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


2/28/2014 – 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. Shared Work Program amendment approved by Kansas Senate, The Kansas City Kansan via kckansan.com
    TOPEKA, KAN., USA - In an effort to ensure that the Kansas short-term compensation partial unemployment insurance benefits program continues to be available in order to help avert layoffs, the Kansas Senate this week passed a bill (SB 372) supported by the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) by a bipartisan vote of 39-0.
    KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon states that the bill amends the short-term compensation program, also known as “shared work,” under the existing Kansas employment security law in order to conform to new federal requirements.

    Short-term compensation is a voluntary program whereby employees see reduced hours of work and receive an unemployment insurance benefit payment to help replace their lost earnings. Many employers use the program as an attractive alternative to total layoffs.
    “The short-term compensation program is a win-win for employers and workers,” said Secretary of Labor, Lana Gordon. “Employers are able to maintain their skilled workforce, avoiding the cost of rehiring and retraining their staff, and workers are able to remain attached to the labor market and continue to bring home a large portion of their normal earnings.”
    The measure goes to the House of Representatives next. States are not required to have a layoff aversion program such as shared work, but due to federal mandates, if the legislation does not go into effect by August of this year, KDOL will no longer be allowed to operate the existing program.
    “Though the State continues to see a decline in its unemployment rate, the short-term compensation program is a valuable resource for Kansas employers, particularly when faced with small, temporary declines in demand for goods or services,” noted Justin McFarland, Director of Labor Market Information Services.
    Employers interested in short-term compensation can learn more at KDOL’s website at http://www.dol.ks.gov/KansasEmployer.aspx.

  2. McLaren Eliminates 43 Positions – Cuts Hours for 100, MI News 26 Cable 23 via minews26.com
    [And if they'd only cut hours for 43, they'd be eliminating 100...]
    PETOSKEY, Mich., USA - A northern Michigan hospital announced that week that in an effort to reduce costs, they will have to reduce staffing by 43 positions.
    McLaren Northern Michigan said they decided to “restructure” their workforce.
    In that process, 22 positions have been eliminated, of which nine are manager positions. 21 additional positions will be eliminated through accelerated retirement and open positions will simply not be filled.
    About 100 of their remaining employees will see a reduction in hours.

    David Zechman, President and CEO of McLaren Northern Michigan says their industry is in the middle of a challenging transition to the new healthcare model, and the hospital has found that steps are necessary to maximize the patient care options in that model.


2/27/2014 – 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. Introduction of shorter workweek delayed, by Kim Da-ye kimdaye@koreatimes.co.kr, Korea Times via koreatimes.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea - The government is proposing that the maximum work hours be cut in two years time from 68 to 52 per week, if a related bill is passed by the National Assembly, the labor minister said Wednesday.
    “Cutting legal work hours immediately will incur various costs and labor-related problems, so it would be delayed for two years. After a grace period, it will be implemented through several phases depending on the sizes of businesses,” Bang Ha-nam, minister of employment and labor, told the media.

    Under the current law, the maximum working hours are set at 68 hours a week _ 40 statutory working hours, 12 of overtime and 16 for holiday work. The revision bill calls for the reduction of work hours to 52 by integrating holiday work into overtime.
    The question is how it should be implemented to minimize potential damage to small and medium-size businesses.
    The labor ministry tried to get the bill passed in the National Assembly in February, but failed. The revision to the Labor Standards Act will be discussed at the subcommittee of the National Assembly’s Environment and Labor Committee until April 15. The government, political parties, businesses and labor unions will participate in the subcommittee.
    The ruling Saenuri Party suggests the policy be implemented over three phases between 2016 and 2018, while the opposition parties including the Democratic Party argued that the revision should be enforced immediately for all businesses.
    The government’s proposal is even more generous toward businesses than that from the ruling party.
    If the bill goes through this year, the government hopes, shorter work hours will be introduced beginning in 2016.
    Apart from the time for the enforcement, the government is urging to pass the bill before the Supreme Court makes a ruling on a related subject. The court’s decision could prompt all businesses to cut maximum working hours for their employees with no safeguards.
    The government aims to raise the employment rate by encouraging each worker to work fewer hours and companies to hire more people.
    Labor unions are fiercely opposed to any pay cuts resulting from shorter working hours. Small and medium-sized businesses fear an increase in labor costs due to having to hire more employees, let alone the difficulties in finding and hiring skilled workers.
    In 2012, more than 45 percent of Korean employees worked more than 40 statutory hours a week. Some 620,000 labored more than 12 overtime hours and additionally worked on weekends, according to the labor ministry.
    [South Korea struggles to get another part of its economy out of barbarism. And then there's the people who invented the Day of Rest -]

  2. Manufacturers bristle at minister's four-day workweek proposal - Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom argued that Israel needs to align its business days with the global economy, Jerusalem Post via jpost.com
    TEL AVIV, Israel - Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom on Thursday reintroduced his four-day work week solution to moving Israel’s weekend. Change is inevitable, he told the Manufacturers Association’s annual event in Tel Aviv.
    To better participate in the global economy, Israel should align its business days with the rest of the world, he argued. Other non-Christian countries, including China, Turkey, and Indonesia, have made the change. The issue is how to deal with Shabbat.
    Shalom has long favored a compromise. In 2011 the government considered turning Friday into half a work day and adding an hour of work to the other days. On Thursday, he suggested a new option, with different hours in summer and winter months. The longer summer days would increase flexibility for those who observe Shabbat.
    “When we have it, we won’t know how we lived without it,” Shalom said.
    When a five-day work week was proposed 50 years ago, then-prime minister Levi Eshkol responded that Israel should first work its way up to two, three, and four work days.
    Despite his observation that a five-day week was once considered unsustainable in Israel, the crowd was unimpressed.
    Manufacturers Association president Zvi Oren said that with Israel’s low productivity, which seems to be deteriorating instead of improving, this is not the time for such a change.
    “We don’t have enough of a professional work force,” he said. “At the moment, it’s not a good idea and we will not agree to it.”
    Israel has one of the lowest productivity rates and one of the longest work weeks by hour among industrialized economies, making it hard to imagine that it could be sufficiently productive on a reduced schedule.
    “I don’t think it’s a realistic option. First we need to get normal salaries out of the work week we have,” said Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel executive director Dan Ben-David.
    Fewer hours worked means less money made, which will have to come from somewhere, be it employee salaries or business profits.
    [No, fewer hours worked means more people working at higher wages because of reduced competition for jobs and more employer competition for employees. And no, it will mean more money made, not less, because there'll be more people earning wages in the bottom half of the income ladder which spends a higher percentage of its money than the top half. But yes, it will centrifuge money out of business profits where it tends to rush into a black hole in the topmost rungs of the income ladder with the slowest circulation in the biggest chunks among the fewest people - in other words, fewer hours will reverse the ironic effect of the wealthy's blind grabbiness in creating slowdowns, recessions and depressions.]
    Even adding additional working hours to compensate for the extra vacation time would be bad for business, Israel Democracy Institute Senior Fellow Avi Ben-Bassat argued when Shalom first proposed a four-day work week in 2011.
    “Research in economics has shown that, as the workday lengthens, the marginal productivity of the workers declines. In other words, the last half hour of work is considerably less effective than the half hour before it,” he said. Businesses that have to coordinate with world markets do so already, he added.
    A 2011 study conducted by the National Economic Council, in association with the Bank of Israel and the Education, Finance, and Transport ministries recommended against cutting Sundays from the work week.
    “The change would have problematic repercussions for the economy and employment alongside significant increases in costs, so the officials recommended against the change,” a Finance Ministry source told The Jerusalem Post.
    The issue was as controversial then as it is now. Ben-Bassat’s colleague, Dr. Arye Carmon, argued that there would be minimal economic effects and that the debate is important to bridge the secular-religious divide.
    “This question is not essentially a clear-cut economic issue; rather, one’s personal world view plays a decisive role in the way one approaches the issue,” Carmon said in 2011.


2/26/2014 – 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. Say what? - Furloughs are better than layoffs, editorial extra, Philly.com (blog)
    PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA - Ever hear the saying, “With friends like you, who needs enemies?” That’s what city employees ought to be saying about the Philadelphia City Council, which in its zeal to show its love for organized labor has vowed to fight Mayor Nutter’s request for the authority to furlough workers during an economic crisis.
    All 16 Council members signed a letter that said since the recession is over, “austerity measures like forced unpaid leave, or furloughs” were no longer needed and that “it is difficult today to argue that those who fix our potholes, salt and shovel our streets, and process our business licenses deserve less than they currently receive."
    That letter was an affront to the good taxpayers of Philadelphia whom the Council is supposed to represent. Nutter isn’t planning to furlough anyone now, but if the economy does turn sour again, the mayor wants that option. And it’s a good thing that he does. Anyone who paid attention to what was going on during the recession knows furloughs can prevent layoffs.
    The city unions’ position suggests they would prefer that their members lose their jobs permanently rather than be furloughed without pay for a short period of time. But there’s no reason for Council members to support that position, unless they’re pandering to get labor’s support for future election campaigns. No one wants furloughs, but they’re better than layoffs.
    The Council’s letter was right in urging Nutter to work harder to end the stalemate over new contracts for city workers. But it would be bad policy to limit the mayor’s options to dismissing employees to save money during bad economic times. Suggesting, as the Council’s letter does, that because the economy is better now, that there will never be a time when layoffs or furloughs might be necessary is simply a politically steeped denial of just how fragile the local and national economies are.

  2. Certain workers in Illinois just aren't getting the hours they used to, by Chris Stanford, (2/25 late pickup) News 4 via KMOV.com
    ST. LOUIS, Mo., USA -- Illinois food and beverage employees’ hours have dropped to below 30 a week, according to data from Illinois Department of Employment Security. Those employees in 2011 averaged 31.5 hours a eek which is in contrast to the current 29.8 hours. Retail trade and general merchandise sectors have experienced a similar trend.
    “Everything to do with our business is on our shoulders. We carry the insurance and the utilities. It’s just one little man or woman against the world,” said Mary Hummert, owner of Pairabelles in Belleville.
    Hummert believes the decline in employee hours is because the country hasn’t recovered from the recession.
    [And because a economy with this degree of automation and robotization NEEDS a shorter, more spread-around workweek AS A SYSTEM REQUIREMENT in order to have enough markets for all the stuff the robots are producing - because ROBOTS DON'T BUY THEIR OWN OUTPUT - human employees do.]
    Reports have suggested that Illinois employees may be cutting hours [now ALSO] because of Obamacare, since the Affordable Care Act defines a full-time employee as one who works 30 hours or more per week.
    [But this will just help get the workweek down to where it SHOULD be at this degree of automation and robotization.]
    Under the law, employers with more than 50 employees will have to provide health care for their full-time workers by January of 2015. Employing about 300 workers, Bella Milano restaurants will have to comply with the new law.
    One of the owners of the business says in recent years they have reduced hours for part-time workers.
    “Most of the time when you’re adjusting labor, it’s going to be at the part-time level,” says Sam Guarino. Guarino said the cutbacks were due to the economy, not because of Obamacare.
    Guarino couldn’t say for sure if the new health care law and the drop in certain employee hours in the state were related.
    “I’m not going to say it’s not. I would tell you that I think most businesses are still so confused about the Affordable Care Act, “ says Guarino.


2/25/2014 – 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. Indiana may lose chance for federal funding to start work-share program, by Maureen Groppe, Gannett via Journal & Courier via jconline.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The window of opportunity for Indiana to get more than $2 million from the federal government to set up a “work-sharing” program in the state is closing.
    Unless the state legislature moves on the issue in the next several days, it won’t be able to pass the legislation necessary in time to apply for the money.
    Work-sharing programs, also known as “short-time compensation,” allow companies that are facing a temporary decline in business to reduce workers’ hours, instead of laying people off.
    Business and labor groups say the program is a better way for companies to cut costs during downturns than laying off workers.
    But Gov. Mike Pence opposes the bill.
    “It’s not on our agenda,” Pence said. “We haven’t supported legislation to do that.”
    Under the program, workers retain their health and retirement benefits, and have a portion of their lost hours made up through unemployment benefits. As with regular unemployment benefits, those benefits are paid for by the state through a program funded by taxes on employers.
    “We obviously don’t like the idea of a layoff,” said Jeff Harris, director of communications and legislative affairs for the Indiana AFL-CIO. “But when layoffs do happen, we think that work-sharing is a good alternative, to allow those workers to take reduced hours, but keep their benefits, their pension, going forward.”
    Mike Ripley, a vice president at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce who is lobbying for the program, said it helps businesses retain skilled workers and avoid the costs of hiring them back when the economy improves.
    Advocates say the program is particularly useful in heavy manufacturing states like Indiana because it’s easier for manufacturers to adjust hours and work schedules in a downturn.
    In legislation passed in 2012, the federal government offered states grants to create or improve work-sharing programs.
    Indiana is eligible for nearly $700,000 to set up a program and $1.38 million more to promote it.
    But states have to apply for the money by the end of the year, and that means getting the legislature to approve a qualifying program before the session ends March 15.
    State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, is among backers who are looking for bills that the program could be added to, but opportunities are diminishing.
    “There’s a chance, but it’s getting smaller every day,” she said. “The main holdout against it seems to be the Department of Workforce Development, who just doesn’t want it to happen. Business is on board. Labor is on board. But the department doesn’t want to administer it.”
    Pence said that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, which administers the unemployment insurance program, has expressed concerns about the long-term costs.
    Asked how much it would cost the state to administer the program, Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said it’s impossible to estimate. That’s because the cost depends on how much the program is used, how much federal funding is available, how complex it is and how much potential there is for fraud, she said.
    Derek Thomas is a senior policy analyst at the Indiana Institute for Working Families, which has been pushing for the program for the past few years. He said there’s also a cost to not having the program.
    “Pence cites job creation as his top priority, but attracting jobs is more costly than retaining them,” Thomas said.
    The Department of Workforce Development has also expressed concern that the program could hurt the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is used to pay unemployment benefits. The state has had to borrow $2 billion from the federal government to keep the fund afloat.
    Denault said work-sharing expands the number of people eligible for benefits, so would increase the potential number of those who would draw on benefits.
    With the state’s unemployment claims at their lowest rate in 14 years, Denault said, “the challenges and risks of work-sharing currently outweigh the potential benefits.”
    The federal government will cover the costs of the benefits paid through work-share programs through 2015.
    And even when that temporary reimbursement ends, states such as Wisconsin and Ohio have estimated that the work-share programs will not add benefit costs.
    "The amount of benefits (paid) is expected to be similar, but distributed among more individuals,” Wisconsin’s budget department estimated.
    The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded in a 2011 report that the effect of work-sharing programs on states’ unemployment insurance trust funds is “probably small.”
    Because Indiana’s trust fund is funded through taxes on employers, Ripley said the Indiana Chamber of Commerce would not be backing the program if it thought it would hurt the fund.
    “We don’t know what the hangup is,” Ripley said about getting the program approved. “We think it’s something good for both employees and employers and would like to see it happen.”
    Although the state could choose to create a work-share program at any point, advocates say that the best chance for approval is this year because of the federal funding.
    “I just don’t know what kind of appetite the legislature would have to hear this again without that huge chunk of change available from the federal government,” said Harris, with the AFL-CIO.

  2. Preserving Jobs is First Priority for Missouri Machinists, Local Lodge 2003 of the International Assoc. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) via iam2003.org
    ST. LOUIS, Mo., USA - By a 1,269 to 449 vote, members of District 837 in St. Louis ratified a contract extension with the Boeing Company that provides members with wage increases and an $8,000 signing bonus while improving the company’s ability to attract much-needed new work. District 837 represents nearly 2,400 workers who build the F/A-18 and F-15 fighter planes as well as the EA-18G electronic attack aircraft.
    The new contract, which received the unanimous endorsement of the 12-person bargaining committee, also covers IAM members at Boeing facilities in China Lake, CA and the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, MD.
    In a move designed to avoid layoffs of IAM members, the 90-month contract extension includes retirement incentives for senior members.
    [And that takes us back to the old way of worksharing = worklife reduction (earlier retirement) instead of workyear (longer vacations) or workmonth (furloughs) or workweek (longer weekends).]
    Boeing’s F-15 and F/A-18 fighter jets, both made in Missouri, are experiencing dwindling demand as military spending shrinks in the U.S. and around the world. The F-18 assembly line in St. Louis is expected to exhaust current orders in 2016.
    While Boeing is unsure if the Pentagon will order more F/A-18?s, the company indicated the contract extension would significantly improve its competitive position in bidding for future work.


2/23-24/2014 – 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. Breaking News: Xerox to furlough service workers, 2/23 13WHAM-TV Nev. via 13wham.com
    ROCHESTER, N.Y., USA — Xerox Inc. sent a mandatory furlough notice to members of its services division, according to an internal email sent Friday and obtained by 13WHAM News.
    The brief email states that certain exempt employees will be required to take a furlough week during March 2014.
    It is unclear how many employees will be impacted in the Rochester area or across the nation.
    There are approximately 500 Xerox services employees in the Rochester area, according to the company.
    “I know that many of you have been working diligently to find ways to reduce expenses so that we can contribute toward meeting our operating profit targets,” wrote Chad Harris, EVP IT Outsourcing with Xerox Business Services, LLC. “Unfortunately, we need to do more.”
    The furloughs will not have an impact on hourly workers which include the Xerox call center, according to the company. The majority of Xerox’s Rochester area employees are in the company’s technology division, a spokesman added.
    “We’re all worried about our jobs,” said an employee who did not wish to be identified. The employee later stated that there was no prior warning that employees would need to take furloughs.
    The Norwalk, Connecticut based company ended the 4th quarter of 2013 on a down note, its total revenue was $5.6 billion, down 3 percent, according to a January report released by the company. Revenue for business services, which makes up more than half of its total revenue--and employs most of its workers nationwide--was flat, and its document technology business was down 6 percent for the quarter, according to the report.
    “The expected impact in the Rochester area should be relatively small,” said a Xerox spokesman.
    Xerox, once known for its dominant document copying business remains the top employer among publicly traded companies in the Rochester region, with a local workforce of 5,617 as of 2013, according to Greater Rochester Enterprise. Xerox employs more than 140,000 company-wide.
    In January, the company stated there would be restructuring in 2014, but “this is not restructuring, a one week furlough is absolutely not the way we would prefer, but this is not a layoff,” said a spokesman.

  2. Obamacare May Be Causing A Shift To Part-Time Workers In Illinois, op ed by Naomi Lopez Baumann, 2/24 Illinois Policy Institute via Forbes.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - The Obama administration announced last week another one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate for some firms. This comes on the heels of the Congressional Budget Office’s “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” which contains the now infamous analysis that the ACA will reduce work by a full-time [=40hr/wk?] equivalent of 2.5 million jobs by 2024.
    [Well well, the Illinois Policy Institute is incapable of distinguishing between work and workers' hours. Reducing existing employees' hours by the equivalent of 2.5 million 40hr/wk employees while maintaining all existing employees on the job at 30 hrs/wk actually means there will be an unsatisfied demand for 2.5m x 40 = 100m working hours by 2024, that will require, obviously long before 2024, the hiring of 100m/30= 3.3m new 30hr/wk employees; in other words, this move CREATES 3.3 million new jobs, and by drying up a chunk of desperate resumes, maintains or even raises general wage levels. Is Naomi really arguing for job losses instead of just hourscuts without joblosses because she can't see the difference? Ifso, she needs to project the damage to the Illinois economy if 2.5m layoffs had actually been done instead of just 100m hourscuts with no jobcuts, which she has apparently not yet done. The Illinois Policy Institute must be going down the same slippery slope as the once credible Heritage Foundation, from research and policy to mere politics and power grab. And Forbes' once-credible magazine is supporting them.]
    There is, however, mounting evidence that employers already have been cutting employees’ hours in the low-wage employment sectors. This trend has been observed in Illinois, and among the very populations that can least afford to bear these cuts, which is why the partial delay is welcome news in the president’s home state.
    In Illinois, three employment sectors fall into both the lowest-paid and lowest work hours categories: retail trade, food and beverage, and general merchandise.
    [What, if any, is the difference between "retail trade" and "general merchandise"? It sounds like there are deep semantic problems in these sectoral definitions and/or naming conventions.]
    They comprise about one-fifth of the state’s total employment. Of these three sectors, all three have average work hours of less than 30 hours per week. The law’s threshold for full-time is 30 hours.
    [If the average workhours of these three sectors is already less than 30 hours a week, why would the law's fulltime threshold of 30 hours have ANY net effect whatsoever!?!]
    Between 2011 and 2013, Illinois has lost the equivalent of about 63,000 [frozen 1940-level 40hr/wk] jobs in these sectors through reduced work hours.
    [Uh, exactly HOW are these jobs so-called "lost" when those hours are still demanded by the market and in need of hiring to be performed? So Illinois cut 63,000x40 = 2,520,000 working hours and maintained just as many people in employment = JOBS as before - Naomi's present wording presents an inexact and misleading and politically warped impression because hourscuts were undertaken, NOT JOBCUTS! There is NO WAY you can responsibly jump to talking about "job" equivalents here (A) without even specifying what workweek you're assuming per job, let alone (B) giving the diametrically-truth-opposed impression that jobs have been cut while in the event, JOBS HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED and that's the whole purpose of the hourscut alternative to jobcuts. Naomi, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for confusing people or maybe you really are intellectually challenged! Will you next be parroting that jobcuts rather than hourscuts are actually good for the economy because they let companies get leaner and more profitable a la Saint Schumpeter's "creative destruction", so by all means let's quit just trimming hours and let's slash jobs! - which is about what we've been doing the last 40 years. Downsizing is upsizing! Let's raise hours, back to the six-day week, the seven-day week, the 50-60-70-80-90 and beyond workweek. Let's go like our murderous hospitals with their 80-hour workweeks for interns and residents! This sentence should be phrased like this: "Between 2011 and 2013, Illinois has cut 63,000x40= 2,520,000 working hours to avoid Obamacase premiums" - thus opening up to the unemployed the equivalent of about 63,000 forty-hr/wk jobs or 84,000 thirty-hr/wk jobs, or some combination. In no sense has Illinois "lost" these hours, unless they were totally unnecessary padding undemanded by the market in the first place. Naomi's present wording presents an inexact and misleading and politically warped impression. There is no way you can responsibly talk about "job" equivalents here without specifying what workweek you're assuming per job, let alone giving the diametrically-truth-opposed impression that jobs have been cut while in the event, jobs have been maintained. Would Naomi prefer that 63,000 jobs had actually been cut instead of just hours with no jobs cut? Let her then cancel all her insurance policies because this is just job insurance with premiums payable in hours.]
    That is close to the total number of jobs added in all sectors in the state during the past year.
    [Well then, the possibility needs to be tested that the cutting of hours in all sectors to maintain existing jobs and number of people in employment CAUSED the addition of close to the total number of jobs added in all sectors, because employers hired more people to perform those cut but needed hours. Get on it, Naomi!]
    It is important to note that, before ObamaCare was passed, the average work hours remained steady for these sectors in Illinois, even in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
    [This statement warrants investigation. One scenario: People with more pre-crisis spending money which they spent in more expensive higher-wage spending venues lost money in the crisis, and consequently afterward substituted spending in cheaper, lower-wage spending venues = these three low-wage sectors.]
    In fact, average work hours increased slightly in two of these sectors between 2008 and 2010. But all three sectors saw dramatic reductions in average work hours after ObamaCare was enacted.
    [But with associated more-numerous jobs? That's an important question. If not, there awaits, as explanation, the usual failure to design and implement smooth and rapid conversion of overtime into training and hiring.]
    Illinois is far from a unique example. This disturbing trend is becoming more apparent nationally, as well.
    Retail employment, which makes up almost one-tenth of the nation’s total nonfarm employment, is seeing similar reductions. In 12 of the 14 states including Illinois where average weekly hours worked are available, non-supervisor workers in the retail trade showed average annual declines in hours worked between 2011 and 2013. In fact, six states saw average hours worked fall to 30 hours or below for that sector. One state had no change in hours and one saw an increase.
    Average work-hours for Illinois' lowest-paid sectors, 2011-2013 [*graph, scan down]
    Taken together, these states represent one-quarter of the nation’s retail sector. While some of these states did see employment gains, the net loss of equivalent jobs was about 1 percent of the sector’s total employment. While it is difficult to determine the many factors that might be affecting the almost across-the-board cuts in work hours, it is unusual to observe employment growth with a simultaneous reduction in hours.
    [No it isn't. Where is her evidence for this outrageous claim? Employment growth during simultaneous workweek reduction was the top story from 1840 to 1940 while the workweek was being cut in half from over 80 hours a week to 40. If Naomi LOPEZ Baumann is a Latina, here's another case of a disadvantaged minority arguing against its own interest. Is she now claiming that it is usual to observe employment decline during simultaneous reduction in hours? Then let's increase hours back to an 80-hour workweek, or all the way back to the 168-hour workweek of slavery, and see what that does for employment growth!]
    Thirteen of these states grew in overall retail sector employment during this time period. Why might employers be cutting work hours?
    Table 1 [& only]. Change in retail employment and average retail work-hours per week by state, 2011-2013 [*table including 14 states, scan down]
    Under the law’s employer mandate, employers with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents are required to offer “qualified and affordable” health insurance coverage to their employees. This provision of the law was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, but was delayed this past summer for one year by the Obama administration and was recently delayed again for another year for those employers with 50-99 full-time or full-time equivalent employees.
    The CBO report states that: “there have been anecdotal reports of firms responding to the employer penalty by limiting workers’ hours … In any event, because the employer penalty will not take effect until 2015, the current lack of direct evidence may not be very informative about the ultimate effects of the ACA.” The employer penalty now will not take effect until 2016 for many employers, yet we seem to have amassed a mountain of anecdotes.
    At some point these many anecdotes will turn into evidence. The Federal Reserve Bank’s “Beige Book” includes comments from businesses in all 12 of the Federal Reserve Bank districts. The document, issued eight times annually, summarizes comments from businesses. While it does not reflect the Federal Reserve’s official view, it does provide insights into economic conditions across the nation. Business contacts, economists and analysts frequently cite the ACA as having a dampening impact on business hiring, spending and overall uncertainty.
    The rollout of the president’s signature legislation has been a calamity, as it further threatens the prospects of the lowest-wage workers in Illinois and across the country. One does not need another anecdote to understand that the further delay of the employer mandate provides a tacit admission of just how destructive the employer mandate likely will be. Rather than allowing the president to unilaterally delay this damaging provision until after the midterm elections, lawmakers should take a swift vote on ending both the employer and individual mandates.
    Naomi Lopez Bauman is the director of health policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.
    [And next a story whose headline alone clarifies the upside-down thinking of the Teedoff Part of the Redumblicans (the Dumbocrats are slightly better but still time-blind) -]

  3. More Access To Health Care Means Millions Can Quit Or Cut Hours, by S.V. Dáte, (2/05 very late pickup) New Orleans Public Radio via WWNO 89.9fm Univ.of New Orleans via wwno.org
    [Just this headline shows that it's not jobs that are feared lost but people, employees, in terms of employee hours, which is exactly what we need when there's high unemployment = a pervasive and wage&spending-depressing surplus of jobseekers.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - What might have been a routine update on the state of the federal budget Tuesday instead became the newest front in the ongoing political war over President Obama's signature health care law.
    At issue: a revised estimate about how many people would voluntarily leave the workforce because they can get health care without necessarily holding down a job.
    [So the nincompoops of the Teed-off oops Tea Party have got it totally backwards. The separation of health insurance from employment is not sustainable in the long run, but in the short run, it's what every other developed economy has at the moment, and it gives them a distinct competitive advantage in attracting industry, because then industry can freeload on taxpayers for health insurance instead of footing the bill themselves. For example, a few years ago Toyota sited a new plant in Mississauga, Ont., Canada just west of Toronto instead of the low-wage American South because they could freeload on OHIP = the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.]
    The Congressional Budget Office originally predicted that the availability of subsidies for low-income Americans to buy health insurance would result in about 800,000 people leaving full-time work by 2023. The revised estimate increases that number to about 2.5 million.
    Republicans pounced, pointing at the nonpartisan office's estimate as proof of the Affordable Care Act's damaging effects on the economy. In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner said: "The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse."
    Texas Republican John Cornyn took to the Senate floor with the same message. "The president's own health care policy ... is killing full-time work, and putting people in part-time work," he said.
    Obama's White House wasted little time responding, sending Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman to the daily press briefing. There, Furman turned Cornyn's charge on its head, arguing that if some people are able to work part time and spend more time with their children, or if others can leave a job to start a business of their own without fear of losing health insurance, then these are good things happening because of the Affordable Care Act.
    "This is a choice on the part of workers," Furman said. "I have no doubt that if, for example, we got rid of Social Security and Medicare, there are many 95-year-olds that would choose to work more. I don't think anyone would say that was a compelling argument to eliminate Social Security and Medicare," Furman said.
    The White House also pointed out that on the topic of a longtime and separate Republican charge — that the law encourages businesses to lay off or reduce the hours of workers — the CBO found little evidence of this happening.
    CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf also said during a news conference that the existence of employees who have the ability to choose not to work is proof that they will be better off.
    "The Affordable Care Act is reducing the labor supply of lower-income people in our estimates partly because it is making them better off," he said. "It is providing a valuable benefit to them."
    On the larger question of whether the health care law helps or hurts the budget picture, the CBO is sticking to its last analysis, done in 2012, that the law overall reduces federal deficits, Elmendorf said.
    S.V. Dáte edits congressional and campaign finance coverage for NPR's Washington Desk.


2/22/2014 – 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. Governor Signs Law Modifying New Jersey “Shared Work Programs”, (2/22 late pickup) by Shira L. Krieger & Steven Luckner & Evan J. Shenkman, Ogletree Deakins (Nash Smoak & Stewart P.C.) via jdSupra Business Advisor via jdsupra.com
    MORRISTOWN, N.J.,, USA - On January 22, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill (S2741) that modifies short-time unemployment benefits as they relate to employees in shared work programs.
    “Shared work programs” refer to programs submitted by New Jersey employers for approval by the Division of Unemployment and Temporary Disability Insurance of the Department of Labor and Workforce, under which the employer requests short-term benefits payable to employees in an affected unit of the employer to avert layoffs.

    The amended law expands some of the benefits afforded to employees covered under such a program and also sets forth additional requirements for employers, particularly with respect to the application process.
    Note: This article was published in the February 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.

  2. McDavid post office hours cut, WEAR ABC3 via weartv.com
    McDAVID, Fla., USA - Starting today the US Post office in McDavid is cutting back on the hours it's open.
    The new hours for the post office, effective today, will be 7-11am and 2-4pm, Monday through Friday, and 8-10am on Saturdays.
    [Now a 5(4+2)+2= 32-hour workweek = trimmed hours, not terminations; timesizing not downsizing.]
    The McDavid post office was the only local post office in Escambia or Santa Rosa Counties on the current closure or cutback list.


2/21/2014 – 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. Senate enacts measure to protect work-sharing program - Senator Patrick’s bill would protect workers’ access to work-sharing when faced with a layoff, (2/20 late pickup) Maine Senate Democrats via mainesenate.org
    AUGUSTA, Me., USA – Earlier today, the Senate unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Democratic Senator John Patrick to support a Maine program that prevents layoffs.
    “When a company participates in the work-sharing program, for many workers, it can be the difference between putting food on the table or having to turn to the local food bank to feed their families,” said Senator Patrick of Rumford. “We need to make sure the hardworking people of Maine continue to have access to these critical programs.”
    The work-sharing program enables companies to reduce employee hours to avoid layoffs. According to Susan Wasserott of the Maine Department of Labor, since the implementation of the program in 2013, 193 layoffs have been avoided, which has resulted in a savings of more $700,000 in short-term unemployment benefits.
    Senator Patrick’s measure conforms Maine law to federal standards in order to maintain the work-sharing program.
    “At a time when too many Mainers are still struggling to find work, we must do everything we can to help keep the jobs we already have,” added Senator Patrick.

    Under Governor LePage’s watch, Maine now ranks 50th among states in private sector job growth since January 2011, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics’, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Data.
    The bill, LD 1701, “An Act To Amend the Work-sharing Program To Conform with Federal Law,” will be sent to Governor LePage.

  2. Religious leaders: Seven-day work week bills run counter to Bible, by Holly Meyer, Appleton Post Crescent via postcrescent.com
    APPLETON, Wisc., USA - When God rested on the seventh day, Fox Valley religious leaders say, it wasn’t so much about taking a break as leading by example.
    [Christians at some point transferred the day of rest (Heb: shabbAHth) from the 7th (shebhiy;IY) to the 1st (rishOHn) day of the week which they regarded as the Lord's Day as in "Lord Jesus Christ." But they maintained the taboo on continuous working that was probably a key evolutionary adaptation contributing to the survival of Hebrew writings via Judaism despite the Assyrian, Macedonian, and Roman and other "tsunamis".]
    That divine decision, as described in the Bible’s Book of Genesis, is being played out in a secular debate as Wisconsin legislators consider dual bills that would lift the ban on a seven-day work week in the state’s manufacturing and retail industries.

    [And in addition to the breaking of commandments, what a disgrace to the once-progressive state of Wisconsin and the once-progressive Republican Party to have elected two brutish legislators who want to undo all the largely Republican gains of the 19th century in terms of that most basic freedom, financially secure FREE TIME, without which the other freedoms are either inaccessible or meaningless.]
    The Rev. Dennis Episcopo, senior pastor at Appleton Alliance Church in Grand Chute, said the eternal and all-powerful God included that seventh day in creation for humanity’s sake.
    “He created us and loves us and wants us to have a relationship with him, but he really doesn’t need anything. He’s God. He doesn’t need to rest, but we need to rest,” Episcopo said. “His creatures that he created get tired and need a break and we need to rest, so he built it into creation.”
    God’s example translates to more than just a refreshing afternoon nap and a day away from the office. The seventh day, which crosses religious traditions, is entwined with the Sabbath and has the weight of one of the Ten Commandments — observe the Sabbath and keep it holy — behind it.
    Found in the books of Deuteronomy and Exodus, this commandment helps establish an order to the world, said Joel Zeiner, a pastor at Christ the Rock in Menasha.
    “It was a law, but it was both a gift that God gave so that there was a sense of cycle, renewal and regeneration. It is core to Jewish law and Jewish practice, but it’s also a core practice of the Christian faith as well,” Zeiner said. “Throughout history this has been something that has been respected.”
    Slim chance
    While state law requires that retailers and manufacturers give employees one day of rest in every seven consecutive days, residents are already working on the seventh day with second and third jobs, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend. The Senate bill and its companion bill in the Assembly, which have both had committee hearings, would allow employees to volunteer to work seven days without taking the rest day.
    Grothman, who told Post-Crescent Media that more people should respect the Sabbath, said the bill has become “unnecessarily contentious” and he does not hold much hope for its success.
    “I think the people who are upset are kind of removed from the reality of America today,” Grothman said. “I think if you talk to people working in convenience stores, people working in restaurants, you’d be surprised by how many people have three jobs today, which is a tragedy. But with those people with that lifestyle, they’d rather work, get the overtime on the first job than $7.50 an hour on the third job.”
    Opponents say the voluntary provisions in the bills would turn into cultural mandates within the companies.
    David Reardon, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 662, a union that represents about 10,000 workers in Wisconsin, used God’s rest as a point against the bills.
    “I always hear about the Republican party being of family values of Christians. Tell them to turn to Genesis and read what the Lord did on the seventh day and tell them David Reardon doesn’t believe the Lord had to rest on the seventh day, he did that as an example for human beings,” Reardon said. “I mean, hey, if it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for David.”
    Jerry Zabronsky, president of Moses Montefiore Congregation in Appleton, echoed Reardon’s concerns and added that the legislation goes against two central principles of Judaism, the weekly day of rest and concern for the rights of the poor and guarding against exploitation of the weak and vulnerable.
    The Sabbath, which derives from word “Shabbat” in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament, is so significant to the Jewish faith that it shares the same status as major holidays, Zabronsky said. It is observed on Saturday beginning at sundown Friday.
    “It’s supposed to be a complete day of rest so not only not working at your occupation, but there are a number of other restrictions that are intended to ensure that it’s a day of rest,” Zabronsky said. “The majority of Jews make various compromises because of modernity and assimilation. However, there’s a strong affinity for the whole concept of the Sabbath and it being a day of rest."
    Worship and time with family and friends is strongly encouraged, but what that looks like depends on the individual, Zabronsky said. While driving may be ruled out entirely by the more orthodox Sabbath observers, Zabronsky said he may say it is OK to drive to a Timber Rattlers game because he sees that as a restful activity.
    “It’s really a very positive uplifting thing where you’re sort of focused on family and spirituality and so it’s more than not working. It’s almost like trying to shed your mind from the daily cares of the work week and focus on things like family and spirituality,” Zabronsky said.
    'Spiritual realities'
    Although it’s not synonymous, rest naturally combines with worship. Christians typically stick to Sundays for the Sabbath, tying it to Jesus’ resurrection, said Bishop David Ricken of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.
    “It’s the day when we stop what we’re normally doing and it should be kind of abrupt. It should be different, special from the rest of the week so that we can first of all thank God for the last week and prepare for the next week by asking God to walk with us through the next week,” Ricken said.
    The Catholic faith requires weekly church attendance on the Lord’s day, which can be fulfilled at Saturday evening or Sunday Masses, Ricken said. The service is meant to reflect and celebrate Christ’s promise to save mankind, but it also helps reestablish how humans fit into the world, Ricken said.
    “When we get in our busy lives we forget about our spiritual realities, we forget about our connection to God, we forget about our creator,” Ricken said. “Part of the Sabbath is to reconnect us to creation.”
    Religious leaders are not unreasonable about working on the Sabbath. Episcopo pointed out that he is working when he leads Appleton Alliance Church on Sundays and that in some professions it’s unavoidable.
    “We believe the New Testament teaching gives allowance for that,” Episcopo said. “In fact in the New Testament, it teaches that you can actually choose your own Sabbath day ... Take one day and give yourself some rest and trust God for the provision."
    Episcopo said his concern isn’t really with people working on Sunday as it is with the encroachment on Sunday mornings by sports leagues.
    “I’m not so opposed to people trying to make a living or stores open or anything like that,” Episcopo said. “Sunday morning without question is the traditional time when Christians gather, when families gather to be a part of a church community. The sports leagues have pretty much blown that off. They use to respect it.”
    Sunday should not be seen as the end of the weekend, a last day cram session, but the faithful should really be viewing it as the beginning of the week, Ricken said. It should be the time to give God the first and the best parts of a person’s time, talents and treasures, Ricken said.
    “When we give God the top 10 percent of our best, then it’s a way of honoring him and giving recognition to him that he’s our creator. He’s the one for whom we’re destined at the end of life,” Ricken said. “Doing that helps you to see, ‘oh there is an order, there’s a reason I’m here.’ There’s an order that God has set up for his creation.”
    Ricken said the Bible and the church have those answers, but people are forgetting or ignoring both.
    “That leads to a cultural amnesia and God’s left out of the picture altogether,” Ricken said.


    — Holly Meyer: 920-993-1000, ext. 426, or hmeyer@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @HollyAMeyer


2/20/2014 – 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. Private sector employees seek reduction in working hours, by Nadim Al-Hamid, (2/21 early pickup) ArabNews.com
    JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - A number of private sector employees in Jeddah have called on relevant government agencies, including the Ministry of Labor, to reduce daily working hours.
    Working hours often extend to 11 hours per day without overtime compensation, complained several employees while talking to Arab News.
    Hassan Abdul Mattiy, a salesman at one of the food marketing companies in Jeddah, said that the nature of his work in the field of marketing calls for extra working hours beyond the official eight-hour workday.
    Economists have expressed differing views on the issue; some stressed the need to reduce working hours in order to ensure employees’ productivity, while others emphasized the right of employers to demand certain hours of work from employees. Some others have expressed the importance of re-evaluating the topic, arguing that such a decision should take into account the different nature of work in each sector.
    Mohammed Al-Swailem, an economist, said that reducing working hours in industrial establishments would have an impact on the production process, as working hours are tied to the production of specific quantities.
    On the other hand, he said, reducing hours in the administrative sectors would have a positive effect on employees’ work performance because it would enable them to take a two-day weekend and increase productivity in the long-term.
    A decision to reduce working hours would allow workers to spend more time with their families and attend to their own affairs, added Al-Swailem, and would reduce pressure on public transportation, electricity consumption and traffic congestion.
    Economist Ali Jaafari said that many private companies in the Kingdom have already implemented the two-day weekend system, and have not registered declines in productivity.
    A reduction in working hours, said Jaafari, will not adversely impact productivity in the private sector, but business owners protested against such a decision because they claimed that the salaries of employees are linked to the number of working hours they contribute.
    Jaafari added that giving employees two days off per week is more important than reducing working hours. Bashir Bakhit, another economist, said that each sector differs from the other in terms of working hours needed. He pointed out that in the construction sector, laborers work eight hours during in the summer heat, which constitutes long working hours in harsh environmental conditions.
    Meanwhile, reducing working hours is not applicable in the banking sector, because employees need to work longer hours to cover night shifts and match operation hours across global financial markets.
    Bakhit argued that flexibility should be exercised in determining working hours depending on the nature of work in each sector. He lamented the lack of statistics, which could help experts compare the productivity of employees in the Kingdom to that of employees in other countries, stressing, that many factors must be examined to identify the relationship between the two factors.

  2. Residents angry after libraries cut hours, by Mike Petchenik, WSB Atlanta via wsbtv.com
    ROSWELL, Ga., USA — Fulton County leaders are taking heat for their decision to cut library hours as part of their overall plan to shore up the county budget.
    Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik found dozens of angry patrons outside the Roswell Public Library Branch, which like all 33 branches in the county, has had to cut its hours.
    “I guess if the money isn’t there they need to do something, but it seems there could be some other means to keep it open,” said Lois Lucas.

    [Yep, there's helping the economy crash with downsizing, or, raising taxes on all the humungous, functionally wasted money among the rich.]
    Lisa Allen brought her young son with her to the branch for an afternoon of reading, but was disappointed to see the doors locked.
    “I think it’ll be kind of sad for people to come to the library and read books and do homework and things like that,” Allen said. “Please do whatever you can to open the library back to its normal working hours.”
    County commissioner chairman John Eaves told Petchenik it was a tough choice to cut funding for the library system, but he said commissioners had to make up a $50 million shortfall.
    “We had to do some budget cuts, not just on the library side, but on Grady hospital, criminal justice, all the services we had to provide,” he said.
    Eaves told Petchenik, even with budget cuts, Fulton County still provides more library services than its neighbors.
    “We can’t stay open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but I still think we reached a reasonable compromise,” he said. “I realize and recognize some people aren’t happy with what we’ve done.”
    Atlanta-Fulton County Library system spokeswoman, Kelly Robinson Vann, sent Petchenik a statement about the library cuts, which took effect Feb. 12:
    “On January 27th, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved the 2014 budget which did include a reduction in operating funds for the Library System. In spite of the resulting reduction in hours of operation from 1,562 a week to 996, Fulton County’s libraries continue to offer more hours of service than any of the surrounding counties. The 2014 budget also includes operating funds to open the new libraries under construction that will open in 2014 and early 2015. Public access to libraries is a priority. The Library System’s 2014 budget ensures all 33 libraries remain open. While most branch libraries will be closed on Fridays and many on another day of the week, the operating hours do include Saturday and Sunday service, as statistics indicate heavy use on those days. Current usage including circulation, computer use, and meeting room use was considered when developing the new operating hours. The Library System continues to offer innovative programs, services and virtual resources tailored to meet the needs of each community it serves."

  3. Workers sue for overtime pay - Temp agency offers some funds to people it placed at Billerica company, by Megan Woolhouse, Boston Globe, B5.
    Workers and former workers protested Wednesday outside Fullfillment America, in Billerica, which hired them through Job Done... (photo caption)
    BILLERICA, Mass., USA — About a year ago, a worker sued a Billerica packaging company and the temporary employment agency that placed her there, claiming she was owed thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime. Now, with more employees expected to join the suit, the temp agency is offering to pay 25 cents on the dollar for any overtime they might be entitled to recover.
    That, however, is not sitting well with lawyers and workers involved in the case, who protested Wednesday at the packaging company, Fulfillment America Inc., and delivered a letter demanding that former and current employees get all the overtime pay they are owed.
    “I know as workers we have rights,” said Mercedes Mendez, who said she worked thousands of overtime hours over six years, but was not paid for it. “We want to see a change.”

    [The Timesizing program has a much better way of handling overtime (in Phase 2) and overwork defined as a person's overtime from all sources (in Phase 3). Timesizing's way discards today's only slight demotivation of employers combined with a definite motivation of employees (to work overtime) and at the same time fluidifies skills, deconcentrates wealth, and controls inflation. Questions? phone 617-623-8080 or email ecdesignr@yahoo.ca]
    The workers are among an increasing number who are reporting employers for violations of state and federal wage laws. Nationally, overtime violations investigated by the US Labor Department have jumped more than 35 percent since 2010.
    Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advocates for worker rights and is involved in the Billerica protest, said that these increases coincide with the growth in the temporary workforce in Massachusetts in recent years. Many companies, she said, have turned to temporary agencies as a way to shield themselves from penalties if violations are found.
    “In the last several years, we’ve seen all kinds of schemes, which appear to be strategies for employers to avoid core responsibilities — paying for workers’ compensation, unemployment, overtime, and health and safety responsibilities — even though we know they’re still responsible for those things by law,” she said. “There’s a whole wave of underground employers that’s been created just to make workers vulnerable.”
    The Billerica case is a prime example, she said. Mendez, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said she was hired by Job Done LLC to work at Fulfillment America, where she packed promotional materials for Fulfillment America’s customers, which include the Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway restaurant chains. Most mornings, she and other workers were shuttled by van from their homes in East Boston to a Billerica office park where they worked more than 12 hours a day.
    Mendez left her job at Fulfillment in 2012 after she became pregnant, she said. She was earning $8.50 an hour at the time. Under federal and state law, employees are entitled to 1.5 times their regular hourly pay after working more than 40 hours a week.
    Thomas L. Smith, a lawyer who is representing Mendez, said Job Done provided workers to Fulfillment America for a fee and was responsible for paying them. The lawsuit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court in December 2012, said Job Done manipulated pay stubs to hide that employees were working more than 40 hours a week.
    When employees questioned why they weren’t getting overtime, Job Done supervisors told them Fulfillment America did not pay the temp agency enough to offer overtime, said Smith, executive director of Justice At Work, a nonprofit legal services group in Boston.
    Smith said he expects as many as 300 workers, who are collectively owed “hundreds of thousands” in back overtime, to join the suit. They are only allowed to collect wages going back two years, under state law, Smith said, although a judge can award them triple damages plus interest and legal fees if they win the case.
    “There was a lot more overtime cheated from these workers than they can collect,” said Smith.
    A lawyer for Job Done LLC could not be reached for comment.
    John A. Donovan III, a lawyer for Fulfillment America, said in a statement that the company has “always complied with any applicable wage and overtime laws.” The case has yet to be certified by the court as a class action, he said, and pertains only to Mendez.
    “She is an employee of a subcontractor, Job Done,” Donovan said. “Fulfillment America has no knowledge of any issues she was having with her employer, Job Done.”
    Yet last week, workers placed at Fulfillment America by the temp agency received letters from Job Done offering to pay 25 percent of the overtime pay to which they may be entitled. The letter also contained a release for employees to sign if they accepted, stating that they “forever discharge” both companies from “all claims relating to overtime pay.”
    “This amount is less than the amount you may be able to recover,” said a copy of the letter obtained by the Globe, “but recognizes that this is a disputed claim and Job Done has limited finances and no insurance coverage to fund any settlement.”
    On Wednesday morning, a handful of former employees went to the Fulfillment America plant with their lawyers to deliver a letter saying that they wanted to be paid fully for overtime hours they worked. Alcides Villegas, 41, was among them.
    The native of Honduras said he worked seven years packaging signs and promotional materials for Dunkin’ Donuts locations. Villegas said he would often work as many as 70 hours a week, at $8 an hour, using the money to support himself and his three children, ages 6, 9, and 21, who live in East Boston.
    Villegas said he went to a meeting to hear more about the lawsuit about two months ago, and shortly after his supervisor learned about it, he found himself unemployed.
    “They never called me back to work again,” Villegas said.
    Brian Healy, vice president of operations at Fulfillment America, met Villegas and a handful of other workers at the front door of the corporate offices.
    Healy listened as they asked for back pay and Villegas asked for his job back. Then Healy accepted the letter and local police asked the group to leave the property.
    Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megan.woolhouse@globe.com


2/19/2014 – 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. Aquatic Center could raise rates, cut hours - Council seeking more cost savings, revenue, by Taylor Muller @TaylorMullerKDE, Kirksville Daily Express & Daily News via kirksvilledailyexpress.com
    KIRKSVILLE, Mo., USA - Kirksville's Parks and Recreation Department is looking to tighten its belt at the direction of the City Council, with the advisory commission recommending a $25 increase to its shelter rental fee, an about 30 percent increase to its Aquatic Center rates as well as a reduction in available hours at the pool.
    In all, the recommended changes are expected to reap at least $15,000 in additional revenue and cost-savings for the Aquatic Center with an overall operating budget of $275,000.
    The city's Lakes, Parks and Recreation Commission made the recommendations at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall, with city staff instructed by the City Council to assess where cuts and cost-savings could be made.
    The changes appear overdue, said Assistant City Manager Angie Whisnant, with the shelter rental fee steady since being initially set at $10 a day in 2005.
    "That's a substantial amount of time that has passed and in that time, the cost of business has only gone up," Whisnant said.
    LPRC recommended the City Council approve an increase of its shelter rental fee for local parks to $35 a day with a request to rework the maintenance and cleaning schedule to ensure park users are greeted by clean premises.
    The $35 amount falls in line with state park rental policies, including at Thousand Hills, for its outdoor picnic shelters.
    The Aquatic Center fees have also remained steady with no daily rate increases since the center opened in 1999 and no increases on pass purchases since 2007.
    Generally, the center's rate would increase about 30 percent.
    Based on previous attendance, the rate increases are expected to generate an additional $12,000 annually.
    Whisnant noted that currently each visitor to the aquatic center costs the city about $6. Even with the increased rates, the city's general revenue will still be asked to help subsidize the pool's users.
    The increased rates, if approved by Council, will go into effect this summer.
    Also included in the recommended changes for the Aquatic Center are three service reductions including shifting of hours and closing of the indoor pool during the summer months when visitors focus on the outdoor venue.
    LPRC recommended Council reduce the winter Saturday availability by two hours, to 1 to 5 p.m., eliminate the early morning outdoor lap swimming during the summer months and close the indoor pool Monday through Friday during summer afternoons when the outdoor pool is more popular.
    In all, the changes will save the department about $2,600 in solely personnel costs.
    Council is expected to weigh the recommendations at its March meeting.
    While the group approved a slate of recommendations, it tabled a cost-cutting option that would have closed two out of three of the city's wading pools in an effort to save nearly $5,000.
    ["Divided we fall" but at least we have the right idea for what to do systematically = timesizing not downsizing.]

  2. California state employee retirements continue downward slide, Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Fewer state employees filed their pension papers last month compared to a year ago, according to the latest CalPERS service retirement data.
    Retirements fell to 1,947, down 14 percent from January 2013 and the fewest for the month since the pre-furlough days of 2008. Experts have attributed the decline in retirements the last few years to the furloughs that prompted many employees to leave early
    [And maybe just gave the many more employees who stayed more freedom, so staying working felt less oppressive... and anyway, a reliance for fuller employment on shorter frequency timecuts per person, like hourscuts or furloughs, is a lot more effective than worklife timecuts, like retirements or prolonged education.]
    and a brightening state budget picture that has improved working conditions and has made raises possible.
    The retirement numbers, which actually count state pension applications from mid-December to mid-January, are significant because many CalPERS members retire at year’s end to take advantage of the fund’s cost-of-living increase rules. Historically, up to a quarter of state employee retirements occur in the January accounting period.


2/16-17-18/2014 – 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. Sleepless surgeons: YDA seeks emergency wards duty hours cut, by Ali Usman, 2/16 The Express Tribune via tribune.com.pk
    LAHORE, Pakistan - A post-graduate trainee at Mayo Hospital and office member of the Young Doctors’ Association [YDA], Dr Salman Kazmi, has written a letter to the Punjab Healthcare Commission in the absence of the current YDA secretary-general to reduce the working hours of house officers and post-graduate students. It states that many doctors he had seen had been sleep-deprived assisting lead surgeons at the emergency operation theater.
    Dr Faisal Akram* said he had fallen asleep during a surgery. The assistant professor in-charge had then issued him a warning. Akram said “I had [been] serving in surgical emergency for 48 hours without a break. I lost count of patients I had operated on”. Faisal is studying for a fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (FCPS).
    Faisal says he was not the first or the only doctor to have fallen asleep during a surgery. “Our seniors are quite used to this. Some of them direct heavy operation theatre lights at the post-graduate students’ faces to keep them awake. Post-graduate students routinely serve 36 hour to 48 hour shifts. Sometimes, if the next doctor on-duty doesn’t show up, a doctor has to be on duty for 52 hours” a senior registrar said at the hospital.
    The letter proposed that duty hours be decreased to improve patient care. It said that the house officers and post-graduates should not be on duty for longer than 12 hours at a stretch. The letter also proposed that doctors be given at least a 10-hour break after night duty and should not treat patients after a 12-hour shift in the morning. It has argued that this is a requirement of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council regulations 2011 and the National Health Service rules in the United Kingdom. Many insurance companies refused to cover for doctors [who] had been operating after night duty.
    The letter further suggests that the emergency medical officers in the filter clinic of the emergency ward be replaced by the ward’s post graduate trainees and medical officers. The system is currently in place at the pediatrics ward of Mayo Hospital. Post-graduate residents of sub-specialties such as cardiology, neurosurgery, neurology, nephrology and urology should be included in the emergency duty roster, it says.
    The letter proposes that patient treatment files, on the model of chart up files used at Mayo Hospital, should be mandatory at all wards. They should be available at photocopy shops in hospitals so that patients and doctors can both use it for proper documentation.
    “We look forward to seeing these proposed reforms being implemented in the Punjab”, the letter stated. A member of the Punjab Healthcare Commission said it would look into the recommendations and soon come to a decision.
    *Names have been changed to protect identity

  2. Workers' group backs four-day workweek, but with conditions, by Siegfrid Alegado/JDS, 2/17 GMA News via gmaNetwork.com
    MANILA, Philippines - The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) threw its support behind the Metropolitan Development Authority's (MMDA) proposed shortened workweek.
    The caveats: It should only be implemented in select industries, only for a certain period, and only after consultations with labor groups.
    “There are industries that may be adversely affected by shortened working days but extended working hours. And there are industries that may be impacted less,” Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP spokesman, said in a statement.
    The MMDA proposal calls for 10-hour workdays for four days to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila amid a slew of road-network projects.
    Tanjusay said workers in labor-intensive fields, particularly those in the manufacturing, production, transport and construction sectors may face fatigue and compromise safety and productivity due to extended working hours per day.
    “The issue of salary and wages must also be settled,” he said, adding that a compressed workweek may cut workers' pay.
    A compressed work scheme was previously implemented by the government in response to an extreme weather disturbance and to an energy crisis in the 1990s. It was lifted after a specific period.
    Tanjusay stressed that if the work scheme is deemed mandatory by government, the plan will create more complicated problems than solutions.
    But if it is adopted voluntarily after consultation and dialogue using the Decent Work Framework of the International Labour Organization (ILO), particularly between workers and employers, the proposed compressed work week can help alleviate traffic congestion, help save energy and reduce operational costs, he added.

  3. 4-day workweek should not result in lower pay - Partido ng Mangggagawa, 2/18 TV5 via InterAksyon.com
    MANILA, Philippines – The proposed four-day workweek should not result in lower pay for workers, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa said Tuesday.
    While the law allows flexible working hours, the proposal should not result in the reduction or diminution of workers’ benefits, specifically on the provision of overtime pay above the mandatory eight-hour workday, said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.

    The proposal, he said, may lead to legalizing non-payment of overtime.
    “Absent a thorough study and consultations on affected sectors, the proposal to clear off the roads may end up punishing the poor,” said Fortaleza.
    Proposal to hit small-, micro- enterprises
    Another concern, he said, will be the impact of the proposal to small-scale and micro enterprises (SMEs), particularly those in the wholesale and retail industry which comprise more than 90 percent of establishments and which employ the biggest number of workers in Metro Manila.
    The List of Establishments prepared by the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicated that establishments located in Metro Manila employ about three million people or 39 percent of the total employment in 2012. On the average, each establishment in the metropolis employed about 14 persons.
    Compared to big industries, SMEs productivity and survival rely on daily sales of goods and services, PM said.
    Will it solve traffic jam?
    At the same time, Fortaleza said the proposal might not actually address the expected monstrous traffic jam that would be caused by the three-year construction of Skyway 3.
    “The volume of vehicles will significantly drop as most ordinary workers do not own vehicles. It is also not automatic that when you cut the number of workers in a particular day, you also cut the business operation of public utility vehicles (PUVs),” he said.
    Citing government data, Fortaleza said private vehicles outnumber public utility vehicles in Metro Manila, and PUVs transport around 70 percent of commuters.
    “The proposal is based on the assumption that no work would mean less vehicles on the streets, which is wishful thinking when the city is ruled by private vehicles,” said Fortaleza.
    More thought-out solutions
    PM concedes that the traffic problem in Metro Manila must be addressed both in the immediate and in the long term, but believes there are many ways to do it.
    Solutions to the problem must not only serve the minority interest of car-owning population, said the PM official.
    “City spaces, including roads, must also be inclusive. Thus, we are more in favor of developing mass transport systems particularly railways, rather than building more road networks that largely serve private car owners,” he said.


2/15/2014 – 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. Log-flow issues force Plum Creek to cut back, by Jim Mann, DailyInterLake.com
    KALISPELL, Mont., USA - Starting Monday, Plum Creek Timber Co. will cut back worker hours from 40 to 30 per week at plywood plants in Columbia Falls and Evergreen.
    Tom Ray, the company’s vice president of Northwest Resources and Manufacturing, said the reduction is due to a shortage of Douglas fir and larch logs that are processed at the plants.
    The shortage is largely due to harsh weather that has hindered logging operations and interrupted the flow of logs to the plants.

    “Ever since last fall we’ve been fighting the weather,” Ray said Friday. “Last week, we missed three days [of log deliveries] just because it was too cold.”
    Ray said the upcoming “breakup” season also figures into the decision.
    When forest roads thaw out, logging operations cease to prevent heavy trucks from damaging roads. Breakup typically starts at the end of March and continues until early May.
    “We’d like to stretch our logs and get through breakup without having to shut down completely, so this is a proactive step,” Ray said of the work-hour reduction.
    [Shorter hours, not shutdown = timesizing, not downsizing.]
    “As soon as we can get through breakup and get the log flow back we will certainly get back to 40 hours a week,” he added.
    No work schedule reductions are in store for the company’s sawmills in Columbia Falls and Evergreen, which process different tree species that are in adequate supply, Ray said.
    Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at jmann@dailyinterlake.com.

  2. Unite looking to save jobs at Dobson & Crowther, ITV News via itv.com
    LLANGOLLEN /thlan-GAW-thlen/, Wales, U.K. - The trade union Unite is looking into the possibility of a rescue package to help save jobs at Dobson & Crowther, the printing company in Llangollen, where thirty workers face redundancy.
    Unite has already contacted AM Ken Skates, deputy minister for skills and technology, about the need for a package to assist Llangollen's largest employer.
    [So why isn't the union getting a rescue package from Wales' worksharing program, *ProAct (or in *Welsh)?!]
    “This area can’t afford to lose these jobs and it is a hammer blow to the local economy...The company has been struggling for some time and in November, the workers agreed to give up 7.3 per cent of their wages to tide the company through its financial problems...The company will lose its biggest contract in April and there is a big question mark over whether the company will be able to afford the enhanced redundancy terms for the workers that have been agreed with Unite."
    – Tony Brady, Unite Regional Officer
    [Ah Llangollen, origin of flan, gollywogs, goblins and tongue-tying.]


2/14/2014 – 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. Germany's enviable shock absorber - Work-sharing movement would help U.S. job recovery, by Clarence Page cpage@tribune.com, (2/16 early pickup) ChicagoTribune.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA - As the usual suspects in Congress argue over whether to extend unemployment benefits, which ran out at the end of last year for more than a million jobless workers, I am feeling Germany envy.
    Jobs in Germany fell more softly in the 2008 global economic crisis than they did here or in the rest of the European Union — and bounced back more quickly.
    While the U.S. and Europe still struggled at the end of 2013 to return unemployment to pre-recession 2007 levels, Germany already had pushed its unemployment 30 percent below that level.
    How did Deutschland do it? Recoveries are complicated, but a major factor appears to be Germany's policy of Kurzarbeit, what we Americans call "work-sharing." Instead of firing workers or laying them off in times of economic crisis, hard-pressed companies are encouraged to reduce all of their employees' hours and pay — and the government pays a portion of the workers' unemployment benefits to help make up the difference.
    For example, if hours and wages are reduced by 10 percent or more, the government makes up 60 percent of workers' lost salary, explains Kevin Hassett, economic policy director at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who has been studying Germany's work-sharing for several years.
    The benefits of this arrangement are enormous. Workers stay on their jobs, although with reduced hours, and they keep most of their salaries, which is better than getting laid off. Some workers even pick up part-time work with their work-sharing schedule, which means some even come out financially ahead [but may increase unemployment by continuing the overconcentration of working hours on fewer people].
    For government, it's cheaper to pay partial unemployment benefits to a reduced-time worker than to pay full benefits to an unemployed one.
    And for employers, it's less costly in many ways to keep a reliable worker on the job and when business improves, expand everyone's hours again without having to find, hire and train replacements.
    What's not to like? Remarkably, in polarized Washington, work-sharing has enthusiastic fans on both political sides — which may account for why the idea has received so little attention.

    Although Hassett has advised three Republican presidential nominees, his support for work-sharing has put him on the same side as liberal allies such as, well, President Barack Obama.
    Conservatives outside of think tanks are wary about any idea that Obama likes and liberals feel the same about the tea party right.
    Yet, Obama's Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 passed with bipartisan support for the federal incentives it offers to states to set up work-sharing programs. But many of those incentives expire in the next year or two.
    Michael Strain, another AEI scholar, suggests "it would be wise to extend them" and expand other incentives in the law.
    About half of the states have launched work-sharing programs of their own, including some who had state work-sharing programs of their own before Washington stepped in.
    So far, 27 states are participating, but further growth has come slowly, partly because too few people know about it.
    Another reason was raised by Illinois state Rep. Renee Kosel, a New Lenox Republican whose work-sharing bill failed to survive a General Assembly committee last year. "I think there aren't yet enough employers who feel the need to do it," she said, "except those with workers whose special skills make them harder to replace."
    Economic skeptics also question whether it would not be better to encourage workers to pack up and move as workers traditionally do to where jobs are more plentiful. That's worth debating. In fact, Strain has suggested that government should offer to help workers with relocation assistance.
    Indeed, such a move could be cheaper for taxpayers than unemployment insurance and more helpful in the long run for workers. In the midst of our third "jobless recovery" since the early 1990s, Americans should be less concerned about what's left or right than with what works.
    Clarence Page, a member of the Tribune's editorial board, blogs at chicagotribune.com/pagespage.

  2. Loyola cutting hours and pay for some staff members, by Jeff Adelson jadelson@theadvocate.com, (2/15 early pickup) The New Orleans Advocate via theadvocate.com
    NEW ORLEANS, La., USA — In addition to layoffs and an early retirement offer, Loyola University also has cut the pay of some of its staff in an effort to balance its budget in the face of low enrollment by first-year students.
    The cuts mean less take-home pay for 14 employees at the university, spokeswoman Meredith Hartley said in an email Thursday.
    Those staff members were either reduced from full-time work of 37 hours a week to 30 hours a week — a roughly 19 percent cut in pay — or reduced from year-round employees to being employed for only 10 months of the year, about a 17 percent cut. In a “few cases,” the same employee faced both cuts, Hartley said.
    [More hourcuts, less jobcuts! = Timesizing, not downsizing.]
    Only staff members, not faculty, were put on the reduced schedules, and some of the changes were made involuntarily, she said.
    “These reductions were implemented to address the university’s budget shortfall, yet still preserve jobs where we could,” she said.
    The cuts trimmed the university’s budget by $126,000 as part of a larger effort to close a gap caused by shrinking first-year enrollment at the university, Hartley said.
    The cuts to staff hours have prompted a backlash from some employees.
    All three staff members in the school’s theater program, housed in the College of Music and Fine Arts, were forced to cut their hours, said Kellie Grengs, the program’s costume designer. In addition to helping provide costumes and sets for plays, she and her fellow staffers also teach classes, she said. Without people working full time in those areas, production values will suffer and the program will be less attractive to students, she said.
    “They’re in the midst of building the theater program a gorgeous new building. I just don’t know who’s going to use it,” Grengs said.
    Adding a particular sting to the cuts was the fact that the theater department was one of only two programs to increase its enrollment this year, and the number of applicants to the school’s theater, arts and dance program doubled this year, she said.
    Grengs also said she had been told that far more staffers had their schedules cut than those acknowledged by the administration on Thursday.
    Hartley denied that was the case and said only 14 staffers were put on reduced schedules throughout the university.
    A request to speak with university President Kevin Wildes about the cuts was denied.
    Loyola has been looking to cut costs since last summer, when officials projected first-year enrollment would plummet by 30 percent and leave the school with a $9.5 million deficit. Those numbers improved a bit, in part due to higher-than-expected enrollment in programs such as the law school and nursing, but still left the university with a 4.3 percent decrease in its total enrollment and a $7.5 million budget deficit.
    To help close that gap, Loyola offered early retirement to about 200 employees, 46 of whom signed up for the program. Then, last week, the university announced it had laid off 18 staff and would not be renewing the contracts of 12 non-tenured faculty members.
    At the time, Loyola officials said the layoffs, attrition and a hiring freeze had closed the remaining gap, but Hartley said Thursday the work-schedule reductions also played a part in meeting that goal.
    The staffers who had their hours cut will be allowed to keep their benefits, Hartley said. But Grengs said that with a significant reduction in pay, it will be hard to keep up with the cost of those benefits.
    Grengs also said those facing the cuts are at the lowest rung of the university ladder, and she questioned why cuts are not coming from the top or, if a stopgap is needed, from money for construction projects on campus.
    While not all staff members at the university have a direct role in teaching students, she said, even reducing hours for employees who work in offices will hurt the school’s academic programs. “When you reduce the support for the faculty, it’ll have a direct impact on the students,” she said.


2/13/2014 – 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. Protect Hoosier jobs with bipartisan solution - Pence voted for work-sharing act in 2012, by Derek Thomas, KokomoTribune.com
    KOKOMO, Ind., USA - Hoosiers may be surprised to learn that in 2012, the 112th Congress agreed on at least one thing: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which included provisions to expand work-sharing policies in the U.S. This provision saved a whopping half-million jobs during the recession — with fewer than half of all states utilizing it during that time period.
    Indiana’s delegates supporting the act included: Sen. Richard Lugar and Reps. Stutzman, Donnelly, Carson, Buschon, Young and now-Gov. Mike Pence. Since the act’s passage, work-sharing policies have been adopted and supported by Republican and Democratic governors (including those in Michigan and Ohio), business and labor, and conservative and progressive economists.
    Now used in more than half of U.S. states, work-sharing provides employers with the option of temporarily reducing the hours and wages of all employees instead of laying off all [or a percentage of] workers.

    Hoosiers may also be surprised broad bipartisan support exists in Indiana as well. Here’s why:
    For workers, the program acts as the front line defense against joblessness. Workers would earn higher wages than they would under traditional unemployment, and they would retain health and retirement benefits. According to the most recent Congressional Budget Office report, “effects of the stigma and erosion of skills [for the long-term unemployed], accounted for half of a percentage point of the [current] unemployment rate, but [those effects] are not expected to begin to dissipate until after 2017.” By the way, the effects of long-term unemployment on structural factors related to the current unemployment rate are five times the effect of unemployment insurance benefit extensions, accounting for just 0.1 percent of the current rate.
    For business, work-sharing offers flexibility during economic downturns. Providing a tool for business to retain a skilled workforce is why Gov. Snyder supported recent legislation in Michigan — a smart move for states interested in closing skills gaps. From the CBO report: “difficulties in matching workers and available jobs” accounted for half a percentage point of the current unemployment rate.
    Finally, work-sharing has the real potential to chip away at Indiana’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit. The program, according to our survey of states with work-sharing programs, is either cost neutral to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, or has produced savings. This analysis does not even take into account the federal government’s implementation and outreach grants and its reimbursement period — the latter could save the state millions.
    So, why after three years’ worth of legislative efforts does the Indiana General Assembly continue to fail to protect Hoosier jobs? From the Indiana Chamber of Commerce:
    “… [T]he bill was scratched from the Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee schedule by its chairman, amid opposition from the Department of Workforce Development and belief the Governor was not yet onboard with the program — despite voting for the federal work-share bill when he was in Congress.”
    It’s mathematically reasonable to assume another downturn is right around the corner. With work-sharing, forward-thinking lawmakers can implement this bipartisan, cost-friendly and common sense solution immediately to, as the saying goes, start to fix the roof while the sun is (relatively) shining.
    Derek Thomas is senior policy analyst for the Indiana Institute for Working Families. Contact him at dthomas@incap.org.
    [And speaking of Kokomo, we also got a story from Pocono today (North Pocono School District, Pa.) but it's only aboutpotential timesizing (via furloughs) so we'll just give the headline -]
    North Pocono school directors fear tax increases, teacher furloughs will be necessary, Scranton Times-Tribune via thetimes-tribune.com

  2. State funding not enough to avoid Schlow Library furlough, Centre Daily Times via centredaily.com
    STATE COLLEGE, Pa., USA — Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget calls for a boost in funding for the state’s library programs — a first since 2007.
    But the modest increase won’t add up to enough to avoid a planned one-week closure of Schlow Library, officials said.
    “It doesn’t change our plans that we had in place,” said D.J. Lilly, office manager at the library. “It’s nowhere near what we need to fill the gap.”
    The one-week closure and staff furlough planned for May 12 through 18 is now a necessity, staff wrote in an update to Centre Region Council of Government officials.
    Corbett is proposing a $231,000 increase for libraries in the state budget, which would take funding levels to $61.3 million. The increase is driven by a $500,000 jump for public library subsidies. Other funding, such as library access programs and funding for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, actually decreases under the budget proposal.
    It’s the first time since 2007 that a Pennsylvania governor has proposed an overall increase.
    Libraries in the state are hurting because funding has been cut or remained stagnant for several years but capital costs, inflation and materials needs increase.
    Centre County Library officials last year moved to close the East Penns Valley Area branch in Millheim due to budgetary concerns. A group of residents in Millheim have reopened the facility as an independent community library.
    Also facing tough budget choices last year, Schlow officials decided to implement the one-week closure and staff furlough.
    Library staff discussed forgoing annual raises, layoffs and furloughs, choosing the latter over losing staff members.
    [Furloughs, not firings. You can't get upsizing (=recovery=growth) by downsizing, but you can by timesizing = downsizing the workweek. Two-step program: 1. Cut hours enough to save jobs. 2. Cut hours more to create jobs. And train, retrain, and cross-train. As long as there's high unemployment-welfare-homelessness-prison, there's no labor shortage; there's just a skills shortage due to a training shortage due to employers getting spoiled by labor surplus. And as long as there are thousands of graduates who can't find jobs, there's not too little education; there's too little employment due to too many hours per person, and possibly too little job-relevant education = training.]
    Through 2013, state funding losses for the library have totaled $775,000 since 2007.
    “The state aid cuts are so profound,” Director Cathi Alloway previously said of the decision to close for a week. “It broke my heart to have to cut hours.”
    Alloway had said that May was chosen for the closure because it is traditionally a low-attendance time for Schlow, as nice weather picks up and the school year is near its end.
    Lilly said library officials will continue to watch the state budget process as it heads to the state legislature.
    Though the increase proposed by Corbett is modest, Lilly said officials will take it, knowing things could be worse.
    “I guess you have to count your blessings,” Lilly said. “It’s not less, but not anywhere near enough to make up what we lost.
    “It’s better now than we’ve been getting — nothing,” she said.
    Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631...


2/12/2014 – 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 Mandate Delay May Help Work Hours, Dems, by Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily via news.investors.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Obama administration blamed complexity and technical hurdles when it delayed the employer health insurance mandate last July. The second delay announced Monday was about easing the law's impact on employers and their workers.
    It's also likely to ease some political headaches for Democrats, who won't have to see nearly as many headlines in 2014 about employers cutting work hours due to ObamaCare.
    The latest changes to the controversial employer mandate amount to a far-reaching, but temporary, revision of the law by administrative action.
    The mandate's exemption for employers with up to 49 full-time-equivalent workers will be extended to those with up to 99 employees for 2015.
    David Owens, who owns Creek Ratz and Capt. Dave's Dockside restaurants in South Carolina, had told his employees that most would have their hours cut to 28 per week starting March 1.
    With as few as 65 full-time equivalent employees during the slow season, Owens said he now won't have to cut hours — at least until next year.
    "They keep moving the goal post," Owens said.
    Offering coverage to all of his employees could have run about $240,000 a year, turning his finances "upside down."
    While Owens is relieved, he still feels "the fear of uncertainty."
    A second major change will greatly weaken the law's requirement that large employers offer coverage to virtually all of their full-time workers — or face a fine of about $2,000 per employee.
    This provision is likely to make a difference for public-sector employers that already offer generous benefits but have a substantial slice of workers who don't get health coverage.
    IBD has compiled a list of 401 employers who have cut work hours due to ObamaCare's employer mandate, and more than 300 are in the public sector — including more than 120 school districts. Aides for special-needs students, bus drivers and cafeteria workers in these districts have seen work hours cut below the 30 per week that ObamaCare defines as full-time.
    Utah's Alpine School District, for example, said it faced a $4.2 million cost to insure workers classified as part-time who worked more than 30 hours.
    Due to the rule requiring coverage for 95% of full-timers, many public employers couldn't simply choose to pay a penalty for any workers who get ObamaCare subsidies.
    Under the mandate, the tax penalty owed by an employer could dramatically exceed the amount of subsidies its workers receive from the exchanges. Indiana is challenging the employer mandate as an unconstitutional tax on sovereign states.

  2. The Complete Guide To Your Insane Working Hours, by Drake Baer, FastCompany.com
    Why are we working ridiculously long weeks? Because of the way we measure work, our cultural history, and how constantly connected we are. Here's how we can finally break free.
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Why are we working ridiculously long weeks? Because everyone demands instant gratification and instant connectivity,” says Goldman Sachs investment banker David Solomon, “there are no boundaries, no breaks.”
    Which translates into ridiculous hours.

    For the record, there are 168 hours in week. Some Wall Street folk put 120 hours of them into their jobs. As New Yorker writer James Surowiecki explains, it goes beyond finance. In 2008 Harvard Business School did a survey asking after the hours of a thousand professionals: 94% of them worked 50 hours or more per week, while almost half topped 65 hours.
    But what’s perplexing about the “cult of overwork,” Surowiecki says, is that those long hours “diminish productivity and quality.” Industrial workers have more accidents on overtime, knowledge workers have a drop off in cognitive performance when they’re tired. As Duke-NUS sleep research Michael Chee has told us, sleep deprivation makes you worse at telling if new stimuli is relevant or not and can make your reaction time much slower. Surowiecki adds that junior bankers start to “break down” in their fourth year on the job: depression and anxiety went up while their performance-reviewed creativity and judgment went down.
    If long hours are so bad for health and performance, why do we cling to them?
    Sometimes it’s a matter of economic incentive: if you operate off of billable hours--like law firms and consultancies are apt to do--then you’ll naturally want to maximize how many hours you put in. Like the sociologist Donald Campbell predicted, the more a quantitative indicator is used for making decisions, the more it’ll pressure those decisions. As Extreme Productivy [sic] author Bob Pozen says, time becomes the easiest metric to measure how productive a person is, even if it doesn’t connect to what they get done.
    Then there are culturally ingrained habits. As Surowiecki observes, the cycle “I went through it, so you should” is a hard one to break. He asks us to consider the case of medical training: when regulation put a ceiling of 80 hours a week on residents working hours, docs said training standards were falling--even though their European counterparts work fewer hours.
    “In a culture that venerates overwork,” he continues, “people internalize crazy hours as the norm.”
    What’s needed, then, is a cultural shift.
    How to shift a culture (really)
    Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow did an intervention with the legendarily over-worked Boston Consulting Group. The Sleeping With Your Smartphone author asked one team what the biggest problem in their working lives were. They agreed that it was unpredictability: even if someone had planned time off on a given night, that could be quickly forsaken if something came up.
    So, together, the team came up with a solution: they started a job-sharing program where each person shared 20% of their job with another. That meant that subject expertise wouldn't be limited to a single person--and so if a fire needed to be put out, the job-sharing partner could jump in.
    If you want to make a similar change in your team, Perlow starting with the following steps:
    1. Choose an issue that resonates with everybody:
    Doesn't have to be the number one issue, but one everyone relates to. At BCG it was unpredictability. At Perlow's new station at a pharmaceutical company, the problem is endless meetings, making work spill into off hours.
    2. Share the same goal, without modification:
    For BCG, the night off created something predictable. For the pharmaceutical company, a meeting-free day of working from home ensures work gets done.
    3. The goal has to be concrete and measurable:
    You either took the night off or you didn't; the meeting-free day either happened or it didn't. Getting specific with the goal allows not only for easy tracking, Perlow says, but also reflection, allowing for ongoing learning and re-thinking of the way work gets done.
    So that's one way out of the badge-of-honor-martyr-complex.
    Drake Baer is a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covers work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation, due out in February. Email him: dbaer at fastcompany.com

  3. [And here's another example of the pervasive phenomenon of hours being cut totally apart from Obamacare -]
    Atlanta-Fulton Library Faces Deep Budget, Hours Cuts, by Bob Warburton, Library Journal via lj.libraryjournal.com
    ATLANTA, Ga., USA - As the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS) deals with fallout from a $6 million budget cut for 2014—most notably a 36 percent reduction in public service hours and scores of layoffs—it continues to gear up for the opening of new branches.
    On January 27, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, by a 5-2 vote, adopted a $625.4 million general operating budget that included the county’s first property tax hike in 23 years. However, the hike wasn’t sufficient to keep library funding stable: the AFPLS budget for 2014 was set at $25,028,143, which Interim Library Director Anne Haimes told Library Journal was down from about $31 million the previous year (a 19 percent cut).
    “It is a significant cut,” Haimes said.
    Starting on February 12, only two of the AFPLS’ 33 branches—the Central Avenue Library and the Auburn Avenue Research Library—will remain open seven days a week. Every other branch will now be closed Fridays, and 20 of those 31 will be shut at least two days per week. Those 33 branches in the metro Atlanta and the surrounding community serve a population of about one million with a collection of more than 2.5 million items and recorded more than four million patron visits last year.
    In all, the system’s 1,562 public service hours will be trimmed to 996, a 36.2 percent reduction from 2013. “I think it’s fair to say we’re doing our best to preserve weekend and evening hours,” Haimes told Library Journal.
    Meanwhile, AFPLS will have three new branches up and running by the end of 2014—part of AFLPS’ $275 million building program, which was funded by a 2008 voter referendum, though ground was not broken on the first new library until 2013.
    The ribbon cutting on Atlanta’s Wolf Creek Branch is planned for the end of summer or early fall, Haimes said. The East Roswell and Palmetto branches are also scheduled to open their doors in 2014, followed by two more libraries early in 2015.
    When completed, the building project will not add to the overall number of AFPLS branches; the new sites will replace aging and inadequate facilities currently in use.
    Adequate funding for the new branches has been a deep concern in the local library community since ground was first broken on these facilities. Haimes said about $1 million of the 2014 AFPLS budget has been earmarked specifically to staff and operate the facilities going on line this year.
    Staffing levels will also be hit hard. AFPLS must downsize by 70 part-time staff members and 50 full-time positions this year, Haimes told LJ, although some existing vacancies will now go unfilled, though some new staff must be hired for the three new branches, Haimes said.
    At press time, Fulton County Chairman John Eaves had not yet responded to LJ’s interview requests. In a statement posted on his website, Eaves said, “During this budget process economic sacrifices had to be balanced with the need to provide services to our residents. The funding is in place to solve many of our current needs.” Also on the site, Eaves said the budget allows AFPLS to continue providing services “better than or on par with its counterparts in neighboring jurisdictions.”
    Added Haimes, “This is a very difficult budget for the Fulton County Commissioners. They do recognize how important libraries are to the community.”
    The cuts are, of course, difficult for library supporters and patrons as well.
    “I’m extremely disappointed,” Rachel McCord, president of the Friends of Ocee Library. “I think it was a very large cut to absorb all at once. I think it could have been spaced out better. I think it’s going to hit patrons very hard.”
    Added Marsha Holcomb, who heads the Sandy Springs Library Friends organization, “It was not unexpected.… the hours cut were fairly severe. I understand Fulton County had some hard decisions to make. … It’s just a sad situation. There will be some people that we’re leaving behind.


2/11/2014 – 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. States risk losing millions of federal work-share dollars, by Pamela M. Prah, Stateline.org via Waterbury Republican American via rep-am.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - State legislatures must act this year or risk losing 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; Connecticut is eligible for $1.3 million, Massachusetts for $2.4 million.
    The U.S. 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 file their application to be able to collect their part 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, the Labor Department said. All told, some 8.8 million jobs were lost during the 2007-09 recessions.
    Work-share programs allow 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 unemployment insurance. The $100 million set aside for states is to help set up and promote the programs, and is separate from the program that reimburses states for the benefits.
    Another provision of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 allows states to get reimbursed 100 percent for the benefits 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.
    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.
    Organized labor largely supports work-sharing as long as the state laws include a requirement that employers get the union's approval before launching the program, if workers are represented by labor. All but three states include this union sign-off.
    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.
    As states work to minimize the amount of forms employers must 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 Neil Gorrell, unemployment insurance director in Washington state. 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.

  2. Bill to make it illegal to cut hours to avoid paying health benefits to get hearing, by Steve Benham, KATU.com
    SALEM, Ore., USA – State legislatures must act this year or risk losing 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.
    Senate Bill 1543 is scheduled to get a hearing before the Senate Health Care and Human Services committee today at 3 p.m.
    Dembrow, who has taught English at the Cascade campus of Portland Community College for years, told KATU last week he's heard "through the grapevine" and has read news reports that some community colleges "have been advised to reduce their teachers' hours" in order to get out of paying health benefits to some employees.
    Under the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare"), companies that employ 50 or more employees are required to provide their workers with health insurance if they work an average of 30 hours or more a week.
    "What I'm interested in is stopping them from reducing a person's hours solely in order to keep them from having access to their rights under the Affordable Care Act," Dembrow said, pointing out that he's not interested in making the reduction of hours illegal because of other reasons, such as poor employee performance or other business reasons.
    The bill would also require that faculty members who are "employed on a part-time basis by more than one" college or university "shall be considered a full-time employee if the aggregate total of all hours worked ... by the faculty member is equivalent to at least 30 hours per week."
    Fears have been afoot over the last year or so that the new health care law will prompt employers to cut workers' hours to avoid paying health benefits and will foster a nation of part-time workers.
    [Too late. We're already a nation of part-time workers, and a few workaholics and pre-burnouts, but the "part" time of this robotics age should be a lot shorter than the "full" time of 1940 when our current 40-hour workweek was first implemented and immediately freeze-dried.]
    News reports about workers in the restaurant industry have been published that indicate some of them have had their hours reduced because their companies wanted to avoid paying them health benefits. And a waitress in the Portland area told KATU last summer that her restaurant cut her hours below 30 a week because of the new health care law.
    Dembrow acknowledged controversial and complex bills such as this will have a hard time getting anywhere in a short session. Lawmakers need to be done with this year's session by March 9.
    But he remained optimistic.
    "I'm hoping that this gets traction. ... This will be controversial, but I think it's important to get onto people's radar screens," he said.
    A phone call to the Oregon Community College Association on Monday seeking comment was not returned.
    The hearing will be in HR A in the Capitol.

  3. Well, Never Mind Then: To 'Ease The Transition To A 30-Hour Week,' Obamacare Employer Delayed Again, by Avik Roy, Forbes.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Last July, just before the Independence Day holiday, the White House quietly announced that it was delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate—the law’s requirement that medium and large businesses sponsor health insurance for every worker—until 2015. It turned out to be the first of dozens of unilateral decisions by the Obama administration to ignore the law that Congress passed in 2010. But the story doesn’t end there. Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced that it would be further delaying the employer mandate. At this point, it’s worth wondering if the employer mandate will ever take effect, and what this will mean for other key portions of the law.
    White House makes a hash of the employer mandate…
    As a reminder, Section 1513 of the Affordable Care Act—which adds Section 4980H to the Internal Revenue Code—requires that all “large employers” offer coverage to all of their full-time employees, or face steep fines. “Large employers” are defined as those with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees. (For a detailed explanation of the employer mandate, and how it incentivizes businesses to offer “unaffordable” coverage to their workers, read this article from last May.)
    So much for that. Last July, the administration delayed the mandate by another year. Yesterday they delayed it for another twelve months—until the beginning of 2016—for businesses with between 50 and 100 workers. The delay is meant to “ease the transition to a 30-hour [work] week,” according to a senior Treasury official, given that the employer mandate counts as “full-time” anyone working 30 hours or more per week.
    [Nevermind that the U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour workweek bill 71 years ago by a vote of 53 to 30 and a Democratic president blocked it, and almost immediately regretted it when he saw how much government makework that it dragged taxpayers into.]
    For businesses with more than 100 workers, the mandate will go into effect in 2015, but businesses will only “need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 and beyond.”
    The final regulations are here. “Questions and answers” on the administration’s actions are here. A “fact sheet” from the Treasury Department is here. It’s far from clear how the administration legally justifies its blatant disregard for the law as written, but they came up with something last time, and will likely do so again.
    …Which also makes a hash of exchange subsidies, individual mandate
    When the administration delayed the employer mandate the first time around, I wrote that it would have “far-reaching implications for the private insurance market.” I noted that “more people will want to enroll in Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges” as a result of the delay, accelerating the unwinding of the employer-sponsored insurance system. Businesses will smell blood in the water, and push for an indefinite delay of the mandate. After all, the 2016 election will be just around the corner.
    That’s generally a good policy outcome. More people should purchase insurance on their own, instead of being dependent upon their employer for coverage. Indeed, I’m with Ezra Klein, who tweeted last July that “the employer mandate is bad policy and should be eliminated. But the unilateral way the [White House] is doing it isn’t good.”
    But here’s the thing. You’re only eligible for subsidized coverage on the Obamacare exchanges if your employer hasn’t offered you “affordable” coverage. But what happens if your employer doesn’t have to report whether it has offered you coverage? Then the administration has to rely on the “honor system” to determine whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies.
    My colleague Robert Book has noted that delaying the employer mandate also messes up the individual mandate, because you can only enforce the individual mandate if employers report whether or not you’ve accepted their offer of health coverage.
    End the charade and repeal the employer mandate
    We should simply repeal the employer mandate. It’s a huge drag on hiring, because the mandate increases the cost of hiring someone (because on top of wages, you now have to pay for his costly, government-approved insurance plan). The House of Representatives has already proposed a bill to repeal the provision, and it would be quite easy for the Senate to do so as well.
    But the Obama administration doesn’t want to do things the old-fashioned way, by actually passing a law through Congress. By making changes through administrative fiat, Obama has given his Republican successor—should he ever have one—a playbook for undermining the architecture of Obamacare.
    The President fears that by opening the Affordable Care Act to legislative changes, many more aspects of the law could get repealed or changed by Congress. But he has to do something, because his Democratic colleagues fear that they will lose control of the Senate in November, if Obamacare is implemented according to the way it was designed.
    So, instead the President simply chooses to ignore the law. It’s up to the public to hold him accountable.
    [Amazing how those who ignore the lessons of history argue against holding the private sector accountable for its own growing wreckage of downsized employees, thus forcing government to "interfere," or guaranteeing an increasingly violent and dysfunctional society. Better burrow deeper into your gated communities, "investors," and lose the light leaks from under those sleep masks, and push those earphones in deeper!]
    Avik's new book [is] How Medicaid Fails the Poor (Encounter, 2013)...


2/09-10/2014 – 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. Leaving Work Behind, op ed by Ross Douthat, 2/09 New York Times. SR12.
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In 1930, in the darkening valley of the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay on “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” which foresaw a much happier future — one of growth, abundance and the steady decline of full-time work. Eventually, he suggested, civilization might settle on a 15-hour workweek, with three hours of daily labor being sufficient “to satisfy the old Adam in most of us.”
    [Actually, it would be to satisfy God's curse on Adam: "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earn thy bread, till thou return unto the ground..." Note that the more efficient Technocrats foresaw a 16-hour workweek of four 4-hour workdays.]
    Compared with its Depression-era baseline, much of Keynes’s optimistic vision was prophetic. But the universal 15-hour workweek is not exactly with us yet. Instead, a different trend seems to be emerging, in which well-educated professionals — inspired by rising pay and status-obsessed competition — often work longer hours than they did a few decades ago, while poorer Americans, especially poorer men, are increasingly disconnected from the labor force entirely. (That this trend coincides with widening inequality is not coincidental.)
    [Questionable: 1. Are longer hours really just limited to well-educated professionals? 2. Are longer hours really just limited to those who have chosen them? 3. Are longer hours really always or even usually inspired or rewarded by rising pay? 4. Are longer hours really always or even usually inspired or rewarded by rising status? (What about sweat shops in the garment industry? What about karoshi in China?) 5. Is the longer-hour trend really just emerging or has it been here much much longer? Douthat comes across as a naive and selective observer of limited relevance or insight.]
    When economists look ahead to the possibilities awaiting our grandchildren, they often see this divide widening even further, as the digital economy delivers rich rewards to certain kinds of highly educated talent, while revolutions in robotics eliminate many of today’s low-skilled, low-wage jobs.
    [Only because of many CEOs' short-sighted downsizing response to robotics in contrast to some CEOs' timesizing response. We would argue that the downsizing response is a kind of luddism, since it turns technology from a benefit into a cost.]
    This context is crucial to understanding the debate that erupted last week over Obamacare’s impact on work-force participation. The Congressional Budget Office had always predicted that the new health care law’s mix of direct benefits and indirect incentives would encourage some people to cut their hours or leave their jobs outright. But its latest report revised the estimate substantially upward, predicting that by 2021, the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers — most of them low-wage — could disappear from the American economy.
    That big number prompted Republicans to recycle their predictions that the health care law would be a “job killer.” As liberals retorted, this is not exactly right: These would be working hours freely given up [and left over for others to work!], not jobs lost in huge Obamacare-induced layoffs. Any health care reform worthy of the name would have some version of this effect: If you weaken the link between insurance and employment, workers will have one less reason to stay at a job they dislike. [Note there's no link in Canada or other advanced economies and the Republican doom has not materialized.] And it’s easy to envision cases where the ability to reduce one’s working hours would be an unmitigated good — for ailing near-retirees, for parents of young children.
    [And for people that employers are forced to hire to restore their needed working-hour total - why is he blind to this?]
    At the same time, though, the design of Obamacare — Medicaid expansion, subsidies for comprehensive rather than catastrophic coverage, and then the way the subsidy disappears if you get a raise or take a higher-paying job — makes the work disincentive much more substantial than it would be under, say, a conservative alternative that offers everyone a flat credit to buy a catastrophic [ie: providing only for catastrophes] plan.
    So the new law’s impact on work will be felt well beyond families juggling jobs and child care. One of the studies used to model the consequences of Obamacare, for instance, found a strong work disincentive while looking at a population of childless, able-bodied, mostly working-class adults — a demographic that’s already becoming more and more detached from steady, paying work.
    [because under a frozen 1940 concept of full-time employment unconnected to rising levels of worksaving technology, necessitating staff downsizing, there is less and less steady paying work,]
    And this is where liberalism has a very important choice to make. [And so does conservativism.] It’s possible to defend Obamacare’s overall goals while also recognizing its potentially perverse effects, and conceding that we should try to minimize the number of low-skilled workers exiting the labor market.
    [A. Whence cometh this idea that they're exiting? They can't afford to exit. They're just cutting, or having cut on them, their working hours. B. And that's exactly the effect of Obamacare, since it divvies up the total amount of market-demanded working hours into smaller portions ... requiring the hiring of more workers. What is it about this that Douthat doesn't understand?]
    But it’s also possible to argue that as a rich, post-scarcity society [dreamworld alert! only a tiny percentage of our population is rich or post-scarcity], we shouldn’t really care that much about whether the poor choose to work [and indeed, many onepercenters don't really much care - about anyone else]. The important thing is just making sure they have a decent standard of living, full stop [what, from institutionalized charity?], and if they choose Keynesian leisure over a low-paying job, that’s their business.
    [Again, the simple-minded assumptions that the poor have Choice, and that financially desperate unemployment is the same as financially secure leisure.]
    There are hints of a division within the liberal mind on this issue. Across the left and center-left [if left and center-left are together as just one side of the division within the liberal mind, is he implying that there is a conservative side within the liberal mind, despite the opposition of "liberal" and "conservative", thus injecting hopeless semantic confusion? this guy needs an stern editor] , there’s agreement that an unequal society requires a thicker social safety net, and that as technological changes undercut low-wage work, government should help those left behind.
    [This would be institutionalized charity or in biological terms, the fostering of potentially massive self-parasitism by the wealthy. And with the levels of self-insulation and -isolation being reached by today's super-rich, this mushrooming population of societal dependents would be extremely vulnerable, despite their vital role as consumers of the massive productive capacity of rising technology and as superfast circulators of the currency.]
    But in the Obamacare debate and elsewhere, it’s not always clear whether this larger welfare state is supposed to promote a link between work, security and mobility, or to substitute for work’s gradual decline. On the left, there’s a growing tendency toward both pessimism and utopianism — with doubts about the compatibility of capitalism and democracy, and skepticism about the possibility for true equality of opportunity, feeding a renewed interest in 1970s-era ideas like a universal basic income.
    [ie: institutionalized charity/dependency/parasitism]
    On the conservative side, things are somewhat clearer. There are libertarians who like the basic income idea, but only as a substitute for the existing welfare state, not as a new expansion [a mere academic distinction]. Both “rugged individualist” right-wingers and more communitarian conservatives tend to see work as essential to dignity, mobility and social equality, and see its decline as something to be fiercely resisted.
    The question is whether tomorrow’s liberals will be our allies in that fight.
    [Only if both liberals and conservatives can think outside their respective boxes and unite on including everyone in the job market, however short a workweek that may take in the context of rising worksaving technology, and however energetic a conversion process may be required, of overtime into jobs. Note that an absolute limit is not required - those with deflationary incentive can work all 168 hours a week if they choose - because they will also be choosing to reinvest every penny of overtime earnings in OT-targeted job creation - or to willingly have it taxed away from them so a new Agency of the Job Market can facsimilate the job creation that ideally they themselves would be doing.]
    Recent Comments
    TJC 22 hours ago
    It's mildly astonishing to see the number of groups for whom Douthat speaks. This week, it's the "rugged individualists."...
    vtfarmer 22 hours ago
    If having health care means that a person can leave a dead-end job to care for children or loved ones, then that's a major benefit of the program...
    Michelle Zemach 22 hours ago
    The notion that work is a fulfilling or meaningul endeavor depends on how the individual perceives it...

  2. Democrats promote positive message on Obamacare and work hours, by David Morgan, 2/09 Reuters via ChicagoTribune.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Democrats sought to turn the latest controversy over Obamacare and the economy into a positive political message on Sunday by casting an expected decline in American work hours as a boon to worker freedom and family values.
    In a new partisan tussle over election messaging that is likely to color this year's congressional mid-term campaign, Democratic lawmakers said a predicted drop in work hours brought about by Obamacare would mean more family time for mothers, more study opportunities for college students and less job stress for older workers.
    [And it will actually mean more jobs and more people working in cases (probably the majority) where employers cannot do without the "lost" 10 hours per person.]
    "The single mom, who's raising three kids (and) has to keep a job because of healthcare, can now spend some time raising those kids. That's a family value," Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said on NBC's Sunday program, "Meet the Press."
    He was responding to a fiscal report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday that said President Barack Obama's healthcare law would bring about a drop in work hours equal to the loss of 2.5 million full-time workers over the next decade.
    The change would occur because some workers, particularly those with lower wages, would limit their hours to avoid losing federal subsidies that Obamacare provides to help pay for health insurance and other healthcare costs, according to CBO.
    Republicans have seized on the CBO report to help support their own messaging campaign for middle-class voters, calling its contents evidence that Obama's signature domestic policy achievement will reduce full-time employment and hurt the economy unless it is repealed.
    Both parties are working to craft messages on a range of issues that can turn out the vote of loyal constituencies in November's off-year election, which will determine who controls the Senate and House of Representatives in the final two years of the Obama presidency.
    A chief aim of Republicans is to gain control of the Senate by using Obamacare's unpopularity with voters to discourage support for vulnerable Democrats in states with large conservative populations.
    Democrats have emphasized the law's benefits for people who are sick, nearing retirement, starting a career or trying to finish up college. Obama has also challenged Republicans to come up with their own reforms.
    Republicans, who have voted more than 40 times in the House to repeal or defund Obamacare, have also decided to seek their own cure. But a single plan for an alternative healthcare policy has proved elusive so far.
    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a penalty. It has already extended health coverage to millions of Americans by offering subsidized private plans and expanding the Medicaid program for the poor in participating states.
    The CBO said the subsidies, which help people pay health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, would "reduce incentives to work" and impose an "implicit tax on working" for those returning to a job with health insurance.
    "Any law you pass that discourages people from working can't be a good idea.
    [But better to have more people working less than fewer people working more.]
    Why would we want to do that?
    [To avoid splitting the population into overworkers and parasites.]
    Why would we think that was a good thing?
    [Because it's sustainable and what we've got is not.]
    How does that allow people to prepare for the time when they don't work?" Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said on "Fox News Sunday."
    [That's an easy one. If people have more time off now it's obviously good practice for the time when they don't work. Roy Blunt doesn't have enough sense to be a real conservative. He needs to read Matt Groening's cartoon book, Work Is Hell. Blunt's values are upsidedown. And his Republican attachment to freedom is sadly lacking, because the most basic freedom is free time, because without it the other freedoms are either inaccessible or meaningless or both.]
    But Democrats refused to say the report put them on the defensive politically. Schumer likened the prospect of fewer work hours to the adoption of the 40-hour work week in the 20th century, which he described as a benefit that also reduced work hours.
    "This is a good thing," said Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
    "We need a better work-life balance. Ask a working mother if she could use a few more hours in a day to take care of her family," he told ABC's "This Week".
    Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who appeared alongside Ellison on ABC, dismissed the argument out of hand.
    "It's great spin. I don't think it's going to work," he said.
    [I do, and the Dems can get a lot more ammo from the Timesizing viewpoint on this website. Today's Republicans are off on another planet.]
    (Editing by Jim Loney; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli.)
    [Another version, or rather, the same version slightly primped up for the British audience (a few more things explained, a few spellings de-Americanized, like color to colour, program to programme, mid-term to midterm...) -]
    Democrats say Obamacare will lead to better work-life balance, Reuters via The Manchester Guardian via theguardian.com
    • Reduction in work hours predicted by CBO is ‘a good thing’
    • Republicans say Affordable Care Act is disincentive to work
    Senator Chuck Schumer said the Affordable Care Act would enable a single mother to spend more time with her children. (photo caption)
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Democrats sought to turn the latest controversy over Obamacare and the economy into a positive political message on Sunday, by casting an expected decline in American work hours as a boon to worker freedom and family values.
    In a new partisan tussle over election messaging that is likely to colour this year’s congressional midterm campaign, Democratic lawmakers said a predicted drop in work hours brought about by Obamacare would mean more family time for mothers, more study opportunities for college students and less job stress for older workers.
    “The single mom, who’s raising three kids [and] has to keep a job because of healthcare, can now spend some time raising those kids. That’s a family value,” Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
    He was responding to a fiscal report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday that said President Barack Obama’s healthcare law would bring about a drop in work hours equal to the loss of 2.5 million full-time workers over the next decade.
    The report said the change would occur because some workers, particularly those with lower wages, would limit their hours to avoid losing federal subsidies that Obamacare provides to help pay for health insurance and other healthcare costs, according to CBO.
    Republicans have seized on the CBO report to help support their own messaging campaign for middle-class voters, calling its contents evidence that Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement will reduce full-time employment and hurt the economy unless it is repealed.
    Both parties are working to craft messages on a range of issues that can turn out the vote of loyal constituencies in November’s off-year election, which will determine who controls the Senate and House of Representatives in the final two years of the Obama presidency. A chief aim of Republicans is to gain control of the Senate by using Obamacare’s unpopularity with voters to discourage support for vulnerable Democrats in states with large conservative populations.
    Democrats have emphasised the law’s benefits for people who are sick, nearing retirement, starting a career or trying to finish up college. Obama has also challenged Republicans to come up with their own reforms.
    Republicans, who have voted more than 40 times in the House to repeal or defund Obamacare, have also decided to seek their own cure. But a single plan for an alternative healthcare policy has proved elusive so far.
    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by 31 March or pay a penalty. It has already extended health coverage to millions of Americans by offering subsidised private plans and expanding the Medicaid programme for the poor in participating states.
    The CBO said the subsidies, which help people pay health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, would “reduce incentives to work” and impose an “implicit tax on working” for those returning to a job with health insurance.
    “Any law you pass that discourages people from working can’t be a good idea. Why would we want to do that? Why would we think that was a good thing? How does that allow people to prepare for the time when they don’t work?” Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said on Fox News Sunday.
    But Democrats refused to say the report put them on the defensive politically. Schumer likened the prospect of fewer work hours to the adoption of the 40-hour work week in the 20th century, which he described as a benefit that also reduced work hours.
    “This is a good thing,” said Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on ABC’s This Week. “We need a better work-life balance. Ask a working mother if she could use a few more hours in a day to take care of her family.”
    Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who appeared alongside Ellison , dismissed the argument out of hand. “It’s great spin. I don’t think it’s going to work,” he said.

  3. Pence’s flip endangers work-share, editorial, 2/09 Fort Wayne Journal Gazette via journalgazette.com
    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., USA - President John F. Kennedy wisely observed that the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
    For Indiana workers, the sun is shining as brightly as it has in several years, making it the best time to pass a work-sharing bill to allow employers to reduce workers’ hours instead of laying them off during a downturn.
    If Indiana doesn’t approve the program this year, in fact, it foolishly forfeits more than $2 million in federal funds offered as an incentive to help set up work-sharing programs and to pay for unemployment benefits. Congress recognized the value when the handful of states with such programs already in place preserved 500,000 jobs during the Great Recession.
    Congressman Mike Pence voted for the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 establishing the incentive program; Governor Mike Pence has declined to participate.

    The question is: Why?
    The governor’s spokeswoman, Christy Denault, said in an email that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development would be required to administer the partial unemployment benefit created when a worker’s hours are reduced.
    “While work-sharing programs have been established in other states, there are a number of issues that need to be studied more thoroughly here in Indiana, including long-term administrative cost and the impact on the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund,” she wrote.
    Those issues don’t deter the enthusiastic supporters of work-sharing:
    • The Indiana Chamber of Commerce placed a work-sharing program among its top legislative priorities this year. Mike Ripley, the chamber’s vice president for health policy, said the unemployment trust fund isn’t an issue.
    “We wouldn’t be promoting this if we believed it threatened the integrity of the unemployment trust fund,” said Ripley, a former northeast Indiana legislator. Work-sharing simply makes sense, he observed: “Wouldn’t you rather they be working than laid off?”
    • Indiana AFL-CIO supports the plan. Jeff Harris, director of communications and legislative affairs for the union, said results elsewhere have shown the benefits of work-sharing. “We don’t like the idea of layoffs, but when they do occur, these workers can continue to receive pension contributions, health care contributions,” he said. “It keeps their seniority and benefits and keeps them from being fully unemployed and on the street looking for something else. We understand the business’ perspective of keeping skilled workers.”
    • The Indiana Institute for Working Families is a supporter. Derek Thomas, senior policy analyst, points to a Congressional Budget Office finding: The effects of stigma and erosion of skills for the long-term unemployed accounted for half of a percentage point of the current unemployment rate.
    • House Bill 1338, the legislation to create a work-sharing program, has bipartisan support. Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, is the author; Republican Sean Eberhart and Democrats Ed DeLaney and Karlee Macer are co-authors.
    It’s tough, in fact, to find anyone who doesn’t like the concept of work-sharing, yet HB 1338 died in the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee, reportedly because the governor threatened a veto.
    Pence cites job creation as his top priority, but attracting jobs is more costly than retaining them. A work-sharing program might have placed Indiana in a better position to weather the recession and allowed it to focus on other needs. The governor should explain why he was for work-sharing before he was against it.

  4. Bill on shorter work hours may pass soon, by Kim Da-ye kimdaye@koreatimes.co.kr, 2/09 KoreaTtimes.co.kr
    SEOUL, South Korea - The government will seek parliamentary approval for a bill aimed at cutting the maximum work hours from 68 to 52 in February, according to the Ministry of Labor on Sunday.
    The government and ruling Saenuri Party have sought to cut the work hours as part of measures aimed at attaining a national employment rate of 70 percent.
    Under the current law, the maximum working hours are set at 68 hours a week: 40 statutory working hours, 12 of overtime and 16 for holiday work. The revision bill calls for the reduction of work hours to 52 by integrating holiday work into overtime.
    Employment and Labor Minister Bang Ha-nam has said that the reduction of work hours is a key condition for achieving a 70-percent employment rate.
    However, employers have opposed the reduction in work hours, claiming it will raise overall labor costs and make it harder to recruit workers. Labor unions are also not happy with the work-hour reduction that they believe will lead to smaller paychecks.
    Mindful of the complaint, the government has included several safeguards for the vulnerable -- mostly small and medium enterprises -- in the revision bill against the sudden cut in the weekly work hours.
    “Without adequate time for management and labor to prepare for the change, or measures for a soft landing, a sudden cut in work hours will threaten companies’ existence,” Bang said at a recent meeting with small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
    The revision calls for the change to be implemented from 2016 in phases, depending on the size of businesses. Bang said that employees of SMEs will be allowed to work up to 68 hours a week for a certain period of time.
    Furthermore, if companies and their labor unions agree, they will be able to extend working hours by eight for six months out of a year.
    Both the ruling and opposition parties reportedly agreed to pass the bill in February as well, before the June 4 local elections.
    An official at one of the country’s largest manufacturers said that the revision will significantly affect small and medium businesses, as many larger corporations have already transformed working conditions over the past decade.
    “In addition to changes in normal wages, cutting working hours will deal a huge blow to SMEs that are already struggling to hire skilled workers,” he said.
    The government aims to raise the employment rate by encouraging each worker to work fewer hours and companies to hire more people.
    In 2012, more than 45 percent of Korean employees worked more than 40 statutory hours a week. Some 620,000 labored more than 12 overtime hours and additionally work on weekends, according to the labor ministry.

  5. The great economic divide...on Saudi's work week?! What experts are saying on the 40 hour decision, Al Madinah Daily via Saudi Gazette via 2/10 albawaba.com/Business
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A number of economic experts have criticized proposals to reduce working hours in the private sector, Al Madinah daily reported.
    Some have stressed that it is important to reduce working hours, others believe businesses have the right to ask their employees to work certain hours, while the rest said reducing working hours should be based on the type of business.
    Economics expert Mohammad Al Suwailem said reducing working hours would have a limited effect on the production sector as factories work certain hours anyway.
    He pointed out other sectors, especially the management and administrative sectors, would not be affected by the reduction in working hours.
    Al Suwailem said: “Reducing working hours will allow employees to enjoy a two-day weekend in comparison to the one-day weekend.
    “Businesses will initially be affected but this system is applied in many other world countries and any adverse effects will not last for a long time.”
    He said reducing working hours would provide employees with more time to spend with their families and attend to their personal affairs.
    It would also relieve pressure on public transportation, reduce electricity consumption and ease traffic congestion, he said.

    Economic expert Ali Al Jaafari said many private companies have applied a two-day weekend and it has not affected their business.
    “The reduction of working hours will not have a large effect on private businesses, but businesses are claiming that they have to pay employees the same wages for lower productivity and working hours, which may affect their profitability,” he said.
    He said what is more important than reducing the working hours is allowing employees a two-day weekend.
    Al Jaafari noted that businesses have the right to ask employees to work 48 hours a week but employees also have the right to a two-day weekend.
    Basheer Bakheet, another economist, said reducing working hours for the private sector requires a more detailed study because businesses differ in terms of needs.
    He pointed out that during the summer season workers in the contracting and construction sectors work eight hours a day, which is considered too much.
    However, in the banking sector many employees have to work long hours as their employers are linked to international money markets.
    He said the nature of business should play a role in defining the required working hours and did not understand the logic behind asking all businesses to apply a two-day weekend.
    "There should be flexibility in terms of catering for different types of businesses and whether there is a need for more or less working hours," he said.
    [Another version -]
    Economists divided over 40-hour week, 2/09 SaudiGazette.com.sa
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A number of economic experts have criticized proposals to reduce working hours in the private sector, Al-Madinah daily reported.
    Some have stressed that it is important to reduce working hours, others believe businesses have the right to ask their employees to work certain hours, while the rest said reducing working hours should be based on the type of business.
    Economics expert Mohammad Al-Suwailem said reducing working hours would have a limited effect on the production sector as factories work certain hours anyway.
    He pointed out other sectors, especially the management and administrative sectors, would not be affected by the reduction in working hours.
    Al-Suwailem said: “Reducing working hours will allow employees to enjoy a two-day weekend in comparison to the one-day weekend.
    “Businesses will initially be affected but this system is applied in many other world countries and any adverse effects will not last for a long time.”
    He said reducing working hours would provide employees with more time to spend with their families and attend to their personal affairs.
    It would also relieve pressure on public transportation, reduce electricity consumption and ease traffic congestion, he said.
    Economic expert Ali Al-Jaafari said many private companies have applied a two-day weekend and it has not affected their business.
    “The reduction of working hours will not have a large effect on private businesses, but businesses are claiming that they have to pay employees the same wages for lower productivity and working hours, which may affect their profitability,” he said.
    He said what is more important than reducing the working hours is allowing employees a two-day weekend.
    Al-Jaafari noted that businesses have the right to ask employees to work 48 hours a week but employees also have the right to a two-day weekend.
    Basheer Bakheet, another economist, said reducing working hours for the private sector requires a more detailed study because businesses differ in terms of needs.
    He pointed out that during the summer season workers in the contracting and construction sectors work eight hours a day, which is considered too much.
    However, in the banking sector many employees have to work long hours as their employers are linked to international money markets.
    He said the nature of business should play a role in defining the required working hours and did not understand the logic behind asking all businesses to apply a two-day weekend.
    "There should be flexibility in terms of catering for different types of businesses and whether there is a need for more or less working hours," he said.
    According to Bakheet, there are no statistics about the productivity of employees in the Kingdom.


2/08/2014 – 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. Work week bill a bad idea, letter to editor from Thomas M Schmidt of Juneau WI, Beaver Dam Daily Citizen via wiscnews.com
    JUNEAU, Wisc., USA - Even God rested on the seventh day.
    I read with horror, Rep. Mark Born's op-ed in the Feb. 6 Daily Citizen. Mr. Born is pushing a bill to allow business to work their employees seven days a week. This comes from a person who touts family values. What a hypocrite.
    [When Phil Hyde ran against Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.8th) in 1998 and then when Joe withdrew, became "the lone Republican" (when there were still a few sane Republicans) against the ten Democrats who jumped into the race, he used the motto "More family time for more family values!"]
    He is saying the work would be voluntary, but everyone knows that an employee who does not honor an employer's request would be considered not a team player and thus affect their potential for raises and promotions.

    Dodge County voters really made a poor choice in representation - one who wants you to be a slave to your work and not make time for your family. Seems that Mr. Born could be considered a stooge for the rich and an enemy of working people.

  2. IMO says one third of hospitals fail to meet reduced working hours targets for doctors - Hospitals face financial penalties of up to €650,000 for non-compliance, IrishTImes.com
    HSE says current results from verification exercise “has identified 91 per cent overall compliance in relationship to achievement of maximum 24-hour shifts” for non-consultant hospital doctors. (photo caption)
    DUBLIN, Eire - Up to a third of the State’s hospitals have been found to have made insufficient progress in reducing the working hours of non-consultant hospital doctors and now face fines, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has said.
    The organisation said that among the hospitals where financial sanctions would be applied were Beaumont Hospital; the Mater; Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; the Rotunda Hospital; Letterkenny General Hospital; Cavan/Monaghan Hospital, Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise; and the Limerick group of hospitals.
    The IMO said a verification group, established under a settlement that ended a strike by non-consultant hospital doctors last year, had met on Thursday to review progress on compliance with the EU working time directive and in particular the achievement of maximum 24-hour shifts in the State’s health system.
    IMO assistant director of industrial relations Eric Young said up to €650,000 could be deducted from a hospital’s budget under the financial sanctions if it was found to be non-compliant for a full year.
    In a statement last night, the HSE said the current results from the verification exercise “has identified 91 per cent overall compliance in relationship to achievement of maximum 24-hour shift. This represents significant improvement since January 2012.
    “Within the Joint LRC agreement where necessary hospitals not securing necessary performance improvements will be subject to corrective action including sanctions by the National Director of Hospitals."

  3. Comments: 48-hour work week keeps Saudis out of private sector, SaudiGazette.com.sa
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - I am writing with regard to the article “40-hour work week proposal hits hurdles, Shoura to re-discuss the issue today” (Feb. 3). I do believe after speaking with many of my young Saudi friends that the 48-hour work week is an obstacle stopping them from entering the job market in the private sector [which, unlike the 40-hour public sector, has the 48-hour workweek]. It is also my opinion that the fact that there are eight million expatriates [ie: foreigners] working in the [Saudi] private sector is the real reason for the opposition to a 40-hour work week. America has a 40-hour work week and up to a maximum [true?] of eight hours overtime with pay per week. Unfortunately, there has been a misinterpretation of this over the years by the Ministry of Labor [in Saudi as an OK for 48 hours].
    Jim Stevens, Online response
    II. I strongly believe that the rules must be uniform for everyone. There should not be any basis for differential laws. Why should the private sector have different laws than the public sector?
    Dr. Varora, Online response
    Comments ( 2 )
    08-02-2014 5:22 AM 1 Eduardo
    48 hour work
    I praise what the decision had been done to set the work hour to 40 hour a week. This should be done long time ago,the problem is becuase some look at expats [foreign workers] differently fro there own unless you are a first world or second world country working here.This decision is will appreciated.
    08-02-2014 2:36 PM 2 Syed
    2[day] week ends
    Discussion only... But when will they start implementing the 2 day weekends to private sectors. We need action - no more discussions please.


2/07/2014 – 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. Maharashtra govt issues notification specifying working hours for medical reps, by Ramesh Shankar, Pharmabiz.com
    MUMBAI, India - The Maharashtra government has issued a draft notification specifying working hours and timings for the sales promotion employees in the medical field. As per the notification dated January 15, 2014, in the areas of all municipal corporation in the state, the working hours shall be from 10 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm and in the other areas of the state, the working hours shall be from 10 am to 6.30 pm including half hour rest.
    [Still working the Eternally Valid & Sacrosanct Forty Hour Work Week that Moses brought down from God on Mount Sinai in 1940 (USA) and despite 74 years of waves of worksaving technology including automation, computation and robotization, and waves of kneejerk workforce-consumerbase downsizing, still prevails throughout most of the world. But every publication of hours raises awareness and makes it look stupider in this day and age.]
    Earlier, such notifications were issued by the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Karnataka.
    Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State Medical Representatives Association (MSMRA) has termed the notification defective as far as timing in corporation areas is concerned. An MSMRA delegation has met state labour minister Hasan Musharif, labour secretary and labour commissioner on January 21 and submitted a memorandum pointing out the defects in the notification.
    It was pointed out in the memorandum that as per the notification which states that, “In the areas of All Municipal Corporation” the working hours shall be “From 10.00 am to 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm”. It means that there would be two shifts of four hours each for separate sales promotion employees. If so, the total working hours for a sales promotion employee shall be four hours which will be less than the total 8½ hours; and if the above mentioned part of the notification was meant as one shift for a single sales promotion employee, then the total working hours shall be 10 hours (with two hours break) which will be more than the total working hours fixed for a sales promotion employees and the provisions of Minimum Wages Act.
    Further, the sales promotion employees are also to periodically attend companies’ indoor meetings, held only in municipal corporation areas and it would be impossible to conduct such meetings in the timings fixed for the sales promotion employees in municipal corporation areas.
    The Government notification is also deficient as it does not include the working time for associated office work including manual/ electronic reporting on daily field work etc. by the sales promotion employees.
    MSMRA sources said that the Maharashtra government has agreed to amend the defects in the notification as pointed out in the MSMRA’s memorandum.

  2. Flight Attendant Union Mitigates Involuntary Furloughs At United Airlines, Association of Flight Attendants via PRNewswire-USNewswire via Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA -- The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), representing over 25,000 Flight Attendants at United Airlines, today announced an agreement with United management that averts involuntary furloughs at the world's leading airline through improved voluntary options. The mutual agreement between AFA and management also provides employment for Flight Attendants originally slated to lose their jobs by offering an enhanced crossover agreement to pre-merger Continental Airlines.
    "Through collaborative efforts, AFA was able to engage management in meaningful discussions on how to ensure that no Flight Attendant is forced out on the street without a paycheck. By focusing on feasible, timely solutions, AFA was able to negotiate continued options for all Flight Attendants while recognizing the value and seniority of those affected," said Veda Shook, AFA International President.
    "Our first priority is to defend the careers of United Flight Attendants. This agreement provides for a reasonable solution that mitigates involuntary furloughs, ensuring that all Flight Attendants continue to advance their careers at United Airlines.
    [Here a press release that appears to be about avoiding temporary furloughs just as temporary furloughs are often used to avoid permanent layoffs actually turns out to be misnaming layoffs "furloughs" - presumably because no fate so horrible and unfeeling as a layoff could ever happen to a dignified and prestigious Flight Attendant. Similarly this (union) is not an, eeew, "union," but a professional "association" - thus labor confuses itself and others and obstructs its own path toward refocusing on its real power issue, control of its own supply (and demand, and pay) via shorter hours in the face of ever-rising levels of worksaving technology. At least they're talking the talk of defending careers and mitigating (for-them-)involuntary situations.]
    Solidarity and determination were integral parts of these discussions to reduce the negative impact on Flight Attendants. We look forward to continuing to move forward together as we remain focused on a single contract that reflects our collective success," said Greg Davidowitch, AFA president at pre-merger United.
    "I applaud everyone involved for their willingness to come together and agree on additional options for the affected United Flight Attendants. This letter provides additional benefits and options that required mutual agreement to implement. This new agreement enhances the original bridge agreement with seniority protections and benefits that would otherwise have not been possible without our mutual effort," said Marcus Valentino, AFA President at the pre-merger Continental. "United Flight Attendants stand together as we continue to move this merger forward in a positive way. We remain dedicated to advancing our profession through innovation and collaboration."
    The Association of Flight Attendants is the world's largest Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 68 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 60,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

  3. Why do Republicans want us to work all the time? by Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, Politico Magazine via politico.com
    IOWA CITY, Iowa, USA - This week, America’s political class has been consumed by an intense, vitriolic debate over a single number: 2.5 million.
    That’s the amount by which, according to the Congressional Budget Office [CBO], President Obama’s signature health care law will effectively reduce the U.S. work force over the next decade.
    The initial Republican reaction was predictable: Pundits filled the airwaves, Cassandra-like, to paint Obamacare as the ultimate job killer. Never mind that, reading the fine print, it’s clear the CBO was talking about workers voluntarily reducing their hours in response to the law—not getting laid off or seeing their shifts scaled back.
    And anyway, isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?
    The president’s critics, in high dudgeon, are fulminating about lay-abouts and scofflaws actually choosing to work less than what God intended, predicting a host of ills that will supposedly befall the nation, from moral turpitude to economic ruin.
    The fuss will doubtless soon die down, but this bit of political theater has resurrected a very old debate about working hours, and could conceivably reawaken what I have called the forgotten American Dream. That dream has not always been just about striving to consume bigger houses, fancier clothes, faster cars. The idea that “full time” work is something foreordained and the bedrock of morality is new, mostly a product of the last century.
    [I don't mind that. What I mind is that "full time" has become frozen at the pretechnology 1940 level of 40 hours a week, and the economy has entered the crazy contradiction of laying off workers and customers to maintain that frozen level forever despite waves of worksaving technology - for the products and services of which there are weaker and weaker markets due to the waves of layoffs.]
    During the Industrial Revolution, Americans worked incredibly long hours. It was common for people to work from dawn to dusk, often into the night, six days a week—better than 60 to 70 hours a week with no vacation and few holidays. It was all very Dickensian— remember Bob Cratchit’s appeal to Scrooge for Christmas day off? That was America in the 19th century.
    The birth of the labor movement changed that. Beginning in the 1820s, laborites began pressing for higher wages and shorter hours. For more than a century, and until about 40 years ago, unions, supported by numerous economists, pressed for shorter hours as one of the primary ways to deal with unemployment. They argued that as the economy improved, workers would need higher wages to buy what they produced and more free time to use all the new products.
    For more than a century before 1930, the average American’s working hours were gradually reduced—cut nearly in half. Labor played a part in these reductions, but they were largely a product of the free market, reflecting individuals’ choices to work less and less.
    Most Americans approved, counting work reductions as the better half of industrial progress (higher wages and shorter hours). No one expected this progress would end. Quite the contrary. Through the last century, observers such as John Maynard Keynes, Julien Huxley, Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Eric Sevareid regularly predicted that soon America would enter an age of leisure in which we would chose to devote more and more of our lives to the “pursuit of happiness” promised in the Declaration of Independence. As technology created “labor-saving” machines and the economy grew, they reasoned, we would gradually be able to buy back more of our time from our jobs, preferring leisure to new goods and services that we had never needed, or even seen before.
    Then real progress would begin. Humane and moral progress. Instead of perpetual consumerism and the infinite increase in material wealth, we would naturally turn to improving the human condition, learning how to live together “wisely, agreeable, and well,” as Keynes put it. Progress would then take the form of healthier families, communities and cities—the increase of knowledge, the enjoyment of nature, history and other peoples, an increasing delight in the marvels of the human spirit, the practice of our beliefs and values together, the finding of common ground for conviviality, expanding our awareness of God, wondering [or wandering, exploring?] in Creation.
    These lofty sentiments mixed with the ordinary delights: slow meals together (Ralph Waldo Emerson), conversations in the evening (Henry David Thoreau), dancing the night away (William Ellery Channing), singing in the choir (Jonathan Edwards), “observing a spear of summer grass” (Walt Whitman), reading and talking about books (Robert Hutchins), playing amateur sports (Fannia Cohn) and walking around Central Park in the dead of winter (Elizabeth Hasanovitz). Even Abraham Lincoln believed that the steam plow and other agricultural technologies would free farm workers from steady toil for more opportunities to learn, socialize, govern themselves and pursue happiness.
    And prominent businesspeople often led the way: In 1930, W. K. Kellogg introduced the six-hour day to [his] cereal plants in Battle Creek; soon afterward, Paul Litchfield of Goodyear Tire introduced a six-hour day at his plants in Akron Ohio; and most famously Henry Ford, who in 1926 established the five-day week in his automobile plants. Ford claimed that shorter hours were as essential as higher wages to assuring adequate consumer demand, and to warding off chronic unemployment. As industry became more efficient, he thought, more free time was inevitable, and the only choice was “unemployment or leisure.”
    [It's that word "inevitable" that got us in trouble - it meant we didn't have to do anything. The word should have been "required," even "required by the economic system," with no implication that the labor movement could quit pushing for that goal and push entirely for higher pay and benefits.]
    Walter Gifford, president of AT&T for most of the second quarter of the twentieth century, recognized in 1928 that “industry … has gained a new and astonishing vision.” The final, best achievement of business and the free market might well be “a new type of civilization,” in which “how to make a living becomes less important than how to live.” Gifford predicted:
    Machinery will increasingly take the load off men’s shoulders … Every one of us will have more chance to do what he wills, which means greater opportunity, both materially and spiritually. … [Steadily decreasing work hours] will give us time to cultivate the art of living, give us a better opportunity for … the arts, enlarge the comforts and satisfaction of the mind and spirit, as material well-being feeds the comforts of the body.

    But instead of increasing leisure, since World War II, Americans have seen their average work hours stabilize at around 40 per week. Economists such as Juliet Schor have made a convincing case that our hours have lengthened recently, and that we now average about five weeks longer on the job each year than we did in 1976. Median incomes are stagnating, even as we work harder than ever.
    What happened?
    I have spent years trying to answer this question, one of the great mysteries of the modern age.
    [Easy, Ben. The babyboomers grew up, entered the job market around 1970 and replaced the labor surplus of the Great Depression. Wages plateau'd and started down. Markets stopped growing so CEOs turned to M&As to "grow" their market share - and the labor unions lost their focus on shorter hours so labor lost bargaining power. And we began to fall more and more prey to the G.K.Chesterton Pan-Utopian Flaw.]
    Economists and historians have offered various explanations, from the rise of consumerism to changing technology to globalization to our fixation with economic growth above all else. I have argued that a new ideology, a new set of beliefs about work’s everlasting centrality, emerged with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Work is now viewed as an economic end in itself rather than a means to better purposes. Work for more work has become the organizing principle of society, embodied in public policy and in the politician’s mantra: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.
    The best explanation for the advent of work without end, I now believe, is a failure of imagination [and a high tolerance for boredom?]. We’ve forgotten that the purpose of life is to be happy, and to pass that happiness on to future generations—not simply to keep acquiring more stuff. Our forebears understood that.
    Perhaps the prospect that the Affordable Care Act would result in the reduction of working hours by a modest 2 percent might rekindle the old debate and resurrect the forgotten American Dream. We might even find in our recent history a more practical road to “full employment” and a sustainable alternative to perpetual economic growth.
    [Growth (and consumption!) on the basis of Bucky Fuller's "doing more with less" is unobjectionably sustainable and we should drop, or at least clarify, our objections to it and Pick Our Battles!]
    We might then rediscover what Whitman called “higher progress,” and spend less time banging the keyboards in our office cubicles and more time working on humanity—our families, our hobbies, our faiths. Even Republicans might enjoy that.
    [We
    Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt is professor of leisure studies at the University of Iowa and author of The Forgotten American Dream.


2/06/2014 – 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. Critics respond to Council move aimed at saving nearly £200,000, Bradford Telegraph & Argus via thetelegraphandargus.co.uk
    The Midland Road tip, one of eight household waste-recycling centres across the district. (photo caption)
    BRADFORD, England - A plan to cut the opening hours of the district’s tips [=recycling centres] will lead to a rise in fly-tipping [=dump&run], according to critics.
    Bradford Council, which runs eight household waste-recycling centres across the district, proposes to reduce the opening times to save nearly £200,000 over two years.
    Currently all its tips are open seven days a week, but the authority says visitor numbers are low in the early morning and during weekdays.
    So the plan is to “maximise efficiency” by opening one hour less each day. Each site would also close for two days a week.

    [Hourscuts, not jobcuts]
    None of the full-day closures would happen on weekends and at least four sites would be open each day across the district.
    The plan forms part of the Council’s budget proposal for the next two years, which have been out to public consultation.
    The results of this consultation are now being processed and the Labour administration is expected to announce its finalised budget plan on February 18, ahead of a full Council budget meeting on February 20.
    Marie Parkin, of Keighley, said she was “shocked” when she heard of the plan during a visit to her local tip.
    She said: “My main concern is if the sites are running on reduced opening hours, will this increase the likelihood of fly-tipping? In my opinion, absolutely yes.”
    The Council’s Conservative group also has concerns.
    Their leader, Councillor Glen Miller, said people who went to the tip only to find it shut would be more likely to fly-tip. “They will sling it on the sides of roads. I see it all the time.”
    He also said he was worried that two-day closing would become “three days, then four days”.
    Councillor Howard Middleton, chief whip for the Liberal Democrats, said he accepted the tips’ hours needed looking at.
    But he said any opening hours lost during the day should be reallocated, so they could open later in the evenings.
    He said: “Sometimes when you go in the middle of the week it’s very empty when you go in. Some people often contact me in the evenings and say, ‘I want to take my grass cuttings to the tip and it’s shut’.”
    Councillor Andrew Thornton, Labour’s executive member for waste, said Coun Miller’s comments were “entirely speculation”.
    He said: “I don’t view it at all as the thin end of the wedge.”
    And he stressed that they were considering all public feedback on the proposals and no final decision had yet been made.

  2. Unemployment fund spending hits record high, yle UUTISET via yle.fi/uutiset
    HELSINKI, Finland - Finland’s Unemployment Insurance Fund has seen expenditure increase as a result of furloughs and redundancies. Store closures in the retail sector announced recently are expected to add to the strain on funds, while Finns’ total salary income is at a standstill.
    Redundancies and furloughs since the financial crisis began five years ago have sent spending by the Unemployment Insurance Fund [UIF] skyrocketing. [Redundancies alias permanent layoffs are appropriate burdens on a UIF alias jobseekers' fund, but temporary furloughs should be paid for by worksharing programs. When temporary starts to look permanent, they should be translated into equivalent workweek cuts for all employees with automatic conversion of overtime into training and hiring.]
    Spending is now at levels last seen at the height of that recession.
    Tapio Oksanen, the deputy Managing Director of the fund, says that the picture is bleak.
    "According to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, unemployment is now higher than it was at its peak in 2009," said Oksanen.
    Finnish unemployment insurance funds pay out an earnings-related amount each month for the first 500 days of unemployment experienced by qualifying members. To qualify, employees must pay in for a qualifying period before they make a claim. Funds also pay out when members are furloughed, or temporarily laid off.
    More lay-offs on the way
    The Finnish Unemployment Insurance Fund is the main funder of individual unemployment funds run by unions and other organisations, through which most workers in Finland are insured against unemployment.
    The central fund is predicting a 10 percent increase in outgoings this year—or more, if the economic situation deteriorates. Earlier this week the Kesko chain announced redundancies and closures of one in three Anttila department stores.
    "Now it looks as though the retail sector is weakening, and that this could start to filter through to the public sector at some point," said Oksanen.
    Salaries are also facing a squeeze, according to the fund, with the wages and salaries sum—the total amount paid out to employees each year—static.
    "Normally wages grow by around three percent each year," said Oksanen. "Zero salary growth is exceptional in the fund’s history. It causes the fund’s income base to contract."


2/05/2014 – 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 All More Access To Health Care Means Millions Can Quit Or Cut Hours [and leave millions of jobs top reduce unemployment], Northern Florida & Southern Georgia PBS via WFSU.org
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla., USA - What might have been a routine update on the state of the federal budget Tuesday instead became the newest front in the ongoing political war over President Obama's signature health care law.
    At issue: a revised estimate about how many people would voluntarily leave the workforce because they can get health care without necessarily holding down a job.
    The Congressional Budget Office originally predicted that the availability of subsidies for low-income Americans to buy health insurance would result in about 800,000 people leaving full-time work by 2023. The revised estimate increases that number to about 2.5 million.
    Republicans pounced, pointing at the nonpartisan office's estimate as proof of the Affordable Care Act's damaging effects on the economy. In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner said: "The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse."
    Texas Republican John Cornyn took to the Senate floor with the same message. "The president's own health care policy ... is killing full-time work, and putting people in part-time work," he said.
    Obama's White House wasted little time responding, sending Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman to the daily press briefing. There, Furman turned Cornyn's charge on its head, arguing that if some people are able to work part time and spend more time with their children, or if others can leave a job to start a business of their own without fear of losing health insurance, then these are good things happening because of the Affordable Care Act.

    [- because there will be more market-demanded jobs for our huge hidden unemployed population!]
    "This is a choice on the part of workers," Furman said. "I have no doubt that if, for example, we got rid of Social Security and Medicare, there are many 95-year-olds that would 'choose' to work more [our quotes - should be NPR's]. I don't think anyone would say that was a compelling argument to eliminate Social Security and Medicare," Furman said.
    The White House also pointed out that on the topic of a longtime and separate Republican charge — that the law encourages businesses to lay off or reduce the hours of workers — the CBO found little evidence of this happening.
    CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf also said during a news conference that the existence of employees who have the ability to choose not to work is proof that they will be better off.
    "The Affordable Care Act is reducing the labor supply of lower-income people in our estimates partly because it is making them better off," he said. "It is providing a valuable benefit to them."
    On the larger question of whether the health care law helps or hurts the budget picture, the CBO is sticking to its last analysis, done in 2012, that the law overall reduces federal deficits, Elmendorf said.

  2. Ford curtails B-Max production in Romania with four-day workweeks in February, Romania-Insider.com
    BUCHAREST, Romania - American carmaker Ford has decided to slow down the B-Max car production at its plant in Craiova, Romania, to four working days a week in February.
    Employees in the Vehicle Operation unit in the Craiova plant will have Fridays off for the whole of February, and will get 80 percent of their monthly salary, according to the union leader at Ford, Ovidiu Cioroianu, quoted by Gazeta de Sud.

    [So, timesizing, not downsizing!]
    The first Friday off will be February 7. The schedule for March was not yet announced.
    The recent decision came as a response to the market demand for February. In 2013, Ford temporarily shut down the production in Craiova for 39 working days.
    The car maker manufactures 370 B-Max cars a day and around 1,000 engines in its Craiova factory.
    End 2013, Ford was estimating that 6,000 cars sold in Romania by the end of the year, including commercial vehicles, down from the 2012 level, when it sold 6,800 units.
    editor@romania-insider.com

  3. No lingering in office after work hours: CDA employees told, onlinenews.com.pk
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) Maroof Afzal has issued directives that no authority employee should remain in office after work hours without a valid work reason.
    [That should help prevent the kind of upward creep of working hours and tighter coagulation of market-demanded employment on fewer employees that's been happening in the USA now that there's huge officially ignored and denied unemployment and job insecurity = no one wants to leave the office first at night.]
    A circular has been issued in this regard.
    The order also states that action would be taken against any employee found lingering in office after hours without a valid cause.
    Security directorate has been handed the responsibility for ensuring the order and to report any violators to the Chairman immediately.


2/04/2014 – 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. Senvion Suspends Offshore Wind Blade Production At Subsidiary, North American Windpower via nawindpower.com
    BREMERHAVEN, Germany - Senvion, formerly known as REpower, has suspended production of offshore wind turbine blades at its Germany-based PowerBlades subsidiary and is introducing short-time working for the subsidiary's 246 employees.
    "As a result of uncertainty regarding investment, the expansion of offshore wind power in Germany has not proceeded as planned. The sector has long viewed this development with serious concern," Senvion says in a statement.
    “As a result of a shortage [of] orders, the production of offshore blades has been suspended since the second calendar week of 2014,” the company explains. “We currently anticipate that this downtime will persist until the end of 2014.” However, Senvion says it has seen “encouraging signs” that the offshore sector and orders will pick up beyond this year.
    “We know that short-time work is a drastic step for all our employees,” the company continues. “But it is at the same time the best possible step for both sides: We can avoid laying employees off and preserve jobs for employees who are qualified, committed and trained and whom we will need again in the foreseeable future. Short-time work is also a signal to our customers: As soon as the orders start coming in, we will be able to fulfil them without any delay.
    [Another version, longer but dumber -]
    Senvion announces short-time working at PowerBlades, WindpowerMonthly.com
    BREMERHAVEN, Germany - Lack of follow-up offshore blade orders since the second week of 2014 has compelled Senvion to apply to introduce short-time working for 12 months for employees at its PowerBlades subsidiary.
    The next step is to begin negotiating with the Works Council with the aim of beginning short time working in February 2014, Senvion said.
    Senvion currently has "encouraging signals" that it can bring with new contracts and work for offshore turbine blades at PowerBlades by the end of this year.
    Short time working helps it keep skilled workers and to set about new production without delay when new orders come in, the company said.
    To help bridge the gap, Senvion plans to start production of an onshore turbine blade type at the factory in Bremerhaven.
    This will reduce the number of employees, out of a total 246 at the works, through short-time working.
    [Nonsense ((from a clueless American reporter?) - the whole point of short-time working (alias worksharing) is to avoid reducing the number of employees - see above version of story.]
    It follows a decision by Areva to cut 160 jobs at its Bremerhaven facility. The final number could drop to about 500 permanent contracts by the end of 2014, an Areva spokeswoman told Windpower Offshore. Further, temporary work contracts will be allowed to expire, she added without giving details.

  2. Shoura sticks to 40-hour week, The Saudi Gazette via Zawya.com (registration)
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - The Shoura Council on Monday voted with a majority to stick to its earlier decision for a 40-work-hour week and a two-day weekend for private sector employees.
    The 65th session of the Council had approved on Dec. 16 amendments in the Article 98 of the Labor Law in this regard. But some members of the Council, who opposed the move to reduce working hours to 40, demanded a re-vote.
    Fahaad Al-Hamad, Assistant President of the Council, said that the session, chaired by its President Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh, decided to stick to the earlier decision, which stipulates that no employee shall be asked to work more than 40 hours a week and the daily work hours shall not exceed eight hours. The work-hours for Muslims in Ramadan shall not exceed 35 a week and more than seven hours a day, he said.
    Earlier, taking part in the deliberations, members of the Council spoke in favor and against the Labor Law amendment. Those who favored 40-hour week drew attention to the international studies and experiments showing the positive impact of reduced work-hours on the social and health aspects resulting in an increase in efficiency and productivity.
    "The study carried out by the International Labor Organization in 2006 showed that more than half of the world relies on 40-hour week and that it did not have any adverse effect on productivity but instead it increased productivity and quality," one member said.
    Echoing the same view, another member said that an increase in work-hours will make jobs in the private sector less attractive to Saudi youths. He cited some studies which said that Saudis were not attracted to the private sector because of long work-hours.

    Some 16 members called for a re-vote on the issues of weekly work-hours and two-day weekend. They noted that there are about eight million expatriate workers with whom work contracts have been signed for 48-weekly work-hour, and reducing it would make all services and products more costly. This would also make housing expensive for Saudis up by 30 percent.
    They voiced apprehensions that a reduced work-week might also result in hiring an additional 20 percent foreigners.

  3. Dole allows compressed work week for IT, publishing firms to save on workers' transport expenses, InterAksyon.com
    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment has allowed an information technology company and a printing and publishing firm to implement a compressed work week to save on their workers' transportation expenses.
    In a news release, the department on Tuesday said its National Capital Region office on January 10 gave its go signal to the management and workers of the Manila branch of the IT company AE Inc. to allow the new scheme starting February 1 this year.
    The new scheme means that instead of working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, company employees will be made to report only from Monday to Friday but with working hours longer by one-and-half hours per day. That would come to 47.5 hours per week without any corresponding overtime pay.
    [Whoopeedoo! This "compresses" the workweek a whole half hour! Since Philippines is lingering a century ago way back in 1914 with a 48-hour workweek, can we assume they have full employment and zero unemployment? LOL - try asking your desperate quasi-legal Philippine nanny or housekeeper.]
    Earlier, on January 2, Dole granted another company, this time Visprint Inc., a medium-sized offset printing and publishing company in Pasay City, its request to implement a similar scheme. The company’s 69 employees, 23 of whom are female, agreed to the scheme.
    "We are doing a compressed work week to cut cost in utility consumption, but more importantly, to provide our employees with additional rest day and more time to spend with their families," said Nida Ramirez, Visprint Inc. president.
    Dole Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Tuesday said such arrangements are allowed under Dole Advisory No. 4, Series of 2010, or the "Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements and the Exemption from the Nightwork Prohibition for Women Employees in the Business Process Outsourcing Industry."
    "The concept of flexible work arrangement refer to alternative arrangements or schedules other than the traditional or standard work hours, work days, and work week," the secretary said.
    But Baldoz hastened to add that the effectivity and implementation of any flexible work arrangement shall be based on a voluntary agreement between the employer and the employee.
    "Also, it shall in no case result to the diminution of existing employee benefits," Baldoz emphasized, adding:
    "The parties to the arrangement shall be primarily responsible for its administration and differences in interpretation shall be treated as grievances under the applicable grievance mechanism of the company."
    She said that if there is no grievance mechanism, or if this mechanism is inadequate, the grievance shall be referred for appropriate conciliation to the Dole regional office which has jurisdiction over the workplace.
    Other ‘flexi’ arrangements
    Under the Dole Advisory, the three flexible arrangements that companies and their employees may consider are the following:
    • Compressed work week, where the normal work week is reduced to less than six days, but the total number of work hours of 48 hours per week shall remain. In this arrangement, the normal work day is extended to more than eight hours, but should not exceed 12 hours, without corresponding overtime premium.
      [Let's call a spade a spade. The Philippine richboys are a club of third-world yokels who are perfectly happy forcing thousands of their disemployed fellow citizens to other countries just to make minimum pay. And each forced emigration cheapens the once-respected name of The Philippines. Of course, Spain and the USA have a lot to answer for in this degradation, but fittingly enough, Spain's unemployment rate is in the mid-20%s and the USA's probably pushing 20% if we could get anywhere near an accurate figure, all because their plutocrats too can't seem to realize that economic systems require maximum currency circulation, requiring in turn maximum consumption&production = maximum demand&supply, and that requires a robust consumer base, and that requires maximum general wage levels and minimum diversion of the money supply to, and coagulation in, the topmost brackets, and that requires full employment, and that requires a workweek that adjusts down as short as it takes to reduce unemployment to "frictional" - and of course, smooth & fast & automatic recycling of chronic overtime and overwork into OT/OW-targeted training and JOBS. This is not about lahdeedah lifestyle and "choosing" (LOL) leisure. This is a system requirement. And today's "slow recovery" dba deepening depression will continue until this requirement is met.]
    • Gliding, or flexi-time schedule, where the employees are required to complete the core work hours, but are free to determine their arrival and departure time.
    • Flexi-holidays schedule, where the employees agree to avail the holidays at some other days, provided there is no diminution of existing benefits as a result of such arrangement.
    Benefits of flexible work schedules
    The idea of a compressed work week has been floated recently by some sectors, arguing that it will minimize vehicular traffic in the metropolis, among other cited benefits.
    But while there is no definitive proof that a compressed work week will de-clog city streets, Baldoz said flexible work arrangements are designed to improve business competitiveness and productivity.
    "These arrangements can give employers and employees flexibility in fixing hours of work compatible with business requirements and the employees' need for balanced work-life," she explained.
    "Based on the Dole experience during the global financial crisis when the compressed work week was adopted by some companies as one of the measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis, it produced positive results, one of which is savings on utilities, such as electric, water, and telephone bills on the part of the companies, and savings on transportation costs on the part of the workers,” she added.
    The labor chief further said that rapid technological innovations and the continuing transformation of work processes and work places brought about by globalization moved the Dole to issue the guidelines.
    Since then, many companies, in consultation and in agreement with their employees, have voluntarily adopted flexible work arrangements, such as the compressed work week.
    Common in Cavite
    In Cavite, for example, almost all electronics manufacturing companies have been implementing compressed work week, according to Dole Regional Office No. 4-A Director Zenaida Angara-Campita.
    "Nakakabawas 'yan sa traffic kasi sa halip na three shifts, two shifts na lang ang trabaho sa isang araw," according to one company owner.
    “It reduces traffic because instead of three shifts, work is reduced to two shifts in a day.”
    Baldoz said any flexible work arrangement should also consider the flexibilities of today’s work places.
    “If we have to adopt a compressed work week, for example, it doesn't necessarily mean involving the whole operation of a company. It could only be one or two units, or involve those types of work that can be done even without the need for the physical presence of the worker, or work that can be done through the Internet, which modern technology now allows,” she explained.


2/02-03/2014 – 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. Some local counties cut jobs to survive recession's toll, by Jennifer Shutt via 2/02 Delaware-Maryland-Virginia Now via DelMarVaNow.com
    SALISBURY, Maryld., USA — During the height of the recession, Lower Shore counties took different paths to balance budgets and keep core services available.
    Whether to lay off employees or implement furloughs became one of the most challenging questions department heads and elected officials faced.
    [Challenging? Layoffs = traumatic, divisive, maximum effect on local consumer spending. Furloughs or hours cuts = inconvenient, unifying, minimal effect on local consumer spending.]
    As revenues have begun to return, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties are looking to the future, but also considering how they handled the economic downturn.
    Of the three, Somerset County is the only one that didn’t lay off personnel on a measurable scale during the recession.
    Wicomico and Worcester counties had to lay off and unfund positions when employees left.
    Wicomico County Director of Administration Wayne Strausburg said personnel and capital projects were the two most effective ways to cut spending when revenues dipped.
    “Unless you are going to try to nibble around the edges, there are two places you can go to make meaningful adjustments. One is capital investment and one is payroll,” Strausburg said. “Those are naturally the areas we go to first.”
    Between fiscal 2008 and 2014, Wicomico County laid off or unfunded 97 positions. The hardest hit departments included roads, which lost 22 employees, and corrections, which lost 25 spots.
    Of the 97 positions, 58 had people in them when they were unfunded or removed from county personnel lists.
    “Over a three-year period we had over 25 on the order of 26 percent reduction in payroll costs and we did that through early retirement, we did that through reduction, we did that through furlough and we froze any cost of living,” Strausburg said.
    To save additional revenue, Wicomico County also had furlough days during fiscal 2010, 2011 and 2012. During those three years employees also did not receive any pay increases.
    Worcester County took similar measures, establishing a hiring freeze in 2008 that has since reduced 57 staff positions. The same year 10 employees were laid off and 47 people were eliminated though attrition, meaning they retired or resigned.
    "During the past five years, Worcester County government has become more streamlined, overcoming numerous hurdles directly related to the need to balance shrinking revenues with expenditures while meeting an increased demand for public services,” said Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins.
    During the past three years, Worcester County has begun to experience more stability. It has hired 20 correctional officers, absorbed the liquor control board along with its 28 full-time and five part-time employees, and hired 13 school security officers.
    Somerset County didn’t layoff any employees or implement furloughs, but did require department heads to cut budgets by 7 percent each year starting in fiscal 2010.
    Executive Aide Cynthia Ward said departments chose to cut from places other than personnel, because that was always considered a last resort.
    “They are the most important component, so that’s just not something you want to do,” Ward said.
    Cutting out large projects, only replacing cars when needed and examining needs closely when someone left the county voluntarily were all part of the county’s strategy.
    The county had and has kept about 270 employees before, during and after the height of the recession.
    One of the reasons layoffs and furloughs were avoided, Ward said, is because the county already has a small staff.
    “We don’t have overstaffing to begin with, so most of our positions were essential to begin with,” Ward said. “If you have a corrections officer leave or a 911 employee, you can’t go without those employees.”
    “They were still looked at closely, but most of the time they were filled,” Ward said.
    Looking forward, Strausburg said he doesn’t believe Wicomico County needs to get back to pre-recession staffing levels.
    “I don’t look at it in terms of in 2009 we had 500 employees and now we have 400 employees so we have to get back to 500,” he said.
    “I look at it and say we have a current staffing structure that is one we believe we can afford and one we believe delivers the level of services required."
    Jennifer Shutt can be reached at jshutt@dmg.gannett.com or 410-845-4643

  2. The Hard Truth About the 4-Hour Workweek, by Sylvia Rytarowska, 2/03 Brazen Life via blog.brazencareerist.com
    ARLINGTON, Va., USA - Think about it: four hours of work a week. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But it’s not for you. It’s not even for Tim Ferriss.
    What makes you happy?
    You’re ambitious, desire success and won’t settle for just any job when you could be doing something meaningful that would make you happy.
    To quote Stephen King, who could easily kick back on the beach or drink fancy cocktails by the pool for the rest of his life:
    “I always wonder two things about these folks (writers with scanty legacies like Harper Lee — one book): how long did it take them to write the books they did write, and what did they do the rest of their time? Knit afghans?
    Organize church bazaars?… If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”
    King writes every day, without exception, because it makes him happy. He’s a successful guy.
    [He loves his job, creepy tho' it be. One of the big mistakes of previous attempts to design a full-employment economy based on workweek reduction (to spread the diminishing human employment as automation and robotization takes over more and more types of jobs) has been the idea that we have to stop absolutely EVERYbody from working any longer than the workweek ceiling, whatever it comes down to. But we don't want to stop the people who love their job, like Stephen King. So how do we separate them from the others? Easy. People who love their job aren't doing it for the money. They'd do it for less. Soooo, just require reinvestment of overtime earnings in the job, in sharing the job, the passion, with others = in overtime-targeted training and hiring. This is the core of Phase 3 of the Timesizing Full-Employment Program.]
    If you think about success in life and still have a problem nailing it down, listen to Richard St. John. In his “8 Secrets of Success” TED talk, he shares the elements of success he compiled after interviewing 500 successful people:
    • Passion. Though recently a buzzword, it’s also a major happiness factor. Work.
    • Expertise. Get good and own your skill.
    • Focus. Practice it like a muscle.
    • Push. Push yourself through self-doubt and inhibitions. Even great people think they’re not good enough.
    • Serve. Serve people something of value because it’s how you get rich.
    • Ideas. Follow through with your ideas; we all have them. Creativity isn’t magic.
    • Persist. Persistence, according to St. John, is the number one reason for success. Persist through failure and CRAP (criticism, rejection, assholes and pressure).
    Does a four-hour workweek fit into that picture? Probably not. Take a close look at those who advocate the passive income lifestyle. They work their butts off and sell the idea for the big bucks.
    “Get rich quick” and “do nothing and accomplish everything” recipes are like the Holy Grail. They exist in legends and fairy tales. But the basis for your decision should be what the easy money advocates do, not what they say. Who walks the talk?
    It doesn’t work in reality
    The messages you’re exposed to can cause headache and confusion: find your passion, help others, seek fulfillment and happiness. But on the other hand: be smart, delegate all tasks, macromanage, work four hours a week, become financially independent.
    What’s the right thing to do?
    Listen to your gut and these facts
    According to Scott Dinsmore, Tim Ferriss, the author of 4-Hour Workweek, works a minimum of 60 hours a week. And so do other financially successful business people. Business Insider dedicated a section to their schedules and lists by name who gets up earliest and how long they work.
    Why would somebody work so hard if they’re already financially free and could do virtually anything?
    If the answer doesn’t come easy, imagine you created something. Perhaps you set up your own business or launch an innovative project and, after a tough period when you work hard and see no results, you finally begin to see it catching on.
    People start talking about it. There’s interaction, revenue and satisfaction. Even if your idea or creation isn’t a huge hit from day one, you watch it bud and blossom to life. It’s your pride and joy. It’s who you’ve become and how you define yourself.
    Then you step down, say goodbye and go trekking through the Peruvian Andes, leaving everything to your employees and a host of virtual assistants.
    Even if you’re an inexperienced newbie at the start of your career, you can see that’s rather unrealistic.
    The magic behind success in your career lies in the development of your personality. You become someone new, someone who’s fulfilled and has a purpose. It drives and energizes you, and once you’re inspired, new ideas and improvements will come to you.
    Another reason why successful people enjoy working longer is the rewards, both financial and social. Your income will rise and people will seek out your expertise. And once you become important and valuable to others, they’ll respect and follow you. You’ll have a purposeful and rewarding life without giving up anything.
    And you’ll find the life of adventure and exotic travel even more accessible with your growing income. Everybody needs time to recharge their batteries, and accomplished people desire to develop their personal lives, too. They’re the ones climbing high mountains, dog sledding in Alaska or sailing through the Atlantic because they’ve discovered how great it feels to push your limits.
    Sylvia Rytarowska is an entrepreneur, coach and English philology graduate. She is an advocate of making science more accessible to regular readers and is obsessed with psychology, self-development and sports. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook and visit her site here.
    Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!


2/01/2014 – 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. Chattanooga's Alstom to furlough 335 local workers, by Mike Pare, Chattanooga Times Free Press via timesfreepress.com
    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., USA - Alstom Power is furloughing for nearly a month most of its 335 workers at its Chattanooga boiler operation as the company consolidates operations in response to sluggish sales of its equipment.
    [Furloughs, not firings = timesizing not downsizing. You can't get growth or recovery (upsizing) by downsizing!]
    As part of the same restructuring, the company also will cut five positions at its boiler service tubing distribution center in Chattanooga, said Alstom spokeswoman Fallon McLoughlin on Friday.
    She said the moves will "enable Alstom to more efficiently provide customers with products and services that will improve their competitiveness." The furloughs will take place in March, she said.
    Terry Bailey, shop chairman for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 656, said there has been a slow down in business and the company is "basically adjusting some man hours and doing financial adjustment."
    He noted the Alstom boiler operation builds parts for the coal-fired power industry. The move away from coal toward other energy production "is costing a lot of jobs," Bailey said.
    Since 2010, utilities have announced plans to shut down more than 150 U.S. coal plants, according to the Sierra Club. Proposed EPA restrictions on carbon emissions from new coal plants also have discouraged most utilities from building new coal plants.
    The March employee furlough is the first of its kind at the Riverfront Parkway plant. Bailey said the union workers, which amount to about 173 people, won't be paid during the furlough. Some people at the facility can use vacation if they want, he said.
    McLoughlin said Alstom is consolidating its boiler service centers in the U.S., which will lead to cutting 20 positions nationally and the five in Chattanooga.
    The effort will include consolidating the service offerings of the Northeast Service Center in Harrisburg, Penn., the Southeast Service Center in Suwanne, Ga., and the Boiler Services Tubing Distribution Center in Chattanooga to three existing Alstom sites, she said.
    Those locations are the Midwest Service Center in Erlanger, Ky.,, the Southwest Service Center in Tyler, Texas, and the Rocky Mountain Service Center in Denver, the spokeswoman said.
    Alstom's Chattanooga operations have been hit by the downturn in the power industry over the past year.
    Last July, Alstom announced it was laying off about 40 workers at the boiler facility based on market conditions.
    Also, in March, Alstom's adjacent turbomachinery plant that opened in 2010 unveiled cuts of 80 jobs due to a lack of orders for nuclear power components.
    A planned-for nuclear resurgence, which the 350,000-square-foot, $300 million plant was built to tap, has been slow to come about. Officials blamed the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power plant accident for helping dampen growth in the energy segment since then.
    Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

  2. 103 workers at Scunthorpe steel business go on short-time working, Scunthorpe Telegraph via scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk
    SCUNTHORPE, No.Lincs., UK - The new year has started badly for the 103 employees at at industrial business in Scunthorpe with short-time working being introduced across the site.
    The setback comes four months after the company made 21 staff redundant due to a fall in orders mainly due to the global slow down in mining.

    [Without the worksharing there'd be even more laid off.]
    At the time, Neil Bolton, the Bradken foundry manufacturing manager on Dawes Lane, said: "We are not expecting an immediate recovery in the next few months, but there are small indications that the situation will improve during the second and third quarter of 2014."
    This week Mr Bolton said: "We have implemented short-time working in some areas across the plant.




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