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Timesizing News, March, 2016
[Commentary] ©2016 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Harvard Sq PO Box 117, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


3/31/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Improving Employment Insurance for the Middle Class in Manitoba, (3/30 late pickup) CNW via WindsorStar.com
    WINNIPEG, Man., Canada - The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Canada's Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, outlined today a series of improvements to the Employment Insurance (EI) program that will help middle-class Canadians and those who wish to join them, while increasing investments for skills and training.
    Minister Mihychuk made the remarks today at the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Manitoba Inc. in Winnipeg, noting that changes made in Budget 2016 will help the EI program to adapt to changing labour market realities across the country.
    As outlined in Budget 2016, national changes to the EI program that will benefit Canadians in Manitoba and across the country include:
    • eliminating barriers that prevented Canadians, especially youth and newcomers, from accessing EI;
    • reducing the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week, effective January 1, 2017;
    • extending and expanding the current EI Working While on Claim pilot project until August 2018. This will help EI claimants stay connected to the labour market and ensure that they benefit from accepting work;
    • reversing the 2012 EI changes that forced workers to travel far from home for lower-paying jobs;
    • doubling the length of Work-Sharing agreements from 38 weeks to 76 weeks across Canada to help businesses retain skilled employees. This measure will help employers retain skilled employees and avoid the cost of recruitment and training. Employees can continue to work and maintain their skills while supplementing their wages with EI benefits for the days they are not working;
    • improving service quality by investing $92 million over two years. This will help hire more EI call centre agents, improve employment searches and lead to other service enhancements; and
    • reducing EI premiums for workers and businesses to an expected $1.61 by 2017. Premiums are currently set at $1.88.
    In addition to these national improvements, we recognize the need to help regions that have experienced a sudden, sharp and sustained increase in unemployment. We will provide:
    • an additional 20 weeks of regular EI benefits to long-tenured workers in 12 affected regions, including Northern Manitoba, up to a maximum of 70 weeks.
    • Additionally, the duration of EI regular benefits will be extended by 5 weeks, up to a maximum of 50 weeks, for all eligible claimants.
    We will continue to monitor the employment situation in these and all regions across Canada, and to work with provincial and territorial governments to support job training and workforce development.
    Quotes
    "We are delivering on our campaign promise to help middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join them. We are taking concrete action to help Canadians get back to work here in Manitoba and across Canada." – The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
    "Improving EI across Canada, including in Manitoba, is the right thing to do. These improvements will make a difference for Winnipeg families that need help the most." – Doug Eyolfson, Member of Parliament for Charleswood – St. James – Assiniboia – Headingley
    Quick Facts
    The elimination of the new entrant and re-entrant rules is expected to benefit approximately 50,000 EI claimants across Canada.
    Reducing the waiting period will provide a larger first EI payment and ease the financial pressure on Canadians when they need it most.
    To help claimants return to work, the Government will also continue to strengthen and integrate online tools such as Job Bank and Job Match.
    Extending the duration of EI benefits within the identified regions will help provide approximately 170,000 workers with financial stability until they find new employment.
    Nationally, some 33,000 claimants could benefit by the extension of the Work-Sharing agreements.
    Associated Link
    Budget 2016
    http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/home-accueil-en.html
    Source: Employment and Social Development Canada

  2. States moving to restore work requirements for food stamp recipients, FoxNews.com
    AUGUSTA, Maine, USA - States are moving to once again require able-bodied adults to put in work hours in exchange for food stamps, after the requirements largely were suspended by the Obama administration.
    The slow-moving reversal follows the administration pulling back on Clinton-era changes that required recipients to work for government welfare benefits. Signing the reform bill in 1996 alongside then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, then-President Bill Clinton said the goal was to make welfare “a second chance, not a way of life.”
    But during the last recession, President Obama allowed states to suspend a requirement that able-bodied adults without children work at least 20 hours per week or participate in a training program to receive benefits for more than three months.
    He allowed recipients to stay on food stamps indefinitely, arguing the three-month maximum was unfair with unemployment at 10 percent.
    "Food stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis, Wall Street did," said Obama at this past January’s State of the Union address.
    Unemployment today is half of what it was in 2009, yet last year more than 40 states did not require welfare recipients to work.

    [But even so, all the work-requiring ten feel comfortable in asking people to work in the context of these "plentiful" jobs is only a 20-hour workweek? Maybe today's low unemployment isn't that low...or honest.]
    Kansas was one of the first states to reverse that in 2013.
    "I believe most Americans and most Kansans think it's common sense," said Andrew Wiens of the Kansas Department for Children & Families. "These are able-bodied adults without dependents. They don't have children in the home. They're not elderly, they're not disabled. These folks should be working."
    Since Kansas reinstated work rules, food stamp rolls dropped by 20,000 and the incomes of those who left increased by 127 percent, Wiens said.
    The state also imposed limits on how recipients could use their benefits after finding some enrollees used their welfare cash and food stamps cards on cruise ships.
    "Those benefits should be used for necessities," Wiens said. "You can't use them at casinos, strip clubs, massage or tattoo parlors."
    Maine followed the Kansas lead in 2014. In the first three months, the number of able-bodied adults without children on food stamps fell by almost 80 percent. It also cracked down on recipients using their welfare benefits out of state after finding hundreds of Maine residents used their EBT cash cards at or near Disney World.
    "Maine found millions of dollars being spent in Florida," said Josh Archambault of the Foundation for Government Accountability. "That raised all sorts of red flags."
    Another red flag -- a Maine state employee recognized the name of a large state lottery winner. It turned out the state did not require an asset test, allowing food stamp recipients to have vacation homes, multiple cars and lottery winnings and still qualify. After a 2015 state study found 4,000 welfare recipients won more than $22 million in the state lottery funds, Maine imposed a limit on assets.
    "An individual could win a half million dollars," said Archambault. "In the month they receive the lump sum they may not qualify because it counts as income. The very next month and every month going forward, they can legally sign up for food stamps."
    Since 2010, nearly 4,000 welfare recipients in Maine won $1,000 or more. Eleven of them won 10 or more times, and eight individuals won prizes in excess of $500,000.
    William La Jeunesse joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in March 1998 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.


3/30/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Rising GDPs, Declining Work Hours - GDPs have continued to go up even as total hours work have gone down, by Marian Tupy, Cato Institute via (3/29 late pickup) Reason.com
    WASHINGTON, D.C, USA - In 1877, Switzerland was fast emerging as one of the world's manufacturing powerhouses and richest nations. Its average annual per capita income of $5,584 was well ahead of America's $4,708. Along with industrialization came the creation of a proletariat and a new ideology—socialism. To combat the spread of the latter, the Swiss government passed a Factory Act that limited, for the first time, the length of the working day... to 11 hours.
    [Hey, everything's relative, and an 11-hour workday is better than 12.]
    In 2010, when Angus Maddison's valuable dataset ends [?= one of the graphs on http://reason.com/archives/2016/03/29/switzerland-gdp-wages ], per capita income in Switzerland and the United States was $45,414 and $55,316 respectively (all figures are in 2016 dollars). The real standard of living in Switzerland and America improved 8-fold and 12-fold. In the meantime, Swiss worked, on average, 7 hours per day and Americans 7.6 hours per day.
    Working hours have been declining throughout the industrialized world. Between 1950 and 2015, one dataset shows, working hours in Switzerland and the United States declined by 21 percent and 11 percent respectively. Some of the biggest declines were in Holland (28 percent) and Denmark (31 percent).
    In the coming decades, we will see a shrinking labor force [uh, Marian, the whole point of shrinking working hours is to substitute for shrinking of the labor force dba consumer base - production without consumption is meaningless and productivity doesn't count unless it's marketable, which requires sales to consumers with job earnings - PLS. connect the dots between employees and consumerspenders & watch your language!] precipitated by declining birth rates [not in the third world or the migrant-overwhelmed parts of the first world] and a robotics revolution [only if we continue a suicidal kneejerk downsizing response instead of timesizing] that will upend the economy as we know it. Time will show if the salutary trend of declining working hours and growing incomes can continue.
    [Of course it can and must if our economies are to survive and sustain, let alone grow. but only by replacing downsizing the workforce (and consumer base) with timesizing.]
    Marian L. Tupy [male] is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty & Prosperity and editor of www.humanprogress.org

  2. K+S sets back production due to too little rain - Disposal problems are pressuring K+S into kurzarbeit (worksharing), (3/29 late pickup) Die Welt via welt.de
    KASSEL, Hesse, Germany - From April 1, potash producer K+S is temporarily stopping its production in the Hesse Hattorf and the Thuringian Unterbreizbach due to waste-disposal problems. The crux is scarce rainfall and due to that, a too-low water level in the Werra River. Therefore, less salty wastewater from the production could be channeled into the river, according to what K+S shared on Tuesday.
    [Turning a freshwater river into a saltwater one? Sounds like they're looking for trouble!]
    Nearly 1000 employees are affected. In Thuringia, some 300 workers were sent into kurzarbeit, said a K+S spokesperson in a question response. In Hesse there were about 650 employees at the Hattorf locations and the Hattorf Wintershall pit. Kurzarbeit was taken advantage of for all of the nearly 1000 people impacted.
    Production could first be resumed at the Wintershall location. When it will resume at the other locations depends on the weather, said a K+S spokesperson. "We're hoping for heavier rains." How high the financial losses are cannot be currently calculated.
    In Thuringia, workers in the potash production of the Unterbreizbach plant were involved, but also miners in the still-silent Merkers pit. Deep in that location, backup work is being carried out. In order to stabilize the more deeply mined holes, tailings from the production process would be used. With no production going on, these projects also much pause, said the spokeskperson. According to its own statements, K+S employs around 800 workers in the Unterbreizbach plant. From the factory, production wastewater is not being channeled into the Werra River.
    According to its own statements, among other backups in the vicinity of Unterbreizbach, K+S has a so-called retention basin, which is several meters deep and can temporarily hold several 100,000 cubic meters of production wastewater.
    Till year's end due to an only very limited transition allowance, the potash concern may now sink salt wastewater into deep rock layers. After that, this wastewater 'sinking' must be closely aligned with the water flow of the Werra. The Kassel Governer's Office wants to decide in the next few months about prolonging the 'sinking' approval until 2021; K+S expects the decision in the summer. This disposal method is "urgently needed," the company announced.
    It is for the Werra works - which among others includes Unterbreizbach - "very important to obtain, as soon as possible, a sufficiently sized 'sinking' authorization," said the Managing Director of K+S KALI Corp.'s Rainer Gerling. K+S supports «with all means available to us, the efforts of the authority toward the final testing of our 'sinking' application, in order to obtain adequate disposal possibilities as soon as possible."
    dpa/th


3/29/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Police clash with unionists as chaos erupts during protest over standard working hours - Officers intervene as protesters try to stop committee chairman Dr Leong Che-hung from leaving after meeting, South China Morning Post via scmp.com
    HONG KONG, HKSAR, China - Chaos erupted during a protest demanding the immediate implementation of standard working hours legislation on Tuesday, with police officers pushing protesters to the ground to maintain order.
    A group of about 30 protesters from groups including the Confederation of Trade Unions and the League of Social Democrats besieged the Sheung Wan venue where the Standard Working Hours Committee was holding its meeting, demanding to speak to committee chairman Dr Leong Che-hung.
    “Stop dragging your feet! Standardise working hours now!” they chanted outside the office where the meeting took place.
    Are standard working hours a good thing for Hong Kong?
    Unionists have been calling for a working week of between 40 and 44 hours, with workers paid 1.5 times their usual wage rate for overtime.
    [In other words, bring Hong Kong and China out of the dark ages and at least into the 20th century.]
    They complained that three years after the committee was formed, it still had not decided whether working hours should be standardised. The committee is made up of representatives from employers’ groups and unions, as well as academics and government officials.
    After the meeting ended at around noon, the protesters blocked the exit of the office so Leong could not leave. Flanked by police officers, the committee chairman finally made his way down to the ground floor and got into his car, which was parked right outside the building.
    But protesters chased the car for about 30 metres, demanding to speak to him.
    Employees’ boycott would make report on Hong Kong standard working hours ‘flawed’, says committee chairman
    During the chaos, several unionists were pushed to the ground, including League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen. Ng was subdued by two officers, who had their arms around his neck.
    Confederation of Trade Unions organising secretary Ng Koon-kuan demanded that the committee stop dragging its feet.
    “It’s been three years already, and the committee still has not decided whether working hours should be standardised,” he said. “The employers’ representatives are exploiting the workers.”
    The committee will organise another round of public consultation next month. They are expected to last three months.
    Ng is urging people in Hong Kong to boycott the upcoming consultation. He said the committee had already organised such consultations before and should have gathered enough views from the public.
    The league’s Raphael Wong Ho-ming also accused Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of doing nothing to help people who work long hours except for setting up the committee.
    Leong did not speak to the media after the meeting. He later told Cable TV that while he respected the protesters’ right to make their voices heard, they were being “unfair” to the committee because it was the committee’s job to collect views from the public.

  2. Our working hours are longer than ever but our productivity is dismally low. Why? I have a theory, by Grace Dent, (3/28 late pickup) Independent.co.uk
    'Once upon a time, you'd have thought me a trouper for writing this on a Bank Holiday' (photo caption)
    LONDON, U.K. - I find a new report on UK productivity by think tank the Smith Institute grimly fascinating. More than two-thirds of employees questioned say they are working longer hours than two years ago, but only 10 per cent believe they are more productive. In fact, a quarter of staff members say they’re working harder than ever but their productivity has declined over the last two years.
    I’m not surprised to hear that we’re burning the midnight oil with more frequency - because, gosh, I am so busy, pull up a chair and let me moan - but it feels so cruel to face up to the fact that it’s all for less than nothing.
    The way Britain functions has rapidly shifted. Not so long ago, the fact I slaved over a hot laptop on a Bank Holiday Monday to bring you this life-enhancing epistle would have marked me out as somewhat of a trouper.
    Working over Easter, not so long ago, was the territory of those offering something vital, important or deeply unusual. It was for martyrs, maestros and the much-maligned. Same for Sunday mornings at 7am, or 11pm on a Wednesday night. Or any time between 7 and 9 on a Friday, when it was completely de rigeur to rattle a shop door or send a work email and receive a reply saying - in a roundabout sense - “Naff off, mate, we’re not here.”
    But – and the Smith Institute backs me up on this - over the last two years I’ve noticed a rapid depletion in the British concept of “downtime”. Not just among media twonks like me or London-based companies, but across all sectors.
    We want our restaurants open seven days per week, our hotels staffed joyously on Christmas Day, our trains to run safely all night and our customer service hotline taking calls perky at 6am.
    [Is she aware that she's confusing business hours with per-person hours and neglecting the concept of, for example, three 8-hour shifts per 24-hour period?]
    We want groceries delivered at 11pm on a Sunday night with a £1 delivery fee and our TaskRabbit electrician here within the literal click of a button.
    Nowadays, if I send half a dozen work emails on a Sunday morning “to get ahead of myself for Monday” – because I’m so busy, so terribly busy – at least five will ping back within the hour, typed by other people “trying to get ahead” too. At that point, it becomes a fact that none of us are “getting ahead for Monday” but are in fact merely working with each other on a Sunday. How did this become the status quo, and so quickly?
    Five years ago, this didn’t happen. There was an unsaid guilt-free lull. We appear to be lost in a crossfire hurricane of new technology, job fear, wage stagnation and – most importantly than all this - strident consumer neediness. We’re phasing out those times when we go off-grid: asleep, tipsy or covered in dogs, crumbs or our babies. And that doesn’t seem to be doing us any good at all.
    Dive further into the Smith Institute’s report and you start to see why. The report suggests, for example, that managers often seek productivity gains via jobs cuts or simply by instructing workers to do the same tasks at a faster pace.
    One civil servant said: “It would be better to concentrate on improving quality, not quantity … [To get work] right first time rather than continually having to repeat or rectify botched or inadequate work which meets a so-called target.”
    For me, in my souped-up, Super-50 fibre broadband enhanced daily life where every retail need is available for next-day delivery at an app touch and my iPhone is more like an extra appendage, this rings a bell.
    I want my NHS GP service faster with Skype consultation and Deliveroo to fetch dinner from a restaurant four miles away that’s piping hot and seasoned perfectly when it arrives.
    And yet, in this Brave New World, so many of us have developed the most cantankerous of inner Victor Meldrews. Because why is the chilli oil seasoning on this pizza delivery too hot? And how have they lost my blood results? And why has my ASOS delivery been left in a wheelie bin? And for God’s sake how many calls to the bank does it take to send out new authorisation PIN?
    In other words, we are busy, stressed, falsely productive people being catered to by other busy, stressed, seemingly mega-productive folk who keep making mistakes and having to start over again. Then the cycle of promised productivity – coupled with the reality of human beings – begins anew.
    I remember a time, as a teen in the eighties, when absolutely nothing happened in Britain from 5pm on Friday through to 10am on Monday after we’d all had two strong pots of tea. And even then, if we’re being honest, nothing really got going until Tuesday.
    [It's not necessary to have exactly the same lockstep days-off in order to maintain a 40-hour or less workweek. The key thing is to insist that whatever your shift - morning, afternoon or night - and whatever your days off, you observe an overall workweek-per-person limit above which you either refuse overtime or recycle it in jobs for other people. If we keep turning technology's promise of making life better for everyone via more, job-secure, Free Time by accepting micro- and macro-economic downsizing of us, the workforce cum consumer base, instead of downsizing the workweek, we will continue to surplus and disempower ourselves and gradually shut down the economy with less and less consumer spending due to fewer and fewer employed people with job earnings to spend.]
    We were under-stimulated, never pandered towards and at the same time absolutely bored silly.
    Sometimes, I think back to those times and it all feels rather like fun.


3/27-28/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. Abe wants more regulations on work hours, 3/27 (3:26 8:48pm) Jiji Press via Yomiuri Shimbun via The-Japan-News.com
    TOKYO, Japan — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed relevant ministers of his Cabinet on Friday to consider stricter regulations, including possible revisions to the Labor Standards Act, to shorten the long work hours of many Japanese employees.
    “Long work hours are making it difficult to balance jobs with child-rearing, leading to a low birthrate and preventing women from playing active roles in society,” Abe said
    at a national conference to discuss ways to realize dynamic engagement by all citizens, a key policy for the Abe administration.
    “The government will urgently strengthen law enforcement and reconsider the ideal overtime work regulations in the country,” he added.
    The Labor Standards Act sets the workday at eight hours. But the labor time limit can be extended if agreed by the management and labor sides.

  2. 5-day work week for govt employees? 3/28 MumbaiMirror.com
    MUMBAI, Maharashtra State, India - The state government is all set to table a proposal for a five-day week for 19 lakh (19 x 100,000= 1.9m) government employees.
    According to Mantralaya officials, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the administration to table the proposal before the state cabinet to bring down number of working days from existing six [6x8=48 hrs/wk?] to five a week.
    A committee was formed to find if, like the central government, the state too can have a five-day week for it[s] employees. The committee, in its report, has recommended implementing this change, but at the same time has suggested increasing the [8?] existing working hours by 45 minutes [0.75hr] every day [8.75?] to compensate for every Saturday.
    [5days times 0.75hr= 3.75 hrs is only partial compensation for loss of 8-hour Saturday, involving a 4.25-hour workweek reduction. But is Saturday was only a halfday anyway, only a quarter-hour (.25hr=15 minute) workweek reduction is involved. This is how India and China keep themselves mired in the "third world" = long hours for those with jobs, lots of people without, no workspreading efforts, maintenance of a devaluing surplus of people, weak domestic markets, low investment-quality (ie: marketable) productivity,... Quite a contrast with Scandinavia, but watch out for what overpopulation may do to Scandinavian economies if they get cocky and infected with Germany's omnipotent messianism.]
    RTI [Right To Information (US: Freedom of Information)] activist Anil Galgali, who has been pursuing the issue, claimed that a five-day week will help the government lower power bills. "The citizens will also benefit from this move as they will have more time to meet government officials due to increased [huh?] working hours," Galgali added.
    [Possibly means slightly (45mins.) increased daily workhours?]
    Besides downsizing number of working days, the employees union had made a demand to increase the retirement age from 58 to 60.
    [Evidently we're dealing with an employees union that doesn't understand its key power issue is engineering a reduction in labor surplus by means of a genuine reduction in the total workweek, whatever the details of exactly how that is done. Every economy that survives the next quarter-century of robotization and A.I. will be automatically converting chronic overtime into OT-targeted training & jobs, and automatically fluctuating the workweek, mostly downward, to achieve and maintain enough convertible overtime for full employment, no more coddling of employers and coagulation of the money supply that results from coagulation of the supply of market-demanded employment.]


3/26/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

  1. No school for CPS on Good Friday, 1st of 3 furlough days, by Sarah Schulte, WLS via ABC7Chicago.com
    CHICAGO, Illin., USA -- Friday is the first of three furlough days for Chicago Public Schools [CPS].
    CPS says this will help the district save an estimated $30 million as it works toward reaching a new budget and contract agreement with the teachers union.

    ["Better furloughs than firings!" Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Beginning their day with a game of Uno, several CPS students took advantage of citywide YMCA programs, which working parents said was a great option for the first furlough day.
    "When you live in a big city you are faced with certain problems, you have to deal with it the best way you can," said CPS parent Jeff Stahl.
    At Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, teachers and 7th grade students went ahead with a previously-scheduled field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum despite the furlough day.
    "Our education comes first before anything else," said student Carolina Ramos.
    "Our 7th grade team is continuing to go forward with their educational field trip to the Holocaust museum because they will not allow CPS to tell us when we can and cannot learn," said Andrea Calhoun, a teacher at Prieto.
    Along with the lost pay from the furlough day, teachers will lose another day of pay for the planned CTU walk out on Friday, April 1. While Prieto parents came to campus to protest the furlough day, they support their teachers' one-day strike.
    "April 1st is a day demanding revenue for our city to say we no longer short-change our students," said CTU member Rebecca Martinez.
    At Bridgeport's Mark Sheridan Elementary School, parents aren't taking sides. Instead, they used the day off as a teaching moment for their kids by cleaning up the school grounds.
    "Our kids should be in school right now. We know CPS has issues, CTU has issues, but we don't get to take the day off," said parent Vincent Johnson.
    "I think it's an important message to let everyone know that no matter what side you're on, school is going to be here. Kids need to be educated and we need to show support," said parent Kristin Komorowski.
    The Mark Sheridan parents plan to spend the April 1 CTU walk out day back at school doing some spring planting.
    CPS says it chose Good Friday as the first furlough day because thousands of CPS teachers and staff had already planned to take the day off as a holiday.

  2. South Korea's Ministry Of Employment And Labor Says All Pregnant Workers Can Work Shorter Hours Daily, by Judith Aparri, en.jknus.com
    SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's Ministry of Employment and Labor said Thursday the plan to reduce the working hours of pregnant women workers previously applied to firms with over 300 employees, will cover all business starting Friday. Thus, all pregnant workers who are within their first 12 weeks or beyond the 36th week of pregnancy can reduce their working hours daily by two hours sans pay reduction, reported The Chosun Ilbo.
    Those who are pregnant can avail the privilege in many ways. They either can go home from work two hours earlier, go to work two hours later or even add two hours to their daily break time.

    South Korea's pregnant workers need to submit a medical certificate that indicates the period of pregnancy, the time they want to report or leave work and the period of the availment of the reduced working hours to their employer at least three days before they plan to start with their revised schedule.
    If the employers do not grant the pregnant workers the reduced working hours, they will be fined up to 5 million, or about $4,200. A ministry official also said: "Those who cut employees' salaries for working fewer hours during pregnancy could be subject to criminal penalties."
    South Korea's labor laws likewise forbid employers to require pregnant workers work night shifts. Late last year, The Korea Herald featured workplace bullying in the country, disclosing workplace harassment that gets more rampant, cruel and complex. The Korea Women's Development Institute reported to the National Assembly last year that 16.5 percent of 4,589 surveyed workers said they have experienced workplace harassment once in their lives.
    One of the most high-profile harassment in the workplace in Korea is the "nut rage" incident when former Korean Air VP Cho Hyun Ah ordered one of the airline's crew to disembark and the departing jet to return to the John F. Kenney International Airport terminal gate after being dissatisfied with the way she was served nuts in the plane.


  • San Antonio Symphony musicians agree to three-week furlough to plug funding shortfall, by David Hendricks, (3/23 late pickup) San Antonio Express News via expressnews.com
    San Antonio Symphony musicians and Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing have offered to take pay cuts during the 2016-17 season to help the symphony gain better financial footing. (photo caption)
    [Notice the frequent assumption that pay is the significant variable here and time is ignorable. This will have to change for a transition from the economic to the ecologic age, from quantity to quality - when time is the real limited variable.]
    SAN ANTONIO, Tex., USA - Facing a funding shortfall and mounting debt, the San Antonio Symphony reached an agreement with its 72-member orchestra for a temporary layoff during the 2016-17 season to help the organization shore up its finances.
    The musicians agreed to take three weeks of unpaid leave as a way to avoid other more draconian cost reductions during negotiations about two weeks ago, said bass player Nicholas Browne, who runs the five-musician orchestra committee.
    The furlough cuts their annual pay by about 10 percent and will save the symphony about $314,000 for the 2016-17 season,
    which starts with the organization’s next fiscal year on Sept. 1, said symphony President David Gross. Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing and top executives, including Gross, also agreed will take 10 percent pay cuts next season, Gross said.
    “In return, the symphony committed itself to broaden the symphony’s fundraising and marketing expertise so that fiscal crises will never happen again,” according to a statement from Browne, who was speaking on behalf of the musicians.
    “While this reduction will be financially painful for the musicians and their families, the musicians took this difficult step as an expression of confidence in the symphony’s good faith,” he said.
    The furlough will allow the symphony, which has been struggling for years with an annual funding deficit, to balance its budget by the start of the 2016-2017 season and achieve a “debt-free balance sheet soon thereafter,” the symphony and the musicians said in a separate joint statement Tuesday.
    Some of the symphony’s biggest donors have been pressuring the nonprofit to straighten out its finances in recent months, seeking long-term solutions to its continual budget shortfalls and mounting debt, said symphony board chairman David Kinder.
    The agreement came after six to seven months of discussions between the board, management, musicians and its large donors, Kinder said.
    The goal is to achieve “a clean balance sheet” by the 2017-18 season, Kinder said. The symphony has been plugging its annual funding deficit by using the next fiscal year’s advance season-ticket sales each spring to finish paying for its current season, he said.
    Reducing the orchestra’s size wasn’t a viable option, Kinder said. Popular symphonies and concertos by Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and other Romantic-era and 20th century composers need a full orchestra, the musicians say. The 72 symphony players are the bare minimum needed to play those more complex pieces, the musicians maintain.
    Symphony executives wouldn’t say which donors were involved in the discussions. But the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, several foundations including the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and the Tobin Endowment, along with corporations, including H-E-B and Valero Energy Corp., have been key sustaining annual donors in recent years.
    Strikes, a lock-out, shortened and canceled seasons and a bankruptcy have dotted the symphony’s checkered financial history since the 1970s. In one four-year contract period between 2007 and 2011, three years were marred by financial emergencies in which the musicians accepted pay cuts to finish those concert seasons.
    If the symphony can raise enough donations before the three weeks of furlough begin next season, the lost pay might be avoided, Browne said. In the meantime, the musicians are looking at ways to stage yet-undefined fundraising activities to stave off the lost weeks, Browne said.
    The 72 musicians agreed to work 27 weeks instead of 30 weeks specified in the orchestra’s union contract without reopening the contract to new negotiations, Browne stressed.
    The shortened work weeks won’t likely be noticed by the symphony’s audience. The current and next season’s classical, pops, education and free community concerts won’t be affected. The orchestra had three weeks next season that were not yet scheduled as revenue-producing or for education and community concerts, Kinder explained.
    The symphony has had to take on debt in recent years due to the funding shortfalls, Browne said. Symphony executives declined to disclose the amount.
    The orchestra is in the first season of a two-year contract that was announced in June and went into effect in September. The contract has options to extend it an additional three years.
    The optional years are based on the symphony board’s ability to raise the amount of the organization’s $2 million endowment to certain levels that would trigger higher pay and additional weeks of work for the musicians. Details of the fundraising goals were not disclosed.
    The current-season symphony budget is $7.6 million, Kinder said.
    Base musician pay for the current season is $1,100 a week for total base pay of $33,300 and will rise to $1,120 a week for the 2016-17 season, or $33,600 annually. Section-leading principal and assistant principal players are paid more.
    Last summer, Gross said they were “quietly” beginning a capital campaign to increase the endowment, but Kinder said this week that hasn’t started yet.
    “We plan for it to start this season, hopefully in the near future,” Kinder said.
    Kinder did not rule out the possibility the symphony would meet its budget this season. Fundraising is ongoing and will continue through the end of the fiscal year on Aug. 31, he said.
    Some musicians opposed offering three weeks of no pay, Browne acknowledged. But in a vote by the musicians two weeks ago, the offer passed by a wide margin, Browne said.
    [Better a furlough for all than a firing for a few, and a few more, and... = Timesizing, not downsizing! Time is the real limited quantity and key to quality, not money, and if we're to move from the economic age to the ecological era and from quantity to quality, we'll need to respect our (personal) time more and our money less.]
    “We have a lot of faith in Mr. Kinder and Mr. Gross. We’re working together,” Browne said.

    The symphony is in its second season of performing in the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in September 2014.
    Gross said the Tobin Center is not the cause of any financial stress at the symphony. “The Tobin Center is a benefit to the symphony and in how we present our programs,” Gross said.
    Kinder added that the symphony has a multiyear lease agreement with the Tobin Center that both sides like.
    dhendricks@express-news.net

  • Furloughs, short-term tax bump suggested to avoid layoffs, MyInforms.com
    LORAIN, Ohio, USA — Mayor Chase Ritenauer said Wednesday that massive [city] layoffs can be avoided if all city employees agree to unpaid furlough days and if the public temporarily pays more in income tax.
    The city is facing a $3.6 million budget deficit [ie: tax-revenue deficit?] as a result of massive [plant] layoffs at the steel mills following a downturn in the oil and natural gas industry.

    Ritenauer backed off Monday on the tax credit reduction proposal as well as a proposal to set a mandatory retirement age for police and firefighters after union backlash and public outcry ensued.
    At the time he said such proposals were only ideas, and he told Council that he’d take the path of layoffs if a plan wasn’t hashed out.
    Although the mandatory retirement age proposal appears off the table, the mayor is now counting on a plan of shared responsibility as a method of balancing the budget and bringing the city back from the edge of a financial catastrophe.
    “This is the goal,” he said. “To keep everyone working and share the sacrifice collectively until we can get stabilized and move forward.”
    [Better a trust-building cohesive sacrifice for all than an anxiety-building divisive sacrifice for some, and some more, and some more...]
    Council is expected to discuss the income tax credit reduction, furloughs and other cost-saving measures Monday. In the meantime, department heads are being asked to either consider subjecting employees to two weeks of unpaid furlough days or the equivalent in some other cost reductions.
    The plan is to amend Lorain city income tax regulations by abolishing tax credits for those who live in Lorain and work outside of the city. As it stands, income tax paid in other cities is credited to income tax owed in Lorain, and it’s proposed to reduce that credit to50 percent for this tax year, 75 percent for next year, before pushing the credit back to 100 percent by 2018.
    Ritenauer estimates that $2.7 million can be generated through a tax credit reduction while about $675,000 will be saved through the furloughs. Although he believes residents understand why they might be asked to pay more income tax, they also want to know that it will be a shared sacrifice, he said.
    Ritenauer, who said his administrative staff will take two weeks of unpaid furlough days, said the only way to get through the budget woes is through a “hybrid” approach.
    “That’s why we’re here tonight,” he said. “To talk about how we can balance our budget while continuing to provide services for our residents.”
    No plan, layoffs occur
    If the plan doesn’t move forward, layoffs will be unavoidable, and the city won’t be able to continue providing the same level of service to its residents.
    Without additional money through a combination of new tax revenue and cost reductions, Ritenauer said all departments will be touched, although safety forces, which make up more than 60 percent of the budget, would bear the brunt of layoffs.
    In the 74-person Fire Department, 20 firefighters, or all firefighters hired between 2008 and 2015 would be laid off, and Fire Station 4 would close permanently. Stations 3 and 7 would experience periodic closures depending on staffing levels on any given day.
    In the 100-person Police Department, 20 officers would be laid off and most police-related programs the city has adopted over the past 20 years, like the School Resource Officer Program, would be abolished.
    Other departments like the Auditor’s Office would move to four-day work weeks, which would result in delays in processing of contracts, loans and purchase orders, while in the Parks Department, the Central and Oakwood Park pools would close, and all summer programs would end.
    Wednesday’s meeting
    City Council’s finance committee talked about the prospect of people paying more taxes and city employees agreeing to take unpaid days in front of a few hundred city employees and residents in a standing-room-only council chamber with lines of people extending into the halls.
    Councilman Brian Gates, D-1st Ward, said he understands the tax credit reduction and regrets having to support it, although what brought the city to this point is out of the city’s hands.
    “The city has no say in international steel policy,” he said. “We also have no say in the fact that we have a governor who’s running for president on an agenda of slashing city budgets to pad his own.”
    Councilman Angel Arroyo proposed asking employees making more than $50,000 annually to donate $1,000 back to the city through biweekly $44 deductions from paychecks, which he said would generate millions. The suggestion mostly drew laughter and smirks from the crowd.
    “People are smirking, but no one is going to laugh when it takes 20 minutes for the Police Department to get to your house or 12 minutes because we have one fire station,” Arroyo said.
    But others said Arroyo is on to something, like Councilman Greg Argenti, I-4th Ward, who said if employees agreed to 3 percent wage reductions, that alone would generate $1.2 million.
    Councilman Joshua Thornsberry, I-8th Ward, called upon all city employees and union members to take a furlough or institute some program that will generate similar cost savings.
    “I think we need to have this across-the-board sacrifice from everyone,” he said. “Then we can go to the taxpayers and say we’re not just sticking this on your backs, we’re making sacrifices as well.”
    Ken Shawver, president of the Lorain International Association of Fire Fighters Local 267, and Lorain Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Kyle Gelenius both said their respective union membership supports the reduction of the tax credit and that members might agree to take unpaid furlou…


    3/24/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Jennifer suggests a reduced work week - Alternative to retrenchment, by Ria Taitt ria.taitt@trinidadexpress.com, (3/22 late pickup) Trinidad Daily Express via trinidadexpress.com
      PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus has suggested the reduction in the work week as one alternative to retrenchment.
      Responding to a question in the Senate yesterday from Senator Wade Mark on what steps were being taken to protect the jobs of workers, the minister stated: “The Ministry of Labour has made a public appeal to employers of this country to consider retrenchment as a last resort.
      There are other options that employers can consider, for example the reduction in work week, switching workers from one area of operation to another.

      [Better a retrenched workweek than a retrenched workforce. Because "retrenching" the workweek evidently doesn't retrench anything else, quite the contrary. After all, it's what we DID for over 100 years, and it's evidently what makes freedom ring and things grow - because despite warnings from freedom-talking controlfreak-walking "experts" at every step of the way, things got better, because we sacrificed mere worktime (and wage-depressing labor surplus!) instead of sacrificing the workforce-consumerbase. Better a reduced workweek than a reduced workforce and the reduced "everything else" that goes with it (except the dysfunctionally giantized coagulation of the money supply in the tiny topmost brackets that also goes with it) - better TIMEsizing than DOWNsizing.]
      “Employers can also consider as their sacrifice in this situation a reduction in their profit expectations.”
      Baptiste-Primus said the ministry had been discussing with the private chamber, the energy chamber, TTMA, AmCHAM, and others ways and means to stem the tide of retrenchment.
      The minister stated Government planned to comprehensively review labour legislation, including the Retrenchment and Severance Benefit Act, Companies Act, IRA and the establishment of a Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which would be useful for the ArcelorMittal situation where 644 workers have been retrenched.
      She could not give a time-frame for the reform of legislation since the Government had to consult with all stakeholders (employers, trade unions and others) on these measures.
      She added, however, that Government would work “with a sense of urgency” to address the amendments.
      Baptiste-Primus also spoke about the job expo to be held on April 5, at which employers with jobs to offer would be matched with workers with skills.
      She also encouraged all retrenched workers to sign up with the ministry’s retrenchment register.

    2. Samsung to give up authoritarian ways, emulate startups, by Youkyung Lee, AP via ProvidenceJournal.com
      Samsung Electronics, the world's largest maker of phones, memory chips and television sets, said Thursday, March 24, 2016, it will reform its authoritarian, top-down corporate culture in a bid to act like a lean startup as it faces slowing growth in mainstay businesses and increased competition to attract talents. (photo caption)
      [Oh-oh, "lean startup" sounds like leansizing= downsizing= no way to get upsizing= growth! And there is some of that here, but deeper in story there's also hope -]
      SEOUL, South Korea - Samsung Electronics, the world's largest maker of phones, memory chips and television sets, plans to revamp its authoritarian, top-down corporate culture to become more like a lean startup as it copes with sluggish demand and growing competition.
      The company said Thursday its staff pledged to reduce hierarchical practices, unnecessary meetings and excessive working hours in a "Startup Samsung" ceremony held at its headquarters in Suwon, South Korea.
      The first step in this new culture of flexibility? Requiring all its executives to sign a statement promising to scrap the company's traditional authoritarian ways.
      Samsung is searching for new business strategies as a father-to-son leadership transition looms. Lee Jae-yong, 48, is expected to succeed his ailing father, Lee Kun-hee, at a time when Samsung's mainstay semiconductor and phone businesses face intensifying competition from Chinese rivals. Samsung has its eye on expanding into health care and pharmaceuticals, but has lagged Silicon Valley in embracing trends such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.
      The company says it will announce in June exactly how it plans to reorganize its workers and eliminate red tape. It said new vacation systems would allow employees to spend more time with their families and take breaks for self-improvement.
      "By starting to reform the corporate culture, it means we will execute quickly, seek open communication culture and continue to innovate as a startup company," Samsung said in a statement.
      Samsung says it has been trying to reform its very Korean corporate culture to suit its identity as a global company and to encourage more creativity and grassroots input from workers. Like most Korean companies, its management style tends to mirror the authoritarian ways of South Korea's past, when a military dictator ruled the country.
      But analysts said Samsung faces a huge challenge in leveling a seniority-based corporate hierarchy that is decades old. Some suggested the campaign also might be aimed at identifying underperforming workers and trimming the company's managerial ranks to cut costs.
      "South Korea has a military and seniority-based culture. Will that be eliminated simply by removing Samsung's ranking system? It will never happen," said Kim Young-woo, an analyst at SK Securities.
      Kim said the measures are a prelude to layoffs. Older workers at Samsung who were promoted based on their seniority would be forced to leave the company early as younger talent moves up the ladder based on merits. "It means that (Samsung) will have a slimmer labor force," Kim said.
      Samsung's regimented, authoritarian ways may have helped it quickly catch up with Sony and other Japanese manufacturers, but they also have hindered recruitment of top talent. That has been a liability as the company competes with Silicon Valley firms that allow workers more independence and flexibility.
      Last year, 26,000 Samsung employees participated in online debates, pitching in ideas on how to reform its personnel system. Some have been allowed to build products or launch services outside their original job descriptions at internal Samsung "startups." The company also introduced flexible working hours last year though current employees said work hours are still too long.


    3/23/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. More Workers and Less Work, posted by Matt Bruenig, (3/22 late pickup) PolicyShop (blog) via Demos.org
      NEW YORK, N.Y., USA -
      Martin Neil Baily wrote this at Brookings about work hours in northern Europe:
      "Brooks is correct in pointing to the negative impact of very high tax rates on work. In the Nordic economies and in Germany, the employment rate is high but people work a lot fewer hours than workers in the U.S. On average, employed workers work 1,788 hours a year in the U.S. and only 1,438 in Denmark, and even less in Germany at 1,363, according to the OECD. Of course the Europeans are choosing to work shorter hours, but that choice is made in the face of very high taxes."
      I can't speak for Germany, but Baily's point about Denmark (and the Nordics more generally) is greatly overstated. In the Nordic countries, the vast majority of workers are covered by sectoral union contracts, and it is in those union contracts where work hours are established. The idea that work hours are low because of individual decisions to avoid taxes misses the fact that work hours are mostly decided collectively.
      Although it's true that Nordic unions have made the choice to cut hours, it would be misleading to say "that choice is made in the face of very high taxes." Certainly taxes in the Nordic countries are much higher than the US, but it's wrong to act like these high taxes are external to union deliberations. In reality, union federations and employer associations negotiate alongside the government and strike agreements that encompass the tax system. The best recent example of this is in Finland where unions, employers, and the government have struck a new "social contract" that increases work hours by 24 hours per year in exchange for a cessation of certain government austerity policies (including taxes).
      Work Hours and Employment
      Nordic workers put in much fewer hours than workers in the US:
      Hours Worked Per Worker: 2011 (graph: scan down on this webpage -)
      http://www.demos.org/blog/3/22/16/more-workers-and-less-work

      In percent terms, Finland works 6.9% fewer hours, Sweden works 8.6% fewer hours, Denmark works 18.5% fewer hours, and Norway works 20.4% fewer hours.
      However, the story is somewhat different when you divide work hours by population rather than dividing work hours by the number of workers.
      Hours Worked Per Capita: 2011 (graph: scan down on this webpage -)
      http://www.demos.org/blog/3/22/16/more-workers-and-less-work

      In 2011 (which was a bit of a down year in the US), Sweden actually worked more hours per capita than the US. Finland worked 1.5% fewer hours, Norway worked 3.7% fewer hours, and Denmark worked 8.6% fewer hours.
      The reason for the difference between hours-per-worker and hours-per-capita is that the Nordic countries have much higher employment rates than the US. As a result, the Nordic countries have many more workers than the US, but also have much less work per worker, and somewhat less work overall.
      Here is the employment rate of each age group in 2011:
      Percent of People Employed by Age Group: 2011 (graph: scan down on this webpage -)
      http://www.demos.org/blog/3/22/16/more-workers-and-less-work

      As you can see, the US line (purple) greatly lags the other lines throughout the whole lifecycle, except among the old. If you average the Nordic employment rates and compare it to the US employment rate, it looks like this:
      US Employment Rate Minus Nordic Employment Rate by Age Group: 2011 (graph: scan down on this webpage -)
      http://www.demos.org/blog/3/22/16/more-workers-and-less-work

      Every bit of this graph is quite troubling. The US greatly lags in workers during prime working years and fails to retire many of its old people, who are forced instead to work until death.
      Obviously, if the US matched Nordic employment rates across the lifecycle, then it would have way more people working. Here is how many additional workers it would have if it had the employment rates of each country:
      Additional Workers the US Would Have with Nordic Employment Rates/: Age-Adjusted, 2011 (graph: scan down on this webpage -)
      http://www.demos.org/blog/3/22/16/more-workers-and-less-work

      If the US had Finnish employment rates, it would have 4.4 million additional workers (3.1% more workers). If it had Norwegian employment rates, it would have 17.8 million additional workers (12.4% more workers). There are multiple reasons why the US trails the Nordic countries by so much, but probably chief among them is that its lack of leave and child care benefits keeps many women out of the labor force.

    2. Budget 2016: Government commits to improving compassionate care leave and parental leave benefits, BenefitsCanada.com
      OTTAWA, Canada - The federal government has committed to providing more flexibility in parental leave benefits and making compassionate care benefits easier to access and more inclusive for those who provide care for seriously ill family members.
      While it offered few details budget announcement on March 22, the government said it would pursue those objectives over the course of its mandate.
      It also said it would reduce the employment insurance waiting period from two weeks to one. That could increase the number and amount of short-term disabilities claims faced by plan sponsors, said Eckler in a budget notice, since they would have to reduce their own waiting period in order to preserve any EI premium reduction.
      The budget also said it would extend the maximum duration of work-sharing agreements from a current length of 38 weeks to an extension of 76 weeks.
      “Extending work-sharing agreements will help employers retain skilled employees and avoid the costs of recruiting and training new employees, and will help employees maintain their skills and jobs while supplementing their earnings with EI benefits,” said the budget document.
      The government also said it will explore ways to ensure that federally regulated employees are better able to manage the demands of paid work and their personal and family responsibilities outside of work.
      “Many Canadians struggle to balance the responsibilities of work and family, which can affect their overall well-being and productivity at work,” said the budget document. “Flexible work arrangements, such as flexible start and finish times or the ability to work from home, can help employees to balance these responsibilities.”


    3/22/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Malloy: layoffs are imminent, by Ken Dixon, CTpost.com
      HARTFORD, Conn., USA - — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, discouraged by state unions who decline to renegotiate their benefits and pensions, on Tuesday said that a “substantial” number of layoffs are now inevitable.
      Malloy declined to put an exact number on the imminent job cuts. But last month, his administration said there was a possibility for thousands of layoffs if the 33 state bargaining units would not agree to concessions similar to those the governor coaxed out of them in 2011.
      Speaking to reporters on the campus of Trinity College, Malloy said that to gain savings before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, layoffs must occur by June 9.
      “I’m not even saying that even if they came to the table we could avoid everything,” Malloy said. “But the inability to have those discussions is going to make it far worse. They don’t want to have a level of discussion that might make things easier and might preserve more jobs.”
      Union leaders, meanwhile, held the line Tuesday, with letters to their 47,500 members critical of Malloy’s tactics.
      “Holding critical public services and the middle-class workers who deliver them hostage is no way for political leaders to keep promises to the people of our state,” said Jan Hochadel, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut, in a letter to members. “Heading straight for eliminating services our communities depend on — or more concessions from public employees who have given back time and again — is not new. It’s a worn-out, Band-Aid approach that disrespects hard-working, middle-class families and fails to truly resolve systemic problems. We need to take a smarter approach — more like the employee wellness program we proposed in 2011 that has already saved millions for state taxpayers.”
      Republican and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly on Tuesday called for union leaders to agree to concessions similar to 2011, when most bargaining units reluctantly approved pension and benefit givebacks under the a similar threat of layoffs during Malloy’s first year in office.
      House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, told reporters that their plan for two-day furloughs before the end of the current fiscal year would save $8 million and avoid layoffs.
      [Furloughs are better than firings - timesizing is better than downsizing.]
      “This is not about ‘unions are bad and we have to take from them,’ but all hands have to be on deck,” Klarides said. “If we are going to get this state in the direction we all want it to be in, we have to look at those structural changes.”
      Union members would have to first approve any kind of furlough proposal before their officials could renegotiate at the bargaining table with Malloy’s team. Fasano estimated that 1,000 layoffs could result in June, with another 900 effective when the next fiscal year starts on July 1.
      On Wednesday, the Democratic majority in the House is scheduled to hold a closed-door caucus on legislation aimed at cutting at least $220 million in the current budget. Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said his majority caucus would review a plan on Thursday and he expects to vote on it on March 29.
      While union leaders this year have called for higher taxes on the state’s wealthiest to balance the revenue shortfall, that is highly unlikely to occur in a General Assembly election cycle.
      “There won’t be any tax increase this year,” Looney told reporters. “That’s why it has to be done through cuts and whatever that can be done through labor concessions. As somebody who has been a strong labor supporter my entire career here, and I continue to be ... I am advising for the benefit of their members that they look to show the leadership that they did in 2011.”
      kdixon@ctpost.com

    2. Call for uniform working hours in north public sector, In-Cyprus.com
      NICOSIA, Cyprus - Two industry stakeholders have called for public sector working hours to be ordered into regular, eight-hour shifts in order to improve the Turkish Cypriot economy.
      The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry (KTSO) recently announced that productivity and service to the private sector could be vastly improved by reorganising public sector working hours.
      This has been disputed by the Turkish Cypriot Public Sector Workers Union (KTAMS), which argues that the present system should not be changed.
      KTAMS boss Ahmet Kaptan has indicated that the same system is being implemented in the south and claimed that once issues in the public sector are overcome, all of the negativities will disappear.
      Kaptan complained that public sector problems stemmed from political interference and a control mechanism needed to be implemented to prevent meddling.
      Kaptan also claims that lack of personnel and disorganisation led to employees resorting to overtime, adding that his union also wanted the present system to be fixed.
      The chamber heads insist that public sector employees would be more productive if they worked in eight-hour shifts, with a break for lunch.
      They both indicated that many private sector organisations and businesses suffer because of the current working hours. KTTO boss Fikri Toros said, “We don’t want anyone to work more the legal requirement. We want public sector working hours to coincide with the private sector, so that the private sector can benefit from their services.”


    3/20-21/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. P&Z requests funds from city for 4-day work week, by Pam Wright pwright3@amnews.com, 3/20 Central Kentucky News via centralkynews.com
      DANVILLE, Ky., USA - Danville City Commission has its way, Planning and Zoning [P&Z] might become the only agency to receive more funding than it requested from the city for the coming fiscal year.
      During a marathon funding-request meeting Wednesday, in which four “partner” agencies and 23 non-profit organizations asked for funding, P&Z Executive Director Paula Bary addressed the commission on behalf of the P&Z Commission and requested the same amount she did last year — $75,000.
      P&Z’s funding request is based on a budget that reflects a four-day work week, which has been a point of contention for several member of city commission for the past year.
      Ongoing discussions have focused on whether to keep P&Z offices closed on Fridays — as they have been for the past several years — or to return to a five-day work week.
      In light of financial constraints and a stagnant construction market during the 2009 recession, the previous P&Z chairman, Gary Chidester, recommended the city reduce the three-person P&Z staff by one. At the time, the staff agreed to reduce the workweek to 30 hours per week rather than eliminate a position.
      [Far better to reduce the workweek than the workforce and eliminate hours rather than positions = timesizing not downsizing. Despite the killer prevailing wind in the wrong direction, there's no way to get real recovery and growth dba UPsizing, by downsizing.]
      In January 2010, hours were further reduced to 25 hours per week. They were set at the current level of 32 hours per week in July 2012.
      [At least they're still well below the Frozen Forty. Who knows how low economy-wide hours "should" be at today's level of super-productive robotics and A.I.? All we can say is that they should always be adjustable, never frozen, as long as more and more worksaving technology is introduced.]
      In order to create a more “business-friendly” environment, the city began lobbying the P&Z Commission to consider returning to the five-day schedule. After deliberating whether to present a budget based on a five-day work week, the board could find no compelling reason to open on Fridays and decided it would not be the best use of tax dollars to request additional funding of $37,000 for a longer work week.
      P&Z Commissioner Clayton Denny said at the time that “If the city and the county want it open five days, then they’re going to have to put money into it.”
      Bary has always maintained that she will comply with the will of the P&Z Commission and has never tried to sway the decision one way or the other.
      Bary was told to present the four-day budget and she did.
      On Wednesday, Commissioner Denise Terry and Mayor Mike Perros both reiterated their position that the P&Z office in city hall should be open five days a week. Terry added that she “would like to see it open half a day on Saturday.”
      “I was very disappointed Planning and Zoning decided not to be open five days a week,” said Terry. “Especially when you say that we are well above the number of permits and income for that. I think that office needs to be open five days a week.”
      Bary said she will be asking for $65,000 from the county, which called into question why the county tends to pay less than the city each year, especially since the city also provides free office space.
      Bary cited a P&Z funding agreement adopted in the 1980s that says “the city will pay 44 percent; the county 44 percent; Junction City, 8 percent; and Perryville, 4 percent.”
      “That funding agreement has you and the county at the same level, although it has never really been followed,” said Bary. “So I just based this budget on what the history has been.”
      Bary also noted that Junction City withdrew from the agreement in May 2009 and now enforces regulations on its own.
      “We don’t enforce regulation in Junction City at all,” said Bary. “They are just not a part of the equation for our budget anymore.”
      Bary said Junction City, per Kentucky statute and by virtue of being incorporated, had the option to pull out of the agreement. Once it did, however, it could not create its own planning and zoning entity.
      “If someone asks about some property inside the city limits of Junction City, I refer them to the city hall in Junction and they address it,” said Bary.
      Perryville’s funding, she said, has “gone down significantly since the recession,” from $5,000 a few years ago to $150 last year.
      Perros suggested a workshop with the county, Junction City and Perryville to address the funding agreement that is “out of balance” and to address “a fundamental disconnect between our economic development folks and planning and zoning.”
      Perros referred to P&Z’s latest future land-use map that proposes leaving land around the Ky. 2168 corridor agricultural, based on state data that projects little to no growth in the county in the next 10-20 years.
      “I do not accept zero growth,” said Perros. “I just fundamentally cannot accept that, in spite of the data. I think if we’re going to move this community forward, we do need to be open five days a week, and we need to take a position that we’re going to grow, and we’re going to grow at a healthy pace.”
      Terry Manon, P&Z commissioner and budget committee member, said the state data reflect not only population-growth projections, but take into account the average age of the population, the average number of people per household and the number of housing units the city will need 10 years from now.
      “The data shows very little need for housing construction and that type of thing over the next 10-15 years in Boyle County,” said Manon.
      In terms of opening five days a week, Manon said “the county has said they are not interested in participating in any of that, so (the $37,000 needed to pay for the extra day) would have to come from the city.”
      Perros questioned how the “county” made that decision before any application for funding was received by the county or before P&Z presented its request to Boyle County Fiscal Court.
      “Where does the remark come up that the county is not interested in increasing its funding?” said Perros.
      Bary said it came from a “county representative at our last budget meeting.”
      “So one representative is going to represent the entire fiscal court?” said Perros. “I have a problem with that. I think you need to make a presentation to the entire fiscal court and let them make the decision.”
      Perros also said P&Z should ask the county for the same amount of funding as the city because that’s the ratio listed on the current agreement. He added that the agreement should be reviewed and adapted to reflect changes that have occurred since it was first adopted.
      When asked whether the three-person staff could stagger their days so someone is in the office on Fridays, Manon said it did not work in the past, but they would be willing to look again at any recommendations coming from the city commission.
      “When we did this review process, what we talked about the most was, ‘are we getting complaints from customers because we are only open four days a week?’ … and the answer is no,” said Manon. “The second question is, ‘can we, with the people we have, get the work done that (we) need to get done in four days a week?’ And the answer to that is yes because we have half the zoning permits that we are acting on than we did before the recession hit. So the workload isn’t nearly what it was back prior to the recession.”
      Perros and Terry asked that P&Z consider having at least one staff member in the office on Fridays, even if that person must direct people to return on Monday to have requests completed.
      “Nobody likes to walk in and see ‘we’re closed for business,’” Perros said. “And that’s essentially what the perception is. And frankly, that is the perception we have had hung around our necks for many years, and we’ve got to change that.”
      City Manager Ron Scott reminded the commission of the “limitations and requirements on planning and zoning to use data in their planning processes.”
      “For example, I don’t know if you have the flexibility at all to come up with alternate estimates other than use the estimates on population growth as (a) basis for decisions. That may be well understood and they may not be so well understood.”
      “If it is a structured process that planning and zoning has to live with — that’s a calculation they have to live with — I’m fine with that,” said Perros. “But we as a commission, if I may speak as the commission, are interested in growth and large growth … Whatever we need to do to project the attitude that we’re looking for growth — and that’s one thing we’re very focused on — then being open on the fifth day is a visible sign of that.”
      [Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories about nearly $500,000 worth of funding requests made to the Danville City Commission for the next fiscal year.]

    2. Finding Funds: Cutting hours not necessarily a permanent solution, by Toni Fitzgerald, 3/21 The Sentinel via cumberlink.com
      [Who said it was?]
      CARLISLE, Pa., USA - When budget cuts hit, one option is to find new sources of revenue to make up the difference.
      But that rarely takes care of the entire problem. It’s harder to make money than it is to cut back, and so part of local libraries’ individual plans to save money has involved reducing library hours.
      [Better to reduce hours than staff! "Timesizing not downsizing"!]
      The New Cumberland Library is closed on Fridays and Sundays. The John Graham Library in Newville is closed Sundays.

      But those closures don’t have to be permanent.
      In 2010, Amelia Givin Library closed its doors on Thursdays while also slashing its weeknight hours. Director Cynthia Thompson says the decision was tied directly to a big cut in state funding in 2009.
      “That was a big blow, and at that time we cut back pretty significantly,” she says. “Previously we’d been open till 9 on weeknights. Then we moved to 8 on weeknights and closed all day on Thursdays.”
      After cutting the hours, Thompson, her staff and her board of directors made a concerted effort to increase fundraising and cut back on other expenses.
      One thing the library has saved on is buying new materials, which Thompson regrets. But by making those tough decisions, she was able to restore Thursday hours within a year.
      Thompson says a silver lining to the whole experience was the reaction from the community. Far from being upset about the hours being cut, they were understanding — and responsive.
      “They understood [the reduction] was through no fault of ours,” Thompson says. “When we tried to increase fundraising, people really responded. They wanted to help, even if it was just to do it in small ways. We got $25 donations, a lot of those, and they added up to equal a bigger donation. People really did what they could.”
      Thompson notes the library is still only open until 4 p.m. on Thursdays, closing four hours earlier than other nights.
      “It’s definitely something we’d love to be able to restore in the future, but I don’t see that happening any time soon,” she says.


    3/19/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. PID heads offer concessions, handle old business, by Trevor Warner, ParadisePost.com
      PARADISE, Calif., USA - On Tuesday, the Paradise Irrigation District will hold its first meeting since losing Division 5 Director Doug Flesher, who died unexpectedly earlier this week at the age of 82.
      The meeting originally was scheduled for Wednesday, but was rescheduled after the news of Flesher’s death circulated.
      At the bottom of the agenda under new business, District General Manager George Barber and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Phillips are offering concessions to help the district through its tough budget position.
      Barber is offering to surplus the truck he was allowed according to his contract. He is also requesting the board eliminate a stipend provided for the occasions when he used his own vehicle. He only asked to be reimbursed for business milage, which is what PID directors and other employees receive. Kelly Blue Book trade-in value for his vehicle, a 2014 Ford F-150 extra large crew cab 4-wheel drive with 12,000, is $26,502. According to the IRS, the pickup has an income value of about $6,100, which is basically the lease value of the vehicle, Barber said.
      If approved, Barber will keep the truck during the bidding process, which will allow him time to search for and purchase his own vehicle.
      For his part, Phillips is offering a 10 percent furlough for the month of April, which will save the district about $900.
      [Better furloughs than firings, "timesizing not downsizing," and better voluntary than mandatory.]
      Phillips will be back in May and June to complete the budget and has offered to take more furlough time afterward, if needed.
      The offers came after a rate hike proposal was defeated by a majority vote and board members began looking at district-wide cuts to maintain basic operations.
      Also on the agenda is the question of how to fill Flesher’s vacant seat. The board can appoint a new director within 60 days of the vacancy or call for an election, Barber said. Flesher was already up for reelection this year.
      If the board doesn’t make an appointment or call for an election, the Butte County Board of Supervisor may do so.
      Regarding wetlands, Division 2 Director Bill Kellogg is requesting an ad hoc committee to collect information on planning a constructed wetland for the district. Barber, for his part, is requesting proposals for a feasibility report on constructed wetlands.
      The agenda is made up of new items as well as items left over from a February meeting that ran long.
      PID meetings have a history of running long, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and often adjourning between 10 and 11 p.m., even lasting until midnight. In addition, major topics like the drought, the water recycling plan, the budget, and others, lengthy discussions and personality conflicts push the meetings into the late hours. And that is just in open session. The district may also have several closed session items they have to deal with after the public leaves.
      To remedy the problem, District General Manager Barber is floating the idea of holding two meetings a month and eliminating the committees.
      In a memo to the board, Barber said the board has become polarized. Committee meetings are to hammer out details of an issue before bringing the matter to the full board for discussion and a final vote, he said.
      But the process isn’t working in PID due to the polarization, Barber said. His hope is that the two full-board meetings will help the board handle matters collectively. He suggests one board meeting during the day and one at night to accommodate seniors and working people. A backup for the district secretary is also part of the plan.
      Concerned about threats he received during the water rate public hearing, Division 1 Director Ken Hunt is requesting armed security at the board and committee meetings.
      The board will also hear the annual audit report for 2014-15 fiscal year.
      The meeting will be held Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the PID Board Room, 6332 Clark Road.
      Reach the author at twarner@paradisepost.com .

    2. Working hours can be changed due to cancel of daylight saving time, by Amina Nazarli, (3/18 late pickup) Azerbaijan News via azernews.com
      BAKU, Azerbaijan - Daylight saving time was cancelled and now residents of Azerbaijan do not have to wind their clocks forward or backward.
      [Here in Boston Mass. USA we need to cancel the autumn return to EST (Eastern Standard Time) and DOUBLE Daylight Savings Time to enlighten our evenings vs. shorter winter daylight hours.]
      Following the cancel of biannual time changes in the country, experts recommended to make changes in working hours.
      The country was expected to switch to summer time [compare our Daylight Savings Time in Boston USA] by setting the clocks one hour forward at 04:00am on March 27, Sunday. On March 17, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to cancel the practice after recommendations of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences.
      ANAS Economic Institute head Pasha Tanriverdi suggests to define the beginning of the working day at 08.30 a.m. and the end at 05.30 p.m., instead of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

      [What's up with this nine-hour workday? Or are we subtracting a one-hour lunch?]
      To determine the working time it’s necessary to take into account the "day-night" symmetry for the daylight, according to the scientist.
      “If to choose the right time in the region, the sun must be at the zenith at 12:00,” he said.
      The scientist also stressed that switching to winter and summer time is not relevant in regions close to the equator, where the minimum level of daylight is less than working time.
      He emphasized that this practice is applicable to countries in multiple time zones, citing Russia, which is located in nine time zones, as an example. But in February 2001, Russia refused to move to winter time.
      [Way ta go, Russia! Here in Boston Mass. USA we too need to cancel the autumn return to "Eastern Standard Time" (Russ: winter time) and if anything, DOUBLE Daylight Savings Time (Russ: summer time?) to enlighten our evenings vs. shorter winter daylight hours.]
      “In Azerbaijan, even in December, when the daylight hours are less, it lasts at least nine hours. This means that the daylight saving regime is irrelevant for Azerbaijan. Also, the amount of savings that were spent on electricity is not so significant,” the scientist explained.
      Spokesman of the State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patent Fazil Talibli also supported the idea that moving clocks has no positive impact on the country’s economy, but on the contrary it created certain social, psychological and health issues.
      He told Trend that the time conversion is beneficial for big countries, as these countries fully use solar energy, thus saving electrical energy.
      Meanwhile, Microsoft Azerbaijan presented instructions and additional resources for the country’s residents to help them adapt to the new calculation of time and turn off automatic transition to the daylight saving time.
      The software users can easily change the time on their devices from March 27, following the instructions, which can be found at the link https://www.facebook.com/MS.Azerbaijan/posts/934269559974722
      Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli

    3. AG: parliament has created a chaotic situation with shop hours, by Angelos Anastasiou, Cyprus-Mail.com
      NICOSIA, Cyprus - The Nicosia district court ruled a 2006 law on shops’ working hours unconstitutional, it was announced on Friday.
      The law came back into effect on January 1st this year, after President Nicos Anastasiades vetoed a bill passed by parliament restricting shops’ working hours and stripping Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou of the right to set operating hours by decree, by which she had previously liberalised working hours.
      Among the old law’s provisions was the stipulation that, with the exception of designated tourist areas, shops must remain closed on Sunday.
      [Odd that these issues about Sunday hours go on and on even after the invention of the employee shift. Eg: 24-hour opening hours? = three 8-hour shifts or four 6-hour shifts. Seven-day opening hours? = four M-Th 10-hour shifts + three F-Su 13.3-hour shifts for a 40-hour workweek, or four 9-hour shifts + three 12-hour days. Etc.]
      Prior to voting on the vetoed bill, Attorney-general [AG] Costas Clerides had advised parliament that it had no right to legislate on shop hours, as the matter lay squarely within the government’s executive powers. His opinion was later confirmed by the Supreme Court, which issued a ruling to the same effect.
      But Clerides’ advice had been ignored by parliament, which then went ahead to vote against regulations submitted by the government to regulate the matter, effectively re-introducing the 2006 legislation.
      C.A. Papaellinas Ltd was fined by the government for ignoring the clause and opening its Alpha Mega Hypermarket on the first Sunday after the working-hours regime reverted to the old law. The case went to court, which ruled that article in question was unconstitutional, and the company was exonerated.
      Commenting on the ruling to the Cyprus News Agency, Clerides said parliament’s handling of the matter has created a chaotic situation.
      He added that there will be no more fines for violating a law deemed unconstitutional.
      Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will soon announce its ruling on Anastasiades’ appeal against parliament’s decision to reject the government’s proposed regulations.
      According to Friday’s ruling, while the defendants admitted to opening on Sunday, January 3, 2016, they argued the relevant article was unconstitutional.
      The defendants’ lawyer based the argument on the Supreme Court ruling on the separation of powers.
      The judge found that the prosecution stated its inability to argue the constitutionality of the law, following the recent Supreme Court ruling that the executive decision on working hours can only be made by the government.
      “Any involvement by the legislative in the regulation of matters outside its prescribed powers contradicts the principle of separation of powers,” the judge said.
      Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Clerides said that Friday’s ruling leaves a legislative void in shops’ working hours.
      “Unfortunately it becomes apparent that, in the way parliament has handled the matter, it has created a chaotic situation.
      “On the one hand, parliament has unfortunately rejected the cabinet’s regulations, and on the other today’s ruling has found the law parliament – again – had tried to regulate the matter in 2006 unconstitutional. As a result, at this moment there is no legislation or regulation governing the issues of shops’ working hours.”
      Asked whether shopkeepers will now be prosecuted for violating the law, Clerides said no.
      “I would be irresponsible if I, or the police, prosecuted people on the basis of a law that has been deemed unconstitutional,” he said.


    3/18/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Lakua criticizes the “belligerence” of Confebask to 35 hours per week, (3/17 late pickup) NewsDirectory2.com
      [Hooboy, we're starting from a basqerdized translation without the original Basque, not that it would have helped much because the Basques are proudly non-IndoEuropean (though so is Finno-Ugric= Finnish & Hungarian, and Turko-Altaic=Turkish & beyond)...]
      LAKUA QUARTER, Vitoria, Basque Autonomous Region – The spokesman of the Basque Government, Josu Erkoreka, yesterday expressed its “surprise at the selective belligerence” of Confebask [Confederación de Empresarios Vascos = Confederation of Basque Entrepreneurs] to the government’s decision to return to the [seven-hour] workday [and] 35 weekly hours for 70,000 workers in public administration.
      [Good for the Basques! They may yet lead the world into the age of robotics with fuller employment thanks to shorter workweeks.]
      Following the announcement of the Basque Government, the Basque employers [group] expressed their rejection of that decision because, in their view, “[it] is not a good example for society” at a time when entrepreneurs and private-sector workers “are asked for an extra effort in the current conditions of uncertainty, [to] guarantee and create jobs.” Erkoreka said on Radio Euskadi [Radio Basqueland] that the Executive's management of personnel policies has been “responsible and well-considered and, in many cases solely formulated” by the opposition to [the] unions and [with] resolutions heedless of Parliament.
      The Basque government defended well “on principle, and from the perspective of public resources wise, prudent and responsible, the existence of a basic law of the unavoidable State, like it or not, and [motivated] by a delicate situation in public finances“.
      Throughout this mandate and after the latest ”very generous“ measures, when the Spanish government lifted many restrictions on officials before the election, ”employers did not say anything“ and ”only have spoken in criticism of the Basque Government“, the government spokesman complained. Retrieving [the] 35 hours per week, the government has recognized “the sacrifice of officials in the crisis years” but has warned that it will not be possible to recover all [the better] previous working conditions they had before the crisis.
      The [action] of the Executive comes after a troubled legislature with public-sector unions that in principle satisfies one of the major demands of the [manufacturing] plants. In any case, although some of the provisions have been reversed, administration unions maintained their criticism of the Basque Government's other decisions made in recent years.
      [Well, as long as you're getting criticized by both sides, you know you're doing about as well as you can within the context of conventional ideas - but the Basques could lead the world by maximizing their domestic consumer spending and independent prosperity via the one-two punch of converting overtime into jobs and trimming the workweek as much as necessary to restore full employment. The 35-hour workweek, after all, is no more sacred the the 40-hour workweek or any other arbitrary fixed level, and France pipped the Basques at the post on The 35 Hours, but the Basques would be first at The 32-Hours or The 30-Hours.]
      – DNA

    2. Youths Protest Labor Reforms Across France, AP via USnews.com
      Thousands of French young people and trade unionists have held street protests to reject the government's new labor changes.
      PARIS, France — Thousands of French young people and trade unionists have held street protests to reject the government's new labor changes.
      More than 100 high schools were closed across the country Thursday due to the protests called by student organizations and backed by some worker unions.
      The main demonstration gathered about 9,000 people in Paris, according to the police. The UNEF student organization estimated that more than 150,000 protesters participated across France.

      Small groups of students had minor incidents with police in the cities of Paris, Marseille and Rennes.
      The government bill plans to water down the country's 35-hour workweek and relax some labor rules in the hopes of boosting hiring. The protesters, however, claim it would mostly damage laws aimed at protecting workers.
      [Watering down a "radical" 35-hour workweek at a time when robotics and A.I. are taking over more and more human employment and when for full employment we need to be thinking 32 (4x8), 30 (5x6), 28 (4x7), 25 (5x5), 24 (4x6)...-hour workweeks. If indeed "technology creates more employment than it destroys," WHERE are the jobs?! The standard downsizing response to technology makes nonsense of that claim anyway, and makes idiots of economists still retailing the Lump of Labor Fallacy. The whole point of technology is to free up humans from the demands of The Market, but with their self-mutilating downsizing response to it, CEOs are turning the promise of technology into a curse, not only to Ninety-Nine Percenters but to themselves. What a bunch of "bold" thinkers indeed! And American physicians are the worst with their nonsense about 80-hour workweeks conducing to patient safety! Their superman complex and testosterone poisoning is the gravest danger, not least to themselves!]
      Zoia Guschlbauer, president of the FIDL, an organization of high school students, said the mobilization "shows that young people are concerned about this bill because it's their future, and they want its full withdrawal."
      "There's a whole bunch of measures that are harmful to the job market, youth, society as a whole, and that's why we don't want it," said Maxence Termignon, a 25 year-old unemployed qualified engineer.
      France has among the world's most stringent workers rights laws.
      [Doubtful. Let's see the data. France's workers rights laws were already flexed up in 2001. See the France section of our national and corporate models page.]
      The government and businesses want the changes to make hiring and laying off workers easier.
      The proposal technically maintains the 35-hour workweek, but allows companies to organize alternative working times without following industry-wide deals, up to a 48-hour workweek and 12 hours per day.
      The government tried to gain support from some worker unions by making a few changes in the bill on Monday. It has withdrawn measures that relaxed rules on working from home and at night and has introduced the control of a judge to ensure that multinational companies don't organize the artificial bankruptcy of their French branch in order to justify layoffs.
      Worker unions and youth organizations have called for new protests on March 24 — when the bill is presented at Cabinet — and on March 31.


    3/17/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Protesters across France march against planned [weakening] changes to 35-hour workweek, AP via News Elementary via newsela.com
      PARIS, France — Francois Hollande, the president of France, wants to change the law. He wants to change the 35-hour workweek. Many people in France do not like the planned changes. Thousands of people protested Wednesday.
      France has many political groups. Two big ones are Socialists and Conservatives. Hollande is a Socialist. Socialists usually like laws that help people. Many people are surprised that the Socialists [or at least Hollande] want to change the 35-hour workweek. Socialists created it.
      Nicolas Sarkozy was the president before Francois Hollande. Nicolas Sarkozy was a Conservative. He wanted to change the 35-hour workweek, but he never did. Conservatives usually want to protect property and business. They like the old way of doing things.
      Changes Aimed At Getting Jobs For More Workers
      [Ha! absolutely backwards! The changes are aimed at a greater surplus of workers and thereby harnessing market forces to lower wages and benefits (and what shortsighted employers don't connect: consumer spending and marketable productivity and solid investment).]
      On Wednesday, all kinds of people came together. They protested the law change. The protesters do not want the law to pass. They talked to unions. A union is a group of people who do the same kind of work. Together, they try to get things like better pay and better hours.
      The new law would change France's 35-hour workweek. Socialists passed the 35-hour law 16 years ago. They wanted to help more French people get jobs. Today's Socialist government still wants to help the French get jobs. They think changing the old law could help.
      The new bill would allow a 35-hour workweek. Workers might have to work at different times, though. They could work up to 48 hours a week. They could also work up to 12 hours a day. Sometimes, they could work up to 60 hours a week.
      More Work Without More Pay
      Some of the new rules could mean extra work without higher pay. Workers would get more days off later instead. It could be easier to work from home or at night. It would be easier for companies to fire people.
      Manuel Valls is a government leader. He said the planned bill will not go away. The government is talking to unions, though, he said.
      Martine Aubry was a Socialist leader. She helped create the 35-hour workweek. Martine said the new law would weaken France.
      Many protesters agreed with her.

    2. Fulton County District Attorney and Public Defender Say Budget Cuts Force Furloughs, by Greg Land, DailyReportOnline.com
      FULTON COUNTY, Ga., USA - Fulton County prosecutors and public defenders are missing work days so that their agencies can absorb budget cuts and funding redirections ordered by the county commission.
      [Better to miss workdays than to miss jobs, better Timesizing than downsizing!]
      The furloughs follow a recent warning from the chief judge of the Superior Court that its Pretrial Services program might be eliminated as a result of budget cuts and a 2.5 percent redirection of funds to the county's Justice Reinvestment initiative.
      The goal of the Justice Reinvestment program is to reduce the population at the Fulton County Jail, speed up case dispositions and reduce administrative costs.
      But District Attorney Paul Howard and Public Defender Vernon Pitts said their agencies' operations have been significantly hampered, with Pitts saying his 92-lawyer office was "staggering."
      On Monday, the Southern Center for Human Rights—which filed a class action that resulted in the jail being placed under federal oversight for nearly a decade—also weighed in, urging county budget writers to ensure that Pretrial Services' funding remains intact.
      Commission Chairman John Eaves, who last month assured Chief Judge Gail Tusan and court administration that the funding for Pretrial Services will be provided, reiterated this week that the money will be available. Eaves also said the Justice Reinvestment initiative, under which all of the county's justice-related agencies have seen 2.5 percent of their annual budgets reallocated, will result in efficiencies and savings throughout the system.
      "It's great that we're all talking and continue to work together," said Eaves in a statement to the Daily Report. "The county wants to provide residents with the services they need and expect, while also being fiscally responsible."
      Eaves' spokeswoman, Renee Starzyk, said that all of the players in the county justice system are working on a "more formalized plan" to improve and streamline various operations, which should be in place before the end of the month.
      During Wednesday's meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Tusan asked the commissioners to consider restoring some of the funding. Eaves said that a memorandum of understanding currently being worked on should address some of the chief judge's concerns. The MOU should be ready by April, when budget reallocations will be considered, Eaves said.
      "There's a plan in place, a document is being drafted," said Eaves. The commissioners, he said, "certainly want a win-win in terms of resources being available for the courts and operations."
      In response to queries from the Daily Report, Howard, Pitts and Col. Leighton Graham, chief of administration of the sheriff's office, all said their agencies are suffering from the budget reductions.
      Howard, whose 238-member staff includes 108 prosecutors, said his $20.4 million budget had been cut by 6.5 percent, including $521,321 for the Justice Reinvestment initiative.
      "The impact of the cuts and subsequent furloughs has been tremendous," said Howard via email. "The morale of my employees has suffered and we have had several employees to leave, explicitly pointing out the furloughs as the reason for their departure."
      Howard, whose staff are facing 17 furlough days, said he is currently negotiating with County Manager Dick Anderson, "hoping to persuade him to end the necessity of cuts for our office."
      Howard said he supports the Justice Reinvestment program "if the reinvestment is data driven, properly planned and reasonably instituted. Fulton County has a great opportunity to make changes in our court system which would result in a substantial reduction in our Fulton County Jail inmate population."
      Howard said justice system reorganization plans dating to 1998 contained suggestions that, if implemented, could save the county more than $20 million.
      "We need the $20 million to treat our county's newly recognized heroin epidemic, to fight our alarming recidivism rate and to appropriately treat mental illness in the Fulton County criminal justice system," Howard said.
      But the DA said he does not agree with the county's method of "cutting of budgets to force agencies to implement necessary modifications to create greater system efficiencies and raise dollars for re-investment. However, I understand a student of history might question whether justice system agencies are willing to make voluntary changes without the pressure of budget cuts."
      According to county budget documents, the public defender's $12.9 million budget included a $331,687 reduction for the reinvestment program. Pitts, the county public defender, said, "We're having to furlough our entire county staff: attorneys, investigators, social workers."
      "It's a tremendous headache," said Pitts, whose staff members were originally set to take eight furlough days but now may have to take more. "We've been trying to make sure people are not furloughed on days they're supposed to be in court, and we had hoped the entire justice system would work out a plan to furlough people at the same time to try to lessen the impact, but that has not happened."
      Over the past three years, said Pitts, his office has seen between $1.2 million and $1.4 million in cuts, and it has had to eliminate nine lawyer positions and one investigator.
      "This is not the first year we've been cut, but it's the largest cut we've sustained," he said.
      Pitts also said a "very successful" initiative his office launched with the United Way last year to provide transitional housing for people suffering from mental health and addition problems, which he had hoped to expand, would also have to remain at its current level if no more funds were forthcoming.
      "It gets people out of the jail and into transitional housing, which saves a lot of money," Pitts said. "Instead of spending $80 to $100 a day on housing and medication, we're spending $17 a day with this program."
      The 90-day program saw 39 people transitioned into the community last year, a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.
      "We were hoping to double it," he said. "The hardest people to get out of jail are mental health cases."
      Pitts' office is also bracing to handle the appeals of at least five of the 11 defendants convicted in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case who have so far qualified for public defender representation. The transcript alone for the six-month trial exceeds 21,000 pages, Pitts said.
      "We didn't have a client in the original case, and it's going to take at least two attorneys to review the record," said Pitts. "We're not going to have the staff; we're going to have to go back before the board [of commissioners] for additional help. We're already swamped with appeals."
      The Fulton County Sheriff's Office, whose $77.4 million budget included a nearly $2.4 million reinvestment reduction, recently underwent a staffing survey by South Carolina-based GCL. It concluded that the 928-officer agency should add 182 new sworn staff members to adequately fulfill its duties at the jail, courthouse, court annexes and Grady Memorial Hospital.
      Budget cutbacks "equate to added risks which jeopardize personal safety for staff," said Graham. While the office has not had to cut staff, "it is important to note budget cuts are having a significant impact on personnel and safety. There is little flexibility within the budget to adjust when necessary."
      On Monday, Southern Center executive director Sara Totonchi wrote to county officials that cuts to the sheriff's department budget threatened to push the justice system away from the Reinvestment Initiative's stated objectives.
      "Over the past two decades," she wrote, "the Southern Center for Human Rights has worked alongside our county government partners to reduce unnecessary jail overcrowding and to ensure constitutional and humane conditions inside the jail. It would be truly unfortunate to see so much hard work undone by ill-conceived budget cuts and program elimination."


    3/16/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. RSU 19 Employees May Face Furloughs to Fix Budget Issues, by Caitlin Burchill, WABI TV 5 via wabi.tv
      [Cut worktime to save jobs (this story) - cut worktime deeper to create jobs (next story) -]
      NEWPORT, Maine, USA - School employees in the Newport area may be forced to take days off without pay to help with budget issues.
      RSU 19 [Regional School Unit 19] Interim Superintendent Ray Freve recommends each teacher, staff member, and administrator take 10 furlough days.

      “It impacts everyone. Nobody’s looking forward to this. Nobody wants this. But on the other hand, if you’re ever going to float the ship, you’re going to have to make some hard decisions,” said Freve who who has worked as an interim superintendent around the state for 20 years.
      He’s been with RSU 19 for three months.
      Freve says the school district was about $750,000 in the red as of last June.
      The school board members will discuss the furlough plan Tuesday night.
      They may to decide to wait until March 29th, when district residents will vote on whether to accept almost $70-million from the state for a school construction project.
      After the vote, they’ll know if $400,000 the district spent on initial planning stages will be reimbursed by the state.
      The union representing the teachers and support staff is not in favor of furloughs.
      “We have agreements with the teachers and the support staff. They’re separate agreements and we hope the board will continue to uphold the agreements that we negotiated in good faith with them,” said President of the RSU 19 Education Association Wayne Prescott.
      While they don’t have a solution, “We want to work together with the district because again, it’s all about kids and the impact it will have on kids,” said Prescott.
      Freve says he has looked at the impact on students and folks ready to retire.
      He says they could possibly make exceptions for some employees, but in the meantime, “I’ve talked to a multitude, I’ve met with teachers, administrators. If you don’t like furlough days, give me an alternative. I’ll be happy to look at it. I’ll be happy to be wrong. Just give me a suggestion.”
      The school board meets Tuesday, March 15th at 7pm at Nokomis High School in Newport.
      Public comment will be taken at the beginning of the meeting.
      We’ll have a reporter there and will bring you an update in our late newscasts.

    2. Police station hours cut to fund more ‘bobbies on the beat’, ITV.com
      Shorter hours means more bobbies (photo caption - foto of sign 'POLICE')
      [Cut worktime to save jobs (above story) - cut worktime deeper to create jobs (this story) -]
      NORTH YORKSHIRE, U.K. - Front desk opening times at police stations in North Yorkshire are to be cut, with savings invested in more police and community service officers.
      The move is currently projected to save £300,000 in its first year, and £330,000 in each subsequent year.
      However, all stations will operate a new 'when we're in, we're open' policy, meaning that if officers or staff are in the building they will answer the door to anyone who wants to call for help or advice.
      The force claims the changes are designed to take into account the different and changing ways people access police stations and come about after extensive research into why and when people visit police stations. The findings have shown that:
      • the average number of visits to police stations per day ranges from just one at small stations to 64 at larger stations.
      • only one in 20 crimes are reported at a police station (eight per cent of total visits)
      • 21 per cent of visits are general customer enquiries
      • 71 per cent of people visit for an appointment, to hand in documents, are custody or property related.
      "I am sure there will be some people who object to the changes being made to police station opening hours and I can understand their views. However, we must remember it’s bobbies not buildings that catch criminals and the significant savings we are making here will help us increase the number of police officers and PCSOs [police community support officers] in local communities.
      "All in all, these savings make a significant contribution to the investment we are making in police officer and PCSO numbers without affecting the public to a great extent.”
      – Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire
      "The amended opening hours reflect a detailed analysis of current demand for this type of service whilst also allowing us to continue to invest money where the community has said we should - that is, providing more Police Officers and PCSOs. It also ensures we will still provide a convenient counter service with our ‘when we’re in, we’re in’ policy, whilst we also seek to provide a more convenient range of online services in the future." – Chief Constable Dave Jones
      [A second version of this story -]
      Police Station Opening Hours Cut For Scarborough Borough, YorkshireCoastRadio.com
      SCARBOROUGH, Yorks., England - North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, and Chief Constable Dave Jones have today published changes the opening times of police station front counters.
      The proposals are outlined in a full Decision Notice that can be seen at http://www.northyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/taking-action/making-decisions/decisions-made/0042016-front-counter-secretarial-and-exhibits-staffing-review/
      The changes are designed to take into account the different and changing ways people access police stations. Consequently, extensive research was conducted into why and when people visit police stations. The findings have shown that:
      • the average number of visits to police stations per day ranges from just one at small stations to 64 at larger stations.
      • only one in 20 crimes are reported at a police station (eight per cent of total visits)
      • 21 per cent of visits are general customer enquiries
      • 71 per cent of people visit for an appointment, to hand in documents, are custody or property related
      The move is currently projected to save £300,000 in its first year, and £330,000 in each subsequent year. The savings will be invested in more police officers and PCSOs.
      Although official front desk opening times are changing, all stations will operate a new ‘When we’re in, we’re open’ policy. This means that if officers or staff are in the building they will answer the door to anyone who wants to call for help or advice. This means that the public should never again have the frustrating experience of knowing people are in the police station, but not getting a response.
      Scarborough Police Station currently opens from 8am to 12 midnight seven days a week, that will now change to 8am to 10pm seven days a week.
      Whitby's station is open from 8:30-5pm Monday to Thursday, 8:30-4:30pm on a Friday and 10-2pm on a Weekend. It will now only open Monday to Friday from 9am-12:30pm
      Filey Police Station opens Monday-Friday 8:30-12.30pm and 1.30pm - 4.30pm the new times will be 9-12:30pm Monday-Friday.
      Eastfield Police Station currently opens from 8:30-12.30pm and 1.30pm - 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8:30-12.30pm and 1.30pm - 4.30pm Fridays. It will now be open from 9:am-12:30pm Monday to Friday.
      The new front counter services are due to be implemented from May 2016.
      Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said:
      “I am sure there will be some people who object to the changes being made to police station opening hours and I can understand their views. However, we must remember it’s bobbies not buildings that catch criminals and the significant savings we are making here will help us increase the number of police officers and PCSOs in local communities.
      “Front counters of police stations will now be open slightly less, but still available each day for the public and no stations are closing. I have also introduced a new policy of ‘When we’re in, we’re open’. This is in response to people saying they cannot understand why the police won’t come to the door, if someone knocks outside of official opening times.
      “All in all, these savings make a significant contribution to the investment we are making in police officer and PCSO numbers without affecting the public to a great extent.”
      Chief constable Dave Jones said:
      “The amended opening hours reflect a detailed analysis of current demand for this type of service whilst also allowing us to continue to invest money where the community has said we should - that is, providing more Police Officers and PCSOs.
      “It also ensures we will still provide a convenient counter service with our ‘when we’re in, we’re in’ policy, whilst we also seek to provide a more convenient range of online services in the future.”
      [And a third version of this story -]
      North Yorkshire police station opening hours cut, by Victoria Prest, The Press via yorkpress.co.uk
      YORK, Yorks., UK - Three of the biggest police stations in North Yorkshire are to have their front desk opening hours cut, in a move police chiefs say will leave more money to pay for "bobbies on the beat".
      York, Harrogate, and Scarborough police stations will all be open from 8am to 10pm seven days a week, instead of 8am to midnight, from May this year. Share article
      At the same time, stations in Malton and Selby will have their opening times cut to 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays; and Tadcaster will be cut down to weekday mornings only.
      Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said the changes will save upwards of £300,000 a year, which can be invested in more police officers and PCSOs. The announcement also said that stations will operate a new "When we’re in, we’re open" policy meaning if officers or staff are in the building they will answer the door to anyone who wants to call for help or advice.


    3/15/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Oklahoma Historical Society Declares Two Days Of Furlough Due To Revenue Shortfalls, NewsOn6.com
      OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., USA - Revenue shortfalls and shrinking sales tax revenue have forced the Oklahoma Historical Society to declare two days of furlough for all employees.
      “This was a last resort,” said Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the OHS. “But we have exhausted all savings such as a hiring freeze, deferred maintenance, and the cancellation of several contracts.”

      Officials said since July, after suffering a 5 percent cut of $427,581, the revenue shortfalls and declining revenue have created an additional budget hole of $931,461.
      Blackburn said the revenue shortfalls have hit the Historical Society more than other agencies.
      “Almost one-third of our appropriation is funding to make bond payments on the Oklahoma History Center,” said Blackburn. “But those funds are not shielded from revenue shortfalls. We have to make the payments, which transfers that cut to the operational side.”
      The quirk in that funding formula has added $242,000 to the Society’s cuts, according to officials.
      “Our employees are our greatest asset as we collect, preserve, and share Oklahoma history,” said Blackburn.
      [Better furloughs than firings, Timesizing than downsizing!]
      “After nine years of no inflation adjustments to their pay, they are being asked to do more with less. I admire their commitment to our mission.”
      The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma.

    2. Morehead State president blames furlough on pending budget cuts, by Peter Fricke @FrickePete, CampusReform.org MOREHEAD, Ken., USA - President Wayne Andrews of Morehead State University is blaming budget cuts that have yet to be passed by the state legislature for a five-day unpaid furlough of school employees.
      “As you know, the university is facing a significant budget challenge—both in the current fiscal year and in planning for the 2016-17 fiscal year—due to declining enrollment and to the proposed cuts to higher education that were included in the governor’s 2016-2018 budget,” Andrews writes in an email sent to faculty and staff Thursday.
      According to the email, the Kentucky school already faces a budget shortfall of $2.6 million in 2016, and would have to come up with an additional $1.95 million if the 4.5 percent budget cut envisioned by Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is passed, for a total of just over $4.5 million.
      “To address this cut, I plan to impose a five-day unpaid furlough for all unrestricted employees including faculty and staff,” Andrews states, adding that “the five-day furlough will be scheduled March 21 through March 25 while our students are on spring break to minimize the impact on instruction and student services.”

      [Furloughs not firings, Timesizing not downsizing!]
      Andrews points out that the proposed budget would also impose a $3.9 million cut for the 2016-17 school year, compounding repeated cuts over the past eight years that have reduced funding for public colleges and universities in Kentucky by 15.6 percent, warning that the loss of resources could impact the school’s educational mission.
      “These cuts, and the additional cuts proposed, strain our ability to provide affordable access to quality academic programs, to educate students for careers and jobs so important to the advancement of our great state, and to take care of our community,” he asserts. “Higher education is the solution, not the problem. Kentucky students, families, and taxpayers deserve more—much more—not less.”
      MSU student Brandon Shankle told Campus Reform that when he found out about the furlough announcement from the school’s website, he immediately suspected that the budget cuts were merely a convenient excuse for the furlough.
      Less than two years ago, he noted, the school’s Board of Regents approved a 4.9 percent tuition hike and a five percent increase in student housing costs while raising Andrews’ salary by 28 percent. At the same time, the school was in the midst of a three-year plan to raise faculty and staff salaries by $6 – 7 million, contributing to an overall budget increase of $9.2 million for the 2014-15 academic year.
      “In my opinion, I think the furlough was already planned months ago,” Shankle asserted. “When you look at the fact that we have a $2.6 million deficit … Everything is planned ahead with budgets, and now that everything has come to a head with the Governor’s budget, it seems like a way to make Bevin a scapegoat.”
      Beth Patrick, Chief Financial Officer and VP for Administration at MSU, disputed Shankle's characterization, telling Campus Reform that the school had already found the money to cover its existing deficit, but that the last-minute nature of the proposed cuts would preclude any solution except cutting personnel expenses.
      "This speculation by the student in [sic] unfounded as we had already identified sufficient reductions in the current budget year to address the $2.6 million shortfall before the Governor announced his budget plan," she asserted, adding that "without warning, it is difficult to reduce $1.9 million for the operating budget late in the fiscal period as most of the discretionary budget has been spent or committed leaving primarily personnel budgets as a source to address the cuts."
      She did acknowledge that MSU's operating deficit is due in part to "decreases in graduate enrollment and undergraduate retention rates," but denied that it reflects overspending, pointing out the salary increases underway in 2014 were intended only to bring employee pay, including the president's, back to market value after a multi-year salary freeze.
      The day after Andrews announced the furlough, The Courier-Journal reported that Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo gave a statement to the press confidently predicting that Gov. Bevin’s cuts would not pass the House when the budget comes up for a vote Tuesday, saying, “I can almost assure you there will not be current year cuts in the House budget...to any of the universities.”
      Stumbo went on to suggest that Andrews may have been a bit hasty with his furlough announcement, opining that “he may want to lift those furloughs after Tuesday,” but declining to “second-guess why Andrews did that.”
      Later in the day, though, Gov. Bevin countered with a statement of his own pointing out that eliminating the cuts would require either extensive borrowing or drawing from an emergency fund for future pension debts, and pledging that “he will not support a budget that passes our financial problems onto future generations.”
      Patrick told Campus Reform that the university had not changed its furlough plans in reaction to Stumbo's comments, saying, "we believe it is our fiduciary responsibility to plan for cuts in the event they are implemented as proposed," and adding that the furlough would give MSU additional flexibility to address its existing budget shortfall in the event that the cuts are not passed.
      Shankle, though, vowed to fight the furlough if it is actually carried out, even if that means calling on Andrews to step down.
      "The furloughs are next week, and we're talking about hourly employees in many cases, and this could just kill them," he explained. "Other people have started to get involved, and if the furlough happens, we're going to start a petition seeking to have President Andrews removed."


    3/13-14/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Furloughs a better alternative to Connecticut employee layoffs, New Haven Register via NHregister.com
      HARTFORD, Conn., USA - The grim news that layoffs of state employees is “imminent” coupled with warning bells from credit rating agencies show the casualties are piling up under the state’s burgeoning budget deficit.
      That Connecticut is teetering on a precipice with a sea of financial gloom under it is evident by a March 7 memo from Department of Correction [DOC] Commissioner Scott Semple to his staff, informing unions that layoffs were imminent.
      The announcement came after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy presented his budget, calling for a reduction of the state’s workforce to save $6 million in labor costs, arguing taxes are not being raised and adjustments have to be made.
      More than 1,000 people are expected to be out of work due to the layoffs, in an effort to cut spending by 5.75 percent. The DOC alone is expected to lose up to 600 jobs.
      But laying people off doesn’t seem to be the best answer, and saving those salaries and benefits could very well hurt the state in the long run as it would lose the spending power of the people who are being laid off.
      And people without spending power need support services, which would be supplied by the state.
      Doesn’t sound like a smart decision that puts the state on the road to recovery, but rather one that keeps the state on a merry-go-round.
      [Merry-go-rounds are fun. This sounds more like a death spiral.]
      Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, thinks the layoffs are unnecessary and believes a compromise could keep state employees in place. He says if most state employees agree to two furlough days, that would give Malloy the $6 million he needs in labor savings to balance this year’s budget deficit.

      Fasano’s solution certainly sounds a lot better than laying people off in a climate decimated with opportunities for individuals and families to rebound quickly.
      Malloy disputes the figures, saying it won’t be enough to resolve the challenges when state employee benefits are factored in.
      There are no easy answers for a state that is paying the piper for decades of bad decisions.
      Connecticut is staggering under the weight of a $900 million deficit that could balloon up to $2 billion and unions, agencies and state employees are all now sitting ducks, with survivors clamoring for a piece of whatever size of the pie is left.
      But the state shouldn’t add another bad decision by putting hundreds of people on the unemployment line.

    2. Benefits of a 5-day week, by Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, 3/13 ArabNews.com
      BRASILIA, Brazil - The publication last week of the comments by Mahir bin Saleh Jamal, chairman of the Makkah [Mecca] Chamber of Commerce and Industry [MCCI], saying that a 40-hour workweek — equivalent to five days of work — would allegedly cost the country SR100 billion and 4 billion in lost hours of labor and production, was hyperbole.
      Jamal claimed the shortening of the work week from six days to five days would adversely affect 10 million workers in the private sector because companies would be forced to cut the salaries of workers or even fire staff they could no longer afford to have onboard.
      Coming from the head of the MCCI these comments were not surprising, as he was defending the interests of business owners. “Others may fire their workers and seek cheaper staff, which would cause instability,” he said.
      Public sector workers have had a five-day week now for several years and we have not witnessed the grinding to a halt of the government bureaucracy.
      [Similar scaremongering was done at every level all the way down from the 84-hour workweek of 1840 - see Roediger & Foner's history of the American workweek, Our Own Time.]
      This scaremongering is unfortunately typical of our private sector. It seems profits at any cost, even if that means we have to use super-cheap foreign labor and make them work six days a week, is the dogma of our businessmen. They should realize that an economy and society based on such tactics, which I consider exploitative, would never be healthy or happy.
      Many studies have been done showing that a shorter workweek makes workers more focused, productive and healthier. When one has six days in which to do a set amount of work, it can usually easily be fitted into just five days of work. And workers are healthier, both mentally and physically, when they have more leisure time to be with their families and to just relax and switch-off from the stress of daily working life. Healthier workers are more productive and nicer to their coworkers and bosses.
      But this greedy attitude is not unique to Saudi Arabia. In the United States, the Walmart Corporation has built a retail empire based on cheap labor that is ruthlessly exploited and treated unfairly. That’s why their slogan “Always Low Prices” is ironic and Americans are waking up to the fact that these low everyday prices are only possible because most of their workforce is paid minimum wage and are never given enough working hours per week to work to qualify for health and retirement benefits. Here in Brazil shops must pay their workers overtime to work on Sundays, which forced my local bakery to close on Sundays in order to save money. But here employers are obliged to pay social security taxes for every full-time employee, which greatly adds to overall labor costs. In the Kingdom we do not make businesses pay social security taxes on the salaries of foreign workers, so business owners have that advantage already when employing foreigners.
      For sure the private sector would have some financial losses at the beginning of a 5-day workweek, but gains in productivity would quickly erase these and make it worthwhile. Happier, healthier and more productive workers are a win-win situation for both employers and employees. A study in Hong Kong found that a five-day workweek led to “a lower rate of absence due to sickness or work accidents,” because workers were recharged after resting from work.
      Some companies in the West are even thinking of having a 4-day workweek, with 3-day weekends as a way of reducing stress in their workers and improving their productivity.
      “The benefits of a six-month schedule with three-day weekends are obvious. But there’s one surprising effect of the changed schedule: Better work gets done in four days than in five. When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time,” wrote Jason Fried, the CEO of 37Signals, a software company, in the Aug. 18, 2012, issue of the New York Times.
      It is high time that we took a serious look at the apparent and hidden costs of our system of using cheap foreign labor. It causes workers to be overworked, underpaid and tired all the time. Abroad it tarnishes our reputation. Our private sector should realize that we cannot depend on cheap foreign labor forever. And that what we wish for ourselves as Saudis, we must also wish for foreign workers. It’s the only fair and just thing to do.
      The writer is a Saudi journalist based in Brazil.


    3/12/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Fasano: 2 furlough days could help avoid layoffs in Connecticut, by Christine Stuart ctnewsjunkie.com, (3/11 late pickup) New Haven Register via nhregister.com
      HARTFORD, Conn., USA - Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said Friday that if most state employees agree to two furlough days they could find the $6 million Gov. Dannel [sic] P. Malloy needs in labor savings to balance this year’s budget deficit.
      Earlier this week Malloy suggested he would need to find $6 million in savings from a “reduction” of the workforce.
      Fasano said in lieu of layoffs he thinks state employees would happily take two days off without pay. He calculated that two days without pay would yield about $8 million.

      [Don't know about "happily" but one thing is certain: furloughs are definitely less unhappy than layoffs, Timesizings than downsizings.]
      “There’s no reason to lay anyone off in 2016,” Fasano said.
      But a Malloy spokesman said that won’t be enough to resolve the challenges the state faces.
      Chris McClure, a spokesman for Malloy, said a discussion about state employee benefits needs to be part of the conversation.
      However, the health and benefit portion of state employees’ contracts doesn’t expire until 2022.
      “If state employees are ready to open that contract and offer ideas for savings, we welcome that discussion and stand ready to meet them at the bargaining table,” McClure said in a statement.
      Daniel Livingston, chief negotiator for the State Employees Bargaining Unit Coalition, said he doesn’t think the leaders would refuse to meet with the governor.
      “I think they would use the opportunity to talk about savings that could be had by fully implementing the agreement rather than changing it, and by ramping up the state’s clean contracting efforts,” Livingston said.
      Livingston said state employees already made sacrifices in 2009 and in 2011.
      Those sacrifices include nearly $1 billion a year in ongoing savings.
      “State employees are already part of the solution,” Livingston said.
      He suggested that if the governor wanted to fully implement the 2011 agreement, then he would be able to find additional savings.
      Cindy Stretch, a Southern Connecticut State University English professor, said Fasano’s proposal is a “Trojan Horse.”
      “The layoffs are, of course, a terrible idea and Republican leaders are among those who caused the budget problem by their stubborn refusal to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share,” Stretch said. “What they claim is a furlough day proposal is actually a Trojan Horse proposal that calls for reopening the SEBAC agreement plus pay cuts, which Republicans euphemistically call furlough days. And by offering no job security, this proposal would allow layoffs to go forward.”
      As for Fasano, McClure said they disagree that by simply opening up the health and benefit portion of the contract that they would avoid layoffs.
      “Unless we want to raise taxes, reducing the size of state government is a difficult but necessary part of living within our means,” McClure said.
      Livingston suggested that if they fully implement the 2011 package and ask the wealthiest in Connecticut to pay more, then “we can begin to rebuild our troubled economy, avoiding layoffs and service cuts that will jeopardize health and safety, and only make the private sector economy worse.

    2. Lawrence commission to look at cutting employee work hours, by Deangelo McDaniel, DecaturDaily.com
      MOULTON, Ala., USA - In a heated meeting Friday, the Lawrence County Commission delayed voting on $1 million in annual cost-cutting measures because commissioners first want to study the possibility of cutting employee work hours.
      Commission Chairman Bobby Burch said county officials received a proposal late Thursday about work hours that was not discussed during the commission’s Tuesday work session.
      “We want to explore everything so we only have to do this one time,” he said.
      Burch said the new proposal was to cut hours for full-time employees from 40 to 32 hours per week. Preliminary numbers suggest this would save the county about $700,000 annually, Burch said.
      [Hourscuts, not jobcuts - Timesizing not downsizing!]
      He said employees in the commission office didn’t have time to get exact numbers on what the cuts would save. The county, which has 140 full- and part-time employees, needs to trim its $5.5 million general fund budget because of declining revenues.
      The commission set a work session for March 25 at 10 a.m. to review cuts and will have a special meeting March 29 to vote on the cuts.
      Before voting Friday morning to delay the cuts, there was a passionate exchange between former county administrator Peggy King and Commissioner Joey Hargrove.
      Hargrove scolded King for suggesting the vote on a 2-cent sales tax increase failed because county officials are wasting money. Hargrove also refused her request to apologize for comments he made Tuesday, when he said if commissioners explained any further why the tax was needed it would have been on a kindergarten level.
      About 63 percent of voters said “no” March 1 to the proposal to increase the sales tax rate in unincorporated areas of the county from 7 cents to 9 cents on the dollar. The tax hike would have generated about $980,000 annually for the commission, $350,000 for the school system and $70,000 to be split among the county’s 11 volunteer fire departments.
      King, who was county administrator for about five years until the county terminated her contract, said she was offended by the kindergarten comment and said employees don’t make enough money to absorb any cuts.
      She also questioned the county’s attorney fees and said there were areas where the commissioner could “rearrange” money to avoid making any cuts. King also questioned the county’s decision to expand the size of the new courthouse instead of renovating the old courthouse.
      Hargrove said the county decided to house employees in the same building so the public wouldn’t have to cross between buildings for services. He said they were warned it would cost more because of change orders, but said he wouldn’t do anything differently.
      As to the kindergarten comment, Hargrove said the county already had explained why it needed the additional 2 pennies. He stood up, looked at King and the crowded commission office and said: “We explained it simple. We’re broke.”
      Then he outlined why the county is facing cuts. Hargrove said employee wages and benefits have increased, but the county is operating at the sales tax level it had in 1992.
      King tried several times to interrupt, but Hargrove continued to make the case for additional taxes.
      “We can’t continue to borrow money to make payroll,” he said.
      For two consecutive years, the county has borrowed $400,000 to make it through the fiscal year. Commissioners have said they will not borrow money this year.
      Hargrove said he’s “tired of playing” games and getting “bashed” by people using false information. He said the commission worked hard to make its budget work and needed the 2-cent increase to meet necessary expenses.
      Hargrove said if critics think they can do a better job, they need to run for office.
      “It costs you $500 to run,” he said. “This is not a part-time job. I got up at 3 a.m. thinking about the situation we are in.”
      Hargrove said he also knew there were employees fighting against them. He pointed out that a person spending $1,000 in the county would have paid an additional $20 in sales tax if the increase had passed.
      King said the people she talked with were not against the 2-cent increase, but were tired of misappropriation.
      Hargrove did not respond to her last comment. But Commissioner Bradley Cross, who proposed the 2-cent increase, said he was tired of people thinking the county had a “big pot of money.”
      He said revenue the 2-cent tax would have generated already is spent.
      “A lot thought we would have extra money and that’s a bunch of bull,” Cross said.
      Commissioners Mose Jones and Cross tried to pass a resolution asking the county’s legislative delegation to pass a local bill that would give commissioners the authority to impose the 2-cent tax for 18 months.
      Hargrove, Burch and Commissioner Norman Pool opposed the resolution. Burch said trying to impose a tax following the resident’s vote is an “abuse of power.”
      Cross said he pushed for the measure because it would take some pressure off employees “for at least 18 months.”
      Jones also wanted commissioners to ask for a local bill that would give residents the authority to vote on alcohol sales. His proposal failed.
      State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, said residents of Lawrence County have spoken twice on tax increases when they voted down a property tax increase for education in April 2015 and the 2-cent sales tax increase.
      “I’m not going to attempt to usurp their vote,” he said.
      Even if he wanted to, Johnson said there is not enough time left in the regular session to pass local legislation.
      As to the alcohol referendum, Johnson said he can’t bypass what the state constitution requires for a wet-dry vote to happen.
      “It starts with a petition from the people,” he said.
      State law requires at least 25 percent of the registered voters that participated in the last election to sign a petition and present it to commissioners.
      “If I were to try something like this, it would surely get turned over in court,” Johnson said.
      Deangelo McDaniel, deangelo@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.


    3/11/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Failed ballot measure forces Montrose library to cut hours, by Carly Moore, KJCT8 ABC via kjct8.com
      MONTROSE, Colo., USA -- Severe budget cuts in Montrose have caused the library to cut its hours during the week.
      Since a November ballot measure didn't pass, failing to raise taxes benefiting the library, the director says he needed to cut hours and stop hiring new staff members.
      The Montrose library at 320 South 2nd Street will now only be open 5 days a week, closing Fridays and Saturday[s] starting April 1.
      Additionally the director said he can't hire more staff, and he has let their group of 42 people drop to 28.
      "It's been totally through attrition, through people leaving. But that puts an extra burden on the people left behind. When you only have so many bodies, you can only cover so many hours," said Paul Paladino, the Director of Montrose Regional Library District.
      The director said he has to make sure they stay on budget while still providing library services to the public.
      “I'm a librarian. It doesn't make me very happy to have to do this, but I’m responsible for the budget and to the tax payer. I have to live within our resources and live within our means," Paladino added.
      The library board on Monday voted to keep their doors closed Friday, in addition to many other pre-existing cuts to library programs and book mobile stops.
      No employee layoffs were expected.
      [Hourscuts, not layoffs = Timesizing not downsizing. And librarians seem to lead in this solution, thence spreading to all kinds of small businesses that value their skillset, and then maybe academe and small government agencies, of course with some mid-large company leaders like Nucor and Lincoln Electric and SAS, and of course there's now 28 states with the state-level version of the halfway step to full timesizing, namely, worksharing... But no one, to my knowledge, has yet quit fooling around assuming that shorter hours would magically convert overtime into jobs and implemented full-fledge Timesizing, though Lincoln Electric has job reassignment during hourscuts due to downturns, which must involve some on-the-job training, and Nucor probably has some of this too.]

    2. Students need four-day work weeks, letter to editor from Zachary Hoover of Eugene, The Register-Guard via registerguard.com
      EUGENE, Ore., USA - Teens complain about their school weeks being too long, and that should be looked into. I believe school weeks should be shortened to four days from five. A four-day week would improve the morale of both teachers and students and allow each more time to recover from the week’s grind.
      [Hear, hear, and thereby engender a bias toward shorter worktime per person. 'Course colleague Kate concentrates of Less Homework! - 'Kids hardly have time to have an original thought of their own despite many teachers' claim that they're Trying To Teach You To THINK!]
      Another possibility would be to shorten the work week by one day while increasing the length of the day by an hour.
      With fewer days spent in class, student referrals would likely be reduced because students would be more rested and focused and be less likely to be disruptive. Jimmy Lenderman, superintendent of Chattanooga (Ga.) County School District, reported a 73 percent decrease in referrals after his district implemented a four-day work week.
      Students reach a make-or-break point in their lives during their time in school. Shortening their week to four days would be a great help. With the support of students, parents and teachers, I believe the change could be made here.


    3/10/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. American Samoa cannery cuts hours, KHJ News via RadioNZ.co.nz
      PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - Employees of the StarKist Samoa cannery in American Samoa are working reduced hours apparently because of a shortage of fish.
      Cannery workers have told KHJ News that StarKist Samoa has begun closing down production tables in a staggered shutdown.
      [Hopefully the fish will come back before total shutdown, but "purse seining" may be a little too much like dragnetting, and it would be the fishermen's own fault for overfishing.]
      The reduction comes as purse seiners are starting to head out to sea again after lying idle since December.
      The fleet was in port because of the collapse of the fishing treaty between the US and the Pacific [sic...so, Pacific nations?], which has just been revived with a new interim deal for 2016.

    2. Wieden & Kennedy tries limiting work hours - The London office of "Weekend & Kennedy" is trying to do something about its reputation as a sweatshop, by James Swift, [Publicity]Campaign via campaignlive.co.uk
      [alternate jargony headline -]
      Wieden & Kennedy 'trials' [=tries out, our quotes] limits to working hours - Wieden & Kennedy London is 'trialling' work rules that could spell an end to the agency's reputation for gruelling hours - as well as the nickname "Weekend & Kennedy"
      LONDON, UK - For the next few months, the creative agency is barring staff from organising meetings before 10am and after 4pm in a bid to stop its employees coming into work too early and leaving too late. No staff will be expected to work more than 40 hours a week.
      Agency staff have also been told not to send or read work e-mails after 7pm [but 10-7 is still a 9-hour day!] and are encouraged to leave work at 4.30pm on Fridays.
      The scheme is the brainchild of Wieden & Kennedy London’s deputy managing director, Helen Foulder.
      Neil Christie, the agency’s managing director, told Campaign that the changes are intended to make Wieden & Kennedy a more appealing place to work.

      In recent years, creative agencies have been forced to compete for talent with tech companies, such as Google, that ask an equal commitment of employees but are able to offer higher salaries to recruits.
      Wieden & Kennedy is by no means the only creative agency to earn a nickname because of its culture of making staff work long hours. Bartle Bogle Hegarty is sometimes referred to as "GBH" (grievous bodily harm) [GBH or WGBH is a major Public Radio station in Boston Mass.- wait till we tell them!] rather than by its initials [BBH], while 72andSunny has earned the moniker "72andSunday."
      James Swift is the features editor for Campaign. Contact him at james.swift@haymarket.com or 020 8267 4732.

    3. French Protest Increase to Sacred 35-Hour Work Week, NBCnews.com
      PARIS, France - Union members, students, and their supporters protest the labor reform that gives employers more leverage across France on March, 9, 2016. 14 Photos [captions]
      1. French green political party Europe Ecology - The Greens (EELV) protesters gather in Place de la République in Paris on March 9, 2016, to write "We are worth more than this" on the pavement with their bodies. [Not if you allow yourselves to become a surplus commodity by freezing the workweek at any level, however "low," while continuously introducing worksaving technology, tolerating drastic jobcuts instead of minor hourscuts that maintain employement and consumer spending and accept an immigration policy for more than one-out one-in and totally unconnected with your job market.]
      2. Thousands of people gather on the Place de la République to protest the controversial labor "reform" bill proposed by President Francois Hollande in Paris, on March 9. [Our quotes: with reforms like this, you don't need economy killers.] The contested labor "reform" would amend France's 35-hour workweek, voted in 2000 by the Socialists and now a cornerstone of the left. The proposal technically maintains the 35-hour workweek, but allows companies to organize alternative working times up to a 48-hour workweek and 12 hours per day. In "exceptional circumstances," employees could work up to 60 hours a week.
      [Why not go out fast and big with a 24x7= 168 hour workweek?]
      3. French students stand behind a banner with the message, "Students Against the Labor Law," as part of a nationwide protest against the labor law reform bill in Paris. A recent survey by pollster Oxoda found that 70 percent of French people over the age of 18 opposed the bill. An online petition for its withdrawal has gathered more than 1 million signatures, according to the Associated Press.
      [How the heck did Hollande ever get into power? He's the biggest betrayor of his constituency in the world right now, even more than Obama's or Bill Clinton's handing more power over to the already self-destructively overpowering powerful few.] ...
      5. High school students take part in the nationwide day of protest against unpopular labor reform in Marseille, southern France. The measures put forward by the French government also include more flexibility in hiring and firing, giving employers more leverage.
      [With which they've cut jobs and wages, incapable of connecting the dots between their workforce and their markets.]
      6. The labor reform bill has divided the Socialist government and raised hackles in a country accustomed to iron-clad job security.
      [Not really. The 35-hour workweek allowed the introduction of considerable individual firing-for-cause flexibility back in 2000-2001. Here are a couple of articles from 2001 that tell the media-quashed story of the actual success of France's 35-hour workweek: 6/20/2001 #1: "The French miracle: a shorter week, more jobs, and men doing the ironing - Official study finds that France's 35-hour week has boosted the economy and proved a hit with both employees and their bosses," and 4/07/2001 #1: "Analysis: Layoff outcry masks better French business climate - France lures investors."]
      7. Protesters burn flares during a demonstration in Nice, expressing their opposition to the labor reform. The government and business leaders say the reforms will encourage companies to take on more workers on permanent contracts rather than temporary ones, favoring young people in particular, but unions and some on the left of the ruling Socialist Party see an undue threat to job security.
      [The only thing that disciplines management into doing things that employees like is lots of job options for employees to move to. And in the age of robotics, that requires vigorous conversion of chronic overtime into training and jobs, and creation of as much convertible overtime as it takes to restore and maintain full employment - by workweek reduction, no stopping at 35 hours or any other "low" level, and if it gets too low to manage, alternate weeks.]
      8. Union members and the supporters demonstrate outside the PSA Peugeot Citroen factory in Montbeliard, eastern France. The labor law overhaul wants to deal with France's unemployment rate, which is at an 18-year high of more than 10.2 percent, according to the European statistics service Eurostat.
      [The labor overhaul will deal with the unemployment rate by raising it because it will reraise the workweek and concentrate market-demanded employment on fewer people. And that will further depress domestic consumer spending and the French economy. When the 35-hour workweek was voted-in in 1997, unemployment was 12.6%, and when it was finally fully implemented in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France, it was 8.6% = one percent less unemployment for each of the four hours cut from the workweek in the jumpdown from 39 to 35 hours = same results as the USA got in 1938-1940 when they cut from 44 to 40 at 2hours per year and unemployment went 19.0%(44hrs1938) to 17.2%(42hrs1939) to 14.6%(40hrs1940), even without incentivizing conversion of chronic overtime into OT-targeted training and jobs.] ... ...
      11. A person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask holds a sign reading "Labor law, no thanks" at a demonstration in Strasbourg.
      [Though Guy Fawkes was 'maudit anglais.']
      12. Students, called by youth organizations and students' unions, march near Place de la République in Paris. The placard reads "Labor reform, no thanks!"
      13. The protests against the labor reform take place on the same day as a national rail strike. ...Striking rail workers demonstrate to call for better work conditions in front of the headquarters of the RATP, which is the state-owned public transport operator responsible for most of the public transport in Paris. ...


    3/09/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Hazelwood janitors vote to cut hours instead of jobs, by Lauren Nobbe, Tegna KSDK 5 via ksdk.com
      FLORISSANT, Mo., USA - The custodial staff of the Hazelwood School District (HSD) voted Tuesday to change to a seven-hour work day in an effort to save jobs.
      Due to recent budget cuts made by the HSD, the custodial staff was forced to scale back to save the school district money. At a Tuesday evening meeting, the custodial staff voted to adjust their hours in order to keep all of the jobs.
      The near-unanimous vote will switch the staff from an eight-hour to seven-hour work day, while still maintaining their full benefits.

      “This is fantastic news,” said John Hasse, director of custodial services for HSD. “By switching from an eight hour day to a seven hour day, we are able to keep all of our custodial personnel while still helping to save the school district money.”
      The idea was led by Steve Muehling, the executive board business representative with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and custodial union representative.
      [Way to go, Steve! Maybe half the union movement has neglected their power issue, shorter hours to maintain or increase jobs and avoid wage-depressing labor surplus, but half has kept it in mind, and saved a minority of the movement in America, as here. Minor hourscuts for all instead of total jobcuts for a few, and a few more, and a few more... = Timesizing instead of downsizing! = job insurance with premiums in terms of worktime.]
      HSD has experienced recent backlash from students and parents due to budget cuts that will affect their band and orchestra programs, gym classes, field trips and staff.
      [Another version of this story -]
      Hazelwood custodians save their jobs by voting to cut work hours, (3/08 late pickup) St.Louis Post-Dispatch via St. Louis Today via STLtoday.com
      HAZELWOOD, Mo., USA - Hazelwood custodians voted and approved a measure to switch from an eight-hour work day to a seven-hour work day to protect their jobs after the district announced a $6.6 million budget cut.
      The vote, on Monday afternoon but announced Tuesday, was close to unanimous and allowed custodians to keep their jobs with full benefits, the district announced. Otherwise, 25 percent of them would have lost their jobs.
      “This is fantastic news,” said John Hasse, director of custodial services for HSD, said in a statement. “By switching from an eight hour day to a seven hour day, we are able to keep all of our custodial personnel while still helping to save the school district money.”
      District administrators have been under fire since they announced plans for the cuts, which included elementary band and orchestra, time in physical education by half for elementary students, and cuts to the custodial staff.
      The idea was led by Steve Muehling, executive board business representative with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and custodial union representative; along with Julia Burke, the district's associate superintendent of human resources, Dwight Lindhorst, assistant superintendent for finance and facilities, and Hasse.

    2. Debating a post-work future, NYT, A1 pointer to B1.
      [Shades of Jeremy Rifkin's 1995 "The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force..."]
      Columnists Eduardo Porter and Farhad Manjoo tackle the futuristic [or dead-end?!] idea of a universal basic income [dba dependency multiplier] from very different perspectives.
      [More and more admissions that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys" just ain't so - at least while we sit watching the sacrifice of jobs via a standard response of kneejerk downsizing to preserve a 1940 level of the workweek (40 hours) forever.]
      Competing visions for a post-work future - A discussion on the economy's trajectory and the [unsustainable] concept of a universal basic income, NYT, B1 target article.
      NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - In the utopian (dystopian?) future projected by technological visionaries [such as??], few people would have to work. Wealth would be generated by millions upon millions of sophisticated machines. But how would people earn a living?
      [More to the point, how would people BUY all the "wealth" that the quadrillions of machines are generating...again the utopian dismissal of any distribution problem, let alone the G.K.Chesterton Flaw.]
      Silicon Valley has an answer: a universal basic income.
      [This is not an answer. Giving away money devalues money by runaway inflation (unless you just give it to the very rich as central banks are currently doing, disguised as 'stimulus,' in which case it 'just' destabilizes it) and multiplies dependency, an underclass, resentment on both sides, and general unsustainability.]
      But what does that have to do with today’s job market, with many Americans squeezed by globalization and technological change?
      [The naive intent is to render today's job market irrelevant, and to brush away the globalization's worldwide coagulation of money supplies regardless of "quantitative easings" (which never seem to get to the people who would translate these windfalls into circulating spending power instead of keeping them as stored investing power), and to dismiss any concern about the betrayal of technological change's promise of more job-secured free time for everyone by kneejerk downsizing.]
      Two columnists for Business Day, Farhad Manjoo, who writes State of the Art on Thursdays, and Eduardo Porter, author of Economic Scene on Wednesdays, have just taken on these issues in different ways. So we brought them together for a conversation to help sharpen the debate about America’s economic future...
      Eduardo Porter: I read your very interesting column [see below] about the universal basic income [UBI], the quasi-magical tool to ensure some basic standard of living for everybody when there are no more jobs for people to do. What strikes me about this notion is [its unsupported assumptions that "everybody" will be content with "some basic standard of living" and that there will come a time "when there are no more jobs for people to do"? Well sortof, but he focuses on the lack of support, not the assumptions -] that it relies on a view of the future that seems to have jelled into a certainty, at least among the technorati on the West Coast.
      But the economic numbers that we see today don’t support this view. If robots were eating our lunch, it would show up as fast productivity growth. But as Robert Gordon points out in his new book, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth,” productivity has slowed sharply. He argues pretty convincingly that future productivity growth will remain fairly modest, much slower than during the burst of American prosperity in mid-20th century.
      A problem I have with the idea of a universal basic income — as opposed to, say, wage subsidies or wage insurance to top up the earnings of people who lose their job and must settle for a new job at a lower wage — is that it relies on an unlikely future. It’s not a future with a lot of crummy work for low pay, but essentially a future with little or no paid work at all.
      The former seems to me a not unreasonable forecast — we’ve been losing good jobs for decades, while low-wage employment in the service sector has grown. But no paid work? That’s more a dream (or a nightmare) than a forecast. Even George Jetson takes his briefcase to work every day.
      Farhad Manjoo: Because I’m scared that they’ll unleash their bots on me, I should start by defending the techies a bit before I end up agreeing with you.
      So, first, I don’t think it’s quite right to say that the proponents of U.B.I. are envisioning a future of no paid work at all. I think they see less paid work than we have today — after software eats the world, they say it’s possible we’ll end up with a society in which there’s not enough work for everyone, and especially not a lot of good work.
      They see a future in which a small group of highly skilled tech workers reign supreme, while the rest of the job world resembles the piecemeal, transitional work we see coming out of tech today (Uber drivers, Etsy shopkeepers, people who scrape by on other people’s platforms).
      Why does that future call for instituting a basic income instead of the smaller and more feasible labor-policy ideas that you outline? I think they see two reasons. First, techies have a philosophical bent toward big ideas, and U.B.I. is very big.
      They see software not just altering the labor market at the margins but fundamentally changing everything about human society. While there will be some work, for most nonprogrammers work will be insecure and unreliable. People could have long stretches of not working at all — and U.B.I. is alone among proposals that would allow you to get a subsidy even if you’re not working at all.
      Eduardo Porter: I know what you mean by thinking big. Many of these new technology entrepreneurs think more like engineers than social scientists. In the same breath they will extol the benefits of individual liberty and the market economy and propose some vast reorganization of society following an ambitious blueprint cooked up by an intellectual elite. A few months ago I interviewed Albert Wenger, the venture capitalist you cite in your column. He also told me about his vision of a future world in which work would be superfluous. It made me think of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” or George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”
      If there are, in fact, jobs to be had, a universal basic income may not be the best choice of policy. The lack of good work is probably best addressed by making the work better — better paid and more skilled — and equipping workers to perform it, rather than offering a universal payment unrelated to work.
      The challenge of less work could just lead to fewer working hours. Others are already moving in this direction. People work much less in many other rich countries: Norwegians work 20 percent fewer hours per year than Americans; Germans 25 percent fewer. They have taken much more of their wealth in the form of leisure rather than money. But they still work for a living.
      [Eduardo Porter has no idea here that he is brushing against the most sustainable and least controversial general solution to the finally admitted reality of technological displacement in the context of a standard downsizing response, a solution that has never been mined for its full potentialities due to pushback from the work ethic and superstition about the time dimension ... except by the Timesizing Program and its upgrades.]
      And, by the way, I’ve read about robots that can program. So maybe the programmers aren’t safe either.
      Farhad Manjoo: One key factor in the push for U.B.I., I think, is the idea that it could help reorder social expectations. At the moment we are all defined by work; Western society generally, but especially American society, keeps social score according to what people do and how much they make for it. The dreamiest proponents of U.B.I. see that changing as work goes away. It will be O.K., under this policy, to choose a life of learning instead of a low-paying bad job.
      Eduardo Porter: To my mind, a universal basic income functions properly only in a world with little or no paid work because the odds of anybody taking a job when his or her needs are already being met are going to be fairly low. The discussion, I guess, really depends on how high this universal basic income would be. How many of our needs would it satisfy? We already sort of have a universal basic income guarantee. It’s called food stamps, or SNAP. But it’s impossible for people to live on food stamps alone.
      This brings to mind something else. You give the techies credit for seriously proposing this as an optimal solution to wrenching technological and economic change. But in a way, isn’t it a cop-out? They’re just passing the bag to the political system. Telling Congress, “You fix it.”
      [Amen. Self-styled "progressives" espousing this unthought-through endorsement of classism? What hypocrisy. And how unecological-unsustainable.]
      If the idea of robots taking over sounds like science fiction, the idea of the American government agreeing to tax capitalists enough to hand out checks to support the entire working class is in an entirely new category of fantasy.
      Farhad Manjoo: Yes, this is perhaps the biggest criticism of U.B.I.: It all sounds too fantastical! It’s straight from sci-fi. And you’re right; many of these proponents aren’t shy about being inspired by fantasies of the future.
      But paradoxically, they also see U.B.I. as more politically feasible than some of the other policy proposals you call for. One of the reasons some libertarians and conservatives like U.B.I. is that it is a very simple, efficient and universal form of welfare — everyone gets a monthly check, even the rich, and the government isn’t going to tell you what to spend it on. Its very universality breaks through political opposition. And I should note that it’s not only techies who are for it — Andy Stern, the former head of the S.E.I.U., will soon publish a book calling for a basic income.
      Still, like you, I’m skeptical that we’ll see anything close to this sort of proposal anytime soon. Even Bernie Sanders isn’t proposing it. The techies, as usual, are either way ahead of everyone, or they’re living in some other universe. Often it’s hard to tell which is which.
      But let’s get back to the question of productivity. You’re right that software hasn’t produced the sort of productivity gains many had said it would. But why do you disagree with the techies that automation is just off beyond the horizon?
      Eduardo Porter: I guess some enormous discontinuity right around the corner might vastly expand our prosperity. Joel Mokyr, an economic historian that knows much more than I do about the evolution of technology, argues that the tools and techniques we have developed in recent times — from gene sequencing to electron microscopes to computers that can analyze data at enormous speeds — are about to open up vast new frontiers of possibility. We will be able to invent materials to precisely fit the specifications of our homes and cars and tools, rather than make our homes, cars and tools with whatever materials are available.
      The question is whether this could produce another burst of productivity like the one we experienced between 1920 and 1970, which — by the way — was much greater than the mini-productivity boom produced by information technology in the 1990s.
      While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do know that investors don’t seem to think so. Long-term interest rates have been gradually declining for a fairly long time. This would suggest that investors do not expect a very high rate of return on their future investments. R.&D. intensity is slowing down, and the rate at which new businesses are formed is also slowing.
      Little in these dynamics suggests a high-tech utopia — or dystopia, for that matter — in the offing.
      [Here's Farhad's original article -]
      A Plan in Case Robots Take the Jobs: Give Everyone a Paycheck, by Farhad Manjoo. 3/02/2016, nyt.com & 3/03/2016 NYT, B1.
      NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Let’s say computers come for most of our jobs.
      [Let's not. I maintain that this is a luddite statement, an insult to computers and worksaving technology in general. Neither computers not worksaving technology in general "come for our jobs" - it is CEOs, with our passive acceptance and B-schools' teaching - who destroy our jobs and their own markets by responding to worksaving technology with downsizing (cutting hours), which gets into a self-fueling downspiral - instead of "timesizing" (cutting hours) for everyone and maintaining jobs and wages (& spending power!) - and cutting hours deeper and creating more jobs and higher wages - needed to buy the giantized productivity of technology - and note that productivity without marketability is meaningless.]
      This may not seem likely at the moment; computer scientists and economists offer wildly varying ideas for how deeply automation will affect future employment.
      But for the sake of argument, imagine that within two or three decades we’ll have morphed into the Robotic States of America.
      In Robot America, most manual laborers will have been replaced by herculean bots. Truck drivers, cabbies, delivery workers and airline pilots will have been superseded by vehicles that do it all. Doctors, lawyers, business executives and even technology columnists for The New York Times will have seen their ranks thinned by charming, attractive, all-knowing algorithms.
      How will society function after humanity has been made redundant [no, again, CEOs make many employees redundant, carefully protecting themselves]? Technologists and economists have been grappling with this fear for decades, but in the last few years, one idea has gained widespread interest — including from some of the very technologists who are now building the bot-ruled future.
      Their plan is known as “universal basic income,” or U.B.I., and it goes like this: As the jobs dry up because of the spread of artificial intelligence, why not just give everyone a paycheck?
      [Why not? Because giving away money degrades the value of money, breeds dependency, perpetuates an underclass, and stirs resentment both in the burdened overworkers and the excluded disemployed. Any other questions?]
      Imagine the government sending each adult about $1,000 a month, about enough to cover housing, food, health care and other basic needs for many Americans. U.B.I. would be aimed at easing the dislocation caused by technological progress [again, tech progress does not cause the dislocation but the substitution of downsizing for timesizing as a response to increases in tech output], but it would also be bigger than that.
      While U.B.I. has been associated with left-leaning academics, feminists and other progressive activists, it has lately been adopted by a wider range of thinkers, including some libertarians and conservatives. It has also gained support among a cadre of venture capitalists in New York and Silicon Valley, the people most familiar with the potential for technology to alter modern work.
      Rather than a job-killing catastrophe, tech supporters of U.B.I. consider machine intelligence to be something like a natural bounty for society: The country has struck oil, and now it can hand out checks to each of its citizens.
      These supporters argue machine intelligence will produce so much economic surplus that we could collectively afford to liberate much of humanity from both labor and suffering.
      The most idealistic thinkers see the plan as a way to foster the sort of quasi-utopian future we’ve only encountered in science fiction universes like that of “Star Trek.” As computers perform more of our work, we’d all be free to become artists, scholars, entrepreneurs or otherwise engage our passions in a society no longer centered on the drudgery of daily labor.
      “We’re talking about divorcing your basic needs from the need to work,” said Albert Wenger, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures, a proponent who is working on a book about U.B.I. “For a couple hundred years, we’ve constructed our entire world around the need to work. Now we’re talking about more than just a tweak to the economy — it’s as foundational a departure as when we went from an agrarian society to an industrial one.”
      Sam Altman, president of the tech incubator Y Combinator, recently proposed to fund research into U.B.I. The firm has received thousands of applications for research funding, Mr. Altman said; it plans to select winning recipients within a few weeks, and ultimately Y Combinator plans to spend “tens of millions” of dollars on research to answer some of the most basic questions about life under U.B.I.
      Mr. Altman said these questions range from the most practical — how much U.B.I. would cost the country, and whether we could afford it — to deeper issues concerning people’s motivation and purpose in what you might call a “postwork” age.
      When you give everyone free money, what do people do with their time? Do they goof off, or do they try to pursue more meaningful pursuits? Do they become more entrepreneurial? How would U.B.I. affect economic inequality? How would it alter people’s psychology and mood? Do we, as a species, need to be employed to feel fulfilled, or is that merely a legacy of postindustrial capitalism?
      There is an urgency to the techies’ interest in U.B.I. They argue that machine intelligence reached an inflection point in the last couple of years, and that technological progress now looks destined to change how most of the world works.
      “People have been predicting that jobs would go away for a long time, and usually what happens is they just change,” Mr. Altman said. But even so, “during those periods of change, things can be quite disruptive,” and at the very least, U.B.I. may be able to smooth out the transition period.
      We may already be seeing the disruptions. Though the macroeconomic statistics suggest the United States has recovered from the last recession — job growth in 2015 reached levels not seen since the 1990s — surveys show that many Americans feel vulnerable and anxious about their jobs and finances.
      Wage growth is sluggish, job security is nonexistent, inequality looks inexorable, and the ideas that once seemed like a sure path to a better future (like taking on debt for college) are in doubt. Even where technology has created more jobs, like the so-called gig economy work created by services like Uber, it has only added to our collective uncertainty about the future of work.
      “All of a sudden people are looking at these trends and realizing these questions about the future of work are more real and immediate than they guessed,” said Roy Bahat, the head of Bloomberg Beta, the venture capital firm funded by Bloomberg L.P.
      A cynic might see the interest of venture capitalists in U.B.I. as a way for them to atone for their complicity in the tech that might lead to permanent changes in the global economy. After all, here are rich people who both actively fund and benefit from creating highly profitable companies that employ very few people.
      It doesn’t help that you have some investors who’ve been terrifically tin-eared about the perils of globalization and the modern economy (see musings from Paul Graham on inequality, Marc Andreessen on colonialism and Thomas J. Perkins on class resentment.)
      But my conversations with techies interested in U.B.I. revealed a sincerity and sophistication about the idea. They aren’t ashamed or afraid of automation, and they don’t see U.B.I. merely as a defense of the current social order. Instead they see automation and U.B.I. as the most optimistic path toward wider social progress.
      “I think it’s a bad use of a human to spend 20 years of their life driving a truck back and forth across the United States,” Mr. Wenger said. “That’s not what we aspire to do as humans — it’s a bad use of a human brain — and automation and basic income is a development that will free us to do lots of incredible things that are more aligned with what it means to be human.”
      Like much of what venture capital firms work on, basic income is a pie-in-the-sky notion. Though it has enjoyed recognition among wonks and some political momentum in Europe, not a single American presidential candidate has expressed even passing interest in the idea. It has also been hampered by some very basic practical questions: How much should we give out in monthly income? Can the country afford that?
      Proponents say these questions will be answered by research, which in turn will prompt political change. For now, they argue the proposal is affordable if we alter tax and welfare policies to pay for it, and if we account for the ways technological progress in health care and energy will reduce the amount necessary to provide a basic cost of living.
      They also note that increasing economic urgency will push widespread political acceptance of the idea. “There’s a sense that growing inequality is intractable, and that we need to do something about it,” said Natalie Foster, the co-founder of Peers, an organization that supports sharing-economy workers.
      Andrew L. Stern, a former president of the Service Employees International Union, who is working on a book about U.B.I., compared the feeling of the current anxiety around jobs to a time of war. “I grew up during the Vietnam War, and my parents were antiwar for one reason: I could be drafted,” he said.
      Today, as people across all income levels become increasingly worried about how they and their children will survive in tech-infatuated America, “we are back to the Vietnam War when it comes to jobs,” Mr. Stern said. “We’re entering a universal, white-collar, middle-class anxiety, which drives political change faster than poor people tend to drive change.”

    3. This week in women’s history: Militant furriers strike successfully in 1926, (3/08 late pickup) PeoplesWorld.org
      NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - On March 8, 1908, some ten thousand women workers in the needle trades, mostly Jewish and Italian, took to the New York City streets to demand higher wages, shorter hours, and an end to child labor. This demonstration helped spark the establishment of March 8th as International Women's Day in 1911.
      Ninety years ago, in 1926, also on March 8, amid a massive strike of fur workers in New York, Ben Gold, Communist leader of the Fur and Leather Workers Union, called out 10,000 workers, mostly women, for mass picketing. Ultimately, the strikers won a 10 percent raise and a 40-hour, five-day work week.

      [And lest we get the illusion that this is a radical or leftist issue, capitalist Lord Leverhulme of Lever Brothers soaps & detergents published a book called "The Six-Hour Day and Other Industrial Questions" in 1919, advocating a 6x6= 36-hour workweek or 6x5= 30-hour workweek a full 7 years earlier than Commie Ben Gold hit the streets in 1926, and 4 years later in 1930, capitalist W.K. Kellogg started converting his cereal company, Kellogg's Cereals, to a 30-hour workweek on a division-by-division basis to create jobs in his HQ town of Battle Creek, Mich. Sources: Ben Hunnicutt's "Kellogg's Six-Hour Day" and Roediger & Foner's "Our Own Time."]
      The New York Furriers' Joint Board contract expired on January 31, 1926. Among the union's demands were a reduction in working hours to the five-day, 40-hour work week; union inspection of shops; a 25 percent wage increase; an employer contribution of 3 percent of each worker's salary to an unemployment insurance fund; a single paid holiday; and equal division of work among employees to eliminate favoritism. The employers' association refused to negotiate over the work week, unemployment fund or equal division of work, but agreed to seek a settlement on the other terms if the union would withdraw the other three demands.
      Exploiting internal union disputes between socialists and communists, the employers instituted a lockout of 8,500 workers on February 11th, to which the union responded by calling a general strike of all 12,000 fur workers in the city on February 16th.
      The strike quickly turned violent. On February 19, New York City police attacked a picket line of striking workers and arrested 200. On March 8, Gold called out 10,000 workers for mass picketing throughout the furriers' district. Police used clubs to beat hundreds of strikers, and then drove cars at high speed into the crowd to try to break up the pickets. Only when Gold ordered the picket to break up were law enforcement authorities able to regain control. The police response was so brutal that a city magistrate later excoriated the police department for "undue coercion" against the striking workers.
      On March 13, a New York state judge refused to grant the employers an injunction which would force an end to the strike. In mid-April, the Eitingon-Schild Company, the wealthiest fur importer in the United States - most of their furs came from the new Soviet Union - broke with the employers' association to settle with the union. The company agreed to a five-day, 40-hour work week; equal division of work; no subcontracting; and a 10 percent wage increase.
      But the strike continued despite this agreement. In early April, AFL organizer Hugh Frayne met with a moderate faction within the Joint Board, who asked AFL President William Green to personally intervene in the strike. But when their proposal for a 42-hour work week and a 10 percent wage increase was presented to the membership on April 15, they overwhelmingly rejected it. The AFL barred Ben Gold from the meeting, but the membership chanted his name and nearly rioted until he was admitted to the hall. In part, the workers rejected the proposal because they had had no hand in making it. But they also rejected the proposal because it did nothing to help Jewish workers, who needed the five-day work week provision in order to protect their Saturday Sabbath.
      In retaliation for the moderates' attempt to end-run the local leadership, and to increase pressure on the employers, Gold asked the Joint Board to initiate a drive for the 40-hour work week which would involve every union in the city. The Board agreed, and soon the New York State Federation of Labor, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the Teachers Union, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and a number of other unions agreed to join the effort. On May 22, 1926, a mass rally filled the newly built Madison Square Garden, making it the largest labor meeting held in the city up to that time. Gold denounced labor leaders who did not attend, and declared that winning the 40-hour work week in New York City would lead to a nationwide movement which would gain traction throughout the nation.
      The drive for the 40-hour work week pushed the employers to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement. A new contract was reached on June 11, 1926, providing for the 40-hour, five-day work week; an end to overtime from December through August; time-and-a-half overtime pay for half-days from September to November; a 10 percent wage increase; 10 paid holidays; and a ban on subcontracting.
      Sources including photo: Wikipedia, Jewish Currents.


    3/08/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Time for a New Approach to Work Hours, by Pres. Avedis Seferian of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), (3/07 late pickup) SourcingJournalOnline.com
      NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The social compliance industry as we know it today is still a relatively young one, but it has come a long way since its inception roughly two decades ago.
      Social responsibility certification programs have had a significant positive impact at the factory level, resulting in far greater awareness of the importance of responsible practices and safeguards for production workers. Yet throughout this period, the social compliance certification model itself has remained largely unchanged, with most approaches building on the core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions as the issues to be covered, while focusing on local laws to determine the specific requirements to establish compliance under those issues.
      As a long-time practitioner in this field, when I reflect back on the progress that this model has helped drive, it’s becoming increasingly clear that while this approach did make great initial strides, it has simply not moved things past a certain point because it fails to recognize some critical ground realities.
      Chief among them is the fact that prevailing certification models require compliance with—among other things—limits set by local laws on the number of hours that workers can work, yet in so many of the key sourcing destinations within the apparel supply chain, exceeding those hours is a routine industry practice.
      While certainly well-intentioned, the original compliance certification model, insistent as it is on factories meeting those limits embodied in local laws, can therefore result in a misalignment of incentives, with factories striving to “pass” audits by doctoring their records to show the kinds of numbers they think the auditors want to see. Especially when it comes to working hours.
      This fear on the part of these factories—that telling the truth would actually harm their chances of certification—has made social auditing a real cat-and-mouse game, with the resulting set of multiple books being a standing joke in the industry.
      It is a bad enough problem in itself, but it gets compounded because of the multiplier effect that the lack of knowing actual hours worked has on being able to assess social compliance in a factory. Given that workers are typically paid based on the number of hours they work, not being sure of actual hours worked makes it impossible to be sure about compensation.

      [which is, of course, the whole point of the obfuscation - this is quite a remarkable exposé from an insider in the New York garment industry, and highly illustrative of what happens when employers lose discipline due to a luffing surplus of labor instead of a trimmed-to-the-wind labor shortage, trimmed by conversion of chronic overtime into training&jobs coupled with enough workweek trimming to deliver local, state, or national, or all three, Full Employment, and the maximized markets that result...]
      All in all, this lack of transparency inherently hampers the ultimate aim of social compliance certification organizations like the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), which is to engage with factories to help drive real and lasting improvements in working conditions. But getting factories to focus on improving working conditions (rather than simply passing audits) is just not possible without first acknowledging the problem and establishing its true extent, and that, in turn, isn’t possible when the audit model isn’t set up to reward honesty.
      So, after spending a long time looking for a more refined approach to this issue of working hours, WRAP has concluded that we need a new model, one with transparency at its very core.
      As part of a revision to our 12 Production Principles, we recently announced that, effective Jan. 1, 2016, our certification criteria has been changed to allow factories that meet certain conditions to qualify, even if they are not yet in full compliance with limits on working hours set in local laws.
      Those conditions include being fully transparent with WRAP about working hours, ensuring those hours are all being worked voluntarily in conditions that protect worker safety and health, compensating all employees fully for those hours, and showing progress, from one audit to the next, toward meeting the working hour requirements in local law.
      Our plan is to engage with factories where working hours are found to be in excess of the country’s legal limit to develop a mutually-agreeable plan of actionable, verifiable steps the company can take to gradually come into compliance with its country’s laws.
      This action plan will be included in the company’s WRAP file and progress against the plan will be assessed and documented, with facilities needing to demonstrate adequate progress toward compliance at each successive audit in order to remain in the Certification Program.
      The goal here is to facilitate actual progress by identifying root causes of excessive working hours and addressing them, instead of merely masking the problem with double books. By not requiring immediate, full compliance with local laws on working hours as a condition of certification, we will foster an environment of trust and transparency, which, over time, will enable real and lasting progress.
      The old social compliance certification model—after helping drive significant positive change—stalled because it did not take existing ground realities about working hours into account. It’s time for it to evolve into a model better suited to enabling the kind of improvements it was always intended for, and that is the new trail we are blazing at WRAP.
      Avedis Seferian joined WRAP [Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production] in 2004 and was named president & CEO in 2012. He has extensive knowledge of social responsibility issues within the highly complex worldwide supply chains of the apparel, textile and footwear sectors.

    2. Ruag ends extended working hours ahead of schedule, evertiq.com
      ZURICH, Switzerland - At the end of March 2016, Ruag [Rüstungs Unternehmen Aktien-gesellschaft = Joint Stock Defense Co.] will terminate the extended working hours arrangement that was introduced in certain units in 2015 in response to the Swiss franc's appreciation. Originally this arrangement was only due to finish at the end of July 2016. However, the decision was taken due to other measures initiated – such as an optimization of processes and of the portfolio, negotiations with suppliers and cost savings – have now been largely implemented.
      Generally speaking, the extended working hours mean that employees have been working 43 instead of 40 hours per week.

      On 1 May 2015 RUAG had introduced additional working hours in certain areas of the Ruag Defence division (around 590 employees) and at Ruag Environment, which specializes in the recycling of electrical and household appliances (100 employees). As an additional measure, the company had also increased working hours for the export-oriented Ruag Ammotec division (300 employees) as of 1 August 2015. In December 2015, the deadline for terminating the extended working hours arrangement was lengthened to July 2016 at the latest.


    3/06-07/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. The hours of a workday, by Dennis De Peiza, 3/06 (3/05 late pickup) BarbadosToday.bb
      BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - In today’s world of industrial relations it is expected that the concept of a workday and the definition of what hours constitute a workday are unlikely to be contentious issues.
      [In fact, employers are generally only too glad to regard these topics as part of the woodwork and unimaginable as items of controversy, never mind that failure to maintain employment by trimming hours as worksaving technology is introduced basically guarantees an ever deepening economic downturn disguised with evermore effort as merely a "slow recovery."]
      The addressing of these as fundamental issues dates back to the early 19th century, when it was recognized that working excessive hours was posing a threat to the health and wellness of workers and their families.
      [Today, however, working excessive hours is posing a threat to the economy itself because it concentrates natural market-demanded employment on fewer people, and fewer people buy less stuff than many people, while robots are producing more stuff faster - with what markets? if we don't restart our 1840-1940 reduction of worktime per person, no way will we have anything like sufficient markets for the massive output capability of our technology.]
      These matters were addressed in the first International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention in 1919. This convention specifically looked at the hours of work in industry. At that time the convention was designed to protect workers in areas of employment such as mining, quarrying, construction and manufacturing; whether it be in the private or public sector.
      The convention limited the hours of work in industrial undertakings to eight hours in a day and a maximum of 48 hours in a week.
      Labour ministers in their meeting in London in 1929 observed that the convention stopped short of defining “hours of work”. At the meeting it was agreed working hours would be defined as the time during which persons who are employed are at the disposal of the employer. However, the definition did not include rest periods, during which time the persons employed are not at the disposal of the employer.
      This was later addressed in the ILO Convention No. 30 (1930). This convention focused on the regulation of the hours of work in commerce and offices. It is to be noted that a definition for “hours of work” was included in this convention.
      It has been established that the universal standard of the hours of work in any one day is eight. The move from a 48- to 40-hour workweek was as a result of the adoption of ILO Convention No. 47 (1935): Convention Concerning The Reduction Of Hours Of Work To A Forty-Hour Week.
      [As if any arbitrary level would be valid forever when worksaving technology is being continuously introduced, and responded to with kneejerk downsizing instead of systematic timesizing!]
      It was said the introduction of this convention was a continuous effort aimed at reducing the hours of work in all forms of employment.
      Today, there continues to be a tinkering with the hours of work in a day and workweek. In professions such as nursing and policing, the option for a 12-hour shift has been pursued. The application of this would have run afoul of Article #4 of ILO Convention No. 30 that stipulated “the maximum hours of work in the week laid down in Article #3 may be so arranged that the hours of work in any day do not exceed ten . . .”.
      The extension to a 48-hour week is embodied in ILO Convention No. 57, Hours Of Work And Manning (Sea) Convention. The convention, which concerns itself with hours of work on board a ship and manning, provides for a 48-hour week, whereby overtime work is required for the purpose of carrying out ordinary routine and sanitary duties.
      Any redefining of the work time seems only likely, if this is done by the determination of law, administrative provisions, collective agreements, employment contracts or agreements between the parties to the same.
      If there is any one issue to be clarified under work time, it is that of daily period of rest, which is commonly known as “the lunch break”.
      [A naive statement in view of the fact that if we don't restart our 1840-1940 reduction of worktime per person, no way will we have anything like sufficient markets for the massive output capability of our technology.]
      This is not included in working hours of the employee; nor is the time taken to travel or commute to work. It is only in a case where travel from home to work directly involves work-related activity that such constitutes work time.
      Thanks to the ILO, workers have benefited tremendously from the international standards which have been established. These have promoted health and safety, the productivity of workers, and regulated daily and weekly hours of work, rest periods and annual holiday with pay.
      In developing their understanding of the workday, workers should now be more conscious of the fact that overtime work is not part of their eight-hour workday. It is not compulsory, nor can it be forced upon them.
      Other than that, they should be aware that based on the general trend, they are entitled to a period of rest after four hours of work in any day.
      (Dennis De Peiza is labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.
      Visit the website www.regionalmanagement services.com [&] send your comments to rmsinc@caribsurf.com)

    2. France’s labour reforms: Working nine to four - The Socialists are torn over a move to dismantle the 35-hour week, 3/07 (3/05 late pickup) economist.com
      [No they aren't, but somehow they have got themselves 2-3 "leaders" who have caved to the incessant envy-driven attacks by anglophone economists on a workweek cut that, though primitively designed and managed, still SUCCEEDED in getting the same one-percent less unemployment per hourcut that the USA got 1938-1940 and in flexing up and making investor-attractive the business climate in France. Here are a couple of articles from 2001 that tell the media-quashed story of the actual success of France's 35-hour workweek: 6/20/2001 #1: "The French miracle: a shorter week, more jobs, and men doing the ironing - Official study finds that France's 35-hour week has boosted the economy and proved a hit with both employees and their bosses," and 4/07/2001 #1: "Analysis: Layoff outcry masks better French business climate - France lures investors."]
      PARIS, France - THE eyes of many foreigners, two numbers encapsulate French economic policy over the past decade or so: 75 and 35. The first refers to the top income-tax rate of 75%, promised by François Hollande to seduce the left when he was the Socialist presidential candidate in 2012.
      [Did he ever do anything about it?]
      The second is the 35-hour maximum working week, devised by a Socialist government in 2000 [no, in 1997 when unemployment reached 12.6%] and later retained by the centre-right. Each has been a totem of French social preferences. Yet, to the consternation of some of "tossed it into the trash bin"?]. Now he has drawn up plans that could, in effect, demolish the 35-hour week, too.
      [Is he getting death threats from the right or what?]
      Mr Hollande’s government is reviewing a draft labour law that would remove a series of constraints French firms face, both when trying to adapt working time to shifting business cycles and when deciding whether to hire staff. In particular, it devolves to firms the [legal] right to negotiate longer hours and overtime rates with their own trade unions, rather than having to follow rules dictated by national industry-wide deals. The 35-hour cap would remain in force, but it would become more of a trigger for overtime pay than a rigid constraint on hours worked.
      [It should be a trigger for overtime-targeted training and job creation.]
      These could reach 46 hours a week, for a maximum of 16 weeks. Firms would also have greater freedom to shorten working hours and reduce pay, which can currently be done only in times of “serious economic difficulty”. Emmanuel Macron, the economy minister, has called such measures the “de facto” end of the 35-hour week.
      At the same time, the law would lower existing high barriers to laying off workers.
      [These were already lowered in 2000-01 when the 35-hr week was finally implemented - can they really be so "high" now?]
      These discourage firms from creating permanent jobs, and leave huge numbers of “outsiders”, particularly young people, temping. For one thing, it would cap awards for unfair dismissal, which are made by labour tribunals. Laid-off French workers bring such cases frequently; they can take years and cost anything from €2,500 to €310,000 ($2,700 to $337,000) by one estimate.
      The underlying principle, laid out in government-commissioned reports over the past six months, is simple and radical. The country’s ponderous labour code, currently longer than the Bible, should limit itself to basic protection of workers, and leave bosses and unions within firms to hammer out finer details.
      [Fine, but without the discipline of a perceived labor shortage, bosses can create a huge imbalance between oversized investing power and spending power too undersized to stabilize it.]
      This [this what?] is based on the belief that French employees—only 8% of whom belong to a union—are more pragmatic and flexible than the national union leaders in Paris who supposedly negotiate on their behalf. At a car factory making Smart vehicles in eastern France, for instance, a recent deal to work 39 hours a week was approved by most employees, yet blocked by the firm’s unions. Under the new law, if no deal can be reached with a company’s unions, employees may vote in a binding internal referendum.
      [Only half the world union movement has ever understood that shorter hours is their power lever. And employers have been relentless in propagandizing against it, market-strengthening though it be.]
      The draft law does not deal with all the rigidities of the French labour code. Nonetheless, “it’s the most important piece of labour-market legislation for 15 years,” says Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Eurler Hermes, a credit-insurance firm. It is the closest France has got to the "reformist" Jobs Act [our quotes] rammed through in Italy by Matteo Renzi’s government. And it could be the legacy that Manuel Valls, the ambitious centre-left prime minister, seeks as he and Mr Macron try to steer the Socialists in a more market-friendly direction.
      ["Market friendly"? Re-exacerbating wage&spending-weakening labor surplus is "market friendly"? Hardly!]
      The great difficulty [hope!] is political. For much of the left [and everyone else with a life of their own and a respect for free time as the most basic freedom], the 35-hour week remains not only a badge of progress but the mark of a preference: for shorter hours, more holidays and higher productivity—even at the price of fewer jobs [management stewing].
      [What nonsense. All this insinuated linkage of shorter hours with fewer jobs when the whole history of world workweek reduction has linked shorter hours with more jobs. Denn ist es alles Falscherei? You betcha. These control freaks will say anything to block the most basic freedom, job-secure Free Time, without which the other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless. Yet their fear of freedom is costing them more and more.]
      French productivity per hour remains far higher than Britain’s and even a touch above Germany’s (though yearly hours worked in France are lower, and the unemployment rate twice as high [because France needs to cut further to 32 or 30 hrs/wk and incentivize conversion of chronic overtime into training&hiring). In fact, the French already work more than 35 hours a week on average, partly because so many employees get extra holidays to compensate. White-collar employees at EDF, an energy firm, average 39 working hours a week, but until recently got 23 extra days off each year on top of the statutory five weeks’ holiday. (A hard-won deal has reduced this to a mere 16.) Managing so much absence has become an art. “Employees prefer to work less, earn less and have more time,” says Pierre Vauterin, who runs a firm that makes ball bearings on the outskirts of Paris.
      [Good for the French! They really understand that more free time is the fundamental meaning of liberté.]
      Challenging this doctrine is becoming a stinging headache.
      [Then GIVE IT UP as wrongheaded.]
      Already, Mr Valls has postponed the presentation of his draft law to the cabinet, thanks to an uproar within his own party and the threat of street protests by unions and students.
      [The faster the Socialists get rid of these three clowns in their party (Hollande, Valls, Macron - who are looking more and more like careful long-term plants) and put together some pushback publicity, the sooner they'll stop giving ammo to the envious workaholic morons among the "maudits anglais" who waste hours and hours of their employment-coagulating megaweeks on unproductive French-bashing.]
      In a barbed article in Le Monde, Martine Aubry, mayor of Lille and architect of the 35-hour week, accused him of selling out socialist ideals. “Who could imagine”, she asked, “that making redundancies easier…will encourage employment?”
      [Amen! Their position is gobbledygook.]
      Mr Hollande is enfeebled.
      [Then DUMP him.]
      Even France’s more moderate unionists are wary. If Mr Valls waters down the draft, his reformist credentials will be damaged.
      [With "reformists" like this, who needs opponents to Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?!]
      If he pushes ahead, he could find himself with a choice between unmanageable unrest—or resignation.
      [Betcha the French have a devastating joke (plaisanterie) that starts, How do you tell the difference between Hollande and a 19th-century capitalist?]


    3/05/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Budget impasses causes cuts at LIFE CIL, by Paul Swiech, Pantagraph.com
      BLOOMINGTON, Illin., USA — A human service agency that helps people with disabilities to be independent is reducing hours of service and cutting payroll because there is no state budget.
      "The social services network all over the state is being seriously damaged," said Gail Kear, executive director of LIFE Center for Independent Living (LIFE CIL).
      Beginning March 4, LIFE CIL is closing its Bloomington office, 2201 Eastland Drive, Suite 1, on Fridays.
      The office remains open Monday through Thursday.
      [Better to have hours reductions than staff reductions = Timesizing not downsizing!]
      The Pontiac office, 320 W. Madison St., will be closed Thursdays, Kear said. That office is open Monday through Wednesday.
      Kear and Associate Director Jill Doran have cut their salary. Six remaining hourly employees must take unpaid furlough days, Kear said.
      The three reductions, announced Friday, came after LIFE CIL laid off two employees and curtailed equipment purchases and travel and training expenses, Kear said.
      LIFE CIL annually serves 2,200 people in McLean, Livingston, DeWitt and Ford counties. While the agency isn't eliminating services — such as equipment loans and independent living assistance — when services are available will be limited, Kear said.
      Kear blamed the state budget impasse, saying that LIFE CIL hasn't received payments on one state grant since the fiscal year began July 1 and expects payments on another grant to cease.
      If no money is received on either grant by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, the state will owe LIFE CIL $227,000, Kear said.
      LIFE CIL has continued to provide services, using declining cash reserves, believing the governor and General Assembly would pass a budget.
      "Now, even the legislators are telling us that a budget may not be passed until December 2016," Kear said. "So we may never get paid this fiscal year. This is scary."
      "I'm trying to figure out how to get from here to there (December) without closing our doors," Kear said. "This is not how you turn around a state's economy."
      Asked to comment, Catherine Kelly, spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner, said, "It's incredibly unfortunate how the majority party's refusal to pass structural reforms and a balanced budget is hurting social service agencies like LIFE Center for Independent Living. Gov. Rauner is ready to compromise and encourages House Democrats to return to Springfield instead of taking a month-long recess."
      ...Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

    2. Update: How changing household composition, household work hours, and retirement explain median household income, by Mark J. Perry @Mark_J_Perry, American Enterprise Institute via aei.org
      WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Carpe Diem
      [Article starts with 3 graphs available on
      http://www.aei.org/publication/update-how-changing-household-composition-household-work-hours-and-retirement-explain-median-household-income/
      1. Median US Household Income vs. Shares of US Households with Two Earners and No Earners, 1980 to 2014
      2. Real US Median Household Income vs. Retirees' Share of US of US Adult Population, 1990 to 2014
      3. US Real Median Household Income vs. Average Weekly Work Hours per Householdl, 1980 to 2014
      One of the most frequently reported economic trends is the gradual decline in US real median household income from its 1999 peak of about $57,843 (in 2014 dollars) to below $54,000 in each of the last five years (see dark blue line in top chart above). We hear a number of reasons from politicians and pundits for the decline in median household income over the last 15 years, mostly reasons that involve a narrative about economic stagnation and growing inequality caused by the progressives’ usual suspects: most of the gains in worker productivity, income, and wealth going to corporations and “the rich” instead of being shared by average workers; failure to increase the minimum wage or pass “living wage” laws; the combined effects of globalization, free trade and outsourcing putting downward pressure on middle-class incomes in America; excessive CEO pay; Wall Street greed and fraud, and other narratives of economic malaise and pessimism.
      About a year ago, I featured several posts on CD about how demographic changes over time in the composition of US households might help explain the stagnation and decline in US median household income starting around 1999. Those posts were inspired by Alex Pollock’s excellent essay “If income is going up, can median household income go down? It’s possible” where Alex explained how the changing composition of US households could result in declining median real household income even if all Americans’ real incomes are rising. That is, the decline in median household income might not be caused by decline in real income for the average American worker, but rather by changes in the composition of the average US household.
      More specifically, the demographic changes that Alex and I analyzed include: a) the declining share of households with two or more earners starting around 1999 (see top chart), b) the increasing share of no earner households starting around 1999 (see top chart), c) the increasing number of retirees in the US as a share of the US adult population starting around 2007 (see middle chart above), and d) the decline starting around 2000 in average weekly hours of work per US household (see bottom chart above). Actually, those demographic trends could all be related since the increasing number and share of US retirees would obviously result in: a) an increase in the share of households with no earners, and b) a decrease in the average number of work hours per US household. Now that Census and Social Security data are available for another year — 2014 — (data in my previous posts were through 2013), I thought it would be a good time to update the charts and update the analysis on how the changing US household demographics and retirement trends can help explain the 7.2% decline in median household income from the peak of $57,843 in 1999 to $53,657 in 2014. Here’s the update:
      1. Households with No Earners and Two or More Earners. One example of a major dynamic change in household composition is the significant increase in the share of US households with no earners, from fewer than 20% of all US households in 1980 to 24% of households in 2014 (see light blue line in top chart above, Census data here from Table H-12). At the same, there’s been a significant decrease in the share of US households with 2 or more earners from above 45% of all households in 1999 (when median household income peaked) to fewer than 40% of US households in each of the last five most recent years starting in 2010 (see brown line in top chart above).
      Technical Note: In a linear regression model, those two variables (no earner and two earner household shares) explain 90% of the decline in median household since 1999.
      In summary, over the last several decades, there’s been an increasing share of no-earner households and a decreasing share of married and two-or-more-earner households. That major demographic shift in household composition would naturally depress median household income over the last 15 years, even though it’s possible, as Pollock showed in his essay, that the income of individual working Americans could have been the same or rising since 1999.
      2. Increasing Number and Share of US Retirees. Another key demographic shift is the increasing number of retired Americans as a share of the adult population based on Social Security data. As the light blue line in the middle chart above shows, US retirees represented a pretty stable 15% share of the adult US population from 1990 to 2007. Then, starting around 2008 when the early “baby-boomers” – those born in 1946 — reached early retirement age of 62, the share of retirees started increasing from less than 15% of the adult population in 2007 to nearly 17% in 2014.
      In the six-year period between 2008 and 2014, the number of retired Americans increased by 7.4 million, which was the largest six-year increase in US history, and more than triple the 2.4 million increase in the previous six-year period. Given that wave of recent retirements, there have been millions of older, experienced, highly paid workers going from their peak earning levels to a much lower retirement income that would typically include Social Security payments, pensions, and distributions from retirement accounts. As those millions of retirees are replaced in the workforce by younger, less experienced, lower paid workers, median household income would naturally be falling even though the average and median incomes of working Americans could be rising.
      It’s probably no coincidence that the recent increase in retirees, both in absolute numbers and as a share of the adult population, along with the other demographic changes in households described above, has naturally coincided with a decline in median household income. It would be hard to imagine that an aging population with a significant increase in the number and share of retirees, wouldn’t depress median household income, for purely demographic reasons.
      3. Decline in Average Number of Hours Worked per Household. In a December 2014 Real Clear Markets op-ed (“The Obvious Reason for the Decline In Median Income”), economist Jeffrey Dorfman points out another very important demographic change that has significantly contributed to the decline in real median household income in the US over the last decade: the average number of hours worked per US household has been declining.
      [So hours worked are declining anyway but not a good way.]
      So we would naturally and logically expect median household incomes to decrease when average household work hours are falling. Here’s the opening of Jeffrey’s article:
      "Much has been made recently of the fact that real median household income has been stagnant over the past twenty years and falling for the past seven. While there are many problems with using median household income as a measure of the economic health of the middle class, it is still important to examine what is causing this middle-income stall. A major, and overlooked, part of the answer appears to be quite simple: Americans are working less. When people and families work fewer hours, they earn less money."
      Following a procedure outlined by Dorfman in his RCM article but using a slightly different dataset, the bottom chart above shows the relationship over time between annual US median real household income and the average weekly work hours per US household in each year from 1980 to 2014. To calculate the average work hours per household, I used: a) the BLS series “Average Weekly Hours at Work in All Industries” (from Table 22 in this BLS report), b) the BLS series “Civilian Employment” for the number of employed Americans, and c) the number of US households in each year from the US Census. Using the average weekly work hours and the number of Americans employed, the total number of hours worked annually were calculated and divided by the number of US households in each year to determine the average number of weekly work hours per household in each year from 1980 to 2014, and those values are represented by the light blue line in the bottom chart above.
      As can be seen in the top chart, the 7.2% decline in real US median household income (in 2014 dollars) between the 1999 peak ($57,843) and 2014 ($53,657) was accompanied by an even greater 8.8% decline in average hours worked per household, suggesting a very close statistical relationship between those two variables. In fact, a linear regression model reveals that more than 90% of the decline in median household income between 1999 and 2014 can be explained by the decline in average household work hours, so there is a very strong statistical relationship between median household income and average household hours worked, as expected.
      Bottom Line: It’s an important point that most of the discussions and hand-wringing about declining US median household incomes completely ignore the demographic realities that the composition of American households is not static. US households in 2014 are significantly different from US households in 1999 in important ways (size, age, number of earners, hours worked, marital status, etc.) that affect household income, so we can’t accurately compare the $53,657 in median household income in 2014 to the much higher peak of $57,843 in median household income in 1999 (both median incomes are expressed in 2014 dollars). Specifically, the composition of US households is changing over time due to the natural consequences of an aging population and an increasing share of households with retirees, along with more (fewer) single-earner (multiple earner) households that reflects an ongoing trend of smaller US households dating back to at least WWII – and those factors can’t be ignored when discussing trends in US household income.
      Most explanations of the recent decline in US median household income are based on some variation of a narrative of economic stagnation, rising inequality and pessimism. But what is almost always overlooked are the very significant demographic changes that have taken place in the composition of US households over time that would significantly impact the income of the median US household. Taken together, a) the increase in the share of no-earner, single-earner, single-parent households, b) the increase in the number and share of retirees, along with c) the decline in the share of two-earner-or-more and married households, would all logically and necessarily depress the income level of the median US household over the last 10 years.
      In conclusion, the composition of US households is not static, fixed and permanent; rather it’s dynamic, evolving and ever-changing. Discussions on changes in median household income over time that ignore the changes in household composition over time will always be incomplete, distorted and misleading. Perhaps the decline in median household income this century is not a narrative of economic pessimism and stagnation after all, but a more upbeat story of a greater number of Americans living longer lives, and enjoying periods of time in retirement that were never possible until this century.
      Update: The chart below is provided in response to comments below the post from Sprewell and Marque2, and shows that during the 1999 to 2014 period when real US median household income decreased by -7.2% real hourly earnings increased by +7.5% and real compensation increased by +13.5%. Those data support Alex Pollock’s original position that real incomes can be going up at the same time that real household incomes are declining, if the composition of US household is changing. To summarize what we know for sure:
      1) The size and composition of US households has been changing over time, but especially starting in 1999 when median household income started to decline, and in ways that would naturally lower median household income even if average incomes were the same or rising: a) a decrease in the number and share of US households with two or more earners and b) an increase in the number and share of US households with no earners.
      2) During the period when real median household income fell by 7.2% between 1999 and 2014, real wages increased by 7.5% and real compensation increased by 13.5%.
      That doesn’t necessarily mean that the 1999-2014 wasn’t a period of economic stagnation for some Americans, since the increases in real wages and real compensation only apply to those Americans who were employed during that period. It’s certainly a complicated analysis to determine exactly how much of declining real median household income between 1999 and 2014 is because of economic stagnation and how much is explained by the changing composition of US households and the increasing number and share of retired Americans. My main point is that the economic stagnation story usually takes center stage in the hand-wringing about declining median household income, while the equally, or maybe even more, important changes in the household size and composition usually get overlooked.
      Percent Changes: Real Compenstation, Real Wages, and Real Median Household Income, 1999 to 2014
      http://www.aei.org/publication/update-how-changing-household-composition-household-work-hours-and-retirement-explain-median-household-income/   [scan down]
      Median Household IncomeRetirement
      Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.


    3/04/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. CPS sets 3 furlough days for workers, cancels school on Good Friday, by Juan Perez, ChicagoTribune.com
      CHICAGO, Illin., USA - Chicago Public Schools [CPS] canceled classes on March 25, Good Friday, as one of three furlough days that immediately prompted a renewed strike threat from the teachers union.
      [Better furloughs than firings, Timesizing not downsizing. Unions really need to get strategic and back on their power issue: engineering a market-harnessing "shortage" - of themselves! - by CUTTING WORKTIME PER PERSON.]
      The other two furlough days for teachers and school-based workers are set for June 22 and 23, which were to have been professional development days after the end of the regular school year when students would not be in the classroom. The financially troubled district said the forced unpaid vacation will save $30 million.
      Chicago Teachers Union officials said the furloughs will result in a 1.6 percent salary reduction for its members. President Karen Lewis said the district's plan "only strengthens our resolve to shut down the school district on April 1."
      "The mayor is already seeking a 7 percent pay cut, and today's directive adds another reduction in salary and benefits," Lewis said.
      While the union contends it can strike next month, the district's top labor lawyer said an April 1 walkout would violate state law and promised that CPS would take the issue to court.
      CPS said "as many as 8,000 staff members" were planning to take Good Friday off, about four times the daily average. Principals were expecting absences "so widespread" that some principals planned to hold all-day assemblies in school auditoriums or screen movies for students, according to CPS.
      "After hearing from many principals that they were concerned about staff capacity on Good Friday, which normally falls during Spring Break, we determined the best course of action was a furlough day, combined with non-instructional year-end days," district CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement.
      "It's never easy to furlough employees, but our priority was to preserve instructional time for our students while preserving year-end cash and continuing to chip away at our budget gap," he said.
      CPS said administrative staff will take forced furloughs April 21 and 22, when the district is on spring break.
      The district began its fiscal year with a $480 million budget hole that officials hoped to cover with help from the state. That assistance has not arrived, and CPS has limped through the year by laying off employees and borrowing. The district's debt is rated as junk, and a $725 million bond issue last month came with extraordinarily high interest rates.
      The furloughs were announced after CPS and the union spent the day negotiating a new contract, and they follow the district's decision to eliminate its long-standing practice of picking up seven percentage points of a 9 percent salary contribution teachers make toward their pensions.
      The district has said that eliminating the pension pickup for teachers would shave $65 million in spending this year, more than a third of $182 million in planned cuts this budget year.
      The district has not said exactly when it will stop making the payments, but CTU officials believe the payments could be cut off next month and threatened earlier this week to strike as soon as April 1.
      That would be well before teachers could walk off the job under a state-mandated process that is now in its final phase and wouldn't play out until the end of May.
      Despite Lewis' comments, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said Thursday that the union was not ready to commit to a strike date. That's due to factors including whether the district follows through on its plans to end the pension pickup, he said.
      "Are they going to back off these cuts? They're being threatened, but I'm not going to promise we're going to walk out on a certain day when it's not certain what the board's going to do," Sharkey said.
      "If they back off, then we're going to have to reassess what the next step is. But right now, if they're looking to try and pick a fight, they're doing a pretty good job," he said.
      CTU attorney Robert Bloch said that despite the state law, the union can strike under the authority of a 1956 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
      "The union's view is that if it's not striking over the contract, but is instead striking over an unfair labor practice under that Supreme Court decision, it need not fulfill all those statutory requirements for a strike before engaging in an unfair labor practice strike," Bloch said.
      "We believe there is a right to engage in a strike without concluding the contractual impasse procedures, because we're not striking over a contract," he said.
      "They are 100 percent wrong," said James Franczek, the district's top labor attorney, who helped write the state law that strengthened the steps that must be taken before the city's teachers can strike.
      Franczek said the 1956 Supreme Court case deals with the National Labor Relations Act, which "has absolutely no applicability to the Chicago Public Schools system or to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act."
      "Strikes are illegal, they're prohibited except under very specific circumstances," Franczek said. "The only way you can strike at CPS is if you comply with that (state) statute."
      Also at issue is a provision in the union's contract that states that the pension pickup ends with the contract — which expired June 30. Nonetheless, the union is arguing that the district should continue making the pension contributions throughout negotiations.
      Those talks are set to continue in the coming days. Sharkey said the district's latest moves have fired up CTU members.
      "At some point, if you wind up educators enough, you're not going to be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube," Sharkey said. "There is more than just brinkmanship going on here. This is a way in which people feel indignant, this is the way anger builds up. So it's important that people pay attention to this now.
      "But we still have to keep talking and communicating at the table to try and reach a negotiated settlement," he said. "That's something we're going to stay committed to."
      jjperez@tribpub.com, Twitter @PerezJr.

    2. The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: U.S. Steel, AK Steel, Nucor, Steel Dynamics and ArcelorMittal, [press release] for immediate release, Nasdaq.com
      CHICAGO, IL, USA - Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include U.S. Steel (X), AK Steel (AKS), Nucor (NUE), Steel Dynamics (STLD) and ArcelorMittal (MT)...
      Here are highlights from Thursday's [3/3's] Analyst Blog:
      Steel Stocks Take Flight as U.S. Slaps[-On] Anti-Dumping Duties
      Shares of major steel makers got a lift Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Commerce ("DOC") levied preliminary anti-dumping duties on imports of cold-rolled steel from Brazil, China, India, Korea, Russia, Japan and the UK.
      The commerce department, in its preliminary determinations, found that these countries are illegally dumping cold-rolled steel into the U.S. market and therefore, are subject to anti-dumping duties. The ruling marks yet another victory for crisis-hit U.S. steel companies in their ongoing battle against unfairly-traded, cheap imports that continue to flood the American market.
      The DOC, on Tuesday, imposed a whopping duty rate of 265.79% on imports of cold-rolled steel from China. Chinese companies did not respond to the DOC's request for information and thus, got punished with big tariffs. This will badly hit Chinese exporters such as Angang Group Hong Kong Co., Ltd., Benxi Iron and Steel (Group) Special Steel Co., Ltd. and Qian'an Golden Point Trading Co., Ltd. Brazil and Japan exporters received duties of 38.93% and 71.35%, respectively.
      The DOC will now instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to start requiring cash deposits based on the duty rates for cold-rolled steel imports from these seven countries. In Dec 2015, the commerce department [already] imposed countervailing duties on imports of cold-rolled steel from Brazil, China, India and Russia including a massive duty rate of 227.29% on China.
      [It see ms that there are ways around the Free Trade religion after all.]
      The biggest U.S. steel producers - U.S. Steel (X), AK Steel (AKS), Nucor (NUE), Steel Dynamics (STLD) and ArcelorMittal USA, a part of ArcelorMittal (MT) - filed anti-dumping petitions in Jul 2015 with the U.S. International Trade Commission ("USITC") and the DOC against eight countries (Brazil, China, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea and the UK) alleged for illegally dumping cold-rolled steel that is used to make automotive products and appliances, among other[ thing]s.
      The petitions charge that an influx of subsidized imports of cold-rolled steel from these foreign producers is causing significant injury to the country's steel industry. These producers exported over $1.2 billion of cold-rolled steel to the U.S. market in 2014 including $514 million from China.
      These imports have captured an increasing share of the U.S. market, thereby hurting production, shipments, selling prices and margins of U.S. steel makers.

      The USITC terminated the investigation on imports from the Netherlands in Sep 2015 after concluding that the quantity of imports of cold-rolled steel from the country was negligible during the 12 months preceding the filing of the trade case and hence did not cause or threatened to cause injury to the U.S. industry.
      The latest anti-dumping ruling provided a much-needed boost to the stocks of leading steel companies which have been hammered by a tide of cheap imports over the past few years, largely contributing to a slump in steel prices.
      U.S. Steel racked up the biggest gain with its shares closing 23.5% higher yesterday. AK Steel's shares shoot up 20.1% while Steel Dynamics gained 6.2%. Nucor notched up a 3.1% gain while ArcelorMittal's shares rallied roughly 15.5%.
      American steel producers are struggling to cope with falling steel prices as a result of the combined impact of imports and overcapacity in the industry. Low costs of production have enabled foreign producers (especially China) to sell their products at cheaper rates, leading to an industry-wide price decline. Price declines are expected to continue if tariffs are not imposed on imports.
      The United Steelworkers ("USW") union has lauded the DOC's new ruling stating that it is "welcome news" for steelworkers at U.S. steel mills and another key step in the ongoing fight to restore fair trade conditions for cold-rolled steel products made in America.
      The commerce department will now verify the information submitted by the respondent foreign producers and issue verification reports to interested parties. This will be followed by an opportunity for parties to provide legal arguments on the preliminary decision and the verification reports to the DOC and to participate in a hearing.
      The commerce department is expected to issue its final rulings on China and Japan investigations on May 17 followed by final determinations on other five investigations on July 13. The USITC is also expected to make its final injury ruling on China and Japan in June and on five other countries in August. No anti-dumping orders will be issued if the final determinations by these regulators are negative.
      The DOC, in Dec 2015, also slapped anti-dumping duties on imports of corrosion-resistant steel from China, India, Italy and South Korea including a staggering anti-dumping duty rate of 255.80% on imports of these products from China. Final ruling of the DOC on the corrosion-resistant steel case is expected in late May.
      U.S. steel makers, in Aug 2015, also filled anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions against seven countries accused for illegally dumping certain hot-rolled steel flat products into the American market. Preliminary determination by the DOC on this case is expected on Mar 14, 2016 with a final ruling in late May.
      Favorable final determinations in these trade cases will ensure a fairer and more competitive market for American steel makers and workers.
      ...About Zacks Equity Research
      Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term. Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons. Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research... Find out What is happening in the stock market today on zacks.com...
      The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


    3/03/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. The road to recovery: furloughs, layoffs and job numbers that shade the truth, by Jana Kasperkevic @kasperka, (3/04 timezone issue) Manchester Guardian US Edition via theguardian.com
      The US unemployment rate has reached a seven-year low – but you wouldn’t know it by looking at certain industries who have been forced to reduce workers’ hours in ways that aren’t reflected in jobs reports
      The US unemployment rate has reached a seven-year low – but you wouldn’t know it by looking at certain industries who have been forced to reduce workers’ hours in ways that aren’t reflected in jobs reports
      NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - The unemployment rate fell to a seven-and-a-half-year low in August. While the number of new jobs created was less than expected, overall the month-to-month numbers have been positive, allowing the Obama administration to tout economic recovery and the Fed to prepare for a potential interest rate hike later this year.
      Yet, the monthly numbers do not tell the entire story.
      As certain industries have been adding jobs to keep the unemployment rate steady, others industries like oil and gas have been slashing them by hundreds and thousands. Some workers have been let go with a promise of a job weeks or months down the road. Not fired, just furloughed – but no paycheck feels the same, no matter what you call it.
      [No paycheck feels bad to the labor force, even if the unemployment rate doesn't count it. And the same or lower unemployment rate feels good to management and investors, even if it's not counting a bunch of No Paychecks. The point is, shorter hours are happening anyway but not a good way.]
      Other workers, in retail and local government, have also been furloughed, with hours shaved from their weekly and monthly schedules.
      The low unemployment rate provides little comfort to these workers.

      [But the low unemployment rate provides lots of comfort to management and investors and economists and B-school profs and pols who could do something about it - but "if it works, don't fix it."]
      Irene Coleman worked at her last job, as an HR generalist, for about three months before she was furloughed on 9 July. “They didn’t give us any notice,” Coleman said. “I did go on unemployment briefly but they called me back two weeks later.”
      This week, however, was Coleman’s last week with the company. “I just gave notice and will begin a new job next week,” said the 61-year-old from Panorama City, California.
      Initially, when the two-week long furlough started, Coleman had no plan to look for a new job. “But I had a feeling this company is just too unstable; therefore, I sought other employment,” she said.
      Blue Bell personnel Freddie Hugo, Rickey Seilheimer and Charlie Franke stock freezers with Blue Bell products. In May, Blue Bell announced that personnel such as these three men would be placed on a partially paid furlough. (photo caption)
      Coleman is not the only one to be called back to work from a weeks-long furlough. Mid-May of this year, Blue Bell ice cream company announced that 1,400 of its employees were going to be placed on a partially paid furlough.
      “They were paid a substantial portion of their pay, with the expectation that they would return to work when needed,” a company spokesperson told the Guardian. “At this time, we’ve brought back approximately 360 furloughed workers. We will continue to bring back more workers in phases as production and distribution expands.”
      One of those workers was Sean Cooper, who told his local CBS station that he was grateful because he could have been laid off. While he was furloughed, Blue Bell paid him for 30 hours’ work each week, which while helpful was less than he was used to.
      To make ends meet in the meantime, he found a part-time job at a local resale shop.
      “(The part-time job) has allowed me to get back to living a normal life,” he said. “It pays the bills. It helps me and my family to survive.”
      Blue Bell hoped to bring back more workers in the coming week, but has no specific dates as of yet.
      “We are happy to be bringing back more and more furloughed employees, and look forward to the day that all of our furloughed employees are back working at Blue Bell,” the spokesperson told the Guardian.
      Blue Bell is not the only firm whose employees have been looking for new jobs this summer, either temporary or permanent.
      Brenham, Texas, where Blue Bell closed one of its factories and laid off 250 workers, in addition to the 300 it had furloughed, saw 160 people laid off by agricultural equipment manufacturer Valmont Industries, 64 by machining manufacturer MIC Group, and 47 by Stanpac, which handled Blue Bell’s packaging.
      Texas also has seen jobs disappear in the oil and gas sector, a trend across the entire country. Over the past year, the number of unemployed workers in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction more than doubled, reaching 79,000 in July. That’s up from 34,000 last July. During that same period, the unemployment rate in the sector climber to 8.1%, up from 3% a year ago.
      According to Swift, which tracks layoffs in oil and gas industry, 176,162 jobs were lost globally in the field this year. Continental Resources, an Oklahoma oil company that track layoffs, found the US has cut at least 91,000 jobs in the energy industry since last summer.
      Jamie Dandar, chapter president of Oilfield Helping Hands’ Rocky Mountain chapter, which covers Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, said they have seen an uptick in oil field families in need of assistance, having encountered a financial crisis through no fault of their own, said Dandar.
      “Every one of our board members was affected by layoffs,” she said.
      “The last downturn we had was in 2008. It’s cyclical. I know some of the people who have been in the business for a long time, they have gone through this before. It’s the nature of a commodity, prices of which fluctuate. It will go down for a while and then it will invariably come up. Nobody really has the crystal ball to say when that will happen. But we know that it will.”
      The increase in layoffs have come at the time when crude oil prices in US have hit their lowest point since 2009.
      Slowdown in the energy sector has affected other sectors as well – such as railroads and freight train operators. In July, Union Pacific railroad CEO Lance Fritz said 1,200 workers had been furloughed and that the number was expected to grow as the company entered into third quarter.
      “The slowdown in coal right now is being driven by a couple of things,” he told Bloomberg. “First is we came into this year with a pretty big inventories at the utility plants. Natural gas prices are clearly driving more of electricity production than natural gas and the weather was not all that good in the second quarter for coal burn.”
      Not even a month later, Union Pacific announced that in the coming months the company would have to eliminate several hundred management jobs.
      Oil rigs drilling in McKenzie County in western North Dakota - Throughout the year, employers pulled back on hiring and a slowdown in oil and gas drilling caused big job losses in some states. (photo caption)
      Long-term furloughs, which can last months and during which workers go without pay, “are a more like a layoff”, according to Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
      “Furloughs would then have an impact on local economy that layoffs would have on a local economy – it’s no different,” she said. “People lost their income, therefore they don’t have money to spend.”
      Those who actively look for other jobs while furloughed might be counted as unemployed, but Gould said they could also be counted as simply out of the labor force for that period.
      Traditionally, when people think about furloughs, they think of employees’ schedules being cut by “a day here or there”, she explained.
      “In that case, if it’s a day here or there – ‘Oh, we don’t have enough work for you today, come back tomorrow’ or ‘Don’t come back tomorrow, come back the next day’ – that’s different from layoffs. It’s not for a long period of time.”
      Such furloughs will go into effect in Jackson, Mississippi, in October and are scheduled to last for two years. City workers will be furloughed the last Friday of each month and docked eight hours’ pay from their checks.
      “We are facing one of the toughest budget seasons our city has experienced but the furlough will prevent layoffs and major reductions in city services,” Jackson mayor Tony Yarber said in a statement.
      According to Gould, furloughs are similar to what is known in the retail industry as just-in-time [JIT] employment. For example, Walmart, which earlier this year increased pay for half a million of its workers, has recently reduced hours for a number of its employees.
      In retail, “it’s not called a furlough. It’s just called scheduling – putting less people on the schedule,” explained Gould. “For people, who don’t get their schedule till the same day or just a couple days before, employers implicitly schedule them for fewer hours or schedule them more in Christmas time.”
      The people for whom furloughs mean working a day less a week or a month – like the city employees in Jackson or a store cashier whose hours have been reduced –are counted as employed, explained Gould. As such, these type of furloughs do not affect the unemployment rate.
      “They are counted as employed in both of the major government surveys: the payroll survey, because they would have been on payroll for that period even if it was for less hours, fewer days; and the household survey. Did you work in this period? Yes, but you didn’t work as much as you should’ve. You might show up in hours, but you are not going to show up in unemployed [numbers].”
      If a furlough or schedule adjustment doesn’t show up on the unemployment report, did it happen?
      [Only for the voiceless, not for the rich = those with a voice in the emerging world plutocracies.]

    2. SOSU copes with budget cuts, by Sean Larsen, News 12 KXII via kxii.com
      DURANT, Okla., USA -- Southeastern Oklahoma State University [SOSU] employees will be taking furlough days to help the school cope with the state of Oklahoma's budget shortfall.
      The furlough days -- which are unpaid leave -- will have to be taken before June 30. University president Sean Burrage said almost every employee will have to take six unpaid days off. The action is supposed to save SOSU about $400,000.
      [First we get several years of libraries cutting hours instead of jobs. Now we're getting into colleges. Western Illinois University (2/27/2016 #2) is also in the news with furloughs these days and I have the impression there were others. What's this all about? Is the future being prototyped by the gentlest cohort in the population? "Blessed are the meek..."?]
      "In addition to that, we think another, maybe, $300,000 to $500,000 in cuts will be coming in the next week or two," Burrage said. "This fiscal year, that's money we have to save between now and June 30."


    3/02/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Overtime in French - Hard-line Socialists cling to labor regulations that kill employment, WSJ.com via pressreader.com
      [Actually, if the WSJ is talking about the 35-hour workweek, it creates employment = the employment of more consumer-spenders at a lower level of the workweek. Here are a couple of articles from 2001 that tell the media-quashed story of the actual success of France's 35-hour workweek: 6/20/2001 #1: "The French miracle: a shorter week, more jobs, and men doing the ironing - Official study finds that France's 35-hour week has boosted the economy and proved a hit with both employees and their bosses," and 4/07/2001 #1: "Analysis: Layoff outcry masks better French business climate - France lures investors."]
      PARIS, France - France’s labor unions have found one thing for which they’re willing to work overtime: killing a measure that would permit employees to work overtime. On Monday, hardliners in the ruling Socialist Party forced the government to delay a cabinet debate over the reform bill.
      Under a 1999 law, the French workweek is capped at 35 hours, after which firms are required to pay overtime. Paris thought shortening the per-employee work week would encourage firms to hire more workers. Not quite.
      [No, quite, even though there were no guarantees and it should have started with chronic overtime. Quite, because unemployment (UE) in 1997 when it was voted in was 12.6% and in 2001 after it was finally fully implemented and before the US-led recession hit, UE was 8.6%, 1% lower for each of the 4 hours cut from the workweek (39 to 35). This is the same result that the USA got 1938-40 with two 2-hour/year cuts in a 44-hour workweek which resulted in the Frozen Forty-hour Week of a deteriorating Ever After. Cut an hour off your workweek and get 1% less unemployment, especially if you incentivize conversion of chronic overtime into training&jobs and don't leave it to chance.]
      Instead, the measure raised the costs and decreased the efficiency for businesses in France, depressing investment and job creation.
      [Wrong again. Labor laws, such as those against individual firing for cause, were flexed up. And if this is trying to tell us that investment has anything to do with job creation, what a laugh! - there's more investing power in the world now than ever in history...the top 62 billionaires have as much as the bottomo HALF of the over 7B world population - yet jobs are scarce everywhere.]
      Today the unemployment rate is 10.6%, the highest in nearly two decades.
      [And that's because the workweek was not shortened further. There's nothing fixed, sacred or permanent about any level of the workweek, as long as there's nothing fixed about your level of worksaving technology, and you're continuously introducing more. And if you're betraying the promise of technology with a kneejerk workforce-downsizing response to technology like some sort of transference-luddite mistakenly sledge-hammering people instead of machines, you're going to get higher and higher unemployment, which you will then do your best to deny and disguise. And since you don't seem to be able to connect the dots between between your employees and your customers' customers, you will then get weaker and weaker consumer spending and gluts of more and more products and services, a recession-depression which you will then do your best to describe as some kind of recovery...weak, slow, even [LOL] jobless...but a recovery nonetheless, goddammit! And btw, it was that US-led recession that pushed French UE back up into the 10-point-somethings after it hit 8.6% in the spring of 2001.]
      A quarter of young people are out of work.
      [And a lot more if we count the recent invasion of true-or-false refugees, mostly young men despite media focus on tear-jerking photos of families, or just women and children, or just children, in the grand ol' "if it bleeds, it leads" tradition. ]
      Despite its failure [failing to achieve MORE than the 1% less unemployment for each of the four hours cut from the French 39-hour workweek that it did achieve?], this measure has become so sacred to the French left [and those on the French right and in the middle concerned about shrinking workforce and wages and markets for all the extra stuff the robots are churning out - see Edward Filene's sentiments, plus Lord Leverhulme, W.K.Kellogg, the Lincoln brothers, Nucor, SAS, and thousands of other businesspersons PER DAY who cut hours not jobs in every downturn including the ongoing, vehemently denied one] that Socialist pResident Francois Hollande and his reformist Prime Minister Manuel Valls, don't dare eliminate it.
      [And why would they, if they understood it and were unswayed by relentless moronic attacks like this one?]
      But they want to allow employees and employers to negotiate over [about] a longer workweek of 46 hours maximum, for no more than 16 weeks a year.
      [= bizarrely and arbitrarily complicating something fundamentally simple and understandable - and market-driven from the point of view of the mid-1990s when something ELSE had to be tried besides the Cut Taxes and Boost Cashflows to the Rich, which weren't creating jobs despite ever shriller insistence au contraire.]
      Firms struggling to compete due to technological innovation in their industry
      [huh? wasn't tech innovation supposed to be good for firms? else why would it be introduced? no, firms struggle to survive when they get into the habit of responding to innovation with downsizing employees ... = consumer-spenders; that is, when they start cannibalizing their own markets]
      would be allowed to negotiate longer working hours
      [and coagulate diminishing market-demanded employment again? why not just go back to totally UNregulated workweeks and see how small a workforce and market you wind up with?!]
      and implement such changes over the opposition of union leaders if a majority of workers agree. [ie: can be duped into short-term more-hours more-pay, though the long term is more and more hours for fewer and fewer with jobs, and a self-fueling downspiral as each workforce downsizing translates into consumer-spending and market activity downsizing]
      The bill would set limits on payouts to dismissed workers.
      [Notice the assumption that the job market is so strong it can take any dismissals, consumer spending is so strong it can take any weakening...]
      All of France's major unions and their allies in the Socialist Party oppose the bill.
      [Funny, it was a major plank in the Republican Party's platform from its foundation in the 1850s to the 1930s = as long as it retained some commonsense. Even Nixon in 1956 advocated a 32-hour workweek on the stump in Colorado Springs, till Ike, wise in other areas but clueless in this one, gagged him.]
      Martine Aubry, the former Labor Minister who created the 35-hour workweek [but didn't make allowances for adjusting it further down or vigorously converting chronic overtime into OT-targeted&funded training&hiring] is among the hard-left Socialists leading the charge to defeat it.
      [Again, this is hardly a Socialist issue. In fact, by balancing the center instead of avoiding it, it allows the safe dismantling of almost all other government regulations and programs, most of which are weak attempts to offset the irresponsible failure of the private sector to employ and fund its own markets without a government/taxpayer crutch. As businessman Edward Filene said, "Mass Production is...large-scale production based upon a clear understanding that increased production demands increased buying.... For selfish business reasons, therefore, genuine mass production industries must make prices lower and lower, and wages higher and higher, while constantly [avoiding a wage-depressing surplus of jobseekers by] shortening the workday and bringing to the masses not only more money but more time in which to use and enjoy the ever-increasing volume of industrial products."]
      Messrs. [or in this case, messers!] Hollande and Valls can still push ahead [or behind!] with the "reforms" [our quotes], and the government has already hinted that it may use a constitutional loophole that allows bills to bypass the lower house of Parliament.
      [So much for French democracy! Vut an era - so-called conservatives in the USA repeatedly threatening to shut down the US government and people in France with a professed regard for social values threatening to bypass democracy. Notice that the end of the Roman Republic was followed by the end of the Roman Empire. Then it took centuries. Now it will take only decades with unintegrated diversity and overpopulation to fastforward the reel.]
      That could trigger a no-confidence vote, which the government is likely to survive.
      [Oh really? With "socialists" like this, France might as well have capitalists who are so much better at coagulating employment and income and inducing downturns. Time and time again, voters evoked the devil they don't know instead of the devil they do, in hopes of a miracle, or at least a return to expected behavior of the devil they thought they knew, once disciplined by non-survival of an election.]
      Bon courage to them [or rather, "To the pillories!" for betraying their base], if such parliamentary jiu-jitsu is what it takes to start reviving France's moribund economy.
      [Oh please, France's economy is no more moribund that the U.S.'s - as Krugman has repeatedly documented. And how swiftly this "conservative" writer (unnamed, therefore an editorial? but it's not in my hardcopy!) abandons his principles of parliamentary democracy!]
      Still, this would be the second time in as many years the government has resorted to this constitutional trick to pass pro-growth "reform".
      [our quotes - any "growth" it would get would be in the black hole of income coagulation in the topmost brackets instead of real growth by spreading out to consumer-spenders via employment and wages.]
      If there's going to be any hope for France [=demogogualian melodrama], at some point a broad majority of French voters and politicians will have to admit the necessity of sweeping reform.
      [And that sweeping reform will have to be some version of the Timesizing program, because the historical ways of getting the employer-perceived labor shortage that alone harnesses Market forces in maintaining or raising wages and spending, because the historical ways, war and plague, have been obsoleted by...technology, the technologies of drones and modern medicine.]

    2. Four-day Parliament work week not finding support in Windsor-Essex, CBC.ca
      Tracey Ramsey, NDP MP for Essex says she does not support eliminating Friday sittings in the House of Commons. (photo caption)
      WINDSOR, Ont., Canada - A proposal to eliminate Friday sittings from the House of Commons is not finding much support in Windsor and Essex County.
      All three area MPs and the longtime former MP for Essex have spoken out against the plan, saying Parliament needs to meet five days a week.
      "I don't think taking Fridays off is the answer," said Tracey Ramsey, the NDP MP for Essex. "I was elected to go to Ottawa and work Monday to Friday and fight as hard as I can for the people of Essex."
      [So much for the connection between the NDP and The Future. Tracey would evidently prefer to grandstand good ol' Working Hard (not smart) To Get Ahead despite its obsolescence in the age of robotics.]
      "To have that day taken away is less time I'm able to rise, ask questions of the government and debate. (Taking Fridays off) doesn't speak to me to be more family-friendly," Ramsey said.
      Ramsey's position comes as Windsor West MP Brian Masse also spoke out against the idea. He said eliminating Friday sittings wouldn't make things better for MPs trying to be with their families.
      "It wouldn't improve things as they currently stand. And it could actually create more complications as well," Masse told CBC News Monday.
      Masse coaches his kids and makes a point of coming home to Windsor whenever he can. By eliminating Fridays, it may mean later hours during the week, which would hurt family time in other ways, Masse said.
      Heavy workload on Parliament Hill
      The idea for a four-day workweek comes as a House of Commons parliamentary committee studies how to make life easier for Members of Parliament with young families and how to entice more young people to consider running for Parliament. [More competition in running for Parliament?? WHAT are you THINKING?!]
      Some MPs have to travel great distances to get home to their ridings. Some, like Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, have been outspoken on the importance of making time for their families.
      A study by Canada's Library of Parliament suggests there are fewer jobs with longer hours and greater stress than that of an MP. Another study pegs divorce rates for Members of Parliament at 85 per cent.
      All political parties have been asked to consider ending Friday sittings at Parliament and moving the workload earlier in the week, that way parliamentarians can get home to their constituencies for the weekend.
      [Evidently Windsor-Essex members-of-parliament would rather rub shoulders with their colleagues on Parliament Hill than with the constituents they profess to represent.]
      Jeff Watson, who represented Essex for 11 years before losing his seat in the last election, also supports keeping Friday sittings.
      Jeff Watson says he thinks MPs can make personal decisions that help them carve family time out of a busy schedule. (photo caption)
      He said being a parliamentarian is a difficult job, but his family was able to make it work by accepting a shared sacrifice. He didn't take evening meetings and his family made the decision to live in Ottawa and commute together to Windsor in their SUV.
      "You look to do things to carve out the time you need while you do the service," Watson said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning. "(Ending Friday sittings) would be a net loss in the accountability of government and I think that is the wrong trend."
      He said some other measures, like ending night votes in the House of Commons are working. But ultimately it comes down to the members themselves deciding the make their families a priority.
      "We can make a lot of the decisions that help us divorce-proof our marriages, spend time with the kids and still do the accountability and service," he said.


    3/01/2016 – News&opinion about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly 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) ecdesignr@yahoo.ca unless otherwise initialed) -

    1. Brown-Forman furloughs dozens of employees, by David A. Mann, Louisville Business First via bizjournals.com
      LOUISVILLE, Kntky., USA - Louisville-based spirits distiller Brown-Forman Corp. (NYSE: BF-B) has told about 79 production workers at its bottle, shipping and and warehouse operations not to come to work for the next three weeks.
      Company officials say they have too much inventory,
      according to a report from our news partner WDRB-TV.
      [Better furloughs than firings, Timesizing not downsizing!]
      The extra inventory comes after the company prepared for a possible strike. But a contract was reached before a strike occurred, according to the report.
      Brown-Forman is the parent company of Jack Daniel's Brands, but it owns several others, including Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Finlandia vodka, Tequila Herradura and Korbel sparkling white wine.
      A full list of the company's brands is listed on its website, Brown-Forman.com.
      The company, which is headquartered on Dixie Highway, had about 1,266 full-time equivalent employees in the Louisville area in 2015. That placed it at No. 22 on our list of the Louisville area's largest employers.
      David A. Mann covers these beats: Restaurants, beverage industry, manufacturing, distribution/logistics, unions.

    2. Updated: Kingman employees worry about future of Nucor Corp., by Hubble Ray Smith, (2/29 late pickup) Kingman Daily Miner via kdminer.com
      Editor's note: Following the publication of this story, Nucor's Katherine Miller contacted the Daily Miner and released this statement: "While these are challenging times in the steel industry, your story in today's paper is not an accurate reflection of our Kingman mill's operations. Nucor has a long-standing practice of not laying off teammates even during down market conditions. Nucor has not laid off a single teammate at any of its steel mills due to a lack of work, including Kingman.
      [That's because Nucor is one of our best examples of a "Timesizing not downsizing" company that accordions its workweek, not its workforce - but the rest of the article raises questions.]
      Nucor is North America's largest steel producer and we are using our unrivaled competitive position to grow our company at a time when many of our competitors are fighting to survive. Despite a turbulent global steel industry, our bar mills delivered solid profitability in 2015. We are proud of the performance our teammates at Kingman and throughout Nucor are achieving in one of the most difficult steel markets in decades."

      KINGMAN, Ariz., USA - Nucor Corp. lost $62 million in the fourth quarter and cut about a dozen jobs from its steel plant in Kingman, background sources told the Daily Miner.
      Calls to the plant were referred to corporate headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., which did not return further calls for comment.
      The company announced $144.7 million in adjusted net earnings in the fourth quarter, and $206.7 million in net "impairment" charges, including $153 million related to the Duferdofin Nucor joint venture.
      Employees are afraid the plant may close and they'll lose their jobs, an anonymous employee wrote in a note to the Daily Miner.
      Management is sending weekly emails to employees notifying them of job openings at other Nucor locations. About 65 employees work at the mill on Historic Route 66, near Crazy Fred's Truck Stop.
      Employees are aware of calls from the newspaper, though management won't tell them why and have instructed employees not to speak with anyone from the newspaper.
      The steel mill, which opened in 2010, has lost about 65 percent of its business since last year and is having "significant environmental issues" with air, water and ground, the employee said.
      "Morale is absolutely awful," the source said. "Employees act and look like they just learned that their family died in a plane crash. It's a dead zone."
      Three Nucor executives came to speak to employees at the mill a few weeks ago, explaining that production hours are being cut due to the decline in business. The mill also brought in an out-of-state employee as a "fixer," the source said.
      Katherine Miller, communications manager at Nucor's Charlotte office, did note in an email sent Friday afternoon that, "There is no truth to the rumor that our Nucor Steel Kingman teammates' employment status is in jeopardy."
      Mark Vanik lost his job in January after working nine years as Nucor's environmental coordinator.
      "It's really slow right now," Vanik said Friday. "To be able to tell if layoffs will continue, I don't know. They're doing everything they can. Orders are down, the economy is slow. They're running fewer days and doing everything they can. To say they're going to close, I can't tell."
      Jen Miles, workforce development manager for Mohave County, said she's not aware of anyone from Nucor coming to the One-Stop Career Center for assistance. When Mineral Park copper mine closed in December 2014, she knew immediately about the 300 layoffs.
      "Certainly, if there are layoffs, I encourage dislocated workers to come into One-Stop," she said.
      Former plant manager Doug Adams, who was active in the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce and brought Nucor sponsorship to many community events, left the mill about a year ago and his position has not been filled, the employee said.
      The Kingman mill produces steel rebar and wire rod from recycled steel billets, which are heated to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
      The steel mill has the capability of producing 500,000 tons of rebar and wire rod a year, though initial output was around 250,000 tons.
      In Nucor's 10-Q fourth-quarter earnings report, the company noted that "operating performance at the steel mills segment in the fourth quarter of 2015 decreased from the third quarter due to lower average selling prices and decreased volumes.
      "The steel mills segment was also negatively impacted by the cost of working through higher-priced scrap, work in process and finished goods inventories to begin the fourth quarter."
      Nucor purchased the steel mill from North Star Steel in 2008 for about $35 million. The North Star plant was shut down in 2002 following million-dollar fines for pollution violations.




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