Study: Affordable Care Act does not affect part-time employment, by Melanie Anzidei, The Record via northjersey.com
ROSELAND, N.J., USA - The Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, has had little or no impact on employers' hiring plans, a recent study by ADP Research Institute found.
The Roseland-based institute expected employers to change their hiring practices in order to adjust to new provisions of the ACA, which requires companies with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees to offer health coverage to those workers. However, the study indicated little to no change in the number of workers at companies in three hourly categories – fewer than 30 hours, 30 to 34 hours and more than 34 hours – since the implementation of the health care act.
The study was released ahead of the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling Thursday that upheld the nationwide tax subsidies underpinning President Obama's health care plan.
ADP said in a release that industry observers expected hiring practices to change because employers could benefit from decreasing or raising the weekly hours an employee worked. For example, by restricting an employee to fewer than 30 hours per week, an employee can avoid offering health coverage [and paying ACA premiums]. If employers increased employees' weekly hours to 35 or more, that employer could maximize labor, said ADP.
"The impact of the ACA cannot be considered in isolation from broader economic and demographic changes," said Christopher Ryan, vice president of Strategic Advisory Services at ADP, in a statement. "The growing strength of the economy, in addition to the supply and demand of talent, is likely to heavily influence workforce decisions."
The study, dubbed "The Affordable Care Act and Economics of the Part-Time Workforce," used aggregated and anonymous data from about 75,000 U.S.-based companies from various industries as well as payroll data from 2013 and 2014.
Across comparable quarters, [employees] working fewer than 30 hours per week continued to account for 13 percent of U.S. workers, while employees working 30 to 34 hours continued to account for 4 percent. Those who worked 35 hours or more remained steady at 82 percent, the report found.
Altogether, the study surveyed about 10 million active hourly employees from the 50 states that work for organizations with 50 or more employees.
Michele Siekerka, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said the larger companies "were probably already providing health care" to their employees. "They wouldn't have felt the pinch of the Affordable Care Act," she said.
According to the 2014 NJBIA health benefits report, which surveyed its members, most companies said they had no plans of dropping coverage – despite related costs that could affect their bottom lines.
This article includes material from The Associated Press. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @melanieanzidei
6/25/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- How national culture determines work hours, by Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View via Mt. Vernon Register News via register-news.com
BERLIN, Germany - Why do people in some countries work more hours? The most common explanations have to do with labor regulations and taxes, but anyone who travels frequently will notice that work and leisure are valued differently in different places. If this sounds like prejudice, consider the findings of two U.S.-based economists in a new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In that paper, Naci Mocan and Luiza Pogorelova, both of Louisiana State University, show that among European nations, a "culture of leisure" is an important determinant of how much people work.
In 2004 [at Carnegie-Mellon U.], Edward Prescott, who was awarded the Nobel prize that year, showed that the higher the effective marginal tax rate on labor income -- that is, the share of each next dollar earned that the government chooses to redistribute -- the fewer hours people put in. Importantly, the tax rate in this equation includes the employer's part, and companies, too, are less interested in getting more work out of people if they have to give up more of the resulting income.
The finding was unexpected even to Prescott himself. "I am surprised," he wrote, "that virtually all the large differences between the U.S. labor supply and those of Germany and France are due to differences in tax systems. I expected institutional constraints on the operation of labor markets and the nature of the unemployment benefit system to be of major importance."
Because of its simplicity, Prescott's conclusion has often been challenged. Olivier Blanchard, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, wrote a paper in 2006 showing that the tax theory didn't always explain labor supply variations: There was too much complexity.
Mocan and Pogorelova's work focuses on the differences among European countries, based on recent statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and they confirm the link between tax rates and work. For example, Belgians, burdened with a marginal tax rate of 57 percent, worked an average of 989 hours in 2012; the Portuguese, with a 41 percent tax rate, worked 1,237 hours.
The researchers, however, managed to isolate something else in the complex web of motives that determines how much people work: Attitudes toward work and leisure. To do so, they used an ingenious device: a sample of 7,000 second-generation immigrants living and working in 26 European countries. These people are in the same tax and regulatory environments as native-born workers, but they are likely to be "infected" with their parents' attitudes toward work and leisure, imported from their home countries.
Mocan and Pogorelova relied on the data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study, which has asked people in many countries about these attitudes over the years, with questions such as: "Indicate how important leisure time is in your life," "Do you agree with the statement: People who won't work turn lazy?", "Do you agree that work should always come first even if it means less spare time." Comparing the difference in these attitudes and the difference in hours worked between the second-generation immigrants and the native-born workers, Mocan and Pogorelova found a statistically valid relationship between "leisure cultures" and the hours people put in at work.
For example, if Belgians' taste for leisure was brought down to the level of the Portuguese, the number of hours worked in Belgium would increase by 4 percent.
"Leisure culture" has a smaller effect than taxes on people's desire to work more than taxes, in part because the effect varies significantly for men and women, Mocan and Pogorelova determined. Apparently, men respond more strongly to financial stimulus, while for women, the rest of their lives are no less important.
Mocan and Pogorelova's findings add a dimension to the way policy makers should approach growth. Giving people tax incentives to work more will probably help, but only until these incentives run into cultural obstacles. The number of hours worked will stop growing at some point simply because people value their leisure too much. Then, the economy can only grow faster if the population increases, if workers become more productive, or both.
In countries such as France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, where productivity is 93 percent to 96 percent of the U.S. level and immigration is lower, economic growth is naturally slower because of the cultural constraint. That's fine: Going faster would hardly make people happier.
Leonid Bershidsky, a Bloomberg View contributor, is a Berlin-based writer.
- Short-time work for 90 employees of the Meissen Porcelain Factory, DNN online via dnn-online.de
[Translation by Google Translate & cleanup by Phil Hyde.]
MEISSEN, Germany - In the Meissen State Porcelain Factory a part of the workforce is to go on short time. About 90 employees will be affected in the near future, a company spokesperson said on Thursday.
Previously, the "Sächsische Zeitung" [Saxony Journal] had reported on this. According to the newspaper, CEO Tillmann Blaschke had announced short-time working at a staff meeting on Tuesday.
On its website the Porcelain Factory spoke of "optimization measures" in production, especially in the areas of "table and plate," capacity is to be "slightly reduced."
Blaschke has been leading the manufacturing business since the departure of Christian Kurtzke in March.
In early 2010, already about one-third of the employees of the Porcelain Factory were in short-time working in the wake of the economic crisis.
[Better short-time working than long-time idling, worksharing than layoffs, timesizing than downsizing!]
The company currently has 650 employees.
6/24/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Leaders catching on to four-day work weeks, Human Resource Management Online via HRMonline.ca
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - For an increasing amount of companies, four-day work weeks have become standard practice – particularly during the summer months – but is a compressed schedule something you should consider? These advocates think so.
Quality over quantity
“Better work gets done in four days than in five,” says Basecamp CEO Jason Fried. “When there’s less time to work, you waste less time.”
The software company shifts to a 32-hour work week from May through to October – giving employees the chance to spend long weekends with their families without taking time off.
Fried told the New York Times that the system helps employees make the most of their time – both in the office and at home.
“When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important,” he said. “Constraining time encourages quality time.”
Absenteeism and engagement
When the City [uh, that would be State] of Utah moved to a four-day work week, absenteeism dropped by 9 per cent – bosses were sure it was because employees no longer needed to use work time for errands and appointments.
Recruitment and retention
Crystal Dunlop is the HRD of accounting firm RLB – she says adopting a flex-time policy was essential if her organization wanted to stay head, in terms of talent.
“We realised that we had to move away from a traditional approach if we wanted to attract and retain top talent,” she told HRM.
“When you look at benefits or work arrangements, you can’t have a one size fits all approach,” she explained.
The key to a successful flexible policy, says Dunlop, is communication – especially with employees who lean towards traditional working structures.
“We talk a lot about working smarter not harder,” she said. “A lot of communication was needed, especially with our partners. They’d come in 6am and stay until midnight so we talked about gaining the skills and abilities to be able to do not putting in the time."
- Telangana govt allows shops to stay open year round - The conditions include giving employees a weekly off and restricting work hours to 8 hours a day and no more than 48 hours a week, by Viswanath Pilla, Hindustani Times via livemint.com
HYDERABAD, Telangana State, India - The Telangana government on Wednesday allowed brick-and-mortar retail outlets to remain open on all days to increase business activity and make shopping more convenient for consumers.
The existing law stipulates closure of all shops on Sunday, except essential services like chemists and hospitals.
“The government, after careful examination of the matter, decided to permit all shops and establishments to stay open all 365 days of the year in Telangana state for a period of one year, subject to conditions,” the notification said.
The conditions include giving employees a weekly [day] off and restricting work hours to 8 hours a day and no more than 48 hours a week.
[Phil Hyde welcomes Hyde-rabad to the workweek of the 1920s in the advanced world.]
The working hours of shops will be between 9 am and 11 pm.
Retailers have welcomed the government’s decision.
Fearing loss of business, many retailers remained open on Sunday and had to pay penalties up to Rs.3,000 to the government, said Ghanshyam Bhati, president of the Hyderabad Kirana Merchants’ Association (HKMA), with a membership of 600 merchants across Hyderabad.
Many retailers, who couldn’t afford to pay penalties, bribed labour department officials to keep their shops open. “The (government) decision will remove unnecessary harassment,” Bhati said.
“The exemption from weekly closure will not only be beneficial for retailers to achieve their true potential but will also offer consumers the luxury of 365 days of shopping,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, chief executive officer of the Retailers Association of India, in a statement.
“In addition, this decision will also help the state economy by creating more employment in the sector,” he said.
6/23/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- Island Offshore reduces work hours for shore-based staff, by Grant Rowles, Splash24/7 via splash247.com
OSLO, Norway - Norwegian offshore vessel operator Island Offshore has said that it will be reducing the working hours of all office employees at its Ulsteinvik head office effective August 1.
The move comes as the company looks to further reduce costs. In a statement, it said the reduction would “mitigate the implications of the weak offshore market.” The company has already laid up vessels, as well as delayed new builds, and says that with the reduction in staff working hours it has chosen a collective solution to avoid lay-offs and dismissals.
Håvard Ulstein, managing director of Island Offshore Management, commented “It is important to us to stand together in this. This way we also retain the significant competence we have built up over time. We know that we are asking for a lot of our employees, hence it is very nice to see that everyone support this solution.” says.
Staff working hours will be reduced with 10% and subject to continuous assessment, the company said.
Author: Grant Rowles - Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd's List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrade’s Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.
- Royal Croquet Club to have opening hours cut and lockout brought forward, by Anthony Templeton, The Advertiser via CourierMail.com.au
ADELAIDE, Australia - Negotiations between the Royal Croquet Club and Adelaide City Council will begin to ensure the popular Fringe venue [annual Fringe festival] returns next year but its hours of operation will be reduced and lockout brought forward.
Other restrictions on the Royal Croquet Club (RCC) include reducing its trading hours [different from hours of operation?] to 1am [from 2am? 3am?] on weekends, banning loud music past 12am, introducing a midnight lockout [=no further patrons?], mandating public access to part of Victoria Square during the day and making aesthetic improvements to the fencing.
The new restrictions on the Club’s operations were passed by the Economic and Community Development Committee on Tuesday, after the event had attracted criticism about its impact on bricks-and-mortar venues [=neighbouring businesses?- implying that the RCC is a temporary structure in the middle of a public square] and damaging the Square.
Councillor Alex Antic, who proposed the changes, said they were designed to get the balance right between supporting the event and addressing community concerns.
“I think this is a pretty sensible compromise position that addresses a number of the issues and concerns in the community (about the Royal Croquet Club),” Mr Antic said.
RCC co-director Tom Skipper said the event would comply with the new restrictions if similar measures were introduced to other Fringe-related pop up venues, such as the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony.
“It would be really unfair to single out one event,” he said.
“Any review (of operations) should extend to all outdoor events in the festival season.”
Mr Skipper said the event contributed about $6 million in economic activity but only broke even last year.
“It costs a lot of money to put on something like this,” he said.
He said the cost of providing free entertainment for patrons was more than $100,000 over the five weeks it ran.
The Club attracted 210,000 punters through the gates including 70,000 people to watch Fringe shows.
Adelaide Fringe director Heather Croall said the RCC was essential to the ongoing success of the festival.
“We have ambitious plans to promoting Adelaide as the best festival city in the world,” she said.
“RCC is essential to that goal.”
Lord Mayor Martin Haese supported the new trading restrictions for the event.
“This is an issue of supply and demand,” he said.
“I don’t want to get to a stage where (bricks-and-mortar businesses) having a downturn in trade (during the Fringe) is normalised at a time when they should be (increasing) trade.”
Mr Antic said many city residents and workers had raised the issue of access to the Square.
“Victoria Square is the heart of the civic centre of the city and the public do have a right to use it all times of the year,” he said.
The proposal will be go to the next full council meeting on June 30 for approval.
Originally published as Council to change Croquet Club
6/21-22/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Who owns your overtime? Employers prefer to treat time as an inexhaustible resource, op ed by Fran Sussner Rodgers, 6/22 NYT, A17.
BOSTON, Mass., USA - A little-noticed but important change in the American workplace is about to occur. Sometime in the next month, the Department of Labor is expected to announce an adjustment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The change will raise the salary threshold for overtime. Currently, if you are a salaried employee and make less than $23,660 per year, you are eligible for time and a half pay for any hours over 40 per week. The update, which is likely to at least double that threshold, will affect millions of salaried employees.
[This is still a deeply flawed overtime design that minimally disincentivates employers from chronic overtime, while actually incentivating employees with extra pay. Here's a better OT design that incentivates conversion of chronic overtime into training and hiring on both the employer and employee sides.]
In 1975, the last year the threshold was significantly raised, 60 percent of salaried workers fell within the requirement for overtime pay. Today, only 8 percent do, according to statistics compiled by the Economic Policy Institute. Under the new rule, millions of workers will be reclassified. Businesspeople oppose the change, calling it a job killer. Supporters anticipate a positive effect on job creation, income inequality and wage stagnation.
But this change also speaks to a subject I have been concerned with for many years: the clash between the finite amount of time employees actually have versus the desire of employers to treat time as an inexhaustible resource. And this issue affects everyone, whether eligible for overtime or not.
For over two decades I was a business consultant, advising companies trying to adjust to increased numbers of women and working parents in their work forces. Many significant changes occurred during this period: the introduction of flextime, new child care provisions, the increased ability to work from home. But the one change that always seemed to get in the way of other improvements was and still is the growing demand for longer working hours.
Employees in the United States currently work more hours than workers in any of the world’s 10 largest economies except Russia (though we don’t have good data for China). When everything over 40 hours is free to the employer, the temptation to demand more is almost irresistible. But for most employees, the ones exempt from overtime rules, their managers have little incentive to look for ways to use their time more efficiently.
It’s not just a question of getting paid fairly for every hour you work. It’s about using the time well. What I’ve learned is that an overwhelming majority of employees do not resent spending time that is clearly directed toward customers or the success of the enterprise. What they resent is time spent on work that is of no clear value: time wasted, or mismanaged. Countless parents, for example, told me that they had sat through poorly planned and seemingly pointless meetings at day’s end while thinking about their baby, feeling that their precious parenting time was being usurped by a feckless manager.
Others talked about memos, emails and work that goes nowhere. We encountered endless stories of parents being told that a last-minute task was urgent and needed to be done immediately, no matter how many extra hours it took, only to have any action related to it languish for weeks. Companies I worked with tried to reduce unnecessary work by devising “quality programs” and restructuring initiatives. But employees rarely felt any time relief from these efforts. Since there was no added cost for longer hours, the incentives were just not there to reduce total time worked, even after needless or less productive tasks were eliminated.
I once did a small study for a Fortune 10 company in which I talked to about 20 employees who were allowed to work four days a week and keep their jobs and benefits. These women (yes, all women) still had to meet all their previous responsibilities, for 80 percent of their previous salaries. I expected some anger and resentment, but they turned out to be some of the happiest employees I ever talked to. They told me that it was much easier to back out of meetings or work that they knew would be a waste of time. They loved being able to focus on the things that really mattered.
We are a tired, stressed and overworked nation, which has many negative consequences for our personal health and the care of our children. As a nation, we work harder and longer than almost all of our competitors, and much of that work is uncompensated. We accept that that is the way it has to be, without much questioning.
This summer’s change in overtime rules can be an opening round in a long-overdue examination of how our finite time is used and compensated. It’s also very likely that workplaces will, by necessity, become more efficient and well managed as companies strive to avoid paying overtime. And even when long hours are truly necessary, more employees will be fairly compensated. Working parents who qualify stand to benefit from fewer hours at work, without giving up income.
Time is our personal currency. We parcel it out, hour by hour, to meet the demands placed on us. We all pay a steep price, as individuals and as a nation, when we can’t meet our most important obligations. Having employers pay more for the time they demand of lower- and middle-income workers is a good way to help us focus on these larger questions.
Fran Sussner Rodgers is founder and former chief executive of Work/Family Directions, a consulting firm.
- GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] construction prepared for Ramadan slowdown, by Paromita Dey, 6/21 (6/20 late pickup) ConstructionWeekOnline.com
ABU DHABI, GCC - The Holy Month of Ramadan has commenced for the year, bringing with it abundant gaiety across the GCC region. The region's construction sector, nevertheless, is concerned about a dip in productivity levels during the month, which has historically led to slowdown in activity across the economy. Industry experts, however, expressed confidence that the dip in productivity would not delay ongoing projects in the region.
Most construction companies in the region have reduced field hours, owing to labour policies which do not permit work for more than eight hours in either day or night shifts.
Midday breaks for labourers commenced in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar on 15 June, 2015, prohibiting labourers from working under direct sunlight during when temperatures are at their highest.
The assumption, therefore, is that the overall reduction in working hours will lead to delay in construction work, and consequently, delays in a project's delivery.
But Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president from Damac differs in his opinion.
“The reduced working hours during the holy month of Ramadan are factored into the life cycle of all of our projects from the outset, so there is no impact on final delivery dates," he tells Construction Week.
“The midday break rule is also factored into each of our development’s build programme, and will have no impact on the overall delivery timeline.”
A spokesperson from Dubai Properties echoes McLoughlin's views, stating that the break is taken into account during the planning stage as it is an annual feature, and it does not affect the construction schedule in any way.
"We plan our weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule for all our projects, keeping in mind all the major breaks such as Ramadan and midday break in summers," the spokesperson said.
"In fact, we support the government’s initiative to help workers and extend all our support and cooperation to our fasting workers during Ramadan. "
Planning in advance, it appears, goes a long way in helping contractors ensure project delays do not occur. Bishoy Azmy, CEO of Al Shafar General Contracting tells Construction Week how his firm manages its project schedules during the holy month.
“We take Ramadan timings into consideration from the start of each project and build it into our project execution timetable to ensure we deliver all projects on time, regardless of whether they coincide with Ramadan or not," he says.
"Work hours are split into two shifts to follow regional regulations and allow our workers to observe Ramadan comfortably with iftar and suhoor meals before their respective shifts.”
Ramadan traditionally tends to coincide with the summer working break. Kieren Hunt, planning manager at ALEC, admits it is difficult to predict how low productivity will drop during the period.
“Construction levels tend to go down during Ramadan. It is difficult to quantify the percentage reduction overall but it is in the range of 25 to 30%," he says.
The main strategy to deal with decreased productivity levels, Hunt adds, is to allow extra time for works to be executed and support the workforce.
“We at ALEC allow extra time for works to be executed, especially in open areas. Resources tend to be more concentrated on critical activities in order to stay on schedule during Ramadan.”
[With these reduced hours, one wonders how the following question comes up -]
Long Work Hours and Fasting: What to Do? by Saffi Gilani, 6/21 OnIslam.net
DOHA, Qatar [or is this site different from IslamOnline.net?] - Question: As-salamu `alaykum. I work [on] site at Mackay, for 12 hours a day for 8 days and get 6 days off. During Ramadan at site fasting is from 03:00 to 22:30. Some Muslim brothers at the site are of the opinion that fasting cannot be more than 18 hours. What is its validity? How can we manage the day in Ramadan? I work from 06:00 to18:00 at the site. `Asr [silent prayer] is around 19:00, Magrib [aloud] is around 22:25, `Isha’ [aloud] is at 23:35, Tarawih [aloud] at 23:50 to 01:00. Your early guidance requested.
Answer \by\ consultant: Ahmad Kutty
Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh...
Dear brother, thank you for your question that shows your sincere interest in fasting, one of Islam’s pillars.
As for your question, you can skip fasting and make up for it later as long as you are unable to complete it or fear dehydration.
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,
If you are working at a hard job and you are not able to function due to dehydration because of the prolonged hours of fasting, you are allowed to skip the fast, and make up during winter when the day hours are shorter.
Eminent scholars have ruled that people doing manual jobs or working in extreme conditions and they face the risk of dehydration, they may skip fasting and make up for it later...
- Flexible work hours and a familiar workplace, by Dean L. Swanson, 6/22 Faribault Daily News via SouthernMinn.com
FARIBAULT, Minn., USA - Last week I was visiting with a group of business folks at a social gathering and we were amazed that four of the nine around this table were “working from home” for their company. One of them was a CEO who related that they had “reaped big benefits when they shuttered the office and sent employees home to work.”
When business calls for flexible work hours, virtual offices create an opportunity for people to work whenever they like from wherever they are. I read an article about a year ago written on this topic by Gini Dietrich, chief executive officer, Arment Dietrich. She told her experience as follows:
“In 2011, I took my Chicago-based communications firm virtual to save money by eliminating the rent I was paying in a downtown office building. What was supposed to be a one-year test to save some cash turned into a permanent situation as we discovered that productivity increased, turnover decreased and our employees were happier overall.
As we grew, we added employees from cities across the United States and Canada. These were people who were at the top of their games, career-wise, and people who, as a small business, we never could have afforded to relocate to Chicago.
What was supposed to be a one-year test to save some cash turned into a permanent situation as we discovered that productivity increased, turnover decreased and our employees were happier overall.”
Here is what I heard from my social discussion and what I have learned from businesses who have gone to a virtual office arrangement as they describe the benefits from this experience.
1. Employees like “no commute time”
2. Less overhead for the business
3. Save money on technology (in several cases, businesses provide the software and internet connection but the employee provides the computer, telephone, etc.
4. Access to worldwide talent
5. Individual productivity increases
6. Studies have shown that employees are easily more active and healthy.
7. Companies report that flexibility means using less vacation days.
While the virtual office doesn’t work for every business—many companies need people together in one location to get work accomplished—in those businesses where technology truly allows you to work from anywhere, a virtual office offers a strong alternative to a traditional office environment.
Dean L. Swanson is a volunteer SCORE mentor and South Central MN Chapter 710 (www.scmnscore.org) district director for SCORE Minnesota.
6/20/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- State workers stage protest over possible furloughs: ‘The stress is huge’, by John Hopperstad, (6/18 late pickup) Q13FOX.com
[Everything's relative, and the stress over possible furloughs is as naught compared with the stress over firings. Ergo our home phrase, our 'hogan slogan': Timesizing, not downsizing!]
OLYMPIA, Wash., USA — There is still no budget agreement in Olympia and, with the clock ticking to a June 30 deadline, state workers are taking to the streets.
Workers at agencies around the state protested on Thursday, demanding that lawmakers get a deal done, with 25,000 of them facing furloughs if that doesn’t happen.
“It’s going to hurt us and it’s going to hurt us hard,” said Lenni Marrotte, who works in the state Employment Security Department. If she’s laid off, she simply doesn’t have the savings to survive.
“You’re talking about not paying my bills, not paying my mortgage. The stress is huge. And it’s not just with me. It’s with everybody.”
Ginger Bernethy, another state worker, is worried about the thousands in need around the state who would see service disrupted.
“There is not a state government agency that isn’t helping a citizen somehow, someway,” said Bernethy. “And all of those hundreds of thousands of people are going to be without assistance.”
While legislators continue to negotiate, the state is making plans for a shutdown, including closing state parks, shutting down 30 agencies, and partially closing 25 others. But the pain also trickles down to the local level.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health receives state money for several positions and programs.
“Come July 1, about one in nine of us will be temporarily laid off [ie: furloughed],” said Dr. Anthony Chen, the agency’s director.
["Temporary" layoffs are trivial compared to plain permanent layoffs.]
The health department would be forced to suspend several of its services, including testing for water quality at lakes and beaches.
“We’re talking about impacts to people who may want to go swimming and may not know if there’s a toxic algae bloom at the lake.”
Chen is hopeful lawmakers will get a deal done.
State workers like Lenni Marrotte say it’s critical.
“They’re going to get it done. That’s what their expectation is. Just like my boss expects me to come in and get my job done."
- Let’s Talk Flextime, by Jamie Nichol, B2C via business2community.com
PHILADELPHIA, Pa., USA - To an employee, flextime sounds like a dream come true. But to a manager, flextime might seem like a logistical nightmare. We’re seeing more and more companies implement policies that enable employees to choose their preferred working hours. Such policies allow employees to improve the balance between their professional and personal lives, which can have a positive effect on your workplace culture.
Flextime Pros [vs. Cons]
According to Entrepreneur, flextime improves overall job satisfaction among employees. Today’s employees are juggling a lot of demands on their time. Not only are they focused on their job and their career potential, but they also have to tend to personal matters. Whether they need to take their children to childcare or help care for their elderly parents, employees often feel a great sense of relief when they can adjust their working hours in order to achieve a better balance in life. In addition to the practical benefits, working for an understanding and flexible company can make employees feel valued and appreciated.
Flexible hours have proven to help retain talented employees. The most productive and dedicated employees are not looking to switch jobs every few years, but if they can’t achieve the right lifestyle balance, they might seek alternative arrangements. In fact, employees appreciate flexible hours so much that they are more likely to stay with your company for the long run.
Flextime can increase efficiency and productivity. Instead of spending the last two hours of the day coordinating their children’s schedules from the office, employees can adjust their hours so that they can pick their kids up from school, free of stress. With flextime, employees can dedicate their work-time hours to… you guessed it, working.
Flextime [Pros vs.] Cons
Flextime might logistical problems, according to HR World. As a company, you need to evaluate your scheduling needs and be sure that your flextime policy provides you with adequate staffing at all times. In some cases, it can be difficult to schedule meetings, but luckily, advances in mobile technology are making this less challenging.
Some employees might be tempted to abuse the flexible working hours policy. This is always a risk of policies like this, so it’s important that the policy targets responsible employees. A well-crafted policy with clear guidelines also helps to minimize this issue.
The key to a successful and effective flextime policy is communication, according to the Society of Human Resources Professionals. When the HR department is tossing around the idea of creating a flextime policy, both the benefits and the disadvantages have to be considered. These policies should be tailored to your organization, and both supervisors and employees should be included in the policy development discussion.
Flextime doesn’t seem to be a fad that will fade away with time. While it might not be the perfect policy for your company, it’s still important to consider that employees today are looking for companies that allow them to maintain their lifestyle.
Author: Jamie Nichol - Jamie handles marketing at CultureIQ, a culture management platform that empowers companies to measure, understand, and strengthen their company culture. She specializes in all things company culture and employee engagement, and loves learning about that secret ingredient that makes companies successful.
6/19/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- French minister dreams of 32-hour working week, The Local.fr
Forget the 35-hour working week, make it 32 and be done with it. (phpto caption)
PARIS, France - While many outside France still balk at France’s 35-hour working week, one government minister would like to see it reduced even further. She might be onto something.
France made headlines around the world back in 2000 when it brought in the 35-hour week in a bid to boost jobs.
Over the years it has helped fuel the rather unfair stereotype of the French being workshy and lazy.
But one government minister would like to see the working week slashed even further.
Reacting to the news that France had just relaxed its rules around Sunday shopping to allow stores to open more often, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira revealed her perfect working week.
“I dream of a world where we don’t work on Sundays, where we don’t work either Saturdays or Sundays,” she told BFM TV.
[Shorter-hours advocates become their own worst enemies when they get rigid about exactly WHICH 32 hours EVERYone has to work and which 168-32= 136 hours EVERYone has to have off. That's just stifling micromanagement and unnecessary. Keep it FLEXIBLE!!! And let people who love their jobs and are willing to reinvest their OT earnings in spreading their skills (and their love) work all 168 hrs/wk if they wish. They are Giving Back and have become part of the solution, not just more of the problem...of overconcentrated market-demanded skills and employment, of a population splitting into overworked and disemployed.]
“I dream of a world where we would only work 32 hours a week, so we can dedicate time to others, to read books and go to the theatre,” she said.
[Just don't make the repeat mistake of assuming it's perfect forever. Keep it adjustible downward as robotization and AI take over more human employment. And get intense about converting chronic overtime into training&hiring - it don't happen by itself!]
Despite her opposition to working on Sunday, Taubira, who is on the left of the party, said her “loyalty was complete".
Later on Friday PM Manuel Valls set the record straight saying "what the French really want is work" and that "working was a value".
France’s 35-hour week has stood the test of time and is almost considered untouchable, despite all the country’s economic problems.
Every time a right wing or liberal politician or a leading business figure calls for it to be changed the Socialist government quickly reaffirms its steadfast commitment to the flagship policy.
The reality is that most workers in France work longer than 35-hours each week.
A labour ministry report published last year revealed French workers put in an average of 39.5 hours a week in 2011, slightly behind the EU average of 40.3 hours and the 41-hour working week in Germany and 42.4 hours in the UK.
While many business leaders and foreign economists regularly mock France for its 35-hour week, a recent OECD report that detailed everything wrong with the French economy, made no mention of it.
Perhaps Taubira is onto something.
- Why nice guys (and all women) finish last - If you can’t work less, learn to lie better, by Raina Lipsitz @RainaLips Al, Jazeera America via america.aljazeera.com
BROOKLYN, N.Y., USA - Years ago, I became friends with a male coworker. We were both “creatives” in a corporate environment, and we were equally unhappy with our jobs. My solution was to work harder in hopes of being promoted. His was to show up for and leave work whenever he wanted and to wait longer to reply to emails to give the impression that he was busier than he actually was.
I was tempted to imitate his behavior, but didn’t, partly because I thought it was wrong and partly because I suspected I wouldn’t get away with it. He was promoted within a year and a half; it took me nearly four years to advance to the level he attained in that time. Back then I was baffled. But it all started to make sense when I came across a recent study suggesting that certain men in high-paying corporate jobs advance further than women — and more candid men — by misleading their employers about how many hours they are working. What I gleaned from this study — that men can much more easily get away with this type of behavior than women — was both familiar and infuriating.
A number of successful men interviewed for this study worked the 40-50-hour workweeks they preferred while leading their employers to believe they were putting in 60-80 hours per week. Men who attempted to balance their work, pleasure, and family obligations more openly by applying for a formal reduction in work hours or requesting access to the same types of accommodations routinely offered to women employees, were, according to the study’s author, business professor Erin Reid, “treated very differently from the men who managed to pass [as employees who work long hours]: they were marginalized and penalized” and passed over for promotions.
These men were penalized “in the same ways that women who reveal work-family conflict have long been,” Reid writes.
Men who ask for time off or reduce their work hours, especially to spend time with family, face a social and professional stigma women do not. Women who take time off may not be treated as social pariahs, but they are punished professionally in the long run. And women who simply take the time they need without seeking formal accommodation are seen as less committed to their work.
The double standard plays out in different ways. According to an unpublished study by Mallika Thomas, who holds a doctorate from Cornell University, women are 5 percent more likely to remain employed but 8 percent less likely to get promotions than they were before the Family and Medical Leave Act became law. And, as Claire Cain Miller stated in a recent New York Times piece, family-friendly policies “can end up discouraging employers from hiring women in the first place, because they fear women will leave for long periods or use expensive benefits.” (Never mind that becoming a mother could actually make a woman a better employee.)
Two of Reid’s most salient conclusions are these: It’s tempting simply to pretend you’re working longer hours than you are, since that’s what companies seem to value, and doing so “is certainly less costly” than being open and honest with your boss. Yet this is a strategy that serves men far better than women, who are typically under greater scrutiny at work and are assumed to be fulfilling child-care obligations when they leave the office early. Men who leave the office early are assumed to be on their way to a client meeting or other work-related event.
Even when men and women want the same things (satisfaction at work and at home) and make the same choices in order to get them (to work fewer hours), they are judged differently. Women shouldn’t be punished for taking advantage of humane leave policies and benefits like part-time work options — and neither should any man who wants to do the same.
Gender dynamics aside, the fact that lying about your hours can be a net benefit signals a detrimental-to-employees shift in the way Americans work. A primary advantage of having a white-collar job used to be that you worked fewer hours, not more. But as James Surowiecki wrote in The New Yorker last year, “Thirty years ago, the best-paid workers in the U.S. were much less likely to work long days than low-paid workers were. By 2006, the best paid were twice as likely to work long hours as the poorly paid, and the trend seems to be accelerating … Overwork has become a credential of prosperity.”
Companies could solve this problem by making it clear that they expect their employees to work only the hours they are contractually obligated to — and, in cases where work hours are unlimited, requiring employees to take a certain amount of time off.
Most of them don’t want to do this because they’re afraid of losing money, even when there is a clear social cost to spending too many hours in the office — take, for example, the number of young male bankers who have died in recent years of physical conditions or suspected suicide triggered by overwork, or the 88 percent of working parents who suffer from stress-related health problems, or the number of articles offering advice to lonely partnered people whose partners are never available. But unless or until someone can prove that companies do not profit from wringing every last drop of labor from their workers — or unless we impose serious penalties for compelling people to work this way — the culture is unlikely to change.
Where does this leave people in high-pressure, highly paid jobs who would still like to enjoy life outside of their cubicles?
If you’re a man, the answer is simple: walk out that door confidently at 5 p.m.
If you’re a woman, don’t have kids—or pretend you don’t have kids.
It’s likely to be less time-consuming and less damaging to your career to lie by omission than to out yourself as a person with a time-sucking family and/or interests outside of work. Lying to employers who treat workers badly may be contrary to workplace ethics, but it is hardly immoral.
Raina Lipsitz writes about feminism, politics and pop culture. Her work has appeared in TheAtlantic.com, Kirkus Reviews, McSweeney’s, Nerve.com, Ploughshares, Salon.com and xoJane, among others.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America's editorial policy.
6/18/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- French premier uses stick, not carrot, with Socialist rebels, by Sylvie Corbet & Lori Hinnant, (6/17 late pickup)
Associated Press via HawaiiNewsNow.com
PARIS, France - Those defending France's famously stringent labor protections were in an uproar Tuesday as the Socialist government rammed through relatively modest reforms in the land of the 35-hour workweek.
The measure making it easier for businesses to open late and lay off workers is named for and blamed on Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker who is taking on some of the most visible symbols of France's stagnant economy.
By forcing the measure through without a vote Tuesday, the Socialist government, criticized for doing too little by champions of the free market, effectively is quelling a rebellion from within the party for doing too much.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls invoked rarely used special powers to force the bill through and French President Francois Hollande promised it would become law by July 14, linking his economic legacy to France's national holiday.
"The country needs to reform, needs to advance," Valls told lawmakers to scattered boos.
Among other things, the patchwork of measures allows stores to open 12 times a year on Sunday instead of five, lets stores expand evening hours and makes layoffs easier. It does not touch the country's 35-hour workweek.
Marie-George Buffet, a Communist lawmaker among the opponents, said the government had gone too far in its "free-market policies, which affect employees' rights at an unprecedented level."
[What does s/he mean? These measures only deregulate worktime per job, not worktime per person, which is still regulated at 35 hrs/wk and harmonized with less regulated worktime per job via the concept of shifts. But the 35 hours (5x7) needs to come down to 32 hours (4x8) or 30 hours (5x6), and a better overtime design needs to be implemented, one that vigorously converts chronic overtime into OT-targeted training and hiring, and unfreezing the 35 hours to adjust it DOWNward to create as much convertible OT as required for full employment and stronger domestic wages, consumer spending, monetary circulation, marketable productivity and investment.]
On the other side of the aisle, conservative lawmaker Eric Woerth said the measures were too timid, "pinpricks when we need, on the contrary, to reform our country."
Facing a stagnant economy and unemployment hovering around 10 percent since he took office in 2012, Hollande has shifted gears from his left-wing campaign persona. But about 40 Socialist lawmakers have publicly revolted against his new agenda of lower taxes [on whom?] and pro-business measures [short-term anti-consumer or long-term win-win?].
Unions have staged some street protests but the public reaction to the measure has been muted in a country that in the 1990s turned out tens of thousands against similar changes.
Valls resorted to bypassing a vote once and was forced to do so again Tuesday after amendments. He might even face a third time.
"(We) expect efficiency for our economy and our enterprises. It comes down to that," he said.
[Uh, France already has almost the highest efficiency in the world in terms of productivity per employee-hour.]
Opposition lawmakers from both the conservatives and far-left have announced plans for a largely symbolic no-confidence vote in response, likely by the end of the week.
But the Socialist rebels are unlikely to go so far as to vote down their own government.
[If it ain't their policies, it ain't their government. Saving people against their objections is a not as good as educating them first - and in this case, the low level deregs are trivial compared to the urgently needed deregulation and further lowering of the frozen workweek, preceded by concentrated overtime-to-jobs conversion. You can't just lower the workweek and assume the work spreading will happen by itself. Too many short-sighted employers will just push for work concentration instead of work spreading. But then you need to simultaneously remove the barriers to and costs of hiring and the benefits and perks of overworking.]
- Goldman Sachs isn’t the only bank with restrictions on interns’ working hours, by Sarah Butcher, efinancialcareers.com
LONDON, U.K. - Goldman Sachs is limiting interns’ working hours. It’s not the only one.
Deutsche Bank has also implemented rules governing the number of hours its interns work during both the week and at weekends. Credit Suisse is understood to encourage ‘flexible work’, so that interns who spend the weekend in the office get to work in an ‘agile’ way during following week. And the intern grapevine has it that following the death of Moritz Erhardt during an internship at Bank of America in 2013, it’s become the norm to leave the bank at 11pm while you’re there for the summer.
[Primitive, but in the right direction.]
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on its restricted hours, Credit Suisse declined to comment on its agile working and BAML was unable to immediately respond to a request for clarification. UBS also declined to comment and Barclays, Citi and Morgan Stanley were unable to respond within our time frame.
While MBA interns are already installed on summer associate programs, most university interns will start summer analyst programs next week.
The soon-to-be interns we spoke to were nonplussed in the face of attempts to restrict their working hours. “From what I’ve heard from other interns elsewhere, these policies are easily worked around – at some banks senior team members can override them when interns are working on live deals.. which is most of the time!,” said one, speaking off the record.
Another incoming intern said working practices need to be changed by interns themselves: “A top-down approach to working hours certainly sends a powerful message on the part of GS. But for it to have the desired impact it needs to be incorporated with a bottom-up approach. That is to say, interns themselves need to choose not to work into the early hours.”
It doesn’t help that summer analysts are usually elite students for whom hard work is second nature. “From my own perspective, if the work is there to be done with a tight deadline, then I will quite readily
work into the early hours,” said one. ” – At university for example, during exam term I can expect to be working into the early hours on a daily basis. I imagine many interns share a similar existing work ethic and that being around people with the same approach will reinforce that.”
“Everyone goes in to the industry knowing it’s a demanding one,” said another intern who’s due to start in IBD at a US bank in London next week. “- At the end of the day summer internships are only 10 weeks long – the experience you will get out of it really does depend on how much you put in, so it makes sense to get involved with as much as possible whilst you can!"
[Here's the WSJ version -]
Late show canceled - Goldman tells interns to go home by midnight, Wall Street Journal, B1 pointer to B2.
Goldman ends the late, late show, by Justin Baer & Daniel Huang, WSJ, B2 target article.
Goldman Sachs wants interns to stay away from its office between midnight and 7 a.m. during weekdays. (photo caption)
[And what about weekends?]
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has told its new crop of investment-banking interns to head home by midnight.
The Wall Street firm has been looking to improve working conditions for its youngest employees, especially within the investment bank, where unpredictable deal negotiations and the scramble to prepare client meetings can make commonplace those late nights, and occasionally all-nighters.
Under the new guidelines, reported earlier by Reuters, interns are expected to stay away from the office between midnight and 7 a.m. during weekdays, a Goldman spokesman said.
Goldman welcomed about 2,900 interns to its various divisions around the start of June.
The firm had launched initiatives in 2013 to lighten junior bankers’ work schedule, banning them from working on Saturdays. That year, the death of a Bank of America Corp. intern highlighted the intense grind that awaits the latest Wall Street recruits.Earlier this year, a Goldman junior banker in San Francisco was found dead after complaining of working long hours. A cause of death has not been determined.
Conditions for the temporary hires were again in focus earlier this month when The Wall Street Journal reported that a second-year employee at Barclays PLC’s investment bank sent to his group’s summer interns an email listing the “10 power commandments” they were expected to follow. The list included lighthearted tips—don’t wear socks to work, for instance—as well as gallows humor shared by young bankers on overnighters. One entry on the list read, “We expect you to be the last ones to leave every night…no matter what.”
The unofficial guide, intended to be a humorous play on industry stereotypes, was an annual traditional at the U.K.-based bank’s Global Power & Utilities group in New York, according to people familiar with the matter. This year Justin Kwan, a second-year analyst in the group, sent the message. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
Barclays declined to comment on Mr. Kwan’s employment status following the incident. “Barclays takes this matter very seriously and has taken the appropriate action. Barclays is fully committed to creating an environment where both our bankers and our business can thrive. We have implemented policies and training guidelines to enable employees to gain valuable experience while at the same time maintaining a healthy work-life balance,” said a Barclays spokeswoman in a statement.
Wall Street’s bid to make its interns’ summer experience a happy one comes as the industry frets over its standing with potential recruits. The big banks that survived the financial crisis are still repairing reputations bruised by allegations they helped tip the economy into its worst downturn in decades, and shrinking bonuses have made it harder for some would-be investment bankers to overlook the long hours. At the same time, banks have faced increased competition for talent from a booming Silicon Valley.
Last August, Goldman, Bank of America and other big banks moved to raise the annual salaries of junior employees. [last sentence from wsj.com]
Write to Justin Baer at email@example.com and Daniel Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org
6/17/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- How These Companies Have Made Four&Day Workweeks Feasible - More businesses are offering three-day weekends every week and seeing tons of benefits, but how do they pull it off? by Stephanie Vozza, FastCompany.com
ROCHESTER, Mich., USA - Three-day weekends feel like a treat when holidays fall on a Friday, but employees at several companies regularly say "TGIT" because four-day workweeks are their norm.
According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 43% of companies offer four-day workweeks to some employees, and 10% make it available to all or most employees. The reason? It positively impacts the bottomline.
"Since we implemented flexible workweeks in 2008, all the metrics a CEO cares about have gone in the right direction," says Delta Emerson, president of global shared services for the tax services firm Ryan. The company turnover rate dropped from 30% to 11%, revenue and profits almost doubled, client satisfaction scores reached an all-time high, and the firm has received multiple "best place to work" awards.
Global audit, tax, and advisory firm KPMG has also seen big results from short weeks: "We look at flexibility as strategic business tool," says Barbara Wankoff, director of workplace solutions. "This isn’t an accommodation or something out of the norm. This is a method that allows us to accomplish our business goals and become more successful."
While the benefits outweigh the issues, compressed workweeks can bring challenges. Here are six things leaders say have to happen to make it work:
1. Invest In Planning
A little extra effort and planning goes a long way when you offer employees untraditional hours, says Wankoff. Workflow and communication schedules need to be worked out with managers ahead of time.
"It comes down to the individual and their leader," she says. "Thought has to be put into things like scheduling meetings and planning where key deadline and milestones are going to fall. Because we’re a flexible culture with a virtual workforce all over the globe, we’re used to engagement that requires off hours."
2. Overlap Schedules
Project management software provider Basecamp gives employees who have been at the company for at least a year the option to work a four-day workweek from May through October.
"When you have less time, you tend to compress stuff out that doesn’t matter."
"In general, the same amount of stuff gets done in four days than in five, mostly because when you have less time, you tend to compress stuff out that doesn’t matter," says Basecamp CEO Jason Fried. "We don’t feel like we’re losing a lot of output; maybe 5%."
The key to making it work is to look at the big picture and stagger schedules, says Fried. Basecamp has 24/7 customer service, and crews overlap their hours to cover all time zones. Other employees take days off as a team. "Most take Fridays and some take Mondays," says Fried. "There are always people available. We don’t shut down completely the same day each week."
3. Set Rules
Technology startup SchooLinks implemented a four-day workweek in late 2014 in order to relieve workplace stress. "In a startup team of hackers, everyone works until we nail down a feature," says Katie Fang, founder and CEO. "That requires us to work long hours and to be very concentrated. After four days of long work, it’s nice to have a longer weekend and not think about code."
Fang says SchooLinks uses agile methodology, and that the requirement to take three days off is to finish your tasks that might block others. The result is worth it: "Our employees come back to work refreshed and ready to concentrate. In a startup environment, it’s tempting to scale the company faster. Four-day workweeks allow us to provide some sense of balance."
4. Address Role Reality Upfront
Some positions, such as receptionist or mail sorter, aren’t conducive to a four-day workweek. "You can't greet clients from your home," says Emerson, who adds that it's important to address problems that might come up with employees who have to work traditional hours.
"We don’t feel like we’re losing a lot of output; maybe 5%."
"It can be hard for them to see others coming and going and having long weekends when they cannot," she says. "This is where being proactive and discussing role reality helps. Address how the office operates and how their role is important so you don’t find some people upset with the freedom others have."
5. Ask For Flexibility
Wankoff says within flexible working arrangements, sometimes exceptions need to be made.
"While we honor schedules most of the time, our staff is professional and understands that it can be their responsibility to be part of a conversation," she says. "Sometimes we ask if they can shift their days one week if needed. It’s not done on a regular basis, just when we need to accommodate deadlines that cannot be changed. We look at it as flexibility as a two-way street."
6. Start Small
Before you implement four-day workweeks, Fried suggests testing the idea. "Start by offering the first Friday of every month off, and expand the program to more weeks each month," he suggests. "You’ll realize pretty quickly if you’re losing productivity, but you’ll probably find it didn’t really change anything."
Stephanie Vozza writes about business, time management and really cool people for magazines, websites and companies. She is the author of The Five-Minute Mom's Club: 105 Tips to Make a Mom's Life Easier, and the founder of TheOrganizedParent.com, an ecommerce platform she later sold to FranklinCovey Products. Stephanie lives in Michigan with her husband, two sons and their crazy Jack Russell terriers.
- France: Liberation Through Vacation, by Michel Husson & Stephanie Treillet, InternationalViewpoint.org
PARIS, France - Reducing working hours is more than a path to full employment. It could help millions live more fulfilling lives. Since its introduction at the end of the 1990s, France’s statutory thirty-five-hour workweek has been a source of ongoing controversy. Originally developed as a job creation measure by the then newly elected “plural left” government of Lionel Jospin, the proposal for a mandatory cut in working time for private-sector employees generated such a furious backlash from business that its implementation (via the two Aubry Laws, named after Labor Minister Martine Aubry) led to the wholesale reorganization of France’s main employers’ lobby.
Upon the Right’s accession to power following the 2002 parliamentary election, a succession of conservative administrations sought to chip away at the thirty-five-hour workweek through a variety of reforms that eased overtime restrictions and limited the law’s application. Just from 2002 to 2008, the Right implemented seven substantial measures relating to working time.
And yet, partially restrained by the widespread view that the thirty-five-hour workweek is an “acquired social right” (as former President Jacques Chirac once put it), even committed neoliberals like Nicolas Sarkozy have been unable to fully repeal the statute.
Scrapping the law remains a central plank in the policy agenda of France’s vocal business representatives. Last year, Pierre Gattaz, the head of MEDEF, the powerful national employers’ association, called for greater flexibility in determining employee work hours. “Today, the thirty-five-hour uniformly applied, it is no longer relevant,” Gattaz said, adding, “I’m not saying you have to work forty-eight hours per week. But if companies need some employees to work forty hours and other to work thirty-two hours, they must be allowed to organize them.”
Attitudes on the French left have tended to be more ambivalent. For the social liberals who dominate the governing Socialist Party, reforming the working-time law fits neatly into their larger project of restructuring the French labor market along neoliberal lines.
Thus, the Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron — an ex-investment banker and free-market ideologue widely loathed by the radical left — echoed Gattaz’s call for increased latitude, arguing that “the legal framework of thirty-five hours is insufficient, since employees, like companies, need more flexibility.” It was only in the face of substantial union opposition that the government, headed by the historically unpopular President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls (darling of the Socialist Party right), agreed to back down, at least temporarily.
This attitude represents a major shift from the view prevalent in the less radical sections of the French left before the passage of the Aubry Laws. Initially, the proposal for a legal reduction in weekly work hours for full-time employees was suggested to Jospin by Dominique Strauss-Kahn — future head of the International Monetary, now disgraced due to sexual assault allegations, and hardly a radical figure.
Support for the plan was traditionally strongest in the CFDT, the more conservative and less militant of France’s two biggest union confederations, rather than the traditionally Communist-aligned CGT. Indeed, the idea of using working-time reduction as a means of generating new employment was not limited to the Left during the 1990s.
Even on the Right, which never accepted the idea of making the shortened workweek mandatory, there was widespread backing of efforts to use financial incentives to encourage a reduction for full-time employees: for instance, the 1996 Robien Law offered subsidies amounting to as much as 50% of employers’ social security contributions if they reached agreements with employee representatives to cut working hours.
The Right’s lack of antipathy made the radical left hesitant about supporting the hours reductions legislation. This ambivalence was exacerbated by the two Aubry Laws, which were seen as reinforcing the long-term trend toward greater flexibility in employment relations and the decentralization of wage bargaining. For example, the far left objected to rule changes that allowed for the calculation of working-time on an annualized, rather than weekly basis; they were concerned that the measures would effectively undermine existing rules governing working conditions.
Some of these fears have been borne out: the workweek law has accorded employers more latitude, at employees’ expense — especially after the series of post–Aubry I reforms.
But this shouldn’t blind leftist observers to the radical promise and possibility embedded in the plan for a mandatory decrease in working time. In important respects, that policy offered a genuinely egalitarian and sustainable avenue for creating large numbers of full-time jobs, not through deregulation of the labor market or with the loss of pay, but through a redistribution of work hours — a vehicle for generating job growth that both boosted labor’s power at the expense of capital and lessened intra-class disparities based on gender and occupation.
It in this sense that the relevance of a shorter workweek extends far beyond the borders of France. In the following article, translated by Emal Ghamsharick and Selma Berg from the French journal Contretemps, two left-wing economists in France make the case for the thirty-five-hour workweek as a non-neoliberal path to full employment.
Reduce working time to gain full employment
The question of working-time reduction is central to the history of capitalist exploitation of labor and worker resistance. Today, employers understand well that it is a crucial battle, as shown in an October 2012 editorial by Denis Kessler in Le Monde.
France’s largest employer federation, MEDEF, keeps pushing to reconsider the thirty-five-hour workweek set forth in the Aubry Laws (though they do have limitations), and even wants to abandon any reference to a collective legal limit to working time. The national collective wage agreement (ANI), passed as a law by government majority, opens this opportunity through “competitiveness agreements.”
Even if working-time reduction has been a historic battle of the labor movement and a prominent claim of the Left for much of the twentieth century, today this battle has reached a standstill; we have collective difficulties reaching a mass scale, to resume the offensive on this question and to respond to employers’ offensive. This battle has not been fought by part of the Left and the labor movement in the age of the Aubry Laws, which have negative outcomes for a significant number of salaried workers (increased flexibility, lack of compensatory hires).
The impression that real working-time reduction requires a balance of power out of reach today (while unemployment continues to rise and redundancy plans are multiplying, apparently condemning labor struggles to remain defensive) nurtures a feeling of helplessness. Additionally, we face an ideological assault, also within part of the Left, proclaiming that we must choose between employment and wages and that the current distribution of surplus value is not negotiable.
So it is essential to find ways to overcome this situation and resume fighting, including ideologically, for working-time reduction. Contrary to widespread ideas, true full employment is possible. But it requires confrontation with employers.
Nothing could be further from the truth than claiming that greatly increased productivity is the cause of unemployment. Yet it is a common misconception, especially among those who support the “End of Work” thesis, which claims that productivity is growing so fast that full employment is moving further beyond the horizon. According to this thesis, we should replace the right to work with the right to a universal income. This is a farewell to struggle and a dangerous illusion (particularly dangerous for women).
Things do not work like that. Just compare two periods: the “Trente Glorieuses” (1945–1975), with low unemployment (around 2%) and the neoliberal phase, which began in the mid-1980s, where the unemployment rate was high (around 10%). Now the first saw a very high growth of labor productivity (around 5%), which then slowed sharply to around 1 to 2%. In other words: when productivity gains slow down, unemployment explodes.
This paradox disappears if we remember that employment depends not just on the overall level of production and the productivity of labor, but also on working time. In the medium term — and this is true for both of these great periods — labor productivity increases at about the same pace as production, so that net job creation depends mainly on the reduction of working time.
We can illustrate this process by broadening the scope over the entire twentieth century: in this period, hourly labor productivity increased by a factor of 13.6. How were these productivity gains distributed? By raising the standard of living (GDP multiplied by 9.7) and reducing working hours, which decreased by 44%. Employment, meanwhile, increased by only 26%, and the total number of hours worked fell by 30%.
In short, we are working part-time compared to our great-grandparents, and if it was not for this, unemployment would have reached insurmountable levels. This does not happen “naturally”: social struggles ensured that productivity gains were distributed in the form of lower working hours, not just as wage increases. The history of social struggles is permeated by conflicts about working time.
A second example is the experience of the thirty-five-hour workweek in France. It developed in socially unsatisfactory conditions, but it would be absurd to dismiss it as “anti-economic.” Indeed, over the past two decades, all new net jobs in the private sector were created during the transition to the thirty-five-hour week. This rebuttal of conventional wisdom becomes apparent if we observe the private-sector employment curve (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Employment in the Private Sector in Millions (Source: Dares)
http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4077 [scan midway down]
In the two decades before the thirty-five-hour week, good and bad economic years even out, and employment in 1997 is at about the same level as in 1978. Between 1997 and 2002, we see a spectacular boost: almost two million jobs are created. Then employment hits a ceiling, picks up a little, and drops with the crisis. The result: in the second quarter of 2013, there were 15.93 million jobs in the private sector, compared to 15.9 million in the second quarter of 2002 — eleven years lost for employment.
For thirty years, excepting this break, work has been distributed “liberally” and unequally, mostly as part-time work, mostly forced, mainly on women. Recall that in France, women entered the job market as full-time workers. Part-time work has never been a gateway to full employment, as in some countries in Northern Europe. Almost nonexistent before the 1980s, it expanded as a direct result of public policy (mostly by exempting employers from social security contributions).
Today, 30% of women employees work part-time, the vast majority involuntarily, and 80% of part-time jobs are occupied by women. In some sectors (retail, foodservice, cleaning), all created jobs are part-time, with extremely flexible hours and very low salaries. Part-time effectively means partial salary (even though most of these jobs already earn minimum wage) and partial pensions. The growth of part-time work reinforces the sexual division of labor, as we shall see.
The question is not so much if working hours will decrease, but how. The reduction can be general, with or without retention of monthly salary and compensatory hires; it can be targeted (precarity and part-time); or it can be extreme (unemployment).
Working-time reduction, collective and enforced by law, is an alternative to the expansion of part-time. Both fundamentally contradict each other.
There is a close link between working-time reduction and distribution of income. There are many ways to do it, each with obviously different effects on the distribution of wealth. The thirty-five-hour week has left wages unchanged, contrary to employers’ complaints, which accuse it of increasing the costs of labor. This result was achieved in two ways: by reducing social security contributions and by raising work intensity, which has reduced the policy’s potential for creating new jobs.
In other words, employers never stopped skimming productivity gains, thereby maintaining or even increasing their profit margins. These profits were not used to invest more, but to pay out more dividends. In 2012, an employee worked an average of twenty-six days per year for shareholders, instead of nine days in 1980.
What is not paid out to employees in the form of wage increases or job creation through working-time reduction is directly seized by the shareholders. This is why the rise and solidification of mass unemployment and this form of shareholder takeover (a good indicator of financialization) are two sides of the same “medal.”
This is also why any proposal to reduce unemployment without touching income distribution is an illusion. Here the crisis reveals the violence of social relations: while employees are laid off and 90% of new hires have fixed-term contracts of less than a month, dividend growth, interrupted in 2010 at the height of the crisis, is resuming with a vengeance.
In opposition to full employment in the neoliberal or social-liberal sense, we are actually defending a type of full employment compatible with low inflation, accompanied by cyclical unemployment (called “equilibrium unemployment” in dominant theory); this is the famous NAIRU, or non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment.
In reality, this produces an industrial reserve army, which today exists not only in the strict sense of unemployed labor, but also as cyclical unemployment: odd jobs, precarious employment, etc. This notion of “full employment” is the root of so-called workfare policies, which force the unemployed to accept any job under any conditions and at any price. We must distance ourselves from this notion of full employment to avoid misunderstandings and create the conditions for an alliance between unemployed, precarious and employed workers.
As shown, the Aubry Laws have created permanent jobs, but almost nobody, at least in the Socialist Party, defends this record. In addition, the rules adopted at the time have worsened the living conditions of broad segments of the working class.
The crucial point is that lowered social security contributions were not accompanied by any requirement for compensatory hiring. The Robien Law, although making it optional, demanded “10% working time reduction = 10% new hires”; Aubry I did not require more than 6%, and the Aubry II required nothing at all.
Critics of working-time reduction speak of simplified arithmetic, but it is easy to show that the math worked — and that employers know how to use a calculator. Going from 100 employees at 39 hours (3,900 hours) to 106 employees at 35 hours (3,710 hours) reduces total hours by 5.1%. To avoid having to hire more, it is “sufficient” to intensify the pace of labor and increase hourly productivity.
This is exactly what happened: hourly productivity rose by 5.1%. But since the monthly salary was stabilized, the total payroll still increased. In return, employers got a relative wage freeze and the famous social security exemptions.
The devil is often in the details, and we could cite other mechanisms that reduced the impact of the thirty five-hour week on labor, especially the exemption of small businesses and overtime. We know that when the Right returned to power it failed to undo the thirty-five-hour week — which despite everything, is taken for granted by the French public — and thus attempted to circumvent the very concept of statutory working time.
The foregoing analysis allows us to better define the essential conditions for working-time reduction to reach its full potential. It is obviously necessary to stabilize the monthly wage, but also to create jobs proportional to the decrease in working hours. Such conditions would obviously increase total payroll expenses.
The reaction should not be new reductions of “charges,” which gradually asphyxiate the social security budget, but to proportionally reduce the cost of capital, i.e. dividend payouts and interest payments. This implies a twofold reallocation of profits: firstly, from capital-intensive sectors to sectors with a high labor component, and, secondly, from large companies to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Reducing forced labor time opens up various prospects for human and social emancipation. The possibility of emancipating ourselves from forced labor cannot be dissociated from the possibility of reducing exploitation in forced labor. This is the meaning of Simone Weil’s sentence: “No one would accept to be a slave for two hours; to be accepted, daily slavery must last long enough to break something in a human.”
The pressure of unemployment also guarantees that employers can intensify conditions so much that they seem impossible to challenge. In contrast, real working-time reduction that fulfills all necessary conditions can only be achieved under the control of the employees on the job. It must be verified if the created jobs really exist — a hiring plan must be established that is not simply a copy of the initial jobs, but takes into account actual needs, relative hardship, and the necessity of reducing precarious employment.
Part-time work reinforces the unequal sharing of domestic labor and parenting and the societal view of women’s wages as supplementary income. Sociological studies show that women switching to part-time reduces the (already low) participation of men in the household.
Even if it is a “choice,” as in civil service, part-time remains a forced choice (insufficient childcare facilities, public shaming of mothers who work). The goals that it purportedly serves (more space to breathe, do other activities, spend more time with family) can and should be achieved by collective working-time reduction — for everyone and without reducing wages.
But even if collective working-time reduction is a condition for challenging social roles and gendered task division (and also for greater political participation), it is obviously not a guarantee. Habits and social perceptions do not disappear automatically: under the thirty-five-hour workweek, in cases where wage-earners actually have more free time, this free time is divided by gender roles (men spend more time on leisure or educational/playful parenting, while women spend more time on domestic tasks or reproductive parenting).
So to make any impact, we must challenge sexist education, develop public services, etc. But egalitarian working-time reduction, together with the prohibition of forced part-time, is nonetheless a prerequisite.
Contrary to certain assertions (notably in the de-growth movement), talking about the distribution of productivity gains does not mean obedience to productivism, but its abandonment.
For two reasons: first, productivity gains should not be confused with increased work intensity. Historically, the first, enabled by technical innovation, is intended to liberate humans from their burdens, while the second means heavier (and potentially longer) work. The two often overlap in practice: technological innovation is often accompanied by reorganization and intensification of labor. Technical progress also serves to increase surplus value, not to liberate humans from labor — as it would, if its purpose was to reduce working time.
Second, besides this political issue, there is also a theoretical issue: the notion that human labor is the only creator of value and that labor is the capitalist’s sole source of profit (employers never overlook this in their campaigns to extend working time). Neither capital nor nature as such are creators of value, as advanced by mainstream economics and certain currents of deep ecology.
Working-time reduction is the means to creating massive employment and meeting social needs without necessarily undertaking further GDP growth. In all cases, it is a condition for controlling goods and services whose growth is necessary (childcare centers, schools, hospitals, social housing, public transport, renewable energy, etc.), and those which need to be reduced (advertising, packaging, weapons, etc.), i.e. for controlling the qualitative content of growth.
It is crucial to the fight for emancipation, in its various aspects.
Michel Husson is an economist, in charge of employment at the Institut de recherches economiques et sociales (IRES) in Paris. He is member of the Fondation Copernic, a left-wing think tank...
6/16/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- Laborers shielded from sun; ministry to enforce reduced Ramadan hours, by Abdul Hannan Tago, ArabNews.com
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - To ensure the safety and welfare of workers, the Labor Ministry will implement its directive as of Monday prohibiting laborers from working when the sun is at its peak.
In a statement released here Sunday, it said workers shall not work from noon to 3 p.m. from June 15 to Sept. 15.
The ministry issues this memorandum every year during the peak summer season when temperatures rise sharply, exposing workers to the risk of sunstrokes.
However, the ministry pointed out that the regulation exempts workers of oil and gas companies, as well as maintenance and emergency fields. Their companies will have to take precautionary measures.
Meanwhile, the ministry will also monitor working hours — six for private sector and five for government sector — during the month of Ramadan.
A ministry source said the Control and Investigation Commission and the Ministries of Labor and Civil Service will follow up on the commitment of these institutions to the provisions of Article 98 of the Labor Law, limiting working hours in private sector institutions to six hours, and five hours for the government sector.
The source explained that the reduction in working hours during Ramadan is meant to ease working conditions during the fasting period.
- Gretna’s two libraries may cut hours amid staffing shortages, by Emily Nohr, Omaha World Herald via omaha.com
GRETNA, Neb., USA - To Krissy Nelson, the effects of Gretna’s fast growth have trickled into the aisles and shelves of the local library.
Nelson, the city’s library director, said attendance is higher and programs are more popular than ever. But the growth has happened without the library adding staff.
The library has felt increasingly stretched for a few years, Nelson said. With a few employees recently leaving, Nelson said she needs to scale back hours at the main library and a satellite children’s branch — and city leaders say they are discussing the situation.
Instead of both being open six days a week, the libraries would each serve patrons three days a week. The main library would be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The children’s library would be open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Nelson said her staff of mostly part-time employees can no longer fully support both libraries. She said she needs a couple of full-time positions and more part-time staff.
[Good! Timesizing combined with hiring = upsizing/growth, not downsizing!]
“I think we have just put such a positive face on it and tried not to let people see we were struggling,” Nelson said. “We just can’t do it anymore.”
Mayor Jim Timmerman said he wishes he had known about the concerns sooner.
Timmerman said the City Council last year rejected turning a part-time position into a full-time one, but he was unaware the library’s problems were more severe until recently.
Having a strong library is important, Timmerman said.
“If conditions were this bad, she should’ve got together and come to the city earlier so we could sit down,” he said.
Nelson said the library has struggled with staffing since opening its children’s library on Main Street in 2012. With the main library getting cramped, Gretna purchased the second building as a temporary fix until a new library was built.
Though city officials have discussed building a new, larger facility, the project hasn’t made the city’s more recent list of goals. Other projects — building a new public works facility and a YMCA and aquatic center — have become higher priorities.
Along with Gretna’s growing population, the library has seen a boost.
Between both libraries, more than 45,400 people visited in 2013. Last year, they had nearly 52,000 visitors. During the first four days of this month, the children’s library alone has had roughly 1,000 visitors.
But for years, Nelson said, staffing has stayed the same.
And after two more employees leave, the library will have seven employees, said Assistant Library Director Rebecca McCorkindale. The director is salaried, the assistant director is full-time, four work part-time and a library page works a couple of hours a week, McCorkindale said.
Most employees are leaving because they found full-time jobs with better pay, Nelson said. While the positions aren’t hard to fill, she said they are difficult to retain.
“These people have master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in library sciences,” she said. “They’re looking at an actual career job, and they’re making barely over $10 an hour when they start off. It’s not enough for them to support their family.”
Nelson had planned to cut hours at Gretna’s main library and children’s library in half starting this week.
Then, over the weekend, the library announced that it wouldn’t adjust its hours until it got approval from the City Council. An item addressing the library’s concerns is not on Gretna’s council agenda for tonight.
McCorkindale said Monday that past changes to the library’s hours have required the council’s approval.
But City Administrator Jeff Kooistra said a change doesn’t require approval from the council. Kooistra said the decision is up to the library board, and the library board approved the changes during an emergency meeting earlier this month.
Kooistra said he assumed the library would go ahead with the new hours this week, though he said the city and library are planning to meet and discuss the concerns.
In the meantime, he said, the city has expedited the process for posting open jobs at the library.
“We’re trying to get them filled as quickly as possible,” he said.
Councilman Gregg Dahlheim said he wants the library to be competitive and believes the problems are worth considering during city budget planning, which is starting this summer.
Last year, the city budgeted the library $357,100.
“We will need to take a look at it,” Dahlheim said. “Both the children’s and the adult library are heavily used. We want to make sure we can offer our residents what they’re used to.”
Nelson agrees, and said she doesn’t want service to lag or programming to suffer.
“My comment to everyone has been that we’re so sorry this is happening, that we don’t want it to be this way,” she said. “We want to be able to offer our community the very best services and materials that we can and serve them to the fullest.”
Timmerman said the city is surveying other libraries. La Vista shares a building with Metro Community College, and any residents of Lancaster County, such as Waverly, have access to Lincoln libraries for free.
Timmerman said he hopes community involvement through the library board and Gretna’s Friends of the Library can help, too.
“The library is an important function,” he said. “I don’t know the answer, but we need to have talks. We’re very open.”
Contact the writer: 402-444-1192, email@example.com
6/14-15/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- P&Z employee questions reduced working hours, by Pam Wright email@example.com, 6/14 The Advocate Messenger via Central Kentucky News via centralkynews.com
DANVILLE, Ken., USA - As city employees enjoy an increase in salaries for the first time in several years, a planning and zoning staff member spoke out Thursday about the reduced workweek schedule in that particular office.
Denise Wade, who has worked for the city and county for 28 years as the administrative assistant to Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission, is questioning the increase in salaries for other city employees while P&Z still maintains curtailed hours and has done so for the past six years.
Pointing out that she is not angry and believes an increase in salary is warranted for city employees, Wade said she is dumbfounded why the P&Z office continues to remain open only four days a week.
“I am not angry that the city is budgeting raises for their employees because they are well deserved,” Wade said in a letter to the editor. “I just wish the P&Z staff would receive the same treatment. Enough is enough!”
According to Wade, the previous P&Z chairman, Gary Chidester, recommended the city reduce the staff to just one during the recession when the stagnant construction market had a significant impact on P&Z operations. At the time, the three-member staff, which included Wade, Director Paula Bary and P&Z Compliance Administrator David Taylor, who will retire June 30, agreed instead to reduce the work week to 30 hours per week in February 2009.
In January 2010, hours were further reduced to 25 hours per week and subsequently set at the current 32 hours per week in July 2012.
“We agreed to the schedule because we always believed it would be temporary, but here we are after the end of the recession with the same hours,” said Wade, adding she believes there is enough work to justify the return to full-time hours.
Wade said she was struck by recent comments made by City Commissioner Denise Terry concerning the need to provide good compensation to employees to ensure loyalty.
“Commissioner Terry pointed out that the city employees went three years without getting a raise and have been working short staffed,” said Wade. “I agree with Commissioner Terry’s comment that you cannot expect to have loyal employees working in these conditions.”
Wade said the cumulative loss of income has added up, which was unexpected when she agreed to “temporarily” curtail working hours.
“During the past six plus years, I have personally lost $50,451 due to these cuts,” Wade said in her letter to the editor. “This loss affected my family in many ways and will continue to affect me when I retire.”
P&Z relies on building permits as its primary revenue source besides subsidies from the cities and the county. It is the P&Z Commission that determines hours, salaries and any other expenditures, per suggestions from the budget committee.
P&Z has received $65,000 from Boyle County Fiscal Court for the past two fiscal years and will receive the same this coming year.
From the city, P&Z received $70,000 in Fiscal Year 2013-14, $75,000 last year and will again receive $75,000 this coming year.
P&Z has not requested the funds sufficient to return to the full work week schedule; however, like Wade, Mayor Mike Perros said Wednesday that the P&Z office needs to be open every work day.
“I do believe planning and zoning should be a 40-hour-a-week office,” said Perros. “I think if we’re going to have the emphasis that we do on creating more economic opportunity in our community, then planning and zoning needs to be an 8 a.m.-5 p.m., five-day-a-week office.”
Bary and City Manager Ron Scott were unavailable for comment.
- BMW Lauded for Worker Dispatching and Working Hour Mileage System, by Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org), 6/15 The Korea Bizwire via koreabizwire.com
SEOUL, S.Korea — Have you ever wondered how BMW’s Dingolfing plant can produce 1,600 cars a day?
[Oh ALL the time!]
Its so-called ‘breathing system’, in which assembly workers can be dispatched to particularly busy BMW plants nearby, and its ‘working time account’ system, which enables workers to save and ‘use’ their working hours just like money in the bank, have created a flexible and productive work environment.
As BMW’s assembly lines around the world are equipped with standardized, universal automated processes, and its workers have open minds about the jobs they need to do, employees can be sent to any plant when needed, just as freely as one’s breathing.
BMW also encourages its employees to work at plants in other countries.
BMW workers can also save their overtime work hours in a ‘working hour account’ and use those hours to be paid when they want to be paid, for instance during recession times, when their work hours could be reduced.
Employees can also create negative entries in their accounts and draw up to 200 hours a year in advance.
Introduced in 1995, these two systems have been contributing to the stability and quality of the company’s workforce.
Its assembly line stations have also been modified to reflect the company’s employee-management philosophy, and are adjustable to the height and other physical conditions of assembly workers.
- Arbeitslosigkeit: Gewerkschaft fordert 35-Stunden-Woche, 6/15 Wirtschafts Blatt via storyclash.com
Angesichts der anhaltend hohen Arbeitslosigkeit in Österreich drängen Arbeitnehmervertreter auf eine Reduktion der Arbeitszeit – und mehr Urlaub.
Arbeitszeitverkürzung soll laut Gewerkschaft in Österreich mehr Arbeitsplätze schaffen. (Bild Kaption)
WIEN, Österreich - Die Gewerkschaft GPA-djp fordert eine Reduktion der Normalarbeitszeit auf 35 Stunden pro Woche sowie eine Verkürzung der gesetzlichen Arbeitszeit auf 38,5 Stunden bei vollem Ausgleich des Lohns bzw. Gehalts.
Auch die Forderung nach der sechsten Urlaubswoche brachte GPA-Chef Wolfgang Katzian am Montag anlässlich einer Betriebsrätekonferenz im Austria Center Vienna wieder aufs Tapet. Derzeit bekommen die meisten Beschäftigten die sechste Urlaubswoche nur dann, wenn sie 25 Jahre durchgehend im gleichen Betrieb arbeiten. Angesichts der hohen Fluktuation heutzutage eine veraltete Regel, findet die Gewerkschaft. Anders sieht es im öffentlichen Bereich aus: Dort bekommen die Beschäftigten ab 43 Jahren sechs Wochen Urlaub im Jahr.
Arbeitnehmervertreter sehen die Verkürzung der Arbeitszeit als Mittel, das zu mehr Beschäftigung führt. Jörg Flecker, Professor für Soziologie an der Uni Wien, führte als Beispiel Frankreich an, wo die Reduktion auf 35 Stunden pro Woche 350.000 Jobs geschaffen hätte - wenngleich er einräumte, dass dies nur halb so viel war wie erwartet. "In der Geschichte gab es immer wieder Beispiele, wo Arbeitszeitverkürzung zu mehr Beschäftigung geführt hat", sagte Flecker, ohne konkrete Beispiele zu nennen.
"Seit 40 Jahren ist nichts passiert"
Derzeit beträgt die gesetzliche Arbeitszeit 40 Stunden pro Woche. Diese Regelung wurde 1975 eingeführt. "Seit 40 Jahren ist nichts passiert", meinte Katzian. In vielen Kollektivverträgen liegt die Arbeitszeit darunter, meist bei 38,5 Stunden.
Diashow: So lange arbeiten die Europäer jede Woche
Laut Gewerkschaft liegt die durchschnittliche Wochenarbeitszeit in Österreich bei 42 Stunden. Damit gehöre Österreich zu den Ländern mit den längsten Arbeitszeiten in Europa.
23 Prozent für weniger Arbeit bei weniger Lohn
Eine IFES-Befragung unter 800 Personen, die die Gewerkschaft in Auftrag gab, ergab, dass 66 Prozent für eine Arbeitszeitverkürzung auf 35 Stunden bei gleichbleibendem Gehalt sind. Einfache Angestellte (72 Prozent) würden dies deutlich mehr begrüßen als leitende Angestellte (45 Prozent). Anders sieht es aus, wenn mit der Arbeitszeit auch das Gehalt im selben Ausmaß sinken würde. Dann sind nur noch 23 Prozent der Befragten für eine Arbeitszeitverkürzung. Unter leitenden Angestellten sind es nur 14 Prozent.
Für eine Verringerung der Arbeitszeit sprechen laut Befragung eine bessere Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Familie und dass man länger gesund bis ins Alter arbeiten kann.
Unemployment: union is demanding a 35-hour week - Reduction of working hours to create more jobs, according to union in Austria, translation by Google Translate https://translate.google.ca
Given the persistently high unemployment in Austria are pushing workers' representatives on a reduction in working hours - and more holidays.
Reduction of working hours to create more jobs, according to union in Austria. (photo caption)
VIENNA, Austria - The union GPA-DJP calls for a reduction of the normal working hours to 35 hours per week as well as a reduction of the statutory working hours to 38.5 hours at full compensation of wages or salary.
The demand for the sixth holiday week brought GPA boss Wolfgang Katzian on Monday on the occasion of a works council meeting in the Austria Center Vienna again on the carpet. Currently, most employees get the sixth holiday week only if they work 25 years continuously in the same operation. Given the high turnover today an outdated rule, finds the union. The situation is different in the public sector: there get workers from 43 years, six weeks of vacation per year.
Employee representatives see the reduction of working hours as a means that leads to more jobs. Jörg Flecker, professor of sociology at the University of Vienna led to France as an example, where the reduction to 35 hours per week would have created 350,000 jobs - although he admitted that this was only half as much as expected. "In history, there have been examples where it has reduced working hours to more jobs done," Flecker said, without giving specific examples.
"For 40 years, nothing has happened"
Currently, the legal working time is 40 hours per week. This scheme was introduced in 1975. "For 40 years, nothing has happened," said Katzian. In many collective agreements the working time is lower, usually at 38.5 hours.
Slideshow: As long as the Europeans are working every week
According to the union, the average working week in Austria is 42 hours. Thus Austria is among the countries with the longest working hours in Europe.
23 percent for less work at lower wages
An IFES survey of 800 people who gave the union commissioned, found that 66 percent are for a reduction in working hours to 35 hours while maintaining the same salary. Simple employees (72 per cent) would welcome this much more than senior executives (45 percent). The situation is different, even though the content in the same amount would be reduced with the work. Then only 23 percent of respondents are for a reduction in working hours. Among senior staff there are only 14 percent.
According to the survey for a reduction in working time to talk a better reconciliation of work and family life, and that you can work longer healthy into old age.
6/13/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- 2014 Arkansas Code, § 11-10-612 - Charging shared-work unemployment compensation, Justia US Law via law.Justia.com
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., USA - Title 11 - Labor and Industrial Relations
Chapter 10 - Department of Workforce Services Law
Subchapter 6 - Shared Work Plans
§ 11-10-612 - Charging shared-work unemployment compensation.
Universal Citation: AR Code § 11-10-612 (2014)
(a) Shared work unemployment compensation shall be charged to the employer's experience rating accounts in the same manner as unemployment compensation is charged under this chapter.
(b) Employers liable for payments in lieu of contributions shall have shared work unemployment compensation attributed to service in their employ in the same manner as unemployment compensation is attributed.
Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Arkansas may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
- Newspaper poll: Half of Finns oppose longer working hours, YLE News via yle.fi
HELSINKI, Finland - A poll published Saturday in the daily Helsingin Sanomat shows that half of respondents would oppose extending the working week by two hours.
While half of those interviewed for the Helsingin Sanomat poll do not want to see a longer working week, 43% gave their backing to the idea.
The greatest support was found among people in upper management positions, entrepreneurs and pensioners. The most opposition was expressed by people in lower management jobs and wage earners.
Half of all those questioned for the poll opposed a reduction in the length of eligibility for unemployment benefits. Two out of five were in favour of such a move.
Helsingin Sanomat commissioned the poll from TNS Gallup which interviewed just over 1000 people in late May and early June. The margin of error for the results is around three percentage points.
6/12/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- 53 Sony hourly workers face up to four-month furlough at Terre Haute plant, by Sue Loughlin, (6/11 late pickup) Tribune-Star via IndianaEconomicDigest.com
TERRE HAUTE, Ind., USA - Fifty-three hourly employees at Sony DADC in Terre Haute are being furloughed for up to four months, a company spokesperson has confirmed.
According to a letter given to affected employees, the furloughs are effective June 9 through Oct. 5, although the employees could be called back sooner based on business needs.
The reason is "lower than expected demand, and because of that, certain departments are overstaffed," said Lisa Gephardt, Sony spokeswoman in New York. Those affected "are the least senior hourly employees."
The Terre Haute plant has 1,000 employees.
The furloughed employees work in replication, print and packaging.
"It's a cyclical business," Gephardt said. For example, if a movie or other release date is pushed back, "We don't have replication needs."
- Stop using China as excuse for inaction on climate change [& lower standards on everything else], opinion by George Monbiot, The Manchester Guardian via stuff.co.nz
China is not just a country. It is whatever powerful interests want us to be. (photo caption)
MANCHESTER, U.K. - China is the world's excuse for cruelty and barbarism. If we don't behave atrociously, politicians and columnists assure us, China will, so we had better do it first, before we are outcompeted.
You want holidays, collective bargaining rights and fair conditions in the workplace? Forget it. When Chinese workers have none, such fripperies would "hamper British/US/Australian/Canadian industry", making it uncompetitive.
Columnists like Thomas Friedman at the New York Times, gleefully regaling us with tales of Chinese workers being turfed out of their dormitories at midnight, marched to a workstation and obliged to perform a 12-hour shift to meet a last-minute order from Apple, insist that we either compete on these terms or perish.
France, he once claimed, is doomed if it seeks to preserve a 35-hour week, while people in Asia "are ready to work a 35-hour day."
In fact French workers are doing fine: it turns out that European countries with shorter working hours (France, the Netherlands and Denmark for example) have higher productivity per hour than those whose workers have to spend longer at their desks (such as Germany[?] and Britain[!]).
And a country whose people have both decent wages and time to relax can support millions of jobs – in leisure and pleasure – that don't exist where workers are treated as little more than slaves.
You want your rivers, air and wildlife protected? What planet are you on? China, we are told, doesn't give a damn for such luxuries, with the result that if we don't abandon our own regulations, it will take over the world.
On no topic are these claims made more often than on climate change. What is the point of limiting our greenhouse gas emissions, a thousand bloggers (and a fair few politicians) insist, if China is building a new power station every two weeks (or days or minutes or whatever the latest hyperbole suggests)?
Taking action on climate change is useless and stupid in the face of the Chinese threat.
China is not just a country. It is whatever powerful interests want us [/US] to be.
It is, they suggest, a remorseless, faceless, insuperable threat to civilisation, to which the only rational response is to abandon civilisation.
So often is the threat invoked to justify the latest round of inhumane proposals that it needs a name. Perhaps we could hijack one: China Syndrome.
China Syndrome is the 21st century extension of the Yellow Peril myth.
First formulated by Kaiser Wilhelm II, whose extreme militarism, racism and anti-Semitism prefigured the rise of Nazism in Germany, the term reflects a long-standing apprehension about the people of Asia, dating back perhaps to the Mongol invasions of eastern Europe.
It invokes an uncaring, undifferentiated horde of philistines, possessed perhaps with supernatural powers, but without moral limits or human qualities like empathy, pity, love or self-restraint.
Unless we took extreme measures to defend ourselves against this threat, Wilhelm and others insisted, this human swarm would outbreed and overrun the nations of the west.
The myth became a staple of schlock literature and films, spawning such characters as Fu Manchu and Ming the Merciless.
The idea that the people of China might "steal our jobs" is also deep-rooted. It triggered a number of pogroms in the United States during the later decades of the 19th century, during which many Chinese immigrant workers were murdered.
It is, of course, true that China contributes substantially to the threat of climate breakdown: it is now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
It is also true that its diplomats often prove to be a hindrance during international negotiations on the subject.
That was certainly the case at the UN climate conference in Bonn that ended on Thursday, where they refused even to discuss the crucial issue: how much global warming the policies adopted by each nation will cause.
This stands in apparent contrast to the agreement struck this week, as a result of Angela Merkel's diplomacy, at the G7 meeting, calling for "a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century".
But to suggest that China is an inherent and insuperable threat, as many of my correspondents do (mostly those who alternate between insisting that man-made climate change isn't happening and insisting that we can't do anything about it anyway), is grievously to misrepresent the people of that nation.
First, of course, much of its energy use is commissioned by other nations.
As manufacturing has declined in countries like the US and Britain, and the workforce is mostly engaged in other activities, the fossil fuel burning caused by our consumption of stuff has shifted overseas, along with the blame.
Even so, when China's total greenhouse gas production is divided by its population, you discover that it is still producing much less per head than we are.
Partly as a result of a massive investment in renewables, the Chinese demand for coal dropped for the first time last year, and is likely to drop again this year.
Perhaps because of the bureaucratic chaos of China's centralised, unwieldy government, there is a gulf between the energy transition rapidly taking place within China and its negotiating positions in international meetings, which are "in the hands of completely different sets of bureaucrats."
But perhaps the biggest surprise for those who unwittingly invoke the old Yellow Peril tropes is that the Chinese people care more about climate change than we do.
A survey released on Monday reveals that 26 per cent of respondents in the UK and 32 per cent in the US believe that climate change is "not a serious problem", while in China the figure is only 4 per cent. In the UK, 7 per cent don't want their government to endorse any international agreement addressing climate change.
In the US the proportion rises to 17 per cent. But in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, only 1 per cent want no action taken.
Of course, the question that arises in undemocratic countries like China is the extent to which public desires can shape government policy. But what's clear is that China's failure to act decisively on climate change does not arise from any national characteristic.
The paternalistic assumption that only the rich nations can afford to care is also based on myth: a myth that – like the Yellow Peril story – dates back to the colonial era.
As the Greendex survey of consumer attitudes shows, people in poorer countries tend to feel much guiltier about their impacts on the natural world than people in rich countries, even though those impacts might be far smaller.
Of the nations surveyed, the people of Germany, the US, Australia and Britain felt the least consumer guilt; while the people of India, China, Mexico and Brazil felt the most. The more we consume, the less we feel.
There is no scope for moral superiority in the climate talks, least of all a moral superiority based on unfounded national stereotypes.
Collectively, we are wrecking the delicate atmospheric balance that has allowed human civilisation to flourish. Collectively, we have to sort this out. And it will happen only by taking responsibility for our impacts, rather than by blaming other nations for what we don't want to do.
6/11/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Curragh cuts hours to save jobs, by Cole Latimer, Australian Mining via miningaustralia.com.au
BLACKWATER, Qld., Australia - Curragh coal mine has taken a different approach to cutting costs, by cutting hours instead of workers.
As the coal price continues to suffer downwards pressure, many miners are taking drastic action such as removing tonnages and shedding workers in an effort to alleviate costs.
However Wesfarmers Curragh coal mine has taken a different tack, emulating Glencore’s efforts last Christmas break, by reducing hours and keeping its workforce, albeit on reduced wages.
“In response to a further deterioration in the coal price and general market conditions Wesfarmers Curragh has advised its workforce of a number of changes to rosters at the mine,” a Curragh spokesperson told Australian Mining.
“The changes will involve some employees moving to 5 day 8 hour rosters; consultation on a new 7 day 8.5 hour roster has also commenced.
“The changes reflect the need to further reduce mine site costs in order to remain sustainable in the longer term. Since the downturn in the coal market some 18 months ago Curragh has made it a priority to protect the jobs of its full-time permanent wages workforce and this most recent change is consistent with that approach."
- Parliament’s Social Affairs Committee approves introduction of kurzarbeit, by Daniela Lazarová, Radio Praha [Prague] via radio.cz
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Social Affairs Committee in the lower house of Parliament has approved the introduction of kurzarbeit - an agreement between the state, companies and employees under which firms in financial straits could put workers on part-time work rather than affecting major lay-offs.
Employees on part time work would receive 70 percent of their wages with 50 percent paid by their employer and 20 percent covered by the state.
The introduction of kurzarbeit was proposed by the government in connection with the economic crisis and the sanctions against Russia which have hurt selected companies.
Individual applications for state support would be decided by the government.
- Bill puts focus on Japan’s killer working hours, Agence France-Presse via Business Day Live Joburg RSA via bdLive.co.za
It is commonplace for highly paid workers to take the last train home in Japan, where a proposed new law to remove overtime is proving controversial. (photo caption)
TOKYO, Japan - Japan’s push to take away overtime from highly paid workers has critics warning it will aggravate a problem synonymous with the country’s notoriously long working hours — karoshi, or death from overwork.
Teruyuki Yamashita, 53, knows the risks well. He worked day and night in a senior sales job, made countless overseas business trips, and slept an average of just three hours a night.
Six years ago, his frantic work pace took a near fatal turn after he collapsed from a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a type of brain bleeding, leading to three weeks in intensive care — and the loss of his sight.
"I told a nurse that it was dark — I didn’t realise that I was blind," Yamashita says, recounting his experience of waking up in hospital.
Hundreds of deaths related to overwork — from strokes, heart attacks and suicide — are reported every year in Japan, along with a host of serious health problems, sparking lawsuits and calls to tackle the problem.
But, last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved a bill to exempt white-collar employees earning more than ¥10.75m (R1.05m) a year, such as financial dealers and consultants, from work-hour rules.
Advocates, including Japan’s biggest business lobby Keidanren, say the changes would reward productive workers with pay based on merit — rather than just working hours — and give them more flexibility in terms of how long they spend at the office.
If they get the job done quickly, they could leave early or come in later, they say. Backers say the reforms would not force change on workers, but let them choose to enter such an agreement with their employers.
Critics charge it would be tough for staff to refuse an offer of switching to the new model, and deride it as the "no overtime pay bill" that would force people to work longer with no extra pay beyond their agreed salary.
That could increase the number of overwork-related deaths and health problems, says Koji Morioka, professor emeritus at Kwansei Gakuin University. "The government wants to create a system in which companies don’t have to pay for overtime. It could accelerate deaths from overwork," he says.
Morioka says that the bill seemed to run counter to the spirit of a law aimed at preventing deaths from long working hours and that achieved wide support across party lines.
[Here we see the glaring flaw in the currently common overtime design: paying employees extra for overtime disincentivates employers somewhat* from practicing chronic overtime (*the more employee benefits, the less employer disincentive), but incentivates employees. An adequate design would disincentivate both with, for example, a confiscatory tax on corporate overtime profitability over hiring and on individual overwork (=overtime from all sources) earnings over straight time (comprehensive, from all sources) with, in both cases, a complete exemption for complete reinvestment of overage in OT/OW-targeted training and hiring.]
Details of the bill are being worked out now.
The new law, if passed, would initially affect just 4% of private-sector employees, or about 1.8-million people.
But Keidanren already wants to expand the programme by lowering the pay threshold. "We need to think about relaxing the income requirement and applying it to a wider scope of workers," the lobby’s chief says.
While the popular image of Japanese salarymen toiling long hours before taking the last train home is changing, many still spend far more hours in the office than counterparts in other modern economies.
About 22.3% of Japanese employees work 50 hours or more each week, well above 12.7% in Britain, 11.3% in the US and 8.2% in France, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
A Japanese government study found that 16% of full-time workers took no paid holidays in 2013, while others took just half their allotted leave on average. In that year, the official tally was 196 deaths and suicides linked to excessive working hours — but that is just the tip of the iceberg, says Ryukoku University professor Shigeru Waki.
"There are a lot more people who died or became ill due to overwork, but it is very hard to prove," he says.
With more employers not required to keep track of extra hours worked, under the proposed bill, it will make it even tougher to know the extent of the problem, Waki says.
The mother of a 27-year-old Tokyo man who killed himself in 2009 says his official work hours were much less than the actual extra hours spent at his printing company. She opposes the bill.
"I was in a state of shock when his company called to tell me he was dead," said the mother. "My son will not come back, but I want to speak up for other younger people."
For Yamashita, blinded by his condition, burning the candle at both ends to meet the demands of a high-pressure job was not worth the reward.
"I didn’t even get to see my kids grow up because I was too busy — I wish I could have lived a life for my family instead."
6/10/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- Patient shortage at urgent care unit sees hours cut, by RSloper_ST, SleafordTarget.co.uk
SLEAFORD, Lincs., U.K. - A trailblazing medical unit hailed for helping to cut waiting times at hospital accident and emergency departments is set to cut its opening hours.
Sleaford Medical Group's Urgent Care Unit announced it will now close its doors two hours early on weekends and bank holidays to make sure it meets its budget.
[Hour cuts, not job cuts - timesizing, not downsizing!]
Even though accident and emergency departments are traditionally busy at those times, NHS [National Health Service] staff say they were not getting enough patients through the doors of the unit between 6pm and 8pm on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays to justify cost of staying open.
Practice manager Jonathan Flint said: "If we only have four people come in and we have a doctor, a nurse, a receptionist, and the running costs of the building, we have to weigh up the costs against how many people we're helping.
"We can only work within our funding – because it's a pilot scheme we have to work to the funding we're given.
"If it was down [or up] to us we would have kept it open for the extra two hours, but that decision is [up or] down to the Clinical Commissioning Group."
The South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been funding the Urgent Care Unit, which started in October as a six month trial. The pilot scheme has now been extended by 12 months.
The unit was hailed as a success in January, when it had seen 900 patients. This rose to 3,500 by the end of the six month pilot scheme.
A CCG spokesman said: "The healthcare system in Lincolnshire is facing continued pressures to provide high quality care within finite budgets.
"As the scheme is a pilot we have now evaluated the first six months' data on attendances to ensure the service remains within budget for 2015/16 and to ensure the future of the Urgent Care Unit we took the decision with the practice to reduce the hours, with the lowest number of attendances, at weekends and bank holidays.
"We continue to be committed to providing high quality, safe care to the patients of South West Lincolnshire."
Dr Gaspar DaSilva, GP and clinical lead for the Urgent Care Unit, said: "During our first six months of operating the unit we have seen an huge increase in the number of patients that we have treated.
"We have taken the decision to reduce the hours at the weekend as this was seen to be the time when fewer patients were accessing the services offered.
"We continue to be committed to ensuring patients receive the highest quality care locally, first time – we would also like to thank everyone who has used the services for all of their positive comments and feedback."
The urgent care unit is available to all patients, including those not registered with a GP.
No appointment is necessary and care will also be provided to those living outside of the Sleaford area.
Elaine Wilson, a patient visiting the urgent care unit, said: "I'm not from Sleaford, but I think more areas should have places like this – as a paramedic myself I think it's a great way of reducing pressure on A&E if people have the option to come here."
Philip Meadows said: "This place is a brilliant idea, and if it hadn't been open I would've had to go to A&E. If they're not getting many coming in at night I don't suppose there's much point in opening – it certainly cuts costs, but if people can't get in during the new hours they will just end up in A&E."
Kerrie Trayling said: "I've used the unit after 6pm before and were really happy with the service – I don't know what we'd have done if it wasn't open."
The unit will continue to operate between 8am and 8pm on weekdays.
- Drop In Demand Leads To Layoffs In Russia's Auto Market: [Interview] Transcript, by Corey Flintoff, NPR News via WFAE Charlotte NC via wfae.org
MOSCOW, Russia - Renee Montagne, host: And officials in Russia have been sounding more optimistic about that country's financial crisis. They say the economy may have already passed through the worst of the slump brought on by low oil prices and Western sanctions. Possibly, but if Russia's auto market is any measure, the economy faces a long and difficult road ahead. NPR's Corey Flintoff has that story from Moscow.
Corey Flintoff, byline: A few years ago, Russia was one of the most lucrative car markets in the world. Foreign automakers made investments, like this Ford plant near St. Petersburg, where thousands of people assemble the Ford Fiesta and other popular models. But the economy stumbled after Russia annexed Crimea last year. The auto market tanked, with new car sales falling by 42 percent in April, the lowest level in more than a decade. The production lines slowed, and many stopped. The slump hit hard in industrial regions such as Kaluga, southwest of Moscow, which used to be one of the most successful regions in attracting foreign investment. Dmitry Kozhnev is the founder of an auto workers union, the Interregional Workers Association.
Dmitry Kozhnev: (Through interpreter) The situation in Kaluga is very serious. It's alarming. Take Volkswagen; their production has dropped by almost half. It's the same with the other big carmakers here, Peugeot, Citroen and Mitsubishi.
Flintoff: The drop in production has meant widespread layoffs at the auto plants and at the related factories that make tires and other parts. Kozhnev says the union's been able to protect its members' jobs at Volkswagen, where it has a strong contract, but not at other plants where the union was just starting to organize. Now that times are tough, Kozhnev says the authorities are cracking down on labor unions out of the fear that they'll drive foreign business away. He cites a recent police raid on a union organizing meeting.
Kozhnev: (Through interpreter) All of us were detained. It was a special operation by 40 cops armed with machine guns. They took us to the station, took mug shots and fingerprints - just like in the movies.
Flintoff: Kozhnev says his members are routinely watched by a police anti-extremist squad. The region around St. Petersburg is another big hub of automaking, and it too has been hit hard by the financial crisis. General Motors said recently that it will idle its St. Petersburg factory and stop production of its Opel brand in Russia altogether. The layoffs have led to more labor disputes, but union official Pyotr Prinyov says the unions aren't faring well. Workers recently had to abandon a strike they had started at the Ford plant in March.
Pyotr Prinyov: (Foreign language spoken).
Flintoff: Prinyov says Ford simply brought in nonunion workers to replace the strikers and cut hours to as little as two days a week. Ted Cannis is the CEO of FordSollers, Ford's Russian partnership. He says the company has had to lay off workers, but it was better to cut hours to keep the remaining jobs.
Ted Cannis: This is a difficult time for us, or the competition, to be increasing pay and when we're trying to hold onto everybody's job the best we can and make it through the crisis so we can all come out better on the other side.
Flintoff: Pyotr Prinyov, the union official, says one problem is that foreign carmakers aren't really committed to Russia. When times get tough, he says, they shutter their operations and cut workers loose. Ted Cannis says that's not true; Ford's investments in Russia are too big to abandon.
Cannis: I would say by the end of this year, we'll invest about a billion and a half over the last four years.
Flintoff: Cannis is optimistic the Russian economy can bounce back. But like many business people here, he thinks that process could take up to two more years.
Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow.
6/09/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Proposed overtime legislation pits firefighters against city and town officials at State House - The bills will come up for committee votes on Thursday, by Amanda Milkovits, ProvidenceJournal.com
PROVIDENCE, R.I., USA — At the State House Tuesday, in two separate hearings, firefighters and the sponsors of legislation to establish overtime for public safety workers fought against heated criticism from mayors, town administrators and Lt. Gov. Dan McKee.
The bills heard Tuesday afternoon in the House and Senate labor committees were hurriedly submitted last week, in response to a state Supreme Court decision involving North Kingstown that allows municipalities to re-organize their fire departments, provided they negotiate the changes.
One by one, towns began to make changes. Then, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he wanted to move to a three-platoon system, too, with 56-hour workweeks, to reduce millions in overtime costs. At that, Sen. Frank Lombardi, D-Cranston, and House Majority Whip John Edwards sponsored twin bills to establish a 42-hour workweek for firefighters.
[Not quite sure what's going on down there in Providence, but at least the issue of worktime is on the table instead of being ignored.]
Critics said the legislation interferes with local negotiations. Calling it "the most onerous piece of legislation since 2009," Dan Beardsley, executive director of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, told the Senate committee he couldn't believe the bill was even before them.
"They come in here, why? They want you to give them statutorily what they're not willing to negotiate," Beardsley said. "They don't need you. They have the Labor Board and binding arbitration."
The bills will come up for committee votes on Thursday.
McKee and more than a dozen municipal leaders held a news conference before the hearings to implore legislators to vote against the legislation, saying it would cut into management rights and lead to crippling costs for cities and towns. They promised that firefighters would be paid for working longer hours, but said that should be negotiated in the cities and towns — not at the General Assembly.
Firefighters scoffed at the criticism, saying the legislation just sets a baseline for the workweek they already have. The bill was amended Tuesday to clarify the workweek, after Elorza blasted the bill and said that it had a loophole that would give firefighters overtime for working a regular shift and expose municipalities to class-action lawsuits.
"This is a fair wage bill," Paul Valletta, Cranston firefighter union president and legislative representative to the State Association of Firefighters, said at the Senate hearing.
At the hearing, Lombardi said that people applauded the heroism of firefighters during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and it was sad to see a line being drawn now.
"I don't want to do this. They're good guys," said Elorza, who called them heroes. "But if we do nothing, we face a fiscal challenge."
The testimony was repeated at both House and Senate committees. Although the bills would effect firefighters statewide, much of the discussion centered on Providence. Dozens of Providence firefighters packed the committee rooms or mingled in the halls.
Providence Firefighters Union President Paul A. Doughty took swings at Elorza, accusing him of "dropping a bomb" with his announcement in the middle of the contract. He said former Mayor Angel Taveras had the same idea, until the union convinced him that the longer workweeks wouldn't save as much money as hiring firefighters. Taveras hired 100. The union said the department is supposed to have 522 firefighters, but there are 424 on the roster, with 396 firefighters who are active.
Elorza said that the savings of hiring firefighters was negligible. He said he wants to reduce the average $9 million in overtime by restructuring.
Several committee members showed their support for the firefighters. "I am not a union hack," Lombardi said, before grilling Elorza on his plan for the firefighters.
When former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block said that the Providence Fire Department was among the highest paid and staffed in the country, Sen. Frank Ciccone, D-Providence, North Providence, said he wasn't interested in comparisons.
"We're not somewhere else. We're here. Why should we be compared to Massachusetts, Connecticut, California?" he asked. "We are down 100 men in the Providence Fire Department, is that fair?"
And, Lombardi added: "Nothing in the law prohibits [Rhode Island] from treating firefighters better than other states."
Asked about the legislation Tuesday afternoon, Governor Raimondo said it was too soon to say whether she would veto the bills if they were to pass the General Assembly, but she cautioned that they could prove costly to taxpayers.
"I have very real concerns about any legislation which increases costs for cities and towns because that’s going to be passed on to the people in higher property taxes. Working families right now can’t afford higher property taxes," Raimondo said.
There was dispute about whether the raises were enough. North Kingstown Firefighters Union President Raymond Furtado said firefighters lost $4 million in wages since 2012, when the town moved to extend the workweek for firefighters. "The notion that we received any kind of pay increase, that is just not accurate," Furtado said.
North Kingstown Town Administrator Michael Embury said he wasn't surprised the Supreme Court decision has led to this controversy. "If there are any changes to traditional fire service, the state is quick to negate it."
@AmandaMilkovits firstname.lastname@example.org (401) 277-7213
with staff reports from Jennifer Bogdan and Tracee Herbaugh
- How Not To Measure The Effect Of Inequality On GDP Growth, by Tim Worstall, Forbes.com
[Will this turn out to be more irrelevant chatter about productivity without reference to marketability, which alone makes productivity relevant, especially in these days of producers like OPEC maintaining production levels regardless of market signals?]
LONDON, U.K. - Paul Krugman started this off, having a look at the effects of inequality on how quickly GDP grows.
["Mommy, I didn't start it. HE started it!" Is this another strained attempt to contradict the obvious? But then, that's how nobodies gain somebodyhood, or try to, anyway...]
And as he points out, there doesn’t in fact seem to be any great effect in the sort of ranges of inequality that the rich countries currently have.
[Does he mean any effect IN the inequality or any different effects OF different degrees of inequality ON the various countries? What is this guy, a native Urdu speaker? Fasten seatbelts for fuzzy writing, ifnot fuzzy thinking!]
So, that idea of some of the Social Justice Warriors [ridiculous, aren't they? except use of ridicule is a frequent symptom of a weak argument] that current or likely US levels of inequality are holding back growth seems unlikely.
[Maybe if we replaced monetary "inequality" with a more informative term, monetary "concentration" verging on "coagulation." Then social justice, if that means a less coagulated money supply, starts to overlap more extensively with economic growth. (Is Worstall perhaps one of the followers of Schumpeter's "creative destruction" and therefore believes in leansizing=downsizing to get growth=upsizing?)]
Dean Baker then weighs in by looking at GDP per hours worked. Which is interesting, but he then gets to the wrong conclusion:
Using the OECD data (which is not perfect for international comparisons) we find that relatively equal France saw a decline in average work hours of 10.2 percent over this period. Denmark had a decline of 5.3 percent, and West Germany had a drop of 15.9 percent. These would translate into annual increases in GDP per potential work hour of 0.5, 0.2, and 0.8 percentage points, respectively.
By contrast, in the relatively unequal U.K. the drop in average hours was 4.7 percent, in Canada 3.1 percent, and in the U.S. 2.2 percent. These translates in gains in annual GDP per potential hour worked of 0.2, 0.1, and 0.1 percentage points, respectively.
Would looking at GDP per potential hour worked strengthen the positive correlation between equality and growth? I don’t have time to check that one just now, but a quick eyeballing of the data suggests that it is possible. This still would not be conclusive evidence that equality is good for growth, but it would be interesting. And, it is an important reminder that there is nothing wrong with taking the benefits of higher productivity in the form of leisure rather than income.
It’s that use of the word “leisure” there which is wrong. The assumption being made is that there’s market work and leisure. This simply is not so. And it is important to understand this when attempting to make such international comparisons.
Interestingly, the distinction is usually best found in the work of the Luxembourg Income Study, where Krugman steps up his role this month (maybe next, they did tell me but memory is a frail thing at my age). The usual method of dividing time up, as in time use surveys, is personal time (sleeping, washing, eating, you cannot get someone else to do these things for you), unpaid household work or production (cleaning, cooking, child rearing: these can be done by someone else, as we do when we get a babysitter or call out for a pizza, but most of us do a lot of this ourselves), paid work in the marketplace and then the balancing item, leisure. And it is not true that a change in market, paid, working hours necessarily feeds through into an increase in leisure hours. For example, female paid working hours have increased immensely this past century. But so have female leisure hours. Female unpaid household labour hours have declined by more than the increase in paid female working hours (what Hans Roslin would call the “washing machine effect” perhaps). and we also know that there are differences across countries and cultures in this. One paper compiled from the LIS said that the average German woman worked half an hour a week longer than the average American woman, despite the Americans doing considerably more market working hours (it’s unusual in Germany for a mother of children under 10 or so to work outside the home). This is not just an historical effect either, it’s consistent and ongoing. Household production hours continue to decline and that’s where the increase in leisure hours is generally coming from.
So, we cannot simply assume that a reduction in market working hours feeds through into an increase in leisure hours. Most especially we cannot assume this across countries, where practices differ so markedly.
[Surely one of the more bizarre statements coming from supposedly "conservative" mouths lately - unless he's got some kind of bizantine twist in the definition of that seldom-seen phrase "reduction in market working hours" (our italics).]
As ever, we’ve got to be using the right numbers if we’re to discuss public policy….
My latest book is "The No Breakfast Fallacy, why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources." Amazon and Amazon.co.uk...
6/07-08/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Wage Increase For Millions? Overtime Rule Could Be Raised By Obama Administration This Week, by Tim Marcin firstname.lastname@example.org, 6/08 International Business TImes via ibtimes.com
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting with Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Fellows at the White House, June 1, 2015. The Obama administration is contemplating raising the salary level for overtime pay. (Reuters photo caption)
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - President Barack Obama's administration could soon increase wages for millions of American workers by doubling the salary levels that would require employers to pay overtime. The bold move, to be discussed later this week, would not need approval from the Republican-controlled Congress.
The Labor Department could propose the rule as early as this week; it would raise the current overtime threshold of $23,660 to an expected range of $45,000 to $52,000, Politico reported Monday.
[I always thought the difference between overtime-payable employees and exempt-from-overtime employees was either the distinction between hourly waged and job-description salaried, or, some qualitative distinction between labor and management, such as led many employers like McDonalds to try to game the system by classifying everyone as "management associates" to try to get a blank check on their lives with no need to pay time&ahalf for overtime. But this article seems to indicate that there has always been a quantitative distinction too, and that anyone making over a certain arbitrary(?) amount like this "current overtime threshold of $23,660" was automatically assumed to be equivalent to "salaried management"! How bizarre that I should have reached this advanced age (I've been 47 now for centuries!) without hearing about this! But this is clearly another silly arbitrary limit that should go all the way up, as should the current totally bizarre cutoff for Social Security tax. And any of today's millionaires and billionaires who are not advocating and supporting their inclusion in these taxes are further insulating and isolating themselves and evoking hostility...and contributing directly to today's stumbling "recovery."]
Much of the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee hearing on Wednesday will be devoted to federal wage and hour standards, whether or not the overtime rule is declared, according to Politico. Amid proposed minimum wage increases in cities and states across the country, the ambitious possible change at the federal level has drawn the ire of opponents who say it would force businesses to eliminate jobs and cut hours for employees.
“The minimum wage they can’t do,” Bill Samuel, director of legislative affairs for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, told Politico.
[Thank God, because it creates a gap against newcomers at the bottom of the wage ladder, but several states are doing it - as mentioned in the last paragraph below - so why say they can't do it?"]
“This is probably the most significant step they can take to raise wages for millions of workers.”
[Insofar as it disincentivates employers from using chronic overtime and substituting hiring, it is a significant and positive step, but it still leaves in place the time&ahalf pay incentive for employees. An adequate overtime design must disincentivate both employers and employees from chronic overtime - and incentivate hiring full or part time as a replacement.]
Republicans in Congress and the business lobby are preparing to fight the overtime increase, reported Politico. Under current law, a salaried employee below the $23,660 threshold must get overtime pay -- 1.5 times normal wages -- for every hour worked beyond 40 hours in a week. The current threshold is below the poverty line for a family of four, while the change to $45,000 to $52,000 would put the levels near the median household income and in line with the threshold from 1975 -- when the rule was introduced -- after adjustment for inflation.
An increased qualifying level of $50,440 would boost the wages of 5 million to 10 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Currently, overtime rules cover about 12 percent of salaried workers and white-collar jobs, defined as “executive, administrative and professional," are exempt, Politico reported. Employees making low wages are often exempt because they have some sort of supervisor role. The new rule is reportedly expected to clarify who qualifies for overtime pay.
“It’s hard to believe that somebody making $30,000 is a supervisor,” Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Politico. “At this point, I don’t think even our regulations are in line with the original intent of the law.”
Critics of the proposed change pointed to concerns that employers would cut hours of workers to avoid paying overtime and would reduce jobs. Across the country, cities and states have made changes to increase wages for workers. Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago have all taken steps to increase the minimum wage. A hike from $7.25 to $10.10 proposed by Obama has been stalled in Congress, but four states -- Connecticut, Maryland, Hawaii and Vermont -- have approved increases to at least $10.10.
- The Myth of Worksharing, by Arie Kapteyn & Adriaan & Kalwij & Asghar Zaidi, 6/08 ResearchGate.net
[Under the circumstances, ResearchGate.net should change its name to PropagandaGate.net. It's just another attempt by flacks for big business to deny the obvious by churning out polysyllables and foggy conclusions. But bottom line: though straining to paint worksharing as a myth, the conclusion, even from these biassed "scientists," is still "The results show a positive direct [=short run?] effect on employment of a reduction in working hours" and therefore, worksharing is no "myth."]
TILBURG, Netherlands - Abstract: Worksharing is considered by many as a promising public policy to reduce unemployment. This paper reviews the most pertinent theoretical and recent empirical contributions to the literature on worksharing.
Next, we provide new empirical evidence on this issue by a longitudinal cross-country analysis of the long-run effects of a reduction in working hours on employment and wages, exploiting aggregate data for 16 OECD countries.
The conclusions of the theoretical literature survey are indecisive: the efficacy of worksharing as an employment enhancing policy tool depends heavily on the setting in which the analysis takes place.
[This amounts to an admission of the unscientific subjectivity of the attempted attack on worksharing, since the main "setting" on which the conclusion "depends heavily" would be the objectivity or lack thereof of the analysts doing the analysis, and these biassed-title "scientists" are so busy attempting ridicule and misdirection that they don't even realize they have supported worksharing's significant positive short-run effect on employment and even a small long-run effect, whose degree of significance or insignficance is highly relative, subjective and vanishingly capable of scientific quantification as the "long-run" gets longer. This tactic is similar to the Lump of Labor Fallacy sneer in its misdirection, miswording and attempted use of ridicule in a supposedly scientific setting. It's a standard practice on the part of people who have a weak or false argument to make. Tilburg University ought to be ashamed of itself for harboring such practices, which are worse than plagiarism of truly scientific (i.e.: objective) research and conclusions.]
In line with recent empirical studies, our results do not support the proposition that worksharing promotes employment.
[Then why do "we" contradict that statement in the very next sentence?]
The results show a positive direct effect on employment of a reduction in working hours.
However, taking into account indirect effects, in particular the upward effects on wages, we find that the long-run effect becomes small and insignificant.
[But nonetheless real and therefore, not a "myth," especially when "the results show a positive direct [presumably short-run] effect on employment of a reduction in working hours," and when some employers are overwhelmingly more concerned about direct effects in the short run than indirect effects in the long run anyway - except, apparently, when it comes to policy disciplines they need to practice but are too spoiled by floods of resumes to respect. And their rueful final admission that worksharing is not a myth even in the indirect long run has apparently been made without taking account of the upward effects of higher wages on domestic spending and markets and marketable productivity and sustainable investment and...positive indirect effects on employment of a reduction in working hours.]
6/06/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Thousands could see work hours cut in Walsall Council's bid to save £5m - Staff working hours face being cut at Walsall Council in a bid to save more than £5 million, it has emerged, Walsall Express & Star via expressandstar.com
WALSALL, Staffs., England - Thousands of workers could see their hours reduced as the the cash-strapped authority looks to claw back money.
A standard working week [of 37½ hours] would be cut by two-and-a-half hours under the proposal, meaning staff would be forced to take a pay drop. But the now Tory-controlled council said the move could secure jobs, while saving the cash-strapped authority up to £5.5m.
Negotiations will need to take place with unions and firm proposals will now be drawn up to go before the decision-making cabinet at a future date.
The council has been forced to axe almost 200 posts this year in a bid to save £29m, and is braced for further reductions in government funding.
The authority has already been forced to scrap hundreds of jobs over the last few years as part of cuts. The council now employs almost 8,000 people.
Council leader Mike Bird said: “If we are saving £5.5 million on the revenue budget, which is the pay roll, what we would like to see is people being able to keep their job rather than being made redundant.
“It is far better to have 35 hours work and have a job than do no hours at work and sit at home.”
Union representatives will be part of discussions on the changes.
Councillor Bird said: “It is going to take at least six months."
- Spineless Kansas Legislature faces furlough Friday challenge, by Yael T. Abouhalkah, (6/05 late pickup) The Kansas City Star via kansascity.com
KANSAS CITY, Kans., USA - As furloughs loom for thousands of state employees, the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature entered Friday with no clear path toward passing a final budget and tax plan.
[Better furloughs than firings, better taxes than furloughs, better income taxes than sales taxes, better income taxes on the rich than the poor, especially if you have a hunch that a real economic recovery requires a growing momentum of monetary circulation among many, not just coagulation among few. And since you get less of what you tax, it's stupid to tax what you want, like sales. If we quit dreaming and finally accepted the fact that one thing we do not want is unlimitedly wealthy people, who just want to store money without limit and...take it out of circulation, we would have a healthy and economy-building target for taxation. Less circulation = recession = how the wealthy cause recession. - - - Admittedly it's hard for some people to imagine having waaay more money than you can spend, but this is the situation of 3,000 of Americans. Bill Gates has, what, $50-60 billion? And building a $30 million house is chump-change relative to that figure. And we've been getting headlines lately that the donations of five large Massachusetts foundations are not keeping up with their income. This was the first admission I've seen in print that the wealthy are having difficulty evenjust giving it away in terms of the mind-boggling amounts that are funneling to them now that the flood of anxious resumes is guaranteeing that the national income is not going to the tens of millions of wage earners who actually want, and need, and have the time, to spend it. And it's getting harder for them to find stable investments, because such investments require marketable productivity, and so much of the national income is funneling to the topmost brackets that markets are weakening. The solution? Reverse the surplus of jobseekers and the shortage of job openings. Through most of history we did this by war and plague. The smart way is how we did it 1938-40 = we set a nationwide workweek at 44 hours and cut it 2 hours a year for 2 years - maybe it's time we resumed that workweek reduction. Paradoxically, cutting the surplus of anxious resumes would stop and reverse falling wages.]
The spineless members continue to ignore the best way to bring in more revenue: Reinstate the income tax on thousands of businesses that now pay nothing, which is patently unfair.
Instead, lawmakers have been done plenty of blind alleys in recent days, even as they meet on Day 106 of the legislative session. That’s cost taxpayers an extra $43,000 a day for the past 16 days of overtime.
On Thursday, the House crushed Gov. Sam Brownback’s costly plan to increase the sales tax on 3 million Kansans from 6.15 percent to 6.65 percent.
Earlier this week, some Senate members out of the blue came up with a plan to kill $635 million in tax exemptions a year for schools, nonprofit hospitals and scouting organizations. That idea fortunately was terminated.
So what’s left to discuss on Friday?
Plenty of bad ideas, and you can bet they will get attention.
The Senate still has a proposal to slash $400 million across-the-board from the next budget. That would include about $180 million in K-12 spending.
It’s a ridiculous-on-its-face plan — yet it caters to the hard-line GOP members who want to reduce spending without having to think about it too much.
The higher sales tax remains on the table, because Brownback continues to push consumption taxes as the best way to make up for the hundreds of million in state revenue lost because of his excessive income tax cuts approved in 2012.
Instead, the Legislature — if it has the courage — must take another look at reining in the tax cuts for the thousands of businesses that don’t deserve them. That would be far better than placing yet another burden on regular taxpayers in the form of far higher sales taxes.
Brownback has threatened to veto a rollback of his tax exemption for businesses.
So what? If the Legislature can find its spine, it will approve this kind of tax increase and send it to the governor.
To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.
[Another version (6/06) -]
Update: At least 24,200 Kansas state workers get furlough notices, AP via KAKE News via kake.com
At least 24,200 workers at Kansas state government agencies and state universities have received notices that they'll be furloughed if lawmakers don't approve a budget by Sunday.
Figures provided Friday to The Associated Press showed that almost 71 percent of those employees work at a state university.
Department of Administration spokesman John Milburn said about 7,100 employees in agencies under Gov. Sam Brownback's direct control received notices.
Wichita State University's Joe Kleinsasser said about half of all university employees would be furloughed, but he could not provide the exact number.
The University of Kansas reported sending furlough notices to almost 5,300 workers. Notices went to another 2,600 workers at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Kansas State University announced it sent notices to more than 8,700 employees. The number at Pittsburg State University was 530.
Lawmakers have yet to approve a complete state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Kansas State University would furlough 8,720 workers if the state does not reach a budget deal by Sunday.
A university spokesman said Friday that nearly 70 percent of its 12,657 workers would be deemed nonessential and furloughed.
Lawmakers were in the 106th day of their annual session, which was supposed to last 90 days. The state cannot pay salaries for the pay period beginning Sunday because a budget has not been passed for the fiscal year that begins July 1
Kansas State President Kirk Schulz said in a statement that the disruption caused by the potential furlough could have unintended consequences.
Wichita State University's Joe Kleinsasser could not provide numbers of how many workers would be furloughed. This notification went out to WSU employees today;
Dear member of the WSU community,
This information is being sent to all employees and students at Wichita State University. If you are not currently an active employee of Wichita State, then this message does not pertain to you and is for your information only.
Although summer classes will continue as usual, we are required to notify all employees and student employees as to their status regarding potential furloughs starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, June 7.
Employees who will not be placed on furlough were notified of their status in an email earlier today. If you have not received such communication, then you will be furloughed effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday, June 7. Employees will need to check the following website beginning Saturday evening to see whether furloughs will take place: http://www.kansas.gov/employee/.
A list of all employees who are not being furloughed is located at myWSU. This list may be updated prior to and during the furlough period. Changes will be communicated to affected individuals. You should also check this list Saturday evening should furloughs occur.
Should furloughs occur and become extensive, we will revisit the needs of the university and adjust the list accordingly.
Additional information can be found at http://www.admin.ks.gov.
Thank you for your efforts during this difficult time.
Pittsburg State University says about 530 of its workers will be furloughed if the Kansas Legislature does not pass a budget by Sunday.
The university said on its website Friday that 280 employees and about 250 student workers would be furloughed.
Lawmakers were in the 106th day of their annual session, which was supposed to last 90 days. Because a budget has not been passed for the fiscal year beginning July 1, the state cannot pay salaries for the pay period beginning Sunday.
Pittsburg State President Steve Scott said on the university's website that it is painful to know that employees will feel devalued by the situation.
Workers facing the potential furlough are from the university's custodial, athletics and technology departments.
6/05/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Schools face disruption as teachers back strike, by Scot MacNab, The Scotsman via scotsman.com
EDINBURGH, Scotland - Scotland’s schools face major disruption in the coming months as teachers yesterday backed the prospect of strike action and a boycott of the national exams system.
Spiralling concerns over teacher workloads saw delegates at the EIS union’s annual meeting yesterday back motions calling for a ballot on industrial action, including strikes over pay and a boycott of work associated with the new Nationals exam.
[People will keep imposing unless they get feedback, as loud as necessary.]
Council leaders last night insisted they had already offered the “best possible” deal on pay and urged the profession to think again.
David Baxter, of the Dundee local association of the EIS, which was behind the strike move, said: “Teachers are being worked harder, paid less and are being seriously undervalued. Teachers have had enough. This is the time to act.”
Talks will be held with councils about pay and national exams body the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) over the extra workload teachers are facing, in the hope that strike action can be averted. ?If no deal is reached, the EIS executive committee will then start making arrangements for ballots on industrial action.
It comes at a time of deteriorating relations between the Scottish Government and the profession after education secretary Angela Constance recently attacked teachers for failing poorer youngsters on basic numeracy and literacy, prompting an angry backlash yesterday.
On the second day of the EIS AGM in Perth, members backed the Dundee motion calling for a campaign for a pay increase which is not linked to working conditions, and called for a ballot on potential strike action if no “satisfactory” deal is struck.
Mike Callaghan, a member of the union’s council, said: “We did not enter the teaching profession to strike but the constant erosion of the education profession must not be allowed to continue.
“I do not want to strike, but if we do not take action now after five years of erosion with no end in sight, when will we?”
Earlier this year, the union put forward proposals for a 5per cent increase for 2015-16, but councils offered a 2.5 per cent rise over two years. This was rejected.
Growing teacher workloads as a result of the new National Qualifications exam system, brought in to replace Standard Grades, are a major source of anger.
Susan O’Brien, of South Lanarkshire, said: “We’re now into the third year of delivering the National Qualifications assessments and we know the workload isn’t getting any easier.
“The amount of internal assessment is breaking teachers’ backs, and it is soul-destroying for the pupils.”
A recent survey by the EIS claimed the average teacher worked 46.5 hours a week – 11.5 hours over their contracted 35 hours.
Secondary teachers will now be balloted on a “boycott of co-operation of the SQA” until the workload, including “unit assessment marking”, is reduced.
Graham Boyd, of East Ayrshire, told delegates: “The SQA has become a bureaucratic monster that needs to be slain.”
Alison MacDonald, of the Highland local association, which jointly called for the boycott, also voiced frustrations.
“There is a massive workload imposition by the SQA – an organisation that isn’t even our employer,” she said.
EIS general-secretary Larry Flanagan warned teacher workloads were “unsustainable” as he demanded “real progress”.
Mr Flanagan said: “The professional commitment of teachers is being abused and taken for granted and we need to give our members the collective strength to say No to excessive workload.”
The issue will be one of the union’s key demands in the run-up to next May’s Holyrood elections.
He also called for more resources for schools, urging the Scottish Government: “Give us back the 4,000 teachers we have lost; give us the smaller class sizes we were promised.”
Ms Constance said the government was working with teachers to address “concerns around workload”. She added: “Industrial action would not be in the interests of anyone, least of all pupils and parents.
“We want to see a fair, affordable deal and are working with councils and the unions to achieve that.”
But the prospect of an increased pay offer appeared unlikely after council leaders last night insisted that they had already made their “very best offer” and there was no more money in the pot.
Drew Hendry, of the Cosla Employers body, which is part of national collective pay bargaining, urged teaching chiefs to understand the “reality” of hard-pressed council finances.
“We have put our very best offer to the teachers’ unions,” Mr Hendry said.
Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “The SNP government needs to get round the table with teachers and their unions to find a settlement that works for both sides."
- Private schools to reduce working hours, (6/04 late pickup) The Peninsula via thepeninsulaqatar.com
DOHA, Qatar - With temperature soaring to extreme levels, several private schools have announced a cut in working hours, under instructions from Supreme Education Council (SEC).
The SEC last week reduced working hours of state-run Independent schools by over an hour. These schools now start at 7am and close at noon.
“We will change our timing from Sunday. The KG classes will begin at 7am and close at 10.30am. Other classes will start at 7am and close at 12.30pm, one hour early,” A K Srivastava, Principal, Birla Public School (BPS), told this daily yesterday.
He said the school had received a circular from SEC with an advice to reduce the timing in view of the extreme weather. SEC, however, has allowed schools to decide, he added.
BPS also posted an announcement about new timing on its website.
DPS Modern Indian School, Ideal Indian School, Bhavan’s Indian School and Olive International School are among private schools that have announced a cut in working hours. More schools are expected to follow suit.
“Due to excess heat, authorities have decided to reduce school working hours by one hour with effect from June 9,” said an announcement on DPS website.
Nursery and preparatory classes will begin at 7.15am and close at 10.30am and other classes will start at 7.15am and end at 1pm, it added.
Summer this year in the Gulf and many other parts of the world is expected to be hotter and longer due to El Nino phenomenon, according to weather forecasts.
Temperature in Qatar hit 46 degrees Celsius last week, four-five degrees higher than normal levels, according to the Meteorology Department.
The department forecast a decline in temperature today, with the maximum in Doha expected to reach 38 degrees. However, the weather is expected to be humid with chances of strong winds.
- Discussions of 35 hours in "total deadlock" - So says the Inter-Union after a Friday meeting with Martin Hirsch, Executive Director of the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Agence France-Presse (AFP) via LePoint.fr
[Translation by Google Translate, cleanup by Phil Hyde.]
PARIS, France - After two days of strikes provoked by his first status report on worktime and extra-legal days, Martin Hirsch, head of the AP-HP, on Tuesday sent a new document to the trade unions that promises "not to drop below 15 RTT (reduced time of travail/work = shorter worktime)" per year (ie: too few by 15 days??). The directorship had also put into the discussion: tenure of CSD [??], the maintenance of employment, support for housing and other opposed parties. The Inter-Union (CGT, SUD, FO, CFDT, CFE-CGC, CFTC and UNSA) wanted for its part in Friday's meeting "to reaffirm the foundations laid by the employees for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations." Now these foundations do not correspond to those proposed by the directorship. It declares itself "ready to discuss the 35 hours with Martin Hirsch but its prerequisite is to take everything apart, destroy all the gains made by the 2002 Protocol, and then discuss the organization of work. It turns the subject upside-down," commented Jean-Marc Devauchelle, representative of SUD AP-HP, to AFP.
Maintaining the number of RTT days in effect
"It was a genuine misunderstanding, it persists, it flashes a warning," and it's a "total deadlock," deplores the trade unionist, regretting also, as do the other unions, that the Director General has not responded to the preconditions that they had posed: stop the prosecution of strikes in certain institutions before initiating any discussion. Questioned by AFP, the General Directorship indicates that it proposed a next meeting on June 12. The Inter-Union holds the line at "the maintenance" of the number of RTT days in effect and the specific job descriptions, and the new job hires including the integration of contract worker shifts to "allow staff to take their days off." It refuses that savings (amounting to 30 million) be made on the backs of employees.
Another strike on June 11
The unions also demand an immediate stop to the imposition of "the 7hr30min hour shift." The "new foundations of dialog" of the directorship, however, indicate that "shifts of 7h36m and 7h50m will no longer be called upon as reference patterns: employees working under those schedules will then have to rejoin a pattern of 7h30m, whether they now have a shift of 8h45m or 10 hours, in certain organizations." The directorship wishes that the new time patterns become the object of "field studies for a few weeks" in fifteen reference points or services for establishing a new reference framework from now to "the end of September" for the 75,000 staff of the 38 hospitals of the AP-HP. The key signal is that the directorship wants to impose its views and is performing a "dialogue of the deaf," is what Rose-May Rousseau, CGT representative, tends to believe. She predicted a fast following new strike on June 11 and "plenty of anger." The Inter-Union is calling for a new mobilization, with a march on the Elysee Palace of the President.
6/04/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed) -
- What Goldman, JPM, CS, BAML and Barclays have done to cut working hours, by Sarah Butcher, eFinancialCareers.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Junior bankers’ working hours are back in the news following the tragic death of two young analysts. Sarvshreshth Gupta, a first year analyst at Goldman Sachs, took his own life after working two days and nights without sleep. Thomas J. Hughes, a 29 year-old analyst at Moelis & Co. died last week. Hughes’ father said he took his life after taking drugs to mitigate the pressure at work.
In the wake of the deaths, banks are under renewed pressure to reduce hours for staff in their investment banking divisions. Here’s a round-up of the measures they have in place already.
Goldman Sachs – average of 72.4 hours worked per week. Introduced ‘Saturday rule’ in November 2013
A survey of users at Wall Street Oasis, an investment banking community site, found junior Goldman Sachs bankers work an average of 72.4 hours per week. This compares favourably to pure investment banks like Lazard, Rothschild and Moelis & Co, where the average is 82 hours a week plus.
Goldman Sachs was also the first bank to proactively tackle the working hours issue. In 2013, it introduced the so-called ‘Saturday Rule’, which states that ‘All analysts and associates are required to be out of the office from 9pm on Friday until 9am on Sunday,’ and that exceptions should not be the norm and that, ‘The expectation is that work will not be assigned on Saturday to be completed Saturday’.
Alexandra Michel, the US academic engaged in a 13 year study of investment banking working practices, told us Goldman Sachs has long had a positive approach to working conditions for juniors. “When I worked at Goldman, it was very hard for senior bankers to become partners if they were ‘people eaters’,” she said.
Credit Suisse – average of 72.1 hours worked per week. Introduced ‘Saturday rule’ in January 2014
If you’re a junior banker interested in moderate working hours, Credit Suisse is similar to but better than Goldman Sachs. Wall Street Oasis puts average working hours at 72.1 per week at the Swiss Bank. In January 2014, Bloomberg reported that Credit Suisse had introduced its own Saturday rule which was more generous than Goldman’s. CS bankers get an extra four hours at the weekend and are compelled to leave the office at 6pm on Friday and return no sooner than 10am on Saturday.
J.P. Morgan introduced ‘protected weekends’ in December 2013
Wall Street Oasis doesn’t put a number on working hours in IBD at J.P. Morgan. However, there are plenty of complaints around the web. The days are ‘never ending’ and it’s ‘impossible to keep up with the workload’ according to reviewers on Glassdoor.
Instead of giving its juniors Saturdays off, J.P Morgan opted to assign them once-monthly ‘protected weekends’ from December 2013. Under this policy, JPM juniors are barred from working for one full weekend per month. The bank also increased its intake of analysts to help spread the workload more thinly.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) introduced four weekend days off per month in January 2014
Like JPM, BAML has gone for flexibility. Instead of commanding its juniors to take Saturdays off, it stipulated that they must take at least four weekend days off every calendar month. Bank of America juniors who want to work more than four weekend days a month need to get sign-off from the bank’s senior managers.
Wall Street Oasis doesn’t provide figures for average working hours at BAML, but when intern Moritz Erhardt died in 2013 he was said to have worked for 72 hours straight.
Barclays – average of 71.4 hours worked per week. Introduced a policy of protecting weekends ‘as far as possible’ in mid-2014
Wall Street Oasis puts average working hours at Barclays’ Investment Bank at 71.4. Barclays introduced a comprehensive raft of measures to discourage senior bankers from overworking juniors in mid-2014. These say that weekends must be protected as far as possible and give junior bankers the power to report on senior bankers who mismanage their workloads.
Morgan Stanley – average of 67.6 hours worked per week. No limits in place on working hours
Ironically – or perhaps understandably, the bank with the best record on working hours has felt the least need to introduce hard limits on juniors’ time in the office. According to Wall Street Oasis, average working hours at Morgan Stanley are ‘just’ 67.6 weeks. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has consistently said that the bank has no plans to introduce hard restrictions on working hours – either now or in the future. However, young bankers need to work “reasonable’ hours” so that they can have a “balanced lifestyle,” said Gorman at Davos in 2014. Bankers who work too long. “become very uninteresting advisers to companies because they bring a very narrow perspective,” he added.
- Portuguese nurses stage strike over pay, working hours, AP via New Zealand Herald via nzherald.co.nz
LISBON, Portugal - A walkout by nurses in Portugal's public health system to protest pay cuts and working conditions has disrupted services at hospitals and health centers.
The 48-hour strike that began Thursday was called by a labor group representing almost half of Portugal's roughly 40,000 nurses. Patients reported delays and cancellations of medical appointments.
The Portuguese Nurses Union said the walkout is its latest protest against a 2013 increase in their working week to 40 hours from 35, a reduction in overtime pay and a freeze on promotions.
The government took those measures as part of spending cuts required by creditors in return for a 78 billion-euro ($89 billion) bailout in 2011.
By law, striking medical workers must provide minimum services to ensure no lives are put in danger.
6/03/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Brentwood Borough teachers furloughs likely cut in half, by Stephanie Hacke, Trib Total Media via TribLive.com
BRENTWOOD, Penn., USA - The furloughing of eight teachers in the Brentwood Borough School District likely will be cut in half, as teachers and administrators have opted to retire early, saving the jobs of some of their colleagues.
Three of eight teachers furloughed already have been recalled, and board members are set to vote on recalling a fourth in June, Superintendent Amy Burch said Monday.
Nearly 100 parents, teachers and students attended a town hall meeting last Thursday to learn about the financial situation the district is in that led to the curtailment of eight programs and cuts in every department.
Declining enrollment, increases in retirement contribution costs, property reassessments that led to less money coming in and the district covering costs for students going to charter schools — along with cuts five years ago in state funding — led district leaders to use money from a dwindling fund balance to balance the budget, Burch said.
“That equals the perfect storm, and we're in the middle of it right now,” Burch said.
Brentwood leaders held off on making cuts to programs and staffing for the last several years by using money from the district's reserve, she said. Yet, if that trend continued through this year, “we'd be in the negative.”
Some contracts, however, were not renewed during the last several years. A full-time school resource officer position in 2013-14 was turned into part-time positions to save costs, while a maintenance supervisor job was not refilled when vacated in 2014-15.
Eight administrators, too, took a cut in their raises next year of about 25 percent, equaling a $9,000 savings, and a pay freeze the year after to save the district $30,000.
District leaders also are looking at other options for filling a vacant principal post for 2015-16, with Moore School Principal Robert Monaghan set to retire at the end of this year, Burch said. That decision will be made this month.
Board members also will determine how much to raise the property-tax rate for the 2015-16 school year, as two budgets will be presented to the board for discussion on June 8 and a vote on June 15, Burch said.
One option would be raising the millage to the state-approved index, which would raise the tax rate by 0.7242 of a mill tax-rate increase to 27.5501 mills for 2015-16. This would equal a $58 increase in tax bills next year for the owner of a home with the median assessment of $83,300.
Another option is to raise the millage above the index to the state Department of Education exceptions for 2015-16, raising the rate by an additional 0.6406 of a mill. This would total a 1.3648-mill increase, if board members raise the rate to the maximum permitted. That would generate $296,000 in additional revenue in 2015-16.
Parents and students expressed frustration last week at the meeting attended by state Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Carrick) and Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport).
Some said they thought they were informed of the district's financial woes too late, when they couldn't do anything to save the teachers.
“I feel like we almost snoozed,” Elroy PTA President Jennifer Travis said. “Now, we're watching our teachers scatter ... I'd like to see us solve this in-house and keep us the strong community that we are.”
Some parents suggested solutions to address the financial problems. Their ideas ranged from exploring a merger with the Baldwin-Whitehall School District to having a parent volunteer and work as the business manager to help cut costs.
Burch said there are no plans to explore a merger and that the financial situation Brentwood is in is not unique to the district, so combining with another district in a similar situation wouldn't solve the problem.
Students cried as they talked about the teachers being furloughed.
“This is about what we're going to lose,” Travis said, as her daughter, Madeline, sobbed at her side.
Burch has not identified the teachers being furloughed.
Teachers recalled from a furlough included one music teacher and one business teacher, along with a French teacher who was transitioned into a French and English position. An elementary teacher likely will be recalled in June as a long-term substitute, Burch said.
She stressed that district leaders have been discussing the impending financial situation for years.
“People get involved when it's personal to them,” Burch said. “It's crucial that the community be involved.”
Readshaw and Brewster both said they will do what they can to ensure the state budget brings more money to school districts. Yet, they said, pressure needs to be placed on legislators from other parts of the state who don't share their views.
Parents need to stay informed and involved, Burch said. District leaders plan to present an update on the 2015-16 budget at the June 8 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Brentwood Middle/High School auditorium, 3601 Brownsville Road.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Evraz shuts down production of steel used in oil pipe, furloughs 100, DenverPost.com
PUEBLO, Colo., USA - Pueblo steel mill operator Evraz North America on Tuesday temporarily shut down steelmaking and furloughed 100 workers.
A company spokeswoman said the one-week shutdown was to "align production with decreased oil country tubular goods demand and increased rod imports."
[Furloughs, not firings! We can get growth=upsizing only if we substitute timesizing for downsizing.]
In January, Evraz announced the temporary layoff of 200 workers in the unit that makes seamless pipe used in oil and gas production, citing low oil prices. Those employees still have not been called back to work, the spokeswoman said Tuesday.
[Ohoh, hopefully the 100 furloughs associated with the current "one-week shutdown" will not turn into this kind of "temporary" layoff.]
Seamless pipe and other tubular steel products accounted for 17 percent of Evraz's 2013 North American sales.
Oil has been in a slump since hitting a high of about $107 per barrel last summer, and oil companies have scaled back their operations to all but the most promising plays as a result. This has led to reduced demand for steel-pipe products. Oil services companies responsible for drilling and servicing wells also have let go employees.
The price of oil rose nearly 2 percent Tuesday to its highest level since December. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.06 to close at $61.26 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 61 cents to close at $65.49 a barrel in London.
6/02/2015 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mid-&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 & foremost - ([commentary] by Phil Hyde (PH3) email@example.com unless otherwise initialed) -
- Kansas Senate rejects sales tax increase as furloughs loom, by Nicholas Clayton & John Hanna, AP via Albany Times-Union NY via timesunion.com
[Taxes are less destructive than furloughs. Furloughs (temporary) are less destructive than layoffs (permanent). That being said, taxes on investing power (ie: on the rich) are less destructive than taxes on sales if you want economic growth, because sales make for growth and taxing something makes for less of it, so if you want less growth, you want less sales so tax that. You want more growth? DON'T tax sales. Is this getting through any thick heads? Interest rates near zero mean we've got too much investing power, too many riches in too few hands that store it instead of spending it - in this situation, taxes on the rich will even be constructive if the government spends the money instead of trying to invest it. We need spending, not saving. Yes, it's countertraditional but true. Spending GOOD, saving BAD right now. So SWITCH from taxing sales to taxing the rich, or keep sinking. Pick one. And hurry - we've got serious ecological problems building up, like wierd weird weather-wether-waether and desperate migrants.]
Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, speaks against proposals to eliminate sales tax exemptions as the chamber considers ways to raise new revenues to close a budget shortfall, Sunday, May 31, 2015, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Democrats are fighting proposals to increase the sales tax, arguing that it hurts poor and middle-class families. (photo caption)
TOPEKA, Kan., USA — Kansas' GOP-dominated Senate abandoned a tax package Monday to fill looming budget shortfalls after debates and procedural votes showed the chamber's Republicans are still sharply divided on the issue.
Administration officials warned senators Sunday that state workers would be furloughed June 7 if a deal is not reached. But lawmakers were not ready to accept the compromise package that included a variety of tax increases, said Senate President Susan Wagle.
"I think that everybody is still stuck on their individual plan that they're hoping to win other members over for," the Wichita Republican said.
Unable to resolve tax issues, lawmakers have yet to pass a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and on Tuesday the session will be tied for the second longest in the history of state, at 103 days. Only 2002's was longer, at 107, according to legislative researchers. Lawmakers traditionally set sessions for 90 days.
The state's projected $406 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1 arose after lawmakers cut income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Gov. Sam Brownback's urging in an effort to stimulate the economy. One 2012 policy championed by the governor allowed 281,000 business owners and 53,000 farmers to avoid income taxes on their profits.
But Republicans have been divided over whether to raise some taxes on those businesses, with critics arguing that tax break had unintended consequences. Other GOP lawmakers have insisted the shortfall be made up by consumption taxes or spending cuts.
Wagle compared the tax package under debate Monday to a "cocktail" of medicines that would include unpleasant ingredients but could heal the budget. Republican Sen. Jeff Melcher from Leawood opposed the tax increases in the package and retorted, "I don't think this is a medicinal cocktail; I think this is an overdose."
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan told GOP senators Sunday that all nonessential state workers will be immediately furloughed if the Legislature does not pass a budget by June 7. He said the state isn't authorized to pay workers beyond Saturday without a budget in place because of payroll rules.
He acknowledged that lawmakers could pass a short-term budget measure, but said, "I don't know that anyone thinks that would be a good option."
In the House, GOP leaders released the results of an informal poll of the chamber's Republicans. It showed that the only proposal supported by the majority of respondents was an increase to the state sales tax, bringing it to 6.5 percent from 6.15 percent.
Thirty-five of 71 representatives who responded to the House poll said they would support a 2.7 percent tax on net income from businesses given exemptions in 2012. Republican Rep. Mark Hutton, of Wichita, has supported such taxes and said the poll "does show there's support for our direction that's probably more than the other directions."
The governor has recommended taxing the compensation business owners guarantee themselves, regardless of income. But, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan relayed to GOP senators Sunday that Brownback intends to veto any measure that would establish a higher business tax. Wagle said that such proposals were "on ice" in the Senate.
House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, a Louisburg Republican, said the business tax is the "watershed issue." He said the groups wanting no tax increase and others wanting a plan more aggressive than Brownback's are roughly equal in size. Other House members want budget cuts, he said.
A tax plan Brownback outlined Saturday would increase the sales tax to 6.65 percent from 6.15 percent and increase the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack, to $1.29 from 79 cents.
- Bragging rights: The silly reason men work (or pretend to work) extremely long hours, by Max Nisen, (6/01 late pickup) Quartz via qz.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The culture of working enormously long hours is ingrained in many workplaces. But for men in particular, it also has a lot to do with comparing themselves to peers. When men don’t work as much as colleagues and friends, they report being unhappy and shift their work schedule to match or better them, according to a new working paper from researchers at Maastricht University and Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
And that peer-matching isn’t about being as productive. It’s all about perceived status. The authors call it “conspicuous work.”
[The good news is that it's not about being productive so truly efficient managers won't be pushing for extremely long hours. The bad news is that control-freak facetime-maximizing managers will still be pushing and in the background, it seems that the Puritan work ethic has merged with macho.]
The study looks at more than a decade of data from working men in the Netherlands whose peers generally also worked. They had data on people’s work hours, their perception of their peer’s hours, and their self-reported happiness.
The first major finding, that people’s work hours scale with their peers, could be explained by a few possible things. Working with others is more productive and pleasant than working alone, so people tend to work about the same amount. Plus, people generally like to conform to societal norms, and peer work hours are a good proxy for those expectations. The last, the conspicious work model, suggests that people get extra status from being a “hard worker,” and are unhappy when others are conspicuously busier.
The finding that men grow progressively unhappier as their peers work more, controlling for their own hours, indicates that the choice to work is wrapped up in status and personal comparison, and supports the conspicuous work model.
This is, of course completely divorced from whether that work is productive. It leads to a norm where people who don’t conform to these work hours can be seen as failing to fit a company culture. Another recent study found that many people go to elaborate lengths to convince everybody around them that they’re working the same insane hours. People who admit that they want a more normal schedule are often punished.
This comes against a backdrop of recent data (paywall) that shows work hours increasing overall, and that it can contribute to gender inequity.
The one bright side? There appears to be limits. People don’t gain much from working substantially more than colleagues, and those extra hours have negative consequences on quality of life. So true workaholics are likely to be rare.
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