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Timesizing News, January 2014
[Commentary] ©2014 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080

1/31/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. No One Admires Your 60 Hour Work Week, by Molly Borchers, HuffingtonPost.com
    SAN DIEGO, Calif., USA - I'm going to let you in on a little secret.
    I only work about 40-45 hours a week.
    My mother is probably reading this and laughing. (Hi, mom!) To her, no one should work more than 40 hours a week unless they're getting paid major overtime. But that's not because she's a slacker. Quite the contrary, actually. She started her career as a bus driver and worked her way up the ladder with no college degree while raising two children, at times as a single mother. She's a hustler. But she doesn't work in an industry where 50, 60 and 70+ hour workweeks are the norm, and she understands the value of a break from time-to-time.
    I'm in PR -- and unfortunately, the culture in our industry is to slave away, no questions asked. I have heard and been subject to many horror stories. I once billed a 90-hour week while on the road for a client. I barely survived it. I have to listen to people constantly prattle on about how busy they are, like it's some sort of deranged badge of honor.
    [Yep, aside from humans' confusion about the time dimension (FIFTH, not fourth!) and the Puritan/Protestant work ethic ("work hard to get ahead") and the failure of "Work Smart, Not Hard" to gain traction and the facetime-demanding control freakiness of many top executives, the confusion of busyness with importance is the biggest hurdle on the road to Timesizing.]
    (If you haven't read Meredith Fineman's brilliant blog post in the Harvard Business Review on being busy, I suggest you do so.) Plus, it seems like I skim at least 10 different versions of the "How to be More Productive" article each week. I'm sure many of you -- in PR or not -- can relate. So, I have to ask... Why?
    According to Juliet B. Schor, author of "The Overworked American," the average worker is now on the job about one month longer per year than his or her 1969 counterpart. Studies show that, over time, working long hours is bad for your health - increasing the risk of depression, heart attack and heart disease, among other ailments. Late last year, a young Indonesian copywriter died after working 30 hours straight.
    Plus, I'm convinced that it just makes you dumber. There was a time when I consistently worked between 55-70 hours a week. I couldn't focus enough to actually do my job well. My writing was terrible. My judgment was off. I dropped the ball right and left. Plus, I was a pain in the ass to be around. All I could talk about was work and I was a complete basket case. Not to mention, I never exercised and ate takeout every day. On the contrary, during the periods where I worked between 40-50 hours a week, I got promotions.
    Adding more hours to the workday doesn't make you more productive. Sara Robinson believes that "every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and long haul," and I agree with her.
    Actually being productive makes your more productive. And there is no app, method, or pill you can take that replaces actually getting stuff done. I find that when I get 8 hours of sleep every night, exercise, and take time to relax, my work is more inspired. When I actually take lunch instead of eating a Lean Cuisine at my desk, I am more focused in the afternoon. When I give myself 8 or 9 hours to accomplish everything, I don't get distracted by cat videos. I just get my work done.
    Now, I'm not knocking a tough work ethic and I know that everyone is different. There are times when the day must stretch long and there are some people, namely startup entrepreneurs, who need to work more than the rest of us. And that's OK as long as it's not every day. So take a night off -- go to the gym, get some sleep, spend time with your loved ones. Trust me: it's OK and your work will be better for it.

  2. Alternative Workweeks - AB 907 Defeated, by Jessica Liu, Payday Workforce Solutions via paydayonesource.com
    ORANGE, Calif., USA - California Labor Code 511, as well as Industrial Welfare Commission orders, governs alternative workweek schedules. They both define alternative workweek schedules as any regularly scheduled workweek that requires more than eight hours in a 24 hour period. The current labor code allows an alternative work schedule to be created by secret ballot election of at least two thirds of the employees in an identifiable work unit like a division or a department. AB 907, introduced by Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, aimed to eliminate this secret ballot election requirement for employees to request an alternative workweek and partially change California overtime rules. It was defeated in the first week of January 2014. Opponents don’t want any changes to the current overtime pay after eight hours worked in any 24 hour period.
    The Defeat of AB 907
    Connie Conway introduced the bill in February 2013 in an attempt to get rid of the complicated alternative workweek election process and give employees more flexibility with their work schedules. Although the California Restaurant Association supported the bill in front of the Assembly Labor Committee, it was voted down because of Democrats concerns about employers pushing low-paid workers to take comp time instead of overtime pay if enacted. The bill would have allowed employees to work four 10 hour days in the workweek without receiving overtime pay as they do now for any hours over eight in a workday. Eight similar bills dating back to 2003 all failed the same as AB 907.
    Support and Opposition of AB 907
    Trade associations supported the bill and unions were against it. The California Hospital Association, California Restaurant Association, California Grocers Association and the California Retailers Association were among supporters. Supporters proposed that the bill provides flexibility to workers and small businesses alike, reflecting the reality of modern life. Unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, California Nurses Association, California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and International Longshore & Warehouse Union are among those that opposed. Opponents strongly believe the bill undermined wage and hour protections for workers and was skewed in favor of employers.
    Types of Alternative Workweek Schedules
    The U.S. Department of Commerce describes two kinds of alternative work schedules: compressed work schedules and flexible work schedules. Compressed work schedules fit the work schedule into a shorter timeframe than the traditional five day 40-hour work week, usually four 10-hour days. Flexible work schedules fix the work schedule into core hours and flexible time bands, all involving non-overtime hours. Core hours are set hours that an employee must be at work, while flexible time bands allow varying arrival and departure times.
    [All this is lovely discussion of workweek adjustability, but it's maximum investment at points of minimum return. The adjustability we need is not rearranging hours within a fixed "full time" workweek, which is just "rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic," but adjusting the concept of "full time" downward as far as it takes to restore and maintain full employment and maximum consumer spending, marketable productivity and stable investment. (And of course that requires a smooth and automatic design for converting overtime into OT-targeted hiring, and training whenever needed.)]
    Alternative workweek schedules can be difficult to administer without time and attendance software that tracks and automates employee schedules and hours and days worked. Employers can more easily manage alternative workweek policies with a system that offers automated control rather than depending on manual processes.
    If business hours of operation fall outside of the nine-to-five Monday through Friday traditional workweek schedule, alternative work schedules can make sense for both employers and employees. A good understanding of scheduling and payroll policies, good communication and a good time and attendance system make it easier to provide the scheduling that’s best for business as well as employee work/life balance.

1/30/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Citigroup to limit work hours, force bankers to use vacation time, (1/29 late pickup) Bloomberg News via Los Angeles Times via latimes.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Citigroup Inc. will require junior bankers to take Saturdays off and use all of their vacation time each year as the firm joins an industry effort to improve working conditions.
    Analysts and associates in investment banking and capital markets origination must be out of the office by 10 p.m. Friday and not return until 10 a.m. Sunday, according to two memos sent to the staff Wednesday by the New York bank.
    [Such progress! - LOL]
    Citigroup joins banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. in limiting work hours to retain staff and improve productivity as the number of deals fall from pre-crisis peaks and firms limit compensation packages.

    Compliance "will be tracked and reported to senior management on a regular basis," according to the memos. "Exceptions should be rare and defensible."
    Employees won't be expected to work remotely, though they should check email, the memos said.

  2. Germany Moves to Cut Retirement Age, Raise Pensions, by Andrea Thomas andrea.thomas@wsj.com, Wall Street Journal, A14.
    BERLIN, Germany — The government took a hammer to a landmark economic reform on Wednesday, presenting a bill to parliament that lowers the retirement age and raises pension payments for some workers.
    The bill, which was endorsed by the cabinet and which will be debated in parliament, makes good on a campaign pledge by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and their coalition ally, the left-leaning Social Democrats, to review and amend a phased increase in the retirement age to 67 from 65 that was enacted in 2007.
    Gerhard Schröder, Ms. Merkel's predecessor, criticized the proposal, which could cost up to €160 billion ($220 billion) through 2030. Mr. Schröder was the main architect of a 2003 package of measures often credited with dramatically improving Germany's economic performance in recent years.
    The pension bill and other measures on the new government's agenda, such as the planned introduction of a mandatory minimum wage, enjoy overwhelming support among voters, opinion polls show.
    They have raised alarm among business leaders and economists. They also jar with the image Germany has cultivated throughout the economic crisis of a once-struggling economy that turned itself around thanks to painful structural changes.
    Early retirement at 63 is "an absolute wrong signal, particularly with regard to our European partners who we rightly urge to tackle structural reforms," Mr. Schröder wrote in his book, "Plain Speaking," which goes on sale in February.
    The comments, among excerpts cited by the Bild daily newspaper on Wednesday, were confirmed by Mr. Schröder's office on Wednesday.
    Andrea Nahles, labor and social affairs minister, who is in the left wing of the Social Democratic Party, defended the bill as an effort "to create more justice."
    Asked about Mr. Schröder's comments, she recalled that she had opposed many of Mr. Schröder's business-friendly reforms when he was in office.
    Under the bill drafted in little over a month, employees who contribute to Germany's state pension insurance system for 45 years may retire on a full pension at the age of 63 instead of 65.
    [Of all the choices, work-life reduction is the least effective in spreading the vanishing market-demanded human employment (and work-week reduction the most), but hey, whatever's easiest in the transition to the ultimate design of an automatic, full-employment-maintaining, regular readjustment of the workweek (coupled of course with smooth conversion of overtime into training+hiring. Just be aware that you're wasting your most experienced employees and disincentivating longevity.]
    Stay-at-home parents of children born before 1992 would see their pensions rise.
    The bill is expected to sail through parliament, where the coalition enjoys a comfortable majority.
    Business representatives, economists and commentators say the bill highlights the growing influence of older voters, who account for more than two-thirds of the electorate.
    Several German newspapers carried a full-page ad Wednesday by the "Initiative New Social Market Economy," a business-funded think tank, showing a stern-looking girl above the caption: "Who is really in favor of the government's pension plans? Nobody who can read."
    The ad cited numerous editorial comments from leading newspapers criticizing the measures.
    The BDA, the umbrella association of German employers, puts the cost of the retirement measures at €160 billion by 2030, including rising payroll taxes, rising budget-financed subsidies to the insurance system and the expected pension income shortfall caused by higher payroll taxes.
    "The draft bill has a clear imbalance at the expense of the younger generation. It gets the short end of the stick while the main beneficiaries will be those who already belong to the elderly," said BDA President Ingo Kramer. "It undermines efforts to boost employment among the elderly."

  3. Working hours: Get a life—or face the consequences, by C.W., The Economist (blog) via economist.com
    LONDON, England - We suggested in a previous blog post that working shorter hours might be good for your productivity. It may also be good for your health. The graph below shows the relationship between working hours and "potential years of life lost" (PYLL), both of which were taken from the OECD. PYLL is a measure of premature mortality, which estimates the average number of years a person would have lived if they had not died prematurely. It gives more weight to deaths among younger people and may therefore be a better measure of mortality. The higher the value of PYLL, the worse.
    We display the results in the simplest possible way: as a scatter graph. Nonetheless the data, which go from 1970 to 2011, are a little alarming:
    Relationship between working hours and premature death in OECD countries 1970-2011 [*graph - scan down]
    Longer working hours seem to lead to higher premature mortality. (For stats nerds: the strength of the relationship is significant, with an r-squared of 0.2). The implication that over-work is bad for you chimes with lots of research which links long working hours with poor health. Stress, for example, can contribute to range of problems like heart disease and depression. That was, indeed, what the philosopher Bertrand Russell argued back in the 1930s. Overwork, said Russell, led to "frayed nerves, weariness, and dyspepsia".
    The pattern is not completely clear. The outlying figures to the right are those for South Korea. The country is famed for its long working hours, but also its healthy food, which may lower the risk of things like heart attacks and thereby reduce premature death rates. On the other side, Hungarians seem to get really stressed out at work: despite working relatively short hours, their PYLL is high.
    If there is such a relationship between working hours and health, then shorter work hours might actually raise a person's total lifetime work by allowing them to live and work for longer. You can use that as an excuse next time you want to slack off early.

1/29/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. States Risk Losing Millions Of Federal Work-Share Dollars, by Pamela M. Prah, Pew's Stateline via Huff Post Politics via HuffingtonPost.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - State legislatures must act this year or possibly lose their share of $100 million from the federal government to create “work-sharing” programs, which allow employers to reduce workers’ hours rather than resort to layoffs.
    Work-share programs have existed since the 1980s, but the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 marked the first time the federal government offered states grant money to help set up such programs and to pay for benefits.
    “It’s a phenomenal program that should be available in every state,” Gay M. Gilbert, administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Unemployment Insurance Employment and Training Administration, said during a recent conference on work-sharing programs.
    Of the 26 states and the District of Columbia that have created work-share programs, 18 conform to the 2012 legislation and thus are eligible for federal grants, but are still working through the formal approval process at the Labor Department. The grants range from $11.6 million in California to $202,000 in Vermont (see [list]).
    Top 10 Available Grants for Work-Share Programs
    • California: $11.6 million
    • Texas: $8.3 million
    • New York $6.1 million
    • Florida: $5.9 million
    • Illinois: $4.3 million
    • Pennsylvania: $4 million
    • Georgia: $3.1 million
    • North Carolina: $2.9 million
    • New Jersey: $2.9 million
    • Michigan: $2.8 million
    Source: U.S. Labor Department.
    The Department of Labor declined to identify the 18 states, as conversations with the remaining states are ongoing. As of today, no state has yet received any of the $100 million.
    States face a Dec. 31 deadline to get their application to the Department of Labor to be able to collect their allotment of the $100 million. “It’s an unprecedented amount of money,” Gilbert said.
    More than 501,000 layoffs were averted and jobs saved since 2008 through work-share programs, according to the Labor Department. All told, some 8.8 million jobs were lost during the 2007-2009 recessions.
    Differs from Job Sharing
    Work-share programs differ from job sharing. The latter allows two part-time employees to share one full-time job. Work sharing allows a full-time worker's hours to be reduced, in lieu of being laid off. It also enables businesses to retain skilled workers, even if just part-time.
    Work-sharing is voluntary, so employees can choose whether to participate if their companies offer it.
    The program is technically “short-time compensation” since workers who agree to have their hours cut collect a portion of their lost wages though the unemployment insurance program. The $100 million set aside for states is to help set up and promote the programs. It is separate from the program that reimburses states for the benefits.
    "Instead of getting a pink slip during an economic downturn, workers now have an opportunity to stay on the job and receive unemployment benefits for the hours they lose," Republican Gov. Scott Walker said when Wisconsin approved work-share legislation last year.
    Another provision of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 allows states to get reimbursed 100 percent for the benefits that are paid through their work-share programs through 2015. More than $173 million in federal money has gone to 20 states to pay for benefits since October 2012.
    Republican and Democratic controlled states have recently created work-share programs, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania since 2010, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy organization that supports work-share.
    Critics Worry About UI Fund
    [And rightly so, especially since it's unlikely that any real recovery will ever happen when jobcuts, not hourscuts, are still the kneejerk response to technological productivity jumps. The funding needs to be changed to a tax on overtime with an exemption for reinvestment in jobs = reinvestment of OT profits in OT-targeted hiring, and training whenever needed.]
    The program may have won bipartisan support, but it still has its critics. In Indiana, for example, some policymakers have raised concerns that a work-share program could drain the unemployment insurance trust fund, even though the federal government has offered to pay for the benefits for up to three years. During the recession, many states’ unemployment insurance funds ran out of money, and states had to borrow billions of dollars from the federal government to cover jobless benefits.
    The conservative Heritage Foundation has said “European work-sharing programs have done nothing to increase employment” and won’t work in the United States.
    [Both these allegations are directly contradicted by Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.]
    But Derek Thomas, a senior policy analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families, said he is “extremely disappointed” his state has not enacted work-share legislation. His group has researched and lobbied on the issue for three years, calling the program “our nation’s most effective job destruction prevention program.” Indiana’s jobless rate is 6.9 percent.
    Organized labor largely supports work-sharing as long as the state laws include a requirement that employers get the union’s approval before launching such a program, if workers are represented by labor. All but three states include this union sign-off. The three states that do not are Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
    Kudos from Employers
    Rhode Island, which has the country’s highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, figures its work-share program saved nearly 14,000 jobs between 2007 and 2010, a period when the state lost 36,600 jobs.
    “Imagine if those 14,000 jobs went away and we were approaching more than 50,000 jobs lost,” said Charles J. Fogarty, director of the state’s Labor and Training Department. “That would have had a devastating impact” on the state’s economy. Without the program, he said the state’s unemployment rate in 2010 would have reached 12.2 percent, rather than 11.7 percent.
    In Oregon, ESCO Corp. last year contemplated laying off some of its 1,000 workers in Portland when global demand for mining equipment decreased. Instead, the company said the state’s work-share program allowed them to reduce some workers’ hours instead of eliminating any jobs.
    “We make some products that are not made anywhere else in the world,” said Teresa Hogan, the human resource manager at ESCO. “Retaining that talent is really important … Work-share is a perfect way to do that.”
    Mark Soycher, an attorney with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, calls work-sharing “a poorly publicized program but very well-received once companies learned about it.” He said the state’s labor department has acted cooperatively with firms and responds quickly on the paperwork.
    Lisa Maxim, a human resources manager at Oregon Aero Inc., a small company in Scappoose, Ore., that makes headsets, helmets and cushions for military pilots, said the turnaround time for getting the paperwork back from the Oregon Labor Department is typically 48 hours. “It’s so easy to use. You check off a couple boxes” on a one-page form and scan it to the labor department. “The lack of red tape is reassuring for everyone.”
    Maxim said her company used the program when the federal sequestration hit her company. “Oregon Aero hasn’t laid off a single person during our difficult economic downturn.”
    Once employers understand how it works, “the program sells itself,” said Neil Gorrell, unemployment insurance director in Washington state. Work-share is not just for bigger employers. In his state, for example, 37 percent of the firms using work-share have 10 employees or fewer, Gorrell said.
    States Face Red Tape
    As states work to minimize the amount of forms employers have to file to participate in work-share, they face their own federal red tape to get programs approved.
    “There is a lot of paperwork involved,” said Gorrell of Washington state’s UI program. He said his staff has responded to at least four rounds of follow up questions and requests for more detailed information from the federal government.
    “Our program is one of the oldest and best run,” he said. “I would speculate that the effort required to get a less established program and grant approved would be a significant reason there aren’t more approvals out there.”
    At the same time, Gorrell said he recognizes the federal government’s position. “While it has consumed a great deal of staff time, with the scarcity of funds available in the system, I do understand why (the U.S. Department of Labor) is being so careful.
    Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

  2. Americans' Moods Still Improve on Holidays and Weekends - Average daily happiness increased in 2013; stress levels held steady, by Lindsey Sharpe, (1/28 late pickup) Gallup Well-Being via Gallup.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The happiest day of 2013 fell on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, with 70% of Americans reporting that they felt a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry. Thanksgiving has been one of the top three happiest days every year since 2008. Following closely last year were Memorial Day and Christmas Day.
    Gallup-Healthways Daily Mood: Happiest Days of 2013 [*chart (scan down)]
    The results for each year comprise more than 175,000 surveys, conducted daily as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. As part of the survey, interviewers read respondents a series of emotions and ask them to say whether they experienced each one "during a lot of the day yesterday." Gallup's U.S. Mood Index tracks the percentage of U.S. adults who, reflecting on the day before they were surveyed, say they experienced a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry, and vice versa.
    As is common, the majority of the year's happiest days fell on holidays and weekends. During these times, Americans are more likely to spend additional hours socializing with friends and family, which can increase enjoyment and decrease stress levels.
    [So much for recent articles claiming that Americans currently should be "able to choose" to work seven days a week. And if weekends were longer - as there would be with dynamic unemployment-countering workweek adjustment - there would be more "happiest days."]
    High-Stress Days Often Coincide With Negative News
    Following a typical pattern, high-stress days in 2013 often accompanied high-profile negative news events, though other factors may be more influential in driving daily stress levels.
    In 2013, the most stressful day of the year was Monday, June 3. While stress likely stemmed from beginning the workweek, this day also coincided with the beginning of the WikiLeaks trial involving Chelsea Manning (known at the time of the trial as Bradley Manning), who released classified military documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the largest security breach in U.S. history.
    Feb. 21 and 28 followed closely in terms of high stress levels, as the U.S. federal government headed toward automatic budget sequestration and associated spending cuts, which negatively affected Americans' economic confidence.
    Later in the year, Americans reported feeling a lot of stress and worry in September amid reports of potential U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.
    Gallup-Healthways Daily Mood: Most Stressed Days of 2013 [*chart (scan way down)]
    Americans' Daily Happiness Ticked Up Slightly, While Stress Stayed Level
    On average, 48.4% of Americans reported feeling a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry in 2013, a slight uptick from 48.0% in 2012. Americans' happiness is down from 2011 and the same as in 2010.
    Those experiencing the opposite -- a lot of stress and worry without a lot of happiness and enjoyment -- remained stable at 11.0%, where it has hovered throughout the past six years. Americans' self-reported stress levels peak during the workweek, decline slightly on Fridays, and fall even more on weekends.
    Gallup-Healthways Daily Mood: Yearly Averages, 2008-2013 [*graph (scan way way down)]
    Despite 2013 being a year filled with economic and political uncertainty in the U.S. and around the world, stress levels remained steady and happiness increased slightly.
    While mood is not indicative of a person's well-being, following the daily mood of the nation can provide insight into two of the elements that make up a person's well-being -- social relationships and physical health. When adults spend more time socially, happiness and enjoyment levels increase. Stress, on the other hand, can adversely affect physical health.
    The happiest days of 2013 fell on holidays and weekends, when people tend to spend more hours interacting socially with friends and family, while the most stressful days fell within the workweek. Gallup research shows that engaged employees report lower stress levels and better moods during the workweek than "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" employees. Business leaders can bolster well-being by engaging employees and creating a work environment that is conducive to employees being able to form and develop social relationships. Gallup research also shows that boosting social well-being in the workplace will benefit the employer, as well as the employee, by increasing productivity and improving overall well-being.
    About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
    The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S. and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
    Survey Methods
    Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 3-Dec. 29, 2013, with a random sample of 175,000 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
    For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.
    Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
    Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
    In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
    For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

1/28/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Ford, Local UAW 2000 announce layoff compromise to save jobs at Avon Lake plant - Fate of about 180 employees undetermined, by Chris Horne, ABC NewsNet 5 Cleveland via NewsNet5.com
    AVON LAKE, Ohio, USA - Officials have found a way to avoid layoffs at Ford’s Avon Lake plant we reported earlier this month.
    Ford and UAW 2000 officials discussed the compromise that will mean 1,000 employees will go on rotating shifts beginning in August, working two weeks on and two weeks off.
    During off rotations, workers will receive 74 percent of their salary.
    [In short, timesizing to minimize downsizing.]
    The layoff rotation does not affect skilled trades employees or those who are part of the launch team.
    That leaves only around 200 employees subject to the extended layoff but the union said Monday they believe that through retirement packages and additional positions being added at Ford's Brook Park plant those jobs can also be saved.
    "So after everything is said and done our workforce should be protected in its entirety," said UAW Plant Chairman Tim Rowe who proposed the deal to Ford. "I'm very, very pleased."
    There are about 1600 employees at the plant, which has been transitioning from making Ford’s Econoline vans to medium-duty trucks.

  2. Life easy in land of the 35-hour week, generous holidays and long lunches? ‘Non’, say burnt-out French, by John Lichfield, The Independent via independent.co.uk
    PARIS, France - French workers may have a reputation for having things a little easy, but according to a new study millions work so hard that they are close to burn-out.
    In the land of the 35-hour week, generous holidays and long lunches, a study found that 3.2 million people – about one in eight of the workforce – were working so hard that they risked mental or physical breakdown.
    According to Technologia, a company which studies work-related illness or stress, almost one in four French farmers and one in five French company bosses are overworking and could face burn-out. One in five executives and one in seven blue-collar employees are also working too hard.
    The counter-intuitive statistics come as official figures have revealed that almost the same number – and rising – have no work at all.
    One story is familiar. The other less so.
    Despite President François Hollande’s often-repeated promise to reverse the trend of by the end of 2013, unemployment in France rose sharply in December for the second month in succession. There are now 3.3 million people out of work in France, or around 11 per cent.
    [Boy, this is a tough one, isn't it? What could they possibly do about these two completely unrelated and mutually irrelevant and totally unconnected problems?]
    The two phenomena – overwork and lack of work – may be related. Technologia says that the economic crisis is placing pressure on employees at all levels to work excessively hard and take on more overtime. New technologies mean that many white-collar employees are taking their work, or work worries, home with them, making a mockery of the 35-hour week.
    [Well gee, maybe they could actually enforce the 35-hour workweek but in a minimally stifling way that makes sure the only people "over"working are not going to risk mental or physical breakdown or are going to die happy. How to separate the sheep from the goats, the people who LOVE their jobs and would do them for less - and can safely work all 168 hours a week if they want - from the people who are only doing their jobs for the money - and need to stop or be stopped? Mandate 100% reinvestment of overwork earnings (overwork being a person's overtime from all sources) in overwork-targeted hiring, and training wherever needed = Phase 3 of the Timesizing Program.]
    Official statistics suggest the French (41.2 hours a week) work slightly less on average than the Germans (41.9 hours) or British (42.8 hours). However, high unemployment, early retirement and long studies mean those French who do work are a smaller percentage of the willing and able-bodied population than in most European countries. They have an even higher productivity per worker than Germany’s but also greater stress.
    None of this is helpful to Mr Hollande as he seeks to deliver his campaign promise. Soon after his election, he set September 2013 as the watershed when his policies would stop the rise in unemployment and start to roll it back. He later pushed back the deadline to the end of last year.
    Despite government intervention to create jobs for young people, the sluggish growth of the French economy and a steady erosion of manufacturing jobs have given the lie to Mr Hollande’s promise. He has now signalled a change of policy to reduce the tax burden on industry but it will be many months before that new pledge can be delivered.
    France ended 2013 with 177,800 more people unemployed than at the start. This was an improvement on 2012 when a net 283,800 jobs were lost but Mr Hollande’s new claim to have at least “stabilised” job losses rings hollow.
    France was slower into recession than Britain and its economy never collapsed as sharply but envious eyes are being cast across the Channel at the 2.4 per cent growth forecast in the UK this year. France is expected to grow by no more than 0.2 per cent this quarter and a maximum of one per cent this year.
    There were reports in Germany that Mr Hollande had hired as an economic adviser the former Volkswagen executive Peter Hartz, who is credited with devising the reforms of the German labour market a decade ago which restored the strength of the country’s economy. The Élysée Palace denied that Mr Hartz had been hired but said that he had been invited to a one-hour discussion with Mr Hollande at the end of last year.
    [Meanwhile, even what used to be called "the most capitalist economy in the world" (Hong Kong) is now talking about workweek regulation -]

  3. Standard Working Hours Committee commences public engagement and consultation, 7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
    HONG KONG, H.K.S.A.R., China - The following is issued on behalf of the Standard Working Hours Committee:
    The Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC) today (January 28) launched its public engagement and consultation exercise on working hours, and met with two employers' associations and a labour organisation to listen to their views on working hours issues.
    [Two against one? So, the fewer-in-number and smaller-percentage-consuming employers are still getting more representation than more numerous and higher-percentage-spending employees. That means Hong Kong will probably not use workweek regulation to engineer full employment and the maximum domestic consumer spending, marketable productivity and solid investment that results, and will continue its massive dependence on unreliable exports and the resulting slow, diagonally downward spiral. Plus it doesn't sound like this "exercise" is going to get the kind of focused chairmanship it requires to serve the Hong Kong economy as a whole and its need for a maximal, anchoring, domestic consumerbase, rather than drowning in a welter of individual-employer&employee sympathy-seeking.]
    The Chairperson of the Committee, Dr Leong Che-hung, said after the meetings, "The Committee today had frank and constructive exchanges with the relevant organisations. The information gathered enhanced the Committee's understanding of the views of different organisations on working hours. In addition to the meetings today, the Committee will meet other major employers' associations and labour organisations on February 13 and 14."
    "The Committee will also organise symposia and forums later to conduct consultation in four areas, namely (i) the sectors with relatively longer working hours mentioned in the Report of the Policy Study on Standard Working Hours, (ii) specific occupations/professions, (iii) the general public in districts, and (iv) other major industries and organisations, to widely listen to the views of the community on working hours issues.
    "More than 30 consultation sessions are expected to be convened in the first half of this year."
    [Story below says three, not thirty.]
    Dr Leong added, "Apart from consultation sessions, members of the public are welcome to give views by emails, fax or letters. For details, please visit the Committee website (www.swhc.org.hk)."
    The SWHC comprises a Chairperson and 23 members, including 12 serving members (employer and employee representatives [how many of each?] ) of the Labour Advisory Board. Of the remaining 11 members, one each comes from the labour sector and the business field, and three each from the academia, the community and the Government.
    [Another (real brief) take -]
    Breaking news: Hong Kong (01-28 14:56) - Panel meets first time on standard working hours, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) via TheStandard.com.hk
    HONG KONG, H.K.S.A.R., China - The government's advisory committee on standard working hours has held the first of three consultation meetings with employers' associations and labor organizations.
    [Story above says thirty, not three.]
    The committee met the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Hong Kong & Kowloon Trades Union Council, and The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong. Its chairman, Leong Che-hung, said it was clear that wide consultations and publicity were needed.

1/26-27/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Govt teachers in Delhi protest increased working hours, 1/26 India Today via indiatoday.intoday.in
    NEW DELHI, India - The decision of the AAP government to increase the working hours of staff in government school in Delhi has not gone down well with the teachers.
    The Directorate of Education, in its order, said the teachers, who were working for 36 hours every week in government aided and unaided schools, will have to work for 45 hours. But the timings of students were left untouched.
    Teachers have criticised the government's decision, saying it will add to their problems as they are already working under several constraints. Unlike our counterparts in private schools, we work six days a week and the government still is burdening us with extra work, they said.

    [Unless we get shorter hours back at the center of all our agendas - to reduce labor surplus and monetary coagulation - we'll all be joining India in its trip deeper into the Third World of low pay, drudgery and slavery.]
    The DoE, however, maintained that the decision was taken in accordance with the Right to Education Act.
    [Education for drudgery? What a "future" for these teeming millions of kids!]
    "As per the RTE, we have increased the teachers' working hours to 45 hours as against the earlier 36 hours...," Director, DoE, Padmini Singla said.
    Opposition BJP hit out at the Delhi government's decision too. "They should first create more basic infrastructure and improve the existing system for the benefit of teachers and students," party leader Harsh Vardhan said.
    [And Indians aren't the only control freaks trying to reverse humanity's most fundamental measure of freedom and progress = more free time -]
    Shoura to review two-day weekend, 1/27 ArabNews.com
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Several Shoura Council members are likely to oppose a newly amended labor law provision that advocates a 40-hour workweek, when they meet on Monday. Many people, mostly businessmen, believe the move would have a negative impact on the economy.
    Fifteen council members have called for the Shoura to review its previous decision endorsing a 40-hour workweek.
    According to Shoura sources, the members would submit a proposal to increase working hours to 45 per week. They also propose that businesses that give employees two-day off impose a nine-hour working day.
    [These ignorant compulsives need to look at Juliet Schor's "The Overworked American" - particularly the section on how small reductions in the workweek actually increase productivity because people get more prioritized.]
    Shoura members have justified these amendments by pointing out that the majority of the beneficiaries of the two-day weekend would be foreigners. More than eight million expats work in the Kingdom.
    The new request to review approved articles comes in line with Article 21 of the Shoura’s law, which allows rediscussion of a decision prior to its submission to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his final endorsement.
    Last December the Shoura had passed the proposal to reduce the weekly working hours for employees in the private sector from 45 to 40 with a two-day weekend.
    The Shoura insisted that an employee be not asked to work more than five hours continuously without rest and be given a half-hour break for food and prayer. It also warned companies against asking their employees to work more than 40 hours weekly and eight hours daily.
    Saudis as well as expats had welcomed the decision, saying it would increase their productivity. “It’s a game changer. This move shows Shoura’s farsightedness as the two-day weekend would attract Saudis to the private sector,” said S. Tauqueer, an IT manager at a French multinational in Riyadh.
    [But "sometimes the magic works" - people can get a better life, or at least not let control freaks drag them back, if they don't just silently hold out their hands for the handcuffs -]

  2. Delhi Govt Rollbacks Move on Working Hours for Teachers, 1/27 Outlook via news.outlookindia.com
    NEW DELHI, India - Facing flak from teachers' community, Delhi government has withdrawn its order of increasing the working hours of school teachers to 45 hours per week and resorted [to] the earlier [36-hour] schedule.
    According to the previous order issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE), school teachers working in government or government aided and un-aided recognised schools were asked to devote 45 hours teaching per week.
    The existing time for teachers in summers thus remains 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM or 8 AM to 2 PM.
    Similarly, the existing time for teachers in winters is 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM or 8 AM to 2 PM.
    The existing time for teachers working in double shift schools in summers is 7:00 am to 12:30 pm (morning shift) or 1 pm to 6:30 pm (evening shift).
    Similarly, the existing time for teachers working in double shift schools in winters is 7:30 AM to 12:40 PM and 1 PM to 6:10 PM.

    The orders were passed by the Right to Education Branch under sections 19 and 25 of the right of children to free and compulsory education act.

1/25/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Ending furloughs a top priority for Nev. colleges, APNewsNow via Fox 11 via FoxReno.com
    CARSON CITY, Nev., USA -- Nevada higher education officials say one of their top priorities for the 2015 legislative session will be doing away with mandatory furloughs.
    This is the fourth year that full-time staff, faculty and classified higher education employees have been taking furloughs. Gov. Brian Sandoval's spokeswoman, Mary-Sarah Kinner, says the unpaid days off are saving the state $20 million per year.
    The state initially called for all employees to take 12 furlough days per year, but that was reduced to six days off in fiscal year 2012.
    College of Southern Nevada President Michael Richards called the furloughs a major financial and morale issue. But he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/1ccoL3p ) the session is still more than a year away and it's hard to predict whether they'll be eliminated.
    Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

  2. 'Proposal to cut working hours of teachers needs consultations', by Efren Montano, (1/26 dateline issue) Journal Online via journal.com.ph
    MANILA, Philippines - A proposal to cut the working hours of teachers to six hours a day needs consultations among stakeholders, thus Malacañang said yesterday.
    Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said such a change in the schedules of teachers could impact on other sectors.
    “Merong mga employer na bukas sa flexitime pero to shorten to six hours, that will require consultations with other stakeholders. Magkaka-impact yan sa kinikita ng ating mga kababayan,” she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
    [Tagalog language alert! And no great translations forthcoming online.]
    For now, Valte said some employers had said they were open to a flexible schedule for workers, especially with the start of the third stage of the Metro Manila Skyway project.
    Some lawmakers earlier proposed to reduce the working hours for teachers from the standard eight hours a day to six.

    A bill in the House of Representatives proposes a six-hour workday for public school teachers and exempts them from complying with the Civil Service’s eight-hour requirement.
    Lawmakers calling for the shortened work hours said this will allow the teachers more time to rest, and in turn “innovate and enhance classroom teaching."

1/24/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. What Is Work-Sharing? National Employment Law Project via nelp.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Work Sharing (aka Short Time Compensation)
    • Voluntary program which serves as an alternative to layoffs during a temporary decline in business.
    • Employers may reduce the hours and wages of all or some employees.
    • Employees may then receive pro-rated unemployment benefits to supplement lost wages under a formula not otherwise available under regular UI rules.
    ABC Corp. – One Day Reduction
    • ABC Corp. employee normally works a 40-hour workweek (and earns $500).
    • Under a work-sharing plan, the worker’s schedule is reduced by 20%.
    • Assuming a UI weekly benefit rate of $250, the employee may receive a work-sharing benefit of $50 (20% of benefits) in addition to the 32 hours of wages earned.
    • $400 (wages) + $50 (UI) = $450
    Benefits to Employees
    • Retention of job and economic security (financial impact minimized).
    • Retention of health insurance and retirement benefits.
    • Avoid financial hardship of unemployment and economic disruption associated with starting over with new employer.
    • Avert psychological and emotional consequences associated with layoff.
    Benefits to Employers
    • Retain qualified workers.
    • Maintain continuity in workforce.
    • Remain in ready mode and avoid need to hire and retrain employees when a business upswing occurs.
    • Increased morale and job security among employees.
    • UI tax consequences generally same as layoffs.

  2. Work-Sharing and Saving Jobs, by Neil Ridley, National Employment Law Project via nelp.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Which States Have Work Sharing Programs?
    As of September 2013
    Jobs Saved Through Work Sharing in States with Programs (2008-2012)
    Year   Jobs Saved by Work Sharing
    2008   58,092
    2009   165,618
    2010   98,583
    2011   76,254
    2012   61,299
    Source: Work Share Equivalent Initial Claim Data, U.S. Department of Labor
    Georgia Example of Jobs That Could Have Been Saved With Worksharing in a State Without Worksharing
    Estimate of Jobs Saved if a Worksharing Program Had Been Available in 2009
    Take-up Rate   Jobs Saved Through Work Sharing
    If Average (0.17%)   1,357
    If Above Average (0.39%)   3,112
    If Very High (0.86%)   6,863
    Sources: CLASP calculations based on Abraham & Houseman, Short-Term Compensation as a Tool to Mitigate Job Loss, 2013 and O’Leary & Miller, Reducing Layoffs, 2012
    Illinois Example of Jobs That Could Have Been Saved With Worksharing in a State Without Worksharing
    Estimate of Jobs Saved if a Worksharing Program Had Been Available in 2009
    Take-up Rate   Jobs Saved Through Work Sharing
    If Average (0.17%)   2,040
    If Above Average (0.39%)   4,680
    If Very High (0.86%)   10,320
    Sources: CLASP calculations based on Abraham & Houseman, Short-Term Compensation as a Tool to Mitigate Job Loss, 2013 and O’Leary & Miller, Reducing Layoffs, 2012
    Resource Page with NELP/CLASP Materials

  3. Samoan carpart maker to cut down working hours in February, RadioAustralia.net.au
    APIA, Samoa - To Samoa now where the country's biggest employer, Yazaki Samoa is cutting its working week by one day for the month of February.
    Yazaki makes car parts for Toyota in Australia, where its future is under a cloud, with government ministers calling on workers to agree to cuts in their pay and working conditions, to keep Toyota operating in Australia.
    Amid this uncertainty, the 800 staff at the car parts maker in Apia have been told the company will be shutting down each Monday in February, in what its general manager, Funefeai Oliva Vaa, told a media conference, is a one-off.
    Sophie Vudvietas, chief-of-staff at the Samoa Observer *discusses why the company is shutting down for one day a week, next month.
    Presenter: Phil Kafcaloudes
    Speaker: Sophie Vudvietas, chief-of-staff at the Samoa Observer in Apia

1/23/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Hearing Announced For Full Time Employment Definition, WBIW.com
    [This is the first of three stories about "housekeeping concerns" in the transition to timesizing.]
    WASHINGTON D.C., USA - House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) today announced that the Committee will hold a hearing on the impact of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) employer mandate, which defines full-time employment as 30 hours per week for the purposes of applying the employer mandate.
    The Committee will hear testimony from a broad cross section of industries affected by the rule. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.
    In announcing the hearing, Chairman Camp stated, "Washington should be removing obstacles to individuals finding full-time work, not creating them.
    [If Washington really wanted to remove obstacles to individuals finding full-time work, Washington would redefine "full-time" down to a level more appropriate to a period of rapid robotization, and that would be best done simply by gradually trimming the workweek until the unemployment rate reached target levels set annually or even quadrennially by nationwide referendum. And a smart Washington (LOL) would first set up smooth and automatic conversion of chronic overtime into training and hiring so the workweek trimming really meant more jobs and not just more jive. Note that more financially secure free time would also put some beef into Washington's constant lip service to Freedom, since Free Time is The Most Fundamental Freedom, without which the other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless.]
    Instead, ObamaCare imposes large and disproportionate costs on employers and has created a new class of employees, the 'ObamaCare 29ers.' Many of these people have either lost or risk losing their full-time status and are being held back through no fault of their own but instead by a misguided law. As a result, they will see fewer hours and lower wages, and that is the opposite of the direction we need to be going to make our economy stronger for families and job creators."
    The ACA imposes a requirement that employers with more than 50 full-time employees (FTEs) offer health coverage to their workers or be subject to one of two new penalty taxes. First, employers that do not offer qualified health insurance and have at least one employee receiving a tax credit for insurance through the Exchange are subject to a $2,000 penalty tax for each FTE in excess of the first 30. Second, employers who offer insurance that fails to meet the Federal government's standard for affordability are required to pay a penalty tax for every employee who receives a tax credit to purchase coverage through the Exchange. This penalty tax will equal the lesser of (1) $3,000 per employee who receives subsidized coverage in the Exchange or (2) the penalty tax the employer would have to pay if it did not offer health insurance (described above).
    Prior to the enactment of the ACA, it was common practice for employers to use 40 hours as the definition of a full-time employee. However, under Internal Revenue Code section 4980H, enacted by the ACA, an FTE is defined as an employee who works at least 30 hours per week. Some commentators have expressed concern that this rule has created an incentive for employers to limit the number of employees whose hours exceed 30 hours per week because the penalty taxes applied are calculated based, in part, on the number of employees who exceed 30 hours. Industries that employ lower skill workers, and often provide entry-level opportunities for younger workers, are disproportionately affected by the 30-hour rule. For example, employers in the restaurant, franchise, home health, movie theater, retail and grocery industries have been reported to have reduced or are planning to reduce hours for their part-time workers as a result of the 30-hour rule. Additionally, school districts, community colleges and universities have reduced work hours for students, adjunct professors and support staff.
    Today, more than 159 million Americans receive health coverage from their employers, making employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) the largest single source of private health coverage. Yet, not all businesses have the resources to provide coverage to their employees, and not all employees seek jobs for the sole purpose of receiving ESI.
    While the Treasury Department has suspended enforcement of the employer mandate for 2014, the mandate and associated penalty taxes come into effect on January 1, 2015.
    Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to comments@wbiw.com

  2. Attendance on Demand releases white paper on employee-managed time tracking, PRWeb via Midland Daily News via OurMidland.com
    [A standard objection to fluctuating unemployment-countering workweek adjustment is, "But what about overtime-exempt salaried jobs?" Answer: We have shadow pricing and shadow banking so we will also have shadow time-accounting. It's not rocket science. Objection B: "But I don't want to punch a timeclock like a, eeew, wage worker!" Answer: Prestigious high-paid consultants manage quite well on billable time, which they carefully track to get paid. In this press release, we see reality inching toward the future à la Necessity Is the Mother of Invention -]
    LIVONIA, Mich., USA - Attendance on Demand is pleased to release a new white paper which discusses the benefits of employees managing and tracking their own work hours. Time clocks today can be so much more than an automated punching system. This white paper discusses how the right time clock not only empowers employees to take initiative with their time tracking but also helps ease the administrative burden placed on supervisors and Human Resource staffs.
    But how can employees be positively motivated to manage their own time tracking? With a time clock that has the following features:
    • Touch-screen technology. A touch-screen interface offers a more intuitive experience and reduces uncertainty or confusion.
    • Alerts. The most important factor when increasing employee accountability are alerts which indicate action or information required from an employee. Because employees are guaranteed to use a time clock twice or more during the workday, time clocks with alerts prompt employees to take action on important information.
    • Missing punch entry. Once the missing entry is brought to the attention of an employee, the employee can enter the missing punch information immediately on-screen.
    • Department Transfer. Time clocks that easily accommodate department transfer encourage employee accuracy and better labor management since time is correlated correctly to appropriate department and cost center.
    • Leave requests. Time-off requests are a major administrative undertaking, especially during holidays. Time clocks which allow employees to request time-off through the interface encourage earlier and easier requests and easier tracking of a supervisor’s response. This allows supervisors to better schedule labor in their department.
    These features also make typical administrative tasks much easier and faster. Freed from the daily headaches of tracking down missing punches, putting a stop to “buddy punching,” and ensuring accurate time keeping between different departments, supervisors can focus on more long-term priorities.
    “The right time clock can be a robust tool,” said Beth Baerman, Director of Corporate Communication at Attendance on Demand. “It encourages accountability and empowers employees to better manage time tracking to the benefit of the individual worker and the overall organization.”
    Today’s multifaceted, multifunctional time clocks can allow employees to address a variety of time-related problems while also easing the time tracking problems supervisors and HR staffs experience on a day-to-day basis.
    Attendance on Demand supports the labor management needs of thousands of companies and more than a half million employees across North America. Launched in 2006, Attendance on Demand is a rapidly deployed, cloud-based solution that minimizes a company’s risk and technology investment while providing advanced features for securely managing labor data—calculating pay rules, scheduling employees, budgeting labor, and automating recordkeeping for labor law compliance. With standard uptime over the industry average of 99.995% and above average customer retention rates, Attendance on Demand removes the worry of maintaining expensive infrastructure. An extensive North American distribution network helps organizations use Attendance on Demand to reduce labor expenses and improve decision making.
    For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11512664.htm

  3. Seventy-nine per cent of Malaysians want flexi working hours, by Jonathan Gan, Malaysia Sun via The Edge via theedgemalaysia.com
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Seventy-nine per cent of Malaysians would choose one job over another if it offered flexible work options, according to a recent Regus survey.
    The survey also disclosed that a staggering 76% of Malaysian employees felt that flexible working hours would improve staff retention.
    “Business people in Malaysia reveal flexible working is often the make-or-break of job offers,” said Regus, a global workplace provider, in a statement yesterday.
    Flexible working hours was a key determinant in job retention globally, according to the survey.
    The global survey of Regus spanned more than 20,000 senior executives and business owners across 95 countries including Malaysia.
    Additionally, the survey found that 70% of respondents saw flexible working as making employees more loyal, and 64% stated they would have stayed longer in their last position had flexible working been an option.
    A total of 59% of the people surveyed said they would actually turn down a job that ruled out flexible working hours.
    “Flexible working, which has lower cost than fixed office working, offers the attractive perks of lower stress and better work-life balance to existing and prospective employees, and provides a low-cost solution to attracting and retaining those top workers,” said Regus regional director for Asia-Pacific John Henderson.
    Also cited in the survey were findings by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which revealed that the estimated cost of an employee leaving was RM25,000, and rising to RM27,000 for managers and professionals.

1/22/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Overworked and undercooked, op-ed by Ryan Cooper, Washington Post via Salt Lake Tribune via SLtrib.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The jobs created during the agonizingly slow recovery from the Great Recession have largely been low-paying, part-time positions. Strikes and other worker movements have often featured demands for more working hours — quite a contrast to the early days of industrial capitalism, which focused on the eight-hour workday (as opposed to 10) — and the 40-hour workweek.
    [Oh no they didn't. The eight-hour focus was after the Civil War. The real early days (1810s-1820s) of industrial capitalism didn't focus on anything and the soso early days (1840s-1850s) focused on the ten-hour day and the 60-70 hour workweek, and generally achieved it by the end of the Civil War (1865) - see Roediger & Foner's excellent history of the workweek, Our Own Time. After that the focus was on the nine-hour day and the 54-63 hour workweek, and the focus didn't get on the eight-hour day and the 40-48 hour workweek till around 1912 in Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose presidential campaign. The 40-hour workweek was finally implemented on Oct.24, 1940, after a THIRTY-hour workweek had passed the Senate (and been FDR-blocked in the House) seven years earlier!]
    The left has rightly focused a lot of attention on this lack of [jobs].
    [No they haven't. If they had the smarts to do this, we'd be a lot better off. This has always been a concern of people on both the left and the right and "out in front" who have the ability to think 2-3 moves ahead in chess. However, control-freak but short-sighted executives successfully replaced "plenty of jobs via shorter hours" with the Gospel of Consumption in the 1920s, thereby triggered the Great Depression, and even succeeded in distracting the labor movement during the Depression away from its power lever: shorter hours to avoid labor surplus and lack of jobs. What lures did they use? Higher Pay & Benefits, regardless of labor supply&demand conditions - obviously temporary Higher Pay & Benefits cuz market forces are The Law, and executives manipulated labor into "fighting the Law, but the...Law won."]
    What has gotten less attention is how many people at the top have been doing the opposite. Among elite professions, working absurd hours is not just common but practically universal. What people tend to overlook is that working too much is bad even for elites. Research shows that overworked people are unhappy, less productive and tend to burn out — meaning that forcing one’s employees to consistently work more than 40 hours is a poor business decision.
    This suggests that today’s economy is terrible in many ways even for much of the elite. Policies such as a return to a strict [maximum] 40-hour workweek would have substantial benefits across the board. Democrats and the professional class ought to take notice.
    James Surowiecki talked about this overworked elite in a blog post Monday: "Thirty years ago, the best-paid workers in the U.S. were much less likely to work long days than low-paid workers were. By 2006, the best paid were twice as likely to work long hours as the poorly paid, and the trend seems to be accelerating. A 2008 Harvard Business School survey of a thousand professionals found that 94 per cent worked 50 hours or more a week, and almost half worked in excess of 65 hours a week. Overwork has become a credential of prosperity."
    And blogger Hugh Hancock breaks down the reality of putting in 80-hour workweek "death marches": "Long term, death marches don’t give you more productive time. . . . If you work more time than your comfortable maximum and keep doing it, your productivity will drop and keep dropping. Quite rapidly, you will become less productive than you would be if you worked [only] 40 hours. Working 80 hours a week for a year might feel productive, but you’ll be getting less done than if you worked 30. . . .
    "So what’s a death march good for? A death march lets you steal time. You can’t work 80 hours for the next three months and double your productivity. But you can work 80 hours a week for the next three weeks and double what you get done — provided you’re willing to accept that in the three weeks after that, your output will be functionally identical to that of a lightly-reheated blancmange."
    But elite workers are ending up 100 percent blancmange, all the time.
    I don’t mean to say that the plight of the "overemployed" is comparable to that of the unemployed but rather that today’s economy stinks even for people raking in substantial sums.
    The political upshot is that Democrats shouldn’t fear full-bore economic justice — there are likely to be substantial benefits even for much of the top.

  2. Governor focuses on education - Plan offers discretion in spending, by Michele Hester mhester@dawsonnews.com, Dawson Community News via dawsonnews.com
    DAWSONVILLE, Ga., USA - News that Gov. Nathan Deal has pledged to restore more than $500 million in education funding cut in recent years is a relief to local school officials.
    "I am the most optimistic that I have been in my five years as superintendent regarding the budget," said Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter. "We have been hoping for positive news regarding funding from the state, and it appears to be happening."
    Deal made the proposal, which represents the largest single year increase in kindergarten-12th grade funding in seven years, during his State of the State address Jan. 15 at the Capitol in Atlanta.
    In Deal's proposed budget, the $8 billion set aside for education includes a $547 million increase, with $314 million of that for local schools to decide how to use.
    The governor said his intent is to give local school systems the means to eliminate furlough days for staff and reinstate instructional days for students.
    "These funds will provide our local school systems with the resources and flexibility to address the most critical needs of their students and teachers," Deal said.
    Currently, the Dawson County school employees have between five to six furlough days depending on their classification, while the calendar for students is 178 days, down from 180 two years ago, according to Porter.
    "Our goal is to get a full student calendar back as quick as possible. What we're waiting on now is to see when we can include the funds in our budget," he said.
    Deal's proposal must clear both houses of the General Assembly and could be tweaked, though members of the local state legislative delegation have said they believe in it.
    Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, is confident the House of Representatives will support the governor's plan.
    "Being on the education committee, we had listening sessions throughout the state ... the No. 1 thing that we heard from them was to replace the austerity cuts," he said. "It's been cut because the lack of revenue, so they want those restored if possible and then allow the local school districts to decide how that money would be used."
    Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, said he would be surprised if any school board uses the funding increase for anything other than reinstating days.
    "This is going to give the school boards local control to decide how they want to use that money ... and I hope the first thing they'll do is eliminate the furlough days," he said.
    While the reaction from state and local officials has been positive, others say there is still "a long way to go to restore funding."
    A former teacher who has remained vocal on educational issues, Bette Holland, said Monday the $700 million in austerity cuts in the funding formula will continue to be an issue.
    "That means that schools will still see larger class sizes, no new textbooks, cuts in supplies for the classroom, fewer elective courses, and less funding for professional development," she said.
    Holland also said the governor has made the "funding increase political" and is "pitting teachers against the school boards in the hopes that the citizens of the state will blame the local school boards if we don't restore school days and the teachers will blame the local school boards if they don't get a pay raise."
    "The $314 million can be used for furloughs and additional school days or the funds can be used for teacher salaries," she said. "There isn't enough money ... to do both."

  3. City reviewing 60 hour workweeks for HSR drivers - Officials estimate 10 per cent of bus drivers work regular 60 hour workweeks, by Adam Carter, CBC News via CBC.ca
    The city estimates about 10 per cent of its bus drivers are working 60 hour workweeks on a regular basis. Now, officials are trying to figure out if that practice makes sense. (photo caption)
    HAMILTON, Ont., Canada - Some HSR [Hamilton Street Railway!] drivers are working regular 60-hour workweeks in Hamilton — a longstanding practice the city is now reviewing for safety and affordability.
    A 2013 internal audit of city departments revealed that transit employees are working higher levels of overtime compared to other programs.
    That’s because of a unique provision in the employment standards act and an exemption brokered between the transit union and the city that lets bus drivers exceed the maximum allowed 48-hour workweek.
    About ten per cent of drivers are working up to 60 hours a week, according to staff estimates.
    Now, the city is trying to figure out if that practice makes sense, says Don Hull, Hamilton’s director of transit.
    “There are benefits and drawbacks to that situation,” Hull said. The main benefit is that extended overtime is usually cheaper than hiring new employees when things like pensions and benefits are factored in.
    But it also raises the question — is having drivers working what amounts to an extra two weeks a month safe? “That’s something we’re definitely going to look at … to see if there are any long term implications,” Hull said.
    Regulations on safe driving practices can vary from place to place. The European Commission for Mobility and Transport, for example, dictates that total weekly driving time can't exceed 56 hours, with 11 hours in between shifts on a regular basis.
    The transit department is currently working on a report that will come to council in March that will examine the safety and affordability of drivers working 60 hour weeks, as well as how the practice contributes to absenteeism.
    Budh Dhillon, the president of the union that represents HSR drivers, says the current situation is safe — and what’s more, drivers would likely be upset if the opportunity to work overtime was removed.
    “The nature of our business means the hours fluctuate,” he said. “It’s safe. The conditions mean that you have to have eight hours between shifts.”
    “There’s nothing unsafe about it.”
    Dhillon says in his 34 years in the business, the expectation for the opportunity to work overtime has always been there — and if it was removed in favour of hiring more full time drivers, there would be some definite disappointment in the ranks.
    “I don’t see any gains for the city in hiring more people,” he said.
    Hull says the city can’t force drivers to work overtime on an ongoing basis, but it’s also never had to. “There has never been a shortage of volunteers,” he said.
    The city is attempting to find a situation that best serves employees, HSR and the bottom line for the budget, Hull says.
    “And sometimes, those things can be conflicting."

  4. Shorter working hours for gov't teachers sought, Philippine Star via philstar.com
    MANILA, Philippines - Two legislators have filed a bill Congress which seeks to cut the working hours of public school teachers from eight to six a day.
    Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo said that House Bill 2684 proposes shorter working hours for government teachers.
    "Their present work schedule has left them stressed out and exhausted much to the detriment of our students," the bill said.
    The measure also seeks to exempt public school teachers from compliance with the Civil Service mandated eight-hour workday for government workers.
    It also stated that any work performed in excess of six hours a day shall be given additional compensation of at least twenty-five percent of their regular remuneration.
    Section 3 of the bill states that "any teacher engaged in actual teaching may be required to render more than six hours of teaching upon payment of additional compensation at the same rate of his/her regular plus at least twenty-five percent of his/her basic pay."
    It also says that "teachers who are not engaged in actual teaching but render more than six hours work shall likewise be entitled to the additional compensation provided in this Section."
    The exemption from CSC rules is also in observance of Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 which also states that "Officers and employees of all departments and agencies except those covered by special laws shall render not less than eight hours of work a day for five days a week or a total of forty-hours a week, exclusive of time for lunch."
    Section 5 states that "notwithstanding provisions of existing law to the contrary, co-curricula, out-of-school activities and other activities of any teacher outside of their normal duties shall be paid an additional compensation of at least twenty-five percent of his/her regular remuneration after the teacher has completed at least six hours of work."
    The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers or Republic Act No. 4670 provides that teaching hours for teachers shall not be more than six hours.
    The Department of Education issued a memorandum, allowing teachers to allot six hours for actual classroom teaching per day while the remaining two hours to be spent in teaching-related activities.
    "While strictly speaking the essence of the law is respected, this memorandum requires from them a total of eight hours a day," the younger Arroyo said.

1/21/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Counterpoint: Shorter workweek is a solution to labor disruption - It's been a while since this was a welcome topic, but it has its advantages, by William McGaughey, (1/20 late pickup) Minneapolis Star Tribune via startribune.com
    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., USA - An article in the Economist, republished in the Star Tribune on Jan. 19 under the headline “Worker vs. machine: Managing upheaval,” accurately stated the problem of labor disruption, but its proposed solution is no good. Yes, machines are displacing human labor. They are now starting to displace intelligent labor, so education affords no place to hide. Yet, the solution the Economist writer envisions is, again, more and better education. It is for government to provide income supplements and tax credits to low-wage workers. Same old, same old.
    There is an alternative — a solution even older than job-oriented education and government subsidies. It is to reduce working hours to offset the shrinking demand for human labor. This was the approach that organized labor took in the 19th century as it sought the 10-hour day and then the eight-hour day. Samuel Gompers, the AFL’s first president, said: “So long as there is one man who seeks employment and cannot obtain it, the hours of labor are too long.”

    It was not only labor officials but also enlightened business leaders such as Henry Ford who favored shorter hours. Besides his famous $5-a-day minimum wage, Ford unilaterally gave his employees the eight-hour day and the five-day week. Ford said he did this for business reasons, not charity. To buy consumer products, workers need both adequate income and sufficient leisure to find uses for those products.
    In the 1932 political campaign, both Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover favored shorter work time to deal with unemployment. The high-water mark for this policy came when the U.S. Senate passed a bill sponsored by Hugo Black for a 30-hour workweek. However, certain financiers and congressional staffers persuaded the incoming Roosevelt administration not to support this bill, and it died in the House.
    The opponents of shorter hours, notably Leon Keyserling and Bernard Baruch, argued that the shorter-workweek approach was defeatist; it meant “sharing the scarcity” rather than promoting abundance. This concept became enshrined in the National Security Council Report 68, which, inspired by the stimulus of World War II, called for greatly increased military spending for economic as well as national-security reasons. Bottom line: We rejected leisure and got a war economy.
    Since organized labor abandoned the fight years ago, one would be hard-pressed to find any public figure supporting shorter hours. Only a few mavericks such as former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota have dared touch this subject. He and I published a book in 1989 supporting legislation to shorten work time.
    What type of legislation? One could start with the Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938. One could change the standard workweek from 40 hours to some lower number such as 32. Equally important would be other modifications such as tightening eligibility for exemptions and, possibly, raising the overtime rate and eliminating the financial incentive for covered employees to seek and accept overtime.
    As it is, such an approach might be unpopular because shorter hours are equated with lower income in people’s mind. A century ago, however, it was understood that the free market would make the necessary adjustments to preserve income as working hours were reduced. In fact, a thorough study by a University of Chicago economist and later U.S. senator, Paul Douglas, found that industries having the highest wages also had the shortest work hours.
    Perversely, Obamacare’s requirement that employers provide health care to employees who work more than 30 hours in a week may stimulate discussion of the hours question and, hopefully, precipitate a comprehensive study. For starters, I like the proposal of Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, that the overtime threshold salary for workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act be raised from $455 to $970 hour per week, in line with increases in inflation.
    Even though government would be instrumental in making the required changes, its role in stimulating employment through reduced hours would be less intrusive than the preferred alternatives. As a beneficial byproduct, we would be gaining increased personal freedom.
    William McGaughey, of Minneapolis, is the coauthor of “Nonfinancial Economics: The Case for Shorter Hours of Work."

  2. Roseville teachers agree to take pay cut, by Gordie Wilczynski, (1/20 late pickup) MacombDaily.com
    ROSEVILLE, Illin., USA - Roseville teachers have agreed to take a 5.5-percent pay cut.
    Members of the teachers union voted overwhelmingly late last week to take the cut effective immediately.
    The teachers also agreed to take an additional furlough day, making it 6 total. A furlough day is an unpaid day off.
    Jennifer Rose, president of the Roseville Federation of Teachers Local 1071 [how appropriate!], did not return several phone calls to comment on the ratification.
    [So "The bloom is off the Rose"?]
    First-year teachers currently earn $38,025. With the cuts, that base will fall to about $36,000 annually.
    Roseville Community Schools Superintendent John Kment said the concessions agreed by the teachers will allow the district to operate with a balanced budget next year.
    The district’s 286 teachers have been working without a contract since June 30.
    Like most Michigan public districts Roseville gets revenue from state foundation sharing, local property taxes and an occasional grant from the federal government such as Title 1.
    Kment said Roseville schools has lost 500 students during the last five years. He lamented cuts the state has made in recent years, pointing out the district has lost $474 per child in foundation funds. He added the district also has suffered from declining enrollment with many parents moving out of the district to schools in the growing north end of the county.
    The proposal now must be approved by the Roseville Board of Education, which will likely do so in two weeks.
    “It’s tough being a teacher these days,” Kment said. “These young men and women go into debt by going to college for four years and then start a teaching job where they are paid $36,000 annually.
    “Why would anyone go to college for four years and seek a teaching career? Teaching used to be a noble career that paid a decent salary but not any more.”
    Kment added Roseville school administrators have taken the same exact cuts over the last three years as agreed to by teachers.
    “I am declining my negotiated pay raise,” Kment said.
    As of Nov. 6, Roseville schools has 2,459 students enrolled in its seven elementary school; 967 at Roseville and Eastland middle schools; and 1,578 at Roseville High School.
    Reach the author at gordie.wilczynski@macombdaily.com .

  3. Green light for flexible working hours - Sandton corporates reconsider working schedules as traffic concerns mount, by Ray Mahlaka, MoneyWeb.co.za
    SANDTON, Metro Joburg, Republic of South Africa -- Corporates based in Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton, are embracing flexible working for staff to optimise productivity, partly in light of growing traffic congestion in the area.
    Tom Tom’s latest South African Traffic Index, which aims to help businesses manage traffic congestion effectively, reveals that on average, commuters around SA are spending 3.5 working days a year stuck in traffic. Traffic congestion seems to be on the rise in Johannesburg and the index singles out Sandton in particular as a hotspot for congestion.
    The recent large-scale construction developments in Sandton have not helped congestion, and the area anticipates an influx of new businesses and more people traveling to and from the Square.
    “The traditional responses to tackling congestion, like building new roads or widening existing ones are no longer proving effective. The way traffic is managed needs significant change,” says TomTom South Africa's Country Manager, Daan Henderickx in the index.
    As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
    Norton Rose, a law firm in Sandton, has embraced flexible working hours in a bid to manage traffic issues for staff members. Compared with working normal hours, flexible working hours include staff members working from home and the option to negotiate working hours according to their needs.
    “We do have a flexible work-life integration,” says Bianca Naransamy, head of human resources at the firm, adding that not only does traffic play a role in restructuring working hours but also the balance between work and personal time.

    Naransamy says most of the law firms and companies in Sandton are open to flexible working hours.
    Discovery Health, located at the heart of Sandton, has 300 staff members who have been allocated to flexible working hours. Discovery Health Chief Operating Officer Dr Ryan Noach says 2 600 health operations staff members work full time in offices due to their work demands, especially the call centre division.
    Noach says more progressive companies are starting to embrace tailor-made work schedules to accommodate staff needs. Discovery Health has also introduced a “Virtual Team” Program, allowing certain staff to work from home under specific controlled criteria.
    There are significant benefits associated with such work schedules, for example reduced travel costs. Noach adds that in a month an employee on the Virtual Team programme can save up to R1 500 of after-tax earnings.
    Tales of companies working around traffic congestion are also evident at professional services firm EY Africa, formerly known as Ernst & Young. Although there are a variety of reasons people seek to work more flexibly, Assistant Director of people team Maxine Bizjak, says many people simply want to avoid traffic.
    The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) says it does not have a specific policy on implementing flexible working hours, but “each department adjusts its hours according to traffic and other considerations”.
    “Flexibility also varies between departments because some staff need to be present during set business hours in order to keep markets open and ensure that they are functioning smoothly,” the JSE told Moneyweb.
    Measure of productivity
    Nedbank’s human resource executive for organisational development Ayn Brown says the impact of traffic on flexible work practices cannot be calculated accurately as it is not the only factor involved in a staff member choosing to work flexible hours.
    However, she says Nedbank’s implementation of flexible working hours has seen an increase in productivity. Brown adds: “A happier workforce has proven to be more productive so allowing for flexible working hours will increase productivity”.
    Companies which have implemented flexible working hours say these options are closely monitored and have certain conditions that come with it.
    “It is the manager’s responsibility to monitor outputs in order to ensure that the privilege of flexible working hours does not jeopardise productivity. If this happens the privilege of flexible hours is rescinded,” Brown explains.
    Discovery Health’s criteria for selecting staff members who work on a flexi schedule include having worked for at least six months for the company and staff members showing consistently high performance on the carefully measured productivity, perception and quality targets.
    “As long as they produce quality and perform to achieve their deliverables they can continue to work on flexible work schedules,” Noach explains.
    “It is fascinating that performance has improved across the board in the group of staff working from home and from a company perspective it has been a huge success. It is also clearly progressive and has enhanced staff loyalty”, he says.
    Embracing flexible working hours
    The work environment is constantly changing and Brown says in future work schedules won't be necessarily fixed in the workplace. She says many organisations are now formalising flexible working options for employees and this move by companies will be driven by technology.
    Companies still reluctant to introduce flexible work schedules around employee needs will according to Bizjak, “lose the ability to retain critical skills and talent”.
    “Talented individuals are prepared to work long, hard hours when required, but in return expect some flexibility to address their own personal needs,” she explains.

1/19-20/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Obamacare impact: Cutting hours, going part time, by David Crowder, 1/20 ElPasoInc.com
    EL PASO, Tex., USA - The figures aren’t in yet and it’s a story that is just starting to be told: full-time workers forced into part-time work and part timers’ hours cut sharply because of the Affordable Care Act.
    Standing behind the cash register, the manager of an El Paso Taco Cabana talked freely about how all his full-time workers had their hours cut to less than 30 a week last summer so the company wouldn’t have to provide them with health insurance this year.
    “They’ve had to look for second jobs,” he said.

    [Here we see the difference between per-job and per-person. The province of government is the rationalization and balancing of Share PER PERSON (in whatever variable, here share of our most precious - and abused - natural resource, market-demanded human employment per person in the Robotics Age). The province of The Market is the determination of share PER JOB. There is some overlap in the Timesizing Program because to facilitate the balancing of personal workweeks, which could "overwork" defined as cumulative overtime several jobs and possibly self-employment, we first enlist corporations which already have the accounting resources to enable us to get started with single-job single-employer persons, get their increasingly tightly defined "chronic overtime" (OT) smoothly transforming into OT-targeted jobs - and training whenever needed, and thus facilitating with on-the-job training programs popping up all over the economy, the real business end of timesizing, the smooth and rapid conversion of personal overwork into (training&)hiring with all the additional challenges of doing this on an individual-employee basis or more likely, on an en-route ad-hoc associative basis. But the payoff? As the per-person "kayak" gets more and more "water proof" and can safely navigate more and more turbulent market "seas," we can deregulate per-job variables and dismantle makework programs and safely save/forego a helluva lotta tax money now that the full panoply of the "government safety net" has been superceded by government-coached private-sector full employment. (THINK of the programs and costs that will denecessitate!) ]
    A Dillard’s sales clerk said he was working full time but has only been able to work 28 hours or less a week since last fall.
    “Everyone they’re hiring is part time now,” he said.
    He’s 24 and majoring in marketing at UTEP, but he doesn’t plan to buy health insurance, even though it’s required under Obamacare.
    “I’ll just go to Juárez if I get sick,” he said.
    Lorenzo Reyes, the executive director of Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande, said his agency is seeing more people looking for second jobs in El Paso.
    “We haven’t seen a report yet that reflects the local trends, but at the national level we have seen that part-time employment is increasing compared to last year,” said Reyes, whose agency works with the Texas Workforce Commission.
    “The local data we have is information we’re collecting when we meet with the customers, and we have seen an increase in people looking for another part-time job,” he said.
    Justin Nabhan is a UTEP business student and a restaurant manager who can’t mention his company’s name, but he knows that restaurant employees in general are being hit hard.
    Most only make $2.13 an hour and live on tips, and with many seeing their hours cut, he said, they’re desperately looking for full-time work or another part-time job – or two.
    For those experienced workers who have kept their full-time jobs or work enough part-time hours to be eligible for health care insurance, it can be a hardship, Nabhan said, because they have to take it and pay for it.
    “It’s $300 or $400 a month no matter what, and if you turn down your insurance, you turn down your job, because the company has to be sure everyone gets insured,” Nabhan said.
    Art Diaz, a full-time marketing and management lecturer at UTEP, said he has been following national reports on the impact of the Affordable Care Act and has come to a difficult conclusion.
    “This is a disaster,” he said.
    While some workers for larger companies and even small ones that provide benefits haven’t seen their premiums jump sharply, many others have.
    “An employee may like it because he’s getting more coverage, but they’re having to pay $700 to $800 a month, and that will eat up your disposable income fast,” he said.
    Many of his students who work to pay for their education and living expenses are complaining about being cut to 28 hours.
    “They’re saying they couldn’t pay their bills at 40 hours, so now they’re having to get a second job,” Diaz said. “That is the new trend.”
    But it’s not just restaurant workers and sales clerks who are feeling the squeeze.
    Universities and community colleges that rely heavily on part-time faculty have had to make the hard choice of cutting the number of classes they teach because the schools can’t afford to offer them health insurance.
    That includes El Paso Community College, said Carina Ramirez, president of the college’s faculty association, and EPCC’s executive director of human resources, Liz Olguin-Ryan.
    “They’ve had to cut a lot of hours, and it’s been pretty devastating to some of our adjunct instructors,” Ramirez said. “It’s also hard on some of our disciplines as well, because they can’t find enough faculty to teach the classes.
    “It’s really a shame.”
    The college’s 400 full-time faculty pay nothing for their health coverage. But many adjunct or part-time instructors were used to working more than 30 hours a week, and that would have entitled them to a 50-percent subsidy on health coverage.
    “We couldn’t afford to pick up 2,600 people,” Olguin-Ryan said. “There is no budget for it. They (the state) gave us a month and a half’s notice last year, and there was no time to try to budget for it.”
    Instructors who had been teaching more than three classes a week and would have been entitled to subsidized coverage were cut back to three or less, giving them the option to buy into the college’s coverage only if they paid the full cost themselves.
    “We didn’t have a choice,” Ryan said, adding that the college did create an unprecedented 65 new full-time faculty positions to cover the lost hours.
    Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at dcrowder@elpasoinc.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.

  2. Seven-day workweek is not a win/win, by Anthony Schweitzer of Marshall WI, 1/20 Wisconsin State Journal via host.madison.com
    [The resistance mounts -]
    MADISON, Wisc., USA -- Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce wants a law allowing workers to “voluntarily” work seven days per week, falsely calling it a win/win situation wherein the company gets more production and the workers get more money.
    I worked in personnel and human resources all of my life and this is what is called a bridgehead proposal.
    Getting the seven days sets the bridgehead to cross into the next phase, so in a year or two the law can be amended with the removal of the word voluntary.

    In my very first year as a personnel manager of a company with only 125 hourly employees, I was forced to fire three employees who had the audacity to refuse to work on Saturday when they had already completed five 12-hour days -- 60 hours of very heavy, physically demanding work.
    Perhaps the companies wanting the seven-day rule should ask themselves why they do not hire more employees, or why they pay so little that employees want or need a seventh day of pay.
    With the seven-day workweek, the companies would indeed win, and the employees would indeed lose.

  3. Republican lawmakers should do as they say, by Mary Maronek of Madison WI, 1/20 Wisconsin State Journal via host.madison.com
    [And mounts -]
    MADISON, Wisc., USA -- Republicans Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend and Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, have introduced legislation to go to a seven-day workweek.
    They should set an example for Wisconsin workers by working seven days a week for a year, without using time for campaigning or fundraising, and report back how successful they found this opportunity to "boost production." They need to walk their talk.

    [And so do the employment-coagulating and consumer-spending-weakening geniuses in the "Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce" who are reportedly behind this, according to the story above.]
    Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch states former Columbus Mayor Michael Eisenga's donations of $3,500 to him, and $7,500 to his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, had nothing to do with Eisenga helping to draft a bill to lower his child support payments while he retains his $30 million estate.
    Do they really expect regular folks to believe this? Other Republicans say it's common for constituents to help draft legislation. Really? I would like to see a show of hands of ordinary citizens who have been asked to craft legislation that directly affects them.
    Skip those with some kind of political influence like the American Legislative Exchange Council, mining companies and former mayors.

  4. HSE set to sanction hospitals in breach of junior doctor working hours directive, 1/20 TheJournal.ie
    The IMO [Irish Medical Organisation] and HSE [Health Service Executive] will meet at the end of this month to decide which hospitals should be sanctioned for failure to comply with the directive which put an end to 24 hour shifts.
    DUBLIN, Ireland - The HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation are currently undertaking a ‘validation exercise’ to assess the status of compliance in hospitals with a directive on working hours that ensures junior doctors are not forced to work more than 24 hours in a row.
    [OK, we're lookin fer volunteers - patients who want to be examined by doctors who have already been working for 23 hours...]
    In October, the HSE said it would penalise hospitals that do not adhere to the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), which ends shifts in excess of 24 hours for NCHDs (junior doctors), by 14 January.
    That deadline passed last week and the HSE has told TheJournal.ie that an assessment of validation of compliance with the EWTD is currently being undertaken.
    A draft report has been produced by the HSE which is to be verified by each joint IMO/HSE local group by 24 January. The draft, which has not been fully completed, has been seen by IMO representatives and shows that only four hospitals are fully complaint.
    However this report is based on the assessment of hospitals before Christmas and Eric Young of the IMO said much of this may be connected to vacant posts that had to be filled.
    He said “many will become compliant on filling the posts”.
    “We recognise that not all of them are going to be compliant,” he said. “Lots of them have made good progress and some haven’t made the progress but, to be fair, a lot of them have.”
    The IMO and HSE will meet on 31 January 2014 to decide which hospitals should be subject to sanctions, what will apply and how the money withheld will be used. In general terms, it has already been determined that the money withheld from the hospitals by the HSE as a sanction will be used to recruit and improve compliance with the European Working Time Directive.
    Young said the penalties were vital in this arrangement as “there would be no incentive to deliver otherwise”.
    “It’s the only thing that’s going to work,” he added. “Ultimately, people don’t change their behaviour unless there’s a consequence.”
    Prior to the agreement between the HSE and the organisation, there were examples of these doctors working in excess of 24 hours in a row. The European Directive also ensures these young doctors are not forced to work more than 48 hours a week.

1/18/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Budget cuts force senior centers to cut hours, by Veronica Smith, (1/17 late pickup) KAIT8.com
    JONESBORO, Ark., USA - Federal and state budget cuts have forced senior centers across Region 8 to reduce hours and meals.
    [but not jobs!]
    The East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging has senior centers in 12 counties. This year the general revenue for the state for the senior centers was cut by nearly $900,000 dollars.
    For many Jonesboro seniors, this center is their home away from home.
    "There's always something to do here that can keep their attention," said Gene Roebuck.
    Roebuck has been coming to the senior center for nearly 7 years.
    "My wife died 8 years ago, and it really just gives me a purpose," Roebuck said. "It gave me people here that I can have fellowship with, we have nice meals, they just go overboard trying to take care of our needs."
    But federal and state budget cuts have forced the senior centers in Region 8 to cut back on some of their services.
    "When you are talking about less funding that's available for the senior center, you're really talking about the whole operation from the amount of time your [editor!] able to be open, to the amount of staff you have at the senior centers to basically the services you are able to provide that community," said Melissa Prater, director of purchases services at East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging.
    Prater said the cuts have forced centers to trim their hours down two and three hours.

    "That gives basically the staff time to go pick up seniors that need to be brought in to the senior center," she said. "Help prepare lunch, maybe include one activity in that time frame, and then after lunch basically turn around and take them back home."
    And if senior centers face more cuts in the future, Prater said they will have to make some tough decisions.
    "We never want to see a senior center close because obviously it's serving a need," Prater said." Of course worst case scenario you're going to look at your senior centers that don't serve the larger population."
    For seniors like Roebuck, this center gives them the family they may no longer have.
    "It can't take the place of our brothers and sisters and kids and everything but it does give them a place that they really can belong to," he said.
    Several senior centers in the state have had to close their doors because of budget cuts. Prater says they will do everything they can to keep that from happening.

  2. Unite welcomes Government review of civil service working hours, Gibraltar Chronicle via chronicle.gi
    GIBRALTAR CITY, Gibraltar - Unite the Union has welcomed the “Government’s decision to tackle the issue of ‘family friendly’ hours” and said this will improve both public service and the social life of civil servants.
    [Sounds like shorter hours.]
    In a statement, Unite said that the service provided by Government Departments to the public will be enhanced, with issues like counters opening for longer hours and throughout lunch being up for consideration.
    [Oops, hopefully longer counter hours don't mean longer overall hours.]
    The hours, which are currently being discussed, are a result of feedback Unite has received from its committees.
    The union said it had taken into account members who, due to personal circumstances, are not able to start work at 8am and needed the option to start later.
    This is the case for many working parents who have to take children to school.
    Unite officials have been in full consultation with the Gibraltar Government and the Human Resources Department as regards the change of hours for government departments.
    GGCA Meeting
    Yesterday, GGCA held a meeting with members at its offices to discuss the potential changes in hours.
    This meeting was held in private and was not accessible to the press.
    Prior to the meeting GGCA chairperson Wendy Cummings said that a statement from the union on the subject may be issued next week, depending on yesterday’s outcome.

1/17/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Cardiff council finance chief issues warning to unions over staff hours cuts, WalesOnline.co.uk
    Russell Goodway describes today's cuts as the hardest thing he has had to do in 15 years as a councillor.
    [Never had to cut entire jobs?]
    CARDIFF, WALES, U.K. - ardiff council veteran Russell Goodway has described the cuts the authority is being forced to make as one of the hardest things he had ever had to do.
    The council’s cabinet has agreed a one-year package of measures for workers aimed at saving £4.9m in 2014.
    It would see:
    * A reduction in full-time hours from 37 to 36 for most workers;

    * A 2.7% pay cut for operational managers and above;
    * Cuts to a number of other perks.
    Coun Goodway, who served as leader for 12 years, issued a warning to unions that if the measures cannot be agreed – after exhaustive negotiations – even tougher measures could be forced on staff.
    The cabinet papers said this could include the council refusing to pass on to staff any nationally-agreed pay rise for 2014/15.
    Coun Goodway, the city’s financial chief, said: “This is one of the most difficult reports, if not the most difficult, I have had to table in 36 years I have served as a councillor.
    “Nobody in the city can be unaware of the financial challenges facing the county council at this time and indeed local government across the UK.
    “It has to be said none of the service users will be untouched by the cuts affecting local government at this time.”
    The council, which has been in discussions with trade unions over the package before it sets its budget on February 27, will seek to achieve the changes through collective agreements with trade unions which will ballot their members.
    Members of the cabinet who agreed the report at a meeting at County Hall yesterday also agreed a 2.7% reduction in their own pay – and called on all other councillors to follow suit.
    Cardiff council leader Heather Joyce said: “It would be unthinkable for workers to face these changes on their own.
    “I want to make it clear if an agreement is reached, our cabinet would take an equivalent reduction in our allowance.
    “In Cardiff, if nowhere else, we are all in this together. I want this to be clear not just from our words but from our actions.”
    The plan comes as the council faces up to a £50m cuts. It says if workers reject the plans or collective agreements are not reached then changes would still be required to make the savings.
    Alongside many of the proposals in the workforce agreement, this would then include
    A change to the council’s severance pay terms to statutory redundancy payments only;
    Witholding any national pay award agreed for 2014/15;
    And a review of terms and conditions for sick pay.
    David Walker, leader of the Conservative Group, said he thought efficiencies could be made in other areas such as the £10m in the budget for agency staff and £5m the council was cost in sickness and absence every year.
    Responding to the comments on the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition’s cuts, he said: “I think we can all agree the £50m deficit figure is far too high and imposed by the Welsh Government.
    “I think there’s a risk that voters may vote: No.
    “The whole threat of this process, I think, will ultimately be counter-productive and lead to low morale and productivity.
    “When you are advancing major change as this council is, you need morale to be high.”
    Meanwhile Plaid councillor Neil McEvoy, said: “What we are seeing now is the irresponsibility of a 0% council tax last year.”
    The report, put in front of councillors at yesterday’s meeting, said: “In view of the budgetary challenges, confidential discussions have been ongoing since early November with the three recognised trade unions for local government services (Unison, GMB and Unite) to try to achieve a package of measures that will reduce employment costs and potentially reduce a number of jobs from being lost.”
    The council said should the package of changes be agreed it would continue to work with trade unions to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible; protect pay and conditions; retain national terms and conditions for sick pay for 2014/15 and guarantee payment of any national pay award agreed for 2014/15 for the staff groups affected.
    Mr Goodway added: “The feeling I have had with the meetings I have attended with the trade unions and members of staff is they are comforted by the fact the leader has made it clear the overriding ambition that at the end of this process there are as many people as possible employed, even if it is not employed by the council."

  2. Alaska EMTs petition cap on 30-hour workweek, by Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News via EMS1.com
    The policy is in response to a state audit that said part-time employees were working too many hours without making them eligible for benefits
    WASILLA, Alaska, USA — Rank and file emergency responders in the Mat-Su [Matanuska-Susitna] Borough are challenging new limits that cap them just below 30 hours a week, and they're calling on the borough to bring on a full-time squad of medics.
    [Systemwide, shorter hours mean more jobs but here we see an inversion: low-ceiling employees opposing their own systemwide interests and even demanding more hiring, which with the longer hours they're fighting for, are less needed.]
    Paid on-call employees say the new hours policy has led to short staffing and longer response times on some ambulance and fire calls.
    Responders, led by 28-year-old paramedic Ashley Cunnington, have started a petition to encourage the Mat-Su Assembly to fund more full-time positions. It had nearly 200 signatures as of Wednesday.
    The group also started an open Facebook page -- "MSB responders for change" -- and are contacting union representatives who may attend a meeting Saturday. News media and borough officials are also invited.
    "We're not trying to get rich on this," Cunnington said. "We're just trying to provide services without it being a second thought."
    The borough's on-call medics work 12- to 24-hour shifts on five ambulances that rush to medical emergencies from Lake Louise to Trapper Creek, everything from Parks Highway wrecks to a choking child near Palmer to a stroke victim in Willow. They earn anywhere from $11.99 an hour for the lowest training level, Emergency Medical Technician I, to $21.69 for a paramedic, the highest.
    Until last week, Cunnington worked 40 hours a week without benefits. As of Wednesday, she had already worked her 24-hour shift for the week; the borough limits on-call responders to 24 hours a week to leave time for training or other obligations.
    "The system is so broken something needs to happen," she said.
    The cap that started Jan. 1 comes in response to a critical state audit that found the borough was letting part-time employees, including paid on-call medics and firefighters, work too many hours without making them eligible for Alaska Public Employees' Retirement System benefits. Thirty hours a week is also the point at which the Affordable Care Act kicks in, officials say, though the federal government is still finalizing emergency responder rules.
    About 80 percent of the borough's 430 paid on-call responders worked less than 30-hour weeks over the last three years, according to estimates from the borough's Emergency Services Department. But the ones that did sometimes worked 30, 40, or sometimes 50 hours a week
    "We have a group of people who either are more highly certified than others or more highly available than others. That's what adds to the stability of the workforce," emergency services director Dennis Brodigan said. "This weakens our stability."
    Brodigan said he hopes the Assembly will fund 14 new full-time medics in the next budget cycle plus another 14 over the two years after that. Compared to fire and rescue, the borough's emergency medical side is the busiest system with a sharp increase in call volume.
    "We hope this is going to spur our Assembly to look at how we're providing this public safety to our community and give us the full-time employees we need to do our daily mission," said Brian Wallace, Mat-Su EMS chief for the core area around Palmer, Wasilla and Meadow Lakes. "That's really what we need and it's really hard to do it the way we are now."
    Funding for the positions remains far from assured. Borough Manager John Moosey said he'll bring up the request at a work session on the budget Feb. 18.
    Calendars for this week show several "holes" where there weren't enough on-call EMTs and paramedics to fill out ambulance crews.
    The borough is filling the gaps with the 10 or 11 full-time medics on staff who get benefits and aren't affected by the new policy, officials say. Cunnington said she's heard of full-time medics working as much as 72 hours a week, leading to overtime costs she equated to the expense of 20 full-time positions a week plus on-call responders. Firefighters are also being toned out to respond to medical calls if ambulances aren't immediately available, eating into their weekly shifts, she said.
    The borough's on-call reliance may come with hidden costs due to less turnover with full-time staff. Outfitting a first-year medic costs $6,382; a first-year firefighter costs the borough $13,600, according to borough estimates.
    Wallace himself spent New Year's Day working a 12-hour ambulance shift.
    He's also had to pull several experienced full-time medics off a practice of "chasing" calls when ambulances are already busy or in the borough's outlying areas like Willow or Sutton where it can be tricky to find available medics with advanced training.
    Now two of the three full-time medics ride in ambulances and only one medic is available to chase calls, he said.
    "For a number of years you were able to get paramedics to critically injured or ill people in those remote areas," Wallace said, of the chase medics. "We've been watching it. I haven't heard any stories that we've had delayed response times."
    The hours cap has also led to another new policy that some responders say may make it even harder to get to medical emergencies fast.
    As of Monday, all borough ambulance crews start their shifts at the Central Mat-Su Fire Department station in the middle of Wasilla instead of at least a crew each at Palmer and Meadow Lakes as well as several in Wasilla, the busiest station in terms of calls.
    Wallace decided to start all shifts at Station 61 and then send ambulances to their usual locations only after supervisors make sure there's enough staffing to do that.
    The decision is not popular, given the chatter on the "MSB responders for change" Facebook page. Several noted problems including what they described as longer than usual response times for a call about an unconscious person and someone with heart trouble.
    "I feel like we are abandoning our community," one responder wrote.
    McClatchy-Tribune News Service Along with Anchorage, other communities in Alaska that use full-time emergency departments include Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Juneau and Ketchikan.

1/16/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Seven-day workweek proposal should be sent home for good, editorial, Portage Daily Register via wiscnews.com
    [Here's an example of progressive spin naivete. The headline intends negativity, but "home" and "good" are both positively charged words, so this headline is blunted, confusing and somemwhat self-contradicting. It should read something like "Seven-day workweek proposal should be buried forever."]
    PORTAGE, Wisc., USA - The following editorial was published Thursday in the Journal Times of Racine, a Lee Enterprises paper. Lee Enterprises is the parent company of Capital Newspapers, which owns this newspaper.
    On the heels of Gov. Scott Walker’s evisceration of state employee unions, it is perhaps not unexpected that lawmakers would take up where the governor left off and advance the cause of a seven-day workweek.
    That would be state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, who, along with state Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, is championing the right of retail and manufacturing workers in the state to work without a day off if they so choose.
    “Right now in Wisconsin, you’re not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week,” Grothman said in an interview on his proposed bill.
    [Just check out this spin skill. Monstrous, and unless employees match and overwhelm it, they're toast. It gets worse -]
    Grothman maintains state laws which require employers to give an employee 24 consecutive hours of rest in each calendar week is “goofy” and tramples on the “freedom” of workers to make a little extra cash and put their noses to the grindstone for however long they please.
    [Yes, let's all "voluntarily CHOOSE" to go back to 24/7 slavery, the 168-hour workweek or continuous on-call.]
    “So, a lot of time you may have a factory that wants to run more shifts or want to work overtime and is short of people — and the employee wants to work and the employer wants them to work, why shouldn’t they be able to work?” Grothman told one interviewer.
    Born said the legislative proposal “just seems like a win all the way around.
    It is perhaps not surprising that the genesis of the legislation came not from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO [too naive and trusting? (TRY not to think "stupid")], but was advanced at the behest of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business organization.
    [Another major attack on their own consumer base. The (radical) "conservative" developed world ("first world") is running a huge experiment: can an economy run without a consumer base and the warp-speed circulation of the money supply which that guarantees. The answer is, yes barely - just look at the Third World. The current fads of the power elite amount to Suicide, everyone else first. Will employees now smarten up and get focused on their power issue, shorter worktime per person?]
    Grothman and Born originally said they had heard from businesses with employees who want to work the additional time, but when pressed for names, Grothman declined to name a business and Born said the only people he met with were from WMC.
    The trick question in the bill, of course, is defining “voluntary.” Grothman said his bill would require an employee to sign a document stating they are choosing to work seven days a week.
    We can only imagine the difficulty that would pose for a worker — any worker — when his employer comes around with a sign-up sheet for those “voluntary” seven-day work weeks. Not signing on the dotted line might take the worker off the fast track for future promotions and brand them as less-than-committed to the company’s success. It might even jeopardize the worker’s existing job.
    [And as long as we run capitalism on a self-deteriorating labor surplus and 40-hr/wk job shortage, it sure will jeopardize the worker's existing job. And if the workweek goes back to a "voluntary" 168 hrs/wk, the labor surplus becomes four times worse and pay four times lower, minimum wage legislation notwithstanding.]
    That kind of intimidation isn’t really needed in Wisconsin workplaces.
    Wisconsin law already allows workers to work 12 straight days in a two-week period — when their days off come at the beginning and end of that period. That has been — and should continue to be — sufficient. An endless string of seven-day workweeks — voluntary or not — can’t help but have a toll on a worker’s mental health and ability to recharge, and it could also hurt workplace safety.
    The Grothman-Born bill should be punched out and sent home.

  2. Employees Claim Their Workweek Was Changed So Company Could Avoid Paying Overtime, HumanResourcesJournal.com
    [Workweek changibility is good, but some is devious = bad -]
    REDLAND, Ark., USA – Five current and former employees of Redland Energy Services in Arkansas initiated a civil suit against the company. The plaintiffs alleged that Redland had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by altering their workweek with regard to payroll, maintaining the same work schedule, for the expressed purpose of reducing overtime pay.
    The plaintiffs in this case were operators of two drilling rigs for Redland, which drills and services natural gas wells. Each crew of operators worked 12-hour shifts for seven consecutive days, followed by seven days off, and were scheduled to work Tuesdays through Mondays. Other employees, such as truckers and office staff, worked a more typical Monday-to-Friday schedule.
    In May 2009, the company reduced the number of operators for drill rig crews from five to four. [Here we see a case of consumer-base-weakening UNtimesizing, because the tiny top of the income ladder, favored here, spends a negligible percentage of its income into the dynamic monetary circulation of the consumer markets, while the huge bottom spends 100%.]
    Operators’ workweek was also changed, but also in the manner of title; in other words, the crews would continue working Tuesdays to Mondays, but the workweek was designated as a Monday-to-Friday schedule so that the week could be split into two payroll periods. A Redland memo stated that the change had been done to reduce the number of overtime hours.
    [Murky. But at least some employees put up a fight -]
    The five employees responded with civil action. They claimed that, because of the new workweek designation, they had been paid 20 hours of overtime for one week when they had genuinely worked 84 hours or more in each week. Redland, in support of its motion for summary judgment, asserted that putting all employees on the same workweek was done for efficiency – the office manager only had to do payroll two days per month in lieu of five. The company also reiterated the memo to employees, stating that reducing the number of overtime hours paid helped lessen payroll expense.
    The plaintiffs countered by arguing that the FLSA prohibits employers from changing a workweek for the sole purpose of cutting overtime, that Redland’s intention was to reduce work at overtime rates and that its efficiency claim was a smokescreen to cover its genuine reason. The district court found no FLSA violation and granted summary judgment for Redland.
    The plaintiffs maintained their argument on appeal. Appellate judges first noted that the Department of Labor (DOL) defines a workweek only as seven consecutive days – a 168-hour period in which more than 40 hours worked constitutes overtime. Because of this, other courts have stated that employees earning less overtime hours in a workweek not “favorably aligned” with their schedule isn’t an FSLA violation.
    DOL regulations further states that a workweek may be changed if the change is meant to be permanent and isn’t intended to “evade” paying overtime. The plaintiffs never challenged whether or not Redland intended that the workweek alteration be permanent, but argued simply that it was evading overtime. Judges cited an earlier case, stating that the FLSA does not require that a work schedule optimize workers’ overtime pay. Accordingly, Redland isn’t subverting requirements by changing the schedule.
    According to the appeals court, if the workweek change is permanent and in accordance with the FSLA, a company’s reasons for the change are “irrelevant.” The district court’s ruling in favor of Redland was affirmed.
    [So the economic "slow recovery" in Arkansas just got a little bit slower.]

1/15/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. More banks join bid to cut hours for junior staff, by Tim Wallace, CITY A.M. via cityam.com
    LONDON, England - Credit Suisse yesterday became the latest investment bank to tell its interns and junior employees to take more time out of the office, after increased worries that young staff are pushing themselves dangerously hard.
    The giant Swiss bank has told junior staff they should try not to come into work on Saturday, in an effort to give them some time off.

    The wave of new guidelines sweeping the industry marks a sharp change of practice for the sector where young employees expect to work long hours and take few days off.
    Competition typically begins with internships where students work all hours over their summer breaks in a bid to impress bosses and get taken on as full time staff.
    There is no let up after that stage as analysts and associates – typically the bottom rungs of the career ladder – again have to get ahead by working harder than colleagues.
    The new staff also want to impress clients both to stop them leaving for rival banks and to make sure they get to work on the biggest deals
    To reduce some of the pressure of this constant race between young staff, some of the biggest names in the City and on Wall Street have introduced new guidelines.
    Bank of America Merrill Lynch has told interns to take at least four weekend days off each month. Analysts and associates are also being required to use up their full holiday allowances each year.
    Goldman Sachs’ boss Lloyd Blankfein has told junior staff to take more time off.
    Deutsche Bank is also thought to be working on a similar plan.
    JP Morgan is hiring more interns and junior staff to spread the workload further, an idea also understood to be under consideration at Barclays’ investment banking arm.
    [This contrasts healthily with the following article today -]
    Managing expectations of a 24/7 work week, by Art Gelwicks, TheIdeaPump.com
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA - In our modern, connected world so many jobs have the perceived expectation of being engaged 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Couple that with more than 13.4 million people working from home and you have a scenario for over-stress and personal difficulties. Here's some suggestions to maintaining a proper balance:
    Take advantage of mobile devices
    While I'm not suggesting you should be that soccer parent on the sidelines with the phone plastered to your head or head down buried in email. The availability of these connections mean you can use what would previously be considered wasted time for work and take the work away from the quality time. Be judicious. Don't feel every idle moment needs to be spent working. If you do not take advantage of the freedoms mobile tech gives us, you might as well just go sit in a cube.
    Set times
    If you work a job, especially from home, where there may be set hours you must be available, don't hesitate to set hours when you won't be available. Block out time on calendars. Force the issue if needed, but set aside the time for things other than work. Remember, the more hours you work for a fixed salary the less you are getting paid per hour.
    Be consistent
    When interacting with coworkers, repect their down time as well if you are trying to set the expectation of the same from them. Don't text/email/etc. and expect an answer during what would be personal time for them. We've all heard about people who spend Christmas Eve or New Years Day sending out work emails, only to get upset when they don't get repsonses. Give yourself permission to have a life outside of work.
    Customers and clients
    This can be one of the toughest areas to manage since they're paying the bills. What it comes down to is a matter of respect. Be clear from the beginning and set reasonable expectations around response times and availability. Don't comprimise yourself and your life for the almighty dollar. Be willing to make exceptions when needed, but also maintain that professional respect of people as just that...people.
    It's all about managing expectations
    If you don't take the time to set some ground rules and stick to them, you'll never have a proper balance between your work and non-work life. Be honest with yourself and your employer and you'll find you don't feel like you're on the clock 24/7 anymore.

  2. Guthrie Theater Employees Taking 1-Week Furlough, WCCO via minnesota.CBSlocal.com
    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., USA – As many as 140 full-time employees with the Guthrie Theater will take a one-week furlough, most during the month of January, according to company officials.
    Trish Santini, the director of external communications at the Guthrie Theater, said the furloughs are across the board and include employees in all areas, including management.
    Santini said the theater typically has 130 to 140 full-time employees, and most of the furloughs affect non-union staff.
    The Guthrie Theater is coming off a reported loss of $438,000 in the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2013. It’s the theater’s first operating deficit in nearly 20 years. Santini said it’s not an indication of larger financial difficulties, but simply a tool to get back on track.
    Santini said there is no January programming at the Guthrie Theater. She said some departments will have workers there tending to building maintenance. The theater will have performances again starting in February with “Tristan & Yseult."
    [Another version -]
    Guthrie Theater furloughs most of its full-time employees for a week, by Rohan Preston, (1/14 late pickup) StarTribune.com
    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., USA – The Guthrie Theater is furloughing most of its full-time staff for a week during January, a theater official confirmed Tuesday. The Guthrie has about 120 full-time employees, a figure that swells when productions are up on its three stages.
    The theater’s employees have had forced time off “a couple of times” since the Guthrie moved into its new riverfront complex in June 2006, said Trish Santini, director of external relations.
    She said the latest furloughs vary by department and last for a week. Some staffers are taking additional time off through vacation — “up to three weeks, if they have it” — while others will cycle in to work in the building, which is “dark” for the month. There are no shows at the Guthrie, and the theater is closed to the public this month.
    “But there’s still work being done here,” Santini said. “The organization has not done a complete shutdown.”
    January is a traditionally a slow time in theater, but not always at the Guthrie. Last January, the theater had three overlapping productions — “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “The Servant of Two Masters” and “As You Like It.”
    The latest furloughs come in the wake of the news that the Guthrie ended its latest fiscal year with a deficit of nearly $438,000. That figure is on top of a cut of $1.1 million in expenses that the theater undertook during the year.
    “We make choices throughout the course of the year as we continue to manage the budget,” Santini said.
    The Guthrie, whose current annual budget is $24 million, is completing necessary repairs and updates to its facility while the building is closed, she said.
    “We’ve been operating basically 24/7 since we opened [the new building],” Santini said. “We haven’t had any significant dark time that would allow us to do the work we need to do.”
    She said that the theater is replacing the houselights operating system, cleaning carpets and refinishing the floors of the lobby of the Dowling Studio.
    While the furloughs save the theater money — Santini would not say how much — expenses are also increasing because of the upgrades.
    The Guthrie will reopen to the public on Feb. 4, when rehearsals begin for “Othello.” The next play that will open at the Guthrie is an import. Kneehigh Theatre’s “Tristan & Yseult” opens Feb. 13.
    Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390

1/14/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Pushback on seven day work week proposal, by Bob Hague, Wisconsin Radio Network via wrn.com
    MADISON, Wisc., USA - A bill from two Republican state legislators would allow employees to volunteer to work seven straight days without a break. Not surprisingly, it’s already being opposed by organized labor in Wisconsin. “Really, this is turning back the clock on workers rights,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Stepanie [sic] Bloomingdale. “Workers really have an American social contract which allows them to have time to work, but also time to rest and to be with their families and their communities.”
    [Really, Stepanie [sp?]? Actually, not until unions better get undistracted by pay and benefits and other frills and refocus on their power issue, shorter worktime to harness market forces in their favor.]
    State Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend and Representative Mark Born of Beacer Dam have said the bill brings Wisconsin in line with federal law, gives workers a way to make extra money and employers a way to boost production. Labor leaders contend it could allow employers to pressure their employees to work more.
    “I think most people understand there can be a fine line between being forced, and volunteering to work extra hours,” said Mark Westphal, President of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council.
    [Most people would indeed understand that if what's left of the unions educated them to that effect.]
    “This allows employers to use tactics like pressure, coercion or intimidation,” said Bloomingdale.

  2. Emcore cuts 29 positions, furloughs 25 more, by Dan Mayfield, Albuquerque Business First via bizjournals.com
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., USA - Emcore Corp. has had a “reduction in force” of 29 positions, and 25 more employees have been placed on an eight-week furlough, according to a spokesman.
    Spokesman Joel Counter said Tuesday that the reductions were put in place Friday.

    [And how many more firings would there have been without those 25 eight-week furloughs?]
    He said 24 of the 29 positions being cut are in Albuquerque, but didn’t immediately have further details.
    Emcore, the state’s second-largest publicly-traded company, makes compound semiconductor-based products for fiber optics and photovoltaics.
    In its last earnings statement for the quarter ending Sept. 30, the company reported a profit of $4.988 million for the year ended Sept. 30, compared to a loss of $39.17 million the previous fiscal year.
    [Profit? So why the strengthening of the downturn?]
    The company reported $28 million in gross profit for its year ending Sept. 30, compared to $17 million for the previous year.
    Emcore’s headquarters is at the Sandia Science and Technology Park.

1/12-13/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Banks cut hours for junior staff, by Tim Wallace, 1/12 City A.M. via cityam.com
    LONDON, England - A number of City banks are examining plans to cut the hours worked by interns and junior staff in their investment banking units, City A.M understands, following criticism some are working dangerously hard.
    After months of intense scrutiny of the industry’s practices, Barclays is thought to be considering increasing the number of junior staff it hires.
    The move would spread the workload and cut hours, as part of a range of measures to ensure that junior staff and interns do not burn out.

    [So timesizing is an alternative to burnout as well as to downsizing.]
    The bank has long had graduate development teams looking after staff for their first year, as well as a buddy scheme to help new graduates get help from outside their immediate teams. “The well-being of all of our employees is a top priority,” said a Barclays spokesman.
    Meanwhile Deutsche Bank is also believed to be considering new guidelines for interns’ working hours, again to make sure they have some time outside of the office. Deutsche Bank declined to comment.
    The latest disclosures come after Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Friday told interns to take at least four weekend days off each month. It issued new guidelines after a review of work practices, following the death of an intern last summer.
    Moritz Erhardt died in August towards the end of a summer internship in the investment bank, and is thought to have worked all night for several days. The 21-year old student was later found to have died of natural causes, but his death sparked a fierce debate around the treatment of young staff.
    Goldman Sachs has told its junior staff to take more time off, insisting that they are away from the office between 9pm on Friday and 9am on Sunday each weekend, while JP Morgan is increasing the number of staff and interns it hires to spread the workload more widely. The bank has also reportedly told junior staff they must take one weekend per month where they don’t work at all.
    Banking internships typically come with salaries of £40,000 or more on a pro-rata basis and are a key route to a career in investment banking.
    The positions are very desirable, leading to fierce competition between applicants. Long hours are common with interns sometimes working all night to get ahead of colleagues and impress bosses and recruiters.

  2. Why don't we ask about the ideal working hours for fathers? by Georgina Dent, 1/12 (1/13 dateline issue) Women's Agenda via womensagenda.com.au
    MELBOURNE, Australia - It is something of an occupational hazard of working on a publication like Women's Agenda that I am, quite often, drawn into discussions about gender equality in social settings. Sometimes these conversations become a little adversarial. When they do, the point of tension inevitably arises around whether gender inequality is really an issue.
    At this point I tend to resort to facts and figures. The gender pay gap. The disproportionate number of women in senior roles in government and in business. The gender gap in workplace participation as demonstrated by the World Economic Forum. Sometimes people are surprised by these figures and sometimes people disregard them. In either case, at this point, I usually try to finish the conversation and move into other terrain.
    Nonetheless I always come away from these conversations feeling a bit mystified. Mystified that anyone, let alone anyone who reads this website, really believes that gender equality is a fait accompli. Mystified that anyone thinks discussing gender inequality is a personal bugbear, or political persuasion, of mine or this audience. Mystified that anyone doesn't think that addressing gender equality is an urgent and necessary economic and social priority.
    Engaging in conversation with the unconverted on this topic has, on more than one occasion, dampened my evening. The very belief – often passionately held – that gender equality is an irrelevant battle fought and won long ago stands in the way of genuine progress. The upside, however, to these discussions, albeit frustrating, is that it steels my resolve to keep this conversation going. To try and persuade as many thinking men and women that gender equality is absolutely a challenge we need to meet.
    Of course, it is a complex challenge. Were it easy I suspect we'd have achieved it long ago. Achieving gender equality requires significant change; both structural and cultural. One of the more insidious cultural impediments to gender equality is the stereotypes we accept, often blindly. I was reminded of this last week when I saw a tweet from Channel Ten's Studio 10 program.
    Studio 10 @Studio10au
    Mums who want be happy shouldn't work more than 24 hours a week, according to a new report. Time to clock off?
    5:59 PM - 9 Jan 2014
    1 Favorite

    The tweet included a link to a newspaper with a headline along these lines: "Mums happiest working 24 hours a week." The headline has since been changed but my first reaction on seeing it and reading the corresponding article, based on new research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, was this: what about Dads?
    What is the ideal number of working hours per week for a father? I suspect the answer is no one has looked into it. The broad expectation that Australians still have and accept is that fathers will work fulltime while mothers will balance childcare with paid work.
    Gender equality isn't about mums being able to have children and work. It's about parents being able to have children and work.
    But how many of us still think about the family and work juggle as a challenge for women? I would guess many of us. The expectations we still have about men and women, the stereotypes that still prevail, are ingrained in all of us and they won't change without each of us stopping and challenging them. This year I urge you to start thinking in terms of parents, rather than mothers. It is a small change but it's an important distinction to make. It's particularly important for anyone who is genuinely interested in gender equality.

1/11/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. It's time to update overtime - Obama should help workers by bringing the law up-to-date, op ed by VP Ross Eisenbrey of Economic Policy Institute, NYT, A17.
    [We have a much better design for updating overtime that doesn't play around incentivating employees with time&ahalf while disincentivating employers less and less as full-time benefits are multiplied.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — President Obama has assured American workers that he won’t let Congress keep him from lending a hand during these tough economic times. “I will not allow gridlock, inaction or willful indifference to get in our way,” he said in a speech last year. “Whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it.”
    The problem is that most presidential actions that could help significant numbers of middle-class workers do require congressional participation. But here’s one that doesn’t: raising the salary threshold for the exemption to the overtime rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
    The act establishes that most workers, after 40 hours of weekly work, are entitled to be paid 1.5 times their regular wage — a.k.a., overtime. Hourly paid workers fall into this class, as do salaried workers who make less than a specified “threshold” amount.
    The idea [bad] is that employees in higher-status positions (executives, administrators, professionals) ought to be exempt from receiving the overtime premium.
    But as with the minimum wage, which is not automatically adjusted for inflation and tends to lose real value unless it is raised, the overtime exemption threshold generally languishes. That means that many people who once would have been paid 1.5 times their wage when working overtime are not, violating the spirit of the law.
    For decades, the Department of Labor periodically updated the overtime salary threshold. But today’s threshold, at $455 a week, is far below historical levels in real terms.
    And at just $2 a week more than a poverty-level income for a family of four, it is indefensibly low. I propose that President Obama raise the threshold to $970, equal in today’s dollars to the 1975 level of $250.
    In keeping with the original purpose of the overtime rules, this increase would make overtime pay more expensive, creating an incentive for employers to spread work among other workers (an important goal in today’s low-job-creation environment). It would also more fairly compensate those who do work more than 40 hours.
    Why do I suggest an updated 1975 value of $970? Because it would restore the proper relationship between the overtime salary threshold and today’s median wage. When the Ford administration raised the threshold in 1975, it was 1.6 times the median wage. Today’s median wage for 40 hours of work is about $670. Were we to update that value by the same 1.6 ratio that prevailed in the mid-1970s, we’d end up with a threshold above $1,000, suggesting that $970 is, if anything, on the low side.
    At the same time, an updated 1975 value would still leave higher-status positions exempt from the overtime protection. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for manager-supervisors in various occupations range from $1,520 to $3,995, well above my proposed threshold.
    You might worry that raising the overtime salary threshold would dampen hiring by creating higher labor costs. But there are good reasons not to expect this outcome. Research suggests that employers have a rough idea of how much overtime they will need from a given hire and adjust the base wage down accordingly. This means that at least some part of the burden of an increased overtime premium falls on the worker. But more important, if employers want to avoid paying overtime, they have an easy way to do so: Hire new workers to do the extra work at the standard wage. (This, again, was one of the objectives of the original law.)
    The overtime provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act is still a vital contributor to the well-being of millions of American workers, but it needs updating to live up to its potential. At the same time, for President Obama to carry out his pledge to help working people with or without Congress’s participation, he needs policy reforms that make a difference but don’t require legislative approval. Raising the overtime salary threshold would be a simple solution to both problems.
    Ross Eisenbrey is the vice president of the Economic Policy Institute.

  2. Wall Street shock: Take a day off, even a Sunday, by William Alden & Sydney Ember, NYT, A1.
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The effort by Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the latest sign that Wall Street banks are taking a critical look at the hard-charging culture of analyst and associate jobs.Tim Chong/Reuters The effort by Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the latest sign that Wall Street banks are taking a critical look at the hard-charging culture of analyst and associate jobs.
    For the ambitious college graduates who flock to Wall Street, working into the wee hours or even pulling all-nighters is an unwritten expectation of the job. Spending both Saturdays and Sundays at the office is the norm.
    But on Friday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch issued a small reprieve for those with grueling schedules: Take four days off a month, on the weekends.
    Such an offer from an employer would sound like punishment for the average worker. But for junior employees of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, that recommendation was intended as a bit of relief.

    Merrill Lynch, the investment bank unit, said in an internal memo on Friday that its analysts and associates — the two lowest-ranking employee levels — should try to spend four weekend days away from the office each month, part of a broader effort to improve working conditions.
    “We are committed to making the work experience better for junior bankers and believe these enhancements will help ensure they have the resources and support needed to succeed,” Christian Meissner, the head of global corporate and investment banking at the bank, said in the memo, which was reviewed by The New York Times. A spokesman confirmed the memo’s contents.
    The effort, coming after a review of several months, is the latest sign that Wall Street banks are taking a critical look at the hard-charging culture of these jobs, which are often seen as steppingstones to higher-ranking positions with better salaries (and, eventually, weekends off).
    Last year, Goldman Sachs created a “junior banker task force,” composed of senior employees from different units, which recommended that analysts should be able to take weekends off whenever possible.
    JPMorgan Chase plans this year to increase its staff of junior bankers 10 percent to help spread out the workload, according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. The bank also plans to ensure that its young employees have one “protected weekend” set aside for rest each month.
    For Bank of America, the issue sharpened after a 21-year-old intern died last summer in the company’s London office. Unconfirmed reports on social network forums suggested that the intern, Moritz Erhardt, had worked through three consecutive nights as part of the internship. Though his death was ultimately determined to have been caused by epilepsy, it nevertheless opened a discussion on Wall Street and in the news media about the grueling work hours expected of junior employees.
    Bank of America’s review, which included hundreds of interviews with employees at all levels, led to a number of changes that are to start this quarter, the memo said. While the bank does not encourage weekend work, the memo said, “we recommend that analysts and associates take a minimum of four weekend days off per month.”
    Exceptions to that guideline must be approved by a senior manager, according to the memo, which added that analysts and associates were required to use their allocated vacation time.
    The changes come at a time when banks across Wall Street are trying to remain attractive employers for the country’s brightest young minds. Though the prospect of a large salary and experience in finance still draws many college graduates to the industry, some ambitious students are considering other career paths, including those in the technology industry, famous for its employee perks like free oil changes or staff masseuses.
    “It’s a generational shift,” said Russell W. Ladson Jr., 24, a former analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Does it really make sense for me to do something I really don’t love and don’t really care about, working 90 hours a week? It really doesn’t make sense. Banks are starting to realize that.”
    Mr. Ladson, a graduate of Morehouse College who worked in the public finance group of the sales and trading section of Merrill Lynch, which would not be covered by the new rules, said he took the job in 2011 “because I wanted to make some quick money.” His starting salary was $70,000.
    But he soon discovered a lack of passion for the work, made worse by the long hours. He would arrive at the office around 8:15 a.m., often staying until 1 the next morning, he said.
    Another former analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alex J. Cook, said that on a bad night, he “wouldn’t go home at all.” Mr. Cook, a 27-year-old graduate of Dartmouth, now works at Ralph Lauren in a strategy and operations role.
    Mr. Ladson, after a stint at another financial firm, is now working at a technology start-up firm he helped found — which he views as more in line with his passions. The start-up, Drop, is developing an app to make reservations, to order and to pay at restaurants.
    Many young workers are similarly looking for personal fulfillment in their jobs, said Adam Zoia, the chief executive of Glocap, an executive search firm focused on the investment management industry.
    “It used to be the case that financial services were such attractive jobs that they were magnets for young talent,” said Mr. Zoia, who was once a junior employee at the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. “They didn’t have to worry as much about what the actual work experience was like.”
    Bank of America said it intended to “make certain that junior bankers work on a wide variety of different assignments, where possible, and ensure that the development of core skills is an important factor in making staffing assignments.”
    Changes in “technology, graphics and production and printing services” could also enhance efficiency and work-life balance, and the bank is reviewing these areas as well, the memo said.
    Goldman Sachs, after its review last year, also said it would introduce new technology to make work more efficient.
    But while some analysts complain about long hours, others say they enjoy the intensity of their work and the camaraderie that it can foster.
    Mr. Cook, the former analyst at Bank of America, said he spent Super Bowl Sundays at the office in 2010 and 2011. His group took breaks to try to watch as much of the game as they could, he said.
    “We would always order a bunch of Super Bowl food,” he said. “It was one of those classic investment banking bonding experiences."

  3. Budget shortfall forces Moorhead Public Library to cut hours and staffing, by Cali Owings, (1/10 late pickup) In-Forum via inforum.com
    The city of Moorhead shorted the public library's funding request by about $40,000, resulting in reduced hours in the facility starting February 1. (photo caption)
    MOORHEAD, Minn., USA – The Moorhead Public Library will reduce hours and staffing because of a reduction in funding from the city.
    Effective Feb. 1, the library’s weekly hours will decrease from 69 to 56, and it will no longer be open on Sundays. The reduced hours correspond with the elimination of one full-time position during the week and four Sunday staffers.
    The Moorhead Public Library, a member of the Lake Agassiz Regional Library in northwest Minnesota, requests funding annually from the city, said Liz Lynch, regional library director.
    This year, the Moorhead library requested $716,535 – a slight increase – and city funding fell about $40,000 short, she said.
    “If the city doesn’t pay what we ask, then, unfortunately, we simply cannot afford to offer the same level of services,” she said.
    The library system didn’t ask for funding increases between 2009 and 2012 because it realized cities and counties supporting local libraries faced tight budgets. Libraries like Moorhead used reserve funds to offset operational increases.
    “We’re just not in a position where we can turn to our reserves anymore,” Lynch said.
    The library’s service hours will be cut by one hour at the beginning and end of each day Monday through Thursday. Lynch said staying closed on Sunday will be a big change because it’s usually a busy day.
    While the number of items checked out isn’t necessarily going up, Lynch said libraries are seeing growth in the number of e-books downloaded and near-constant use of public computers.
    “People are definitely using public libraries, though not in the traditional sense,” she said.
    ‘Fight for it’
    Before the changes take effect Feb. 1, Lynch and other library advocates want patrons to try to convince the city to change its funding allocation.
    “These are taxpayer dollars, and if they want their taxes spent on the library, I think they should have an opportunity to fight for it,” Lynch said.
    On Jan. 19, the Friends of the Moorhead Public Library, a private group that supports the library through fundraisers and advocacy, will urge supporters to contact City Council members to talk about the funding shortfall and its impact on library visitors.
    Reduced hours and staff cuts are “a problem for the patrons of the library,” said Patti Kratky, president of the Friends of the Moorhead Public Library group.
    While the organization supports library programming and other initiatives, such as the cost for free coffee cups, Kratky said it is unable to come up with $40,000.
    Kratky said she is concerned the reduction in hours will hurt visitors who rely on public computers to find and apply for jobs, limit scheduling options for groups that use the library for meetings and even curb the Friends of the Moorhead Public Library’s book sale – a major fundraiser.
    “There are a lot of things that the city does that need money, but you can’t forget the arts. You can’t forget literature. You can’t forget providing public information,” she said.
    New Moorhead Public Library hours effective Feb. 1
    Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    Sunday: Closed
    If you go
    What: Friends of the Moorhead Public Library meeting
    When: Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.
    Where: Moorhead Public Library, 118 5th St. S.
    Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599

  4. Barge blasts Deal for teacher furloughs, by Walter Jones, Morris News Service via OnlineAthens.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA – John Barge, the state superintendent of schools and a candidate for governor, blasted Gov. Nathan Deal [on] Friday for not funding public schools enough to avoid local districts’ decision to furlough teachers.
    “In 2012, there was a promise made to end teacher furloughs. That hasn’t happened,” Barge told reporters attending a conference hosted by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.
    A survey of local school systems by the left-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute found that 71 percent of them have school years less than the 180 days specified in state law. And 82 percent of them are dependent on their cash reserves to balance the current budget.
    House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, told the conference some districts are in dire circumstances.
    “We have 19 systems that are on the verge of bankruptcy,” he said.
    Barge said he doesn’t know what Deal, a fellow Republican, will recommend for education when he announces his budget proposal Wednesday.

    “I’ve not had any direct conversations with the governor’s office about funding. I have no idea what it is,” the superintendent said. “I have to read it in the newspaper.”
    Barge said he is stepping down as superintendent because he believes he can do more good for schools as governor.
    Without offering details, he said he would take some funds from other agencies by removing duplication. Since education and health care spending take up about 70 percent of the state budget, complete elimination of multiple agencies would never come close to replacing the $1 billion difference between what is allocated for schools and what the state’s funding formula demands. Barge refused to say if he would favor raising taxes to make a more sizable reduction in that billion-dollar hole. But he did say he would tap the state’s cash reserves.
    “You’re not going to be able to fully restore a billion,” he said. “I know that. But it’s not going to take that to alleviate some of the pressure. We’ve got to start somewhere.”
    The state may need those reserves.
    The Policy and Budget Institute projects that while state tax collections are $500 million higher than last year, spending is $700 million higher, mostly due to increases in health care and enrollment growth in public schools and colleges.
    • Follow Walter Jones on Twitter @MorrisNews and Facebook at www.facebook.com/walter.jones.3958.
    [And an additional version from yesterday -]
    GOP Backs Spending More On Schools, by Jeanne Bonner, (1/10) Georgia Public Broadcasting News via gpb.org
    [Pendulum swinging back?]
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA — At an educational conference Friday, Republican state lawmakers said Georgia needs to spend more on education. And while they say they can’t restore $1 billion in education cuts that piled up during the Recession, they say the time for austerity is over. The comments came days before the legislative session begins Monday.
    Rep. Brooks Coleman and Sen. Lindsey Tippins toured the state last year talking to teachers and parents about education.
    And speaking at Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education conference, Coleman said what they saw and heard was surprising but gives them a clear mandate.
    “We were shocked to find most school districts don’t have 180 days,” he told reporters. “I think the lowest we saw was 150, right Lindsey? One school district had 150 days. We were shocked to see the number of furlough days. They said, ‘That would be a teacher raise if you just restored furlough days’.”
    Gov. Nathan Deal has called for giving teachers raises this year.
    State School Superintendent John Barge, who spoke at the conference, agrees with Coleman on furlough days. And he’s using the issue as a wedge as he challenges Deal for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
    The high number of furlough days isn’t news to Georgia teachers, who are worried about how the state’s funding levels for education are affecting classroom instruction. So said Georgia’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, Jemellah Coes. Speaking at the conference, she said her fellow teachers’ concerns boil down to one thing:
    “Always funding,” said Coes, a special education teacher in Bulloch County. “Funding affects our class size and the days out – furlough days and the days children are actually receiving instruction.”
    And they’re nervous Georgia will stop participating in the Common Core curriculum standard used by more than 40 states. Coes said if Georgia abandons the Common Core, it will waste three years of training teachers have undergone to learn the standards.
    Republican State Senator William Ligon of Brunswick has filed a bill that would bar Georgia from using the Common Core curriculum. Governors voluntarily adopted the standards partly to ease learning differences when children change schools. But some Republicans consider it federal overreach.
    Coleman, Tippins and Barge all said school officials support the Common Core.
    Coleman, a Duluth lawmaker who chairs the House Education committee, said 19 school districts are on the verge of bankruptcy. And Tippins, who represents Marietta, said he disagrees with some of his Republican colleagues who have suggested making the education cuts of the last decade permanent.
    "The schools would starve if we did that," he said.
    [As indeed they are!]

  5. Today's question: How many hours are there in your work week? KearneyHub.com
    KEARNEY, Neb., USA - 50 hours or more (37%)
    40 hours or more (28%)
    30 hours or more (7%)
    20 hours or more (7%)
    I don’t work (22%)

    [Consciousness is gradually rising that "full time" is variable, something that most economists ignore.]
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1/10/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Call to cut work week for parents heats up German debate, Agence France-Presse via GlobalPost.com
    BERLIN, Germany - Germany's new family minister has proposed cutting the work week for parents of young children, fuelling a debate Friday over the cost of better combining family and professional life.
    "Full-time for parents must be re-defined," said Manuela Schwesig, the Social Democrat who took over the portfolio last month in the new "grand coalition" with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.
    "For parents, especially with small children, full-time should not be 40 but, for example, 32 hours," she said in an interview with Friday's Handelsblatt business daily, provoking irritation among several of her coalition partners.

    [And with worldwide non-recovery recovery, full-time should not be 40 but whatever number it takes to spread the vanishing employment in the robotics age and provide enough consumers to buy all the stuff the robots can produce.]
    Grappling with an ageing and shrinking population, Germany has rolled out measures to boost the birthrate as well as lure mothers back to work as Europe's top economy enjoys a robust labour market but struggles to fill skilled jobs.
    But mass-circulation Bild newspaper Friday quoted calculations by the DIW research institute showing that a 32-hour working week would hit federal coffers by around 140 million euros ($190 million) a year.
    "I'd like for both parents to reduce their weekly working time," Schwesig told Bild, adding that taxes could help fund the proposal. "A part of the loss of wages could then be settled out of tax money," the 39-year-old mother-of-one said.
    It quoted Christian Democrats' chief economic expert Kurt Lauk as rejecting the proposal as the "wrong track", while the conservatives deputy parliamentary group chief Michael Fuchs asked: "I wonder where the money is to come from."
    The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry also voiced doubts.
    "Eight out of 10 companies already offer flexible work times, one in three lend support with care provision," deputy chief executive Achim Dercks told the regional Passauer Neue Presse.
    Amid handwringing about the so-called glass ceiling in Germany, the new coalition has agreed to introduce a women's quota for the supervisory boards of listed companies.
    Merkel's vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also energy and economy minister, prompted column inches aplenty this week by confirming he would go on devoting Wednesday afternoons to picking up his young daughter from nursery.
    And mother-of-seven Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said she will focus on helping Bundeswehr soldiers combine family with career, which she hopes to enjoy herself by trying to work from home when possible.
    [Oh man! This story even made it to Oman in the Reuters version! -]
    Proposal to cut work hours of small kids' parents rocks German coalition, Reuters via OmanTribune.com
    BERLIN, Germany - Germany’s new Social Democrat (SPD) family minister has angered Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives with a proposal to cut the working week for parents of small children to 32 hours while guaranteeing them no cut in pay.
    “It’s always been tough to balance work and family life but we must make it easier for families in Germany,” the minister, Manuela Schwesig, told German TV on Friday. “Parents shouldn’t be disadvantaged at work and politicians have to lead the way.”
    She wants the legal definition of full-time work for mothers and fathers of children under three to be reduced from 40 hours a week, meaning they would keep the same pay as if they were working eight hours a day, five days a week.
    But politicians from Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), who launched a “grand coalition” government with the SPD last month, called the SPD proposal “crazy” and said it would be a burden on taxpayers and the economy.
    “I’d like to know where the money would come from,” asked senior CDU lawmaker Michael Fuchs.
    Joachim Pfeiffer, a conservative economics spokesman in the Bundestag, said work and family life should be more compatible but forcing firms to pay part-time workers the full whack “would be an attack on the competitiveness of the German economy”.
    Industry is already worried about the government’s plans to introduce a minimum wage, restrict temporary work contracts and lower the retirement age for certain categories of workers.
    Top SPD politicians have led by example when it comes to taking time for their families.
    Party leader Sigmar Gabriel declined to stand against Merkel in last year’s election citing the need to spend time with his baby daughter Marie. Now deputy chancellor and economy minister, he has stuck to his routine of taking Wednesday afternoons off to pick up Marie from the kindergarten.
    Joerg Asmussen quit his high-profile job in Frankfurt on the board of the European Central Bank last month to spend more time with his family in Berlin, taking a less prominent post in the SPD-run labour ministry.
    Schwesig, who spends Wednesday afternoons with her son but had to postpone the play-date to Thursday this week, argued that her proposal would actually “benefit the economy if more people, especially well-trained women, remain in the workforce because they feel work and family are compatible”.
    Members of Merkel’s conservatives have also signalled their intention to reserve time for their families.
    Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has seven children and has said she wants to “home commute” occasionally, though the ambitious CDU politician has already found time to visit troops in Afghanistan and begin profiling herself as a potential successor to Merkel.
    The chancellor’s former chief of staff Ronald Pofalla has been criticised for citing family reasons for his resignation even as he was quietly lining up a high-paying job at German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

  2. US average workweek edges down, StockMarketWire.com
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The average workweek for US employees on private non-farm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in December, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    The manufacturing workweek was unchanged, at 41.0 hours, and factory overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours.
    The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private non-farm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.
    [So workweek reduction is happening anyway, but not the best way...]

1/09/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Something Republicans and Democrats Agree On: Work-Sharing, by Nicole Woo, Center for Economic Policy & Research via cepr.net
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - One of the most unheralded examples of Democrats and Republicans working together has been the passage of work-sharing laws at both the national and state levels over the past few years.
    Ten states have passed work-sharing since 2009, bringing the total up to 26 states plus the District of Columbia. And time-limited federal funding for work-sharing was included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Most, if not all, of these laws were passed with bipartisan support.
    Tomorrow, the National Employment Law Project and Center for Law and Social Policy are convening a "A National Conference: Averting Layoffs and Saving Jobs Through Work-Sharing" in Washington, DC, to draw more attention to this under-publicized and underutilized program.
    [They want to draw more attention to this under-publicized and underutilized program and they don't have me on their mailing list?]
    CEPR's Dean Baker and AEI's Kevin Hassett will be the lunchtime speakers, highlighting the bipartisan support for work-sharing. As they wrote in this New York Times op-ed, expanding it would "...slow job destruction [and] improve chances for all workers seeking employment. From now on, the first line of defense during a recession should be to expand work sharing rather than simply extend unemployment benefits."
    As the *chart..shows, work-sharing participation rates peaked during the recent recession, and have since been dropping along with the unemployment rate, which is exactly how it is supposed to work.
    [This is a foretaste of the next version where the workweek varies inversely against the unemployment rate.]
    Getting more states to start work-sharing programs now, or improve their existing ones, would not only help them access millions of dollars in federal funds before the deadlines, but also be better prepared for the next downturn.

  2. Sen. Tim Scott introduces amendment to 'restore 40-hour work week', by Chris Haire (of the Dog), Biting Commentary & Rabid Rants via CharlestonCityPaper.com
    CHARLESTON, S.C., USA - Seven-Up Gold.
    Earth 2.
    Red Dog beer.
    Abe Vigoda.
    Not a day goes by that I don't mourn their passing.
    But of all the things I grieve, the one thing that saddens me the most is the death of the 9-to-5, 40-hour work week.
    The worst part? I can't even remember when it slipped away.
    Perhaps I drowned out those memories in booze. Perhaps I repressed those painful feelings so that I would never have to feel that pain again. Perhaps, the 40-hour work week never truly existed. It was a myth, a fable, like the creative class or the NCAA's believe in the sanctity of the student athlete. I know it's not, but sometimes it just feels that way.
    But thanks to Sen. Tim Scott that feeling may finally go away.
    Today, Sen. Scott has introduced an amendment that would "restore the 40-hour work week." Personally, this couldn't have come at a better time.
    Right now, work consumes my life. I hop on my laptop as soon as I wake up in the morning, and except for a few short breaks, I work through the rest of the day, often even when I get home. And thanks to the internet, email, and smart phones, not even the weekends are spared.

    So believe you me, I fell down on my knees and thanked Jobs Himself [i.e., Job himself, as in "Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job" = books of the Bible, or, Steve Jobs?] when I heard that Tim Scott was going to restore the 40-hour work week. This is exactly what I needed to get my life back on track. Now, I would have time to take my daughters to the park. I would have time to wine and dine the wife like I used to back when we were dating. I would have time to play fetch in the backyard with my two pups. I would be able to finish the Great American Novel. I would finally be able to fall asleep at night with visions of Scarlett Johansson in my head and not spreadsheets and pitches from PR hacks.
    And then I discovered that Tim Scott didn't give a shit about me and he sure as hell didn't give a shit about restoring the 40-hour work week. Fucker.
    Anyhow, here's the statement that Scott's Senate staff infections put out. Read it and mourn for a future that will never be:
    Senator Tim Scott Introduces Amendment to Restore 40-Hour Work Week Unraveled by Obamacare
    Contact: (202) 224-2718
    Washington, DC– U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) today filed an amendment to the Unemployment Insurance extension currently being considered by the Senate that would restore the 40-hour work week that has been unraveled by the provisions of Obamacare. The employer mandate under the federal health law currently requires employers to provide insurance to full time employees and defines “full time” as 30 hours per week or more. As a result, employers are cutting hours for many employees to fewer than 30 per week. Senator Scott’s amendment would change the definition of full-time employment under Obamacare to 40 hours per week.
    “Obamacare will destroy the 40-hour work week as we know it,” Scott said.
    [And what's the matter with that?!]
    “When the employer mandate goes into effect next year, many Americans who are earning hourly wages to support their families will see a 25 percent cut in their pay as employers struggle with the massive new costs forced on them by the federal government.
    [This guy has no imagination. When all Americans are only working 30 hrs/wk, there will be 25% more jobs and 35-40% more consumer spending and marketable productivity and profitable investment, and 25% less desperate, mutually underbidding resumes for every job opening.]
    Thanks to Obamacare, not only will these workers not have health insurance, but they will no longer have full-time jobs.
    “I’ve heard from several employers and workers in South Carolina, representing institutions as large as Clemson University and as small as a local surf shop, who are suffering the consequences of the 30-hour definition. Obamacare is bad for employees, bad for families, and bad for businesses. While the negative effects of the law are seemingly countless, restoring the 40-hour requirement will help to soften the blow on American workers and keep their full-time jobs in place."

1/08/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shift change, by Jodi Lundmark, TbNewsWatch.com
    THUNDER BAY, Ont., Canada - As city police ready to transition to 12-hour work shifts, Bombardier employees are saying goodbye to seven-day work weeks.
    Employees at the local plant had been working either four 10-day shifts or three-12 hour shifts [=36-hrs only!] per week since April 2012, but starting Feb. 8 the workers will be back to a five-day work week.
    [Evidently some hourscuts were substituted for jobcuts here.]
    Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said the employees voted in favour of the shift change during their last contract negotiations because Bombardier officials said it was what they needed at the time.
    "We were happy to try to help out the company in any way possible to make the schedules and we did that," said Pasqualino.
    New management decided to go back to the five-day work week and gave the employees the four months notice required.
    Pasqualino said the more than 1,000 employees affected had mixed reactions to the change.
    Some members loved working a three or four day work week.
    "Some other people find it quite disruptive and they're happy to go back to the five-day work week," said Pasqualino.
    The Thunder Bay Police Service started making the switch to 12-hour shifts this week; the move is a one-year pilot program where either the police service or the Thunder Bay Police Association has the right to opt out after a year.
    In October, Chief J.P. Levesque said he hoped the change would cut down on overtime costs and the 12-hour shift model would work better with the force's move to zone policing.
    The change affects 108 patrol officers, 36 communication officers and 19 records officers.

  2. McMahon: 2014 outlook for Robins Air Force Base improves, by Lorra Lynch Jones, 13WMAZ.com
    WARNER ROBINS, Ga., USA - The forecast for Robins Air Force Base may be a little brighter this year compared to last.
    That's the opinion of Retired Major General and CEO of the 21st Century Partnership Bob McMahon.
    A cloud seemed to hang over Robins Air Force Base in 2013 with furloughs, a reduced workforce from early retirements and hiring freezes.
    [Not as dark a cloud as if it had been layoffs instead of furloughs...]
    McMahon said, "Every time you saw a light at the end of the tunnel, people just assumed it was another train about to hit them."
    2014 won't be a breeze, he said, but the clouds may be parting.
    "I'm cautiously optimistic about 2014", he said.
    McMahon is basing that largely on a budget agreement from Congress. It will allow Air Force leaders to plan workforce cuts and spending reductions.
    The Pentagon outlined those last year: 25,000 fewer airmen over five years and 900 fewer civilian jobs this year.
    McMahon estimates about 200 will come from Air Force Materiel Command. He says an exact number from Robins will likely be known by this spring, and who will be leaving by this summer.
    He said, "It will at least allow for the leadership up-front a plan of how to execute that, rather than getting a late night call, that says, 'Tomorrow, you're going to lose X number of dollars. Figure out how to make it happen'."
    He's not predicting large-scale early retirements or furloughs.
    McMahon is asking the community and Robins to look beyond 2014.
    He said, "All of us should accept the fact that there will likely be another round of BRAC, and with that, how do you get prepared? We know what the test looks like. This is an open-book test."
    McMahon says at Robins, people should focus on productivity, repairing the relationship between management and the union, and cutting costs through public and private partnerships.
    Outside the fence, the community can help Robins find ways to save money, promote the area's strengths, and work to improve weaknesses, such as crime and transportation.
    McMahon said, "We've got the opportunity now. Whether or not we take that opportunity, the choice is ours."
    This week, Congress is working on an appropriations bill that contains a full Department of Defense budget.
    McMahon says that will spell out cuts to Robins operations and maintenance budget.

1/07/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. The State Workers' Top 10: Furloughs affect leave cash outs, by Jon Ortiz jortiz@sacbee.com, Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The numbers in a March report confirmed what common sense inferred: Furloughing state workers carried hidden long-term costs.
    According to Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, furloughs cut state payroll costs by about $5 billion since the policy first took hold in fiscal 2008-09. But since state workers on furlough didn’t take as much paid leave time as they otherwise would, their leave balances grew at a quicker clip.
    "Probably nearly $1 billion of these furlough savings was not long-term savings," the LAO concluded. "Instead, the state must pay this money as they retire or otherwise leave state service."
    Although the state has a 640-hour leave cap, among the nation’s most generous, departments routinely ignore it and allow balances to balloon. That adds to the long-term tab the state owes its departing employees.
    Our 5th most-popular post of 2013, Report: California's furloughs driving up leave cash-out costs, included an embedded copy of the LAO’s report on the connection between furloughs and leave balances. The LAO assessment was among the most-viewed documents embedded on The State Worker last year, with more than 33,000 reads via Scribd.
    This post is the latest installment in a series counting down the most-viewed State Worker blog posts of 2013.

  2. Glenn Grothman's seven-day workweek is no solution, by Alan Talaga, Isthmus Daily Page via thedailypage.com
    MADISON, Wisc., USA - State Senator Glenn Grothman made the news again last week with his proposed bill allowing for a seven-day work week in Wisconsin.
    You can make the argument that working every day would help Wisconsinites save some cash. After all, workers with that schedule would have no leisure time in which to spend money on things like going to the movies, driving to a state park, or visiting a museum.
    [And the reduction in consumer spending would starve local businesses and force paycuts and/or hourscuts and/or layoffs. And for those with children and both or single parents working -]
    Of course, seven-day-a-week daycare might eat up some of those theoretical savings.
    Wait, wasn't it Grothman who had a problem with parents not being around for their kids? That must matter less if the parents are out somewhere working.
    I don't have a problem with people working multiple jobs or extra hours if it is actually their choice. I tend to work seven days a week myself, which my partner absolutely hates. My problem with this bill is that Grothman proposes this as a solution for our underemployed, underpaid workforce.
    Grothman (and large swathes of his fellow elected officials) are suggesting an entirely one-sided sacrifice -- poverty is made out entirely to be the worker’s problem.
    In Grothman's world, workers are supposed to be so grateful to have a job that they would be willing to work seven days a week in order to make ends meet. Prospective employees unable to find work because it is cheaper for employers to run their current staff ragged as opposed to creating jobs? Too bad.
    Grothman's solution for people not making enough is merely to have them work more.
    But Wisconsinites and other Americans are already working more. As The New York Times reported last year, productivity has gone up while real wages have stagnated for over a decade.
    There's no push to make the employers do anything to make the wages or working conditions for their employees better. No incentive for the employer to hire three people working 40 hours a week instead of two to work 60.
    [And the most basic requirement of an automating and robotizing economy is for more consumer spending, not less, so that would mean four people working 30 hours a week or five people working 24 hours a week or six people working 20 hours a week...all spending close to 100% of their income, thus engaging the multiplier effect to create solid growth (and their pay would generally maintain the same level because the wage-depressing extra resumes for each job opening would be absorbed and the extra money would come from the extra productivity whose profits are now not going to employees but to employers and the super-rich by default), in contrast to the top end of the income scale where they spend close to zero percent of their mindboggling incomes, thus engaging the multiplier in reverse and a self-accelerating slowdown.]
    No increase in pay via an increased minimum wage to make the "optional" hours actually optional.
    Don't want to work that seventh day? Grothman's law would make working all seven days optional, but that doesn't mean employers aren't going to try and pressure people into it. Working six days will be like wearing the minimum pieces of flair.
    This proposal doesn't even have a protection like the "time and one-half" law Massachusetts has for retail employees working on a Sunday. As a friend pointed out, there's very little in this law to prevent an employer from scheduling an employee for five to six hour shifts all seven days in a week.
    Working seven days a week indefinitely is not sustainable, and it is bad for both workers and their families. It is an emergency stop-gap, dressed up by Grothman as empowering workers, but all it does is empower abusive employers.

1/05-06/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Bombardier Learjet to furlough 300 employees, 1/05 KAKE.com
    WICHITA, Kan., USA -- About 300 Bombardier Learjet employees will face furloughs during the first half of 2014, KAKE News has learned.
    Learjet 70 and Learjet 75 production and direct support workers at the Wichita plant will be affected, according to an internal memo sent to all Wichita employees Friday. The memo said a total of six weeks of furloughs will be implemented in two-week blocks. Affected employees will be told sometime this month when the furloughs will take place, the memo said.
    In the memo, Ralph Acs, Vice-President and General Manager of Learjet, said, "Bombardier continues to see encouraging signs in the U.S. economy, but the aviation industry still faces challenges, particularly in the light category business aircraft segment."
    Acs' memo said the furloughs are necessary to ensure the long-term success of Learjet.
    The furloughs will not affect Bombardier Aircraft Services, Bombardier Flight Test Center, Learjet 85, parts services and customer support employees, according to the memo.

  2. Should We All Have A 4-Day Work Week? 1/06 99U behanceteam via 99u.com
    MERRICKVILLE, N.S.W., Australia - Does an extra day at the computer really produce that much more work? Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson thinks the answer is “no” and has structured his company to prove it. From a 2012 post on his blog:
    "There are so many benefits to working less it’s hard to list them all, but here are the major ones:
    1. Recruiting is easy (we still pay full salaries and offer a very generous benefits package).
    2. Retention is easier. One of the Team told me he regularly gets emails from Facebook trying to win him over and his answer is always the same: 'Do you work a 4-day week yet?'
    3. Morale is boosted. On Mondays everyone is fresh and excited – not jaded from working over the weekend.
    4. I get to spend 50% more time with my kids then almost all other dads (three days versus two). Fifty percent. It’s insane. For those on the Team without kids, they get to spend this extra 50% on their hobbies or loved ones."
    At the time of writing, the company was profitable and the company has since removed all managers.

  3. Ask the expert: Workers required to make up hours for holiday off, 1/05 (1/04 late pickup) Arizona Republic via azcentral.com
    PHOENIX, Ariz., USA - [Q:] My son works for a national mortgage-servicing company. During Thanksgiving week, he and his work group got the holiday off with pay but were required to work a full day on Saturday at straight time. He is in a position that is eligible for overtime pay. The company reasoned that the employees would have only worked 40 hours during the workweek so no overtime was due for the hours worked on Saturday. Doesn’t the Fair Labor Standards Act treat paid holidays as time “worked?”
    [A:] No. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA] does not treat paid holiday hours — other paid time off such as sick leave, vacation, or PTO — as time worked for purposes of calculating premium overtime compensation if the employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek.
    Please note, however, that an employee’s workweek is not necessarily the same as a calendar week. An FLSA workweek is a fixed, regularly-recurring period of 168 hours — that is, seven consecutive 24-hour periods — which the employer expressly adopts in order to maintain FLSA compliance. The employer can initially set its workweek to begin on any day of the week and at any time of day, but thereafter the employer must apply that workweek when calculating overtime compensation.
    [This is a flexibility-enhancing design feature to keep in mind in designing and legislating your economy's overtime- and overwork-to-jobs conversion mechanisms. Oops, I guess this adds future economic designers to my existing audience of (techno-)plutocrats, young people, and un(der)employed.]
    Whether your son is entitled to receive premium overtime compensation for Thanksgiving week therefore depends on the workweek selected by his employer. In my experience, most employers select midnight Saturday, Sunday or Monday as the start for their workweek.
    So, for example, if you son’s workweek began at midnight Monday and ended at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, and he worked eight-hour days on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, then no premium overtime compensation is due because he worked only 40 hours in the workweek.
    However, if the employer happened to have a workweek that started at midnight Saturday, your son could be entitled to overtime compensation for the week after Thanksgiving because he would have worked 48 hours in that workweek: eight hours Nov. 30, plus his regular 40-hour shift during the week of Dec. 2–Dec. 6.

1/04/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Post Offices Likely to Cut Hours - More Upper Valley Towns to See Reduction in Counter Service, by Maggie Cassidy, Valley News via vnews.com
    In Post Mills, Vt., on Jan. 3, 2014, at the Post Mills Post Office in Baker's General Store, Officer-in-Charge Jan Jurgelewicz helps customer Roberta Knight, of Fairlee, Vt.   Knight works in Post Mills. (photo caption)
    THETFORD, Verm., USA — In a continuing effort to cut costs, the U.S. Postal Service has proposed scaling back weekday counter service hours at 15 Upper Valley post offices, mostly in Vermont.
    [Again and again, the once-great USA scales itself back = the right deed (shorter hours) for the wrong reasons (allow the rich to hoard more of the money supply instead of spread employment and maximize consumer spending & marketable productivity & return on investment) and in the wrong way (piecemeal= wage&spending diminishing instead of systemic= wage&spending raising).]
    That’s on top of 17 other post office locations in the region that saw their retail hours reduced in recent months. (See chart above; click the image for a larger version.)
    Access to post office boxes and Saturday retail hours would not be affected under the proposal.
    All five of Thetford’s post offices already have cut back on hours or will in the future, according to the Postal Service. The most drastic change under consideration in the Upper Valley is to cut the North Thetford post office’s retail hours from six hours per weekday to just two.
    “(When) they’ve cut back on the one I go to personally, it’s a pain in the butt, because you can never get to the one that’s open,” said Thetford Selectman Mike Pomeroy, who owns Baker’s General Store.
    Pomeroy leases space in the building to the Post Mills post office, which is under consideration to have its weekday window service cut almost in half, down to four hours a day.
    Other post offices which could have their weekday retail hours nearly halved to four hours a day are North Hartland, South Pomfret, South Woodstock, Vershire and West Newbury.
    Although the schedule changes are considered proposals, a Postal Service spokeswoman suggested they are likely to be instituted.
    “We’re two-thirds of the way through the (review) process and I am not aware of any participating offices in the Northeast that have not adjusted their retail services hours as prescribed,” spokeswoman Melissa Lohnes said in an email.
    If the hours are reduced, the time of day that the post office remains open will be determined on a case-by-case basis, she said.
    Postal Service officials have said they’re responding to the reality that mail volume has decreased rapidly in the Internet age. The Postal Service has faced budget shortfalls in billions of dollars, and is under pressure to reduce its spending.
    Lohnes said Post Plan, the review process under which the Postal Service decided to roll back window service at the 32 Upper Valley post offices, has already saved the agency significantly.
    “We already see an impact from Post Plan and other postal actions designed to reduce our operating costs,” Lohnes said in an email. “Work hours in 2013 decreased by 12 million or 1.1 percent, despite an increase of approximately 774,000 delivery (destinations) during 2013.”
    More than 13,000 post offices nationwide were identified for review when Post Plan was initiated last year as part of a greater plan to achieve “a smart balance between regular delivery access, local retail opportunity and expanded access in alternate venues, including online and with retail partners, for the most common postal services like stamps, postal information or shipping,” Lohnes said in the email.
    “As communications and technology of all types are in a period of great change, so too is the Postal Service,” she said. “As a result, we are looking at effective strategies that help us to match our resources to our true workload while preserving the levels of service that our customers need today in the digital age. ... Given our dire financial condition, we need this boost now.”
    The Post Plan cycle will wrap up this year, she said.
    Postal Service officials will host meetings at post offices targeted for review to answer questions and provide additional information about Post Plan. A meeting for the Tunbridge Post Office is scheduled for Jan. 28 at the post office at 4:30 p.m.
    Notices are being delivered to residents in the affected post offices’ zip codes. Lohnes said other meeting dates will be posted as they are scheduled at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/post-plan/.
    Still, Pomeroy said people around town are displeased by the post offices’ reduction in hours. He personally felt that the Postal Service should redirect its aim at Saturday mail delivery.
    “It’s going after the efficiencies in the wrong place,” he said. “We’re a transient society now, it used to be that people stayed at home ... so rural mail needed to be delivered to them. Now they’re always mobile. You’re in your car all day, why can’t you stop somewhere to get mail?”
    Taftsville Country Store owner Vickie Brooks also rents space in her building to the post office, which was previously open eight hours on weekdays. But over the fall, its hours were reduced from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    “People are not happy about it because it limits by half a day the amount of time they can use the facilities of the post office, the window,” she said.
    There are still kinks to be worked out “that one might not think of,” Brooks added.
    “They don’t open until 12:30, so there’s nobody in the post office to clear the walkway, sprinkle salt,” she said.
    While she and other customers are not happy with the reduced hours, she said she fears there could be more cuts to come.
    “They’ve been really very clear, that they’re going to close the small post office locations,” she said. “They have not said when ... it could be a year, it could be three or four years.”
    Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220.

  2. City, with creative math, brokers a union deal, Connecticutt Post via CtPost.com
    BRIDGEPORT, Conn., USA -- Mayor Bill Finch hopes concessions brokered with one small city union is the first of a string of deals in the new year.
    On Monday, 42 of about 80 members of the Laborer's International Union of North America [LIUNA] gathered in City Hall. Most of them voted to take the 6.5 unpaid furlough days the administration said are necessary to help whittle away $2 million worth of labor concessions built into the current city budget.
    The LIUNA vote was 38-4.
    On Christmas Eve, the two sides issued a joint press release in which Finch, a Democrat, thanked the employees for giving back what amounted to more than $91,000 in furlough hours.
    "We are continuing our negotiations with other city unions and look forward to similar decisions in the coming weeks," Finch said.
    Left unsaid was that the LIUNA deal actually stretches into the 2014-15 fiscal year, which, at least publicly, had never been an option.
    Last month, some city unions, including LIUNA, complained that since the administration first sought the furlough days in June, there had been little to no negotiations to find other ways of making up the $2 million.
    That view was vehemently disputed by the city.
    Either way, the fact remained that half the fiscal year had passed with no concessions deal, leaving employees to take those 6.5 furlough days in a shorter period of time if a deal was brokered before the 2013-14 fiscal year ends in June.
    Cory Bromley, the new LIUNA business manager, helped reach the agreement. Bromley said her members will take about half of their furlough days between January and July, and spread the balance over the 2014-15 fiscal year that starts July 1.
    "They ... let us space it out over 18 months," she said. "So the members are happy with that."
    The move raises questions left unanswered by the Finch administration, including whether this deal will serve as a precedent for the city's larger unions, including the 550 members of the National Association of Government Employees.
    Likewise, some city officials wonder, how can the Finch administration count the savings toward the $2 million hole in the current budget if furlough days aren't taken until next year?
    "If the number is `x' and you say, `I'll give you 50 percent this year and we'll take the other half next year' we're still not at the number," said City Councilwoman Susan Brannelly, D-130, a budget committee chairman. "So something else has to give. I'm not quite sure what that thought process is."
    It was an all-Democrat council that upped Finch's suggested concessions from $1.6 to $2 million during last year's budget process to lower the mayor's proposed tax hike.
    In a statement this week, Finch spokesman Elaine Ficarra said, "The accrued value of (LIUNA's) furlough contributions can be counted toward the FY2013-14 budget." She said it would be inappropriate to comment on active negotiations with the remaining unions.
    Bromley said her members also wanted to avoid layoffs. For LIUNA, the layoffs would have amounted to six or seven positions, Bromley said.
    Having already helped Finch in prior budgets, city employees said last year they were growing weary of the concessions.
    But at least one relatively new hire this week said concern remains about being laid off if the unions don't take furlough days.
    "I've been in a situation where I was out of work 18 months," said the employee, who did not wish to be identified. "I'm in here. I want to stay in here. I don't know how many other people feel that way."
    Of the remaining unions, the next deal could come with the fire department's roughly 280 members.
    "I would like to think we're very close," said David Dobbs, a fire union vice president. "I think we're just about there."
    But Dobbs reiterated his prior position that furlough days are not likely part of the package.
    "They don't work for us," he said. "So it was a little more involved."
    brian.lockhart@scni.com; 203-414-0712; http://twitter.com/blockhart1

  3. John Roberts whines about the world he helped create, by Dick Polman, Newsworks.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - This special Saturday post was inspired by the fine whine of Chief Justice John Roberts. His New Year's Eve report - lamenting the sequester cuts that have damaged the federal judiciary - is deliciously ironic, given his key role in strengthening the right-wing special interest groups that hate government spending.
    In his year-end review, he felt compelled to "dwell on the need to provide adequate funding to the judiciary." He was upset about the sequester - oh, the injustice! - because the courts really really need that money. In his words, "the five percent across-the-board sequestration cut reduced judiciary funding by nearly $350 million in fiscal year 2013."
    Well, boo-hoo.
    It's always a kick when ideological conservatives wake up and discover that their pet abstractions, like smaller government and fiscal austerity actually have real-life consequences in their own backyards. Roberts has suddenly discovered, again in his words, that "sequestration cuts have affected court operations across the spectrum." What a revelation! For instance, he complains, "there are fewer public defenders available to vindicate the Constitution's guarantee of counsel to indignant criminal defendants."
    No kidding, Sherlock. The sequester's horrific impact on federal public defenders has been chronicled for months. Back in August, two former federal judges (a Bush appointee and a Clinton appointee) told The Wall Street Journal:
    "A decrease of nearly 10 percent in the federal public defender budget for 2013 has already resulted in layoffs and up to 20 days of furloughs in many federal defender offices. In a number of states, federal courts have been forced to delay criminal cases
    because of public defender furloughs and layoffs.
    "In the most high-profile example, in New York, a federal judge was forced to delay the proceedings in the prosecution on terrorism charges of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith until 2014, because defense lawyers were required to take furloughs. Across the country—in California, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Utah—courts have been forced to delay criminal proceedings for the same reason."
    We can thank the sequester for that, as well as the other damage Roberts cited in his report: "There are fewer court clerks to process new civil and bankruptcy cases, (thus) slowing the intake procedure and propagating delays throughout the litigation process. There are fewer probation and pretrial services officers to protect the public from defendants awaiting trial and from offenders following their incarceration and release into the community."
    How amusing to hear Roberts fret about budget cuts, and beg for more bucks. But in truth, he has made his own bed. He and his fellow conservative justices, who comprise the court's 5-4 majority, share ample blame for the current austerity climate in Washington.
    Courtesy of the Citizens United ruling, they have radically empowered the conservative special interests - such as Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers front group. Thanks to Citizens United, those well-heeled groups spend virtually unlimited money to nudge Republican lawmakers ever rightward, and to successfully promote the misguided notion that the biggest problems we face as a nation are the deficit and the size of government. The across-the-board sequester cuts are the product of that climate.
    Yet now we have Roberts jiggling his tin cup, eloquently whining about his own backyard: "The United States courts owe their preeminence in no small measure to statesmen who have looked past the politics of the moment and have supported a strong, independent, and impartial Judiciary as an essential element of just government and the rule of law."
    Touching, isn't it? Reap the whirlwind, pal.

1/03/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. For The Unemployed, Ideas To Help Bridge The Gap To Work, by Chris Arnold, (1/02 late pickup) NPR via m.npr.org
    [First, a summary? of a panel discussion. Then a transcript of the panel discussion.]
    BOSTON, Mass., USA - When members of Congress return to work next week, at the top of the "to-do" list is whether to renew emergency unemployment benefits. An extension of the benefits expired at the end of 2013, which means 1.3 million out-of-work Americans are no longer getting unemployment checks.
    But whether or not benefits are extended, conservative and liberal economists alike want to see the government improve the underlying program: They're proposing changes that might help more people find jobs more quickly.
    Helping the unemployed get training while they're collecting benefits is one suggestion.
    "Community colleges have been a good investment that have enabled people to get skills to get somewhat better paying jobs," says Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. But he says many states don't do enough to support unemployed people getting that sort of training.
    He'd also like to see more of what's called work sharing, where instead of laying off people, a company reduces hours for most workers. And for time they're not working, the government uses unemployment money to pay them. It's something that's reduced unemployment in Germany.
    Some conservatives like this idea, too.
    "I would like for Congress to make it mandatory," says Michael Strain, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute. He says Congress authorized this German-style work-sharing option for employers in 2012, but it's only up and running in some states. He says all states should give companies a work-sharing option and, like Baker, thinks the program hasn't been well-publicized.
    Strain has other ideas, too. Some involve helping workers get to areas where there are more jobs.
    "In some of the states, the labor market is booming and healthy, and unemployment is really low, so I've suggested that we offer relocation vouchers to the long-term unemployed — only to the people who want them, so no one is being forced to move or anything — but we say, 'Hey look, you've been looking for work for seven months and you haven't found one yet. Do you want us to cut you a check and you can move to North Dakota, or move somewhere where the labor market is much healthier, and where you may have a much better shot at getting a job?" Strain says.
    He says he'd also like the government to pay for busing to help unemployed lower-wage workers who live way outside urban centers (in distant suburbs sometimes known as exurbs). He says free busing would help such job seekers afford to take jobs with farther commutes and closer to the hustle and bustle of major metro areas where they'd be more likely to find work.
    But should lawmakers extend benefits when they come back next week? Strain says yes.
    For one, he says, long-term unemployed workers are more likely to drop out of the workforce and give up if they get cut off — and there are still three times as many people looking for work as there are job openings. So that means hundreds of thousands of Americans just won't be able to find a job anytime soon.
    "Society is failing for them, really through no fault of their own," Strain says.
    Still, other conservatives oppose extending benefits again. They're worried about the cost, and say that workers would be looking more aggressively without the extended benefits. [Copyright 2014 NPR]
    Audie Cornish, host:
    From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. At the top of Congress' to do list when lawmakers return next week is whether to renew emergency unemployment benefits. An extension of those benefits expired at the end of the year. That means 1.3 million Americans are no longer getting unemployment checks.
    Regardless of where they stand on a possible extension, conservative and liberal economists both would like to see the government improve the underlying program. They're proposing changes that might help more people find work more quickly. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.
    Chris Arnold, byline: At a small manufacturing company south of Boston, Evalise Pachenko(ph) is cleaning out the inside of a component for a heart pump. It's used in surgery and she's using a microscope to inspect the part.
    Evalise Pachenko: You see right there, you have to make sure it's clean and no fuzz around.
    Arnold: Six months ago, Pachenko was collecting unemployment. She got laid off working at a cardboard box manufacturer that went out of business, but a friend of hers told her about a job opening here at this much higher tech factory. It's called Machine, Inc.
    Pachenko: My friend Rosemary said to apply and I applied and in a week, they called and I was really, really happy about that, instead of being home and collecting.
    Arnold: Is it more interesting than making cardboard boxes, or...
    Pachenko: Yes, definitely. Yes, it is.
    Arnold: Economists say this is how unemployment benefits and the job market are supposed to work together. Pachenko has three young kids at home. Her partner's only making about $700 a month, so with the benefits she said a bridge that helped the family survive for nearly a year. Now she's got a better job with the same pay as she had before, but she's learning new skills and there's more room for growth.
    Pachenko: You have to pay attention really because it's like, again, medical stuff and airplane stuff so it's interesting. I have training for, like, three months so I think doing good.
    Arnold: That's one way economists say the unemployment insurance program could be improved, helping people to get training while their collecting.
    Dean Baker: Community colleges have been, you know, a good investment that have enable people to get skills to get, you know, somewhat better-paying jobs.
    Arnold: Dean Baker is the co-director of the liberal-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. He says, though, many states don't do enough to support unemployed people getting that sort of training. He'd also like to see more of what's called work sharing. This is something that's reduced unemployment in Germany, actually.
    Basically, instead of laying people off, a company could just reduce hours for most of its workers. And for the time that they're not working, the government could then use unemployment money to pay them. And some conservatives like this idea, too.
    Michael Strain: I would like for Congress to make it mandatory.
    Arnold: That's Michael Strain, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute. He says in 2012, Congress authorized this German-style work sharing option for employers, but it's only up and running in some states. Strain has other ideas, too. Some involved helping workers to get to areas where there are more jobs.
    Strain: In some of the states, the labor market is booming and healthy and unemployment is really low so I suggested that we offer relocation vouchers to the long term unemployed. You know, only to the people who want them so no one's being forced to move or anything, but, you know, we say, hey, look, you've been looking for a job for seven months and you haven't found one yet. Do you want us to cut you a check and you can move to North Dakota or move somewhere where the labor market is much healthier?
    Arnold: There are lots of other ideas, too. But as far as whether Congress should extend benefits when lawmakers come back next week, Michael Strain says yes.
    Strain: I think it's a mistake that Congress let the benefits expire.
    Arnold: For one, Strain says that long term unemployed workers are more likely to drop out of the work force and give up if they get cut off, but also, he says, there are still three times as many people looking for work as there are job openings so that means that hundreds of thousands of Americans just won't be able to find a job any time soon.
    Strain: Society is failing for them. Really, through no fault of their own.
    Arnold: Still, some other conservatives oppose extending benefits again. They're worried about the cost and also some feel that workers would be looking more aggressively without the extended benefits. Next week, Congress will be debating the issues when lawmakers return.
    Chris Arnold, NPR News, Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

  2. Library cuts hours to make ends meet, by Brian Lisik, TheSuburbanite.com
    [We've long been getting a strong impression that librarians are the biggest practitioners of work-sharing via hourscuts instead of recession-deepening via jobcuts, as this and the next story demonstrate.]
    AKRON, Ohio, USA - Akron-Summit County Library officials announced last month that hours will be reduced system wide beginning Jan. 6 in the face of a nearly half-million dollar reduction in state funding for 2014.
    "The key is that we are working in our sixth year of a challenging budget," Library Director David Jennings said. "We've been reducing staff for six years and have lost nearly $15 million in revenue over the past five years."
    In 2014, the library expects to receive approximately $450,000 less in state funding than in 2013. Due to continued reductions in state funding since 2009, along with real estate property devaluation, the library's overall annual revenue is now $4.4 million – 16 percent less – than in 2008.
    As a result, hours will be cut at all of the libraries in the system. Hours at the main library will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The main library will also be closed on Sundays in the summer from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
    Branch library hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Bookmobile services on Saturday will also be canceled.
    Library spokesperson Carla Davis said the reduction of hours and some services will cut costs in areas such as personnel, utilities and security, as well as corresponding to the staff reductions that have already been made.
    "As an example, at the main library, we would have two shifts and be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. We don't have the personnel to cover that number of hours," Davis said, noting that the staff reductions have been made through attrition and not layoffs.
    The decision to reduce hours was based upon both budgetary concerns and a study of usage patterns, Jennings explained.
    "It is important to know that the changes are a result of (the library system) making the best use of our budget and staff with the least impact on patrons," he said.
    Even with the changes, Davis said, it will be business as usual at the library, even if the doors will be open less often.
    "The reality is that we have lost about $4.4 million per year in state funds over the last five years," she said. "But we are working hard to have the reductions in staff and hours not affect services."
    Jennings noted that the library has worked to keep its services and hours intact at a time when other library systems have made significant cuts.
    "Unlike many public libraries, we did not reduce hours of service during the recession or in the years immediately following," Jennings said. "Over the past five years we have reconfigured our work to continue to provide high-caliber library services with significantly fewer staff. Through attrition we now have 77 fewer employees than in 2009, and our personnel budget has $2.6 million less in 2014 than in 2009."
    He added that due to the reduction in Summit County property values, the library system is collecting approximately $1 million per year less than expected on its 1.4-mill operating levy, which voters most recently passed in 2010 – shortly before those property taxes were reassessed.
    The library's operating budget in 2013 was $25.1 million and its temporary 2014 budget is $24.3 million, a reduction of more than 3 percent. Jennings pointed out that the changes in state funding have not been specifically aimed at public libraries.
    "It was not an overt cut in library funding – these were tax-related changes made in the state's biennial budget," Jennings said. "(State lawmakers) made a number of changes in the biennial budget and the public library fund is a percentage of the general revenue fund. (The result is) library funding is looking at a 4-percent cut."

  3. Library hours cut in Neosho, Seneca, JoplinGlobe.com
    NEOSHO, Mo., USA. — Neosho-Newton County Library Director Ginny Ray on Thursday said hours have been cut in Neosho and Seneca because of a $25,363 spending cut in the budget.
    Four hours were cut from the Neosho Library schedule and 14 hours were cut from the schedule at the Seneca branch library.
    Ray said she thinks the reduction in hours would be sufficient to meet the budget cut approved by the board.

    “Hopefully, it will get us everything we need for this year’s budget,” Ray said. “We looked at our hours of usage to develop this schedule. This is our best option to contain costs and still provide the best service possible.”
    Chris Yaudas, a board member of the Seneca Library Foundation, said the reduced hours would be a burden on those using the Seneca Library.

1/02/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. A Business Owner Seeks an Alternative to Seven-Day Workweeks, New York Times via nytimes.com
    [Today, two unexpected ways to cut your workweek: first, focus on the sauce (least common method) -]
    GUTTENBERG, N.J., USA - Father and Son Pizzeria is a 900-square-foot, eight-table restaurant in Guttenberg, N.J., across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Opened in 1971, it was bought in 2007 by Carlos Vega, now 45, from its aging founder. Mr. Vega soon doubled sales by expanding the menu, improving service and selling the restaurant’s “gravy,” or red sauce, over the counter in 12-ounce Mason jars.
    The Challenge
    Mr. Vega left a corporate job producing print publications for the financial industry to take over the pizzeria. He felt constrained by his business’s size and location: a small restaurant without a parking lot on the six-block main street of a blue-collar town. Even with his improvements, the business was bringing in only about $10,000 a week. It was profitable, but only because he was working long hours, typically seven days a week, to hold down labor costs. Mr. Vega knew he couldn’t continue like this.
    The Background
    His father was from Spain and his mother from Cuba, but Mr. Vega, who grew up with Italian friends in New Jersey, not only hung out in pizzerias but worked in one, starting during his sophomore year in high school. After getting a business degree from Montclair State University, he worked in his family’s printing business before moving on to KPMG and then Thomson Financial, where he oversaw printing operations.
    Along the way, Mr. Vega usually had some kind of business on the side. In his 20s and 30s, he worked weekends as a disc jockey, started and sold an Internet dating service and bought and flipped houses. So it was not entirely out of character when, stopping in for a slice at Father and Son Pizzeria one night — years after he had last worked there — he ended up buying more than a slice.
    “Why don’t you sell the place?” Mr. Vega asked, when his former boss confided that he was tired of the grind.
    “I don’t want to sell to just anybody,” said the owner, whose son had long since lost interest.
    Mr. Vega bought the business, but not the building, for $75,000. He wasted little time expanding the menu beyond pizza, subs, chicken Parmesan sandwiches and spaghetti and meatballs. “I made it more of a full-blown Italian kitchen and added a dessert menu,” he said.
    With room for only eight tables, Mr. Vega upgraded the takeout business, introducing Internet orders, adding credit card sales, offering “take and bake pizzas” that customers could heat at home. Without a parking lot, and with on-street spots scarce, he started curbside pickup. He nudged the price of a pie up to $11.50 from $11 but held the line at $11 for his chicken francese. He doubted he could charge the going rate of $16 or so at nearby Italian restaurants that had tablecloths, servers, parking lots and liquor licenses.
    The former owner had gotten by with a skeleton staff: his wife, himself and a dishwasher. Mr. Vega brought on a cook and a pizza maker, driving up expenses. But he made the sauce himself, tweaking the recipe he had learned years earlier as an employee. So many customers asked for extra sauce — and for him to bottle the slow-simmered red sauce — that Mr. Vega decided to comply. Soon, instead of making 40 quarts a week, he was making 40 quarts every two days. The jars, he said, “were flying off the counter.” And the margins were higher for the red sauce than for his menu items.
    The Options
    With restaurant profits still meager come the summer of 2009, Mr. Vega and his wife contemplated two very different ways to turn up the heat. They could expand, adding tables, raising prices and becoming less of a takeout place. Or they could sell the restaurant and focus solely on becoming a manufacturer and wholesaler of tomato sauce.
    Exploring Plan A, Mr. Vega talked to a contractor about building a second floor atop the one-story building to add a dining room. He also discussed moving the business down the block, to a storefront with room for more tables. Either way, there would still be a parking problem. And without a liquor license, which could cost $250,000, Mr. Vega felt he would still be poorly positioned to charge $16 for chicken francese.
    Plan B would keep Mr. Vega in the food business, which he enjoyed, and presumably give him more time at home with his wife and two young children. Sample jars of his red sauce that he got into the hands of buyers at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other specialty food stores had brought encouraging reviews. He envisioned a line of sauces under the brand Jersey Italian Gravy that would retail for $8.99, and he thought he could market his sauce to the food industry in No. 10 cans. “Professional chefs, some from prominent New York restaurants, who came to the restaurant told me they wanted to take it home with them,” he said. Knowing nothing about food manufacturing, he would have to outsource production to what is known as a co-packer. There would be a steep learning curve, as well as tough competition squeezing onto retail store shelves.
    What Others Say
    Mark Ramadan, chief executive and co-founder of Sir Kensington’s, makers of all-natural, premium ketchups and mayonnaises. “Mr. Vega should parlay the momentum he has generated with interested supermarket buyers into purchases. He should ask if they’d be willing to buy and stock a small number of his jars to see if their customers will buy. The tomato sauce market is incredibly crowded and very price-sensitive — particularly when selling to chefs — but if he can get solid commitments from buyers in his area, then that’s a great sign. To sell locally, he won’t need to go through a co-packer and have the same strict labeling requirements that national companies do, so he can start out small to test the waters. Until he knows that he has a winning product at a winning price point, Mr. Vega should continue to simply use the sauce line as an additional source of revenue and profit for his restaurant.”
    Dorothy Cann Hamilton, chief executive and founder of the International Culinary Center. “I think Mr. Vega was lucky to find an ongoing business for $75,000. That was not a huge capital investment to pay off, had a built-in revenue stream, and although it had no parking, was situated in a dense neighborhood. I would applaud him on increasing his revenue through sauce sales as a sideline but caution him on jumping into a new business based on a local fan base and taste alone. Manufacturing, packaging, sanitation, regulations, sales and distribution are major new skill sets he will have to master. If he’s intent on doing this, he should consider bringing in a knowledgeable partner for distribution and sales.”
    Bill Beck, chef and owner of Beck’s Cajun Cafes, a catering company, and the Beck’s Kitchen Pantry line of Cajun hot sauces and condiments. “Mr. Vega has reached the point of many small businesses. They’re sustainable and profitable but only because of the herculean efforts of the owner and his or her immediate family. The best long-term business model for him is his Jersey Italian Gravy concept. And the most realistic way to do that, and easiest on his bank account, is segueing into that business slowly, to see how the market beyond his hometown receives another tomato sauce. The tomato sauce world, like the salsa world, is inundated with great products — most produced by big companies with deep pockets, and distribution and marketing know-how and contacts.”
    The Results
    Offer your thoughts on the You’re the Boss blog at nytimes.com/boss. Next week on the blog, we will offer an update on the decision Mr. Vega made and how he is doing.

  2. Hanging Out in Working Hours, Jakarta Civil Servants Netted, BeritaJakarta.com
    [Second unexpected way to cut your workweek (most common method): goof off during workhours! (but watch out for surprise inspex!)]
    JAKARTA, Indonesia - The ranks of Jakarta Regional Employment Agency (BKD) led by I Made Karmayoga [= name, pronounced /Eee Mah-day Karmayoga/ ] did a sudden inspection in several units today or Thursday (1/2) [=Jan.2]. In the operation, some Jakarta civil servants were netted when they were fun[/found] hanging out in working hours. Even, there were employees absent without clear explanation.
    In the operation which started at 9 AM, officers also found the empty headman’s room and some civil servants who hanging out in working hours in the office of Tax Service Department. In Central Jakarta Samsat office, there was not found the absent employees in manual [=actual?] attendance. Yet electronic attendance at the office cannot be checked due to there is no operator, likewise with Social Department office.
    In office of Marine and Fishery Department, as many as 11 out of 183 employees were absent without explanation, 1 person on leave, and 2 people on duty in outside the office.
    Jakarta BKD Head, I Made Karmayoga, stated that sudden inspection is conducted to improve the level of civil servants’ discipline and performance in Jakarta. Besides monitoring as a whole, he also checks individual performance, considering his side would impose the system of individual performance. It aims to improve employee performance to be better than before.
    “We will make the summary or recapitulation from BKD office for the absent employees in each unit,” he told, Thursday (1/2).
    In accordance with the rules, he added, the unruly employees will receive strict sanction. “Such sanctions comprising reprimand, written sanction, until cutting Regional Allowance (TKD),” he asserted.

1/01/2014 – 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 now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Shorter Workweeks Are Likely in New Year, by Casey B. Mulligan, NY Times via economix.blogs.nytimes.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Three economic forces are pushing toward shorter workweeks for employees during the new year.
    [It's kindof a mystery what the first two are because this guy is a lousy writer and only clearly identifies the third, but we'll mark what we think he intends as the first two - which don't start until after a long background insertion. Academics are sooo job-insecure these days, they have to make their specialities look really difficult! - but that goes for practically every profession-craft-skill-knowledge in our prevailing labor-surplus capitalism = a seldom-mentioned lethal flaw which Dahlberg says would vanish if we switched to labor-shortage capitalism.]
    The red line in the *chart ["Average Weekly Hours of All Private Employees and Civilian-to-Population Employment Ratio"]..is a monthly index of the employment-to-population ratio, normalized to a value of 100 in December 2007, when the recession began. In this series, each employed person counts the same, regardless of how many hours [or how few = ridiculous exaggeration of amount of employment!] she or he works.
    Average weekly hours of private employees (blue line) have returned to the level last seen before the recession of 2008-9, shown as gray area. But the percentage of Americans with jobs (red line) plummeted in the two years after the recession began and has remained steady since then.Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Average weekly hours of private employees (blue line) have returned to the level last seen before the recession of 2008-9, shown as gray area. But the percentage of Americans with jobs (red line) plummeted in the two years after the recession began and has remained steady since then.
    By that measure, there has been hardly any labor market recovery because, as indicated by an index value of 93, employment per capita still remains 7 percent below what it was before the recession began.
    Average weekly hours of private-sector employees (the blue line) returned comparatively quickly to near their prerecession level and have maintained that level over the last two years.
    [#1, maybe:] I predict that average weekly work hours will decline again over the next year because fiscal policy is now switching from penalizing part-time work to rewarding it.
    [And amazingly, he is not going to talk about the worksharing section of the Feb.2012 Jobs Bill here! (or anywhere = conventional economists' time blindness! + incomplete weaning from the *lump of labor sneer?) ]
    Since 2008, government benefits for the long-term unemployed have served as a penalty for part-time work, because unemployment benefits are largely – if not entirely – withheld when an unemployed person accepts a part-time position. Moreover, people moving to part-time work from either full-time work or unemployment will find that the move renders them eligible for fewer benefits the next time they are laid off from a job.
    Many of the part-time-work penalties disappear this week when the federal government stops paying long-term unemployment benefits (short-term unemployment benefits will continue, and they embody some of the same incentives), although the penalties would reappear should Congress resurrect the program.
    [#2, maybe. or...] Full-time work has traditionally offered health and other benefits that part-time jobs rarely do, and those benefits have kept a number of workers in full-time positions. The Affordable Care Act aims to end that advantage, by giving workers opportunities to obtain insurance outside the workplace.
    [#2 here??] In addition, in some cases the new insurance opportunities can be so inexpensive compared with employer insurance that people stand to, paradoxically, have more disposable income from working part time than they do from working full time.
    [#3!] The third economic force is that in January 2015 the Affordable Care Act begins to penalize employers that do not offer affordable health insurance, except that part-time employees (working less than 30 hours or four days a week) are exempt for the purposes of determining the penalty. This is another reason that part-time work – especially positions with 29-hour weekly work schedules – would increase at the expense of full-time work, at least if the mandate goes ahead as planned.

    All together, it looks like many of the jobs in the new year will involve less work.
    [All this without mentioning technology, outsourcing, imports, or immigrants! So shorter workweeks are happening anyway, but not the best way.]
    Casey B. Mulligan is an economics professor at the University of Chicago. He is the author of “The Redistribution Recession: How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy.”

  2. Top 10, #3:  Police cuts cap off tumultuous 2013 in Shamokin, by Eric Scicchitano eric_s@newsitem.com, NewsItem.com
    SHAMOKIN, Pa., USA - It was a tumultuous 2013 at City Hall, no more so than on Dec. 23, when five employees were furloughed, including two full-time police officers, and two other positions were reduced to part-time.
    The move drew the scorn of the public, who largely believed city officials had dropped the ball and, as a result, jeopardized public safety.
    The cuts were made by city council as part of a larger effort to balance a 2014 budget that had a deficit exceeding $616,000. More than half the deficit was erased through adjustments in revenue and expenses, including the termination of health benefits offered to city council as well as the controller and solicitor.
    Furloughs were announced in the 11th hour, although the writing was on the wall in the preceding days while council tried in vain during budget sessions to further trim spending.
    Officials' efforts were complicated because City Clerk Steve Bartos went on medical leave in mid-November. He appeared at a court hearing on the city's behalf and reportedly had some input on the tentative budget and answered councilmen's questions, but he hasn't attended public meetings and hasn't yet returned to work full-time.
    Adoption of the 2014 budget came 11 days after a county judge's favorable ruling allowing Shamokin to seek an $800,000 loan to pay its unpaid bills from 2013. Court permission was also granted in December for the sixth year running to allow Shamokin to levy property taxes at 30 mills, 5 mills above the maximum allowed by Third Class City code.
    Grant, loan
    Coming into 2013, city officials had already taken heat for granting a $9,000 raise to its city clerk. It didn't subside after it was learned Bartos' wife, Meg, who unsuccessfully ran for the office of county prothonotary, was paid $2,500 after failing to submit on time a grant application that, if successful, would have funded the salary and benefits for a police officer.
    Further fanning the flames was a proposal that city council take a $2.8 million loan backed by U.S. Department of Agriculture to renovate the American Legion Building. Bartos pursued the project at council's behest, although it began as a project potentially funded by grants before it continued on as a loan proposal. City council had moved in 2012 to adjust its tax levy to support such a loan, shifting money from debt service to recreation.
    The loan proposal was shot down by council in November as a clearer fiscal picture came into focus.
    The city twice failed in September and October to pay its health insurance broker and was kicked out of a municipal health insurance cooperative. Officials scrambled to find a new plan while remaining with the same provider, Capital BlueCross, but early termination costs and contributions toward employee deductibles would add to the mounting debt.
    When December arrived, the city's final installment on a Tax Revenue Anticipation Note was due, as was its minimum municipal obligation for employee pensions. Another large payment was due for a botched grant from years prior, along with more than $100,000 in miscellaneous unpaid bills.
    An out-of-budget expense exceeding $100,000 was already paid out by the city regarding the emergency demolition of a Shamokin Street building that had collapsed in 2012. Questions remain, however, as to how the rest of the debt amassed.
    The city sought and was granted permission to seek a loan to make good on its 2013 debt. When it came time on Dec. 23 to pass a balanced budget, addressing its anticipated debt in the new year, the public's patience had eroded and its anger boiled over.
    A hostile meeting was held in the second-floor meeting room, filled to the 64-person capacity. A line of people, two to a step, winded out of the meeting room, down a staircase and out of City Hall onto a sidewalk on Lincoln Street, where dozens more people had gathered. City officials were roundly criticized for the furloughs.
    Adjustments possible
    Councilman William Milbrand, who won election in November by a single vote to become the city's next mayor, will be sworn into office Monday. He will be joined by two new council members, Barbara Moyer and Charlie Verano.  R. Craig Rhoades remains. The fifth position, vacated by current councilman Milbrand's election, will be appointed.
    Milbrand has said he will push the new council to reopen the budget and attempt to make further adjustments before a Feb. 15 deadline toward restoring some of the furloughed employees.
    [This article is probably using "furlough" (definite length) as a euphemism for "layoff" (indefinite length), but we liked the name Shamokin and maybe Mayor Milbrand will indeed "furlough-fy" some of these layoffs by defining their length with restored jobs before this strangely defined Feb.15.]

Click here for spontaneous cases of primitive timesizing in -
July 2-31, 2013
June/2013 +Jul.1
April 2-30/2013
March/2013 +Apr.1
August 2-31/2011
July/2011 + 8/01
March 2-31/2011
February 2-28/2011 +3/01
January 2-31 +2/01/2011
December/2010 + 1/1/11
10/31+ November/2010
October 1-30/2010
July 2-31/2010
June 2-30/2010 +Jul.1
May 2-31/2010 +Jun.1
April 2-30/2010 +May 1
March 3-31/2010 +Apr.1
February 2-28/2010 +Mar.1-2
January/2010 +Feb.1
Nov.27-30 (& Dec.)/2004
Oct.27-31/2004 + Nov.1
(July 31+) Aug.1-10/2004
July 20-30/2004
July 17-19/2004
July 13-16/2004
July 1-12/2004
June 16-30/2004
June 1-15/2004
May 15-31/2004
May 1-14/2004
Feb.21-29/2004 + Mar.1
Jan.31 + Feb.1-10/2004
1998 and previous years.

For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing on Amazon.com.

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