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

4/30/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Short-time work at Papeterie de Mauduit, EUWID Pulp & Paper via euwid-paper.com
    Short-time work will be introduced at Papeterie de Mauduit, the world's largest cigarette paper mill. One of the mill's five machines is concerned; production remains unaffected, the company says.
    QUIMPERLÉ, France - French cigarette paper maker Papeterie de Mauduit, a subsidiary of US Schweitzer-Mauduit, will introduce short-time work for a part of its workforce. According to a company spokeswoman, the reduced working hours will only be a temporary measure - lasting until autumn, French media reports claim - and will affect employees on one of the mill's paper machines. The measure will reportedly not impact the mill's output.
    Papeterie de Mauduit was not prepared to disclose further details regarding the measure. The spokeswoman stressed, however, that it was not motivated by financial or similar problems. According to reports in the French press, the company cites the decline in global demand for cigarettes.
    Papeterie de Mauduit produces cigarette paper at its site in Quimperlé in the French Brittany region. Schweitzer-Mauduit describes the site as the largest cigarette paper mill in the world. It has five machines and employs approximately 600 people, the company spokeswoman informed.

  2. New legislation lowers student employees' hours, by Heidi Kronaizl, The South Dakota State University Collegian via SDSUcollegian.com
    BROOKINGS, S.D., USA - Beginning Wednesday, May 21, students will no longer be allowed to work more than 30 hours a week at their on-campus jobs.
    All university employees are employed under the Board of Regents, which are under the Affordable Care Act. The ACA requires that all employers give employees health insurance to those who work over 30 hours per week. Because of this, the university is limiting students to work less than 30 hours to avoid paying for several students’ insurance benefits. The ACA began March 31 for all employees according to Marc Serrett, the assistant vice president for human resources. Serrett said that from May 21, 2014 to May 22, 2015 non-permanent faculty will be under the ACA.
    “It’s an initial measurement period,” Serrett said. “To see who we need to offer benefits.”
    According to the BOR, this would help determine if seasonal or non-permanent employees should be considered full-time employees.
    Students that work hourly and are employed by the university will be affected by the time limit.
    “It’s an issue for students who have multiple jobs on campus,” said Binnewies Hall Community Assistant Nick Reagan.
    According to the BOR in a document regarding the ACA written on Feb. 27 students that are a part of a work-study program will not have their hours working for a program count towards the 30-hour minimum. The document also states that “[a]ll other hours of service for which a student employee … is paid … are required to be counted as hours of service”.
    “A lot of students will lose hours because of it, making it tougher to pay for college,” said bookstore employee Kyle Rokeh.
    The 30-hour limit is applicable to not only hourly student workers, but the staff members of residential life.
    The BOR made a recommendation for students working within residential life or another job that required the employee to be on-call, that they “use a reasonable method for crediting hours of service for which the employee is scheduled to work and scheduled for any on-call hours…”. This provided frustration for Reagan, as he had an additional campus job along with being a CA.
    “No matter what if we have another job, they have to have money on reserve for our insurance,” Reagan said.
    According to Reagan, CA’s are no longer allowed to have any other campus employment.
    With the ACA affecting the students, it also affects full-time employees.
    “I think that even though it appears to be more negative toward part-time employees like us, overall it’s a good thing,” Rokeh said. “Everyone now has health insurance with their employer if they work full-time, which I think is the way it should be. No law, act or plan can please everyone, but I think this helps out a lot of people who didn’t have health insurance before."

  3. New working hours for public sector workers - Government statement in full, Panorama Daily Gibraltar via Panorama.gi
    GIBRALTAR - The Government has confirmed that all Public Sector employees who currently work standard office hours have been offered a new choice of working hours. These new working hours will come into effect on 12 May 2014.
    The new system gives employees the option of working either on
    Tier One:
    Up to 8 June 2014, 0800 – 1545 (Monday to Thursday) and 0800 - 1530 (Friday).
    [4+3.75 x4= 31 and 4+3.5=7.5 totals a 38.5-hour workweek]
    From 9 June 2014, 0800 – 15.30 (Monday to Thursday) and 0800 – 1500 (Fridays).
    [4+3.5 x4= 30 and 4+3=7 totals 37-hour workweek]
    (This will ensure that the full conditioned [=agreed?] hours are completed.)
    Or on
    Tier Two:
    0845 – 1630 (Monday to Thursday) and 0845 – 1615 (Friday)
    [3.25+4.5 x4= 31 and 3.25+4.25=7.5 totals a 38.5-hour workweek]
    Tier Two employees will work 0800 – 1430 (Summer Hours) for 13 weeks.
    [4+2.5 x5= 32.5-hour workweek]

    The net result of these changes will be that employees will work exactly the same number of hours as they did prior to the introduction of the new system but offices will remain open throughout the lunch period. Employees’ lunch breaks will be reduced from 60 minutes to
    20 minutes in order to meet this demand.
    Under the new system, members of the public will be provided with an enhanced service as counter hours for all departments (except the Post Office and the Law Courts) will be from 0830 until 1500 all year round. Counters will not close for lunch.
    The new system will also be accompanied by the first stage of E-Government which will allow many of the tasks currently carried out at counters to be carried out on-line. It will soon be possible to make MOT appointments, make driving test appointments, check the register of electors, check housing applications and the housing waiting list and many other useful tasks via the internet.
    When the new E-ID card is issued in a few months’ time, it will be possible to carry out even more tasks by means of the internet.
    The Government believes that this new structure of working hours will provide a better working environment for its employees whilst delivering an enhanced service to the public.
    Employees have already made their preferences. As a result, the Government can confirm that:
    62.5% of Government departments will work under a combination of Tiers One and Two.
    30% of Departments will work under Tier Two only.
    7.5% of Departments will work under Tier One only
    Counter hours for the Law Courts will be as follows:
    0930 to 1600 and 0930 to 1545 (Fridays)
    Summer Hours - 0900 to 1300
    Post Office Counter Hours will be as follows;
    Main Post Office:
    Winter Hours
    Monday to Thursday: 0900 to 1615
    Fridays: 0900 to 1600
    Summer Hours
    Monday to Friday: 0830 to 1415
    North and South Post Offices:
    As above but will close from 1300 to 1320 in winter.
    Parcel Post counter and PO Box Irish Town counters:
    These counter hours remain as at present, but are currently under review and a further notification will follow.

4/29/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. A Short-Term Solution for Tough Economic Times? by Mark McGraw, Human Resource Executive Online via hreonline.com
    The Department of Labor recently awarded Ohio more than $3 million to help implement and promote the state's short-time compensation program. STC programs can benefit employers and employees, but carry additional administrative and compliance requirements that organizations and HR must consider, experts say.
    COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced an award of $3,714,908 to the state of Ohio, to help the Buckeye State implement and promote SharedWork Ohio, the state's short-time compensation program.
    The DOL is hopeful that other states will pursue federal funds to feed similar programs while experts predict more employers across the U.S. will look to participate – with good reason.
    Ohio will allocate $1,238,303 to implement a new STC program, with the remaining $2,476,605 going toward "educating the public about the advantages of incorporating an STC program and increasing enrollment of employers into the program," according to a statement issued by the Department of Labor.
    Essentially, short-time compensation programs allow employers to reduce work hours for a group of employees as an alternative to layoffs during difficult economic times. With such programs, the lowered wages of workers affected by reduced hours are augmented by a percentage of the weekly unemployment compensation that would have been available to them had they been laid off entirely.
    The Department of Labor did not respond to HRE's requests for comment, but, in a statement, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez described short-time compensation as "an innovative solution … that helps business and employees maintain a level of economic security during difficult economic periods and use unemployment compensation to supplement their reduced wages. In the same press release, Perez also encouraged "all states to evaluate whether they can benefit from the available federal funds."
    Short-time compensation programs are typically beneficial to companies as well as workers, says Kelly Hamilton, a Cleveland-based associate with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.
    "[Such programs] cushion the adverse effect of the reduction in business activity on workers and ensures flexibility, in that these workers will be available to resume prior employment levels when business demand increases," says Hamilton.
    "Perhaps as important," she says, "is the fact that the program allows employers to keep trained workers on the job. SharedWork Ohio also allows employers to avoid the costs of traditional layoffs, where employers gradually pay 100 percent of the layoff's resulting expenses through unemployment taxes."
    These programs also "help preserve institutional knowledge and provide the company with the ability to respond quickly to a return to growth by reinstituting full hours," adds Jeremy Gaylord, a senior consultant in the New York office of Towers Watson.
    Given such benefits, "you can expect to see other states receive similar grants," adds Jason Rothman, a shareholder in the Cleveland office of Ogletree Deakins, noting that 26 other states and the District of Columbia already have STC programs in place.
    While many may consider programs such as SharedWork Ohio a "win-win" for employers and employees alike, they do carry additional administrative and legal compliance requirements that organizations and HR must be aware of, says Rothman.
    "For example," he says, "under SharedWork Ohio, there is a new requirement for employers to ‘promptly and adequately' respond to unemployment information requests from [the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services]."
    Employers who ignore these requests face consequences. For instance, an employer's account may be prevented from being mutualized or credited for improperly paid benefits, says Rothman.
    "The law also provides that an employer's account cannot be mutualized or credited if an employer previously established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to such a request."
    Employers wishing to participate in Ohio's SharedWork program must also submit a plan to the ODJFS, which includes a description of the manner in which the employer will implement the program's requirements, as well as a proposed reduction percentage between 10 percent and 15 percent, says Hamilton. Employers in other states with STC programs may be subject to similar obligations, but "the requirements differ from state to state, and employers should coordinate with their applicable state agencies," she adds.
    "The plan cannot be applied to seasonal, temporary or intermittent employees," continues Hamilton, adding that employers must also maintain healthcare benefits for workers whose hours were cut and are collecting unemployment benefits.
    From a human resources standpoint, HR professionals must consider a number of factors prior to putting a STC program in place, says Gaylord.
    "Before implementing such a program, HR leaders would need to know in which cases job sharing could be feasible, how to transition to and from job-sharing situations, and how to ensure continuity and accountability in situations where job sharing is implemented," he says.
    "[HR] would also want to account for how long funding would be available, the nature of any restrictions on the use of the funds, and how other programs such as incentives, profit sharing and paid time-off would be affected. Beyond those things, they'd need to understand their reporting obligations as a participant in the DOL program.

  2. 'Worksharing' Can Reduce Unemployment, GreatAmericanPatriot.com
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Instead of laying off selected workers during an economic downturn, cutting all workers’ hours — called worksharing — can benefit employees and employers alike, according to a report from the American Enterprise Institute.
    [Good news - Kevin Hassett via the American Enterprise Institute has brought another group on The Right onside for this highly sensible and centrist halfway step toward Timesizing.]
    Between January 2008 and December 2009, Americans lost 9.7 non-farm jobs, and the unemployment rate in February of this year remains high at 6.7 percent. The number of workers who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks now stands at 3.8 million.
    “In the midst of this slow and tepid job market recovery, policies that can help the economy avoid such high levels of unemployment remain elusive,” state authors Kevin A. Hassett and Michael R. Strain.
    “One tool that can help keep a lid on unemployment is worksharing.”
    Under worksharing, a company would reduce the hours of its workforce instead of instituting layoffs, and workers whose hours were reduced would be eligible for a prorated unemployment insurance payout.
    The authors give the example of a firm with 100 employees. In the face of an economic downturn, the company must reduce its wage bill by 20 percent.
    Today, most companies would simply lay off 20 employees, and those workers would then receive unemployment insurance benefits financed by taxpayers.
    Under worksharing, the company would not lay off any workers and would instead tell every worker to stay home one day a week. Each worker would then be eligible for 20 percent of a weekly unemployment insurance benefit.
    In both situations — layoffs and worksharing — the company would reduce its wage bill by 20 percent, while the taxpayers would be responsible for the same amount of money in insurance benefits.
    But with worksharing, no one loses his or her job. Workers would continue to earn a decent wage, while the company would avoid hiring costs and training costs when economic conditions improve, and retain valued workers.
    Worksharing would also avoid the possibility of some laid-off workers suffering long-term unemployment. The authors assert that firms in general won’t interview a worker who has been unemployed for longer than six months. And long-term unemployment leads to higher stress levels that can have negative health consequences.
    Several companies have already tried strategies similar to worksharing. Charles Schwab, for example, in 2001 encouraged its employees to take unpaid leave, designating certain Fridays as voluntary days off.
    The authors conclude: “To the extent that worksharing can keep some workers in jobs and out of long-term unemployment, it can increase potential output even after the recession passes. In this way, worksharing can add to gross domestic product, increasing labor demand and household incomes in addition to simply spreading the recession-caused pain around."

4/27-28/2014 – 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. Business Notebook: Shared-Work Program bill faces deadlines, by Amity Shedd, 4/28 Southeast Missourian via semissourian.com
    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., USA - The Missouri Senate recently passed Senate Bill 844 unanimously, which would make it possible for state businesses to continue using the Shared-Work Program.
    In the event of temporary declines in business, the Shared-Work Program allows participating companies to reduce hours of their permanent employees, and those employees are able to collect partial unemployment payments to make up for lost wages, according to a news release from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is in favor of the bill.
    The program has helped businesses avoid layoffs during temporary work slowdowns and allowed them to retain skilled workers, the release said.
    Unless the bill is passed and enacted by Aug. 22, the program will end in Missouri, according to state labor officials. The bill still must pass the Missouri House of Representatives before the legislative session ends May 16.

    An emergency clause in the bill allows it to immediately take effect upon the governor's signature, the release said.
    Minority, women-run businesses topic of seminars
    The Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University will present a two-part training seminar to help minority and women-owned businesses identify where they fit in the "business life cycle" -- from startup to becoming a publicly traded company. The seminars also will help such businesses identify important resources to support growth.
    The seminar is called Positioning, Planning and Profiting: A Life Cylce Apporach to M/WBE Business Growth, and will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday and July 31 at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.
    The seminars will teach minority and women business owners what is necessary to position them for growth of their business. Attendees also will learn of practices that may help move an existing business strategy to the next level by enhancing or re-engineering a business approach.
    There is no cost for either seminar, but space is limited. Contact Glenna Ervin at gervin@semo.edu or call 651-2929 to register.
    Business roundup ...
    Watch out for farm vehicles on roadways ...
    Now that planting season is in full swing ...
    ashedd@semissourian.com 388-3632

  2. Mills cut hours to cope with reduced crop, by Simone Norrie, 4/28 QueenslandCountryLife.com.au
    COLEAMBALLY, Queensld., Australia - Rice mills at Coleambally and Deniliquin have rejigged production in response to this season’s reduced crop.
    About 800,000 tonnes of rice is expected to be harvested this year – a significant drop from the 1,161,000 tonnes last year - and tight water availability during planting late last year in the Murrumbidgee Valley is being blamed.
    “Despite struggling during the establishment phase, the above average temperatures experienced during January, February and into March improved the crop markedly, which has led to better than anticipated yields,” said SunRice general manager grower services Mike Hedditch.
    But the smaller crop meant less production was required.
    The Coleambally mill is set to move from three shifts, five days a week, to one 10-hour shift, four days a week, while one of the two Deniliquin mills will be operating 24 hours, five days per week, instead of seven days.
    The take home message of the latest scale back is that no staff would be made redundant.

    [Reduced hours instead of redundancies = a perf example of timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Mr Hedditch said Australian Grain Storage (AGS), which received rice from growers via the depot, was separate to SunRice; meaning the scale back would not impact growers.
    “AGS is operating normal hours at the 16 rice receival depots open across the Riverina,” he said.
    At close of business on Monday, 211,705 tonnes of paddy had been received at SunRice depots.
    The reduced milling configuration would not be fixed for coming seasons, but were based solely on this harvest, Mr Hedditch said. 
    “SunRice regularly assesses its business and operations and makes adjustments for a range of factors, including local market conditions and global opportunities.
    “SunRice remains committed to the Coleambally and Deniliquin communities. Both mills remain an important part of the operations group, which is why every effort was made to redeploy affected staff internally within the SunRice Group.”
    The 12 affected Coleambally mill staff were offered employment at SunRice’s Leeton plants while Denliquin staff would be retained in other roles.
    The transfers are set to take place in early May.
    But a smaller crop means higher prices.
    SunRice announced interim first payment rates for this year’s crop earlier this month.
    The premium sushi variety Koshihikari rate was $276 a tonne while medium grain variety Reiziq was at $200/tonne.
    SunRice chairman Gerry Lawson said there was increased demand for sushi varieties Koshihikari and Opus.
    He said Jasmine fragrant varieties Kyeema and YRF209 were also sought after.
    In other rice news, growers are being urged by the Rice Growers’ Association of Australia (RGA) to think before burning stubble.
    The RGA said growers preparing to plant winter crops were asked to reduce the effects on neighbours, by understanding wind and air conditions.
    Simone Norrie is a journalist for The Land at Wagga Wagga
    Email: simone.norrie@fairfaxmedia.com.au
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thelandnewspaper

  3. Flexi-working hours key to rise in entrepreneurs in Bangalore - Survey shows 48% business people believe flexi-time allows employees to work on pet projects, 4/27 Daily News & Analysis via dnaindia.com
    BANGALORE, India - Flexible work hours don't just retain employees longer, but also give rise to entrepreneurs.
    [Uh, why would business owners want to give rise to entrepreneurs who would presumably leave their employ and possibly go into competition with them?]
    Business owners and business people believe flexible working, including flexible timings, and options like work-from-home are crucial towards introducing innovation at workplaces.
    About 48% business owners believe flexi-working is the need of the hour if entrepreneurship is to be encouraged, says a survey carried out among 495 business owners by workspace provider Regus.
    [Again, why would business owners want to encourage entrepreneurs who would presumably leave their employ and possibly go into competition with them?]
    "Flexibility can help employees think out of the box and seek out innovation," says Sahil Verma, chief operating officer, Regus. Experts say flexible working not just taps into employee demand for a better work-life balance, by allowing them to work their own hours and from different locations, but also helps employees mix with colleagues from different functions and firms, thus widening their outlook and experience.
    CP Ravikumar, general chair, Texas Instruments India Educators Conference, says encouraging innovation in organisations is crucial.
    "Most entrepreneurial ideas are put together and the basics worked out while we are still with some organization. Most people who want to start out on their own, work out the basics before formally quitting existing jobs," says Sandesh Mhatre, an IT employee who is planning to start a food startup, adding that therefore, "flexi work timings provide space to develop ideas.["]
    Apart from flexi-hours, measures like skills upgradation programmes, formal innovation programmes, mixing staff from different functions, and access to senior management also help in nurturing innovation, says the survey.
    Experts say with small businesses accounting for over 90% of the businesses, and over three fifths of employment, it is necessary to foster entrepreneurship.
    "A single individual who starts out as an entrepreneur, goes on to employ a handful of people in a few months time, gradually expanding the headcount," says Mhatre.
    Choose your schedule
    Dell India has an initiative called Connected Workplace, that allows team members to maximise their potential by working remotely, part-time, flexi-hours, sharing jobs etc. The company believes one big positive derived from the Connected Workplace initiative, is a reduction in carbon footprint, by having less people commute by road.
    At GE India Technology Centre, three types of flexible work arrangements are offered. Employees can either choose their work timings, or work a day or two from home every week, or work part-time.
    Microsoft allows flexible scheduling, whereby employees can work part-time or full time from home, provided the manager permits.

4/26/2014 – 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. Volkswagen, Fiat to Furlough 2,600 Workers in Brazil - Move Is Latest Sign That Country's Vehicle Market Is Slowing Down, by Rogerio Jelmayer & Luciana Magalhaes, online.wsj.com
    SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Two of Brazil's largest global auto makers, Volkswagen VOW3.XE -1.55% and Fiat, F.MI -2.92% are furloughing at least 2,600 workers, the latest sign that the world's fourth-largest vehicle market is hitting the brakes.
    After a decade of strong growth, helped by government incentives, Brazil's car sales fell 0.9% in 2013 and are down 2.1% through the first three months of 2014 compared to the first quarter last year.
    Analysts blame a stagnant economy and a pullback in consumer lending at home as well as turmoil in Argentina, Brazil's largest export market. Production costs are also going up due to new safety regulations requiring the installation of air bags and anti-lock braking systems in all new cars produced in Brazil.
    On Friday, Fiat said that it put 1,700 workers on mandatory vacation earlier this month because of slower-than-expected sales in April. The company owns a factory in the Southeastern state of Minas Gerais where it employs around 19,800 people. The employees put on mandatory vacation will return to work in early May, a company spokesman said.
    Meanwhile, Volkswagen confirmed earlier this week in an email that it will furlough workers in the states of São Paulo and Paraná because of slack demand. The company wouldn't confirm a number, but the union said 900 workers at the Anchieta plant near São Paulo will be off work for as long as five months.
    Daimler AG DAI.XE -2.15% 's Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, also confirmed Friday that it has launched a voluntary severance program. According to the company's labor union, Mercedes-Benz expects the program to reach around 1,500 employees, a number the auto maker declined to confirm.
    The slowdown comes as global auto makers have invested billions to expand manufacturing capacity in Brazil. The government in recent years enticed consumers in Latin America's most populous nation to buy cars by extending easy credit. And it forced auto makers seeking a piece of that market to build locally to avoid steep import duties.
    By 2017, global auto makers will be able to build six million vehicles a year here, according to a study by consulting firm Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, up from around 4.5 million in 2012.
    But it isn't clear whether Brazil's domestic market will continue expanding fast enough to absorb all of that production. The government is tightening the credit spigot and consumers are laboring to pay off debts they racked up over the past few years.
    "Demand for cars will continue to be below expectations in the next 12 months," said Renato Meirelles, president of Data Popular, a research group that studies consumer trends.
    Exports are struggling too. Sales to Argentina slumped 32% in the first three months of 2014, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the Brazilian auto maker association Anfavea. Vehicle sales in Argentina have tumbled since a stiff new tax was imposed in December. The duties, which are as high as 50% on some models, hit virtually all imported cars and most domestically manufactured models as well.
    Luiz Moan, president Anfavea, said Brazil's government has been holding talks with Argentine officials to figure out a solution. The nation accounts for about 75% of Brazil's auto exports.
    "Our main priority is Argentina," Mr. Moan said.
    Mr. Moan said Brazil is looking to boost sales to other nations such as Colombia and Ecuador as well as the European Union to diversify its export base. But that could prove challenging given the Brazilian industry's high manufacturing costs.
    "Brazil must to take a lot of steps to increase its competitiveness and I don't see an easy or a short-term solution," said Rodrigo Baggi, an auto-sector analyst at Brazilian consulting firm Tendências.
    --Shane Romig contributed to this article.
    Write to Rogerio Jelmayer at rogerio.jelmayer@wsj.com and Luciana Magalhaes at luciana.magalhaes@wsj.com

  2. Update: Temporary Foreign Worker changes force Calgary restaurant to cut hours, CalgaryHerald.com
    CALGARY, Alta., Canada - Amane Kanai doesn’t want to close his restaurant one day a week, but doesn’t feel he has a choice.
    The federal government announced Friday that restaurants would no longer be able to employ foreign nationals under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
    Kanai, manager of Japanese restaurants Globefish Sushi and Izakaya, said that starting in May, the Kensington branch will have to close every Monday as a result.

    [Here's another good reason for cutting worktime: more abbreviated worktime, not more desperate migrant employees.]
    About 30 per cent of Globefish’s staff across its three city restaurants are foreign nationals, employed under the program. Faced with losing nearly a third of his workforce, Kanai must find a way to run the restaurants with remaining staff.
    “We picked the slowest day of the week,” he said.
    “But now I have to hire computer guys to change the website, get new printing done. We want to give as much notice as possible to customers.”
    Kanai expects many ethnic restaurants will suffer under the government’s moratorium, as many jobs the business requires a skillset that more foreigners than Canadians have.
    “In the restaurant business it’s really hard to find the right people,” he said.
    “And our foreign workers, they work really hard.”
    Three front of house staff at Globefish Kensington were employed under the program – “if I lose them I’m in big trouble,” Kanai said – and a chef at the Marda Loop restaurant had just applied for a permanent work visa.
    “Now they’ve changed the rules we’re kind of nervous about it. If they do not accept it, what do we do?”
    The federal government is adamant Canadians must have the first chance at available jobs, and after it found some restaurants exploiting the program – hiring foreign workers and paying them less – it decided to prevent restaurants from using it while the matter was investigated.
    “Abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will not be tolerated,” Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney said.
    “Our government will continue to pursue significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that employers make greater efforts to recruit and train Canadians and that it is only used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.”
    Kanai disagrees. “I get their point, some people do take advantage of that, but we treat our foreign workers well. We give them bonuses.”
    Ken Wong, owner of Calgary’s China Rose restaurant, was also disappointed by the decision.
    “I’m trying to get some foreign workers in but it’s taking over a year or two years now and I haven’t gotten any in yet,” he said, adding he’s used about seven or eight foreign workers over the years.
    “I’ve applied for some but they’re not here yet.”
    Craig Riopel, owner/operator of the Stockman’s Restaurant & Lounge in DeWinton, employs four foreign workers from the Philippines – one as a sous chef and the other three line cooks.
    “They’re not just here to work and go home. They’re here to become Canadians,” he said.
    “(The program) is extremely important because we do not get any applications from people who want to work in that position. There’s a reason that every time you go through the drive-thru at Tim Hortons, and everytime you go to McDonald’s, and every time you go to Walmart, it’s all Filipinos, and East Indians and everything else. Nobody wants those jobs.”
    The Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned the move would push some small businesses to the brink, and called on the federal government to end the moratorium quickly.
    The organization’s Alberta director Richard Truscott said the move was “definitely going to sideswipe a lot of small businesses in the food services industry who have a legitimate, verified need to find workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”
    “This has the potential to do some serious damage to Alberta’s economy. There’s no doubt about it.
    “Particularly in smaller communities and resort towns and also in some resource-rich areas of the province and of the country where there is a strong competition for talent for people at different skill levels.”
    Justin Smith, director of policy, research and government relations with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, would hurt many law-abiding operators.
    “This is a knee-jerk reaction by this government in reaction to a few bad actors and halting the program completely puts those businesses that play by the rules and utilize this program effectively and efficiently in the way that it was intended to be used puts them in a great disadvantage.”
    Nick Ford, an economist with ATB Financial, said the number of temporary foreign worker positions in Alberta spiked more than sevenfold in seven years.
    According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the number of jobs jumped from 10,245 in 2005, to 84,465 in 2012, he said. Retail trade and the accommodation and food service industry saw the biggest gains as most of the jobs in these sectors are classified as lower-skilled.
    “The dramatic increase is partly thanks to an expansion of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) in 2008,” Ford said.
    “This expansion moved to include lower-skilled occupations to address short-term labour shortages across the country and help employers manage the effects of the economic downturn.
    “Alberta’s increased use of the program since 2009 reflects the strong economy and the vigorous rebound from the 2008 recession. Ontario and Quebec are also large users of the (program), but unlike in Alberta, the number of temporary foreign worker positions flatlined in these two provinces over the same seven years.”
    In a statement, Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, said the province agreed with the federal government that Canadians must have first access to jobs.
    “However, we have concerns about the moratorium the federal government has imposed.
    “Alberta’s economy is strong, and our labour market is unique. Unemployment is below five per cent. There are employers who cannot find people, there are people who cannot find jobs, and Alberta has programs for both. Job fairs and websites help job seekers find work. Food services companies and workers participate in these, yet positions remain open.
    “It’s the reality of Alberta’s labour market: when jobs remain unfilled, workers are recruited from other sectors, customer service declines, or Canadians already on staff lose shifts or jobs when restaurants close or reduce their hours. Albertans want restaurant services, and companies need temporary foreign workers to provide them.”
    He said the province feels it is unfair to freeze an entire sector because there are problems with a few players.
    Restaurants Canada, formerly the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said in a statement that it is disappointed with the federal government’s decision to suspend the program for the food services sector, and is committed to working with the federal government to correct any abuses, restore the integrity of the program and expedite the sector’s access to it in regions of severe labour shortages.
    It said the restaurant industry employs 1.1 million Canadians and is the number one source of first-time jobs for young people. About two per cent of the industry’s employees are temporary foreign workers.
    “In areas of the country with severe labour shortages, the TFW program is vital, allowing restaurants to remain in business, and to continue to provide jobs for their Canadian employees,” it said.
    “The majority of restaurant operators using the program operate in complete compliance and it is unfortunate that their businesses and employees will be hurt by this broad-stroke approach. Albertans in particular will remember what it was like a few years ago to find restaurants closed because of a shortage of workers.”
    mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com Twitter.com/MTone123

4/25/2014 – 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. Chatham Co. Cuts Hours for Part-Timers, by Marcus E. Howard, WSAV-TV via SavannahNow.com
    SAVANNAH, Ga., USA - Mananna Terrell, 26, already works two jobs, including as a part-time lifeguard at the Chatham County Aquatic Center, but may soon be searching for a third.
    A staffing plan that would reduce the hours of some employees in the county Public Works and Park Services Department will go before county commissioners today for a vote.
    Similar to what’s happening in the private sector, a number of county workers considered part-time, seasonal and temporary are required by the federal Affordable Care Act to have health insurance coverage by January if they work 30 hours or more per week on average. Large employers, including states, counties and cities, face tax penalties for non-compliance.
    Roughly 130 of more than 1,500 Chatham County workers fall under the three categories. But Public Works and Park Services, according to the county, is most affected.
    The county employs 20 lifeguards and four duty managers at the Aquatic Center who are part time, in addition to 12 part-time and seasonal employees in the county’s recreation program. Many of them are not receiving benefits despite working more than 30 hours each week.
    Because many of the Aquatic Center’s lifeguards and duty managers are full-time students, several others have been working up to 40 hours a week to cover three daily shifts and meet safety requirements, according to Public Works and Park Services. The two pools are open six days a week for a total of 96 hours.
    The county was already having difficulty filling Aquatic Center positions because the pay ($8 per hour for part-time lifeguards) doesn’t match elsewhere. Pay increases are being considered.
    Likewise, some recreation employees, the county says, work 40 to 60 fragmented hours a week in order to open and close venues, monitor events and manage summer and holiday youth camps. Coaches and parents, according to the county, rely on an employee being present to resolve potential problems.
    Under the plan proposed by county staff, workers who fall under the three categories will have their weekly work times reduced to 25 hours to comply with the law, also known as Obamacare. And more part-time employees (up to 44 for the Aquatic Center and 24 recreational aides) would be hired to cover the lost hours.
    [Here's an example of converting hours into jobs = a foretaste of converting overtime and overwork hours into jobs?]
    The plan will need to be implemented by July 1 to meet federal regulations.
    “It’s an inconvenience just due to the fact that you have your set income and budget, and then all of a sudden out of nowhere you have to try to readjust,” said Terrell, who is taking time away from college to earn money for the fall semester.
    “I already work two jobs, so that means I’ll have to get a third job in order to suffice for the hours I’ll end up losing here. It’s an inconvenience, but I guess you have to do what you have to do.”
    Reclassifying positions to fulltime status with benefits was an alternative considered over the course of several meetings between the county’s Human Resources and Public Works and Public Services departments, according county officials. Facility hours and some services will need to be cut if no plan is approved.
    The federal law defines fulltime as 30 hours or more per week.
    The county Sheriff’s Office, Board of Registrars and Board of Equalization are among other departments with employees not considered fulltime, but have come up with their own adjustments.
    “They were all able to make modifications without needing to hire additional staff,” said Human Resources Director Carolyn Smalls.
    Businesses with more than 100 employees will be subject to an annual fine of $2,000 per employee, not counting the first 30, beginning in January. Those with more than 50 workers but fewer than 100 will have an extra year to phase in coverage.
    While much attention has been given to the private sector, labor data suggest that counties, municipalities and publicly-funded schools across the nation have been reducing the work hours of employees not considered fulltime in order to avoid providing coverage.
    In February, a highly publicized Congressional Budget Office analysis predicted that more people will choose not to work and also work fewer hours as a result of the law.
    The city of Savannah, however, appears to the bucking the trend.
    “We have not cut hours,” said city spokeswoman Saja Aures. “We in fact extend health care coverage to anyone who works 20 hours or more in a regular position, i.e. not a seasonal position.

  2. Canada Post to cut hours in rural Cape Breton, CBC News Nova Scotia via CBC.ca CAPE BRETON, N.S., Canada - Canada Post will be scaling back hours at eight post offices in Cape Breton, according to the association that represents rural postmasters.
    In most cases this will mean the rural post offices are closed on Saturdays and will be open fewer hours during the week.
    The communities facing the cuts are Scotsville, Pleasant Bay, Lower L'Ardoise [sounds like France], Margaree Valley, Margaree, West Bay Road, Iona and Louisbourg.
    "At the end of the day, if we see a large number of hours that are being reduced in a small rural post office, it makes it more inconvenient for our customers," said Karen MacDonald, the Maritime president of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association.
    Canada Post could not be reached for comment. But the Crown corporation has said that it is trying to align its services with the demand
    [Better hourscuts than jobcuts, but, as in the United States, it is mainly a case of the richest one-percent of the population, via their pet political party (contradictorily known as "conservative"), cutting their own graduated taxes and stepping back into their gated estates and private islands. So whatsamatter with that? So it's a matter of system feedback. With lotsa money, people insulate and isolate themselves, and despite their own belief they're still in touch, and informed, and au courant etc., the people around them inevitably get nicer and nicer and more and more flattering and definitely not upsetting, oh goodness, no. So the most important kind of feedback, negative feedback (which indicates urgency and direction and speed of necessary change and adaptation), gets less and less negative, until you have, for example, Bush Jr. saying "Hell of a good job, Brownie!" when Brownie didn't do squat for Katrina victims. No pain, no change, alias adaptation. So we've got a huge living system that can't adapt, and any biological system that cannot adapt is doomed. But there is an easy, gentle and market-oriented fix... emergency worksharing, and sustainable Timesizing and its series of upgrades.]
    MacDonald said the cuts will also hurt postmasters, who will lose part of their salaries.

4/24/2014 – 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. Washington Post ["WaPo"] Discovers Worksharing, (by Dean Baker?), Beat the Press via Center for Economic Policy & Research via cepr.net
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - It's a bit late, but who said the Washington Post can't learn? It ran a nice piece on worksharing, pointing out the impact that reducing work hours can have in preventing unemployment. Those of us who have been working on worksharing for the last five years might be a bit frustrated with the delay, but if even the Washington Post can learn, there is hope for America.
    Comments (7)
    April 24, 8:57am, A Matter Of Emphasis And Repetition, written by Jeffrey Stewart
    I guess WaPo deserves credit for running one story on work sharing. This is kind of a cover your ass tactic by them. They can assert they publicize the issue pointing to one story. However, the issue is repetition and emphasis. Compare this one instance to the number of times WaPo runs stories on the deficit, the debt as problems, the need for Social Security benefit cuts and intergenerational warfare. Work sharing and other solutions to our problems need a constant drumbeat and repetition at every opportunity in order to penetrate the public's consciousness, form a consensus around a solution and then implement solutions. ...
    April 24, 12:22, I don't care for work sharing. written by Ralph Musgrave
    Work sharing is very much a 2nd best solution: assuming demand can be raised. Instead of artificially preventing or dissuading people from working the hours they want, why not raise demand and enable more people to work, and work the hours they want?
    April 24, 12:41, ... written by Kat
    | Wow. What is not to like about work sharing? Maybe the 40 hour (or 40+) hour work week is an artificial construct too. Seems like the net effect on demand would be minimal.
    April 24, 2014 1:18, There is no natural length to the workweek, written by Dean [Baker(?)]
    Ralph, there is nothing natural about the current length of the workweek or work year. It is affected by all sorts of legal and institutional influences. Many push it toward being longer than would otherwise be the case, most importantly employer-provided health insurance. To my view, there are good social and family environmental reasons as to why we would want the thumb on the scale for shorter workweeks, but worksharing is about just setting the playing field even. The government will pay you unemployment benefits for being completely unemployed, why shouldn't it be willing to pay you for being partially unemployed?
    April 24, 4:05, Dean...what is partially unemployed? written by pete
    You state there is nothing natural about the 40 hour week. So how then can working 30 be 10 hours unemployed? I know several people who work two jobs, about 60 hours a week total. If they lose one and are down to 40 are they parially unemployed? So we give them an additional 50% of their salary to make up for the lost 20 hours?
    April 24, 4:48, Partially unemployed means working fewer hours than you would like to be working, written by Dean
    Pete-- that one seems pretty straightforward
    April 25, 1:46am, I still don't care for worksharing. written by Ralph Musgrave
    Dean, I fully accept there may be good social reasons to cut the working week. But if everyone is forced or induced to work say 10% fewer hours, I flatly disagree with the idea that that leaves work undone which can then be done by the unemployed. I.e. I disagree with the popular claim that work sharing reduces unemployment. Reason is that the constraint on raising employment is inflation, and inflation kicks in when employers' problems in finding the labor they want reaches some critical level: which is let’s say when 5% of the workforce are unemployed. Now if everyone works 10% fewer hours, the level of unemployment at which employers start finding it difficult to locate labor will still be 5% (assuming the efficiency with which vacancies are matched to unemployed skills remains constant). Ergo unemployment will remain at 5%. Having said that, I nearly always agree with your articles, which why I rarely leave comments on your blog!!
    April 25, 1:47, permanent "timesizing" easier to explain than halfway step of worksharing? written by Phil Hyde
    Jeffrey, love that "WaPo"!
    Ralph, you're right that work sharing is 2nd best solution, but not 2nd best to artificially raising demand when we're already bumping into ecological limits and cutting demand with a kneejerk downsizing response to every new worksaving technology - worksharing is only a temporary solution because it imposes on the unemployment insurance system which is essentially a jobseekers' fund (& worksharers aren't essentially jobseekers), and because it assumes a real economic recovery when it can stop, but no "recovery" is going to be anything but bubble for top brackets & spin for everyone else as long as the standard response to technology remains downsizing and widening the contradiction between more productive capacity and downsized consumer spending (noting that the higher the bracket, the smaller the percentage of income & wealth spent or donated).
    Dean, what would be the natural length of the workweek? wouldn't it vary with increasing levels of technological worksavings? - look at robotics and lights-out manufacturing (all-robot) - so-o-o, how about Reuther's concept of fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment (UE)? UE too high? trim workweek! - we did it (haphazardly) for over 100 years (1840-1940) when we halved the workweek from over 80 to 40 hours, but we've dysfunctionally stuck it there through wave after wave of tech worksavings ever since - automation & robotization have gone so far, we can probably stop advocating based on social/lifestyle options and switch to system requirements - e.g: for maintenance (let alone Ralph's raising) of demand - then all we need to take care of is Ralph's doubt about leftover work being done by the unemployed: so-o, focus our energy on designing smoother and smoother conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted training & hiring - details on Timesizing.com

  2. Campaigners call for 30-hour working week to allow for healthier, fairer society - and more time for fun, The Independent via independent.co.uk
    Lazy days: to lie on your back in the park all day is completely free, harms no one and demands no fossil fuel inputs Lazy days: to lie on your back in the park all day is completely free, harms no one and demands no fossil fuel inputs (photo caption)
    LONDON, England - Back in the 1930s, economists, intellectuals and trade union leaders were united in the belief that a shorter working day was fast approaching. The machines would shoulder more and more of the toil, they believed, leaving lots of time off for workers.
    A three- or four-day week would be ample to procure the necessities of life. The increase in leisure would be spent pursuing healthy recreations such as philosophy, dancing, sewing, cooking and wandering through the woods collecting mushrooms. This was the view of John Maynard Keynes, who wrote in 1930 that by 2030 all economic problems would have been solved and the only issue left to deal with would be how to enjoy doing nothing without having a nervous breakdown.
    He was, perhaps surprisingly, an opponent of the work ethic. “We have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy,” he wrote in his essay “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”, predicting that in 100 years’ time, “We shall honour those who can teach us how to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well, the delightful people who are capable of taking direct enjoyment in things, the lilies of the field who toil not, neither do they spin.”
    Bertrand Russell shared this Christ-like disdain for striving and argued for the four-hour day. Oscar Wilde had also predicted that the machine would be the saviour of man and would lead everyone to enjoy the life of an Athenian aristocrat: instead of toiling in the mills, we would wander through the groves and discuss atomism and the meaning of the “good life”. His contemporary, Walt Whitman, wrote of the ideal he called “higher progress”, in other words the liberation of human beings from wage slavery in favour of lazing about and reading books.
    This democratic leisure ideal had, in fact, been a key element of the dream of the Founding Fathers. The second president, John Adams, forecast that his grandchildren would have the time to study “painting, poetry, music, architecture” and the other liberal arts, in short, that everyday life would be organised to allow the “pursuit of happiness”.
    Things didn’t quite turn out like that. In the hands of a capitalist élite, supported by governments in most cases, the machine became an instrument for the creation of huge profits for a few, while the majority toiled long hours. The doctrine of consumption rather than time off was introduced. The ad industry created new wants and desires. In the US in 1933, a 30-hour workweek bill was derailed by Roosevelt. He abandoned the “more leisure” philosophy in favour of a “full-time, full-employment” goal.
    Both socialist and capitalist governments promoted the ideology of hard work. Trades unions forgot about shorter hours and quality of life and instead concentrated on wages and conditions. Still today, George Osborne and David Milliband alike hold up the ideal of “hard-working families” engaged in a “global race”. Long-hours culture has become the norm and the rich – once proud loafers – now boast about how hard they work. The so-called “strivers” are honoured, not Keynes’s teachers of good living. After nearly 100 years in the wilderness, however, these older and nobler ideals of a leisure-filled society are showing signs of returning to the mainstream political agenda, with the new campaign for the 30-hour workweek.
    The 30-hour week has fans on the left. Last week, a think-tank called The Jimmy Reid Foundation, named after the late trade union activist, whose backers include Alex Ferguson, released a report titled “Time for Life”, recommending that Scotland reduce the working week. The Jimmy Reid Foundation is linked to a new Scottish political group called The Common Weal, which, it says, aims to return power back to the people and help resist the domination of big corporations. Work should be more evenly spread out, says the report, whose authors include musician Pat Kane: “Many people work too much while others struggle to find work.” Again, this idea echoes Keynes, who wrote: “We shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter – to make what work there is still to be done as widely shared as possible.” Goodbye unemployment!
    The lefty, greenish New Economics Foundation (NEF), funded by philanthropists such as the Hadley Trust, Oxfam, the Oak Foundation and others, also campaigns for a shorter workweek. In 2013 it published a pamphlet called Time on Our Side: Why We All Need a Shorter Working Week, which argued that more leisure leads to less pressure on resources and more fun. The authors say that the UK has the longest working hours of any European country. They also claim that productivity does not suffer when the working week is shortened because work is carried out more efficiently.
    In 2012, the NEF published a charming pamphlet also calling for a shorter working week. National Gardening Leave: Why Britain Would Be Better Off if We All Spent Less Time at the Office by Andrew Simms and Molly Conisbee, pictures a future where we spend more time in the garden or on the allotment. To those who might sneer that such ideas are mere bucolic fantasy, the authors point out that something like this did actually happen during the Second World War. It was called “Dig for Victory” and we were all encouraged to grow vegetables, keep chickens and make our own food. In the US, the issue reared its head thanks to the Obamacare bill, which defined full-time work as 30 hours per week. This led to a debate about the working week between Democrats and Republicans, and the eventual removal of this definition from the bill earlier this month.
    At The Idler, we have always argued that working long hours for a large company is almost like being a slave and very much like being an indentured employee, because we tend to buy our consumer goods and services on the credit card, and then settle up later. Resources-wise, the best thing you can do for the planet, it could be argued, is absolutely nothing. To take a day off and lie on your back in the park all day is completely free, harms no one and demands no fossil fuel inputs.
    And what would we do with all this freedom? Sit around and watch Jeremy Kyle all day? No, say its defenders. Leisure is not just for shopping and television. In our spare time, we will do the things that bring us pleasure. Remember hobbies? We’ll be less stressed out and healthier as a result. And while we in the UK may be just thinking about a four-day week, those plucky Swedes have gone ahead and done it.
    The council at Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, has announced that it is to begin a year-long 30-hour week trial for city workers. “We hope to get the staff members taking fewer sick days and feeling better mentally and physically after they’ve worked shorter days,” said Mats Pilhem, the deputy mayor. On the right, the reaction to shortening the working day is generally for the bigwigs to scoff into their merlot and mutter about excessive regulation. “This is just more cloud-cuckoo-land thinking from the Common Weal,” spluttered Murdo Fraser, the Tory Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) spokesman, in reaction to the idea of a four-day workweek for Scotland. And mention the idea to the leaders of the CBI, “the voice of business”, and you’ll get them spitting their lobster down your front.
    But even the utilitarian arguments don’t stand up. There is a quite a body of evidence to suggest that longer hours do not lead to greater productivity. The three-day week in the 1970s, for example, led to a drop of only 6 per cent in productivity. The strivers still have the upper hand, it’s true. The futurologists look forward to a more efficient human being. They are hoping to create brain implants that will increase productivity. Some claim that in the future, man will be able to do without that inconvenient necessity, sleep. Still more reckon that we can get rid of another pesky nuisance when it comes to growth in GDP: death. Mad. And sociologists have recently noted the phenomenon of busy-ness as a status symbol: the super-rich are also proud to say how super-busy they are. The right in general enthusiastically embraces such techno-utopianism.
    On this issue, though, history shows that the right is wrong. Positive and humanitarian changes to the working day, which lead to an improved quality of daily life, have traditionally come from the left. In 1810, Robert Owen started campaigning for the 10-hour day. Early working hours were completely unregulated and factories were employing nine-year-olds to work 14 hours a day. Owen’s campaign must have sounded like insufferable intrusion to the early mill-owners and their friends. Writers helped to change public opinion: Oliver Twist was published in 1838. In 1848, the idea became law with one of the Factories Acts.
    In the early 20th century, workers across the world campaigned for the eight-hour day. In 1919, following agitation from anarchists, Spain become the first country in Europe to pass an eight-hour day law. Some large employers, notably Zeiss in Germany, introduced an eight-hour day at the turn of the century.
    In the US, perhaps surprisingly for a country built on a combination of the Protestant work ethic and the toil of countless African slaves, Kellogg’s introduced a six-hour day on 1 December 1930, the very year that Keynes wrote his essay arguing for the very same.
    The six-hour day lasted till 1985. This vision became known as “liberation capitalism”. Today, various lefty professors there, such as Arlie Russell Hochschild, of the University of California at Berkeley, have argued that work has gotten out of hand. The State of Utah introduced a four-day workweek in 2008. Three-quarters of the workforce said they preferred the new arrangement, and the state reportedly saved more than $4m through savings on overtime and absentee rates.
    An eccentric idea? No. Last March, The New York Times ran a story titled “Free Time is an American Dream Deferred”. And the French socialist government introduced a 35-hour working week. Though it was abolished by President Sarkozy, most companies stuck to it voluntarily as they found it was a success.
    It’s also worth remembering that in David Cameron we have a Prime Minister who is not renowned for overwork. “If there was an Olympic gold medal for chillaxing,” said an unnamed source in his 2012 biography, “he would win it.” This ability to switch off, though, is not laziness. It is efficiency. Look at his predecessor, Gordon Brown, who was of a middle-class Scottish Presbyterian background and believed in hard work as the answer to every problem. Problem not fixed? More work required.
    The problem with this approach, as pointed out by Shirley Williams in a 2009 interview, is that there is a limit: “His response to everything is to work harder, but he’s already working as hard as it is possible for a human being to work.” Brown’s very appearance, with those bags under his eyes, was a sign that he needed a nap quite urgently.
    We have 16 years left to fulfil Keynes’s prophecy. The great increases in efficiency that capitalism has achieved over the past 200 years, and which the economists boast about, should lead not simply to greater profits for shareholders and those at the top, but to an aristocratic style of life for the 99 per cent.
    [And bigger markets for the leisure industries! = hotels, health spas, travel agencies, bookshops, stamp&coin stores, antique shops, golf clubs...]
    Tom Hodgkinson is the editor of ‘The Idler’ idler.co.uk

4/23/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. An unemployed aid program [called worksharing] could help millions. Why aren't more states using it? by Ylan Q. Mui, Washington Post (blog) via washingtonpost.com/blogs
    [The short answer, as documented in Ben Hunnicutt's forbiddenly insightful history of the Great Depression, Work Without End, is that starting in the 1920s, big American employers, university economics departments and business schools have stupidly campaigned against any form of shorter working hours.]
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - One of the last drips of federal aid for unemployed workers will expire next summer -- and few people even know it exists.
    Under federal legislation passed in 2012 [Feb. Jobs Bill], the program provides funding for states that allow workers who have been forced into part-time positions to receive unemployment benefits. The payments are prorated for hours worked, and economists say the benefits encourage struggling companies to keep their employees rather than lay them off. Economists say the program could help millions of struggling, part-time workers.
    [Which economists? The mainstream ones are still in denial, and all we know about are Dean Baker, Kevin Hassett, Bob LaJeunesse, David Spencer in the UK...]
    States have until December [good news! thought it expired Apr.15] to apply for federal funding to administer and market the program. Uncle Sam is also reimbursing states for payouts to workers through August 2015. But only two states, Ohio and Washington, have asked for money to set up the so-called worksharing programs, according to the Labor Department. Together, they have received about $6 million. And less than half of states have taken advantage of the federal reimbursements, which have totaled $195.5 million since the law was enacted.
    What gives?
    Part of the logjam is the way unemployment benefits are administered. States are responsible for running their own benefits program. Qualifying for the federal work-sharing incentives often requires a change in local legislation -- a slow and often tedious process.
    Before the recession, 17 states had adopted work-sharing programs on their own. Interest spiked when the downturn hit, but almost all the programs set up before the national legislation took effect had to be tweaked to qualify for federal funding, said George Wentworth, senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for the jobless.
    Nebraska recently became the 27th state to adopt a work-sharing program, and bills are pending in Virginia and four other states. Both NELP and the Labor Department expect more states to apply for the federal grants to administer the program as the December deadline gets closer.
    [Er, what's her source for Nebraska?]
    The other problem is marketing. Businesses must enroll in the program and submit a plan for reducing employees’ hours that has to be approved by state officials. Some companies are hesitant to sign up because they do not want others to know they are struggling. But many businesses do not know worksharing is an option. Even in Rhode Island -- the home state of Sen. Jack Reed (D), who sponsored the federal legislation -- coming up with the money to promote the program has been challenging. In a statement in the fall, Reed acknowledged that the program is often under-publicized and under-utilized by businesses.
    “This is a proven, cost-effective program that helps more workers earn a steady paycheck and allows companies to save when they’re forced to temporarily scale back,” said Reed. “Giving states an incentive to expand their work sharing programs is a smart investment in preventing future layoffs and blunting economic downturns.”
    Economists on both the right and the left say the program can be highly effective in reducing unemployment. According to government data, worksharing saved half a million jobs between 2008 and 2013. New applications have fallen off as the economy has strengthened, but an average of about 20,000 people a week are still enrolled in the program.
    Still, that is a minuscule sliver of the number of people who might be eligible for the program. According to government data, 7.4 million people are working part-time for economic reasons -- namely, slack business conditions. The statistic has been cited by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as a troubling sign of underlying weakness in the labor market.
    Meanwhile, a worksharing program in Germany is credited with helping that country avoid the spike in unemployment that plagued the United States and recover more quickly from recession. At one point, more than 1.4 million Germans were receiving worksharing benefits at 63,000 businesses. If it were as popular in America, more than 5 million employees would be taking advantage of the program, according to a recent paper by American Enterprise Institute economists Kevin Hassett and Michael Strain for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
    “A lot of it is just a lack of information," Strain said. “You’re kind of caught in this spiral where nobody knows about them in the states that have them and that makes it less likely that states that don’t have them will adopt them.”
    The authors argue worksharing could be more effective than traditional layoffs for three reasons. First, the pain of an economic downturn is spread across a broader spectrum of workers, instead of being concentrated on the few who lose their jobs. [Second,] That could help shore up demand because workers would feel less pressure to build their savings for fear of getting laid off.
    Finally, they say worksharing could help ward against hysteresis, an economic malaise characterized by the deterioration of skills among the unemployed. A growing body of literature suggests that long-term unemployment is an economic trap, and Hassett and Strain argue that worksharing helps employees stay connected to the labor market even through a downturn.
    The clock is ticking for states to help themselves to this federal money. But even after those incentives expire, economists and jobless advocates say they hope states will realize the potential of worksharing to soften the sting of an economic downturn -- and put their programs in place before the next one hits.
    “Employers use it most when they are trying to avert layoffs," NELP's Wentworth said. “It’s basically a program that states should have going into the next recession.”
    Ylan Q. Mui is a financial reporter at The Washington Post covering the Federal Reserve and the economy...

  2. A Nimbler Approach to Wages and Workers - Singapore's pay model gives employers flexibility as conditions change, op ed by Peter A. Coclanis, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
    [Missed this in the hard copy cuz the national narrative of the USA is contained in the editorial pages of the NY Times, and everywhere but the editorial pages in the Wall St Journal.]
    NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The dreadful labor market plaguing the U.S. since the start of the “Great Recession” in late 2007 has yielded at least one positive result: an increased willingness among policy analysts to explore successful labor-market experiments in other parts of the world.
    [Ah such innocence! Nevermind the only policy that mainstream analysts have been using in the U.S. labor market for four decades has been downsizing. However, the sidestream analysts like Dean Baker got some more sustainable stuff into the Feb/2012 Jobs Bill and now some 28 states have worksharing programs, but of course, no mention of that.]
    Much has been written, for example, about the European “flexicurity” system, a model championed by Denmark for two decades that combines flexible hiring policies with a generous social safety net. The European Commission endorsed flexibility principles in a 2007 report as a way to maintain security in a rapidly changing labor market.
    More recently, policy professionals have debated the German job-share model Kurzarbeit. In this model, the government encourages employers to reduce employee hours during troubled times rather than laying off workers. How? By providing income supplements to the affected employees. This keeps employees on the job and saves the government money by not adding to the long-term unemployed.
    job-share model [sic; the term is WORK-share; "job-share" is just splitting a 40hr job] has its merits, but a large new government “transfer” program is now a nonstarter in U.S. politics.
    [Hold on there! What about the spread of state worksharing programs outlined in the article right above?!]
    There are, however, other options. One worth considering is the flexible-wage model, a labor technique that helps employers adapt to fluctuations of the business cycle.
    [Nevermind the prevailing U.S. downward-flexible wage model thanks to mounting labor surplus or helping employers get bigger markets by helping employees - this constant one-sided helping of employers is funneling the national income to a tiny population at the top and killing America.]
    Singapore and other countries in Asia have experimented with techniques based on this model for decades, with considerable success.
    Flexible-wage schemes generally call to mind a two-tier system like those put into place by large U.S. manufacturers such as Ford, GM and Caterpillar, whereby new workers earn less than seasoned employees do.
    [And in a few years you've got only the lower of the two tiers and a smaller consumer base - and an unmentioned third tier of CEO pay coagulating huge money in the topmost brackets.]
    The model in Asia—some form of which is used in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries—is different. Since 1986, Singapore has used a scheme that is two-tier in the sense that it divides wages into two broad components: fixed and variable. The fixed is the larger of the two, particularly for wage workers, and doesn’t change year-to-year. But the variable component is often broken down into several discrete parts, including an annual bonus and a monthly adjustment. This gives the employer a contractually negotiated amount of flexibility. Firms can adjust wages annually, biannually or even quarterly depending on market conditions, allowing companies to respond more nimbly to changes in the market, the firm’s profitability, or other concerns.
    When a company endures a downturn, for instance, it can respond quickly by adjusting wages downward without cutting hours, laying off employees or calling in the government.
    [But cutting pay without cutting hours keeps people producing undownturned and unmarketable output with no free time for reflection and potential solution.]
    Companies can also raise wages in good times of strong growth, higher profits or other favorable events.
    ["Can" but generally don't except for top executives.]
    This system isn’t perfect, and the devil as always is in the details. How much variability makes sense? Is 10% too little flexibility? Is 20% too much? How are recalibrations to be determined? What about monitoring? How will disagreements over recalibrations, should they occur, be arbitrated? Can such a scheme be implemented in a cost-effective manner? These are all important questions, and Singapore and other Asian countries have found reasonable answers over time.
    [All beside the point, and market-determined in a timesizing situation where the market is given control over the workweek via technology-induced unemployment (UE too high? workweek too long for current levels of tech productivity!), and over wage flexibility by good old supply and demand, no self-important employer-biassed government officials required.]
    In Singapore, the National Wages Council—established in 1972 with representatives from government, employers and unions—sets guidelines for companies. Most firms, unionized or not, follow them. Though flexible-wage setups are most common in large, unionized firms, companies of all sizes have adopted them.
    [Singapore is a tiny city-state, like Hong Kong and a few other towns, that has a vulnerable not-to-say unsustainable overdependence on exports. Germany is a better model for the U.S. because although it's also an over-exporter, it has a big enough domestic consumer base to avoid export-dependence.]
    The country has enjoyed good results: Singapore’s unemployment rate is a mere 1.8%, and averages at 2.5% over the past 25 years. That’s significantly lower than the unemployment rate in Sri Lanka (4.2%), Indonesia (6%) and New Zealand (6.3%), all of which do not use flexible wage systems. Other factors are at work, but wage-flexibility no doubt helps.
    The U.S. is not Singapore. A flexible wage-system in the U.S. would fare better if it were developed without a centralized national authority [and without a downward-biassed flexibility], and the scheme would not prove a panacea for all the labor-market problems [as timesizing would]. But it’s worth considering [no it isn't, Singapore's too small] because it could keep people employed [no it couldn't; it would just lower wages and raise hours further and further weaken domestic consumption; it's just another attempt to do something, ANYthing but the obvious = enforce the existing standard workweek with an overflow of creativity along the lines of converting chronic overtime into training and jobs, and resume our 1840-1940 workweek reduction as much as it takes for Full Employment and Maximum Markets], and as an added bonus enhance the nimbleness of firms still struggling amid slow economic growth.
    [It's the existing over-nimbleness of American firms with their time-wasting M&As, restructurings and reorgs, and money-coagulating pension-looting CEO-over$tuffing downsizings billed as "leansizings" that is guaranteeing further "struggling amid slow economic growth" or if we had realistic indexes, deeper economic downturn. Ease of downsizing with no private-sector market-based macroeconomic safety net, such as first-aid worksharing upgrading to sustainable timesizing? Ease of downsizing wages and/or workforce is a ticket to a more and more unsustainable private sector cushioned by higher and higher taxes or, as now, by more and more unsustainable government debt, all transitioning to mega resource access, mostly unused, funneling to a smaller and smaller population, and everyone else "choosing" evermore angry and violent poverty and dependence. To save Work in the age of robotics, we must spread it to the max = cut the workweek, else no markets for the mega output of the "lights-out manufacturing."]

4/22/2014 – 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. 35 hour: Why France is America’s Repressed Fantasy, by Renée Kaplan, (4/21 late pickup) l'Amie américaine via ReneeKaplan.carnets.liberation.fr
    PARIS, France - Last week a crazy rumor about France went viral across American media. Someone, somewhere, suggested that in France they’d passed a law forbidding employees from sending work emails after 6 p.m.
    [The original(?) article (by Kai Ryssdal in the Manchester Guardian) can be found below on 4/11/2014 #1 appended to the article "French workers at risk of burnout get the right to unplug."]
    Ridiculous, right? France is a free-market democracy and the 5th biggest economy in the world, how could you even imagine a law like that? Except that everyone bought it and the rumor spread like wildfire.
    What was so easy to believe about it? How come the idea that the French would legally shut down work emails at quitting time was so…credible? How come you’re smirking now as you read this?
    If there’s one thing that irritates the French about Americans, it’s when they accuse them of being lazy. If there’s one thing Americans (and Brits) love to think about the French, it’s that they have the option not to work that hard and that the French government fervently enforces this right seemingly not to be productive. The preferred counter-argument to this is the French claim that despite their reputation, statistics show they are actually among the world’s most efficient in terms of hourly labor productivity.
    But when the British newspaper The Guardian first published a story about a deal between the French employers’ federation and labor unions requiring staff to switch off their phones after 6pm, with the temptingly shareable headline “When the French Clock Off at 6pm, They Really Mean It,” it got picked up all over UK and US media, from the New York Times (“A Move to Limit Off-the-Clock Work Emails”) to New York magazine (“Two French Unions Ban Checking Work Emails After 6pm”) to USA Today (“France Bans Work Email After 6pm”).
    Even Perez Hilton, Hollywood-based celebrity blogger, found the story worthy enough—amusing enough? Enviable enough? Eccentric and social media friendly enough?—to publish a post about it which he then tweeted to his nearly six million followers. Who knew he was such a Francophile.
    Perez Hilton @PerezHilton Follow
    We need to move to France! RT French Workers Are Now Prohibited From Checking Their Work E-Mail After 6pm! http://perez.ly/1jxToCx
    9:46 AM - 11 Apr 2014
    Sacré Bleu! French Workers Are Now Prohibited From Checking Their...
    France workers prohibited from accessing work e-mail after 6pm!
    Perez Hilton @PerezHilton

    The Guardian article was not exactly accurate and the newspaper later published corrections. The accord between unions and corporate representatives seeks to guarantee employees in some high-tech and consulting sectors the “rest” period of 11 consecutive hours to which they are legally entitled. These are employees who contractually do not benefit from the (infamous) 35-hour French work week. There was no imposed cut-off time for emails and the agreement, which would actually affect only 250,000 workers and not one million as the Guardian story claimed, has yet to be approved by the French Labor Ministry.
    French reaction the global buzz about their new quitting time ranged from indignant to just weary. After all, the French are used to the rest of the world’s stereotype of them as long-vacation-taking, short-work-week employees. As the French edition of Slate wrote: “As seen from the Unites States or England, French labor law is often summed up as a series of policies created by bureaucrats in order to make sure that lazy workers can get away with doing as little as possible.”
    Nonetheless, they really don’t appreciate it. They even have a name (in English!) for what they see as a kind of chronic aggression—French-bashing (“frahntsch-bahsheeng”)—and the grumbling was heard all over social media. Objectively, it was actually a little surprising how fast this (false) story took off. Enough that it actually culminated in a public denial on Twitter by France’s minister of the digital economy, Axelle Lemaire.
    Axelle Lemaire @axellelemaire Follow
    Nop, France dit not make it illegal to answer emails after 6pm...! http://www.buzzfeed.com/marietelling/no-france-did-not-make-it-illegal-to-answer-work-emails-afte … @chrisgayomali @LucyMangan #funnythough
    4:18 AM - 13 Apr 2014
    No, France Did Not Make It Illegal To Answer Work Emails After 6 P.M.
    By Marie Telling @MarieTelling
    Thank God.
    [The prisoners love their chains?]
    BuzzFeed @BuzzFeed
    Which brings us back to the essential question of why it is that Anglo-Saxon media was so ready to believe the story.
    There is something terribly gratifying for Anglos about the idea that there is this place that—in their imaginations at least—is so flagrantly against work. For cultures like the US where there is so much value invested in the idea of work, where working hard is so deeply rooted in the national identity and folklore of social mobility, one of the core values upon which America the great is built—well, for a place like that, actually wanting not to work hard isn’t really something you would readily admit. Because if you don’t work hard in America, who are you? You are, to some extent, a failure.
    Or you are, in these overworked imaginations, French. France—or, to be fair, a certain fantasy of France—has become this place where eccentric social values and market-resistant leftist politics encourage not working hard. Fantasy France is both a France that doesn’t entirely exist, as this inaccurate story revealed, and a France that is a kind of dirty secret, something too wrong to admit to desiring. The France of the 35-hour work week, of the 6pm cut-off for work emails, of the long summer vacation months—that France has become a place where Americans can safely project their secret fantasies.
    Imagining—and disparaging—this Fantasy France that deliberately doesn’t work hard is a way to sublimate a desire too shameful, too un-American to admit. A perfect recent example is this much buzzed-about Cadillac ad for their first electric car, where you see a chest-pounding corporate tool with the rich man’s essential accessories—big house, big pool, big car—explaining why “we work so hard.” The answer is…because we’re not French! Other countries, they work, stroll home, they stop by the cafe, they take August off. Off. Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that? Because we’re crazy driven hard workers, that’s why. And in the end, the ad implies, you get the Caddy. The French? They get August off. As for all the stuff? That’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August. N’est-ce pas?
    We have to be able to belittle France, to scoff condescendingly at the quaintness of this land of leisure…. as we mete out our three weeks of annual vacation and tally our billable hours before the bonus talk with the boss who stays in the office even later than we do every night. Because if the French can have their leisure and love themselves too, well, what does that say about us?
    Thank goodness the French have such preposterous and laughable ideas about work! Who would want to live like them?

  2. Whither the 15-Hour Week: An Inquiry, by Saul DeGraw, The League of Ordinary Gentlemen (blog) via ordinary-gentlemen.com
    NEW YORK NY(?), USA - In 1930, John Maynard Keynes made a bold prediction that the future would see drastically shorter working hours. Keynes predicted that only the most extreme workaholics would work more than fifteen hours a week.
    [And already in the 19-teens, the technocratic movement was calling for a sixteen-hour workweek = four 4-hour days, to maintain employment as we moved from the mechanization of agriculture to the automation of manufacturing (eg: Ford's assembly lines and beyond).]
    This famously never happened. The financial crisis of 2008 and continued era seemingly causes the fifteen hour week to come up every and now then in liberal and left circles.
    [Not the 15-hour workweek specifically but shorter workweeks for sure, and they come up just as much in conservative and right circles who realize that free time is the most basic freedom and that their employees are their customers' customers, conservatives such as Lord Leverhulme (Lever Bros.), W.K.Kellogg, Filene, Lincoln Bros., Nucor, SAS, thousands of businesses during every recession that value their skill set, and of course Germany (Kurzarbeit). And of course, Republicans championed shorter workweeks as the quickest way to maintain or increase employment during the first 75 years of the GOP's existence. Hoover cut the P.O. workweek to save jobs in 1932 and Nixon advocated a 32-hour workweek in 1956... Bone up on your workweek history, Saul (and all liberals!). If you're really a liberal, you're just making progress harder on this issue by your ignorance of its bipartisan nature.]
    The lack of a fifteen hour week has been attributed to a rise in to a rise in bullshit jobs in Strike Magazine. Paul Campos theorizes that America’s thrall with [hard work] makes it hard for the U.S. to achieve a fifteen-hour workweek of increased leisure. This ignores that there is not one place in the world where a fifteen-hour work week is the rule and not the exception especially for any economy that could be considered desirable. The question remains about why didn’t the fifteen-hour work week happen and whether it is even desirable. This is an issue where I agree and disagree with my fellow liberals.
    There are a variety of factors [but he misses the main one: American management's successful distraction of American labor's focus away from self-empowering leisure and labor shortage onto self-disempowering higher compensation and labor surplus] and for the most part I am going to talk about work that is done for survival rather than a labor of love even though they can intertwine.
    1. The United States still firmly lacks a welfare-state. Our health insurance is still connected to our employers and receiving benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, and sick leave is often predicated on being a full time employee with 40 hours a week. We see more employers doing everything possible to avoid paying these benefits by capping employment at 35-39 hours per a week. However, even robust welfare states often have employees working 35-50 hours a week.
    2. Fear of being laid-off and/or denied promotions or wages. The economy is still very anemic to rocky in many quarters and people have not recovered. People are going to want to prove their merit by working harder and longer.
    [- thereby concentrating the amount of human employment in the robotics age even tighter and pushing wage levels and consumer markets and marketable productivity down even lower.]
    3. Many or most jobs cannot be done on fifteen hours a week. I can seemingly think of many jobs that are impossible to do on fifteen-hours a week unless you significantly increased the number of people working in the field and radically changed compensation structures.
    [That's the goal.] I don’t know how someone could be a teacher or doctor on a fifteen hour work week.
    [All the way from 1840 to 1940, people didn't know how someone could do lots of jobs on every lower-than-statusquo workweek - as the workweek jerked down from over 80 hours (1840) to 40 (1940).]
    Would every classroom be given 2-3 teachers who work two or three days a week? I suppose you could be a computer programmer, engineer, or lawyer and work fifteen hours a week but it seems to make no sense at all.
    4. A culture that equates working long with working hard and dedication. The United States is not alone in this but we do have a tendency that likes to make a show of long-hours at the workplace.
    5. Potentially an innate belief that work should consume at least 35-40 hours of your life a week. This is again something that is very hard to prove and could largely be based on socio-economics and cultural issues. The old protestant work ethic. When I have seen people try and assert this claim on liberal blogs, they tend to get laughed at.
    6. People who enjoy their jobs are probably going to want to spend more time doing their jobs and would see fifteen hours as a strange limitation.
    7. People who ask about the non-appearance of the fifteen hour work week really don’t care about the fifteen hour work week. I suspect that the fifteen-hour work week really stands as a diving point for broader criticisms of corporate capitalism, “elite” control, and how we live now. The criticism from Strike magazine seems to boarder on a conspiracy theory about how most modern jobs are essentially bullshit designed to prevent us from too much freedom and idle time. I disagree but there is seemingly no way to disprove the point because it involves starting with axioms and tautologies that I find hard to fathom. I imagine if someone described my job as bullshit, I would immediately go on the defensive. There are plenty of jobs that I am not interested in but this does not make said jobs bullshit. You can take the BS job argument to a logical conclusion and argue that almost anything BS and designed just to occupy our time from when we are born to when we die. When people describe their jobs as BS, it seems to me that they get a kind of pleasure from being in the now and that such descriptors make them sound sophisticated and aware instead of like a naive Pollyanna.
    I admit that I am coming from this from a position of capitalist-skepticism rather than outright rejection of market capitalism. I do not see market capitalism as being an axiomatic or tautological good. Market capitalism is a tool and sometimes it is the right tool and others times it is not the right tool. My general views on when capitalism is not the right tool is typical of the left and the subject for another essay.
    The fifteen-hour week also seems to be used as a jumping off point for discussions on how consumerism and positional goods make certain sections of the left deeply uncomfortable. Here I depart from my leftier brethren as well. There are serious environmental reasons why overconsumption is bad and we should be mindful consumers but I don’t see wanting or desiring consumer goods and/or positional goods as being inherently immoral, unethical, or wrong. Everyone does it whether they realize it or not but often for different things. I am also not very spiritual as a person. My liberalism is concerned with giving people opportunities to live with dignity, decency, and comfort while on this earth and that involves access to decent education, decent healthcare, food and water but also opportunities or recreation and pleasure. I think consumer goods from video games to movies to music to fashion to fancy cooking equipment and everything inbetween help make life more enjoyable and this makes them acceptable in my mind. The hill of anti-consumerism is not one that I want the left to die on and I don’t understand their never ending fetish for wanting to die on this particular hill. It seems that certain sections of the left sees consumer goods are seen as another avenue for corporate control over our lives.
    I think we do probably work too much. Science seems to think maximum human productivity happens at 40-50 hours a week and then suffers diminishing returns. Striving to give every person a 35-50 hour is a worthy goal. There are very few things that demand more work except actual life and death circumstances. In my experience most work after 50 hours is because of a failure to delegate in a timely manner and poor project management, because of perverse incentives from billable hours, and a desire to prove machismo by working long and hard.

4/20-21/2014 – 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. The case for a shorter work week - The Easter break lasts for four days, so why couldn't every weekend be like this? by Prof. David Spencer of U.Leeds Economics, 4/20 (4/21 dateline issue) New Zealand Herald via nzherald.co.nz
    LEEDS, U.K. - In a world of iPhones and drones, people are right to wonder why they are still working so hard. The past century saw huge technological advances and yet there hasn't been a corresponding increase in leisure time: people are working as hard as ever.
    [Or harder, as argued by Juliet Schor in The Overworked American.]
    The Easter break lasts for four days; couldn't every weekend be like this?
    Proponents of shorter work time have received two pieces of goods news recently. One is the announcement of a new law in France to prevent employees being required to read work emails out of office hours. The other is the decision in Sweden to experiment with a six-hour work day for some public-sector workers.
    These two proposals go against the grain in several respects. The French legislation challenges the prerogative of employers to require workers to be on call when not at work - it recognises that modern technology, such as iPhones, has extended work time, without additional pay, and seeks to protect and promote the "free time" of workers.
    The Swedish experiment challenges the norm of a 9 to 5 work day - it recognises the potential economic and social value of a shorter work day and is consistent with a broader movement to promote leisure time as a means to a higher standard of life.
    But the two proposals are also relatively limited in scope. The French law only says that workers should not have to check their work emails after 6pm. There is a concern that workers could still feel pressurised to read emails out-of-hours and there is a question mark over whether the law will be enforceable.
    The legislation also only covers a section of white collar workers, leaving the rest of the workforce unprotected. The Swedish experiment is limited only to public sector workers. There is no requirement on the private sector to experiment with shorter work time - the quest to deliver positive returns to shareholders is likely to mean that most private firms will continue with normal patterns of work time.
    Experiments in shorter work time, however, have proved successful, suggesting that the private sector might benefit from their implementation. WK Kellog - of cereals fame - famously improved productivity at his plant by operating a six-hour work day. The economic benefits from shorter work time stem from workers being more refreshed and focused at work.
    Six productive hours can yield the same output as a full eight-hour work day.
    Evidence shows that longer work hours make us less productive. The example of the Netherlands shows how shorter work time can be achieved without a reduction in productivity and in living standards. Longer work hours are associated with poor health and higher mortality rates - we may be risking our lives by working longer.
    The case for working less is ultimately about promoting a higher quality of life including a higher quality of work. It is about giving us more time to realise our creative potential in all kinds of activities; it is about achieving a life that uplifts us, rather than leaves us exhausted and frustrated. But, given the benefits on offer, why are we not working less? Here are five reasons:
    Employer power: The decline of unions coupled with a more flexible labour market (meaning less job security) have granted employers more power to maintain work hours that suit their own economic interests.
    Consumerism: Workers are swayed by mass advertising and sophisticated marketing to demand more goods and services which in turn requires that they work more.
    Inequality: Workers are more likely to enter into competitive forms of consumption and to feel more pressure to work longer where levels of inequality are high. Evidence shows that countries with higher inequality tend to have longer work hours.
    Household debt: The build-up of household debt, especially in the United States and Britain, has put added pressure on workers to work longer.
    Technology: Gadgets such as iPhones and laptops have meant that workers can be at work even when commuting to work or at home.
    Taken together, these points indicate legislation to cut work time is essential. Employers won't voluntarily reduce work time, and workers remain unable or unwilling to opt for shorter work time themselves. We must gain the collective will to curb the time we spend at work.
    Other countries can learn from the example of France and Sweden. But given the barriers to shorter work time, wider reforms will be needed if we are to ever achieve a four- or three-day working week.
    The goal of working less may appear utopian. But the quality of our lives inside and outside work depends on its achievement.
    David Spencer is professor of economics and political economy at the University of Leeds in England.

  2. Labor Hour Reductions, by Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Park Jung-hwan, 4/21 BusinessKorea.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Another storm is coming to the business community, this time in the form of a weekly working hour reduction from 68 to 52. Along with the ordinary wage issue that heated up throughout last year, the matter is signaling a tectonic shift in the way of doing business down the road.
    According to the current Labor Standards Act of Korea, the weekly working hours is 40, and up to 12 hours of overtime are allowed. The number increases to 68 per week when 16 hours of holiday time is added. The annual working hours of Korean workers, which have reached an average of 2,092, are the third-longest among OECD member countries. Nonetheless, Korea’s labor productivity per hour is limited to US$29.70, much less than the United States’ US$60.20 and the OECD average of US$44.60. The employees have made up for their wages by working more, and the employers have ordered them to work more instead of hiring more people. In the end, such long hours of work have broken the work-life balance in Korea, resulting in deteriorated living standards.
    The participants of the Tripartite Subcommittee of the National Assembly have agreed to cut the weekly working hours from 68 to 52 during the course of their negotiations, but they have yet to address their different views on how to do so. Employers are insisting on a phased implementation of the law with a grace period, in order to place a lighter burden on their part. The labor community, meanwhile, is claiming that working hours must be reduced without any cut in wages.
    Greater cost burdens due to reduced labor hours are becoming a reality on the part of the corporate sector. Employees are maintaining that the current wage level be retained by means of higher base salaries. There is no way to enhance productivity when the labor hours are shortened in such a rapid manner. Companies have to build more facilities or hire more workers, but this is a tall order for small and mid-size firms with little financial breathing room. This is just one of many more areas in which labor and management are having hard time addressing their differing views.
    It is not desirable for law to come into play to handle the specific issues associated with working hours amid such a wide gap in opinions. What is necessary now is the minimization of regulations for the sake of a voluntary solution.
    It cannot be denied that the working hours should be cut. However, when the law forces corporations to take on greater costs, jobs are sure to disappear along with investment in the long term. Then, employment increases, one of the goals of labor hour reductions, cannot be expected, and Korean companies’ competitiveness will plummet while foreign companies in Korea would not find the local economy attractive anymore. The most urgent matter is the improvement of productivity. Not only labor and management but the government and the political community will have to pool their wisdom on this subject with long-term views.
    [Geez mabeez, we thought Korea had cut to 40 in seven steps by 2011 - even Australian doctors have shorter hours than 52! -]

  3. Don't worry, be happy ... and work! by Amanda Davey, 4/21   6minutes.com.au
    SYDNEY, Australia - The number of practising GPs may be at an all time high yet many are set on reducing their working hours, pointing to a drop in job satisfaction among Australian doctors, researchers say.
    The standard GP working week fell by a mean of 45.6 to 42.2 hours between 1999 and 2009, contributing to the current perceived shortage of doctors in the country, research shows. This is despite an extra 6,000 doctors setting up in general practice during that time.
    Being middle-aged, female, regularly on-call or working more than 40 hours a week were all predictors for reducing work hours, a study from Sydney's University of Technology found.
    Practice partners or principals were also more likely to want to cut work hours...

4/19/2014 – 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. Rutland residents fight reduction in post office hours, by Erik Burgess, Fargo-Moorehead In-Forum via inforum.com
    RUTLAND, N.D., USA – Residents here are again fighting to keep normal hours at their post office.
    The retail window of the post office here, now open eight hours each weekday and two hours on Saturday, will have its weekday hours cut to two hours, a U.S. Postal Service official told the small town of about 180 in a community meeting this week.
    The change takes place in about six weeks, said resident Paul Anderson.
    When that happens, it will leave Gwinner’s post office, 20 miles away, as the only eight-hour post office in Sargent County, he said.
    “It’s tough to keep these little towns going anyway. You gotta work at it,” 65-year-old Anderson said of Rutland, which is about 90 miles southwest of Fargo near the South Dakota border. “And essentially to us, the federal government is pulling the rug on us. They’re taking one of the things that helps our business out of the loop.”
    [The federal government is funded by taxpayers, and when the majority of taxpayers lets the superwealthy convince them that all this wealth should be hoarded and not spent on all the little places and things that used to be important to America, America gradually changes from a lively diversity-filled "rain forest" to a barren "desert" with a few ludicrously luxurious (and vulnerable) "oases".]
    Cutting hours is part of the U.S. Postal Service’s “POStPlan,” a nationwide effort implemented in 2012 to address declining revenue by reducing hours in thousands of rural post offices.
    “We’re realigning hours to match workload and utilization of offices,” said Pete Slabik, manager of post office operations in west-central Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota. “We are not closing any offices.”

    [And by cutting hours instead, they're trying not to cut any jobs.]
    The changes will be reviewed in 2015, Slabik said.
    The Postal Service nearly closed the Rutland office a couple of years ago before implementation of the POStPlan, Anderson said. Since then, the city has grown and the mailing center has seen more business, he said.
    Hours at Rutland’s post office are being cut based on 2011 data, before that growth occurred, said Ione Pherson, who was postmaster in Rutland for 20 years before retiring in January.
    And while the Postal Service has pledged to re-evaluate rural post offices on a yearly basis, it hasn’t done so in Rutland, she said. If it would have used newer data, Rutland’s weekday hours should be cut to four hours, not two, Pherson said.
    “We really do understand that they’re not going to keep us open eight hours,” she said. “We would like what we have earned.”
    The POStPlan has led to reducing hours in dozens of rural post offices across North Dakota, Pherson said.
    Anderson argued that the Postal Service isn’t saving a lot of money in Rutland by keeping the office open for two hours a day instead of four.
    The two employees at the Rutland office are part time, making $11.76 per hour without benefits, he said. An additional two hours would mean another $23.52 a day.
    Pherson said she understands the Postal Service is trying to implement a nationwide policy. One exception in Rutland could open the floodgates for changes in other small towns, she said.
    Still, Pherson said Rutland is being “set up to fail,” because cutting hours now will limit postal use by local businesses, which will justify the shortened hours in future reviews.
    Rutland tries to be an active little town, Anderson said. There are about 38 businesses in and around town, and they’ll suffer from not having a full-time post office nearby, he said.
    “As a community, we want to do business with the post office. We want it to succeed. We have increased our business there,” Anderson said. “And it seems to us that the post office doesn’t want to do business with us.”
    Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518

  2. Lesson for parents - Business wants no part of a 35-hour week for parents, translated by ImTranslator.net with cleanup by Phil Hyde (original German below), Bild.de via ViralNewsChart.com
    Business has no use for the idea of allowing parents a 35-hour week (photo caption)
    [As usual, the "have's" are dragged kicking and screaming into the future, even in Germany.]
    BERLIN, Germany – Needless and expensive: business rejects the push of the party's employee wing for the introduction of a 35-hour workweek strictly for parents.
    "Politics must not meddle in that. The party [Christian Democratic Union (CDU)] should accept that, a priori to any distribution of profits,“ said Wolfgang Steiger (49), general secretary of the CDU Economic Council, to [the rightwing] Bild news.
    Mid/small-business president Mario Ohoven (67) sees this similarly: "Small and mid-size business cannot afford this. The enterprises now already lose more than 30 billion each year because of skill shortage,“ warned Ohoven to Bild.
    [Good grief, even training- and apprenticeship-rich Germany is crying skill shortage?! -Truly German employers don't know what they're already doing right or wherein they are far&away leading the world!]
    "We need no rigid state regulation on worktime,“ said the employers' association BDA [Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände].
    [Excusable only if Germany has only frictional unemployment = no unemployment.]
    "If parents want to reduce their working hours, they can already do this today.“
    The 35-hour workweek plan proposes that mothers and fathers should be able to shorten their worktime along with a reduced wage. Just last January, the federal Minister of Families Manuela Schwesig (39) had demanded a thirty-two hour workweek for parents.
    [And here's the original German -]
    Modell für Eltern - Wirtschaft will keine 35-Stunden-Woche für Eltern, Bild.de via ViralNewsChart.com
    Die Wirtschaft hält nichts von der Idee, Eltern eine 35-Stunden-Woche zu ermöglichen (photo caption)
    BERLIN, Deutschland – Unnötig und teuer: Die Wirtschaft lehnt den Vorstoß des Arbeitnehmerflügels der Union zur Einführung einer 35-Stunden-Woche für Eltern strikt ab.
    „Da muss sich die Politik nicht einmischen. In der Union sollte man wissen, dass vor dem Verteilen das Erwirtschaften kommt“, sagte Wolfgang Steiger (49), Generalsekretär des CDU-Wirtschaftsrats, zu BILD.
    Mittelstandspräsident Mario Ohoven (67) sieht das ähnlich: „Das kann sich der Mittelstand nicht leisten. Schon heute entgehen den Unternehmen jedes Jahr mehr als 30 Milliarden an Umsatz, weil ihnen Fachkräfte fehlen“, warnte Ohoven gegenüber BILD.
    „Wir brauchen keine starren staatlichen Vorgaben zur Arbeitszeit“, hieß es beim Arbeitgeberverband BDA. „Wenn Eltern ihre Arbeitszeit reduzieren wollen, können sie das schon heute tun.“
    Der Plan zur 35-Stunden-Woche sieht vor: Mütter und Väter sollen ihre Arbeitszeit bei reduziertem Lohn verkürzen können. Erst im Januar hatte Bundesfamilienministerin Manuela Schwesig (39) für Eltern die 32-Stunden-Woche gefordert.

4/18/2014 – 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. Worksharing and Long-Term Unemployment [Abstract of Paper], (4/17 late pickup) Center on Budget & Policy Priorities via FullTextReports.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Great Recession was especially deep and especially long. The sustained departure of output from its trend path was accompanied by a large drop in employment, which stayed low relative to trend for an extended period as well. As this occurred, the percentage of workers who were long-term unemployed increased sharply. Even as the U.S. economy recovers, the painful legacy of the Great Recession lives on as these long-term unemployed workers continue to struggle to reconnect to society.
    In light of this, policymakers and economists must ask whether smart policy could have mitigated large employment losses and the high incidence of long-term unemployment. We believe the answer is yes, and that worksharing is such a policy. Under worksharing, a firm can reduce the hours of its workforce in lieu of a layoff, and workers whose hours have been reduced are eligible for a prorated unemployment insurance (UI) benefit. In this way, a firm can weather a temporary lull in demand by reducing its payroll costs without laying off large number [sic] of workers.
    In this paper we make three points. First, the impact of long-term unemployment on the lives of those affected is so significantly negative that addressing the issue should be a top priority for policymakers. Second, extended unemployment insurance benefits are an insufficient way to deal with unemployment, and additional policies are needed. Finally, an alternative reform of unemployment insurance [=worksharing] could reduce the risk that the next recession might lead to another surge in long-term unemployment, help keep some of the millions of workers who are laid off every year in their jobs, and in so doing help avoid the problem of “hysteresis” [here presumably meaning irreversible self-reinforcing (negative) process] associated with long-term unemployment.

  2. This Company Has A 4-Day Work Week, Pays Its Workers A Full Salary And Is Super Successful, by Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress.org
    ORLANDO, Fla., USA - The 70 people who work at Treehouse [Island Inc.], an online education company that teaches people about technology, only work four days a week at the same full salary as other tech workers. Yet the company’s revenue has grown 120 percent, it generates more than $10 million a year in sales, and it responds to more than 70,000 customers, according to a post in Quartz by CEO Ryan Carson.
    Carson has been working four-day weeks since 2006, when he founded his first company with his wife, he told ThinkProgress. He quit his job to start it, only to find that they both put in seven days a week. “I remember distinctly my wife and I were on the couch one evening,” he recalled, “and she said something like, ‘What are we doing? I thought that starting a company means you have more time and more control, but it seems like we have less time and less control and we’re more stressed out.’” They decided to cut back by not working Fridays, and after they hired their first employee, “we decided to officially enact [a four-day week] and we never looked back.”
    Carson has since started three other companies at which he’s instituted this rule, Treehouse being the latest. While it’s hard to quantify, he believes his company benefits from better output and morale. “The quality of the work, I believe, is higher,” he said. “Thirty-two hours of higher quality work is better than 40 hours of lower quality work.” The impact on his employees’ outlook is also “massive,” he said. “I find I just can’t wait to get back to work” after the weekend, and he suspects the same is true for others. On Mondays, “everyone’s invigorated and excited.” He recounted a time when a developer told him that his hope was to work at the company for 20 years. In the Quartz article, he noted that a team member gets recruitment emails from Facebook, but that his response is always, “Do you work a four-day week yet?”
    And recruiting people in the first place is also easier thanks to the shorter week. “We regularly have new employees choose Treehouse over Facebook, Twitter and other top-tier tech companies,” he writes. And the company is able to still pull in high sales and even $13 million in venture capital thanks to instituting higher efficiency, by, for example, strictly limiting the use of email.
    Carson believes plenty of other companies could follow his example. “We have 70,000 customers, and I think if we can do it… couldn’t more people do that?” he said. Some businesses will still need to be open on Fridays, but he suggests “rolling employment,” where some people work Monday through Thursday while others work Tuesday through Friday. “Is it possible for everybody? No,” he concedes. “But I bet some huge percentage of companies can do it that just aren’t.”
    There are some drawbacks. Not working on Friday, he said, means no day of slowdown before the weekend. “It’s kind of like 100 miles per hour until Thursday at 6 p.m.” And he acknowledges that less work may get done with one day off.
    But there is some social science to back up the practice of limiting how much people put in at work each week. Research has found that putting in long hours, or more than 60 hours a week, produces a small productivity boost at first. But after three or four weeks of working at that level, it will actually decline. Other studies have similarly found that long hours produce a short term bump but have negative ramifications over the long run. This plays out on the global stage: countries where workers put in less time tend to be the most productive. For example, Greek workers put in 2,000 hours a year, on average, while German workers put in about 1,400, yet German productivity is about 70 percent higher.
    The dominant work culture in the United States is one of overwork, though. We rank at number 11 out of 33 developed countries in how many hours we work each week. For professionals, nearly everyone is working more than 50 hours a week and nearly half are putting in more than 65.
    Carson isn’t the only one experimenting with shorter hours. Municipal workers in Sweden’s second-largest city will soon work six-hour days to see whether it boosts efficiency and reduces costs if they need fewer sick days. Six of the ten most competitive countries, including Germany, have banned working more than 48 hours a week.

4/17/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Seriously? Are the French Really Overworked? (4/16 late pickup via inagist.com) blog.heritage.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Does anyone really believe the French are overworked?
    [Wrong question. Right question= Do the French still feel that their current level of unemployment is too high and that dreaming up busywork to keep people spinning their wheels for some fixed workweek that many other economies cling to is smarter than just trimming the workweek as much as it takes to spread the still-unrobotized employment across all the unemployed (and all those on welfare, disability, incarceration, homelessness...).]
    Despite the fact that laws already exist mandating a 35-hour work week, a French court has found some employees need even more protection from being overworked.
    [Any workweek is meaningless if your employer is fine with contacting you at home.]
    A new agreement with employers gives more than 300,000 tech-sector workers added guarantees that the “always connected” lifestyle enabled by smartphones won’t infringe on their rights and gives workers at risk of burnout a right to disconnect.
    This new rule affects only employees who are “autonomous,” meaning they don’t work specific shifts, but specific days–what we in America would call consultants or employees working a flex schedule. The reality is that fewer and fewer jobs are 9-5 anymore. Many people enjoy having flexible schedules, being able to work from home, and getting paid for their work product—not the hours logged. It’s turned out to be a good deal for both employers, who save on the amount of office space they have to provide, and for workers, who want the ability to work hours that better fit their lifestyle. Regulations, whether handed down from courts or legislative bodies, rarely add flexibility; they mandate conformity and one-size-fits-all policies, which is the opposite of what most workers want.
    As I discussed with Bill O’Reilly on his show last night, this kind of thinking is totally out of step with the modern economy. If the French want more jobs and better jobs, they should take a more laissez-faire approach to the workplace and economy.
    [Yeah, Genevieve, that's working sooo well for us with our unendingly "slow"..."recovery." Wake up, girl. Take a look at your own conservative history.]

  2. Calais hospital cuts hours for 90 employees, by Tim Cox, BangorDailyNews.com
    CALAIS, Maine — Calais Regional Hospital has reduced hours for 90 employees and laid off a handful of workers as part of an effort to rein in a deficit of more than $500,000 in the first two months of the fiscal year.
    The reduction in hours is the equivalent of 20 full-time positions or 8 percent of the hospital’s workforce of 265 people, Nancy Glidden, chief financial officer, said Thursday. Four employees were laid off, she said.
    The reduction in hours varied by department and position, Glidden said, and some employees lost only an hour per week.

    [So how much more would it have taken to save the jobs of those four laid-off employees?]
    A March 31 memorandum from hospital CEO Michael Lally to employees noted the hospital has a deficit of more than $500,000 just two months into the fiscal year.
    “Lower than expected volume in many departments is the most significant contributing factor,” he wrote.
    In addition to reducing hours for some employees, the hospital also announced the elimination of a special care unit for patients with serious medical conditions.
    “We must bring our staffing into alignment with how our community is utilizing our services,” said Lally. The hospital is staffed at higher levels than others of similar size and volume, he said.
    Lally is on vacation this week and was not available for comment, but he referred questions to Glidden.
    The personnel actions will save the hospital about $1 million annually, said Glidden.
    When asked how else the hospital would make up a deficit that has averaged $250,000 a month or $3 million annually, Glidden said hospital officials do not expect patient volume to continue to decline. In fact, March showed improvement, she said.
    The hospital has recruited three physicians — replacing two pediatricians who recently left the area and a physician’s assistant with a doctor — in order to build up patient volume, she said. The new hires will be coming on board in May and later this year.
    In a March 6 memorandum from chief nursing officer Cheryl Zwingman-Bagley to medical providers and management staff, Zwingman-Bagley said the inpatient care unit would no longer be able to accept patients at the special care level of care — those with more serious medical conditions.
    “This decision was made based on a dwindling number of patient days and the cost of maintaining a program that is so marginally used,” she said. In addition, effective immediately, the IPCU would no longer admit pediatric patients younger than 12, she added.
    The elimination of the special care unit means the hospital will not be required to have a nurse who is trained for intensive care to be available around the clock, and it also did away with the need for some training, explained Glidden.
    The hospital has “well-defined protocols” for caring for patients and determining those who need to be transferred to another medical care facility, said Glidden. “There’s not a mass exodus that’s going on here,” she said.
    “We’re been a very busy in-patient hospital. … We’re not diverting patients because we can’t take care of them in any big numbers,” said Glidden.
    “They knew full well what was going to happen,” said John Bloemendaal of Robbinston, who served on the hospital’s board of directors until recently. He discussed its financial problems in interviews Wednesday and Thursday.
    “When you’re losing $21,000 a day,” said Bloemendaal, as the hospital did in February, “that’s pretty grim.”
    Patient days are declining because changing reimbursement policies for Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance are shifting more of the cost to consumers, suggested Bloemendaal, who served 12 years on the State Employee Health Commission until his retirement about two years ago. Fewer people are going to the hospital because they do not have the money to pay the difference, he said.
    “That’s the biggest source of drying up your clientele,” said Bloemendaal.
    Glidden acknowledged that, similar to other hospitals, Calais Regional Hospital is dealing with changing third-party reimbursements. The changes put more financial burden on patients and, in the case of some rural hospitals, declining populations. In addition, there are a number of federally subsidized rural health centers that serve Washington County, she noted.
    The hospital also is making changes in procedures in order to improve efforts to collect payments, said Glidden.
    Bloemendaal suggested the recruitment of pediatricians was misdirected.
    “Why do we need pediatricians?” he asked, observing that the hospital only had a couple of pediatric admissions last year.
    He made the same observation about the need for an obstetrician for a hospital that delivers only about a dozen babies annually.
    Washington County needs more mental health services, contended Bloemendaal.
    “We’ve got a lot of mental health problems that need big time help,” he said, “and we’re not recruiting the right people for it.”
    He ticked off the needs — drug addiction, individual psychological problems and family problems.
    “We need help in that direction,” said Bloemendaal.
    The hospital expects to rein in the deficit and break even for the fiscal year, said Glidden.
    “We’re optimistic that the steps we’re taking are going to get us there,” she said.
    Hospital employees recently were paid a day late, but Glidden said the reason was not related to the hospital’s financial difficulties but a computer problem. A server failed for a third-party vendor used by the hospital’s bank for payroll purposes, according to Glidden.
    “It took about a day to get it fixed,” she said. The one-day delay occurred about six weeks ago.
    The hospital cut 13 positions, left 10 vacation positions unfilled, froze pay raises and matching pension contributions in 2012 because it was operating at a $1 million annual loss. At the time, it cited similar contributing factors — fewer patients and reduced levels of reimbursement for services.

4/16/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Nashua Post Office Survives, But Hours Cut, by Sandy Laumeyer, GlasgowCourier.com
    NASHUA, Mont., USA - Under the Post Plan, the U.S. Post Office has closed a number of community post offices and reduced hours for smaller towns. The plan was developed as an alternative to closing the smaller post offices.
    On Thursday, April 4, Rhonda Mailey, who oversees post offices with the 592 ZIP Codes, conducted one such meeting to discuss the fate of the Nashua Post Office. Nashua area residents in attendance were unanimous in stating they did not want to see the post office close.
    It will not.
    Effective Saturday, May 17, the Nashua Post Office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
    Those with post office boxes in the lobby will still be able to access their mail after hours.
    Adams said she will retain her lunch hour from 12:30 to 1:30, during which time the counter will be closed.
    In response to the question of installing a stamp machine in the lobby of the post office, those attending the meeting were told that it was not feasible as the machines are expensive and hard to maintain.
    Mail deposited in the outside box at the Nashua Post Office will be picked up at 3 p.m. instead of at 4 p.m.
    Nashua, which handles services once provided by the closed Larslan Post Office, is not alone in the reduced hours. The Hinsdale post office was cut to four hours per day. Fort Peck hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saco is at six hours. In September of this year, the Frazer Post Office will be reduced to four hours a day. Meanwhile, the Glasgow and Wolf Point offices remain open eight hourson weekdays and a half day on Saturdays.
    The postmasters at Nashua, Fort Peck, and Hinsdale were able to find new positions. As a result, these post offices now have a person with the title Postmaster Relief in charge.

  2. Work sharing system in the Netherlands? [2009 very late (re?)posting] ph.answers.yahoo.com
    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - You work shorter hours but earn less.
    [Not really. There is diminishing human employment in the robotic age and if we retain a pretechnology workweek forever there will be fewer and fewer people employed and more and more people so desperate for their jobs that pay will go lower and lower.]
    Can you really make a living under such a system?
    Does this system allow you to remain single and independent?
    Best Answer - Asker's Choice
    Willeke answered 5 years ago
    I do know a few people who are single and work less than a full week. All but one of them either have had a university education or an other reason to have a high income (per hour.)
    The one that does not have a high income per hour has a house free on name and a lifestyle that does not cost a lot.
    As you work less you also pay less tax, and that way you keep a little more per hour, but it is not enough to make up for the loss of income if you are in the lower income range.
    So you will find very few single factory workers that work less than a full week.
    But a full week in the Netherlands is often 36 hours or 38 hours, not 40.
    [And Netherlands, like the rest of the world, needs to reduce its concept of "full time" still further, in fact, as much as it takes to have full employment and high enough wages and spending to buy all the stuff that the robots are pumping out, 24/7. Right now, robotized factories worldwide have huge and growing excess capacity and excess inventory. Our standard downsizing and wage cutting response to technology is self-defeating and recession-creating.]
    Single parents more often work less than 40 hours, but they can only do so if they have an other source of income, either from the childs other parent or from social security.
    I am Dutch.
    Asker's Rating & Comment
    3 out of 5
    Thank you very much for all.
    It answers my question. I understand this is not really a workable system for low skilled labourers who need a new system most of all due to shortage of work as a result of globalisation.
    [Sure it is, because systemically, pay goes by supply & demand, not by hours, and the more hours each person works, the greater the supply of desperate people looking for jobs and allowing employers to pay less and less. More hours, less pay. Less hours, more pay, on a system-wide basis. If long hours got you more pay, Chinese workers would be the highest paid in the world cuz there's way more of them than long-hour jobs and their sheer surplus is constantly pushing down pay and labor standards. Don't believe it? Then let's go back to the 80-hour workweeks of 1840 and see if pay doubles or halves.]
    Other Answers (3)...
    bla bla answered 5 years ago
    It's not mandatory to work less. You can work a 40 hour week which is pretty much the norm for the rest of Europe and beyond. Many people working more than this in Europe are doing it as unpaid overtime anyway.
    [Touché...= more hours, less pay.]
    In some companies there are job share possibilities and as a mum of two young kids then I think this personally an idea which should be adopted by more countries.
    There are some family friendly policies. In my case, after having the first child, I took the "parental leave" option and worked a 4 day week, but this was only after the agreement of my boss.
    So yes I was earning less, but then my standpoint was two fold. Firstly I wanted to spend more time with my family anyway and secondly the cost of childcare is really expensive, so actually working with putting children in childcare, well you don't end up earning that much anyway (even with the tax rebates available).
    Anyway, it is more about a "quality of life" issue as anything else. I was fortunate to have a husband in full-time work which has allowed me to be flexible. If I was a single mum then this decision would be a lot more difficult.
    Being single and working part time is an option depending on what kind of lifestyle you want to live. People generally live within their means anyway. Being part of a couple with a joint income gives more flexibility which is then taken away to a degree when having kids. However, as (at least for me), as my family is more important than my job or being rich, then my balance of life is more clearly geared towards this.
    P.S. - to clarify, yes a working week is normally yes depending on the company and also the lunchtime options available. I have worked for companies where the standard is 37.5 and 39 hours respectively. However I was talking about Europe in the sentence I used this, and the working week in other countries I have lived in is anywhere from 38 to 42 as standard hence the average figure.
    I have to add though that the single parents I know here do work fulltime apart from one, and her maintenance allowance from her ex-partner is a pittance, but she still lives within her means and works part time as she has school age
    jwenting answered 5 years ago
    Depends on the job of course.
    If you work 4 days a week rather than 5 you get paid 80%.
    If that 80% of a full income will support your lifestyle, it's no problem.
    If you work as a waiter in a bar, that's unlikely to be the case. If you work as a senior software engineer and you're willing to make some sacrifices it's certainly possible (I have several colleagues who do it).
    packard1963 answered 5 years ago Id only like to add my thoughts as most was said well. It would be difficult as a single income but most do find a way.
    The work sharing system allows families & responsible parents to have a life and spend quality lives
    But whats better not knowing your partner or children and what there up to each day.
    North America will never get it, not about how much you can have,its all in the quality.

4/15/2014 – 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. Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program, by daldrich2013, AIM Legislative Alert via aimo.com
    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., USA - Associated Industries of Missouri’s (AIM) mission is to “promote a favorable business climate for business, manufacturing and industry.” To that end, we urge your support of Senate Bill 844, sponsored by Senator Bob Dixon (R-Springfield).
    SB 844 makes changes to the Missouri Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program that are necessary to comply with federally mandated changes to that program. Without these necessary changes, Missouri employers will no longer be able to participate in the Shared Work Program.
    The Shared Work Program allows Missouri employers that are faced with a potential layoff to reduce the work hours of many employees in a work group rather than laying off one or more individuals. This allows the employer to spread the layoff hours among the workgroup so that a complete layoff of any particular employee may be avoided.
    There are advantages to this approach for employers and for employees, as well as the state. Employers are charged the same unemployment charges as they would have been if they had completely laid off an equivalent number of workers, but they are able to simply reduce the hours of workers, allowing them to retain experienced workers. Employees often see the value in accepting reduced hours versus one of their own (or themselves) being completely laid off. And the state realizes the value of keeping individuals in the habit of working at their jobs.
    Missouri businesses used this program to successfully navigate the unusual economic downturn in recent years and we need to preserve the ability to use the program in the future.
    AIM calls on its members to let your State Senator hear about your support for SB 844.

  2. Strike threat by union as Cardiff council cuts hours, BBC News via bbc.com
    Staff will lose the equivalent of nearly seven days pay a year as a result of the changes, Unison said. (photo caption)
    CARDIFF, Wales, U.K. - Union members at Cardiff council are being balloted for strike action after a decision to reduce staff contracts by an hour a week.
    Working hours will drop from 37 to 36 hours per week as part of cost-cutting measures at the authority.
    [Instead of fighting less wage-depressing labor surplus through workweek reduction, union members should be taking charge of this development throughout Wales.]
    The council has to find savings of £50m over the next year, with a further £92m in cuts to come within three years.
    Unison said the council had rejected a plan which would have got them through the next 12 months.
    Terms and conditions relating to overtime, night working and shift allowance will be protected until March 2015, according to the council.
    However a council spokesman confirmed that any staff refusing to accept the new terms would be dismissed.
    Three other unions, Unite, the GMB and UCATT have agreed to the proposals, which come into effect in August.
    Unison branch secretary Spencer Pearson said: "It is not our members' fault that the council are in such a financial mess, yet it is them who are expected to pick up the bill for it.
    "Unison presented a plan to the council in January of this year which would have got them through the next 12 months without impacting on our members pay, but they weren't prepared to listen."
    [Another version -]
    Strike action threatened at Cardiff over working hours cut - Cardiff City Council staff could strike after the town hall approved a one-hour reduction in its working week, LocalGov.co.uk
    CARDIFF, Wales, U.K. - Proposals accepted by Cardiff today will see a 1.8% pay cut handed down to senior managers and the majority of town hall staff contracted to work 36 hours a week between August 2014 and March 2015.
    Following a statutory 45-day consultation period on the plans, the local authority will protect the Voluntary Severance Scheme and terms and conditions relating to overtime, night working and shift allowance until next year.
    Unison has revealed it will now ballot members at the town hall for industrial action, branding council plans an ‘attack’ on the workforce.
    ‘It is not our members’ fault that the council is in such a financial mess, yet it is them who are expected to pick up the bill for it,’ Unison Cardiff County branch secretary, Spencer Pearson, said.
    ‘A strike will cause significant disruption to council services and is not a decision taken lightly by our members,’ he added. ‘We are the only trade union in Cardiff that is fighting the council's attacks on its staff and our members can be assured that we will do all that we can to resolve the issue. There just needs to be a willingness from the council to resolve it.’
    Cardiff City Council leader, Cllr Phil Bale, said: ‘The budget set in February sets out the £50m savings required for 2014/15 and strikes a balance between the ongoing need to deliver vital front line services, while keeping council tax increases and impact on staff to a minimum.
    ‘The council has been working with the trade unions on this issue for some time and it is with deep regret that a collective agreement couldn’t be reached, with only three out of the four trade unions agreeing to the proposals.
    ‘The management will be working closely with staff to ensure they are fully informed and supported during the transition of this change in working hours and I will be encouraging managers to be flexible in achieving the one hour reduction.'

4/13-14/2014 – 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. Pipe maker cuts hours at Iowa facility; blames imports, by Cole Epley, 4/13 Omaha World-Herald via omaha.com
    CAMANCHE, Iowa, USA - TMK IPSCO, a Houston-based pipe manufacturer with 12 facilities across the U.S., announced plans to cut back on production at three plants, including one in eastern Iowa.
    The company plans to reduce by 30 percent operating hours at its welded pipe plant at Camanche, Iowa, located northeast of Davenport, on the Mississippi River. It will also reduce operating hours at welded pipe plants in Blytheville, Ark., and in Wilder, Ky.
    The Wilder plant is already being idled and a company spokesman said it expects to slow production in Arkansas and Iowa soon. Layoffs are also a possibility
    [Here's a company intelligently treating layoffs, which dramatically raise fears and cut spending, as a last resort.]
    The company blamed the decision on financial pressure stemming from imports from South Korea.
    David Mitch, president and CEO at TMK IPSCO, told the World-Herald, “There’s a tremendous increase in the amount of imported steel tube being brought to the U.S. and that’s impacted our pricing and our ability to meet demand accordingly.”
    The boom in domestic production of oil and gas has prompted foreign suppliers to flood the market with cheap steel tube products, Mitch said. He hopes a “major trade case” currently being heard by the International Trade Commission will remedy disruptions caused by what he calls “unfairly traded product.”
    TMK IPSCO also operates a plant in Geneva, Neb., about 120 miles west of Omaha, which employs 25 people. Mitch said the trade dispute will not affect production there because that plant makes a structural steel product unrelated to energy industry goods.
    Contact the writer: Cole Epley cole.epley@owh.com 402-444-1534
    Cole Epley reports on small businesses and startups, trucking and manufacturing companies and regional economic development.

  2. Costco Korea loses lawsuit over work hour restrictions, by Bahk Eun-ji eunji.bk@koreatimes.co.kr, 4/14 Korea Times via koreatimes.co.kr
    SEOUL, S.Korea - Seoul Administrative Court ruled against Costco Korea, Sunday, in a lawsuit filed against Yeongdeungpo-gu Office which called for the lifting of restrictions on its operating hours.
    The court ruled that ordinances imposed by three district offices in Seoul, which mandate the closure of discount stores every other Sunday, were valid.
    Costco filed a petition against the districts in October 2012, claiming that the ordinance was discriminatory.
    The ordinances, ordered by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), made large-sized discount chains and so-called super supermarkets, or scaled-down version of their outlets, to close two on Sundays every month.
    “The restriction of operating hours imposed the ordinance are legitimate as a handful of big discount stores could strengthen their dominance of the retail market further if smaller retailers go out of business,” the court said in its ruling. “At the same time, if the big retailers operate 24 hours a day, workers there would be unable to take legally-guaranteed time off.”
    [S.Korea is apparently trying to avoid the Walmart effect of wiping out the diversity and jobs of small businesses.]
    At the beginning of 2012, big supermarket chains E-mart, Lotte Mart and Home Plus filed suits with local courts against the mandatory closure rule, and received favorable rulings. The courts said the ordinance had procedural errors at that time. In response, 25 districts in Seoul and local authorities nationwide amended the ordinances to correct the errors.

  3. Pay Versus Play, by Leher Kala, 4/14 Indian Express via FinancialExpress.com
    Summary - Ideally, work should end by six pm.
    NEW DELHI, India - Since France introduced the enviable 35-hour work week in 1999, workers’ unions have become emboldened enough to demand even more slack. Thirty five hours is a threshold after which overtime begins: now some employers and unions are in agreement that bosses are infringing on workers’ rights by e-mailing them after work finishes, post 6 pm. No one knows how they’ll be compensated if the boss has the temerity to contact staff after hours, but suffice to say a few thousand lucky employees can now relish blissful, work free evenings, a la dolce vita. The kind which is out of existence in most parts of the world.
    Happy hour may begin at six for some in France, in India I don’t think I know anyone who finishes work by then. More and more work-life balance is a luxury only those with financial freedom can aspire towards. Prioritising me time post six seems almost selfishly petty in a slow economy with too few jobs, especially when other people have far bigger problems — like the constant threat of redundancy. I feel sorry for 21-year-olds starting out now. The world seems tougher than it ever was. Leisure as a scarcity is the new reality. I just noticed Slate, a popular online magazine now lets you know exactly how many minutes it’ll take to read each article since they rightly surmise many readers don’t have a moment to spare.
    Yet, it’s important to remember human life is broadly divided into two parts: labour and leisure. One is no good without the other. Even in the Old Testament, God creates the world in six days and rests on the seventh. Or to quote Aristotle in all his glittering simplicity, “Wealth is not the good we are seeking; it is merely useful for the sake of something else.”
    Every successful entrepreneur, corporate honcho and feminist has mulled over and weighed in on the question of how to manage everything, a fulfilling career, free time and healthy relationships. There are no easy answers, free of compromise. As Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook says in her much talked about book Lean In, “I have never met a woman, or man, who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all”.” Like we all fantasize about eating and not gaining weight, we also wish we could afford our lifestyles without work consuming our lives. In a recent survey conducted in the US among women in management positions, only 37 per cent wanted a job with more responsibility and among mothers with children under 18, just a quarter said they would choose full time employment if money wasn’t an issue. The survey didn’t question men but it’s unlikely they’d think very differently.
    Even if wanting it all is immaturely unrealistic, we live in a culture where who you are is defined by what you do. But not everybody aspires to set foreign policy or fly private and that’s not so bad. College students who are trying to decide what to do with their lives get so caught up with choosing a money path, they don’t consider the kind of lifestyles they would like to lead in the future. If they did I’m sure even high achieving students wouldn’t be so excited by finance and consulting, where part time can never be an option and job insecurity is a permanent state. But a friend I lost touch with because he was too busy studying in college is an opthalmologist now and he comes to the gym at the baffling hour of 1 pm. There are almost no emergencies since nobody ever dies of an eye ache. Medicine is out of fashion because qualifying is so frustratingly tedious but if you are inclined and choose the right specialisation, it offers plenty of money and loads of leisure. I keep hearing cheesy, wholly unbelievable lines like if you enjoy what you do it’s not work. Given a choice, many of us would opt for big, fat, lazy, quantity time doing absolutely nothing, any day.

4/12/2014 – 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. Would 35-hour work week be a great idea, or not? by Ly Nguyen, (4/10 late pickup) UnderstandingCrisis.blogspot.ca
    [Let's think a little bigger here. What would be a great idea is maximum markets and resulting maximum velocity of monetary circulation and the full employment which alone could deliver those much-to-be-desired goals, and a mechanism designed to smoothly convert chronic overtime into training and hiring coupled with a workweek repeatedly adjusted downward as short as it takes to deliver enough overtime to provide full employment at each stage in the introduction of more and more productive technology - that needs marketability = maximum markets (circling back round to "Go"),]
    TORONTO? Canada - Starting from today, French employees are required to ignore their work emails after 6PM according to a new labor agreement. It's no exception if you check emails on your smartphone or if you are employed at such fast-paced companies like Google, Facebook, Deloitte, and PwC. French people, who already favored the 35-hour work week introduced in 2000, seem to welcome the change.
    With this news, I would like to ask if you think a 35-hour work week is beneficial for an economy. The main reason that France adopted this policy was to reduce unemployment. Employers must hire more workers to run their businesses since each employee works 5 hours less. 35- hour work week may help people achieve work-life balance and actually become more productive. I believe people used to work 6 days a week in America and now only 5 days. What is your take on this matter?
    Ps: Proponents [Bill McGaughey of Minneapolis] of shorter work week: http://www.shorterworkweek.com/econeffect.html

  2. Sacré Bleu! French Workers Are Now Prohibited From Checking Their Work E-Mail After 6pm! entertainment.worldnewsviews.com
    DELHI, India? - Americans basically live by four simple rules:
    1) Work hard.
    2) Word harder.
    3) No, seriously, get back to work — you’re supposed to die at that desk.
    4) Never pay full price for a late pizza.

    But au contraire say our European neighbors — that is not their secret recipe for kicking a$$ at life at all!
    The French in particular are soooo concerned with, well, overworking the workers that they capped their work weeks at 35 hours way back in 1999!
    Greedy bourgeois pigs have found ways around that law, though! They might send employees home on time, but they’ve also started forcing them to monitor their e-mail accounts and smartphones outside of the office! Wait, doesn’t that mean they’re working more than 35 hours now?!
    Quelle horreur!
    Thankfully, those hardworking French law makers and workers’ unions have engineered a solution to protect against this exploit — they’ve prohibited employees from sending or accessing work related e-mails after 6pm!!!
    Wow! That’s pretty hardcore!!!
    We wonder why our American overlords haven’t passed similar laws protecting our working men and women?
    C’est la vie, we suppose! And back to work!

4/11/2014 – 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. French workers at risk of burnout get the right to unplug - Deal only covers freelancers and consultants, not employees with fixed shifts, AP via Ottawa Citizen, F1.
    PARIS, France - French IT staff at Google, Facebook and other companies have won new protections against burnout: The right to unplug.
    A new agreement with employers gives more than 300,000 tech-sector workers added guarantees that the "always connected" lifestyle enabled by smartphones won't infringe on their rights under France's famous 35-hour workweek. Union official Michel de la Force told The Associated Press that the deal doesn't mean staff will be forced to turn off their phones at 6pm, as some media have reported.
    "They haven't read the agreement," De la Force said.
    The deal gives workers at risk of burnout a right to disconnect, but does not change their working hours.
    The deal also only covers workers, such as consultants, who already have flexible schedules, not employees on fixed shifts.
    The agreement between two French unions and two employers' federations for the technology and consulting industries came about after a court last year found previous working time protections in the sector to be insufficient.
    De la Place, an official with the consulting and engineering branch of the CFE-CGC union, says the change is a matter of protecting workers' health.
    "If someone is in a dangerous situation of overwork, this allows them to say 'no'," De la Place said. But on a day-to-day basis, the agreement changes little. "This doesn't forbid someone from taking a USB key from the office and working at home," he said.
    Details on implementing the 35-hour week in France are left up to each sector or industry through negotiations between employees and employers.
    [Here's another version = the original Manchester Guardian article? comes with a correction in the comment to which we've appended a referenced article in French, followed by another version in English from Fox News -]
    Don't mess with French workers' 35 hour work week, by Kai Ryssdal,
    (4/10 late pickup) Manchester Guardian via Marketplace.org
    PARIS, France - From France, home of the 35 hour work week, this item: French tech sector employees have just struck a new collective bargaining agreement, under the terms of which they are guaranteed that after-hours emails -- as in the kind we all check on our phones while at a soccer game -- will not impinge on that aforesaid 35 hour week.
    Workers now have the unimpeded right to unplug at quitting time.
    To this story, one can only say, zut alors, sacre bleu and 'How do I get me some of that action'?
    About the author - Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
    1 Comment
    masud2002 replied on Apr 11, 2014...
    This is not an accurate article. This came from an opinion page in the Guardian and is based on wrong information. This was based on a contract agreement in 1999 to cover consultants that were not covered under the 35-hour work week rules. You can find a detailed explanation..(French version [below], I couldn't find an English version). Since you talked about it on the air this yesterday, a correction would be appreciated.
    La légende de l'interdiction des courriels professionnels après 18 heures, par Samuel Laurent, Jonathan Parienté et Mathilde Damgé, Le Monde.fr
    Une nouvelle loi française interdirait les courriels professionnels en dehors des heures de travail ! Incroyable nouvelle découverte dans cet article du quotidien britannique The Guardian, publié mercredi 9 avril. Incroyable, mais… totalement fausse. Remontons la piste. (photo caption)
    PARIS, France - 1/ Ce que dit « The Guardian »
    « Les Français ont rendu le travail après 18 heures illégal. (…) Après s'être rendu compte que leurs patrons parvenaient à envahir leur vie privée grâce aux smartphones à n'importe quelle heure du jour et de la nuit, faisant exploser le nombre d'heures travaillées bien au-delà des trente-cinq heures introduites en 1999, les syndicats contre-attaquent. »
    L'article du Guardian est en fait une chronique, écrite par Lucy Mangan, sur son blog Shortcuts. Lucy Mangan tient une rubrique Life & Style dans le journal. Elle n'a pas fait d'enquête, mais s'est contentée de citer un article des Echos comme source de son billet.
    « Les employés devront résister à la tentation de consulter tout ce qui pourrait ressembler à du travail sur leurs ordinateurs et leurs smartphones — ou n'importe quelle sorte d'intrusion dans le temps départi officiellement à ce que les Français appellent la dolce vita [en italien dans le texte] », écrit-elle.
    « Pendant que nous voyons arriver de nouvelles heures supplémentaires ou nuits de boulot, de l'autre côté de la Manche ils sirotent du Sancerre et se préparent à profiter au moins de la seconde moitié d'un cinq à sept avant de rentrer chez eux savourer leur semaine de cent trente-trois heures… de vie personnelle. »
    Un article très repris dans la presse anglo-saxonne ces derniers jours. Le Daily Mail anglais y voyant même le signe que « la France socialiste de François Hollande est sans aucun doute le pays le plus feignant d'Europe ».
    2. Ce que dit le Syntec
    Le 1er avril, le Syndicat des sociétés d'ingénierie et de conseil et des bureaux d'études (Syntec) annonçait un accord avec les syndicats (CGC et CFDT), accord qui est en fait un avenant à un accord précédent, conclu en 1999, sur les trente-cinq heures. Cet avenant reconnaît une « obligation de déconnexion des outils de communication à distance ».
    L'accord court sur sept pages. Il y est question de nombre de jours travaillés dans l'année, de temps de travail et de repos. C'est au détour d'un paragraphe sur le repos hebdomadaire que figure la phrase suivante :
    « L'effectivité du respect par le salarié de ces durées minimales de repos implique pour ce dernier une obligation de déconnexion des outils de communication à distance. »
    Les salariés concernés (la branche du conseil) ne sont pas soumis aux durées légales maximales quotidiennes (dix heures) et hebdomadaires (trente-cinq heures) de temps de travail. Ils sont sous le régime du forfait jours, ces contrats appliqués aux salariés autonomes décomptant le temps de travail non en heures mais en jours. Ces salariés très flexibles seraient entre 200 000 à 250 000 (26 % de la branche) à être visés par cet accord.
    3. Ce que disent les syndicats
    Cet accord pourrait certes avoir valeur d'exemple et les nombreux quotidiens et sites d'information à reprendre cette information (ou ce qu'ils en retiennent) ne manquent pas de citer les syndicats ou leurs représentants, comme Michel de La Force, de la fédération CGC des sociétés d'ingénierie, de conseil et d'études.
    « Nous devons évaluer le temps de travail numérique. (…) Nous pouvons admettre qu'il y ait du travail supplémentaire dans des circonstances exceptionnelles mais nous devons toujours nous assurer de revenir à la base, qui est de se déconnecter, d'arrêter d'être en permanence au travail. »
    Cet accord pourrait s'étendre à d'autres branches employant des cadres et le responsable syndical rappelle que des entreprises ont déjà mis en place des mesures de restriction d'accès aux courriels professionnels, comme Matra, le centre de recherche de Volkswagen. Chez nos voisins, les employés belges de Total et de Siemens sont concernés par des mesures identiques.
    Une étude du Centre de recherche pour l'étude et l'observation des conditions de vie (Crédoc) datant de 2013 montre que deux personnes sur cinq utilisent les technologies de l'information et de la communication à des fins professionnelles en dehors de leurs heures de travail.
    [Another version in English -]
    French Tech Workers: No E-Mails After 6,
    (4/10 late pickup) FoxBusiness.com
    PARIS, France - French workers already have a 35-hour work week, five vacation weeks a year, and now, some aren’t allowed to be contacted by their employer after 6:00pm.
    A new deal has been agreed upon between tech industry workers and unions in France that no longer requires employees to answer work-related emails after 6 p.m., according to reports. The deal reportedly includes one million workers in digital and consultancy sectors in the country. Tech giants Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) have operations in France.
    This deal means workers won’t be under any pressure to respond to their higher-ups post-clocking out, and they can’t be reprimanded in the highly-unionized country.
    Pam Villarreal, U.S. labor expert at the National Center for Policy Analysis, calls the deals “absurd.”
    “Within the tech industry and digital consultancy sectors, there’s always something going wrong off the clock—when a computer goes down, it doesn’t go down between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” she says. “Even though workers overwhelmingly support this, it will be interesting to see how it pans out in terms of productivity—knowing people who work in the tech industry, it’s one of the most likely where something goes wrong after hours.”
    She adds the deal could bring the unintended consequence of higher labor costs in the country’s industry. “They may have to shift workers to after 5 p.m. to deal with these issues, so it may drive up the cost of labor.”
    French tech workers aren’t the only ones getting a reprieve from the stress of a never-ending workday, as a Swedish city is experimenting with a six-hour workday, in an effort to improve productivity and happiness among workers.
    France also famously shortened its workweek to 35 hours instead of the standard 40, in 2000.
    “They are likely trying to reduce the unemployment rate, which is at 8%, and almost 24% for those under 25,” Villarreal says of Sweden. “But we don’t know if the experiment will work—people will be trying to cram 8 hours of work into a 6-hour day.”
    Villarreal says Swedish companies may also turn to outsourcing if labor costs climb, explain that France’s labor costs increased as a result of its shortened work week.
    Neither move is likely to hit the U.S. anytime soon, Villarreal says, especially the no contact after work agreement.
    “Think of big tech corporations—they wouldn’t agree to not contacting their employees after 6,” she says. “Google and Facebook are [probably] not so welcoming of this change in France. If it happened here, companies would probably try to outsource to India or China, countries without such strict labor regulations."

  2. Hours cut for East Lothian's principal teachers, EastLothianNews.co.uk
    EAST LOTHIAN, Scotland - Principal teachers in the county’s primary schools will struggle to cope under a new funding system, according to Scotland’s main teaching union.
    The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has raised concerns over East Lothian Council’s cut in funding for out-of-class hours.
    It comes after the council decided to keep 47 principal teacher posts following a management review, while making savings of £150,000.
    The council said: “The solution enables us to retain all our principal teacher posts and make the £150,000 budget savings required.
    [Better hours cut than jobs cut, timesizing than downsizing.]
    “Our schools manage their own budgets and they may use their own budget to fund additional half-days.”
    But the SNP’s education spokesman, Councillor Peter MacKenzie, said: “In the SNP budget, we removed the need for these savings because we knew any other decision would have meant additional school workloads."

4/10/2014 – 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. France: Companies Not Allowed To Contact Employees Electronically After Work Day Is Over, by Edwin Kee, (4/09 late pickup) Ubergizmo.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - If you happen to stay in France and earn a living there, then you might be familiar with the following. They happen to have a 35 hour work week (do bear in mind that the 35-hour working week happens to be a measure that was first adopted in France back in February 2000, under the watch of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s Plural Left government. The 35 hours happen to be the legal standard limit, where working more than that would be overtime) as well as up to six weeks of paid vacation (well, for the luckiest of them, but certainly not most), now how does that sound to those overworked worker drones out there?
    Still, French workers continue to get contacted by the office for work related stuff even when they have already clocked out, which is something that most of us would think to be pretty normal these days.
    I guess they do it differently in France, where a deal that was signed by tech industry employers and several unions in that part of Europe would mean the law forbids companies affected to contact employees electronically once their work day is done with.
    Needless to say, the worker groups are more than happy to hear about this particular news, but since there are always two sides to a coin, you can be sure that there will be some unhappy people around, too.
    Considering how France happens to have a large digital sector, not to mention being plagued by bureaucracy being a major complaint among critics, this latest labor-friendly law would certainly place employers at a disadvantage. I guess this is where being as efficient as possible in the office itself would be the key to keeping everyone happy.

  2. 30 hour work week: Congressman Reed’s Misinformantion [& misspelling?], The Old Liberal via wordpress.com
    CORNING, N.Y., USA - I [name?] receive “communications” from my representative in Congress, Mr. [Tom?] Reed (R-NY) , fairly regularly. Which is good. I like to see what he is up to. One of his jobs as a Congressman is to keep folks “informed”. I guess. Which is why I always look for information in his literature. And looking for information in his mailings is like a Where’s Waldo problem.
    Two Examples:
    Example 1: A postcard he sent telling me he opposes Obamcare’s cuts to senior citizens, specifically cuts to Medicare. This sounds pretty awful, especially since I am soon to be joining the Medicare system. I certainly don’t want the government cutting MY BENEFIT!. I mean, we have to cut somewhere, but not ME!
    The postcard had a pretty specific figure of $300 billion dollars. A very big cut to my benefits. Obama wants to cut MY BENEFITS by $300,000,000,000. Not anything to sneeze at.
    So I called Mr Reed’s office and talked to a very nice lady. I asked her what programs were being cut by Obamacare. $300 billion is a lot of programs that old folks are going to lose. She was pleasant enough and tried to answer, but couldn’t. She explained that they had no SPECIFIC information on that topic. Took my name and phone number so the Congressman could get back to me with an answer. . Two weeks ago. Never heard from them since.
    Example 2: An email arrived telling me how Mr. Reed was opposing Obamacare because of the new “full-time” work provision. According to the email, people who work 30 hours a week are now considered full time. And this is a travesty. An outrage.
    It will hurt working families. They will make less money. So, Mr. Reed is sponsoring a bill to make the 40 hour work week the law of the land.
    I called Mr Reed’s office. I talked to a very nice young man. Again, he was pleasant but could not answer some of my questions. Does Obamacare mean that people can work ONLY 30 hours ? Can’t they work more if they and their employer want them to? Wasn’t this “30 hour” provision put in so companies could not make someone work, say, 39 hours and then claim they were part-time, hence not covered by the law? What is the real problem here?
    Once again, these basic, common sense questions could not be answered. I almost felt sorry for these staff members who are forced to try to explain these silly bits of misinformation put out by the Congressman.

    Conclusion: It is one thing to be against the ACA for legitimate reasons. And back it up with evidence. It is quite another to spread misinformation and partial, selective information to try to undermine the law. People deserve ACCURATE information. If Mr Reed opposes the ACA, as he does, then why stoop to a low level of shenanigans? He should be ashamed of these types of mailings. I am sure there are real weaknesses in the law, but when Congressmen spread misinformation about it, it leads one to question ANYTHING they say in their literature.
    [And here's an example from Ohio -]
    Commentary: Cutting work week to 30 hours would be harmful, by U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (7th District), HolmesCountyShopper.com
    MILLERSBURG, Ohio, USA - Small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy and the further piling up of regulations continues to hold them down. Obamacare was only the beginning of those regulations, now the president would like to drop the 40-hour work week down to a 30-hour work week. Each new rule the Administration pushes out has an effect on the 7th district of Ohio and around the country in a negative way.
    Families and individuals continue to look for jobs that will keep them employed and pay them enough to support themselves along with their families. Now, the Administration wants to continue to place the strain on Americans and small business owners by redefining the 40-hour work week. According to a Hoover Institution Study, 2.6 million Americans are at risk of having their hours and wages cut as a result of the 30-hour Obamacare rule. My colleagues and I in the House have proposed H.R. 2575, the "Save American Workers Act." Rather than lose more jobs and have less takehome pay, my colleagues and I want to help protect middle-class workers from the destructive consequences of the president's law.
    The profile of a family that will feel the effects of this cut to 30 hours a week has a median income of $29,126 and works in either retail, manufacturing or education. This rule will force employers who have previously provided coverage to alter their benefit plans, drop coverage and shift more of their workforce to part time to mitigate the effects of the regulation costs. This change affects those who are looking for entry-level work, younger workers and lower income Americans. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that the "Save American Workers Act" would result in $63 billion in lower taxes and $75 billion in higher cash wages.
    With three out of four Americans living paycheck to paycheck, the financial squeeze on middle-class families is making life harder. Small businesses are unable to give hardworking Americans a secure, well paying job because of the new regulations brought on by Obamacare and other initiatives by the Administration. According to a survey of small business executives by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 71 percent of small businesses say the health care law makes it harder for them to hire employees. On April 4, we received the monthly jobs report which only emphasized the importance of the 40-hour work week. Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management told Fox News that adding jobs to the economy is important but we need to focus more on creating "quality jobs."
    The Administration continues to hurt the American worker through regulations that come from Obamacare or other initiatives by changing the importance of a full-time job. The change to a 30-hour work week will be a major obstacle for businesses who want to create more jobs and support their employees. The "Save American Workers Act" would repeal the 30-hour definition of full-time employment and would drastically reduce Obamacare's taxes on job creators and increase wages for our nation's workers. I would like to hear your opinion on this issue. If you or your family has been affected by this proposal please call my office at 202-225-6265 or email me at repbob.gibbs@mail.house.gov.
    U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs represents the 7th District, comprised of Ashland, Coshocton, Holmes, Huron, Knox, Lorain, Medina, Richland, Tuscarawas and Stark counties.

4/09/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Swedish Town Testing Full Pay for 30-Hour Week - Gothenburg is apparently the place to be, by Kate Seamons, Newser.com
    GOTHENBURG, Sweden – If you could be anywhere in the world right now, Gothenburg, Sweden, may be the perfect place. That's because the town's government is initiating a pretty appealing sounding experiment: testing a 30-hour workweek, in which workers will be paid as if they're working full-time. The hope is that the six-hour days will bump up mental and physical well-being, increasing efficiency while reducing the number of sick days that are taken. The deputy mayor says the plan has been in the works for a while, though the opposition is dismissing it as a political ploy ahead of 2014 elections.
    Regardless, it's going forward, with a somewhat scientific approach involving control and test groups. One unlucky department will stick with its regular schedule; the Independent reports by way of Sweden's Metro newspaper that the elderly care department will drop to 30 hours per week for a year, then the results will be compared. The Local reports that the mayor says a car factory in town recently tried the six-hour day, with positive results. But the Local in 2005 reported on another town, Kiruna, whose municipal employees logged six-hour days for 16 years before it gave up the approach in the absence of clear health or productivity benefits.
    [A longer version -]
    Sweden: The New Laboratory for a Six-Hour Work Day - Officials hope less time at the office will make workers healthier and more productive, by Uri Friedman, TheAtlantic.com
    GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Corn-flake capitalism has come to Sweden.
    In 1930, in the throes of the Great Depression, cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg decided to conduct an experiment. He replaced the three daily eight-hour shifts at his plant in Battle Creek, Michigan with four six-hour shifts. The results? The company hired hundreds of new people, production costs plummeted, and employees operated more efficiently, learning to prioritize leisure over work. Vestiges of the system remained in place until 1985.
    Now the Swedish city of Gothenburg is considering a similar experiment. The governing coalition has proposed a year-long trial that would divide some municipal workers into a test and control group at the same pay rate, with the test group working six-hour days and the control group working the traditional eight. (It's unclear how, or if, a lunch break will factor into the scheme.)
    "We'll compare the two afterwards and see how they differ," Mats Pilhem, city councilor and Left Party member, told The Local. "We hope to get the staff members taking fewer sick days and feeling better mentally and physically after they've worked shorter days." He added that increased efficiency at the workplace could create more jobs in Gothenburg. The opposition Moderate Party, for its part, has accused Sweden's crusading six-hourers of trying to drum up votes ahead of elections.
    It's a debate that's playing out at the national level as well. Below, you can watch Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (Moderate Party) and Jonas Sjöstedt (Left Party) square off in January over the idea of a 35-hour work week. The Left Party's proposal, Reinfeldt argues, could cost Sweden more than a billion dollars and plunge its economy into recession.
    "Modern nations shorten the week," his opponent retorts. Would the prime minister, Sjöstedt asks, be so bold as to return to the bygone era of 10-hour work days and six-day work weeks? (Swedish law now calls for 40-hour work weeks, though hours are often determined by collective agreements.)
    The cult of the six-hour work day knows no bounds, stretching from France to Venezuela [though the religion of the eight-hour day is much more extensive...and unmiraculous], but the policy doesn't always work Kellogg-esque miracles. In Sweden itself, towns have abandoned the approach in the past when it proved costly and detrimental to workers' health (it turns out working non-stop for six hours isn't great for you, either).
    This mixed record hints at a larger insight: The relationship between hours worked and productivity—let alone other variables like wealth and well-being—is incredibly complex. Spending more time at work doesn't necessarily make you more productive, and may make you less so. For evidence, just take a look at the 2009-2011 data from Europe below. (Americans are something of an exception; relative to other countries, we work long hours and are very productive.)
    The first graph [on webpage http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/04/sweden-the-new-laboratory-for-a-six-hour-work-day/360402/ - cut off loading as soon as the article loads because at some point the NIOI (notinourinterest) ongoing loading got into a wierd eternal load that kinda froze up Foxfire]
    ranks countries by the average number of hours clocked per week by full-time workers. The second [same webpage] ranks countries by the productivity of workers per hour of labor (a score above 100 indicates that a country's productivity, measured as GDP per hour worked, is higher than the EU average). Greeks, to highlight one example, are some of Europe's hardest workers, but they're not the most efficient ones.
    In a 2012 article for Foreign Policy, Charles Kenny explored the complicated connections between output and work hours:
    The bottom line is that productivity -- driven by technology and well-functioning markets -- drives wealth far more than hours worked. And very few jobs in developed economies nowadays are classic assembly-line positions, where working 20 percent longer will mechanically produce 20 percent more widgets. Psychology plays a role here too: At least 40 years of studies suggest that people work harder if you limit their time to complete a certain task. In some cases, working too hard can actually reduce output. Long working hours are also associated with ill health, which means lost labor in the long term, as well as higher medical costs for employers and government.
    As we transition to an economy dominated by knowledge workers rather than assembly-line workers, where productivity is more difficult to both measure and optimize, we haven't yet figured out the best formula for maximizing output—something that, in any event, will vary from region to region and sector to sector. Is the answer more hours? Fewer hours? Flextime? Technological solutions that have nothing to do with hours as units of labor?
    Hence experiments like Gothenburg's. Consider that in the debate I highlighted above over the 35-hour work week, both Swedish politicians claim that their approach to the country's labor market is the more modern one.
    So, will Gothenburgers forge a new model for today's knowledge economy? Perhaps. Or they'll just invite more mockery from this guy [referring to the obnoxious rich guy celebrating the work culture in GM's Cadillac commercial "which aired incessantly throughout the Olympics."]
    Uri Friedman is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Global Channel. He was previously the deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy.

  2. Ford is to blame for 30-hour work week, not Obama, letter to editor by Donald E. Jackson of Amarillo, Amarillo.com
    AMARILLO, Tex., USA - Regarding the editorial (Editorial: Is Obamacare a work in progress?, April 4, amarillo.com), I would like to suggest the Amarillo Globe-News is in error on who to "blame" [our quotes] for using the 30-hour work week to determine eligibility for employer-sponsored health insurance plans, and comparing the same to France’s employment and benefits regulations.
    [Get that, friends of freedom? The self-flattering Land of the Free is "blaming" a workweek that gives people more of the most basic freedom, financially secure Free Time, without which the other freedoms are either meaningless or inaccessible.]
    As a retired financial services agent with more than 35 years of experience in providing health insurance to individuals as well as employer groups, we had to use the 30-hour work week for many years.
    ["had to" because ??]
    I have been retired for the past 12 years, so my memory stands to be corrected. However, I believe Republican Gerald Ford was president when that law went into effect.
    [What law under Gerald Ford can he be referring to? Or what can he be thinking of? Henry Ford's occasionally union-forestalling generosity toward his workforce (the $5/day wage of 1912?)? Or W.K. Kellogg's 30-hour workweek during the depression, which lasted in some divisions until 1986? At any rate, it was the Republican Party which championed shorter hours for the first 75 years of its existence when it still had a claim to conservatism, in contrast to its radical policies today that concentrate unlimitedly large percentages of the money supply in unlimitedly small percentages of the population - and slowly necrotize more and more parts of the economy. Today's wealthy Republicans desperately need excuses to spread their money around but they're too preoccupied with their boring moremoremore game to do anything but just slap bandaids on everything, or too nervous about their increasing vulnerability to do anything but channel-in even more money and try to build enough walls or buy enough security, if there is such a thing as 'enough' anywhere in a self-fueling deathspiral.]
    If my presumption is correct, then it is entirely unfair to blame President Barack Obama for using that standard in the Affordable Health Care Act.
    The statement: “If the cost of providing health care becomes a burden, employers will make sure more their employees work less than 30 hours a week ... ” is correct, or they will have to cover a greater share of the cost of benefits to absorb some of the increased cost, or the cost of product sold will increase.
    The previous penalty for employers not conforming to the 30-hour work week regulation was the loss of detectability for the cost of benefits from the employers’ federal income tax. Additionally, employees would lose the tax-free benefit of the entire premium, both what they paid in their cost-sharing scheme as well as that portion paid by employers.
    When you assume with the statement: “The federal government is going to alter the 40-hour work week just to force employers to provide questionable health insurance that promises lower premiums with a quality standard of care,” I think you are short-changing the good people we send to Congress.
    Would it not be better to use the facts of a situation rather than misrepresenting who did what? God has blessed America and continues to do so [though we are doing everything we can to block Him by funneling all the blessings to a tiny population of our most wealthy], but I expect he has a tear in his eye when looking down upon us.
    [And the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, is spinning in his grave with disbelief and disgust at today's historically ignorant, gullible and so-angry-they're-self-harming "tea partiers" and would-be unseparators of Church and state.]
    Editor’s note: “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” states, “The term ‘full-time employee’ means an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week."
    [The real point of a standard workweek is not to serve as a minimum for benefits but as a maximum to prevent gross and growing labor surplus, which market forces react to with lower wages, and which then results in weaker markets and monetary circulation and investments.
    It's time for editors like those of Amarillo.com to get a little more informed about conservative history in their own country, and a lot more sophisticated about worktime economics. The labor movement predicted in the 1930s that the 40-hour workweek would tend to change character from a maximum to a minimum, but they did nothing to stop it, such as designing and advocating-for a smooth and automatic mechanism for transforming chronic overtime (and overwork), into training and hiring, and then tightening up the definition of "chronic" and continuing downward adjustment of the workweek as technological worksavings got greater and greater.]

  3. The leisure revolution that never came - Few Americans today think they have the kind of abundance of free time that futurists predicted, by Laura Vanderkam, Fortune via management.fortune.cnn.com
    [Arthur Dahlberg in 1932, Ben Hunnicutt in 1988 and Juliet Schor in 1991 all treated of this subject.] NEW YORK, N.Y., USA -- It seemed like simple math. In the decades after World War II, American workers were becoming ever more productive. With technology reducing the need for manual labor and better-skilled workers producing more in less time, many assumed workweeks would fall to 24 hours, if not lower. People in the future would fret about their abundance of leisure. A famous 1959 Harvard Business Review article argued that boredom -- once the province of aristocrats -- was becoming a common curse.
    But in March 1970, Fortune ran an article by Gilbert Burck with a different message: Not so fast. Titled "There'll Be Less Leisure Than You Think," the feature explained that while experts claimed "work will practically wither away, leaving us with an abundance of everything, notably free time," the reality was this: "No such luck."
    Burck argued that more people were going to be working in services (health care, education) and government, and these sectors weren't as amenable to productivity gains as manufacturing. Whether you agree with that or not, though, certainly few Americans living in 2014 think they have the kind of abundance of free time that futurists predicted. "The prospect of greatly reducing the hours on life's treadmills remains mainly a prospect," Burck wrote. "For a long time we'll probably have to work as hard as ever."
    Why is that?
    [Because as the Depression ended with the 40-hour workweek and World War II, labor bought the idea that more leisure happened automatically and forgot the effort it had taken them the previous 100+ years. And labor forgot that using shorter hours to avoid pay-lowering labor surplus was their power issue, and started focusing solely on their disempowering issue = higher pay and benefits, which just tacked an artificially higher price on exactly what they needed to avoid = a growing technology-enabled labor surplus, which made their pay&benefit gains increasingly insecure.]
    Well, it's complicated.
    [Not really.]
    Despite popular perception, Americans actually work fewer hours today than they did in the 1970s, when Burck wrote his piece.
    [Vanderkam would get an argument on this from Juliet Schor's The Overworked American.]
    The average hours worked per year have fallen from about 1,800 in 1972 to about 1,700 in 2011.
    [Part of this misleading impression is explained by the fact that a higher percentage of the workforce is working "part time," and a lower percentage is working "full time" but of those that are still working "full time," a higher percentage are working longer hours.]
    However, that figure declined twice as fast between 1953 and 1972. The slowing decline and comparisons to other countries with shorter work years (e.g. France) contribute to the perception that Americans toil away, even if the average workweek (34.2 hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) isn't that onerous.
    [Here's another part of her misleading impression. The BLS average workweek figures focus on wage workers in manufacturing and omit a large part of the workforce.]
    There is some evidence of bifurcation in the labor force, too [bingo!]. "Averages mask what's really happening [double bingo!]," says Brigid Schulte, a Washington Post reporter whose new book, Overwhelmed, discusses Americans' perception of time. One of the lingering woes of the recession is the high "U-6" number, a measure of unemployment that includes people working part-time when they'd prefer full-time work. Underemployed workers have lots of leisure -- but it's hard to enjoy it when you feel strapped.
    [It would be clearer to call this "idleness." "Leisure" implies financial security.]
    On the upper rungs of the income ladder, many believe that they are working ever-more hours. Goldman Sachs (GS), for instance, made headlines last fall with its new policy that bankers shouldn't work on weekends. Some of this, too, is potentially more perception than reality. An article in the June 2011 Monthly Labor Review that compared people's estimated workweeks with time diaries found that those claiming they work extreme hours (75 hours or more) were generally off by about 25 hours a week.
    Nonetheless, there is a leisure gap. One study found that highly educated (and generally higher-earning) men saw their leisure decline by 1.2 hours per week between 1985 and 2007, while lesser educated (and generally lower-earning) men saw their work hours rise by 2.5 hours per week.
    Since the lives of professionals dominate the cultural narrative, the popular perception is that Americans have no leisure time. "A lot of what is leisure is really in the eye of the beholder," says Schulte, and with people capable of checking in with work at any time, many professionals don't feel relaxed. "Gadgets have sort of polluted our time in a way," she says. "It's really fragmented in bits and pieces so it doesn't feel refreshing."
    To be sure, even with the decline in leisure, highly educated men still enjoyed 33.2 hours per week of free time in 2007. And according to the 2012 American Time Use Survey, Americans who work full-time still manage to watch 1.82 hours of TV on weekdays and 3.05 hours on weekends. That people might check email once during commercials doesn't change this.
    Still, Americans did not substitute leisure for income to the degree they might have. An average workweek of 34 hours is a far cry from the three-day week (24 hours) that some were predicting in 1970 when Burck wrote his article.
    This brings the story back to those sectors Burck claimed weren't going to achieve the same productivity gains. Americans are spending ever more on health care and education. Total health care spending rose from 4.6% of GDP in 1960 to 9.5% in 1985, and 16.4% in 2011. College costs have risen fivefold since 1985.
    Wages, on the other hand, have not grown as much. "The vast majority of people are not seeing income gains," notes David Rosnick, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. For many households, improvements "have been coming from introducing second workers. If that's how people are increasing their incomes, they're going to resist having their hours cut. That's the only reason they're making progress in the first place," he says. Having less money and more time is an option, but "if people are struggling to get by, that's not an appealing message to hear."
    Looking forward from 1970, Burck adopted a rueful tone about all this. Sure, things would be better in the U.S. than in the Soviet Union. But, "the unhappy fact is that not everybody can yet buy everything he needs, to say nothing of everything he wants. The U.S. is and will remain a 'scarcity' economy."
    [Maybe. But the historical lesson is, if anything, more available to and easy for the U.S. as it is to and for everyone else. And the smartest economies will proceed through something very much like our five-phase program as fast as they can, without waiting for the lead of the now-lagging USA. RIght now the smartest economies are in Europe, but not even they are fully aware of what they're doing right.]

4/08/2014 – 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. The Alternative-Workweek: Oasis Or Mirage? by Colin Calvert and John T. Lai, Fisher & Phillips LLP via Moncaq.com
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - California employers are acutely aware of the typical schedule worked by employees: eight hours a day, five days a week. As we have become accustomed to doing, California law generally requires employers to pay employees overtime wages for hours worked in excess of eight hours during any 24-hour period. But in many cases, limiting employees to working only eight hours a day is not the most convenient for either the employee or the Company. End of the story? Not so fast.
    California law provides a respite that allows employees to waive ordinary overtime requirements for less restrictive requirements when an employer properly adopts an alternative-workweek schedule. As with most areas of the California Labor Code, success is in the details. Failure to follow those details can result in catastrophic results for your company despite an employee's agreement, or even actual request, to work such an alternative-workweek schedule.
    The Basics
    California Labor Code section 511 allows employers to institute a regularly scheduled alternative-workweek under which employees may work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period, up to 10 or 12 hours per day (in limited cases), without an entitlement to overtime wages. Alternative-workweeks are available to employers whose employees fall within most wage orders, which govern how employers pay nonexempt employees.
    Wage Orders 15 and 16, which govern, respectively, wages for household occupations related to the care or maintenance of a private household, and wages for occupations related to construction, drilling, logging, and mining, do not provide for the election of an alternative workweek. Before pursuing an alternative-workweek election, it's critical to ensure that your employees are subject to an exemption for an alternative-workweek. Otherwise, you will be required to pay overtime even if employees agree to work the alternative schedule.
    So, what exactly do alternative-workweek schedules provide? The most basic understanding of an alternative-workweek is that it is an optional practice that grants employees desirable flexibility, and allows employers some scheduling flexibility with regard to overtime considerations.
    For example, under a properly implemented alternative-workweek, nonexempt employees could work four days a week for 10 hours each day, without the employer accruing any overtime liability (generally up to 10 hours per day or 40 hours per week). Another common variation allows employees to work a so-called 9/80, under which employees work a total of 80 hours during nine days of work in a two-week period, again without the employer accruing any overtime liability.
    Since an alternative-workweek schedule constitutes a waiver of ordinary overtime obligations, employees can work under such a schedule only after the employer complies with strict procedural requirements. Those who have become accustomed to dealing with California's labor laws will not find this surprising.
    If an employer does not follow the right procedures, the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement (DLSE) may invalidate the schedules, exposing the employer to overtime liability under the ordinary state overtime rules.
    [With a good economic core design, overtime is not a liability but a source of market-demanded new jobs.]
    Failure to properly implement an alternative-workweek can and does expose companies to crippling class-action lawsuits which often result in six-figure verdicts – or worse. Several procedural landmines will invalidate what would otherwise appear to be an acceptable alternative-workweek schedule.
    The Details
    All employees who will be affected by an employer's adoption of an alternative-workweek schedule must have an opportunity to vote on whether such a schedule should be adopted. The DLSE will consider whether the employer has adhered to the following four steps.
    First, all affected employees must receive written notice of the employer's intent to adopt an alternative-workweek schedule. The notice must sufficiently explain the alternative-workweek schedule to all the affected employees. If 5% of the affected employees primarily speak a language that is not English, the notice must be in that language as well. The notice must disclose to the affected employees how the proposed arrangement will affect their wages, hours, and benefits.
    It must also provide sufficiently advanced notification to employees of a meeting, for the sole purpose of discussing the impact of an alternative-workweek schedule, at least 14 days before employees vote. Failure to comply with this "cool-off" period could result in the schedule being invalidated.
    Second, acceptable alternative-workweek schedules generally may require no more than 10 hours per day and 40 hours per week from a single employee. The employer may propose a single acceptable alternative-workweek schedule on the notice, or can provide the affected employees a "menu of options," to the defined work unit (which is the voting unit). The work unit is defined as "a division, a department, a job classification, a shift, a separate physical location, or a recognized subdivision thereof." A work unit may consist of an individual employee, as long as the criteria for an identifiable work unit is met.
    If you choose to offer a menu of options to the affected employees, each employee is entitled to choose any of the options. If you ultimately adopt an alternative-workweek-schedule arrangement under a "menu of options" with your employees, employees may, with your permission, switch between the schedules (or from one option to another) listed on the menu of options on a weekly basis without conducting another election.
    But if employees wish to switch to a schedule not included on the original notice, then you will have to go through the election process again, so it's important to carefully construct the units of employees that you provide notice to.
    Third, the employees whose schedules will be changed to one of the schedules on the ballot if adopted, commonly referred to as the affected employees, must be allowed to participate in a secret-ballot election regarding the proposed schedule. Only the affected employees may vote in this election and at least 2/3 of the affected employees must vote in favor of an arrangement in order for it to be implemented. Exempt employees should not be included in this election.
    Affected employees who are members of the voting unit who do not cast a vote must be counted as a vote of "no." In addition, the election must be held at the employer's expense, during regular working hours, and at the worksite of the affected employees.
    Finally, the election results must be reported to the DLSE within 30 days after finalizing the results. The report will be a public document, and must contain the tally of the vote, the number of employees affected by the vote, and the nature of the employer's business. The report must be sent to the Department of Industrial Relations, and must note that the report pertains to Alternative Workweek Election Results.
    If you do not follow the election procedures outlined above, the DLSE may invalidate the election during a wage-hour audit and require the company to comply retroactively with ordinary overtime requirements during the workweeks when employees worked the alternative-work schedule.
    Always check with counsel because not all flaws in the election process or reporting requirement will necessarily invalidate an election, and the requirements for implementing such a schedule may vary somewhat among the Wage Orders.
    Limiting The Menu
    Employers who are genuinely interested in accommodating employees with an alternative-workweek schedule may provide employees with a menu of options in the notice, with the intent of allowing employees to pick the schedule that suits them best. This may be a mistake, because the business may not inherently permit employees to freely choose between schedules.
    Alternative-workweek schedules typically work best when an employee's schedule is fixed. When employees subject to an alternative-workweek schedule come in to work on days that they are not scheduled to work, they must be paid overtime for up to eight hours worked; after that they must be paid double time.
    Since 2009, the menu-of-options procedure has granted employees the flexibility to effectively opt-out of an alternative-workweek schedule without impacting other employees' ability to work on an alternative schedule. Employers can now include a regular eight-hour day, five-day a week schedule on the menu of options, leaving the overtime obligation unchanged as to employees who elect the regular eight-hour day schedule. This lower barrier to entry may make the menu-of-options approach more attractive; however, take care when employing this tool and communicate clearly to manage employee expectations.
    Repealing The Schedule
    If 1/3 of the affected employees petition to repeal any type of alternative-workweek schedule, the employer must hold a new secret-ballot election within 30 days of the petition. An election of this type cannot be held within 12 months of another election to adopt or repeal an alternative-workweek schedule. If 2/3 of the affected employees vote to repeal the alternative-workweek schedule, the ordinary work week schedule must be restored within 60 days. By contrast, an employer may dismantle an alternative-workweek schedule at any time without advance notice, although it is wise to provide some advance notice (at least one pay period).
    At The End Of The Day...
    Alternative-workweek schedules provide the opportunity to schedule longer uninterrupted shifts, flexibility in managing a staggered workforce, and increased productivity. Additionally, they provide employees the flexibility of a longer weekend. But it's important for employers to proactively address regulatory requirements before implementing.

  2. The Syllabus: Meltdown at St. Aug's (updated), by John Newsom, Greensboro News & Record (blog) via news-record.com
    RALEIGH, N.C., USA - A couple of months ago, St. Augustine's University in Raleigh announced that it would furlough employees over spring break because of an enrollment drop that stripped $3 million from its budget.
    [Furloughs, not firings; timesizing, not downsizing.]
    The university later called off the furloughs — it never really gave a reason — but its financial issues weren't apparently over. SACS started sniffing around right after the college announced the furloughs, and a contractor sued over $675,000 in overdue payments for work on the football stadium.
    Then heads started to roll. St. Aug's put its provost on leave in March amid questions about how the university sought a research grant. It fired its finance VP on Thursday. On Friday, President Dianne Boardley Suber announced she was quitting, too.
    As all of this was swirling, a freshman football player from Virginia died of unknown causes.
    What a mess. I hope St. Aug's can turn things around.
    Update, 11 a.m.: When St. Aug's President Dianne Suber said she planned to retire in May, she apparently didn't run that past the Board of Trustees. The board announced this morning that Suber is out as of right now.

4/06-07/2014 – 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. Roe Believes 'Full-Time' Work Week Should Be Re-Set At 40 Hours, Not 30, by Kristen Buckles, 4/06 (4/05 late pickup) GreenevilleSun.com
    GREENEVILLE, Tenn., USA - U.S. Rep Phil Roe was among the 230 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted in favor on Thursday of the Save American Workers Act.
    Congress.gov defines the bill as an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code's definition of a "full-time" employee as an employee working 30 hours or more per week.
    [This reminds everyone that "full time" is not an Act of God but changeable, and the Doom American Workers Act labels the GOP as flipfloppers since they championed shorter "full time" up to 1932 (Hoover cut the Post Office workweek from 48 to 44 hours to create thousands of jobs - see Hunnicutt) with a further flash of intelligence in 1956 when Nixon(!) proposed a 32-hour workweek on the stump in Pueblo CO till gagged by Ike.]
    The bill would instead set full-time employment as an average(?) 40 hours of work or more((??) per week. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 248-179.
    [Still 179 reps with a couple of gray cells to rub together.]

  2. Scranton firefighter overtime dropped, 4/07 Scranton Times-Tribune via thetimes-tribune.com
    [Sounds good, but actually it's going backwards -]
    SCRANTON, Penn., USA - The Scranton Fire Department overtime significantly dropped from record levels four years ago after a landmark state Supreme Court ruling allowed for a workweek extension and more flexibility in staffing, officials said.
    In past years, the city operated with a minimum number of firefighters per shift. But the landmark 2011 ruling instead allowed for a minimum number of firefighters per apparatus. That change, and the practice of temporarily closing, or "browning out," fire stations created more flexibility for shift staffing, said acting Fire Chief Patrick DeSarno.
    "We no longer have mandating (a minimum number of firefighters). We are free to brown out a company when we have to," Chief DeSarno said. "We will brown out a company before we call in overtime. That has cut down on overtime."
    [A temporary closing amounts to a furlough, though it's connection with overtime here is unclear. But there is also some very bad stuff going on here -]
    Another key aspect of the landmark ruling - extending the firefighter workweek from 42 to 48 hours - played a big role in reducing overtime. The city used a provision in an earlier arbitration case upheld by the landmark ruling, to extend the firefighter workweek from 42 to 48 hours and increase their pay proportionally, 14.3 percent. That led to overall less need for overtime.
    [This whole paragraph would seem to be illegal by the overtime section of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, starting with their straight time pay for the two above-40 hours, which should have been time&ahalf, of their previous 42-hour workweek. But the greater the labor surplus, the less employees have rights, and the less employees have rights, and that takes down human rights as well. Basically democracy depended on labor shortage to evolve, and the USA seems determined to prove that democracy depends on employer-perceived labor shortage to survive - see Dahlberg.]
    Fire union President John Judge disagrees that the extended workweek was the primary cause of the drop in overtime. He believes it came from permanent closures of Engine Company 15, covering the Hill Section, Bunker Hill and parts of the downtown, and Engine Company 9, covering North Scranton, parts of Green Ridge, Tripp Park, Keyser Valley, central city and West Side, which he said makes those areas less safe.
    "The savings is a result of permanent closures, but the safety of citizens suffers," Mr. Judge contended.
    Firefighter safety increased from the mandated minimum staffing of apparatus, he said.
    The Fire Department in 2013 had wages of $10,115,651 and, on top of that, overtime of $120,429. That overtime amount was 1 percent of the $10.1 million in wages.
    That was a far cry from the situation in 2010, when the Fire Department racked up nearly $1 million in overtime, which was more than double the amount budgeted and the highest amount in at least a decade. At that time, with minimum manning in place, the department called in a firefighter on overtime whenever one called off sick. The department in 2010 accrued $964,830 in overtime when only $400,000 was budgeted.
    In 2011, the administration used new schedules that eliminated minimum manning per shift, and used brownouts and some permanent station closures to reduce overtime dramatically. That year, the city budgeted $83,950 in firefighter overtime and spent only $9,744.
    But firefighters warned the city was essentially playing Russian roulette with spotty fire coverage.
    In spring 2012, the Fire Department had a slow response to a fire at a house in East Mountain, where the fire station had been closed. Immediately after that blaze, former Mayor Chris Doherty reopened the East Mountain firehouse.
    In 2012, the city budgeted $100,000 in firefighter overtime and spent $118,300.
    In 2013, the city budgeted $91,471 in firefighter overtime, and spent $102,429. Of that amount, $12,969 was reimbursed to by outside entities.
    Last year, eight firefighters each had overtime of more than $2,000, and the highest overtime of the Fire Department was $2,989. Overtime is offered and assigned based on seniority and a rotation list, said Chief DeSarno.
    For 2014, the city budgeted $50,000 in Fire Department overtime.
    Contact the writer: jlockwood@timesshamrock.com, @jlockwoodTT on Twitter.

4/05/2014 – 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. More firms adopt compressed work scheds, by Vito Barcelo, (4/06 12:01am, 2m early pickup) ManilaStandardToday.com
    MANILA, Philippines - More than 500 private establishments have adopted compressed work arrangements to cut costs and improve personnel productivity, according to the Labor Department.
    The compressed work week arrangement will give workers ample time for their family and keep off from heavy traffic caused by road re-blocking and other road works, said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
    Baldoz said at least 544 establishments have already implemented the compressed work week scheme after consultation and in agreement with their employees, and the number is rising.
    “They did this to cut cost in utility consumption, and more importantly, to provide their employees with additional rest and more time to spend with their families,” she said.
    The concept of a flexible work arrangement refers to alternative work arrangement or schedule other than the traditional, or standard, work hours, work days, and work week that aims to give employers and employees flexibility in fixing hours of work compatible with business requirements and the employees’ need for work-life balance, Baldoz said.
    DoLE Director Catherine Legados-Parado of the Bureau of Working Conditions said the most number of establishments that implemented the compressed work week scheme were in Metro Manila.
    The industries that adopted the scheme were the manufacturing industry, customer service/BPO, retail, and export trading.
    The compressed work week scheme is allowed under DOLE Advisory No. 4, Series of 2010, or the “Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements and the Exemption from the Night Work Prohibition for Women Employees in the Business Process Outsourcing Industry."

  2. Kansas University responds to graduate students about work hours, some still worried, by Ben Unglesbee, Lawrence Journal World via www2.ljworld.com
    LAWRENCE, Kans., USA - In March hundreds of Kansas University graduate students signed petitions asking administrators not to reduce their work hours at campus jobs, an option under consideration as the university determines how to comply with healthcare reform.
    The KU Provost’s office recently responded to graduate students and tried to ease their worries. Diane Goddard, the KU vice provost for administration and finance, issued a statement to graduate student assistants and employees welcoming their input, but many students are still worried about their future income.
    At issue is the number of hours that graduate students can work on campus. Currently most can work up to 30 hours a week at campus jobs, including assistantships, most of which are a 20-hour-per-week commitment.
    For some of those who work as graduate teaching or research assistants, the average pay of those jobs, between $15,000 and $16,000 for a nine-month appointment, is not enough to make ends meet. To supplement their income, many graduate students work second jobs at university services such as campus libraries and the KU Writing Center.
    But as the university looks at how to comply with the Affordable Care Act, those second jobs could be in jeopardy. Graduate students became alarmed after an email began circulating which contained language that appeared to be a proposed policy to limit graduate work hours to 20 per week.
    KU has said that the email did not amount to a new policy or policy proposal, but the idea is being considered as one way to adapt to the employer mandate to provide health insurance for employees working 30 hours a week or more.
    In her email to graduate student employees, Goddard thanked them for signing the petitions and said she was working with human resources to create “opportunities for graduate student employee input on this topic,” such as forums and focus groups. Goddard was unavailable for an interview for this story.
    She also pointed out that graduate students, regardless of the outcome, will still be offered health insurance. Currently graduate students are offered a health plan with a 75 percent university contribution. The plan satisfies the individual requirement to carry insurance under the healthcare reform law, but not the requirement for employers to provide group coverage to their full-time employees, said Gavin Young, a KU spokesman.
    Several factors complicate the issue, all of which are still being reviewed by the university. Young said KU still hasn’t determined how to apply the 30-hour-a-week definition of full-time work in the law to graduate student workers, nor has it calculated how many graduate students currently would be eligible for insurance under the law or how much providing insurance for them through the state employee plan would cost.
    ‘In limbo mode’
    Pantaleon Florez III, a master’s student in the School of Education and the graduate affairs director for KU’s Student Senate, had been active in organizing the petition signing and more recently has been talking with the provost’s office about the issue on behalf of graduate students.
    “I’ve been really pleased with the response from administration,” he said. Others he talked to have also said they were encouraged by Goddard’s statement, though some have said it sounded like “lip service.” For now, most students are waiting to see how the process goes forward and how they will be included in that process.
    “We’re just kind of still in that waiting limbo mode,” Florez said.
    Angela Murphy, a Ph.D. student in the English department, said of Goddard’s statement, “I do think that it addresses a lot of the concerns drawn up in the petition. I would be very interested to see when the conversation starts, because it hasn’t yet.”
    Murphy hopes she and others like her can hold on to their second jobs, which not only subsidize their income but also give them an opportunity to apply skills they’ve picked up as graduate students and throw their weight behind university services, she said.
    But many are pessimistic, even after the university’s response. “When you sit around the table at the end day and you say, ‘Did you see the email?’, the general consensus is: ‘I’m expecting the worst’,” Murphy said.

4/04/2014 – 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. Council approves agreement to give Naples firefighters raises, reduced workweeks, by Aisling Swift, (4/05 early pickup) Naples Daily News via McClatchy-Tribune via InsuranceNewsNet.com (press release)
    NAPLES, Fla., USA -- After nearly 4 1/2 years without raises, Naples firefighters will receive 2 percent to 8 percent increases -- a boost city officials hope will prevent other departments from luring them away.
    Naples City Council approved the three-year contract Wednesday after labor negotiations with the union hit an impasse due to battles over their pension, which was reduced 30 percent. The contract expired in September.
    "We don't want to lose them to another department," Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke told council, referring to employees hired in 2010 and 2011 getting 6 percent to 8 percent raises.
    The contract was approved 6-1, with Councilman Doug Finlay voting against, citing his objection to the addition of the Deferred Retirement Option Program, which enables them to collect 1.3 percent of their salaries for five years before retiring.
    The minimum yearly salary for the average 52-hour week increased from $39,956 to $40,755, and the maximum from $65,111 to $66,413; paramedics and driver-engineers earn more. For the first two years in October, they'll get a 2 percent raise, and 3 percent in 2016. Those at the salary cap will get a bonus, not a raise.
    "Some of them have not had a raise since 2009," Mayor John Sorey said Thursday. "We want to make sure if we put four years of training into these folks, they don't go to North Naples."
    Overtime was recalculated to reduce costs, and sick and vacation time was replaced with personal time off, reducing days off. "It will prevent any abuses," Reinke said, adding it mirrors other city contracts. "When we've done that, we've found people don't call in sick unless they're really sick."
    Other major changes include: reinstatement of full holiday pay; fire-related education reimbursement; employees paying 85 percent of health insurance; elimination of the step plan for pay increases; and reducing the number of days to file a grievance to seven from 15.
    The average workweek was reduced from 56 hours to 52, Reinke said, and overtime will decrease because employees won't be paid for "Kelly Days," a furlough after every 14 shifts that averages 8.8 days yearly. (Firefighters work a 24-hour shift, followed by 48 hours off.)
    In comparison, Marco Island firefighters work an average 48-hour workweek, 52 in North Naples, and 53 in East Naples and Golden Gatte.

  2. What Do Workers Value More Than Money? Not Much, Actually, by Chad Brooks, (4/03 late pickup) BusinessNewsDaily.com
    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA - What kind of job benefits do workers value more than money? Not much, actually.
    Workers value financial compensation much more than time away from work, with nearly 80 percent preferring a 5 percent raise over an extra week of paid vacation, according to a new study from the recruiting and placement firm Accounting Principals.
    The research shows that when it comes to job negotiations, employees are most likely to focus on money over any other perk. Specifically, 30 percent of those surveyed would negotiate for a higher salary, while 15 percent would seek a flexible schedule and 10 percent, additional time off.
    U.S. workers also aren't interested in giving up any of their salary to have a little extra time off each week. The study found that 85 percent of employees wouldn't forfeit any amount of their salary in order to shorten their work day by one hour, while 77 percent are unwilling to give up any amount of salary to have one day cut out of their workweek.
    "We are now more than five years after the recession began and while unemployment numbers continue to decrease, working Americans are clearly still feeling financially insecure," said Jodi Chavez, senior vice president for Accounting Principals. "For these hard workers, the value of that extra money in their pocket to help with bills or put toward savings far outweighs any other type of perk, such as more vacation time or a shorter workweek."
    Researchers attribute much of this thinking to the fact that many employees believe they are not fully feeling the benefit of extra money they've already received. While nearly 60 percent of American workers received a raise last year, only 16 percent think it improved their lifestyle.
    The study discovered that compared to their Gen X and baby boomer peers, millennials were the most likely generation to feel an improvement in their lifestyle from a raise.
    While money may be their driving force, there are some perks – those that would help them save time – that employees would enjoy. Specifically, 28 percent would like an onsite gym at their workplace, 13 percent want an onsite cafeteria, while 10 percent prefer onsite doctors or health services.
    "Workers may be ultimately choosing money over time, but they still highly value and prioritize what they do with their spare time," Chavez said. "Giving employees a few options for workplace perks that help them maximize their time between work and life will help keep them satisfied and motivated."
    The study was based on surveys of 1,024 employees over age 18.
    [If American workers really are choosing money over time based on surveys of only 1,024 of them, they are once again making the self-disempowering error they've been making at least since the 1930s. Labor's two main historic goals have been higher pay and shorter hours, and if they can only get one and it's higher pay, they wind up with neither because they're just getting an artificially higher price tacked on a commodity of which there's just the same amount on offer...their available workhours. But if they can only get one and it's shorter hours, they wind up with both because they're harnessing market forces to respond to a scarcer commodity of which there's a lesser amount on offer... If longer hours got you more pay systemically and sustainably, the megahour workers of the third world would be the highest paid workers in the world instead of the lowest. But at least there are minority percentages who see the light, and as the Good Book says, she'ar yashoov = a remnant shall return/survive.]

4/03/2014 – 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. ETI revises labour code clause on working hours, by Leonie Barrie, just-style.com
    BROMSGROVE, Worcs., UK - Workers in global supply chains should not be asked to work more than 60 hours per week, according to a revised clause in the labour code drawn up by an alliance of companies that includes Tesco, Asda, M&S, Next, New Look, Primark and Zara.
    The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) says the changes should make its labour code clearer to understand and implement - as well as helping companies better understand and uphold laws and international standards.
    The new wording makes clear that workers should be asked to work no more than 60 hours per week, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Predictable seasonal peaks are not classed as exceptional circumstances - but unexpected production peaks, accidents or emergencies are.
    It also makes it clear that overtime should be used responsibly with workers' wellbeing the first priority.
    Workers should receive an overtime premium that is 125% of their normal hourly wage. And they should have at least one day off in every seven days, no matter where in the world they work.
    The provision had previously said: "Workers shall not on a regular basis be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week. Overtime should not exceed 12 hours per week."
    "We recognise that some workers will want to increase their income by maximising their hours, particularly in low paid jobs," explains ETI director Peter McAllister.
    "But it is important that there are limits and that overtime is managed in accordance with laws and labour rights standards. Working excessive hours can reduce productivity and quality but more worryingly, it can increase the risk of accidents and cause health problems."
    The ETI Base Code is a nine-point code used by companies and suppliers around the world. Largely drawn from International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, it covers core workers'
    rights including health and safety, working hours and freedom of association.
    ETI is advising companies and suppliers to become familiar with the revised wording and start putting in place any necessary changes over the coming months. Audits will begin using the revised wording from December 2014.
    A suite of materials has also been put together to help companies plan how they will implement the revised working hours wording. This includes a video, an interpretation note, a guidance document and a half-day training course for UK-based companies and suppliers.
    An e-learning module is also being developed to support international companies and suppliers.

  2. 544 firms adopt flexible work week, by Tina G. Santos, Inquirer.net via newsinfo.inquirer.net
    MANILA, Philippines — More than 500 establishments voluntarily adopted flexible work arrangements, such as the compressed work week, in 2013 to improve business competitiveness and productivity, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
    [Here's hoping now they've flexed up, they'll lighten up and shorten the workweek, even just a little, like Bacoor below on 3/30-31 #3, "Bacoor goes on 4-day workweek to save energy."]
    Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that a total of 544 establishments implemented the compressed work week scheme after consultation and in agreement with their employees.
    Director Catherine Legados-Parado of the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) reported that the top five industries that adopted the scheme were the manufacturing industry, customer service/business process outsourcing, services, retail, and export trading.

4/02/2014 – News and opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still today an afterthought, though any economy that's still around 50 years from now will long since have made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed ) -

  1. Worksharing and Long-Term Unemployment, by Kevin A. Hassett & Michael R. Strain, Center on Budget & Policy Priorities(1) via PathToFullEmployment.org
    "Footnote" (1) CBPP.org, OffTheChartsBlog.org, 820 First Street NE, Suite 510,
    Washington, DC 20002, Tel: 202-408-1080, Fax: 202-408-1056

    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - The Great Recession was especially deep and especially long. The sustained departure of output from its trend path was accompanied by a large drop in employment, which stayed low relative to trend for an extended period as well. As this occurred, the percntage of workers who were long-term unemployed increased sharply. Even as the U.S. economy recovers, the painful legacy of the Great Recession lives on as these long-term unemployed workers continue to struggle to reconnect to society.
    In light of this, policymakers and economists must ask whether smart policy could have mitigated large employment losses and the high incidence of long-term unemployment. We believe the answer is yes, and that worksharing is such a policy. Under worksharing, a firm can reduce the hours of its workforce in lieu of a layoff, and workers whose hours have been reduced are eligible for a prorated unemployment insurance (UI) benefit. In this way, a firm can weather a temporary lull in demand by reducing its payroll costs without laying off large number of workers.
    In this paper we make three points. First, the impact of long-term unemployment on the lives of those affected is so significantly negative that addressing the issue should be a top priority for policymakers. Second, extended unemployment insurance benefits are an insufficient way to deal with unemployment, and additional policies are needed. Finally, an alternative reform of unemployment insurance [= worksharing] could reduce the risk that the next recession might lead to another surge in long-term unemployment, help keep some of the millions of workers who are laid off every year in their jobs, and in so doing help avoid the problem of “hysteresis” associated with long-term unemployment.
    I. The Impact of Long-Term Unemployment on American Workers
    A large and growing literature has explored the impact of unemployment for extended periods — generally defined as six months or longer — on the workers affected. A key finding is that there appears to be a nonlinear impact of unemployment spells on employability, with the harm from unemployment skyrocketing after some amount of time.(2) Given the heightened impact, one can only imagine the stress that individuals who have been out of work for more than six months begin to experience.
    (2) Rand Ghayad, “The Jobless Trap,” mimeo (2013).

    Higher levels of stress have long been known to have negative health consequences, and these consequences have been documented among the unemployed. Sullivan and von Wachter(3) find a 50 to 100 percent increase in death rates for older male workers in the years immediately following a job loss if the worker had previously been consistently employed. This higher mortality rate implies that a male worker displaced in midcareer can expect to live about 1.5 years less than a worker who keeps his job.
    (3) Daniel Sullivan and Till von Wachter, “Job Displacement and Mortality: An Analysis Using Administrative Data,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 124: 1265-1306, 2009.
    A number of factors contribute to findings such as this. A key one is suicide. Classen and Dunn(4) found that each proportional increase in the unemployment rate of 10 percent increases the suicide rate for males by about 1.5 percent. This is not a small effect. Assuming a link of that scale, the increase in unemployment experienced following the Great Recession would lead to hundreds of extra suicides per month in the United States. The picture for the long-term unemployed is especially disturbing. The duration of unemployment is the dominant force in the relationship between joblessness and the risk of suicide.
    (4) Timothy J. Classen and Richard A. Dunn, “The Effect of Job Loss and Unemployment Duration on Suicide Risk in the United States: A New Look Using Mass Layoffs and Unemployment Duration,” Health Economics 21: 338-50, 2012.
    Joblessness is also associated with serious illnesses, although the causal links are poorly understood. Lynge(5) found strong links between unemployment and cancer, with unemployed men facing a 25 percent higher risk of dying of the disease. Similarly higher risks have been found for heart attacks(6) and psychiatric problems.(7)
    (5) E. Lynge,“Unemployment and Cancer: A Literature Review,” in M. Kogevinas, N. Pearce, M. Susser, and P. Boffetta, eds., Social Inequalities and Cancer, IARC Scientific Publications No. 138, 1997.
    (6) Matthew E. Dupre et al., “The Cumulative Effect of Unemployment on Risks for Acute Myocardial Infarction,” Archives of Internal Medicine 172: 1731-3, 2012.
    (7) Sarah H. Wilson and G.M. Walker, “Unemployment and Health: A Review,” Public Health 107: 153-62, 1993.

    The physical and psychological consequences of unemployment are significant enough to affect family members. Charles and Stephens(8) found a large increase in the probability of divorce following either a husband or a wife’s job loss. Unemployment of parents also has a negative impact on the achievement of their children. Children whose fathers lose a job have almost 10 percent lower earnings as adults.(9)
    (8) Kerwin Kofi Charles and Melvin Stephens, “Job Displacement, Disability, and Divorce,” Journal of Labor Economics 22: 489-522, 2004.
    (9) Philip Oreopoulos, Marianne Page, and Ann Huff Stevens, “The Intergenerational Effects of Worker Displacement,” Journal of Labor Economics 26: 455, 2008.

    Clearly, there are few events in economic life that can rival the negative impact of long-term unemployment, and a primary focus of economic policy should be to ensure that as few workers as possible have to face it.
    II. Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Long-Term Unemployment
    During the Great Recession, UI benefits were extended to 99 weeks in some states. While the collapse of the economy was without a doubt the key factor increasing long-term unemployment, it is likely that extended benefits were also a cause of at least some of the increase, as unemployment benefits lower workers’ incentives to search for jobs or to take jobs that may not be a perfect fit. Meyer and Katz,(10) for example, used data from a large number of U.S. households to show that a potential increase of one week in unemployment benefits lengthened a spell of unemployment by about a fifth of a week. Extrapolating from their results, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that increasing unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 99 weeks — the increase in UI benefits since 2007 in some states — would on average lengthen a person’s time in unemployment by several months.
    (10) Lawrence Katz and Bruce D. Meyer, “The Impact of the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment,” Journal of Public Economics, 41: 45-72, 1990.
    More recent evidence from Rothstein(11) suggests that lengthened unemployment benefits in the Great Recession slightly lowered the probability that unemployed workers, especially the long-term unemployed, would exit unemployment. He estimates that UI benefits increased the overall unemployment rate between 0.1 and 0.5 percentage points — a very small amount relative to the overall increase in unemployment. Given Rothstein’s finding and the severity of the decline in aggregate demand following the financial cris is, perhaps 99 weeks was an essential and equitable response to the absence of job offers and did little to extend stays on the unemployment rolls.
    (11) Jesse Rothstein, “Unemployment Insurance and Job Search in the Great Recession,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 43: 143-213, 2011.
    As the economics profession continues to assess this, an interesting theoretical consideration for future research is the nonlinearity in the negative impact of unemployment spells beyond six months. If workers are aware of the nonlinearity, then as they approach the six-month mark they will become less choosy and take jobs, suggesting that extended benefits are not welfare decreasing, and that workers who remain unemployed beyond the six-month mark are unemployed not because of the incentive effects of extended benefits but because they couldn’t find a job due to the demand shortfall in the economy. If workers are behaving irrationally, on the other hand, and are not taking the threat of long-term unemployment into account, then extended benefits may be harmful by incentivizing myopic workers to hold out for too long.
    The academic literature may resolve this question eventually, but policy makers should not wait for the answer before deciding whether to supplement extended unemployment benefits with other policies. For now, a suggestive data point can be found in a simple international comparison. Figure 1 explores the relationship between weeks of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and the change in the share of unemployed workers who were unemployed for a year or longer between 2007 and 2012. The sample covers countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).(12) There is a clear, positive, statistically significant correlation: countries with longer-lasting unemployment benefits (on the right side of the figure) saw a significantly larger increase than other countries in the share of long-term unemployment.
    [Again, this is all starting at the wrong end, a maximum investment at a point of minimum return. Where are the jobs? Where is the demand? Where is the plan designed to run the economy on a surplus of jobs and business opportunities instead of a surplus of jobneeders?!]
    (12) Australia and New Zealand are omitted from the chart for lack of data. Belgium is not included because its UI benefits are unlimited in duration. Greece and Ireland are not in the sample because their employment situations were extreme outliers.
    Figure 1. Duration of UI Benefits and Change in the Share of Long-Term Unemployed
    *[graph (scan down)]
    Note: a similar pattern was found using months of UI benefits available in 2007.
    Source: OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Benefits and Wages Statistics.

    Of course, this evidence is suggestive at best, and a body of thorough empirical research must be marshalled to make any definitive statements about the effect of extended benefits on long-term unemployment during the Great Recession. But policymakers should be aware that there is a risk that extended benefits might induce individuals to stay unemployed longer, thus inadvertently separating them from the workforce in a manner that is difficult to reverse. Accordingly, it is appropriate to consider additional structures that provide benefits to workers without exacerbating the risks of entering long-term unemployment. In the next section we turn to one such structure that has much to recommend it.
    III. Worksharing in Theory
    Between January 2008 and December 2009, the United States lost about 8.7 million total non-farm jobs. Six years later, the labor market is still recovering, with an unemployment rate in February 2014 of 6.7 percent and the total number of jobs in the economy about 670,000 lower than at the high mark in January 2008. The number of workers unemployed for longer than 27 weeks currently stands at 3.8 million — much more than the 1.1 million in January 2007.(13) In the midst of this slow and tepid job market recovery, policies that can help the economy avoid such high levels of unemployment remain elusive.
    (13) U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic News Release, Table A-12, “Unemployed persons by duration of unemployment.”
    One tool that can help keep a lid on unemployment is worksharing. Worksharing can be thought of as redistributing labor hours among workers with the goal of reducing involuntary unemployment. The basic structure is reasonably simple, and easiest to understand through an example. Imagine a firm with 100 identically paid workers. The economy goes south, and the firm must cut 20 percent off its wage bill in order to stay open. Today, most firms would lay off 20 workers. Those 20 workers would then receive a weekly unemployment insurance benefit, financed by taxpayers.
    Under worksharing, the firm would not lay off any workers. Instead, the firm would tell every worker to stay home, without pay, on Friday. Each worker would then be eligible for 20 percent of a weekly UI benefit — proportional to the number of hours the worker is laid off, and financed by taxpayers. This UI benefit is often called short-time compensation. It can be thought of as a prorated UI benefit.
    A simple comparison of the two situations described above reveals the appeal of worksharing at the macroeconomic level. In both situations, the taxpayer is on the hook for the same amount of money. In both, the firm cuts its wage bill by the same amount and can afford to stay in business. But in today’s system 20 people lose their jobs, whereas under worksharing no one loses a job.
    There is reason to believe that this situation would be appealing to some U.S. companies, as some have tried to cut hours across their workforces in order to avoid layoffs in the past. In 2001, for example, Charles Schwab faced a severe revenue shortage relative to the year prior. In response, it encouraged its employees to take unpaid leave, even designating certain Fridays as voluntary days off. The same year, Accenture needed to trim its wage bill. Instead of using only layoffs, it offered some workers a partially paid sabbatical, wherein the company paid 20 percent of employees’ salaries and all their benefits, and let them keep a laptop, phone number, and email address as a way to stay connected to the firm.(14) Other firms have tried similar strategies to avoid layoffs,(15) though many such corporate policies didn’t survive the Great Recession. In the 51 years it operated before 2009, Enterprise Rent-A-Car didn’t lay off a single U.S. employee. The Great Recession broke the company’s streak.(16)
    (14) Wayne Cascio, Responsible Restructuring: Creative and Profitable Alternatives to Layoffs (San Francisco: Berreet-Koehler Publishers), 2002, cited in Kevin F. Hallock, Michael R. Strain, and Douglas Webber, “Job Loss and Effects on Firms and Workers,” in Cary Cooper, Alankrita Pandey, and James Quick, eds., Downsizing: Is Less Still More? (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press), 2012.
    (15) Cascio.
    (16) Cari Tuna, “No-Layoff Policies Crumble,” Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2008, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123004642728030105.

    These anecdotes suggest that there are times when firms experience a temporary lull in revenue or demand and do not want to resort to layoffs. The workers whom the company must lay off in order to stay afloat represent what economists call “inefficient separations” — the firm would be better off over the long term by keeping the workers in its employ.
    To get an intuitive sense of this, think about a small firm that buys certain types of used and broken medical equipment, fixes the equipment, and sells it back to hospitals. This firm has five or six employees: the owner of the firm, who handles client relations and sales and manages the shop; an administrative assistant; a warehouse manager, who keeps track of inventory and keeps the warehouse organized; and three repair techs, each of whom specializes in a certain class of medical equipment.
    A recession hits, orders fall significantly, and the manager won’t be able to meet payroll. But laying someone off means losing a lot of firm-specific expertise. No one else in the firm except the warehouse manager knows how to track inventory. No one except the tech who specializes in infusion pumps knows how to repair infusion pumps — and repairing them constitutes one-third of the firm’s annual revenue.
    More than that, everyone gets along. There’s good chemistry in the office, and morale is good because everyone enjoys each other’s company. That type of environment is worth som ething, and the owner is wary of killing morale through layoffs.
    These are specialized jobs, and laying someone off will eventually mean spending a lot of time (and thus money) interviewing candidates to find someone who is a good fit when things turn around. And even if the manager finds someone, the new hire will take six months to train — he or she will be a net loss for half a year. And what if the chemistry isn’t right? What if people start spending 70 minutes on lunch instead of 30 because the new guy hurts the group’s social dynamic?
    This firm would clearly be better off under worksharing than under traditional layoffs. It would avoid inefficient separations, hiring costs, and training costs if it could cut its wage bill through worksharing — and keep its existing workforce — rather than cut its wage bill through layoffs.
    There are three other reasons why worksharing might be preferable to traditional layoffs.
    The first is equity. Under layoffs, the pain of a recession is largely concentrated on the workers who lose their jobs. In our earlier example, the 20 workers who are laid off bear the entire brunt of the recession, while the 80 workers who keep their jobs carry on as before. Under worksharing, the negative effects of the demand slump are distributed across all 100 workers.
    The second is that worksharing may support aggregate demand by keeping more workers in the position of earning a decent paycheck. In our example, the amount of salary and UI benefits paid out are the same under both worksharing and traditional layoffs. But keeping all workers at 90 percent of their pre-recession earnings may do more to support aggregate demand than keeping 20 percent of workers at 50 percent of their pre-recession earnings (under UI) and keeping 80 percent of workers at 100 percent of their pre-recession earnings. This is because the stability introduced into the connection between the employee and the employer reduces the need for the worker to engage in “buffer stock” saving, something that has been shown to have a large negative impact on consumption during recessions.(17)
    (17) Christopher D Carroll. “The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2, 1992.
    The third reason is the most persuasive of the three: worksharing will help mitigate the problem of “hysteresis,” the name given to a situation in which cyclical economic downturns today affect the economy’s ability to produce output tomorrow. Many economists believe that hysteresis is a problem to one degree or another, and in the Great Recession the most likely causes of hysteresis can be found in the labor market: specifically, the reduced attachment to the labor market by workers who are or have been unemployed for six months or longer (the long-term unemployed).
    As discussed earlier, there is solid evidence that once workers have been unemployed for longer than six months firms will not interview them. The length of workers’ unemployment spells — and not other factors, even those relating to job-specific experience and skills — have been identified in careful studies as the cause of this inability to get a job interview. Furthermore, when you’ve been unemployed for that length of time your skills atrophy, making it even harder to get a job and to get your career going again once the economy picks up. Your professional network decays, adding to the challenge of finding a job. Non-market costs are borne, too: as discussed above, physical and mental health deteriorate, the probability of divorce increases. The children of the long-term unemployed bear scars as well, market and non-market.
    To the extent that worksharing can keep some workers in jobs and out of long-term unemployment, it can increase potential output even after the recession passes (to say no thing of helping American workers avoid terrible non-market outcomes). In this way, worksharing can add to gross domestic product (GDP), increasing labor demand and household incomes in addition to simply spreading the recession-caused pain around.
    In 1977 Canada experimented with worksharing by allowing workers whose firms had reduced their hoursto receive a prorated UI benefit for the day or so each week that they weren’t working for pay. A study of 24 firms that participated in the experiment found that employees generally favored the arrangement — they got an extra day off every week while losing only about 5 percent of their after-tax income. The study found that most employers also liked the arrangement, because they were able to avoid the costs associated with layoffs and hiring and training new workers.(18)
    (18) Frank Reid, “UI-Assisted Worksharing as an Alternative to Layoffs: The Canadian Experience,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 35: 319-29, 1982.
    Despite the intuitive appeal of these findings, worksharing is not widely practiced in the United States. This might imply the existence of revealed preferences against worksharing, at least to some degree, as worksharing is legal in about half the states. Or it might simply reflect the fact that firms are unaware of worksharing, or that business culture is inhospitable to it. It is important to explore why some firms may not want to engage in worksharing, and more generally why worksharing may be an unattractive policy.
    One reason is simple. In the example of our 100-worker firm, under traditional layoffs the 80 workers who survive the layoff earn 100 percent of their pre-recession income. Under worksharing, they earn less. (Probably about 90 percent of their pre-recession income, though that will vary.)
    A firm may be very concerned about imposing a 10 percent reduction in income across its workforce, because the firm’s best workers are likely the ones who will have the easiest time getting a job at another firm. And a 10 percent reduction in income may be enough to entice some of those workers to look for a job where they are [not!] partially laid off. In other words, a firm may not want to use worksharing out of fear that it will lose its best employees.
    Firms might also be concerned about productivity losses associated with having their workforce sitting at home three or four days a week. Assuming that there are fixed start-up and ramp-down costs in a given work week, spreading those costs over three or four days results in significantly less productivity than spreading them over five. Firms may rather incur the costs of inefficient separations, hiring, and retraining rather than incurring the productivity loss associated with worksharing.
    From a macroeconomic perspective, work sharing may be undesirable if it makes it harder for firms to lay off workers.
    [And the macroeconomic objection to that would be ???]
    Depending on how prevalent it becomes, worksharing may push the labor market a bit toward a “dual labor market,” wherein some workers have jobs that are protected from the damage of cyclical downturns while other workers have temp jobs and bear all the brunt of recessions.
    [But as mentioned above, this dual labor market effect is more pronounced under layoffs than worksharing. One of the great unmentioned-here values of worksharing is keeping the workforce together and working (ever heard of "team" and "teamwork"?) instead of raising stress and guilt levels by seeing a few others "take the whole spear" for you.]
    France, for example, has two types of labor contracts that mirror these characterizations, with the first tier of workers relatively hard to lay off and the second tier relatively easy. If worksharing is the norm, then the negative signaling effect of being laid off might be much higher, imposing a cost on workers who do get laid off. In general, the amount of churn in the labor market may slow, with the U.S. labor market taking on some of the features of the more stiff labor markets of Europe, including higher baseline levels of unemployment. Of course, worksharing would have to be significantly more common than it is likely to be for this to be a major concern, but it is something at least to consider when thinking about the relative merits of worksharing.
    [This problem is completely offset when bandaid worksharing that expects and requires a recovery is upgraded to sustainable timesizing, that maintains and increases employment under any circumstances by providing a macro safety net of grassroots&upward job creation based on automatically converting corporate overtime and individual overwork (gross overtime for multijob individuals) into training and hiring. In fact, if a dread easy-to-layoff second tier does appear, its members may actually develop a certain enviable cachet like frontiersmen vs. citydwellers, or even ranchers vs. farmers.]
    Finally, recessions provide a long-run economic benefit by allowing firms the opportunity to “reoptimize” — to better organize the way they produce goods and services in light of changes in the economy’s tastes and technologies. Layoffs are an important part of this process; the economy cannot reallocate its human resources to their most productive ends without taking some workers who are employed by company A and moving them to company B. In this way, layoffs induce short-term pain for long-term benefit.
    [But when tolerated as a standard practice, induce short-term pain on the micro level of the company, cumulative LT pain on the macro level which boomerangs back against the micro level, and increasing LT pain for the ex-employee.] Worksharing, by reducing layoffs, may reduce the economy’s ability to engage in this crucial [ie: damaging] process.
    IV. Worksharing in Practice
    While worksharing may help to stem employment losses during a downturn, policies that cap working hours in order to stimulate an increase in hiring may not be effective at shifting employment to new hires. Starting in the mid-1980s, unions in West Germany began instituting reductions in standard work hours for members in an effort to increase employment in their industries. Hunt(19) investigated this phenomenon, and found that lowering standard hours did not actually stimulate more hiring but may have reduced employment among men. In a similar effort, the Canadian province of Quebec lowered its standard work week to 40 hours from 44 between 1997 and 2000, but it experienced a similar lack of improvement in employment. Skuterud(20) examined labor market data from the province after the reduction in work hours went into effect, and found no increase in employment at either a provincial or industry level.
    (19) Jennifer Hunt, “Has Work-Sharing Worked in Germany?” Quarterly Journal of Economics 144: 117-48, 1999.
    (20) Mikal Skuterud, “Identifying the Potential of Work-Sharing as a Job-Creation Strategy,” Journal of Labor Economics 25: 265-87, 2007.

    Worksharing programs put into place to stem employment losses in recessions differ in form and goal from these hour-capping programs, and there is reason to believe they may be effective in practice. While some worksharing programs were in place in the United States during the Great Recession, they were utilized little and not widely known. In Germany, however, worksharing has been a prominent program for several years, and we may be able to gain some insight into the program’s potential from Germany’s experience.
    A form of the German worksharing program, called Kurzarbeit, or “short-work,” has been used for almost a century, and the policy was strengthened in the latter half of the 20th century.(21) Worksharing was heavily used during the years following German reunification in the 1990s to try to stem job losses amidst the restructuring of the German economy. After the mid-1990s the worksharing program was little used, but beginning around August2008, in the midst of the financial crisis and the recession, participation rose sharply.(22)
    (21) Megan Felter, “Short-Time Compensation: Is Germany’s Success With Kurzarbeit an Answer to U.S. Unemployment?” Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 35: 481-509, 2012.
    (22) Andreas Crimmann, Frank Wiessner, and Lutz Bellmann,“The German Work-SharingScheme: An Instrument for the Crisis,” International Labor Organization, Conditions of Work and Employment Series 25:1-40, 2010.

    Germany’s worksharing program is administered between establishments or the local works council on the one side and an employment agency on the other. Either an establishment or a works council can request that worksharing for economic reasons be initiated. In order to qualify, a company must show that other measures have already been tried (such as limiting overtime) and were not sufficient. Then companies submit estimates for the extent of worksharing to the local employment agency. In Germany, the proportion of unemployment insurance benefits that workers qualify for under worksharing is given directly to the company, which pays them out to workers based on the actual reduction in their working...
    [lacuna (gap)]
    ...unemployment in Germany. An OECD study of the employment effects of worksharing on workers with permanent employment contracts between 2008 and 2009(27) showed that the short-time work program in Germany had one of the largest impacts on employment of any of the 16 countries in the sample with programs.
    (27) Alexander Hijzen and Danielle Venn, “The Role of Short-Time Work Schemes During the 2008-09 Recession,” OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 115, 2011.
    Figure 2B. Unemployment Rate, 2007-12, Germany,
    United States, and European Union
    *[graph (scan way down past blank page{s})]
    Source: World Bank Group, World Development Indicators, Indicator Code SL.UEM.TOTL.ZS.

    As mentioned previously, worksharing programs exist in the United States, but they are little publicized and are under-utilized. Programs are available only in certain states (27 including the District of Columbia as of November 2013), and only 314,000 workers utilized the program during its peak in 2010(28) — less than a quarter of the participants of Germany though the U.S. labor force is almost four times larger. Program participation varied widely among states during the Great Recession: 15.9 percent of initial unemployment insurance claims in Rhode Island in 2009 were for worksharing program participants, compared to only 0.8 percent of initial claims in Florida.(29)
    (28) Alison M. Shelton, “Compensated Work Sharing Agreements (Short Time Compensation) as an Alternative to Layoffs,” Congressional Research Service Report R40689, 2012. (29) Shelton.
    Work sharing programs have existed in the United States for several decades, and have been authorized on a federal level as well, first in a temporary bill passed in 1982, and then in a permanent authorization passed in 1992. Though the federal government has authorized the use of unemployment insurance funds for worksharing programs, the states have historically determined the structure of their own programs and administered them on a state level. The federal government became more involved in worksharing with the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created a more precise definition of worksharing; provides for complete reimbursement of worksharing benefit costs paid by the states until August 2015; establishes an optional temporary federal worksharing program, which lasts until May 2014, that would be financed in part by the government and in part by participating employers; and provides for $100 million in grants to states whose permanent worksharing programs meet the new federal definitions and whose grant applications are submitted by December 2014.(30)
    (30) U.S. Department of Labor, “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 Short-Time Compensation Fact Sheet,” http://www.ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/pdf/Factsheet_STC.pdf.
    During the recession, Rhode Island’s program showed some promise. The 15.9 percent of new unemployment insurance claimsthat were for worksharing participants was well above the average for states with programs, and Rhode Island’s labor department estimated that the program kept the state unemployment rate down and saved about 9,500 jobs between 2009 and 2010.(31) Other states could look to Rhode Island’s success with publicizing the program and achieving high participation during the recession to improve their own programs.
    (31) Justin Lahart, “Cutting Hours Instead of Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204517204577046371607150502.
    V. Policy Recommendation and Conclusion
    To advance worksharing as a viable policy option, it must be made easier for firms to use, business culture must become more open to it, and states must be further incentivized.
    Currently, in states that have worksharing programs an employer must file a plan with the state government to reduce hours in lieu of laying off workers. The plan must be approved, and firms are held to it; firms must submit new plans whenever they want to deviate from their existing plans. Workers who have their hours reduced then file a claim for short-time compensation. This procedure obviously imposes constraints on firms, and worksharing should be reformed to give firms more flexibility over which workers are covered and the extent to which workers’ hours are reduced.
    In addition to making worksharing less bureaucratically cumbersome, business culture must be changed so that worksharing seems less foreign. This would involve a public relations campaign involving governors and labor market officials, as well as chief executive officers who have used worksharing in the past. Government officials must use the bully pulpit so that firms know worksharing exists and feel comfortable using it as an alternative to layoffs.
    Finally, states must be incentivized to set up worksharing programs. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 has such incentives, but many are expiring and should be renewed. And the federal government should also go further than the 2012 act. A lesson in how to proceed can be gleaned from President Reagan:
    In 1984, Congress passed the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which reduced a state’s federal highway funds by 5 percent if it did not adopt a legal drinking age of 21. The act was upheld by the Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Dole,(32) and suggests one way in which the federal government may be able to more strongly encourage states to adopt worksharing laws.
    The damage caused by long-term unemployment is severe, inflicting high economic and human costs. Our current suite of policies is not up to the challenge of keeping a lid on the prevalence of long spells of unemployment. Other policies must be implemented, and worksharing should be at the top of the list.
    (32) South Dakota v. Dole, , 483 U.S. 203. 1987.
    Kevin A. Hassett is the State Farm James Q. Wilson senior fellow and director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar in economic policy studies at AEI. Our email addresses are khassett@aei.org and michael.strain@aei.org. We thank Emma Bennett and Regan Kuchan for excellent research assistance.

  2. Youngstown State reaps $200000 in savings from employee voluntary concessions, by Timothy Magaw, Crain's Cleveland Business via crainscleveland.com
    YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, USA - Employees at the financially stressed Youngstown State University have volunteered concessions amounting to more than $200,000 in savings.
    The university asked employees to help with its budget challenges by voluntarily signing up for unpaid furlough days and forfeiting vacation days, according to a Youngstown State news release. In all, 128 employees agreed to 930 unpaid furlough days and 3,555 hours of forfeited vacation for a total of $203,198 in savings.
    The voluntary furlough and vacation forfeitures were part of a larger plan announced by the university last fall to address a $6.6 million budget deficit.
    “I commend all of you for stepping forward during these difficult times and taking part in this important effort,” said Sudershan K. Garg, chair of the Youngstown State board of trustees, in a release. “It truly is a reflection of your dedication to your job, your colleagues and to the institution as a whole.”
    [Furloughs, not firings. Hourscuts, not jobcuts. Timesizing, not downsizing. We'll never get growth (UPsizing) by downsizing.]
    Youngstown State is searching for a permanent president after its most recent leader, Randy Dunn, left after less than a year on the job for the presidential post at Southern Illinois University. Ikram Khawaja, the university's provost and vice president for academic affairs, is serving at Youngstown State's president in an interim capacity.

  3. Obama: Democrats ‘Should Be Proud’ of Obamacare Canceling Plans, Cutting Hours and Losing [Preferred] Doctors, by David Rutz, Washington Free Beacon via freebeacon.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - President Obama, trumpeting the 7.1 million “enrollees” in Obamacare Tuesday in the Rose Garden, told his fellow Democrats like Dick Durbin and Nancy Pelosi that they “should be proud of what they’ve done” to pass the Affordable Care Act.
    Presumably, he means they should be bursting with pride at their part in raising premiums, cutting workers’ hours, forcing layoffs, canceling plans and Americans losing their preferred doctors.
    [Far from forcing layoffs, cutting workers' hours prevents layoffs, cancels plans for "leansizing" and forces hiring. And if some are losing their preferred doctors, it's a small price to pay for the millions who now have health insurance who didn't before. And as to raising premiums, granted Obamacare has lots of weaknesses, but it is an imperfect compromise toward the single-payer systems that every other developed economy has, a compromise forced by blinded-with-anger commentators like Rutz whom concentrated media ownership has tricked into advocating against their own and their readers' interests.]
    It’s a great day to be a Democrat.
    [Both parties are pathetic, but the GOP today would make Lincoln vomit.]

4/01/2014 – 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. Fighting Obamacare's 30-hour work week: 'Even the French' work 35 hours, by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner
    WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Critics of Obamacare's regulation that just 30 hours amounts to a full-time job are launching a last-ditch effort to convince Democrats to help pass a change to restore the traditional 40-hour work week as the marker of a full-time job worthy of the insurance benefit.
    “I always understood,” said Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., sponsor of the legislation, “that 40 hours was the standard work week.”
    [That's right, Todd! Moses brought it down from Mt. Sinai in 1200 BC, from God's mouth to your ear! Actually that was more like the 6x12= 72-hour workweek. How about we go back to that and really get some long-term unemployed!]
    What’s more, he said, “even the French have a 35-hour work week and they’re considering increasing it.”
    [On the other hand, even the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate passed a 30-hour work week in 1933.]
    Young has about 10 Democratic co-sponsors to his legislation, the "Save American Workers (SAW) Act."
    [Veni, vidi, victum sum = I came, I SAW, I was conquered. Save American workers (SAW) - except for all the new American disemployed they will then have to support because with an obsolete pre-robotics 40-hour workweek they've grabbed more than their share of America's most precious vanishing resource in the robotics age = natural market-demanded human employment - so let's SAW indeed and we'll saw the economy in two! - unless they want to try the St. Paul's Starvation Plan (SPSP, 2 Thess. 3:10) for eliminating unemployment: "If any would not work, neither shall he eat," in which case they get a problem on the other end = no consumers. But there are more and more and more who would work...if there were jobs.]
    He told Secrets that he is working to win even more in time for an expected Thursday House floor vote.
    “My expectation is that it will pass,” he said, “and that there will be bipartisan support to a significant degree.” Young said that several other Democrats have “approached me and indicated that they weren’t comfortable co-sponsoring but that if it came to the floor, they were likely to be supportive.”
    He added, “I wish there were more Democrats who were more willing to just admit that this legislation — passed in a partisan fashion, compiled behind closed doors, and rushed through our Congress — is sub-optimal.”
    [Hey, they learned from Republican example during eight years of Bush Jr.]
    Many businesses, especially small businesses, have said the 30-hour rule will require them to cut full-time workers and part-time hours to avoid the added expenses of funding Obamacare. Proponents of the 40-hour change claim it will help save jobs and hours for workers.
    There is some bipartisan support for the change in the Senate, and Young said he hoped House passage would spark momentum for action in the upper chamber.
    The SAW Act marks a shift in the GOP’s strategy, from repealing Obamacare to repealing and replacing controversial elements.
    Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.

  2. Post Office Hour Cuts Upset A Growing Town, ValleyNewsLive.com
    HORACE, N.D., USA - It is about to get tricky for customers in Horace to mail their packages and get stamps. Their post office retail window will go from being open 8 hours a day to only being open for 6 hours a day. It's part of a bigger trend that's been happening in rural towns across the country.
    The Horace post office serves the communities of Oxbow, Wildrice, and Hickson or about 1,400 people and some of these communities are on the grow. That is why the group "Concerned Citizens of 58047" are upset that their post office will be reducing their hours this year.
    "The big slogan in town is invest in the valley, invest in your community. We believe it strongly, the post office is a big facet to what we do with our business. We need the availability to go there during business hours," says John Koerselman, a business owner in Horace.
    The reduced hours will have a huge impact on the towns business. They would be forced to drive 20 minutes to west Fargo to mail an item or wait until the next day.
    "You're going to spend more money to drive into town on the gas and the inconvenience now...it is really quick to stay right here and take care of things," says Patrice Koerselman, Member of the Concerned Citizen 58047.
    Two thirds of the 13,000 rural post offices nationwide have had their retail window hours already reduced. The rest of the post offices are expected to see their hours reduced by September of this year.
    "Our goal is to keep things as they are,not add to it. Just keep it so our local businesses and residents are not effect in any way," says Kim Thorsteinson, Founding Member of the Concerned Citizen 58047.
    The other towns nearby like Kindred and Walcot have had their hours already reduced. About 130 post offices in the valley will have had their hours reduced by the end of this year.
    The Concerned Citizens of 58047 want their fellow community members to know about the upcoming change and are asking those effected to contact their Senators and Representative.

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

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