certain cases.”
    The furloughs result from sequestration, the term by which this year’s mandatory 20 percent federal budget cuts are commonly known. The across-the-board cuts are required because Congress and the White House failed to reach an agreement this year on spending and deficit reduction.
    The Defense Department has translated the belt tightening into a required day off per week from July through the end of the 2013 fiscal year on Sept. 30. Some employees, with permission from supervisors, are adjusting their schedules to take two or more days off in some weeks and none in others, depending on workloads.
    The civilians who are affected at Pensacola Naval Air Station, other area Navy bases and Eglin Air Force Base range from janitorial and food service workers earning about $18,000 a year to senior aerospace engineers paid up to $129,500 annually.
    Among the roughly 2,700 Naval base civilians to whom sequestration applies, the average annual pay is about $72,800. Eglin’s civilian work force’s average is $89,800.
    "That’s a lot more than the salaries in most of the community,” said Rod Lewis, director of the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development. “For those at the high end, they probably won’t go to Dillard’s as much to buy new outfits or go out to eat as often. So that affects waiters and other service people.”
    Jim Major, a 30-year federal employee who is executive vice president of the Pensacola area arm of the American Federation of Government Employees union, is a civilian financial administrator at Saufley Field.
    He said even senior workers at the top of the government salary scale may feel the pinch of furloughs.
    “A lot of people live to the level of their income,” he said. “And if you have children in college, that limits discretionary income.”
    He’s already felt a bit of a squeeze.
    “I wanted to buy some furniture,” he said. “But I’m not able to buy furniture right now.”
    Familiar names
    There are familiar faces and names that go behind the numbers.
    For example, federal staffers forced to take furloughs at the National Naval Aviation Museum include Hill Goodspeed, the institution’s historian, and retired Capt. Robert Rasmussen, its director.
    The absence of such employees for 20 percent of the late summer and early fall already has had a high-profile consequence: The museum has started closing on Mondays through the end of September.
    The payroll losses dampen spending that many area businesses have counted on for years.
    “We normally sell a lot of employee award plaques, retirement awards and that type of thing for the Naval base,” said Tami Hill, co-owner of Award Masters, a Pensacola shop.
    But in early July a contact at one of the air station’s offices that has been a steady customer phoned with bad news, Hill said. “They said, ‘We won’t be able to buy plaques anymore.’”
    Hill estimates the store’s loss of business this year due to sequestration, including the civilian furloughs, will be in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.
    At Surplus Warehouse, a home supply store near Corry Station Naval base, the reduced expectations because of sequestration and consumer patterns in the wake of the recession are about to sharply tone down the store’s inventory.
    Hardwood flooring has traditionally been among Surplus Warehouse’s high-end items but lately it isn’t selling well enough to justify the entire aisle it occupies.
    “You’ll only be able to buy it by special order,” manager Jon Vaughan said.
    Vaughan doesn’t foresee demand picking up, and the furloughs are a contributing factor to the uncertainty.
    “You just don’t know what the effect of the furloughs could be,” he said.
    'Big jolt'
    In fact, the realities of the furloughs probably haven’t set in. The base civilians are paid every two weeks; for most of them Friday was their first check for a pay period that included two unpaid days.
    “The big jolt (was) Aug. 2,” said Harry White, a spokesman for Pensacola Naval Air Station, who is among those being furloughed. “We have known it’s coming. We’re all adjusting.”
    Still, given events in Washington, the financial footing could be shaky.
    Although Congress passed a defense appropriations bill in July that tentatively bars furloughs of civilians employed by the military in fiscal 2014, starting in October, that legislation leaves the door open to layoffs as an alternative.
    It’s uncertain how many layoffs at Pensacola-area bases might occur if personnel shrinkage is pursued.
    One formula to estimate that impact could be to divide the total amount saved this year by the furloughs by the average pay of the civilian workers.
    For example, the furloughs are saving an estimated $8 million at Pensacola Naval Air Station and nearby bases. Saving that amount through layoffs would mean trimming about 110 positions.
    Neither layoffs nor more furloughs are pleasant prospects for Mark Whibbs and his car shoppers who are military-employed civilians. He said August and September are normally two of his dealership’s four best months of the year.
    “We do not anticipate that will be the case this year because of sequestration,” he said.
    One of Whibbs’ longtime customers, a civilian worker at Eglin, recently reacted to the uncertainty by changing his car-buying pattern.
    “He usually purchased a new vehicle about every third year,” Whibbs said. “But this year he opted to buy a used vehicle because he just wasn’t sure exactly whether there will be an extension to the federal spending cuts after September.”
    Meanwhile, Whibbs is trying to offset the concerns of furloughed civilians with a financing offer: “We do have a program where the first payment is deferred for 90 days. But that doesn’t take away questions about the future.”
    Major said the immediate reality of the furloughs is only now dawning on some of his colleagues.
    “A lot of folks were in denial that this was going to happen. They said, ‘They’ll fix this.’”


8/03/2013 – 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 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. Sen. Collins: Obamacare's 30-Hour Rule Will Damage Businesses, by Sandy Fitzgerald, Newsmax.com
    [No, it will make businessmen complain a lot but it will also make more jobs if there's 40 hours of work that really needs to get done, and that will make more consumer spending and less labor surplus and more labor shortage and higher wages and more consumer spending and change our current vicious circle into a "virtuous circle" and actually HELP businesses. Where will the extra money come from? It will get leeched out of the wasted coagulated trillions in the financial sector, particularly the latest stock bubble, and get back into rapid circulation.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Obamacare has "perverse incentives" that allow employers to cut their employees' work hours, says Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who has introduced a bill to change the healthcare law's definition of full time work from 30 hours a week to 40.
    Collins, in Saturday's GOP address, noted that under Obamacare, anyone working an average of 30 hours a week is considered full-time, meaning many employers may cut their hours so they won't have to provide them with insurance.
    A 40-hour work week is full-time, we all know that," said Collins.
    She noted in her address that her family founded a small business in Maine more than 160 years ago that continues to be run by two of her brothers.
    "Our economy is built on millions of enterprises just like ours," she said. "It’s not easy to survive in today’s economy. But these employers remain our nation’s job creators. We should be doing all we can to promote policies to help them survive and thrive."
    She also agreed that healthcare reform should provide people with access to quality and affordable care "while encouraging economic growth. That’s not what is happening under Obamacare."
    Instead, Collins said, Obamacare discourages small businesses from creating jobs and hiring new workers, and "has perverse incentives for employers to reduce the number of hours that their employees can work."
    Most small businesses want to provide health insurance, said Collins, but can't afford to do so under Obamacare.
    [And a related article -]
    Sen. Collins talks job creation, federal furloughs, BangorDailyNews.com
    BANGOR, Maine, USA - Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, answered questions from BDN readers recently regarding jobs and preventing furloughs for federal employees.
    Are there any plans in the works to have a jobs bill passed in Congress, and, if so, why has it taken so long? — Joe Bartek
    “I agree with you that Congress should be focusing like a laser on what we can do to spur the economy and create much-needed jobs. I’ve introduced a small business tax bill with a Democratic senator from Pennsylvania that would help give small businesses the certainty that they need to create new jobs. It provides some incentives for them to invest in plants and equipment, and that in itself would help to create more jobs.”
    [No it wouldn't. It's too indirect. Has Sen. Collins been to a factory lately? There's hardly any employees there! In fact, there are entire systems of factories throughout New England with no employees whatsoever. It's called "lights out manufacturing" because they don't even have to turn the lights on since nobody's there. A guy drives around once a week to drop off raw materials and collect finished product, and maybe give the robots a couple of squirts of oil. Whatever it is s/he does, that too can be robotized, raising the question, who's gonna buy the stuff the bots are churning out? Like Reuther answered to Ford's "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars." If Sen. Collins is serious about wanting to create more jobs, she's got to get direct about it and convert Maine's temporary worksharing program based on the unemployment insurance fund to a permanent timesizing program based on reinvesting an overtime tax in OT-targeted training and hiring - and then adjusting the concept of full time downward as much as it takes to create enough convertible overtime to reach full employment. So, it's a matter of sacrificing current obsolete concepts of FULL TIME to achieve FULL EMPLOYMENT - and the associated maxima of consumer spending and economic dynamism.]
    I would like to know what is being done to prevent furloughs and stop furloughs for fiscal year 2013 for federal employees. These furloughs are causing significant hardships not only in Aroostook County but all over the country. — Meagan Pinette
    “I absolutely agree with you that furloughs are causing unnecessary hardship for so many families, and it has a ripple effect on the entire economy. … Unfortunately in Washington right now, we’re operating under a process called sequestration, and the result of that is that most agencies have very little flexibility in how they cut their programs. That is leading to furloughs. Now the Defense Department does have flexibility, and I’m disappointed that it hasn’t used the authority to prevent more furloughs. It has been used selectively, but I think with some creativity more furloughs could have been averted.”

  2. California newspaper staffers lose their benefits when they're put on a 39-hour work week, JimRomenesko.com
    PALMDALE, Calif., USA - Employees at the Antelope Valley Press — a family-owned daily in Palmdale, California — were called into a meeting on Thursday valley [sic] and told by vice president and general manager Cherie Bryant that there would be big changes at the paper: Everyone on copy desk – I’m told there are 4 or 5 people on it – will be put on a 39-hour work week, she said, and they will no longer get benefits.
    [So while businesses with over 50 employees all over America are cutting to 29-hour workweeks to avoid Obamacare, here's a business with probably less than 50 employees cutting to 39-hour workweeks to avoid benefits in general. What's up with that? At any rate, it's going in the right direction but if we'd do it systematically, it would work out better for everyone.]
    Also, a news reporter and a sportswriter were put on “part-time” and lost their benefits.
    I have left messages for Bryant and publisher William Markham, whose family owns the 35-employee newspaper.
    Monday update: They never called back.


8/02/2013 – 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 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. The #2 29 Hour Work Week, Erin Albert's Blog via erinalbert.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - Tim Ferris has his acclaimed 4 hour work week.
    Good for him.
    For the rest of us, we’ve been indoctrinated that there’s actually only one 40 hour work week. You know the one – where you work for one employer, and get that gold watch at the end of 30 years. Some employees have actually lived this.
    Well, good for them.
    I’m here to declare that I think we’re headed toward two 29 hour work weeks.
    Good for us…?
    I don’t know. But I can tell you that in boardrooms across America right now, at this very moment, employers are trying to figure out how to NOT cover employees for healthcare, which is completely the OPPOSITE of what the Affordable Care Act’s intent was (or at least my idea of what I thought it was about – universal coverage). I don’t blame them, either. Why SHOULD they have to write blank checks for their employees, when the employees themselves have zero personal accountability for their own healthcare?
    So, why two 29 hour work weeks?
    Because, under 30 hours a week for an employee equals no healthcare coverage required by employers. But, because we’re all used to the 40 hour work week, we, if now given one 29 hour a week job, will go seek out another 29 hour a week job to fill the financial coffers of that 40 hour work week job we were used to.
    Thus, we’re all going to be working 58 hours a week…in two part time jobs.
    Good for us?

    [No way! That returns the workweek to its 1903 level and puts a lot more people on part time and long-term unemployment, not to mention the downward pressure on wages.]
    I’ll let you decide.

  2. Your hired hands: 70-hour work week (!) for members of Congress, by Hembree Brandon, Delta Farm Press (blog)
    Since the 113th Congress was sworn in this past January, until the end of June, they passed — are you ready to be astounded? — a whopping 15 pieces of legislation that were signed into law by the president.

    CLARKSDALE, Miss., USA - A Congressional Management Foundation study shows the typical member of Congress works 70 hours a week while in Washington and 59 hours per week while in his or her district.
    Now, aren’t we just a tad chagrined for all those snide comments about a do-nothing Congress?

    [Not when they've only passed 15 laws in six months! Maybe they should cut back to 40 and get some more rest and focus.]
    Hey, the House — finally — passed yet another farm bill, of sorts, which we can (maybe) expect will go to conference with the Senate, resulting (maybe) in yet another version of a farm bill, which maybe, perhaps, could be passed into law.
    “This feels like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow told reporters. “Every day I wake up and we do the farm bill again.”
    But back to those work-driven members of Congress: Since the 113th Congress was sworn in this past January, until the end of June, they passed — are you ready to be astounded? — a whopping 15 pieces of legislation that were signed into law by the president.
    Those included such all-important measures as S.982 Freedom to Fish Act; S.622 Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act (yet they still can’t manage to make Medicare drug costs a competitive bids process, continuing to bestow upon pharmaceutical companies a multi-billion-dollar bonus each year, compliments of taxpayers); H.R.1071, specifying the size of precious metal blanks to be used in producing National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins; and of course the one that sailed right through, H.R.1765 Reducing Flight Delays Act (couldn’t afford to have the honorables inconvenienced in their travels).
    Fifteen pieces of legislation in six months! And nowhere among them anything remotely related to resolving the nation’s fiscal crisis, which was, the lawmakers proclaimed with evangelistic zeal when they swept into Washington in January, The All-Consuming Goal.
    And now they've all flown the coop, deserting Washington for a recess until September 9, at which time there will be a total of 9 legislative days before the current farm bill extension runs out at the end of September.
    Will there be a farm bill hashed out in those 9 days? Miracles, one supposes, can still happen — though they are few and far between in Congress.
    It’s entirely possible, observers say, that the 113th Congress may well close out its session with fewer bills signed into law than the 112th, which had the fewest (220) since records began in the 1940s.
    The cost that you, the taxpayer, pony up for this democracy in action: $4.28 billion — that’s the amount budgeted for the legislative branch in 2012. Roughly $8 million per member of Congress.
    And how do members spend that 70-hour work week when in Washington? The CMF study says about one-third actually involves drafting laws, holding hearings, and voting on bills. The rest goes to constituent services (handling the many requests from people back in their districts), politicking, media relations, administrative work, and 1 hour to 4 hours daily raising money to perpetuate themselves in office (phone calls to wealthy donors, breakfasts/lunches/receptions/other fund-raisers).
    Incumbent House members raked in an average $2,400 per day, $1.7 million, for the 2012 election; incumbent senators, $4,700 per day over 6 years, or $10.3 million.


8/01/2013 – 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. Flint public library cuts hours, staff, miNBCnews.com
    FLINT, Mich., USA -- The Flint Public Library is cutting staff and hours due to declining revenue.
    Thursday night the board approved the layoffs of four librarians, one custodian and two part-time clerks.
    Hours of service will also be reduced.
    [And without the hourscuts, there would have been more job cuts.]
    Beginning next month, the library will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    The library faces a $275,000 shortfall and is anticipating a loss of more than half a million dollars in revenue this fiscal year.
    “It's the same problem that's facing the city of Flint, other townships, counties, all over the country, really, but you know, everything that hits other places hits flint [sic] especially hard,” library director Kay Schwartz said.

    Most of the library's funding comes from a property tax millage which has been collecting less revenue in recent years.
    The changes approved tonight take effect September 1.
    To learn more about the Flint Public Library, visit www.fpl.info.

  2. Job-hours details come under fire, by Hilary Wong, Hong Kong Standard via thestandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - The labor secretary would be "a man condemned by history" if the government uses wrong data to prepare a case for standard working hours, a lawmaker claims.
    [Not really, Tommy, when you're talking about ancient history - you don't seem to have noticed, but every other advanced economy implemented standard working hours last century. Wake up, or stick to your catering. (And note that if your catering has anything to do with the leisure industry à la hotels, it's in your and their self-interest for people to have more leisure.]
    Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, of the catering sector, who is opposed to setting standard working hours, was speaking in a Legislative Council meeting reviewing the progress of a study on hours.
    A government committee will prepare a database as part of the government study.
    "The committee has only invited academics who are scholars in the social and welfare fields," Cheung said.
    "Their opinions are one-sided, have no credibility and are not presentable at all."
    Cheung said if the government makes decisions based on the wrong statistics, the whole economy would be adversely affected.
    But Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said that the data used are "reliable, detailed but not selective" as they came from the Census and Statistics Department.
    Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Kwok Wai- keung accused the government of wasting time in studying the issue after it said a report will be out in 2016.
    "The government should accelerate the legislation instead of dragging it out because it affects the welfare and interests of the workers," he said.
    He said the standard working hours report in 2012 was not reliable as it did not mention sectors that require long working hours, such as white-collar workers and those in information technology.
    Kwok also asked the government to take more statistics from different sectors to reflect the actual situation.
    Cheung said the government is not dragging its feet but needs to collect more statistics for the report.
    Assistant Commissioner for Labour Nicholas Chan Chun-tak said the 2012 report displayed the statistics of paid working hours and unpaid working hours. But he admitted it lacked comprehensive statistics to reflect the situation.
    "We admit there was inadequate information in the report such as industrial classification, and the explanation and calculation of working hours from different industries."




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2003
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